Mrs. Henry Wood
Part 1 out of 13
This text was prepared from an 1883 edition, New York: John B.
Etext prepared by Dagny, firstname.lastname@example.org
and John Bickers, email@example.com
by Mrs. Henry Wood
This text was prepared from an 1883 edition, New York: John B.
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
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
"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,
"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
"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
"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
"There might have been a settlement executed after the marriage,"
observed Mr. Carlyle, for the earl had stopped, and seemed lost in
"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
"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
"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,
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
"Mamma gave me both. The bracelets are those she used frequently to
"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
"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
"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
"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 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
"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
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.
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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
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,
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"You foolish girl! It is not worth them. There! Now I am paid. Good-
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
"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
"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--
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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,
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
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.
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
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