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Title: A Lost Life
Author: Author unknown
* A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook *
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Language: English
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------------------------------------------------------------------------

Title: A Lost Life
Author: Author unknown

*

Published in The Brisbane Courier, in serial format,
commencing Saturday 12 July, 1873.

*


CHAPTER I.


THE twenty-first of December was an eventful night. In the fashionable
part of the town of Brightstone, in a house opposite the corner house of
Brunswick Terrace, and just two doors from the Catholic chapel, sat two
ladies, one about forty-five, the other a young girl of some fifteen
years.

"It is late, Arabella," said the older lady; "we had better go to bed.
Cuthbert will not arrive to-night."

"Very well, Aunt Alice," replied Arabella.

"But hark!--what is that noise in the street opposite?" Just as the
clock of the Catholic chapel was striking 12 there rose on the still
night air a fearful cry--"Murder! murder!"--and Lady Alice St. John,
tearing aside the curtain, looked from the window. Lights were flashing
in the corner house, and a crowd was fast gathering; and she could see
one man in the grasp of a policeman, "Oh, heavens!" she said, "what has
happened? What is the matter?" she cried aloud to a man hurrying past.

"Murder!" he answered with a face of horror. "There has been murder done
there to-night."

"Who--who?" said Lady Alice. "I know the family--in pity speak."

"It is the foreign lady, Lady Egerton; they've taken the murderer under
her window; he's an Italian," said the man, and mingled with the crowd.

A few days after this event, the following paragraph appeared in the
local paper:

"A terrible murder has been committed at Brightstone, on the night of
the 21st instant. The murdered lady was the Lady Egerton, and the deed
was perpetrated in the most cruel and deliberate manner, the unfortunate
lady having been first stabbed and then shot with a pistol. The guilty
party was arrested under the very window, one pistol in his hand, and
its fellow on his person. He is a foreigner, and gave his name Giulio
Doria, strongly protesting his innocence, and said he saw a man run
round the corner; but though he had none of the quantity of missing
jewels (the supposed temptation to the deed) on his person, he was at
once secured and taken before the magistrates. The most singular part of
the affair is, that Sir Angelo Egerton, the murdered lady's son, is
reluctant to prosecute, asserting his belief in the prisoner's
innocence; and a little girl, his ward, who was in the bedroom at the
moment of the fearful deed, maintains that the man was not its
perpetrator, but her tender age, only six years, renders her evidence,
especially at a time of such terror and agitation, of comparatively
little weight. The Bench thought there was strong presumptive evidence
against the prisoner, and fully committed him for trial."

Some weeks after another paragraph appeared in the same journal on the
subject. It ran thus:--

"A most daring escape was made last night from Brightstone goal, by
Giulio Doria, who was awaiting his trial for the murder of Lady Jesuita
Maria Egerton. The night previous a woman, a foreigner, calling herself
his mother, was allowed to visit him, and it is supposed that she
supplied him with means of escape. He was located in a cell on the third
story of the prison, the base of which was about twenty-five feet from
the ground, the window protected by stout iron bars. He got hold of a
rope fifty feet long, and a kind of drag similar to a butcher's hook,
and this he fastened in the centre of the rope, which was sufficiently
long for him to reach the ground from his cell by its aid. In order to
get out of his cell he had, however, to remove one of the iron bars,
which, by some means or other, he managed to do by cutting it at the
bottom clean through with a knife, probably also obtained from his
mother. Once outside, he wended his way noiselessly to the west front of
the building; but there an obstruction to his progress presented itself
in the shape of a boundary wall, twenty-five feet high. Getting on to a
coal heap, about four feet from the ground, he doubled his rope, the
hook before mentioned being in the centre, and threw it over the top of
the wall, working it about until the drag got fast underneath the stone
coping, which projects some two or three inches from the bricks. He then
drew himself up to the top, and slid down outside, pulling the rope
after him. After that he got over a wall about ten feet high, and was
once more at liberty. It is supposed that Doria had some accomplice, as
not the remotest trace of him has been found."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The blue waters of the English Channel dance and ripple in the joyous
sunlight round the bows of a vessel that bears an exile from his native
shore. He leans over the rail, and, as he gazes on the distant white
cliffs, the tears that fall into the murmuring waves are tears wrung
from on almost broken heart. Vain to try and forget; vain to try and
flee from one's own thoughts!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It was a beautiful room, evidently belonging to a man of taste and
cultivation. It was handsomely but simply furnished; no light modern
tables or chairs that would bear no weight, were to be seen. Indeed the
furniture was rather of a past age than the present, and suggested the
idea that the room belonged to a family mansion, which was in fact the
truth.

Here and there, on brackets or a side table, were statues, evidently the
work of master hands, of a Bramante, Canova, or Chantrey; one or two
exquisite silver cups of Benvenuto Cellini's stood on the marble
mantlepiece, while in the centre was a most beautiful antique vase,
which some eighteen hundred years before may have adorned the antrium of
some high-born Pompeian noble.

There was a handsome book-case in a recess, and its contents showed a
high and cultivated mind. There you would have seen a tribute from
almost every country, ancient and modern--Greek, Latin, French, Italian,
and German; nor were even Spanish works wanting, in a collection which
ranged from the most solid literature, history, polities, and
metaphysics, to the lightest, or nearly the lightest. There were only
four large pictures in the room, but those were masterpieces of art; and
the most prominent was one of Michael Angelo's grand scripture pieces.
There was a St. Catherine by Rafaelle, and one of Ruben's gorgeously
colored pictures. Opposite the mantlepiece hung an immense picture, a
Landseer, representing, life size, a gigantic Spanish bloodhound, a
beautiful, noble looking animal, and so to the life that, like Paul
Potter's famous bull, you almost expected to see it start out of the
frame. And on the rug, asleep before the fire, lay the original of the
picture. How a Spanish bloodhound came to be in an English gentleman's
house we shall see presently.

Seated at the other end of the rug was a slight, noble-looking man, of
stately height and commanding mien, with one of those faces which once
seen are not easily forgotten--unusually handsome in its stern,
statue-like beauty, and singular in the rare intellect on the noble,
grave brow, and in the dark eyes, whose calm, searching gaze few could
stand long. He was very dark, with something almost Spanish in his
complexion. But perhaps the fault of his face--if it had one--was its
grave severity, and the utter absence of any color to relieve its
darkness, rendered yet deeper by the wavy masses of coal black hair, and
the slight mustache which shaded the proud, sternly chiselled mouth. In
years he was thirty two, but there were marked lines drawn across the
high, broad brow, which gave evidence of deep thought and heavy cares
that had left their traces on the proud, ambitious man, and deep in the
grave, wondrously beautiful eyes lay an inexpressible mournfulness, a
shadow, that perhaps gave them such a strange beauty and fascination.

In one hand he hold a volume of Machiavelli's 'Prince,' and the other
rested on a singularly beautiful child of ten years, whom at a glance
you would pronounce a Spaniard, and as she leaned against his breast you
could see his likeness markedly reflected in her face, strangely grave
and thoughtful for so very young a face. It had the same deep, almost
regretfully mournful expression in the dark eyes that his had, it had
much the some cast of beauty; and now, in perfect repose, had something
of his sternness and proud severity, softened immeasurably, but still
there. Was she his daughter? See the likeness between them, and the
tender, almost clinging way his arm encircles her, and now and then, as
he bends downwards, presses her head closer to his breast. A cloud seems
to hang heavily on them both, and link the man and the child closer
together. But she is not his daughter, for hear what she says--"Angelo,
it is four years to-day--four years since that fearful night."

He drew a long, shivering breath, and bowed his head a little, a very
little lower, till his coal-black hair mingled with hers. He made no
answer, but he dropped the book to wind that arm about her too, as if he
feared she would fade from his clasp like a dream or vision.

There was a long silence. Then the child said softly, "Angelo, the grass
is green over her grave, and the ivy has crept round it, but she is in
heaven, and looks down from above on the son she has left alone in the
world."

"Not alone. Oh, Inez, you are all I have to love!" said Angelo,
suddenly, and passionately straining the child to his heart. "Man's mind
and intellect may love and worship at the shrine of ambition, but his
heart must have a gentler love to fill its aching void, and it is thy
pure child-like image that hath grown into my love and filled my heart."

The Castilian nestled her head against him with an action that spoke
volumes, and a bright tear fell on the hand she twined her little finger
round.

He spoke again presently in low subdued tones, and his was one of those
rare strange voices that seem rather the reverberation of some soft
music on every heart-string than audible by the outward ear.

"And yet the day may come when I must lose my Spanish flower, when my
little one will leave me."

Was he testing the child? If so, the passionate energy of her answer
absolutely startled him.

"Never! never, while I have life! never while I live on earth, or hope
for life in heaven. Where you go, there will I go. If you die I will lay
my head on your silent heart and die too. You are all I have to love or
hope in; my very ambition centres in you alone, who are all to me--a
stranger in your land, a homeless stranger, but for the love and shelter
of your hand. Oh, Angelo! you are all to me! Never send me from you, let
me be near you all my life, for in you is all I care for in life!"

The words were not those of a child; unconsciously to herself she
uttered words far beyond her years, words of deeper meaning than she
knew, though in the inmost recesses of her pure soul--a child's, yet a
woman's--she felt them indefinitely, vaguely, but how deeply, let the
loving heart of any true woman say.

Angelo Egerton clasped the slight form of the child to him, whispering,
"My own Inez! my little one! never, never leave me, darling; for my
heart would be dead indeed, and my life dark, without my beautiful
Inez."

Long, long they remained so; neither moving, neither speaking--her eyes
gazing into the fire as she rested against him, his fixed on the grave,
dark young face which lay with such trusting, confiding love upon his
breast, reading the very depths of the young heart which knew not
itself, but which that night had unconsciously laid itself bare to him
like an open book, in which he read all its wealth of a child's innocent
affection, and woman's trusting, pure love--a book in which, as the
Chaldaeans of old read the stars of Heaven, he read her future, his
future; that an indissoluble chain bound them together; that she must be
his only in life or in death. He released her presently, and took up
Machiavelli again; but for that night, at least, the living love, and
the memory of the sad past had softened the stern, severe man, and the
subtle, ambitious politician was the feeling, dreaming man--dreaming
dreams that were perhaps too bright ever to be fulfilled. His dark eyes
wandered from the child, who had sunk down at his feet, and laid her
head on Leon, the bloodhound, and he threw the 'Prince' aside.

As the volume fell on the table the door opened, admitting an old,
white-haired servant, who had carried his master as an infant, and had
known his father before him.

"Mr. Everard, sir, has sent for your pistols, as you desired."

"Who has he sent, Burns?"

"A boy, sir, but he says he can take any orders."

"Let him come up here, then, Burns, and then go and bring me the
pistols. I think they are in their usual place."

Burns retired, and Inez de Caldara rose. The next moment the door again
opened, giving admittance to a handsome, intelligent-looking boy of
fifteen, with something about him that immediately struck Egerton--the
man accustomed to read and study human nature--as superior to his
position; neither had the boy that awkwardness so common to his class.
He closed the door gently, and his whole manner and speech had the
innate grace of a gentleman.

"I have come from Mr. Everard, sir," he said, and the bright hazel eye
went straight and boldly to Egerton, "about some pistols."

"My servant has gone for them; and meanwhile," said Egerton, with that
gentle courtesy which is inborn in the gentleman, and which the proud
descendant of the Egertons, if cold and haughty to his equals, ever
showed his inferiors, "meanwhile sit down and rest."

The boy obeyed; but Egerton, who stood quietly watching him, saw the
bright eyes wander round the room, and dilate suddenly as they rested on
the sublime 'St. Catherine' of Rafaelle, and a half-smothered
exclamation of enraptured admiration escaped him.

Angelo half smiled and said, "Go and look at it as closely as you like."

The boy rose directly, then hesitated, and coloring deeply, said, "I
hope, sir, I have not offended you. Indeed, I couldn't help the
exclamation."

Egerton merely shook his head, and a slight smile crossed his lips as he
said, "Enthusiasm is natural to the young. Examine all the pictures."

Unconscious of the calm, dark eyes that were so keenly watching him,
forgetting where he was, the boy gazed entranced and wrapt on them; but
Angelo noticed that he left Michael Angelo's grand piece and the
gorgeous Rubens to return to the St. Catherine.

"He abandons our favorite for Rafaelle, Inez," said Egerton.

The child looked up, and glancing from the picture to the boy, said,
"Perhaps the Michael Angelo is too sublime for him to appreciate."

It was a strange remark for a child of ten years to make, but she had
not been trained as most children are, and in many things there was a
precocity about her which sometimes gave Angelo a deeper pang of pain
than he would have ever acknowledged. Even now a shade crossed his face,
and he smothered a sigh, as he said to the boy, "Are you fond of
paintings?"

"I am passionately fond of paintings, sir," answered the boy, with a
flush on his cheek and a flash in his eye.

"Have you ever seen pictures like these before?" said Angelo.

"Ah, no, sir, never!" he replied.

"Have you ever heard the name of Rafaelle?" asked Egerton.

"Yes, sir, I have read about him."

"That picture you evidently admire the most, the St. Catherine, was
painted by him," said Egerton.

"What, sir, that actual picture?" exclaimed the boy.

"Yes, it is an original," said Egerton.

"Ah, sir! he must have been a great artist; I wish I could paint."

"Don't you like being an errand-boy?" said the child, suddenly.

The boy turned sharply, and a dark flush mounted to his brow, as he
replied proudly, "No, miss; I must do that, or starve; but though my
dead mother was only a poor artist, she was a lady, and my father a
gentleman."

The Spaniard looked at Angelo, and her eyes filled as she said
pityingly, "Have you no father or mother?"

"No, miss," he replied, "both are dead."

"What is your name?" asked Egerton.

"Walter Hargrave, sir."

"That is not your real name--your father's?" said Egerton, bending
forwards.

"No, but it's good enough for an errand boy," said the boy, bitterly.
Then he added hastily, "I beg your pardon, sir. I have taken great
liberties, but I shall never forgot the pictures."

Here Burns entered with the pistols, and the boy retired. But Angelo
leaned against the mantelpiece, and sank into a deep reverie. He was
passionately fond of the arts, and of art and talent wherever he found
it. He had been struck with the whole appearance and manners of the
errand boy, more especially the admiration he had evidently felt and
showed for the pictures, and Egerton determined to learn a little more
of the boy, and if he found him what he expected, he was equally
determined to take him by the hand, and with a generous spirit like
Angelo's, that meant to start him in life. Consequently, it was at an
early hour the next morning that Sir Angelo Egerton, M.P. for Cambridge
University, walked into the shop of Mr. John Everard, Old Bond-street, a
good, old-fashioned, unpretending-looking place, that had been
established more than half a century, and had been owned by the father
and grandfather of its present master.

Mr. John Everard himself was none of your flashy modern tradesmen, who
put on long coats, peg-top trousers, and parson-like "guillotins," and
drive out in dog-carts under the delusion that they will be mistaken for
gentlemen or fashionable 'men about town.' No; John Everard came of an
old country yeomanry family. He was proud of it, he was proud of being
the head of so old an establishment as Everard and Co (the Co. had been
defunct twenty or thirty years since); he respected himself as such, and
did not wish to be taken for anything above his position; he would have
rather felt insulted if he had been. He was just one of those people you
would call the 'old gentleman;' he belonged rather to the last
age--there was just a dash of seventeen hundred and odd about him, for
he clung to the dress of his youth. He wore a blue coat with silver
buttons, and knee breeches and black silk hose, with large silver
buckles to his shoes. He wore large massive old fashioned gold
spectacles, which his bright blue eyes, almost as keen as in youth,
scarcely needed, and in consequence the old gentleman almost always
looked over or under them, and if excited, or particularly pleased or
angry, he would take them off in order to see better. You will not be
surprised to hear that he was a Conservative, so high as to have a tinge
of the old Tory school, to which in his youth he had belonged, and that
he still revered Blackwood's Magazine, and retained all his old
antipathy to the Wigs and the New Monthly.

Such he was, as Egerton now saw him, with his gray hair, silvered by
sixty years, shading his forehead and temples, peering over the gold
spectacles at each one who entered.

"Why, Sir Angelo!" he exclaimed, as the tall graceful figure of Egerton
appeared, "I am glad indeed to see you, sir. I haven't had that pleasure
for I don't know how long."

"Very long, Mr. Everard," said Egerton, "and now I want to speak
privately with you if you are at leisure."

"At your service, Sir Angelo; walk in here," said Mr. Everard, throwing
open his parlor door. "Come in, sir. How is your little one, Miss de
Caldara?"

"The same as ever, Mr. Everard--never ill or ailing."

"My boy brought the pistols," Mr. Everard said. "You shall have them
soon."

"It is about that boy I am here to day," said Egerton. "What sort of a
boy is he, Mr. Everard?"

"A very good one, Sir Angelo; as good a boy as any one need want," said
the old gentleman. "I believe he has known better days, poor child; but
he never grumbles nor is too fine to work; and he is true and honest as
gold."

"Is he fond of reading, at all?" asked Egerton.

"Indeed, sir, he is; read, whenever he can consistently with his
duties--he never shirks them a bit, I lent him a few books, and I assure
you, sir, considering all, he is very tolerably read and educated. I
have my eye on him."

"So have I, Mr. Everard. Do you know if he has ever tried to draw?"

"Oh yes, sir," said Mr. Everard. "Why, you see, his mother was an
artist. I knew them first two years ago, when she came to me, poor
thing, asking me to buy some water color drawings she had done. They
were really beautiful, sir; why they would have sold for fifteen
shillings and a guinea. She had brought her boy with her, and had once
or twice sent him on messages. Then she died suddenly, poor lady!--for
she was a lady, sir, every inch, born and bred--and this boy came to me
in great distress, entreating me to lend him five pounds to bury his
mother, promising to pay me back in time. I gave it him, sir, for he was
a right good lad, and then I took him as my errand boy. Well, Sir
Angelo, early and late that boy worked. In the hours that I didn't want
him he would go and carry parcels or messages for other people, and
would you believe it, the Christmas after his mother's death he brought
me the five pounds in a beautiful little purse. Well, you know, sir, it
would have been like robbing the orphan to take it. I couldn't, and I
didn't; I told him I'd keep the purse, but the money I had always meant
to give him, and he had shown himself more deserving of it by the
efforts he had made to repay it."

"You don't know anything of his history, then, or who his parents were?"
said Egerton.

"No, I don't, sir," replied Everard; "except that his mother once said
her husband had been a colonel in the army."

"You said he drew," continued Egerton; "have you any drawings that he
has done?"

"I think I have, sir," was the ready reply.

The old man opened a drawer, and after some search gave Egerton a
sketch. It was a pencil sketch--a woman standing by a stream, with an
old church in the background, and the moonlight falling on them. Sir
Angelo was a connoisseur, and though the drawing was very defective, and
devoid of art, there was a vigor and beauty about it, a life in it that
instantly struck him and told that the hand of an inborn artist had done
it.

"This boy," he said, "is an innate artist. This sketch is really
beautiful, defective and devoid of art though it is."

"The woman's face, sir, is his mother's over again," said Everard.

"Ah! indeed," said Egerton. "Have you any objection to let me have
this?"

"None, sir," replied Everard; "you're heartily welcome."

"Thank you," said Egerton. "And now, Mr. Everard to the point. I mean to
rob you of this boy, and bring him up as an artist instead of a
gunmaker."

"Then, indeed, Sir Angelo, it's very kind of you, and just like you,"
exclaimed the old gentleman, "for he seems very fond of the art."

"I am going to speak to him this evening," said Egerton; "and if he
likes my offer, I shall take him away at once."

"How can any boy in his senses refuse such an offer from a gentleman of
your rank and position, sir?" said Everard. "Why, his fortune is made."

"No, Mr. Everard, he must do that himself. I will give him the means,
but he must make his own name," said Angelo, as he took his leave. "Good
day, Mr. Everard."




CHAPTER II.


In the fair town of Florence, in an apartment elegantly furnished, but
simple for all that, sat a young man by the open window, enjoying the
soft April air which fanned and stirred his dark--almost golden--brown
hair. He was quite a young man, probably not more than two-and-twenty,
and most strikingly handsome. He had finely, classically cut features,
with a broad, imaginative, yet intellectual forehead, and a bold,
prominent, well defined brow, from beneath which looked a pair of large
beautiful blue eyes, deep, dark, and brilliant, yet with a softness in
their clear depths which gave them a peculiar beauty. But on his brow
there was a shade----

Not sorrow, but a shadow--nothing more--which should never have been
known to two-and-twenty years, and was painful to see on so young a
face, though it was only there when the face was in perfect repose as
now. The instant he spoke, or smiled, the shadow vanished, and the whole
countenance lighted up.

The young man was sitting with his back to the door, which was ajar, and
he was so wrapped in a dreamy reverie--dreaming, it might be, of the
distant shores of his native England, from which he was an exile--that
he did not hear steps--light, almost noiseless they were
certainly---enter the apartment, but a low spoken "Julian!" uttered in a
voice he well knew, instantly caught his ear, and, with an exclamation
of joyous surprise, he sprang to his feet.

"Angelo! you here, old friend!" and the hands of the two Englishmen met
in a clasp that none but Englishmen give, for a moment in silence; and
then Angelo drew forward a slight and childish figure we know, saying:

"I have brought Inez with me, Julian."

"I am very glad. I often think of my little favorite," said Julian,
bending down and tenderly kissing the child; "why, pretty one, how tall
you have grown, just like the flowers in the garden."

She smiled, and asked if she might get some.

"As many as you can, fairy," replied Julian; "only don't let Leon
trample on them."

His eyes followed the little slender form as she bounded away with the
gigantic Spanish bloodhound, and he turned to Angelo.

"She is very tall for ten years," said he, "and very slight, very
fragile. Is she in health?"

A sudden pang went to Egerton's heart that for a second held him silent;
then he answered, quietly, "She is very strong, physically and
constitutionally. She never is ill, she has an iron constitution."

"She is remarkably like you, Angelo, both in feature and expression,"
said Julian, "but she has too grave a brow and sad an eye for ten years.
She has none of a child's joyousness. She used, five years ago, to be
different."

"Ay," said Angelo, bitterly, "but that is dead. That fatal night, four
years ago--that fatal tragedy--quite changed her. It has given her gray
hairs at ten years old. And you--oh, Julian! it is very bitter that you
must suffer so for that night's work. I must find that man."

"How? there is not a clue," said Julian Rothesay, sadly. "No, Angelo, we
must watch and wait. But let that pass. How is my beautiful
mother--Marion? I have not seen her since then."

"I saw her privately before I came," replied Egerton; "and I am the
bearer of a long letter from her. I will go to Inez while you read it.
Call me when you want me."

"Thank you, Angelo," said Julian. "But, by the way, tell that fairy she
must call me Julian, as she used to do when quite little, not Mr.
Rothesay, as she did just now."

Egerton stepped out of the window, and called Inez to him. "Come here,
Inez," said he. "I have a command for you."

She came; and it was beautiful to see how her mournful dark eyes and
grave little face lighted up at the mere sound of his voice.

"What is it, Angelo?" she asked.

"Julian is very angry with you, Inez."

"I see your lips smile," said the child, shaking her head. "You are not
in earnest."

"No, of course not," replied Egerton. "He says you are to call him by
his Christian name, not his surname."

"It would seem wrong, Angelo, and disrespectful," said the child.

"Why, pretty one, you call me 'Angelo,' and I am two-and-twenty instead
of twelve years older than you."

"Ah, you--" said the child, and she paused. Angelo Egerton almost
involuntarily bent down and kissed the child's brow as he said. "But he
loves you and wishes it, and so do I, because he does. Won't you
remember and call him Julian always, now and when you are grown up?"

"Yes, I will remember, Angelo," she replied, "and if it won't be wrong,
I like calling him best by the old familiar name."

"Angelo! Inez! come in," called Julian. He had read the letter and put
it away.

"Now tell me what you are doing, Julian," said Egerton. "How are you
getting on?"

"As well as I could hope, being so young," he replied. "I have got some
name here and beyond here, I am told. It is important to get known. I
have several splendid private galleries at my service, and plenty of
pupils. Yes, I am getting on, certainly."

"Mark my words, Julian--in three or four years you will 'wake one day
and find yourself famous.' Such talent as yours will make itself known."

"Ah, Angelo, I wish I could think as well of myself as you do."

"Well, well, it is best as it is," said Egerton; "but remember my words.
I have another pupil for you; a young friend, a ward of my own."

"Angelo, you are very kind," said Julian.

"Stay a minute, you don't know what I am going to ask of you," said
Angelo. "First, give me your opinion of this," and he drew forth the
drawing Mr. Everard had given him.

Julian took it, and examined it carefully. "The artist of this is
untaught," said he, "or, at least nearly so, but he has talent."

"You have exactly hit it," said Egerton. "This youth is now only
fifteen. He was only a short time ago errand-boy to Everard of
Bond-street. He is a gentleman, and the son of a colonel in the Indian
army, at whose death his widow and child came to England, and lived in
great poverty. The mother died a year and a half ago, and the son went
to Mr. Everard's. A little while ago I came across the boy, and finding
evidence of talent as an artist, I resolved to bring him up as one, and
to place him with you, not as your usual pupils are, who have homes
near. His home must be with you, for I am going to take my little one to
travel for two, three, or perhaps four years; so that he will be always
under your charge, though, of course, you shall always know where I am.
For all his expenses, in every way, I provide of course."

"Angelo, stop, now hear me out, and don't let your pride speak. Let me
in some way return to you the kindnesses you have heaped upon me for
years. I shall never be able to repay them all. Give me the pleasure,
for once, of serving you. I will teach your ward for nothing; from you I
will take no fee. Angelo, you must grant me this."

"As you will, my dear Julian. I perfectly understand you," said Egerton,
grasping the artist's hand. "Have your way on that point."

"Why didn't you bring him here?" said Julian; "and, by the way, what is
his name?"

"Walter Surrey," was the reply. "I left him at the hotel; but you must
come up and spend the evening with me, and I will present your future
pupil to you."

"I shall be delighted," said Julian. "I hope, Angelo, you are not going
to fly at once?"

"No," said Egerton, "we have plenty of time, and shall stay at Florence
two or three months. Inez shall travel as I did."

"How do you manage to leave England for three or four years, Mr.
Statesman?" asked Julian.

Inez had glided away the moment Egerton mentioned business matters, and
he answered, with an anxious glance at the slight figure moving amongst
the flowers. "She needs a thorough and lengthened change. Her spirits
have never recovered the shock of that night. I am afraid they never
will; but I will try what two or three years' travelling will do. Longer
than that I cannot possibly be away, and even that, not very well; but
still, better now than any time hence."

"Are you sure of your re-election for Cambridge University?" asked
Julian.

"Yes," was the reply; "not much fear of losing that."

"The Conservatives, I see, went out in March, Angelo--turned out by a
regular Whig trick. You were in the Conservative ministry?"

"Yes; but we shall be in again before three years are out," said
Egerton, quietly, as he rose; "but we must leave you now. Ah, here is
Inez. Come early, Julian."

"I will be with you at 7. So adieu till then," said the artist.

"Till then adieu," returned Egerton.




CHAPTER III.


Four years ago, at the time of Lady Egerton's murder, there was living
at Brightstone, in the little street by St. Catherine's church, an
honest greengrocer named Samuel Warren; but his house was empty now, for
Sam had found that other and larger greengrocers, who had capital,
carried off his little business, and Sam wisely cast in his mind the
utility of removing to some place where there was less competition. The
first thing was to find such a place, and one morning Sam said to his
next door neighbor, a working clock-maker and jeweller, "Brown, I'm
going to leave Brightstone."

"What for?" said Brown, withdrawing his pipe. "I am sorry, for you're a
jolly neighbor. Says I to my old woman, 'Nancy,' says I, 'Sam Warren's
the nicest chap I've knowed this long while.'"

"Thank ye," said Sam. "You see I must go, or the lean wolf, as they say,
will be at my door. There's too many in my line set up here--flashy
chaps, who've got more tin to go upon; and as 'a shilling always beats a
groat,' you know, Brown, I must go to some place where there's less
people in my line."

"And have you heard tell o' such a place yet?" asked Brown.

"No," replied Sam. "I must look about."

"Well, why don't you try Falcontower, up on the north coast, where that
'ere old castle is as belongs to the Egertons," said Brown. "I'm a
Falcontower man, you know."

"Are you?" said Sam. "But it's quite a town, isn't it?"

"Yes, praps rather larger than will suit your ticket," replied Brown.
"Try Forest Moor. I was there a short while, and it's a very decent
little sort o' place, and there ain't any regular greengrocer in it."

"Well, but look here, Joe," said Sam, sticking his hands in his pockets,
"at t'other place there's a castle--now if I could get the custom
there----"

"Ay, but you can't," said Brown, "'cause as how there's orchards and
kitchen gardens, and all so that everything's grow'd in the grounds.
Why, the head gardener there has a tidy berth, I promise you. No--Forest
Moor's the best though the people at The Grange didn't used to keep any
company, or live handsome like. But you see it's one o' those quiet,
pretty little country places where old ladies come who've got nothing to
do but buy things and spend their tin. Now ye see at t'other
place--Falcontower--it's a sea-side place, and to be sure lots go there,
but then they're tip-top ones, who like fine shops."

"Forest Moor for me then," said Sam Warren. "I'll go there and find a
shop."

Sam turned into his house, but a fortnight after he turned out, and when
we again see him he is 'located' in a nice shop near the railway bridge
at Forest Moor, of which place we shall hear more.

As a new arrival, of course Sam knew nothing of the place or its
inhabitants, and therefore it is we find his wife standing one evening
at the door, gossiping with a laundress who lived near them, and who was
rejoicing at having some one to tell all the news to.

"Well, ye see," she was saying, "this warn't much of a place till twenty
years, when the man as has got The Grange up yonder, made the railway
people build a station here in some way, and then other people saw as it
was a nice place, they built more, and now it's quite a large village."

"Is that it?" asked Mrs. Warren. "But who owns The Grange, then?"

"That's it," was the reply, "on the other side of the river, not far off
o' the new bridge. I've lived here, girl and woman, this forty year come
next Christmas, and I remember The Grange when the old family had it.
Ah, it was different then. The Surreys wor a fine set, but this Mr.----"

"Ain't this gentleman one of them, then?" asked Mrs. Warren.

"Lawks, Missis Warren, he ain't a real gentleman, this chap ain't. He
ain't never got a civil word for us poor folks, and the good old squire,
Mr. Herbet Surrey, always had a kind word for all; but he wor very hard
on his son--his only one, too. It's more'n thirty years back now when
young Mr. Armitage (that wor his mother's name) came of age, and then he
must needs marry a village girl who warn't noways his equal; and his
father tuk it bad, as well he might, and this Stanfeld was the family
lawyer, and I always says that he made mischief. Says I to my son--he's
a sodger, my son is--'Yes, Bill,' says I, 'you may take my word for it
that Stanfeld's made mischief a' purpose.' The young squire tuk his
wife. She was good enough, but she stuck up to be above her class; and
though I allers sticks up for my own class, I says, keep yerself to yer
class. Some wor born to be high and rich, and some on us poor and
humble. The good Book says so; and so I telled Mary Mason (that was the
girl he married), but she wouldn't hear me; though, for all her fine
airs, she couldn't make herself a drop o' real high blood. Well, they
went off to Injee, so I've hearn tell, but nobody ever hearn nothink of
'em again, and they said he and her both died there. May be though as
how Stanfeld could tell more o' that if he chosed too. The old squire
died soon arter, and then somehow this lawyer, Stanfeld, got hold o' The
Grange, and many years ago he come to live here."

"Dear--how sad!" said Mrs. Warren; "and has he any children?"

"Yes; two of his own and a niece. His wife died four years back in
London. His oldest daughter is eighteen, and his second is sixteen. She
and his niece be at school far off here, but Miss Eveline nearly two
years ago was married here to a Mr. Arthur Vivian, the wickedest looking
man as I ever set eyes on. She lives at The Grange still, but he's
hardly ever there. Them's a bad set, them two is at least--Stanfeld and
Mr. Vivian--but Lor! don't the little un, the niece, give it to her
uncle. Forde, the groom, says she's as perky to him as can be; so is the
youngest girl, Miss Theresa, t'other one. Mrs. Vivian was allas like her
mother, pretty, quiet, timid thing, quite cowed between her father and
husband, and since her babby was born, and died (it only lived ten
minutes, for I nursed her), she's never held up her head."

Here Mrs. Warren drew her apron across her eyes. "I lost a baby once,"
she said, turning away and entering her shop.

The woman looked after her, and a tear rolled down her own rough cheeks,
for she, too, had known losses, and not one, but many, for out of eight
children only three were living.




CHAPTER IV.


"Time and tide wait for no man," says the adage. Eight years have passed
since the death of Lady Egerton, four years from the time we saw Egerton
and his ward starting on their travels. Angelo's political prediction
had been verified, for before the three years had fairly passed, he
received from his fellow member for the University the following pithy
letter:---

"DEAR EGERTON,--Come home directly. The Whigs have had a defeat, have
dissolved, and the writs are out for next week.--Yours truly, WILLIAM
COURTENAY."

This was received at Bruges, and in less than eight-and-forty hours
Angelo and Inez were in England. He was again, and unanimously, returned
for Cambridge; but the Whigs did not long save themselves, for another
defeat compelled them to resign, and a Conservative Ministry came into
office, and with them, though not in the cabinet, Angelo came in again.
And this ministry was still in power when we have to introduce the
reader to the home of Marion Rochester in Seymour-street.

It was about 4 o'clock of a January afternoon--a dull, miserable
afternoon, with the dusk already beginning to fall. But, by the fire,
drooping forwards, sat a fair woman. She was, in reality, thirty-two or
thirty-three, but she looked barely seven-and-twenty, partly perhaps
from the youthful grace and roundness of her fine form. She was a
handsome woman, and no one could look at her without being attracted by
her striking beauty and the gentle, firm, and noble face; rich dark
chestnut hair shaded a forehead on which truth and purity had set the
golden mark of their beauty; but, with all that, it was the eyes that
were the most beautiful--dark hazel, bright and clear as truth itself,
and with unutterable depths of love and tenderness, but now and then a
shade, as of sorrow, would sadden them, as if some painful thought or
memory had passed like a cloud through her mind and heart; much the same
mournful expression that was habitual and lay so deep in the dark gray
eyes of Angelo and the black orbs of the young Inez. Very heavy was
their sorrow that had fallen on her; very heavy was her sorrow that fell
on them only through her.

Marion sat alone; for only the day before her daughter, or rather
step-daughter, had gone back to school. She had sat alone for a long
time, but she heard a well known knock below, a well known step without,
and as the door opened she rose to meet with outstretched hands an old
friend, to whom strange and strong ties bound her--Angelo Egerton.

"This is very kind, Angelo, to spare me some of your busy time," said
Marion.

"Are you all alone, dear Marion?" he asked. "Where is Isbel?"

"She went back to school yesterday," was the reply. "Austin's daughter
is gone."

"Austin's daughter!" he exclaimed; "is she not your's too?"

"Ah, Angelo, yes," she replied; "but I love to call her his child--it
binds me closer to him."

"Marion, he has almost broken your heart," said Angelo. "You have not
seen his face for many, many years; you know not even if he is alive."

She bent lower, covering her face.

"My sweet sister Marion," he added, "while there is life there is hope.
I have seen him--he is alive."

"Seen him!" she exclaimed. "Oh, Angelo, where--when?"

"A short time ago I took Inez to see some of the Rotterdam boats going.
I was talking to a man when she called my attention to a boat just about
to start, by saying, 'Angelo, look at that gentleman leaning over the
taffrail. I'm sure it's Austin Rochester.' And it was he. He saw me,
too, for he bowed."

"Thank God!" murmured the deserted wife, and she was silent for some
minutes; then lifting her face, she said, "How could that child remember
him? She was only five years old when she saw him."

"Listen, Marion," said Angelo. "She was barely five when I brought her
from Spain; yet two years ago, when we were in Madrid, she called me to
the window one day, by exclaiming, 'Angelo, look at that priest in the
street. It is Padre d'Alvarez. I saw his face.' He had been her father's
confessor. So don't wonder at her remembering Austin any more."

"Speak to me now, Angelo, of yourself and yours," said Marion. "I saw my
cousin, William Courtenay, the other day, and he was telling me of some
bill you are filing against a Mr. Stanfeld, on behalf of that boy you
took up four years ago. Tell me about it," she said, with the
restlessness of a mind trying to escape thought, and Angelo yielded to
it.

"It is a long story," he said. "I am filing a bill against a trustee on
behalf of Surrey--who is still under age--to get the Court to remove
this trustee, who has been guilty of a gross breach of trust, which
should in fact be felony. Nearly forty years ago the grandfather of my
ward, a Mr. Herbert Surrey, owned an estate called Forest Moor, which is
worth about thirty thousand pounds, and he had one son, Armitage. He had
also a friend, his solicitor, rejoicing in the name of Stephen Stanfeld,
whose subsequent conduct shows him to be a deep villain. Just after
coming of age, Armitage Surrey committed a most foolish, mad-brained
act, which has entailed all this on his child; he fell in love---as the
cant phrase goes--with a village maid, one of those infatuations that
generally end in misery, and it did in her case. He married this girl,
upon which his father, the squire, sent him just one thousand pounds,
and from that time disowned him--utterly and entirely, refusing all
communication to or from his son."

"What did he do then?" asked Marion.

"Well, he had been intended for the Indian army," said Angelo, "and when
his father disowned him, he took his wife and sailed at once for India,
entering the army. But he seems to have been as proud and haughty as the
squire, and he never made the slightest attempt at reconciliation--never
wrote a single line, or even mentioned to anyone in India whose son he
was. Nor did the death of his wife, five years after, make any
difference in his conduct. He trusted to the friend and solicitor,
Stanfeld, to inform him if his father died, utterly neglecting to make
any enquiries himself, and thus neglected his affairs up till the time
of his death. Twenty years ago he married again, a lady, by name
Gertrude Norman, by whom he had one son, Walter Norman, my ward; but
Armitage died at the age of forty-seven, twenty-six years after leaving
England. Meanwhile, in England, the old squire lived only five years and
a half, leaving a will by which he devised the estate to Stanfeld and
another in trust, for his son for life, and after his death to his heirs
male. Stanfeld and his co-trustee proved the will, but, almost
immediately after, the latter died. Stanfeld took possession of the
estate, but he never wrote to India, and though it was easy to do so, he
never made the slightest attempt to find Armitage or to communicate with
him."

"But how do you know that?" asked Marion.

"Well, my dear Marion, because if he had, Armitage must have heard from
him in some way or other; but that wasn't Stanfeld's game; he took
possession of Forest Moor, and twenty clear years passed without any
claim being made on the estate or him. Seymour, my solicitor, finds on
enquiry, that many years ago he went openly to live at Forest Moor."

"What became of Armitage's widow and son?" asked Marion.

"Well, when Armitage died, his child was only six years old," replied
Egerton; "but Mrs. Surrey assigned nearly all her pension to trustees to
pay the debts her husband had left, and came to England with her child,
where, as an artist, she managed to support herself and him in great
penury. About six years ago she died, and four years back I came across
her son as errand boy to Everard of Bond-street."

"And he a gentleman's son!" said Marion.

"Yes," said Egerton; "the rest you know. And now I file the bill to
remove Stanfeld for breach of trust, and to have myself appointed
guardian and trustee; and, moreover, to ask for an account for all those
thirty-three years, during which our very honest opponent has been
enjoying his stolen goods. He ought to refund some forty thousand
pounds."

"You will never get it," said Marion.

"No," said Egerton; "but he will have to give up what he has, and pass
through the Insolvent Court; and probably the very estate is neglected.
So much for Colonel Surrey's culpable behaviour."

"What sort of a boy is his son?" asked Marion.

"At present all I could wish," replied Angelo; "but he has as yet hardly
been tried. I must in another year put him to the test, and throw him
into the London world."

"Angelo, you are a severe man," said Marion, "Have a care, for the
ordeal is a trying one; and few can pass it scathless, as you and Julian
did. Tom was put through the ordeal, and fell."

"Walter will never fall as Tom did," said Angelo; "and Walter will have
my watchful eye and ready hand. He must stand his trial, and learn his
lesson as others do; for if he cannot rely on himself entirely, he can
never go through life. I am looking further for him than he looks for
himself." And Marion felt that Angelo was right.




CHAPTER V.


Inez de Caldara was a singular being. From the ago of five years she had
been under the care of Angelo Egerton. Her father was a Castilian count,
with a pedigree reaching direct to the Cid, but without any property to
leave to his child, his estates being entailed on heirs male, and his
heir happened to be a fourth or fifth cousin. He had only another
relation, a first cousin Jesuita Maria de Caldara, who had very young
married an English baronet of birth and rank, Sir Reginald Egerton of
Falcontower Castle. Inez had early lost her own mother, and when she was
but five years of age her father died, enjoining his confessor to send
Inez to England to her cousin Jesuita, who at that time was a widow with
one child, who had been called after her own father, Angelo. The
confessor wrote to Lady Egerton, and in consequence, Angelo, then seven
and twenty, went over to Spain, and brought the little child away with
him to England.

Jesuita was one of those noble-hearted, high-minded beings who inspire
in those intimately and constantly about them a love that is devotion.
By her son she was almost worshipped and reverenced as some superior
being, and the little Inez soon learned to love her almost as much as
she did Angelo--not quite, for his image was first in her child's heart,
or rather her love for the two was different. To Jesuita she gave a
child's love, for the gentle lady was a mother to her; but Angelo was to
her some superior, higher being, almost worshipped, idolised with a love
whose depth and strength and force were scarcely even known to herself;
it was vague, dreamy, undefined, but not the less deep and strong.

She had always been a strange child, keenly observing and thoughtful,
coming out at times with remarks so far beyond her years as to startle
those who heard her, and yet, too, she was a joyous, merry child, full
of fun and high spirits. So she was till the age of six years; but then
one dark terrible night changed all--a fearful scene of horror and
bloodshed which she alone witnessed--and when Angelo, almost
broken-hearted, lifted the insensible child from the corpse of his
ill-fated mother, and bore her away, there were gray hairs in the heavy
black tresses which swept over his breast.

From that time she was completely changed--all the beautiful brightness
and joyousness of childhood was gone, and she became what we have seen
her at ten years old and see her at fourteen--silent, still, and grave;
proud and reserved she was by inborn nature: she seemed outwardly cold
and almost passionless, but in reality, from the day of the murder
watchfully and steadfastly bending every power and force of her mind to
one end--that was never for a moment lost sight of--never for one moment
swerved from.

Neither had she been brought up like other girls. From the very first
Angelo had undertaken the entire charge of teaching her and bringing her
up; nor would he bear the notion of parting with her. Even Mrs.
Rochester could not move him--and the tie between them was no common one
either.

"No, Marion," he had answered, gently but firmly, "I had always intended
to keep her and train her myself; and now, more than ever, I adhere to
it. To send her now amongst strangers would kill her."

And Marion felt that he was right, and ceased to urge it. Deeply engaged
as he was in politics, Egerton always found time to attend to his little
charge. He taught her Latin, Italian, and French, the two last
principally as the Russians do--by talking to her in those languages, in
which, as we have seen, he perfected her by taking her to the countries
themselves. All the sterner studies and reading he gave; and in the
gifted and high intellect of the child he had rich ground to work upon.
He did more than teach her--he trained that fine intellect and nature to
an almost masculine strength and self-control--a task made easy by the
effects of his mother's fearful death; for the terrible shock and grief
which had sown gray hairs in her 'youth's bright locks,' and cast down
from its temple her childish joyousness and impetuosity, had put in
their place premature years, and gravity, and thought, and the one
steady purpose of her life, that had been so from that night, made her
for that end train and school every impulse and feeling, mental and
physical, under the iron hand of her strong will. Thus, even at
fourteen, her intellect and character had a sternness, strength, and
power, almost masculine, and rarely found in women--not always in men.
She was a child in some things, in others far beyond her years.

Let it not be thought, however, that Egerton had neglected the
accomplishments, for the child had talents that were not to be hidden
under a bushel. Himself an amateur musician of a high order, and a
passionate lover of music and its sister arts, he had early found that
the child was, like himself, a lover of all that was beautiful, and for
those arts he gave her the best masters.

When she was fourteen, Marion Rochester again ventured to interfere, on
the strength of a friendship which dated back many years, for her first
husband had been a close friend of Egerton's.

"Angelo," she said, "you are bringing up your child strangely."

"My dear Marion, is she not all I could wish?" he answered, with his
grave, almost sad smile.

"To you, who are a man, and a stern one--yes; to me, a woman, no. I do
not like to see fourteen years so grave and reserved, caring nothing for
the amusement most girls of her age like. Here she has nothing but the
society of men older than herself, which she likes best, but is it quite
good for her? Throw her more amongst young people, girls."

"Dear Marion," said Egerton, "how am I to do that? You send your Isbel
to school, but you know schools are my horror."

"Send her, if only for six months, to one," pleaded Marion. "Indeed,
Angelo, you are wrong. Nothing can harm her, and if I find a good
school----"

"I don't think the one exists where I would send her," said Egerton.

"I have heard of one, where I mean to place Isbel after Christmas," said
Marion; "will you see the lady, and if it pleases you, send Inez?"

"I will think over what you have said, dear Marion." It was all she
could get from him; but he did think over it. He saw Mrs. Ashton, and
resolved that the child should be placed there for six mouths if the
lady would receive her on his own terms--that is, the freedom he should
stipulate for. "He was willing to pay anything she liked," he said, but
he told her plainly "that his ward was not like other girls of her age;
that very painful circumstances in early childhood had had a very sad
effect, and that as he sent her principally for companionship, he wished
her to have more the freedom of a parlor boarder than a regular pupil,
though she was to be thrown amongst the girls; he did not want her
'favored' in the slightest degree. All he meant was that in play hours,
for instance, she might go out riding with her groom, a man who had been
long in his family, and other such liberties not usually accorded to the
girls." Mrs. Ashton agreed, and so Inez went to the school, and the old
groom, John Wylde, who, like Burns, had grown gray in the Egerton
family, went to the village hard by.

* * * * * * * * *

A greater contrast there could not well be than the Spanish Inez and the
English Isbel. See them standing together by the shrubbery gate, the
rays of the winter sun falling full on them; and say if, personally,
they are not a direct contrast. Isbel with her fair complexion and
golden tresses, Inez with her dark face and raven locks, though amongst
them the sunlight has found some stray gray hairs here and there, which
it plays along like rays of silver light.

Isbel was just seventeen, but not so tall by some inches as the
Castilian, though she was slight and graceful, and her beauty was
enhanced by the quick, sometimes fiery impetuosity of look and gesture,
natural and pleasing in youth, and which, unfortunately had been
replaced in Inez by a gravity and calmness unnatural and even painful to
see in so young a girl. Isbel's skin had in childhood been dazzlingly
fair, but 'The sun with ardent frown, Had slightly tinged her cheek with
brown.'

In plain English she was a little bit tanned, as you could see by
lifting her rich hair, golden in the light, deep brown in the shade, and
exposing her white temples. Her face was one which, for beauty of
feature alone, would have pleased any sculptor or painter, and for
beauty of expression would have made you look again and again at her
with irresistible fascination, for there was a whole world of thought
and feeling in the deep dark blue eyes, and intellect on the broad noble
brow, that charm about the whole face, which immediately attracted.

She was speaking as she leant over the gate to pull a leaf of laurel.

"So you don't think you shall like school, Inez?" she said.

"A month is hardly enough to judge in," said the Spaniard.

"I wish you would speak out, you tiresome child," said Isbel. "How do
you like Mrs. Ashton and the girls, then?"

"Well enough at present," was the guarded answer, from a habit of so
speaking.

"There you are again," said Isbel.

"A word is enough to the wise," said Inez, half smiling.

"Proverb for proverb, senora," said Isbel, gaily. "'Beware of the silent
man, and of the dog that does not bark.' Really and seriously, Inez, how
do you like them? What think you of Theresa Stanfeld?"

"Very well, I like her very much," replied Inez. "She is sharp and
intelligent, and has such warm feelings; but she is hasty and
passionate, and unless she learns to control her impetuous temper, it
will be her bane in life!"

"And Margaret Arundel?" said Isbel.

"Better still," replied Inez; "she is more stable and self-controlled,
but there seems a cloud over her which I cannot understand in such a
young girl."

"Inez, you are a strange creature," said Isbel, dropping the leaf she
had plucked; "did it ever strike yourself how queer and odd you often
talk, as if you numbered thirty instead of fourteen years? What do you
know of the world and life?"

"Does length of years always make up the sum of life?" said Inez, with a
grave smile that was the very same as Egerton's. "There are many who
live twenty years in ten; griefs and troubles add years and bitter
knowledge to a life faster than any reckoned days and weeks and months
can do, Isbel."

She raised her dark, mournful eyes as she spoke, and Isbel said, almost
passionately:

"Inez, how can you have known such bitter teaching troubles? You, so
beloved, with rank, wealth, and beauty, with all that makes life happy
and dear!"

"Is all gold that glitters, Isbel?"

Tears filled Isbel's tender, earnest blue eyes, but she lifted the heavy
braids of the Castilian's hair, and said gently, "Inez, lift your heart
upward and find peace and hope; for as silver hairs have found their way
amongst the darkness of your hair, so will silver light find its way
into the darkness of your sorrow."

Inez made no reply, but her head drooped a little lower, and a heavy
tear fell on her companion's hand.

There was a long silence. Inez's eyes were fixed dreamingly on the
far-off distance, but looming as in a vision through a distance of time,
for with a mournful cadence to her heart--Other days came back to her
with recollected music.

"Inez, where are your thoughts?" whispered Isbel, softly.

"Far, far away in years that can never be recalled--that can never,
never return," answered the child drearily.

There was another long silence, but broken this time by other voices;
the bushes near were pushed aside, and Theresa Stanfeld and Margaret
Arundel stood before Isbel and the Castilian.

"Oh, here you are!" exclaimed the impetuous Theresa, bounding forwards.
"We want your opinion. Don't you like the preaching of the new curate of
Yellowfield, the Rev. Cuthbert St. John?"

"No," said Isbel Rochester.

"I don't like him or anything about him," said Inez de Caldara,
decidedly.

"I am sure his sermon was splendid," remarked Margaret.

"Fine oratory--yes," returned the Castilian, drily.

"And do you think that a fault?" exclaimed Theresa, warmly; "do you
think all the good oratory should be kept for the House of Commons?"

"Mere oratory is better there than in the pulpit," returned Inez, in her
quiet way, and by no means moved by the other's impetuosity.

"I'll tell you what, Sonora Inez, you are excessively impudent," said
Theresa, laughing; "but it's anything but warm here, and----"

"There is the dinner-bell ringing," added Margaret Arundel.

"And there is the postman going up the carriage drive," said Inez de
Caldara, and the next moment she had sprung across the intervening
grass, clearing at a flying leap several bushes in the way, and stood
before the postman.

"Any for me, postman?" she asked.

"Well, miss, I don't know but what there is," said the old man; "let's
see; are you Miss de Caldara?"

"Yes," she replied.

"Then here you are, miss," said the postman, "and here's a heap of
others, too."

"I'll deliver them all; good morning," said Inez. And, taking the
letters, she sprang over a holly-bush and disappeared. Her own letter
she saw was from Angelo Egerton.

The Rev. Cuthbert St. John, to whom allusion has been made, was a
brother of Colonel St. John, an old friend of Egerton's, and son of the
Lady Alice already mentioned. The brothers were necessarily much
separated by their professions; and the sudden arrival of the gallant
officer at the parsonage was an equally agreeable and sudden surprise to
the rather straight-laced High Church clergyman. His errand was partly
to attend a grand ball given by a Mrs. Melville, an old friend of more
than one of the families playing important parts in this history, on her
son's coming of age; and he was, moreover, charged by Sir Angelo with a
mission to his fair ward, and niece Isbel, who were also invited to the
ball; and he had no sooner exchanged brotherly greetings with Cuthbert
and taken some refreshment than he set out for Mrs. Ashton's to perform
his errand.




CHAPTER VI.


It was half-past 5 when Colonel St. John jumped out of the fly he had
taken on his way, and rang at the bell of Ashton House. To his enquiry
whether Mrs. Ashton was at home, he was told yes, and shown into the
same apartment that Margaret had been, where he was left alone while the
servant took his card up.

In a few minutes Mrs. Ashton entered the apartment and advanced, but
Colonel St. John spoke first.

"Have I the honor, madam, of addressing Mrs. Ashton?"

"I am Mrs. Ashton, sir," she returned, in her quiet, graceful manner;
"but I believe the name of St. John is unknown to me."

"Allow me, then," he said, smiling, "to introduce myself as the brother
of your new incumbent at Yellowfield, and here now as the messenger of
Mrs. Rochester and Sir Angelo Egerton, commissioned to carry away two of
your charges. This will explain it." And he handed her a letter.

"Thank you. Will you excuse me?" And she broke it open.

It was from Marion Rochester, simply saying that she and Sir Angelo
Egerton would esteem it a great favor if she would allow her daughter
Isbel and Inez de Caldara to return with Colonel St. John to the manor
house, there to remain the following day and night for a ball to be
given there. She added certain feminine details relative to
ball-dresses, &c., which not being likely to interest the reader, we
will mercifully leave out.

Mrs. Ashton laid down the letter and said, "I shall be most happy to
comply with the request by placing the young ladies immediately in your
care."

"I am an old friend, you know, Mrs. Ashton," said the colonel. "I have
seen Miss Rochester three or four times, and little Inez I have many a
time carried in my arms. But I have not seen her now for four years.
Would you allow me to see her before we leave, as I have a packet to
deliver to her from her guardian, but only say a gentleman wishes to see
her."

"I will send her directly," answered the lady, inwardly smiling as she
retired at the idea of 'little Inez,' it being evident that the colonel
expected to find the little child he had left. He heard no footfall
without, but presently the door opened softly, and a tall dark slender
form stood there.

"It's Louis St. John!" burst in joyful surprise from her lips, and in a
second she had sprung forwards and clasped his hand in both hers.

"Is it possible!" began the astonished Louis. "Is this really Inez. Why,
I left a child, and I find a tall girl."

"The same Inez in heart," she said smiling.

"I am glad to see my favorite again. I am very glad to see you again,
Inez!" he said, with strange earnestness; "let me look at your face."

He laid his hands on her shoulders, and turned her towards the light,
gazing into the dark tender eyes, which met his with such truthful
childlike innocence and affection. When he had quitted England four
years before, he had left a child of ten years, and when he bade her
farewell, he had drawn her to his breast and held her in his arms, and
kissed her lips and eyes. Why could not he do so now--was it merely that
she had grown so tall, or that her silk dress swept the ground? No, it
was something that lay deeper than that, something that, man of the
world as he was, he could not define, scarcely even feel as a
distinctive feeling, but rather as an instinctive impulse; it was not
that she seemed to him a woman or 'grown up,' for she did not, but she
was not the little child he had left--it was a strange vague indefinite
feeling that had shot through his breast when his eye met hers. He bent
down and gravely kissed the broad high brow.

"You are changed, Inez," said he, "and yet withal--Thou art still the
same, and the same heart I can see. But here is a packet from Egerton."

"From Angelo?" she exclaimed.

It was strange to see how eye and lip lighted up at his very name and
shed a beauty over that young face that was almost more than earthly; it
was---

The light of love, the purity of grace,

The Mind, the Music breathing o'er her face.

"I stand on no ceremony with you, Senor Don Louis," she said, smiling,
as she opened the packet, which contained a smaller one and a letter. It
was short, and was as follows, for Angelo rarely wrote long letters:--

"Dear Inez,--St. John will explain to you all about this ball at Mrs.
Melville's. You remember him dining with me last autumn. Not being able
to leave town myself, I told St. John (if you don't dislike it) to take
you there as my substitute. So remember to make all excuses for me. I
have sent you a little present, lest amid so gay a crowd my darling
should forget.

"ANGELO R. EGERTON."

"He wishes me to go with you," she said, "and says you will explain
all."

He did so, and then she opened the little parcel. It was a small
jewel-box, and in it reposed a beautiful bracelet, made of coal-black
hair, with a gold clasp set with diamonds, and engraved on the inside
with Angelo's crest and motto, a cross and sword bound with cypress and
palm, and underneath in small characters the words, "Faithful to the
death." It was his hair she knew, and a bright smile crossed her face as
she showed it to Louis, and then replaced it.

"I must go and dress," she said, "and fetch Isbel."

She was gone before he could look round, and for some minutes he was
alone. Then Mrs. Ashton and the two girls entered ready dressed, and
with a carpet bag. Isbel Rochester met Colonel St. John with a graceful
ease and ready recognition of him, which, though full of kindness, was
of course very different from Inez's affectionate and childlike
greeting; but Isbel was seventeen, and, in fact, 'grown up,' besides
having only seen him three or four times before, while Inez was but
fourteen, and had known him from almost the first moment she set foot in
England.

"Good-bye, my dears," said Mrs. Ashton, as the colonel placed them in a
fly, and stepped in himself. "I hope you'll like the ball; and mind, you
naughty Inez," she added, smiling, "don't keep that grave little
face--dance and be gay."

A shade crossed the child's face, but Colonel St. John said, gaily,
"Trust me, Mrs. Ashton. She is under my charge, you know, and I'll take
care of her." And, as we shall see, he kept his word.

It was near half past 6 when they reached the manor house, and Mrs.
Rochester's maid, Nelly Warren, Sam's daughter, was lying in wait for
them, and carried off the two girls to be dressed for dinner, which that
day had been put off to 7 o'clock.

Nelly conducted them up to an immense bedroom, containing two large
beds, strewed with dresses and millinery.

There were two ladies in the room--one was their hostess, Mrs. Melville,
a fine looking matron of forty; the other was Marion Rochester.

"Ah, here they are--welcome, and thrice welcome, my dears!" exclaimed
Mrs. Melville, warmly, and Marion, springing up, threw her arms first
round her step-daughter, and then round Inez, whom she loved as well at
least.

"I am so glad to see your dear faces," she said; "here, Nelly, be quick,
and help them to dress for dinner."

"We are ready," said Isbel, as Nelly divested them of their hats and
mantles. "We dressed before we started. Is my cousin Tom here, mamma?"

"To be sure," she replied; "Mrs. Melville, I am at your service."

"Thank you," said Mrs. Melville; "come along into my room. You two girls
run down to the drawing-room, there's nobody down yet. Nelly, show the
young ladies the way."

Mrs. Melville was wrong in supposing the drawing-room empty, for when
Isbel opened the door she saw a handsome, jovial looking man, who might
have been anywhere between five and eight and twenty, standing before
the fire.

"Why, by Jove, if it isn't Isbel and the senorita," he exclaimed,
reaching them in two strides. Mr. Thomas Courtenay (yclept "Tom," for
short) gave his cousin a warm embrace, and shook the Castilian's hand as
if he meant to shake it off--in fact, Isbel mildly suggested that
possibility, whereupon Tom threw himself in an attitude, exclaiming,
"Most noble senora, has thy slave offended in nearly wringing off that
fair hand?"

Neither of the girls could help laughing, but Isbel said, "Tom, behave
yourself; you are a walking personification of nonsense."

"Much obliged, coz," said Tom. "I hope such is not your opinion, Miss de
Caldara."

"Pretty nearly," replied Inez, smiling; "but why do you 'Miss,' and
'Senora' me? It used to be Inez when we met four years ago, and before
that."

"Why, by Joye, I don't know," said Tom, pushing up his curly hair as if
taken aback, "except that you've sprung up so tall. I can remember you
as high as that," holding his hand about four feet from the floor, "and
in short skirts, and now, i'faith you top Isbel and Marion by a good
bit. Do you remember," he added, more seriously, "what a favorite you
were with poor Julian D'Arcy?"

The child turned suddenly away with a quivering lip; and deeply pained
at having so inadvertently wounded her, Tom Courtenay glanced at Isbel
in mute appeal. But Inez's emotion was only for a second, her
self-control had now grown too habitual, and her strong will too all
powerful, to enable anything to unnerve her for long, and the next
moment she turned her face, with its habitual quiet expression, and said
in a voice resolutely calm, "Do not let my foolish weakness pain you. It
is past now, but I loved Julian, and his death----"

"Hush!" said Isbel, hastily; "I hear mamma coming, and she, too, can
hardly bear the mention of her son's name."

As the ladies came in, Tom muttered, "She's a most uncommon
step-mother," and then addressed them in his usual gay, rattling manner,
under which lay deeper feelings and a higher nature than many gave him
credit for.

In anticipation of the late to-morrow night, the family and guests
retired early, but Marion was still seated at her toilette table, while
Nelly brushed out her hair, when the door opened almost noiselessly, and
Inez stood by her side.

"Child, how you startled me!" exclaimed Marion, starting.

"Send your maid away," said the girl, in Italian.

"Nelly, you may go to bed," said her mistress, "I can easily undress
myself."

Nelly gladly retired, for travelling and bustling about had tired her.
Inez walked to the door, listened, bolted it, and returned.

"I wanted to see you alone," she said. "Angelo has so little chance of
doing so that he sent this to me in the packet Colonel Louis brought
me." She held out a letter.

Marion looked at her, and the name of "Julian!" burst from her lips, as
she grasped the letter. It was long, and once or twice she passed her
hand over her eyes. As she reached the end her breast heaved, and
suddenly clasping her hands on her brow, she cried with a great and
exceeding bitter cry, "Oh! Julian--oh, my son, my son! are we never more
to meet till we meet beyond the grave? Is thy beautiful head to be for
ever crushed beneath the frightful doom of another's fell deed?"

"Look at me!" said the low thrilling voice of the Spanish girl; and as
if under a spell, Marion looked up. Inez stood before her with such a
light in her strange steadfast eyes as startled Marion. "When you hear
me," said the child steadily, "do not look on me as a wild-brained
visionist, or think I do not know what I say; but by the love I bore the
dead, by the love I bear the living; I will find the man for whose dark
deed Julian is an exile, and Julian shall be restored to his name and
rights. It is the one purpose of my life, and I will do it!"

There was no haste or passion in her words or manner--no quivering of
the lip or wavering in the deep low voice--nothing but a strong,
deliberate purpose in treading the path to that end. A determination to
reach it, unalterable as the laws of the Medes and Persians. Nothing
could make her pause or swerve in her purpose; and Marion gazed on her
as if she looked on one inspired, whispering low and almost fearfully,
"Inez, Inez, how you look! How is it possible for you to do this thing?"

A sudden light shone in the Spaniard's dark eyes, as if a ray from
heaven had fallen on her face, as she said, simply, and almost in the
words of Scripture, "Angelo loves Julian as he loves his own soul, and I
will do it."

"Heaven grant it," said Marion, bowing her head; "but I fear for us all.
What can you do, my little one? How can you do anything?"

"Love conquers all," replied Inez, smiling gently. "The motto of my
forefathers is mine, and shall be proved at last."

When Marion looked up the child was gone, as silently as she had
entered, and Marion knelt and prayed earnestly that heaven would indeed
help the child. So that night passed away in the dim vista of time, and
the morning dawned, and with a strange and new-born feeling of hope at
her heart, Marion Rochester awoke from her dreamless sleep.

The first train brought down those guests who were to sleep that night
at the manor house; but we pass over the day to the ball in the evening,
to which young and old had been asked; and as Mr. Melville and his wife
were regular hospitable country people, and young Melville a jovial,
jolly sort of a follow, it promised to go off well. From far and near
the gentry of the surrounding country came, and about 8 o'clock
carriages began to set down the guests, and as they came more punctually
than people do in fashionable London assemblies, by 9 o'clock almost
every one had arrived, and the rooms were well filled, and about 9,
therefore, we will enter the saloons.

The Reverend Cuthbert St. John entered about that time, looking
particularly grand and good, and entering just as the opening dance had
ended, one of the first people he saw was his brother with a tall dark
girl leaning on his arm. Beautiful indeed Inez de Caldara looked in her
floating white lace robe, unjewelled, save for the rich
bracelet--Angelo's present--which circled her arm, and the slender chain
of diamonds which confined her hair, and gleamed amidst it like stars in
a dark night.

"Oh, Cuthbert, you are late!" said Louis St. John.

"More serious duties detained me," said the Reverend Cuthbert with a
sweet smoothness that implied reproof; but at the same time giving a
glance at the Castilian, which plainly said, "Introduce me." So Louis
read it, but yet somehow or other it was with an indefinable dislike he
did so, and did it shortly--"My brother Cuthbert--the Senora Inez de
Caldara."

Inez bowed in the cold haughty manner long habitual to her with
strangers; Cuthbert, intending to be as haughty, only bowed stiffly, and
passed on, his admiration of the beautiful Spaniard somewhat chilled.

"Look, Isbel!" whispered Tom Courtenay. "By Jove, there's Noah himself
risen from his grave."

"Take care!" said Isbel, smothering a laugh in her handkerchief. "It is
our incumbent, Colonel Louis's brother."

"Whew! sits the wind that way?" muttered Tom. "Well, I must have some
fun out of him. Isbel, you know him then?"

"I certainly do," she replied; "that is, I've met him four or five times
at the house of his mother, Lady Alice, and seen him at church."

"Oh, I'll take the shine out of him," said Tom. "Come along, and
introduce me, and keep my arm, and we'll have a lark. If you won't St.
John will."

He drew her forwards to where the clergyman was standing; and Isbel, who
had a piece of Tom's mischief in her, said, "How do you do, Mr. St.
John? Allow me to introduce my cousin, Mr. Thomas Courtenay."

"Happy to make your acquaintance, Mr. St. John," said Tom, his black
eyes dancing with mischief. "Having long known your warlike brother, I
was anxious to be introduced to you. Strange we should never have met at
my cousin Courtenay's house, eh! isn't it?"

"I presume, sir, you are not often there?" said the Reverend Cuthbert,
stiffly. "And I have been away from London."

"Ah, indeed! and while for three years I've been idling it away abroad,
you have been laboring to bring back these heathens to the pale of the
church. When I look back on the precious time I have wasted, sir," said
Tom, with a sanctimonious look, which nearly unmanned (or unwomaned) his
cousin's gravity, "and on the many idle hours I have flung away, and
reflect that time never returns, it makes me sad; it does, indeed, now."

Cuthbert looked at him, at first a little uncertain whether he was being
laughed at or not, but Tom's gravity deceived him, and he answered as
became a clergyman, that "Time and tide wait for no man; and hours
misspent and past can never be recalled," which was such a platitude
that Tom's mouth gave way slightly at the corners, but he said, "You are
right. By-the-way, I hear that party spirit runs high here between Low
Church and Puseyite."

"Anglo-Catholic; I presume you mean, Mr. Courtenay," said the Reverend
Cuthbert, drawing himself up, deeply offended at being called Puseyite.

"I beg your pardon," exclaimed Tom, intensely delighted at having what
he internally denominated 'riled the parson.' "I wasn't aware your party
had a new name. I have been abroad, you see, where there are only
Catholics and heretics; but----"

Whatever he was going to say to further 'rile the parson' was fated
never to be uttered, for young Melville came up, exclaiming, "Tom
Courtenay, you are usurping your cousin; Miss Rochester, do graciously
accord me the honor of your hand."

And the next moment Isbel whirled away in a rapid waltz, which Tom
hastened to join with Inez, whom he took from Colonel St. John as
unceremoniously as he had himself been robbed of Isbel.

We will not bore the reader with a description of the remainder of that
gay evening. Dancing was varied by admirably acted characters, in which
Inez took a prominent part, and by music at intervals; and when at an
early hour on the following morning the party broke up, there were few
of the younger guests who did not feel that, late as it was, the hour of
separation had come all too soon, so bright and so keen had been their
enjoyment of its hours.




CHAPTER VII.


Marion Courtenay, when very young, barely seventeen, had been married by
her father to a certain Colonel Cyril D'Arcy, a gallant officer who had
served with great distinction in India; and Marion, young and
inexperienced, mistook respect and admiration for love, when, in fact,
her affection for him was more that of a child to a father. He was many
years her senior, and at that time was a widower with one son, Julian, a
boy about eleven, who up till then had been under the care of Sir
Reginald Egerton. Marion's first acquaintance with Angelo was on her
wedding day. Only the day before Mr. Courtenay was attacked with
illness, but he would not postpone the marriage.

Cyril D'Arcy and Reginald Egerton had been schoolboys together, and when
the latter died, Cyril had continued the friendship to his old friend's
son as closely as the quiet reserve of Angelo would allow him, and now
it was Angelo who was asked to give away Miss Courtenay, which he did.

Marion D'Arcy was happy in her husband's affection, and in the deep love
she soon learned to bear her step-son. If the child had been her own she
could not have loved him with more entire devotion, and he returned it
fully. It has been said that the tie between Marion and Angelo Egerton
was no common one, nor was it, for that tie was this very boy Julian; it
had grown out of him, and centered absorbedly in him through sad and
strange circumstances to be told hereafter.

What Inez had said was true--that "Angelo loved Julian as his own soul."

As a little child, while his father was in India, Julian had been left
under the care of Sir Reginald and his wife Jesuita, whose gentle heart
warmed to the motherless child. But Angelo, like most young men, and
like himself in particular, had a dislike to young children; they were
for the women; he knew nothing about them, and cared still less, and
when at home he rarely if ever noticed the child; but when he did, there
was an irresistible fascination in his voice and manner--a winning power
of which he was even himself scarcely conscious, but which won the
child, as by some invisible force, even while he half feared him.

But Egerton knew it not, and might perhaps never have known till years
after what a rich wealth of love and noble nature he was throwing away,
but for one of those fine threads on which a whole lifetime often turns,
and which the world calls 'chance,' but which the thinking brain and
heart with deep reverence ascribes to an ever watchful Providence.

It was one hot autumn day at Falcontower Castle when Julian was about
eight years old and Angelo eighteen, that, the latter having ridden hard
that day, for he was a wild, reckless rider as far as he himself was
concerned, on his return, had thrown himself on the grass, on the
park-side of a stream which divided the flower gardens from the park,
and the long grass completely hid his prostrate form until you came
close. He had fallen into a deep reverie--a dream of ambition and power,
in which the face of his idolised mother was strangely mingled, when his
quick ear caught the sound of little footsteps, and the pattering steps
of a dog crossing the footbridge near him; but he did not move,
recognising little Julian's steps.

He heard the child sit down by the stream, for a long time silent and
motionless; then the gentle, child-like voice murmured some words to the
dog, at first too low to be caught, till, seemingly answering some
caressing movement of his canine companion, the boy said, sadly, "Ah,
poor Tyrol, you are not afraid of Angelo, for he speaks to you often,
not seldom--oh so seldom, as he does to me--and when he does, he makes
me love him. I am a child, and he doesn't like children; but oh, I wish
he would love me just a little bit, Tyrol," and the child drew a deep
heavy sigh.

Those simple words--that sigh--cut Angelo to the very heart's core with
a bitter, remorseful pang, whose sharp pain he had never thought to
feel; he saw in a moment how wrong, how cruel he had been in suffering
his dislike to very young children to blind his usual acuteness, and
overlook with careless, almost cold indifference, the pure affection of
a little child--that holy thing which, alas! is too often cast aside
with ruthless haste or neglect, and which is surely one of the few gifts
that remain of paradise.

But Angelo's mistake had been that of youth more than character, and the
moment he saw how wrong he had been, that moment he determined to repair
the evil before it was too late.

He raised himself, and said quietly, "Julian, come here."

The child started violently, but came instantly, saying hurriedly, "I
didn't know you were here, Angelo. Did we wake you?"

"I wasn't asleep," he replied, "sit down by me."

The child obeyed; but his look of timid wonder struck like cold steel to
Egerton's inmost soul, and even his iron will could not make his voice
quite so steady as usual, as he said, "Why are you afraid of me,
Julian?"

The boy hesitated, colored deeply, and his blue eyes drooped.

"Nay, my boy, do not be afraid to answer me," said Angelo, kindly.

"Because," half whispered the child, with quivering lips, "you don't
like children."

"And children don't like me," said Egerton; but his voice trembled.

Julian looked up quickly; there were tears, bitter, remorseful tears in
Angelo's eyes; and the child, with a sudden impulse, hid his face on
Angelo's breast, saying passionately, "I love you! Oh! Angelo, love me a
little!"

Angelo clasped the child to him, murmuring low, as he bent over him,
"God forgive me; for I have been greviously wrong all these years!"

From that day there sprang up between these two a love, that grew every
hour and day of the nineteen years that had passed since that moment,
which had been in their lives the turning point on which so much had
hung.

Then came Sir Reginald's death and Colonel D'Arcy's return, and a year
after that his marriage with Marion Courtenay; but in two years he died,
leaving his son and property, Friars Lea, to the sole guardianship of
Angelo Egerton. Marion was left even wealthy.

And now Tom Courtenay's name first appears as a link in this strange
chain, for Tom and Julian were at Eton together, and became great
friends; later Tom had been not only rather, but very wild; and Julian
in attempting to rescue him from the dire consequences of it, had
entailed upon himself misery he little dreamed of, but of which Tom was
totally ignorant, supposing him, in common with the rest of the world,
to be dead.

But we must go back.

It is not here that we have space to tell how Marion D'Arcy met Austin
Rochester, suffice it that she did. She learned what it was to love with
all the faith and strength of her strong faithful heart. She loved his
motherless little child for his sake; she believed she was loved, and
they were married. A few short clouded months, barely a year, and she
was awake from her dream. One dark day he left her and his child, and
from that time she had never seen him or heard of him. At the same time
Marion married, Inez arrived in England, and a year after that came Lady
Egerton's terrible death, and then vague news that young Julian D'Arcy
(who had left England very suddenly just then) had fallen over a
precipice in travelling to Switzerland and been killed. In reality
Julian, under the name of Rothesay, Angelo's second Christian name, fled
from England, accompanied by Egerton, who took him to Florence, and
placed him with an eminent artist. Only three people in the world knew
the whole from beginning to end--Egerton, Marion, and the child, Inez.

When the report of Julian D'Arcy's death reached home, some distant
relations of course sprang up and claimed Friars Lea; but Angelo refused
to give it up, on the ground that Julian's death could not be proved,
and therefore he as trustee would hold it. The distant relation applied
to the Court of Chancery to have Julian declared dead, but Angelo
opposed this, and there being no proof adduced, the application was
refused.

Colonel St. John, as we have said, had been at Eton with Angelo, and
knew only what the world knew, and that was little enough, and far
enough from the real truth.




CHAPTER VIII.


Louis St. John had been induced by Cuthbert to remain with him over the
Sunday; but as on the Saturday afternoon Cuthbert would be engaged,
Louis said he should see if Mrs. Ashton would allow him to take out Inez
and Miss Rochester for a ride, and walked up to the school to make the
request.

Mrs. Ashton heard him, and then said with a half apologetic smile, "Inez
may go with you, Colonel St. John, but you will easily understand that I
cannot permit Miss Rochester to do the same. She is no longer a child;
and you will excuse me, I hope, sir. It would never do to so infringe
the rule, and have one of the pupils seen riding out with a gentleman
alone, and especially a military officer."

"I quite understand that, Mrs. Ashton," said Louis; "but pardon me, will
not that apply to Inez?"

"Firstly, colonel, Inez is, after all, still a child; and then I am
peculiarly placed with regard to her. Her guardian placed her here only
on the agreement that she was to have great freedom, and especially as
much free air and exercise as she chose. If she were precisely on the
same footing here as the other girls, I should not allow her to go; but
as, personally, I see no harm in it, and as I know Sir Angelo, if here,
would wish it, you are welcome to take her, only do not be late."

"And what time shall I order the horses, Mrs. Ashton?"

"At half past 2 punctually," she replied, "but I will ask her." She left
the room, but soon returned, saying, "At that hour she will be ready,
and she begged me to offer you the use of her groom's horse. It is a
noble animal, and far superior to any you could hire here."

"I am much obliged to her," said Louis; "and will be here at the time.
Where are the horses kept?"

"At the Manor Arms," said Mrs. Ashton, "just this side of the village."

Louis thanked her and departed.

Precisely at half-past 2 he reached Ashton House; but old John Wylde was
already there with El Hasseneh and Greysteel, and Inez was waiting on
the steps, looking so beautiful in her riding habit that St. John
started. But he recovered himself, and as he lifted her to her saddle,
said gaily, "Senorita, to be before time is as unpunctual as to be after
it."

"A fault on the right side, though," she answered, as they passed the
lodge-gates, and struck in a northerly direction.

It was a beautiful country, hilly and wooded, and though now it was
winter, and the ground hard and frozen, it was still beautiful in its
very bleak desolation. For some distance neither spoke, but as they were
walking their horses down the slope of a hill, Louis said, "Have you
seen that masterly painting of Horatius Cocles defending the bridge? It
is by a young artist who is rising to fame. Julian Rothesay is his
name."

"I have seen it, and it is certainly splendid," replied Inez. "If one of
the old masters had done it, the world would have gone mad about it."

"I am afraid your sarcasm is true," said Louis; "but I fancied that in
the face of the brave Roman I could trace some resemblance to Egerton."

"It is very likely," said Inez, quietly; "we knew the painter when we
were in Florence, and he took Angelo's portrait."

"Indeed!" said Louis; "I must see it. Is it a good likeness?"

"To the life--masterly," she replied; "it hangs now in the gallery at
Falcontower, but it is so fine a one that when it came over, Angelo, at
the request of his friends, threw open his gallery in town for three
days."

She did not say that nothing would have made him allow his own portrait
to be shown save for his love for its painter, which made him do
anything to give him fame and renown.

"I must see it," said St. John; "but is this artist any relation of
Egerton's?"

She looked up in surprise, and replied, "No! what a strange question!
What made you think that?"

There was a restless anxiety in her eye as she spoke, and a curious
expression about the mouth, which would have told Angelo--and Angelo
only--that she was prepared to "lie unmitigatedly to preserve the secret
entrusted to her care."

Louis saw neither, but replied, "Your guardian's name is Angelo Rothesay
Egerton, and this painter's is Rothesay."

"Angelo was so christened after his father's mother," said Inez. "It was
her surname."

"Well, and perhaps this Signor Giulio is of the same family," said
Louis.

"No, he is no relation at all," said Inez. "But look, Colonel Louis, do
you see that deep ravine in the vale below?"

In the vale, between two lines of hills, was a gorge about twelve feet
across, by ten deep, but with sloping sides, so that a horse with a
careful rider could cross it easily.

"It looks," said St. John, "as if it had once been the bed of a river."

"So it has," said Inez; "it runs for miles like that, and in heavy rains
is often full, and a heavy fall of snow with wind makes it a
snowdrift--a dangerous one, too."

"Is it passable now?" he asked.

"Oh, yes, Wylde and I have crossed it often," replied Inez. "Greysteel
and El Hasseneh know exactly how to step down."

As they reached the ravine, Colonel St. John glanced upward, and said,
"I hope, then, no rain or snow will fall, for there are some 'ugly' gray
clouds hanging over us."

"Never mind them," said Inez. "Now," said she, as they reached the other
side, "let's race to the top of this hill as the crow flies--the road
winds."

"Inez, stop!" he exclaimed. "There are hedges in the way--you will be
thrown."

"Oh, no; Angelo taught me riding," she returned. "I shall get there
first, for El Hasseneh goes like the wind."

"A wilfu' woman maun hae her wa'," said the colonel, resignedly. "Now,
one, two, three--away!"

Both started; Inez saying quickly, "Don't fear for me at leaping, but
mind Greysteel."

Up to and over the first hedge the gallant gray kept neck and neck with
the black descendant of the prophet's steed, but soon the extreme
fleetness of the Arabian, and the feather-weight she bore, begun to
tell, and she shot ahead of her rival, took the next hedge with graceful
and ladylike ease, and kept steadily on, reaching the brow of the hill
several lengths before Greysteel; and suddenly, as Inez pulled her up,
the well trained animal stopped immediately as motionless as a statue,
and her silky coat hardly even stirred by her run.

"I didn't know you were such a rider," exclaimed the colonel,
laughingly; "but you had me at a disadvantage."

"Oh, yes, I know," said Inez; "I only wanted a good gallop. I'll be good
now."

St. John looked at her, and muttered inwardly, "Anything to make that
dear face look less grave, and more like a child's. Deuce take it!" he
exclaimed, suddenly. "Greysteel has cast a shoe. I hope there is a
farrier over there."

Dismounting, he led the horse, and walked; but in this way it took a
quarter of an hour to reach the hamlet, and by this time it was really
getting dark, and the snow was falling faster every minute, sweeping
before the wind in what promised to be a heavy drift.

St. John went straight to the village inn, and asked if there was a
farrier, but the host said no; he did jobs of that sort. There was
nothing to do but to have the horse shoed and both horses fed, and then
Louis asked how far they were from Yellowfield, and what time it was.

"Nigh on 5, sir," was the reply; "and even across country and through
the ravine, it's seventeen mile."

"That is the way we came and must return," said St. John.

"Lor, sir, it will be dark before you can reach the ravine," said the
landlord, "and by that time it will be a snow drift. See how heavy it
falls, and how the wind drives it before it."

"We must reach it and cross it," said Inez, looking at St. John.

"Why, miss, the hardest riding would hardly reach it in time," said the
landlord. "It will be dark in half an hour, sir."

"Do not mind what he says. We lose time," said the Spaniard,
impatiently.

"My friend, we must go," said the colonel, decidedly; "so good evening."

They turned their horses' heads, and at a hand-gallop rode away, Inez's
dark eyes sparkling with delight at the adventure, Louis' full of
anxiety for his precious charge.

The air was perfectly white with snow, which the now wild blast swept
right in their faces. Presently St. John said, "Are these horses good
for a long, mad race?"

"Yes; they are thorough-bred, and used to mad riding," replied Inez.

"How bleak and desolate the hills look!" said Louis. "And how dark it is
growing! Inez, can you really keep your seat when Hasseneh is at her
full speed?"

"Yes, of course," she replied.

"Then, my dear child, there is nothing for it but that," said Louis.
"Now start."

The next moment they were off--at first with some moderation, but as the
high-mettled animals warmed to their work they broke into a mad gallop,
that made them seem literally to fly through the air like the wild
steeds and wilder riders of German legends. The miles flew by them like
phantoms, and though the driving snow and howling blast swept wildly
past them, neither steeds nor riders heeded it, but bending almost to
their saddle-bows, they kept on as if the race were one for life and
death, the foam flying from the horses' mouths as they dashed on through
the fast deepening snow. And so they approached the dreaded ravine. But
the little hand that grasped Hasseneh's rein was growing nerveless,
every fibre in the child's slight frame was quivering. She drew her
breath in quick, labored gasps; and as the brave horses slackened,
partly to descend the last slope, partly impeded by the snow, she
drooped forward in her saddle till her black hair mingled with the
flowing mane of the Arabian.

"Inez! Great heaven! she is fainting!" exclaimed St. John.

"No, no," said the child, raising herself with a strong effort of her
strong will, "it is only the wind takes my breath away."

"My darling child, I have ridden you too hard," said St. John.

"No," said Inez, recovering herself with the minute's pause, and firmly
grasping the reins. "I am all right again. Dear Louis, indeed I am."

"It is so dark I cannot see your face very clearly," said Louis. "Are
you really all right again?"

"Indeed yes," she replied. "Ride on, ride on, or we shall be too late."

A few moments more brought them to where the ravine had been. It was one
sheet of white snow from one side of the valley to the other, and the
ravine between was filled and hidden by the snow stretching away on all
sides. It was one vast drift--to attempt to cross which would be certain
death.

"Good Heavens--we are too late!" said Colonel St. John.

There was a moment's dead silence; then Inez said, "What is there to
fear if we don't cross it? I know you are only fearing the night and the
snow-storm for me; but I don't fear either with you."

"Thank you for your affectionate trust, dear Inez," he returned; "but
listen. Every moment the snow is deepening, and before long will be up
to our saddle girths, and it may continue all night. These roads here
between hedge rows will soon be snow drifts, and then heaven help us,
for man could not. Do you know of any road skirting the ravine?"

"No--none," she replied. "But look, look!--there is a light gleaming in
the darkness."

Louis' eye followed her hand. On the top of what must have been a hill,
about half a mile or so off, a light faintly gleamed.

"What can it be, Inez?" he asked; "we passed no house or building in
sight when we crossed the ravine."

"No, but it certainly comes from one," she replied. "Colonel Louis, so
far from being afraid, I feel intense enjoyment of such an adventure and
real peril in these prosaic days."

"Brave girl! it is no joke though," answered St. John, gravely, though
greatly relieved to find he had so fearless a companion. "We must try
and reach this building and get shelter for to-night. One thing is
certain: in the darkness we have lost our way entirely, and struck the
ravine many a long mile from where we crossed it."

"But Mrs. Ashton?" said Inez; "she will be so frightened."

"She will probably guess that we have taken shelter, and if not, she
must be frightened," returned Louis, coolly. "Come, there is no time to
be lost."

Keeping the light in view, they turned back, and once more set off at a
quick walk. The light drew nearer and nearer, but the snow had deepened
dangerously before a dark mass of building rose ahead, and they reached
some gates with a lodge. To St. John's cool enquiry of the woman who
came out, whether her master or mistress were at home, she answered yes,
and let them in.

Another minute brought them to the house, whose size outside it was too
dark to see, but it was the hall lamp that had guided them. Louis
dismounted, gave his reins to Inez, and rang the bell. The door was
opened by a respectable man servant, who stared rather hard at the
strangers.

"Is your master at home?" asked St. John.

"Mr. Aubrey is, sir," replied the man.

"Tell him a gentleman wishes to see him," said St. John.

Without actually leaving the hall, the servant opened a door near, and
said something, and the next moment a gentleman--a young man--came
quickly out. Addressing him at once, Colonel St. John explained exactly
what had happened, and with many apologies for the liberty he was
taking, asked shelter for the young lady and himself, as to go on was
only courting death.

"The young lady and yourself are warmly welcome," said the young man,
cordially; "I am only thankful you found your way out of such peril.
James, take these two horses to the stables, and see that every care is
taken of them. Pray bring the lady in, sir."

Colonel St. John lifted Inez in his arms and fairly carried her into the
hall, and for a moment she clung to his arm, giddy from the sudden
transition from darkness to light, but in a minute she recovered, and
shook the snow from her dress, hair, and hat.

"Now come in here," said the stranger, opening the door of a comfortable
sitting room with a huge fire; "you are both cold and wet, and probably
hungry too."

He rang the bell, which was answered by a respectable looking old matron
of sixty or so.

"Mrs. Martinger," said he, "this lady and gentleman have been overtaken
and nearly lost in the snow, and will do us the pleasure of remaining
the night, so now take the young lady up stairs and attend to her, and
get a couple of rooms ready."

"Lawks ha' mercy!" cried the old lady, "the puir dear's quite wet. Come
along, ye pretty bird."

While the old lady bore off Inez, their host took St. John upstairs, but
as he had a great coat on, he had only to take that off; and fortunately
Inez always wore a thin black silk dress under her habit, so that she
had only to take off her wet habit, and she came out like a silkworm
from its chrysalis.

In the meantime an ample repast had been prepared, and unromantic as it
may appear, both our travellers did it full justice. As they sat by the
cheerful blaze after its removal, the two gentlemen enjoying their
cigars, while Inez sat very quiet on a low stool at Louis' feet, she had
time to scan their host. He was a young man--that is, about five or six
and twenty--not above the middle height, but well formed, and with a
handsome, frank, pleasant face; but now and then there was a curious
flicker in the bright brown eyes, which perhaps only so close and
watchful an observer as Inez de Caldara would have noticed, and it made
her a little undecided whether to like him decidedly, or give him a
qualified favor.

But for a long time she had sat looking into the fire, not seeing that
the keen brown eyes were gazing on her very fixedly.

"You will pardon me for asking, colonel," said their host, suddenly,
"but this young lady is scarcely your daughter or sister? Or your wife?"
he added, doubtingly.

For half a second Louis St. John paused, then he replied, smiling, "Oh,
no, none of the three; only the ward of an old friend, and I have known
her from childhood."

Inez looked up with a smile, saying, "I'm not enough like him, sir, for
a daughter or sister."

"No," said the young man; "and pardon me again, are you English?"

"Not at all, sir," she replied. "I am Spanish--a Castilian."

"I thought you looked foreign," said he.

"But you speak English quite purely."

"I have been brought up in England since I was five years old," replied
Inez.

"Do you know any Spanish songs?" he asked.

"Oh, yes, sir, many," she replied.

"Would it be too much to ask you to sing one or two?" he enquired; "my
own mother was for many years in Spain, and used to sing their songs."

"I am glad I can oblige you, sir," said Inez, who had not the smallest
bit of affectation about her, and rising at once she opened the piano,
struck a few chords, and sang one or two plaintive airs in a rich,
mellow voice, which, already exquisitely beautiful, gave promise of rare
perfection.

The evening passed pleasantly, and in the morning, when they both took
leave, Louis told Roland Aubrey that when he came to London, he should
hope to see him and return his hospitality.

Thus it was that Inez de Caldara first met Roland Aubrey.

Mrs. Ashton had, as Louis said, guessed that they had taken shelter, and
had not therefore been very anxious.




CHAPTER IX.


In an elegantly-furnished drawing room in Seymour-street, sit two
ladies. One was a gentle looking lady of middle age; the other a young
and pretty woman of twenty-three, but with more imagination than
intellect in her face. The elder was Lady Alice St. John, the mother of
Louis and Cuthbert; the younger, her husband's niece, Arabella St. John,
whom, early left an orphan, the gentle mother of Louis had completely
brought up as her own daughter.

Lady Alice is like Louis, or rather he is like her, though her face is
softened into an eminently womanly one. She had the same golden hair,
the same somewhat Grecian nose, and clear, trustful eyes, and the same
expression of face, and in youth she had been pre-eminently beautiful,
even now she was undeniably still a lovely woman, and at fifty-three
looked barely forty-five.

Both ladies were evidently waiting for some arrival; for Arabella kept
going to the window, and even Lady Alice did not read very steadily.

It was shortly after Easter, and the truth was they were expecting a
young lady whom Lady Alice had engaged as a companion to her niece, and
that young lady was Theresa Stanfeld, who had left school at Easter, and
immediately put in force the intention Margaret had mentioned, of
separating herself from her father, and a home that was a wretched one.

She had heard of Lady Alice's wanting a companion for her niece simply
enough; for the lady had mentioned it to Marion Rochester, and she in
one of her letters to Inez passingly repeated it, and Inez immediately
thought of Theresa.

That was the way it had come about; and now they were hourly expecting
her arrival; Arabella with the greatest curiosity, for she had been
absent when her aunt saw and engaged Theresa.

"What is she like?" she asked for the dozenth time, and still Alice St.
John answered, "Wait and see."

At length wheels stopped, and presently Miss Stanfeld was announced, and
Miss Stanfeld appeared--no school-girl awkwardness about her; easy
self-possession characterised her now, a perfect lady. Arabella was
decidedly satisfied with the result of her survey. Theresa was decidedly
lovely, though: 'Not like a nymph or goddess of old.'

You could not have chiselled a statue from her, as you could from Inez's
classic face and head, but you could have made a glowing painting of
her. She had a broad, observant-looking forehead and an arch mouth,
though the restlessness of the clear, full hazel eye, and quick quiver
of the red lips betrayed the hasty impetuosity of temper which Inez had
spoken of. Her figure was pretty and elegant, so that, looking at her,
with her brilliantly fair skin and sunny brown hair, you only thought
how very lovely she was, and forgot that her beauties were not
statue-like.

Yes, Arabella was decidedly pleased. She liked pretty people, and, with
all her faults--and they were many--she had no petty jealousy of a
prettier face than her own. She received her new friend warmly, as a
friend, with almost childlike cordiality; for in all but actual
numerical years she was seventeen, and Lady Alice was pleased.

Arabella herself conducted Theresa to her room, and assisted her to
remove her walking dress.

"I'm sure I shall like you," she said, with a frank, girlish laugh. "I
always like or dislike a face at first sight."

"Then I hope, Miss St. John, that you like mine at first sight," said
Theresa.

"I assure you I do," replied Arabella. "Oh, dear," she added, "there's
the dressing bell for dinner. I must run and dress, but I'll send my
maid to you."

"No, pray do not," said Theresa. "I am accustomed to do everything for
myself."

It was not till after dinner, and they were seated round the
drawing-room fire, that Lady Alice would permit any questions to be
addressed to Theresa, and then she herself said, "Did you come up from
Forest Moor all alone, my dear?"

"No, Lady Alice," she replied; "my father's groom, who has been some
years with us, came with me to your door."

"That was well," said Lady Alice. "You are very recently from school,
are you not?"

"Yes, madam," was the reply; "and both Miss Rochester and Inez de
Caldara send you their love."

"Ah, they are old friends of mine," said Lady Alice, "My son Louis was
at Eton with Inez's guardian."

"Didn't you hate school?" said Arabella. "I used to do so."

"No, I was very happy at Mrs. Ashton's," replied Theresa. "It is a
school, I think, that is one in a thousand."

"So Mrs. Rochester told me," said Lady Alice. "I wish I had known of it
in Arabella's school-days."

"I wish you had, aunt," said Arabella. "I should have escaped many a
task and ache of mind and body. Is Yellowfield pretty? Does my cousin
like it?" she added, to Theresa.

"My son," explained Lady Alice, "how does he like his incumbency?"

"I really cannot say, Lady Alice, for we principally attended the
vicar's church," she replied, "but, frankly, Lady Alice, the village is
in two parties--the Puseyites and Low Church. The first party like your
son; the second like the vicar; I didn't; and Inez, Isbel, and some
others used to go to St. Mary Grace, for there they had good singing at
least, and better sermons than the vicar gave. He was a Pharisee."

"You are fond of music, then?" said Alice St John.

"Very," was the reply. "I wish I was such a musician as some I know."

"Have you ever heard Castelnau, the French singer?" asked Lady Alice.

"No, ma'am," replied Theresa; "I have never been in London till now."

"Indeed," said Lady Alice; "you have much, indeed, to see. We must take
you sightseeing, and Castelnau, you must hear him; he sings the day
after to-morrow, the first opera night, and brings out his daughter for
the first time in England, in 'Les Huguenots.' I will write this minute,
and ask Sir Angelo Egerton for the loan of his box. Arabella, give me my
desk."

The note was written and despatched by a servant to St. James' Square.
In an hour the messenger brought back a note, which Lady Alice glanced
through and read aloud----

"Dear Lady Alice,--I am going to-morrow to fetch Inez for a couple of
days, in order to take her to witness the debut of Castelnau's daughter;
and I shall be most happy if you will join us. We will call for you and
your young friends at 1 o'clock on Thursday--Yours truly,

"ANGELO R. EGERTON."

"There," said the lady, with a smile, "that's gentlemanly, to escort us
as well. He knows Castelnau, too; we may get introduced to him."




CHAPTER X.


"Art is long, and time is fleeting," and the days and months flew by
swiftly. And the statesman sat in his cabinet, and schemed, and planned,
and dreamed in his aspiring soul of ambition and power yet to be
grasped. And the exile artist, in the fair and far off land of his
exile, saw in the vision of his mind his distinct native hills, and
dreamed of fame and his noble art----

'But alas! his fair ideal

Vanish'd, and escaped him still.'

And the child, who had never been a child, sat wakeful and watchful in
the still midnight, and dreamed of the man whom, unconsciously to her
own heart, she so deeply loved, and of the end to which she was so
steadfastly treading for his sake.

Thus winter had given place to spring, and spring had vanished into
summer, and the hot June sun streamed into the schoolroom windows of
Ashton House; but it was a Wednesday afternoon, and the rooms were
deserted, save for one solitary form bending over one of the tables.

It was Inez de Caldara, a sheet of drawing-paper before her, a pencil in
her slender fingers, a box of crayons near her, and there was a curious
expression about her face as the work grew rapidly beneath her skilled
hand, which told that it was one that had interested something deeper
than her artist's eye--something on her brow of haughty
triumph--something of almost dark joy in the black eyes and compressed
lips, that was not wont to be there.

The pencil sketch is done, she takes up a crayon, and still works on, as
if life and death hung on its execution. Hours passed; the shadows grew
longer and longer; her hand grew wearied, and her chest ached from
stooping so long; but she heeded nothing, felt nothing, till the last
touch was put, and then she held it off to look at it. A man's head and
figure to the shoulders. A dark, evil face, that might have been a
fiend's, for any redeeming point it might have had in it; and the
youthful artist laid it down with a heavily-drawn sigh, such as one
heaves when some intolerable weight is removed.

But at that moment a light form sprang in through the French window, and
ere even Inez's quickness could cover the crayon, Margaret Arundel was
there, her hand on the paper, her gaze on the picture.

"Merciful heaven!" she exclaimed, recoiling suddenly; "where did you see
him?"

For a moment there was an almost wild light in the Spaniard's black
eyes, but her habitual self-control did not fail her, and she said
quietly, "I don't know why you are so startled. I saw a face like that
years, long years ago, and now I draw it. Is that strange?"

"No, no," said Margaret, "but where did you know him? Do you know who it
is?"

"I would give the best years of my life to know," replied Inez, with a
passionate energy that was startling to see in one Margaret had only
seen till now calm, cold, and passionless.

"Dear Inez, don't look like that," said Margaret, almost tearfully. "It
is only so like--so exactly like my uncle's nephew, Arthur Vivian."

Inez moved her hand slowly, and pressed it tightly to her heart, and a
dark smile crossed her lips and gleamed in her eyes as she murmured, in
her own language, "Found at last--found at last!"

"Margaret," she said, abruptly, "do you like this cousin?"

"He is no cousin of mine," said Margaret, shuddering, "nor his uncle
either. I hate and fear both him and old Stephen Stanfeld."

"Is that your uncle's name?" asked the Castilian, laying her hand on
Margaret's shoulder.

"That's his name," she replied; "but he's not my uncle, and any girl but
you would have known exactly who I was by this time."

"I don't care to enquire into other people's affairs unless I find they
have something to do with me," said Inez; "now I find that your affairs
have much to do with me. I could tell you more about Stanfeld and Vivian
than you dream of. Margaret, can you keep a quiet tongue?"

"Yes, Inez, if you wish it," she replied.

"I do wish it," said Inez. "Say nothing of this drawing or of what we
have said, but get up at 5 to-morrow and come with me in the grounds;
or, stay, you sleep alone in that little room at the end of the passage,
don't you?"

"Yes," she replied.

"Keep awake, and I will come to you when they are all in bed," said
Inez.

She turned away, looked the crayon in her desk, and glided from the
room.

It may well be conceived with what feelings Margaret retired to her
solitary chamber. The bright full moonlight streamed broadly in, and she
lay awake counting the minutes, each of which seemed an hour; she heard
half-past 10 strike, then 11, then half-past 11--all was silent, so
still that the silence grew so intense that it hummed in her ears--'Like
the humming of many bees;' and then 12 began striking. Would it never
have done? The strokes died away in the intensity of the silence, and
then broke forth again with a loud startling sound.

As the last stroke died away the door softly opened, and Inez glided
silently in, her feet bare, and a white Cashmere morning robe over her
night dress. She bolted the door, and then sat down upon the edge of the
bed.

"Stay where you are," said she, "and speak very low."

"Inez," said Margaret, "how very white you are; you look ghastly, or is
it only the cold moonlight?"

"Never mind what it is," she replied. "You wondered to-day that I had
never asked anything about you or your antecedents; but now you will do
me a favor by telling everything about yourself and those people."

"Strange and incomprehensible being?" said Margaret. "Are you in
earnest?"

"Look at me and see," said Inez, sternly. "I do not come here at this
hour for a jest."

"It is a long story," said Margaret. "Shall we have time?"

"Yes," was the reply. "Tell it shortly; don't mind being abrupt."

Margaret settled herself back and began, "My mother died in giving me
birth. I had a sister, four years older than me; and my father, shortly
after my mother's death, became acquainted (how I don't know) with a
gentleman named Stephen Stanfeld, who owned a great property called
Forest Moor. From that evil day my father went wrong; he had never been
very strong in character, and fell easily under this man's sway. My
grandfather had been a merchant in South America, and had died
intestate, leaving my father absolute possessor of fifty thousand
pounds, which my father had vested in houses. Well, this Stanfeld got my
father into racing habits, and got him to play. Inez, spare me
details--the old sad story followed. My father kept a racing stud,
became a confirmed gambler, betted high--lost. Stanfeld lent him money
on the houses; so it went on till the awful night my father staked
everything in a gambling house--and lost. He appealed once more to
Stanfeld, but he tauntingly told my father he hadn't a penny or a house
to mortgage. My father rushed from the gambling house, and flung himself
into the river. Oh! Inez, surely his death lies at Stanfeld's door."

Inez bent down and kissed her forehead, but spoke no word; and Margaret
went on to tell how she had lost her sister--how she must have perished,
for Stanfeld would do nothing to find her; and Margaret wept awhile.
Then she continued: "I was then but eight years old, friendless and
penniless. Stanfeld had some feeling left, or rather I believe his wife
persuaded him, and he brought me up and sent me to school. Personally,
he is harsh to me, as to all else. Have I not some right to hate the man
who drove my father to wrong and suicide, and who has robbed me and mine
of everything? It is but a poor recompense to educate me----"

The Spaniard raised her hand warningly, and Margaret continued: "You
wish to know more of Stanfeld. How he became possessed of Forest Moor I
don't know, but probably by some roguery; for it had, I believe,
belonged to a family named Surrey."

"You spoke of his wife?" said Inez.

"Poor thing!--she paid dearly for her wrongdoing," answered Margaret.
"She was the daughter, the only child of Everard, of Bond-street. But
Stanfeld crossed her path--his handsome face took her fancy, and her
gold took his; but old Everard wouldn't hear of it, so she fled, and
married Stanfeld; for he made sure the old man would then forgive his
daughter, and give her a dower; and so he did, but so tied up that
Stanfeld couldn't touch a penny in any way. And then he treated his wife
cruelly. She had only two children, Eveline, and Theresa, but they were
still children when their mother died broken hearted. We were kept like
recluses at Forest Moor till six years ago, when Theresa and I were sent
to school, and Eveline married."

"But Vivian," said Inez; "what of him?"

Margaret shuddered, as she answered; "I never saw him till about six
years ago, when Stanfeld brought him down to Forest Moor, and introduced
him as his nephew. Somehow or other, he fascinated and infatuated
Eveline, and shortly after I came here they married her to him."

"Father of Mercy!" said the Spaniard, in an accent of such horror that
Margaret said, in alarm, "What is the matter? Oh, Inez, tell me!"

"Is he living at the Moor, Margaret?"

"Eveline is always there, but Arthur is only there on and off."

"Will he be there during the holidays--after we leave school, Margaret?"

"Yes," she replied. "I wish to heaven he wasn't!"

"I thank a just God that he is!" said Inez, almost solemnly.

Deeply awed, Margaret gazed on her, and then said, fearfully, "Inez, in
pity tell me what you know of this man--what awful crime is on his
head?"

Inez de Caldara bent forward, and the one word she uttered sounded awful
in the ghastly stillness of that lonely midnight hour----"MURDER!"

"Inez, oh, Inez!" said Margaret.

"Hush!" said Inez. "I can tell you no more now; and by all you hold
sacred, you must be as secret and silent as the grave. Promise me that."

"I solemnly promise it," said Margaret.

"And now listen to me," said Inez. She bent down and whispered long and
earnestly, and then said aloud, "Will you do this, Margaret?"

"I will! Heart and soul, I will!" said Margaret Arundel, firmly. "God
help you, Inez, in your purpose."

Inez, who had moved to the door, turned her weird-like face on her, and
raised her white hand upward. The next moment she was gone, like some
phantom of the night. And the mournful night winds wailed their
ceaseless "Never more--never more!" and another night sank and dwindled
into the irrevocable past.




CHAPTER XI.


"Walter, my boy, come down and hear this!" called the rich voice of
Julian Rothesay from the hall, intending to summon his pupil from the
painting-room upstairs, and in a minute a handsome, manly youth of
nineteen or twenty appeared, in whom, though much changed, we may
recognise the same boy who, four years and a half before, had gazed with
such wondering admiration on the masterpieces of Art in the library of
the high-born Egerton.

"What is it?" he asked, following Julian into the sitting-room.

"A letter from Angelo Egerton," was the reply. "Listen."

"Dear Julian,--Expect me in about a fortnight, for Parliament rises in
ten days or so, and I can contrive a flying visit then--for I must see
you. How does your pupil Walter get on? Remember me to him, and tell him
that I think he will be wanted after Christmas.--Yours faithfully, A. R.
EGERTON."

"I am very glad he is coming," said Walter; "we have not seen him for so
long--more than a year."

"Not since his party came into office," replied Julian. "I called you
because I thought you would like to know."

"I hope he will bring the Senorita Inez," said Walter.

"He says nothing of it," replied Julian; "but now I must see that my
studio is in order; for I think it is to-day that the Sonora Genevra
della Scala is to come for her first sitting." And the artist left the
room.

The fortnight passed slowly, but returning one morning from a walk with
young Surrey, Julian was met in the entrance hall by Leon, the Spanish
hound, and exclaiming, "By Jove! they are here," he flung wide the half
open door, to see Egerton leaning against the bookcase, and Inez
leisurely reclining amongst the cushions of a fauteuil.

"Angelo, old boy, a thousand welcomes!" exclaimed Julian, as he grasped
the hand of his old friend.

In silence Angelo closed his strong right hand on Julian's, and then the
latter turned towards Inez, who had risen. He took both her little hands
in his, and said, smiling--his beautiful winning smile--"I suppose I
musn't kiss you now!"

"Not unless you like, Julian," said Inez, with an answering smile.

"I do like it. Ah, light of mine eyes!" And bending down he kissed her
brow and lips, for he had known her from childhood and loved her only
next to Egerton, and the same ties that bound him to Angelo bound him to
her.

Surrey had remained in the hall, but now he entered, and met Egerton and
Inez with the warmth and pleasure he felt, and could not if he would
conceal it.

"And now how long can you give us, Angelo?" asked the artist.

"Not four-and-twenty hours," was the reply. "I was able to obtain leave
for a few days, as my business was important; but you are aware that it
is--and rightly--against all custom for any of the ministry to cross
seas, and leave is only given in an urgent case. So we are off again by
to-morrow."

"How tiresome!" said Julian. "Well, we must make the most of you. You
don't go to the hotel this time, I promise you."

Egerton smiled, and turning to Surrey, said, "My dear Walter, are you
still of the same mind as to the painting?"

"I am as fond of it as ever," said the young man, raising his bright
hazel eyes to Egerton's; "but I will do exactly as you wish about it."

"Then you will continue it, even when you are of age and in possession
of your property," said Egerton. "Idleness is the worst possible school
for a young man, especially a young man of property and position. If you
do not think you shall like painting as an occupation, you can go to the
bar; I could push you there; only I tell you frankly, I don't think your
talent lies either in that way or in politics."

"Oh, I love my beautiful art as much, Sir Angelo, as you love your
ambition and power," said Surrey, with all his bright young enthusiasm
sparkling in his eyes and face. "I almost wish I was still poor and
friendless, that I might make my own name as Julian is doing. I could--I
would do it."

The man of the world looked at the youth, and said with his grave
half-sad smile, "My dear Walter, never imagine that wealth and position
are to be laughed at, or despised--neither things to be prized too much.
They are God's gifts; and, with reverence to Him, a strict account must
be rendered. The powerful have a heavy responsibility."

There was a short silence, and then Julian said, "How does his lawsuit
get on?"

"Well," replied Egerton, "it will come on after the vacation, I think;
and then Walter must come over, for we mean to have parol evidence.
Stanfeld actually put in an answer, denying that the young man I brought
forward was the son of Colonel Surrey, old Herbert Surrey's son, who he
declares died in India shortly after his arrival; but his game is
evidently to make every delay, and gain as much time as possible."

So they passed the time till dinner, and after dinner Walter left them,
saying that he had a picture he must finish; and the three, whom
circumstances had so strangely bound together, were alone.

Inez, knowing what Angelo had to tell, rose to go away; but Julian said,
"Do not go on my account, Inez," and she remained.

"Julian," said Egerton, bending forward, "the day we have watched and
waited for till heart and brain grew sick, has come at last. At last
that black villain, for whose crime you have suffered so many weary
years, is found."

Julian started--his lip quivered--and turning abruptly aside, he covered
his face with his hands, totally unable to master his emotion
completely, though self-control had been taught him in the bitter, harsh
school of adversity. But there are moments when the most iron
self-command and pride must give way. It was only for a minute or two,
and then he raised his face, and said in a low, unsteady voice, "Thank
heaven for its great mercy! Tell me all, Angelo."

"Inez shall speak, for she found him," he replied. "It is she who will
be the sole means of bringing it home to him."

"God bless you, Inez!" said Julian, clasping her hand, "for your dear
face has been a constant blessing since the hour you came among us."

Then she told him all the reader knows of the sketch--of Margaret's
recognition, and her own sad story; and then she told him her whole plan
for completely convicting Arthur Vivian--a plan so daring, and so
fraught with danger, that Julian exclaimed, "Angelo, this must not
be--not for me. Evil will come to her. You must not allow it."

"It is too late," said Egerton; "I have passed her my sacred word to let
her have her way."

Inez glanced at him, and a look of pain crossed her face, as she said,
earnestly, "Indeed, indeed there is no danger to me. I am a match for
him, and Heaven will help me," and she bent her head reverently. "Do you
think I have watched so long for this hour to fling all away when the
weapon is in my hands! No, I have too much of Egerton's nature in me for
that. Was that man's face so buried into my memory for nothing? Hard,
indeed, was it to make Angelo yield, but he did at last, and he cannot
retract."

"Angelo, look at this girl!" said Julian. "She is your breathing
likeness now, more than ever I saw her before. I oppose you no more, my
guardian angel; the result is in higher hands than ours."

"Look at the sketch," said Egerton, laying the crayon on the table; but
now underneath it was written:--

"This was drawn by me on the 27th June, 18--, from memory, never having
seen the original for eight years and a half.

"INEZ JESUITA MARIA DE CALDARA."

"I saw this sketch drawn, June 27th, 18--.

"MARGARET ARUNDEL."

Julian Rothesay gazed long on the drawing, and shuddered as he laid it
down, saying, "It is a face more evil than I could have believed
existed."

"It is," said Egerton. "And I want you, Julian, to paint it life-size,
in oils; introduce it in any manner you like. Such a portrait as shall
make your name famous."

"But, Angelo, what a strange idea!" said Julian; "a portrait of----"

"Hush!" said Egerton, "if I tell you, do not deem me a mere mystic, a
dreamer, and laugh at me; for as I am a living man, Julian, I saw my
mother on the blue waves as we crossed to Holland. Open your blue eyes
if you will, and think my superstitious southern blood was running
reddest in my veins; but it is true--true as Heaven itself, that as I
stood leaning on the rail, looking out over the expanse of sea, I saw
her form in the silver path the moonlight made, and that, as plainly as
ever I heard it in life, I heard her voice, like some far off music. 'My
son, let his portrait be where thousands of mortals may see it, that the
living and the dead may be justified, and Heaven's truth made manifest.'
Julian, you may think that some strange presentiment in mind made me
fancy it all, as a dream or vision; but I believe from my soul that I
saw and heard my spirit-mother, superstitiously imaginative as you may
deem it."

"I do not, Angelo; I do believe it; for 'with Heaven all things are
possible,'" was the artist's answer, "and I will work ceaselessly till
the portrait is done. But if Inez was to go to Forest Moor, when she
left school, how is it she went home?"

"It was no use my going," said the Spaniard, "till Vivian was there; and
when Margaret got home she found him absent, and wrote to me that he
would not be there till the 15th of August, this mouth; so she will get
me invited to go on the 19th to have a long stay."

"Can you trust her?" asked Julian.

"She is true as gold," replied Inez. "I should not have trusted her,
probably, if I had not found out her own hatred to them all. It is my
guarantee."

"Inez, Inez," said Julian, gently, "that speech would have come better
from Angelo's lips than yours."

Inez turned aside with starting tears and trembling lips, and, gentle as
his reproof was, true though it might be, Julian's heart smote him for
uttering any reproach to one who loved him so well, and bending down he
pressed a soft kiss of peace on her brow that called back the smile to
her lips.

"Does my mother know all this?" asked Julian, presently.

"Certainly," replied Angelo. "I saw her and told her. Here is one of her
long letters," and so saying he laid it on the table.

It was about an hour before they were to leave the following morning
that, as they were together, Julian's Italian servant opened the door,
and announced "La Signora Genevra della Scala."

Angelo Egerton was standing by the open window, and as the lady entered,
he stepped through it on to the terrace.

Another of those narrow threads on which the weal or woe of a lifetime
often hangs; if he had remained only a second longer, if he had only
half turned his head, untold misery would have been spared a young and
trusting being. But it was not to be--stern fate had written otherwise
in the sibyline book of the future. Inez, who was sitting near Julian,
saw the young Italian lady--a beautiful girl of some eighteen summers,
with a soft Madonna-like face, large sentimental Southern eyes, an arch
mouth, and that rich red golden hair with which the old Italian painters
loved to shade the gentle face of the Virgin, and, indeed, this fair
girl looked not unlike "some Madonna of pure Italian art."

Julian, who had totally forgotten that it was one of her mornings, rose
quickly, exclaiming, "Oh! signora, a thousand pardons. If I had not
culpably forgotten that this was a painting morning, I would have sent
to beg you not to trouble yourself to come to-day; for I have some old
friends who leave me today whom I had not seen for a long time."

"Old friends! most ungallant signor," said Genevra, glancing at Inez
with a smile. "Well, then, Lucetta and I must go."

"Signora, may I trust to your kindness to pardon me?" said Julian.

"Readily, signor," she replied, and the fair Genevra extended her hand,
which Julian raised to his lips, and then gracefully bowed her out.

It was long, very long before the Spanish girl and the Italian maiden
met again; and then how differently was it--how very, very differently.




CHAPTER XII.


Tom Courtenay knew everything and everybody; and everything and
everybody knew Tom Courtenay. He could tell you who were the men most
listened to in the House, and what place everyone was member for, almost
as well as our ministerial friend himself, who had been fifteen years in
Parliament, and knew everything by heart. He could tell you who were the
heavy speakers, who were the brilliant ones, who the jaunty ones, such
as a certain noble lord who makes the House laugh, and gets what he
asks. Yes, Tom, from the 'Strangers' Gallery,' would listen to a heavy
debate with the gravity of a judge, and would remember everything as if
he were a walking Times. He knew all the on dits and reports afloat;
could tell you all the points of the winner of the Derby, and what
dancer was the 'favorite,' whistle the popular opera airs, and was a
first-rate judge of wine, could take a hand at whist, or point a
billiard cue. In fact, Tom Courtenay was invaluable, and no picnic or
ball, or merry-making, young or old, was properly complete without him,
he was a sort of person whom every one called 'Tom Courtenay,' and even
the young ladies only 'mistered' him to his face.

Tom and Marion were first cousins; William Courtenay the second cousin
of both. The grandfather of the two first had two sons and a brother,
George, who was the father of William. The elder of the two sons was
Marion's father, the younger was the progenitor of Tom. William went to
the Bar, and now, at forty-five, was a Queen's Counsellor in large
practice; we have but little to do with him. The two brothers invested
their few thousands in neck-or-nothing speculations; the elder, Richard,
made a competency, the younger, Thomas, realised a fortune. The former
died shortly after his daughter's first marriage; the latter some years
before him, leaving his son a fortune. Tom had no inclination for an
occupation, and unfortunately, had no need of any; and, further, the
great difference in age between him and his cousin, and various things
which had parted them, had made their paths in life diverge widely, and
William only knew that in his early youth Tom had been rather wild, and
had run through a considerable portion of his father's thousands, but he
did not know or even suspect that, save for the helping hands of Julian
D'Arcy and Angelo Egerton, Tom had been a lost man. Had Tom himself
known what only Angelo, Inez, and Marion knew, that Julian's kindness to
him had been the means of blasting his own young life, even Tom's
buoyant spirits must have failed him, and made him turn from the world,
a remorseful, perhaps a broken-hearted man. But even as it was, he
learned a bitter lesson, made more bitter by the supposed death of
Julian, and young Courtenay arose from his dream and bed of sickness a
wiser and a better man.

It was one morning, about a mouth after we saw Egerton and Inez in
Florence, that Tom Courtenay walked into St. James's Square, and,
ascending the steps of Egerton's house, knocked at the door, and, when
it was opened, he enquired in his brisk way, "Is Sir Angelo at home? or
has he, too, gone out of town?"

"He is still at home, Mr. Tom," replied the servant, and it may here be
remarked that all Egerton's servants had been years with him, and knew
Tom well enough, and distinguished him as "Mr. Tom," from his more
important cousin the Mr. Courtenay par excellence.

"Walk in, sir," and he added to Burns, who was crossing the hall, "where
is Sir Angelo?"

"In the library," he replied. "Good morning, Mr. Tom; if you will step
upstairs, I will see if he is at liberty."

Burns preceded him upstairs, and knocked at a door.

"Come in," said Egerton's low deep voice, and dismissing Burns with a
nod, Tom opened the library door and walked in.

Angelo was sitting at a table writing, while Leon lay beside him; but
the former threw down his pen to give his hand to Tom, and his
contracted brow relaxed as he said, "Glad to see you, Tom. I thought you
were out of town a month ago."

"Town's quite empty," he replied, "and I've been meaning to go every
day, but couldn't make up my mind where to go to. I've been everywhere,
that's the truth."

"I'm an older man than you, Tom; but I don't find I've been everywhere,"
said Egerton, with a quiet smile, "though I think I have seen more
places than you have."

"You take a fellow up too hard, Egerton," said Tom. "Where are you
going?"

"I do not at present intend to leave town," he replied.

Tom's keen eye noticed the hand close more quickly on the papers, and he
said, "Ministerial business, I suppose. Well, all of you can't be away;
but I'm hanged, Egerton, if I'd make such a slave of myself; not even
for Her Most Gracious Majesty. I never had any ambition."

"Well for you if you had, Tom," said Egerton.

"What!" exclaimed Tom, "to make me slave and work like you do, and get
deep lines on my forehead, and gray hairs, as you have. Positively,
Egerton, you have a few gray hairs, and more lines than you had eight or
even six years ago. No, thank ye, Mr. Statesman, I'll have none of it."

Egerton drew a little back, so that the shadow of the drawn
window-curtain fell across him; but Tom did not notice the slight
movement, for his eye had caught something else, and he sprang up,
exclaiming, "By Jove, the mysteries of Udolpho in the town house of an
honorable member. What the deuce have you got there, Egerton?"

He pointed to the upper end of the room, which a few days before had
been blank wall. It was now filled by an immense picture in an oak
frame, but a heavy black velvet curtain completely veiled the painting
itself, and this fact had elicited Tom's exclamation.

Egerton rose quickly, and there was a strange, stern look in his dark
eyes as he hesitated for a moment; then he raised his hand, and drew
back the curtain suddenly. A low exclamation escaped Courtenay's lips,
and he stood gazing in breathless silence on the portrait revealed.

It was a life-size figure, that seemed half man, half devil. He stood on
the edge of a cliff, mountains towering around and behind him in gloomy,
sullen grandeur, black storm-clouds rolled above, while, from a lowering
mass of gloom a line of forked lightning seemed actually shooting forth,
and cast a lurid light on the grandly terrible scene; it threw out the
black figure in the foreground, and cast a wild glare on its face, on
which the whole wonderful art and talent of the painter had been
concentrated--a face so breathing in its living likeness that it might
have been indeed a human countenance for all its fearful look--a face
never to be forgotten, so passingly handsome, so awful in its dark,
fiendish beauty, such a ruthless intensity of evil passions in the lurid
black eyes, half upraised towards something above with a world of fierce
defiance in them, and yet through all with a sort of agonised remorse in
their depths that was at strange variance with the black fiendishness of
the face and horrible sneer of the lips, as that upward glance glared on
the mass of gloomy darkness, amidst which, shadowy and indistinct, was
visible a face and a hand holding forth a scroll--all else lost in
gloom--looking as faces look in a dream, misty; but the strange,
phantom-like eyes gazed down on him with a steady, avengeful
watchfulness, and the finger pointed sternly to the one word that seemed
bound on the scroll in letters of fire--"Tekel!" ("Thou art weighed in
the balances, and art found wanting "--Daniel v., 27.)

Such is the first part of the history of a portrait. Long did Courtenay
stand gazing on the wonderful work of art, entranced, fascinated as by a
spell; but when at length, with a deep drawn sigh, as if he was waking
from a nightmare, he turned from it, it was to see Angelo standing with
folded arms, watching him intently.

"Your face has been a study," he said; and somehow his low thrilling
voice fell strangely on Tom's ear.

"Egerton," said he, "I never in all my life saw so strange, so wonderful
a picture. If I lived a thousand years I could never forget that awful
face. What master hand portrayed it?--what human brain conceived it?
Surely some German one?"

"None," said Egerton. "No human brain imagined the face."

"Egerton!" exclaimed Tom, "what do you mean?"

"Nothing, and everything," was the enigmatical and guarded reply. "Keep
your own counsel as to what I have said, and as to having seen it at
all."

"If you wish it," said Tom. "Who painted that master-piece?"

"The same who took my portrait," answered Egerton, drawing the curtain
again--"Julian Rothesay."

"That accounts for it," said Tom. "Have you noticed the eyes of the
misty being who holds the scroll? They are Inez's eyes to the life--just
her queer, watchful look."

"Nothing strange in that," answered Egerton, carelessly, "seeing that he
has seen her in Italy often enough."

"If it is not impertinent to ask, Egerton, what might you have given for
this?"

"No impertinence, Tom," he replied. "I gave six hundred guineas for it."

"You are not going to hide it under a bushel," said Tom. "Why, it would
make the fame of this Rothesay."

"It shall," said Egerton. "I intend to send it to the National Gallery.
The trustees of it will be only too glad of such a loan for a few
months. Then it goes to Falcontower Castle."

"Well," said Tom, rising to leave, "I called here to have a chat with
you, but I little expected such a rare treat as I have had, and thank
you and Rothesay for it."

Tom Courtenay took his departure, little imagining why Inez de Caldara's
face had been depicted in that of the dream-like avenging spirit; and
still less imagined the terrible history connected, and yet more in the
future fated to be connected, with that portrait.




CHAPTER XIII.


It must be remembered that we are now somewhat retracing our steps as to
time, inasmuch as we find ourselves at Forest Moor on the 17th of
August. Margaret Arundel had persuaded both Stephen Stanfeld and Eveline
to invite her school friend, Jesuita de Castro (for that was the name
the Castilian had assumed), to spend a long time with her. Well had
Margaret carried out the tale and plan given her by Inez, and with a
natural manner and self-possession few would have given her credit for.
She told them that her friend was a Spaniard from Rio de Janeiro, where
her father, the Count de Castro, lived, and that, for family reasons,
she had been recently sent to England to complete her education, being
placed under the care of a London solicitor, Mr. Seymour, who really
existed, being Sir Angelo Egerton's solicitor, so that on the 17th of
August it was Mr. Henry Seymour who took the young Spaniard 'from Rio'
to Forest Moor station, and put her in the brougham which Mrs. Vivian
had sent to meet her.

It was evening, and in the drawing-room of Forest Moor Grange sat three
people. By the window, seated in an arm-chair, doing nothing, was a man;
sixty years had passed over his head, but they had not softened his
face, nor given it the venerable beauty with which Time crowns the work
of years; very handsome he had once been, aye, and still was, but he was
a gloomy, down-looking man, with cold dreary gray eyes that had a
snake-like glitter now and then, which belied the outward apathy of his
manner.

At some distance sat Margaret Arundel by a lady, whose age might have
been two or three and twenty; but the face, though very pretty, looked
worn and sad, and her whole manner and look told a tale of a cowed and
intimidated being.

The two latter were employing their fingers in some light work, but all
had sat silent for a a long time, till Stephen Stanfeld, suddenly
addressing his daughter, asked, "Where is Arthur?"

She started, and answered hurriedly, "I don't know, papa, but I
think----"

"You think," said he--"you ought to know. Has he gone in the brougham to
meet Margaret's South American friend?"

Margaret had not the least fear of Stanfeld, and answered him with a
quiet, pert impudence. "No, he hasn't," she replied; "and I don't see
how Eveline should know his movements better than you do. He only said
he would be in before 9."

Stanfeld raised his eyes, and glanced at her a moment, but he made no
answer, and turned aside, as if he disliked to look at her.

There was another long silence, broken again by Stanfeld, and in the
same abrupt manner.

"Margaret, does this girl speak only her own lingo?"

"She speaks French and Italian like a native, and English tolerably
well, though with a foreign accent," said Margaret.

As she spoke, the long-expected brougham drove up to the door, and,
springing up, Margaret ran down into the hall.

Stanfeld rose muttering, "As I've allowed this foreigner to be invited,
I must be civil, and not let her think we English inhospitable."

When Margaret entered with the stranger, Stanfeld received her with a
courtesy neither the Castilian nor her agent had expected, and
introduced her himself to his daughter, Mrs. Vivian; for though he would
not acknowledge it, the tall figure, stately carriage, and quiet
self-possession of the Spaniard had rather 'taken him aback;' for he had
expected a diffident, awkward school-girl of fourteen, and was in nowise
prepared for the reality.

"What a very handsome girl," he remarked to his daughter, when Margaret
had borne off her guest to take off her hat and mantle.

"Very," said Eveline, adding timidly, "but she has such a grand air
about her."

"Haughty as a Don," said Stanfeld; "ring for tea, child--we cannot wait
for Arthur."

As she obeyed him, Margaret and Inez reentered, and Stanfeld immediately
offered the latter a chair near his own, saying with a smile, "I suppose
you find our summer rather different to Rio, Miss de Castro?"

"It is not so hot as our summers, senor, but it is very beautiful,"
replied Inez, and Margaret, who knew how purely she really spoke
English, was astonished at the admirable manner in which she threw such
a strong accent into the softly uttered words.

"You have not been very long in England, I think," said Eveline.

"Four or five months," replied Inez.

As she spoke, there was a sharp, imperative knock at the hall door,
which rang through the hall with a clang, then steps ascended the
stairs, paused, and a voice said, "Arrived, has she?--then give me a
light." And then the steps passed on.

A few moments more, and a young man of about eight or nine and twenty
entered the room.

"My nephew, Arthur Vivian--Miss de Castro," said Stanfeld at once.

As she slightly returned his low inclination, she lifted her dark eyes
to his. She stood face to face with him, the assassin of Angelo's
mother, and for one second her very life-blood seemed to stand still.
All the fierce, wild emotions of years' vengeance were crowded into that
brief moment, and her heart turned sick and her brain dizzy; but
Egerton's stern training stood her in good stead now, and the iron hand
of self-control held its own.

Yes, there he stood before her, the living, breathing original of the
portrait we have seen! The same exquisitely handsome features, and dark
fiendish beauty; the same ruthless lurid black eyes, with all their
world of passion and evil; there was the same wicked sneer about the
lips, and the same strange burnished, glittering hair, that looked as if
the gorgeous light of a setting sun had shed its blaze of burning rays
on it, and tinged each dark brown hair with burnished gold. But he could
banish the sneer and wreathe his lips with a smile which showed fatal
powers of fascination--at any rate to some--that was a fearful gift in
such hands as his, and Inez, seeing that, understood how Eveline had
been infatuated.

That evening Arthur Vivian took his uncle's cue, and seemed determined
to pay every attention to the guest. As soon as the tea-tray was removed
he asked her if she played or sang; and as Inez's whole game was to
please in every way, she answered "Yes."

"At sight, Miss de Castro? Would you favor us?" he asked, with quick
eagerness.

"I will do my best, Mr. Vivian," she replied, rising with an air half
careless, half ready, and opened the piano.

Vivian brought a music folio, and choosing a song, placed it before her.
It was that beautiful song, "The Slave."

"I am very fond of this song," he said; "but neither my wife or Margaret
can sing it properly, and with the German words."

"I know but very little of German, senor, then; only what I picked up in
a tour through Germany," said Inez.

"Indeed!" said Vivian, "but you can still sing the rich German words."

She made no reply, save to strike the first chords of the prelude and
commence the song; and as the wild mournful melody, so touching, so
expressive in its appealing, wailing melancholy met his ears, he drew
back a little, and a softer shade stole over his face. He bent over her
as the last soft cadences died away, and said, "Thank you for that song,
it is beautiful."

Something in his voice that seemed like the faint echo of something
better; of a day when perhaps he had stood an innocent child at his
mother's knee, made Inez half turn and look up full in his face, her
searching steady eyes gazing direct into his. Something there was, for
one brief second, as if a better angel had in passing cast the shadow of
its wings on his face. It passed, however, in half a second, and then
every line hardened again; and if for that moment her heart might have
softened, the light touch of her hand--that hand red with the blood of
Angelo's mother--steeled her whole soul to sternness. The voice of
Stanfeld, addressing her, made her look towards him.

"Will you sing this, Miss de Castro?" he asked.

"With pleasure, senor," she replied; "what is it?"

"A quaint, strange song of Kingsley's," he replied--"'Three Fishers Went
Sailing.' The music is Hullah's. I am not generally fond of music, but
this song took even my fancy. Eveline, bring it."

Mrs. Vivian rose, fetched the music, and placed it before Inez, who,
though she had never seen it before, sang it through correctly and
unhesitatingly.

"I like that song very much," she said, rising as she concluded; "it has
such a quaint beauty about it."

She moved to the table, sat down by Margaret, and began turning over a
book of very choice prints. Arthur watched her a moment, and then,
leaning over the back of her chair, said, "Do you draw at all, Miss de
Castro?"

"Oh, yes!" exclaimed Margaret, eagerly; "beautifully."

"I take the answer from the lady herself," said Vivian, quietly.

"I have learned drawing, and I am fond of it," replied Inez, coldly.

"Have you any drawings with you?" he asked; "may I see them?"

"I have none with me," she replied. "Look at this, Mr. Vivian! you must
come round; you cannot see it there."

He sat down by her. It was Lady Macbeth, just when she, the murderess,
stands gazing on her blood-stained hands.

Inez's watchful glance saw Vivian start as he saw it, and a black look
crossed his face as he pushed the book away, saying hastily, "I don't
like that picture."

"I do," said the Spaniard; "it is so life-like. You can picture--fancy
the horror and terror of the murderess--as she sees the blood on her
hands. I like the engraving."

"Curse that girl!" muttered Vivian, turning away, but not so low as to
prevent Inez's quick ear from catching the words; and when she and
Margaret retired to their room that night she said, "He won't like me
now; but he shall fear me before long. To-morrow I begin; and do not be
surprised if I encourage the attention and courtesy he seems inclined at
present to show me."




CHAPTER XIV.


Nothing but the fearful interests at stake could have upheld Inez de
Caldara in the path which now lay before her. None but such a nature as
hers, nothing but such masculine strength of purpose and will, could
have gone through it at all; but in all and through all, the love she
bore to Angelo sustained and upheld her like some magic talisman. And
was it not a talisman indeed, planted by the hand of God in her heart,
to bear a flower that should scatter its seeds to heaven?

It was after breakfast the next morning that Arthur Vivian came up to
her, and said, "Miss de Castro, I suppose you ride?"

"Yes," she replied. "It is the principal mode of moving about at Rio."

"There are some fine views in our neighborhood," said he; "but I'm
afraid we have not a lady's horse in the stable. Eveline only rides a
quiet pony, and mine and my uncle's horses are perhaps more wild than
you like."

"I am used to half-tamed animals, senor," she replied, "and I should
like very much to see the scenery about here."

"Would you?" said Arthur; "then come round with me to the stables and
see which horse you will like to ride; and while they saddle the horses,
I will show you the grounds."

"If you like," said Inez, in her usual quiet way, that showed neither
pleasure nor dissent. "But call Margaret--or stay; I will do so, and put
on my riding habit."

He bit his lip; but, without seeming to notice it, the Castilian left
the room.

Stanfeld, who was in the room, turned suddenly round, and said, "Arthur,
what are you up to in that quarter?"

Vivian met his gaze unmoved, and replied coolly, "It is always wise to
be civil and courteous to the wealthy. This beautiful Spaniard is an
heiress, and in England friendless. Now do you see?"

"Yes," returned the other, curtly, "I do."

Meanwhile Inez de Caldara made her way to Margaret, and told her where
she was going, adding, "Come with me, Margaret."

"I will, round the gardens, dear Inez," she replied, "but I'm no rider,
and I'm afraid of the horses."

"Mrs. Vivian's pony," suggested Inez.

"No, old Stanfeld don't like me taking it," said Margaret; "besides, it
couldn't keep pace with you. Inez, are you not afraid of going out alone
with Vivian?"

"No," said Inez, "why should I?"

"Oh, Inez, be careful," said Margaret. "I tell you, if he has any
suspicion, he will murder you."

"No," said the other, quietly, "he may try, but he will not succeed. He
will try as soon as he begins to fear me, but I am more than his match.
He would not dare sudden poison, and I am too much on my guard for slow
poisons to succeed."

"Inez," said Margaret, "it is horrible to hear you so coolly calculate
your own chances of life and death."

"Is it?" said Inez, and a sad smile flitted over her grave face. "I have
seen death in too horrible a form to have much fear of it for itself."

"But, Inez, are you forgetting how desperate any suspicion of the truth
will make that devil incarnate; that he will as soon use a knife or
pistol as poison."

"I have forgotten nothing, Margaret. I have calculated to a hair's
breadth all the heavy chances against me, and the light ones for me. I
know that my life may be in hourly danger, but whatever means he may
try, I shall not come by my death till I have placed in Angelo's hands
the means of bringing home to Vivian's head his deadly crime. Now I am
ready. Come."

Margaret followed her to the hall, where Vivian was waiting for them. He
first led the way to the stables, which contained four horses, the
carriage one, Eveline's pony, and Arthur and Stanfeld's own horses. The
coachman and groom were in the stable yard as they entered, and Vivian
ordered them to lead out 'Cassy' and 'Piers Gaveston' for the lady to
see.

The men obeyed, and led out from their stalls two horses, a brown and a
bay, both fine looking animals, but, as Inez at once saw, skittish and
"skeerish," if not vicious; for the instant she approached the bay one,
Cassy, it laid back its delicate ears, rolled its eyes, and tried to run
back, an attempt the groom foiled.

"Come, Cass, no tricks," said Vivian; "hold her steady, Forde. Which
will you ride, Miss de Castro?"

The groom started, and exclaimed, "Mr. Arthur, you ain't going to put
that young lady on either o' these animals, surely. Look how skeery they
are; and----"

"Hold your tongue till you're asked to speak," said Vivian, flushing
with passion.

"Let him speak," said Inez, almost imperiously; "finish your speech,
Forde, if you please."

For one moment there was a perfectly fiendish glare in Arthur's eye, and
he muttered inwardly, "I'll give her a fright for this," as Forde said,
"I was only a going to say, miss, that such a little hand as yours won't
be able to hold in these ere hosses. Don't mount either of 'em, miss."

"Thank you for your care, my friend," said Inez, "but I am used to a
high-spirited horse, and can, I don't doubt, hold in Cassy. Is she
vicious?"

"No, miss, I don't think she ain't; but she's full o' tricks."

"Perhaps," said Vivian, with something like a sneer, "you had better not
ride her at all."

"I should not be laughed into doing so, if I thought her really
vicious," said the Castilian quietly; "but I think I will take her. Is
she yours?"

"No, my uncle's," replied Vivian. "Saddle them, Forde, and bring them
round."

Giving his arm to Inez, he left the stable-yard; but a sign from the
groom made Margaret linger and remain.

"What is it, Forde?" she asked.

"For heaven's sake, Miss Margaret, don't let the young lady go out alone
with Mr. Arthur on Cass. Go and get your uncle to say he wants the
horse, or that she mayn't go out--anything."

"It's no use, Forde," she replied. "You know of old its no use any of us
trying to outdo Mr. Vivian."

"Then speak to the young lady, miss," said Forde.

But Margaret knew that Inez had a purpose even in this ride--she must
know the country well, and she replied, "She has said she will go, and
she will; and, indeed, Forde, if Cass isn't vicious, there's not much
fear; my friend is a capital rider. Why are you so apprehensive?"

"Why, you see, Mr. Arthur's most sure to take her round by the river and
over the railway bridge; and if a train comes up, Cassy's quite safe to
start tricks,--rearing or bolting as she did with Mr. Roland Aubrey
three years back, when she throwed him; and, besides, miss, you'll
pardon me, miss, for what I'm going to say, but Mr. Arthur had an ugly
look when the young lady told me to speak. I'm a' most sure Miss
Margaret, that he wants to get young miss out on that hoss. Mr. Arthur's
got as vicious a temper as our old 'White Jake' used to," said the
groom, lowering his voice confidentially.

"Forde, you frighten me for her," said Margaret. "Can't you mount the
brougham horse, and go with them?"

"No use, miss; Mr. Arthur wouldn't hear on it."

"We can only hope no harm will happen. Thank you, Forde, for your
warning," and she left the yard to follow the other two, and get a
chance of warning Inez, but she could not do so until they returned to
the house; and then, while Vivian went in to fetch his whip, Margaret
hastily repeated what the groom had said.

"I can't help it now," said Inez, quite unmoved, "if I refuse now, he
will see it is him, not the horse, that I am afraid of; and listen,
Margaret: if once I let him see I fear him, I lose the whole game; he is
my master instead of me being his; at present, I have the mastery, and
must keep it at all hazards. I shall go this ride, and take my chance of
everything."

"For heaven's sake, dear Inez, take care of Cassy," said Margaret.

"Hush! here they come!" interrupted the Castilian; and as Forde led up
the two horses, Arthur appeared.

"Hold her head tight, Forde," said Vivian.

"Take care, Jesuita," said Margaret; "she'll run back the moment you
mount."

Without speaking a word, Arthur Vivian lifted Inez in his strong arms,
swung her to the saddle, and in a moment had her foot in the stirrup,
and the reins in her hand, before Cassy had time to know anything about
it; but as Arthur mounted, and Forde let go her head, Madam Cassy backed
some paces, and reared a little. In a moment Vivian's hand was on the
bridle; but Inez's whip across the ears had already brought her down.

"Pardon me, senor," said the Spaniard, "if I ask you to leave me to
manage her; if she gets beyond me, I will ask assistance from you."

He bowed, and the groom said admiringly to Margaret, "Young miss knows
how to ride, and I'm thinking after all, that Cass won't throw her; and
I'm sure by the look of her, Miss Margaret, that Mr. Arthur won't
succeed in frightening her. She'll be too much for him."

Margaret made no reply until the riders had passed the lodge at the
gates, then she said, "Why do you think he wants to frighten Miss de
Castro, Forde?"

The groom gave her a shrewd glance, as he replied, "'Cause, miss, he
just gave her in the stable-yard, one of his real devilish looks, just
like a vicious horse gives when he means to throw you. Mr. Arthur's very
spiteful like, and he won't easily forget how she put him down. Miss
Margaret, is that furrin missy going to stop here long?"

"I think so, Forde," she replied. "Why?"

The man glanced round, bent down, and whispered earnestly, "Then, miss,
don't let her make an enemy of Mr. Arthur. He's got the very devil in
him, if ever man had."

Margaret turned deadly pale, and such a sudden, dire presentiment of
evil came over her, that she laid her hand on the groom's arm, and said,
"Forde, you have been here a long time. If anything happens, stand our
friend. Let us be able to depend upon you."

"That you may, miss, every bit, bless your pretty face!" said the groom.
"I don't wonder at your disliking master and Mr. Arthur. I do, I know,
and I shouldn't have stayed so long but for yours and Mrs. Arthur's
sake. You've always spoke kind-like to me. Grooms has feelings, miss;
and somehow I can't find it in me to leave you two young helpless doves
alone with such bad 'uns as master and Mr. Arthur."

"Thank you--thank you from my heart, Forde," said the girl, deeply
touched at the honest, simple affection of his words; then, turning
away, she hurried into the house, while Forde betook himself to the
stables, and told Miles, the coachman, "that Miss Margaret was the
dearest and best young lady he ever set eyes on."

Meanwhile the Spaniard and her companion turned into the high road, and
after going a little distance he led her to the top of a high mound
which he said commanded an extensive view; and he was right. To the
south, about a mile distant, lay Forest Moor Grange, with its wild
grounds running wild with the rank grass growing all over the paths and
lawns; and the old wandering house, with its gable ends and turrets,
thrown out in fine relief by the dark rookery behind it. Beyond the
grounds, farms dotted the country for miles; green meadows, tracts of
land with waving corn, and rich wooding. About a quarter of a mile north
of the Grange boundary:

'A river, like a stream of haze,

Drew its slow length, until 'twas lost in woods.'

A wide river, navigable for boats, it was that wound along, gleaming
like silver in the sun. On the south side, Forest Moore itself stretched
along its banks; and far away south, on the opposite bank, about
north-east by east from the Grange, lay the pretty village of Forest
Moor, flanked by the romantic and somewhat extensive woods, which, once
a forest, had not only retained that name, but given it also to the
moor, the village, and the grange. Crossing the river close to the
village, and reaching the south bank not half a mile from the Grange,
was a very pretty iron bridge, whose only fault was its modernness. The
railway skirted the moor, and went over the bridge, which was built wide
enough to allow a broad foot passenger roadway to cross it too, being
separated from the line by a strong high iron railing. The high road
crossed the old stone bridge about a quarter of a mile up the river, and
consequently the foot-road over the railway bridge was the nearest way
to the village and station for those coming from the Grange or that
direction.

"And generally," said Vivian, "my uncle and I use it, even on
horseback."

"Don't the station people stop you?" asked Inez.

"The station don't command the bridge," said Vivian. "And there is a
short-cut from the Grange to the bridge. Do you see that field and wood
which lie between the palings of the Grange and Forest Moor
Bridge--that's it name?"

"Yes," replied Inez.

"Can you see a path crossing the field?" he asked.

"Plainly," she replied. "It enters the wood."

"Now turn to the river," said Vivian; "there is the path coming out on
its path, just by the bridge, under the very shadow of the last arch.
You have nothing to do but to get up the bank, and you are on the
bridge. The village isn't ten minutes' walk that way."

"And is it safe?" she asked. "Could Maggie or I go that way alone?"

"Any time you like," he replied; "the path is a private one, and the
river banks are very lonely."

A stern smile crossed Inez's dark face. That path would one day be
useful to her.

"Which way shall we turn?" she asked.

"We had better ride across the moor," he replied. "It is very pretty,
and a fine space for a gallop. Then we can cross the river at a bridge
six miles off, come along the north bank, ride through the village, and
cross the iron bridge home."

"Very well," she replied, without the least sign of fear at the latter
idea.

They rode on again, Cassy behaving very well till the fresh breeze,
sweeping over the wide moor, met her nostrils, when she threw up her
head, tugged at her bridle, till her rider could hardly hold her in;
but, finding such firm resistance to her pranks, she gave a few plunges
and attempted to rear, in the vain attempt to throw her rider. But Inez
was too sharp, for she threw her whip heavily over her ears, and brought
Cassy down.

"Senor," she said quickly, "keep pace with me. I see I must take a bit
of the wildness out of Cassy before she'll behave properly."

With the word she gave the mare the rein, touched her lightly, and away
flew Cassy like a shot, Arthur's horse, however, keeping well up with
her.

Neither rider spoke, it was impossible; but Inez never for a moment lost
the command of the animal she rode, and when Cassy was pretty well
winded she drew rein, and said coolly, "I never let a horse conquer me.
She has some vice in her, but she will be quiet for a time now."

Arthur could not help admiring his beautiful and determined companion;
but he was disappointed and annoyed that she had shown no alarm, and in
his evil, vengeful heart, he vowed to make her acknowledge herself
frightened before he had done with her. He had a double motive--pique
was one, the other was that he wanted to place her in some dangerous
predicament, from which he should rescue her, and thus place her at the
outset under a deep obligation to him. Already, in his base heart, and
fiendish mind, had he conceived an end for which even now he had begun
to play a deep game; but he was playing it against one far his superior
in intellect, subtlety, and power--one who, girl as she was, could and
did detect each move he made, and defeat it.

It was long past midday when they reached the village, a pretty,
rural-looking one, which elicited from Inez the exclamation, "What a
pretty village!"

As they reached the bridge, an express train appeared in sight and
hearing, and Cassy pricked up her ears, glared wildly round, and to
Vivian's delight, sprang forward to the middle of the bridge as the
train dashed past. That the horse was frightened of trains Arthur well
knew, but even he had not expected or wished for the result of his own
revengeful manoeuvre. The moment the train passed, the animal, wild with
terror, began plunging with a fury that threatened to fling her rider
over the low parapet into the river. Arthur attempted to grasp the
bridle, for he saw a down train approaching; but Cassy ran back, reared
till she stood upright, pawing the air with her forefeet, and as the
down train passed she uttered a wild shriek of mad terror, and leaped
clear over into the river.

From what had passed in the stable-yard, the sharp-sighted groom, Forde,
had his suspicions, and very strong ones, that Vivian would try and vent
his petty revenge on Inez, by giving her a fright at the bridge, because
he knew that trains never failed to half madden Cassy. Forde had
therefore gone quietly out, and ensconced himself under the bridge that
he might watch; but the heat made him fall asleep, and the first thing
that woke him was the horse's shriek, and he was on his feet in a
moment. He saw Cassy leap with her rider still on her back, saw both
steed and rider sink, and the next moment saw Inez rise to the surface,
and strike out strongly. Forde saw that she could swim, and though the
blow of the water had so stunned Cassy, Inez was unhurt; but he also saw
that in a minute, indeed already, that her long riding dress must drag
her down, and to fling off his coat, shoes, and hat, and plunge in was
the work of a moment.

Just as the horrified Vivian gained the bank, Forde reached the already
sinking girl, and flung his powerful arm round her, bidding her lie
still, and not cling to him.

Her white, firm face was his answer, and his strong strokes soon brought
them both to land, almost at the same time as the poor mare gained it a
few yards further down.

"Are you hurt?" exclaimed Vivian, with remorseful anxiety. "Are you
unharmed, Miss de Castro?"

"Thanks to Forde's timely help, I am safe," she said, rising her eyes to
the groom's with an expression that fully repaid him, "I am only wet,
and so is Forde. I will ride Cassy home."

"Are you not afraid?" he asked.

She looked at him steadily, and replied, "I was not afraid all through."
Again too much for him, again defeated. He turned away, caught Cassy,
and lifted Inez, drenched as she was, to the saddle.

To ask Vivian to resign his horse to the groom Inez knew was hopeless,
so she said, "Run home quickly, Forde; if harm come to you, I should
never forgive myself."

It was after dark that evening, that as Forde was locking up the stables
the tall figure of Inez stood before him.

"Forde," she said, and her voice trembled with emotion, "I could not
speak my deep gratitude before the man who purposely got the horse there
when he saw the train coming. I shall never forget you, and whenever you
look at this, remember, it is a token of the gratitude of Jesuita de
Castro."

She took off the gold watch she herself wore, and threw the chain round
his neck; then, suddenly bending down, she clasped his rough hand in
hers and pressed her lips on it, and there were tears on it when she was
gone.

"God bless her?" muttered the groom, brushing his hand over his eyes.




CHAPTER XV.


We must now turn to some interesting memoirs by Margaret Arundel,
written from notes made at the time; hence she speaks in the past tense.
After giving some girlish reminiscences of her first arrival at the
school of Mrs. Ashton at Yellowfield, and her subsequent introduction to
Inez de Caldara and Isbel Rochester, the former of whom peculiarly
excited her attention and interest, she thus proceeds with her own early
life:--

When I look back through the distance of years to that wretched time at
Forest Moor, it seems like some horrible dream. I marvel how I bore it,
and, oh! I wonder to this day how Inez went through it all, though it
was not more than a few months. I watched with wonder the way she held
her mastery over Vivian; it is only a few words relative to that which I
write down here. After that day she conquered him about the mare Cassy
he did not behave to her so very ultra-civilly; he would speak with a
sneer, but she answered his sneer with cutting, bitter sarcasms, cold
and hard as steel, but so veiled that he could not lay hold of them,
though I have seen him writhe under her irony as if an asp had stung
him.

She used to sit apparently reading or writing, but whenever I looked up
suddenly I saw those strange dark eyes of hers fixed on Vivian. She
seemed to watch him more closely every day and week that passed, and at
last he began to grow nervous and fidgetty whenever she was present, and
not merely that, but when she was not in the room--for she moved so
swiftly and silently that one minute she would be in the garden, and the
next, as if by magic, she was at our side, with those eyes, that seemed
to read one through, on Vivian. She has made even me nervous at night,
sometimes, with the sudden way she came upon me from heaven knows where,
always so still and silent; she rarely spoke, always with her black eyes
on me, looking as if they read every thought, as I'm sure they did. It
made me nervous, in the same way that a black cat gazing at me in the
dark does; because it is horrible to me to see such a keenly searching
look in the eyes of any silent creature that comes upon one suddenly and
silently as a cat does at night--as she did. But Arthur grew more
nervous every day and hour, till he came to distrust and dread and fear
that child. He was uneasy and restless if she was present; he was the
same if she was absent, because of the constant dread of her coming, and
yet he couldn't help glancing at her; and though she always drooped her
eyes when he looked towards her, he knew that the moment he turned his
own away, those black orbs would be fixed upon his face, reading every
change and expression. One night he turned sharply away, as if wrenching
himself from some fascination, and I heard him mutter, "I hate that
child's dark face! I hate her to look at me with her evil eyes!"

Heaven knows, he had reason to fear any one who watched him so
steadily--her, more than any living being; but I did not sympathise with
him. I had always feared and disliked him, and the more he grew to
distrust and dread Inez, the more I grew to dislike and fear and hate
him, and gradually there grew into my dislike and hatred of him a
distrust and suspicion--idea, fancy, if you will--that he would some day
do the child a mischief.

One day when she was out he began looking through some drawers he kept
locked, but she came in meanwhile. Closing the last drawer, he turned to
meet the steady gaze of Inez, as she stood in the doorway, and as he
pushed past her I heard him mutter, fiercely, "Curses on that dark-faced
child."

From that day my suspicion and distrust grew upon me, day by day, and
hour by hour, till I could not bear to have both Vivian and Inez out of
my sight together. I reached that point when she had been six weeks with
us. I marvelled if she felt any of the dread of him which she had
inspired him with. I asked her one day, "Inez, are you not afraid of
Vivian? Have you no fear of him?"

"Do I look as if I was afraid?" she said, turning her dark grave face
full towards me. "Do I ever show any fear? Do I act as if I was afraid
of him?"

"Certainly not," I replied.

"No; he is afraid of me," said Inez; "his very soul trembles with dread
and fear when I watch him; and he shall have cause to fear me," she said
with a fierce flash in her black eyes, and setting her foot down as if
she were crushing some reptile under her heel, "he shall learn one dark
bitter day that his fear of me had foundation in his own guilty
conscience."

"But, Inez, I wish you would not ride with him alone," said I. "If you
feel no fear of him I do; and I am as certain as that I stand here that
he will do you evil. Can you, who have learned to read men so closely,
tell me why it is that he doesn't either get Stanfeld to send you away,
or go away himself? It's a riddle I cannot read."

"I think I can read it for you," she replied. "For the first he knows
that even Stanfeld could not be so utterly rude as to give me a hint.
For the second, there are mixed motives. In the very nature of his
indefinite nightmare, nervous dread of me, there is a fascination, which
detains him and forces him to stay; if that dread could assume a defined
form or shape, he would murder me or fly; but the very vagueness of the
phantom-like, nameless thing of horror he fears, has a weird fascination
that, like a thing of magic, makes him stay. Moreover there lurks in his
mind, in the same undefined way, a feeling that he will not be scared
from his home by a child. But neither feeling, as I said, has form or
shape; the instant the chaos assumes a clear form he will fly, or, more
likely, try to murder me."

"Inez!" I exclaimed, "you know that and go on! Merciful heaven, what
mighty motive can influence you to peril so much?"

"The stake at hazard is more than life and death," was her reply; "and
having once put my hand to the plough, I would not, if I could, look
back. From the moment I set foot in this house, it has been 'Strike lest
you be struck.' I must strike him to the ground, crush him under my
foot, or he will crush me."

She moved away, but when she had gone a few paces she paused, and for a
minute turned her strange, grave face to me, so steadfast, so calm, but
one with such a look on it, that as she glided away I involuntarily
stretched my arms towards the retreating form, and from my very soul
burst the bitter cry, "So young and fair! Oh, merciful Father, save her!
save her!"

* * * * * * * *

It was that very evening that, as we sat in the drawing-room before the
candles came in, Vivian, who had been pacing restlessly to and fro,
stopped suddenly before Inez de Caldara and asked her to sing
something--he didn't care what. She rose instantly, and glided to the
piano. He stood by with folded arms, looking down on her with that evil
face of his, till I shuddered for her.

Inez had a wonderful memory, and knew by heart a quantity of choice
music, and now the first thing I heard was her rich mellow voice,
singing that beautiful prayer in 'Oberon.' I don't know what it was,
whether it was her music or some deep vein of melancholy in her voice,
but if she sang anything of a plaintive or mournful character, it rarely
failed to move him; if ever so little, it was only a slight softening of
the lines of his face and of his eyes that indicated anything; but I
think if Eveline could have sang or played as Inez did, he might have
been a better man, not so lost a being. I don't know. I am most likely
mistaken; for looking at his face, it is such an incarnation of inborn
devilry that I don't think there is as much good in him as a fly would
hold.

Inez wandered on from one thing to another, till I heard her singing
something, I don't recollect what, from 'La Somnambula.' As she struck
the last chord she dropped her hands suddenly, and fixing her black eyes
on Vivian, said abruptly, "I am a somnambulist."

I saw him start and shiver. "Ugh!" said he, "I don't like somnambulism.
I've heard of sleep-walkers committing----"

"Murder," added Inez, quietly, and with her steady gaze on him. "Yes, I
have heard of such things. I nearly killed one of our slaves at Rio
about eight or nine years ago; but fortunately I only wounded him."

Vivian shivered again, and the hand, which rested on the back of a
chair, grasped it almost convulsively; but she added, "There are more
crimes committed by wide awake people than by all the somnambulists put
together."

He turned abruptly away, and left the room.

I knew Inez had been telling a falsehood, and I wondered what her motive
could be. That she had one I was convinced, for nothing she did in that
house was without some deep motive.

When we went up to bed I said, "Inez, what on earth made you tell such
tales to Vivian? You are not a somnambulist."

"Of course not," she replied, coolly; "but a mind like his has a
superstitious fear of somnambulists; and besides, if he should meet me
at night wandering about the house, I shall be able to play that game
with him."

"Child," said I, "you are a living riddle! Why should you wander about
at night?"

I was sitting in a low chair as I spoke, and she turned from the glass,
knelt at my feet, and laying her arms on my lap, said, "Perhaps I should
have told you this much before--I do so now. When Angelo's mother was
murdered, there were jewels stolen----"

She paused. It was an effort to speak so calmly and steadily as she did;
but in a moment she mastered herself, and went on.

"The jewels were stolen, and he has them even now."

"Stay," said I. "How can you tell me that, Inez? He has probably sold
them long ago."

"No, has not," said Inez, in her decided way. "He would not have dared
to let any human being know he had them, for they are so marked that
they could be traced directly. There is one bracelet at least that he
would sooner have flung into the sea than pass it. No, he has them, and
I must have them. I have watched and searched, but as yet I have found
no trace or hint of their concealment. They are not in his private
places, for I have tried them with the keys I brought with me."

"Oh, Inez, you haven't looked?" I exclaimed.

Her lips paled a little, but she said steadily, "When I came here,
Margaret, I took into my heart the Jesuit doctrine that 'the end
sanctifies the means,' and I have followed that out. All that is
repugnant to my very soul I have done, and do, and will unhesitatingly
do. If, to gain that end, lying and deceiving is necessary--and it is--I
will lie, and bend, and stoop to all I abhor as dishonorable. Do you
think," she said, rising and confronting me with that passionate face I
had seen once, and but once before--"do you think that it costs me
nothing to act so? Do you think that my pride, my whole nature does not
revolt under it? Do you think that because I am so outwardly cold, and
passionless, and calm, that I have no feelings?"

"Dear Inez," I interrupted eagerly, "I meant no reproach, indeed I did
not. I never meant to pain you."

I threw my arms round her, but for the first time I felt that she had
passions of strength and depth--almost fierceness, which even I had
never suspected had existence; and for the first time, also, I
appreciated to its full value, her complete and wonderful mastery over
herself, partly the result of her own nature, partly of the training she
had received.

"You have searched," I said, returning to the former subject,
"everywhere, and can find no trace. Can you got no hint from him?"

"No," she replied. "I have assured myself that he has them in his
possession, and I must find them. All is useless without the jewels.
Once in my hands, they are a proof against him. They are a clue in
themselves. Now, listen. I have taken all this time to search this house
through from top to bottom. While you and all else slept, I have been
searching like a French detective, his room, Stanfeld's, even the
servants' rooms; greenhouses, stables, and lofts have not escaped me. In
every place where I suspected a concealment I have searched, and I have
completely satisfied myself that what I seek is not anywhere in the
house or out-buildings; but now, having last night got to the end of all
these, I have to-day looked about and discovered another and last place
where it may be, and if it is not there, heaven help me, for my last
resource will be exhausted!"

"What place do you mean?" I asked.

"You know," she said, "at the west wing of the old ruined chapel----"

"Inez!" I exclaimed, "they cannot be there--the chapel is a mere bit of
wall."

"No--not there, Margaret," she replied; "but in the lower cloisters, the
vaults beneath it, where all the Surreys lie buried. To-night I shall
take full rest, and to-morrow night I commence."

"Inez--oh, Inez! you cannot," I cried. "You will never be able to go
there alone at midnight."

"I see you do not know me yet," said Inez. "I, who do not fear this
living fiend I am contending with, am not likely to fear the dead who
sleep and are at rest."

"Let me go with you," I said.

"Not for anything," she replied. "The danger and risk are mine. I know
and trust myself. Keep up the tale I commenced to-day. Good-night now,
Margaret," she said; and we laid down and slept.




CHAPTER XVI.


It was near midnight, that mystic hour of shades and shadows, when a
tall, slight figure, closely cloaked, glided from the Grange and struck
boldly amongst the lofty trees of the rookery, which bent and moved as
the night wind swept amongst them with a low, mournful sound like the
plaintive wailing of some mourning spirit. The wanderer paused a moment
to listen and glance back, but all was still, and the straight moonbeams
which now and then struggled through the dark clouds revealed nothing
but an old house, and Inez glided swiftly on towards the west side of
the mansion. There had once been a chapel there in the old time, when
the chanting of the priests in the rich service of the mass had risen
from its sacred walls, or the soft vesper hymn had been wont to steal
gently on the calm evening air; but rude and desecrating hands had
dismantled it in the civil wars, and it had gradually fallen utterly to
decay, so that nothing but a portion of the walls stood; rank grass and
woods grew wild and tangled where the font had been, and the poisonous
hemlock and deadly nightshade trailed their leaves where once had stood
the sacred altar. A portion of the open cloisters still stood, and in
them was the entrance to the lower cloisters, which ran for a good way
under the ground.

Setting down the dark lantern she carried under her mantle, the Spaniard
by a great exertion of strength, and she was unromantically strong,
raised the slab of pavement which formed the entrance, and laying it
right back she took up the lantern, opened the bull's eye, and descended
the steep stone steps it disclosed. At the bottom of this dark stairway
was an iron gate, rusty with damp and age, but it was locked. Inez,
nowise daunted, threw back her mantle, and the light flashed on a thick
belt, profusely garnished with the various implements stuck in it--a
fine file, such as runs through iron almost as quickly as a saw walks
through wood, a coarser one, a stout handled hammer, a chisel, a
gimblet, and a large strong clasp knife with a patent catch. This our
daring adventurer now drew, inserted it deliberately between the lock
and the gate, and in a moment the old rusty lock yielded to the
pressure; she pushed back the gate, entered, and setting down her
lantern on the steps of a massive column near the gate, she looked round
her. Behind her was the gateway she had entered by; before her were a
pair of tall iron gates, such as are seen in burial vaults, and behind
these were, dimly discernible in the deep gloom, the white pillars and
the tombs where rested many a Surrey who had lived and died long ago.
Within four or five feet of Inez was a simple slab of stone, a grave so
old that the inscription was almost effaced, and the tall cross at its
heads, loosened by age and damp from its hold in the ground, leaned a
little, as if bending sadly over the lonely grave of one whom tradition
whispered had died very young--the old mournful story--a young heart
broken, and an early grave.

Strange and gloomy and dreary was the place, with its mournful graves
and its muttering echoes dying sadly away among the frowning arches,
which seemed to disappear in gloom and darkness; with the owl hooting
drearily from its perch amongst the lofty columns, and looking with its
ghostly eyes through the tall iron gates, while the 'midnight raven
found a perch' on the cross of some grave, and the bat flapped its
ominous wings against the iron bars, or swept them past the old gray
columns, and the snake crept hissing away amongst the white rank grass
which sprang up out of the green dampness of the place; there were
mouldering bones and grinning skulls within those iron gates that the
coffins could no longer hold, and had burst asunder, casting their
ghastly burden forth; there was death everywhere--in every grave and
mouldering bone, in the very stones and close, vault-like, deathly air;
and even Inez's bold, fearless spirit, that would unflinchingly have
faced physical danger, now quailed before the imaginary terrors which
the hour and gloomy horror of the place awoke in her vivid imagination,
and perhaps in the innate shade of natural superstition which runs like
a fine vein through imaginative minds.

It required more stern control and iron exercise of will than anything
had yet called forth to make her stand firm, and collect and bend her
faculties to that which was the purpose of her life, but even in the
creeping horror that was crawling over her, she did not wish for
Margaret. "No," she murmured, "if this place of death can unnerve me, I
am glad indeed I refused her. Out upon my cowardly heart, that it has
not more of Angelo's spirit!"

The muttering echo answered back, as if a ghostly voice had spoken,
"More of Angelo's spirit," and the child started violently, but the very
name of Angelo had a power that sent the brave blood of her fathers
through her veins; and once more taking up the lantern, she advanced to
the lofty gates, satisfied from her knowledge of Vivian's mind that he
would have concealed the jewels in some remote corner; for he had not,
she knew, the depth of subtlety which would step out of the ordinary
line and place the jewels in such a public place that no one in a
thousand would ever look for them there. She had taken pains to find out
the calibre and cast of his mind before she searched anywhere, and,
finding it cunning without subtlety, she directed her movements
accordingly.

Now therefore, she examined the gates; tight-locked, chained, so that to
force either lock or chain was hopeless; but examining the padlock and
chain closely, she observed that neither were very old--certainly not so
old as the rest. Moreover, she detected one or two small things that did
not look as if a workman's hand had been there; and as she saw this her
very heart throbbed, for she felt sure that what she sought was within
those gates.

How to get past them. The bars, which were old and rusty, were close
together; but by removing one of them, there would be an aperture not
quite a foot wide, still wide enough for her slight form to force itself
through.

She drew the fine file from her belt, knelt down, totally heedless of
the loathsome reptiles and relics of the dead around, and began her
work; and the bats and owls and ravens flew in alarm about the vaults as
the sharp, steady whir-whir of the file re-echoed through the cloisters.
So old and rust-eaten was the metal that it was not long before the bar
was filed through at the bottom; and then, placing the file breast high,
she commenced again, and in ten minutes about five foot of the bar lay
at her feet, and she had squeezed through the opening.

So far all had gone well with Inez. After having gained access to the
dismal vault, the next question was, where would Vivian have been likely
to conceal the casket? Not in any excavation under the pavement, for the
damp would destroy the contents, and not inside any of the coffins, for
with his hands yet red with blood he would not have dared, she was sure,
to open a coffin; for no reverence, she was equally sure, for the human
dust within would have restrained him. She stood for some minutes
revolving in her mind the probabilities and likelihoods of the question;
and she decided that he would have made some excavation in a column, and
she therefore began, one after another, examining the pillars, knowing
that she should detect anything like a mark; but the first, second, and
third row had clearly not been touched. Again she paused, and began a
course of mental reasoning from her knowledge of Arthur.

"He will not have singled a column by chance, or taken the first that
offered or took his eye," she reasoned, "he will have had some reason
for his choice. In the state of mind he was in so shortly after the
murder, the most likely thing to actuate him will have been an
indefinite, to himself almost unconscious feeling of superstition, that
would make him catch at any straw of safety, however absurd. The first
thing that such a frame and direction of superstition would do would be
to recall to his mind the traditions of lucky numbers, and in choosing
his pillar, he will unconsciously have been guided by that. At any rate,
I will for the present assume such to have been his course, and draw my
own from it. I have already examined the third row without any result.
He has most likely, then, chosen the seventh row, and either the third,
seventh, or twenty first column; probably the last, as containing three
times seven, he will in that mood have held it three times as lucky;
therefore I shall first try that column."

She arrived at this conclusion in an infinitely shorter time than it
takes to write or read it, and advancing towards the twenty-first column
in the seventh row of pillars, she closely examined it, all
superstitious fear and terror gone. She first noticed that at about two
feet and a half high a piece of mortar had been picked away, and the
stone scraped away some two inches deep and three in the circumference
of the pillar; and raising the light she saw that the slab of stone
above it was the same, and so up as high as she could see, and as she
saw this a new idea flashed like lightning across her quick, ready mind.
He had climbed up the column by means of these and a piece of rope, as
the Africans climb the palm trees.

In one of the green-houses close to the chapel she remembered seeing the
gardener throw some rope, and to leave the vault, make her way to the
green-house, get the rope, and now fearlessly return, was the work of a
few minutes. She tied her lantern to her waist, passed the rope round
the column and herself, and made a running noose, so that as she
advanced she could slip the rope up and support herself with it.

Agile, light, and strong, used by Angelo to sports girls are rarely
allowed to strengthen their limbs in, it was not very difficult for Inez
in this way to climb the column. Up, up, as long as she found the mortar
scraped away, up to the very roof, which was arched. She could go no
further, and firmly fixing herself in her elevated perch, she raised the
lantern, and examined the capital of the column and the roof near. In
the roof close by she noticed that the mortar round one of the stones,
which was a square foot in size, was not so dirty or old-looking as the
rest; and with a hand that actually trembled, she fastened her lantern
to the rope, releasing her right hand, and drawing her knife, she began
scraping away the mortar that looked the least dirty. This stone, be it
understood, was close above the column, and therefore in that part of
the roof which was almost as upright as the pillar itself.

This operation took nearly a quarter of an hour, and then she gave the
stone a rap. It gave back a hollow sound. Still calmly, though she could
almost hear her heart beating, she inserted the chisel in the interstice
where the mortar had been, and forced it in, then pressed it back, and
the stone fell to the ground with a dull sullen noise.

Inez listened a moment, but all was again silent, and she lifted the
lantern--the stone had covered a cavity, and in the cavity lay a
mahogany box.

The box that held the jewelled casket--the box she knew so well--it was
in her hand, belted close to her, and she had descended the column and
fled through the cloisters, and up the stone steps, before she clearly
recollected anything. The fresh air soon restored her to herself and to
calmness. She closed down the entrance, shut her lantern, and wrapping
her mantle round her, struck into the plantation, circling that way
round to the back way she had come out by. 2 o'clock struck as she
glided noiselessly to the room where she and Margaret slept. But
Margaret was awake, and she sprang to Inez, exclaiming in an eager
whisper, "Oh, I am so thankful you are back! But how haggard and deathly
pale you look, and your eyes burn like coals!"

"I have got them," said the Castilian, flinging back her cloak.

"How?--where?--in what way?" asked Margaret.

"Hush! and listen," said Inez.

Margaret sat down and listened in silence to Inez's story. "And now,
Margaret," she added, "you must see them, and remember the day I took
them, for you will have to identify both one day."

She opened the box, and took out a beautiful jewel casket, the lock of
which, like the box, had been broken open. In the casket were three
trinkets, a bracelet, a large gold cross and chain, and a necklace, all
so marked and curious that Margaret understood how the murderer had not
dared to let any living being know he had them.

The bracelet was one which had been in the Egerton family for
generations, and was of antique workmanship. The ring was of massive
gold, set round with diamonds so as to form the words, "Faithful to the
death," their motto. The large clasp, set in gold, was a shield bearing
the arms of the family, each quartering being a large ruby; the
supporters were made of diamonds, and the crest over the shield (a sword
and cross bound with cypress and palm) was composed of pearls and
emeralds.

The second was a gold chain and large jewelled gold cross--a present of
Angelo's to his mother. It opened at the back; but instead of relics
appeared his own hair, formed into the motto of her house, "Love
conquers all," and on it the "I.H.S." in the same raven locks.

The third was a costly necklace of curious and antique Moorish
workmanship; and Inez said, "This has been in the Caldara family for
many generations, all, you see, are too marked for any one to mistake
them, and this bracelet has more even--there, you see,--look on the
clasp--the back."

Margaret did so, and read in old English characters the words, "To ye
Ladye Isabel, wife of Syr Walter de Egerton. From Philippa ye Quene,
1337."

Inez took back the jewels, locked them up, and said, "To-morrow these go
to town, and then----"

Ah, then! little they guessed the dark deed that 'to-morrow' would
witness.

* * * * * * * *

Again turn we to Margaret Arundel's memoirs:

It was early the next morning when I awoke. Inez de Caldara was not in
the room, and missing her hat and mantle, I guessed where she had gone.
She come back before Vivian, Eveline, or Stanfeld were up. She only
said, with a curious look of triumph in her calm face, "I have sent
Forde with the casket to Egerton. By the evening he will be here."

That day passed in torture; every hour seemed ten. I longed for, and yet
dreaded that horrible evening, when Inez's long-suffering patience would
reap its fruits, and the murderer be seized. I don't think I fully
realised till that day all that child's proud, chivalrously honorable
nature had suffered and borne in the part she had acted. I could see it
in the deathly pallor of her face, in the lines of suffering which now
lightly crossed her brow, in the worn, at times almost haggard look,
that should never have been known to one who scarcely yet numbered
fifteen years.

So the hours dragged heavily on till dusk, and just at the gloaming I
missed both her and Arthur. I had been upstairs with Eveline, and did
not know how long they had been absent. I was going to search for them,
when, pausing at a staircase window, I saw Vivian come from the chapel.

I turned so sick with apprehension that I was obliged to lean against
the wall for support. Why did he go to the cloisters that day of all
days? I was sure he had been there; but before I could move he came up
and demanded, "Where is Jesuita de Castro?"

"I don't know, Arthur," I replied.

There was a look in his face that made me shiver and shrink back as he
passed me--that made my distrust and suspicion suddenly rise before me
in a fearfully defined shape--a terrible thing of horror, and murder,
and death; yes, murder was the awful word that rang in my ears, that
grew out of the silence of the old house, that the very wind in its
sighing whispered, that the tall trees outside had in the ghostly rustic
of their leaves--yes, it was that horrible conviction that made me creep
in shivering dread to an east window which overlooked the river, and a
short cut to the bridge. I saw him, dusk though it was, walk across the
garden. I saw him hide something that flashed brightly in his breast,
and then stop and look at his hands, just as Lady Macbeth did. There was
murder in his face, there was murder in that action. And then he pushed
open the private gate, and I saw him turning across the field and
disappear in the wood. I stood for some moments literally paralysed,
till the one absorbing idea that I must get help and follow him fell
upon me. I caught up my hat, and ran in search of the coachman, for
Stanfeld had been absent all day, and Forde, I knew was away. I couldn't
find Miles anywhere, but it was impossible for me to remain quiet after
what had passed; and though I generally feared that field and wood after
dark, I now dashed open the gate and set off running along the footpath.




CHAPTER XVII.


Turning again from the memoirs of Margaret Arundel, we retrace our steps
a little. Despite all Inez had gone through in the night, it was barely
5 o'clock the next morning when she left her room equipped for walking,
and carrying a small heavy parcel, directed to Egerton. The groom Forde
she knew would be about, and stealing out of the house, she made her way
round to the stables, where, sure enough, was Forde cleaning the
brougham.

"Good morning, miss, you're early," was the cheerful salutation.

"Forde," said the Spaniard, speaking very low, "is Miles up yet?"

"No, miss," was the reply.

"That's well," said Inez. "I have come to ask you a great favor. I want
you to go to London for me on a message that will keep you all day, but
not a creature must know it. Can you be secret?"

"Certainly, miss, and ready to do your bidding," said Forde.

"You are doing me and others more service than you imagine," said Inez,
"The message is of the last importance. Go first and put on a plain
dress--not your livery--be quick!"

It was not many minutes before Forde returned in his Sunday's best.

"Come," said Inez, "we shall just catch the train by the short cut. I
will tell you what I want at the station."

They set off at a rapid pace across the field, and as they entered the
wood, she paused, and giving him the packet said, "Can you read my
writing there plainly? Is it plain?"

"Very, miss," he replied. "This is directed to Sir Angelo R. Egerton,
St. James' Square, London."

"Yes, that is it," said Inez. "Take this packet straight to Sir Angelo
Egerton, and never let it leave your hands until you place it in his.
Remain till he opens it, for you will probably have to wait and come
down here with him by an evening train. Now let us hurry on again. Here
is my purse, and you will find in it all you require."

It was five-and twenty minutes past five when they reached the station.
They were in time. The train came up, and only waiting to see it off,
Inez rapidly retraced her steps to the Grange unseen.

In restless anxiety that was almost unendurable she passed the day.
Egerton could not, she knew, be down before evening; for he would have
to get a warrant from a magistrate for Vivian's arrest, and then come
with a detective officer. As soon as it began to grow dusk, she took her
hat and wandered out with the intention of going to Forest New Bridge,
and watching there till Angelo should come, feeling sure that Forde
would bring him that way. It was still tolerably light when she reached
the bridge, but little caring for being out alone at that hour, she
crossed over and went into the station.

"When will the next train from London stop?" she said to the clerk.

"In half-an-hour, ma'am," was the reply. "It's due at 8.35."

She turned back and slowly recrossed the bridge, pausing awhile at the
spot where Cassy had taken her mad leap; then she went down on to the
strand, and sat down under the shadow of the arch. All around was very
still and silent. The river rippled quietly at her feet, the growing
darkness crept stealthily over the sky, and the shadow of the bridge
grew deeper in the calm deep water, whilst the lights of the village on
the other side began to twinkle in the distance. It was a very lonely
spot, not a living being in sight or hearing, but the thoughts of the
watcher were too far away to notice anything around her; it seemed such
a long weary time since she had seen Angelo or heard the low musical
tones of his voice. All that had passed since then seemed like a dark
dream, the shadow of which still hung over her, and she rose up to shake
it off.

At that moment a step struck on the strand, a shadow indeed fell across
her, and Arthur Vivian stood before her.

For the first time Margaret's forebodings rushed across her, and a
deathly chill ran to the child's very heart as she found herself alone
in that lonely place with a desperate man. He had discovered his loss,
she could see that in the look of his livid black eyes, in every line of
his fiendishly beautiful face, as he confronted her.

"What are you doing here at this hour?" he said, with an intonation that
made her shiver inwardly, though outwardly she maintained her cool
self-possession, knowing that if she lost that she was a lost being. If
she could keep him at bay for ten minutes the train would arrive.

"I wandered out," she replied, "while it was light; the time has passed
quickly. This scene is really beautiful in this dim gloaming."

He glanced for half a moment at the scene. If she could have passed him,
she would have sprung up the bank and fled across the bridge, but she
was under the arch, and he stood so that to pass him was impossible
without his detecting her motive. She stood quiet, though she knew the
hour had come which she had foreseen in the words, "The instant the
chaos assumes a clear form he will try to murder me." She maintained her
calmness and coolness, and yet never had the love of life been so strong
in her. She spoke again.

"It will look better from the bridge; let us go up there and see."

He turned upon her now. "No," he said; "stand where you are, girl. Ha!
the reckoning has come at last, and I am your master now."

She knew now that all was over; she gave up all for lost; gave up her
life as doomed. She knew she was utterly in his power. If she called
out, or sprang into the river, a pistol bullet would end all. She knew
no mercy or fear for himself would check him, for it was a toss up. If
he let her escape, he was letting free the evidence against him. He
could not be worse off by her murder. He was utterly desperate and would
act desperately. But, with that conviction, there came over her a
feeling of fierce triumph and a reckless determination to answer him in
the words which rose uppermost. At the same time a narrow chance of
escape offered itself. If she could, with taunting words, rouse him to
mad passion and throw him off his guard, she might try at least to match
her strength or agility against his; fling him, as he stood by the
brink, into the river, and thus gain a moment in which to fly.

A drowning person clings to a straw, and Inez de Caldara, in her awful
peril, with a desperate man to contend against, clung to this straw.

"You my master!" she said, with that taunting sneer which no one can so
well assume as a woman. "You--I am yours. Even now you fear me, as you
have from that day you failed in frightening me!"

"Listen," said Vivian, speaking hard and fiercely; "you have stolen a
box from the cloisters. Denial is useless. Silence, and listen. I see
all your game now--mad not to have seen it before. You came to the
Grange in treachery, false, base treachery, with lies on your lips and
in your heart, the very name you call yourself is not your own, I
believe; creeping like a snake to our hearth, to betray it, ever base
and false, a whited sepulchre-innocence without, but iniquity within."

"No, but with a serpent's cunning," returned Inez, with a mocking smile.
"Now hear me, Arthur Vivian. I know you better than you think. I did
come to the Grange with a false name, with a false story on my lips,
with my very accent feigned, creeping, if you will, like a snake to your
hearth; but for an end which justified the means. The time you saw me
was not the first I saw you--I saw you nine years ago. Murderer, I know
you!" said the Spaniard, confronting him with a face far more fearless
than his own; and as the last word passed her lips, she took one step
forward, and, with desperate resolution and force, struck him on the
chest with her closed hand.

So strong was the blow that Vivian staggered; but in that moment he drew
a long stiletto, and grasped her hand as she sprang forward to fly.
There was a flash--a gleam of descending steel--and the Spaniard lay at
his feet motionless--weltering in her blood!

For one moment Vivian stood gazing on the lifeless form, and in his
lurid eyes there was mingled with it that fiendish triumph, that strange
look of agonised remorse that marked the Portrait. Then the instinct of
self-preservation came over him, and he sprang into the river, and
struck out for the other side.

The wind amidst the tall trees whispered sadly, and the weeping willows
dipped their leaves in the rippling waters of the river as it flowed
calmly onwards, and the watchful eyes of the night saw the deed that was
done, and the evening star seemed to fall with a more mournful light on
the face of the child as if a tear had dimmed its brilliancy.

* * * * * * * *

At thirty-five minutes past 8 the down train stopped at Forest Moor
station. Only three passengers got out--a tall, dark man, with an
immense bloodhound, a man servant, and an almost gentlemanly looking
man, dressed in black. In the two first we recognise Egerton and Leon;
in the second, Dick Forde; and in the third, we introduce Mr. Robert
Harding, detective officer, who now bore in his pocket a warrant for the
arrest of Arthur Vivian, on a charge of murder.

Forde led the way by the bridge; but when Leon came to the spot where
Inez had stood, he suddenly ran wildly round, and then, with a loud
baying, dashed forwards, with his nose to the the ground. At the little
foot-track which led to the river bank he paused; but the moment the
rest came up he crept under the rail, ran down, and vanished under the
arch of the bridge. In a moment Egerton was over the rail, and on the
strand. There, almost at his feet, lay the lifeless form of Inez, the
blood trickling from a wound in her breast, in which the stiletto still
quivered.

A cry of horror burst from Forde and the detective, but no word passed
Angelo's lips; the blow had gone too deep for words, anguish had gone
too straight to the heart, and numbed it with agony. He raised the
motionless form in his arms, but only the keen eye of the detective saw
the livid, compressed lips, and the speaking anguish in the dark eyes.

At that moment Margaret appeared, breathless, to see her worst fears
realised, and with a wild cry she sprang forward.

"Oh, Inez! oh, Inez! this is Vivian's work."

"Silence! She is dead," said Angelo, sternly; "and if you are Margaret
Arundel, follow me."

It was all he said. He staunched the flowing blood with his
handkerchief, and wrapping her mantle about her, rapidly retraced his
steps over the bridge.

"Sir, take her to Warren, the greengrocer, by the station," said Forde,
eagerly.

"Show the way," said Egerton.

Forde obeyed, and a few moments brought them to Warren's neat shop.

"Fetch a surgeon, Forde," said Harding, passing before Angelo, and
opening the shop door.

Inside was Mrs. Warren, but at the entrance of the stranger she started
forward, exclaiming, "Who is this? What has happened?"

"A lady who is dying, if not dead," said the detective, shortly. "Your
house was the nearest."

"Bring her in here, sir. Merciful heaven!" exclaimed Mrs. Warren, as the
light flashed on the face lying on Angelo's breast, "it is the young
foreign lady from the Grange, and Miss Arundel, too! Bring her in here,
sir," she said, opening a door from the parlor which led into a small
bedroom, and here Egerton laid down his precious burden.

"Will the surgeon never come?" he said.

"He is here, sir," said a quiet voice, and a grave gentlemanly man
entered. "Let me see the lady."

Angelo drew back, and the doctor laid his hand on Inez's chest.

"I can relieve you of immediate fear, sir," he said. "Her heart beats,
though feebly."

"Thank heaven!" murmured Egerton, covering his face a moment in almost
uncontrollable emotion; and then, without a word, he left the room,
resigning her to the surgeon and the women.

In the parlor without were the groom, Sam Warren, and the detective, and
the latter immediately said, "Sir Angelo, here is the weapon with which
the young lady was stabbed. You see it's a weapon rarely found in the
hands of an Englishman. It is an Italian stiletto, with the mark of a
maker at Pistoia on it, you see."

Egerton started. His mother had been first stabbed with a stiletto--so
the physician had judged from the wound--and then had been shot.

"I lingered to examine the bank, too," continued the detective. "There
was a pool of blood where the young lady had fallen, and footprints
going to the water. The murderer has swum the river, and escaped for the
present; but I shall track him and find him."

"Spare no expense in the pursuit," said Egerton. "Cost what it may, that
man shall be taken."

Harding bowed, and soon after the surgeon and Mrs. Warren entered.

"I will not confuse you with scientific terms, sir," said the doctor,
addressing Egerton, "but simply tell you that the very fineness of the
weapon has saved your charge; for it has passed between the vital parts
without injuring them, and she was insensible from loss of blood, which
has been great. The wound is dressed, and in a few weeks will have
healed. She is much weakened, and must not be moved until I permit it,
but she has recovered consciousness and asked for you."

The first word indeed that Inez had faintly uttered had been the name of
Angelo, and then Margaret whispered that he had found her, and should
come, and stole out after the other two.

The next moment Angelo, the worshipped being for whom she had nearly
lost her life, stood by the bedside, and had clasped her with bitter,
passionate remorse to his breast.

"Oh, Inez, my own little one," said Egerton, "how could I have been so
mad as to place you in that man's power?"

She nestled clingingly to him, as she had used to when a little child,
and whispered in faint, low accents, "Hush! oh, hush, Angelo. I can bear
anything but to see you sorrow for me. And now I am with you again."

"Never more to leave me," said Angelo; "never more to leave me, my
darling, my own Inez."

"I have won," she said; "but oh, Angelo, it has been such a long dark
dream, such a fearful time. I was so weary and worn out. I'm not so
now."

"As he gently laid her back, and tenderly kissed her, there was an
expression of perfect peace and rest on the soft beautiful young face
that it had not known for a long, long time. She spoke again, but so low
that he bent over her to catch her words.

"Angelo," she said, "we must take care of Margaret now. She can never
return to the Grange."

"Trust all to me, dearest," he replied. "At present she will stay and
nurse you. Try and sleep, little one."

He re-entered the outer room, and the detective, after whispering
something to Egerton, went away, and the doctor, leaving some directions
for the patient's treatment, followed, promising to come in early next
day.

Angelo then drew Margaret aside, and after talking some time with her in
a low tone, she sat down, wrote a letter to Stanfeld, and gave it him to
read.

"It will do," he said. "Now, Forde, take this over to Forest Moor, and
await an answer, part of which will be to turn you away directly, but
you know my promise."

Forde touched his hat and went out, and Egerton made his arrangements
with Sam Warren and his wife for the accommodation of Margaret and Inez,
he himself taking up his quarters at the inn until his 'darter,' as the
good dame called Inez, was well enough to be removed to town.

When Forde returned, it was with a fierce message from Stanfeld, "that
he was glad to get rid of Margaret Arundel for ever. Jesuita de Castro
and her guardian might take her to South America if they chose."

All that Margaret (by Egerton's wish) had written, was that Vivian had
for some reason tried to murder Jesuita de Castro; that her guardian had
accidentally rescued her; that he had fled, and that she, Margaret, did
not intend to return again to the Grange.

* * * * * * * *

While Inez de Caldera lay in the humble home of Sam Warren, where was
her assassin?--for in intention he was so, and believed himself so. He
was sitting in the very same old country house, where long before Inez
and Colonel St. John had taken shelter, and on the other side of the
fireplace sat Roland Aubrey. He was speaking, but there was a dark shade
on his face, and a curious flicker in his eyes.

"You have got yourself into a regular scrape now, Vivian," said Aubrey.
"How came you to be such a fool?"

"She had got a secret of mine," said Arthur, without moving. "It was a
gloomy, lonely place, and she taunted me as she only could taunt. Curses
on her dark face! She maddened me--she struck me, and I stabbed her."

"And left your knife sticking in her," said Aubrey.

"A malediction on it!" exclaimed Vivian. "It was not an ordinary knife,
but an Italian stiletto."

"Whew!" said Aubrey, "such a marked thing. What and who was she?"

"She was an olive-skinned Spaniard," replied Vivian, "false as proud.
She called herself Jesuita de Castro."

"What was she like?" asked Aubrey.

"She was tall and slight," said Vivian, "with horrid queer black eyes
that looked through you----"

"Ha!" interrupted Roland, starting. "Weird looking eyes, and a quiet
grave brow--isn't that she?"

"Where did you see her?" exclaimed Vivian. "Who is she?"

"I think I know," said Aubrey. "She is the ward of Egerton, the member
for Cambridge University. Of course you know who he is, and her real
name is Inez de Caldara."

Vivian started violently at the name of Egerton, but he only said, "How
do you know that?"

In reply Roland told him of Inez and St. John having taken shelter
there, concluding with "Your description of her eyes, coupled with her
being Spanish, struck me. She was very beautiful. Oh, Arthur, Arthur!
how could you stab a mere girl, even in the heat of passion? I knew that
you were bad, that you have been and are dissipated; that you live
almost by gambling--that you have fierce passions; but I never thought
that even you would let the devil in you make your hand red with blood."

"You speak plainly," said Vivian, with a fierce gesture and an oath.
"Are you going to shelter me or betray me?"

"When you fled here this morning, and threw yourself on the honor of me,
your old companion and ally, I promised to shelter you," said Aubrey. "I
abide by that; but you must fly to-night; for you cannot tell but that
to-morrow morning the gentlemen in blue may be on your track, and your
description out at every seaport and police station."

"Impossible!" exclaimed Vivian. "No one will know who did it."

"You forget the stiletto," said Aubrey, "that will cry aloud. No, you
must take a couple of hours' rest, and then we'll set off for the
coast."

Rest, talk of rest to him who could not keep quiet even now. No, he
glanced restlessly and uneasily about; he started if a door shut, or a
rat or mouse ran behind the wainscoating. If he turned towards the wall,
there he saw Inez's watchful eyes looking at him out of the gloom, as
they used to do in life; he saw her dark face on the shadow of the
curtains, and heard her light footstep in every falling leaf, or
creaking of the old furniture; turn where he would he saw her weird
face. If he closed his eyes he saw the murdered form lying on the
strand, crimson with blood, the calm dead face upturned, as it had
looked when he left it lying there! Moving or still, sleeping or waking,
to his guilty eyes and ears there was murder in everything. The mournful
moaning of the wind whispered murder; the rustling leaves of the tall
trees had it in their sighing; the very falling of the summer rain
outside had a voice that muttered it. He could not bear it, he could not
sleep or rest a moment, and he sprang from the couch on which he had
thrown himself dressed. He had told Aubrey a false tale; he had said
that he accidentally met Inez by the river; that she had told him that
she knew a secret of his, and would use it; that she had taunted and
goaded him to madness; and that, in the wild heat of passion, hardly
knowing what he did, he had struck her with the weapon which an evil
fate had chanced to make him have on him. That was his story. That night
he fled, and in safety reached a foreign shore; and for a time his
pursuers were baffled.




CHAPTER XVIII.


IT was late in the autumn when Egerton took Inez from Forest Moor to
town for a few days, during which he could make such arrangement with
his child as would enable him to take her for a month to the seaside.
Margaret Arundel came with them as their guest; and now behold the three
in the drawing-room, Leon lying, as of old, on the rug before the fire.
It yet wanted some time to the hour of retiring, and Egerton was reading
over a short bill which he was to bring into Parliament next year.
Margaret was working at some embroidery, and Inez sat on a low seat near
Angelo, with Bulwer's 'Last of the Barons' on her lap, but her dark eyes
fixed dreamily on the page, saw no word, or at least the mental vision
took in nothing of what the physical eye read. Margaret had been right;
the young face did look more worn and wan; there were lines of care, and
pain, and suffering drawn across the brow--lightly, but still there,
where they should not have been, and the pale soft olive of the thin
checks was perfectly colorless. She looked like a person who had
suffered much, mentally and physically, and in truth all she had gone
through had shaken even her more than she knew, and bitterly did Egerton
reproach himself that he had let her go, when he remembered the danger,
and how nearly he had lost his darling; but how could he refuse her when
she had clung to him, and with passionate eloquence appealed to his love
for Julian? All these thoughts were passing through his mind now instead
of the schedules of the bill, and suddenly throwing it aside, he said,
"We seem as far off as ever from the end. Vivian has escaped."

"But isn't that detective clever?" asked Margaret.

"Yes," said Egerton; "but so is Vivian clever, and he may permanently
escape."

"No," said Inez, with a vehemence unusual in her; "it may be months, it
may be years before he is taken; but it will come at last, as surely as
there is justice in heaven."

"I must, I will believe it, child," said Egerton, softly smoothing her
silky black hair. "Justice must be done."

"Inez," said Margaret, "what do you think made Arthur go to the vault
that evening of all others?"

"Because, probably, he was in the habit of going at intervals to see if
the casket was safe," replied Inez; "or more likely some fine instinct
or presentiment of coming danger made him go there, and the instant he
found it gone he would at once connect its loss with me."

"Yes," said Margaret, "but what made him take the short cut? In fact,
what made him think you had gone, and gone that way?"

"The first day I rode with him I asked about that path," replied Inez.

"Why, Miss Arundel," said Egerton, smiling, "you appear to expect Inez
to know every idea and motive of this man."

"So she did, sir, know every turn and thought of his mind. She watched
him and studied him systematically. She has a turn that way, I think."

A slight shudder passed over Inez's frame, and perhaps to turn the
conversation, she said, "The Rochesters are out of town, of course,
Angelo?"

"All of them," he replied. "I had a letter this morning from Marion.
They are gone to Scarborough with the St. Johns, Lady Alice and Arabella
included."

"But, Angelo, I thought Cuthbert was at Yellowfield," said Inez.

"He was," replied Angelo; "but he got himself in a row there by
attempting the confessional. He nearly got mobbed in the marketplace,
and so was obliged to leave, and his friend Courtenay is trying to get
him installed somewhere else."

"Is Mr. Courtenay a Puseyite, then?" asked Margaret.

"No," replied Egerton, "he doesn't care one way or the other much; but
they are friends of long standing, despite their different years. And
there is much in old ties."

"Who knows that so well as me?" murmured the Castilian.

"We will have them all at Falcontower this Christmas, Inez--all," said
Egerton, and she knew he meant Julian.

After a pause Egerton suddenly rose, and leaning against the
mantel-piece, said, "Miss Arundel, as I shall be engaged to-morrow, I
must speak what I have to speak to-night, and pardon me if I speak
plainly. What are your plans for your future life?"

"The same as they ever were, sir, and as they were even at school--to
leave Stanfeld and go out us a governess. I still intend to do so."

Angelo and the Castilian exchanged a quiet smile.

"I am twenty years your senior," said Egerton, "almost old enough to be
your father. You have done an incalculable service to me through Inez,
and in consequence have been thrown afterwards utterly friendless on my
care, at seventeen, too young to struggle with a hard world; and in
right of these three things I claimed some right to control you and your
actions. Before I say any more I will ask you a simple question. Who do
you think would take a girl of sixteen or seventeen as governess? This
child of mine would stand an almost better chance. Moreover, you are far
too pretty for any lady who has grown up sons and daughters to take; you
are too sensible, I know, to misconstrue or take offence at my words.
Finally, as far as I have any power to influence you and any right to
control you, I put my positive and unqualified vote upon your plan.
Instead I offer you two courses. You can, if you please, return to
Stanfeld's, or to your old governess, Mrs. Ashton, and I will make you
independent in either case; save you from any mortification or
privation, by a yearly allowance, sufficient for your personal wants."

"Sir," said Margaret, "will you tell me the other course?"

"I will. You have decided as I know you would," said Egerton, with a
pleased smile. "The other course is to remain with us as Inez's
companion. Do not be afraid I am making the situation for you, and so
fret yourself. I had before intended to engage you for her. She needs a
companion of your age, and who so fitting a one as the friend who has
won her love and gratitude? You will earn your right to be here--you
have earned it already by what you have done for us; and tell her,
Inez," he added, smiling, "that two hundred a year is not more than she
will want, living as we do. Margaret, I await your answer."

Margaret burst into tears and hid her face on Inez's breast.

"Oh, Inez," she said, "it is too kind! I don't want anything better than
to stay always with you."

"It is done," said Egerton; "she has chosen her course. Good night,
Margaret, you have chosen as I knew you would--independence."

He held her hand for a moment in his, then tenderly kissed Inez's brow,
and the two girls left the room together.




CHAPTER XIX.


And where all these months had been the fair golden haired Isbel
Rochester?--sunning herself through the gay summer with bright enjoyment
of a heart that had as yet known but little of the reality of life. They
were now at Scarborough with the St. John's for the autumn.

It was morning, so early before breakfast that as yet the beach was
almost deserted, when Tom Courtenay and his young cousin sauntered
slowly along the sands.

"I wish," said Isbel, "that Inez de Caldara was with us, I have not seen
her since we left school."

"She hasn't been at home; I rather think she has been staying with some
friends," said Tom. "Do you know where you are going to spend the
Christmas?"

"Who, momma and I?" she asked. "I don't know; perhaps at Cousin William
Courtenay's."

"I think not," said Tom; "for when I saw Egerton in town some time ago,
he said something about having us all at Falcontower."

"Did he! Oh, how capital!" exclaimed Isbel. "I hope he will ask us to
that beautiful old place; only I hope"--and she lowered her voice--"that
the Reverend Cuthbert will not be there."

Tom fairly burst out laughing at this very confidential whisper. "Why
not, child?" said he. "What is your intense dislike to our Puseyite
article? I'm sure we have many a laugh over him."

"Yes. Really, Tom, we are too bad; we tease him dreadfully."

"I've been searching for you, daughter mine," said Marion, coming up
with a letter in her hand. "The post has just come in, and there is a
letter from Angelo Egerton. He and Inez are at the sea side with Miss
Arundel, who was at Ashton School."

"What, Margaret Arundel?" exclaimed Isbel.

"Yes," replied Marion. "She has left her uncle, and was going out as a
governess, but Angelo took her as a companion to Inez. But that is not
what I wanted to tell you. He asks us all to Falcontower for
Christmas--us and the St. Johns, and how many more I don't know; but he
writes that his ward--that young Surrey--is coming over in November."

She did not tell them that he had written that which was new life to the
heart which ached and yearned for her son, and yet to any stranger his
words contained little enough:--"The result, dear Marion, of Inez's
visit to Forest Moor makes it more safe for Julian to venture here. He
is therefore coming in November, and will remain quietly at Falcontower
till we all go down at Christmas."

"How nice it will be," said Isbel, "but, mamma dear, is our Puseyite
friend asked too?"

"You naughty girl!" replied Marion, "I know what that means. Yes, he is
going. Angelo couldn't ask his brother and mother very well without
asking him."

Isbel and Tom exchanged such a look that Marion instantly said, "You two
are hatching some mischief between you. Now, just come into breakfast,
and let Mr. St. John alone."

"I hope there will be a good lot of people," said Isbel. "I wonder how
Inez will play hostess; she is only fifteen."

"In actual years," muttered Marion, with a heavy sigh; "older by far in
bitter experience. I wonder what she is doing at this moment."

At that moment, though Marion know it not, the Castilian was standing on
the beach on the south coast, leaning on the arm of the stately Angelo
Egerton; and now she, who when alone had stood so firm and steady in a
position of danger and trouble, leaned clingingly on the strong man,
instinctively, with woman's devotion, resting on and trusting implicitly
in the strength and protection of one whom she felt to be her superior
physically and mentally, and whom her deep love idolised and deified
into a being utmost to be worshipped.

"Where are your thoughts, Angelo?" she said, softly--"far away, over the
wide seas?"

His glance came back to her, and rested tenderly on the young face.

"No, Inez, nearer home. My thoughts were of you. Ah! little one, if ever
I should lose you, life would be very dark--very, very dark!"

She clasped her right hand on the one which rested on his arm, and that
simple action spoke volumes.

"I wish Julian were with us now," she said, after a long silence.

"He will land at Dover in November," replied Egerton; "and you and I
will go and meet him, and take him in safety to Falcontower."

"But, Angelo," she said, "will not Tom know him again."

"No," replied Egerton, "he has been dead to him nine years. Remember
also how changed Julian is from the youth Tom knew; and even if any
faint resemblance crosses him, it will never strike him that Rothesay
the painter and Julian D'Arcy are the same. But come, now, we had better
return, for Margaret will be up by this time, and waiting for us."

They moved slowly away, loathe even then to leave the sea.




CHAPTER XX.


Eveline Vivian for many days knew nothing but what her father chose to
tell her, and that was wide of the truth. He told her that Jesuita and
Margaret had run away, and that Arthur had gone on sudden business to
London. She did not believe him, but she dared not say so; and then she
heard rumors of the murder of Miss de Castro, and her discovery by a
gentleman who called himself her guardian, but whose name was unknown in
the village, and both she and Stanfeld not unnaturally imagined him to
be the same gentleman who had brought Jesuita to the station. But
somehow or other Eveline's mind instantly connected the attempted murder
with her husband. She struggled against it, but in vain; and she grew
nervous and fearful. Why didn't Arthur write? If he was in danger she
would go to him, though he had so rudely crushed her love. "Where was
he?" she asked her father, but he knew no more than she did now.

"Where, then, was Margaret?--she could write to her."

He answered her angrily, "He didn't know or care where she was, and she
could know nothing of it."

And so, in restless anxiety and miserable uncertainty, a month passed
by. She could gather nothing in the village, or even at Mrs. Warren's;
she could only tell her that the young foreign lady and Miss Arundel had
been ten days at her house, and then the gentleman had taken them both
away. She didn't know his name, but he was a tall dark gentleman, with
very black hair and mustaches, and very like the young lady. She knew
nothing of who had stabbed her, the young lady would not say, but she
(Mrs. Warren) thought that a detective was searching for him. No one in
the village had even a suspicion as to who the murderer might be.

It was one night about six weeks after the attempted murder that poor
Eveline sat by her chamber window. Her lamp was on the table, but she
did not undress; she had seated herself there, listening half
unconsciously to the autumn night wind, which rustled the leaves of the
vine which climbed up the trellis outside, with her thoughts and heart
far away, poor thing, with the man who so little deserved her. Twelve
o'clock had just struck, when a small stone was thrown up against the
glass. Strangely the idea instantly crossed her that it was her husband,
and, gently opening the window, she leant out.

"Arthur--husband!" she said, softly.

"Hush! open the window, Evie, wide; I am coming up."

She saw a figure below climb easily up the trellis, and the next moment
Arthur Vivian stood in the room. He walked to the door and locked it,
then put-to the shutters, while she stood watching him with parted lips
and clasped hands, and something of almost terror in her aspect.

"What are you looking so frightened at?" demanded Vivian, roughly.

"Oh, Arthur!" said his wife, "why do you come here this way, stealing in
as if you feared the day."

"I do fear the day--I am hunted like a felon!" said Arthur, fiercely. "I
come here to you because your evidence against me isn't legal, and
because you are fool enough to care for me still."

"Oh, Arthur, Arthur! how can you?" she cried, with bitter grief. "Are
you not content with breaking my heart, and must you crush it under your
heel?"

There was such anguish in her tone as for a moment touched even him, and
his face softened with something of remorse as he said, "Can you love me
still--even now?"

"I do--I do!" she cried. "Oh, Arthur, let me lay my head on your breast,
and feel once more that I am the wife you used to love!"

"Eveline!" he said, keeping her back with his hand, "would you rest your
head on the breast of a murderer--touch the hand that is red with blood?
My hand is red with the blood of Jesuita de Castro."

"It is not!" she said, vehemently, "It is stainless. Jesuita de Castro
lives still."

Arthur lifted his hands suddenly upward, and cried, "Oh, God!--if there
is a God--am I to be thankful or not?"

His wife stood in horror-struck surprise. "Arthur," said she, "can you
doubt which to be?"

"Yes, I do doubt," he replied. "If there is a God, I call down his
heaviest curses on the head of that false Spaniard! Don't touch me,
Eveline; for though I never loved you, you are my wife, and my hand is
not as stainless as yours."

"I will touch you, stainless or not. You are my husband," she said,
throwing her arms round him; "let me be with you--let me share your
danger and flight."

"And get me taken. No," said Vivian, flinging her off. "I came here to
get some of my property, not to cumber myself with a wife. I am going
away; but whenever I want money I shall come to you. And now listen, and
say if you want to go with me. I was a murderer when I married you! I
stabbed that Spaniard because she knows it."

Eveline cowered on the floor, but still tried to clasp his hand. With a
fierce oath he flung her back, and she sank senseless on the ground.

When she recovered, she was alone, lying on the bed; and turning her
face to the wall, the poor thing wept as if she would weep out her
broken heart there; and then she lay still and quiet from the very
exhaustion of grief.

The wife of a murderer! The word rang in in her ears like a knell--the
very silence of night rang with it--and then all her broken love rushed
back on her heart, and died there. If he had uttered one kind word, or
given her one kind look, she would still have clung to him,
notwithstanding the wreck he had made her love; but he had not done so.
He had trampled on her in every way, he had spurned her, crushed her,
flung her away, and avowed, with a sort of fierce, taunting cruelty,
that he had wedded her with a red hand; and it was more than even
woman's love could bear, and her love died though it broke her heart in
doing so. She was startled by a knocking at the door, and a harsh voice
crying, "Open--open the door, Eveline."

Trembling every limb, the poor girl arose, and, opening the door, faced
her father.

"I heard a man's voice here," he said roughly. "Don't lie, girl. Who was
it? Who was it, I say?"

She dared not refuse to say, yet she feared to betray her husband by
replying; but he grasped her arm, and with an oath bade her answer.

"It was Arthur!" she faltered; "only Arthur."

"Ha! the villain, was it!" exclaimed Stanfeld. "I have him at last."

He was springing away, but she flung her arms round him, and detained
him, "Father, father!" she cried; "you shall not leave here to----"

He was a passionate, vindictive man; and flinging off her arms with a
fiercely passionate oath, he struck her,--yes, struck his own daughter,
the child of the dead wife whose heart he had broken.

"Oh, father! oh, father!" So she moaned, and wrung her hands when he was
gone. So she moaned in her despair and misery for many a long hour; but
when the morning came she was gone, and there was only the following
letter, which the servant gave to Stanfeld:--

"The last tie is broken between you and me. You have always been harsh,
always held me an incumbrance; and now that my husband has left me, the
only link that bound me to Forest Moor is gone, and your own hand has
snapped the last link that bound me to you. If ever we meet again, it
must be your seeking, not that of EVELINE VIVIAN."

There were tear stains on this letter, but not a line to give a trace of
her; probably she had followed her recreant husband. Dashing down the
letter, Stanfeld put his foot on it, exclaiming, "Let her go! I hated
her mother, and I hate her and her sister! All are well rid of--all are
dead to me for ever!"

And the echo of the old deserted room answered back "for ever!" as if it
saw beyond them the grave and uttered the words of prophecy.

* * * * * * * *

In the neat comfortable little parlor at the back of his shop sat John
Everard, looking hardly altered from what he had been five years ago,
save that his hair might have thinned a little, and perhaps he had some
need now of the gold spectacles; but in appearance he was the same as
ever--kind, hearty, and warm-hearted. And yet he had had sorrows--who
has not? He had, early in life, lost his wife; and his daughter, round
whom every fibre of his heart had twined, had, as we have seen, left him
and fled--with a man he knew to be a villain. That was nearly
four-and-twenty years ago, and since then he had been alone; he had
never seen her again, and though he knew she had had a daughter (of
Theresa's birth he knew nothing), he had never seen the child, and knew
not even if she was alive until about seven years before, when he had
seen the announcement of her marriage with Arthur Vivian Esq., in the
papers, and it was then he made a will, so tying up to her and hers his
property.

Somehow or other his thoughts were even now going back to the memory of
other days when little feet had pattered about the old London house, and
a child's little face had peered above the counter, and the old man's
heart ached for the child he had lost, and warmly indeed would he have
welcomed that child's unknown daughter. So he sat in that old dark
panelled room, thinking, when his foreman opened the door and came in
contrary to his usual custom; for though he had been there thirty years,
he rarely entered his master's private room without knocking. But now he
did, and said in a whisper, "Mr. Everard, there's a lady asking for you;
and, lawks, sir, just to see her! So like Miss Evie, that it might be
just her come home again."

The old man took off his spectacles, and rose, trembling and holding by
his chair. "Ask her," said he--"ask her her name."

The foreman went back, and then the old gunsmith heard a voice that
thrilled through him, say, "Mrs. Arthur Vivian," and the name of Eveline
burst from his lips. She heard it, and the next minute she was kneeling
at the old man's feet. "Grandfather, grandfather!" she cried.

So like--oh, so like the child he had loved and lost that the long years
vanished, and he saw only in the kneeling form his daughter coming to
him again for the love and shelter she had found nowhere else; and
clasping his trembling arms about her, he let her weep her very heart
out on his breast, while his own tears fell thick and fast on the poor
weary head that at last found rest.

"My daughter--my Evie!" said he. "Come at last--home at last!"

She lifted her face, then seeing what he thought, she said touchingly,
"Not she--her child! Oh, grandfather, love me a little for my dead
mother's sake, for I am fatherless, and worse than widowed."

And the old man, as he held her to his heart, and heard her sad tale,
felt that he had recovered more than his lost daughter; and that in her
stricken child she lived again, refined, purified by the heavy hand of
sorrow and suffering. Perhaps heaven, in its mercy and goodness, had so
chastened her.




CHAPTER XXI.


The long vacation--and a very long one it is--came to an end at last;
the Lord Chancellor opened the courts again; and Parliament met to be
prorogued till February; and business men again returned to London.

Julian had written that he and Surrey would land at Dover on the 10th of
November by the earliest boat from Calais; and therefore, the night
before, Egerton and Inez went down to Dover, so that they were ready to
meet the boat. There, sure enough, were the two travellers; and as they
stepped ashore, they were met by Sir Angelo and Inez. No one, to see
them meet, and bravely shake hands, would have guessed the deep emotion
in the heart of each; for none could see the iron strength of that
apparently cold clasp. Julian could not, if he would, have spoken; for
the crowd of memories that welled up in the heart of the exile, as he
once more stood on English soil, was too much for speech; but it was not
till they reached the hotel, and were alone--for Inez and Walter
purposely left them--not till Angelo grasped both his hands and in his
native tongue bade him welcome to home and old England, that the long
controlled emotions of the exile's heart gave way; and the strong man
bowed his head and wept like a child.

But both were calm when Walter and Inez de Caldara returned, and only
her tender woman's eye, with the quickness of deep affection, detected
traces of emotion which did manhood no shame.

"Have you brought home everything," she said, as she too bade him
welcome, "so that you will never go away again?"

"Everything, dear Inez, pictures included," he replied.

"And," said Egerton, "I will leave Inez to take care of you while Walter
and I go and see about getting your property through the Custom-house.
It will take two or three days; but I'll leave Burns to see to it, for
we must reach Falcontower to-night."

That evening the ancient gates of Falcontower Castle rolled back to
receive the exile to the home of his childhood.

For one day only Egerton and his ward remained, and on the following
morning they left the north, and returned to London.

In the meantime the case of Egerton v. Stanfeld came on to be heard. The
court was pretty well filled; and as the evidence was principally to be
taken in person, Walter and Egerton were there with their solicitor, Mr.
Seymour, and Stephen Stanfeld came in with his attorney, a certain Mr.
George Verney. The defence made was that Walter Surrey was not the son
of Colonel Surrey; it being asserted by Stanfeld, and he held to it,
that he had information of the said colonel's death without children.
But such a defence had not a leg to stand upon. It was proved that
Colonel Surrey had a son; and the letter was produced, written to Miss
Norman after his engagement, telling her who and what he was. The
certificate of his marriage with Gertrude Norman was produced, with the
certificate of their child's birth, and a certified copy of the register
of the colonel's death, which had occurred at Calcutta.

Not to weary with details--the evidence was so clear for the plaintiff
that the Vice-chancellor decided against the defendant, and made the
order removing him from the trust, with some very strong remarks on his
conduct. Stephen Stanfeld left the court a ruined man, and if it had
taken place a few years later, he would have been sent across the seas
under the Fraudulent Trustees Act. As it was, he was of course utterly
unable to refund the immense sum he was liable for, and he was obliged
to pass through the Insolvent Court; while Egerton took possession of
Forest Moor for his ward, intending in the spring to have the whole
estate thoroughly looked after, from the Grange to the laborer's
cottage.

Willingly would Theresa have gone to her father; but he wrote to her,
commanding her to keep away. He was henceforth dead to her and Eveline,
who he said had "gone abroad with Arthur--curse them!" And this was not
contradicted, for Eveline said to her grandfather, "She is happy where
she is. Better without such a sister as I am--better that the murderer's
wife should be dead to her. She could not be happy with you or me."

And so Theresa was left standing alone. Yes, alone; her home, such as it
was, gone, crumbled away into dust, as a skeleton, long enclosed, does
when exposed to light and air. She learned--and learned through the
public papers--that her father was a swindler, an insolvent, a ruined
man alike in name and estate; and then came his letter ignoring her from
that day, her and her sister; "they were best without him, as he was
without them."

"I hated your mother," he concluded, "and I never loved her children.
For you--you chose your own course, and must abide by it. For
Eveline--she fled one night that Arthur came, and where she is I neither
know nor care. She may have gone after him--it is most likely. Forest
Moor is wrested from me; you and Eveline have seen me for the last
time--you now hear from me for the last time; henceforth to you I am
dead. This is the last from,

"STEPHEN STANFELD."

With a perfectly white face, the friendless girl went straight to Lady
Alice St. John, showed her the letter, and told her her whole story,
with hard, dry eyes, and hard, unchanging manner. Alice St. John saw
into the child's heart as plainly as if it had been an open book, and
she held out her arms.

"My poor child," she said; "oh, my poor child."

Theresa knelt at Alice's feet--laid her head on her lap, and wept as if
her heart would break.

So for a few moments Alice let her weep, and then the sweet pitying face
bent over the homeless girl, and a soft pitying kiss fell on her brow.

"My darling," said Lady Alice, "look up. My dear child, you know that
neither I nor mine will value you the less for this."

Theresa rose calm now, and taking the letter, tore it in half and flung
it in the fire.

"So I wipe out all ties that once bound me to him," she cried. "So I
sweep away all memory of a home that never was a home, and a father who
never was a father, whose very name shall be mine no more. Call me
henceforth Theresa Herbert."

"My child," said Lady Alice, "would you destroy the memory of your
sister?"

"No, oh no," she replied; "but I do not think she has gone after or with
her husband. She has more likely fled to our Grandfather, Mr. Everard,
the gunsmith."

"If so, would she not have written to you?" asked Lady Alice.

"I don't know--I can't tell," said Theresa. "Arthur Vivian may have
forbidden her; there never was any love lost between him and me. If you
will spare me for a couple of hours, Lady Alice, I will go to
Bond-street; for though my grandfather never saw me, I must hear
something of Eveline."

"Go, my dear, and God speed you, for we leave here shortly for
Falcontower. Take the carriage," and Lady Alice rang the bell, and
ordered the carriage.

Thus it came about that a brougham stopped before John Everard's shop,
and a lady, closely veiled, stepped out, and entering the shop,
addressed the ancient foreman, "Is Mr. Everard within?"

"No, ma'am, he is out," was the reply.

"Is there a young lady living here?" she asked, "a Mrs. Vivian?"

"Yes, ma'am, there is my master's grand-daughter," said the foreman.
"Mrs. Vivian is now at home."

"I must see her--and at once," said Theresa. The foreman bowed, rang a
little bell, and a maid-servant appeared, who conducted Theresa up
stairs to a very pretty drawing-room.

"Tell Mrs. Vivian that Miss Herbert wishes to see her," said Theresa.

The girl left the room, and Theresa threw up her veil and stood waiting.
A slow faltering step came along outside, and Arthur Vivian's forsaken
wife entered.

"Theresa!" she cried. One spring, and poor Eveline was in her sister's
arms. And then they told their griefs to each other, for Eveline, ever
weak and clinging, must lean on something, and Theresa must have
sympathy, and so in mutual confidence they found mutual relief and
comfort.

John Everard came in shortly afterwards, and the dear good old man
welcomed the second grandchild almost as he had done the first, and
wanted her to live with him also; but Theresa knew well that it was
better for all parties that she should not; besides, she could not
honorably leave her situation; so she said she would remain there. All
she asked was a place in her grandfather's heart, and a corner of his
hearth as a home.

Thus once more the light shone on her path, and thus Theresa Herbert was
not left standing alone.




CHAPTER XXII.


It was a fine frosty morning of a bright sunny day in December that the
carriage which was bearing Mrs. Rochester and her daughter and Cousin
Tom to Falcontower neared its destination. Isbel had never been there
before, and everything had an interest for her.

"Oh, mamma!" she exclaimed, as they entered the quaint old town of
Falcontower, "do look at that dear old inn, the Egerton Arms," pointing
to a wandering old inn facing the sea, and which had stood for ages.

"Ah," said Marion, "the walls of that inn concealed a lord of
Falcontower once, when soldiers were searching his own castle for him in
vain."

"Who was that, mamma?" asked Isbel.

"Angelo's great grandfather," replied her mother. "Sir James Egerton was
out in the 'forty-five' you know, and after the Pretender fled back to
France, he came here, and was actually in that inn while the royal
soldiers were searching the castle. You will see his picture up yonder."

Here the carriage stopped at the gates of the Park, of which on this
side there was about a mile to traverse. They were obliged to go slowly,
for all the way the road was a steep ascent on the right, far below
rolled the sea, and they could hear the sullen measured roar of the
breakers as they crashed on the rocks and beach beneath, while to the
left, as far as the eye could reach, it rested enchanted on forest-clad
heights with giant oaks, and waving pines, and and wooded valleys, and
deep and rocky gorges. It was indeed a noble domain, and right noble too
was the stately old castle which now burst upon their view.

"Why," said Isbel, when she could speak, "it has all its fortifications,
just as in:--

'That golden antique time

When knights and nobles for a lady's love

Would spear the dragon.'"

"Yes," said her mother; "though it has stood nearly eight centuries, and
many a siege, its successive owners have cared so well for it, that
there's little or nothing of ruin about it. Look at its lofty stern old
donjon, with the proud banner of a proud house waving over it."

"What an impregnable fortress!" said Isbel.

Marion smiled, and Tom said, "Strong as it looks, a smart cannonading of
modern artillery would soon make a ruin of that grand old baronial
pile."

Isbel said no more, but as the carriage rolled under the massive
gateway, and she glanced at the grim walls and frowning towers and
battlements that rose up on all sides, she could not help saying, "I
shouldn't like to be a prisoner here, though."

The carriage passed through another gateway into an immense quadrangle,
and drew up before the magnificent entrance, where instead of mail-clad
knights, Inez and Egerton received them, and gave them "welcome to old
Falcontower," and Inez herself took Marion to her room, and as she left
her at the door, whispered, "I must go to receive the other guests who
have arrived, and are in their rooms; but when you are ready go to
Angelo's private study (you know your way), Julian is there."

Knew the way--of course she did, and through the ups and downs of dark
galleries and stairways gained the door.

Julian was in that study; at last she was to meet the son she had parted
from nine years before, and now that moment had arrived, she stopped,
trembling, almost fearing to enter the room; it was only a moment, and
then she went in. There he stood; changed as he was, she knew him, and
the emotion of years seemed crowded into the single moment she paused,
ere she sprang forwards to the arms that held her so close.

"Julian! my boy, my son! my worshipped boy!"

All the anguish of that long, weary separation was forgotten, and in
that moment she knew, felt only that she once more clasped her son, her
idolised boy, to her mother's heart; for the very mother who bore him
could not have loved him with a greater love than his step-mother did.
He let her weep the happy tears that might at last flow, and his own
breast heaved, but then he held her off.

"My beautiful mother, my own sweet mother," he said, in a low voice; "it
seemed as if we were never again to meet on this side of the grave, and
now it must be by stealth as if it were wrong."

"But, oh, Julian," she said, "for my sake, if not for your own, remember
that in public we are nothing but strangers."

"That is the hardest to bear," said Julian, bitterly; "to be compelled
to treat you, and Angelo, and Inez as comparative strangers."

"Dear Julian, my dear son," said his mother, again winding her arms
round him, "hope and trust that all will come right; it is begun, if it
had not, you could not now be here; and though the murderer has escaped,
he will surely be taken."

"Look at me, mother, and tell me if I am so changed that no one will
recognise me, not even Tom Courtenay?"

Tom had known a beardless youth of eighteen, with a fair complexion and
golden hair. Now, in his place there stood a tall, strong man of
seven-and-twenty, with a bronzed complexion, a dark mustache on the lip,
and hair which, if it had retained any of its golden light, had deepened
into a rich dark brown, totally different to the sunny locks of the
youth. The eyes were the same; but the very features had changed. They
had grown sterner, more defined; and care and sorrow had not left
scathless the once smooth brow. The very smile was sadder, and his voice
had deepened and mellowed. And as Marion gazed on the face of her son,
she felt that none would recognise in the somewhat foreign-looking
Julian Rothesay the Julian D'Arcy they had known as a boy and youth.

"You are so changed, my darling boy," she said, "that even Tom will not
know you."

The door opened softly, and Inez glided in. "Angelo sent me," she said,
with a gentle smile. "Isbel has missed you, aunt Marion; go back, and
you, Julian, come with me another way. We must enter the drawing-room by
the boudoir." She pushed Marion gently from the room, and came back to
Julian, "Now, you'll remember that I must 'Mr. Rothesay' you."

"And must I 'miss' you?" said Julian.

"No," said she; "because Angelo and I were so intimate with you abroad
when I was quite a child."

"So, as you are not yet grown up, I may still 'Inez' you," added Julian,
smiling.

"Yes, and I'll tell you this," said Inez, "no one here understands
Italian but you, I, Angelo, and Marion; even Isbel doesn't, for she
learnt German instead, and, as you have been so long in Italy, it will
not be counted rude now and then to speak to you in Italian, but rather
a courtesy to you."

"Thank you for the hint," said Julian. "Now come."

They reached the drawing-room soon after Mrs. Rochester, and then Angelo
introduced Julian to his guests, of whom as yet there were none but whom
we know: Lady Alice St. John, and her sons and niece, with Theresa, the
Rochesters, Walter Surrey, and Roland Aubrey, whom, having met in town
at Louis St. John's, Egerton had asked to Falcontower as a return for
his courtesy to his ward.




CHAPTER XXIII.


"What a false, lying girl this Inez is!" it may be said. "It's not right
or moral; no good can ever come of lying and deceit."

Now, we are afraid that this is a point where, as the old lady said,
"Paul and I differ," and we must perforce defend our heroine. This is
not a perfect world, and in this world there is no way of meeting deceit
but by deceit; it is one of the necessary evils which sin entails on the
earth. A murder had been committed by one man, that another--an innocent
man--was suffering under the conviction of, an exile, a fugitive for it;
and the only way to meet such an artful villain as Vivian, who had so
long defied justice, was by an art and subtlety superior to his own.
Which was the most monstrous wrong--that an innocent man should so
suffer, or that Inez should act as she did?

Margaret Arundel had thought of it often, and of the share she had had
in the systematic deception of her Spanish friend. She spoke of it the
morning of Christmas Eve as she and Inez stood on the ramparts which
looked down on the sea.

"Inez," said she, "I could never have done what you have done."

The Castilian was leaning against a partially ruined battlement, looking
gloomily out into the blue expanse of ocean. At Margaret's words, she
said, "What do you mean--that I was wrong?"

"No, not that exactly, Inez," was the reply; "for though, in strict
morality, I suppose it was wrong, somehow I can't help thinking it
right."

"Right or wrong, I don't care," said Inez, recklessly. "The wrong is all
my own, and I'll take that chance."

"Would you go through it all again?" said Margaret.

"Yes, a thousandfold," replied Inez.

"What!" said Margaret; "again through that night in the cloisters; more
than all, through that horrible ten minutes on the river's strand, when
you knew Vivian meant to murder you."

"Let justice be done, though the heavens should fall," said Inez de
Caldara; "it is a sentiment worthy of a Roman."

There was a short silence, Isbel now joined them, saying, "Might I ask
you to show us the picture-gallery? We have heard so much of it."

"With pleasure," was the reply. "Ah! here is Walter Surrey."

Surrey approached, smiled, and offered her his arm, and taking it Inez
led the way to the magnificent picture gallery--a perfect gallery of
art; sculptures and painting, ancient and modern; master-pieces of all
ages were here gathered together. There seemed scarce a painter or
sculptor, from ancient Greece to the present day, but had contributed
some gem of art to it, and while Walter was bending over a classic vase,
Isbel was standing entranced before an exquisite painting of Sir Thomas
Lawrence's, representing a beautiful woman in early youth.

"Who is this?" almost whispered Isbel.

"It is Helen Rothesay, Lady Egerton, Sir Reginald's mother. She died
young. This was painted from a crayon of her."

"Poor thing! And who are those two--in this one large frame? What a
beautiful couple!"

She might well say so. It was a picture of a handsome man in a Highland
bonnet and plaid of the Stewart tartan, and leaning on his arm was a
young and most beautiful Italian lady, with one of those faces that,
like Charles the First's, seemed to have a heavy doom written in them.

"Who are these?" she next enquired.

"That is Sir James Egerton," said Inez. "He was out in the 'forty-five,'
and died abroad in the service of Prince Charles, while his son was
secretly brought up at the castle."

"And this fair Italian----"

"Was his wife, Leonora D'Este. She was following her husband into exile,
but the vessel was wrecked on the French coast. Her corpse was found and
secretly brought here and buried in the cloisters. There is a broken
column on her tomb."

"How comes Sir James in that dress?" asked Isbel.

"His mother was the daughter of a Sir Archibald Stewart, who had lands
in Blair Athole. That is how it is."

"I should have told Sir James's for an Egerton face," observed Walter.
"I observe in all those portraits a strong family likeness, from that
grim old knight of Norman William's to Sir Angelo; they have all the
same full gray eye and somewhat Roman cast of face; they have been a
dark race and a handsome one."

"Ay," said the Castilian, passing slowly on, "and an unquiet one; few of
them have died in their beds."

"Indeed!" said Isbel; "but is there no portrait of Sir Angelo?"

"Yes, just near," was the reply.

A step more, and they stood before Julian's masterly portrait of
Egerton, which was hanging next that of his beautiful and ill-fated
Spanish mother. On the other side of his there was a blank space. Walter
Surrey stood for a long time looking at both, then glanced several times
from the portraits to Inez, and then said, "Miss Rochester, look at
these three faces; how alike they are. Surely, Miss de Caldara, this
dark lady was some relation to you and your guardian!"

Inez dropped her eyes from Jesuita's picture, and said, "Certainly. She
was his mother, and my second cousin. Her name was Caldara."

She passed on as she spoke, but the sunlight from a window gleamed for a
moment on a few gray hairs amidst Inez's raven tresses, and Walter, as
he saw them, remembered with a pain of self-reproach what before he had
forgotten--that he had heard that Lady Egerton had come darkly by her
death.




CHAPTER XXIV.


Stephen Stanfeld left the Insolvent Court a ruined, childless, homeless
man. One child had fled from him--he neither knew nor cared where, and
the other he had deliberately flung away, less friendless in the wide
world without than with him. He turned his back on the mighty city, a
man whose own hand had made him at sixty utterly alone and friendless in
the world. Not even a memory of a being who had loved him, and whom he
had loved. Where did the man whose whole life had been a tissue of wrong
pass that Christmas night? Wandering like a ghost about the desolate,
deserted mansion that for nearly forty years had been his--not even a
single light there now. Every window was shut up and barred; the weeds
grew more rank, the hemlock more tall and straggling; the few flowers
Arthur's wife had been used to train and tend were dead now, and nothing
but desolation reigned in the lonely old Grange, where some fifty years
before old Herbert Surrey had kept open house, and, later, banished his
only son from--all dead; and now the old place had passed once more into
the hands of the Surreys, represented by the son of Armitage Surrey; and
as Stephen Stanfeld stood beneath the tall trees and gazed on all he had
lost, he lifted his hand and cursed aloud the name of Angelo Egerton,
the man who had wrested so fair a domain from his hands.

"Ay, curse away!" said a voice. "Curses, they say, recoil on them as
speak them." And a tall, portly man stood before him. "What are you
doing on these grounds, eh?"

"What I choose!" replied Stanfeld. "Who are you, fellow?"

"Maybe an honester man than Stephen Stanfeld," was the reply. "My name's
Sam Warren, and I'm left in charge here by the gentleman you so
liberally provide with a warm place in eternity. You're trespassing
here, sir, and must leave."

"Do you know, fellow, that I was master here?" said Stanfeld, fiercely.

"Certainly, sir, you were; but Sir Angelo Egerton is master here now,
and he has placed me in charge, so be kind enough to walk away, sir. I
don't wish to be rude, but duty is duty."

Stanfeld turned on his heel, and walked away--a homeless wanderer--made
so by his own hand alone.

Where that snowy winter's night was Arthur Vivian? While the good old
yule log blazed in the immense hall of the keep at Falcontower
Castle--while a gay and happy crowd merrily danced the 'Sir Roger de
Coverley'--while the sad face of Jesuita de Caldara looked mournfully
down on the many bright young faces, her assassin was standing before
John Everard's door, closely wrapped in a heavy mantle, and with his hat
slouched low, but still worn with a certain jaunty air, as if he
knew--as he did--that he was handsome. He stood there hesitating whether
to knock boldly, or watch an opportunity of finding out if his wife were
there. He wanted money, and he knew he could get it from her, if she had
it. He knocked at last at the private door, which was opened by a
middle-aged woman.

"Does a lady live here of the name of Vivian?" he said--"Mrs. Vivian?"

"Yes, sir, Mr. Everard's grand-daughter."

"Will you be kind enough to tell her that a gentleman--an old
friend--wishes to see her at once, and privately?"

"Step into this room, sir. What name shall I say?"

"None--merely what I said."

The woman retired, and in a few minutes his wife stood before him,
looking very ill, but firmer than he had ever yet seen her.

"Do you know," she said, putting out her hands to keep him back, "that
there is a price on your head--that you are pursued? Do you court death,
that you venture here? No, keep back--do not touch me."

"Evie, Evie!" he said. "Is it my wife who speaks? You used to love me.
Are you not still Arthur Vivian's wife?"

"That dark night," she said, still keeping him back, "when you told me
you never loved me--when you told me you had wedded me with a red
hand--when you flung me from your bosom with fierce oaths, my love died.
Your wife--yes, I am Arthur Vision's wife; but I am not to be brutally
flung away one day and wooed back at his pleasure. Arthur Vivian, I know
you now."

"Eveline, hear me, hear me!" he implored. "I am a wanderer on the earth,
an exile, a proscribed man, hunted from city to city, from land to land;
houseless in the dark dreadful night, without the means to evade present
want, or live from day to day. Eveline, will you let your husband be
taken for want of means to leave the country for ever?"

"Swear to me that you will never let me see your face again," said
Eveline; "that the few months I have to live shall be passed in peace,
and I will give you the means to fly."

"I swear it," he replied.

His wife threw a heavy purse on the table; he took it up, moved towards
the door, and then paused. "What do you mean by the few months you have
to live?" he asked.

"Look at me, Arthur Vivian," said his wife. "I am dying! One kind word
from you that night would have saved me."

"Eveline, Eveline! have I not enough blood on my head, but you must lay
yours on me, too!"

"Arthur, farewell," said Eveline. "Oh, God have mercy on you!"

"God!" he murmured, as he stood once more in the darkness and falling
snow, and raised that face of dark and agonised beauty upward. "I dare
not believe in God--it were to drag me into hell. My only hope is that
'after death is nothingness.'"




CHAPTER XXV.


"AND now, ladies and gentlemen," said Angelo Egerton, the morning after
Christmas Day, "how do you propose to spend to-day? It is fine and
frosty for those who like to go out, and for those who don't, there is
plenty indoors."

"Put it to the House," said Tom Courtenay. "I move that the speaker do
order out the horses for a general gallop over the heights. Come, ladies
and gentlemen, those who second me, up hands."

All hands were held up save those of Lady Alice St. John, Julian
Rothesay, and Egerton, and the latter said, "Well, I see the vote is
general. I must beg you all to excuse me, for I have business to attend
to; but Inez will go with you as guide. She knows the district as well
as I do."

"Am I to order your horse, Julian?" asked Inez, with her hand on the
door.

"No, I remain with Angelo," he replied.

"Are any of the ladies particular about what horses they ride?" added
the young hostess.

"Mine are, my dear," said Lady Alice; "Arabella and Theresa are timid
riders, if you have any quiet horses."

"Oh, yes, they shall have the phaeton ponies," said Inez; "They are
swift, but perfectly gentle."

She left the room to order the horses, and the ladies betook themselves
to don their riding habits. Inez was down in less than ten minutes, and
went off to the great quadrangle, where the gentlemen and horses were
waiting.

"Where are you going to take us, Inez?" said Louis St. John; "east,
west, north, or south?"

"North, I think," she replied.

"Take them round by the Devil's Rock, Inez," said Egerton. "Ah, here are
the ladies."

The whole party were soon mounted, the castle gates were flung wide, and
with Inez at their head, they swept through, and descended the steep
hill on which the castle stood, taking their way along the cliffs.
Egerton and Julian ascended to the wall and sauntered round to the north
rampart.

"Look!" said Angelo, throwing his arm over Julian's shoulder as they
stood side by side; "Inez has set them in a canter already."

"Ay," said Julian; "and Walter and Miss Herbert are last."

"How's that?" said Egerton, uneasily, "I mounted him well."

"He probably likes the lady's company," observed the artist, glancing at
Angelo's dark face.

"Too much, I thought, last night," said Egerton, with a half laugh; "but
it may be a mere boyish fancy for almost the first pretty English face
he has seen much of."

"Are you afraid of his seriously caring for her? Don't you want it?"

"No," said Egerton, very decidedly. "You know who she really is?"

"Yes," replied Julian. "Stephen Stanfeld's daughter."

"His child, and sister-in-law to a murderer," said Egerton; "her sister
is Vivian's wife. A nice connection truly for the son of Armitage
Surrey," he added, with a strong emphasis.

"But she seems a very sweet girl, though," said Julian. "If Walter
should really care for her, you will not stand between them?"

"If he was any relation of mine, I very decidedly should," replied
Egerton.

"And as it is?" said Julian.

"Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof," said Egerton. "Will he be
much of a painter?"

"Yes, a most talented amateur," replied Julian. "If, instead of having
property, he had to live by it, he would have been a very superior
artist."

"How is it, old follow, that you haven't brought home an Italian wife?"
said Angelo, smiling.

"No, no; my exile only makes me cling closer to everything English,"
said Julian. "I might ask you, rather, why you don't present me to Lady
Egerton."

Angelo half smiled, but the smile was a sad one. "Julian," said he, "I
am thirty-seven, there are lines on my brow, and there is gray in my
hair; it will be hard to make any fair young girl love me now."

"Dear Angelo, I am sorry to find so eminent a politician talking
nonsense. You might; and might still choose any girl you liked."

"Julian, have you yet found your ideal?" asked Angelo.

"The ideal, if found, is often beyond reach," said Julian, evasively.

Angelo's dark eyes turned on him with a keen, penetrating glance, that
it was well Julian did not meet. He answered quietly, "It is often
nearer to us than we imagine, Julian."

"Have you yet found your ideal of woman, Angelo, or have you placed it
so high that mortal being cannot approach it?"

Egerton recoiled a little, but answered, "I did not create my own ideal;
I can no more help placing it high than I can help worshipping all that
is grand and beautiful."

"A Jesuitical answer," said Julian, smiling. Then he said, perhaps
because he intuitively felt the subject a painful one to his companion,
or it might be that the very depth of the love he bore him made him see
through Angelo's veil of proud reserve, "I heard Walter Surrey speaking
of the portrait. 'Tekel' is the name it seems known by. Does he know
whose portrait it is?"

"Yes," replied Egerton. "Yesterday he and I were in the chapel
cloisters, standing by my mother's tomb; he said he had seen the picture
at the National Gallery, and was expressing his wonder how any
imagination could conceive such faces as those of the man and the
phantom who holds the scroll.

"'Rothesay didn't imagine them,' said I. 'Have you never seen a face
like the phantom?'

"'Yes,' he said; 'it was like my ward; but he knew that the painter knew
her.'

"'Well,' I said, 'and the picture is the portrait of a living man.'

"'Ah! is it possible?' he cried, holding up his hand 'What a horrible
countenance! Do you know him?'

"'My mother's murderer,' said I, quietly. 'I had it painted; and it will
finally be brought to the gallery here.' I believe he thought me half
mad," added Egerton, with his low, soft laugh. "But now, Julian, I must
go to my study, and attend to my business. Where is Lady Alice?"

"I am going to find her," he replied.

Each went a different way--Egerton to the library, Julian to the
drawing-room.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Where meanwhile was the riding party? Watch that lofty crag, rising
black and sharp from the sea, it is higher than the other cliffs, and at
the commencement of its ascent the road branches into two, one
continuing over the summit, the other, only about ten feet broad,
winding round it, with the rocks towering above it, and the sea surging
far below. As the party came up to the fork road they halted, their
guide was behind talking to Roland Aubrey, but as she came up they
exclaimed, "Miss de Caldara, you are not going to jeopardise our lives
by taking us round this road, are you?"

"Those who don't like to venture," said the Spaniard, smiling, "can keep
the cliff road, and we shall meet them half a mile on. This is the
Devil's Rock, and this the Devil's Pass. Who will take it with me?" she
added, stepping Hasseneh on to the Pass.

Cuthbert St. John, who was next her, would rather have gone over the
cliff, but as the gentlemen all volunteered (saving the rector, who,
having passed it before, concluded to escort the ladies) he could do no
less than go too, the more so that Isbel, Mrs. Rochester, and Margaret
Arundel also took the Pass; so, in single file, with the Castilian in
the van, they set off. Tom, who immediately followed the Reverend
Cuthbert, was not long before he devised means of a joke at the expense
of the priest, which had almost ended fatally.

"Inez," he called out, "does his Satanic Majesty still haunt this place?
because if so our reverend friend might exorcise him."

"Tom, be quiet, and don't talk nonsense!" she turned to speak as he
meant she should, and catching her eye, he folded his hands, and pulled
his face into a long lugubrious look--such a caricature of Cuthbert that
even her grave Spanish nature could not resist it, and Inez's
irresistible and half suppressed laugh made Cuthbert turn sharply.

Now it happened that Cuthbert was already rendered somewhat giddy by the
dizzy height, and his sudden and passionate start round completed his
giddiness. He lost his saddle, reeled for a minute on the edge of the
precipice, and then, as he lost his footing, flung his arms wildly out,
catching at something. It was Inez's ready hand that saved him--for in
the moment he staggered, she backed Hasseneh, and, bending over,
stretched out her right arm; it was her hand which the falling man
grasped, and but for the noble Arabian standing so firm, his weight must
have dragged horse and rider over. The strain on Inez was fearful, and a
cry burst from her lips--no thought then for titles--"Oh, Louis, Louis!"

All had passed in less than a minute. St. John and Tom had flung
themselves from their horses and hauled up Cuthbert quite unhurt. Louis'
arm was thrown round Inez, as her arms fell nerveless at her side. "He
is safe; but you, my child, you are hurt?" Her face was very white, for
the agony had been intense as it was short.

"No," she said, "it is only numbed; it is going off, Colonel Louis. Your
brother--Mr. St. John, are you unhurt?"

"Perfectly, thanks to your courage," replied Cuthbert, as he remounted,
and Tom, for the time quite sobered, fell back, and was very good until
they left the Devil's Pass, and rejoined the others; and then he told
the story (minus his own mimicry) in his own droll manner, for, after
all, there had been something very ridiculous in the accident, despite
its being so nearly fatal. But he was not to come off so easily, for a
few miles on, Inez contrived to get him alone, and spoke, as she could,
when really angry.

"Tom," she said, "it's all very well for you to make a laughable story
out of that, and turn it into ridicule, but it was no laughing matter;
Cuthbert St. John was as near eternity as ever he will be, and if you
had faced death as I have, you would not jest about it as you have done.
And now, Tom, I tell you once for all, that you must control your
mischievous tendency to tease and joke while you are my guest; for,
whatever there is ridiculous about him, he is my guest too, and I cannot
permit him to be made a butt for your wit. There, now you have had your
scolding," she added; "so let us be friends again, and let the rest come
up."

Tom was very good and very civil to Cuthbert all that day. "For, by
Jove!" he whispered to Isbel, "I don't want another of our senorita's
stern rebukes."

It was long past noon when our party returned; but before Inez could
dismount, Cuthbert had sprung to the ground, and was at her side. He
clasped in his own the little hand that had saved him. "Inez de Caldara,
you have saved my life. I shall never forget it," he said, simply, and
lifted her to the ground; but he also never forgot Tom Courtenay.

Did the incident, apparently so slight, end its influence there? No.
Look at Louis St. John that evening, when all are in the drawing-room;
he is standing a little apart, unseen but seeing--his eyes fixed on
Inez, to whom Roland Aubrey is devoting himself with an assiduity that
Angelo has noticed with an inward smile, and St. John now sees without
any fear of rivalry. Yes, he knows now that he loves her; no use to say
to himself, "She is a child; no use to call it folly, a
fancy--nonsense."

'His heart was darken'd with her shadow.'

Till that day, man of the world as he was, he had not realised it; but
on that Pass his first thought had not been for Cuthbert, but for her,
and his eyes were opened to know his own heart, and that heart beat
faster as it remembered that his name had been the first she called upon
for help. "Louis, Louis!" was her cry; and fatally misconstruing
that--mistaking her simple, open, child-like affection for him--he madly
dreamed that her love was his--that he read her heart--that proud,
sensitive, reserved woman's heart of hers, that even Angelo knew not
thoroughly. Yet deeply as St. John loved her, he did not love her as
Angelo did. It will break that strong stern heart to lose the child-love
it has twined every fibre round--

'As the vine weaves her tendrils;'

but to lose her will only bruise and crush St. John's, for, it may be
for years, but it will not be for ever. To a man like St. John, the
honorable course was to at once speak to her guardian, and obtain his
sanction. Why not that night? He knew that Egerton always went to his
library after the rest had retired; and so, when all had left the
drawing-room, he walked to the library, and, with a slight knock,
entered.

Egerton was in the great old gloomy room, sitting in an easy chair by
the fire, with a table at his side, and several ministerial-looking
papers on it; but the master, whose hand was to bring them into form,
was himself doing nothing.

"Egerton," said Louis, "can you give me ten minutes?"

"As long as you like, Louis. Sit down," said Angelo, rousing himself
from a reverie.

St. John sat down, with the air of a man who has made up his mind to go
through with a disagreeable thing; so much so that Angelo noticed it
with a half smile, and said, "You have something to say, Louis, that you
don't know how to begin--what our Western neighbors call 'a fix.' Plunge
boldly in."

"Angelo," said Louis, "you are keen. What I have to say relates to Inez,
and on that point most important in all men's lives."

Egerton knew now what was coming, and he stretched out his arm very
quietly, and moved the lamp a little back, throwing himself in shade.

"Angelo," continued St. John, "think me mad--foolish--what you will, but
I love her--love her as perhaps a stern, ambitious man like you, who
lives only in public life, cannot understand."

Egerton lifted his eyes and looked at him. Did he know him so little
after all those years--he who had loved her since she was a little child
in his arms, nestling to his breast in all her childish troubles and
ailments?

"But you are her guardian," said Louis, "and I deemed it the honorable
course first to ask your sanction to win her. I have hope--a fair
hope----"

"Do you think Inez loves you otherwise than as an old friend?" asked
Egerton.

"Can any man say he knows a girl's heart?" said Louis. "I think--I hope
she does. Have I your sanction to my suit--your permission to ask her?"

"Yes," replied Egerton.

Heaven only knows what it cost him to say that word. But for the innate
nobility of the soul, but for the stern pride of the man, he could not
have resigned her so calmly. The word had passed the firm lips--the
handsome face was still and marble like--set, and cold, and calm as a
beautiful statue. It might have been some classic statue for any warmth
that face had, saving the dark eyes, and they were fixed on St. John,
who now rose.

"Then, plainly, I have your free sanction," he said, smiling, "to rob
you of your sweet ward? You will miss her at first, Egerton."

"I am a stern, ambitious man, who lives only in public life. No," said
the minister, moving a little more into the shade.

"Well, good night, Angelo," said Louis. "Your gift is inestimable."

"Good night, Louis," he responded.

"It is late already, Egerton," said Louis. "Have all those papers to be
attended to tonight?"

"They must be in town to-morrow," said Egerton, wearily; "I must take
them myself."

"Shall you return to-morrow?" asked Louis.

"No, the day after," he replied. "I may be detained. Write and tell me
of your success."

"I will," said Louis. "Once more, good night."

"Good night, Louis," was the reply, in the same tone as before. The door
closed, and Angelo Egerton was alone.

How very dark the library was--how the gloom had deepened into black
night--and how very silent it was, as if something had died there that
night. How very, very dreary and still it was, but not more still than
the silent, motionless figure sitting there, with the arms resting on
the table, the head bowed on them--hearing nothing, seeing nothing,
feeling nothing, but the heavy weariness of agony that had stricken the
strong heart to the earth. He had thought he knew her inmost heart; he
had once dreamed she might love him, but that was past; it seemed long
years ago now; the 'dead past must bury its dead'--that proud, ambitious
man, would have given all his long line of ancestors now--all his hard
won honors to have back his lost child-love--but it was too late, and
the weary sense that something had died there that night grew deeper and
heavier.

So the hours that seemed years wore on, and each hour sank and vanished
into the dim vista of time, but that bowed form never moved; the lamp
burned down and went out--he knew it not; the fire dwindled lower and
lower, and grew fiery red, throwing the black shadow of the bars on the
opposite wall--still that silent figure remained motionless; the coals
grew black and turned to ashes, and the gloomy old library grew cold and
chill--he heeded it not, felt it not; the black night gave place to the
dull cold gray dawn of the winter's morning, and gradually the first
rays of the December sun streamed aslant through the fog into the
room--but still that silent, tearless mourner for what had died that
night, never moved, felt not the cold, heard not the step outside, nor
the door open and close, till a hand, lightly and tenderly as a woman's,
was laid on his shoulder, and Egerton raised his ghastly face to see
Julian bending over him.

"Angelo--oh, Angelo," said Julian, "what has happened?"

"Nothing," he replied, in a hard, dry tone, and putting Julian aside
with his hand; but Julian clasped it in his own.

"Twenty years ago," he said, "when I was a child, this right hand of
yours drew me to your heart, and I will not now be put away with this
cold hand--with that hard 'nothing.' Proud man, you may case your
haughty soul in adamant chains of stern reserve to all others, but you
shall not, cannot place your pride between us two, 'Nothing!' What, do
you think I cannot see below the stormy surface--do you think I cannot
read your ghastly face, or see that you have never left this room all
night? Oh, Angelo, do not all the ties that knit our souls together give
me a right to your confidence?"

The statue-like face softened, and he said gently, trying to release his
hand from the firm grasp that would not release it, "Why should I burden
your young head with my sorrows? I am weary--weary--Julian, that is all;
let me attend to these papers."

"You shall not," said Julian. "You were yourself when we parted last
night."

Last night! How many years ago it seemed! and the words came
unconsciously from his lips, "Only hours--it seems a life-time--weary
years. Julian, I lost something last night."

"Angelo, I know all now," said Julian. "I saw St. John come here."

Pride gave way now, the proud man broke down, and he bowed his face on
the hands that still clasped his. "Oh, Julian, Julian!" said he; "she
was all I had!"

For a long time Julian did not speak. He could not, for he had never
before seen a strong man weep; never before witnessed such deep,
passionate anguish. Then at last his soft voice said, "Angelo, old
friend, he cannot--does not love her as you do. He has mistaken her
simple, frank affection for him for love. If I know anything of woman's
heart, she will never be his wife. Hope! You have not lost your
child-love."

"I have," said Egerton, rising. "What man ever yet really knew a woman's
heart? Is not her affection for me, too, as frankly shown, as
unconcealed? I dreamed once that she might have loved me--I was mad--mad
to think that I, twenty-two years older than her, could ever be more to
her than a guardian. Leave me now, dear Julian. Excuse me to them. I am
going to take these papers to town, and I shall return to-morrow night
late. Sit up for me, but do not let her do so. Henceforth I will be what
he believes me--a stern, ambitious man, who lives only in public life,"
he said, with a bitter smile.

"Does he know so little of you--you?" said Julian.

"Hold him excused, Julian. He has seen but little of Angelo. It is
Egerton he knows. May he love her as I do--as I should have done."

"He cannot--it is not in him!" said Julian. "Ah, Angelo, you are a
noble, generous spirit to resign her so calmly. Heaven knows how well I
love you, but never so well as now."

"It is all left me," said Angelo, turning aside. Then he wrung Julian's
hand in silence, for he could not speak; and taking up the ministerial
papers, he went out of the gloomy old library.

* * * * * * * * * * *

All is told. Louis St. John had found Inez in that old library, and with
earnest, impassioned language, he has poured out his love--laid his
heart at her feet.

"Oh, Inez, do not send me from you!" he said. "Do not tell me you do
not--cannot love me."

Startled, almost frightened, overborne by the passionate eloquence with
which he had spoken, she had stood till now like a statue, hearing,
understanding, yet hardly realising his words, hearing him with the dark
grave face turned to him, and wondering half frightened glance. But now,
when she most needed it, her self-possession failed her, and suddenly
covering her face, she wept passionately--wept for herself, that her
affection had been so misconstrued; wept for him, that his wild dream
was broken; wept, as all sensitive true-hearted women must, that she had
wittingly caused such misery to the man who had laid his very soul at
her feet. It was only for a minute, and then she dropped her hands, and
turned the sweet sad face to his.

"Forgive me! Oh, Colonel Louis, forgive me!" said Inez. "I never dreamed
this. I am so young. My affection was so different--its very frankness
should have warned you. I do not love you--I never should. I can never
be your wife. Think of me, if you can, only as the child you have known.
Forgot the woman you have loved!" She held out her hand, and said, "For
your own sake, as much as for mine, do not leave till the afternoon, and
part with me calmly. May heaven restore you to peace and happiness,
Louis St. John."

He held the little hand for a minute, and bent low over it. "God bless
you, Inez!" he murmured, hoarsely, and left the room.

Julian came into the library some time after, and found the Castilian on
the floor, weeping with a passionate bitterness of grief that seemed to
rack every fibre of her slender frame. He raised her, saying in his
gentle, tender way, "Dry the tears, little one. It is his first love and
first dream. Both are broken. Have we not all dreamed, and been rudely
awakened to the stern reality? A few years hence, perhaps, and he will
forget his dream, and it may be, find happiness in another's love."

He wiped away the tears, and bending down, kissed her forehead, and
then, with the thought and delicate tact of a woman for both her and St.
John, he took her quietly away for a long walk over the hills through
the fog and mist--what mattered that? And when she returned, hours
after, Margaret met her, and told her that Colonel St. John had been
suddenly called to London to see an old companion in arms who was
dangerously ill, and she was just in time to bid him good-bye.

But Inez's habitual self control had resumed its sway, and when she
parted from St. John no one could have guessed that anything painful had
passed between them. Only Julian, and Louis' gentle mother--to whom her
son had told everything--could see that his lips quivered, and that the
dark eyes of the Spaniard drooped. She crept away to the summit of a
lofty watchtower facing the south, and stood watching the carriage that
bore him away, till the trees hid it, and then she turned away,
murmuring, "I could never have been his wife--I could never have loved
him," And unconsciously her hand stole to the cross on her heart, and
clasped it close and clingingly.

It was long before she met Louis St. John again.

And where was Angelo Egerton? At the time St. John was leaving
Falcontower Castle, he was bending over those papers in the
Foreign-office. He had not, and did not intend to go near St. James'
Square. He could not bear to go there, where everything would seem to
remind him of what he had lost. There he was again the next morning
early, looking over papers, reading and answering letters with the
calmness and coolness which had always marked him, concentrating his
mind and energies on what for the time being demanded his attention; and
no one, to see that dark severe face, would have found out any change,
save, perhaps, if he paused for a moment, a very close observer might
have noticed a weary look about the mouth and in the eyes, and a heavier
weight of care on the grave, stern brow; but that was all to betray the
anguish the proud man was crushing back so ruthlessly on a breaking
heart.

It was long after noon, and Egerton was about to leave his hotel for
King's Cross to return to the north, when a note was put into his hands.
He turned back into the room and opened it:--

"Dear Egerton,--My dream was too bright to last. She never loved me,
save as a friend. I am going abroad, and when my furlough is up, back to
my regiment in Canada. God bless you, old friend. It will be long before
we meet, if ever. LOUIS ST. JOHN."

The first thought of Angelo's generous heart is sorrow for Louis' grief;
his second, deep joy, for he knows that St. John may love again, that
the blow will only crush his heart, for his love is like the sapling of
a year's growth, that can bow to the gale, and spring up again stronger
than before; but Angelo's love has grown with years, and his heart is
like the strong oak that the blast cannot bend, but breaks for ever, and
he murmurs low to himself, "Mine only now, my life, my little one--mine
only."

It was late at night when he reached Falcontower station, and there,
walking up and down in the moonlight, ever faithful, was Julian watching
for him, with Leon, the Spanish bloodhound, at his side.

"Julian, my dear follow," said the well-known loved voice, and Julian
turned to meet Angelo, while their hands clasped in an iron grasp that
spoke more than any language could have done.

It was not till they reached the castle, till they found themselves once
more in the dear, gloomy old library, that either spoke; then Julian
laid his hand on Egerton's shoulder, and with his tender blue eyes
looking deep into his dark gray orbs, with their still regretful shadow,
said softly, "Angelo, was I not right, when that night I said to you,
'You have not lost your child-love?'"

"Dear Julian, right and wrong," said Egerton.

"I only know that she has refused him; but how do I know that she loves,
or ever can love me?"

"Ask her," said the artist, simply, and his beautiful eyes smiled.

"No, not yet, Julian," said Egerton; "not till she is old enough to
marry at once or leave me, for either way she must do that. It is but
another six months' patience--anxious patience, Julian. Do you not think
me right?"

"You know best," said Julian.

"He wrote to me this morning," said Egerton; "it is as well I did not
meet her then or to-night. To-morrow morning I can meet her as usual."

"Rest well to-night, Angelo," said Julian, "or she will detect that all
has not been well; and you look weary, oh, so weary."

"Can even the strongest battle through a fierce tempest and not be
weary?" said Angelo. "Good night, dear Julian. God bless you, faithful
friend!"




CHAPTER XXVI.


Christmas has passed, and the party at Falcontower Castle has broken up,
but there have been seeds sown that will grow up and cannot be uprooted.
Parliament is sitting, and Angelo Egerton has opened the campaign with a
speech that the papers are full of, and even those who do not like his
politics are bound to admire and to bow to the intellect that dictates
it. He is there now, listening calmly, sometimes with a quiet smile, to
the attacks made on him and his party and the ministry, by those who
were clamoring for 'reform' or what they were pleased to call
reform--those who had spent the previous autumn in vainly endeavoring to
stir up the people to be discontented with what existed, and failing to
rouse them up, intended to force a certain measure on the ministry in
order to oppose it. And while Sir Angelo sits in that busy arena, his
'child-love' sits alone by the hearth in that library in the house in
St. James' Square, with the noble pictures of the grand old masters
looking down on her.

Margaret is absent at Lady Alice St John's, and so Inez sits alone,
bending forwards, and now and then a slight look of pain crosses the
grave quiet brow, and she moves her hand for a second to her chest; to
her dying day she will at times feel that stiletto wound--to her dying
day she will bear that mark of Vivian's handiwork. It changes the
current of her thoughts to him and his deeds, and her face darkens, and
she lifts her eyes to the mantelpiece, where stands a small photograph
of the portrait; her eyes have not lost that mournful shadow, nor their
watchful, sleepless look, nor will they ever utterly lose it, for the
iron has entered so deeply into her soul that even when the barb is
withdrawn, the rust will remain. But now a softer expression steals over
the young face, for her thoughts have wandered to Angelo Egerton. She
can almost hear him speaking. She knows so well:--

'That style, so stately, sweet, and strong

That tamely read had all the charm of song.'

A step came along the gallery outside--not Sir Angelo's firm, light,
almost noiseless step, but that of the old servant Burns.

"Miss Inez," said he, "there is a person just called wanting to see Sir
Angelo. I told him he was down at the House, and then he said he must
see the young Spanish lady, Miss de Caldara."

"Did he give any name? But show him up; I will see him whoever he is,"
said Inez, leaning back in her arm-chair.

"His name is Harding, Miss Inez."

"Harding--I thought so. Show him up," said the Castilian, drawing a deep
breath.

In a few moments Mr. Robert Harding, the detective, entered, a
gentlemanly, intelligent, keenly sharp-looking man, between thirty and
forty.

"How do you do, ma'am; I hope I see you well," he said, with a low bow.

"Quite well, thank you, Mr. Harding. Take a seat." Her eye went keen and
straight to his as she added, bending forwards, "Have you come to tell
me that Vivian has escaped you?"

"Yes, ma'am," he replied.

She fell back again, and that sharp, momentary spasm crossed her face.
The detective noticed it.

"Are you in pain, Miss de Caldara?" he enquired. "Are you ill?"

"It is nothing," she replied; "only that stiletto wound. At distant
intervals it pains me a little. Go on; tell me what you have to tell."

"Well, ma'am, you must know that when I last wrote, two months ago, I
was sharp on his trail."

"Yes," said Inez, "you had tracked him to Baden Baden."

"Ay, right into Baden, ma'am," said Harding. "It was long before I found
any trace, and then at last I found a clue at the passport-office in
Paris. You know I had a colored photograph of him from that portrait. I
showed it, and they told me a man with just such burnished gold looking
hair (they remembered only that) had passed through a week before for
Lyons. I travelled night and day, and entered that city a few hours
after my chase. But you were right in telling me he was cunning as a
fox, and slippery as an eel. He was gone--doubled upon me somehow, and
reached Baden. That was shortly before Christmas, and I suspect he must
have come over here; for at Baden I lost every trace of him, and was
quite at sea until a month ago, and then I received information of him
through an Englishman."

"An Englishman!" said Inez.

"Yes, ma'am; a man with cold, sinister, snakey gray eyes, and a down,
evil look--he might have been sixty, and had been handsome. I booked him
as a villain."

"Do you know his name?" said Inez, quickly.

"Only what he said, ma'am, and that was Reynolds."

"It is Stephen Stanfeld," said Inez; "you know of him."

"Oh, yes, ma'am, though I never saw him till then. But I suspected who
he was from what he said."

"Tell me about it," said Inez.

The detective glanced at the quiet face with its deep, steady eyes, and
brow of calm power, and went on.

"It was at a casino in Strasbourg that I met my informant. It has always
been my plan to get into conversation with any one and every one. I
noticed the Englishman at once, and soon addressed him while he was
playing. I lent him money for play, and in that manner I won my may.
Then I found out how long he had left England--he had only recently left
it. I asked him carelessly if he had ever heard of the attempt last
autumn, near a place near Forest Moor, to murder a South American lady
named Jesuita de Castro. I saw directly by his face that he knew, before
he answered fiercely, 'Yes, by a man named Vivian--curse him!' Oh,
thought I, you hate him, my friend; very good, you may be useful. I
won't trouble you with details, ma'am. Suffice it that I found from him
that Vivian had robbed him about a month after his attempt to murder
you; that he did hate him, and would like nothing better than to see him
punished. I said I had some business to transact with him if I could
find him, which, perhaps, might not be pleasant to him, and this man
then told me that he knew Vivian had gone to Hamburg; so to Hamburg I
went, Miss de Caldara. I saw him enter a gambling house; he gave a
password, and I knew it would be useless to go to the police there, for
they play into the hands of those who keep these hells--you'll pardon
the word, ma'am; to attempt to go in would have been worse, and so I
waited and watched. He came out late at night with a number of his
companions, and I followed him and marked the house he entered; but when
later I called there he was gone; whether he had seen me I don't know,
but he had fled and escaped me, and from that time to this I have
utterly lost him. I have also exhausted my funds, and have returned for
instructions--the chase seems almost hopeless. I came so late, because,
if I am to continue, I could catch the first Calais or Rotterdam boat in
the morning."

"Have you literally no clue?" asked Inez.

"Not the finest thread," he replied; "it is almost hopeless. It seems to
me, ma'am, merely flinging away Sir Angelo's money."

"It must be flung away, then," said the Castilian, rising; "he would not
have it given up if it costs a fortune. You did right to come tonight."

The detective departed, and the Rotterdam boat next morning bore him
away to Holland.




CHAPTER XXVII.


We must again return to Falcontower; not to the lordly castle of the
Egertons, but to the gaunt wandering old rectory, which three centuries
before had been the residence of the Catholic parish priest; so you see
it did not want age; for at the Reformation it had been standing some
two centuries, while the parish church, which it nearly adjoined, was
even older. Let us enter the rectory, and pass into the rector's little
study, which is a corner room with two windows, one facing the sea, the
other the north; from this there was a splendid view of the castle, with
its lofty falcon tower rising on the western or sea side, from which it
was said a secret way led to the beach, by which the dungeon's beneath
the castle could be flooded. The dungeons and this tower had been first
built on the sight of a Roman camp by Ingleharde de Egerton, in the
reign of William the Norman, and it was this falcon tower that had given
its name, first to the castle and its lands, and then to the town which
very early began to grow there on the cliff.

Hugh Bertram, the rector of Falcontower, sat looking out towards the
castle, thinking, perhaps, that there was as grim a skeleton within its
stately walls as there was in his quiet rectory. He was a man not yet
past his prime, for he was barely fifty, and a fine looking, stately man
for even that, despite the deep lines on his forehead, and the grayness
of his still luxuriant hair, the work of a sorrow that had well nigh
broken his heart--a sorrow that must have done so but for the deep
inborn religion and faith with which he laid his grief at the foot of
the cross, and turned in child-like faith to Him who said, "Come unto me
all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." And he
found rest and resignation.

Mr. Bertram was not long alone in his study; a light figure that had
grown familiar there since it had come to Falcontower, passed up the
garden, through the front door, only locked at night, and entered the
half open door of the study.

"Ah, my dear Walter, I am glad to see you," said the rector. "Where have
you left your friend Rothesay?"

"Busy in his studio, painting," replied Walter.

"Have you heard lately from your guardian?" asked the rector.

"Oh, yes, it is in consequence of that I came," said Walter. "Julian and
I want you to come up and spend a farewell evening with us."

"What," said Mr. Bertram, "are you going abroad again?"

"No, oh no, to town. Julian is to stay with Egerton."

"And you?" interrupted Mr. Bertram.

"He had decided on sending me to college. Look, here is the letter.
Short, you see, as usual," said Surrey, giving him a letter in the firm,
graceful hand of Sir Angelo. And short it was.

"My DEAR WALTER,--I have written to Julian. He is to stay with me. You
will go to Cambridge. Come up with Julian as I wish to see you. Do not
be later than a week.--Yours truly, A. R. EGERTON."

"Very like the man," said Mr. Bertram, returning the letter. "Not a
superfluous word in it. So you are to go to college then?"

"Yes, and I am very glad of it," said Walter. "I want to see more of the
world, more of its phases. In his letter to Julian he says that he
wishes and purposely intends to throw me into the world."

"It is a trying test and a dangerous ordeal," said the rector; "few
young men come through it quite scatheless. I know one who was thrown on
the world and he fell."

"I do not think I shall, sir," said Walter.

"Ay, Walter, Walter, be not too trustful," said the rector. "Listen to a
few words of advice from an old man who has passed through it. You are
going as a young man of means, without any profession. You will be
surrounded by temptations the most dangerous; and if you should get into
trouble, let no consideration prevent you from applying to your
guardian, Sir Angelo. He is a man of the highest and most chivalrous
honor; I grant you he is a stern, severe man; but do not let the dread
of his stern reproof or severity prevent you going to him. Better that
than sinking deeper. Above all, remember the duty you owe to God."

Those were the parting words of the gentle pastor. Listen to those the
calm lips the man of the world and the gentleman uttered--"Walter, you
are launching into many temptations. Study for a high degree. Have no
idle time--it is mischievous; never play--it is dishonorable; never
bet--it is ungentlemanly. Remember in all you do that you are a
gentleman of England, and the descendant of a line of gentlemen; and do
nothing that will cast a shadow on your unstained name."

Those were Sir Angelo's parting words to his ward--whether he remembered
them entirely, we shall see.




CHAPTER XXVIII.


IT was a fine day in March. Under a huge elm, opposite to Rotten Row,
stood a man, in reality about forty, though the lightness of his fine
erect form made him look at least four years younger than that. He was a
handsome man, a very handsome man, there was no denying that, for every
feature was finely and delicately cut, and the forehead was broad and
well developed, but about the mouth there was a marked expression of
recklessness and bitter cynicism, and in every line of the face you
could see written strong, fierce, imperious passions, that the sorrows
and storms of forty years could not tame or eradicate, hardly even teach
them control. He was standing a little back, so that he could see
without being seen from the drive, and gazed dreamily into the distance,
unheeding the few passers-by.

Both park and drive were empty, yet, nevertheless, the roll of wheels
struck the stranger's ear coming from one side, and the sound of horse's
feet galloping from the other. He started as he saw a low park phaeton,
containing two ladies, almost opposite to him, and at the same moment a
lady on horseback galloped up, and wheeling suddenly, reined up her
spirited Arabian.

"I thought I knew you, even at a distance," said the young rider,
bending down, and shaking hands with the occupant of the phaeton. "Dear
Aunt Marion, it is some time since I have seen you and Isbel."

The unseen stranger bent forwards. Surely, though so changed, he knew
that dark Spanish face; he had seen a face like it--yes, he knew now who
she was by her likeness to that dark man's face he remembered--Angelo
Egerton's. Listen, that very name from Mrs. Rochester's lips arrests his
attention, and his passionate lip quivers.

"Where is Angelo?" she asked. "Are you alone, Inez?"

"No," she replied. "Angelo is at the Foreign-office, and then to the
House. Tonight, you know, that bill comes on for the second reading."

"Did Angelo bring it in, then?" asked Marion.

"No, no," said Inez, laughing; "he never brings in home measures."

"But he'll speak," said Marion. "I wish I could go and hear him."

"It will be a sight," returned Inez. "I have a Speaker's order for the
out-of-the-way little place aloft where they admit----"

"Only a few of 'our choicest spirits,'" interposed Isbel, quoting from
'Martin Chuzzlewit.'

Mrs. Rochester smiled, but again addressed Inez. "Will Government be
defeated?"

"How can I tell?" said Inez. "I am afraid they will, but if they are,
they will not be long out."

"Well, it seems a weary game and weary struggle," said Marion. "Where
are Mr. Rothesay and Miss Arundel?"

"Julian is at home, and Margaret is at Herne Bay," replied Inez.

"Tell the Signor Giulio to come and spend the evening with us," said
Marion "I want to speak to him about taking Isbel's portrait."

"I will tell him--good-bye," and Inez de Caldara rode away, followed by
her groom.

Marion Rochester leaned back with a heavy, weary sigh. "Drive home, my
daughter," she said.

"Home, mamma?" said Isbel.

"My heart is not as bright as the day is, Isbel," said Mrs. Rochester in
French, and Isbel drove on.

The stranger stepped forwards and stood looking after them.

"And is that fair woman my wife?--is that beautiful girl my daughter?"
he murmured; "and I have left them both all these years. Yes, and will
leave them!" and now the recklessness and passion returned to the lip
and eye: "for they both hate me--my daughter, too, as her mother did
before her; and how can I love Marion, when my heart is in Mina's
grave--and she--what heart she had was buried with her first husband
when she vowed her love to me with her false lips. All womankind is
alike--all fair and false--all fair and false!" said the cynic, turning
away with a sardonic curl of his lips. He moved some paces amongst the
trees with downcast eyes, not seeing a man approaching till a shadow
fell across him, and he turned sharply to confront Stephen Stanfeld.

Austin Rochester recoiled some steps, and Stanfeld stood as one struck
dumb. In that momentous but dead silence you might have heard a pin
fall. It was broken by Austin.

"So," he said, with so fierce a gesture and accent that the other shrunk
back, "it is thus we meet after eighteen years, Stephen Stanfeld.
Villain! you escaped me once; but now I will speak. You shall hear me,
or I will shoot you as you fly."

There was something actually terrible in the frightful intensity of
hatred and fierce passions in his face as he spoke.

"Nineteen years ago," he resumed, "you crossed my path. I have reason to
hate you. You, who won a young girl's heart with your fiendish arts, and
then deserted her because she lost her fortune. You, who waited until
she was a wife and about to be a mother, and then dared to upbraid and
curse the woman who had loved you to her own misery. You, who killed her
and one child, and laid her own hatred to me on the other. Deeply you
have injured me and mine. Murderer, coward, villain! If there is a God
in heaven, I call down his heaviest curse on your head, that it may rest
on you till your dying hour! I tell you that if your last chance of life
hung on my forgiveness, I would sooner cast myself body and soul into
hell than give it."

Staggered by the frightful words, Stanfeld shrunk and shivered as if
they blasted him, and glided away amongst the trees, but followed even
there by the mocking, scornful laughter of his opponent, who stood long
there with heart and brain feeling as a forest might feel after a
hurricane had swept through it. And while he stands there, let us tell
some of his history--the worst his own lips must tell another time.

He was the second son of a gentleman of old family and property not
twenty miles from Falcontower. All his father's affections had centered
in his oldest son, Wilmot; his wife, whom he had passionately loved, had
died in giving birth to Austin, and, in consequence, an unnatural hatred
to the child took possession of him. Of course Wilmot and the very
servants took their tone from him, and the child grew up in an
atmosphere of dislike. Unfortunately, too, every fibre of the boy's
nature seemed antagonistic to those about him; every bad passion was
fostered to an alarming degree, and the good in him was crushed with a
ruthless and cruel hand.

He was passionate even to fierceness, and revengeful, and high-spirited,
and he soon rebelled at the treatment he received, and finally his
father sent him to a boarding school as being utterly irreclaimable. But
there it was the same. Talented in no ordinary degree, he learned
readily, but by the boys he was soon hated and detested. Nature had
given him a yearning for affections, and those powers of love and hate
which are too often man's curse--and they were his; it had also given
him a really true nature, but there was not one who could penetrate
beneath all the evil and reach the good.

From that school he went to Eton; he was then seventeen, and he was
there twelve months; and then, in that short time, when it was too late,
he came across one who, if he had met a few years earlier, might have
saved him. A boy of but fifteen, by name Angelo Egerton,--and he by some
strange, almost mystic knowledge it seemed, at once read Rochester's
character,--penetrated at once the cold cynicism, the morose bitterness,
and reached the fine nature beneath it.

But the time was too short, and came too late, as young Egerton saw; the
evil had been sown too early, and gone too deep; twelve months could not
undo the evils of seventeen years. Unscrupulousness had become part of
his nature, recklessness a second nature; and when, at the end of twelve
months, his removal to college parted him from young Egerton, he flung
himself into a wild set, and plunged recklessly into dissipations to
drown thoughts and bitter achings of heart that were intolerable; denied
all affections where he had a right to look for them, disliked by the
very men of whose wild life he was the companion, he sank deeper and
deeper. He was barely nineteen when his father died, leaving, of course,
to Wilmot the estates, to Austin--deep in debt--one thousand
pounds--cast on the world at nineteen.

Utterly in extremity, the memory of Egerton's dark face and musical
voice, never quite forgotten, rose vividly to his mind, for he was the
only being who had ever cared at all for him, and he wrote to him--

"You once showed me kindness, Egerton. Pardon me if I ask one thing. I
am going abroad. I wish none to know where. Suffer me to make you my
only repository and medium of any communication to me. I ask it as a
favor, and to keep it secret.

"AUSTIN ROCHESTER."

Egerton wrote back instantly, for he had felt deeply interested in
Rochester; and though he had lost sight of him, he had never forgotten
him; and now he returned for answer that he should be glad if he could
be of any service to him. He received back a letter of many thanks, and
an address in Paris.

Then Austin Rochester, evading his creditors, went abroad, not deigning
a line even to his brother Wilmot.

This Wilmot, it may be imagined, was no saint; and though, at his
father's death, he came into an estate worth fifty thousand pounds, yet
in one year he had mortgaged it to half that, and then he managed to get
killed in a low quarrel. Egerton immediately wrote to Austin, merely
telling him that Wilmot was dead, and had left his affairs much
embarrassed.

Austin came over immediately, and certainly then for once acted wisely.
He went to Egerton, and saying plainly that he was literally the only
being in the world he could turn to, told him his whole story, and asked
his advice; and Angelo, though his chivalrous nature recoiled and shrunk
from the vice, saw much to palliate; and pitying the man, held out to
him the helping hand, and not only gave him advice, but assisted him to
follow it out.

Wilmot's debts were twenty-five thousand pounds, his own ten thousand
pounds, and he raised on the estate thirty-five thousand, and paid
everything, thus leaving himself six hundred a year. He shut up
Rochester Court, left only an old steward on the place, and again
vanished abroad, this time not even telling Egerton where he went; and
for nearly ten years neither Angelo nor anybody else knew whether he was
dead or alive.

But during Angelo's absence in Spain, when he went over for Inez, Austin
Rochester suddenly appeared in England with a little daughter of seven
years or so. He called at St. James' Square to see Egerton, and saw his
mother instead; and on learning that he had been at Eton with her son,
she invited him to the house, and it was there that he and Marion D'Arcy
met, for Julian had gone with Angelo, and she was staying with Lady
Egerton. Thus it came about that the first thing Angelo heard on
returning was that Marion was going to marry Rochester.

It was too late to do anything to prevent it; but Egerton, as trustee to
the fortune Colonel D'Arcy had left his widow, did what he could for
her, knowing what Austin was, suspecting his motives in marrying to be
those of a desperate and unscrupulous man; he settled every shilling on
Marion and her children in the usual manner--it was too late for Austin
to draw back, the more so as he had represented the mortgage on his
estate as nearly redeemed, when, in fact, it had only changed from its
original mortgagee to a money-lender named Isaac Fakes--and Angelo
Egerton, with a heavy heart and gloomy forebodings, for the second time
gave Marion away at the altar.

Too soon the truth appeared--too soon the end came. There was a
miserable six months of passive neglect and gloomy coldness, and then,
one dreadful day, he told her that he had never loved any but Isbel's
mother, his dead wife; that neither she nor any human being had or could
love him--and so left her and his child and went no one know where, and
they had never met since.

All that remains we leave for him to tell; but there he stood
alone--desolate, broken-hearted, remorseful, and yet through all a
desperate and reckless man.

This is one sad story of a lost life.




CHAPTER XXIX.


Angelo Egerton and Julian Rothesay sat alone together, for Inez and
Margaret were out riding.

The artist was sitting at a table with drawing paper before him and a
pencil in his hand, half dreamily sketching something, his beautiful
head bent a little down, so that the dark, golden brown hair fell partly
over the noble brow. The ex-minister sat in his old oak reading chair,
with a volume of some ancient Italian political lore in his hand, but
with his dark, calm, gray eyes fixed quietly on Julian's face, reading
it as only he could, like an open book of very sweet music. He knew as
well as possible what was passing in his heart and brain at that moment;
then who he was dreaming of, and whose gentle face was gradually looking
out of that blank sheet; and he rose and bent over him, saying, "What
are you drawing there?" But the artist laid his hand quickly over it.

"Dear Julian," said Egerton, in his soft, low voice, "do you think I
have not learned to read your face in twenty years? Long ago I knew you
loved her."

"Angelo!" he exclaimed.

"Ay," said Egerton, leaning against the mantelpiece, and looking down on
him with that rare tender smile in eyes and mouth, "I knew it long ago.
That day at Falcontower, when we stood together on the ramparts, when
you evaded my question, I knew then that you had found your ideal, and
would learn to love her; and Isbel is worthy of even you."

"Even me!" said Julian, with bitter force. "And can I suffer one word to
her to pass my lips while I have the brand of murder on my head? Can I
offer the woman I love a stained name? No; it is hopeless. There is a
curse on me."

"Julian, Julian! I cannot bear to hear you speak so!" said Egerton
passionately. "Nothing is hopeless while there is life."

"Angelo, I was wrong to speak as I did," said Julian; "but would you
have me try to win her heart with such a stain upon my name? Put it to
your own chivalrous honor, severely, without reference to your love for
me, and then answer."

Egerton paused for a moment before he answered; and then he said, "I
answer you in a conviction that is something deeper than mere fancy or
hope, that you will before very long be cleared to the world; and to the
old and honored name of D'Arcy, add the fame you have given to that of
Rothesay. In that conviction, that is knowledge, I say to you, go and
tell her all, conceal nothing, and if she loves you she will believe you
innocent. Do not, if you will, marry her till you can do so in your own
name."

"Angelo, if she does not believe me innocent--if she does not love me?"
said Julian, rising.

"It is more the pomp of death, than death itself which is terrible,"
answered Egerton; "have you not a real enough skeleton without raising
an imaginary terror as well?"

Julian smiled, and left the room, and Egerton, too restless now to
remain still, ordered his horse and rode out to meet Inez and Margaret.

* * * * * * * * * *

A month had passed since Austin Rochester had seen his deeply-wronged
wife and child, but he could not forget either; and while he utterly
shrank from meeting his wife, he longed with almost sickening longing to
see the daughter he had deserted, the child and living likeness of a
wife who, however false in heart to him, he had worshipped. He must and
would see her when he had ascertained that Marion was out. To find where
she lived was easy, by means of a directory; her house was in
Seymour-street, not far from that occupied by Lady Alice St. John, and
for days he lingered there, watching, till at last one day he saw his
wife go out in that same park phaeton without Isbel. He stood watching
the carriage till it turned the corner, and then he crossed over and
knocked.

"Is Miss Rochester at home?" he asked of the servant.

"Yes, sir," answered the man, evidently expecting a card, but none was
offered.

"Ask Miss Rochester if she can spare a short time to a gentleman who
wishes to see her."

The servant showed him up to the drawing-room, and then crossed the
corridor to Mrs. Rochester's boudoir, which was opposite, and where
Isbel sat.

"Miss Isbel, there is a gentleman wishes to see you."

"Who is he, George?--are you sure it isn't mamma he wants?"

"No, miss; he asked for you, but gave no name."

"I will see him of course," said Isbel.

The servant retired, and Isbel wondering a little, rose, and leaving the
boudoir door open, opened the drawing-room door and entered.

Full in the light of the windows stood Austin, and something in his form
and face struck Isbel as vaguely as having something not utterly
strange; she had not the almost supernatural memory of Inez, or she
would have recognised him.

Rochester advanced a step, and then paused, chilled to the heart to see
her cold bow, and forgetting that she had not seen him since early
childhood, and that he was changed, and into his cynical heart rushed
afresh the thought long there that Marion had taught her to hate and
scorn him, and then from his cynical lips came the bitter words, "So,
then, your false-hearted stepmother has taught you well, I see, to
follow in your dead mother's steps!"

The indignant blood flushed crimson to the girl's cheek and brow; the
passionate blood of her father ran red in her veins then as she laid her
hand on the bell.

"Who are you, sir," she said, "that dare to come here and insult my
mother?"

Rochester's passionate and imperious temper was roused. He grasped her
hand with a force that left her powerless, and said, "Her husband, girl,
and your father!"

Isbel turned very white, and with a loud cry recoiled from him as if his
touch stung her.

"You do well," she said, with quivering lips, "to make your first words
a falsehood on my gentle mother. Do you come back, after all these
years, for that?"

"Isbel, Isbel!" said he, "is it thus a child should meet her father?
Does it not confirm me in what I say, that Marion is false to me, and
has taught my child to hate me as a black villain?"

"It is false," exclaimed Isbel, passionately; "She never speaks of you.
Oh, father, father! how can you speak so of her?" And hiding her face in
the cushions of the couch, the poor child burst into tears.

Rochester stood, looking gloomily down on her, seeing, feeling through
nothing but the dark glass that like a black pall hung ever between him
and his better nature.

"Ay," said he, "weep on. Women have always tears for everything; but
they are in vain with me."

He turned away. She heard the door close on him, and covering her face,
she sobbed with an agony that shook every nerve of her slender frame.

"Miss Rochester!--Isbel!"

That soft, gentle voice!--it thrilled to her very soul, and she lifted
her head to see Julian Rothesay bending over her.

"I can bear anything but to see you in such distress," he said. "Surely,
Isbel, I love you too well not to grieve when you grieve."

He sat down by her, and wound his arm about her, and with all the
innocent love of her young, pure heart, she laid her head on his heart,
and the tears she wept were not all sorrowful. There was no language
needed. "Look up, darling, and listen to me," Julian whispered,
presently--"I have something to tell you."

"What is it, Julian?" she asked.

"My name is not Rothesay," he replied. "I am a man who has fled from
prison to escape the law, who has been an exile nine years, for the
brand of murder on his name. I want you to hear my story."

"You need not tell me your story, Julian, till I am your wife."

"God bless you, my own Isbel!" said Julian, pressing a kiss on the sweet
upturned face, "but I cannot take you from a honored to a dishonored
name. I am Julian D'Arcy, the step-son of Marion, so long and still
believed dead, because under the name of Doria I was accused of the
murder of Angelo Egerton's mother."

"Mamma's son, that she loved so! Are you that Julian? Oh, I am so glad.
How could anyone accuse you?" said Isbel, sweeping back the hair from
his forehead, "how could they?"

"Isbel, you must listen to my story now."

"Julian, if an angel told me you were guilty I should not believe it."

"I know that, dear Isbel; but for my own honor's sake you must know it
now."

"Then tell me all, Julian, your honor is to me as my own."

Meekly folding her little hands on her lap, Isbel sat perfectly still to
listen, never interrupting him by any exclamation or remark. What his
story was we must reserve for the present, to tell what more immediately
happened.

When Austin Rochester left the drawing-room he paused for a second, and
then turned into the boudoir and closed the door, with the intention of
writing a last letter to the wife and and daughter he firmly believed
hated him, and never could do anything else. A writing desk was open on
a side table, and the initials on it, M. R., told him it was his wife's.
With the intention of finding writing paper, he lifted the inner lid,
but the first thing that met his eye were the words "Dear Julian," in
her well known hand. For a moment he hesitated, and then muttering
fiercely, "I have a right to know who she addresses so familiarly,"
grasped the letter and read it. It bore date some days before, and
seemed not to have been sent. Here are the lines, simple enough to us:--

"Dear Julian,--I just write these few words in haste to ask you to come
round this evening; and as Isbel is going to Lady Alice's, we shall be
alone to talk of old times.--Yours affectionately, MARION."

Rochester's first impulse was to tear it into a thousand pieces, and
trample it under his feet, but for once controlling passions that were
little used to it, he merely kept it in his hand, though he ground his
teeth and clenched his hands in his fierce passion. He would wait now
and see her, and know of her what that letter meant. So a dreadful half
hour passed; and then at last the step he watched and waited for came up
from the hall, along the gallery, and paused outside. The next moment
the door opened, and the husband and wife, who had not met for eight
years, were confronted.

There was a silence so intense that you could hear it hum and murmur,
and then Marion took a step towards him with outstretched arms, "Austin,
my husband!"

Rochester drew back, and said sternly, "Stand back, and do not touch
me!"

Marion stopped. "Austin, Austin! you told me once that you loved me,"
she said, plaintively.

"You told me once that you loved me!" he answered, fiercely, "and yet I
find this letter," and he flung it at her feet. "Who is Julian?"

Marion staggered back with a sudden sharp cry, and then stood as if a
thunderbolt had fallen at her feet. She saw his meaning; that her
silence must inevitably make an irreparable breach between them. And yet
how could she betray her son? place him in the power of the man whom
bitter experience had taught her was so reckless and unscrupulous? No;
she could suffer for her son, but she could not place him in danger; and
she only bowed her head and wept bitterly.

"Answer me, Mrs. Rochester!" he exclaimed; "for, by heaven, I will know.
I have a right to demand it. Who's this Julian?"

"Her son!" said a deep voice, and Julian's tall figure stood between his
mother and Rochester. "Silence, mother; my safety cannot weigh for a
moment against your fair name, and while I live no man shall dare to
cast the faintest shadow on that. Shame to you, Austin Rochester--shame
to you, that I, her step-son, and the future husband of her child,
should stand here her protector, where you should stand!"

Rochester's passion literally held him silent for a minute, and then he
burst forth.

"Husband of my daughter? No, never! Why has Julian D'Arcy passed for
dead, and really lived in secret, unless you have a crime on your head?"

Julian moved a few steps forward, and said, calmly, "Listen to me, Mr.
Rochester (and neither Marion nor Isbel interrupt me). I throw myself on
your honor not to betray me. You may remember the murder of Lady
Egerton, and the arrest, trial, and conviction of a man named Giulio
Doria for the murder. I was that man. I escaped; for the evidence on the
trial would have blasted my name, even if legally acquitted."

"Why were you in that disguise?" demanded Austin. "I remember the
evidence, and I believed Doria guilty the more for his flight. Why were
you so disguised?"

"There my lips are sealed," said Julian. "But one day my name will be
cleared."

"When it is, you shall have my daughter," said Rochester, with his
cynical sneer--"not before."

"I do not wish it till then," said Rothesay, quietly. "I would not marry
her with a stain on my name."

"It shall never be at all," said Rochester, with a fierce, imperious
gesture. "You shall never call her wife, now nor ever."

Till now, Isbel had stood by the door without speaking; but at the last
words she deliberately and quietly walked across the floor to where
Julian stood, and putting one hand on his arm, locked the other in it.

"To this man, Julian D'Arcy," she said, "I have given my love, and
pledged my hand, knowing him to be under the black imputation of murder
he is guiltless of. To the world his name is blasted, but to me he is
pure; and I will not wait until he is prosperous, and held fair in men's
eyes, to become his wife. I will marry him while he is under this dark
cloud of wrong and danger. I solemnly swear I will marry him now or
never," she said, raising her eyes upward with a strange, steady light
in their blue depths.

"Isbel," exclaimed Julian, trying hurriedly to unclasp her hands, "unsay
your words! It cannot be--it cannot be, till my name is cleared of this
foul stain."

"Julian, I have spoken, and nothing can turn me. I have sworn before
heaven, and dare not, if I would, break so solemn an oath. Take me now
to share your darkened name and lost life, or in this room we part for
ever."

Julian looked for one moment in her face, reading her very soul, then he
drew her to him with his strong sheltering arm, and turned to her
father.

"You have heard her noble words," said Julian; "and I accept the gift as
heaven-sent, for her love is holy. I take her to share my darkened name
and lost life, to be in weal or woe my honored wife, and thus I seal it
in your presence." And bending down he touched his lips to her brow and
lips.

"By heaven, this is too much!" exclaimed Rochester, stamping his foot.
"Unhand my daughter, or----"

With all his wild, ungoverned passions in his black eyes, and clenched,
half-upraised hand, he stepped forward, but his wife threw herself
between them. "Stand back!" she said; "he is my son."

"Ha! do you, too, band with him and that girl against your husband? Hear
me, Julian D'Arcy. Whenever and wherever you attempt to marry my
daughter, I will be there to forbid the marriage."

"You are welcome to do your worst," answered Julian, with a haughty
smile; "it is too late now to claim any right to the child you have so
long deserted. Isbel, leave the room."

She glided away without a word. Then all Rochester's fury burst on the
head of the beautiful woman who now knelt at his feet.

"Oh, Austin, my husband, have mercy!" she cried. "Is it not enough that
you have broken the heart that loves you too well?"

"And do you think to win me back by taking part with this red handed son
of yours----" he was beginning, when Julian interposed.

"When you remember," he said, raising his mother, and throwing his arm
around her, "that she is a woman and your wife, you may see her, but not
till then." And he drew her from the room.

* * * * * * * * *

One soft April morning there was a quiet group in the ancient Gothic
church at the Holy Cross in Falcontower. Before the altar knelt Julian
D'Arcy and Isbel Rochester; near them stood Egerton and Inez and Marion.
And as they were married by Hugh Bertram, secretly, and the marriage of
Julian D'Arcy, of Friar's Lea, and Isbel Rochester was registered in the
huge old vellum, iron clamped book that recorded the marriages of all
the Egertons of Falcontower.

Two days after Austin Rochester read the following announcement:--

"MARRIAGE IN HIGH LIFE.--We have to announce the marriage at St
George's, Hanover Square, of the young and celebrated artist, Julian
Rothesay, to Isbel Nina, only daughter of Austin Rochester, Esq., of
Rochester Court. The fair bride was given away by Sir Angelo Egerton,
M.P., and was attended by two bridesmaids, Miss de Caldara and
Mademoiselle de Castelnau, and the beautiful Mrs. Rochester, mother of
the bride. The breakfast was given at the splendid mansion of Sir Angelo
Egerton. The party was small and select."




CHAPTER XXX.


"Inez," said Egerton, one morning, "how long is it since Walter Surrey
wrote?"

"A long time," she replied.

"It is more than a month, I think," said Margaret.

Inez turned her grave quiet face to Egerton and said in Spanish, "What
is it you fear, Angelo?"

"That he has got into a racing and betting set," was the reply; "for a
long time his letters have been short and to me unsatisfactory. I am
afraid he is getting into trouble, and is ashamed to write."

"Surely, Angelo, brought up as he has been, he would not yield to
temptation," said Inez.

"The temptations are very great," replied Angelo. "It is so easy to say
to a young man 'take my bet for once,' and once done it is so easily
repeated. More than all, it is so very hard to withstand the derisive
sneer and mocking word, and Walter is peculiarly sensitive to ridicule."

Inez's answer was interrupted by the entrance of a servant with letters
that had just come by the post. There were one or two for Margaret and
Inez, and a number for Egerton, but he put all aside for one large
foreign looking one with the postmark of Lyons on it.

"News at last from Robert Harding," said Angelo. There was a short
silence while he read. "Listen," said he, "I will read aloud the letter
from the detective:--

"Sir,--I write, as you see, from Lyons, where most unfortunately at this
moment I am detained, having had the ill fate to be the witness to a
murder, by a young man, who appointed a meeting with a lady who had
declined his hand, and then shot her deliberately, because she had again
refused to marry him. Nothing could be more unfortunate than my
detention now, for I had just discovered positive information of my
chase, and was on the point of sailing in pursuit. This is the
information; he is in Naples, disguised as an Italian, and the companion
of a gang of men who are disaffected toward the Neapolitan Government. I
suspect, nothing less than conspirators. Every hour is of importance;
and if you, sir, could go yourself to Naples, you might prevent him
again slipping through our fingers.--I remain, sir, your obedient
servant, ROBERT HARDING."

"Margaret, will you ring the bell," said Egerton; and when the servant
appeared, he ordered his horse round directly, and then rose.

"Inez," said he, "I am going to see at what hour to-morrow any vessel
leaves Dover for the continent, and take my passage. I shall then settle
some indispensible things, and call, as I return, at Seymour-street, to
ask Marion to let you stay with her during my indefinite absence, for I
don't like leaving you two young girls alone here."

"I am glad Julian and Isbel are still in Germany," said the Castilian;
"it will save them much anxiety, and perhaps disappointment."

Egerton answered "Yes," and went out.

It was late when he returned, and then he went to his library, though he
joined them in the evening in the drawing-room, but there seemed a gloom
upon them, as if all that was to happen before they met again had cast
its shadow on them; the very dog Leon was restless and uneasy, and kept
walking about or coming to Egerton or Inez and whining.

As 10 o'clock struck, Margaret Arundel, thinking that Egerton must have
business directions to give his ward, bade them good night, and retired.

Egerton rose, and leaning lightly against the mantelpiece, said, "Inez,
lay aside 'Montaigne's Essays,' and attend to me."

"Always obedient to your grace's will. I come to know your pleasure,"
said the Spaniard, dropping the book with a faint smile, that died away
directly. "What is it, Angelo?"

"I want to give you one or two directions, as I do not know how long I
may be away," replied Angelo. "I need not, I think, say that I wish no
one to know where or why I am gone. Whatever letters come for me you
must open, and answer to the best of your ability."

"You don't mean your private letters from friends?" said Inez.

"I have no friends to receive such letters from," he replied, "save
Julian--nothing that you might not see in such a case as my absence.
Better that than that they should remain unanswered when perhaps they
need it."

"I will do as you wish, Angelo," said Inez.

"Then to-morrow write to Harding, enclosing him the banknotes you will
find in that little drawer in my desk, and tell him to come home, and to
let you see him when he arrives. Reward him handsomely, as I know you
will, and dismiss him for the present; but tell him it is possible we
may again require his services. For you, I have informed my bankers that
your cheques are to be honored as my own."

"Angelo," said the Castilian, rising up with an almost terrified look in
her face, "you speak and act as if you were never coming back."

"Life is uncertain," said Angelo, "I may die in Italy or be killed."

She turned hastily aside but he saw her chest heave, and a heavy tear
glitter in the dark eye, and fall. There was silence for a few minutes,
and then Egerton stretched out his arm, and drew her to him, and like
some soft music his low, gentle voice broke the stillness.

"Long ago I received you from the priest Alvarez. You were quite a
little child when he put you into my arms, and said, 'Take this child,
and love and guard her as a priceless treasure.' I have done so; to no
one else have I entrusted the treasure given me; my own hand and brain
has trained my little one. You were so like my mother, Inez, that my
heart soon loved the little motherless infant; how much more when her
terrible death bound us two--the man and the child--so close together by
the tie of common suffering and sorrow. I have brought you up entirely;
of me you have learnt; you have been my companion in joy and sorrow, in
trouble or prosperity; together we have travelled; in all and everything
you have been my better angel, round whom every fibre of my nature has
twined like my very life itself. Oh, Inez, life without you were dark
indeed. I have more than kept my pledge. As a treasure, priceless
indeed, I have guarded you, and heaven knows how I love you."

Angelo Egerton turned and opened his arms to clasp the young Inez close
to the heart that had loved her so long and so faithfully. It was long
before either broke the silence, and then, without lifting her head from
his breast, she whispered softly in the touching language of Scripture,
"Whither thou goest I will go; where thou diest will I die, and there
will I be buried."

"My little one--my own darling!" said Egerton. "Ah, Inez, once I thought
that I had lost my child-love, and the years that lay before me seemed a
dreary waste of time."

She nestled closer to him, and the little slender fingers wound
clingingly round his hand; for she knew when and what he meant; but
presently she said, "Strange that while I could read others so well, I
read my own heart so little. Till now I knew not how I loved you. Since
that day in Madrid, that you took me from the priest and called me your
little Spanish olive, it grew in my heart; but till now I knew not how
deeply and closely it had grown with my growth--grown part of my life
and being, and been the motive and secret mainspring of nearly all my
thoughts and feelings and actions."

"Truly, indeed, my gentle Inez," said Egerton, "have you proved the
truth of your motto--'Love conquers all.'" And, bending down, he pressed
a first holy kiss on her lips.




CHAPTER XXXI.


Was Angelo Egerton justified in his fears about Walter Surrey? Look into
his sitting-room one evening about a month or five weeks after Egerton's
secret departure from England, and we shall see whether or no his fears
were well founded.

There at the table sat Julian's ex-pupil, bending over a book which we
have no difficulty in recognising as a private note-book, not a betting
book, it had not come to that yet; but there were some ugly looking
array of figures and entries of bets, and certain ominous bills coming
due shortly, and in the hands of Isaac Fakes, the usurer.

He sat a long time bending over the book with an aching head and
throbbing brow, and worse than all, with an aching heart too, for the
stern dark face of Egerton, or even Julian's gentler countenance, were
not the only ones in his memory; it was a yet softer, gentler one than
either. It was the face and memory of Theresa Stanfeld that was in the
boy's mind and heart, and while that young heart could worship a fine
woman, and feel shame and remorse because he had done, though under sore
temptation, that which she would weep for, or perhaps turn from in
scorn--while he could still feel all this, be so acutely alive to his
folly--it wanted but a slender hand to lift him out, a hand firm and
gentle, as Angelo's was, for all Walter's idea of its extreme severity.

Still his thoughts as he sat there were sad enough; he had on coming to
college been taken especially in hand by a young man of large fortune,
but somewhat wild habits. He was fond of the turf and betting on races,
and it is easy to see how Walter, young, by nature trusting, and
practically inexperienced in the world, was induced by his friend and
his companions to bet, and then in order to clear these debts of honor
to accept the assistance of Isaac Fakes, the money-lender, who pursued
business at Cambridge as well as in London.

Thus it happened and so it was that Isaac Fakes held Walter's bills, due
in three days, for one thousand pounds, and how to meet them he had no
idea.

"Fool! weak fool that I have been!" muttered the young man. "And now,
how shall I clear myself? How could I ever let Trelawney draw me into
this vortex? It is my first hard lesson. Will Fakes renew them again?
and if he will, it is only sinking deeper and deeper; for it must come
at last. Egerton is no lax trustee, and when I come of age must and will
know it."

He rose, and began pacing restlessly too and fro. Every feeling of honor
and delicacy prevented him writing to Julian; for Julian could not
assist him, save out of his own pocket, and naturally Walter shrank from
incurring an obligation where he had no claim, and believing, as he did,
that Rothesay had nothing but his profession. Worse still to ask, or
even allow, Julian to act as mediator between himself and Egerton, for
that would irretrievably sink him in the estimation of both.

Then, again, came the question of how to free himself from the debt
which hung like a load on him, though Trelawney and his companions would
have laughed at the idea of "such a fuss about a paltry thousand
pounds."

Why was it that he so shrank from simply applying to his guardian? It
was partly that he was ashamed to do so, partly that, despite the words
of Mr. Bertram, he unconsciously exaggerated and dreaded Egerton's
sternness and severity on all points where anything jarred on his own
sensitive, chivalrous honor; but there, as we know, he misunderstood
Angelo. Then he shrank, too, from the mere asking for an advance from
Egerton, knowing that being still under age, he could give no security,
and that even if he could, Angelo would not take it.

In the midst of this miserable doubt and uncertainty there came a knock
at the door, and almost before Surrey could say, "Come in," the unknown
entered. It was Isaac Fakes.

"Good evening, Mr. Surrey," he said, in his smooth, half-languid manner;
and do not imagine him a vulgar, dirty looking follow, who bore 'usurer'
on his face; rather imagine a particularly clean, respectable looking
man, with good though large features, and sharp eyes, bright and cold,
and hard at steel. "Good evening, Mr. Surrey. I ask pardon for intruding
on you, but can you spare me a few moments?"

"I can; sit down, Mr. Fakes," returned Walter, in a cold, haughty
manner.

"Thank you--no. I only wished to ask, to express a hope, that you will
not fail to meet the bills due three days hence."

"So far from being ready, I must ask you to renew them," replied Walter.
"I only want five months to my majority."

"I cannot do it, Mr. Surrey," said Fakes, and all the assumed languor
was gone, though he spoke politely, "it isn't because I mistrust your
honor. When I lent you the money on these bills, I did it knowing you
could not legally give them; but I knew you, and knew your honor was my
bond. It is my trade to know my clients. But I assure you"--and for once
the man spoke the truth--"that this money is important to me to complete
a purchase I cannot delay. I am sorry I cannot oblige you, but I must
have the money. Your guardian will surely advance you the money."

A fierce answer was on Walter's lips, but he crushed it, and said,
haughtily, "Keep to your own affairs, Mr. Fakes, and do not meddle with
mine, so that you have your money. Sorry, indeed, am I that I ever was
mad enough to incur the debt; but what is written is written. Those
bills are due on Friday, you say; on Friday I will be with you and close
our accounts. Good evening." And he fairly dismissed the money-lender.

But now his mind was made up--he must write to Egerton, and throw
himself, as it were, on his mercy. There was nothing else to do; or, if
there was, it would but make the reckoning that must come thrice as bad.

Having once decided upon a line of action, he followed it out with
promptitude, and sitting down, he wrote at once to Egerton, telling him
all from beginning to end, not even concealing the reasons why he had
not from the very first applied to his guardian instead of a
money-lender. Once writing, the truthful candour of his nature made him
write everything.

The letter reached the house in St James' Square by the next day's post,
and, according to orders, the old servant Burns immediately sent it on
to his young mistress in Seymour-street.

Mrs. Rochester had gone out shopping, and taken Margaret with her, so
that Inez de Caldara was alone when Walter's letter was given her.

Though Angelo had expressly told her to open all his letters, and though
he had repeated it the morning of his departure, it was always with a
sort of feeling of doing something wrong that she obeyed.

She knew Walter's handwriting at once; she could see that it was a
thicker letter than he had written for a long time, and remembering the
fears Angelo had expressed about him, a less acute mind than hers would
have guessed pretty near the truth, and she did.

What should she do? Angelo had been gone nearly five weeks, but she had
not heard from him, and did not know where he was. Should she simply
return the letter, and say that Egerton was absent; but then, if Walter
had got into trouble, and was asking for advice or assistance, would not
such a reply drive him into the hands of the money-lenders? Would it not
be better to open it according to Angelo's wish, nay, orders, and see
what it really was, and if she could, assist him as much as possible, as
Egerton would have done.

Inez was not one to remain long uncertain in anything, as we have seen,
and though her position was anything but pleasant, she opened the letter
and read it, and glad indeed was she that she had done so when she found
what it contained.

Prompt to think as to act, she at once determined to do what she knew
Egerton would have done--send the money immediately. The first thing was
to get it, and she rang, ordered her horse round, and her old groom
Wilde to attend her, drew a cheque for twelve hundred pounds, and
fearful of being after banking hours, rode at once to the bankers, and
was home again before half-past 4, somewhat warm for a fast ride on a
June afternoon.

Then she wrote to Walter explaining her position. She said that she was
sorry he had so misunderstood Angelo, but she had acted as she knew her
guardian would have done, and would wish her to do. The whole letter was
written with the nicest delicacy and regard for his feelings; and
though, when her kind and most sisterly letter reached Walter Surrey, he
was at first pained and mortified that she should know of his folly, he
could not but be grateful to her for so promptly and yet delicately
assisting him; and he wrote and told her so; and told her, too, that he
had learned a lesson he should never forget. And he kept his word.




CHAPTER XXXII.


Let us return for a brief space to a person whom we have, perhaps, too
long forgotten--our radical friend, Roland Aubrey, the companion and
friend of Arthur Vivian.

Roland Aubrey was one of those unhappily constituted beings who are
always coveting something which, when once possessed, is soon wearied
of, and cast aside. False, passionate, fair spoken, and fickle, he
always envied and coveted a thing or person till he obtained possession;
but once won he was soon sated. Money was the only thing he never
wearied of, and he rarely stopped at anything to obtain it, for he was
as unprincipled as he was false.

When he had first met Inez de Caldara that night, more than a year
before, on which he had given her and Colonel St. John shelter from the
snow-drift, her extreme beauty, young as she was, had made a deeper
impression on him than perhaps anything had in his life before, and the
impression was in no way lessened when he learned from the colonel that
she was the ward of Sir Angelo Egerton, of Falcontower; and though many
long months passed before he again saw her, the memory of her image did
not fade, as others had done. Subsequently in London, during the period
that Inez was at Forest Moor, he had availed himself of the colonel's
invitation and called on him, and it was the latter who had introduced
him to Egerton as the gentleman who had so courteously received himself
and Inez; and Egerton, grateful for any service done to his ward, too
proud also to remain willingly under an obligation, and naturally taking
Louis' introduction as a passport, gave Aubrey an invitation to
Falcontower for Christmas, at the same time that he asked Louis.

Roland accepted it, and again met the young Spaniard, more beautiful
than ever, the more so in his eyes for the rich gold in which the jewel
was set; and Egerton noticed with a secret smile the attentions which
Aubrey paid his ward. When they returned to town, Roland, in attempting
to continue their guest, soon found that Inez at Falcontower and Inez in
London were two very different people. As his hostess, her courtesy had
made her treat him with a patient gentleness and tolerance which his
vanity had construed into receiving his attentions; but in town, where
no tie of hostess to guest bound her, the Castilian treated him with her
usual cold hauteur, and placed a barrier of proud reserve between
herself and him. He was like most fickle, obstinate characters, only
rendered more determined and zealous by opposition, whether tacit or
open; and both from that and vanity, Inez's haughty coldness did not
daunt him; for with the very lowest possible opinion of women, he set it
down to coquettish arts. How very different was his estimate to the high
standard of the chivalrous Egerton.

* * * * * * * * *

One day Marion Rochester was sitting alone in her boudoir, lonely and
sad enough, when the door opened, and Inez came in with her silent step,
but a troubled look on the usually quiet face that instantly alarmed
Marion, who, since her meeting with Austin, had grown more restless and
nervous.

"What is the matter?" she said, hurriedly. "Julian--has my husband-----"

"Hush! No, no, Marion. Look here. What shall I do?"

There was an open letter in her hand, and she gave it to Mrs. Rochester,
with the indignant blood flushing through the pale, clear olive of her
cheek.

"How dare he send me that?" she said.

"My dear child," said Marion, "why it is actually an offer of marriage
from Roland Aubrey. Coolly penned, too, on my word. Well, write
directly, and refuse him."

"But, Marion, I really don't know what to say," said the Castilian, half
laughing, and still half indignant. "I should say something too bitter
and haughty. See how self-satisfied conceit is in every line. The whole
effusion looks as if he had got it from a French novel. I wish you would
answer it for me."

"No," replied Marion; "if I do, he will call here and want to see you."

"I would not see him for worlds," said the girl, energetically.

"Sit down at my desk there and write," said Marion. "Come, Inez, you who
receive and answer Angelo's business letters, must surely know how to
write a refusal to an offer. Tell him you are engaged to Egerton."

"But you know, Marion, that the orthodox way is to be very sorry to
decline the honor, et cetera, and I won't write any such falsehoods; for
I am not sorry, and I consider it rather an insult than an honor."

"Well, then," said Marion, with something of her old merry laugh, "say,
'Sir,--I consider your offer as a dire insult, and desire you to
consider yourself kicked."

Inez laughed outright at this, and taking up a pen in a sort of
desperation, wrote off an answer which Marion read over her shoulder.

"That will do," she said. "You certainly have given him reason to
mutter, 'Haughty as an Infanta.'"

"I mean to do so," replied the Spaniard, as she sealed and directed it.
"If he comes here, Aunt Marion, you must see him, for I will not."

Mrs. Rochester promised, and the letter was sent. To say that Aubrey was
not annoyed would be untrue; but it would be equally untrue to say that
he was seriously daunted; he was nothing of the kind.

"These women," he muttered, with a supercilious smile, "are full of airs
and arts to bring us more humbly to their feet, and this Spanish child
of fifteen is an adept already. Well, she is worth some trouble to win,
for her curious beauty is quite irresistible; moreover, Egerton will of
course dower her richly. So to-morrow I will call on her temporary
guardian, Mrs. Rochester, and ask for an interview with this coquettish
little lady."

The next day Aubrey stepped into his cabriolet, and drove to
Seymour-street. He thought he saw Inez at the drawing-room window, but
when he was shown up only Mrs. Rochester was there. She received him
chillingly, for though she had laughed at Inez's amusing perplexity and
indignation, she was in truth somewhat indignant at his coming after so
very decided a refusal as he had received; but Aubrey, after the first
few words of greeting that politeness required, said, "You seem
surprised to see me today, Mrs. Rochester."

"To say the truth, Mr. Aubrey," returned the lady, in the same cold,
haughty manner, "I am surprised, when I remember the letter which I
presume you must have received from Miss de Caldara."

"I received it, indeed, Mrs. Rochester," he replied, "and I could not
rest till I came to entreat permission to plead my cause in person.
Uncertainty is terrible, suspense is unbearable, and----"

Marion interrupted him, for she saw through him, and there was an almost
unconscious shade of contempt in her tone as she said, "Pardon me, sir,
but permit me to say that when Miss de Caldara gave a refusal she meant
a refusal; and if you require further confirmation, allow me to inform
you that the lady is already engaged, and has been for more than a
month."

"Engaged!" exclaimed Aubrey, starting and rising quickly.

"Ay, engaged to Sir Angelo Egerton," returned Marion, rising also; "and
before long will be his wife."

"Then, madam," said Aubrey, crushing for the time his real rage, "I can
only beg you in my name to express to Miss de Caldara my deep regret for
any pain I may, nay, must, have caused her."

Aubrey bowed low, and took his leave, but with revenge in his heart.




CHAPTER XXXIII.


In her last interview with her husband, Evelina Vivian had told him, and
told him truly, that she was dying. She had never been strong, and from
the time her baby died, she had never rallied. If Arthur had been kind
to her she might have done so, but almost from the first he had treated
her harshly; for a short while after her infant's death, he had been a
little more gentle, but then he had gone away for more than a year, and
when he returned he was as harsh as he had been before. So it had gone
on; he cowed her timid spirit, and ended by breaking her heart.

Eveline was dying now; it was impossible for even her poor grandfather
to blind himself to the fact. From that Christmas day that she had seen
Arthur she sank rapidly, but his name never passed her lips, nor that of
her father either; but she clung more closely to her grandfather and
sister, who was with her too, for Eveline never left her room now, and
was only moved from the bed to a sofa. They asked her once whether she
would not like to go into the country. No, she replied; the only
peaceful hours her life had known had been passed in that dear old
house, and she would die there.

And so she lingered on till summer; she had always said, as a little
girl, that she should die in summer, and she reminded her sister of it
with a smile that had not been on her lips for many a long day.

Death came suddenly at last. It was one evening in June when the rays of
the setting sun were streaming into the room, and on her wasted
white-robed form as it lay on the sofa, which had been wheeled near the
window. They had been very silent for a long time, thinking she slept;
perhaps she had, but if so, she was not asleep now, for presently she
said, quietly, "Look at that setting sun, for my life will set with it.
I shall never see another sun-rise."

Theresa came and knelt by her; the old man bent over her, but neither
uttered a word. She spoke again after a time.

"When I am dead, lay me in my baby's grave, in the little churchyard at
Forest Moor. Ah! Essie."

"What, Evie?" said her sister.

"If it had lived Arthur might have loved me," she replied; "but God's
will be done."

"God is a merciful God, my child," whispered the old man.

"Oh, grandfather, but I have not kept His commandments; for I made me
human idols, and fell down and worshipped them."

"And in His love, my darling, He took one to Himself, and broke the
other idol. Whom God loves He chastens."

"He has chastened me heavily," she said, "very heavily; but it has
brought me nearer to Him. 'God be merciful to me, a sinner!' Dear Essie,
don't cry so dreadfully; promise me you'll never leave grandfather."

"Never, never--I promise," said Theresa, forcing back her tears.

"Thank you. Grandfather, give me your hand; yours, too, Essie."

She sank back, clasping their hands, and lay very silent and quiet, for
a long time so calm and peaceful that it was long before they knew that
she was dead:--

'They had thought her dying when she slept,

And sleeping when she died.'




CHAPTER XXXIV.


The Highlanders never forget a service nor an injury, and in the latter
quality Roland Aubrey resembled them, though he had but little of the
former--not that he deliberately and on calculation forgot a service or
a friend, but it was that he was too fickle long to retain any
impression, save a very strong one; and that meanness and falseness of
disposition made him dislike the hand that had done him good service,
and hate the person to whom all good feeling and generosity bound him to
show gratitude. In fine, he was a type of a very large portion of the
world. You had only to do him a kindness or service to make an enemy of
him. One person only had he any feeling for that had survived a first
acquaintance, and that person was Arthur Vivian; nor was it so strange
as it might at first appear; for independent of the mutual dissipations
and wild life that had in part bound them together, there was a
fascination about Arthur, in his manners, in his strange wild beauty and
talents--ay, and in his very atheism and devilry of character, the more
so, for the rare and strange flashes of something better--something of
remorseful memory of his innocent childhood, that was like soft and
far-off music heard through mist and darkness.

The soul which, however dark and evil, can be touched by music, and the
sight of a little child, is never utterly lost. The spirit that can feel
remorse is never beyond hope.

Perhaps it was these powers of fascination, so fatal to their possessor,
which made the usually fickle Roland Aubrey hold to Arthur Vivian, even
as an exile and fugitive; though even then the selfish calculation of
the man showed forth; for he argued that if he befriended Vivian now his
talents might be useful to him one day. That was in part the idea that
had crossed him when he first assisted Vivian in escaping after the
attempted murder of Inez; and ever since he had continued the same line
of conduct, always being aware of some central point by which to keep up
a communication. And now the time had come when Roland intended to reap
the fruit of the seed he had sown, and put Vivian's talents and extreme
beauty to some purpose. Behold the rejected and vindictive suitor of
Inez--the rival on whom the haughty Egerton had not even deigned to shut
his doors, seated now in an apartment in an hotel in Naples; while
opposite to him, lying on a couch, is the elegant form of Arthur Vivian,
one beautiful hand supporting his head, and half-hidden amidst the curly
masses of his burnished hair, the other idly toying with a small
dice-box.

"So," Aubrey was saying, "you have managed to escape the clever
detective whom Egerton sent after you?"

"Yes, I have," replied Vivian; "though he was a sharp fellow, and gave
me much trouble. He was so near me once as to follow me home from a
casino. I gave the knave the slip, though," he added, with a reckless
laugh. "But I have escaped a greater, and more imminent danger."

"What--who?" asked Aubrey.

"From Sir Angelo Egerton himself," was the reply.

"Egerton himself!" exclaimed Aubrey. "What do you mean?"

Vivian lifted his head, fixed his brilliant, almost gleaming black eyes
on Roland's face, and said, "We have known each other long; and false
and fickle as you are in most things, you have never been so to me, and
I don't think you will be so. Can I trust you?"

"You can, Arthur Vivian," replied Aubrey; "and, by heaven, if it is
anything that will place Egerton in my power, you may count on me to the
death. I would give anything for revenge on him and Inez de Caldara."

"Ha! would you?" exclaimed Vivian, starting up. "Then, indeed, there's a
strong bond between us--the bond of mutual hatred. Why do you hate them
so bitterly?"

"Rather, why do you, Arthur?" enquired Aubrey.

"It is an old score," he replied; "is it not enough that they are
hunting me to death? that this man has himself come in pursuit, and, but
for a most lucky chance, must have had me now?"

"Arthur, you are speaking in enigmas," said Aubrey; "what do you mean?"

"Tell me first your reason for hating these two," said Vivian.

"It is simple," was the reply. "You know how I first met the senorita;
you know her extraordinary beauty."

"And," said the other, "that she is the ward, almost daughter and
heiress to Egerton. She had golden charms."

"Daughter!--ward!" exclaimed Aubrey passionately; "his wife, you mean,
unless we can stop it."

"You needn't tell me any more," said Vivian, with the cold, icy sneer
most habitual to the beautiful mouth. "I see what your reasons are now."

"Seeing it, then, make common cause with me," said Aubrey.

"Stay," said Vivian; "is your motive mere revenge, or do you think you
have still a chance if you can make a split between her and Egerton?"

"Are you a believer in woman's faith?" sneered Roland.

"By the Lord Harry!" returned Vivian with a laugh, "my wife was so
faithful that she wanted to come abroad with me."

"Ay, your wife; but this is different," said Aubrey. "By the way, your
wife is----"

"Well, what?" said Vivian; "he had sunk back again, but he raised his
head, and spoke impatiently.

"She is very ill," replied Aubrey; "she is dying."

"She told me that at Christmas," said Vivian.

"It was true," said Aubrey. "I arrived here to-day; and the day before I
left England I saw in the Times the announcement of her death."

Vivian's face changed, and he turned it aside, murmuring, "Poor Eveline!
poor little Evie! I wish my last word to her had been a kinder one,
though I never cared for her." For some moments he was silent; and when
he turned his face again, there was no trace of the momentary softness
that had thrown real beauty into the handsome features. "What is
written, is written," he said in his usual hard, half-reckless,
half-sneering way; "that is another page of my life turned over."

"Begin the new leaf, then, by telling me of this Egerton," said his
companion; "how and where you saw him."

"Listen, then," said Vivian. "I trust you because your interest is mine,
and to betray me would be to betray your interest. I won't weary you
with details; it is enough that when I fled here from Lyons, where I
last escaped my pursuer, I joined, the better for concealment,
half-a-dozen men, who were conspirators against their government--this
of Naples. We met in a deserted and half-ruined villa out of the city,
with plenty of secret escapes, and one too from the police. We used to
go masked and in slouched hats, and heavy black cloaks. About five or
six weeks ago we appointed a meeting, for one of us, Alfieri, was going
to introduce a new member, a Spaniard, he said, by name Alava, who had
for many years been an exile in Naples on account of his Carlist
politics. Well, we all met, and Alfieri brought this Don Carlos de
Alava, a very tall, steady man, so closely masked and disguised in his
Spanish hat and mantilla, that nothing of him was visible, save his
coal-black hair, and even his eyes were shadowed under his hat. Still,
there was something about his figure, about the bearing of the whole
man, that wasn't utterly strange to me, though too undefined to connect
the impression with any particular person. It was some time before he
spoke, and then it was to address me in the most courteous manner and in
the purest Tuscan, though it was without the slightest sign of
recognition. But the moment I heard the voice I knew my danger. Angelo
Egerton is not a man to be once seen and heard and forgotten; my memory,
too, is very tenacious, and I had heard him speak in the House eleven
years ago, and when he was in Italy five or six years ago with his ward,
though he didn't see me. You, who have known him personally, must have
noticed how peculiarly beautiful his voice is, so soft, and deep, and
musical, and though so low, heard so distinctly----"

"'Like music on the waters,'" quoted Aubrey. "Yes, I noticed it. His
ward's is just the same. I don't wonder at your recognising it again,
but what did you do? You spoke of knowing your danger. I should have
said his, for he was one to six, not to say seven."

"Six what?--six Neapolitans!" said Arthur, with strong contempt. "You
have only to look at him to see that his strength is gigantic, slight as
he is; besides, he was armed, and I was pretty sure that Alfieri was in
his pay. My position, I tell you, was anything but pleasant, but just as
I had made the discovery the door was burst open and the room was filled
with police, and every mother's son of them was arrested, save your
humble servant, who managed to escape through the secret way and reach
the city."

"You were mad to come here," said Aubrey.

"No," replied Vivian; "I had been disguised, hair and all; besides,
Naples itself is the very last place they will look for me in. I took
care that an anonymous letter reached the authorities, warning them that
the Spanish prisoner would try to make himself out an Englishman, and
attempt to appeal to the ambassador. The six others were executed, I
believe, and if Egerton is still alive, he will have at least a six
months' trial of a Neapolitan dungeon."

"Arthur, this is too bad," said Aubrey. "A man of such mark--an
ex-minister----"

"And your rival," interposed the other, with his devilish sneer.
"Roland, you are a fool. Chance puts into your hands the very man you
hate, and you would fling it away. Let him lie there. They won't dare to
put him to death, lest what he says should turn out to be true."

"Ah, and then if I could make her believe him faithless to her," said
Aubrey, "she would in pique marry the first person who offered."

"I tell you, Roland, it must be a cursedly well put together story that
will deceive her," said Vivian. "Though barely sixteen, she knows too
much of the world to believe any mere newspaper report."

"But--if--" said Aubrey, slowly, "it were no report, but announced as a
certainty amongst the marriages in the papers as having taken place in
Italy, and if I could return and swear that I had seen the marriage and
register, then I think no woman's faith could stand that."

"Speak out, man! What are you driving at?" demanded Vivian, rising to
his feet.

"That I will come down handsomely, and fit you out for the game, if you
will do the thing," said Aubrey. "I do not mean any rascally mock
marriage. I would not sacrifice any girl's name for my scheme."

"What, when I'm just rid of one wife, you want me to saddle myself with
another! Thank you for nothing," said Vivian, with a sardonic curl of
his chiselled lip.

"Listen to me, Arthur," said Aubrey. "You can marry a wife without being
bored with her. Leave her when you like. I can name a lady whom we met a
year ago in Bologna, when you first escaped from Forest Moor--I mean
that pretty creature you were so taken with, Genevra della Scala."

"She was very lovely, and I have never forgotten her. A sweet creature,
too," said Vivian, with that momentary softening of his face. "I would
marry her if I could get her to take me."

"Come here," said Aubrey, drawing him to a tall Venetian mirror. "What
do you see there?"

"Myself," said Vivian. "Why?"

"Look, then, on that handsome form and face, and say whether she will
refuse you?" said Aubrey.

"Roland--Roland!" said Vivian, with a passionate force that was
startling from him, "when my mother died, she left me the fatal gift of
her beauty. Oh, that fatal beauty!"

"Vivian--Arthur!" exclaimed Aubrey.

"Ay--you think I was born with a devil in me," said Vivian, "and perhaps
I was. But I tell you there are times when I am almost maddened by the
memory of my childhood, when I stood an innocent child at my mother's
knee, and listened to her gentle teachings. I believed in a God and an
eternity then," he said, with a look of such dark, wild remorse in his
lurid eyes that Roland almost recoiled.

Vivian turned away, and for some minutes there was silence.

"Will you do it, Vivian?" said Aubrey, breaking a silence that was
oppressive to him.

"Yes," replied Vivian. "I don't mind such a pretty wife for a time. How
is it to be done?"

"She is a Veronese," said Aubrey. "She is the ward of a distant
relative, an old lady, who will be glad to be rid of her charge and her
money. They live at a small town some ten miles from Verona. We will go
there and introduce ourselves--myself in my own name, you as Sir Angelo
Egerton; only, mind, the marriage must take place this day month. And
the day that sees Inez pledged to me shall see you the owner of five
thousand pounds."

"Done!" said Vivian.

"Then I'll go at once and see about our instant departure," said Aubrey.

Vivian looked after him, and as the door closed on him, he muttered,
with a bitter sneer, "I wish no better revenge on that cursed dark faced
girl than to see her Aubrey's wife. Curse them all!"




CHAPTER XXXV.


Austin Rochester had parted from his injured wife in fierce passion and
anger that had not been improved by the almost immediate marriage of his
daughter to her son--her work, he knew, in utter defiance of his
commands.

But he was weary of his lonely, dreary weight of misery and sorrow; and
ere June was many days old, he determined to return to her, if he could
bear it; for all the bitter memories of his lost and wasted life rose
between him and his second wife.

He had taken up his residence in apartments; and from thence he wrote to
her that he was himself going to live, at any rate for a time, at
Rochester Court, and that he wished her to join him there.

When this arbitrary letter reached Marion, she was in her room with
Inez, dressing for the opera, having dismissed her maid, Nelly Warren,
in order that she and Inez might talk more freely.

The first impulse of the loving, suffering wife was passionate joy; her
second was very different.

"Oh, Inez!" she cried, "my son--my Julian; he will part me from him. He
will never let us meet; and Julian will not be home till next week, and
I fear their meeting. I know Austin so well; his passions are so fearful
and ungoverned--and yet--oh, child, if he would love me, I could die
happy!"

"Dear Marion," said Inez, "do not let your love for even Julian stand
between you and your husband."

"I will go to him now, at once," said Marion. "Take off this dress! Take
these jewels from my hair!"

She was almost tearing them out, when Inez's hand arrested her.

"Marion," said she, "be calm, Dear Marion, try and be calm."

"Calm!" said Marion. "Have I not been calm all these years? I am not
like you, child. I haven't got your iron nerves; and I haven't had your
iron training. I have been more nervous, too, since I met him that day
when Julian interfered between us."

The Castilian said nothing, but wrapped a shawl about her and opened the
door. "Come," she said, "the carriage is ready, and Wylde will drive
you; and, Marion, remember, do not let Margaret and me stand in the way
of his return."

She saw Mrs. Rochester into the carriage, and saw it drive off, and then
re-entered the house.

Meanwhile, Austin Rochester sat waiting for an answer to his imperative
letter. He did not hear a carriage stop, nor steps enter the house; but
he heard them ascend the staircase and pause outside, and, as the door
opened, he turned sharply to once more confront the beautiful woman
whose happiness he had wrecked.

"You here!" he said, drawing back with a dark frown. "Do you answer
letters in person at this hour?"

"To my husband, yes," she answered, steadily; "if you wrote at midnight
I should come."

"Give me your answer then, madam, and leave me," said Austin.

"Austin, hear me!" said Marion; "When Angelo Egerton went away, he left
his ward and her friend in my charge. Inez cannot leave town; and I have
no one to whom I can commit them, until Julian--my son--returns, a week
or a fortnight hence. Listen still, Austin. I have things in London that
I must arrange before I can leave; my house for one, I cannot leave in
two days."

"So," said he, with an impetuous gesture, "these girls are to prevent
you from obeying my commands; and for the other, this Egerton----"

"Oh, Austin, hush, and listen to me!" said his wife. "I do not refuse.
Heaven knows I could not refuse you my very life's blood; but what need
to wait or go straight to the north? Return with me now--come with
me--to me; is not my home your home--all I have yours too?"

"Mine!" he said, shaking off her entreating hand; "mine, aye, as my soul
is. I cannot touch it. Leave me. Go and do this Egerton's bidding. You
need not come to me in the north. Go!"

"I will not go--I will not leave you!" she said, still preserving the
same gentle, steady manner. "I am your wedded wife, and I have borne
your desertion too long. I will not be cast from you, as if I were
unworthy to bear your name. It is killing me; I cannot bear it. Oh,
Austin, return with me; it is only till Isbel comes home, and then I
will follow you where you will."

He glanced in her face, hesitated, and then said abruptly, "I will come
to-morrow; it is useless to plead more. I give you my pledge to return
to you to-morrow."

She bent down, kissed his hand, and went away without a word. Somehow he
could not forgot that silent kiss.

The same summer moon that shone on him, shone on Inez de Caldara. There
she sat by the window of the boudoir, whither she had stolen to be
alone. Alone she sat, the slight form bending a little forward; the
young face drooping, the dark eyes fixed on the ground, one little hand
dreamily pushing round a diamond ring on her finger, which flashed and
glittered in the moonlight like a star. It was a ring Angelo had placed
on her finger the morning of his departure; that was six or seven weeks
ago, and she had not had a line from him--not the faintest rumor even of
him. Look at that young face; it has the same look it had when she
returned from Forest Moor; the anxious lines have returned to the quiet,
sad brow, and the whole face has the old stern gravity and weariness of
expression in every settled line. She suffers in silence and alone.

She sat without moving the whole time of Mrs. Rochester's absence, till
the opening of the door made her lift her face and then rise up quickly
as she saw Marion; and her voice, soft and musical as usual, betrayed no
emotion when she spoke.

"Dear Marion, is he with you?" she asked. "You look brighter than you
have for many a long day."

"Darling, I wish I could see you so," returned Marion. "I am happier,
for my husband will return to me to-morrow. Listen, and I will tell you;
and then we must go to Margaret. Oh, child! oh, child! how can I win my
husband's love?"

The over-strained tension of the nerves gave way; and suddenly, hiding
her face on Inez's breast, Marion wept bitterly.




CHAPTER XXXVI.


The evening before the day on which Julian and his young wife were
expected to arrive was a wild stormy evening, one of those that are so
often in summer followed by a fine day.

Marion Rochester and Inez were deep in a game of chess, and Margaret
Arundel was sitting near, apparently watching the game, but in truth
perhaps dreaming of one far away across the mournful, misty Atlantic.
Rochester was seated at a little distance, reading the evening paper,
and now and then coming round to glance over the game, though he rarely
spoke save to utter something bitter or cynical; for he treated his wife
with cold and distant politeness, and her guests the same--with perfect
courtesy, but no more. Of Inez's engagement to Angelo he knew nothing,
that was only known to Julian and Isbel Rothesay, Marion, and Margaret.

"Marion," said Rochester, suddenly, "I think I heard you say yesterday
to Miss de Caldara that you wished you had some news of Egerton. Here is
news. Listen, 'We learn by the mails just arrived from the continent
that a few days ago was celebrated, at the church of Saneta Maria, in
Bologna, the marriage of the celebrated Sir Angelo Rothesay Egerton, of
Falcontower Castle, to the Signora Genevra della Scala, an Italian lady
of birth and great beauty.'"

"It is impossible!" exclaimed his wife and Margaret, but no word passed
Inez's lips. She rose quite calmly, though with a colorless face, walked
round to Rochester, and taking the paper from him, read the paragraph
herself.

"It is false--utterly, basely false!" she said. "It is impossible that
it can be true."

There was no passion in her manner--no quiver of the lip, but there was
a depth and intensity in her low steady voice which perhaps only Marion
and Margaret thoroughly felt and understood.

Austin looked at her for a moment; then said, "And why is it impossible
that it can be true? What is more likely than for a rich and handsome
Englishman to marry a beautiful Italian?"

"Why?"--and now Inez's proud face flushed darkly for a moment--"because,
Mr. Rochester, I am Angelo Egerton's betrothed wife."

"Still, senora, that hardly affects the possibility or likelihood of
this statement," said Austin, with a covert sneer, that the cynicism of
his nature could not repress.

"Do you judge all men by your own proved standard of faith?" was the
bitter taunt which rose to the Spaniard's lips, but she crushed it down,
for Marion's sake, and said in a voice resolutely calm, "You, at least,
should know Egerton better than that. Well enough to believe in his
honor, if not his faith."

"I! I believe in nothing," he said, with his sardonic smile. "Poor
child! You will find the anchor of faith you lean on a vain shadow."

"I shall find it a firm rock, on which to rest my life," she answered,
coolly resuming her place at the chessboard. "I do not expect you to
disbelieve the statement, but leave me to my faith in Egerton. Come,
Marion, let us finish our game."

Truly 'Perfect love casteth out fear.' Her love and faith in Angelo were
as perfect as his was in her.

Thus far Roland Aubrey's scheme had utterly failed.

* * * * * * * * * *

I was restless that night, says Margaret Arundel, in her memoirs. I did
not then know why; but looking back, I know now.

It was a very stormy night, but the moon broke out now and then between
the clouds, and shone brightly. Inez's room was next to mine, and a
small private door communicated with it. I heard her say good night to
Mr. and Mrs. Rochester on the staircase, and then enter her room, but I
did not hear her moving about at all, as if she was undressing. I got
into bed, but I couldn't rest or sleep, for my thoughts would wander to
her alone there, and then far, far away. I could not read my own heart
then, but that night she made me know it.

I heard 1 o'clock, then 2 strike, but still sleep would not come--the
storm had passed and left the sky clear and fair, and at last rising I
wrapped a morning gown round me, and very softly opened the door leading
into Inez's room. It was three hours nearly since we had come up stairs,
but there she sat on the floor by the window, dressed, her raven hair
falling about her; her dark, beautiful face uplifted, and her hand
clasping to her breast that jewelled cross I knew so well. I stopped a
moment spell-bound, then crossed the chamber, and sat down on a low
chair by her.

"Inez," I said, gently touching her.

She drew a deep, shivering breath, and turned her face to me.

"Margaret," she whispered, "if he is dead I shall not live long."

"Inez, Inez," said I, "don't talk like that--don't talk so, child. It is
wrong."

"Wrong," she repeated, almost mechanically--"wrong!--why?"

"Isn't it wrong," said I, "to bind up one's very life in that of any
human being?"

"I don't know," she replied; "I can't help it. Oh, Margaret, I could
bear anything better than this sickening suspense and uncertainty."

Her haughty pride and self-command gave way; and, laying her head on my
lap, she wept such tears as I have never before seen a woman weep, and
never since. She wept as men, not women, weep; but I was glad to see
her, for well I knew that if she knew or believed Egerton really dead,
she would have been still, and calm, and tearless, and so have withered
away like a blighted flower, and died.

She recovered herself in a few moments, but she did not lift her head,
and I bent down, and whispered, "He isn't dead, Inez; he can't be. You
look too readily at the dark side of things; isn't it much more likely
that he is in disguise in some way that makes it impossible for him to
write?"

She made no answer, and to rouse her I added, "It is strange about that
notice in the paper. It is more than a mere report."

"Margaret, you don't believe it?" she said.

"No, Inez," I replied, "you don't, and so I don't. Besides, it is
impossible."

"I should think so," she said, dryly.

"But still, Inez," said I, "I should like to know what it really means."

"I know it can't be Angelo," she replied, "and so I don't care to know
anything about it, or who it is."

Oh, that child's faith! it was sublime--it was grand!

"Inez," said I, "suppose that some one told you they had seen the
marriage. Suppose Julian Rothesay--or--or--Colonel St. John."

I could not help that foolish hesitation.

She lifted her dark eyes, and fixed them on me, with that look of hers
that Vivian had quailed beneath and which now brought the color to my
cheeks, and read my very heart better than I did myself. "I should think
them strangely mistaken."

"Perhaps," she said, with a half smile, "that Angelo might have a
double, but no more that."

"Inez," I said, "I think, in your place, and in that case, my faith
would fail."

"Wait till you are tried," she said.

Again the tell-tale color rushed into my face so warmly that I raised my
hand to hide it.

She rose up suddenly, and wound her arms about me, drawing my head upon
her breast. I burst into tears; I couldn't help it; I was weak and
unnerved.

"Oh, Inez," I cried, "you will despise me; you must think me so weak, so
foolish and wrong."

"I knew it long ago, my dear Margaret," whispered the soft musical voice
I had never loved so well as now, "and nothing can make me think badly
of my Margaret. Can we help giving our affections? They are beyond
control. Did I not love Angelo even as a child in his arms, ay, long
before I knew I was anything to him but his ward?"

Surely that child was sent as a blessing to all she came in contact
with.

For a long time we were silent, and then I said, "Hope and trust, Inez
darling. Now come to bed, and have as much hope as you have faith."

She smiled sadly, and shook her head, but we went to bed, and I soon
slept. I don't think she did, for the next day she looked very weary and
anxious; though when I reminded her that she was to go and meet Julian
Rothesay and Isbel at London Bridge, her face brightened. I think, next
to Angelo, Julian has the first place in her heart, and knowing what I
do now, I don't wonder at it.

Looking over the notes from which I write these memoirs, I find that
some few things which followed have been by me somewhat passingly put
down.

Julian Rothesay and Isbel took Mrs. Rochester's Seymour-street house off
her hands, and then she went with her husband to Rochester Court; but he
did not meet either Isbel or her husband, and Mrs. Rochester saw them at
the hotel they were at till she left town. When she went, Inez and I
remained with the Rothesays, and I was glad of it, for Julian had more
influence over Inez than anyone, save Egerton, and he made her sit to
him for the portrait, he said, smiling, of "Inez, Lady Egerton."

I remember one day we were all out riding in the park, when Isbel
exclaimed, "Inez, there is Roland Aubrey riding this way."

The next moment he came up, affected to hesitate, and then, with a low
bow to us, addressed my Spanish friend very coolly, considering what had
passed.

"Pardon me, senora, for the liberty I am taking," said he, "but you are
aware of the marriage of Sir Angelo Egerton in Bologna?"

"A mere newspaper report," she answered, with a haughty carelessness.

"Pardon, again, senora," said he; "I saw the marriage myself."

"Then Mr. Aubrey must have been strangely mistaken to imagine any
stranger Sir Angelo Egerton," said Inez, with bitter sarcasm, "When that
gentleman himself informs me of his marriage I will believe it, not
before. Your scheme, sir, is 'Love's labor Lost.'"

With an ironical bow and smile she turned from him and we rode on.

"That man is at the bottom of the report," she said to Rothesay; "his
whole scheme is as plain as day, Julian."

"His opinion of a woman's truth must be very poor," returned Julian,
smiling. "He has over-reached himself. I would as soon believe Isbel
here false, as Angelo."




CHAPTER XXXVII.


Austin Rochester treated his wife with the most cold and distant
politeness that was consistent with the commonest courtesy of a
gentleman, a course that cut her more deeply, and placed a more
effectual barrier between them, than any harshness could have done, for
she began to both fear him, to long for his presence, and yet to dread
it; and when he came he found her timid and nervous to a degree that
grew at last, cut off as she was now from all who loved her, to actual
agony. Sorrow had done its work, and her nervous system was not what it
had been ten years before.

If Marion Rochester had met Austin's pride with pride, coldness with
coldness, and cynicism with bitterness--if she had set herself, as some
would have done, systematically to oppose his wishes and commands, to
resist him in everything, she would have made his home a continual scene
of discord, and brought upon her head untold misery.

But it was the nature of Austin's gentle wife to act the very opposite
to all this. Such an idea as disputing anything he commanded or wished
never entered her head. She never met him, when she did see him, with a
frown or cloud on her face; nervous or timid she often was now in his
presence, but though it sometimes annoyed him--the more that he knew it
was his work--it was impossible that he could for ever in heart utterly
resist the influence of her unvarying sweetness and gentleness. It was
touching to watch her if he spoke to her with something less of his cold
distance; how every feature suddenly lighted up, yet how the tear
started to her eye and her lip quivered; how, when he paced gloomily up
and down the room, as he often did, her eyes would follow him; and, oh,
how her heart ached for him, how she longed to throw herself at his feet
and entreat him not to repulse her--to love her, to let her love him!
Let her love him! Alas for her! Long since had the heart he crushed as
ruthlessly as his own been given to him.

He long struggled against it; but there was something about Marion
which, despite himself, touched at last the naturally generous and noble
nature which lay beneath the evil--a sort of clinging gentleness which,
to a man like himself, could not fail to arouse everything soft and good
in him. He felt his dislike to her melting, though, alas! not his belief
in the impossibility of her love. Often of a night as she slept he would
bend over her and gently draw back the sunny tresses from her fair face;
once, and once only, he bent lower still, and softly kissed her brow;
she moved slightly, and smiling, murmured a name in her sleep; his heart
beat wildly--it was the name of Austin that his wife uttered; but then
he turned away with a low, bitter laugh.

"No, it is impossible," said he; "she must, she does hate me. It is
impossible for any one to love me."

A darker, deeper shadow fell on him. He was no longer indifferent to the
wife whom years before it had cost him such agony to wed.

* * * * * * * * * * *

One day late in the autumn, just as the sun was sinking behind the hills
which lay to the west, Marion drove out quite alone in her little park
phaeton. It was a lovely evening, but Marion, absorbed in her own
thoughts, did not heed it, and the ponies wandered on, and stopped under
some trees to crop the grass. For a long time she sat there, till the
sun had sunk and the gloaming begun to fall, and then the chilliness
roused her from her dreams of the past, and she gathered up the reins to
return; but as she did so a man stepped from amongst the trees and laid
his hand on the reins--a man we know, though she did not--more haggard
and wild-looking now than when we last saw him, but Stephen Stanfeld
still.

"Are you Mr. Rochester's wife?" he said, roughly.

"I am," replied Marion, boldly, though her heart sank within her. "Let
go those horses."

"Not yet, lady," said he. "You are handsomer than your predecessor, and
I must have a few words with you."

"Not one," said Marion; and bold with the desperation of terror, she
sprang to the ground to fly, flinging away the heavy whip, which, in her
place, Inez would have laid across him with no weak hand.

With one stride Stanfeld was at her side, and had grasped her hand; but
in that moment a tall figure stood between them.

"Villain! you have killed my first wife, and insult the second!" And
with all his fierce passion and hatred concentrated in that one blow,
Austin Rochester felled Stanfeld to the ground.

Marion remembered no more. The first thing she knew again was a dreamy
consciousness of being in a lighted room, and hearing voices.

"Nelly, she has lain like this a long time," said the voice of Austin,
in low tones. "I wish she would move."

"There is nothing to fear, indeed, sir," replied Nelly. "Her hands are
warmer. Leave her to me, now, awhile."

He made no answer; and went away with a slow, sad step. It was sometime
longer before Marion could speak.

"Nell," she said, faintly.

"Here I am, my darling mistress. How do you feel?" said the girl,
bending over her.

Mrs. Rochester raised herself, and glanced at the clock. It was past 10.

"As late as that?" she said, passing her hand over her eyes. "Nelly, I
have been weaker of late, or I should not have fainted so long, I know.
Where is my husband!"

"In the library, ma'am," replied the girl. "There is a fire there."

"Alone--all alone!" murmured Marion; then aloud, "You may go to bed,
Nelly. I shall not want you to-night."

Nelly Warren retired, and then Marion opened the door, and descended the
staircase.

Meanwhile, Rochester had gone to the library, where a bright little fire
burned, with a small sofa placed beside it. He sat down on it, and,
resting his head on his hand, fixed his eyes on the fire, more lonely,
more desolate, more broken-hearted than when he had stood alone and
deserted that heavy day years ago, when his first wife died. All the
sad, bitter memories of the past had been aroused by that brief meeting
with Stanfeld. All his sorrows were raked up and laid bare again; he
felt that the crisis of his fate had come at last. He could no longer
disguise it from himself that he loved his gentle and deeply injured
wife, whom he could not believe loved him. Yet he felt that after what
had passed, little though that seemed, he could not go on with her as he
had done; he must speak to her, yet his pride, his every feeling rose
when he though of her answer--that is, what he believed it would be. He
little imagined how near she was while he sat there, his very heart
burning with agony.

Marion paused a moment outside the door, fearing to enter, and fearing
to meet one of those cold stern looks, so forbidding, so repelling to
her. Yet he was alone--he was unhappy, and who should go to him if not
she, his wife? She opened the door quietly, and trembling entered. His
head was bowed on his hand, and his whole form drooping. Woman's love
triumphed over fear and nervous timidity, and she sprang forward--to his
feet.

"Oh, Austin, do not send me away. Indeed I could not rest while you were
alone and sad here."

He started and looked up. "Send you away?" he repeated slowly; "send you
away, Marion? No; it is well you have come, I have much to say to you.
You have heard part, and all must come now."

He rose and paced up and down, striving to recover the self-command
which for a moment he had lost. It was but for a moment, then he said
calmly and steadily, "Marion, listen to me. You as yet know little of my
past life. It is sad, but for once I will tell all. I do not fear to lay
all bare to your gentle innocence. Once, years ago, I heard you tell my
daughter that you pitied me, it nearly maddened me then; but now, I say,
be lenient to the evil and wrong you will see, and pity them--if you
can."

She longed to throw herself in his arms, and tell him how she loved him,
but something in his eye held her silent and nerveless.

Rochester leaned against the mantelpiece, and went on. He went over that
portion of his history with which the reader is already acquainted, and
continued, "I went from Eton to college. I could not bear myself; and to
drown thought, I plunged wildly into dissipation. My father died when I
was barely nineteen, leaving me, deep in debt, with a thousand pounds. I
left England at once, secretly, and went abroad, not leaving any trace
even to my brother Wilmot; only Egerton, under an oath of secrecy, knew
of my retreat."

Austin paused before he went on, but not quite so steadily or calmly as
before.

"No matter how I lived abroad--let that pass. I met an English gentleman
there, a Mr. Earnscliffe, who had a daughter Mina, a beautiful creature.
Marion, I loved her--oh, how I loved that girl!--I worshipped, idolised
her. But at first I did not speak, for she had some fortune, and I had
none--at first, I say, for I had not known them long, when I heard that
the bank in which Earnscliffe's fortune was had failed. Well, there is
no need to linger here. I spoke then, and was accepted. Marion, I
believed that she loved me as I did her----"

He stopped abruptly--his lips were white, but after a minute or two he
continued.

"We were married soon, for her father hurried it on, though a year
afterwards I knew that she had only married me in pique. It seems
strange to tell you all this, but I, who had so loved my wife, soon
found that I had been deceived, and by her. Fool, madman that I was, to
imagine that any human creature could care for me! She did not; she
hated and detested me as the rest had done, and she soon showed it, but
I loved her better than I had ever done. One day I asked her what made
her so unhappy, and entreated her to tell me--she did then. With
passionate tears and sobs she told me how she hated me; and she had
loved--how she did still love, one who, before I knew her, had won her
heart--it was Stephen Stanfeld, then in the prime of his life. She told
me how he had deserted her, as she rightly supposed, because of some
rumor about her property. Then I came, and how, in wounded love and
pique, she had wedded me. I gave her no word of reproach for her cruel
deception, but I grew more stern and bitter after that.

"A year passed away, and Mina was within a very short time of her
confinement. I knew she could not survive it; there was no need to tell
me that, as they did; for had I not ever since that fatal explanation
seen her, month after month, drooping, drooping slowly into her grave.

"We were then at Geneva, and one day I went out and was absent some
time, and it was therefore late when I returned home. As I approached
the drawing-room, I heard my wife's voice in entreaty, and then a man's
voice answered in fierce tones. I dashed open the door, and stood face
to face with my rival. She, my wife, was crouching at his feet, and he
stood gazing on her with the face of a demon. It was well I had no
weapon in my hand, or I should have killed him. She must have read in my
face what was in me, for she threw herself, with a wild cry, between us.
I remember putting her aside and demanding of him what he did there. He
stood there--in my house--and insolently told me that he had watched and
waited for this time to perfect his revenge; that he had come to upbraid
her for her faithlessness to him; and this when he had a wife in
England, which he had left for his fiendish revenge. I did not wait to
hear his black villainy to the end. I remember stepping forwards and
hurling him with a strength such as I have never possessed save then,
right through the open window on to the lawn without, and Mina, with a
shriek that I never heard before, and never can again, fell senseless in
my arms.

"Oh, why did I recall that fatal day!" said Rochester, covering his face
with a bitter agony that he could not control.

There was a dead silence for a moment. Marion sat bending forwards, her
lips apart, her eyes fixed on her husband's, spell bound; she could not
move or speak. Austin dropped his hands, his face was ashy white, but he
went on.

"I carried her up stairs to her room, and sent for a physician; they
recovered her from her swoon, but not to her senses. She awoke a raving
maniac, and from her ravings I learnt all that had been left untold, all
the love she had borne him, and how fiendishly he had repaid it. That
night she gave birth to twins. She never saw another sun; she died that
night.

"Marion, one child was born mad, and it was his work--his only. It died
in a few months, leaving me Isbel, who, like her mother, hated me. I
left the place with the child, wanderers in a strange land. But that
child--how I loved it! I idolised it. The rest you know--no, not all
yet. I have more to tell you; but the story of my life is ended. I have
lived forty years, and in that time I have gone through more sorrows
than most men have in twice that number of years. Perhaps they should
have softened me, but they did not; you saw how the very sight of that
man roused all the demon in me. Marion, you know now to what and who you
are wedded; you saw why all hate me."

Marion had listened till now without moving, with every nerve strung too
high even for tears; but when he stopped, she rose, hesitated a second,
and then she threw her arms round his neck, and laying her head on his
breast, said, touchingly, "Oh, Austin! not all. I love you, my husband."

The simple words, the tender action went to Rochester's very heart, and
he clasped his wife passionately to him, and for a moment held her
close, close to him, as if no power should ever take her from him. It
was only for a moment; the thought flashed across him, "She mistakes
pity for love;" and he put her back.

"No, Marion," he said; "you mistake your own feelings; I should have
told you long ago. A woman loves but once, and your love is buried."

Marion bowed her head, and for the first time wept. She saw now the
shadows that had been upon her married life.

"Oh, Austin! Austin!" she said, "Cyril was never anything but a second
father to me. I have never loved but once."

"Stay, Marion," said Austin. "Do you know that I married you for the
basest of motives--money--yet for my Isbel, too, to make a home for her.
Oh! what it cost me! I hated you then. I do so no longer. Your
gentleness and sweetness under all my harshness and desertion have won
me even against my will."

"And yet you will not believe me," she interrupted, passionately. "Oh!
Austin, if you repulse me again, I shall die! I, who have loved you so
long!"

"I do believe you, my darling, my beloved wife!" said Austin. And, as he
clasped her close to his heart, the tears she wept on his breast were
tears of joy. There was no alloy in them.




CHAPTER XXXVIII.


And what of the faithful, enduring, long-suffering Inez--a child almost
in years, a woman in sorrows--oh, how many dreary years of silent sorrow
she had lived in those short five months, since Egerton went away! She
never said anything; she read and wrote, and went on with all the
occupations she had been used to, and was so quiet and grave, as she had
always been, that even Margaret and Isbel thought her more hopeful; but
Julian, who knew her so well, read her tearless calmness better, and he
saw that the child's heart was breaking.

"Inez, my dear child," he said, one afternoon, when they were alone,
"you make me very anxious about you; you are killing yourself."

"'The sooner it is over, the sooner to sleep,'" said Inez, bowing her
face on his shoulder.

"My dear child," said Julian, passing his arm round her, and speaking in
his tender, gentle way, "do I not suffer too? Have I not enough to bear
without the fear of losing you too?"

He knew well how to reach her heart; the slight tinge of reproach,
gentle as it was, touched her to the quick.

"Oh, Julian, forgive me!" said Inez. "I can't help it. I don't mean to
grieve you."

"But you do," said Julian. "How do you think I must feel when I see you
almost dying, drooping day by day before my eyes? It is dreadful to
bear."

She was silent; but he felt her slight form quiver in every nerve, and
presently he said, "Rouse yourself, my little sister. Surely if I can
hope, you can do so too? Should we not trust in God, and bow to the
stroke of Heaven?"

"I can't bend before the blast and rise again," said Inez, almost
passionately. "I must bow to the storm--and die!"

"And is not that defying Heaven, my darling Inez?"

"Oh, Julian! Death is all I ask!--all I pray for."

"You speak so, child!" said Julian, energetically. "You who have faced
death in the terrible form of midnight murder? You, who even now bear on
your breast the proof of how frightfully near sudden death you once
were, call the grave all you ask and pray for! Inez, do you forget that
after death is eternity? Will all your high love and noble faith for
Angelo purchase you a passport to Heaven? Rather have you not loved a
human idol instead, and so worshipped it that He who said, 'I am the
Lord thy God, thou shalt have none other gods but me,' has, in his great
love, chastened you? Child, pray for life, not for the death you so
impiously ask for, or the grave into which you are so madly hurrying."

She had raised her face with a startled, frightened look; but now she
hid it against him, weeping bitterly, almost convulsively, "Oh, Julian!
Julian! spare me! have mercy!"

He kissed her brow, and gently soothed her; and, when she grew calmer,
whispered words of hope till he won from her lips a faint smile, and a
whispered "Dear Julian, if it were possible to do so, I love you better
than ever I did before. I will never again be so impiously wicked as I
have been."

"Are you angry with me?" said Julian.

"Ah! no, Julian," she replied; "rather am I grateful to you." And she
bowed her head, and kissed his hand.




CHAPTER XXXIX.


"Letters," said Julian, coming in towards the middle of the next day
with several in his hand; "one for you, Miss Arundel; here Isbel, are
two; and for you, Inez," throwing several into her lap, "a lot of
business letters; one, I dare swear, from some muff of a constituent,
asking for an appointment."

"Constituents seem to think that members are made of appointments," said
Inez. "What is your letter, Julian?"

"From my--from Marion Rochester," said the artist, remembering
Margaret's presence just in time.

There was a silence while he read, and then he put the letter in his
wife's hand, with three words in Italian, which made Inez rise quickly,
and read it over Isbel's shoulder; no rudeness in any of them to
Margaret, who was occupied with her own letter.

Marion's letter contained briefly the tale of her happiness, and an
earnest entreaty from herself and Austin for Julian and Isbel to come
down as soon as they could. None of the three so deeply interested in
her fate spoke; and, indeed, before they could do so, the door opened,
and a servant appeared.

"Miss de Caldara," he said, "your servant Burns is here, and desires to
see you directly."

The Castilian rose calmly, but with a face so white that Julian followed
her out; and laying his hand on her shoulder to stay her, said to the
servant, "Where is Burns?"

"In the breakfast-room, sir," was the reply.

"Very well," said Julian. "Inez," he added, in French, "I will go into
the next room. If you want me, knock at the wall." She bent her head,
and glided away.

In the breakfast-room was Burns, but with such a look of agitation,
alarm, and perplexity in his face that for a moment Inez's very heart
stood still, and it required all her strong will to speak as calmly as
she did. "What has happened, Burns? Tell me the worst at once."

"Oh, Miss Inez, I hope you'll excuse me. I can't understand what has
happened, but you must come back with me."

"What has happened?" she repeated, resting her hand heavily on a table
near her.

Startled by her stern tone and manner, the old man spoke more quietly.

"This morning, Miss Inez," said he, "not long ago, a fly stopped at the
door just as I was crossing the hall. A very pretty foreign-looking lady
got out, and, in rather broken English, asked if the Signor Angelo
Egerton had arrived yet--whether he was at home? 'No, ma'am,' says I;
'but you can see his ward, Miss de Caldara, who manages everything;' and
I showed her into the morning-room, and followed her to question her,
for you see how she might have been a swindler, or something bad. So I
told her very politely that I should be obliged to her for her name, in
order to send for you. Then she up and said, very agitated like, 'Send
for this signora directly, then, for I am ill, and tell her I am Lady
Egerton, Sir Angelo's wife.' 'Ma'am, that's impossible,' says I, flatly.
Oh, Miss Inez," he exclaimed, "how ghastly you look! Is what she says
true?"

"Hush!" said the Spaniard, touching him. "No, my faithful Burns, it is a
mistake; but keep your own counsel. You have, I see, brought a carriage.
I will join you directly."

She left the room, and for some ten minutes Burns was alone; then she
returned dressed, and he followed her.

Julian Rothesay stood at the carriage door; he handed her in, sprang in
himself, and bade Burns drive fast, and the noble grays did their part
so well that in a very short time they reached St. James' Square.

"Now, Burn's," said Inez, "I will go up to the library, and you show
this lady up to me there."

She and Julian ascended the staircase; he went into her own boudoir, and
she entered the library, which was opposite.

The door opened, and a lady closely veiled entered. It was a strange and
trying position for Inez--she herself all but Egerton's wife, and
confronting a woman who claimed that position--but even then her natural
self-control did not fail her; but before she could speak the stranger
threw back her veil, disclosing, to Inez's utter surprise, the soft,
Madonna-like face of Genevra della Scala.

"Surely we have met before," exclaimed the Italian in her own language;
"there is something in your face that I remember. Oh, signora! tell me,
in mercy, where my husband, Angelo Egerton, is."

"Signora," said the Castilian, gently, and in the same tongue, "you are
the victim of some strange mistake. Sir Angelo Egerton is unmarried;
and, moreover, he never saw you in his life."

"Never saw me!" repeated the Italian, passionately. "You stand there so
calmly and tell me that! Listen, signora. He came to Bologna, and on the
strength of a former acquaintance in travelling he came to my aunt's
house; he won my heart, and last June we were married. He was kind at
first, but more than a month ago he left me suddenly. I pass over my
despair. I had money and jewels, and when days became weeks, and he did
not return, I became convinced that he had deserted me, and returned to
England."

She paused a moment, and then went on in a more agitated manner.

"I determined to claim and vindicate my rights for the sake of my unborn
child, and I came to England, and straight on to your city of London;
for I remembered his saying that his house was here--at your great
station near the river."

"London Bridge," said Inez.

"Ah, yes!" said the Italian. "Well, there I asked the Inspector, as they
called him, and asked him how I could find the address of a person in
London, for I thought he must know. He was very kind, seeing that I was
a foreigner, and alone, and he asked me who I wanted. I told him the
Signor Angelo Egerton, and he asked me if I meant Sir Angelo Egerton,
the member of Parliament? I said 'Yes, it must, be the same;' and then
he took me into an office and looked in a huge large book which he
called a Directory, and then put me and all I had in a carriage, and
told the coachman to drive the lady to Sir Angelo Egerton's, St. James's
Square."

She had spoken so rapidly and incoherently, half in broken English, half
in Italian, and that not the pure Tuscan which Inez spoke, and was so
agitated, that it required all the Castilian's attention to follow her;
and when the unfortunate lady ended with a passionate burst of tears,
Inez for a moment hardly knew what to say or do, for she had as much
dislike to 'a scene' as any man ever had. She hesitated only a moment,
and then she bent over Genevra, and soothed her as only a woman can,
till she grew more calm, and then Inez spoke.

"Your story is a sad one; you have been cruelly deceived and forsaken,
but not by Angelo Egerton. Look at this, and say whether your husband
was like it."

There was several photographs on the mantelpiece; she opened it and held
it out.

"This is Angelo Egerton, signora," said Inez. "Does that face look like
the face of a man who could be false to all faith and honor?"

"No, no. Oh! Holy Mother! have pity on me!" cried the Italian. "This man
has deep sad gray eyes, and hair as black as yours; and my husband had
black eyes and beautiful strange-looking golden hair, dark, but
burnished."

Inez started, and turned ghastly white, and for a moment everything
seemed black darkness--black with the utter sense of misery that had
fallen on her in that moment. The whole truth flashed across her--ay,
worse than the truth. Arthur Vivian had discovered Egerton's pursuit,
murdered him, and taken his name to deceive the poor girl, who was
another victim of his reckless villainy! But she was too proud to let a
stranger see her agony; and stern self-command had so completely grown a
second nature, that in a moment she recovered her calmness. "Listen,"
she said. "Should you know a picture of him?"

"Yes--ah, yes, signora," she replied.

"Here is one," said Inez, taking from the mantelpiece a photograph of
the portrait. "Is this your husband?"

Genevra took it, and gazed at it with dilating eyes and quivering lips;
then she threw it from her, and clasped her hands on her brow.

"It is! it is! Who and what is he? and what am I?"

Inez took both her hands in her own. "Look at me," she said, quietly and
firmly, "and tell me, Genevra, were you married openly and fairly in the
Romish Church, and by a priest. Be calm, for you injure yourself by such
agitation. Now, tell me."

"It was in the Church of Our Lady that we were married," she replied;
"openly and fairly, according to the Catholic rites, for he belonged to
our Church."

"To your Church--he is an Atheist; but you are his wedded wife," said
Inez.

"His name?" she asked. "Tell me his name, and all you know of him."

"Is it for me to blacken a husband to his wife?" said the Spaniard,
recoiling. "Enough that his name is Arthur Vivian, and that I know no
good of him. He has been a bitter enemy to me and mine."

"I am alone and forlorn--a stranger to your land; but this house is no
place for his wife," said the Italian, rising.

"Genevra!" said Inez.

She turned--threw her arms round Inez, clinging to her almost like a
child to its mother; laid her head against her, and wept as only the
broken-hearted weep.

Gently and tenderly Inez soothed the poor Italian, and then bidding her
wait a moment, and she would bring an old acquaintance, she left the
room.

Nearly ten minutes elapsed, and then Inez returned with Julian Rothesay.




CHAPTER XL.


Julian Rothesay and Inez had very readily decided what to do with
Genevra Vivian, as we must now call her. As she expressed her
determination to remain in England, they decided to place her in
apartments suitable to her means, which the disposal of her valuable
jewels would make comfortable. Inez happened to know a very worthy
couple, whom she had once befriended--old tradesmen of Sir Angelo's--who
had lodgings to let, and there she placed the unfortunate Italian,
engaging a sister of Mrs. Slater as her personal attendant.

Inez had a most painful and distressing scene to go through with
Genevra; for before they left Slater's house, Julian drew her aside, and
told her that she must at once tell Mrs. Vivian that her husband was
under an accusation of murder. "She had better hear it gently," he very
truly said, "than suddenly, as she certainly would whenever Arthur was
taken, and that might come any day;" and Inez could not but think him
right, and she did tell the unfortunate wife as gently as possible, and
although she bore it better than she had feared, Inez told Julian that
it had been the most trying scene she had ever gone through.

The next day Julian and his young wife left for the North, and in the
evening Lady Alice came to fetch Margaret to spend the evening with her.
She wanted Inez to go too, but Inez said she must go over to St James'
Square, as she had an appointment with Egerton's solicitor, Mr. Seymour,
on business relating to Falcontower.

The truth was that the poor child was worn out and ill; constant wearing
sorrow and sickening anxiety had begun at last to tell upon her, and she
shrunk from anything like society; so she was glad when she found
herself once more seated in the old library, with Leon at her feet, and
the grand paintings of the old masters looking down from the walls on
her.

Mr. Seymour came soon after her arrival, but the business he had to
transact was soon done, and then she was alone again. Alone, for a long
time so buried in painful, anxious thought that she did not even hear a
carriage stop, followed by a knock at the door, and then voices
speaking; then the door opened, and a tall dark figure entered, so
silently that she did not hear any footfall, but it was rather that
indefinite impression that some one was present which made her rise
quickly and turn.

"Angelo!"

"Inez, my little one, my darling!"

She was folded in his arms, close, close to his breast, in a clasp no
human power could have loosed, and in that moment all the suffering and
sorrow they had gone through was forgotten, save as a dark dream that
was past.

He did not speak, he could not, till at last he held her off to gaze
into the face he so deeply loved.

"Inez, Inez, how this dear face has changed--how ill and worn it looks!"

"Ah, Angelo, the strongest flower will wither when the hand that
cherished it is gone," said Inez, touchingly.

He half smiled, and sat down in the seat she had left, and Inez knelt at
his feet and laid her head against him, as she had done when a child,
winding her slender fingers round his hand with the old, tender,
clinging action.

"Angelo, you too are changed; this grave brow has more lines, and this
raven hair more gray than it had five months ago."

"Look at neither now, my little one," said Egerton, gently, drawing her
head down on his breast again, and tenderly smoothing her dark tresses.
"My journey has been a fruitless and very nearly a fatal one. Let it be
forgotten. A page in my life obliterated."

"It cannot be, Angelo. A page once read can never be forgotten, and it
is one I have not yet read. Ah, Angelo, it has been such a dark dream!"

"Poor child, poor little one! I have learned from Burns all that has
happened here, and I know what you have suffered."

He did not even ask her if she had believed in his marriage, though the
proofs of it had been so great as to have made it almost pardonable to
do so. But she understood him, and pressed her lips to his hand, while a
bright tear glittered in her eye and fell; but presently she said, "You
cannot know everything, for the worst only Julian and I know. Angelo,
read me your page, and I will tell you mine."

"It is shortly told, Inez; it is a rough chain that has bound us, if
possible, closer together."

Then he told her how he had discovered Vivian, by passing him one night
in the company of one Alfieri; how he had then, disguised as a Spaniard,
Carlos de Alava, got hold of Alfieri, and bribed him to introduce him
amongst the conspirators, pledging himself not to betray them, and then
how, at the very moment when Arthur seemed in his power, he was made a
prisoner by the police, with all but Vivian.

"He managed to escape," said Egerton. "They say the devil takes care of
his own. He had not recognised me till I spoke, but I saw him start
slightly when I did so. Well, I was of course thrown into prison, and I
tell you, Inez, I can understand now, by bitter experience, what the
Bastille, Chatelet, or Chateau d'Eu were. I had no trial--I was brought
before no tribunal, and when I stated that I was no Spaniard or
conspirator, but an Englishman, and a subject of the Queen's, with a
right of appeal to the English ambassador, they disbelieved me. I did
not give my name, because I did not, and do not wish, or intend it to be
known, what had passed. They told me that they had received notice that
the Spaniard would try and pass for an Inglese. That shaft came from
Vivian, I am sure. It is true my darkness and somewhat Spanish
appearance told against me, for these foreigners think that all English
people are fair. Still, I could see that they so far thought it possible
that my statement of being an Englishman of rank might be true, that
they did not venture to execute me as they did the rest, but contented
themselves with keeping me a prisoner. I offered my jailor bribes to
convey a letter to our ambassador, but he said he dared not for his life
do it. My child, those five months of captivity have been years of
misery. But God was gracious, and I escaped at last. Some new governor
or commandant came, who made me pay a heavy fine or bribe, and quietly
released me. Oh, Inez, no one can thoroughly love freedom who has not
endured captivity."

She nestled closer to him, and whispered gently, "'Let the dead past
bury its dead.' Let that dark page be forgotten, save as another link
between us."

The strong man bowed his head, and tears fell on her upturned face. He
had never loved her so well as then, for the sorrow they had just gone
through had bound them, as he had said, yet closer--if that were
possible.




CHAPTER XLI.


There was plenty for Egerton to do. He had, as he said, smiling, his
constituents to address and appease for his long absence, and various
other business matters to attend to. Of course, the night before, Inez
had told him all that had taken place in his absence, and the first
thing he did the next morning was to write to Julian a few lines to ask
him and his wife, and Rochester, and Marion, to go over to Falcontower
the next day. Inez would be there to receive them, and he himself would
join them from Cambridge the evening of the day after. Any one who did
not know the man, to have read the letter would have thought him the
coldest possible person, who did not care for Julian at all. The next
thing was to drive round to Seymour-street, and, after remaining a short
while with Inez and Margaret, who warmly and affectionately welcomed
him, he went with Inez to see Genevra Vivian, who had been so cruelly
deceived by his name. It was a courtesy which his high chivalry
instinctively gave to an unfortunate lady, who had, however unwittingly
on his part, been injured through and in his name.

Meanwhile Margaret was to get all ready for hers and Inez's immediate
departure for the North, under the escort of old Wylde and the
Castilian's maid, a respectable and matronly woman, who had for many
years been her attendant. So they went down to Falcontower Castle,
leaving Angelo to join them there.

The next morning Julian, Isbel, and the Rochesters arrived at the
castle, and for the first time Austin Rochester crossed the threshhold
of the first and only man who had ever befriended him.

The night that Egerton was expected was a fine frosty moonlight night,
and Julian and Austin walked down to the station to meet him.

"We are only a little too early," remarked the latter, as they passed
through on to the platform. "He comes from Cambridge, doesn't he,
Julian?"

"Yes; Inez, you know, told us that he had to see his constituents."

"Ah, of course," said Rochester. "By the way, did you see a canard in
this morning's paper about him?"

"No, what was it, Rochester?"

"Only that in announcing the return of 'the young statesman, Sir Angelo
Egerton,' they were pleased to assign a reason for his long absence
during the session, which reason, they said, was 'a secret political
mission abroad.'"

Julian laughed, and said, "They'll contradict it again to-morrow, when
they find in his speech at Cambridge that 'urgent and most strictly
private family affairs which had required his departure at a moment's
notice, had been the cause of his unavoidable absence;' and he is such a
favorite that they will accept his excuse, which is the true one, after
all. So," he added, laughing, "they call him a young statesman, do they?
He is eight and thirty, and he took his first seat in Parliament when he
was twenty-one. He is a statesman of seventeen years' standing."

Austin sighed, for those seventeen years he had worse than wasted.

"Look, Austin, the train is coming in."

"Is he in it, I wonder?" said Rochester.

The train stopped as he spoke, and several people got out. The tall form
of Egerton was conspicuous amongst them, and Julian stepped forwards,
and the silent iron clasp of their hands spoke more of the deep strong
love between them than language could have done. Neither spoke, but
Julian linked his arm in Egerton's, and passed out to where Austin stood
apart awaiting them.

"Here is some one you knew long ago," said Julian, stopping.

"Has Angelo Egerton forgotten Austin Rochester?" asked Austin.

"No," was the reply, and Egerton held out the same friendly hand that
years ago had been tendered in vain. "No, Austin Rochester, I have never
forgotten you. Welcome to Falcontower--thrice welcome home."

He paused for no reply, and they walked on to the castle.

* * * * * * * * *

That night, in the same gloomy old library where, nearly a year before,
the stern proud man had wept bitter tears of agony for the loss of his
child-love, and the friend of his youth had whispered "Hope! thy
child-love lives for thee!" in that ancient room the same two friends
sat alone long after all else were sleeping.

"There is a fate against me and a doom upon me," said Julian. "All our
attempts to take this black villain have failed."

"Not all, Julian," said Angelo, gently; "you forget the portrait. I am
as convinced as that I am sitting here that that portrait, and it alone,
will be the means of Vivian's discovery. Dear Julian, you have not been
upheld for ten years to fall at last."

"Angelo, you are right. It cannot be that God will uphold injustice."

There was a silence, and then Egerton said, "There is a thing I want to
speak to you about, and that is dear Marion and her husband. His estates
are mortgaged to that Fakes we know too well, and Rochester literally
has only two hundred a year he can call his own; it will never do,
Julian, for the present state of things to last, the money coming from
his wife; it must inevitably end in more misery, perhaps a second
separation."

"I have thought of it, Angelo, but deferred acting until your return,"
said Julian, "Have you any plan? You know in all these years I have
spent so little of my income that it has accumulated in your care to
enough to do more than release his estate, and who has so good a right
as I--his wife's son?"

"I have," replied Egerton, "and I claim the right to halve it with you,
Julian; for if Marion is your mother, she is my dear sister; and
moreover, there is a tie between Austin and me which would make him
almost sooner take a service from me than you."

Julian smiled, and said, "As you will, Angelo. What is the amount of the
mortgage that rascal Fakes holds?"

"Twenty thousand pounds at the least," he replied. "My plan is simply to
go to Fakes with the money in my hand, and buy the mortgage deeds of
him, and burn them in Rochester's presence."

"Will he let us do it?" asked Julian.

"He can't help himself, if we will do it. The deeds once in my hands, he
can't compel me to return them to Fakes; nor can he make you and me
receive money of him if we don't choose. I tell you plainly it is more
for dear Marion's sake than his, though it is a great deal for himself,
too, for I like him in spite of his faults. I think I had better manage
it as I suggest with Fakes."

"Certainly," said Julian; "besides, you must draw my ten thousand
pounds."

"Ay, ay, I have always placed it with separate bankers in my own name. I
will write tomorrow to Seymour, sending him the cheques and necessary
instructions to pay Fakes the mortgages, and make you and me mortgagees
instead."

The fourth night from that the mortgage deeds came, and in the presence
of Austin and his wife and daughter, and Julian, Egerton told Austin
what they were and flung them on the fire, and when Rochester
remonstrated and would fain have refused the gift, Julian bowed his head
on Marion's hand and answered, "It is my gift to my mother. Let it
rest."

Egerton turned his noble face to Rochester, and touching his wife said,
"She is my sister Marion, and through her son she has suffered for my
mother's death. Let me make to her and her husband some reparation; let
me have the pleasure of seeing her happy in knowing that the inheritance
of his fathers belongs to her husband and his children."

How could Rochester refuse a gift which was made to appear an obligation
to the givers, and given throughout with such thoughtful delicacy?

Ten days after the papers had the following announcement, prefixed, of
course, by the invariable 'Marriage in High Life':--

"We have to announce the marriage of the Conservative leader in the
Lower House, Sir Angelo Rothesay Egerton, of Falcontower, M.P. for
Cambridge University, to Inez Jesuita Maria de Caldara, a young Spanish
lady, who has long been the ward of the right honorable member. We
understand that the fair bride is the only child of the late Count de
Caldara, and third cousin to Sir Angelo Egerton through his mother, the
late Lady Egerton. The marriage was performed in the beautiful chapel of
the castle by the Rev. Hugh Bertram, rector of Falcontower, and in the
presence of a solid number of friends, amongst whom were the famous
artist, Mr. Rothesay (who gave away the bride), Mr. and Mrs. Rochester,
of Rochester Court, Lady Alice St. John, Mr. and Mrs. Courtenay, and her
father, Monsieur de Castelnau, &c., &c."

So Inez de Caldara became Lady Egerton; so the child and maiden became
that sacred and holy thing, a wife.




CHAPTER XLII.


"Lady Alice, it is close upon 8, and time you came to dress for Lady
Egerton's."

So spoke Alice St. John's maid, who, having been with her some twenty
years, was a privileged person.

"Has Miss Arabella gone up yet, Mary?"

"Yes, ma'am, and so must you,"

Lady Alice rose, but at that moment a carriage of some sort dashed up to
the door, and was followed by a knock at the door, which made the mother
start, and say tremblingly, "Mary, that is my son's knock; I am sure it
is my son's knock."

"The colonel, ma'am? it can't be."

"Go, go, Mary, and see."

Mary hurried down stair. Lady Alice heard his well known voice; his step
bounded up the staircase, the door was pushed open, and Alice St. John
was clasped in her son's arms.

"My darling mother, how nice it is to see your sweet face again!"

"My darling son, how nice it is to see your dear face again!"

And then she turned him to the light, and put her hands on his
shoulders, and gazed into his eyes, as if she were reading his very
soul. They never dropped, but met hers with his old bright, joyous
smile.

"Dear mother," he said, kissing her forehead, "I read your look, and
your mother's heart may rest."

"My noble boy--my brave son--are you sure, can you trust yourself
entirely?"

"Mother, entirely--most perfectly. She is to me once again the child I
have known so long, and at the same time Egerton's wife. You were going
somewhere, mother, I can tell by a a hundred little things; was it
there?"

"Yes, I was, dear Louis; it is a select musical party, but we will stay
at home."

"No, mother, I will go with you," said Louis, quietly and steadily; "the
sooner I meet her the better, and I had rather meet her in her husband's
home and in her husband's presence, than away from either."

"You are right, my son; we will go. Tell me first how it is we have you
to-night, instead of three days hence, as your letter said?"

"We had a quick passage over," he replied; "and I hurried on here on
purpose to surprise you."

The entrance of his cousin Arabella interrupted him, and Lady Alice went
to dress, for though she would rather have had her son at home that
evening, she thought it better that he should meet Inez at once.

"One thing let me say, Louis," whispered his mother, as they drove off,
"treat her with your former intimacy; call her Inez, not Lady Egerton."

"Surely, dear mother, that must depend upon how she meets me."

"Not entirely, Louis. But as you will."

"How comes it they are still in town, mother?"

"Still, Louis! Sir Angelo has been away from May till last September,
nearly two months ago, and then they were in the north, for the marriage
took place directly, and they only came up for the proroguing of
Parliament. I suppose he wished to show there, as he had been away
before."

"I heard one of my travelling companions say today," observed St. John,
"that the present ministry cannot survive next February, as they would
probably be defeated on their budget, or even on the Queen's speech."

"Ah, well," said Lady Alice, as the carriage stopped, "I don't
understand these things, but I hope Egerton and his party will come into
office again."

Inez had not long risen from the piano, and was sitting near the door,
talking to Austin Rochester and his daughter, Mrs. Rothesay; and,
indeed, had just remarked how late Lady Alice was, when the names of
"Colonel, Lady Alice and Miss St. John," being announced caught her ear,
and made her look up in surprise and pleasure.

"Colonel Louis!" she exclaimed, holding out her hand; and in her frank,
cordial action, and in her voice and manner, there was no shade of
embarrassment, nothing but the old friendly familiarity of her
childhood; "how glad I am to see you!"

And Egerton, stepping forward, grasped his hand with the simple and
expressive welcome--"Louis, old friend! welcome back to England and
home."

Quietly and keenly Lady Alice watched her son's face; but if for a
moment he had felt any embarrassment, neither his face nor his manner
showed it; and perfectly reassured, she sat down by lady Egerton, and
saw him introduced to Rochester, and then move on to speak to Margaret
Arundel and several other old acquaintances; nor did even her mother's
heart feel any anxiety when, later in the evening, she heard him ask
Inez to sing a song that he had been fond of when she was a child--no,
for she was Inez Egerton; and the magic and holy name of wife had made
his honorable nature crush in a year a love which, but for that, might
perhaps have been long before it could be vanquished.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Four months have passed--the 'black winds of March' swept drearily
through the early spring air, and changes have taken place in both the
public and private affairs of this history. Whoever Colonel St. John's
travelling companion was his prediction had come true, for the ministry
then in office had alienated their own friends, and when Parliament met
in February they were defeated on the Royal Speech, and not venturing to
dissolve, they were obliged to resign, and once more the Conservatives
came into power, and now again Angelo was in the cabinet. So much for
public changes; now pass from Downing-street or Westminster Palace to
that handsome West-end shop; there is a carriage before the door with
the armorial bearings of Egerton on it; but enter the house and pass up
stairs into a quiet room out of reach of the noise and bustle of the
vast city below it.

There is a matronly woman at work by the window, but on a couch near the
fire lies the form of Arthur Vivian's Italian wife--a soft, bright smile
on her sweet face as her eyes rest on an infant who is lying on her
breast, while leaning against the mantelpiece is the tall slight form of
Lady Egerton, but there is a shadow on the dark beautiful face as her
calm, watchful eyes also rest on the child, and mark that he has his
father's golden hair and black eyes, and will, one day, have his fatal
beauty. The mother is thinking the same, too, for presently she looks up
and says in her own tongue, "Inez, he is so like Arthur, I wish----" She
paused, something was on her mind that it seemed painful to say.

"What is it, Genevra?"

"Oh, Inez, he didn't do it! You told me he was only accused--he didn't
do it!"

"Genevra, do not ask me. If I were to tell you all I know and all I have
done, you would never again look on my face, but would turn from me with
hatred and loathing."

"From you!" said Genevra, almost passionately, and with characteristic
impetuosity. "Never! Nothing could make me do anything but love you with
the deepest gratitude--nothing you could tell me could alter that."

"Nothing?" said Inez. "Well, as you will, Genevra--you may try the test.
Look at my hair, here and there it has gray amongst it, and for ten
years it has been there; you have yourself wondered to see how in my
teens I am so grave and passionless, so prematurely old, in plain terms.
I was so from six years old, and what think you changed my childhood
into sorrow and years that time had not added, what, but the death of
the only mother I had ever known? More, because I witnessed her
murder--I saw him escaping, and it is my evidence almost entirely that
will convict Vivian. It is I who, after years of patient watching,
discovered him, and found means of obtaining proofs against him; my lips
will, so to say, sign his death warrant. Not for vengeance did I act,
but because another man suffered, ay, suffers still, for his crime--a
man who can only be cleared by Vivian's conviction. Now, Genevra, can
you truly repeat your words?"

Genevra's answer was to clasp Inez's hand, and press her lips to it.

"Inez, bitter as it is to me, you have only acted for the ends of
justice, and nothing can undo the debt of gratitude I owe to you."




CHAPTER XLIII.


Amongst the crowd ascending the steps of the National Gallery one fine
morning towards the end of March was our old friend, Colonel St. John.
As he entered the first room, he at once perceived a figure which he
recognised as that of old Mr. Bertram, of Falcontower, whom he had met
at the Egertons'; and the colonel walked up to and addressed him.

The rector turned quickly, paused a moment, and then with a smile of
recognition, held out his hand.

"Colonel St. John, how glad I am to see you," he said, cordially. "I was
coming to call on you to-morrow."

"I hold you to your intention, Mr. Bertram," said the colonel, "you must
come to dinner. Are you living in town?" he added.

"No, I am only here for a short while on some private business," was the
reply. "I am staying with my old friend, Sir Angelo Egerton; and this
morning I determined to spend here, as it is some years since I have
been to see the gallery."

"Indeed!" said the colonel, "then you have not seen that magnificent
picture of Rothesay's, 'Tekel.'"

"No," he replied. "I have heard of it, and I am most anxious to see it.
Which room is it in?"

"Further on," said the colonel. "Shall we move on?"

"If you please," said Mr. Bertram.

They moved forward through several rooms till the colonel stopped. "Now,
turn," he said, "here it hangs."

The portrait was striking enough to startle any one coming so suddenly
upon it, but even that hardly accounted for the start which the rector
gave, and the deathly pallor which for a moment overspread his face, and
he stood bending forwards looking on it with an intensity in his
strained gaze which did not escape the colonel, though he naturally
enough set it down to the effect of the picture, and presently he said,
in a low voice, "Is it not horribly beautiful? One need hardly to be
told that it has some strange history belonging to it."

Hugh Bertram turned to him, and said in a voice resolutely calm and
suppressed, as though he feared to trust it, "Has it a history? That
phantom's face is as the face of Inez Egerton in a dream; the other, why
has it the scroll Tekel on it, in fiery letters--what is the history of
that picture?"

"I do not know it all, only partly," said the colonel. "It is not a mere
picture; it is a portrait of a living man, and as it was not told me as
a secret, I may say it. You know that this belongs to Egerton, and was
painted by his order?"

"Yes," said Mr. Bertram. "Who is it of?"

"His mother's murderer," said the colonel. "He told me so himself."

Mr. Bertram did not start now; the blow had gone too deep for language
or outward sign, he stood for a few minutes with his eyes still fixed on
the portrait, but seeing nothing and hearing nothing, and then by a
strong effort he recovered himself, and touching the colonel, said
quietly, "I do not feel very well. I shall return home."

"I hope you are not ill," said Colonel St. John, anxiously. "My carriage
is at your service."

"Thank you," said Mr. Bertram; "but I have Lady Egerton's carriage
outside," and with a polite bow he disappeared in the crowd.

It was some time before, in returning, the colonel again entered the
room where the picture hung. There was, for a wonder, only one person
standing before it, and naturally St. John noticed him more than he
otherwise would. He was rather tall, and slight and elegant, as far as a
heavy cloak showed his figure; but that would not have attracted the
colonel's notice so much, and he was passing in when a slight noise made
the stranger turn sharply.

It was only for a moment, only for a minute that he saw his face, but
that fleeting glance was enough for the colonel--the face, with its
devilish beauty, the lurid black eyes and glistening golden hair could
not be mistaken--he was the original of the portrait, he was the
murderer of Jesuita Egerton, and St. John's resolve was instantly taken.

He walked quietly on into the next room, so that the stranger could not
leave the gallery without his seeing him, and then he sat down and
looked anxiously round.

An intelligent-looking lad, apparently a shop or errand boy, was
surveying one of the pictures with a look of profound admiration. St.
John called him. "My lad, come here." The boy obeyed. "Will you like to
earn half-a-crown?"

"Yes, sir," was the ready reply.

"Then take this slip of paper to the police office, Scotland Yard,"
continued Louis. "Go in a cab, and tell the man to drive for life or
death; promise him double fare, and return to me."

He tore a leaf from his pocket-book, wrote a few lines requesting the
immediate presence of Harding the detective, and gave it the boy, who
ran off in a moment.

Perhaps twenty or five and twenty minutes elapsed, and then his
messenger and a gentlemanly looking man in black entered, and came up to
him, and addressed him in a quiet business-like manner.

"Are you sure, sir, that Mr. Vivian is here?"

"So far sure," said the colonel, "that the man I mean is the exact
counterpart of that portrait here, called 'Tekel.'"

"Much obliged to you, sir, for what you have done. Leave all the rest to
me; he won't escape me again."

Harding went with him to the entrance; there was a cab there with
another policeman in plain clothes. Harding spoke a few words to him,
and took up his position in such a way that Vivian's escape was
impossible.

* * * * * * * * * *

Meanwhile Hugh Bertram had returned to St. James' Square. He was told
that every one was away. Sir Angelo had not yet come home from the
Foreign-office, Lady Egerton had gone into the park with Mr. Rothesay,
and only ten minutes before Miss Arundel had gone out with Lady Alice
St. John. The rector said no more, but went up stairs, only leaving
orders that when either Sir Angelo or Lady Egerton came in, they were to
be told he wished to see them.

He did not have very long to wait before he saw from the window Julian
Rothesay and Inez, and Egerton, whom they had probably met, ride up
together, and all three entered the house, for Julian was going to stay
to dinner, and then go with Angelo down to the house.

Almost immediately Egerton appeared in the drawing-room, where the
rector was waiting.

"You wish to see me, they told me," he said.

"I do, Egerton--about that picture--that portrait in the National
Gallery."

He paused, striving to master his agitation, and Egerton said, "Who told
you that it was a portrait?"

"Colonel St. John. I met him there. He asserted on your authority, that
it is the portrait of your--of the man who murdered your mother. Answer
me truly, Egerton, in mercy--is it true or false?"

Like iron on his heart fell the words, "It is."

A silence then. "What is the name of the person who killed her?"

"Arthur Vivian."

"If you please, sir," said a servant, opening the door, "Colonel St.
John is below, and wishes to see you for five minutes."

Egerton left the room, but in less than five minutes the rector heard a
carriage drive away, and Angelo came back.

Hugh Bertram addressed him at once.

"St. John's coming is connected with the person we spoke of, Egerton.
Tell me the worst--in pity tell me the worst at once."

"Arthur Vivian is taken at last," said Egerton.

"Oh, merciful heaven, how can I bear it!--how can I bear it!" said the
rector, covering his face with his clasped hands, and burning tears fell
through his fingers.

"Hugh Bertram, what is Arthur Vivian to you?"

"My son--my only son!"

"God help you!" said Egerton, bowing his head, and his stern lip
quivered.

There was a dead stillness, and then the father rose up.

"Egerton you are a stern and severe man; but, by the love you bore your
dead mother,--by all your hopes of mercy at the Last Day, show some
mercy now, and spare my wretched, guilty son, whose death cannot restore
your mother to you."

There was a depth and intensity of agony in the father's passionate
appeal that touched Egerton to the very soul. He lifted his head, and
the musical tones, usually so firm, were unsteady, as he answered, "Hear
me, and do not lightly judge me a hard and merciless man. All these
years another man has borne the stain--the conviction of that murder;
one whom I love with almost more than a brother's love; but for that I
had never so relentlessly pursued Vivian; but for that, I would now, for
your sake, and for the sake of his wife and child, spare him. Can I do
so when the life of an innocent man is in the balance, and depending on
his conviction? Could I have acted--could I now act otherwise?"

"No," said Mr. Bertram, with sudden calmness, "You could only have done
what you have done. Oh, Egerton, is there no hope? Was not your wife
mistaken?"

"Listen," said Egerton. "Eight years after the murder my wife drew the
crayon drawing from which the portrait is done--drew it from memory.
There is no hope."

"One thing more I ask," said Mr. Bertram. "Where is this wife and child?
Tell me all you know of them, for at least I can take them to my heart.
Wifeless and childless, I must love something."

Gently Egerton told him all he knew of Genevra, and ended by promising
that early the next morning his wife should take him to her and tell her
who he was.

Sorrow had laid a stern and heavy hand on Hugh Bertram.




CHAPTER XLIV.


"Nelly, my good girl, you are a laggard this morning. I have rung
twice," were the words Marion Rochester addressed to her maid, Nelly
Warren, the morning after Vivian's examination before a magistrate.
"What detained you?"

"Indeed, ma'am, I am sorry I didn't hear your first bell, but I was
reading the Times."

"The Times!" said her mistress, half smiling. "And what were you
reading?"

"The account, ma'am, of the examination of Vivian and----"

"Ah," said Marion, quickly, "I am going to Lady Egerton's. How did it
end?"

"He is committed for trial, ma'am; but he made a queer defence--what
they call an alibi. His lawyer said that he could prove that Vivian was
at the other end of the town at the hour the murder was committed, which
was done exactly at 12 o'clock--so Lady Egerton said."

"How did the others try and prove the alibi?" asked Marion.

"Why, ma'am, they said that he was lodging at a house near St.
Catherine's Church (hard by where we used to live), in Kent Town, and
that it struck 12 as he came in; but I remember, and so do mother and
father, that that clock was slow that night, and what's more, ma'am, a
gentleman was lodging with us, named Everard, a gunsmith, and he proved
by his watch that the clock was wrong. I remember that night
particularly, because a servant left us very suddenly that morning."

"Your father and Mr. Everard?" repeated Mrs. Rochester, "and can you
swear to all this?"

"Yes, ma'am; is it evidence?"

"I think so. Give me your father's address, Nelly."

"Lady Egerton knows it, ma'am. You know she was at father's nearly two
years ago, when she was stabbed by this very man."

"Very well," said Mrs. Rochester, "I remember that she was there. Get me
my bonnet and shawl, Nelly, for the sooner they know of this the
better."

And while the busy hum and whirl of life went on without, Arthur
Vivian--the handsome Arthur Vivian, sat alone--a prisoner within the
gloomy walls of Newgate; alone with his dark atheism and remorse, and
black load of guilt. He had refused to see his father or wife, resisting
all their entreaties. He had enough of remorse and shame to shrink from
meeting those he had so wronged. And so he sat there awaiting his trial,
which was to come on in the second week of April.

* * * * * * * * * *

It was now four months since Louis St. John had returned to England. His
love for Inez had died--passed away 'as a tale that is told;' as he
himself said to his mother, he could not love another man's wife; but it
had left a void, a blank in his heart. So he felt when he returned to
England with his regiment, and again met Margaret Arundel in the house
of Angelo Egerton.

In person, in character, in everything, Margaret was a direct contrast
to the Spaniard, and this very contrast and difference was the first
thing which attracted St. John to her; it was a relief, but withal he
was somewhat surprised to find that gradually her sweet fair face was
constantly in his thoughts and memory. Unconsciously she had wound
herself round his heart, and if his affection for her was not the same
passionate love he had borne Inez, it was firmer, deeper, stronger, and
lasting.

And so one day be told Margaret how he loved her; he concealed nothing,
but honorably told her all, and then he learned how long and faithfully
she had loved him.

Once again Louis St. John stood before Angelo Egerton, and asked him for
a bride, and this time there was no shadow on that handsome face as he
placed her hand in Louis', and said with his beautiful smile, "Take her,
old friend, as a priceless treasure, for a true-hearted woman is God's
own gift."




CHAPTER XLV.


Never, perhaps, had the Central Criminal Court been more crowded than it
was on the 12th April, 18--; and that not merely with 'the vulgar herd,'
but peers, and peeresses, and many M.P.'s had not disdained to show
themselves there. The length of time elapsing between the murder and the
arrest of the accused man, the strange circumstances of the whole thing,
including the important history of the portrait, which had been the
means of his capture, and above all, the high rank and fame of those
most nearly concerned--one a statesman of fame and a minister, and
Julian Rothesay, the artist of the portrait--all these things had made
the trial of Arthur Vivian an exciting one.

Long before it was called on you might have seen, in a distant corner,
where they could see without being noticed, a gray haired man in
clerical dress, and a young lady with a child in her arms. No one
noticed them, and no one guessed who they were.

Sir Henry Seton, the attorney-general, with an eminent criminal law
counsel, had been retained for the prosecution, and for the prisoner
were retained men of almost equal eminence Mr. Beresford, Q.C., and his
junior, Mr. Hargrave.

Hugh Bertram saw them come in before the case was called, and he noticed
too that nearly all those he had met at Falcontower Castle were there
already--the St. Johns, and Walter Surrey, and Mrs. Rochester, with a
gentleman whom he rightly guessed to be her husband. Then he saw a
venerable looking old gentleman enter, leaning on the arm of a young
girl in black, whom he recognised as the Miss Herbert he had met in the
north. They passed on and spoke to Mrs. Rochester, who placed the old
man beside her; and while the rector was watching them a murmur near the
door made him turn to see Angelo Egerton come in with his young wife and
Margaret Arundel, followed by Julian and Isbel Rothesay. They passed
quietly through the crowd and took their places with the rest, near
their solicitor and counsel, and their witnesses, who were seven in
number--old Mr. Everard, the gunsmith; a Mr. Morley, a well known London
clockmaker; his foreman; Sam Warren and his wife; and a Brightstone
boatman; and the surgeon who attended Inez. On the opposite side were
only Vivian's solicitor, and four witnesses, whom it will be better to
name in their turn as they appear.

A few more moments and then the long-expected trial was called on, and
the next minute Arthur Vivian appeared, his slight, elegant figure
erect, and his gleaming black eyes and handsome countenance hard and set
in all its dark and evil beauty boldly facing them all, so like the
portrait (which thousands had been to see since his examination) that a
visible effect was produced. A murmur arose which was instantly
repressed; the indictment was read; and the question how the prisoner
pleaded, asked.

There was a dead silence. Vivian leaned slightly forward, glanced round,
and answered clearly and deliberately, "Not guilty!"

As the words passed his lips, his eyes met Inez Egerton's fixed on him
with that watchful steady gaze he remembered so well, and dreaded even
now so much, and he turned aside with a fiercely muttered curse; but the
voice of the Attorney-general made him look up again.

"I appear, my lord, for the prosecution."

Then the case fairly commenced by the Attorney-general opening it in a
very concise speech, stating all the facts.

He said that nearly ten years and a half before, in the August of the
year 18--, the deceased, Jesuita Maria Lady Egerton, went to Brightstone
with her son and his ward, Inez de Caldara, then six years of age; and
Sir Angelo took a house at the corner of Brunswick-terrace, almost
opposite to the Catholic chapel of Our Lady in Walter-street, into which
street he begged it to be remembered the window of the deceased lady's
bed-chamber looked; also that an agile person could ascend or descend
from it to the street by means of stuccoed facings, which were up the
house and close to the window. The child was accustomed to sleep in Lady
Egerton's own room, in a crib in the corner near the bed; and on the
night of the 21st of September she (the little girl) was put to bed as
usual. Lady Egerton and her son had been that evening to an evening
concert, but they returned home before eleven. Sir Angelo remained in
his study, reading; but his mother, the deceased, went to bed; and being
tired, she did not put away the jewels she had on, but merely placed
them in their casket, and left them on an ottoman close to the window.
The jewels, the learned council said, should be produced.

The child, Inez de Caldara, was awakened by a shriek and the report of a
pistol, and she distinctly saw a man escaping out of the window. Sir
Angelo also heard the report, and subsequently the bullet was extracted
from the body of the deceased. Beneath the window a man, an Italian
named Giulio Doria, was seized, and at the same time the clock of St.
Mary's struck twelve. He wished to call particular attention to that
fact. In the hand of the prisoner was found a pistol, evidently having
been just fired, and in his pocket was found its fellow; the bullet
fitted both, but the jewels stolen were not on him; though, as the
policeman had noticed a man running away, he supposed him to be an
accomplice. Doria said that he had been passing; that as he came up he
saw a man run round the corner, and that he saw the pistol on the
ground, and had just picked it up, when a cry of "Murder!" was raised
and he was seized, but he refused to give an account of himself at all,
and was arrested for the murder. But Sir Angelo, for private reasons,
believed him innocent, and the child, his ward, positively and
persistently swore that Doria was not the murderer. However, he was so
committed, though all attempts to trace the man seen flying failed.
Doria contrived to escape from prison, and was never retaken.

"And now, my lord and gentlemen of the jury," said the attorney-general,
"I am coming to the prisoner. Eight years passed, Sir Angelo and his
ward remaining convinced that the murderer was still at large. Last
January two years, Lady Egerton, then Miss de Caldara (and with the
lady's permission I will so call her for the present), was sent to
school at a place called Yellowfield, and there she met a Miss Margaret
Arundel, with whom she formed a close friendship. So firmly were the
features of the man she had seen imprinted on her mind that, one day,
Miss de Caldara drew his face from memory in crayons. Miss Arundel saw
it, and remarked that it was exactly like her guardian's nephew, Arthur
Vivian, and then Miss de Caldara arranged with her friend that she was
to spend the holidays with her at her guardian's house, Forest Moor
Grange. When there she discovered, concealed in a column of an old
cloister on the premises, the jewels that had been stolen, and she also
convinced herself that the Arthur Vivian she met there was the murderer
she had seen eight years before. I may further add that when the
prisoner found she had taken the jewels he stabbed her, left her for
dead, and fled. The stiletto he used is now in court, and it is
remarkable that the deceased lady Egerton was, before being shot,
stabbed, and the wound pronounced by the physician to be that made by a
stiletto. I shall presently show the court that one of the pistols was
sold to the prisoner, the other to a gentleman who, on the 21st of
September, was passing for an Italian, for reasons he will explain. The
defence, I believe, is an alibi, but I shall show the court that the
clock of St. Mary's was right to London time, and that of St.
Catherine's ten minutes slow. I shall now proceed to produce my proofs,
and the first witness I call is Lady Egerton."

Inez rose immediately, colorless as a beautiful marble statue, but as
calm and still. She had gone through too much to be unnerved by the
hundreds of eyes fixed upon her, and even the counsel for the defence,
experienced as he was in brow-beating witnesses, glanced at her as she
was sworn, and whispered to his solicitor, "I am afraid she will not be
shaken. Look at her face."

"Do your best," said the solicitor. "Hush now."

The attorney general was speaking. "Your name is Inez Egerton?"

"It is."

"And you were formerly the ward of Sir Angelo Egerton?"

"I was from the age of five years old, when he brought me over from
Spain."

"What was your maiden name?"

"Caldara--Inez de Caldara."

"Now, Lady Egerton, how far back can you remember minute events or
things?"

"I can remember things that occurred in Spain when I was four years old.
I can recollect my father's confessor, whom I left at five years of age,
so well that, a few years ago, when in Madrid, I recognised him as he
passed the window."

"Do you remember anything that happened in any particular year?"

"Yes, I remember going to Brightstone in the August of 18--, with my
guardian and my cousin Jesuita, the deceased."

"Were you in Brightstone on the 21st of September?"

"Yes."

"Do you recollect anything that occurred that night?"

"Certainly."

"State what you remember."

"I remember," said Inca, and her voice throughout, though low and soft,
was heard in the farthest corner as clear and distinct as a bell, "I
remember that that evening Sir Angelo Egerton and his mother were out at
a concert. I was put to bed as usual at half-past 8, and I went to
sleep. I was awoke by a shriek and a loud report, and I rose up in bed,
and distinctly saw a man escaping through the window."

"Did you see his face?"

"Yes. He looked back into the room, and I saw him as plainly as I now
see his lordship or any one else here."

"Now, Lady Egerton, look round and say whether you see that man."

Inez raised her dark eyes, and her steady unflinching glance went
straight to Vivian, who shivered beneath it as if that look withered
him.

"The prisoner is the man I saw that night," she said, calmly and firmly,

"Are you sure?"

"Positive."

"Now look at this drawing"--he produced the crayon--"it bears date June
27th, 18--, and is signed Inez Jesuita Maria de Caldara, and a witness,
Margaret Arundel. Is the first your name?"

"Yes--Inez Jesuita Maria are my Christian names."

"It is written here that you drew it. Is that so?"

"Yes. I drew it at school one half-holiday. I did it before I ever again
saw the man I had seen on the 21st of September escaping."

"Did the lady whose name is here signed see you draw it?"

"Yes; and it was Margaret Arundel who told me it was her guardian's
nephew, Arthur Vivian; and then I arranged with her to spend the
holidays with her at Forest Moor, she engaging that his wife, Eveline
(who has since died), should ask me; then I went."

"When did you go to Forest Moor?" asked the attorney-general, after a
pause, during which the crayon was handed up to the bench and the jury.

"I went down on the 17th of August," answered Inez; "my husband's
solicitor, Mr. Seymour, can prove that, for he took me down to the
station, and put me into Mrs. Vivian's brougham."

"What did you do there, at Forest Moor?"

"I tried to find the stolen jewels, which I was convinced Arthur Vivian
had in his possession, because they were too marked to be safely parted
with. I searched everywhere in vain, till one night, after I had been
there six weeks, I found them concealed at the top of a column of the
cloisters, and I sent them in the morning to town to my guardian."

"What happened that day?"

"The evening of that day I went to the bridge near the station to wait
for the train. It was getting dusk when the prisoner came up to me
there; and, after some words, charged me with falseness. He said, 'You
have taken a box from the cloisters;' and when I acknowledged it, he
drew a stiletto, and stabbed me."

"And what then?"

"I know no more; the wound was nearly fatal."

"That will do for the present."

The judge leaned forwards, and asked, "Are those jewels, and the
stiletto, and pistols in court?"

"Yes, my lord," answered Sir Henry, handing them up. "Mr. Beresford, do
you cross-examine?"

"Yes, Sir Henry!" and Beresford rose.

"Lady Egerton, how old were you at the time of the murder?"

"I was just six years old."

"Very young to remember so very distinctly," said Beresford, with a
sneer. "Perhaps, Lady Egerton, you can also remember how it was that
being in a crib in the corner, you could see the window?"

"Certainly I can explain; and if words are not plain enough, I can in a
minute give you a sketch of the room, to the accuracy of which my
husband can swear."

"Explain it, then, if you please."

"It is very simple. Lady Egerton's bed was so placed that the foot was
to the window, and my little crib was in the corner to the left of the
bed, looking from the window, so that by raising myself even a little
the whole of the window was plainly and broadly visible."

"I think, Mr. Beresford," interposed the judge, mildly, "that the
witness has very clearly explained that point."

Beresford bowed, and turned again to Inez.

"You stated, I think, that the man you say you saw looked back, and that
you saw his face--now, how could you see him at night?"

"I suppose," said Inez, with quiet irony, "that Mr. Beresford has heard
of such a thing as a light in a bed-chamber at night, especially where
children come in question. There was a lamp in the room."

Beresford bit his lip, but went on. "Were you awoke suddenly?"

"Certainly."

"Then you awoke, of course, in great agitation and alarm, perhaps not
thoroughly awake at first?"

"On the contrary, I was broad awake at once, and saw the man glaring in,
though he did not see me. The whole circumstances were calculated to
engrave that face indelibly on my mind, and that crayon is the best
proof that they did so."

"Now we come to that very crayon," said Beresford; "how was it that, if
your memory was so very clear, you did not draw a likeness before?"

"Simply because, till the period at which I did do it, my knowledge of
drawing was insufficient to the task. It is more difficult to draw a
likeness from memory than with an original before you."

"Especially when such a very long time has passed since the original was
seen," said the counsel, with another sneer.

The judge here interposed in the same gentle, courteous manner.

"Lady Egerton, think well before you answer me. Are you sure that you
have nowhere seen the face you have drawn except in the September of
18--, or between that date and the August of 18--?"

"Nowhere, my lord. I saw his face that September night, and I never saw
it again till I went to Forest Moor. Of this point I am positive."

Beresford began to lose all hope of confusing the clear-headed witness
he had got hold of, but he made another attempt to throw doubt on her
evidence by baring the deception she had practised.

"Lady Egerton, did you go to Forest Moor under your own name?"

"I did not. I assumed that of Jesuita della Castro."

"Then you went under false colors, and having regularly concocted a
scheme of deception?"

"I did," she replied, emphatically.

"In fact," added the counsel, "you, a Spanish lady of birth, acted the
part of a detective."

"Just so, if you like to call it so," said Inez, with imperturbable
coolness.

"That will do," said Beresford, giving it up as hopeless, and Inez, with
a secret smile at his baffled look, returned to her place, at any rate
for the present, and Margaret Arundel was called. She gave her evidence
calmly and consistently, nor could any cross-examining shake her, though
Beresford tried to show that the jewels might have been in Inez de
Caldara's possession when she went to Forest Moor, but he failed of
course. She said positively that the jewels were not in Inez de
Caldara's possession when she came to Forest Moor, for she had herself
unpacked all her luggage.

As Margaret's evidence was only in the main to confirm Inez's evidence,
we will not give it at length. Egerton was next called.

"I have only a few questions to ask you, Sir Angelo," said the
attorney-general. "Do you recollect when your wife, then only your ward,
finally left school?"

"Yes, in the summer of 18--, nearly two years ago."

"Do you remember the precise date you fetched her?"

"I did not fetch her myself. I was then in the ministry, and could not
leave town. My friend, Mrs. Rochester, kindly fetched home my ward when
she fetched her own daughter."

"And do you remember the exact date?"

"I do not. I think it was on the 29th of June; but I am certain that she
was at home on the 2nd of July, because that night I took her down to
the House to hear a debate. I got her a Speaker's order, the date of
which is July 2."

"You are sure of that?"

"Quite."

"Now, Sir Angelo, when did you first see this crayon?"

"It must have been on the 1st of July."

"Why on that day?"

"Because I distinctly recollect that my ward showed it to me the day
before the one I took her to the House of Commons."

"And when did your ward leave you to go to Forest Moor?"

"Early on the 17th of August."

"Then you saw the crayon drawing before she went to Forest Moor?"

"Most certainly," was the decided answer.

"I will not trouble you any further. Do you cross-examine, Mr.
Beresford?" added Sir Henry, turning blandly to his opponent.

"No, Sir Henry."

"The next witness I call, my lord, is Mr. Rothesay."

The artist rose, took the oath, and entered the witness-box.

"Your name," began Sir Henry Seton, "is Julian Rothesay."

"No!" was the startling and unexpected reply. "I have for many years
passed by the name of Rothesay, but my real name is Julian D'Arcy, of
Friar's Lea."

The counsel looked surprised, but bowed, and went on.

"Do you recollect where you were on the 21st of September, 18--?"

"I was in Brightstone."

"Why were you there then--did you live there?"

"No; I was there that day to settle some affairs for an old friend which
required secrecy, and were of a nature that made me wish not to use or
act in my own name, and I assumed for the time the name of Doria, with a
corresponding disguise."

"Had you any weapon upon you any time that day or night?"

"Yes; before I left London I bought a pistol of Pistoia manufacture, of
Mr. Everard, of Bond-street. I had that upon me on the 21st of
September."

"Did you buy only one pistol, or the pair?"

"Only one; its fellow had been sold."

"Can you remember where you were somewhere about midnight of that 21st
of September?"

"Yes; I was passing down Water-street. I had entered it through an alley
opening by the Catholic chapel, and as I emerged I saw a man run round
the corner. That was just as St. Mary's clock was striking 12. I
crossed, and as I did so I saw on the pavement, under the window of the
corner house, a pistol lying. I picked it up, and was surprised to find
it hot, and the exact fellow to my own. At that moment a cry of murder
was raised, and I was seized."

"Do you remember what followed? I don't mean details."

"I was examined before a magistrate, and committed for trial, but I
escaped from prison and fled abroad. I have been an exile for ten
years."

"Did you know the deceased lady or her family?"

"Yes; my father, Colonel D'Arcy, left me when a child in the care of Sir
Reginald Egerton, and at the time of Lady Egerton's death I was her
son's ward."

"Mr. D'Arcy," said the foreman of the jury, "why was it that you fled
and lived as an exile instead of taking your trial?"

"Because," said Julian D'Arcy, "I preferred exile to dishonor. I could
not clear myself save by betraying my friend and my name, and even then
the evidence against me was so very strong that if law had acquitted me,
a stain would have been upon my name."

"Now, Mr. D'Arcy, look at these two pistols," continued Seton, producing
them; "you see they are a pair. Can you tell the one you bought from the
one you picked up?"

Julian took the pistols and examined them carefully and closely.

"No, I cannot," he said.

"That will do."

The other witnesses called were Mr. Everard, who swore to having sold
one pistol to Julian D'Arcy, and its fellow to a person whom he
identified as the prisoner, in the year and month of the murder; and a
clock-maker named Morley, who proved having made the clock of the
Catholic chapel at Brightstone, and having repaired it shortly before
the same eventful period. His examination closed the prosecution, and
Mr. Beresford rose to reply, while Sir Henry leaned back in his seat and
whispered to Sir Angelo, who was close to him, "They'll make nothing of
it, Egerton, I cannot sufficiently compliment your wife for her steady,
unflinching evidence; indeed, all our witnesses behaved admirably."

Beresford was now opening his defence, in one of his brilliant, if not
always very logical speeches. He admitted the murder, there was no help
for that--admitted that it was committed at 12 o'clock by St. Mary's
clock; but he said that it was ten minutes fast, and St. Catherine's
right. The witness, Lady Egerton, who drew the crayon drawing, might
have seen the prisoner in a hundred places, and mistaken him for the
face she saw, or fancied she saw, glare into the room. She was a
Spaniard, and the Southerns were confessedly very imaginative. She was
at that time a very young child, awoke suddenly from sleep, and most
likely, in the alarm and horror of the moment, either imagined she saw a
face, or if she really saw one, her imagination invested it with
characteristics the original never possessed.

This address went on to weaken as far as possible the weight of the
other evidence adduced, and Mr. Beresford then proceeded to call
witnesses to prove, if he could, an alibi, by means of the landlord of
the prisoner at Brightstone, and a clock-maker, whose evidence he used
to show that the exactness of the clock of the Catholic chapel, on which
so much depended, could not fairly be relied on. But, though the counsel
did all that man could do for his client, it was plain that he felt
himself even that his case was a hopeless one.

The defence was concluded, and the attorney-general, in one of his
telling and well-argued speeches, pulled to pieces in detail the
evidence for the prisoner and shortly summed up his his argument as
follows:--

"Now, therefore, gentlemen of the jury, this is the case you have to
consider. Lady Egerton swears positive to the prisoner. His face was so
engraved upon her memory that years after she makes a speaking portrait
of him, a portrait so exactly like that from the resemblance alone he
was identified. It is said that she might have imagined it from the idea
preying on her mind--no doubt she might have imagined a face, but it
passes belief that she could have imagined the very face, and a face so
singularly remarkable. Then the stiletto with which he attempted to
murder Lady Inez Egerton is identified--stilettos are not usual in
England, and you have the opinion, given long before by the surgeon that
Lady Egerton was stabbed with a fine instrument, like a stiletto, and
the opinion given now that such a weapon as that now produced would have
made such a wound as that inflicted on the late Lady Egerton, and you
have the pistol found by Mr. D'Arcy traced to the prisoner. The only
shadow of an attempt at defence is an alibi, and that rests on which
clock was right. You are asked to believe that a new clock, by the first
maker in London, set twelve hours before the hour in question, had
gained ten minutes in that short space of time; instead of believing
that an old clock, by a second rate maker, set seven days before, had
lost ten minutes. If the other evidence was not conclusive you could
have no doubt which view to take on this question. But I say that the
other evidence is absolutely overwhelming, and I leave the matter in
your hands, anticipating that you can find but one verdict."

Sir Henry Seton sat down, and then the judge summed up, with that nice
critical balancing of facts and impartiality which does so much honor to
the judges of England. He recounted all the evidence, and concluded by
saying that "if the jury thought St. Mary's clock right, they must then
consider the other evidence; but if they thought St. Catherine's clock
right, and were satisfied that Gibson and his wife had made no mistake,
then, despite the other evidence, they must acquit the prisoner. If they
came to the former conclusion, they must consider the evidence regarding
the crayon drawing, and whether they believed that Lady Egerton had made
it from a distinct recollection, or whether the likeness could be
attributed to chance or imagination."

The jury retired, and there was silence. Vivian leaned coolly back with
apparent carelessness, but in reality sick and faint with the agony of
suspense--so an hour that was like years passed, and then the jury
re-appeared. The judge asked the usual question, and you might have
heard a pin drop as the foreman spoke--"Guilty!"

A dead, fearful silence for a moment, then--"Prisoner at the bar, have
you anything to say why sentence of death shall not be passed upon you?"

"If I have, it is useless," said Vivian, recklessly. "No, I have nothing
to say."

The judge calmly assumed the black cap and passed sentence of death,
concluding in the usual manner, "May God have mercy on your soul."

Then Vivian turned towards him, with all his devilish beauty in his dark
face, and his fierce, dare-devil passions in his lurid black eyes.

"God!" said the atheist; "There is no God! I answer my judges as Couthon
answered his, 'After death is nothingness.'"




CHAPTER XLVI.


Alone now, indeed--alone with his dark atheism and his gloomy remorse,
that through all his evil life had struggled vaguely with the devil in
him--alone with his heavy guilt and the weight of the fearful defiance
he had hurled against Heaven!

There he sat, bending forwards, his head resting on his hands, his
hair--that rich hair, whose beauty had been so fatal to himself--falling
over his brow, and his lurid black eyes raised to the barred window with
an expression of fierce, reckless defiance, and yet of agonised remorse,
that was at once horrible and touching. He did not fear death, because
he could not realise that he must die, and so believing that the grave
was death, dreading the remorse that he could not crush, he took into
his heart the doctrine of the Stoics--"That Nature has placed the end of
life as the summit of her gifts."

He did not fear death, but he dared not face eternity--he dared not
acknowledge or believe in a God he had defied in every word, thought,
and deed of his lost life.

But with all that, he feared the night worst of all; it closed in round
him dark and gloomy and heavy. He had a vague dread of lying down, of
sleeping, of the silence. He heard again Jesuita's dying cry, and saw
her beautiful form bathed in her own life's blood. His dreams were
haunted by a regretful pale form that was his mother, and yet Eveline,
and yet through all had the tender eyes and gentle loving face of the
fair Italian wife he had abandoned--abandoned, though she was the only
woman for whom he had ever had any real feeling like love, as distinct
from the mere passing passion of the moment.

But with morning the gloomy shades which, to the assassin, had filled
the night, vanished, and once more the man was the desperate hardened
atheist, fiercely refusing even to see the chaplain, saying, "that he
had lived without a priest, and would die without a priest!"

But presently the gaoler again appeared. It was visiting time, he said,
and there was a lady waiting to see him.

The idea of Inez instantly crossed Arthur's mind, and he demanded
rapidly, "Is she tall, very dark, and foreign-looking?"

"No," the man answered; "she wasn't tall or dark, but she was foreign.
Would he see her and the gentleman with her?"

He knew now who they were--his wife and father. "No," he said, turning
his face away, "I will not see them, not one!" But she was not to be so
repulsed; she had followed, and as the gaoler came out, she glided past
him; the door clanged to, and Arthur's wife was at his feet, her infant
in her arms.

"Arthur, my husband, have mercy, have pity; is not Genevra your wife?"
pleaded the soft, gentle voice.

But he turned his face aside, and stretched out his arm to put her away.

"Keep back," he said, and through all the fierce recklessness of tone
and gesture there struggled yet a strange glimmering of better feeling.
"Keep back; you are a murderer's wife! Do you hear that? My hand is a
blood-stained hand. Do not touch it with yours, so pure and stainless.
Keep back, Genevra."

"I will not keep back," she replied. "I will touch your hand. At the
altar I vowed to love you and cling to you, in joy and sorrow, till
death parted us twain, and I will not be put away in this your heaviest
hour of need--I, your wedded wife, and the mother of your child."

He started, and shrunk back shivering and covering his face.

"Take it away, Genevra. Don't let it touch me; my hand would whither it;
my very look would blast it as with a living curse. Take it away."

"I will not," she said. "Oh, Arthur, it is your own son, your own child,
and the touch, the look of the father cannot harm it."

She was kneeling at his feet, and Arthur Bertram turned, laid his slight
hand on her shoulder and gazed into the tiny face lying on her bosom,
into the large soft dark eyes that met his own so wonderingly.

Who shall say what tide of feelings and memories of his own innocent
childhood rushed back upon his soul? If the boy had winced or shivered
beneath his gaze--if it had even turned its eyes to its mother or
moaned--he would have turned away hardened, reckless, utterly lost; but
the infant stretched its tiny arms towards him and smiled in his face,
that smile of perfect innocence and trust which was surely then God's
silent whisper in that prison chamber.

"Genevra! Genevra! It has your face, but my mother's smile," and
suddenly and passionately Arthur clasped the little child to his breast,
and the strong man, his reckless desperation subdued, his hard, fierce
spirit broken down, bowed his head on that little child, and wept such
tears as he had not wept since his childhood; full of bitter remorse,
and anguish, and regret, as they were, they had yet in them the tear of
repentance which opened the gate of heaven.

"Oh, Genevra! wife whom I love, and have wronged, pardon me! and my
father, whose gray hairs I have dishonored, so that I dare not face
him--entreat his forgiveness for his doomed son."

"My son, I am here!" said a voice, and though neither had heard him
enter, Hugh Bertram stood before them.

Arthur recoiled as if struck, almost throwing the child into its
mother's arms, and for a minute he stood so, and never perhaps had he
looked so beautiful as he did at that moment, facing the father he had
dishonored; so for a moment of dead silence, and then Arthur suddenly
sank at his father's feet, murmuring unconsciously the words his
childhood had heard from his mother's lips--"Father, forgive me, for I
was no more worthy to be called thy son!"

The father laid his hand on the bowed head of his son.

"My son, my son, not to me, but to Him who has said, 'Thou shalt do no
murder!' to the God you have offended and denied."

Arthur Bertram sprang to his feet as if a scorpion had stung him. "No,"
he said, with a look of dark despair; "it is too late. I have scoffed
and disbelieved too long. I have lived an atheist, and my only hope is
in dying an atheist. Shall I believe in your God to my own damnation?"

"Oh, Arthur, my son, child of my dead wife, believe, for your salvation!
repent, and turn to God, for 'he that comes to Him he will in no wise
cast out. A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall he
not quench!'"

"My crime is too great, my sin too heavy to be forgiven. I dare not
believe in God," answered Arthur, veiling his face; "if I did he would
cast me out into outer darkness."

"His mercy endureth for ever," said the gentle priest. "'Joy shall be in
heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety-and-nine
just persons which need no repentance.'"

Then the wife stole to his side, and gently laid the little babe on his
breast, and the dark night of atheism fled before the holy light of
God's smile of mercy and great love, and Arthur Bertram bowed his
beautiful face and golden hair on his child, and from his very soul rose
the appeal to heaven--"Oh, God, forgive me, and have mercy on me a
sinner!"

A lost life no more--lost no more, but saved.




CHAPTER XLVII.


THE memoir of Arthur Bartram is a short and a sad one, for it is a story
of evil and wrong, which he addressed to his wife, and sent afterwards
to Angelo Egerton.

"You know my noble-hearted father, Genevra, and know that no fault of
his can have been the cause of my fall.

"My mother died when I was a child. If she had lived I might have been
another being, for only she could charm to silence the demon which I
believe was born in my very blood. Even as it is, her memory has been
the one softer feeling which has saved me through all my evil life from
being chained body and soul to perdition.

"But she left me the fatal gift of her beauty and powers of fascination;
and those gifts have been my curse. I will not pain you, gentle wife, by
details which can only wring your heart.

"I was sent to college, and there I became one of the worst set to which
my evil nature attracted me.

"You wonder, Genevra, how unbelief ever wound its serpent coils round
me. 'A third cause of atheism is a custom of profane scoffing in holy
matters, which doth by little and little deface the reverence of
religion.' So wrote our great philosopher. This was what made me a
renegade to my angel mother's faith. I sneered and scoffed till I could
no longer worship what I only treated and saw treated as a jest; and I
clung to my atheism as a drowning man clings to the slender straw, which
will break when he tests its strength.

"At eighteen I had left--fled from the college, and forsworn my father,
and lest he should trace and seek to reclaim me, I even dropped his name
and went by another name. Before I was twenty I was the companion of
professed gamblers, and even worse--let that pass; they had robbers
amongst them, men whose trade was robbery, and that fatal September they
arranged to rob Lady Egerton; and as I was slight, agile, and utterly
reckless, I was selected to do it.

"Oh, Genevra, that horrible night! What wonder that that little Spanish
child so remembered my face? I did not mean to kill Lady Egerton, as
heaven is my witness. I did not mean to kill her; but she woke and saw
me, and I stabbed her--she shrieked, and in the wild desperation of the
moment I shot her, seized the casket, dropped the pistol, and fled. One
of my accomplices had a swift horse on the beach, and so I reached home
at 12 o'clock. Those fatal jewels! they were too marked; I dared not
sell them--dared not even let my companions see them, and next day I
fled abroad, and for more than two years I never set foot in England.
When I did, it was under the name of Arthur Vivian, my Christian names.

"Inez de Caldara, Lady Egerton, will have told you all she knows of me
and my first wife, Eveline; if not, ask her to do so, if you wish to
know. I pass briefly over the rest of my story. I met Stephen Stanfeld
in a gambling house, and I got him in my power; for I, well versed in
it, soon found he used loaded dice. I thought his eldest daughter was
her mother's heiress, and so she would have been, save that her
grandfather had tied up his property when she married.

"I never cared for Eveline, and I soon left her. Poor Evie, her death
lies heavy on me, now! Heaven forgive me the wrong I did her. How I met
you--how I deceived you, Genevra, you know too well--spare me the
recital. I left you because I dared not remain long anywhere, and I
could not trust even you with the secret of my residence. I came to
London, for it is the safest hiding-place.

"Wonder, Genevra, what you will, what made me, a haunted man, go that
day to the National Gallery to see that portrait whose fame had reached
me, but I tell you it was no power of mine--it was a strong power that
drew me there under the form of my own wish. I thought before my trial
that it was my evil fate. I see now that it was God's merciful hand. You
know all now, Genevra."

* * * * * * * *

Later there came a short hurried letter to Vivian, written in Italian.

"My husband, bow down before God, for his mercy is beyond comparison;
you are saved. Angelo Egerton, the noble, generous Egerton, yielded to
my prayer; his wife interceded for you, and then he said that Julian
D'Arcy's name was clear; it was all he cared for, and for the sake of
your father, of me, of our child, he will do what he can to save you.

"GENEVRA."




CHAPTER XLVIII., AND LAST.


Years have passed, and rolled away on the scroll of time. Once more
there are dissolving views passing before us like a vision.

See, in the distance, on the verge of a primeval forest in the Far West,
the sun is setting behind the distant mountains and shedding its
gorgeous light on the plains and on every forest leaf; it falls too on a
group there. There are not many. A venerable gray-headed old man sits by
the cottage-door, with a fair boy, yet in childhood, at his knee, and he
looks ever and anon, with a gentle smile, on a dark-eyed woman with a
sweet Madonna face, who sits at the feet of a man yet young, and far
more beautiful now than ever he was in past days. There is a softened
sadness now in his eyes and smile, and the setting sunbeams shine on his
burnished hair, as he bends over his wife, and then, turning, kneels at
the old man's feet, and bows his golden head, whispering the touching
appeal, "Bless me, even me, O my Father!"

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The shades vanish in the mist and distance. There a crowd gathered
before that tall, high house; they say it is a gaming house, and that
some one within has killed himself. Hush! they are carrying out the
body; it is an old man, his hair is white, and the dead face looks
horrible in the moonlight.

They whisper in the crowd that his name is Stephen Stanfeld.

A life lost--lost for ever.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

There is yet another scene that rises.

Once more the ancient castle of Falcontower rises gradually against the
sky; but the yule-log blazes within, and a merry party are gathered
there. See them all--Louis St. John and gentle Margaret; and his fair
mother sits apart, with three beautiful children round her. Ask that
dark, noble-looking boy, whose arm is round his little sister, what his
name is and his sister's, and he will answer, "Mine is Julian Egerton,
and hers is Jesuita;" and that blue-eyed boy beside them is Julian
D'Arcy's only boy, Angelo.

They are all there--Austin and Marion Rochester, Walter Surrey and his
wife Theresa, for her grandfather lies asleep far away.

There, side by side, stand Angelo Egerton and Julian D'Arcy, looking
down on Inez, who sits by them with her youngest child, an infant, in
her arms, and she looks up now and then with the old tender smile on her
young, quiet face. Later her son comes up, and draws her away to the
picture gallery, and stops before a large picture whispering, "Mother,
what does it mean?" And the fair young mother bends down, and answers,
"Years hence, my son, when you are older, your mother's lips shall tell
you the history of that portrait." E. S.



THE END



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