by Mrs. Henry Wood
This text was prepared from an 1883 edition, New York: John B. Alden, Publisher.
THE LADY ISABEL.
In an easy-chair of the spacious and handsome library of his town-house, sat William, Earl of Mount Severn. His hair was gray, the smoothness of his expansive brow was defaced by premature wrinkles, and his once attractive face bore the pale, unmistakable look of dissipation. One of his feet was cased in folds of linen, as it rested on the soft velvet ottoman, speaking of gout as plainly as any foot ever spoke yet. It would seem—to look at the man as he sat there—that he had grown old before his time. And so he had. His years were barely nine and forty, yet in all save years, he was an aged man.
A noted character had been the Earl of Mount Severn. Not that he had been a renowned politician, or a great general, or an eminent statesman, or even an active member in the Upper House; not for any of these had the earl's name been in the mouths of men. But for the most reckless among the reckless, for the spendthrift among spendthrifts, for the gamester above all gamesters, and for a gay man outstripping the gay—by these characteristics did the world know Lord Mount Severn. It was said his faults were those of his head; that a better heart or a more generous spirit never beat in human form; and there was much truth in this. It had been well for him had he lived and died plain William Vane. Up to his five and twentieth year, he had been industrious and steady, had kept his terms in the Temple, and studied late and early. The sober application of William Vane had been a by word with the embryo barristers around; Judge Vane, they ironically called him; and they strove ineffectually to allure him away to idleness and pleasure. But young Vane was ambitious, and he knew that on his own talents and exertions must depend his own rising in the world. He was of excellent family, but poor, counting a relative in the old Earl of Mount Severn. The possibility of his succeeding to the earldom never occurred to him, for three healthy lives, two of them young, stood between him and the title. Yet those have died off, one of apoplexy, one of fever, in Africa, the third boating at Oxford; and the young Temple student, William Vane, suddenly found himself Earl of Mount Severn, and the lawful possessor of sixty thousand a year.
His first idea was, that he should never be able to spend the money; that such a sum, year by year, could not be spent. It was a wonder his head was not turned by adulation at the onset, for he was courted, flattered and caressed by all classes, from a royal duke downward. He became the most attractive man of his day, the lion in society; for independent of his newly-acquired wealth and title, he was of distinguished appearance and fascinating manners. But unfortunately, the prudence which had sustained William Vane, the poor law student, in his solitary Temple chambers entirely forsook William Vane, the young Earl of Mount Severn, and he commenced his career on a scale of speed so great, that all staid people said he was going to ruin and the deuce headlong.
But a peer of the realm, and one whose rent-roll is sixty thousand per annum, does not go to ruin in a day. There sat the earl, in his library now, in his nine-and-fortieth year, and ruin had not come yet—that is, it had not overwhelmed him. But the embarrassments which had clung to him, and been the destruction of his tranquility, the bane of his existence, who shall describe them? The public knew them pretty well, his private friends knew better, his creditors best; but none, save himself knew, or could ever know, the worrying torment that was his portion, wellnigh driving him to distraction. Years ago, by dint of looking things steadily in the face, and by economizing, he might have retrieved his position; but he had done what most people do in such cases—put off the evil day sine die, and gone on increasing his enormous list of debts. The hour of exposure and ruin was now advancing fast.
Perhaps the earl himself was thinking so, as he sat there before an enormous mass of papers which strewed the library table. His thoughts were back in the past. That was a foolish match of his, that Gretna Green match for love, foolish so far as prudence went; but the countess had been an affectionate wife to him, had borne with his follies and his neglect, had been an admirable mother to their only child. One child alone had been theirs, and in her thirteenth year the countess had died. If they had but been blessed with a son—the earl moaned over the long-continued disappointment still—he might have seen a way out of his difficulties. The boy, as soon as he was of age, would have joined with him in cutting off the entail, and——
"My lord," said a servant entering the room and interrupting the earl's castles in the air, "a gentleman is asking to see you."
"Who?" cried the earl, sharply, not perceiving the card the man was bringing. No unknown person, although wearing the externals of a foreign ambassador, was ever admitted unceremoniously to the presence of Lord Mount Severn. Years of duns had taught the servants caution.
"His card is here, my lord. It is Mr. Carlyle, of West Lynne."
"Mr. Carlyle, of West Lynne," groaned the earl, whose foot just then had an awful twinge, "what does he want? Show him up."
The servant did as he was bid, and introduced Mr. Carlyle. Look at the visitor well, reader, for he will play his part in this history. He was a very tall man of seven and twenty, of remarkably noble presence. He was somewhat given to stooping his head when he spoke to any one shorter than himself; it was a peculiar habit, almost to be called a bowing habit, and his father had possessed it before him. When told of it he would laugh, and say he was unconscious of doing it. His features were good, his complexion was pale and clear, his hair dark, and his full eyelids drooped over his deep gray eyes. Altogether it was a countenance that both men and women liked to look upon—the index of an honorable, sincere nature—not that it would have been called a handsome face, so much as a pleasing and a distinguished one. Though but the son of a country lawyer, and destined to be a lawyer himself, he had received the training of a gentleman, had been educated at Rugby, and taken his degree at Oxford. He advanced at once to the earl, in the straightforward way of a man of business—of a man who has come on business.
"Mr. Carlyle," said the latter, holding out his hand—he was always deemed the most affable peer of the age—"I am happy to see you. You perceive I cannot rise, at least without great pain and inconvenience. My enemy, the gout, has possession of me again. Take a seat. Are you staying in town?"
"I have just arrived from West Lynne. The chief object of my journey was to see your lordship."
"What can I do for you?" asked the earl, uneasily; for a suspicion had crossed his mind that Mr. Carlyle might be acting for some one of his many troublesome creditors.
Mr. Carlyle drew his chair nearer to the earl, and spoke in a low tone,—
"A rumor came to my ears, my lord, that East Lynne was in the market."
"A moment, sir," exclaimed the earl, with reserve, not to say hauteur in his tone, for his suspicions were gaining ground; "are we to converse confidentially together, as men of honor, or is there something concealed behind?"
"I do not understand you," said Mr. Carlyle.
"In a word—excuse my speaking plainly, but I must feel my ground—are you here on the part of some of my rascally creditors, to pump information out of me, that otherwise they would not get?"
"My lord," uttered the visitor, "I should be incapable of so dishonorable an action. I know that a lawyer gets credit for possessing but lax notions on the score of honor, but you can scarcely suspect that I should be guilty of underhand work toward you. I never was guilty of a mean trick in my life, to my recollection, and I do not think I ever shall be."
"Pardon me, Mr. Carlyle. If you knew half the tricks and ruses played upon me, you would not wonder at my suspecting all the world. Proceed with your business."
"I heard that East Lynne was for private sale; your agent dropped half a word to me in confidence. If so, I should wish to be the purchaser."
"For whom?" inquired the earl.
"You!" laughed the earl. "Egad! Lawyering can't be such bad work, Carlyle."
"Nor is it," rejoined Mr. Carlyle, "with an extensive, first-class connection, such as ours. But you must remember that a good fortune was left me by my uncle, and a large one by my father."
"I know. The proceeds of lawyering also."
"Not altogether. My mother brought a fortune on her marriage, and it enabled my father to speculate successfully. I have been looking out for an eligible property to invest my money upon, and East Lynne will suit me well, provided I can have the refusal of it, and we can agree about the terms."
Lord Mount Severn mused for a few moments before he spoke. "Mr. Carlyle," he began, "my affairs are very bad, and ready money I must find somewhere. Now East Lynne is not entailed, neither is it mortgaged to anything like its value, though the latter fact, as you may imagine, is not patent to the world. When I bought it at a bargain, eighteen years ago, you were the lawyer on the other side, I remember."
"My father," smiled Mr. Carlyle. "I was a child at the time."
"Of course, I ought to have said your father. By selling East Lynne, a few thousands will come into my hands, after claims on it are settled; I have no other means of raising the wind, and that is why I have resolved to part with it. But now, understand, if it were known abroad that East Lynne is going from me, I should have a hornet's nest about my ears; so that it must be disposed of privately. Do you comprehend?"
"Perfectly," replied Mr. Carlyle.
"I would as soon you bought it as anyone else, if, as you say, we can agree about terms."
"What does your lordship expect for it—at a rough estimate?"
"For particulars I must refer you to my men of business, Warburton & Ware. Not less than seventy thousand pounds."
"Too much, my lord," cried Mr. Carlyle, decisively.
"And that's not its value," returned the earl.
"These forced sales never do fetch their value," answered the plain-speaking lawyer. "Until this hint was given me by Beauchamp, I had thought East Lynne was settled upon your lordship's daughter."
"There's nothing settled on her," rejoined the earl, the contraction on his brow standing out more plainly. "That comes of your thoughtless runaway marriages. I fell in love with General Conway's daughter, and she ran away with me, like a fool; that is, we were both fools together for our pains. The general objected to me and said I must sow my wild oats before he would give me Mary; so I took her to Gretna Green, and she became Countess of Mount Severn, without a settlement. It was an unfortunate affair, taking one thing with another. When her elopement was made known to the general, it killed him."
"Killed him!" interrupted Mr. Carlyle.
"It did. He had disease of the heart, and the excitement brought on the crisis. My poor wife never was happy from that hour; she blamed herself for her father's death, and I believe it led to her own. She was ill for years; the doctors called it consumption; but it was more like a wasting insensibly away, and consumption never had been in her family. No luck ever attends runaway marriages; I have noticed it since, in many, many instances; something bad is sure to turn up from it."
"There might have been a settlement executed after the marriage," observed Mr. Carlyle, for the earl had stopped, and seemed lost in thought.
"I know there might; but there was not. My wife had possessed no fortune; I was already deep in my career of extravagance, and neither of us thought of making provision for our future children; or, if we thought of it, we did not do it. There is an old saying, Mr. Carlyle, that what may be done at any time is never done."
Mr. Carlyle bowed.
"So my child is portionless," resumed the earl, with a suppressed sigh. "The thought that it may be an embarrassing thing for her, were I to die before she is settled in life, crosses my mind when I am in a serious mood. That she will marry well, there is little doubt, for she possesses beauty in a rare degree, and has been reared as an English girl should be, not to frivolity and foppery. She was trained by her mother, who save for the mad act she was persuaded into by me, was all goodness and refinement, for the first twelve years of her life, and since then by an admirable governess. No fear that she will be decamping to Gretna Green."
"She was a very lovely child," observed the lawyer; "I remember that."
"Ay; you have seen her at East Lynne, in her mother's lifetime. But, to return to business. If you become the purchaser of the East Lynne estate, Mr. Carlyle, it must be under the rose. The money that it brings, after paying off the mortgage, I must have, as I tell you, for my private use; and you know I should not be able to touch a farthing of it if the confounded public got an inkling of the transfer. In the eyes of the world, the proprietor of East Lynne must be Lord Mount Severn—at least for some little time afterwards. Perhaps you will not object to that."
Mr. Carlyle considered before replying; and then the conversation was resumed, when it was decided that he should see Warburton and Ware the first thing in the morning, and confer with them. It was growing late when he rose to leave.
"Stay and dine with me," said the earl.
Mr. Carlyle hesitated, and looked down at his dress—a plain, gentlemanly, morning attire, but certainly not a dinner costume for a peer's table.
"Oh, that's nothing," said the earl; "we shall be quite alone, except my daughter. Mrs. Vane, of Castle Marling, is staying with us. She came up to present my child at the last drawing-room, but I think I heard something about her dining out to-day. If not, we will have it by ourselves here. Oblige me by touching the bell, Mr. Carlyle."
The servant entered.
"Inquire whether Mrs. Vane dines at home," said the earl.
"Mrs. Vane dines out, my lord," was the man's immediate reply. "The carriage is at the door now."
"Very well. Mr. Carlyle remains."
At seven o'clock the dinner was announced, and the earl wheeled into the adjoining room. As he and Mr. Carlyle entered it at one door, some one else came in by the opposite one. Who—what—was it? Mr. Carlyle looked, not quite sure whether it was a human being—he almost thought it more like an angel.
A light, graceful, girlish form; a face of surpassing beauty, beauty that is rarely seen, save from the imagination of a painter; dark shining curls falling on her neck and shoulders, smooth as a child's; fair, delicate arms decorated with pearls, and a flowing dress of costly white lace. Altogether the vision did indeed look to the lawyer as one from a fairer world than this.
"My daughter, Mr. Carlyle, the Lady Isabel."
They took their seats at the table, Lord Mount Severn at its head, in spite of his gout and his footstool. And the young lady and Mr. Carlyle opposite each other. Mr. Carlyle had not deemed himself a particular admirer of women's beauty, but the extraordinary loveliness of the young girl before him nearly took away his senses and his self-possession. Yet it was not so much the perfect contour or the exquisite features that struck him, or the rich damask of the delicate cheek, or the luxuriant falling hair; no, it was the sweet expression of the soft dark eyes. Never in his life had he seen eyes so pleasing. He could not keep his gaze from her, and he became conscious, as he grew more familiar with her face, that there was in its character a sad, sorrowful look; only at times was it to be noticed, when the features were at repose, and it lay chiefly in the very eyes he was admiring. Never does this unconsciously mournful expression exist, but it is a sure index of sorrow and suffering; but Mr. Carlyle understood it not. And who could connect sorrow with the anticipated brilliant future of Isabel Vane?
"Isabel," observed the earl, "you are dressed."
"Yes, papa. Not to keep old Mrs. Levison waiting tea. She likes to take it early, and I know Mrs. Vane must have kept her waiting dinner. It was half-past six when she drove from here."
"I hope you will not be late to-night, Isabel."
"It depends upon Mrs. Vane."
"Then I am sure you will be. When the young ladies in this fashionable world of ours turn night into day, it is a bad thing for their roses. What say you, Mr. Carlyle?"
Mr. Carlyle glanced at the roses on the cheeks opposite to him; they looked too fresh and bright to fade lightly.
At the conclusion of dinner a maid entered the room with a white cashmere mantle, placing it over the shoulders of her young lady, as she said the carriage was waiting.
Lady Isabel advanced to the earl. "Good-bye, papa."
"Good-night, my love," he answered, drawing her toward him, and kissing her sweet face. "Tell Mrs. Vane I will not have you kept out till morning hours. You are but a child yet. Mr. Carlyle, will you ring? I am debarred from seeing my daughter to the carriage."
"If your lordship will allow me—if Lady Isabel will pardon the attendance of one little used to wait upon young ladies, I shall be proud to see her to her carriage," was the somewhat confused answer of Mr. Carlyle as he touched the bell.
The earl thanked him, and the young lady smiled, and Mr. Carlyle conducted her down the broad, lighted staircase and stood bareheaded by the door of the luxurious chariot, and handed her in. She put out her hand in her frank, pleasant manner, as she wished him good night. The carriage rolled on its way, and Mr. Carlyle returned to the earl.
"Well, is she not a handsome girl?" he demanded.
"Handsome is not the word for beauty such as hers," was Mr. Carlyle's reply, in a low, warm tone. "I never saw a face half so beautiful."
"She caused quite a sensation at the drawing-room last week—as I hear. This everlasting gout kept me indoors all day. And she is as good as she is beautiful."
The earl was not partial. Lady Isabel was wondrously gifted by nature, not only in mind and person but in heart. She was as little like a fashionable young lady as it was well possible to be, partly because she had hitherto been secluded from the great world, partly from the care bestowed upon her training. During the lifetime of her mother, she had lived occasionally at East Lynne, but mostly at a larger seat of the earl's in Wales, Mount Severn; since her mother's death, she had remained entirely at Mount Severn, under the charge of a judicious governess, a very small establishment being kept for them, and the earl paying them impromptu and flying visits. Generous and benevolent she was, timid and sensitive to a degree, gentle, and considerate to all. Do not cavil at her being thus praised—admire and love her whilst you may, she is worthy of it now, in her innocent girlhood; the time will come when such praise would be misplaced. Could the fate that was to overtake his child have been foreseen by the earl, he would have struck her down to death, in his love, as she stood before him, rather than suffer her to enter upon it.
THE BROKEN CROSS.
Lady Isabel's carriage continued its way, and deposited her at the residence of Mrs. Levison. Mrs. Levison was nearly eighty years of age, and very severe in speech and manner, or, as Mrs. Vane expressed it, "crabbed." She looked the image of impatience when Isabel entered, with her cap pushed all awry, and pulling at the black satin gown, for Mrs. Vane had kept her waiting dinner, and Isabel was keeping her from her tea; and that does not agree with the aged, with their health or with their temper.
"I fear I am late," exclaimed Lady Isabel, as she advanced to Mrs. Levison; "but a gentleman dined with papa to-day, and it made us rather longer at table."
"You are twenty-five minutes behind your time," cried the old lady sharply, "and I want my tea. Emma, order it in."
Mrs. Vane rang the bell, and did as she was bid. She was a little woman of six-and-twenty, very plain in face, but elegant in figure, very accomplished, and vain to her fingers' ends. Her mother, who was dead, had been Mrs. Levison's daughter, and her husband, Raymond Vane, was presumptive heir to the earldom of Mount Severn.
"Won't you take that tippet off, child?" asked Mrs. Levison, who knew nothing of the new-fashioned names for such articles, mantles, burnous, and all the string of them; and Isabel threw it off and sat down by her.
"The tea is not made, grandmamma!" exclaimed Mrs. Vane, in an accent of astonishment, as the servant appeared with the tray and the silver urn. "You surely do not have it made in the room."
"Where should I have it made?" inquired Mrs. Levison.
"It is much more convenient to have it brought in, ready made," said Mrs. Vane. "I dislike the embarass of making it."
"Indeed!" was the reply of the old lady; "and get it slopped over in the saucers, and as cold as milk! You always were lazy, Emma—and given to use those French words. I'd rather stick a printed label on my forehead, for my part, 'I speak French,' and let the world know it in that way."
"Who makes tea for you in general?" asked Mrs. Vane, telegraphing a contemptuous glance to Isabel behind her grandmother.
But the eyes of Lady Isabel fell timidly and a blush rose to her cheeks. She did not like to appear to differ from Mrs. Vane, her senior, and her father's guest, but her mind revolted at the bare idea of ingratitude or ridicule cast on an aged parent.
"Harriet comes in and makes it for me," replied Mrs. Levison; "aye, and sits down and takes it with me when I am alone, which is pretty often. What do you say to that, Madame Emma—you, with your fine notions?"
"Just as you please, of course, grandmamma."
"And there's the tea-caddy at your elbow, and the urn's fizzing away, and if we are to have any tea to-night, it had better be made."
"I don't know how much to put in," grumbled Mrs. Vane, who had the greatest horror of soiling her hands or her gloves; who, in short, had a particular antipathy to doing anything useful.
"Shall I make it, dear Mrs. Levison?" said Isabel, rising with alacrity. "I had used to make it quite as often as my governess at Mount Severn, and I make it for papa."
"Do, child," replied the old lady. "You are worth ten of her."
Isabel laughed merrily, drew off her gloves, and sat down to the table; and at that moment a young and elegant man lounged into the room. He was deemed handsome, with his clearly-cut features, his dark eyes, his raven hair, and his white teeth; but to a keen observer those features had not an attractive expression, and the dark eyes had a great knack of looking away while he spoke to you. It was Francis, Captain Levison.
He was grandson to the old lady, and first cousin to Mrs. Vane. Few men were so fascinating in manners, at times and seasons, in face and in form, few men won so completely upon their hearers' ears, and few were so heartless in their hearts of hearts. The world courted him, and society honored him; for, though he was a graceless spendthrift, and it was known that he was, he was the presumptive heir to the old and rich Sir Peter Levison.
The ancient lady spoke up, "Captain Levison, Lady Isabel Vane." They both acknowledged the introduction; and Isabel, a child yet in the ways of the world, flushed crimson at the admiring looks cast upon her by the young guardsman. Strange—strange that she should make the acquaintance of these two men in the same day, almost in the same hour; the two, of all the human race, who were to exercise so powerful an influence over her future life!
"That's a pretty cross, child," cried Mrs. Levison as Isabel stood by her when tea was over, and she and Mrs. Vane were about to depart on their evening visit.
She alluded to a golden cross, set with seven emeralds, which Isabel wore on her neck. It was of light, delicate texture, and was suspended from a thin, short, gold chain.
"Is it not pretty?" answered Isabel. "It was given me by my dear mamma just before she died. Stay, I will take it off for you. I only wear it upon great occasions."
This, her first appearance at the grand duke's, seemed a very great occasion to the simply-reared and inexperienced girl. She unclasped the chain, and placed it with the cross in the hands of Mrs. Levison.
"Why, I declare you have nothing on but that cross and some rubbishing pearl bracelets!" uttered Mrs. Vane to Isabel. "I did not look at you before."
"Mamma gave me both. The bracelets are those she used frequently to wear."
"You old-fashioned child! Because your mamma wore those bracelets, years ago, is that a reason for your doing so?" retorted Mrs. Vane. "Why did you not put on your diamonds?"
"I—did—put on my diamonds; but I—took them off again," stammered Isabel.
"What on earth for?"
"I did not like to look too fine," answered Isabel, with a laugh and a blush. "They glittered so! I feared it might be thought I had put them on to look fine."
"Ah! I see you mean to set up in that class of people who pretend to despise ornaments," scornfully remarked Mrs. Vane. "It is the refinement of affectation, Lady Isabel."
The sneer fell harmlessly on Lady Isabel's ear. She only believed something had put Mrs. Vane out of temper. It certainly had; and that something, though Isabel little suspected it, was the evident admiration Captain Levison evinced for her fresh, young beauty; it quite absorbed him, and rendered him neglectful even of Mrs. Vane.
"Here, child, take your cross," said the old lady. "It is very pretty; prettier on your neck than diamonds would be. You don't want embellishing; never mind what Emma says."
Francis Levison took the cross and chain from her hand to pass them to Lady Isabel. Whether he was awkward, or whether her hands were full, for she held her gloves, her handkerchief, and had just taken up her mantle, certain it is that it fell; and the gentleman, in his too quick effort to regain it, managed to set his foot upon it, and the cross was broken in two.
"There! Now whose fault was that?" cried Mrs. Levison.
Isabel did not answer; her heart was very full. She took the broken cross, and the tears dropped from her eyes; she could not help it.
"Why! You are never crying over a stupid bauble of a cross!" uttered Mrs. Vane, interrupting Captain Levison's expression of regret at his awkwardness.
"You can have it mended, dear," interposed Mrs. Levison.
Lady Isabel chased away the tears, and turned to Captain Levison with a cheerful look. "Pray do not blame yourself," she good-naturedly said; "the fault was as much mine as yours; and, as Mrs. Levison says, I can get it mended."
She disengaged the upper part of the cross from the chain as she spoke, and clasped the latter round her throat.
"You will not go with that thin string of gold on, and nothing else!" uttered Mrs. Vane.
"Why not?" returned Isabel. "If people say anything, I can tell them an accident happened to the cross."
Mrs. Vane burst into a laugh of mocking ridicule. "'If people say anything!'" she repeated, in a tone according with the laugh. "They are not likely to 'say anything,' but they will deem Lord Mount Severn's daughter unfortunately short of jewellery."
Isabel smiled and shook her head. "They saw my diamonds at the drawing-room."
"If you had done such an awkward thing for me, Frank Levison," burst forth the old lady, "my doors should have been closed against you for a month. There, if you are to go, Emma, you had better go; dancing off to begin an evening at ten o'clock at night! In my time we used to go at seven; but it's the custom now to turn night into day."
"When George the Third dined at one o'clock upon boiled mutton and turnips," put in the graceless captain, who certainly held his grandmother in no greater reverence than did Mrs. Vane.
He turned to Isabel as he spoke, to hand her downstairs. Thus she was conducted to her carriage the second time that night by a stranger. Mrs. Vane got down by herself, as she best could, and her temper was not improved by the process.
"Good-night," said she to the captain.
"I shall not say good-night. You will find me there almost as soon as you."
"You told me you were not coming. Some bachelor's party in the way."
"Yes, but I have changed my mind. Farewell for the present, Lady Isabel."
"What an object you will look, with nothing on your neck but a schoolgirl's chain!" began Mrs. Vane, returning to the grievance as the carriage drove on.
"Oh, Mrs. Vane, what does it signify? I can only think of my broken cross. I am sure it must be an evil omen."
"An evil omen. Mamma gave me that cross when she was dying. She told me to let it be to me as a talisman, always to keep it safely; and when I was in any distress, or in need of counsel, to look at it and strive to recall what her advice would be, and to act accordingly. And now it is broken—broken!"
A glaring gaslight flashed into the carriage, right into the face of Isabel. "I declare," uttered Mrs. Vane, "you are crying again! I tell you what it is, Isabel, I am not going to chaperone red eyes to the Duchess of Dartford's, so if you can't put a stop to this, I shall order the carriage home, and go on alone."
Isabel meekly dried her eyes, sighing deeply as she did so. "I can have the pieces joined, I dare say; but it will never be the same cross to me again."
"What have you done with the pieces?" irascibly asked Mrs. Vane.
"I folded them in the thin paper Mrs. Levison gave me, and put it inside my frock. Here it is," touching the body. "I have no pocket on."
Mrs. Vane gave vent to a groan. She never had been a girl herself—she had been a woman at ten; and she complimented Isabel upon being little better than an imbecile. "Put it inside my frock!" she uttered in a torrent of scorn. "And you eighteen years of age! I fancied you left off 'frocks' when you left the nursery. For shame, Isabel!"
"I meant to say my dress," corrected Isabel.
"Meant to say you are a baby idiot!" was the inward comment of Mrs. Vane.
A few minutes and Isabel forgot her grievance. The brilliant rooms were to her as an enchanting scene of dreamland, for her heart was in its springtide of early freshness, and the satiety of experience had not come. How could she remember trouble, even the broken cross, as she bent to the homage offered her and drank in the honeyed words poured forth into her ear?
"Halloo!" cried an Oxford student, with a long rent-roll in prospective, who was screwing himself against the wall, not to be in the way of the waltzers, "I thought you had given up coming to these places?"
"So I had," replied the fast nobleman addressed, the son of a marquis. "But I am on the lookout, so am forced into them again. I think a ball-room the greatest bore in life."
"On the lookout for what?"
"For a wife. My governor has stopped supplies, and has vowed by his beard not to advance another shilling, or pay a debt, till I reform. As a preliminary step toward it, he insists upon a wife, and I am trying to choose one for I am deeper in debt than you imagine."
"Take the new beauty, then."
"Who is she?"
"Lady Isabel Vane."
"Much obliged for the suggestion," replied the earl. "But one likes a respectable father-in-law, and Mount Severn is going to smash. He and I are too much in the same line, and might clash, in the long run."
"One can't have everything; the girl's beauty is beyond common. I saw that rake, Levison, make up to her. He fancies he can carry all before him, where women are concerned."
"So he does, often," was his quiet reply.
"I hate the fellow! He thinks so much of himself, with his curled hair and shining teeth, and his white skin; and he's as heartless as an owl. What was that hushed-up business about Miss Charteris?"
"Who's to know? Levison slipped out of the escapade like an eel, and the woman protested that he was more sinned against than sinning. Three-fourths of the world believed them."
"And she went abroad and died; and Levison here he comes! And Mount Severn's daughter with him."
They were approaching at that moment, Francis Levison and Lady Isabel. He was expressing his regret at the untoward accident of the cross for the tenth time that night. "I feel that it can never be atoned for," whispered he; "that the heartfelt homage of my whole life would not be sufficient compensation."
He spoke in a tone of thrilling gentleness, gratifying to the ear but dangerous to the heart. Lady Isabel glanced up and caught his eyes gazing upon her with the deepest tenderness—a language hers had never yet encountered. A vivid blush again arose to her cheek, her eyelids fell, and her timid words died away in silence.
"Take care, take care, my young Lady Isabel," murmured the Oxonian under his breath, as they passed him, "that man is as false as he is fair."
"I think he is a rascal," remarked the earl.
"I know he is; I know a thing or two about him. He would ruin her heart for the renown of the exploit, because she's a beauty, and then fling it away broken. He has none to give in return for the gift."
"Just as much as my new race-horse has," concluded the earl. "She is very beautiful."
West Lynne was a town of some importance, particularly in its own eyes, though being neither a manufacturing one nor a cathedral one, nor even the chief town of the county, it was somewhat primitive in its manners and customs. Passing out at the town, toward the east, you came upon several detached gentleman's houses, in the vicinity of which stood the church of St. Jude, which was more aristocratic, in the matter of its congregation, than the other churches of West Lynne. For about a mile these houses were scattered, the church being situated at their commencement, close to that busy part of the place, and about a mile further on you came upon the beautiful estate which was called East Lynne.
Between the gentlemen's houses mentioned and East Lynne, the mile of road was very solitary, being much overshadowed with trees. One house alone stood there, and that was about three-quarters of a mile before you came to East Lynne. It was on the left hand side, a square, ugly, red brick house with a weathercock on the top, standing some little distance from the road. A flat lawn extended before it, and close to the palings, which divided it from the road, was a grove of trees, some yards in depth. The lawn was divided by a narrow middle gravel path, to which you gained access from the portico of the house. You entered upon a large flagged hall with a reception room on either hand, and the staircase, a wide one, facing you; by the side of the staircase you passed on to the servants' apartments and offices. That place was called the Grove, and was the property and residence of Richard Hare, Esq., commonly called Mr. Justice Hare.
The room to the left hand, as you went in, was the general sitting-room; the other was very much kept boxed up in lavender and brown Holland, to be opened on state occasions. Justice and Mrs. Hare had three children, a son and two daughters. Annie was the elder of the girls, and had married young; Barbara, the younger was now nineteen, and Richard the eldest—but we shall come to him hereafter.
In this sitting-room, on a chilly evening, early in May, a few days subsequent to that which had witnessed the visit of Mr. Carlyle to the Earl of Mount Severn, sat Mrs. Hare, a pale, delicate woman, buried in shawls and cushions: but the day had been warm. At the window sat a pretty girl, very fair, with blue eyes, light hair, a bright complexion, and small aquiline features. She was listlessly turning over the leaves of a book.
"Barbara, I am sure it must be tea-time now."
"The time seems to move slowly with you, mamma. It is scarcely a quarter of an hour since I told you it was but ten minutes past six."
"I am so thirsty!" announced the poor invalid. "Do go and look at the clock again, Barbara."
Barbara Hare rose with a gesture of impatience, not suppressed, opened the door, and glanced at the large clock in the hall. "It wants nine and twenty minutes to seven, mamma. I wish you would put your watch on of a day; four times you have sent me to look at that clock since dinner."
"I am so thirsty!" repeated Mrs. Hare, with a sort of sob. "If seven o'clock would but strike! I am dying for my tea."
It may occur to the reader, that a lady in her own house, "dying for her tea," might surely order it brought in, although the customary hour had not struck. Not so Mrs. Hare. Since her husband had first brought her home to that house, four and twenty-years ago, she had never dared to express a will in it; scarcely, on her own responsibility, to give an order. Justice Hare was stern, imperative, obstinate, and self-conceited; she, timid, gentle and submissive. She had loved him with all her heart, and her life had been one long yielding of her will to his; in fact, she had no will; his was all in all. Far was she from feeling the servitude a yoke: some natures do not: and to do Mr. Hare justice, his powerful will that must bear down all before it, was in fault: not his kindness: he never meant to be unkind to his wife. Of his three children, Barbara alone had inherited his will.
"Barbara," began Mrs. Hare again, when she thought another quarter of an hour at least must have elapsed.
"Ring, and tell them to be getting it in readiness so that when seven strikes there may be no delay."
"Goodness, mamma! You know they do always have it ready. And there's no such hurry, for papa may not be at home." But she rose, and rang the bell with a petulant motion, and when the man answered it, told him to have tea in to its time.
"If you knew dear, how dry my throat is, how parched my mouth, you would have more patience with me."
Barbara closed her book with a listless air, and turned listlessly to the window. She seemed tired, not with fatigue but with what the French express by the word ennui. "Here comes papa," she presently said.
"Oh, I am so glad!" cried poor Mrs. Hare. "Perhaps he will not mind having the tea in at once, if I told him how thirsty I am."
The justice came in. A middle sized man, with pompous features, and a pompous walk, and a flaxen wig. In his aquiline nose, compressed lips, and pointed chin, might be traced a resemblance to his daughter; though he never could have been half so good-looking as was pretty Barbara.
"Richard," spoke up Mrs. Hare from between her shawls, the instant he opened the door.
"Would you please let me have tea in now? Would you very much mind taking it a little earlier this evening? I am feverish again, and my tongue is so parched I don't know how to speak."
"Oh, it's near seven; you won't have long to wait."
With this exceedingly gracious answer to an invalid's request, Mr. Hare quitted the room again and banged the door. He had not spoken unkindly or roughly, simply with indifference. But ere Mrs. Hare's meek sigh of disappointment was over, the door re-opened, and the flaxen wig was thrust in again.
"I don't mind if I do have it now. It will be a fine moonlight night and I am going with Pinner as far as Beauchamp's to smoke a pipe. Order it in, Barbara."
The tea was made and partaken of, and the justice departed for Mr. Beauchamp's, Squire Pinner calling for him at the gate. Mr. Beauchamp was a gentleman who farmed a great deal of land, and who was also Lord Mount Severn's agent or steward for East Lynne. He lived higher up the road some little distance beyond East Lynne.
"I am so cold, Barbara," shivered Mrs. Hare, as she watched the justice down the gravel path. "I wonder if your papa would say it was foolish of me, if I told them to light a bit of fire?"
"Have it lighted if you like," responded Barbara, ringing the bell. "Papa will know nothing about it, one way or the other, for he won't be home till after bedtime. Jasper, mamma is cold, and would like a fire lighted."
"Plenty of sticks, Jasper, that it may burn up quickly," said Mrs. Hare, in a pleading voice, as if the sticks were Jasper's and not hers.
Mrs. Hare got her fire, and she drew her chair in front, and put her feet on the fender, to catch its warmth. Barbara, listless still, went into the hall, took a woolen shawl from the stand there, threw it over her shoulders, and went out. She strolled down the straight formal path, and stood at the iron gate, looking over it into the public road. Not very public in that spot, and at that hour, but as lonely as one could wish. The night was calm and pleasant, though somewhat chilly for the beginning of May, and the moon was getting high in the sky.
"When will he come home?" she murmured, as she leaned her head upon the gate. "Oh, what would life be like without him? How miserable these few days have been! I wonder what took him there! I wonder what is detaining him! Corny said he was only gone for a day."
The faint echo of footsteps in the distance stole upon her ear, and Barbara drew a little back, and hid herself under the shelter of the trees, not choosing to be seen by any stray passer-by. But, as they drew near, a sudden change came over her; her eyes lighted up, her cheeks were dyed with crimson, and her veins tingled with excess of rapture—for she knew those footsteps, and loved them, only too well.
Cautiously peeping over the gate again, she looked down the road. A tall form, whose very height and strength bore a grace of which its owner was unconscious, was advancing rapidly toward her from the direction of West Lynne. Again she shrank away; true love is ever timid; and whatever may have been Barbara Hare's other qualities, her love at least was true and deep. But instead of the gate opening, with the firm quick motion peculiar to the hand which guided it, the footsteps seemed to pass, and not to have turned at all toward it. Barbara's heart sank, and she stole to the gate again, and looked out with a yearning look.
Yes, sure enough he was striding on, not thinking of her, not coming to her; and she, in the disappointment and impulse of the moment, called to him,—
Mr. Carlyle—it was no other—turned on his heel, and approached the gate.
"Is it you, Barbara! Watching for thieves and poachers? How are you?"
"How are you?" she returned, holding the gate open for him to enter, as he shook hands, and striving to calm down her agitation. "When did you return?"
"Only now, by the eight o'clock train, which got in beyond its time, having drawled unpardonably at the stations. They little thought they had me in it, as their looks betrayed when I got out. I have not been home yet."
"No! What will Cornelia say?"
"I went to the office for five minutes. But I have a few words to say to Beauchamp, and am going up at once. Thank you, I cannot come in now; I intend to do so on my return."
"Papa has gone up to Mr. Beauchamp's."
"Mr. Hare! Has he?"
"He and Squire Pinner," continued Barbara. "They have gone to have a smoking bout. And if you wait there with papa, it will be too late to come in, for he is sure not to be home before eleven or twelve."
Mr. Carlyle bent his head in deliberation. "Then I think it is of little use my going on," said he, "for my business with Beauchamp is private. I must defer it until to-morrow."
He took the gate out of her hand, closed it, and placed the hand within his own arm, to walk with her to the house. It was done in a matter-of-fact, real sort of way; nothing of romance or sentiment hallowed it; but Barbara Hare felt that she was in Eden.
"And how have you all been, Barbara, these few days?"
"Oh, very well. What made you start off so suddenly? You never said you were going, or came to wish us good-bye."
"You have just expressed it, Barbara—'suddenly.' A matter of business suddenly arose, and I suddenly went upon it."
"Cornelia said you were only gone for a day."
"Did she? When in London I find so many things to do! Is Mrs. Hare better?"
"Just the same. I think mamma's ailments are fancies, half of them; if she would rouse herself she would be better. What is in that parcel?"
"You are not to inquire, Miss Barbara. It does not concern you. It only concerns Mrs. Hare."
"Is it something you have brought for mamma, Archibald?"
"Of course. A countryman's visit to London entails buying presents for his friends; at least, it used to be so, in the old-fashioned days."
"When people made their wills before starting, and were a fortnight doing the journey in a wagon," laughed Barbara. "Grandpapa used to tell us tales of that, when we were children. But is it really something for mamma?"
"Don't I tell you so? I have brought something for you."
"Oh! What is it?" she uttered, her color rising, and wondering whether he was in jest or earnest.
"There's an impatient girl! 'What is it?' Wait a moment, and you shall see what it is."
He put the parcel or roll he was carrying upon a garden chair, and proceeded to search his pockets. Every pocket was visited, apparently in vain.
"Barbara, I think it is gone. I must have lost it somehow."
Her heart beat as she stood there, silently looking up at him in the moonlight. Was it lost? What had it been?
But, upon a second search, he came upon something in the pocket of his coat-tail. "Here it is, I believe; what brought it there?" He opened a small box, and taking out a long, gold chain, threw it around her neck. A locket was attached to it.
Her cheeks' crimson went and came; her heart beat more rapidly. She could not speak a word of thanks; and Mr. Carlyle took up the roll, and walked on into the presence of Mrs. Hare.
Barbara followed in a few minutes. Her mother was standing up, watching with pleased expectation the movements of Mr. Carlyle. No candles were in the room, but it was bright with firelight.
"Now, don't laugh at me," quoth he, untying the string of the parcel. "It is not a roll of velvet for a dress, and it is not a roll of parchment, conferring twenty thousand pounds a year. But it is—an air cushion!"
It was what poor Mrs. Hare, so worn with sitting and lying, had often longed for. She had heard such a luxury was to be bought in London, but never remembered to have seen one. She took it almost with a greedy hand, casting a grateful look at Mr. Carlyle.
"How am I to thank you for it?" she murmured through her tears.
"If you thank me at all, I will never bring you anything again," cried he, gaily. "I have been telling Barbara that a visit to London entails bringing gifts for friends," he continued. "Do you see how smart I have made her?"
Barbara hastily took off the chain, and laid it before her mother.
"What a beautiful chain!" muttered Mrs. Hare, in surprise. "Archibald, you are too good, too generous! This must have cost a great deal; this is beyond a trifle."
"Nonsense!" laughed Mr. Carlyle. "I'll tell you both how I happened to buy it. I went into a jeweller's about my watch, which has taken to lose lately in a most unceremonious fashion, and there I saw a whole display of chains hanging up; some ponderous enough for a sheriff, some light and elegant enough for Barbara. I dislike to see a thick chain on a lady's neck. They put me in mind of the chain she lost, the day she and Cornelia went with me to Lynchborough, which loss Barbara persisted in declaring was my fault, for dragging her through the town sight-seeing, while Cornelia did her shopping—for it was then the chain was lost."
"But I was only joking when I said so," was the interruption of Barbara. "Of course it would have happened had you not been with me; the links were always snapping."
"Well, these chains in the shop in London put me in mind of Barbara's misfortune, and I chose one. Then the shopman brought forth some lockets, and enlarged upon their convenience for holding deceased relatives' hair, not to speak of sweethearts', until I told him he might attach one. I thought it might hold that piece of hair you prize, Barbara," he concluded, dropping his voice.
"What piece?" asked Mrs. Hare.
Mr. Carlyle glanced round the room, as if fearful the very walls might hear his whisper. "Richard's. Barbara showed it me one day when she was turning out her desk, and said it was a curl taken off in that illness."
Mrs. Hare sank back in her chair, and hid her face in her hands, shivering visibly. The words evidently awoke some poignant source of deep sorrow. "Oh, my boy! My boy!" she wailed—"my boy! My unhappy boy! Mr. Hare wonders at my ill-health, Archibald; Barbara ridicules it; but there lies the source of all my misery, mental and bodily. Oh, Richard! Richard!"
There was a distressing pause, for the topic admitted of neither hope nor consolation. "Put your chain on again, Barbara," Mr. Carlyle said, after a while, "and I wish you health to wear it out. Health and reformation, young lady!"
Barbara smiled and glanced at him with her pretty blue eyes, so full of love. "What have you brought for Cornelia?" she resumed.
"Something splendid," he answered, with a mock serious face; "only I hope I have not been taken in. I bought her a shawl. The venders vowed it was true Parisian cashmere. I gave eighteen guineas for it."
"That is a great deal," observed Mrs. Hare. "It ought to be a very good one. I never gave more than six guineas for a shawl in all my life."
"And Cornelia, I dare say, never more than half six," laughed Mr. Carlyle. "Well, I shall wish you good evening, and go to her; for if she knows I am back all this while, I shall be lectured."
He shook hands with them both. Barbara, however, accompanied him to the front door, and stepped outside with him.
"You will catch cold, Barbara. You have left your shawl indoors."
"Oh, no, I shall not. How very soon you are leaving. You have scarcely stayed ten minutes."
"But you forget I have not been at home."
"You were on your road to Beauchamp's, and would not have been at home for an hour or two in that case," spoke Barbara, in a tone that savored of resentment.
"That was different; that was upon business. But, Barbara, I think your mother looks unusually ill."
"You know she suffers a little thing to upset her; and last night she had what she calls one of her dreams," answered Barbara. "She says that it is a warning that something bad is going to happen, and she has been in the most unhappy, feverish state possible all day. Papa has been quite angry over her being so weak and nervous, declaring that she ought to rouse herself out of her 'nerves.' Of course we dare not tell him about the dream."
"It related to—the——"
Mr. Carlyle stopped, and Barbara glanced round with a shudder, and drew closer to him as she whispered. He had not given her his arm this time.
"Yes, to the murder. You know mamma has always declared that Bethel had something to do with it; she says her dreams would have convinced her of it, if nothing else did; and she dreamt she saw him with—with—you know."
"Hallijohn?" whispered Mr. Carlyle.
"With Hallijohn," assented Barbara, with a shiver. "He was standing over him as he lay on the floor; just as he did lay on it. And that wretched Afy was standing at the end of the kitchen, looking on."
"But Mrs. Hare ought not to suffer dreams to disturb her peace by day," remonstrated Mr. Carlyle. "It is not to be surprised at that she dreams of the murder, because she is always dwelling upon it; but she should strive and throw the feeling from her with the night."
"You know what mamma is. Of course she ought to do so, but she does not. Papa wonders what makes her get up so ill and trembling of a morning; and mamma has to make all sorts of evasive excuses; for not a hint, as you are aware, must be breathed to him about the murder."
Mr. Carlyle gravely nodded.
"Mamma does so harp about Bethel. And I know that dream arose from nothing in the world but because she saw him pass the gate yesterday. Not that she thinks that it was he who did it; unfortunately, there is no room for that; but she will persist that he had a hand in it in some way, and he haunts her dreams."
Mr. Carlyle walked on in silence; indeed there was no reply that he could make. A cloud had fallen upon the house of Mr. Hare, and it was an unhappy subject. Barbara continued,—
"But for mamma to have taken it into her head that 'some evil is going to happen,' because she had this dream, and to make herself miserable over it, is so absurd, that I have felt quite cross with her all day. Such nonsense, you know, Archibald, to believe that dreams give signs of what is going to happen, so far behind these enlightened days!"
"Your mamma's trouble is great, Barbara; and she is not strong."
"I think all our troubles have been great since—since that dark evening," responded Barbara.
"Have you heard from Anne?" inquired Mr. Carlyle, willing to change the subject.
"Yes, she is very well. What do you think they are going to name the baby? Anne; after her mamma. So very ugly a name! Anne!"
"I do not think so," said Mr. Carlyle. "It is simple and unpretending, I like it much. Look at the long, pretentious names of our family—Archibald! Cornelia! And yours, too—Barbara! What a mouthful they all are!"
Barbara contracted her eyebrows. It was equivalent to saying that he did not like her name.
They reached the gate, and Mr. Carlyle was about to pass out of it when Barbara laid her hand on his arm to detain him, and spoke in a timid voice,—
"What is it?"
"I have not said a word of thanks to you for this," she said, touching the chain and locket; "my tongue seemed tied. Do not deem me ungrateful."
"You foolish girl! It is not worth them. There! Now I am paid. Good-night, Barbara."
He had bent down and kissed her cheek, swung through the gate, laughing, and strode away. "Don't say I never gave you anything," he turned his head round to say, "Good-night."
All her veins were tingling, all her pulses beating; her heart was throbbing with its sense of bliss. He had never kissed her, that she could remember, since she was a child. And when she returned indoors, her spirits were so extravagantly high that Mrs. Hare wondered.
"Ring for the lamp, Barbara, and you can get to your work. But don't have the shutters closed; I like to look out on these light nights."
Barbara, however, did not get to her work; she also, perhaps, liked "looking out on a light night," for she sat down at the window. She was living the last half hour over again. "'Don't say I never gave you anything,'" she murmured; "did he allude to the chain or to the—kiss? Oh, Archibald, why don't you say that you love me?"
Mr. Carlyle had been all his life upon intimate terms with the Hare family. His father's first wife—for the late lawyer Carlyle had been twice married—had been a cousin of Justice Hare's, and this had caused them to be much together. Archibald, the child of the second Mrs. Carlyle, had alternately teased and petted Anne and Barbara Hare, boy fashion. Sometimes he quarreled with the pretty little girls, sometimes he caressed them, as he would have done had they been his sisters; and he made no scruple of declaring publicly to the pair that Anne was his favorite. A gentle, yielding girl she was, like her mother; whereas Barbara displayed her own will, and it sometimes clashed with young Carlyle's.
The clock struck ten. Mrs. Hare took her customary sup of brandy and water, a small tumbler three parts full. Without it she believed she could never get to sleep; it deadened unhappy thought, she said. Barbara, after making it, had turned again to the window, but she did not resume her seat. She stood right in front of it, her forehead bent forward against its middle pane. The lamp, casting a bright light, was behind her, so that her figure might be distinctly observable from the lawn, had any one been there to look upon it.
She stood there in the midst of dreamland, giving way to all its enchanting and most delusive fascinations. She saw herself, in anticipation, the wife of Mr. Carlyle, the envied, thrice envied, of all West Lynne; for, like as he was the dearest on earth to her heart, so was he the greatest match in the neighborhood around. Not a mother but what coveted him for her child, and not a daughter but would have said, "Yes, and thank you," to an offer from the attractive Archibald Carlyle. "I never was sure, quite sure of it till to-night," murmured Barbara, caressing the locket, and holding it to her cheek. "I always thought he meant something, or he might mean nothing: but to give me this—to kiss me—oh Archibald!"
A pause. Barbara's eyes were fixed upon the moonlight.
"If he would but say he loved me! If he would but save the suspense of my aching heart! But it must come; I know it will; and if that cantankerous toad of a Corny—"
Barbara Hare stopped. What was that, at the far end of the lawn, just in advance of the shade of the thick trees? Their leaves were not causing the movement, for it was a still night. It had been there some minutes; it was evidently a human form. What was it? Surely it was making signs to her!
Or else it looked as though it was. That was certainly its arm moving, and now it advanced a pace nearer, and raised something which it wore on its head—a battered hat with a broad brim, a "wide-awake," encircled with a wisp of straw.
Barbara Hare's heart leaped, as the saying runs, into her mouth, and her face became deadly white in the moonlight. Her first thought was to alarm the servants; her second, to be still; for she remembered the fear and mystery that attached to the house. She went into the hall, shutting her mamma in the parlor, and stood in the shade of the portico, gazing still. But the figure evidently followed her movement with its sight, and the hat was again taken off, and waved violently.
Barbara Hare turned sick with utter terror. She must fathom it; she must see who, and what it was; for the servants she dared not call, and those movements were imperative, and might not be disregarded. But she possessed more innate courage than falls to the lot of some young ladies.
"Mamma," she said, returning to the parlor and catching up her shawl, while striving to speak without emotion. "I shall just walk down the path and see if papa is coming."
Mrs. Hare did not reply. She was musing upon other things, in that quiescent happy mood, which a small portion of spirits will impart to one weak in body; and Barbara softly closed the door, and stole out again to the portico. She stood a moment to rally her courage, and again the hat was waved impatiently.
Barbara Hare commenced her walk towards it in dread unutterable, an undefined sense of evil filling her sinking heart; mingling with which, came, with a rush of terror, a fear of that other undefinable evil—the evil Mrs. Hare had declared was foreboded by her dream.
THE MOONLIGHT INTERVIEW.
Cold and still looked the old house in the moonbeams. Never was the moon brighter; it lighted the far-stretching garden, it illuminated even the weathercock aloft, it shone upon the portico, and upon one who appeared in it. Stealing to the portico from the house had come Barbara Hare, her eyes strained in dread affright on the grove of trees at the foot of the garden. What was it that had stepped out of that groove of trees, and mysteriously beckoned to her as she stood at the window, turning her heart to sickness as she gazed? Was it a human being, one to bring more evil to the house, where so much evil had already fallen? Was it a supernatural visitant, or was it but a delusion of her own eyesight? Not the latter, certainly, for the figure was now emerging again, motioning to her as before; and with a white face and shaking limbs, Barbara clutched her shawl around her and went down that path in the moonlight. The beckoning form retreated within the dark recess as she neared it, and Barbara halted.
"Who and what are you?" she asked, under her breath. "What do you want?"
"Barbara," was the whispered, eager answer, "don't you recognize me?"
Too surely she did—the voice at any rate—and a cry escaped her, telling more of sorrow than of joy, though betraying both. She penetrated the trees, and burst into tears as one in the dress of a farm laborer caught her in his arms. In spite of his smock-frock and his straw-wisped hat, and his false whiskers, black as Erebus, she knew him for her brother.
"Oh, Richard! Where have you come from? What brings you here?"
"Did you know me, Barbara?" was his rejoinder.
"How was it likely—in this disguise? A thought crossed my mind that it might be some one from you, and even that made me sick with terror. How could you run such a risk as to come here?" she added, wringing her hands. "If you are discovered, it is certain death; death—upon—you know!"
"Upon the gibbet," returned Richard Hare. "I do know it, Barbara."
"Then why risk it? Should mamma see you it will kill her outright."
"I can't live on as I am living," he answered, gloomily. "I have been working in London ever since—"
"In London!" interrupted Barbara.
"In London, and have never stirred out of it. But it is hard work for me, and now I have an opportunity of doing better, if I can get a little money. Perhaps my mother can let me have it; it is what I have come to ask for."
"How are you working? What at?"
"In a stable-yard."
"A stable-yard!" she uttered, in a deeply shocked tone. "Richard!"
"Did you expect it would be as a merchant, or a banker, or perhaps as secretary to one of her majesty's ministers—or that I was a gentleman at large, living on my fortune?" retorted Richard Hare, in a tone of chafed anguish, painful to hear. "I get twelve shillings a week, and that has to find me in everything!"
"Poor Richard, poor Richard!" she wailed, caressing his hand and weeping over it. "Oh, what a miserable night's work that was! Our only comfort is, Richard, that you must have committed the deed in madness."
"I did not commit it at all," he replied.
"What!" she exclaimed.
"Barbara, I swear that I am innocent; I swear I was not present when the man was murdered; I swear that from my own positive knowledge, my eyesight, I know no more who did it than you. The guessing at it is enough for me; and my guess is as sure and true a one as that the moon is in the heavens."
Barbara shivered as she drew close to him. It was a shivering subject. "You surely do not mean to throw the guilt on Bethel?"
"Bethel!" lightly returned Richard Hare. "He had nothing to do with it. He was after his gins and his snares, that night, though, poacher as he is!"
"Bethel is no poacher, Richard."
"Is he not?" rejoined Richard Hare, significantly. "The truth as to what he is may come out, some time. Not that I wish it to come out; the man has done no harm to me, and he may go on poaching with impunity till doomsday for all I care. He and Locksley—"
"Richard," interrupted his sister, in a hushed voice, "mamma entertains one fixed idea, which she cannot put from her. She is certain that Bethel had something to do with the murder."
"Then she is wrong. Why should she think so?"
"How the conviction arose at first, I cannot tell you; I do not think she knows herself. But you remember how weak and fanciful she is, and since that dreadful night she is always having what she calls 'dreams'—meaning that she dreams of the murder. In all these dreams Bethel is prominent; and she says she feels an absolute certainty that he was, in some way or other, mixed up in it."
"Barbara, he was no more mixed up in it than you."
"And—you say that you were not?"
"I was not even at the cottage at the time; I swear it to you. The man who did the deed was Thorn."
"Thorn!" echoed Barbara, lifting her head. "Who is Thorn?"
"I don't know who. I wish I did; I wish I could unearth him. He was a friend of Afy's."
Barbara threw back her neck with a haughty gesture. "Richard!"
"You forget yourself when you mention that name to me."
"Well," returned Richard. "It was not to discuss these things that I put myself in jeopardy; and to assert my innocence can do no good; it cannot set aside the coroner's verdict of 'Wilful murder against Richard Hare, the younger.' Is my father as bitter against me as ever?"
"Quite. He never mentions your name, or suffers it to be mentioned; he gave his orders to the servants that it never was to be spoken in the house again. Eliza could not, or would not remember, and she persisted in calling your room 'Mr. Richard's.' I think the woman did it heedlessly, not maliciously, to provoke papa; she was a good servant, and had been with us three years you know. The first time she transgressed, papa warned her; the second, he thundered at her as I believe nobody else in the world can thunder; and the third he turned her from the doors, never allowing her to get her bonnet; one of the others carrying her bonnet and shawl to the gate, and her boxes were sent away the same day. Papa took an oath—did you hear of it?"
"What oath? He takes many."
"This was a solemn one, Richard. After the delivery of the verdict, he took an oath in the justice-room, in the presence of his brother magistrates, that if he could find you he would deliver you up to justice, and that he would do it, though you might not turn up for ten years to come. You know his disposition, Richard, and therefore may be sure he will keep it. Indeed, it is most dangerous for you to be here."
"I know that he never treated me as he ought," cried Richard, bitterly. "If my health was delicate, causing my poor mother to indulge me, ought that to have been a reason for his ridiculing me on every possible occasion, public and private? Had my home been made happier I should not have sought the society I did elsewhere. Barbara, I must be allowed an interview with my mother."
Barbara Hare reflected before she spoke. "I do not see how it can be managed."
"Why can't she come out to me as you have done? Is she up, or in bed?"
"It is impossible to think of it to-night," returned Barbara in an alarmed tone. "Papa may be in at any moment; he is spending the evening at Beauchamp's."
"It is hard to have been separated from her for eighteen months, and to go back without seeing her," returned Richard. "And about the money? It is a hundred pounds that I want."
"You must be here again to-morrow night, Richard; the money, no doubt, can be yours, but I am not so sure about your seeing mamma. I am terrified for your safety. But, if it is as you say, that you are innocent," she added, after a pause, "could it not be proved?"
"Who is to prove it? The evidence is strong against me; and Thorn, did I mention him, would be as a myth to other people; nobody knew anything of him."
"Is he a myth?" said Barbara, in a low voice.
"Are you and I myths?" retorted Richard. "So, even you doubt me?"
"Richard," she suddenly exclaimed, "why not tell the whole circumstances to Archibald Carlyle? If any one can help you, or take measures to establish your innocence, he can. And you know that he is true as steel."
"There's no other man living should be trusted with the secret that I am here, except Carlyle. Where is it they suppose that I am, Barbara?"
"Some think that you are dead; some that you are in Australia; the very uncertainty has nearly killed mamma. A report arose that you had been seen at Liverpool, in an Australian-bound ship, but we could not trace it to any foundation."
"It had none. I dodged my way to London, and there I have been."
"Working in a stable-yard?"
"I could not do better. I was not brought up to anything, and I did understand horses. Besides, a man that the police-runners were after could be more safe in obscurity, considering that he was a gentleman, than—"
Barbara turned suddenly, and placed her hand upon her brother's mouth. "Be silent for your life," she whispered, "here's papa."
Voices were heard approaching the gate—those of Justice Hare and Squire Pinner. The latter walked on; the former came in. The brother and sister cowered together, scarcely daring to breathe; you might have heard Barbara's heart beating. Mr. Hare closed the gate and walked on up the path.
"I must go, Richard," said Barbara, hastily; "I dare not stay another minute. Be here again to-morrow night, and meanwhile I will see what can be done."
She was speeding away, but Richard held her back. "You did not seem to believe my assertion of innocence. Barbara, we are here alone in the still night, with God above us; as truly as that you and I must sometime meet Him face to face, I told you the truth. It was Thorn murdered Hallijohn, and I had nothing whatever to do with it."
Barbara broke out of the trees and flew along, but Mr. Hare was already in, locking and barring the door. "Let me in, papa," she called out.
The justice opened the door again, and thrusting forth his flaxen wig, his aquiline nose, and his amazed eyes, gazed at Barbara.
"Halloo! What brings you out at this time of night, young lady?"
"I went down to the gate to look for you," she panted, "and had—had—strolled over to the side path. Did you not see me?"
Barbara was truthful by nature and habit; but in such a cause, how could she avoid dissimulation?
"Thank you, papa," she said, as she went in.
"You ought to have been in bed an hour ago," angrily responded Mr. Justice Hare.
MR. CARLYLE'S OFFICE.
In the centre of West Lynne stood two houses adjoining each other, one large, the other much smaller. The large one was the Carlyle residence, and the small one was devoted to the Carlyle offices. The name of Carlyle bore a lofty standing in the county; Carlyle and Davidson were known as first-class practitioners; no pettifogging lawyers were they. It was Carlyle & Davidson in the days gone by; now it was Archibald Carlyle. The old firm were brothers-in-law—the first Mrs. Carlyle having been Mr. Davidson's sister. She had died and left one child. The second Mrs. Carlyle died when her son was born—Archibald; and his half-sister reared him, loved him and ruled him. She bore for him all the authority of a mother; the boy had known no other, and, when a little child he had called her Mamma Corny. Mamma Corny had done her duty by him, that was undoubted; but Mamma Corny had never relaxed her rule; with an iron hand she liked to rule him now, in great things as in small, just as she had done in the days of his babyhood. And Archibald generally submitted, for the force of habit is strong. She was a woman of strong sense, but, in some things, weak of judgment; and the ruling passions of her life were love of Archibald and love of saving money. Mr. Davidson had died earlier than Mr. Carlyle, and his fortune—he had never married—was left equally divided between Cornelia and Archibald. Archibald was no blood relation to him, but he loved the open-hearted boy better than his niece Cornelia. Of Mr. Carlyle's property, a small portion only was bequeathed to his daughter, the rest to his son; and in this, perhaps there was justice, since the 20,000 pounds brought to Mr. Carlyle by his second wife had been chiefly instrumental in the accumulation of his large fortune.
Miss Carlyle, or, as she was called in town, Miss Corny, had never married; it was pretty certain she never would; people thought that her intense love of her young brother kept her single, for it was not likely that the daughter of the rich Mr. Carlyle had wanted for offers. Other maidens confess to soft and tender impressions. Not so Miss Carlyle. All who had approached her with the lovelorn tale, she sent quickly to the right-about.
Mr. Carlyle was seated in his own private room in his office the morning after his return from town. His confidential clerk and manager stood near him. It was Mr. Dill, a little, meek-looking man with a bald head. He was on the rolls, had been admitted years and years ago, but he had never set up for himself; perhaps he deemed the post of head manager in the office of Carlyle & Davidson, with its substantial salary, sufficient for his ambition; and manager he had been to them when the present Mr. Carlyle was in long petticoats. He was a single man, and occupied handsome apartments near.
Between the room of Mr. Carlyle and that of the clerks, was a small square space or hall, having ingress also from the house passage; another room opened from it, a narrow one, which was Mr. Dill's own peculiar sanctum. Here he saw clients when Mr. Carlyle was out or engaged, and here he issued private orders. A little window, not larger than a pane of glass, looked out from the clerk's office; they called it old Dill's peep-hole and wished it anywhere else, for his spectacles might be discerned at it more frequently than was agreeable. The old gentleman had a desk, also, in their office, and there he frequently sat. He was sitting there, in state, this same morning, keeping a sharp lookout around him, when the door timidly opened, and the pretty face of Barbara Hare appeared at it, rosy with blushes.
"Can I see Mr. Carlyle?"
Mr. Dill rose from his seat and shook hands with her. She drew him into the passage and he closed the door. Perhaps he felt surprised, for it was not the custom for ladies, young and single, to come there after Mr. Carlyle.
"Presently, Miss Barbara. He is engaged just now. The justices are with him."
"The justices!" uttered Barbara, in alarm; "and papa one? Whatever shall I do? He must not see me. I would not have him see me here for the world."
An ominous sound of talking; the justices were evidently coming forth. Mr. Dill laid hold of Barbara, whisked her through the clerks' room, not daring to take her the other way, lest he should encounter them, and shut her in his own. "What the plague brought papa here at this moment?" thought Barbara, whose face was crimson.
A few minutes and Mr. Dill opened the door again. "They are gone now, and the coast's clear, Miss Barbara."
"I don't know what opinion you must form of me, Mr. Dill," she whispered, "but I will tell you, in confidence, that I am here on some private business for mamma, who was not well enough to come herself. It is a little private matter that she does not wish papa to know of."
"Child," answered the manager, "a lawyer receives visits from many people; and it is not the place of those about him to 'think.'"
He opened the door as he spoke, ushered her into the presence of Mr. Carlyle, and left her. The latter rose in astonishment.
"You must regard me as a client, and pardon my intrusion," said Barbara, with a forced laugh, to hide her agitation. "I am here on the part of mamma—and I nearly met papa in your passage, which terrified me out of my senses. Mr. Dill shut me into his room."
Mr. Carlyle motioned to Barbara to seat herself, then resumed his own seat, beside his table. Barbara could not help noticing how different his manners were in his office from his evening manners when he was "off duty." Here he was the staid, calm man of business.
"I have a strange thing to tell you," she began, in a whisper, "but—it is impossible that any one can hear us," she broke off, with a look of dread. "It would be—it might be—death!"
"It is quite impossible," calmly replied Mr. Carlyle. "The doors are double doors; did you notice that they were?"
Nevertheless, she left her chair and stood close to Mr. Carlyle, resting her hand upon the table. He rose, of course.
"Richard is here!"
"Richard!" repeated Mr. Carlyle. "At West Lynne!"
"He appeared at the house last night in disguise, and made signs to me from the grove of trees. You may imagine my alarm. He has been in London all this while, half starving, working—I feel ashamed to mention it to you—in a stable-yard. And, oh, Archibald! He says he is innocent."
Mr. Carlyle made no reply to this. He probably had no faith in the assertion. "Sit down, Barbara," he said drawing her chair closer.
Barbara sat down again, but her manner was hurried and nervous. "Is it quite sure that no stranger will be coming in? It would look so peculiar to see me here; but mamma was too unwell to come herself—or rather, she feared papa's questioning, if he found out that she came."
"Be at ease," replied Mr. Carlyle; "this room is sacred from the intrusion of strangers. What of Richard?"
"He says that he was not in the cottage at the time the murder was committed; that the person who really did it was a man of the name of Thorn."
"What Thorn?" asked Mr. Carlyle, suppressing all signs of incredulity.
"I don't know; a friend of Afy's, he said. Archibald, he swore to it in the most solemn manner; and I believe, as truly as that I am now repeating it to you, that he was speaking the truth. I want you to see Richard, if possible; he is coming to the same place to-night. If he can tell his own tale to you, perhaps you may find out a way by which his innocence may be made manifest. You are so clever, you can do anything."
Mr. Carlyle smiled. "Not quite anything, Barbara. Was this the purport of Richard's visit—to say this?"
"Oh, no! He thinks it is of no use to say it, for nobody would believe him against the evidence. He came to ask for a hundred pounds; he says he has an opportunity of doing better, if he can have that sum. Mamma has sent me to you; she has not the money by her, and she dare not ask papa for it, as it is for Richard. She bade me say that if you will kindly oblige her with the money to-day, she will arrange with you about the repayment."
"Do you want it now?" asked Mr. Carlyle. "If so, I must send to the bank. Dill never keeps much money in the house when I'm away."
"Not until evening. Can you manage to see Richard?"
"It is hazardous," mused Mr. Carlyle; "for him, I mean. Still, if he is to be in the grove to-night, I may as well be there also. What disguise is he in?"
"A farm laborer's, the best he could adopt about here, with large black whiskers. He is stopping about three miles off, he said, in some obscure hiding-place. And now," continued Barbara, "I want you to advise me; had I better inform mamma that Richard is here, or not?"
Mr. Carlyle did not understand, and said so.
"I declare I am bewildered," she exclaimed. "I should have premised that I have not yet told mamma it is Richard himself who is here, but that he has sent a messenger to beg for this money. Would it be advisable to acquaint her?"
"Why should you not? I think you ought to do so."
"Then I will; I was fearing the hazard for she is sure to insist upon seeing him. Richard also wishes for an interview."
"It is only natural. Mrs. Hare must be thankful to hear so far, that he is safe."
"I never saw anything like it," returned Barbara; "the change is akin to magic; she says it has put life into her anew. And now for the last thing; how can we secure papa's absence from home to-night? It must be accomplished in some way. You know his temper: were I or mamma to suggest to him, to go and see some friend, or to go to the club, he would immediately stop at home. Can you devise any plan? You see I appeal to you in all my troubles," she added, "like I and Anne used to do when we were children."
It may be questioned if Mr. Carlyle heard the last remark. He had dropped his eyelids in thought. "Have you told me all?" he asked presently, lifting them.
"I think so."
"Then I will consider it over, and—"
"I shall not like to come here again," interrupted Barbara. "It—it might excite suspicions; some one might see me, too, and mention it to papa. Neither ought you to send to our house."
"Well—contrive to be in the street at four this afternoon. Stay, that's your dinner hour; be walking up the street at three, three precisely; I will meet you."
He rose, shook hands, and escorted Barbara through the small hall, along the passage to the house door; a courtesy probably not yet shown to any client by Mr. Carlyle. The house door closed upon her, and Barbara had taken one step from it, when something large loomed down upon her, like a ship in full sail.
She must have been the tallest lady in the world—out of a caravan. A fine woman in her day, but angular and bony now. Still, in spite of the angles and the bones, there was majesty in the appearance of Miss Carlyle.
"Why—what on earth!" began she, "have you been with Archibald for?"
Barbara Hare, wishing Miss Carlyle over in Asia, stammered out the excuse she had given Mr. Dill.
"Your mamma sent you on business! I never heard of such a thing. Twice I have been to see Archibald, and twice did Dill answer that he was engaged and must not be interrupted. I shall make old Dill explain his meaning for observing a mystery over it to me."
"There is no mystery," answered Barbara, feeling quite sick lest Miss Carlyle should proclaim there was, before the clerks, or her father. "Mamma wanted Mr. Carlyle's opinion upon a little private business, and not feeling well enough to come herself, she sent me."
Miss Carlyle did not believe a word. "What business?" asked she unceremoniously.
"It is nothing that could interest you. A trifling matter, relating to a little money. It's nothing, indeed."
"Then, if it's nothing, why were you closeted so long with Archibald?"
"He was asking the particulars," replied Barbara, recovering her equanimity.
Miss Carlyle sniffed, as she invariably did, when dissenting from a problem. She was sure there was some mystery astir. She turned and walked down the street with Barbara, but she was none the more likely to get anything out of her.
Mr. Carlyle returned to his room, deliberated a few moments, and then rang his bell. A clerk answered it.
"Go to the Buck's Head. If Mr. Hare and the other magistrates are there, ask them to step over to me."
The young man did as he was bid, and came back with the noted justices at his heels. They obeyed the summons with alacrity, for they believed they had got themselves into a judicial scrape, and that Mr. Carlyle alone could get them out of it.
"I will not request you to sit down," began Mr. Carlyle, "for it is barely a moment I shall detain you. The more I think about this man's having been put in prison, the less I like it; and I have been considering that you had better all five, come and smoke your pipes at my house this evening, when we shall have time to discuss what must be done. Come at seven, not later, and you will find my father's old jar replenished with the best broadcut, and half a dozen churchwarden pipes. Shall it be so?"
The whole five accepted the invitation eagerly. And they were filing out when Mr. Carlyle laid his finger on the arm of Justice Hare.
"You will be sure to come, Hare," he whispered. "We could not get on without you; all heads," with a slight inclination towards those going out, "are not gifted with the clear good sense of yours."
"Sure and certain," responded the gratified justice; "fire and water shouldn't keep me away."
Soon after Mr. Carlyle was left alone another clerk entered.
"Miss Carlyle is asking to see you, sir, and Colonel Bethel's come again."
"Send in Miss Carlyle first," was the answer. "What is it, Cornelia?"
"Ah! You may well ask what? Saying this morning that you could not dine at six, as usual, and then marching off, and never fixing the hour. How can I give my orders?"
"I thought business would have called me out, but I am not going now. We will dine a little earlier, though, Cornelia, say a quarter before six. I have invited—"
"What's up, Archibald?" interrupted Miss Carlyle.
"Up! Nothing that I know of. I am very busy, Cornelia, and Colonel Bethel is waiting; I will talk to you at dinner-time. I have invited a party for to-night."
"A party!" echoed Miss Carlyle.
"Four or five of the justices are coming in to smoke their pipes. You must put out your father's leaden tobacco-box, and—"
"They shan't come!" screamed Miss Carlyle. "Do you think I'll be poisoned with tobacco smoke from a dozen pipes?"
"You need not sit in the room."
"Nor they either. Clean curtains are just put up throughout the house, and I'll have no horrid pipes to blacken them."
"I'll buy you some new curtains, Cornelia, if their pipes spoil these," he quietly replied. "And now, Cornelia, I really must beg you to leave me."
"When I have come to the bottom of this affair with Barbara Hare," resolutely returned Miss Corny, dropping the point of the contest as to the pipes. "You are very clever, Archie, but you can't do me. I asked Barbara what she came here for; business for mamma, touching money matters, was her reply. I ask you: to hear your opinion about the scrape the bench have got into, is yours. Now, it's neither one nor the other; and I tell you, Archibald, I'll hear what it is. I should like to know what you and Barbara do with a secret between you."
Mr. Carlyle knew her and her resolute expression well, and he took his course, to tell her the truth. She was, to borrow the words Barbara had used to her brother with regard to him, true as steel. Confide to Miss Carlyle a secret, and she was trustworthy and impervious as he could be; but let her come to suspect that there was a secret which was being kept from her, and she would set to work like a ferret, and never stop until it was unearthed.
Mr. Carlyle bent forward and spoke in a whisper. "I will tell you, if you wish, Cornelia, but it is not a pleasant thing to hear. Richard Hare has returned."
Miss Carlyle looked perfectly aghast. "Richard Hare! Is he mad?"
"It is not a very sane proceeding. He wants money from his mother, and Mrs. Hare sent Barbara to ask me to manage it for her. No wonder poor Barbara was flurried and nervous, for there's danger on all sides."
"Is he at their house?"
"How could he be there and his father in it? He is in hiding two or three miles off, disguised as a laborer, and will be at the grove to-night to receive this money. I have invited the justices to get Mr. Hare safe away from his own house. If he saw Richard, he would undoubtedly give him up to justice, and—putting graver considerations aside—that would be pleasant for neither you nor for me. To have a connection gibbeted for a willful murder would be an ugly blot on the Carlyle escutcheon, Cornelia."
Miss Carlyle sat in silence revolving the news, a contraction on her ample brow.
"And now you know all, Cornelia, and I do beg you to leave me, for I am overwhelmed with work to-day."
RICHARD HARE, THE YOUNGER.
The bench of justices did not fail to keep their appointment; at seven o'clock they arrived at Miss Carlyle's, one following closely upon the heels of another. The reader may dissent from the expression "Miss Carlyle's," but it is the correct one, for the house was hers, not her brother's; though it remained his home, as it had been in his father's time, the house was among the property bequeathed to Miss Carlyle.
Miss Carlyle chose to be present in spite of the pipes and the smoke, and she was soon as deep in the discussion as the justices were. It was said in the town, that she was as good a lawyer as her father had been; she undoubtedly possessed sound judgment in legal matters, and quick penetration. At eight o'clock a servant entered the room and addressed his master.
"Mr. Dill is asking to see you, sir."
Mr. Carlyle rose, and came back with an open note in his hand.
"I am sorry to find that I must leave you for half an hour; some important business has arisen, but I will be back as soon as I can."
"Who has sent for you;" immediately demanded Miss Corny.
He gave her a quiet look which she interpreted into a warning not to question. "Mr. Dill is here, and will join you to talk the affair over," he said to his guests. "He knows the law better than I do; but I will not be long."
He quitted his house, and walked with a rapid step toward the Grove. The moon was bright as on the previous evening. After he had left the town behind him, and was passing the scattered villas already mentioned, he cast an involuntary glance at the wood, which rose behind them on his left hand. It was called Abbey Wood, from the circumstance that in old days an abbey had stood in its vicinity, all traces of which, save tradition, had passed away. There was one small house, or cottage, just within the wood, and in that cottage had occurred the murder for which Richard Hare's life was in jeopardy. It was no longer occupied, for nobody would rent it or live in it.
Mr. Carlyle opened the gate of the Grove, and glanced at the trees on either side of him, but he neither saw nor heard any signs of Richard's being concealed there. Barbara was at the window, looking out, and she came herself and opened the door to Mr. Carlyle.
"Mamma is in the most excited state," she whispered to him as he entered. "I knew how it would be."
"Has he come yet?"
"I have no doubt of it; but he has made no signal."
Mrs. Hare, feverish and agitated, with a burning spot on her delicate cheeks, stood by the chair, not occupying it. Mr. Carlyle placed a pocket-book in her hands. "I have brought it chiefly in notes," he said: "they will be easier for him to carry than gold."
Mrs. Hare answered only by a look of gratitude, and clasped Mr. Carlyle's hand in both hers. "Archibald, I must see my boy; how can it be managed? Must I go into the garden to him, or may he come in here?"
"I think he might come in; you know how bad the night air is for you. Are the servants astir this evening?"
"Things seem to have turned out quite kindly," spoke up Barbara. "It happens to be Anne's birthday, so mamma sent me just now into the kitchen with a cake and a bottle of wine, desiring them to drink her health. I shut the door and told them to make themselves comfortable; that if we wanted anything we would ring."
"Then they are safe," observed Mr. Carlyle, "and Richard may come in."
"I will go and ascertain whether he is come," said Barbara.
"Stay where you are, Barbara; I will go myself," interposed Mr. Carlyle. "Have the door open when you see us coming up the path."