Chapter 18876299

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Chapter NumberXLII (CONTINUED)
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18876299
Full Date1885-03-28
Page Number20
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Word Count7799
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Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleArley
article text

FICTION.

{From Kaftlltti, Am «tien i», and oth*r;i*erlod1eal*.)

J_3.JtrOjLjJ_lî JL -

CHAPTER Xhll-(Conlinned)

Evoiy particle of color receded from Arley's face 88 sha read the paragraph ; her eyes grew almost wild with terror, her breath Beemed to stop, and ehe felt as if she were suffoc iting,

" 0, Arley, Arlej !" See seemed almost to hear him calliug out those words which only a short tima befóte he had so impulsively written and then crossed out, " let a little of divine compassion into your heart and offer one, single prayer-I should feel its influence though the world divided us."

How those words had burned themselves into her brain !

She had never roalized until this moment how fearfully she lud been impressed by them, and yet su» hid ne-ver offered that * ODO prayer' for him Ehe had hardened her heart against him, and now it mib>ht be too late.

biie had told hereelf that she could not ask God to

pardon him, when she could not forgive him herself> |

when she even had no wish to forgive him; but now a sudden revulsion of feeling overpowered her-she she threw herself upon her knees clutching the pBpor convulsively in ber handB, trembling in every limb, and cried out, wildly :

" Save him, oh, save him, and I will forgive. I did not wish bim to die, and now I know that in spite of everything I have never ceaBed to love him, and I love hm still."

With this full and free confession every barrier B'-emed awept aw¡,y ; she wept a perfect rain of toars-teBra that .had softened her proud heart, and washed away every trace of anger and bitter-

ness.

Half an hour later, ehe stole to Lady Elaine's door and tapped softly for permission to enter,

"Come in, Arley dear," the sweet voice from with- in answered, and she enterered, the evening paper still in her hand.

"Darling, what is itP" her sister cried in a startled tone, as soon as she caught the sight of Arley's colorless face and wild eyes :

She spread the paper before her, pointing to the paragraph which had to unnerved her, then dropp- ing upon her knees by her side she buried her face in her lap with a gesture of despair,

Lady Blaine read the account of the accident, and ajook of deep pity swept over her lovely face.

" Poor Philip," she murmured, in a low tone.

Árley moaned, and Lady Blaine, laying her hand softly upon the dark head in her lap, added tenderly :

" Poor Arley, too ; can ehe forgive him now ?"

" I have forgiven him ; but ob, I oin afraid that is i too late for bim ever to know it !" Bhe cried, with another paroxyem of grief.

Lady Elaihe bent forward and kissed her with great tenderness.

"I knew that it would eventually come to this," ehe said ; " when I learned bow nobly he WAB striv- ing to atone for the past, I knew that the old love WEB not quito de»d, Arley dear, «¡id I am glad that you have found it out even at this late hour, for you will be far happier in the future to have all bitter- ness eradicated from your heart,"

" I have been very hard aud relentless," wailed poor Arley. " I had no right to cherish such a cruel disposition, and in my heart I did long to send him some comforting word when little Bddie -wanthrope was telling how good and kind he had been to him, only my pride would not let me yield enough to do so ; but I must go," she concluded, starting up from ber kneeling posture.

" Go I go where ?" cried Lady Blaine in surprise, "ToSt. George's Hospital- to htm."

.' But they will not allow you tbare, and you could do him no good."

" They mntt let me in," Atley cried, excitedly, " I am his wife. 1 have a right to be with him. I must -I will go, and if he should come to himself if only for a moment, I could tell him that 1 forgive him and he would be comforted ; oh, I did not want him to die like this."

Lady Elaine drew her close into her arms and tried to soothe hur for she was greatly excited,

" Dear Arley," she said, " you cannot go to-night so one would be' admitted at such an hour; go to rest-gather alf the strength that you can before morninsr, tbon we will both go to St. George's hos- pital, and if anything can avail to give you access to Philip, you shall have it,".

Arley saw the wisdom of this advice and allowed herself to be persuaded to retire, provided that she might remain with her sister, and so locked in each other's arms, the remainder of the night was passed and another day dawned,

CHAPTER XLIII. " WHEDK AM I ?"

At an early hour the next morning two sad-faced, anxious women presented themselves at St. George's Hospital, and, with quaking hearts, inquired regard- ing the condition of Philip Paxton.

The assistant who answered their summons seemed disposed to be disagreeable.

" It was Dot the proper hour tor visitors," he said . " besides, it was very doubtful if the surgeon in chnrge would alli.w any one to see the man who hid been injured the previous day, for he was in a very

critical condition."

"Is the surgeon at present in the building ?"Arley demanded, with quiet dignity.

"Yes, mies, he is," the man replied, with a bild stare of admiration : "but he cannot be disturbed."

Atley drew a card from her case aud wrote rapidly a few words upon it; then turning again to the . attendant, she said, authoritatively :

" Take this to him at once, if you please I am Mrs. Paxton, wife of the gentleman who W8S brought here injured yesterday, and I desire to see the sur-

geon at once "

An instantaneous change came over the man at this information. He gave a bulf frightened glance into the pale, beautiful face, bowed obsequiously, and then hastened at once to do her bidding.

Ten, fifteen minutes pi'sed, and the time seemed interminable to Arley'e impatient, anxious heart.

Then the door opened again, and a gray-haired, noble looking man enterad the reception-room.

" Mrs. Paxton ?" he Baid, glancing inquiringly from Lady Elaine to Arley.

" I am Mrs. Paxton," Arley siid, trembling, and rising. " How is-"

Her voice failed her, and her white lips refused to

frame the remainder of the sentence.

The surgeon bent a glance of pity upon the beau-

tiful (ace.

" Your husband is still unconscious, mndam, but bis breathing ban grown a little nure regular and natural during the last hour," he answered, gently.

*' Will he-"

Again those white lips refused to perform their

office.

"Will he live? were you going to ask?" the surgeon interposed, kindly, yet with a note of sad" ness in his tone, for the anxiety of this lovely woman touched him deeply. " I cannot tell yet-I can only repeat that worn out phrase, 'while there is life there is hope.'"

" Can I see him ?-May I go to him ?" Alley cried, entreatingly.

" Certainly, madam ; you have the right, and it can do bim no barm, for he ÍB in a profound stupor Come with me, and I will show you the way-that is, if you cm be calm," be added, with a keen glance

at ber,

" I will be," she said, and Lady Elaine seated her- self in a chair to wait, while she followed the surgeon

from the room.

He led the way up a long flight of stairs, and through a lofty hall, to a room in the rear of the great building.

Opening the door the surgeon, with a motion of his band, bade her enter, and with trembling steps, Arley obeyed ; and in the dim light she saw a till form stretched upon a narrow cot-the form that she knew so well-his bead bound about with nap- kins, his face as colorless as the sheet which covered him, and his chest heaving with labored breathing.

This washer busband ; and yet how like the veriest stranger he had been to her ever since her wedding

day.

She bad not seen bim since that morning when she had made that last, earnest appeal to bim 'in the courtroom at Madrid. Then be bad been haughty, defiant, obstinate ; now he lay prostrate, and helpiesB perhaps dyin#, before ber.

She went close up to him and bent down to study his face. His features were »ery peaceful in their unconscious repose, and those evil lines which she remembered so well had all seemed to have faded out from it, leaving him, save for his exceeding pallor, more like the handsome, attractive Philip whom she had learned to love so well at Hazelmere.

The tears rained over her cheeks as she gazed at him but she made no souid, only silently wiping , them away as they fell, while the surgeon, watching

her, felt a tender pity and sympathy for the sad i hearted young wife.

Presently she stayed her weeping Bnd moving up , to him, signified by a gesture that she wished to . to confer with him, and, opening the door for her,

they both passed noiselessly out of the room.

L " You will let me stay with bim ?" she said, appeal

ingly, the moment the door was shut again.

He hesitated scanning her face closely for a mo-

ment.

"I know what you ere thinking," she continued, as she noticed bis look while a quick sob escaped her. " You are wondering if I am strong enough to stay here and see him die. But whether he lives or dies I must stay," she added, resolutely. " I am his wife, and my place is at his bedside. I do not know," she went on hurriedly, " whether I could be of any use or not, but, at least I will not make any disturbance ; I will be perfectly quiet and calm ; but, you know, if he should have one lucid moment, it will belong to I me. Say that you will let me stay, doctor," and in-

voluntarily she clasped her hands in a way he could not resist, as she made this last appeal,

"Yes, you shall remain," he replied, in an unsteady

voice.

He did not really believe that the man would ever come out of the stupor in which he was lying but if be did, and should have a lucid moment, he felt that it ought, as she had SBid, to belong to her-his wife,

O', course be could not have any idea with what agony Arley was longing for consciousness to be re- stored to him, even momentarily, that she might breathe into his ear the forgiveness which she knew be craved. He did not dream that there had ever been a shadow between them-he simply regarded her as a fond and faithful wife who could not endure the thought of being separated from her husband while there should be any sign of life in him, and so he bad given the desired permission.

Arley went back to lady Elaine and told her

her decision.

" I do not think he will live," she said, with a quiver of pain in her voice, while Bhe twined her arms about her siBter's waist and dropped her head for a moment on her shoulder ; " but the surgeon says I may stay, and, oh ! darling, pray that he may have but one single moment of consciousness in which to know me and to let me make my peace with him. He looks noble and good now-like the man I believed him to be when we first met him at Hazlemere-as be lays there so still and pale, and those cruel, evil lines which came into his face after we were married are all gone."

" I am glad that you Bra going to stay, Arley, dear," Lady Elaine said, " I think that it is right you should ; the conviction has been growing upon me of late that Philip was really changed, I believe be has sincerely repented of hin wrong doing, and if he should come to himself and find you beside him and ready to forgive bim, it would be of the greatest comfort to him, But do not overtax yourself, dear,'» she added, tenderly, "remember that I have only just found my sister, and I could not bear that ill should befall her. I shall be very lonely without you, but I know it ia right for you to be here, and I shall come every day, as long as you stay, to see you and to inquire for Philip."

She kissed her fondly and then went away, and Arley, removing her hat and wraps, went back to that silent, sick room to watch and-wait.

Bhe had worn a soft, dark dress which did not make the slightest sound as ehe moved, and ehe

looked Almost like some pale, sweet nun as she Bat by Philip's bedside, watching with a jealous eye every movement of the nurse, deftly assisting when- ever she could, sud eeerain. at times to anticipate his wants by the mere glance of his eye.

Day after day she remained at her post, and there

was no change.

No change apparently in Philip, but in the heart of the young wife a very ntdicai one ; in place of the hard and unforgiving feelings which for so long she had been cherishing against him, a tender yearning, a deep and absorbing love-akin to that of maiden- hood-w/is taking possession of her, while every hour that first agonized prayer-save him, oh, save him 1 was whiepared by her pale lips.

For a week Philip Paxton lay there but a mere breathing form, and though the surgeon considered it impossible for him to recover, euch succeeding day seemed to find him the same; no better, no worse.

At l»st, on the eight day, there was a copious dis- change from his head through one of his ears, and tben the patient appeared as if about to awake to life

once more.

" There has been a fearful abscess in his head," the surgeon said, with a puzzled look, " but it is impos- sible that such a gathering could have been the result of this recent injury-it may have aggravated it, but

it never could have caused it in so short a time,

Arley started, and then remembering what Eddie Winthrope bad told her, she said :

"He was severely injured about the head several months Ago in a railway accident."

"Aba!" ejaculated the Burgeon, looking enligh- tened "Has he complained since of any trouble

there?" be asked.

Arley colored a vivid red.

Very little indeed did she know regarding Philip's complaints during the last year, but of course she WAS not going to confess this to the doctor, BO quoting again from Eddie Winthrope, she said :

"Yes, he has complained of headache a good

deU."

The surgeon nodded many times BB if answer- ing to himself what bad all along been perplexing queries in his mind.

" I see-1 see," he said at length to her. " This abscess baB been a great while forming, and it would have taken a good while longer for it to have reached a crisis had it not been for this recent injury, that has aggravated and hastened it to a termination. «If" and here he bent a penetrating look upon Arley "if it does not gather again, I think there is hope that your husband may recover, madam."

Arley stared and looked up at him with a frightened "lance as he made this announcement.

She had never for a moment believed that Philip would get well, She had looked for his death daily almost hourly, ever since ehe had entered the hos- pital,

True, she had prayed that he might be saved, and she had meant it ; but ber faith had not been strong enough for her to believe that he would be, neither had she once thought what course she would pursue

if he should recover.

She had felt it her duty lo come to him in this hour of his extreme need, She had come expecting that be would die, ready to forgive him in case he should desire it, and then, perhaps, close his eyes in his last, long sleep.

But she bad not come prepared, in case of talB '

recovery, to resume her duties as his wife, and to consent to forget the past and pass the remainder of her life with bim. That was a contingency which

she had not foreseen.

Her first impulse was to fly back to Mordaunt House and hide herself again -within its friendly walls; but she had presented herself at St. George's Hospital and demanded admittance &B Philip Paxton's W'-fe, and now sbe could not go away, she could not desert the post she hid assumed, without exciting

remark and scandal.

" What shall I do ?-oh, what shall I do ?" she asked herself over and over again, She had believed that all the old love had returned to her heart, that 1 she must always regard him with pity and tenderness, 1 but that was while she eat looking upon him be'iev ' ing that he must die ; she had not once asked herself

if it would be the same in case he should live.

She was as white as the patient on the bed when the surgeon told her that his recovery was now probable.

He saw it, and only thought that he had broken 1 the joyful tidings to her too suddenly.

" You were not prepared for this," he said, kindly. "I should have told you more gently, but I think that by to-morrow we may look for a decided change for the better in our .patient, The abscess will probably discharge all through the night, Bnd the [swelling thus subsiding, the pressure will be re-

moved from his brain, and be will gradually recover consciousness."

After he had gone Arley sat down and tried to think, but she was so excited she could not contem- plate the future with anything like calmness.

When Lady Elaine came, she went down and told

her

" What shall I do ?" she asked, helplessly. " How shall I meet this unexpected turn ef affairs?"

"Question your own heatt, Arley," her sister an- swered gravely, " You were ready to forgive him when you thought him about to die-will he be any less worthy of it if he lives ? You have borne much, I know-you have a great deal toforgive ;

but-"

"Well?" questioned Arley, quickly,

" But if there is no love-no real love in your heart for him, it will be better for you to come away with me at once, before he realizes that you have been

here,"

Arley burst into a torrent of tears at this,

" I do love bim, Blaine ; it has all come back to me while I have been watching and tending him here ; and if-oh, if I only knew that he would prove to be the noble man that we have hoped he waB striving to be of late, I could forget all the dreadful past,"

Lady Blaine kissed her with trembling lipa

" Try bim, dear. He does not know anything about our recent discoveries ; he has not a suspicion that you are a Mordaunt-no one knows it save the few who love you, and will keep the secret as long as you wish. Give Philip a trial. If he is really honest, and is in earnest, if he truly loves you, he will only be too eager to win you back to him as the poor Arley he affected to despise. That will be a test of his sincerity which I think even you cannot

doubt."

" Yes," Arley replied, after a thoughtful silence ; " it would be a test that would satisfy me. He doubt- less believes m a to be entirely without resources, save the income which he has settled upon me, and know- ing that I will not accept that, ha surely cannot have any selfish end in view if he pleads to be restored to my favour. Yes ; I will E«B him the trial."

" Ob, Elaine, my sister !" she cried, tremulously ; " what a sweet spirit you have ! How you lead and counsel every one to do just the right thing! I grow to love you more and more every day, end I feel that yon have been the brightest blessing of my life."

The next day, as Arley was sitting beside Philip^ calm and tranquil, now that she had decided upon the course that she was to pursue, ho moved, and spoke for the fltBt time in ten days.

" Where axa I?"ho Mked,

He had been sleeping for several hours, a natural, healthful sleep, and bia general appearance bad indi- cated a marked improvement,

Arley was alone vith bim, the nuree having gone for a rest, and ber ieart fl<w into her throat as she heard his words, ard knew that he was awake, and in another moment would doubtleea recognize her.

She saw that his eyes were open and wandering with a bewildered look about the room.

Presently they rested upon her ; but the light was dim, and at first he did not seem to know her. Then all at once a look o' wonder shot into his eyes, which finally grew into a frightened stare

His Ups moved forming her name, but no sound came from tbam ; then a violont trembling eiezed bim, and he cried oit :

" Arley ! Heavem ! Where am I ?"

"You are sick, Jhillp, and I am taking care of you," sbe answered, in an even gentle tone, as if it

were a matter of coarse.

The sound of her voice seemed to strike him dumb agsin, and ht lay regarding her with a vacant expression

" You t" at lenith he whispered, and his lips seemed to grow Btif over the word.

Arley reached oui for a bowl which stood near her, and put a spoonful of its contents to his mouth

"You must driEk this," she said, with quiet authority, " and yoa muBt not talk any more now."

He obeyed her, tecsuee he had not strength to do otherwise, but as be hungrily sipped the liquid with which she fed him, his eyes never left her face» and the wondering, eager, questioning look in them she never forgot as long as she lived.

He lay very quiet after he had taken all that ehe thought best to Rive him, and soon the surgeon

came in to see him.

" Aba P he seid, after one comprehensive glance at his patient, and in a tone of intense satisfaction > "I thought so! Well, sir!"-to Philip-"how do yon find yourself to-day ?"

"I am not ture that I have found myself at all," Philip replied, weakly, Jond casting perplexed glances from bim to Arley.

" Well, never mind ; you'll pick yourself up by degrees, I imagine," was the smiling reply. I am satisfied to find you es you are, for you've had quite a serious time of it, my friend,"

" I begin to remember something-I was thrown from my carriage-and Eddie-where ie Eddie?" Philip questioned, consciousness beginning to assert

itself.

The doctor now turned a puzzled look upon Arley, for this was the first he had heard abcut Eddie.

" Eddie ie well ; be escaped unhurt, and has been well cared for ever since the accident."

It Bhould have been mentioned bsfore that Lady Elaine, at Arley's request, had gone to Philip's chambers to make inquiries regarding the lad, and had fonnd him well, but greatly distressed upon his

uncle's account.

.' Oh, I cannot have him die too I" he had cried, when he bad told her all about the unmanageable horse and their great danger, and how people told him tbey feared Mr. Paxton could not live,

" We will pray that he may not," she had answered i soothingly, and then Bhe told him that she was the

sister of the lady whom he had met in the art gallery and wbo had sent her to take him home to stay with her until bia uncle Philip should be better.

She did not tell him anything about Arley's relati- ons to Philip, thinking it best to wait for further developments ; but she took him every day with her when she went to inquire about the sick man, though he satin the carriage while she went into the hospital and tried to be patient and content with the limited intelligence which Bhe brought him. But he was very anxious, and his anxiety wore upon him ssdly.

And thiB was how Arley could speak so confidently of the boy's welfare when Philip aBked for bim.

Then turning to the surgeon she explained :

"Eddie ia a little boy whom Mr. Paxton has befriended, and who was riding with bim at the time of his accident."

The surgeon nodded, and then asked. "Has ha been talking much?"

" No sir ; I thought it best for him not to talk much at present," she returned, a slight flush rising

to her cheeks*

He smiled.

A little moderate conversation will do him no harm he said, " and doubtless there are some things that he would like Borne help about recalling. It will take him some little time to recover his strength, but I think he ÍB going to do very well."

He made some little chango in Philip's medicines, and then weat about other duties, leaving this strangely reunited husband and wife, once more

alone.

CHAPTER XLIV.

A MOBLE MANHOOD BEBTOBED

A long silence ensued in that sick-room after the departure of the surgeon, a silence of painful heart- throbs on Arley's part, of grave wondering on Philip's.

His mind was beginning to recover its wonted bal- ance and activity, and he was striving to recall the post.

He remembered events up to the time of his fall, but since then everything waa of course an utter

blank to him.

" Where am I ? You have not told me yet," he said at length, ina low, constrained tone, and without looking at Arley.

" In St. George's Hospital-you were brought here directly after your accident."

" How long have I been here ?" " Ten days."

I " How long have you been here ?" and now he

turned an anxious look of inquiry upon her.

" I came the next morning after you were injured." " Why did you come, Arley ?"

She flushed ; it was a hard question to answer.

" Because-the paper stated that your injuries were probably fatal, and

" And F" he repeated in a breathless whisper,

" And I could not bear that you Bhould die nnd I not see you once more," she returned, with drooping eyes, in which there were tears:

" Have you been here ever since ?"

"Yes,"

There WAS an oppressive silence for o few

moments, then :

" Arley, I have not deserved this from you," Philip said in a tremulous tone, " it would have been but ju«t if you had left me to die without r. thought."

" No, I could not do that," she replied, in an earnest tone, and bending a little nearer to him ««I thought that-if youwiusi go into eternity! and and it were possible-I wanted to be nt peaCB with

you."

« Yon wanted,to be at peace with me ?" he repeated, with an astonished look. "Ido not see how that could be possible, after-"

« Never mind how," she said, gently, " the fact remains the same-I did wish it."

"But-I am going to get well now," Philip said after another short silence, and lifting a sorrowful yet half-appealing look to her.

H Yen."

il Would you have come to me all the same, if you

had known it?"

« I-I prayed that you might be allowed to live,, she murmured. She could not tell him that she would hava come, for she did not know her own heart well enough to tell whether eh» would or not.

A rlueh mounted to bis brow, and his eye kindled for a moment ; then he continued in a hopeless tone with a weary sigh .

"Yes, I might have known you would never wish ill to any one-you were always very kind and noble, Arley, but no one could have blamed you If you had been relieved at the prospect of being perrninently released from all ties that bound you to me, who has treated you BB I have done,"

Arley flushed now. His words jarred upon her. It was very evident that 'he did not expect that her desire to be at peace with him would continue to be extended to him now that he had a new lease of

life.

"]t was very good of you," he went on in the same tone,, after a moment of evidently painful thought, " to remain here and care for me, May be you felt it a sort of duty, since you bear my name« but no matter what the motive was, it was very kind, and I shall always remember it with gratitude ; it will be very pleasant to think of in the future, that you were by my side to do for me even though I was unconscious of the fact, and could not appreciate it I suppose I shall not need so much attention now that I am getting better, and a nurse can relieve you from this confinement; but while we are talking of this, I do want to tell you, face to face, that I can never forgive myself for the wrong that I have done you, and it will never cease to haunt me while I live. But nothing that I can say of myself-nothing that anyone could say of me would be too severe, I feel that no sentence, however austere, would be unjust, and I would most gladly perform theharshestpenance if I could but wipe out the remembrance of the past two years from your heart and my own, If I could put you back Arley, where you were when I first met you at Hazelmere, I would gladly forfeit every future earthly prospect, were it required of me to do so. Words are weak to make you understand what I feel but if you could look into .my heart you would see that I am sincere. I cannot ask you to forgive me, for I know that I do not deserv» it ; but-I cniA you would allow me to work for you, Arley-pray do not refuse me this boon, and you shall henceforth know no earthly care; I will devote all my energies to making your path through life as smooth GB it may be after the ruin which I have wrought ; and if I am spared, all my future shall prove how I repent of the unhappinees which I have caused you."

He glanced up at her with an appealing look, but she sat like a statue, only her cheeks were a burning crimson, and her eyes were caat down BO that he could not see their expression,

" Why," he asked hesitatingly, " would you not use the income which I authorised Mr, Holley to pay you ?"

" Did y DU expect that I would nee it ?" Arley asked a touch of her old spirit in her tone.

" I hoped that you would, for of course I knew your circumstances, and how hard it would be for you to take care of yourself i still I knew, too, that you were very proud, and I had a fear that you might re- ject it-but it would have comforted me greatly to teel that I could do ever so little toward atonement for the paBt."

" I could not understand how you were ablo to settle such n sum apon me," Arley replied, lifting her I eyes and looking at bim searchingly.

"Ah!" be cried, in a startled tone, and instantly comprehending her thought, " did you think that I had come by it dishonestly ? that I had gambled for it ? I see," he continued with a sigh, " you have no reason to think anything good of me, and if you thought that, it is no wonder that you would not use the money ; but such an idea never occurred to me before, and I tell you the truth. Arley, all the gam i bung I ever did in my life w«s done in Madrid, and

I look back upon the frenzy of that time with deepest

' shame."

" But you could never have earned twenty thous- and pounds since your return," Arley returned, won > dering more and more where the money bad come

i from.

i' No," he said, flushing violently, " I have made a great¡mi8take-I shonld have explainedjto you how I came by it-though after your refusal to appropiate . it, I should hesitate to do BO, except to clear myself : from your suspicion that I had gambled for it. It was

a legacy, Arley, left me recently by an aunt-"

" And you settled it all upon me," she cried, BBton i ¡shed at this evidence of the radical change in him,

Only two years previous he had forfeited his honor 1 and truth, and had sacrificed her upon the altar of his < ambition for the sake of winning her twenty thous-

and pounds ; money had been his whole aim and ob , ject, Bnd now he had deprived himself of a recent i legacy, to place her in a position of independence

and comfort ; besides this, he bud burdened himeelf with the cere land support of Bddie|Wintbrope, the maimed and friendless orphan,.

A feeling of respect, almoBt of reverence, was be 1 ginning to take possession of her heart, for these were

surely noble deeds and evidence of a goodness which she had believed was wholly foreign to him,

Tears sprancr into her eyes, and a song of thanks- giving arose within her for a noble manhood restored,

" I was very glad to settle It upou you," he ans- wered, evasively ; he wondered what she would say if she knew that it was but a very small portion of his legacy. " But," he continued humbly, " now that you know I came by it honestly, if you would accept it, it wouid take such a load from my mind-it has driven me nearly mad, since I esme to my senses, to think of you, who, until that fatal day two years ago never knew a care, toiling for your own linng. i know I have no right to sue to you for favours, but there are two that I bag you in mercy to grant me, if I muet indeed take up the burden of life again ; one is to keep this money-let me have the comfort of knowing that I have thrown that much of care and protection about dhu ; the other-oh ! Arley be pitiful-enough of forgiveness to cause you to regard me with something of compassion instead of hatred."

His voice broke in the appeal. It was like the cry of a drowning man-agonizing, beseeching, yet almost hopeless.

Ariel's heart melted within her. She could never doubt his sincerity after that.

Sbo got up from her chair, and going to the door, locked {it. She wished no intruders to encroach upon the interview. Then she went back Bnd sat down beside him again.

.' Philip," she began, in a trembling voice, as she bent toward bim-and, with a great heart-throb, he saw that the tears were rolling swiftly over her cheeks-" when I read in the paper that you were injured and would probable die, the fountains of my heart seemed to|be instantly unsealed, and my first act was to cry to Heaven to save you and-J would forgive all, Philip, I-I have forgiven"

" Don't do that, please, she continued, as a great sob burst from him at those blessed words. " I can- not bear to see you weep ; and I must tell you that I returned to England with very hard and bitter feelings against you. I said that I would never for (¡ive you-that I would never even look upon your face if I could help it. But, at the very first, your letter staggered me- I felt, even though I did not like to acknowledge it, that the ring of true repen- tance was in it, even though it revealed depths of evil and wrong of which I had never dreamed. Then I was even more amazed at receiving the quarterly allowance from Mr. Holley, and to leam that you had settled a fortuna upon me. But this hardened me somewhat again, for I believed, as you surmise, that you had not come by it honestly. I felt sure that you could not have earneä it, with business ever BO flourishing, and I reasoned that only a suc cessful.handling of cards or dice could have put you in possession of it, and a freak of some kind had prompted you to settle it upon me. But, one day, I met Bddie Winthrope in the art gallery. He was looking at my pictures."

Philip uttered a low exclamation of surprize at

thu.

" Where you that lady ? He came home full of enthusiasm over a lady whom he had met-an artiste he said she was-and who h«d told him so much about painting, and was very kind to bim "

.. Yes, it was I," Arley returned ; " and from him I learned of all that you had done and were still doing for him, how sad you were, how hard you were working, aDd how ill you seemed to be. From that hour my feelings towards you begin to change, though I fought against it I bad been unhappy enough before-I was doubly wretched then , for I knew that if you were aiming at a better life-if you were truly repentant and striving to become again the noble man I once believed you to be, I was wrong to cherish such a bitter and unforgiving spirit towards you. I imagined that all love was long since dead I tried, at all events, to think so, for, ia my pride and anger, I said no woman could love a man who had used ber so-no one could overlook and forgive what I had suffered. But when I read that item in the paper, there came a sudden revulsion-hush I you muet not do so," ehe inter- posed, for the strong man bad broken down utterly, and was Bobbing like a child, while the tears rained over his cheeks.

It was no shame for him to weep thus-it waa an honor, rather to his manhood, and very tenderly Arley wiped those tears away, leeling that every one waa a precious pledge of future happinees, and of the love, and care, and tendernesa of with which he would surround her henceforth,

" Oh, say it again-that you have forgivsnl" he pleaded, when he could command himself sufficiently to speak.

"Yes, all-everything, and"-she bent closer over him, her cheeks a rich crimson, n look in her beautiful dark eyes which set all hie pulses bound* ing and his heart throbbing with a wild, sweet hope -" and it is not merely from a tense of duty either, Phil p, it is because I-still love you as ia those first beautiful days at Hazelmere."

" Oh, my darling !"

It waa a cry of wonder, almost of awe, at this evi- dence of a full, free and aosolute pardon.

His voice was weak and thick, he trembled with excitement, and he reached forth, graopicg her hands in a clasp that was almost painful.

She smiled as Bhe tried to soothe him.

" I shall have to stop if you excite yourself thus," she said. " but I find that my Leart has been a traitor all along, my love bas never died, it has only been benumbed, and the change in you bas aroused it to new life, in spite of every effort to the contrary/"

" I do not see bow there can be an atom ot love in it for me, Arley," Philip said, in a wondering tone.

" Had I been a maiden, I never could have con- fessed this to you, Philip, but being your wife. £ suppose I have a right to do BO " Arley said, softly ;

but her face was averted and covered with blushes ae she spoke

" Ii IS the most blessed confession ever granted to an erring m m 1 bay it again, Arley," he pleaded, as it even now he doubted the evidence ot his own,

senses.

Lowe? and lower bent the beautiful flushed face until her lips almost touched his ear.

" I love you, Philip," she whispered.

There was a moment of utter silence, then he broke It.

" Oh, my wife ' I never, nover dared to hope for this, I never dared to believe that you could do more than say, *I forgive, go and sin no more,' and I should have tried to live out my lite apart from you, content even te have gained BO much '

He wound Ins arms about her and held hor in his trembling clasp

"My darling," he went on,"can it be true? Is it possible that at ter all m j vilenies und cruelty I em to be so blessed as this ? How I have tteated you ! and yet I have always loved you, Arley, strange as it may seem It waa a selfish love at first, I own, but genuine, as taras I was able to love any one besides myself and my ambition Do you remember that evening at Haze'mere wben you fastened that flower upon my coat, and I called you the Wentworth Rose? No one had ever quickened my pulse as you did then, with your pretty, piquant woys, and even after« ward, when I had won JOL-chiefly foi your money -I own it witb «hame, dear-there was a feeling of tenderness tor you which I hud never experienced for anj other during all my life But I bsgan to awake to a deeper, nobler love that day in the court- room at Madrid My whole soul was thrilled as Í looked into your pure face, and listened to your noble, appealing words. But the demons of avarice and eell-wiU were in full possession of me then, and I seemed to have no power to tear myself from their influence, thouph for a moment I waa almost upon the point of yielding to you, It was only wben I had brought my evil game to an abrupt end, bj making audacious proposals to Lady Elaine, and she had hurled her scorn and contempt with crushing force at me, and then, pitying the weak dolt who had been BO imbecile, had appealed to me, something as you had done, to turn my course and become a man, that I came to my senses and realized the depth to which I had sunk. Then I realized all I had lost, looking back over the past, and romombering j our patience, your forbearance, your unvarying kindness, a wild and hopeless love took possession of me, and I vowed that I would make myself tbe man you believed me to be wben you met ma at Hazelmere It was the only hope of comfort I had for the future, that I might eventually come up to your ideal of a noble man At times I have newly gone m id with think- ing what happiness might haVe been mine but for my own folly, and when I learned of your return I prayed that I might die, for I felt that it would be continual torture to live here in London with you, and never be permitted to see you When you sent back that money to me, it was like a dagger plunged into my heart, for it told me that even the comfort of providing for your needs «as »o be denied me. But, oh ! you have told ma that you love me still 1 you have acknowledged yourself as my wife ! my cup of happiness is almost too full,"

Arley thought that it w\s time for the exciting

talk to end

It was very sweet to be thus infolded in his arms and to feel at last her burdens were all removed, and she could henceforth trust in his love and feel it to be the most precious thing in life

But he wes Bpent with tbe excitement of the past half hour and needed rest.

Gently releasing herself from his clinging arm?,

she said :

" You must be quiet for awile now, it will not do for you to talk any m^re at present- I fear you are too weary already. Will you try to sleep ? '

" Yes, ray darling, if you will premise not to leave me, for if I wake and find you gone I shall fear that all this blessedness has been but a dream "

" I will not leave you," Arley Baid, " drink this and then I will sit by you until you wake "

bhe held a nourishing drink to his lip;, and he took it with relish.

"Now sleep, dear," she said, and bending, with a shy smile on her lips, she touched them to ins with

the first, the only kiss she bad ever given bim since their marriage morn,

(Tobo continued)