Wife in Name Only
Charlotte M. Braeme (Bertha M. Clay)
Part 5 out of 6
the carriage. The footman came to him.
"Where to, my lord--to Beechgrove?"
"No," replied Lord Arleigh--"to the railway station. I want to catch the
night-mail for London."
Lord Arleigh was just in time for the train. The footman caught a
glimpse of his master's face as the train went off--it was white and
"Of all the weddings in this world, well, this is the queerest!" he
exclaimed to himself.
When he reached Beechgrove, he told his fellow-servants what had
happened, and many were the comments offered about the marriage that was
yet no marriage--the wedding that was no wedding--the husband and wife
who were so many miles apart. What could it mean?
Three days after Lord Arleigh's most inauspicious marriage. The Duchess
of Hazlewood sat in her drawing-room alone. Those three days had changed
her terribly; her face had lost its bloom, the light had died from her
dark eyes, there were great lines of pain round her lips. She sat with
her hands folded listlessly, her eyes, full of dreamy sorrow, fixed on
the moving foliage of the woods. Presently Lady Peters entered with an
open newspaper in her hand.
"Philippa, my dear," she said, "I am very uncomfortable. Should you
think this paragraph refers to Lord Arleigh? It seems to do so--yet I
cannot believe it."
The deadly pallor that was always the sign of great emotion with the
duchess spread now even to her lips.
"What does it say?" she asked.
Lady Peters held the paper out to her; but her hands trembled so that
she could not take it.
"I cannot read it," she said, wearily. "Read it to me."
And then Lady Peters read:
"Scandal in High Life.--Some strange revelations are shortly
expected in aristocratic circles. A few days since a noble lord,
bearing one of the most ancient titles in England, was married. The
marriage took place under circumstances of great mystery; and the
mystery has been increased by the separation of bride and
bridegroom on their wedding-day. What has led to a separation is at
present a secret, but it is expected that in a few days all
particulars will be known. At present the affair is causing a great
A fashionable paper which indulged largely in personalities, also had a
telling article on Lord Arleigh's marriage. No names were mentioned, but
the references were unmistakable. A private marriage, followed by a
separation on the same day, was considered a fair mark for scandal. This
also Lady Peters read, and the duchess listened with white, trembling
"It must refer to Lord Arleigh," said Lady Peters.
"It cannot," was the rejoinder. "He was far too deeply in love with his
fair-faced bride to leave her."
"I never did quite approve of that marriage," observed Lady Peters.
"The scandal cannot be about him," declared the duchess. "We should have
heard if there had been anything wrong."
The next day a letter was handed to her. She recognized the
handwriting--it was Lord Arleigh's. She laid the note down, not daring
to read it before Lady Peters. What had he to say to her?
When she was alone she opened it.
"You will be pleased to hear, duchess, that your scheme has
entirely succeeded. You have made two innocent people who have
never harmed you as wretched as it is possible for human beings to
be. In no respect has your vengeance failed. I--your old friend,
playmate, brother, the son of your mother's dearest friend--have
been made miserable for life. Your revenge was well chosen. You
knew that, however I might worship Madaline, my wife, however much
I might love her, she could never be mistress of Beechgrove, she
could never be the mother of my children; you knew that, and
therefore I say your revenge was admirably chosen. It were useless
to comment on your wickedness, or to express the contempt I feel
for the woman who could deliberately plan such evil and distress. I
must say this, however. All friendship and acquaintance between us
is at an end. You will be to me henceforward an entire stranger. I
could retaliate. I could write and tell your husband, who is a man
of honor, of the unworthy deed you have done; but I shall not do
that--it would be unmanly. Before my dear wife and I parted, we
agreed that the punishment of your sin should be left to Heaven. So
I leave it. To a woman unworthy enough to plan such a piece of
baseness, it will be satisfaction sufficient to know that her
scheme has succeeded. Note the words 'my wife and I
parted'--parted, never perhaps to meet again. She has all my love,
all my heart, all my unutterable respect and deep devotion; but, as
you know, she can never be mistress of my house. May Heaven forgive
She could have borne with his letter if it had been filled with the
wildest invictives--if he had reproached her, even cursed her; his
dignified forbearance, his simple acceptance of the wrong she had done
him, she could not tolerate.
She laid down the letter. It was all over now--the love for which she
would have given her life, the friendship that had once been so true,
the vengeance that had been so carefully planned. She had lost his love,
his friendship, his esteem. She could see him no more. He despised her.
There came to her a vision of what she might have been to him had things
been different--his friend, adviser, counselor--the woman upon whom he
would have looked as the friend of his chosen wife--the woman whom,
after all, he loved best--his sister, his truest confidante. All this
she might have been but for her revenge. She had forfeited it all now.
Her life would be spent as though he did not exist; and there was no one
but herself to blame.
Still she had had her revenge; she smiled bitterly to herself as she
thought of that. She had punished him. The beautiful face grew pale, and
the dark eyes shone through a mist of tears.
"I am not hardened enough," she said to herself, mockingly, "to be quite
happy over an evil deed. I want something more of wickedness in my
She parried skillfully all Lady Peters' questions; she professed entire
ignorance of all that had happened. People appealed to her as Lord
Arleigh's friend. They asked her:
"What does this mean? Lord Arleigh was married quietly, and separated
from his wife the same day. What does it mean?"
"I cannot tell, but you may rely upon it that a reasonable explanation
of the circumstances will be forthcoming," she would reply. "Lord
Arleigh is, as we all know, an honorable man, and I knew his wife."
"But what can it mean?" the questioners would persist.
"I cannot tell," she would answer, laughingly. "I only know we must give
the matter the best interpretation we can."
So she escaped; and no one associated the Duchess of Hazlewood with Lord
Arleigh's strange marriage. She knew that when her husband returned she
would have to give some kind of explanation; but she was quite
indifferent about that. Her life, she said to herself, was ended.
When the duke did come home, after a few pleasant weeks on the sea, the
first thing he heard was the story about Lord Arleigh. It astounded him.
His friend Captain Austin related it to him as soon as he had landed.
"Whom did you say he married?" inquired the duke.
"Rumor said at first that it was a distant relative of yours," replied
the captain, "afterward it proved to be some young lady whom he had met
at a small watering-place."
"What was her name? Who was she? It was no relative of mine; I have very
few; I have no young female relative at all."
"No--that was all a mistake; I cannot tell you how it arose. He married
a lady of the name of Dornham."
"Dornham!" said the puzzled nobleman. "The name is not unfamiliar to
me--Dornham--ah, I remember!"
He said no more, but the captain saw a grave expression come over his
handsome face, and it occurred to him that some unpleasant thought
occurred to his companion's mind.
One of the first questions, after his return, that the Duke of Hazlewood
put to his wife was about Lord Arleigh. She looked at him with an uneasy
"Am I my brother's keeper?" she asked.
"Certainly not, Philippa; but, considering that Arleigh has been as a
brother to you all these years, you must take some interest in him. Is
this story of his marriage true?"
"True?" she repeated. "Why, of course it is--perfectly true! Do you not
know whom he has married?"
"I am half afraid to ask--half afraid to find that my suspicions have
"He has married my companion," said the duchess. "I have no wish to
blame him; I will say nothing."
"It is a great pity that he ever saw her," observed the duke, warmly.
"From all I hear, the man's life is wrecked."
"I warned him," said Philippa, eagerly. "I refused at first to introduce
her to him. I told him that prudence and caution were needful."
"How came it about then, Philippa?"
The duchess shrugged her shoulders.
"There is a fate, I suppose, in these things. He saw her one day when I
was out of the way, and, according to his own account, fell in love with
her on the spot. Be that as it may, he was determined to marry her."
"It seems very strange," said the Duke of Hazlewood, musingly. "I have
never known him to do anything 'queer' before."
"He can never say that I did not warn him," she remarked, carelessly.
"But it was such a wretched marriage for him. Who was she, Philippa? I
have never made many inquiries about her."
"I would really rather not discuss the question," said the duchess; "it
has no interest for me now. Norman and I have quarreled. In all
probability we shall never be friends again."
"All through this marriage?" interrogated the duke.
"All through this marriage," repeated his wife--"and I know no subject
that irritates me so much. Please say no more about it, Vere."
"I should like to know who the girl is," he urged. "You have never told
"I shall be jealous of her in a few minutes!" exclaimed Philippa
"Already she has sundered an old friendship that I thought would last
forever; and now, directly you return, you can talk of no one else."
"I should like to see you jealous," said the duke, who was one of the
most unsuspicious of men.
She smiled; yet there came to her a sharp, bitter memory of the night on
the balcony when she had been jealous of the ideal woman, the unknown
love whom Norman had sketched for her.
The duke, however, was pertinacious; he could not give up the subject.
"You told me," he resumed, "that she was the daughter of an old friend
of yours named Dornham--and it seems to me, Philippa, that I have some
kind of remembrance of that name which is far from pleasant."
With an air of resignation the duchess rose from her seat.
"I am tired, Vere," she said, "quite tired of the subject. Yet I ought
not to be selfish. Of course, the incident is all new to you--you have
been away from all kinds of news; to us it is an old, worn-out story.
Lord Arleigh and I quarreled and parted because of his marriage, so you
may imagine it is not a very attractive subject to me."
"Well, I will say no more about it, but I am sincerely sorry, Philippa.
Of all our friends, I like Lord Arleigh best; and I shall decidedly
refuse to quarrel with him. His marriage is his own affair, not mine."
"Still, you cannot make a friend of the man whom I decline to know," she
"Certainly not, if you place the matter in such a light," he said,
gravely. "I shall always consider it my pleasure and duty to consult you
on such points. I will call no man my friend whom you dislike."
So, for the time, all danger was tided over; the duke saw that the
subject annoyed his wife, and did not voluntarily resume it. He was too
true a gentleman to think of discussing with another lady what he did
not discuss with his own wife, so that the subject was not mentioned
between Lady Peters and himself.
Then for the fair young Duchess of Hazlewood began the new life which
had in it no old friend. If she repented of her vengeance, she did not
say so. If she would fain have undone her evil deed, she never owned it.
But, as time wore on, people saw a great change in her. She gave herself
more to the gayeties and follies of the world; there were few fashions
which she did not lead, few gay pursuits in which she did not take an
active part. The character of her beauty, too, seemed changed. She had
always been brilliant, but somewhat of a strange unrest came into her
face and manner; the dark eyes seemed to be always looking for something
they could not find. Her mind, though charming and fascinating as ever,
grew variable and unsteady. She had always been too proud for coquetry;
she remained so now. But she no longer shunned and avoided all flattery
and homage; it seemed rather to please her than not. And--greatest
change of all--the name of Lord Arleigh never crossed her lips. He
himself had retired from public life; the great hopes formed of him were
all dying away. Men spoke of him with mystery, women with sad, gentle
interest; those who had known him knew him no more.
He did not return to Beechgrove: it seemed to him that he could never
again endure the sight of the place where he had separated from his
wife--that his ancient home had been in some manner desecrated. The
mansion was left in charge of Mrs. Chatterton, whose wonder at the new
and strange state of things never ceased.
"Such a marriage!" She held up her hands in horror as she thought of it.
Indeed, to her the event appeared like a wedding and a funeral on the
same day. She had not seen Lady Arleigh since, yet she had never forgot
the fair, lovely young face that had shone for so short a time in the
grand old home.
Lord Arleigh saw that his wife had everything needful for her; he
settled a large income on her; he sent from London horses, carriages,
everything that her heart could desire; he saw that she had a proper
household formed. Whatever else the world might say, it could not say
that he showed her any want of respect or any want of attention. Lord
Arleigh did not live with his wife, never visited her, never spoke of
her; but it was quite clear that his motive for doing none of these
things lay deeper than the world knew or could even guess.
The family solicitor went down to Winiston House occasionally, but Lord
Arleigh never. The few who met him after his marriage found him
strangely altered. Even his face had changed; the frank, honest, open
look that had once seemed to defy and challenge and meet the whole world
had died away; he looked now like a man with a secret to keep--a secret
that had taken his youth from him, that had taken the light from his
life, that hod shadowed his eyes, drawn hard lines of care round his
lips, wrinkled his face, taken the music from his voice, and made of him
a changed and altered, a sad, unhappy man.
There were one or two intimate friends--friends who had known him in his
youth--who ventured to ask what this secret was, who appealed to him
frankly to make his trouble known, telling him that sorrow shared was
sorrow lightened; but with a sad smile he only raised his head and
answered that his sorrow was one of which he could not speak. Sometimes
a kindly woman who had known him as boy and man--one with daughters, and
sons of her own--would ask him what was the nature of his sorrow. He
would never tell.
"I cannot explain," he would reply.
Society tried hard to penetrate the mystery. Some said that Lady Arleigh
was insane, and that he had not discovered it until the afternoon of his
wedding-day. Others said that she had a fierce temper, and that he was
unaware of it until they were traveling homeward. These were the most
innocent rumors; others were more scandalous. It was said that he had
discovered some great crime that she had committed. Few such stories;
Lord Arleigh, they declared, was not the man to make so terrible a
Then, after a time, all the sensation and wonder died away, society
accepted the fact that Lord Arleigh was unhappily married and had
separated from his wife.
He went abroad, and then returned home, sojourning at quiet watering
places where he thought his story and himself would be unknown.
Afterward he went to Normandy, and tried to lose the remembrance of his
troubles in his search after the picturesque. But, when he had done
everything that he could do to relieve his distress of mind, he owned to
himself that he was a most miserable man.
A year and a half bad passed, and Lord Arleigh was still, as it were,
out of the world. It was the end of April, a spring fresh and beautiful.
His heart had turned to Beechgrove, where the violets were springing and
the young larches were budding; but he could not go thither--the
picture-gallery was a haunted spot to him--and London he could endure.
The fashionable intelligence told him that the Duke and Duchess of
Hazlewood had arrived for the season, that they had had their
magnificent mansion refurnished, and that the beautiful duchess intended
to startle all London by the splendor and variety of her entertainments.
He said to himself that it would be impossible for him to remain in town
without seeing them--and see them of his own free will he never would
Fate was, however, too strong for him. He had decided that he would
leave London rather than run the risk of meeting the Duchess of
Hazlewood. He went one morning to a favorite exhibition of pictures, and
the first person he saw in the gallery was the duchess herself. As their
eyes met her face grew deadly pale, so pale that he thought she would
faint and fall to the ground; her lips opened as though she would fain
utter his name. To him she looked taller, more beautiful, more stately
than ever--her superb costume suited her to perfection--yet he looked
coldly into the depths of her dark eyes, and without a word or sign of
greeting passed on.
He never knew whether she was hurt or not, but he decided that he would
leave London at once. He was a sensitive man more tender of heart than
men as a rule, and their meeting had been a source of torture to him. He
could not endure even the thought that Philippa should have lost all
claim to his respect. He decided to go to Tintagel, in wild, romantic
Cornwall; at least there would be boating, fishing, and the glorious
"I must go somewhere," he said to himself--"I must do something. My life
hangs heavy on my hands--how will it end?"
So in sheer weariness and desperation he went to Tintagel, having, as he
thought, kept his determination to himself, as he wished no one to know
whither he had retreated. One of the newspapers, however, heard of it,
and in a little paragraph told that Lord Arleigh of Beechgrove had gone
to Tintagel for the summer. That paragraph had one unexpected result.
It was the first of May. The young nobleman was thinking of the May days
when he was a boy--of how the common near his early home was yellow with
gorse, and the hedges were white with hawthorn. He strolled sadly along
the sea-shore, thinking of the sunniest May he had known since then, the
May before his marriage. The sea was unusually calm, the sky above was
blue, the air mild and balmy, the white sea-gulls circled in the air,
the waves broke with gentle murmur on the yellow sand.
He sat down on the sloping beach. They had nothing to tell him, those
rolling, restless waves--no sweet story of hope or of love, no vague
pleasant harmony. With a deep moan he bent his head as he thought of the
fair young wife from whom he had parted for evermore, the beautiful
loving girl who had clung to him so earnestly.
"Madaline, Madaline!" he cried aloud: and the waves seemed to take up
the cry--they seemed to repeat "Madaline" as they broke on the shore.
"Madaline," the mild wind whispered. It was like the realization of a
dream, when he heard his name murmured, and, turning, he saw his lost
wife before him.
The next moment he had sprung to his feet, uncertain at first whether it
was really herself or some fancied vision.
"Madaline," he cried, "is it really you?"
"Yes; you must not be angry with me, Norman. See, we are quite alone;
there is no one to see me speak to you, no one to reveal that we have
She trembled as she spoke; her face--to him more beautiful than
ever--was raised to his with a look of unutterable appeal.
"You are not angry, Norman?"
"No, I am not angry. Do not speak to me as though I were a tyrant.
Angry--and with you, Madaline--always my best beloved--how could that
"I knew that you were here," she said. "I saw in a newspaper that you
were going to Tintagel for the summer. I had been longing to see you
again--to see you, while unseen myself so I came hither."
"My dear Madaline, to what purpose?" he asked, sadly.
"I felt that if I did not look upon your face I should die--that I could
live no longer without seeing you. Such a terrible fever seemed to be
burning my very life away. My heart yearned for the touch of your hand.
So I came. You are not angry that I came?"
"No, not angry; but, my darling, it will be harder for us to part."
"I have been here in Tintagel for two whole days," she continued. "I
have seen you, but this is the first time you have gone where I could
follow. Now speak to me, Norman. Say something to me that will cure my
terrible pain--that will take the weary aching from my heart. Say
something that will make me stronger to bear my desolate life--braver to
live without you. You are wiser, better, stronger, braver than I. Teach
me to bear my fate."
What could he say? Heaven help them both--what could he say? He looked
with dumb, passionate sorrow into her fair loving face.
"You must not think it unwomanly in me to come," she said. "I am you
wife--there is no harm in my coming. If I were not your wife, I would
sooner have drowned myself than return after you had sent me away."
Her face was suffused with a crimson blush.
"Norman," she said gently, "sit down here by my side, and I will tell
you why I have come."
They sat down side by side on the beach. There was only the wide blue
sky above, only the wide waste of restless waters at their feet, only a
circling sea-gull near--no human being to watch the tragedy of love and
pride played out by the sea Waves.
"I have come," she said, "to make one more appeal to you, Norman--to ask
you to change this stern determination which is ruining your life and
mine--to ask you to take me back to your home and your heart. For I have
been thinking, dear, and I do not see that the obstacle is such as you
seem to imagine. It was a terrible wrong, a great disgrace--it was a
cruel deception, a fatal mistake; but, after all, it might be
overlooked. Moreover, Norman, when you made me your wife, did you not
promise to love and to cherish, to protect me and make me happy until I
"Yes," he replied, briefly.
"Then how are you keeping that promise--a promise made in the sight of
Lord Arleigh looked down at the fair, pure face, a strange light
glowing in his own.
"My dear Madaline," he said, "you must not overlook what the honor of my
race demands. I have my own ideas of what is due to my ancestors; and I
cannot think that I have sinned by broken vows. I vowed to love you--so
I do, my darling, ten thousand times better than anything else on earth.
I vowed to be true and faithful to you--so I am, for I would not ever
look at another woman's face. I vowed to protect you and to shield
you--so I do, my darling; I have surrounded you with luxury and ease."
What could she reply--what urge or plead?
"So, in the eyes of Heaven, my wife, I cannot think I am wronging you."
"Then," she said, humbly, "my coming here, my pleading, is in vain."
"Not in vain, my darling. Even the sight of you for a few minutes has
been like a glimpse of Elysium."
"And I must return," she said, "as I came--with my love thrown back, my
prayers unanswered, my sorrow redoubled."
She hid her face in her hands and wept aloud. Presently she bent
"Norman," she said, in a low whisper, "my darling, I appeal to you for
my own sake. I love you so dearly that I cannot live away from you--it
is a living death. You cannot realize it. There are few moments, night
or day, in which your face is not before me--few moments in which I do
not hear your voice. Last night I dreamed that you stood before me with
outstretched arms and called me. I went to you, and you clasped me in
your arms. You said, 'My darling wife, it has all been a mistake--a
terrible mistake--and I am come to ask your pardon and to take you
home.' In my dream, Norman, you kissed my face, my lips, my hands, and
called me by every loving name you could invent. You were so kind to me,
and I was so happy. And the dream was so vivid, Norman, that even after
I awoke I believed it to be reality. Then I heard the sobbing of the
waves on the beach, and I cried out, 'Norman, Norman!' thinking you were
still near me; but there was no reply. It was only the silence that
roused me to a full sense that my happiness was a dream. There was no
husband with kind words and tender kisses. I thought my heart would have
broken. And then I said to myself that I could live no longer without
making an effort once more to change your decision. Oh, Norman, for my
sake, do not send me back to utter desolation and despair! Do not send
me back to coldness and darkness, to sorrow and tears. Let me be near
you! You have a thousand interests in life--I have but one. You can live
without love, I cannot. Oh, Norman, for my sake, for my love's sake,
for my happiness' sake, take me back, dear--take me back!"
The golden head dropped forward and fell on his breast, her hands clung
to him with almost despairing pain.
"I will be so humble, darling. I can keep away from all observation. It
is only to be with you that I wish--only to be near you. You cannot be
hard--you cannot send me away; you will not, for I love you!"
Her hands clung more closely to him.
"Many men have forgiven their wives even great crimes, and have taken
them back after the basest desertion. Overlook my father's crime and
pardon me, for Heaven's dear sake!"
"My dearest Madaline, if you would but understand! I have nothing to
pardon. You are sweetest, dearest, loveliest, best. You are one of the
purest and noblest of women. I have nothing to pardon; it is only that I
cannot take disgrace into my family. I cannot give to my children an
inheritance of crime."
"But, Norman," said the girl, gently, "because my father was a felon,
that does not make me one--because he was led into wrong, it does not
follow that I must do wrong. Insanity may be hereditary, but surely
crime is not; besides, I have heard my father say that his father was an
honest, simple, kindly northern farmer. My father had much to excuse
him. He was a handsome man, who had been flattered and made much of."
"My darling I could not take your hands into mine and kiss them so, if I
fancied that they were ever so slightly tainted with sin."
"Then why not take me home. Norman?"
"I cannot," he replied, in a tone of determination. "You must not
torture me, Madaline, with further pleading. I cannot--that is
He rose and walked with rapid steps down the shore. How bard it was, how
terrible--bitter almost as the anguish of death!
She was by his side again, walking in silence. He would bare given the
whole world if he could have taken her into his arms and have kissed
back the color into her sad young face.
"Norman," said a low voice, full of bitterest pain, "I am come to say
good-by. I am sorry I have done harm--not good. I am sorry--forgive me,
and say good-by."
"It has made our lot a thousand times harder, Madaline," he returned,
"Never mind the hardship; you will soon recover from that," she said. "I
am sorry that I have acted against your wishes, and broken the long
silence. I will never do it again, Norman."
"Never, unless you are ill and need me," he supplemented. "Then you have
promised to send for me."
"I will do so" she said. "You will remember, dear husband, that my last
words to you were 'Good-by, and Heaven bless you.'"
The words died away on her lips. He turned aside lest she should see the
trembling of his face; he never complained to her. He knew now that she
thought him hard, cold, unfeeling, indifferent--that she thought his
pride greater than his love; but even that was better than that she
should know he suffered more than she did--she must never know that.
When he turned back from the tossing waves and the summer sun she was
gone. He looked across the beach--there was no sign of her. She was
gone; and he avowed to himself that it would be wonderful if ever in
this world he saw her again. She did not remain at Tintagel; to do so
would be useless, hopeless. She saw it now. She had hoped against hope:
she had said to herself that in a year and a half he would surely have
altered his mind--he would have found now how hard it was to live alone,
to live without love--he would have found that there was something
dearer in the world than family pride--he would have discovered that
love outweighed everything else. Then she saw that her anticipations
were all wrong--he preferred his dead ancestors to his living wife.
She went back to Winiston House and took up the dreary round of life
again. She might have made her lot more endurable and happier, she might
have traveled, have sought society and amusement; but she had no heart
for any of these things. She had spent the year and a half of her lonely
married life in profound study, thinking to herself that if he should
claim her he would be pleased to find her yet more accomplished and
educated. She was indefatigable, and it was all for him.
Now that she was going back, she was without this mainspring of
hope--her old studies and pursuits wearied her. To what end and for what
purpose had been all her study, all her hard work? He would never know
of her proficiency; and she would not care to study for any other object
than to please him.
"What am I to do with my life," she moaned. "Mariana in the moated
grange was not more to be pitied than I."
How often the words occurred to her:
"The day is dreary,
'He cometh not,' she said:
She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,
would that I were dead.'"
It was one of the strangest, dullest, saddest lives that human being
ever led. That she wearied of it was no wonder. She was tired of the
sorrow, the suffering, the despair--so tired that after a time she fell
ill; and then she lay longing for death.
It was a glorious September, and the Scottish moors looked as they had
not looked for years; the heather grew in rich profusion, the grouse
were plentiful. The prospects for sportsmen were excellent.
Not knowing what else to do, Lord Arleigh resolved to go to Scotland for
the shooting; there was a sort of savage satisfaction in the idea of
living so many weeks alone, without on-lookers, where he could be dull
if he liked without comment--where he could lie for hours together on
the heather looking up at the blue skies, and puzzling over the problem
of his life--where, when the fit of despair seized him, he could indulge
in it, and no one wonder at him. He hired a shooting-lodge called
Glaburn. In his present state of mind it seemed to him to be a relief to
live where he could not even see a woman's face. Glaburn was kept in
order by two men, who mismanaged it after the fashion of men, but Lord
Arleigh was happier there than he had been since his fatal marriage-day,
simply because he was quite alone. If he spent more time in lying on the
heather and thinking of Madaline than he did in shooting, that was his
own concern--there was no one to interfere.
One day, when he was in one of his most despairing moods, he went out
quite early in the morning, determined to wander the day through, to
exhaust himself pitilessly with fatigue, and then see if he could not
rest without dreaming of Madaline. But as he wandered east and west,
knowing little and caring less, whither he went, a violent storm, such
as breaks at times over the Scottish moors, overtook him. The sky grew
dark as night, the rain fell in a torrent--blinding, thick, heavy--he
could hardly see his hand before him. He wandered on for hours, wet
through, weary, cold, yet rather rejoicing than otherwise in his
fatigue. Presently hunger was added to fatigue; and then the matter
became more serious--he had no hope of being able to find his way home,
for he had no idea in what direction he had strayed.
At last he grew alarmed; life did not hold much for him, it was true,
but he had no desire to die on those lonely wilds, without a human being
near him. Then it became painful for him to walk; his fatigue was so
great that his limbs ached at every step. He began to think his life was
drawing near its close. Once or twice he had cried "Madaline" aloud and
the name seemed to die away on the sobbing wind.
He grew exhausted at last; for some hours he had struggled on in the
face of the tempest.
"I shall have to lie down like a dog by the road-side and die," he
thought to himself.
No other fate seemed to be before him but that, and he told himself that
after all he had sold his life cheaply. "Found dead on the Scotch
moors," would be the verdict about him.
What would the world say? What would his golden-haired darling say when
she heard that he was dead?
As the hot tears blinded his eyes--tears for Madaline, not for
himself--a light suddenly flashed into them, and he found himself quite
close to the window of a house. With a deep-drawn, bitter sob, he
whispered to himself that he was saved. He had just strength enough to
knock at the door; and when it was opened he fell across the threshold,
too faint and exhausted to speak, a sudden darkness before his eyes.
When he had recovered a little, he found that several gentlemen were
gathered around him, and that one of them was holding a flask of whisky
to his lips.
"That was a narrow escape," said a cheery, musical voice. "How long have
you been on foot?"
"Since eight this morning," he replied.
"And now it is nearly eight at night! Well, you may thank Heaven for
preserving your life."
Lord Arleigh turned away with a sigh. How little could any one guess
what life meant for him--life spent without love--love--without
"I have known several lose their lives in this way," continued the same
voice. "Only last year poor Charley Hartigan was caught in a similar
storm, and he lay for four days dead before he was found. This gentleman
has been fortunate."
Lord Arleigh roused himself and looked around. He found himself the
center of observation. The room in which he was lying was large and well
furnished, and from the odor of tobacco it was plainly used as a
Over him leaned a tall, handsome man, whose hair was slightly tinged
"I think," he said, "you are my neighbor, Lord Arleigh? I have often
seen you on the moors."
"I do not remember you," Lord Arleigh returned; "nor do I know where I
"Then let me introduce myself as the Earl of Mountdean," said the
gentleman. "You are at Rosorton, a shooting-lodge belonging to me, and I
beg that you will make yourself at home."
Every attention was paid to him. He was placed in a warm bed, some
warm, nourishing soup was brought to him, and he was left to rest.
"The Earl of Mountdean." Then this was the tall figure he had seen
striding over the hills--this was the neighbor he had shunned and
avoided, preferring solitude. How kind he was, and how his voice
affected him! It was like long-forgotten melody. He asked himself
whether he had seen the earl anywhere. He could not remember. He could
not recall to his mind that they had ever met, yet he had most certainly
heard his voice. He fell asleep thinking of this, and dreamed of
Madaline all night long.
In the morning the earl came himself to his room to make inquiries; and
then Lord Arleigh liked him better than ever. He would not allow his
guest to rise.
"Remember," he said, "prevention is better than cure. After the terrible
risk you have run, it will not do for you to be rash. You must rest."
So Lord Arleigh took the good advice given to him to lay still, but on
the second day he rose, declaring that he could stand no further
confinement. Even then Lord Mountdean would not hear of his going.
"I am compelled to be despotic with you," he said. "I know that at
Glaburn you have no housekeeper, only men-servants--and they cannot make
you comfortable, I am sure. Stay here for a few days until you are quite
So Lord Arleigh allowed himself to be persuaded, saying, with a smile,
that he had come to Glaburn purposely for solitude.
"It was for the same thing that I came here," said the earl. "I have had
a great sorrow in my life, and I like sometimes to be alone to think
The two men looked at each other, but they liked each other all the
better for such open confession.
When a few days had passed, it was Lord Arleigh who felt unwilling to
leave his companion. He had never felt more at home than he did with
Lord Mountdean. He had met no one so simple, so manly, so intelligent,
and at the same time such a good fellow. There were little peculiarities
in the earl, too, that struck him very forcibly; they seemed to recall
some faint, vague memory, a something that he could never grasp, that
was always eluding him, yet that was perfectly clear; and he was
"Have I ever met you before?" he asked the earl one day.
"I do not think so. I have no remembrance of ever having sees you."
"Your voice and face are familiar to me," the younger man continued.
"One or two of your gestures are as well known to me as though I had
lived with you for years."
"Remembrances of that kind sometimes strike me," said the earl--"a
mannerism, a something that one cannot explain. I should say that you
have seen some one like me, perhaps."
It was probable enough, but Lord Arleigh was not quite satisfied. The
earl and his guest parted in the most friendly manner.
"I shall never be quite so much in love with solitude again," said Lord
Arleigh, as they were parting; "you have taught me that there is
"I have learned the same lesson from you," responded the earl, with a
sigh. "You talk about solitude. I had not been at Rosorton ten days
before a party of four, all friends of mine, proposed to visit me. I
could not refuse. They left the day after you came."
"I did not see them," said Lord Arleigh.
"No, I did not ask them to prolong their stay, fearing that after all
those hours on the moors, you might have a serious illness; but now,
Lord Arleigh, you will promise me that we shall be friends."
"Yes," he replied, "we will be friends."
So it was agreed that they should be strangers no longer--that they
should visit and exchange neighborly courtesies and civilities.
The Earl of Mountdean and Lord Arleigh were walking up a steep hill one
day together, when the former feeling tired, they both sat down among
the heather to rest. There was a warm sun shining, a pleasant wind
blowing, and the purple heather seemed literally to dance around them.
They remained for some time in silence; it was the earl who broke it by
"How beautiful the heather is! And here indeed on this hill-top is
solitude! We might fancy ourselves quite alone in the world. By the way,
you have never told me, Arleigh, what it is that makes you so fond of
"I have had a great trouble," he replied, briefly.
"A trouble! But one suffers a great deal before losing all interest in
life. You are so young, you cannot have suffered much."
"I know no other life so utterly helpless as my own."
The earl looked at him thoughtfully.
"I should like to know what your trouble is?" he said gently.
"I can tell you only one half of it," was the reply. "I fell in love
with one of the sweetest, fairest, purest of girls. How I loved her is
only known to myself. I suppose every man thinks his own love the
greatest and the best. My whole heart went out to this girl--with my
whole soul I loved her! She was below me in the one matter of worldly
wealth and position--above me in all other. When I first asked her to
marry me, she refused. She told me that the difference in our rank was
too great. She was most noble, most self-sacrificing; she loved me, I
know, most dearly, but she refused me. I was for some time unable to
overcome her opposition; at last I succeeded. I tell you no details
either of her name or where she lived, nor any other circumstances
connected with her--I tell you only this, that, once having won her
consent to our marriage, I seemed to have exchanged earth for Elysium.
Then we were married, not publicly and with great pomp, but as my
darling wished--privately and quietly. On the same day--my
wedding-day--I took her home. I cannot tell how great was my
happiness--no one could realize it. Believe me, Lord Mountdean, that she
herself is as pure as a saint, that I know no other woman at once so
meek and so lofty, so noble and so humble. Looking at her, one feels how
true and sweet a woman's soul can be. Yet--oh, that I should live to say
it!--on my wedding-day I discovered something--it was no fault of hers,
I swear--that parted us. Loving her blindly, madly, with my whole heart
and soul, I was still compelled to leave her. She is my wife in name
only, and can never be more to me, yet, you understand, without any
fault of hers."
"What a strange story!" said the earl, thoughtfully. "But this barrier,
this obstacle--can it never be removed?"
"No," answered Lord Arleigh, "never!"
"I assure you of my deepest sympathy," said the earl. "It is a strange
"Yes, and a sad fate," sighed Lord Arleigh. "You cannot understand my
story entirely. Wanting a full explanation, you might fairly ask me why
I married with this drawback. I did not know of it, but my wife believed
I did. We were both most cruelly deceived, it does not matter now. She
is condemned to a loveless, joyless life; so am I. With a wife beautiful
loving, young, I must lead a most solitary existence--I must see my name
die out for want of heirs--I must see my race almost extinct, my life
passed in repining and misery, my heart broken, my days without
sunshine. I repeat that it is a sad fate."
"It is indeed," agreed the earl--"and such a strange one. Are you quite
sure that nothing can be done to remedy it?"
"Quite sure," was the hopeless reply.
"I can hardly understand the need for separation, seeing that the wife
herself is blameless."
"In this case it is unavoidable."
"May I, without seeming curious, ask you a question?" said the earl.
"Certainly--as many as you like."
"You can please yourself about answering it," observed the earl; and
then he added: "Tell me, is it a case of insanity? Has your wife any
hereditary tendency to anything of that kind?"
"No," replied Lord Arleigh; "it is nothing of that description. My wife
is to me perfect in body and mind; I can add nothing to that."
"Then your story is a marvel; I do not--I cannot understand it. Still I
must say that, unless there is something far deeper and more terrible
than I can imagine, you have done wrong to part from your wife."
"I wish I could think so. But my doom is fixed, and no matter how long I
live, or she lives, it can never be altered."
"My story is a sad one," observed Lord Mountdean, "but it is not so sad
as yours. I married when I was quite young--married against my father's
wish, and without his consent. The lady I loved was like your own; she
was below me in position, but in nothing else. She was the daughter of a
clergyman, a lady of striking beauty, good education and manners. I need
not trouble you by telling you how it came about. I married her against
my father's wish; he was in Italy at the time for his health--he had
been there indeed for some years. I married her privately; our secret
was well kept. Some time after our marriage I received a telegram
stating that my father was dying and wished to see me. At that very time
we were expecting the birth of what we hoped would be a son and heir.
But I was anxious that my father should see and bless my wife before he
died. She assured me that the journey would not hurt her, that no evil
consequences would ensue; and, as I longed intensely for my father to
see her, it was arranged that we should go together. A few hours of the
journey passed happily enough, and then my poor wife was taken ill.
Heaven pardon me because of my youth, my ignorance, my inexperience! I
think sometimes that I might have saved her--but it is impossible to
tell. We stopped at a little town called Castledene, and I drove to the
hotel. There were races, or something of the kind, going on in the
neighborhood, and the proprietors could not accommodate us. I drove to
the doctor, who was a good Samaritan; he took us into his house--my
child was born, and my wife died there. It was not a son and heir, as we
had hoped it might be, but a little daughter, as fair as her mother. Ah,
Lord Arleigh, you have had your troubles, I have had mine. My wife was
buried at Castledene--my beautiful young wife, whom I loved so dearly. I
left my child, under the doctor's care, with a nurse, having arranged to
pay so much per annum for her, and intending when I returned to England
to take her home to Wood Lynton as my heiress. My father, contrary to
the verdict of the physicians, lingered about three years. Then he died,
and I became Earl of Mountdean. The first thing I did was to hurry to
Castledene. Can you imagine my horror when I found that all trace of my
child was lost? The poor doctor had met with some terrible death, and
the woman who had charge of my little one had left the neighborhood. Can
you imagine what this blow was to me? Since then my life has been spent
in one unceasing effort to find my daughter."
"How strange!" said Lord Arleigh. "Did you not know the name of the
"Yes, she lived at a little place called Ashwood. I advertised for her,
I offered large rewards, but I have never gleaned the least news of her;
no one could ever find her. Her husband, it appeared, had been guilty of
crime. My opinion is that the poor woman fled in shame from the
neighborhood where she was known, and that both she and my dear child
"It seems most probable," observed Lord Arleigh.
"If I could arrive at any certainty as to her fate," said the earl, "I
should be a happier man. I have been engaged to my cousin Lady Lily
Gordon for four years, but I cannot make up my mind to marry until I
hear something certain about my daughter."
Winiston House was prettily situated. The house stood in the midst of
charming grounds. There was a magnificent garden, full of flowers, full
of fragrance and bloom; there was an orchard filled with rich, ripe
fruit, broad meadow-land where the cattle grazed, where daisies and
oxlips grew. To the left of the house was a large shrubbery, which
opened on to a wide carriage drive leading to the high road. The house
was an old red-brick building, in no particular style of architecture,
with large oval windows and a square porch. The rooms were large, lofty,
and well lighted. Along the western side of the house ran a long
terrace called the western terrace; there the sun appeared to shine
brightest, there tender plants flourished, there tame white doves came
to be fed and a peacock walked in majesty; from there one heard the
distant rush of the river.
There Lady Arleigh spent the greater part of her time--there she wore
her gentle life away. Three years had elapsed, and no change had come to
her. She read of her husband's sojourn in Scotland. Then she read in the
fashionable intelligence that he had gone to Wood Lynton, the seat of
the Earl of Mountdean. He remained there three days, and then went
abroad. Where he was now she did not know; doubtless he was traveling
from one place to another, wretched, unhappy as she was herself.
The desolate, dreary life had begun to prey upon her at last. She had
fought against it bravely for some time--she had tried to live down the
sorrow; but it was growing too strong for her--the weight of it was
wearing her life away. Slowly but surely she began to fade and droop. At
first it was but a failure in strength--a little walk tired her, the
least fatigue or exercise seemed too much for her. Then, still more
slowly, the exquisite bloom faded from the lovely face, a weary languor
shone in the dark-blue eyes, the crimson lips lost their color. Yet Lady
Arleigh grew more beautiful as she grew more fragile. Then all appetite
failed her. Mrs. Burton declared that she ate nothing.
She might have led a different life--she might have gone out into
society--she might have visited and entertained guests. People knew that
Lady Arleigh was separated from her husband; they knew also that,
whatever might have been the cause of separation, it had arisen from no
fault of hers. She would, in spite of her strange position, have been
welcomed with open arms by the whole neighborhood, but she was sick with
mortal sorrow--life had not a charm for her.
She had no words for visitors--she had no wish left for enjoyment. Just
to dream her life away was all she cared for. The disappointment was so
keen, so bitter, she could not overcome it. Death would free Norman from
all burden--would free him from this tie that must be hateful to him.
Death was no foe to be met and fought with inch by inch; he was rather a
friend who was to save her from the embarrassment of living on--a friend
who would free her husband from the effects of his terrible mistake.
Madaline had never sent for her mother, not knowing whether Lord
Arleigh would like it; but she had constantly written to her, and had
forwarded money to her. She had sent her more than Margaret Dornham was
willing to accept. Another thing she had done--she had most carefully
refrained from saying one word to her mother as to the cause of her
separation from her husband. Indeed, Margaret Dornham had no notion of
the life that her well-beloved Madaline was leading.
It had been a terrible struggle for Margaret to give her up.
"I might as well have let her go back years ago to those to whom she
belonged," she said to herself, "as to let her go now."
Still, she stood in great awe of the Duchess of Hazlewood, who seemed to
her one of the grandest ladies in all England; and, when the duchess
told her it was selfish of her to stand in her daughter's light,
Margaret gave way and let her go. Many times, after she had parted with
her, she felt inclined to open the oaken box with brass clasps, and see
what the papers in it contained, but a nameless fear came over her. She
did not dare to do what she had not done earlier.
Madaline had constantly written to her, had told her of her lover, had
described Lord Arleigh over and over again to her. On the eve of her
wedding-day she had written again; but, after that fatal marriage-day,
she had not told her secret. Of what use would it be to make her mother
more unhappy than she was--of what avail to tell her that the dark and
terrible shadow of her father's crime had fallen over her young life,
blighting it also?
Of all her mother's troubles she knew this would be the greatest so she
generously refrained from naming it. There was no need to tell her
patient, long-suffering, unhappy mother that which must prove like a
dagger in her gentle heart. So Margaret Dornham had one gleam of
sunshine in her wretched life. She believed that the girl she had loved
so dearly was unutterably happy. She had read the descriptions of Lord
Arleigh with tears in her eyes.
"That is how girls write of the men they love," she said--"my Madaline
Madaline had written to her when the ceremony was over. She had no one
to make happy with her news but her distant mother. Then some days
passed before she heard again--that did not seem strange. There was, of
course, the going home, the change of scene, the constant occupation.
Madaline would write when she had time. At the end of a week she heard
again; and then it struck her that the letter was dull, unlike one
written by a happy bride--but of course she must be mistaken--why should
not Madaline be happy?
After that the letters came regularly, and Madaline said that the
greatest pleasure she had lay in helping her mother. She said that she
intended to make her a certain allowance, which she felt quite sure
would be continued to her after her death, should that event precede her
mother's; so that at last, for the weary-hearted woman, came an interval
of something like contentment. Through Madaline's bounty she was able to
move from her close lodgings in town to a pretty cottage in the country
Then she had a glimpse of content.
After a time her heart yearned to see the daughter of her adoption, the
one sunbeam of her life, and she wrote to that effect.
"I will come to you," wrote Madaline, in reply, "if you will promise me
faithfully to make no difference between me and the child Madaline who
used to come home from school years ago."
Margaret promised, and Madaline, plainly dressed, went to see her
mother. It was sweet, after those long, weary months of humiliation and
despair, to lay her head on that faithful breast and hear whispered
words of love and affection. When the warmth of their first greeting was
over, Margaret was amazed at the change in her child. Madaline had grown
taller, the girlish graceful figure had developed into a model of
perfect womanhood. The dress that she wore became her so well that the
change in the marvelous face amazed her the most, it was so wonderfully
wonderful, so fair, so pure, so _spirituelle_, yet it had so strange a
story written upon it--a story she could neither read nor understand. It
was not a happy face. The eyes were shadowed, the lips firm, the
radiance and brightness that had distinguished her were gone; there were
patience and resignation Instead.
"How changed you are, my darling!" said Margaret, as she looked at her.
"Who would have thought that my little girl would grow into a tall,
stately, beautiful lady, dainty and exquisite? What did Lord Arleigh say
to your coming, my darling?"
"He did not say anything," she replied, slowly.
"But was he not grieved to lose you?"
"Lord Arleigh is abroad," said Madaline, gently. "I do not expect that
he will return to England just yet."
"Abroad!" repeated Margaret. "Then, my darling, how is it that you are
not with him?"
"I could not go," she replied, evasively.
"And you love your husband very much, Madaline, do you not?" inquired
"Yes, I love him with all my heart and soul!" was the earnest reply.
"Thank Heaven that my darling is happy!" said Margaret, "I shall find
everything easier to bear now that I that."
Margaret Dornham was neither a clever nor a far-seeing woman; had she
been either, she would never have acted as she did. She would have known
that in taking little Madaline from Castledene she was destroying her
last chance of ever being owned or claimed by her parents; she would
have understood that, although she loved the child very dearly, she was
committing a most cruel act. But she thought only of how she loved her.
Yet, undiscerning as she was, she was puzzled about her daughter's
happiness. If she was really so happy, why did she spend long hours in
reverie--why sit with folded hands, looking with such sad eyes at the
passing clouds? That did not look like happiness. Why those heavy sighs,
and the color that went and came like light and shade? It was strange
happiness. After a time she noticed that Madaline never spoke
voluntarily of her husband. She would answer any questions put to
her--she would tell her mother anything she desired to know; but of her
own accord she never once named him. That did not look like happiness.
She even once, in answer to her mother's questions, described Beechgrove
to her--told her of the famous beeches, the grand picture gallery; she
told her of the gorgeous Titian--the woman with rubies like blood
shining on her white neck. But she did not add that she had been at
Beechgrove only once, and had left the place in sorrow and shame.
She seemed to have every comfort, every luxury; but Margaret noticed
also that she never spoke of her circle of society--that she never
alluded to visitors.
"It seems to me, my darling, that you lead a very quiet life," she said,
one day; and Madaline's only answer was that such was really the case.
Another time Margaret said to her:
"You do not write many letters to your husband, Madaline. I could
imagine a young wife like you writing every day," and her daughter made
On another occasion Mrs. Dornham put the question to her:
"You are quite sure, Madaline, that you love your husband?"
"Love him!" echoed the girl, her face lighting up--"love him, mother? I
think no one in the wide world has ever loved another better!"
"Such being the case, my darling," said Margaret, anxiously, "let me
ask you if you are quite sure he loves you?"
No shadow came into the blue eyes as she raised them to her mother's
"I am as sure of it," she replied, "as I am of my own existence."
"Then," thought Margaret to herself, "I am mistaken; all is well between
Madaline did not intend to remain very long with her mother, but it was
soothing to the wounded, aching heart to be loved so dearly. Margaret
startled her one day, by saying:
"Madaline, now that you are a great lady, and have such influential
friends, do you not think you could do something for your father?"
"Something for my father?" repeated the girl, with a shudder. "What can
I do for him?"
A new idea suddenly occurred to Mrs. Dornham. She looked into Lady
Arleigh's pale, beautiful face.
"Madaline," she said, earnestly, "tell me the whole truth--is your
father's misfortune any drawback to you? Tell me the truth; I have a
reason for asking you."
But Lady Arleigh would not pain her mother--her quiet, simple heart had
ached bitterly enough. She would not add one pang.
"Tell me, dear," continued Margaret, earnestly; "you do not know how
important it is for me to understand."
"My dear mother," said Lady Arleigh, gently clasping her arms round her
mother's neck; "do not let that idea make you uneasy. All minor lights
cease to shine, you know, in the presence of greater ones. The world
bows down to Lord Arleigh; very few, I think, know what his wife's name
was. Be quite happy about me, mother. I am sure that no one who has seen
me since my marriage knows anything about my father."
"I shall be quite happy, now that I know that," she observed.
More than once during that visit Margaret debated within herself whether
she would tell Lady Arleigh her story or not; but the same weak fear
that had caused her to run away with the child, lest she should lose her
now, made her refrain from speaking, lest Madaline, on knowing the
truth, should be angry with her and forsake her.
If Mrs. Dornham had known the harm that her silence was doing she would
quickly have broken it.
Lady Arleigh returned home, taking her silent sorrow with her. If
possible, she was kinder then ever afterward to her mother, sending her
constantly baskets of fruit and game--presents of every kind. If it had
not been for the memory of her convict husband, Mrs. Dornham would for
the first time in her life have been quite happy.
Then it was that Lady Arleigh began slowly to droop, then it was that
her desolate life became utterly intolerable--that her sorrow became
greater than she could bear. She must have some one near her, she
felt--some one with whom she could speak--or she should go mad. She
longed for her mother. It was true Margaret Dornham was not an educated
woman, but in her way she was refined. She was gentle, tender-hearted,
thoughtful, patient, above all, Madaline believed she was her
mother--and she had never longed for her mother's love and care as she
did now, when health, strength, and life seemed to be failing her.
By good fortune she happened to see in the daily papers that Lord
Arleigh was staying at Meurice's Hotel, in Paris. She wrote to him
there, and told him that she had a great longing to have her mother with
her. She told him that she had desired this for a long time, but that
she had refrained from expressing the wish lest it should be
displeasing to him.
"Do not scruple to refuse me," she said, "if you do not approve. I
hardly venture to hope that you will give your consent. If you do, I
will thank you for it. If you should think it best to refuse it, I
submit humbly as I submit now. Let me add that I would not ask the favor
but that my health and strength are failing fast."
Lord Arleigh mused long and anxiously over this letter. He hardly cared
that her mother should go to Dower House; it would perhaps be the means
of his unhappy secret becoming known. Nor did he like to refuse
Madaline, unhappy, lonely, and ill. Dear Heaven, if he could but go to
her himself and comfort her.
Long and anxiously did Lord Arleigh muse over his wife's letter. What
was he to do? If her mother was like the generality of her class, then
he was quite sure that the secret he had kept would be a secret no
longer--there was no doubt of that. She would naturally talk, and the
servants would prove the truth of the story, and there would be a
terrible _expose_. Yet, lonely and sorrowful as Madaline declared
herself to be, how could he refuse her? It was an anxious question for
him, and one that caused him much serious thought. Had he known how ill
she was he would not have hesitated a moment.
He wrote to Madaline--how the letter was received and cherished no one
but herself knew--and told her that he would be in England in a day or
two, and would then give her a decided answer. The letter was kind and
affectionate; it came to her hungry heart like dew to a thirsty flower.
A sudden idea occurred to Lord Arleigh. He would go to England and find
out all about the unfortunate man Dornham. Justice had many victims; it
was within the bounds of possibility that the man might have been
innocent--might have been unjustly accused. If such--and oh, how he
hoped it might be!--should prove to be the case, then Lord Arleigh felt
that he could take his wife home. It was the real degradation of the
crime that he dreaded so utterly--dreaded more than all that could ever
be said about it. He thought to himself more than once that, if by any
unexpected means he discovered that Henry Dornham was innocent of the
crime attributed to him, he would in that same hour ask Madaline to
forgive him, and to be the mistress of his house. That was the only real
solution of the difficulty that ever occurred to him. If the man were
but innocent he--Lord Arleigh--would never heed the poverty, the
obscurity the humble name--all that was nothing. By comparison it seemed
so little that he could have smiled at it. People might say it was a low
marriage, but he had his own idea of what was low. If only the man could
be proved innocent of crime, then he might go to his sweet, innocent
wife, and clasping her in his arms, take her to his heart.
The idea seemed to haunt him--it seemed to have a fatal attraction for
him. He resolved to go to London at once and see if anything could be
done in the matter. How he prayed and longed and hoped! He passed
through well-nigh every stage of feeling--from the bright rapture of
hope to the lowest depths of despair. He went first to Scotland Yard,
and had a long interview with the detective who had given evidence
against Henry Dornham. The detective's idea was that he was emphatically
"a bad lot."
He smiled benignly when Lord Arleigh suggested that possibly the man was
innocent, remarking that it was very kind of the gentleman to think so;
for his own part he did not see a shadow of a chance of it.
"He was caught, you see, with her grace's jewels in his pocket, and gold
and silver plate ready packed by his side--that did not look much like
"No, certainly not," Lord Arleigh admitted; "but then there have been
cases in which circumstances looked even worse against an innocent man."
"Yes"--the detective admitted it, seeing that for some reason or other
his lordship had a great desire to make the man out innocent.
"He will have a task," the detective told himself, grimly.
To the inquiry as to whether the man had been sent out of England the
answer was "No; he is at Chatham."
To Chatham Lord Arleigh resolved to go. For one in his position there
would not be much difficulty in obtaining an interview with the convict.
And before long Lord Arleigh, one of the proudest men in England, and
Henry Dornham, poacher and thief, stood face to face.
Lord Arleigh's first feeling was one of great surprise--Henry Dornham
was so different from what he had expected to find him; he had not
thought that he would be fair like Madaline, but he was unprepared for
the dark, swarthy, gypsy-like type of the man before him.
The two looked steadily at each other; the poacher did not seem in the
least to stand in awe of his visitor. Lord Arleigh tried to read the
secret of the man's guilt or innocence in his face. Henry Dornham
returned the gaze fearlessly.
"What do you want with me?" he asked. "You are what we call a swell. I
know by the look of you. What do you want with me?"
The voice, like the face, was peculiar, not unpleasant--deep, rich, with
a clear tone, yet not in the least like Madaline's voice.
"I want," said Lord Arleigh, steadily, "to be your friend, if you will
"My friend!" a cynical smile curled the handsome lips. "Well, that is
indeed a novelty. I should like to ask, if it would not seem rude, what
kind of a friend can a gentleman like you be to me?"
"You will soon find out," said Lord Arleigh.
"I have never known a friendship between a rich man and a ne'er-do-well
like myself which did not end in harm for the poorer man. You seek us
only when you want us--and then it is for no good."
"I should not be very likely to seek you from any motive but the desire
to help you," observed Lord Arleigh.
"It is not quite clear to me how I am to be helped," returned the
convict with a cynical smile; "but if you can do anything to get me out
of this wretched place, please do."
"I want you to answer me a few questions," said Lord Arleigh--"and very
much depends on them. To begin, tell me, were you innocent or guilty of
the crime for which you are suffering? Is your punishment deserved or
"Well," replied Henry Dornham, with a sullen frown, "I can just say
this--it is well there are strong bars between us; if there were not you
would not live to ask such another question."
"Will you answer me?" said Lord Arleigh, gently.
"No, I will not--why should I? You belong to a class I hate and
detest--a class of tyrants and oppressors."
"Why should you? I will tell you in a few words. I am interested in the
fate of your wife and daughter."
"My what?" cried the convict, with a look of wonder.
"Your wife and daughter," said Lord Arleigh.
"My daughter!" exclaimed the man. "Good Heaven! Oh, I see! Well, go on.
You are interested in my wife and daughter--what else?"
"There is one thing I can do which would not only be of material benefit
to them, but would make your daughter very happy. It cannot be done
unless we can prove your innocence."
"Poor little Madaline," said the convict, quietly--"poor, pretty little
Lord Arleigh's whole soul revolted on hearing this man speak so of his
fair, young wife. That this man, with heavy iron bars separating him, as
though he were a wild animal, from the rest of the world, should call
his wife "poor, pretty little Madaline."
"I would give," said Lord Arleigh, "a great deal to find that your
conviction had been a mistake. I know circumstances of that kind will
and do happen. Tell me honestly, is there any, even the least
probability, of finding out anything to your advantage?"
"Well," replied Henry Dornham, "I am a ne'er-do-well by nature. I was an
idle boy, an idle youth, and an idle man. I poached when I had a chance.
I lived on my wife's earnings. I went to the bad as deliberately as any
one in the world did, but I do not remember that I ever told a willful
There passed through Lord Arleigh's mind a wish that the Duchess of
Hazlewood might have heard this avowal.
"I do not remember," the man said again, "that I have ever told a
willful lie in my life. I will not begin now. You asked me if I was
really guilty. Yes, I was--guilty just as my judges pronounced me to
For a few minutes Lord Arleigh was silent; the disappointment was almost
greater than he could bear. He had anticipated so much from this
interview; and now by these deliberately spoken words his hopes were
ended--he would never be able to take his beautiful young wife to his
heart and home. The bitterness of the disappointment seemed almost
greater than he could bear. He tried to recover himself, while Henry
Dornham went on:
"The rich never have anything to do with the poor without harm comes of
it. Why did they send me to the duke's house? Why did be try to
patronize me? Why did he parade his gold and silver plate before my
The passion of his words seemed to inflame him.
"Why," he continued angrily, should he eat from silver while others were
without bread? Why should his wife wear diamonds while mine cried with
hunger and cold? I saw how unjust it was. Who placed his foot on my
neck? Who made him my master and tyrant, patronizing me with his 'my
good fellow' this and the other? What right had he to such abundance
while I had nothing?"
"That which was his," said Lord Arleigh, bluntly, "at least was not
yours to take."
"But I say it was! I helped myself before, and, if I were out of this
place, having the chance, I would help myself again."
"That would be equally criminal," said Lord Arleigh, fearlessly and
again Henry Dornham laughed his cynical laugh.
"It is too late in the day for me to talk over these matters," said the
convict. "When I roamed in the woods as a free man, I had my own ideas;
prison has not improved them. I shall never make a reformed convict--not
even a decent ticket-of-leave man. So if you have any thought of
reclaiming me, rid your mind of it at once."
"It will be best to do so, I perceive," observed Lord Arleigh. "I had
some little hope when I came in--I have none now."
"You do not mean to say, though, that I am not to be any the better off
for your visit?" cried the man. "I do not know your name, but I can see
what you are. Surely you will try to do something for me?"
"What can I do?" asked Lord Arleigh. "If you had been innocent--even if
there had been what they call extenuating circumstances--I would have
spent a fortune in the endeavor to set you free; but your confession
renders me powerless."
"The only extenuating circumstance in the whole affair," declared the
man, after a pause, "was that I wanted money, and took what I thought
would bring it. So you would give a small fortune to clear me, eh?" he
"Yes," was the brief reply.
The man looked keenly at him.
"Then you must indeed have a strong motive. It is not for my own sake, I
suppose?" A new idea occurred to him. A sudden smile curled his lip. "I
have it!" he said. "You are in love with my--with pretty little
Madaline, and you want to marry her! If you could make me out innocent,
you would marry her; if you cannot--what then? Am I right?"
All the pride of his nature rose in rebellion against this coarse
speech. He, an Arleigh of Beechgrove, to hear this reprobate sneering at
his love! His first impulse was an angry one, but he controlled himself.
After all, it was Madaline's father--for Madaline's sake he would be
"Am I right?" the prisoner repeated, with the same mocking smile.
"No," replied Lord Arleigh, "you are not right. There is no need for me
to offer any explanation, and, as I have failed in my object, I will
"You might just as well tell me if you are in love with my little
Madaline. I might make it worth your while to let me know."
It was with great difficulty that Lord Arleigh controlled his
indignation; but he replied, calmly:
"I have nothing to tell you."
A look of disappointment came over the dark, handsome face.
"You can keep your secrets," he said--"so can I. If you will tell me
nothing, neither shall I; but I might make it worth your while to trust
"I have nothing to confide," returned Lord Arleigh; "all I can say to
you on leaving is that I hope you will come to your senses and repent of
your past wickedness."
"I shall begin to think that you are a missionary in disguise," said
Henry Dornham. "So you will not offer me anything for my secret?" he
"No secret of yours could interest me," rejoined Lord Arleigh abruptly,
as he went away.
So, for the second time in his life, he was at the door of the mystery,
yet it remained unopened. The first time was when he was listening to
Lord Mountdean's story, when the mention of the name Dornham should lead
to a denouement; the second was now, when, if he had listened to the
convict, he would have heard that Madaline was not his child.
He left Chatham sick at heart. There was no help for him--his fate was
sealed. Never, while he lived, could he make his beautiful wife his own
truly--they were indeed parted for evermore. There remained to him to
write that letter; should he consent to Madaline's mother living with
her or should he not?
He reflected long and anxiously, and then having well weighed the matter
he decided that he would not refuse his wife her request. He must run
the risk, but he would not caution her.
He wrote to Madaline, and told her that he would be pleased if she were
pleased, and that he hoped she would be happy with her mother, adding
the caution that he trusted she would impress upon her mother the need
of great reticence, and that she must not mention the unfortunate
circumstances of the family to any creature living.
Madaline's answer touched him. She assured him that there was no
fear--that her mother was to be implicitly trusted. She told him also
how entirely she had kept the secret of his separation from her, lest it
should add to her mother's trouble.
"She will know now that I do not live with you, that I never see you,
that we are as strangers, but she will never know the reason."
He was deeply moved. What a noble girl she was, bearing her troubles so
patiently, and confiding them to no human soul!
Then he was compelled to go to Beechgrove--it was long since he had been
there, and so much required attention, he was obliged to go, sorely
against his will, for he dreaded the sight of the place, haunted as it
was by the remembrance of the love and sorrow of his young wife. He
avoided going as long as possible, but the place needed the attention of
It was June when he went--bright, smiling, perfumed, sunny June--and
Beechgrove was at its best; the trees were in full foliage, the green
woods resounded with the song of birds, the gardens were filled with
flowers, the whole estate was blooming and fair. He took up his abode
there. It was soon noticed in the house that he avoided the
picture-gallery--nothing ever induced him to enter it. More than once,
as he was walking through the woods, his heartbeat and his face flushed;
there, beyond the trees lived his wife, his darling, from whom a fate
more cruel than death had parted him. His wife! The longing to see her
grew on him from day to day. She was so near him, yet so far away--she
was so fair, yet her beauty must all fade and die; it was not for him.
In time he began to think it strange that he had never heard anything of
her. He went about in the neighborhood, yet no one spoke of having seen
her. He never heard of her being at church, nor did he ever meet her on
the high-road. It was strange how completely a vail of silence and
mystery had fallen over her.
When he had been some time at Beechgrove he received one morning a
letter from the Earl of Mountdean, saying that he was in the
neighborhood, and would like to call. Lord Arleigh was pleased at the
prospect. There was deep and real cordiality between the two men--they
thoroughly understood and liked each other; it was true that the earl
was older by many years than Lord Arleigh, but that did not affect their
They enjoyed a few days together very much. One morning they rode
through the woods--the sweet, fragrant, June woods--when, from between
the trees, they saw the square turrets of the Dower House. Lord
Mountdean stopped to admire the view.
"We are a long distance from Beechgrove," he said; "what is that pretty
Lord Arleigh's face flushed hotly.
"That," he replied, "is the Dower House, where my wife lives."
The earl looked with great interest at Lady Arleigh's dwelling-place.
"It is very pretty," he said--"pretty and quiet; but it must be dull for
a young girl. You said she was young, did you not?"
"Yes, she is years younger than I am," replied Lord Arleigh.
"Poor girl!" said the earl, pityingly; "it must be rather a sad fate--so
young and beautiful, yet condemned all her life to live alone. Tell me,
Arleigh, did you take advice before you separated yourself so abruptly
"No," replied Lord Arleigh, "I did not ever seek it; the matter
appeared plain enough to me."
"I should not like you to think me curious," pursued the earl. "We are
true friends now, and we can trust each other. You have every confidence
in me, and I have complete faith in you. I would intrust to you the
dearest secret of my heart. Arleigh, tell me what I know you have told
to no human being--the reason of your separation from the wife you
Lord Arleigh hesitated for one half minute.
"What good can it possibly do?" he said.
"I am a great believer in the good old proverb that two heads are better
than one," replied the earl. "I think it is just possible that I might
have some idea that has not occurred to you; I might see some way out of
the difficulty, that has not yet presented itself to you. Please
yourself about it; either trust me or not, as you will; but if you do
trust me, rely upon it I shall find some way of helping you."
"It is a hopeless case," observed Lord Arleigh, sadly. "I am quite sure
that even if you knew all about it, you would not see any comfort for
me. For my wife's sake I hesitate to tell you, not for my own."
"Your wife's secret will be as safe with me as with yourself," said the
"I never thought that it would pass my lips, but I do trust you,"
declared Lord Arleigh; "and if you can see any way to help me, I shall
thank Heaven for the first day I met you. You must hold my wife
blameless, Lord Mountdean," he went on. "She never spoke untruthfully,
she never deceived me; but on our wedding-day I discovered that her
father was a convict--a man of the lowest criminal type."
Lord Mountdean looked as he felt, shocked.
"But how," he asked, eagerly, "could you be so deceived?"
"That I can never tell you; it was an act of fiendish revenge--cruel,
ruthless, treacherous. I cannot reveal the perpetrator. My wife did not
deceive me, did not even know that I had been deceived; she thought,
poor child, that I was acquainted with the whole of her father's story,
but I was not. And now, Lord Mountdean, tell me, do you think I did
He raised his care-worn, haggard face as he asked the question and the
earl was disturbed at sight of the terrible pain in it.
The reason of his separation from his wife revealed, Lord Arleigh again
put the question:
"Do you think, Lord Mountdean, that I have done wrong?"
The earl looked at him.
"No," he replied, "I cannot say that you have."
"I loved her," continued Lord Arleigh, "but I could not make the
daughter of a convict the mistress of my house, the mother of my
children. I could not let my children point to a felon's cell as the
cradle of their origin. I could not sully my name, outrage a long line
of noble ancestors, by making my poor wife mistress of Beechgrove. Say,
if the same thing had happened to you, would you not have acted in like
"I believe that I should," answered the earl, gravely.
"However dearly you might love a woman, you could not place your coronet
on the brow of a convict's daughter," said Lord Arleigh. "I love my wife
a thousand times better than my life, yet I could not make her mistress
"It was a cruel deception," observed the earl--"one that it is
impossible to understand. She herself--the lady you have made your
wife--must be quite as unhappy as yourself."
"If it be possible she is more so," returned Lord Arleigh; "but tell me,
if I had appealed to you in the dilemma--if I had asked your
advice--what would you have said to me?"
"I should have no resource but to tell you to act as you have done,"
replied the earl; "no matter what pain and sorrow it entailed you could
not have done otherwise."
"I thought you would agree with me. And now, Mountdean, tell me, do you
see any escape from my difficulty?"
"I do not, indeed," replied the earl.
"I had one hope," resumed Lord Arleigh; "and that was that the father
had perhaps been unjustly sentenced, or that he might after all prove
to be innocent. I went to see him--he is one of the convicts working at
"You went to see him!" echoed the earl, in surprise.
"Yes; and I gave up all hope from the moment I saw him. He is simply a
handsome reprobate. I asked him if it was true that he had committed the
crime, and he answered me quite frank, 'Yes.' I asked him if there were
any extenuating circumstances; he replied 'want of money.' When I had
seen and spoken to him, I felt convinced that the step I had taken with
regard to my wife was a wise one, however cruel it may have been. No man
in his senses would voluntarily admit a criminal's daughter into his
"No; it is even a harder case than I thought it," said the earl. "The
only thing I can recommend is resignation."
Lord Mountdean thought that he would like to see the hapless young wife,
and learn if she suffered as her husband did. He wondered too what she
could be like, this convict's daughter who had been gifted with a regal
dower of grace and beauty--this lowly-born child of the people who had
been fair enough to charm the fastidious Lord Arleigh.
Meanwhile Madaline was all unconscious of the strides that destiny was
making in her favor. She had thought her husband's letter all that was
most kind; and, though she felt that there was no real grounds for it,
she impressed upon her mother the need of the utmost reticence. Margaret
Dornham understood from the first.
"Never have a moment's uneasiness, Madaline," she said. "From the hour I
cross your threshold until I leave, your father's name shall never pass
It was a little less dreary for Madaline when her mother was with her.
Though they did not talk much, and had but few tastes alike, Margaret
was all devotion, all attention to her child.
She was sadly at a loss to understand matters. She had quite expected to
find Madaline living at Beechgrove--she could not imagine why she was
alone in Winiston House. The arrangement had seemed reasonable enough
while Lord Arleigh was abroad, but now that he had returned to England,
why did he not come to his wife, or why did not she go to him? She could
not understand it; and as Madaline volunteered no explanation, her
mother asked for none.
But, when day after day she saw her daughter fading away--when she saw
the fair face lose its color, the eyes their light--when she saw the
girl shrink from the sunshine and the flowers, from all that was bright
and beautiful, from all that was cheerful and exhilarating--she knew
that her soul was sick unto death. She would look with longing eyes at
the calm, resigned face, wishing with all her heart that she might
speak, yet not daring to do so.
What seemed to her even more surprising was that no one appeared to
think such a state of things strange; and when she had been at Winiston
some few weeks, she discovered that, as far as the occupants of the
house were concerned, the condition of matters was not viewed as
extraordinary. She offered no remark to the servants, and they offered
none to her, but from casual observations she gathered that her daughter
had never been to Beechgrove, but had lived at Winiston all her married
life, and that Lord Arleigh had never been to visit her.
How was this? What did the terrible pain in her daughter's face mean?
Why was her bright young life so slowly but surely fading away? She
noted it for some time in silence, and then she decided to speak.
One morning when Madaline had turned with a sigh from the old-fashioned
garden with its wilderness of flowers, Margaret said, gently:
"Madaline, I never hear you speak of the Duchess of Hazlewood who was so
very kind to you. Does she never come to see you?"
She saw the vivid crimson mount to the white brow, to be speedily
replaced by a pallor terrible to behold.
"My darling," she cried, in distress, "I did not expect to grieve you!"
"Why should I be grieved?" said the girl, quietly. "The duchess does not
come to see me because she acted to me very cruelly; and I never write
to her now."
Then Margaret for awhile was silent. How was she to bring forward the
subject nearest to her heart? She cast about for words in which to
express her thoughts.
"Madaline," she said, at last, "no one has a greater respect than I have
for the honor of husband and wife; I mean for the good faith and
confidence there should be between them. In days gone by I never spoke
of your poor father's faults--I never allowed any one to mention them to
me. If any of the neighbors ever tried to talk about him, I would not
allow it. So, my darling, do not consider that there is any idle
curiosity in what I am about to say to you. I thought you were so
happily married, my dear; and it is a bitter disappointment to me to
find that such is not the case."
There came no reply from Lady Arleigh; her hands were held before her
"I am almost afraid, dearly as I love you, to ask you the question,"
Margaret continued; "but, Madaline, will you tell me why you do not live
with your husband?"
"I cannot, mother," was the brief reply.
"Is it--oh, tell me, dear!--is it any fault of yours? Have you
"It is through no fault of mine, mother. He says so himself."
"Is it from any fault of his? Has he done anything to displease you?"
"No," she answered, with sudden warmth, "he has not--indeed, he could
not, I love him so."
"Then, if you have not displeased each other, and really love each
other, why are you parted in this strange fashion? It seems to me,
Madaline, that you are his wife only in name."
"You are right, mother--and I shall never be any more; but do not ask me
why--I can never tell you. The secret must live and die with me."
"Then I shall never know it, Madaline?"
"Never, mother," she answered.
"But do you know, my darling, that it is wearing your life away?"
"Yes, I know it, but I cannot alter matters. And, mother," she
continued, "if we are to be good friends and live together, you must
never mention this to me again."
"I will remember," said Margaret, kissing the thin white hands, but to
herself she said matters should not so continue. Were Lord Arleigh
twenty times a lord, he should not break his wife's heart in that cold,
A sudden resolve came to Mrs. Dornham--she would go to Beechgrove and
see him herself. It he were angry and sent her away from Winiston House,
it would not matter--she would have told him the truth. And the truth
that she had to tell him was that the separation was slowly but surely
killing his wife.
Margaret Dornham knew no peace until she had carried out her intention.
It was but right, she said to herself, that Lord Arleigh should know
that his fair young wife was dying.
"What right had he to marry her?" she asked herself indignantly, "if he
meant to break her heart?"
What could he have left her for? It could not have been because of her
poverty or her father's crime--he knew of both beforehand. What was it?
In vain did she recall all that Madaline had ever said about her
husband--she could see no light in the darkness, find no solution to the
mystery; therefore the only course open to her was to go to Lord
Arleigh, and to tell him that his wife was dying.
"There may possibly have been some slight misunderstanding between them
which one little interview might remove," she thought.
One day she invented some excuse for her absence from Winiston House,
and started on her expedition, strong with the love that makes the
weakest heart brave. She drove the greater part of the distance, and
then dismissed the carriage, resolving to walk the remainder of the
way--she did not wish the servants to know whither she was going. It was
a delightful morning, warm, brilliant, sunny. The hedge-rows were full
of wild roses, there was a faint odor of newly-mown hay, the westerly
wind was soft and sweet.
As Margaret Dornham walked through the woods, she fell deeply into
thought. Almost for the first time a great doubt had seized her, a doubt
that made her tremble and fear. Through many long years she had clung to
Madaline--she had thought her love and tender care of more consequence
to the child than anything else. Knowing nothing of her father's rank or
position, she had flattered herself into believing that she had been
Madaline's best friend in childhood. Now there came to her a terrible
doubt. What if she had stood in Madaline's light, instead of being her
friend? She had not been informed of the arrangements between the doctor
and his patron, but people had said to her, when the doctor died, that
the child had better be sent to the work-house--and that had frightened
her. Now she wondered whether she had done right or wrong. What if she,
who of all the world had been the one to love Madaline best, had been
her greatest foe?
Thinking of this, she walked along the soft greensward. She thought of
the old life in the pretty cottage at Ashwood, where for so short a time
she had been happy with her handsome, ne'er-do-well husband, whom at
first she had loved so blindly; she thought of the lovely, golden-haired
child which she had loved so wildly, and of the kind, clever doctor, who
had been so suddenly called to his account; and then her thoughts
wandered to the stranger who had intrusted his child to her care. Had
she done wrong in leaving him all these years in such utter ignorance of
his child's welfare? Had she wronged him? Ought she to have waited
patiently until he had returned or sent? If she were ever to meet him
again, would he overwhelm her with reproaches? She thought of his tall,
erect figure, of his handsome face, so sorrowful and sad, of his
mournful eyes, which always looked as though his heart lay buried with
his dead wife.
Suddenly her face grew deathly pale, her lips flew apart with a
terrified cry, her whole frame trembled. She raised her hands as one who
would fain ward off a blow, for, standing just before her, looking down
on her with stern, indignant eyes, was the stranger who had intrusted
his child to her.
For some minutes--how many she never knew--they stood looking at each
other--he stern, indignant, haughty, she trembling, frightened, cowed.
"I recognize you again," he said, at length, in a harsh voice.
Cowed, subdued, she fell on her knees at his feet.
"Woman," he cried, "where is my child?"
She made him no answer, but covered her face with her hands.
"Where is my child?" he repeated. "I intrusted her to you--where is
The white lips opened, and some feeble answer came which he could not
"Where is my child?" he demanded. "What have you done with her? For
Heaven's sake, answer me!" he implored.
Again she murmured something he could not catch, and he bent over her.
If ever in his life Lord Mountdean lost his temper, he lost it then. He
could almost, in his impatience, have forgotten that it was a woman who
was kneeling at his feet, and could have shaken her until she spoke
intelligibly. His anger was so great he could have struck her. But he
"I am not the most patient of men, Margaret Dornham," he said; "and you
are trying me terribly. In the name of Heaven, I ask you, what have you
done with my child?"
"I have not injured her," she sobbed.
"Is she living or dead?" asked the earl, with terrible calmness.
"She is living," replied the weeping woman.
Lord Mountdean raised his face reverently to the summer sky.
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