|Chapter Number||IX - X|
|Newspaper Title||The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)|
|Trove Title||Vicissitudes of an Orphan|
VICISSITUDES OF AN ORPHAN.
BY THE AUTHOR OF "ALICE VERNON."
WHILE, with trembling hands, Mrs. Harper is endeavoring to tie her bonnet-strings, in order to fly to the aid of our heroine, let us go back for some hours, in order to explain these start- ling occurrences.
First we must follow Butler's proceedings. All the morning he had walked about, visiting various acquaintances, and was on the point of returning home, when, towards noon, meeting a companion, he was induced to accompany him on a stroll. The day was a brilliant one, and, beguiled by conversation and the beauties of nature, the two companions sauntered on until they reached a public promenade on the out- skirts of the city, where they sat down for a
while to rest.
The sun was already in the western heavens, and crowds of pedestrians, as usual at that hour, filled the walks of this lovely retreat. Butler and his companion sat, for some time, watching the throng. There were nurses with children; schoolboys on an afternoon holiday; and parties of laughing girls; with here and there a pair of lovers, easily distinguishable by their air of entire indifference to everything but themselves.
Suddenly Butler started to his feet, and hold- ing his hand to his companion, said, "Good-bye, if I don't return. There's a young lady I should like to bid farewell to—Miss Atherton."
Dora was indeed approaching, her face wreathed in happiness, for, in the bright air, and with all so pleased about her, she felt as gleeful as a school-girl. She came forward with a frank smile, offering Butler her hand. "I am so glad to see you!' she exclaimed. "I was afraid we should not meet again. You have my best wishes for success; and remember," she added, kindly, "if ever I become rich, you are
toto paint my portrait at your very best price."
"I shall certainly paint it, then, and at no
distant day," replied Butler, speaking in sincerity, though apparently with flattery. "You could do so much good—so much more than most of your sex—that I cannot reconcile your leading this life with the just decrees of Providence."
"It is all for the best," said Dora, with a sigh. "Heaven knows what is most proper. But let us talk of yourself—do you intend to travel?"
"That is my plan," replied Butler. "My profession, in which I have some proficiency, will support me, while I go from town to town, observing nature and studying men. As I hear they have an excellent school for artists at—, I think I shall stop there a while, though it may be a year before I reach that place. But which way are you walking?—I have half an hour to spare; shall I accompany you?"
"Certainly," replied Dora; and he placed himself by her side.
They soon left the crowded promenade, and sauntered slowly on. Dora began to speak again of Butler's art, and, as both had read much on the subject, the conversation became enthusiastic. They had not, however, proceeded far before the shrill whistle of a locomotive was heard.
"That is the down train from—," said Butler, "and if I do not leave you, I shall be late. If I return through the wood, which we have just passed, I shall overtake the train at the station below, and can proceed by it to
Dora held out her hand as she would have
done to a brother. "Good-bye," she said,
"Good-bye," he replied, taking her hand as frankly. "Heaven bless you!"
He spoke with emotion, and, turning, disap- peared. Dora saw him running till he entered the wood and then lost sight of him among the thick undergrowth. Suddenly she heard a shot, as if from a gun, in the wood behind. Her heart began to beat fast with a presentiment of evil. By an irresistible impulse she turned her steps, and hurried back to the wood.
Meantime Butler, having threaded half the wood, was still advancing at a rapid pace, when he found himself confronted unexpectedly by a person approaching in the opposite direction.
The path, at this point, was exceedingly nar- row, indeed only broad enough for one person. It ran, moreover, between high, thorny bushes, so that stepping aside was inconvenient, Butler was close on to the other person before he ob- served him; and then he paused involuntarily,
raising his eyes to see who it was. He started back a step in horror, for the stranger was Mr. Thomaston. The young libertine had apparently been out shooting, for he carried a gun, and a dog was heard breaking through the bushes
The look of concentrated rage, partially sup- pressed, yet still fearfully visible, terrified the profligate, notwithstanding his self-confidence. He had never seen, or even imagined a face like that. He therefore retreated, presenting his gun. "Keep off," he cried in alarm," keep off, you scoundrel, I tell you. If you don't, I'll
"Put down that gun, if you're a man," said Butler, following him up, "I don't want to harm you—but you'll have to give way—I've wrongs of others as well as myself to avenge, and 'tis as much as I can do to keep my hands off you—"
Insolent lackey!" exclaimed Mr. Thomas-
"Don't say that again, sir. Make way at once," shouted Butler, pressing on him, "or it will be worse for you."
"Keep back," cried his opponent, eagerly, cocking his gun; "I'll fire if you don't."
"Will you?" said Butler, mad with rage, springing upon him.
The action was so sudden that the profligate had not time to fire, before his athletic antago- nist had grasped the piece, and was struggling with him to wrench it from his hands. Had
Thomaston yielded the gun, Butler, incensed as he was, would have flung it into the bushes, and depended on his strength of arm to put the libertine from his path; but the latter, judging Butler by himself, feared to give up the weapon, lest it should be used against himself; and ac- cordingly he struggled desperately to retain possession of it, or even to turn the muzzle to- wards his antagonist, that he might discharge it. The conflict was, for several minutes, un- decided. Though apparently slightly built, constant exercise in athletic sports had hardened the muscles of the profligate, and he was there- fore no contemptible match even for the power- fully-built Butler. Besides, he believed himself struggling for life itself; and when a man has that conviction, his efforts are superhuman.
Panting, twisting in and out, their faces flushed, yet scarcely moving their feet an inch, the two wrestlers swayed backward and forward.
At last, with a sudden wrench, Butler forced his adversary's chest backward. At the same
instant, by accident, the muzzle of the fowlin- piece became pointed in the direction of its owner's breast, and, being already cocked, the jar started the hammer, and the piece was dis- charged. The contents lodged in the bosom of Thomaston, who fell back, on the moment, dead.
The report of the gun, the relaxing of his adversary's limbs, and the dull weight of the body assuring him of the sad tragedy, filled Butler with horror indescribable. Though, for a few moments, he had given way to passion, yet he had not desired his antagonist's death; and, as he now gazed on the glazing eye, and
beheld the stiffening body, a cry of anguish burst from his inmost soul. He laid the insen- sible form on the ground and knelt beside it, chafing the hands, in the vain hope that life might not be extinct.
But he saw that there was no doubt of the
terrible fact. The arm, when he let it go, fell heavily, like a piece of lead; and he knew then that the spirit had departed.
"Oh! Heaven," he cried, in passionate agony, large drops of perspiration starting on his forehead, " thou knowost I did not mean to do it. I sought not his life."
But, even as he spoke, he remembered the stubborn pride which had led him to block up the path, the mad passion which had prompted him to rush upon his adversary; he felt self- condemned; and, burying his face in his hands, he groaned in utter despair. He seemed to see himself condemned eternally; the trees, the
sky, the sunshine frowned on him; and he felt, in his heart, as if he had committed the un- pardonable sin-as if the gates of mercy were
closed to him for ever.
All at once the whine of a hound aroused him from his stupor of madness and horror. He looked up. The dead man's dog, which had been chasing about the woods, had now come up, and was sniffing about the corpse, uttering low, plaintive cries.
Butler started to his feet. The presence of the dog recalled him to himself. He remem- bered that the wood was contiguous to a popu- lous district, and in sight of a travelled road, and that therefore numerous persons must have
been within hearing of the gun, who would be attracted immediately to the spot. He reflected that, if arrested near the dead body, the cir- cumstance, notwithstanding every possible ex- planation, would go far to convict him, in the eyes of others, of deliberate murder.
He recalled also the pregnant fact that he had loved Susan, and that, in the rage of a dis- appointed affection, the public mind would find
a motive for the homicide.
He had been horrified before at the crime it- self; for he felt himself, though not a murderer, criminal. He was now alarmed at the possible consequences that might ensue to his person. He determined to fly at once. He remembered that he had luckily made every preparation to leave the city, so that, if he could only escape from the wood unseen, he might entirely avoid arrest, and perhaps even suspicion. Taking, therefore, a last look at the corpse, ha fled from the awful spot, pursued alike by terror and re-
He was not a coward, but the image of the gallows, the jeering crowd, a name stained for ever, appalled him; and he rushed from the place, as if a thousand avenging furies were in pursuit.
No one saw his exit. He was just in time for
the train at the station. In five minutes he was in the city, and in ten minutes more he reached Mrs. Harper's. We have now seen his strange conduct there entirely explained. In less than an hour after he fled from the wood, he was being whirled away to a distant city, with a speed rivalled only by that of the wind.
Now let as return to Dora, whom we left hastening into the recesses of the wood, alarmed by the report of the gun. She soon reached the spot where the dead body lay, with a hound, faithful to the last, whining mournfully
At first she did not recognise her old perse- cutor; she did not even notice that it was a corpse lying across the narrow path; but sup- posing that the sportsman had been wounded by the accidental discharge of his gun, she hurried forward, after a momentary start of pity, to offer him her aid. As she drew nearer, however, she observed that the prostrate form lay entirely motionless—there was not even a groan. Her heart now began to beat fast. What if the sportsman should be dead! She hastened onward with accelerated steps, and soon reached the side of the body. The face was partially concealed, being turned on one side. She said, eagerly, "Are you much hurt, sir?" There was no answer, but the hound gave a long plaintive howl, looking piteously up into her face. She now almost knew that his
master was dead.
We have failed to represent Dora's character if our readers do not know that she was as
courageous as she was good. She therefore did not fly; but, stooping down, in the faint hope that the sportsman might still breathe, she gazed upon his face. Before, however, she could do this, it became necessary to remove the fowling-piece, which had fallen across him, and was in Dora's way; and, in lifting it, her hand became soiled by the lock, for she thoughtlessly grasped the piece at that point.
When she had bent over the dead man's form and gazed upon his face, she started back with a scream. Then, after a second, she gazed again. Could it be? Yes, there lay her persecutor— motionless, breathless, life entirely extinct. She looked at him a moment with astonishment and horror. Her own wrongs were forgotten. She did not even remember Susan; but she thought of the sinning soul, summoned, without warn- ing, to its account, and even then beginning, in eternity, its awful expiation.
All at once she started to her feet, her face alarmingly white, her eyes almost starting from their sockets. She looked wildly around, as if expecting to see Butler, cowering and horrified, hiding near. Then she clasped both hands over her eyes, as if to shut out the sight, unconsciously pushing back her bonnet by the gesture.
"He came this way," she cried, wildly and incoherently; "there was just time for a quarrel —they must have met here—Butler's anger overcame him—oh! merciful heaven—murder —murder!"
Her bonnet, in her agitation, fell back on her shoulders, where it remained held fast by the strings; her hair disordered. All at once she flung herself again on her knees, and, taking the hand of the corpse, began to chafe it.
"He cannot be dead!" she exclaimed. "There must be life in him—oh! terrible, ter- rible—there is no pulse—what shall I do?"
She never reflected on the suspicion that might attach to herself, if she was found near the murdered man; she thought only how frightful the news would be for his family, and
who would assume the task of conveying it to them. In her perplexity she looked around, first on one side, then on the other, seeking help;
but no person approached.
She had risen from her knees,with the deter- mination to go for assistance; but, before she
had taken two steps from the corpse, the hound sprang after her, with an angry bark, and seized
her by the dress. Poor dumb beast, he knew that his master was helpless, and his instinct told him not to suffer Dora, who seemed to take such interest in the dead man, to depart.
But how little a thing will sometimes affect a destiny! As Dora, anxious to summon aid,
stooped to loosen her dress from the dog's teeth, two laborers from a neighboring field suddenly approached the scene. Alarmed by the gun,
they had been running to the spot, their feet falling noiselessly on the turf; but both now stopped simultaneously, for the sight that pre-
sented itself was sufficient to arrest attention.
Let us recall the scene again. A dead man lying on the ground; a young girl endeavoring
to fly; and a hound, evidently belonging to the victim, angrily tugging at her dress. Add to
this, a lonely wood, and the disarray of the girl's head-dress; and the picture, as it presented itself to the two rude, coarse spectators, is before
Simultaneously each now glanced at his com-
panion. There was a world of accusation, in- quiry, and answer in those looks. Then, as if by one impulse, they rushed forward; one seized Dora rudely by the arm, the other took off the
"Not so fast, young woman, not so fast," said the man who held her. "Murder will out, you know."
Dora gazed at him with a bewildered look, not yet comprehending his words, though she
winced with pain under his rough grasp. "I am so glad—so very glad you have come," she
replied. "Somebody must break it to his family. "But don't grasp me so hard," and
she attempted to remove his hand. " You hurt
The man who had taken off the dog, and who
now, kneeling, was holding him back, looked up with a boisterous, mocking laugh. "You're a clever girl," he said; "but it won't do. She's playing her part well, you see, Bill."
At these rude tones and his insolent look, Dora, alarmed, gazed on one and then on the other. The first speaker, meantime, instead of relaxing his grasp, tightened it. "What do you mean?" she said, at last.
"Hear that, Bill!" said the kneeling man; and then he added, ironically, "oh! she's as
innocent as a lamb."
"Good men," said Dora, at last, unnerved for the moment, "pray let me go! I am innocent —indeed I am—I did not kill Mr. Thomaston—"
"Whew! So you know his name, do you?" cried the still kneeling man. "Bill, she's fixing
her flint for herself."
"You see," said other, shaking his head, and turning to Dora, "the more you say the worse it is for you.''
Too late she felt that this was true. She saw her error. Her very astonishment at the charge had deprived her of self-possession. Her pro-
testations of innocence had but fastened sus- picion more conclusively upon her. And, com- pletely overcome, she bowed her face, bursting
into a flood of tears.
Other spectators now began to arrive at the scene. We have said that the wood was near a populous district, and, as shooting had long been prohibited in the neighborhood, the dis- charge of fire-arms naturally attracted many persons within hearing to the spot. With the increase of arrivals, a Babel of confusion en- sued. The kneeling man rose to his feet, and, fastening his handkerchief to the hound in order to hold it, constituted himself spokesman, while his companion remained in charge of Dora. Every one was asking questions. Awe was on some faces, mere curiosity on others. The story of a murder, and by the prisoner, was uni- versally believed. A few looked pityingly upon her, as she stood, with averted face, sobbing hysterically; but the great mass merely shrug- ged their shoulders, her plain dress being suffi-
cient proof, if any more were needed, that she was guilty. One or two remarked on her ap- parent youth; and others speculated as to the cause of the homicide; while, to each and all alike, the more brutal of the two laborers ex- patiated on the terror in which they had sur- prised her, and the wonderful instinct of the hound in detaining her when she sought to flee.
No one, however, had touched the dead body. The popular notion that a corpse must be left unmoved till the arrival of the authori- ties, combining with the awe that murder ever creates, sufficed to preserve a charmed circle around it. Messengers had therefore been im- mediately despatched for the magistrate, and, in a comparatively short time, he arrived.
An inquest was then held, and a verdict re- turned, "that the deceased came to his death by a gun-shot wound, inflicted by Dora Ather-
Meantime the innocent victim of these sus- picions had been placed under the charge of an officer, and carried in a chaise before a commit ting magistrate. In the office of this official poor Dora was compelled to sit down, with a hundred curious eyes upon her, while the magis- trate was being sought.
The apartment was fortunately obscure, for as yet candles had not been lighted. The suf- fering girl, shrinking from the public gaze, leaned her face forward on the table, and prayed earnestly for strength and comfort from on high. The flood of tears, which had convulsed her on the arrest, had long since subsided, and her clear intellect began to take a just and comprehensive view of her situation. She saw that circum- stances told terribly against her; nevertheless she did not entirely despair; for she knew it could be shown that she was the last penon who could be suspected of homicide. Besides, she would tell the truth, just as it occurred.
Yet she felt that to Heaven only could she look for aid. In all that populous city, with its tens of thousands upon tens of thousands, she
had not a friend, with the solitary exception of Mrs. Harper. Neither had she wealth to pur- chase legal aid. This she remembered.
"Oh! Father of the orphan," she exclaimed, "help me in this, my sore distress." She felt that all she had before suffered—the death of her father, the desertion of Paul, the horrors of destitution—were nothing to this last trial. "Deliver me, oh! Almighty One," she continued, "from this dread snare. Save me—save me, for there is none but Thee to aid!"
After this passionate appeal she felt more composed. She began now to reflect on what would be done with her that night. Would she be sent to prison? She had heard of people, accused of crime, being bailed out. Might not this privilege be granted to her? Yet, who
would be her surety? She thought of Mrs. Harper, and, though she feared the amount of bail would be greater than the good landlady could raise, she resolved to send for her.
At length the magistrate made his appearance, an asthmatic personage, with an important air, and a bald head, that glistened like a shining ball. He pompously ordered the candles to be lighted; adjusted his gold spectacles, and then took a long look at the prisoner and her friend, Mrs. Harper, who had also arrived. After this he
condescended to hear the outlines of the case.
When all was concluded, he turned to Dora, "Young woman," he said, "you will have to go to prison to-night, as I can't hear the whole case and make out a regular commitment. To- morrow, or some day soon, when the evidence is complete, you'll have a regular hearing."
Dora gasped for breath. To prison! To the dark cell and stone walls of a prison! She turned to Mrs. Harper with a wild, appealing look, clutching at the good landlady's arm, as
if determined to die there sooner than be torn away.
"Can't I bail her out, your honor?" inquired Mrs. Harper. "Let her go home with me. I'll engage she shall be ready when you want her."
The magistrate, who had removed his spec- tacles, replaced them at this, and peered over his desk at the speaker. A smile, slightly con- temptuous wreathed his lips. "I'm afraid we can't take your bail, my good woman," he said; "besides, 'tis not a bailable case."
Mrs. Harper flushed up, for, from his man- ner, she understood that he doubted her means; but she did not give way to further anger. She knew that too much hung on the decision of the pompous magistrate, and she resolved to employ her utmost power of conciliation.
"Your honor is a father," said Mrs. Harper. "Oh! think of this poor child, as innocent a girl as ever lived, being sent to prison, when perhaps to-morrow it may be discovered, as I know it will sooner or later, that she is guiltless."
She spoke earnestly, and the magistrate was moved. He leaned his forehead on his open palm, and thought a while. At length he looked
"I can't do it," he replied. "A murder is
not bailable, except where there is strong doubt
of guilt, and this case seems, I am sorry to say, black enough; but if you take out a habeas corpus," he added, seeing the effect his words produced, and really wishing to say what he could to comfort the parties, "you can take it out to-morrow, early; and when you get the case before a judge, he may, perhaps, think there are mitigating circumstances, or you may have evidence by that time which will totally alter the appearance of things. It will be only for one night, you know."
"Only one night!" Such were the despairing words of ths landlady. As for Dora, she could say nothing; she had fainted in Mrs. Harper's
BUT we have too long forgotten the Lady Alicia. The artful coquette saw, with intense satisfaction, the enthralment of Mr. Sidney. By a succession of manœuvres, similar to those we have already described, she had, she believed, finally secured him, and was now in daily ex- pectation of a proposal in form. She was in high glee at this result, for Paul had been pro- nounced invulnerable by her sister, who, on more than one occasion, had declared her con- viction that he loved another. "You may rely on it," she said, one morning, as the sisters walked in the trim old garden, "you may rely on it, Alicia, that he has loved, and still loves. I have read his book, and discover this in every page. Do you remember certain verse, dated at Naples, addressed to an ideal? No man, I am confident, could have written that poem without being in love."
"If he has been in love I have cured him," said the Lady Alicia, pouting her pretty lip. And then, gaily laughing, she added, "I tell you, my dear sister, Mr. Sidney is ready, at this moment, to lay his hand and fortune at the feet of your humble servant."
"I doubt it," said her sister, shaking her
"You doubt it? said the Lady Alicia, and, as she spoke, she plucked a pliant twig. "Do you see this little branch, and how I wind it round my finger? Well, in that way exactly I can manage Mr. Paul Sidney."
"But," said her sister, "admitting you have induced him to fall in love with you, do you in- tend to accept him?"
"I think I answered that question once be- fore," replied the Lady Alicia. "To be sure I shall. One don't take so much trouble for nothing."
"But you don't love him?" said her sister.
"People of sense leave love to milkmaids and ploughmen now-a-days," replied the Lady Alicia laughing loudly and merrily.
"I knew you were selfish," said her sister, "but never thought you were quite so heartless."
"Now, don't go into heroics, Jane," said the Lady Alicia. "I am as heaven made me. Be- sides, I rather like this young gentleman; his grand cavalier style, his reputation, and his wealth, have made me so contented with the match, that I really long for the dear gentleman to speak up. I must marry somebody, you know; and he is the best specimen of the male animal I have yet seen."
"I could forgive anything in you but your pretension to religious feeling," said her sister. "Mr. Sidney seems truly devout; but you, Alicia, are a hypocrite, and you know it."
Again the coquette laughed gleefully. "Oh! it was too good," she said; "to see me, the other day, doing the serious young lady. I met Mr. Sidney, you must know, in the park. I had got myself up in the character of a Lady Bountiful, and was dressed to perfection, I can can assure you. Wasn't I demure!" And, with inimitable mimicry, she drew down the corners of her mouth, suddenly assuming the gravity of a nun. Even her sister, who en- vied as much as she disliked her, and who felt little inclined to do anything but censure her, could not restrain a laugh. "I verily believe," resumed the Lady Alicia, her eyes sparkling with mischief, "that he thinks me a little saint—" But she never finished her sentence, for at that instant her sister gave a shriek, and, looking round, where steps attracted her atten- tion, she saw Paul himself full before her!
He was in the act of leaving an alcove, where he had been seated, and where he had evidently heard most, if not all, of the preceding conver- sation. He was very pale, but whether with suppressed anger, or disappointed love, the Lady Alicia could not tell. On recognising him, she shrieked also, and hastily placed her hands be- fore her eyes. In truth she was for once ashamed, and could not meet his eye. She made
no movement—she scarcely even breathed— until the sound of his quick footsteps had re- ceded in the distance—when, rushing into the alcove, she flung herself upon the bench, and said, with a frightened look, " I have done it now, Jane—haven't I?"
"There is no doubt of it," dryly replied her
The Lady Alicia remained silent for mo- ment. She was pale and red by turns. All at once she asked, "How did he look ?—was he very angry?"
"He lifted his hat as he passed, but said nothing," was her sister's answer. "He looked stern rather than angry."
"I am afraid he'll never forgive me," said the Lady Alicia, clasping her hands. "To think,
after all my plans, he should find me out on the eve of success! And from my own confession too! Why will we women babble?" And then rising and stamping her foot, she added ener-
getically, "It's too bad, Jane—it's positively too bad; I won't endure it." And with these pas-
sionate words she burst into tears.
Yes, the Lady Alicia wept, and aloud. They
were real tears, too, that she shed. Mortifica- tion, rage at herself, and, since truth must be told, disappointed love—for, after all, she loved Paul as much as it was in her selfish nature to love any one—all these conspired to produce that burst of weeping.
"And so, my lady," said her sister, gazing at her with uplifted eyebrows, and with a slight sneer, "you did love him, after all? It is not mere shame that could cause my pretty sister to weep in that fashion."
The Lady Alicia gave an angry twitch of the shoulders, and turned away; but she still wept.
After a while she said, "I wonder if he heard
"Certainly," was the reply. "We did not advance fifty yards all the time we were talking, and for most of that period we were walking in a circle, for the path, you know, winds round
"It was dishonorable in him to listen," said the Lady Alicia, stamping her foot again, her eyes flashing fire.
"He could not help listening," replied her sister, who seemed to take a pleasure in annoy- ing the discomfited coquette. "This alcove is the centre of the spiral walk, as you would have remembered if you had been less angry. The paths are bordered by lofty and impervious box- wood, and approach this spot by gradually les- sening circles. There was but one way for Mr.
Sidney to escape, and that was through the avenue by which we were approaching. By re- maining silent he evidently thought to escape our notice altogether; and would have suc-
ceeded, if we had turned back before reaching the alcove. So I don't see how you can call his
The Lady Alicia was silenced. For a few moments she stood, pouting her pretty lips, and then, with a light laugh, intending to con- ceal her chagrin, said, "Well, instead of marry- ing a commoner, I shall be somebody's countess, I suppose; and that, after all, is better. I think henceforth I shall have firm faith in pre- destination. Man proposes, but fate ordains. Heigho! Let us go back to the house."
As the Lady Jane had intimated, Paul had heard every word of the conversation. When the voices of the sisters first became distinguish- able, and he discovered that the discussion bore upon himself, he rose from his seat, intending to leave the spot. But remembering, in time, the peculiar character of the approach to the alcove, and satisfied, from the vicinity of the speakers, that they were in the spiral walk, he sat down again, uncertain what to do. The heartless coquetry of the Lady Alicia, which she acknowledged so unblushingly, soon rendered him incapable of any part except that of a pas- sive listener, otherwise his sense of delicacy would have taught him to attract, by a cough or other noise, the attention of the sisters. But the cold, calculating selfishness of the Lady Alicia, her duplicity, her wickedness even, as revealed in her confession to her sister, para- lysed Paul for the time. He had never fancied that any woman could be so base. He thought of Dora's purity of character, and, contrasting it with this meanness, he sighed aloud. It was this which drew the eyes of the Lady Jane to- wards him, and called forth her shriek.
The first idea had been to leave Henley Abbey immediately; but he now resolved to stay his visit out, as if nothing had occurred. With natural pride he said, "The Lady Alicia shall see that, if she fascinated me easily, I can as easily throw off her chains. The woman I admired was not what the Lady Alicia is, but what she pretended to be. If she does not allude to the subject, neither will I; but, from the difference in my manner, she will under- stand that I am free again."
Meantime the Lady Alicia, after parting with her sister in the corridor, had gained her cham- ber, and was now alone. In the presence of the Lady Jane she had put a restraint on her feel- ings, and strove, by her jesting tone, to oblite- rate the effect of the passion of tears into which she had at first been surprised. But now she gave free vent to her emotions.
We have described the Lady Alicia as sel-
fish, vain, and unprincipled; but she was not without something of a heart. Perhaps no woman ever was. What little she possessed Paul Sidney had profoundly touched. Her de- signs on him—which at first were dictated by pure whim, and afterwards persisted in from love of conquest—had, for some time, been seriously carried on with the passionate, though secret desire to win his entire heart. But so insincere was her nature, that she not only endeavored to mislead her sister as to the state of her feelings towards Paul, but she, in a measure, actually deceived herself. It was only within the last half hour that the full truth had burst upon
Yes! she loved Paul, passionately and in-
tensely; but selfishly, as was her nature. Un- accustomed to disappointment in anything, the failure of her designs upon him was excessively painful. She was utterly heart-stricken. It was torture to her to jest, as she had been com- pelled to do, with her sister; and now, on being released from espionage, she with savage eager- ness locked and double-locked her door.
That effected, she looked wildly round the room, as if still fearful that some one might be watching her; then, suddenly clasping her hands before her eyes, she burst into hysteric tears. In this paroxyism, partly of grief, partly of rage, she wept for some time; occasionally, with mad pride, biting her lips, or holding her handkerchief to her mouth, to stifle the noise of her sobs. She acted, indeed, like an insane person. Now she bewailed her folly in allowing Paul to overhear her; and now, with a sudden transition of feeling, she heaped expressions of
hatred on the man she loved. Now she walked the room with passionate vehemence; now she rolled on the floor in a frenzy of despair.
"He is lost—lost for ever," she cried, bury-
ing her face in the rich Axminster carpet. "And I loved him—oh! how I loved him—I, whose heart no man had ever touched. Scores have sighed at my feet, but you, Paul," she cried, sitting up, and speaking as if adjuring him, "you were the only one I could reverence; the rest I despised. Yet, to think," she added, changing her mood, and she gnashed her teeth as she spoke, "to think that I could have been such a fool as to talk to Jane as I did, in so public a place as thegarden. Some fiend must have led me on to it." Again her mood changed. "If I could only live over this day," she said, clasp- ing her hands, and looking upwards with streaming eyes,; " oh! only the last hour even. But it cannot be—it is too late—he despises me." And, a burst of sobs interrupting her, she writhed on the floor again in agony."
After a while a torrent of different sensations swept over that ill-regulated soul. Her anger was now roused against Paul. She started to her feet, her brows corrugated, her small hands clenched, and she began walking the apartment
"Why do I grieve for the loss of this fool?" she cried, savagely. Then, with a sneer, she added, "To think how I cozened him! They say that women are weak to flattery; I wonder if men are not more so. This man without a title!—pshaw!"
Bitter feelings towards Paul did not long have the ascendant in the bosom of the capa-
cious Lady Alicia. She loved Paul too well to continue in this strain. All the morning after the discovery of her deceit she remained in her room, the prey alternately to disappointed affection, to mortification, to rage —the first, however, being the prevailing senti-
At last the bell rang to dress for dinner, and the loud alarum recalled her to the duties of ordinary life. She washed away the traces of tears, freely bathed her face to compose her nerves, and, attiring herself with unusual ele- gance, descended to join the company.
Her pride had regained its ascendancy. No one, to see that smiling face, would have imagined the tempest of passion which, but an hour before, had convulsed its every feature. Not for the world would the Lady Alicia have had her weakness suspected. But new mortifi-
cations were in store for her; chance placed Paul by her side at the table; his manner, though studiously polite, was utterly changed— it wanted everything like sympathy, and the Lady Alicia now experienced, in all its agony, the woes of unrequited love. The torture she had so often, in her selfish vanity, inflicted on others, was now visited on herself.
The next day had been set apart, by an ar-
rangement made nearly a week preceding, for a picnic on the sea shore. The Lady Alicia, sick at heart, would have pleaded illness and re- mained at home, only she feared Paul would sus- pect the truth.
The rack would have been preferable to such protracted agony. For, strange to say, the Lady Alicia all through the day hoped, in spite of reason, that Paul would relent; in this re- spect she was no wiser than the simplest rustic. The most accomplished coquette, when in love, is indeed as week as the silliest of her sex. It was this constant hope, and the incessantly re- curring disappointment, that rendered the tor- ture of the Lady Alicia so acute.
At length the party prepared to return. They had ridden some distance when the Lady Alicia, for a moment, threw her bridle on the horse's neck. Unfortunately, just at that in- stant, a dog sprang at the animal from a copse by the road-side. Arab snorted wildly, and set off at full gallop. For once, too, the Lady Alicia lost her presence of mind, and screamed in earnest This assisted still further to terrify the animal. Several gentlemen immediately started in pursuit, but their efforts to assist her only increased the peril, for Arab, hearing the clatter of hoofs behind him, became more and more excited than before, and galloped on at a terrible pace. His rider had now lost all control over him. It was soon apparent that, in his flight the horse did not know what direction he was taking; for he rushed forward regardless of impediments.
A wild, broken bit of unenclosed land, with a dwarf tree here and there on its rocky surface, lay before the Lady Alicia. On one side of this plain, was a deep ravine, through which ran a stream over innumerable stones. A more dan-
gerous locality could not have presented itself.
Had Arab, however kept straight on, there would have been comparatively little peril; but, suddenly leaving the road, he darted madly in the direction of the ravine. His rider sat pale and apparently lifeless, clinging to the terrified beast, incapable of exertion. A cry arose simultaneously from all who were sufficiently in advance to behold this. The death of the Lady Alicia seemed inevitable.
"Oh! save my child," shrieked Lady Henley.
"Will no one save my child? And she looked frantically round.
Paul caught that beseeching look, in which all a mother's agony was concentrated. He had not joined in the chase after Arab, for he knew that it would only terrify the steed with- out assisting the Lady Alicia. But now, for- getting his wrongs, and remembering only the mother's imploring look, he put spurs to his horse in the heroic effort to save a life or lose his
Fortunately he was mounted on a powerful hunter of the Irish breed, accustomed to follow the hounds through the roughest spots, and completely under control. Leaving the road, therefore, he struck into the broken ground, taking a diagonal course towards the ravine.
He calculated that Arab and he would meet on the edge of the precipice; and this, he knew, was the only chance to save the Lady Alicia.
Every one comprehended, at once, the plan, and wondered that no one but Paul had thought of it. As if instinctively, they drew in their horses, and breathlessly gazed on the thrilling spectacle.
Faster and faster went Arab; but equally swift was the stride of the hunter. It was an appalling race.
A few minutes of suspense succeeded. At last Arab, reeking with foam, and wild with fright, reached the edge of the abyss, over which another leap would inevitably precipitate him. But, close at hand, though separated by a tremendous stride, was the gallant hunter held firmly in hand by Paul, who, half rising in his stirrups, seemed preparing for some bold
A half-suppressed sob arose from the crowd. Then, with a desperate leap, Arab, as had been foreboded, disappeared down the ravine. The
spectators shrieked aloud. For a moment, all
believed that the Lady Alicia had gone over the precipice with her steed. Her mother fainted; but the daughter, thanks to Paul, still lived. The hunter urged to his utmost by a keen ap- plication of the spur, had passed, in a single tremendous stride, the distance between himself and Arab; and Paul, himself, having prepared, as we have seen, for the crisis, succeeded in snatching the Lady Alicia from her saddle at the very instant Arab took his final leap. Hav- ing affected this, Paul sworved bia horse round, ing affected this, Paul swerved his horse round, wards the group of spectators.
The rescue had been effected by little short of a miracle. Had Paul's hunter become infec- ted with Arab's terror, or failed instantaneously to obey spur and bit; had the foot of the Lady Alicia caught in the stirrup; or had the stal- wart arm of Paul missed its rapid clutch, both she and himself would have been carried to- gether down the abyss, and shared the fate of Arab, who was found on the ensuing day,
crushed on the rocks below.
When the Lady Alicia revived, she seemed to know instinctively who had been her preserver. Half opening her eyes, she felt a thrill of hap- piness in finding herself on Paul's bosom. Oh! how she longed to tell him her gratitude and love; to cast herself on his mercy; to vow eternal constancy in return for his forgiveness! But as yet she dared not. Hope, however, re- awakened in her heart, and she flattered herself that the time for such a revelation might event- ually come; for surely this rescue would re- kindle Paul's affection. Such things, at least, had been. She would tell him she had been jesting in the conversation he overheard; and, as she thus thought, every nerve quivered with delight.
After that hasty glance, undetected by Paul, she remained with her eyes closed, nestling to his broad bosom. At last he reached the group of anxious spectators. Her mother, having recovered from the swoon, was anxiously expect- lng them.
"I bring your daughter safely back," said Paul, placing the seemingly inanimate form on the cushions of the carriage. "She is not hurt, but has only fainted."
As he spoke, theLady Alicia unclosed her eyes, and his, as she wished, was the first face that met her gaze. What a world of confusion, gratitude, and reverence beamed from those speaking eyes! "Oh! if I can but win his pity," she thought, "I may hope."
But Paul was apparently unmoved; or, if not, the profuse thanks of Lady Henley now de- manded his attention; and he turned to the mother to deprecate her gratitude.
"I cannot express the half of what I feel," she said, in conclusion. "But the dear child has revived now, and may be more successful. Alicia, thank Mr. Sidney, for he has saved your life. You are better now, darling—look up— and give him your hand."
Coyly, yet gracefully, she held it out "My preserver!" she murmured, in a low voice; and with one glance of unutterable love she averted her blushing face, and buried it on her mother's
For once she was sincere. But alas! it was too late. Paul, despising her the more for what he thought a new proof of duplicity, bowed low, but with an almost perceptible sneer, and turned away. It was well for the Lady Alicia that neither she nor others saw that look. To her it would have given a new pang. To others it might have revealed her degradation.
We wish we could fully describe the Lady Alicia's state of mind after this rescue. She loved Paul now with a passion that was fright- ful; but she still proudly kept her affection a secret from all. His every look and action she watched with intense eagerness, hoping to find some evidence of his relenting towards her.
The day after the picnic, anxious to essay an- other effort to regain him, the Lady Alicia watched an occasion for a moment's tête-à-tête with Paul; and when they were alone together, she thus addressed him:—"Mr. Sidney," she said, with faltering voice, trusting herself with only a single look at his impassable face, and then letting her eyes fall embarrassed to the ground, "I have waited all day for this oppor- tunity to thank you for your heroism yesterday. I owe you everything—not only my life," she added hesitatingly, "but the knowledge of my- self." Again her eyes glanced up at his face; and she saw, from his heightened color, that he understood her. "Can you forgive me? Oh! I can never thank you enough."
It was skilfully done, thus to combine expres- sions of gratitude with petitions for pardon; and the fair penitent for a moment almost hoped that Paul would relent, for his color went and came rapidly. But she mistook what were only signs of embarrassment, for proofs of re- awakened affection, and his words soon dispelled
"I have nothing to forgive the Lady Alicia," he said, in a cold, constrained voice, not even affecting to misunderstand her, "but much to forgive myself. Her life I saved, as I would that of any other fellow-creature. In thanking me, she expresses to the instrument the grati- tude due to the Creator." He bowed and turned
Oh! bitter, bitter was your task, Lady Alicia, to reconcile yourself to this last disappointment of your hopes. Never before had you known what love was, or perhaps, eager as you were for admiration, you would not have trifled so ruth- lessly with the hearts of others. But she had sowed the wind, and was reaping the whirlwind. To be rejected, after she had demeaned herself thus, was indeed cruel, and in the darkness and silence of her own apartment she gave vent to her emotions.
"He saw that I loved him," she said; "my look and tone told him as much—and yet he coolly turned away from me." She gnashed her teeth as she continued, "what would I not give for revenge! But no," she added, her mood chang- ing, "I deserve it all. I have trifled with others, and now the cup of my folly is given me to quaff. Yet I cannot—I will not drink it. He must and shall love me." And, as she uttered these words, she clenched her small hands and wildly walked the floor. "But why do I talk thus? He love me! why, he despises me!" and she laughed in bitter scorn. Then, with a burst of tears, she added, as she flung herself despairingly on the bed, "Oh! I wish that I
Such is ever remorse, without true repentance. It is thus the lost torment themselves with un- availing regrets and self-reproaches made too
A week afterwards, the term of his promised visit having expired, Paul left Henley Abbey for London. His host urged him to stay; but he civilly, though resolutely, declined. The Lady Alicia was up at early dawn to watch his depar- ture, shrinking behind the curtain of her cham- ber like a guilty thing; and when, at last, his carriage disappeared round a distant bend of the road, she broke into furious reproaches against fate. Her last hope, nourished secretly against all hope, had vanished; and she cursed both him and herself, gnashing her teeth in fury and despair.
[TO BE CONTINUED.]