|Chapter Number||1. IX|
|Chapter Title||T? BLOW IS STRUCK.|
|Newspaper Title||Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)|
|Trove Title||Whatsoever a Man Soweth|
WHATSOEVER A SGWETH. MAN
BOOK I.—WHEAT AND TARES. C H A P T E R IS. TES BLOW IS STRUCK.
On the day following Reece Meadowsere's departure Miss ftemersque rose late, and in exoeading ill-humour. Mrs. Remercque also was far from being in a happy frame ot mind, and conversation at the breakfast - table became forced and uninteresting. Mrs. Remersque, although submitting to her daughter's engagement, had not yet recovered from ehe disappointment which the discovery had first occasioned within her maternal bosom. She considered that Hilda had proved uudutifal, and had " thrown" herself away. Onoe she feinted this to Reeoe, but either he was very dense or else indifferent to her opinion, for, so for as ehe could see, her remarks made no impression upon him whatever. But then lleeca was not a man to be easily read bv a woman of eush ordinary intelligence as Mrs. Remersque, aud perhaps her words were deeper than «he imagined. As breakfast was concluded the olock on the mantelpiece struck eleven. "So late?" exclaimed Hilda. " Why, what on earth have we been doing?" "Nothing; it's fashionable," replied her mother with a yawn. " We can't go on doing nothing all day, though," said! Hilda decisively. " For my part I feel inclined to return to bed. Late hours don't altogether agree with me now. I must be growing old, my dear." " What do you mean by late hours, mamma —late to bed or late to breakfast?" " Both, as you will learn later on in life, Hilda, unless you beoome more regular in your habits." "I go to bed in the early hours of the morning, with the regularity of clockwork; and om as regular in my rising, being always up before lunoheon. What more oan you wish ? "You are developing a tendenoy towards flippancy, Hilda." said Hre. Remersque in a tone of reproof, the effect of whioh was, bowever, somewhat marred by a stilled yawn. " I trust that your husband wiil do his duty and correct this tendenoy. I think he will, too 1" "Why ?" asked fiilda, with a smile. "Beoause ha has a face like a Methodist preacher, which shows that he will not permit frivolous conversation of any kind whatever.
And moreover, a life of poverty does not conduce to light'neBS of heart." Hilda grew indignant. " It is ridioulous to Bpeak in that manner, mamma ? You know that for good looks Reece has not his equal anywhere ; and as for being poor, I shall at least be better off than I am at present." "That is saying a great deal,"remarked Mrs. Remersque sarcastically, " but it doesn't alter the fact that you might have been engaged to a man who would have made you" "Yes! yes! I have beard all that before!' exolaimed Hilda impatiently. "And will hear it again, my dear," said her mother, rising from the table with unruffled demeanour. "However, let us drop the subject for the time being. We all have something to be thankful for, and it is a relief to know that Mr. Meadowsere has left town, even if oaly £«r a few days. He visits us so often that I have sometimes felt inclined to ask him to bring his mother, from whom he, of course, could not be separated, and make this house his home. What do you think, Hilda ? Wouldn't it be an excellent plan But Hilda had vanished; and Mrs. Rs mereque, gathering her ample skirts in her band, sailed majestically away with the intention of resting until the heat of the day waB over. Meanwhile Hilda had made her way to the small room in which Meadowsere had first declared his love, and whioh she was pleased to term her "retreat." Here she seated herself at the piano, but had no sooner begun to play than a loud peal Bounded from the hall bell. "Who can that be at this unearthly hour of the day?" ehe said, striking tiie Keys irritably. " A lady desires to see you privately, Miss," said Marie, entering the room. " A lady ! before luncheon ! Who is she, Marie?" and Miss Remersque swung round on the music-stool in a manner that augured ill for her reception of the visitor. . " She refuses to give her name, Misa, except.ng to you yourself." "Well, what its she like, then? old or young ?" Ivla?ie shrugged her shoulders, a liberty which Mrs. Remersque wouid not have telerated, but whioh her mere easy-going daughter appeared to view with indifference. "I should eay that she was youag, Mist, but her faoe is hidden by a heavy veil, so that I ean't say for certain." "'Does she look like a woman who wished to beg? and had two starving children at home, and a drunken husband, and all that sort of thing ?" "Oh! no, Miss! She is dressed very plainly, but looks like a lady, or £ shouldn't have iet her in." _ Miss Remersque's face expressed both ouriosity and annoyance, but naturally her curiosity gained the victory. "Show the person in here, Marie, and be careful not to speak of this to any one." "Yes, Miss !" and Marie withdrew. As Kate, for Kate it proved to be, was ushered into the presence of Miss Remersque, a iow exclamation of astonishment escaped her. She had pictured to herself an elderly, unattractive woman, whose riches alone made her seem desirable as a wife in the eyes of men, whom it was impassible to love, or even care for, save as a ladder by whioh to eaaipa from a life of comparative poverty to a position of power and affluence. Stornhill had not given her any grounds for this supposition. Indeed, it> had never occurred to him at all that Miss Remersque's personal appearance was a matter with which Kate would be likely to concern herself. And yet this is what ehe had done; aud had Ssornhill not been so engrossed in surmising as to the probable results followmg upou the exeoution of wbat he considered the most important points of his scheme, he could hardly have failed to realize how opposed to his ohanoes of success was this self-same beauty. Had Kate but bean aware of it, it is more than probable that Stornhill would have encountered serious difficulty lu bending her to his wili; for jealousy, ence thoroughly aroused within the female heart, is a passion not easily soothed or dealt with. But Kate, with all a woman's impetuosity at jumping to conclusions, had oonceived certain ideas as to the appearance and attainments of the lady she wa3 about to meet; opinions, however, which she now found had been altogether wrong. In plaoe of the elderly, plain-faced spinster of her imagination, she saw a woman, younger than herself, perfeotin form and figure, dressed in the most exquisite taste, and passeseed of features of surpassing loveliness. As she sat, lightly poised on the edge of the music stool, her body reclining with easy grace against the piano, her magnificent figure was displayed to the utmost advantage, and she looked a fitting subject for a sculptor's model. Was it any wonder that a pang of jealousy sharp and fierce shot through poor Kate's heart? How oould Stornhill help loving suoh a woman ? How oould any man fail to bow dowu before a creature so beautiful? For a moment she felt stunned. ThiB dazzling image of youth and beauty angered and yet humbled her. She felt that she had been deoeived, that Stornhill bad lied to her, and played upon her affections. What was she to do? Could she oarry out her promise? Her brain was ia a whirl. She stood helpless and speechless. " Won't you take a seat?" These woras, spoken in a patronising tone, somewhat restored Kate's self-possession. "Thank you," she stammered ; "I think I— I would prefer to stand." "Oh. very well," answered Miss Remersque indifferently. "Please yourself, of course; it makes no earthly difference to me." A struggle was taking place in Kate's mind, but one thought was uppermost. Having gone so far it was impossible to retrace her footsteps. She had promised to carry out Stornhill's wishes, and at any cost this must be done; and besides, what reason had she for desiring to break her promise? A fearful doubt as to the truth of Stornhill's story had suddenly arisen within her, but how was it that no such thought had previously suggested itself ? Might not this doubt be merely the outcome of her own jealousy? It looked strangely like it, as Kate unwillingly acknowledged. " You are doubtless surprised at receiving a visit from a perfeoi Btranger?" she began nervously. "Perhaps, when I have learned to what happy circumstances I am indebted for the visit, I may be in a better position to reply to your question," said Miss Remersque ooolly. The calm, supercilious tone adopted roused KaSe effectually, and all her nervousness vanished. " I believe I am addressing Miss Remersque ?" she said in a low bub firm voice. Miss Remersque bowed assent haughtily, but did not deign to reply otherwise, and Kate continued " Is it true that you are engaged to a man named Reeoe Meadowsere?" Miss Remersque first stared in astonishment ; then asked in a sweet insinuating manner—"Is there anythiug else you would like to know ?" "Nothing 1" replied Kate calmly. " Then we may consider this interview closed. Can you find your way out alone, or shall I ring for the servant?" " Thank you ! there is time enough for that. I am afraid that you are not altogether pleased at this visit." Miss Remersque started to her feet. "Pleased !" she exclaimed passionately. "It is an insult. Who or what are you that you should dare speak to me in this manner? There is the doar ! Go 1" Her eyes fairly blazed, and her heart heaved tumultously. Khte was at oftce subdued, and feared that she had ruined everything by allowing her resentment to b6tr&y it-self. She had came to the hous e with a oartain fixed idea in her mind as to the course she should pursue; but the sudden shock she had experienced on beholding Miss Remnrsque, together with the cool manner in which that lady had received her, had given rise to a spirit of opposition, which she now saw it wouid have bsen wiser had she kept in ehsck. " I am very sorry to have o&ocded you," she said humbly. " I had no intention of doing so, and did you but realise the paiufulness of my position you would, I know, pardon my seeming rudeness. It was purely by accident that I heard of your engagement to Mr. Meadowsere, and it is to discover what truth there i* in the rumour that I am here no w." " May I ask what business it is of yours?" " Your question is but natural. I can only reply that, if the statement of your engagement to this man be false, I have needlessly undertaken a journey ot great leng-th. If, on the other hand, there is some measure of truth in it, I have a duty to perform, unpleasant, I acknowledge, but one that must be accomplished." Hilda was not by any means devoid of curiosity, and ehe experienced a strong desire to hear what she felt would merely prove to be a revelation of some piece of harmless folly connected with Reece's earlier days. It might be useful to her, she thought, to knot? something of her lover's past; for " knowledge is power." "If it will be auv satisfaction to yon," she said with indifference, "I am engaged to Mr. Meadowsere. Now, kindly stats your business as briefly as possible." "I if ill," answered Kate firmly, "but first let me say that I would willingly forfeit ten years of my life if that cauld but spare the pain my disclosure will occasion you." Hilda raised her eyebrows involuntarily. "All thie is very amusing, no doubt; but would it be too great a liberty on my part to ask you your name?" '' My name is Kate Meadowsere !'* " Indeed! a distant connection of Mr. Meadowsere's?" "Connected with him ! Yes'.but not distantly, save perhaps in one sense." " I am surprised to hear it, I was not aware that Reece had any relatives in the colony." "Nor has he. I am his wife!" The silence which followed this sudden announcement was startling ia its intensity. Hilda had turned pale as death. One hand grasped the pit.no, whilst the other was
pressed tightly to her head; her mouth was firmly closed, and she breathed slowly and deeply through her nostrils. Hor eyes, fixed and staring, seemed to pierce to Kate's very soul, and she Btood rigid as a statue. Kate shrank back towards the door, surprised and alarmed. She had expeoted her disclosure to be received in a very different spirit—with incredulity, perhaps, but alBO with a certain amount of relief ; for had not Stornhill told her that Miss Remersque disliked the man to whom ehe was engaged ? How was it, then, that the avowal of his supposed villany caused her such agony? Kate became oonfused and uneasy. Her fear of treachery on Stornhill's part grew stronger, and ehe began to hate the part she was acting, and longed to escape from the house. But there was bo escape, save by acknowledging that she bad lied; or else carrying cut the scheme to the bitter end. What should she do ? Her mind was undecided—she wavered this way and that; twioe she essayed to speak, but cculd not. Her lips were dry and hard; her throat felt parohed, end her knees trembled beneath her. Her action, stripped of its air of rom&noe and selfsacrifice, was now hateful to her. She realized the suffering her words had occasioned; she could not do otherwise; the woman who stood there so motionless was struck to the heart. " Throw back your veil!" The words were spoken in a low voice, full of concentrated pun and passion. Kate started, and ciutohed her veil tightly in her hand. " Throw baok your veil! and show me your face, you liar !" With a switfc, noiseless glide Miss Remersque crossed the room, and dragging the veil from Kate's almost nervelesB fingers, threw it far back over the wretched woman's head. Kate recoiled in sudden fear, and Miss Remersque laughed mockingly, though her eyes were dark with hate and jealousy. "Why did you say you were his wite?" she demanded with a eavageneBs which oaused Kate's flesh to creep. " Answer me !" But Kate only shuddered, and could not answer. Her courage had ebbed away ; but yet she could iiot take her eyes from off the face that was held so menacingly near her oiro; A sort of fascination seemed to hold her spellbound, and the two women glared at each other—the one like a wild animal about to spring upon its prey, the other ia a stupid, dazed kind of fashion as if struck by some sudden fear. Aud strange to say it was Kate upon whom the blow seemed to have fallen. " Why don't you speak exclaimed Hilda, hoarsely. "Must I shr.ko the words from you? Tell me, what made you utter such a foul lie ?" "It iB no lie," stammered Kate." " Woman, I could kill you as you stand ! Reece belongs to mc—to me ! do you bear? He was never yours and never will be. You cannot take bim from me I have his lo7e; and you are.nothing to him.' 1 "I say £ am his wife," muttered Kate, feebly. "And I say it is false. Wife? Ha, ha! You might have been his mistress once. I don't care if you were; it is nothing to me now that he thinks of you no longer—if, indeed, he ever thought of you at all. Why did you come to me? Did you hope to get money out of me? If eo, your errand has been in vain; and you may go 1 yes, go 1 before it is too late." Hilda turned away, with a gesture of angry oontempt, and Kate, stung to the quick by her taunting words, plucked up enough spirit to renew the attack in earnest. "Do you imagine," she said quietly, "that I would make such a statement if I were not wall able to prove what I euy ?" "Then prove it'." oried Hilda, turning upon her fiercely. Kate drew from her pocket a puree, from which ehe took the certificate with which Stornhill had provided her. " Here is the oertificate of my marriage with Mr. Meadowsere," she said, nervously. " Examine it, and see whether I have Bpoken falsely or cot." Miss Remersque Bnatched the ccrtifioate from Kate's outstretched hand, and rapidly looked over it. But a sort of mist seemed to obscure her sight, and the words begun to assume fantastic shapes before her eyes. She oould see nothing clearly save the names "Reeoe Meadowsere, bachelor," and "Kate Morsley, spinster." All else appeared to her distorted vision blurred and indistinct. She dropped the paper to the Uoor, and pressed her hands to her head, while her breath came in short, sudden gasps. "How long—ago— was—this ?" ehe asked, in a foreed unnatural voice. " Three years ago," answered Kate. " And—and—he left you ?" "We separated by mutual consent, being unable to agree. He allows me a small income, I wiil say that for him." " Where were you married?" "Surely you noticed the name of the township on the certificate," said Kate, ineinuatinglv, for she was now determined to play out her part to the bitter end. "I — I notioed nothing. Give me the paper!" Kate picked it up, and handed it to her without further remark. Again Hilda scanned the contents, and this time with the utmost care. All appeared regular and in proper form. " Sardown ! Where is that ?"she muttered; " I never heard of snob a place." " It is in the far north of South Australia," answered Kate, who had been well prompted by Stornhill. "Mr. Meadowsere was there on a station for a little time." " And your name was Kate—Kate." "Hird," answered Kate, for a moment off her guard. "At least it was Kate Hird Morsley, but I was generally called Kbte Hird, for short." " I eee," said Hilda wearily. "Yes; and Reece and I have one child," oontinued Kate, blindly, becoming slightly confused at having almost betrayed herself. " We think ' The remark was an unfortunate one, for Hilda, at the mention of a child, had raised her head like a serpen t about to make a spring. Her lovely faoe was convulsed by passion, and her eyes were filled with a look of ungovernable rage. "Get out of my sight!" she hissed between her teeth. "Go! I hate you, and could tear yon t-o pieces. Leave me! and a ruined woman'seurse go with you." Kate fled from the room and the house, as though the curse had already begun to take effect upon her. Hilda, left to herself, began to pace mechanically to and fro; her eyes— filled with a terrible anguish—bent upon the carpet; her arms banging loosely by her sides. At times she moaned pitecusly, aB if in pain ; a few frenzied words would esoape her ; ehe would laugh in a strange wild manner; then the laugh would change into a half-sob. or die away in a low groan. Onoe her foot touched the certificate which had fallen to the floor, and she stopped as if the mere contact with the instrument of her undoing paralysed her. She stared at it a moment in bewilderment; then kicked it lightly aside, and resumed her weary tread. There was no sign of the fierce anger which Stornhill had relied upon to follow the disclosure of Meadowsere's supposed marriage. Instead, Hilda appeared utterly crushed and broken. She could not exhibit an anger whioh was not felt. The wrong which Reese had done her she did not think of at all. She realized only one fact; the man she hud looked upon as belonging to her alone was the husband of another ; she could never be his wife so long as the other woman stood between them. Even the love which he had professed to feel for her WAB a guilty love; and that he did love her Hilda never for a moment doubted. Yet he had loved his wife first; he must have done, or how was it that he oame to marry her? The truth lay bare before her, stern, inexorable, unalterable; her love had been in vain, it but lived to mock her misery. She must stifle it, trample it under foot, and forget the past, for Reece Meadowsere was lost to her, perhaps for ever. As this thought impressed itself upon Hilda's mind her steps began to quicken; she grew feverish and exoited. A savage jealousy surged into her heart, she clenched her hands so tightly that the fibg6r nails pierced trie tender skin until the blood came; and in her eyes there - learned the fierce fire of undying hatred. But it was not for Reece; the hatred she felt was for the woman who oalled herself hiB wife; and well it was for Kate that she was now on her homeward way. To and fro, in that narrow room Miss Remersque paoed unceasingly, until at length anger and jealousy gave way to despair. She threw herself upon a couch, and with her face almost smothered in the cushions wrestled with the grief whieh threatened to overwhelm her. Sobs, heartrending and convulsed, broke the stillness, and she tried to stifle them by pressing her face yet deeper amongst the cushions, already soaked with bitter tears. Minute after minute passed, yet still she lay sobbing and trembling in apony; and there her mother found her when later on she entered the room in search of some light literature with which to while away the hours. Mrs. • Remersquo was not an emotional woman. Any violent exhibition of grief she looked upen as vulgar, and as a proof of weakness of will and intellect. It was therefore with more surprise than tenderness that she looked down upon her daughters quivering form. She was seriously displeased at this new phase in Hilda's character, and hor displeasure was plainly manifested in the cold, sharp " Hilda !" which fell from her lips. Bus beynnd a low moan there was no response to her exclamation. "Hilda'"she said again. "What is the meaning of this?" Still no sign from the prostrate girl, and Mrs. Remersque, who could shake off her languor and be determined when occasion deinauded, quietly took Hilda by the shoulders with the intention of lifting her from the couch. But Hilda rose quickly and, dashing away her tears, turned to leave the room. Hor mother, however, had no intention of allowing her to esoape so easily, and closing the door, she said ooldly, "You are not a child now, Hilda, and the position in whioh I just discovered you requires some explanation.
" Mother ! mother ! Let me go. Do not question me yet. Wait a little while. Have pity upou me 1" and Hilda turned towards her mother a face BO pitiable that, eelfish, unfeeling woman though she was, Mrs. Kemorsque for a moment melted, and. taking Hilda ia her arms, allowed the heartbroken girl to weep unchecked. But soon her quiok eyes fell upon the certificate, which lay almost at her feet, and stooping down she picked it up, and was quiokly acquainted with tiie contents. , . '•Where did this come from? she askfca IB an excited tone. "She—she brought it,"answered Hilda. "She ! Who is she?—not his wife?" Hilda codded, but could not trust herself to speak. Being a, worldly woman, and dbjfeeSinff strongly to her daughter's engagement, it would perhaps havo been natural bad Mrt. Remersque s first feeling been one of relief at huding that Re«ce Meadowsere could not beoome Hilda s husband. To her credit, however, it must be said that this view of the case was as nothing compared to the dishonour which she at once recognised Meadowsere had attempted to bring upon h er child. Neither did she overlook the faot that Hilda, loving Reece as she did, would suffer intensely now 1 that ehe was aware of his treaohery, and his inability to make her his wife. She pressed for particulars, and Hilda, in a trembling voioe, told what she knew. When at length the tale was concluded, Mrs. Remersque struck the table fiercely, and forgetting that she was a lady who remained calm under all circumstances, exclaimed, " The villain 1 He shall suffer for this." "No! No!" cried Hilda, in distress. "It was his love for mo that blinded him, mother." "Love!" eaid her mother in » tone of withering contempt. "Can a man love a woman whom he seeks to dishonour?" " He did not think, mother. Ho meant no harm." "Did not think! Great heavens, ohildl Are you going mad ?" "I wish to God I could!" exolaimed Hilda, fervently. Mrs. Remersque saw that only extreme measures could be relied upon to rouse Hilda from the stupor of grief into which this sudden blow had plunged her, and she at once collected all her powers of persuasion and reasoning to effeot this purpose. She pointed out that Meadowsere must necessarily have been actuated by raotiveB most vile and dishonourable. He had sought to ruin a pure and noble girl, Well fitted by her great beauty and accomplishments to be the wife of the highest in the land. No wordB could be strong enough to express the infamy of hia base designs ; no punishment oould be too great for suoh a monster. There was no excuse for his oondnct, not even the shatlbw of an excuse; his intentions > were only too palpable. ' - At first Hilda defended Reece with warmth and fervour, but wes altogether outmatched in argument by her mother, and her defence grefr momentarily weaker. She was naturally a creature of variable moods, alternating between storm and balm. Sometimes, worn out by the intensity of her feelings, there would be $ lull, an ominous calm, but never of long duration. In all that she did she was an extremist; swayed by varying emotions, she iiot unfrequently rushed from one extreme to anothor. And so, influenced by her mother's plain, straightforward speaking asd unanswerable arguments, she began to look with different eyes upon the aotions of the man who had brought this terrible suffering uoon her. She could not destroy her love for Meadowsere, it was too deeply rooted—too muoh a part of her veryself; but she could, and did, despise herselt for having laid her heart bare before this man, who, perhaps, regarded her as a poor, weak fool, unable to resist his superior attraotions. She no longer thought that Reeoe had been actuated by love for her; he had deliberately attempted to accomplish her downfall, proud, sensitive woman that she was. Hilda began to loathe herself for the weakness she had displayed. If only she had taken her mother's advioe all would have been well. She oould not feel contempt for Meadowsere, only for herself; but there arose in her heart a desire for revenge upon him who had won her heart, aud yet valued it eo lightly. She would never allow him to gueeB bow completely she had been willing to resign herself to him. Now that her belief in him waa shaken by heir mother's plain reasoning she oared little what beoame of her, eo long as she could hide from him and the world the effeot of the blow whioh had been dealt her, and in sdme measure retaliate upon the man who had deoeived her so basely. The tears were wiped away; ehe grew calm and collected, and plaoed herself almost entirely in her mother's hands. Mrs. Remersque felt satisfied. She had done her duty and reaped the reward; the trusted that there would be no further difficulty, and was devoutly thankful that things were no worse, and hoped chat scandal might be avoided. Now she became aware that she still held the oertificate of Meadowsere's marriage, and a grim emile stole aoross net face. "How oame this to be left behind?" she asked. "The woman must have forgotten it. I think I soared her away, and in her fear and * hurry she never thought of it." '' Perhaps it's juEt as well. Where doeB the live?" " I never asked. But stay! she lives in th«' town where ehe was married—hundreds of miles from here—in the far north of Seuth Australia." "It is strange that she heard of yon* engagement." " YBB ; but news travels fast." " It was good of her to come so far. Why didn't she write?" "Thought I wouldn't believe ber, I suppose," said Hilda sharply. "But she oame— that is enough, and I wish to hear no more about her." " We had better return the oertificate." ".No; I shall keep it until she oomeS for it," and Hilda placed it in her purse for safety. " But, my dear" "I intend to keep it, mother; say no more!" and Mrs. Remersque was silenced, but not for long. "I have an "idea !" she exclaimed eagerly. "Give me the certificate, and I will oall upon Mr. Meadowsere's mother—confront the two together, expose his villainy, and then tell him what I think cf his oonduot. If he has any shame in him I shall make him regret the day he ever saw the light." For a moment Hilda wavered; then she answered abruptly—" No! that would be a sorry victory. I ehall say nothing to him; never let him guess why I have ohanged eo completely." "You will not tell him anything!" exolaimed her mother, astonished. "Nothing. I intend to treat him with contompt. When he calls here he shall be turned away like a dog. From this day I have done with him for ever. He ehall be as the dust beneath my feet. It is the only revenge in my power ; I ehall make the most of it, and he will feel it, for he is proud, even though he be a scoundrel." '* Certainly it would be a very ladylike way of acting," murmured her mother absently. "YeB; I think you are right, dear." But suddenly a new thought struck her, and she said with suppressed axcitement, " There is a way of msking your revenge even more complete. Hilda." "What is that ?" " Marriage, dear—mariage 1 Mr. Stornhill would marry vou to-morrow." " No '. no! I osnnot do that, mother," oried Hilda in distress. " Do not speak of it." " But this is foolish, my child. You oannob remain single all your life because of this affair. Only think what satisfaction it would give Mr. Meadowsere to know that you refused marriage because of love for him." " Hush, mother—hush ! Do not tempt me now. Of course I shall marry some day, but' not yet—not yet," and her sobs began afresh. Why should you wait when you have wealth at your feet? Is it beoause of a sickly sentimentality for a man who can be nothing to you ? A man with a wife and child—a man who has betrayed yon ? For abuse ! Rouse yourself; shake off this weakness, and be dons with girlish dreams for ever. Treat him ai he deserves; humiliate hiin; pay him back soorn for deceit. The triumph is yours if yoa but ohoose to take advautsge of the good fortune offered you." " Leave me, mother," cried Hilda in a low hoarse voice. " Leave me alone 1 I must think—I liquet think ; my brain is in a whirl." " I go, my child ; but remember it ie your mother who offers you this advice. Believe me, I ad vise y<m for your own good." She kissed Hilda on the cheek, a mark of affection rarely exhibited by her, and left the room. With a moan of pain Hilda sank on her knees by the sofa, and remained with ber face hidden for a long time. Her sufferings began afresh ; the memory of what had gone out cf her life returned with renewed force; the future, blank and hopeless, Btretched before her. She had loved—she had lostshe could love no more. What was there left to live for? Silent and motionless ehe knelt. She did <• not pray; she had not done so since she was a child. She only sobbed, and thought of the misery which had come upon her. ^ But time passed on, nnd her grief abated. She rese quietly, took off the ring that Reece had placed upon her finger, end laid it in her purse, together with the certificate. Her faoe was very pale and ohanged ; a strange light was in her eyes, and a look of determination in her face. She closed the piano mechanically, took a book from the table, and left the room, closing the door after her.