|Chapter Number||XL - XLII|
|Newspaper Title||The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)|
the author of " Lady Hutton's Ward," Ac.
THES stood for some time in perfeot silence; llieT bad wandered down to tho very edge of the aic. The water rippled in the moonlight, and, hilé Hugh Fernely thought, Beatrico looked * the clear depths. How near Bho WBB to her triumph! A few moro minutes and ho would ¡um to her and tell hor Bho was free. His face was growing calm and gentle. She would dis- miss him with gratoful thanks ; she would has- ten home. How cal 3 would bo that night's sleep ! When she saw Lord Airlio in tho morn- ing, all her sorrow and shamo would have passed by, Her heart beat high as 6ho thought of this.
" I think it muat bo so," said Hugh Fernely, ot last j " I think I must givo you up, Boatrice. I could not beor to make you miserable. Look up, my darling ; let mo see your face onco moro before I say good-bye."
She stood beforo him, and the thick dark EIIOWI fell from hor shoulders upon tho grass, eke cid not miss it in the blind, dizjy joy that tad fallen upon her Hugh Fernely's eyes Ira gered upon the peerless features
I can givo you up," he said, gontly, " for your own happiness, but it is not to another, Beatrice Tell mo that you havo not learned to love auothcr sinco I loft you "
She made no reply-not to havo sa^eä her li'e a thousaud times would ehe havo domod her love for Lord Airho His kies waB still warm upon her lips-those same lips should never
You do not spoak," ho added, gloomily. Bj Heaven ' Beatrice, if I thought you hud learned to lovo another man-if I thought you canted to bo freo from mo to murry another I should go mad-mad with jealous rago IB it so ' Answer mo "
She °aw a red, lund light in his oyes, and shrank from him Ho tightened his grasp upon
Answer mo 1" ho cried, hoaraoly " I will
l<ot far from her Blept the lover who would have shielded hor with his strong arm-the lover to whom ovory hair upon her dear head wa« u ore precious than gold or jowels Not far from her slept the kind loving fathor who was prouder of hor and fondor of her than of anv one on earth Gaspor Lawi once, too, who would havo died for her, lay at that moment not far away, awako and thinking of her Yet in Ike hour of her deadly peril, when Bho stood on the «boro of tho deep lake in tho Coreo grasp of a half maddened man, there was no one near to help her to raise a hand in her defonoo But sho was no coword and all tho h gb spirit of
her race arose within hei
1 Loosen yourgriBp Hugh 'saidshe,culmly, you pam me "
Answer me " ho cried, " Where is tho ring I gave you ? '
He seized both hands and lookod at thom they wero firm and cool, tboy did not tremble As his fierce angry oyes glanced over thom, there was not a quivor on hor beautiful face
Where ia my ring ?' ho asked, " AnBwer mo,
I havo not worn it lately," sbo rophed Hugh you forgot yourself Gentlemen do not speak and act in this way "
I behevo I am going mad," ho said gloomily . ' I could relirquish my claim to you, Boatrico, for 'our own Bako, but I will never yiold you to be the wifo of uuy othor man Toll mo it is not so Tell mo you havo not beon so doubly false as to love another, and I will try to do all you
Am I to live all tay hfo unloved and un married ' she answered, controlling her ang-y indignation by a strong effort, " becauso, when I was o lonely and neglected gul I foil into your pour' I do not ask suoh a sacrifico from you I hope vou will lovo and marry, and bo happy "
I shall not caro,' ho said, " if it happens after I am gone it will not hurt my jealous, angiy heart then, Beatrice, but I Bhould not 1 ke to th nk that wbilo you woro my promised »líe and I waa giving you my ovory thought, fou were loving somo ono olso I should like to behevo you wero true to mo while you wero
my own "
She made no answer, fearing to irritate him >' f! told the truth, and scorning to deny tho love that was tho crowning blessing of her life His anger grew at hor silence Again the dark llu'h ro'o in bia face, and his oyOB flamed with fierce light
Suddenly he caught sight of tho golden locket eho wore round her neck, fastoned by the
¡lend r chain
What IB this thing you wear ? ' ho aBked, quickly n you throw asl¿0 my ri0g -vyhnt IB this ? Whose portrait have you thoro ? Let
me »ee it '
j-ou for"U yourBolf again," sho said, draw 'og herself haughtily away " I havo no account
to render to you of my friends " I
1 will soo who is thoro'" he criod, boside
lum elf with angry rage " Perhaps I shall | know then why you wish to be freed from mo nho«e fice is lying near your heart ? Let mo 800 If it bo that of anyone who has outwitted me I will throw it into the depths of the lake "
You shall not seo it," raising her hand, and cla ping tbo little locket tightly «I am not afraid TJugh Fernely You will never use
violence to me
But the hot anger leaped up into his heart, e was mud with cruel jealousy and rage, and
j» d to snatch tho locket Sho defended it, holding it tightly clasped m one hand, while *"h the other she tried to ireo herself from his
Lutd all things are made olear, it will never
JJ Inown hoT that fatal nccidont happened
n,u the Dav of Judgment, men will never fen°* whether the haplesB girl fell into the lako, °r whetl er Hugh Fernoly, in his mad rogo,
ng ùer there There was a startled scream, s 'oud cry that rang through the olear air up t0 'he very heavens-a heavy fall, a splash |>m'<l't the waters of the lake They opened, *? the moonlight Bhimmered and gleamed in
cm like broken diamonds Thero was one
* ' d«painng glance from a pale horror 8 «den face ,hea the waters cIoaedj tbo rjpp]ea ,yead ovt!r the broad surface, tho sleeping u'es trembled for a few minuteB, then 'ay still . ° ^Dce and once only, a woman's white
waad deaTed the dark water, thrown up as it B "e "' "gonong supplication, then all was
en< the wind blew the rippleB more strongly, ey washed up on the grass, and the stir of the aeep water subbed
,au_U Fcmely aid not plunge into the lake
« Beatrice, it Wtta too late to save her, »till night have tried The cry that rang through sleeping woods seemed to paralyse him, he
stood liko ono bereft of reason, sense, and life Perhaps tho vory suddonnosB of the evout ovor poworcd him. Heaven only knows what passed in his dull, crazed mind while tho girl he loved sank without help. It might bo that ho would not sBvo hor for another-that, in his cruel love, ho would rather know her doad, undor tho cold water, than the living, happy wife of another man. Or it might be that in the sudden shock and torror ho uover thought of trying to save
Ho stood there, in actual time, eomo few hours-it seemed to him hundreds of years watehing the spot where tho pule, agonised faco had vanished j watehing the oddying ripplos, and the groen reeds disturbod by tho hoavy fall. Yet ho noror sought to savoher-never plunged into the deep waters, whence ho might havo
roscuod hor if ho would. Ho never movod.
Ho felt no fatiguo. Tho first thing that rousod him was a gloani of gray light in tho eastern sky, and the sweet, faint song of a little bird.
Then he saw that tho day had brokon. Ho said to himself, with a wild, horrible laugh, that ho had watched all night by hor gravo. Dawn flushed in the Bkies ; tho treos seemed to stretch out their grand branches, as though to breutho
fresh lifo with the now morn.
Ho turned and fled. One meeting him with Coree, wild eyes, full of tho uro of inuducss, with palo, haggard face full of despair, would havo shunned him. Ho lied through tho groon park, out on to the high road, away through the deop woods-ho know not whither,-uover looking back ; orying out at times, with a hollow, awful voico, that he had boon all night by her gravo ; falling at times on his face with wild, woeful weeping, praying tho heavons to fall upon bim and hide him for ovor from his fellow mon.
Ho cropt into a field whore the hedgorows woro full of Autumn luxuriance. He throw himself down, and triod to oloso his hot, dazed oyos ¡ but tho sky abovo him looked blood red, the air Boomed filled with flumes. Turn where
ho would, tho pulo despairing fuco that had looked up to bim as the waters oponed was boforo him. Ho aroBO with a grent ory, and wandorod on. Ho carno to a little cottage, whoro rosy childron woro at piny, talking and laughing in tho bright sunshine
Groat Heavon ! how long was it since the dead girl, slcoping undor the deop water, was happy, bright, and innocont us thoy ?
Ho fled again. This timo tho piercing cry filled his cars ; it seemed (o deaden his brain. Ho foil in tbo field near tbo cottage Hours aftorwards tho children out at play found biro lying in the damp dark grass that fringed the pond undor tho older trees.
* # # # # * #
Tho first faint flush of dawn, n roBy light in the eastern sky, a tremulouB golden shimmer on tho luko as the sunbeams touched it. Ono after another the forest birds awoko and bogan to Bing ; they flow from branch to branch ; but thoy know nothing of tho socrot hiddon undor tho water. One by ono the flowers began to open thoir " dewy oyos," and send abroad swootnCBS and perfume, heeding little of the deadly wrong dono while thoy slept. One by ono tho stately ewans carno out upon tho lako, bending their proud hoads and statoly arched necks, sailing round tho water lillies and green Bcdges, un consoious of tbo Becrot the water could tell.
Tho sun shono out at longth in its muj'osty, warming and brightening the fair faco of nature. It was full and porfoct day. Tho gardeners carno through the park to commence thoir work ; the cows out in tho pasturo land stood to be milked ; and still tho fatal secret hidden beneath tho cold dark wator was untold.
THE samo sunbeams that rippled in thoeddios of the lako and gladdened tho birds shono bright and warm in tho breakfast room at Earloscourt. Thoy foil upon tho calm, statoly face of Lady Helena, upon the grave countenance of her eon, upon tho bright, handsomo features of Lord Airlie Thoy sparklod in tho delicate silver, and showed tho protty china to perfection. Recherche diBhos woro upon tbo table, but the threo occu- pants of tho room had boon waiting, Lady
Holena took her Bout.
" It seems strange," sbo said to Lord Earle, "to breakfast without oitbor of tbo girls. I would not allow Lillian to rise ; and from some caprico Beatrice forbodo her maid to call her, saying sho was tired."
Ljrd Earlo mado somo laughing reply, but Lady Holcno was not quito pleased. Punctu- ality with her hod always been o favorite virtue. In case of roal illnosB it was different ; but Bho herself had never considered a little extra fatigue as sufficient reason for absenting herself from
Tho two gentlemen talked gaily during break- fast. Lord Earle asked Hubert if ho would go with him to Holte, and Lord Airlie said ho had promised to drive Boatrieo to Langton Priory. Hearing that, Lady Helona thought it time to Bond Bomo little warning to hor grandchild. Sho rang for Susotto, tho maid who waited upon Beatrice, and told lier to call hor young mistress.
She stood at her writing tablo, arranging some letters, when tho maid returned. Lady Helena looked at her in utter wonder-the girl's face was pole and scared.
" My lady," she said, " will you please come hero ? You are wanted very particularly."
Lady Helena, without specking to either of tho gentlemen, went to the door where tho girl
" What is it, Susetto ?" sbo asked. " What
is the matter ?"
" For morcy'e sake, my lady," replied the maid, " come up stairs. I-I cannot find Miss Beatrice ; she is not in her room," and tbo girl trembled violently, or Lady Holena would have
Emilod at her terror.
" She is probably with Miss Lillian," she said ; " why make Buch n mystory, Susetto ?"
"She is not there, my lady j I cannot find her," was the answer.
1 Sho may have gono out into the garden, or the grounds," said Lady Helena.
My lady," sbo whispered, and hor frightened face grow deadly palo, " hor bed haB not been Blept in ; nothing is touched in her room ; she has not been in it all night."
A shock of unutterable dread came over Lady Earle; a sharp spasm seemed to clutch her
" There must be some mistake," sbo said, gently ¡ " I will go upstairs with you."
Tho rooms wore without occupant ; no dis- array of jewels, flowers, or dresses, no little slippers, no singlo trace of Beatrice's presence
The pretty white bed was untouched ; no one had slept in it s tho blinds were drawn, and the sunlight struggled to get into the room. Lady I Helena walked inech&nioally to the window, and
drow aBido the lace curtains ; then looked round.
" Sho has not Blopt boro," Bho said ; " she must have slopt with Miss Lillian. You havo fnghtonod mo, Susotto ¡ I will go and seo my-
Lady Holena went thiough tho pretty sitting room, whero the books Beatrice had been read- ing lay upon tha tablo, on to Lillian's chambor.
The young girl was awako, looking palo and languid, yet botter than sho had lookod tho night boforo. Lody Earle controlled all emo- tion, and went quietly up to her
" Huvo you soon Boatrico this morning ?" sbo
asked. " I want hor "
" No," replied Lillian , " I havo not Boon hor siucojust boforo dmnor last ovonrag."
"She did not sloop with you, then?" said Lady Earlo
" No " Sho had not slopt thoro. Tho warm sunbeams, tho water lilies, the singing birds could have told whero Lord Earlo's daughtor lay that Soptombor night.
Lady Helona kissed Lillian's faco, and quittod the room , a dendly, hornblo four was turning hor faint and cold From the suito of rooms Lord Earlo had prepared and airangod for his daughtcis, a etairoaso ran whioh lod into tho garden He had thought at tho timo how plea- sant it would bo for thom Aa Lady Holena ontorod, Susetto stood upon tho stairs with a bow of pink nbbon in her hand.
" My lady," sho said, " I fastened tho outor door of tho staircase last night myself. I lockod it, and diew the bolts It is unfastoned now, and I havo found this lying by it. Miss Earle woro it last evening on her dioss "
"Something terrible must havo happonod," exclaimed Ludy Holena "Susetto, usk Loid Euile to como to mo Do not say a word to any ono "
Ho stood by her sido in u few minutos, looking in rnuto wondor ut hor palo, scurod face
" Bonald," eho said, " Boatrico lins not slept in hor room all night. Wo cannot find hor."
Ho smilod at first, thinking, us sho had dono, that thoro must bo somo mistako, and that his mothor was fanciful and norvous ¡ but when Lady Holona, in quick, hurriod words, told him of the unfastened door and the ribbon, his faco grow eorious. Ho took tho ribbon from tho maid's hand-it eoouiod Uko a living part of his daughter. Ho remembered that ho had soon it tho night beforo on hor droBS, when ho hold up the beautiful faco to kiss it. Ho had touched thut sumo libbon with his hand.
"Sho may havo gouo out into tho grounds, und havo been taken ill," ho said. " Do not frigbton Airlie, mothor ; I will look round my
Olio by ono ho wont through ovory room of the houso, but thoro was no truco of hor. Still Lord Earlo bud no fear ; it waa so utterly im possible thut any barm could have happonod to
Then ho went out into tho grounds, half ox pecting tho beautiful face to smilo upon him from undor the shade of hor favorite troos. Ho callod aloul, "Boatrico!" Tho wind riiBÜod in tho trees, the birdB sang, but thoro carno no auswor to his ory. Noithor iu the grounds nor in tho gardonB could ho discover any truco of her. Ho returned to Lady Helena, a vaguo fear coming ovor him.
I cannot find hor," ho said. " Mothor, I do not understand this. Sho cannot havo loft us.
Sho was not unhappy-my beautiful child."
There was no Blip of papor, no lottor, no oluo to her absonco. Mothor and son looked blankly
at each othor.
" Ronald," eho oriod, " wboro is sho ?-whoro ¡B my child?"
He tried to comfort hor, but foar waa ropidly maetoring him.
"Lot us soo if Airlio can suggest onything,"
Thoy went down to tho breokfust-room, wboro Lord Airlio still waited for tho young girl ho was nevor moro to moot ulive Ho turned round
with u smile, and asked if Boutrico woro coming. Tho smilo diod from his lips when ho BIIW tho palo anxious fuccs of mother and son.
" Hubert," said Lord Earlo, " wo aro alarmed -lot us hopo without causo. Boatrico cunDot bo found. She has not, seemingly, slopt in hor room. My mother is fnghtonod."
Lady Holena had sunk, pulo and trembling, upon tho little couch. Lord Airlio lookod bo wildered. Lord Earle told him briefly how thoy had missed hor, and what had boon dono.
" Sho muBt bo trying to frighten UB," ho Baid ¡ " Bho muat havo biddon horsolf. Thoro cannot bo anything wrong." Even as ho spoko ho folt how unlikely it was that his dignified, beautiful
Boatrico should havo acted so.
Ho could throw no light upon tho subject. Ho had never Been her since ho kissed hor proud sweet lips when ho bado her good night. Hor maid was tho last porson to whom EIIO had spokon. Sho had left her in hor own room, and since then nothing had boon seen or hoard of
Sho cannot hove run away," soid Eonald ; " she waa not unhuppy."
" No," responded Lord Airlie ; " Bho told me last, night how happy sho was, and promised to drive out with me to-day. She is not absent of her own freo will, rely upon it."
Father and laver wont out together. Lord Airlio suggested that Bho had perhaps gono out into tho gardens and bad mot with somo acci- dent there They wont carefully over overy part-thore was no Beatrice. Thoy went through the shrubbery out into tho park, whero the quiet lake shono amidst tho green trees.
Suddenly, like the thrust of a sharp sword, the remembrance of that morning upon tho water carno to Lord Airlio, Ho called to mind Beatrico's fear-tho cold shudder that seized hor when she doclared that her own face with a mocking smilo was looking up at hor from the depth of tho water.
Ho walked 'hurriedly toward the lake It waB calm and clear-tho tall roedB and greon sodgeB swaying in the wind, the white lilies rising and falling with the ripple. Tho blue sky und green
leaves wero reflected in tbo water, tho pleasure . boat was fastonod to the boat-house. How was
ho to know the horrible ysecrot of the lake ?
" Como away, Airlio !" cried Lord Earlo, " I shall go mad. I will call all the servants, and hare a regular search."
In a few minutes the wildest confusion and dismay roigned in the Hall ; womon wopt aloud, mon's facoB grew palo with fear. The beautiful, brilliant young mistress bad disappeared, and nono know her fate. They searched garden, park, and grounds again ; men in hot haste went here and there ; while Lady Earle lay half dead with fear, and Lillian rested calmly, knowing nothing of what had happened.
It WOB Lord Airlie who first suggested that the lake Bhould be dragged. Tho sun rode high in the heavens then, and shone gloriously over
water and land.
Thoy found the drags, and Howson, the butler, with Leo and Patson, two gardenors, got into tho boat, bather and lover Btood sido by sido on tho bank. Tho boat ghdod softly over tho water, tho men bud been once round the lako und no result Hope was rising uguin m Lord Airho'a boort, when ho BOW those in tho búa, look at oach other, then at him.
'?My lord," said Cowon, Lord Earlo's valet, coming up to Hubort, " pray take my mastor homo ¡ thoy havo found somothiug at tho bottom of tho lake Tako him homo , and plouso kocp Lady Earlo and tho women all out of tho way.'
" What is it ?" cnod Lord Earlo. Speak to
mo, Airlie What is it ?"
" Como oway," said Lord Airlie. " What l8
" Como away," said Lord Airlio. " Tho men will not work «hilo wo aro boro."
Thoy had found Bomothing undor tho wator ; tho dragB bad caught in a woman's dross ; and tho mon m tho bout stood motionless until Lord Earlo was out of sight.
Through tho depths of wator the gloam of a whito dead faco, and a floating mass of dark hair. Thoy raised tho body with ruvoront hands. Strong mon wopt aloud as they did ao. Ono oovorod tho quiet face, und another wrung tbo dripping wator from tbo long hair. Tho sun shono on, as though in mookory, as thoy carried tho drowned girl home.
Slowly and with halting stops thoy bl ought her through tho warm sunny park whero sho was uevor moro to tread j through tho bright sunlit gardens, crushing sweet blossoms at ovory stop ¡ thiough tho hall, up the broad staircase, wboro tho wator dripped from tho dark hair, and fell in large drops, into tho protty chambor sho had so lately quittod full of hfo and hopo. Thoy laid hor on her whito bod, whoroon her oyos would never moro open to tho morning light, and wont away.
"Drownod, drownod! di owned und doad!" was the cry that went from lip to lip, till it roaohed Lord Earlo wboro ho sat, trying to sootho his wooping mother. " Drownod ! quito doad !" was tho ciy thut rouohod Lillian in hor sick room, und brought her down, pulo aud trombhng " Drownod and doad hours ago !" woro tho words that droro Lord Airlio mad with tho bittornoss of his woo.
Thoy could not rouhso it. How hud it hap- ponod ? What had takou hor in tho dond of the night to the lako ?
Thoy Bent messengers right and loft to sum- mon doctors m hot basto, us though human skill
could avail hoi now.
" I must BOO her," Baid Lord Airlie " If you do not wish to kill mo lot mo soo hor."
Thoy ullowod htm to ontoi, and Loid Eailo und his mothor wout with bim. Nono m that room over forgot Ina cry-tho piorcing cry of tho strong mun in his agony-as ho throw him- self by the dood girl's sido
" Beatrice, my lovo, my dalling ' why could I i ot havo died for you ?"
And thon with warm raining tears thoy showod lum how ovon in death tho whito oold hand grasped tho lockot, holding it BO closely that uoordinaiy foi co could romovo it.
"In life and in death," Bho had said, and she kept her word
WHILE tho weeping group still stood thoro, doctors carno ¡ thoy lookod at tho quiet faco, BO boautiful in death, and Bald Bho hud boon doad for hours. Tho words struok thoso who heard thom with unutteiablo horror. Dead, while thoso who loved hor BO doarly, who would havo givon their lives for her, lay slcoping near her, unconscious of her doom ' diad, whilo her lovor had waited for hoi, and hor father had boon intently thinking of his wodthng
What had sho sufforod during thut night? what awful storm of agony had drivon hor to tho luko? Had sho gono thoro purposely? had eho wandorod to (ho cdgo and fallen in ? Or was thoro a deopor mystery-had foul wrong boon dono to Lord Earlo's daughtor whilo ho was so noar hor, and yot know nothing of it ?
Sbo still woro tho pretty pink evening dross. What ii mockery it lookod ! Tho delicate lacos woro wot and spoilod, the pink bloBBOms sho had twinod in her hair olung to it still, the diamond arro if Lord Airlio had given her fastened thom, a diamond brooch was in the bodice of hor dross, and a costly bracolot encircled tho whito, cold arm. Sho bad not, thon, removed her j"owols or ohangod hor drOBS. What oould have takon hor down to tho lako ?-why WOB Lord Airlio'e lockot so tightly clonchod in her hand ?
Lord Airlie, when ho was calm onough to spoak, suggostod that sho might havo fallon asleep, tirod, bofore undressing-that in hor sleep abo might havo walkod out, gono to tho edgo of tho lako, and fallon in.
That version aproad amongst tho servants. From thom it spread Uko wildfire around tho whole country side ; tho country papors woro filled with it, and the London papers afterwards lola how " tho beautiful Miss Earlo" had boon drownod while walking in hor Bleep.
But Lord Audio's suggestion did not satisfy Bonald Earlo ¡ ho would not loavo thodarkonod ohambor. Women's gontlo hands romovod tho bright jowols and tho ovening drosB. Lady Helena, with tears that foil uko rain, dried tho long waving hair, and drew it back from the quiet brow. Sbo closed tho oyos, but Bbo could not cross tbo white hands on tho oold broast. One held tho locket in tbo firm, tight claBp of doath, and it could not bo moved.
Bonald would not leavo tho room. Gentío
hands finished their task. Boatrico loy in tho awful boautiful beauty of doath-no pain, no sorrow moving tho sereno loveliness of her calm brow. Ho knolt by her side It was his little Boatrico, this strange, cold, marble statuto -his little baby Beatrice, who had leaped in his arms years ago, who had oriod and laughed, who bad learned in protty acconte to lisp his name-bis beautiful child, his proud, bright daughtor, who had kissed him laBt night while ho spoke jesting words to her about her lover. And he had novor heard her voice since-nover would again. Had she called him when the dark waters closed ovor hor bright head ?
Cold, motionless, no gleam of life or light-and this was Dora's little child I He uttored a great groan as tho thought struck him, " What would Dora Bay ?" Ho loved Boatrico j yot, for all tho long years of her childhood ho had been absent from her. How must Dora love the child who bad Blept in hor bosom, and who was now parted
from her for ever I
And then his thoughts went back to the old subject : " How had it happened ? What had
taken her to the lake ?"
One knolt near who might bave told him, but a numb, awful dread had seized upon Lillian. Already weak and ill, the wai unable to think,
unable to shapo her ideas, unablo to toll right
Sho alouo hold the due to the mystery, and she knolt by that death bed with palo, parted lips and o)ts full of terror Hor faco startled those who Baw it Hor sorrow found no vont in tours, tho gentío oyes Botmcd changed into bulls of fire, sho could not reuhso that it was Boatrico who lay thoro, so calm and still-Bo» trice, who had knelt at hor feot, and prajod that Bho would save hor-Boatrico, who had behoved hersolf BO noar tho climax of hor happmoss
Could abo have mot Hugh, and had ho mur derod her ? Look whoi e sho would, Lillian saw that quoation written in Cory lottors What ought sho to do ? Must sho toll Lord Earlo ? -or did tho promise she bud rando bind hor in death aB woll as in hfo ? Nothing could rostoro hor sister Ought she to toll all she know, and to stain in doath tho nomo that was honored
and loved ?
One of tho doctors brought in on an errand so vain and futilo saw the face of Lillian liarlo Ho wont at onco to Lady Holena, and told her that, if tho young lady woro not romovod from that room, and kopt quiot, eho would bo in dangoi of hor life
" If 01 er I saw a faco denoting that tho brain was disturbed," ho said, " that ia ono "
Lillian was taken baok to hoi room, and left with careful nurses But the doctor's warning
provod tiuo While Lord Karlo wopt ovor tho I doad child, Lady Holonn mourned ovor tho living ono, wliOBo life was hold by a Blight
Tho day woro on , tho gloom of sorrow and mourning had sottlod on tho Hull Sorvnnts spoke with htishod voicos, mid moved with gontlo trend Lndy Holona sut m tho darkened room whore Lillian lny Lord Airlie had shut himself up alono, and Ronald Burlo knelt nil day by his doud child In vam tboy ontiontod bim to move, to take food or wine, to go to his own room Ho romuinod bj her, trying to gloan from that silent fuco tho secret of hor doath
And w bon night fell again, ho sunk exhausted Feverish slumbois carno to lum, Ulled with a haunting dream of Boatrico sinking m the dark wator nnd oalhng upon him for bolp Kindly fucos wutchod over him, 1 milly hnnda tondod lum. Tho morning sun found him still thoro
Lady Holono brought lum somo ton and bo Bought lum to drink it Tho parched, dried lips nlmost rofiiBod thoir office It was an hour aftorwaids that HOWBOU outorod tho room, boar ing a letter in Ins hand It was brought, ho said, by Thomas Ginns, who hiod at tho cottage post Fairglou hills It had boon writton hy a man who lay dying thoro, who pioyod linn to toko if nt onco without delay
" I ventured to hung it to you, my lord," said tho butler-' tho mun sooinod to think it a mat tor of hfo or death "
Lord Earle took tho loiter from his hamlB ho tued lo opon it, but (lie trembling fingers sooomd unskilled and awkward no signed to Howson to loavo tho room, and placing the lottor upon tho tnblo rosumod his molunchol) watoh. But m somo atrango way his thoughts wondoiod tothoinissiie. Wluitcould ltcoutuin, brought to lum, too, in tho Bolomn death chamber? Ho oponed it, and found many shoots of oloaoly covcrod papor On tho first was written - " The ConfosBion of Hugh Fornoly "
Tho nome told him nothing Suddonly nu idou carno to bim-oould thia oonfosBion havo anything to do with tho fatoof tho holoi ed ohild who lay boforo him ? Kneeling by the dead child's sido, ho turnod over tho loaf and roud as
Lord Eailo, I am dying-the hand traoin > this will Boon bo oold. Boforo I d10 I must confoss my cuino Fven now, perhaps, you uro kuoohng by tho eldo of tbo child lost to jon for all timo My lord, I killod hor
" I mot hor lirat Hourly throo your» ago, at Knutefoid Bho was out alono, and I BUW hor 1 lovod hor then »s I lovo her now By mci0 accident, I heaid hor deploro tho lonely, îBolutod life BIIO led und that in such tormB that I pitied hor Sho waa young, beautiful, full of life und spirits, sho wna pilling away in that remote homo, shut out of tho living world eho longed for willi a lonping I cannot put into words I spoko to her - do not bl mo hor, she was u bountiful, ignorant child I spoko to hoi, asking somo question about tho road, und abo replied Looking nt hor fuoo, I BwoiothutI would roloaso hor from tho hfo eho hatod and tako hor where Bho would bo happy.
" I mot hor again and again Hoavon pardon mo if 1 did my boBt to awokon nil interest 111 her girlish hoart ' I told hor stones of travol mid nd ventures that atirrod all the romaneo in her Uttturo With the koon instinct of love, T understood hor character, and pluyod upon ita wouknosB whilo I worshipped its strongth
" Sho told mo of a sad, pntionl mother who nevor smiled, of a fnthor who was nbiond and would not return for many yoors Pardon mo my lord, if, in common with many others, I bohovod that atory to bo ono told to nppoaBO her Pardon mo, if I doubtod-as man) others did-that tho sad young mothor was your wifo
" I imaginad that I WOB going to rescuo hor from a fulso position whon I nsked hor lo ho my wifo Sho said hor mothor droudod all montion of lovo und lovers, and I pruyod her to koop my
lovo u soorot from all the world
"I muko no excusos for myeolf, sho wus joung and mnocont OB a droammg child I ought to havo looked on hor beautiful face and loft her My lord, am I altogether to blamo t Tho lonoly young girl at Knutsford, pining for what I could givo hor-happiness and plouauro -did not soora so far romovod from mo Hud sho been in hor proper placo, I could novorhuvo
" Not to you can I toll tho dotails of my lovo story-how I worBhippod with pussionato lovo tbo beautiful mnocont child who smiled m my face and drank in my words, I askod her to bo my wife, and she promiaod My lord, I novor for ono moment droamod that sho would over havo a homo with you-it did not Beom to mo poBBible I intondod to roturn and ma ry her, firmly bohoi mg that in somo r speots my rank and condition in life woro bettor thun her own Sho promised to bo truo to mo, to lovo no ono oleo, to wuit for mo, and to marry mo when I
" I behove now that sho novor lovod mo My lovo and dovotion woro but a pleoBant intorrup tion to tho monotony of hor hfo Thoy aro to blamo also who allowod hor no pleasures-who forcod hor to roaort to this stolen one.
"My lord, I placed n ring upon your daughter's finger, and pledged my faith to her I connot toll you what my lovo was like ¡ it waa a fierco fire that consumod mo night and day
" I was to return and claim bor in two years Abaenco made me lovo her moro I carno back, rich in gold, my heart full ol happiness, bopo making everything bright and beautiful I went straight to Knutsford , alas I eho was no longer there , and then I heard that the girl I lovod BO deeply and so doarly waa Lord Earle's daughter
" I did no1 think to lose her j birth, title, and psBition seemod as nothing beside my mighty, passionate love I thought nothing of your consent, only of her ; aud I went to Earles court My lord, I wrote to her, and my heart was in ovcry line She sent mo a cold roply I wroto again, I Bworo I would Bee her. Sho sont ber sister to mo with tbo reply. Thon I grow desperate, and vowed I would lay my claim before you. I asked her to meet me out in the grounds, at night, unseen and unknown. She consented, and on Thursday night I met her near the shrubbery.
" Ob, hoavon ! how I romombor her pretty, ploading words, hor beautiful proud fooo ' Sho aakod mo to reloase her. She said that it had boon all child's play-a foolish mistako-and that if I would givo hor hor froodom from a fooliBh promiBo, sho would always bo my friend At first I would not 1 our of it, but who could bnvo rcfusod her? If sho had told mo tobo down undor her foot und lot hor trouiplo tho life out of mo, I should have submitted
"I promisod to think of bor rcquost, and no wulkod on to tho hordor of tho like Eiery hoir upon her dear hoad waB saorod to mo ; tbo prDtly proud way B that tormented me, delighted ma too I promised I would rolouso her, and give her tho froodom she askod, if she told mo I was not giving hor up to another Sho would not. Somo fow woids she enid drove mo mad with jealous logo-yos, mad, the blood soomed to boil in ni) veins Suddonly I oaught sight of n goldon locket round hoi nook, and I asked her whoso portrait it contained Sho refused to tell mo In tho madnosB of ni) ingo I tnod to snatch it from her Sho caught it in hor
hands, and shrinking back ft om mo, fell into tho
" As Ono above is my Judge, it was a shoor aceidont I would not huí o huit a linn of hor hoad , but, oh, ni) lord, pardon mo-pardon mo for hcuven's Buko '-I might lu» o s ivod her, und I did not I might huvo plungod in after her mid biuiight hoi buck, but a juilous devil whispered to mo, ' Do not savohoi for another , lol hor die' I stood upon tho bunk, and saw the willoi tloso ovor hor hoad I saw the whito hand thrown up in w ild appeal, and nevin mond oratured 1 stood by tho lako sido all night, and fled when tho morning dawnod in tho sky
" 1 killed hor 1 might huvo Buvod hoi, but did not Angor of yours cull ndd nothing to my torturo, think whut it bus been I was ii strong man two days sinco, when the sun sots 1 shall bo numbered with tho dead I do not wish to Bereen in)solf from jnstiio I huio to moot tho wrath of houvoii, mid (hut appals mo ns tho angor of mun novor oould Uond tho ofliuiis of tho law for mo If I am not dead lol thom toko mo, if I am lot thom bury mo IIB they would a dog I ask no moro), no compas Bion, no forgivonoBB, I do not merit it
"If bj any toiture, any death, 1 could undo what I huvo dono, and save her, 1 would Buller the extremity of pinn , butloannot Mj deal
will bo nuigod in otoimty j
" M) lord, I writo this confession partly to
ouse ray own consoioiieo, pnrllj to shield othors I from unjust blamo Do not curso mo that I thiough ni) mud junlous), ni) miserable io vengo, tho lairost, purcBt child fathorovcr lo^od lins gono to her rost."
So tho strange letter concluded Lord Earle I road over) word looking oi oi and anon at tlio quiet, dead face that hud kopt thosooiot hidden Every word ooomod burned m upon lus bunn, oroiy wold seoinod to use bofoio bun hko an accusing spirit
Ho stood face to fuco at last with lho BIM of his youth , it had found lum mil Tho wilful, wanton disobedience, tho mm ringo that had brokon his father's heart, mid B1 rack Homild himself fion! tho roll of useful mon , tho wilful, oruot ncgloct of duty , tho throwing off of all ties , tho indulgence in proud, uiiforgiimg tem- per , the abandonment of wifo und ohildrmi all onded thoro But foi bia BIUB and orrors. Hint whito, still figure mighl now hino boon radiant with hfo and boauty
The thought stung him with ciuol pani It was his own fnult Bontuco might linio orrod m meeting Hugh Fornoly, Foinoly bud dono wrong in trying lo win that young, child hko heart foi IUB own , but ho who loft his children to strango bunds, who uoglcotid nil dulios of pnrentugo, lind suroly dono lho greatest wrong.
For tho Hist timo his utter ntgloot of dut) carno homo to lum Ho lind thought himself luthor a modorn limo, but now ho caught u ghmpso of himself ns ho wua in louhty lia saw that ho was not oven u bl in o mun , for ii
bravo man nogloots no duty. It was pitiful to view tho sorrow that bent his statoly figure and lined his proud fnoe Ho loanod ovor his doad ohild, and cried to hor to purdon bim, for HWBB all his fault. Lady Holonn, Booking him in the gloom of that eolomu doath-ohnmhor, found him wopping IIB atrong mon seldom weep.
Ho did not give hor tho letter, or toll her aught of Hugh Pornoly's confession. Ho tumod to hor with tho Biiddcst of fucoa mun ovor woro.
" Mother," ho Biiid, " I want my kinsman, Lionol Duero. Lot him bo eoul for, und nBkod to como without doluy."
In this, tho crowning sorrow of his life, ho could not stund alono. Ho musc huvo eoino ono to think mid to plan for him, somo ono to help him benr tho burdon thut scomod too great for him to corry. Somo ono mUBt nttond to tho un- happy mnn who had written that lottor, and it should bo a kinsman of his own.
Not tho bravo, sad young lover, fighting nlono with his Borrow-ho muBfc novor know tho tragody of that briof life To him hor momory must bo Bucred and beautiful, unmurrod by tho knowlodgo of hor ÍOOÜBII, vain trust.
Lady Helena was not long in discovering Lionol Dacro'swhoroabouts. Ono of lho footmen who had attonded bim to tho station romomborod the namo of tho placo for which ho bud taken a tiokot. Lady Holono know thut Sir Wilfrod Greslon livod closo hy, and BIIO sont at onco to
Fortunntoly, tho mosBOngor found bim, Startled and horrifiod by tbo nows, Lionol lost no timo in rotuming. Ho could not rouliso that his boautiful young cousin was roully doad. Hor faco, in its smiling brightness, haunted him. Her voico scomod to minglo with, tho wild olang of tho iron whools. She was doad, and ho waB going to consolo hor father.
No partioulara of hor doath had ronchod him ¡ ho now only know that sho had walkod out in hor sloop, and fallon into tho luke.
Twenty-four houi-B had not elapsed Binco Lord Earlo oriod out in his grief for his young kins- man, and alroady ho stood by his sido.
" Porsuado bim to lcavo that room," said Lady Helena. " Since our darling WBB carried thoro, ho bad never loft hor Bide"
Lionel did ns requested. Ho 'went straight to the library, and sont for Lord Earle, Buying that ho could not at present look upon tho Bad sight in tho gloomy death-chamber.
While waiting thoro ho heard of Lillian's dangerous illness. Lady Holena told him how BIIO had changed boforo hor sister's doath ; and, despite tho young man's angor his heart was sore
Ho hardly recognised Lord Earle in tho aged, ultorod mun who soon stood beforo him. Tho long watch, tho bittor remorso, tho misorablo consciousness of his own folly and errors bad written strange linos upon his faco,
" I sent for you, Lionol," ho said, " because I am in troublo-BO groat that I can no longer bcur it ulone You must think and work for mo ¡ I can do neither for mysolf."
Looking in his kineman'B face, Lionol felt that moro than tho doath of his beautiful child weighed upon the heart and mind of Bonald
" There are secrets in ovory family, said Bonald ; " henceforth thoro will bo one in mino ( and it will be the true story of my daughter's doath. While I knelt yesterday by her sido, this letter was brought to mo. Bead it, Lionel ;
thoa act for me"
Ho road it slowly, tears gathormg in his oyos, hiB lips quivering, and his hands tightly
" My poor Boatrico '" bo oxolaimed j then the strongth of his young manhood gave way, and Lionel Duero wopt as bo bad nover dono
" Tho moan, pitiful sooundrol '" ho eriod, angry indignation rising as ho thought of hor eruel death , " tbo wretched villain '-to B1 nd by while she diod "
" Hush ." said Lord Earlo , " ho is gono to his account What havo you to sny to mo, Lionol ? Beoauso I had a mioornble quarrel with my wifo, I ttbnndoncd m) childron I novor caiod to soo thom from tho time thoy woro babes until they woro women grown How guilty am I ? That man boliovod ho was about to raiso Booti ico in tho social seale when ho asked her to bo his wifo Ho did not think hor mothor was my wife or, as ho says, ho Bhould never have dronmod of proposing to marry my daughter If ho monts blamo, what do I do
BOrvo ? '
" It was a falso position, cortninly," replied
" This secret must bo kopt inviolate," said Lord Eurie " Lord Airlio must novoi know it -it w ould kill Lady Holono, I bohovo Ono Hung puzslos mo, Lionol-Pornoly says Lillian
mot bim I do not think that ia true "
" It is," onod Lionol, a Budden light breaking m upon him " I saw hor with bim Oh, Lord Enrlo, you may bo proud of Lillian She is the noblest, truoBt girl that ovor lived Why, she suouliued hoi own loro, hor own happiuoss, for hor sistor ! She loved mo ¡ and whon this wod ding thut will novor now tako ploco, wns ovor, I intended to ask you to giro mo Lillian Ona night, quito accidentally, «hilo I was wnndeiing in tho grounds with a cigar, 1 saw hoi speaking to a stranger, hor fuir, swoot fnoo full of pity and compassion, winch I mistook for loi o Slianio to mo that I waa baao onough to doubt hoi -thut I spoko words to hor no woman could ovor forgive I I doniondod to know who it was I sho had mot, and why she lind mot lum Sho
uskud mo to tiuet hor, saying eho could not toll I mo I stabbed hor with oruol words, and loft i her, vowing thnt I would novor BOO her again Bar sistei muât havo trustod her with her sooiot, and sho would not du ulgo it "
" Wo onnnot ask hor now," auld Lord Earlo " My mothoi loila mo sho IB vory ill "
" I must BOO hor," onod lionol, " and uskhor to paulon mo if BIIO can What uni I to do for you, Lord Earle? Command mo us though I woro your own son "
" I want )0U to go to tho cottngo," Bind Bo nald, " und BOO if tho man bo living or dond You will know how to not I need not ask a kinsman mid n gontlomnn to koop my socrot "
In a low mmiitoB Lionol Ducie was on Ina wny to the oollngo riding us it woro, for dour hfo. Doath lind boon Btill moro swift Hugh Fornoly lay dond
The cotlngor's wife told Lionol how tho children out nt play had found a man lying in tho r1 "iik grass norn iho pond, and how hor lins bind, ni his own strong arms, had brought him to thoir ubodo Ho loy still for many hours, thou nskod foi pons and ink Ho was writing, sho enid, nearly all tho night, and nftorwards prayed her husband to tako tho lottor to Lord Earlo Tho mun rofiiBod nny nourishmont Two hourB hitor Ihoy went in to porBuado him to tnko somo food, and found bim lying doad, his fnco turnod to tho morning Bky
Lionol Dnoro ontorod tho room lho hot nngor diod out of his hoart ns ho saw tho an- guish doath lind marked upon tho whito counte- nance, Whnt tortuio lind ho Bufforod, what hourB of untold ngony, to hnvo destroyed him m BO flhoifc a tuno! The dmk, handsome face nppoarod to indícalo that the man lind boon dying for yours
Lionol turnod rovorontly anny Mun is wonk and powoiloss boforo douth In fow words ho told the womnn abo should bo amply lownrdod for hor kindness, und that ho himself would do fruy all exponeos
" Ho wnB porhups un old servant of my
lord's P" eho suid.
" No," wuB the roply ¡ " Lord Earlo novor Buw bira, did not know him ; but tho poor man
was woll known to ono of Lord Earlo's friondi."
Thanks to Lionol's words, tho faintost Bhadow of suspicion was nover ruisod. Of tho two douths, Hint of MisB Earle excited all attontion and aroused all sympathy. No one spoko of Hugh Fornoly, or connootod him with tho oo
curonco nt tho Hall.
Thoro was un inquost, and mon docidod that ho had diod by tho " visitation of God." No ono know the agony that hud (lung him pros- trate in the thick, dunk grass j no ono know tho unondurablo anguish that bud shortened his lifo.
* # * * # # a
Whon Lionol roturned to tho Hull, he went straight to Lord Earlo.
" 1 wnB loo luto," ho enid ; " tho man was dead somo hours."
n¡B ñamo WBB not montionod botwoon thom ngain. Lord Earlo novor onquired whero ho was buried ; ho novor know.
Tho gloom bad dcoponed at tho Hall. Lillian Eurlo lay nigh unto doath. Many boliovod that the miiBter of Earloscourt would be a childloss man. no could not roaliso it. Thoy told bim how BIIO lay with tho cruel ruging fever snapping her lifo-ho Boomed to forgot the living ohild in mourning for tho one that lay dond.
In complinnoo with Lionel's prayer, Lndy Helena took him into tho sick room whore Lillian lay. She did not know bim s tho gentle, tendor eyes wero full of dread and foar ¡ tho fair, pure faco -was burning with fever AUBII ¡ tho hot, dry lips woro novor still. Sho talkod inoossontly at timoB of Knutsford and Boatrico i then prayod in her sweet, sad voice that Lionel would trust her-only trust hor j whon Beatrice was married, sho would toll him all.
Ho turned away ; hor oyoB had lingerod on his faco, but no gleam of recognition carno into
" You do not think she will die ?" ho asked
of Lady Holona j and sho novor forgot his voioo
or his manner.
" Wo hopo not," sho said,- " life and death aro in higher bands than ours. If you wish to help her, pray to Him who holds all moroy and disposes as ho plenseB."
In after years Lionol Daore liked to remom ber that tho bost and most fervent prayerB of his life had beon offered for gentle, innocent Lillian
AB he turned to quit the chamber ho heard her crying for her mothor, " Sho wanted her mother ¡ wby was Bho not there ?" Ho looked at Lady Helena ; she understood him.
" I havo done it," she eaid. " I sent for Dora
yesterday ; she will be riero soon."
[TO BE CONTINUXD.]