Chapter 198464300

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Chapter Number3. X
Chapter TitleDARK HOURS.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198464300
Full Date1895-12-21
Page Number2
Corrections0
Word Count5940
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Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleEvening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)
Trove TitleWhatsoever a Man Soweth
article text

WHATSOEVER-A SOWETH. MAN

BOOK III.—THE REAPING OP THE HARVEST. CHAPTER X. DARK HOCBS.

BY EUGAH.

Grief, ar.ge>, fear, joy, and thevarious other emotions to which we are all more or less subject during life, are betrayed by different persons in different ways. Who is not familiar with the noisy declamation, the violent gestures of a passionate m&n roused to auger'.' He storms, he raves, and vows vengeance upon the one who has excited his wrath. But quickly as the fire of anger has been kindled, as quickly it dies out again, leaving little or no trace behind if of its fierceness. The anger which is controlled, and reveals itself only in the laboured breathing, the sudden hardening of the features, and the' bloodless cheeks, is the one most to be feared. And so with grief. It is not always, nay, it is rarely, the person who makes the greatest show of sorrow, who really feels the most. Genuine heartfelt grief is often silent, and hidden from the sight of the world. The eyes which shed no tears may yet be full of pain ; the lips which smile may be smiling only to hide the .igony that makes them quiver. The calmer the water the deeper the pool is a true saying. When Reece ileadowsere quitted his wife's room he walked firmly and without haste. But the rigidity of the features, the blank expression of the whole face, told of some terrible and sudden mental suffering. Reaphine his study, he closed the door and quietly locked it. Then, throwing himself into a chair, he stared vacantly before him. Swiftly the darkness closed in. There was no fire in tho grate, for the study was seldom used at night, Beece spending the evenings in Grace's sitting-room. On the mantel-piece the old clock ticked monotonously as it had done ever since Reece was a child; and a continuous gnawing sound in one corner of the room told that a mouse was setting out on its nightly pilgrimage. By-and-by a bell rang. A little later there came a knock at the study door, but Meadowsere took no notice. _ The knock was repeated, and a voice from without said, "Dinner has been on the table some time, Sir." . A short pause followed, and again the knock

was repeated. Reece started violently, as though awakened from a heavy sleep, and, turning his face towards the door, listened with wide open and parted lips. "Are you asleep, Sir?" Reece smiled grimly. The question struck him as being ludicrous. " No,' he answered. " What do you want?" "Dinner is waiting, Sir." " Very well." The servant departed, and silence again reigned supreme, save for the ticking of the clock. Evidently the mouse had been frightened away, for the gnawing sound had ceased, and some time elapsed before it recommenced. Meadowsere did not alter his position, but the partial paralysis of brain and muscle which had ensued as the result of his terrible discovery no longer held sway over him. His features relaxed their rigidity, and the halfstupefied expression of his face gave way to one more natural, though not less griefstricken. His intellect recovered its balance, and to keep from the servants all knowledge of his trouble was the thought that occupied his mind. It wauld never do sfor him to remain in the darkness of his study, leaving the dinner to grow cold on the table. He must make an effort, and appear as though nothing had happened. The ordeal of sitting at tho dming-table with his wife would have to be gone through; he must appear natural and do his best to eat the food placed before him. After that ho could be alone; he would have time to think and to realize more fully the terrible nature of tho blow that had fallen upon-him. He rose and unlocked the door. Could he bear up? he wondered. What if the task should prove too much for him? He paused r. little while; then, taking a deep breath, he opened the door and made his way to the diiiing-room. It was empty, save for a servant. "Where is your mistress?" he asked in a calm veicc. " In lier room. Sir." " Shb lenows that dinner is ready?" "Yes, Sir; but she is lying down with a headache, and will not come to table." " The parden party this afternoon has probably fatigued her. You had better wait upon her, and see that she has whatever she requires, Mary." " She has refused to take anvthiag, Sir." "Go and try to persuade her into eating something. I can attend to myself." The servant left the room, and Reece breathed more freely. He sat down to his meal, but tried in vain to eat. The food seemed almost to choke liini, and he turned from it in disgust, w hen Mary again entered the room he said with a miserable attempt at a laugh— " Sly appetite, appears to have deserted me also, Mt.vv. What about Mrs. Meadowsere? Has she taken anythisur?" "I made her a cup of strong tea, Sir, but she will take nothing else." " I must see what I can do. By-the-way, Msry, I shall be usimj the study to-night. It would be as well to light my reading-lamp at once." " Had I better make a fire, too, Sir? The evening is chilly." "No; nevermind that. The lamp will be

sufficient." Left once more alone, Meadowsere rose and went to the window. Drawing aside the curtains, he looked out at the night. The sky was clouded over, and a few drops of rain fell heavily against the window pane. " It was fortunate the weather proved fine tins afternoon," he muttered absently, as he returned to the table. Ho had no intention of visiting his wife's room, in spite of what he had Eaid to Mary. He wished only to be alone; and when the servant came to tell him that she had lighted the lamp in tho study, he thanked her briefly, and walked to the door. Here he paused, as if struck with a sudden thought. " I shall not require you again this evening, Mary. See whether your mistress wants anything before she retires for the night," he said kindly. " After that you are free to do as von choose." " Thank you, Sir! Shall I take your supper to your study?' " I shall not take supper. Good-night, Mary." "Good-night, Sir. - ' " I forgot," he said, returning for a moment, " to enquire after Margaret. Have you seen her lately?" " She is asleep, Sir, and is, I think, much better." I am glad cf that." There was a smile on his face as he made his way Ijack to the study, but there was something unnatural in it. It is hard to think of other people at such a moment," he said to himself. " I would give much never to think of any thing again." Ar.d what of Grace? After ?Jeadowsere vanished from her sight, she remained ss though transfixed, in the place where he had left her. A fall in one brief moment from the position of a happy honoured wife to thai of r„ shame-stricken, despairing woman was her portion. If Reece had only 6truc1: her. she could have borne it better she ihought. But this stony silence brought so eiear!y befoffe her mental vision the greatness OR her S!B, and the misery it had brought upon her husband, uiii'o she could only cry aloud, " If I coijjri but die! if I could but die!"' The angel of death, however, chooses his own tiHie to visit us. We were :ioi consulted about beircr b v ought into the world, nor are we consulted as 3o when wo should like to leave it. Many wish that they had never been born; but hr.ving had life thrust upon them, they are expected to make the most of it, and wait pationtlv till tiie day of tlieir deliverance shall come. Vet, in rcost ear.es, though not in all, oar lives are what we oursalves make them, aud we are to blame when they turn out failures. Grace realized tliis. Though Storohill had deceived and betrayed her, she knew that it was in reality her own weakness and pride wiiicu hau led to her downfall. And for the treachery she had practised towards her hushand, she siw clearly now that she had no excuse. The scales had fallen from lier eyes; she was conscious of the enormity of the wroup,- . she had been guilty o:\ With a cry like tb.it ,:; of wounded animal, she flung herself by the bedside, and abandoned herself to her grief. | " Mamma! nismmaexclaimeu little Telsie, pulHng ot her dress. "Why is : , oo | For answer Grace took the ciiild in her i arms, and presse.! it passionately to her : bvessi'. Wliareier happened, snc still had her 1 child ; evc:i new there was something left to ] liie ; |i /jilt wh&t . v/'ie.'. TeV:e grew up, she sliOi-iii learn of htr sh:ime, anS despise che aiut'ie- who i>o*e lier' The thought was agony, a.nd Gr.vre :eU ihe necessity of some I •muriate «mjiloyr.iefwt occupy her mind, or eise she wou'o VIOK mad. "T5M«j t r > p') to ' •/••ly'i! time to go to by byeshe eriird, !ruj:liing hysterically, and swiftly io her * la oo actiii o l;y<>., ma,mn?a?' : asked Tekie, with cSrilfiis:' ^ondFii-. "• J^a.'.it'iii'if," ?i>r joy, you silly little goose. Con t, aiong: sal: mamma ™r* oc, aud poot 'oo in "oo'" ikle ix-;!:'' Ess mamma! ess mamma! and gandma.niina Mavglet 'elp "oo." " Nr.; grandmother Margaret has got—0'n ! sooii i. baa headache. You must be very good s-jo quiet, i.n". go right off to sleep after I bath you." Telsie always called Margarec "grandraother," aJ«i no one thought it necessary to check her. '"It pleased Margaret, and did no fiarm," Reece said. , Grace camcc the child to the aursery. laugh; ing, &nd talking the greatest nonsense. With her owrv hands she prepared the bath, and then proceeded '<o undress and wash her un- ' J i i ! ' ! !! j ; | I i !j;; ; !1 j ,I j I :1 :

ruly offspring, who, delighted at the novelty of the situation, and excited by Grace's seemingly high spirits, kicked and shouted most lustily. When the servant, whose duty it was to attend to Telsie when Margaret was indisposed, came upon the scene Grace had put the child to bed, and was vainly endeavouring to escape from the room. " Oo not to do, mamma; I'se not seepy." Telsie had repeated this many times, and evinced so strong an inclination to cry whenever her mother attempted to steal away that Grace—her nerves strung to the utmost pitch of endurance by the agony she was suffering— began to grow impatient. " You must go to sleep, child: I cannot stay any longer. Do you hear me, Telsie?" "Ess, mamma." " Then close your eyes at once." Telsie obediently did so, looking very grave. But almost immediately she opened them again and smiled mischievously. With a muttered injunction to the servant to remain in the room for a while Grace rushed away. Her brain reeled, and 6eemed on fire. She almost stumbled along the passage, pressing with her hand against the wall to save herself from falling. She had just strength enough to reach her own door and close it behind her. Then she sank heavily to the floor, not senseless, but panting for breath. In a little while she felt better, and groping her way to the bed, for it was now quite dark in the bedroom, she lay down and pressed her face into the pillow. Almost immediately Mary knocked at the door, saying that the dinner bell had rung. Grace raised herself up, and in a voice, low and broken, told the servant that her head was aching. She would not go into dinner, nor did she require anything. Mary went away, and Grace began wondering what her husband was doing. She wished she had asked Mary whether he had gone into the dining-room, but it was too late now. Perhaps he had left the house and was walking in the garden. Full of this thought Grace with I difficulty made lier way to the window and jII! looked out. All was dark; she could see nothing, and feeling weak and ill she lay down again on the bed. Presently Mary returned and knockcd. "Mr. Meadowsere sent me to see whether I could not persuade you to take something, ma'am." "Coma in, Mary," cried Grace eagerly, a sudden hope rising within her. "Is Mr. Meadowsere having dinner now?" she Gaid as the servant entered.

"Yes, ma'am. He said he didn't need waiting upon, and sent me to you. I hope you will allow me to get you a bttle dinner/' "No! no! I could not eat anything." "A cup of tea would do you good, Mrs. Meadowsere, and surely vou could manaee a trifle to eat." "Nothing, thank you, Mary; but stay," remembering that Mary had been sent "by Beece, "you might bring the tea; I will tryto drink that." "Yes, ma'am; and shall I light the gas?" "No—not now." Yet no soener had Mary departed on her errand than Grace got up and lit a candle that stood on her dressing-table. Then she looked in the glass and started back in affright. Could that pale, haggard woman be herself? How changed she was. It would never do to let Mary see her in that state. Hastily she bathed her face in cold water and rearranged her hair. Reece had thought of her. He could not be so very angrv. Perhaps—perhaps he might even forgive 'her. As Mary came in with the tea Grace was sitting in an easy chair near the empty fireplace. She looked up with a wan smile, saying, " You see I am not so very bad, Mary." "I hope not, Sirs. Meadowsere," "answered Mary cheerfully. " Now drink this while it is hot. I will see whether the master wants me, and then come back to you." It was not long before Mai*y returned. Grace was finishing her tea, and felt refreshed. " Has Mr. Meadowsere left the dining-room, Mary?" "Yes, Ma'am. He is in his study. I don't think he can bs well; he has eaten next to nothing. Can I persuade you to have something now, Mrs. Meadowsere?" " No," answered Grace faintly. " Did—did Mr. Meadowsere look ill? He was all right this afternoon." "He didn't seem himself, ma'am." Mary said no more, but lit the bedroom fire, tidied the reom a little, and after ajrain asking whether her mistress required anything, picked up the tea things she had brought, and prepared to take her leave. 'Yeu need not trouble further about me, Mary," said Grace. "Good night." "Good night, Mrs. Meadowsere. I hope yeu will be better in the morning." " Thank you—I hope so," and Grace tried to smile; but as the door dosed she said halfaloud, " It would be well if the merrow feund me dead." No such gloomy thought entered Mary's mind. She was congratulating herself on the fact that no one seemed to want her; she was free to amuse herself during the rest of the evening in the way that might appear most pleasant to her. The rain was now falling steadily, and Grace, sitting staring inte the fire, listened to it as though in a dream. It is strange what trivial thoughts will occur to us, even in moments ef great anguish ; and Grace, just as Beece hod done, thought hew fortunate it was that the rain bad not come earlier in the afternoon. She laughed bitterly at the same time. What did it matter now waether it rained or not? She was glad of it almost. The steady

beating against the roef made a fitting accompaniment to her own sad and gloomy thoughts. It was only right that the night should be dark and wet and cold without, when the light had gone out of her life, and the closing of the day marked also the end of her five years of happiness. The sudden hope that Rooce might forgot and forgive was dead within her. She had no hope Hut the grave. Yet she did net rebel against the fata which had overtaken her. It was unexpected—but it was just. Neither did she at first altogether regret having married Meadowsere with her secret untolcl. Had ehe not secured 6ome years of happiness unspeakable? She had known what it was to love and be loved. It was mere than she deserved. She was in a measure satisfied, and longed to lay down her life and be at rest. But soon all thought of herself became merged into a feeSng of sympathy for her husband. She had never undervalued bis love. She knew that he had given her all he had; his very life was wrapped up in hers. What, then, must be his sufferings now? What was he doing alone in the study, she wondered? How long would he remain there? Would he come to his wife's room during the liiglit, or would he never enter it again? The night wore on. The rain had ceased, and the drip, drip of the water falling from the roof could be distinctly heard. Grace had fallen into a kind of stupor, yet was conscious of her surroundings, and of the dull inward pain that never left her. Once she roused herself, and went into the passage and strained her ears te catch some sound from the distant study. But all remained quiet; she stole back into the room, and half lying on the hearthrug, leaned against the arm of a low chair, and bent her eyes upou the glowing coals. What did she see there? Enough to make the pais lips tremble, and the bitter tears eonjr.e silently down her cheeks. And still the long dreary hours of night ran their course. Before Grace's burning eyes there rose a vision of her husband lying dead upon the study fleor. A great horror came upon her; she hied to scream for help, but only a dry, hrrrsh rattle sounded in her throat, while a str.auge numbness seized her limbs, and crept upwards towards the brain. Almost iieside herself, she struggled to her feet, and found her war through the darkuess to the door of Beece s study. The regular tread of footsteps sounded from within, and Grace was comforted. The nearness of her husband; the knowledge that what she had seen was but a vision, tended to soothe her shattered nerves. Yet she could not return to her room. She would wait a little, slio thought. Perhaps she might find courage to speak to Reece, and the idea of facing onca more the terrors of the loneliness and silence she had quieted was too much for her. And so she waited. The tired limbs could no longer support the weight of her body, ard she leaned against the wall, unconsciously sinking lower and lower, till she rested upon the floor and fell asleep. Witliin the study Reece p-ced restlessly to and fro. He had been doing so for heurs. When he returned there after leaving the dining-room he threw himself into the armchair, and tried to fully realize his position. But at first only the knowledge of his wife's impurity and deceit was plain to him, and the thought of it drove him almost mad. He started up, and raising his arm, called down from Heaven a curss upon all womea. But the memory of his mother came back to him; his arm fell by his side, aud with deep groan he Siink again into the chair. But only for a moment. He could not remain inactive, and with r. stem, pale face he strode ba~kward and forward ir: the narrow room, reviewing tiie past pj and^skrniking from all thought of the future. The. jjas was not lighted ; lleeee preferred a reodiji^ lamp when usi.itr ;!«* study at night, and this threw a iirighi light at one end of the room, leaving th" other in semi-darkness. Us:n iiwmenc Mendowsere's tall figuro .stood • jv:t ir bold _ rrtiof: the ne*t it bad abno*-- vanish-.! ill the jriaim. and he irrow irritate.I. He oie'.v out thj lamp and resumed his restless pacir.-r in the Mae.; darkuoss. There was no fear of his stumbling over the furniture; ho had used the study too often to be in danger of that, and now as he gin need around, seeing nothing, and yet knowing himself to be capable of finding his way through the whole house with the greatest ease, a peculiar sense of security aud strength came to him. It was strange, and he could not explain it, but certainly he grew calm, and capable of thinking and reasoning with a certain amount of clearness. Going to tiie couch he lay down, aud prepared to judge his wife with all justness. First he recalled to mind the conversation that had passed between Robert McTinny and

his friend on that Christmas Eve which held so many memories for him. Ho had learned from this that Stomhill and Grace Arkoyd had been on intimate terms, but that Grace had fled from Hallowton, leaving no trace behind. It was evident from this that she wished to escape from Stomhill. Indeod! had she not said as much when he questioned her by the river? Reece thought he understood wny this was. Stomhill had evidently deceived her; he had promised her marriage, and when GI MC discovered how worthless his promise was she left him for ever. Tn this she had done right, and Recce admitted it to lnm?"lf. _ Ihen Meadowsere thought of the conversation ho had had with Grace immediately arter the strange burial of her child. The child had died of starvation, and Graco disposed of the bodv by throwing it into the river. It was wrou - vet Reece in his heart did not blame her. Had she not intended to end lier own life by drowning, and thus make tho ri ver bed the common grave of herself n.nd child. At the last moment her courage failed; she could not die—she would return to the world and live on. Meadowsere remembered what he had said to lier in replv to her enquiry as to how she could thank him for tho monetary assistance he rendered her—" You can thank me bv raising vourself again to the position you liiavo lost.*' Had she done this? \es. Meadowsere said to himself. He was aware of Stornhill's search, and of its non-success. He knew that Grace had never renewed her intimacy with him. He felt that he could stake his honour upon the purity of lier life since leaving HaUowton. There had been that one false step, but no more. But stay! was not ner marriage an act for which there could be no excuse? She had become Meadowseres wife knowing herself to be a dishonoured woman. Why had she done this? Because of her great love, which had proved too strong for her. Reece realized this; he uuderstood now the reason of her hesitation to accept his offer. He saw clearly how great must have been the struggle that had gone on within her. But his persistence, and perhaps his assertion that tiw past was dead and they had but to concern themselves with the future, had won the day. Grace yielded to his entreaties, and how had she acted since ? As became a loyal, loviag, true-hearted, and pure-minded wife. If it had been otherwise Meadowsere would have thrust her from him with contempt. If the sift or which she was guilty had been committed since her acquaintance with him he would not have hesitated a moment. Grace would hive been nothing to him for evermore. But such was not the case. Grace had

sinned; she had been dishonoured. Meadow; sere was only too conscious of this; yet he did net judge her harehly. She had been imposed upon, and in sinning had wronged no one but hersslf. When her eyes were opened to the baseness of the man who had led her astray she went forth alone into the world rather than accept help from the one who was responsible for the position in which she found herself. Even in marrying Meadowsere she had been actuated by a feeling of intense love for him, and the determination to devote herself to his happiness. Reece realized this fully; his inclination was to be merciful—yet the path was dark before him. What should he do? How should he act, he asked himself? And for an answer there seemed to rise up in the darkness the sneering face of Stephen Stomhill. Grace had loved this man; she had given herself to him; she had borne his child. Meadowsere sprang to his feet, and with clenched hands and bowed head strode fiercely to and fro. "He would renounce the wife who had deceived him. She must leave his house, never to enter it again." But presently a woman's face loemed up from out the mists of the past; the face of Hilda Stomhill: and Meadowsere remembered his own folly. Here, in this very study, a scene had been enacted which even now he regarded as bavin® indirectly led to Hilda'6 death. Ho had done what he Icnew to be wrong; he had sinned with his eyes open, and in the sight cf God was he not more guilty than Grace had been? What right bad he, then, to condemn his wife? Though in marrying him she had deceived him, had he not also deceived her? Reece Meadowsere was a just mail. He did not believe that there should he ene moral code for a man, and another for a woman. The world accepts this state of things as a matter of coarse. Or perhaps it would be more correct to say that Society recognises but one code of morality, and that .this relates to women only. Men have ne need to bother about morality at all, inasmuch as it relates to the gratification of their sensual pleasures. Their wives m:ist be pure; they demand this. But they do not recognise the right of the wives to demand chastity from them. It has always been so; it will remain so to the end unless wemen assert their rights and refuse to acquiesce in this monstrous anomaly. As it is they are too ready to regard marriage as the "be all" and "end all" of their existence. To remain single after reaching a certain age seems tm them a disgrace. So leng as a man's position is good he is considered a "catch." He may be a rake, a libertine; that is of little consequence. He will do for a husband, and he becomes one—when it suits hiru. AH women are not alike, but how man)' of them in choosing a husband give more than a passing thought to this matter of moral character. If a man stands well in the eyas of ill® world uid , does net offend the laws of his country, what more is wanted ? A little laxity in the indulgence of the passions is excusable. A man must sow his wild oats" is an old saying, and the generality cf womankind are willing to accept this statement as fact. When they do otherwise, but not t{Q then, we may hope for

an improvement in the moral tene of seciety at large. As we have said, Meadowsere did not hold with this popular view of the moral obligations of man. All that he expected from his wife he considered she was perfectly justified in expecting in return from him. Now his belief was to be put to the test. Most men placed in a similar position would have found" many excuses for their own conduct, but none for the conduct of their wives. Reece was rather inclined the other way, and no soouer did ho realize that he was equally if not mere to blame than Grace, than the idea of sending her away from him seemed impossible. She WES his wife, a,nd he had a certain duty to perform towards her. If she desired it, they must, in the eyes of the world, appear mail and wife as before. As far as it was possible, they must act as though nothing had happened. Yet Reece felt that never again could he be more to Grace than a husband in name and appiarance only. There was another thought that occurred to him. Ho now regarded it as absolutely necessary to reveal to Grace the history of those few Jjpurs which had been his temptation and fall. She must not go on imagining him to hare done no wrong—to be better than all his fellowmen. Tt was only fair to her that, now her own past was disclosed, she should learn of his wrongdoing also. He half wondered why he had not done so before; but he had simply put off the telling from day to day. as G race had done, till at length it no longer seemed a necessity. Why should he reveal a dead woman's secret? he had argued. But he ignored the fact that he could have confessed his sin vritheut mentioning Hilda's name at ail- As R-eec.i paced moodily to and fro he became conscious of a dim, grey light piercing the gloom. He drew up the blind and saw that the dr.wn was breaking. "' I will go for a walk," he said wearily. " It may do me good, and God knows I am in need of strength." He opened the door, aud paused suddenly. His foot had touched something soft, aud iiifctinctively he realized that it was his wife. Going to the table he lit the lamp, and glanced down at the slumbering form. There was a troubled loo'.: upon the sweet face; the li^s were tightly closed, and there were tr.ices of tears upon the cheeks. Meadowsere's cold glance softened as he goKed, and he bent down as though to raise her. But the mocking laugh of Stepheu Stomhill seemed to riug in his ears. Drawing himself up to his full height-, he said harshly—"Grace!" She awoke, a.nd stared about her in confusion. Why are you lying there?" asked Reece, in the same harsh tone. And then Grac9 remembered it ali. Looking up at her -husband with piteous, beseechingeyes, she spoke his name, " Reece!" He turned away, saying brokenly, "Do not lie there; you will be ill." She was benumbed with cold, weak, and heavy-hearted. Yet Rcc-ce offered her no assistance, as she struggled to her feet. He felt that he could not touch her. It seemed as if his love were dead. " Yon must be cold," lie said, after a pause. "No," she answered, not being conscious of it; but she shivered :is she spoke. " How long- hr.ve you been there?" "I—I don't remember.'' " Ts there a firo in your room'" "There was—when— 1 when I left it." "We will go there. I have something to say to you-" He picked up the lamp and left the study. Grace followed silently. There were but a few dyin~ embers in the grate when they entered "Grace's room, but th;^sn Ree-je quickly rnkrd together, ard adding soin? wood air! coal, 'jL-euniw! himself in b'.ov.-ing the firr. -'eenWi ;v,,v-rk->s io do anything, and I'.eecc too'., no notice ef he- prevtuv '.ill h:-. efforts \ve r -• i'i inensure sueccfisful. The!), ilr.nving th;< anr-hair near the tir?, he said c'lidiv " You had better Kit down am! ra-in vo^rseif." 8hc did so, tliank;rij him .n treni.ihng t-.nes as he also picked up a shawl and iianded it io her, saying, "Three is very little heat in the fire yet. Wrap this about your shoulders.-' There was a long pause after that. Reece. with his elbow resting ou the mantelpiece and his head in his Uand, stared fixedly at the coals, now beginning to glow with a bright yellow light. When =t last he spoke it was "abruptly and almost mechanically. Making no mention of what had transpired the previous evening, he ac once went ou to relate the story of his past six:. 11 took but_ a few moments. He said nothing about the temot&tion he had been subjected to; he men-

tioned 110 name*. "He had loved another man's wife," he said, " and she had loved him. They were lovers before her marriage, and had not ceased to be so afterwards. They uacl agreed to elope together: the husbanii had liecome acquainted with the:';- intentions, but forgave his wife, who could not. however, forgive herself, and committed suicide/' This was the substance of the storv he narrated to hi.s wife. But Grace ii?tene<i" tc it as though hardly comprehending. It surprised her p. liu!e. but she felt no interest in it. Her lninrl was full of other tilings; she did not understand why Reece had told >ier about it. W.is he never gcir.™ to relievo the suspense which w.-\s almost killing her? Finding her silent, Reece said interrogati-.elv, -We'.i?" "What is all this to me at sr.ch a moment?" cried Graee, imploringly. " Why are you so strange, Reece? Tell ir.e—what are you going to do?—what are you going to do?" " What do you wish me to do? Would you like to leave me?" " You are ail the world tome." she answered simply. "My life is ir. vour hands. Whatever is right in your eyes must bs just. Punish mo as you will; but if I go away from you I must die. Ti>at is what I wisli—to die. There is nothing now tc live for, if I have lost your love." " I have no desire to punish you," said Reece, hitterly. "CanI, who am not without sin, thus, cast a stons at you? We must start our lives afresh from to-night." "Together?" asked Grace breathlessly. "Yes; together—if you wish it." "Reeee! Rceee! You forgive me?" " As I hop? for your forgiveness." " And all will be the same again," she cricd, clinging to him with a sob of joy. "Oh, Reeee! I am not worthy to be your wife." " Nothing can be the same again," he said harshly, and freeing himself from her embrace. " We shall live together, man and wife in the eyes of others, but, in reality, strangers. For the rest of our lives we must act a part. The. past must never be referred to; it is to be regarded as dead. Our hopes, too. are dead. I have said that I forgive you. It is true; but all tilings have changed to me. We must have no reproaches: no recriminations. You arc the mistress of this house; you bear my name and are entitled to my protection and respect. You shall have both—freely. I do not blame you for anything you have done— remember" this. But circumstances have altered, and we mutt adapt ourselves to them. You understand rne?" Grace bowed her head in assent. When next she raised her eyes she was alone.