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the pale, slender creature pronounced the last two sentences! And then seemed to sink away into abject sadness and submission; and raised her strange watchful eyes to peer into Sir Douglas's averted countenance with wavering gleams in them such as go over the sea on a dull, stormy day as she resumed in a broken tone, "And now I must go, I know. You'll expect it of me, and she'll expect it, and they'll all look to it; and though I'll not know well where to go, and God knows if he'll send for me or let me know what's become of him, still I know I ought-and -and-I'll not ask for much time, and you'll be thinking I have my own independence from my mother; but-but -I've lent a good deal to Mr. Frere— and-if I could have a little time-"
Sir Douglas woke from some absorbed musing which had taken possession apparently of all his faculties, and said almost fiercely, "Alice, what are you talking of? Do you think I am made of such metal as to drive you forth, just as you are in most need of protection? Stay where you are-stay; but give me time to get over this."
He rose as he spoke; leaning his clenched hand on the library table where they had been sitting; still looking down musingly, not seeing the objects there. Then he glanced upwards, doubtful whether to speak a word of better comfort,-to offer perhaps some soothing caress. But Alice was gone; softly gone through the half-closed door, with cat-like gliding and gentleness; only just gone, for the long ends of the swan's-down boa she habitually crossed over her throat when about to traverse the cold stairs and corridors to her tower-room, were vanishing in the doorway, half creeping half floating after her; looking as if they were a portion of her stealthy self.
Sir Douglas did not often-as the uneducated express it-" give way." Passionate as he was by nature and temperament, he had a certain dignity which controlled in him the expression of all emotion. But when Alice was gone, he suddenly re-seated himself, and
stretching his arms forward on the library table, he laid his head on them with a groan, and uttered a familiar name in a tone of startling agony. "Kenneth!" was all Sir Douglas said: but if Kenneth could have heard the tone in which his name was spoken,the funereal clang of agony that went through the sound,-perhaps even to him, even to his most selfish nature, the sound might have conveyed a startling appeal.
LADY CHARLOTTE PERPLEXED. BUT Kenneth was little troubled about other men's troubles. He was full of his own. That fire of thorns which he had chosen to light, the renewal of his passion for Gertrude, burnt with fierce. and ceaseless heat: watched by Alice with sly and demure satisfaction, as sure to lead in some way (no matter how) to mischief and vexation for its object: watched with angry sneers by the Spanish she-grandee; who, though no longer herself in love with her husband, had that not uncommon spirit of jealousy which resents losing worship, with all its incense of small attentions, though careless of the worshipper: watched by Dowager Clochnaben, whenever her visits gave her tit opportunity, with grim scorn of Sir Douglas's blindness and his wife's abominable hypocrisy : watched even by poor little Lady Charlotte, in a sort of scared, frightened, questioning manner.
"He puts me so in mind, you know," she rashly avowed to the Dowager, "of that pretty fable-no, not exactly fable, but heathen story, wasn't it; that dear Neil was reading out loud the other day after luncheon?-of a pagan; no, not a pagan, but a god of the pagans -Pluto it was, I remember, Pluto; and he came when she was quite innocently gathering poppies, and took her away, whether she wished it or no: I forget the name of the goddess he took, but she did not want to go with him, he came upon her quite by surprise; and I
happened to look up from my work at the time (I mean while Neil was reading about it) and dear Gertrude was embroidering a portière with crimson flowers and white on a green ground, and all her worsted scattered about-so pretty she looked, and Kenneth had his eyes fixed on her in such a way-in such a way-and his head bent forwards, resting it on his hand, and all his dark curly hair streaking through his fingers as he rested it; and he looked exactly like Pluto; and only that of course such things can't happen now (indeed it would be very wrong to suppose they ever did really happen; a parcel of wicked heathen inventions, that nobody ought to believe), but I could not help thinking for a moment, that he was just the sort of man to behave that way, and I declare my fingers quite trembled as I went on again with my crochet, fancying to myself Gertrude picking poppies, with no one perhaps but myself within call, and Pluto coming-I mean Kenneth -and carrying her off! Indeed, he's very like a great many of those gods Neil reads about, and they all seem to have been as bad as bad could be."
"Humph!" said the Dowager, with a grim curl of her upper lip, shadowed now with a slight fringe of stiff grey hairs. "Humph. There may be heathen stories, and modern stories, too, of that sort; but there's very little carrying off against your will, if you really wish to keep firm footing, that's my dictum."
And with that gesture of firmness habitual to her, she planted her foot venomously on one especial rose in the Aubusson carpet (in the absence of her winter resource, the steel fender) with a precision and force that did indeed seem to defy Pluto and his four fiery-nostrilled steeds to remove her, unless by her own consent, one inch from that spot. Which sudden stamp, acting on the already excited nerves of poor Lady Charlotte, caused her to burst into tears.
The grim Dowager turned her lofty head, as if on a pivot, to contemplate for a moment her weeping friend, and when the little weak final snuffle in the embroidered and lace-bordered handker
chief seemed to bring the tears to a conclusion, and secure her a hearing, she delivered herself of the comforting sentence,- "Most women are fools; but I do think, Charlotte, that you are the greatest fool among them all; and the greater the fool, the greater the folly, that's my dictum."
"But what can I do?" whimpered the submissive Lady Charlotte-" what can I do?"
"But that's just what I do do! I daren't speak to Gertrude; and besides, I feel so sure of her."
A snort was the Clochnaben's sole reply to this last observation—a snort of utter contempt.
"And what I think so very unfair, is the way he stays here, you know." "Who?"
"Kenneth. He really stays on and on, and comes back, and stays on, and on, and on again, when nobody asks him! Now he's here for God knows how long, for he has put Torrieburn under thorough repair, as he says, and is making a wall and plantation to separate it entirely from the old Mills, and talks of letting it, and I don't know what else. It is quite heart-breaking!"
"I suppose if Lady Ross wanted him away, she could get rid of him.”
"I don't believe she could! I don't in the least believe she could," said Lady Charlotte, eagerly, "or he'd have been gone long ago!"
"Well, I suppose Sir Douglas could get rid of him," said the Dowager, with another curl of the grim grey moustache.
"Perhaps but you see he don't, and you see it suits Eusebia to stay, if she's obliged to be in Scotland at all, which she hates."
"If she hates Scotland, she doesn't hate Scotchmen, at all events," nodded the Clochnaben, maliciously, and the grey moustache stretched to a sort of smile.
"What do you mean? Oh, I know what you mean; I'm not quite so foolish as you think; I've seen
"Yes, and you will see; but, however, its no business of ours."
Saying which, with a triumphant shake of her vestments, and a somewhat forcible adjusting of her gloves at the wrists, the Dowager ended her visit, and left Lady Charlotte to sigh alone.
"Why she should think me more foolish than herself, I don't know," was the somewhat wounded reflection of that gentler widow, "for after all I have observed just as much as she has-all Eusebia's goings on, and everything else."
Little Eusebia cared, who remarked her goings on. Indeed, she was in that humour which, in old-fashioned phrase, used to be termed "flouting ;' -a mood of mixed sulk and defiance. She had fallen in once more with her half-forgotten admirer of early days, handsome Monzies of Craigievar, but their relative positions were a good deal altered. He was no longer the shy, proud Highland youth, with the first down of manhood on his lip, and the first passion for educated woman in his heart. Bearded, graceful, self-assured, having been a good deal flattered and caressed "even in London," liked by men, and much admired by women; with a sweet and courteous temper, and great power of adapting himself to whatever set he happened to be in; a first-rate shot, a first-rate reel dancer, a first-rate curler, first-rate angler, kind to his small scattered handful of tenantry; poor, and not a whit ashamed of the fact, he had won his way to a good many hearts, both male and female.
He had his "melancholy story" tooa great thing with the softer sex. He had been married since the days he knew Eusebia; married for a year and a day, no more. Like the "Merry Bachelor" in Rückert's beautiful ballad, he had wept in anguish over two locks of hair one a ringlet as long and glossy as ever was shorn from beauty's head, and one a little pinch of down, that might be hair or soft bird's plumage, that lay curled up in the long ringlet, as the little dead head had lain in the dead bosom of that "mother of a moment," after she had passed away.
Craigievar had been very gentle to
his young wife, and very sorry for her loss. It was now five years since he had been widowed, and the elasticity of youth and life overbore each day more and more that cloud-dream of the past; but it had made him still more interesting. From a philosophical point of view it is of course lamentable to consider that had he been a stumpy, sallow, blear-eyed widower, his grief would not have gained so much sympathy; but as it was, when he looked sad (and he was still melancholy at times), the fair ladies who watched him, set it down to one sole cause. He might, it is true, be only bored at that particular parting, or extremely tired with "a good day's sport," or perhaps may have forgotten his cigar-case; but they invariably decided that he was "thinking of his lost Mary," and it was quite amazing how many of her own sex were willing to console him.
HERE, then, once more was Craigievar! And here was Eusebia, a beauty beginning fast to fade and harden, and much too shrewd and clever, and dependent on that beauty for her enjoyment of life, not to be quite aware of the fact. Restless, discontented, disappointed, gnawing her own heart at times for very wrath at her marriage, in which, as she considered, there had been so much deception as to Kenneth's position and fortune; and in which, as he considered, there had been yet greater deception as to her age, and certain circumstances which had caused demands for her hand in marriage to be so little pressed as to leave her still free, when he chanced to come to Grenada to recover health and spirits after his fever in Spain.
Craigievar at first saw Eusebia with more curiosity than interest, as a woman he remembered to have once passionately admired. Then each thought of the other with that strange fictitious emotion-emotion at least which has nothing
personally to do with the object that causes it which most of us feel at sudden meetings with those who date our lives. Eusebia saw with a sudden rush the lake, the decorated hut, the early married days when as yet, though vain and coquettish with all, she still preferred Kenneth; and Craigievar the days when, still a youth and a bachelor, he had not laid his fair white rose of a wife in the grave, with her cold little bud beside her.
He saw with obvious tenderness pale little Effie, Eusebia's only child. He too had dreamed he was a father, and woke next morning alone. He thought more of Effie at first than of her mother. Then he perceived how unhappy and angry was the woman he remembered an exulting bride with her husband madly in love" with her, and all London at her feet; and something kindlier stole in on his thoughts of her. But why count the steps of the ladder by which such thoughts climb into mist seeking better sunshine? Older than Kenneth, much older than Craigievar, Eusebia added to all her experience of life special experience of men, and the old empire was resumed, and the old songs sung, and boats went out on the lake to the hut and returned without Kenneth; and Kenneth not only was not missed, but purposely eluded!
He took it strangely; he was stung, but not jealous. Perhaps in his wild mood he rather wished she would " run away" from him. He was sick of her, of debt, of life, of everything but the thoughts of Gertrude. He could not trouble his head about his Spanish wife. Strange to say, the very calm that surrounded Gertrude had a charm for him. That calm, the very essence of which was home, and peace, and purity-that calm which, if it were within the bounds of possibility he should ever be listened to, must depart for ever!
Gertrude meanwhile struggled with a certain feeling of embarrassment in his presence. She cast about how, as Lady Clochnaben had expressed it, to "get rid of him" without dealing too harshly by a half-ruined man; she had become
fully aware of, and alarmed by, the indiscretion (if it were no more) of Eusebia's conduct. Once-once onlytenderly and timidly, she had attempted to warn her. They had been such friends! She had been so fond of
They were in the dressing-room of the latter who had come in late from the lake with Craigievar, and had been making a toilette more hurried than was her wont. She was clasping in one of her earrings while Gertrude spoke; she turned, still clasping it, with one of those sudden graceful movements, that tossed her veils and fringes round her like dark billows-a demon Venus rising from inky waves. Her beautiful flashing eyes fixed the speaker full in the face; a scornful smile trembled on her short upper lip, and showed the still white and even teeth beneath her cheeks alone looked a little haggard and fallen under the crimson rouge. She laughed.
"Ha! you take my husband! you want now perhaps to take my adorateur, my amigo! Be content with your portion! Do not trouble me. I have already enough sore in my heart."
And as the long pendant clasped with a snap, she made another rapid volte-face to her mirror, and ceased to speak, contemplating fixedly her own image, with something of sadness mixed with her fierceness that gradually vanished, and left her looking-as she intended to look when they should go down-stairs to dinner.
Gertrude almost shuddered as she took Kenneth's arm that day to pass to that familiar meal, and started more than once when addressed by others. She was ruminating how "to get rid of him." And how also to get rid ofEusebia, and the fearful future that seemed to threaten for both!
That night Kenneth wrote to Gertrude, as wild a letter as ever was written by an unprincipled man to a woman he was enamoured of. To say the woman he "loved," would be to profane the word.
And Gertrude answered him. She
alluded boldly and clearly to all the past. She inclosed a copy of the little note of farewell which Lorimer Boyd had taken to him when it was agreed he should leave Naples. She spoke of the faith sworn to her husband at the altar; and even if such vows had never existed, of her unalterable, passionate, adoring love for his uncle. In conclusion came a prayer to halt and consider, to save himself and Eusebia from certain misery; and the information that she intended to go to Edinburgh the following day, and remain there a night, hoping he would see the decency, the necessity of withdrawing from Glenrossie before her return, no longer mocking the hospitality he received, or paining her by his presence.
Otherwise the day must come-must come when she should confess this torment to her husband, to her Douglas faithful and true, and cast herself on his counsel only, having done her best through grief and pain to avoid making any breach between him and his uncle, and finding all in vain.
She could not trust such a letter to indifferent hands. She gave it him as they passed from the breakfast-room. The carriage was already waiting to take her away. As Sir Douglas handed her in, he said with wistful anxiety, "I am afraid your chief business in Edinburgh is to see Doctor R. You have been looking so ill lately."
Gertrude wrung the tender hand she held, and tried to smile her farewell. Her boy Neil stood beside her husband, his father's hand on his sturdy shoulder, smiling with radiant young eyes in the morning sun.
"God bless them both, and send me peace with them once more," was Gertrude's prayer, as she leaned back wearily in the carriage, the long fir-branches from time to time sweeping against its roof, and dropping a stray cone here and there by the road that led through the noble avenue.
Glenrossie! dear Glenrossie! dear home and perfect mate! Dear, handsome boy, so like her one love of lifeher unequalled Douglas! God bless them, and send her peace. Amen.
ALICE MAKES SOME DISCOVERIES.
WHAT were Alice's green-grey eyes made for, if not to watch? Does not the cat sit apparently watching for ever?watching for what we know not. Even when there is no chance of mousing, in the broad day, do we not see her with fixed attention in her half-closed, diamondshaped orbits, scanning things afar off, near at hand, above and below, ready to pounce on a leaf that flutters down from a tree, a ball of worsted that rolls from old nurse's lap, the tail of a boy's broken kite, or a young bird fallen from the nest in too easy essay of its callow wings : ready to pounce, ever on the watch? So also was Alice.
All had their plans for that day. Kenneth had hoped-had meant-to see Gertrude. Sir Douglas had made up his mind to speak to his nephew, and urge him to return to Spain. Eusebia intended to pass the day at the Hut (not nnaccompanied); and Alice herself was preparing a little basket of provisions for a blind and dying beggar lodged in at cabin between Glenrossie and Clochnaben, recommended to her by the clergyman who had been called to administer the offices of religion and what help he could afford.
But Alice had an instinct that something had occurred more than common. She had seen Kenneth give his letter after dinner; she saw Gertrude give the reply after breakfast. While Gertrude was departing, she saw Kenneth step out on the terrace from the breakfastroom, and turn towards the shrubbery, reading as he went. She saw him stop -tear the letter with his teeth, stamp it into the earth, and give way to the wildest gesticulations. She saw Sir Douglas return from putting Gertrude into the carriage, and cross the lawn as if to speak to Kenneth. She saw the latter advance to meet him, casting one hurried look behind where he had crushed the letter with his foot. Swiftly, noiselessly, she descended also to the garden. She was in time to hear Sir