Chapter 94763249

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Chapter TitleHELENA'S DIARY.
Chapter Url
Full Date1888-07-21
Page Number17
Word Count5784
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleSouth Australian Weekly Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1881 - 1889)
Trove TitleThe Legacy of Cain
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By WILKDS COLLINS, Author of 'The Woman in White,' 'The Evil Genius,', &c, &c-

Published by special arrangement with the author. All rights reserve 1.] SECOKD PERIOD : 1875. THE GIRLS AND THE JOUEKALS. CHAPTtE XXV. — Helena's Diaet.

They all notice at home that I am look Ing worn and haggard. That hideous old maid, Miss Jillgall, had her malicious welcome ready for me -when we met at breakfast this morning. 'Dear Helena, what has become of your beauty ? One would think you had left it in your room.' Poor deluded Eunice showed her sisterly sympathy. ' ' Don't joke abont it, Selina ; ? fa. ? - XI ? J. TT_I ? . J- 211 9'

?Van L you sets buav xieieua u iu :? I have been ill ; ill of my own wicked ness. But the recovery of my tran qaility will bring with it the recovery of .my good looks. My fatal passion for Philip promises to be the utter destruction of everything that is good in me. Well ! 'What is good in me may not be worth keeping. There ie a fate in these things. If I am destined to rob Eunice of the one clear object of her love and hope — how can I xcBlst ? The one kind thing I can. do is to keep her in ignorance of what is -coming by acts of affectionate deceit. Besides, if che suffers, I suffer too. In the length and breadth of England I -doubt if there is a much more wicked young woman to be found than myself. Is it nothing to feel that, and to endure it as I do ? Upon my word there is no excuse for me. T« 4-Tt7a onAOD intmiHannn 0 'WVx ? it- Sim 4-1* a

tent of my nature. 1 have a tendency to self -examination, accompanied by one merit — I don't spare myself. There are excuses for Eunice. She lives 5n a fool's paradise ; and she sees in her lover a radiant creature shining in the halo thrown over him by her own self delusion. Nothing of this sort is to be said for me. I see Philip as he is. My penetration looks into the lowest depths * of his character — when I am not In his company. There seems to be a foundation of good somewhere in his nature. He de spises and hates himself (he has confessed It to me), when Eunice la with him, still believing in her false sweetheart. Bat ?bow long do these better influ ences last 2 I have only to show

?jnyeelf, in my sister's absence, and Philip is mine, body and soul. His vanity and his weakness take possession of him the moment he sees my face. He is one of those men — even in my little expe rience I have met with them — who are Jjorn to be led by women. If Eunice had possessed my strength of character he would have been true to her for life. Ought I not, in justice to myself, to lave lifted my heart high above the reach of such a creature as this ? Certainly I ought. I know it, I feel it. And yet there is some fascination in loving him which I am absolutely unable to resist. What, I ask myself, has fed the new flame which is burning in me ? Did it begin with gratified pride ? I might well feel proud when I found myself admired by a man of his beauty, set off by such manners and such accomplishments as' his. Besides, might not the growth of this masterful feeling have been encouraged by the envy and jealousy stirred in me when I found Eunice {my inferior in every respect) dis tinguished by the devotion of a handsome lover, and having a brilliant marriage in view — while I was left neglected, with no prospect of changing my title from Miss to Mrs ? Vain enquiries ! My wicked heart seems to have secrets of its own, and to keep them a mystery to me. What has become of my excellent edu cation 2 I don't care to enquire ; I have got be yond thereach of good books and righteous examples. I have gone to a new school to study the subject of love. Among my

other blamable actions there may now be reckoned disobedience to my father. I have been reading novels in secret. At first 1 tried some of the famous English works, published at a price within the reach of small purseB. Very well -written, no donbt; but with one unpar donable drawback, so far as I am con cerned. Our celebrated native authors address themselves to good people, or to penitent people who want to be made good ; not to wicked readers like me. Arriving at this conclusion I tried another experiment. In a small book seller's Bhop I discovered some cheap translations of French novels. Here I found what I wanted— sympathy with sin. Here there was opened to me a new world inhabited entirely by unrepentant people ; the magnificent women diaboli cally beautiful ; the satanic men dead to every sense of virtue, and alive — perhaps rather dirtily alive — to the splendid fasci nations of crime. I know now that love Is above everything but Itself. Love is the one law that we are all bound to obey. How deep ! how consoling ! how admir ably true ! The novelists of England have reason indeed to hide their heads before the novelists of France. All that

I have felt, and have written here, is In spired by these wonderful authors. I have relieved my mind, and may now return to the business of my diary — the record of domestic events. An overwhelming disappointment has fallen on Eunice. Oar dinner party has been put off. The state of father's health is answer able for this change in our arrangements. That wretched scene at the school, compli cated by my sister's undutiful behavior at the time, so seriously excited him that he pasBed a sleepless night, and kept his bed room throughout the day. Eunice's total want of discretion added no doubt to his sufferings ; she rudely intruded on him to express her regret and to ask his pardon. Having carried her point she was at leisure to come to me and to ask (how amazingly simple of her) what she and Philip were to do next. '* We had arranged it all so nicely,' the poor wretch began. ' Philip was to have been so clever and agreeable at dinner, and was to have chosen his time so very dis creetly that papa would have been ready to listen to anything he said. Oh, we should have succeeded ; I haven't a doubt of it. Our only hope, Helena, is in you. What are we to do now 2' 'Wait,' I answered. ' Wait ?' she repeated hotly. ' Is my heart to be broken ? and, what is more cruel still, is Philip to be disappointed 1 I expected something more sensible, my dear, from you. What possible reason can there be for waiting?' The reason — if I could only have men tioned it — was beyond dispute. I wanted time to quiet Philip's uneasy conscience, and to harden his weak mind against outbursts of violence on Eunice's part, which would cer tainly exhibit themselves when she found that she had lost her lover, and lost him to me. In the meanwhile I had to pro duce my reason for advising her to wait. It was easily done. I reminded her of the irritable condition of our father's nerves, and gave it as my opinion that he would certainly say no if she was unwise enough to excite him in his present frame of mind. These unanswerable considerations seemed to produce the right effect on her. ** I suppose you know best' was all she said. And then she left me. 1 let her go without feeling any dis trust of this act of submission on her part ; it was such a common experience, in my life, to find my sister guiding her self by my advice. But experience is not always to be trusted. Events soon showed that I had failed to estimate Eunice's resources of obstinacy and cunning at their true value. Half an hour later I heard the street door closed, and looked out of the win dow. Miss Jillgall was leaving the house ; no one was with her. My dislike of this person led me astray once more. I ought to have suspected her of being bent on some mischievous errand, and to have devised some means of putting my suspicions to the test. I did nothing of the kind. In the moment when I turned my head away from the window Miss Jillgall was a person forgotten — and I was a person who had made a serious mistake.

Chapter XXVL The event of to-day began with the delivery of a message summoning me to my father's study. He had decided — too hastily, as 1 feared — that he was suffi ciently recovered to resume his usual employments. I was writing to his dicta tion when we were Interrupted. Maria announced a visit from Mr. Dunboyne. Hitherto Philip had been content to send one of the servants of the hotel to make enquiry after Mr. Gracedieu's health. Why had he now called per sonally ? Noticing that father seemed to be annoyed, I tried to make an oppor tunity ot receiving Philip myself. 'Let me see him,' I suggested : ' I can easily eay you are engaged.' Yery unwillingly, as it was easy to see, my father declined to allow this. ' Mr. Dunboyne's visit pays me a compliment,' he said ; ' and I must receive him.' I made a show of leaving the room, and was called back to my chair. ' This is not a private interview, Helena ; stay where yon are.' Philip came in, handsomer than ever, beautifully dressed — and paid his respects to my father with his customary grace. He was too well bred to allow any visible signs of embarrassment to escape him. But when he shook hands with me I felt a little trembling in his fingers, through the delicate gloves which fitted Mai like a second skin. Was It the true object of his visit to try the experiment designed by Eunice and himself, and deferred by the postponement of our dinner party 1 Impossible, surely, that my sister could have practised on his weakness, and per suaded him to return to his first love ! I waited in breathless interest for his next

words. They were not worth listening to. Oh, the poor commonplace creature ! 'I am glad, Mr. Gracedieu, to see that you are well enough to be in your study again,' he said. The writing materials on the table attracted his attention. ' ' Am I one of the idle people,' he asked with his charming smile, ' who are always inter rupting useful employment ?' He spoke to my father, and he was answered by my father. Not once had he addressed a word to me — no, not even when we shook hands. I was angry enough to force him into taking some notice of me, and to make an attempt to confuse Mm at the same time *' Have you seen my si6ter ?' I asked. 'No.' It was the shortest answer that he could choose. Having flung it at me he still persisted in looking at my father and speaking to my father. 'Do you think of trying change of air, Mr. Gracedieu, when you feel strong enough to travel?' ** My duties keep me here,' father answered ; ' and I cannot honestly say that I enjoy travelling. I dislike manners and customs that are strange to me ; I don't find that hotels reward me for giving up the comforts of my own house. How do you find the hotel here ?' 'I submit to the hotel, sir. They are sad savages in the kitchen ; they put mushroom ketchup into their soup, and mustard and cayenne pepper into their salads. I am half -starved at dinner time, But I don't complain.' Every word he said was an offence to me. With or without reason I attacked him again. - ?? I .have heard yon acknowledge that the landlord a«d landlady are very obliging people,' I said. 'Why don't you ask them to let you make your own fmnn sa\A tnir Yrnni* nwn nalsu? 2'

I wondered whether I should succeed in attracting bis notice after this. Even in these private pages my self-esteem finds it hard to confess what; happened. I suc ceeded in reminding Philip that he had his reasons for requesting me to leave the room. 'Will you excuse me, Miss Helena,' he said, ' if I ask leave to speak to Mr. Gracedieu In private ?' The right tiling for me to do was, let me hope, the thing that I did. I rose and waited to see if my father would In terfere. He looked at Philip with sus picion in his face, as well as surprise. 'MaylaBk,' he said coldly, 'what is the object of the interview f 'Certainly,' Philip answered, 'when we are alone.' This cool reply placed my father between two alternatives ; he must either give way or be guilty of an act of rudeness to a guest of his own house. The choice reserved for me was narrower still— I had to decide between being told to go or going of my own accord. _,Of course I left them together. The door which communicated with tbe next room was pulled to, but not cloied. On the other side of it I found Eunice. ' Listening !' I Bald in a whisper. ' Tes,'ehe whispered back. ' You Uaten too.'

I was so indignant with Philip and so seriously interested in what was going on in the study, that I yielded to temptation. We both degraded ourselves. We both listened. Eunice's base lover spoke first. Judging by the change in his voice he must have seen something in my father's face that daunted him. Eunice heard it too. ' He's getting nervous,' she whispered ; ' he'll forget to say the right thing at the right time.' 'Mr. Gracedieu,'.' Philip began, 'I wish to epeak to you ? ' Father Interrupted him ; ' We are alone now, Mr. Dunboyne. I want to know why you consult me In private.' ' J am anxious to consult you, sir, on a subject — — ' ' On what subject ? Any religious difficulty ?' 'No.' ' Anything I can do for you in the town?' 'Not at all. If you will only allow me ? ' 'lam still waiting, sir, to know what it is about.' Philip's voice suddenly became an angry voice. ' Once for all, Mr. Grace dieu,' he said, ' will you let me speak ? It's about your daughter ? ' ' No more of it, Mr. Dunboyne !' (My father was now as loud as Philip.) ' I don't desire to hold a private conver sation with you on the subject of my daughter.' 'If you have any personal objection to me, sir, be so good as to state It plainly.' ' You have no right to ask me to do that.' ' 'Sou refuse to do it V ' Positively.' ' You are rude, Mr. Gracedieu.' 'If I speak plainly, Mr. Dunboyne, yen have yourself to thank for it.' Philip replied to this in a tone of savage irony. *' You are a minister of religion and you are an old man. Two privileges — and you presume on them both. Good morning.1' I drew back into a corner just in time to escape discovery in the character of a listener. Eunice never moved. When Philip dashed into the room, banging the dcor after him, she threw himself impul sively on his breast—' Oh, Philip, Philip, what have you done? Why didn't you keep your temper ?' ' Did you hear what your father said to me T he asked. ' Yes, dear; but you ought to have con trolled yourself — you ought indeed, for my sake.' Her arms were still round him. It struck me that he felt her influence. 'Help me to recover myself,' he said gently. ' You had better let me go.' 'Oh, how cruel, Philip, to leave me when 1 am so wretched. Why do you want to go V ' You told me just now what I ought to do,' he answered, still restraining himself. ' If I am to get the better of my temper I must be left alone.' 'I never said anything about your temper, darling.' ' Didn't you tell me to control .'my- self V t ' Oh, yes ! Go back] to papa and beg him to forgive you.' ' HI see him damned first !' If ever a stupid girl deserved such an answer as this the girl was my sister. 1 had hitherto (with some difficulty) re frained from interfering. But when Eunice tried to follow Philip out of the house I could hesitate no longer ; I held her back* ' You fool,' I said, ' haven't you'made mischief enough already ?' 'What am I to do?' she burst out helplessly. ' Do what I told yon to do yesterday — wait.' Before she could reply, or I could say anything more, the door that led to the landing was opened softly and slyly, and Miss Jillgall peeped in. Eunice instantly left me and ran to the meddling old maid. They whispered to each other. Miss Jillgall'e skinny arm encircled my -blstei-'b waiot ; they disappeared together. I was only too glad to get rid of them both and to take the opportunity of writing to Philip. I insisted on an ex planation of bis conduct while I was in the study — to be given within an hour's time, at a place which I appointed. ' You

are nor- to attempt to j usury yoursen m writing,' I added in conclusion. 'Let your reply merely inform me if you can keep the appointment. The rest, when we meet.' Maria took the letter to the hotel, with Instructions to wait. Philip's reply reached me without delay. It pledged him to justify himself as I had desired and to keep the appointment. My own belief is that the event of to-day will decide hits future and mine. Chapter XXVII. — Eunice's Diary. Indeed, I am a most unfortunate crea tuie; everything turns out badly with me. My good true friend, my dear Selina, has become the object of a hateful doubt in my secret mind. I am afraid she is keeping something from me. Talking with her about my troubles I heard for the first tune that she had writ ten again to Mrs. Tenbruggen. The object of her letter waB to tell her friend of my en gagement to young Mr. Dunboyne. I asked her why she had done this The answer informed me that there was no knowing in the present state of my affairs how soon I might not want the help of a clever woman. I ought, I suppose, to have been satisfied with this. But there seemed to be something not fully explained yet. Then again, after telling Selina what I heard in the study, and how roughly Philip had spoken to me afterwards, I asked her what she thought of it. She made an incomprehensible reply — 'My sweet child, I mustn't think of it — I am too fond of you.' It was Impossible to make her explain

what this meant. She began to talk of Philip, assuring me (which was quite need less) that she had done her best to fortify and encourage him before he called on papa. When I asked her to help me in another way — that is to say, when I wanted to find out where Philip was at that moment — she had no advice to give me. I told her that I should not enjoy a moment's ease of mind until I and my .dear one were reconciled. She only shook her head and declared that she was sorry for me. When I hit on the idea of ring ing for Maria, this little woman, so bright and quick and eager to help me at other times, said— 'I leave it to you, dear,' and turned to the piano (close to which. I was sittbg), and played softly and badly stupid little tunes.

-? maria, did you open the door for Mr. Dunboyne when he went away iust now?' 'No, miss.' Nothing but ill luck for me ! If I had been left to my own devices I should now have let the housemaid go. But Selina contrived to give me a hint on a strange plan of her own. Still at the piano, she began to confuse talking to herself, with playing to herself. The notes went finfcle, tiijMe — and the tongue mixed up words, with the notes in this way — ' Perhaps they have been talking in tbe kitchen about Philip?' The suggestion was not lost on me. I said to Maria — who was standing at the other end of the room, near the door — ' Did you happen to hear which way'Mr. Dunboyne went when he left us ?' 'I know where he was, miss, half an hour ago.' 'Where was he?' 'At the hotel.' Selina went on with her h'nts in the same sly way as before. ' ' How does she know — ah, how does she know ?' was the vocal part of the performance this time. My clever enquiries followed the vocal part as before. 'How do you know that Mr. Dan boyne was at the hotel?' ' I was sent there with a letter for Elm and waited for the answer.' There was no prompting required tula

time. The one possible question wa3— ' Who sent you ?' ' Maria replied, after fi.«* reserving a condition — 'You won't teJi upoa me, miss?' I promised not to tell. Selina sud denly left off playing. 'Well ?' I repeated, ' who sent you ?' 'Whs Helena.' Selina looked round at me. Her little eyes seemed to have suddenly become big, they stared me so roundly in the face. I don't know whether she was in a state of frJght or of_wonder. As for myself, I simply lost the use of my tongue. Maria, having no more questions to answer, dis creetly left us together. Why should Helena write to Philip at all — and especially without mentioning it to me ? Here wes a riddle which was more than I could guess. I asked Selina to help me. She might at least have tried, I thought ; but she looked uneaBy and made excuses. I said — 'Suppose I go to Helena and aBk her why she wrote to Philip ?' And Selina said — 'Suppose you do, dear.' I rang for Maria once more— ' Do you know where my sister is ?' 'Just gone out, miss.' There waB no help for it but to wait till she came back and to get through the time in the interval as I best might. But for one circumstance I might not have known what to do. The truth is, there was a feeling of shame In me when I remembered having listened at the study door. Carious notions come into one's head — one doesn't know how or why. It Btruck me that I might make a kind of atonement for having been mean enough to listen if I went to papa and offered to keep him company in his solitude. If we fell into pleasant talk, I had a sly idea of my own — I meant to put in a good word for poor Philip. When I confided my design, to Selina she shut up the piano and ran across the room to me. But somehow she was not like her old self again yet. ' You good little soul, you are always right. Look at me again, Eunice. Are you beginning to doubt me? Oh, my darling, don't do that ! It isn't using me fairly. I can't bear it— I can't bear ib !' I took her hand ; I was on the point of speaking to her with the kindness she deserved from me. On a sudden she snatched her hand away and ran back to the piano. When she was seated on the music stool her face was hidden from me. At that moment she broke into a strange cry — it began like a laugh and it ended like a sob. ' Go away to papa ! don't mind me— I'm a creature of impulse — ha ! ha ! ha ! a little hysterical — the state of the weather — I get rid of these weaknesses, my dear, by singing to myself. I have a favorite song — ' My heart Is light, my will Is free' — Go away ! oh, for God's sake, go away !' I had heard of hysterics, of course ; knowing nothing about them, however, by my own experience. What could have happened to agitate her in this extraordi nary manner ? Had Helena's letter anything to do with it ? Was my sister indignant with Philip forswearing in my presence ; and had she written him an angry letter in her zeal on my behalf ? But Selina could not possibly have seen the letter — and Helena (who is often hard on me when I do stupid things) showed littld indulgence for me when I was so unfortunate as to irritate Philip. I gave up the hopeless attempt to get at the truth by guessing, and' went away to iorget my troubles, if I could, in my father's society. After knocking twice at the door of the study and receiving no reply I ventured to look in. The sofa In this room stood opposite the door. Papa was resting on it, but not in comfort. There were twitching move ments in his feet and he shifted his arms this way and that as if no restful posture could be found for them. But what frightened me was this. His eyes, staring straight at the door by which I had gone in, had an enquiring expression, aB il he actually did not know me? I stood midway between the door anat^ sofa, doubtful about going sesiseF-te&isuji* ' He said : ' Who Is it ?' This to me — to his own daughter. He said : ' What do you want ?' I really could not bear it. I went up to him. I said : ' Papa, have you forgotten Eunice?' . My name seemed (if one may say such a thing) to bring him to himself again. He sat up on the sofa — and laughed as he answered me. 'My dear child, what delusion has got into that pretty little head of yours? Fancy her thinking that I had forgotten my own daughter ! I was lost in thought, Eunice. For the moment I was what they call an absent man. Did I ever tell yon the story of the absent man I He went to call npon some acquaintance of his ; and when the servant said,- 'What name, sir ?' he couldn't answer. He was obliged to confess that he had forgotten his own name. The servant said, * That's very strange.' The absent man at once recovered himself . 'That's it!' he said; ' my name is Strange.' Droll, isn't it ? If I had been calling on a friend to-day I dareeay J might have forgotten my name,1 too. Much to think of, Eunice — too much to think of.' Leaving the sofa with a sigh, as. if he was tired of it, he began walking up and down. He seemed to be stal in 'good spirits. 'Well, my dear,' he said, ' what can I do for you ?' ' I came here, papa, to eee if there was anything I could do for you.' He looked at some sheets of paper, strung together, and laid on the tabte. They were covered with writing (from his dictation) in my sister's hand. 'I ought to get on with my work,' he said. 'Where la Helena?' I told him that she had gone out, and begged leave to try what I could do to supply her place. The request seemed to please him, but he wanted time to think. I waited-, noticing that his face grew gradually worried and anxious. There came a vacant look into his eyes which it grieved me to see ; he appeared to have quite lost himself again. ' Bead the hist page,' he said, pointing to the manuscript on the table ; 'I don't remember where I left off.' I turned to the last page. As well as I could tell, it related to some religious publication, which he was recommending to persons of our Wesleyan persuasion. Before I had read half-way through It he began to dictate, speaking so rapidly that my pen was not always able to follow him. My handwriting la as bad as bad can be when I am hurried. To make matters worse still, I was confused. What he was now saying seemed to have nothing to do with what I had been reading. Let me try if I can call to mind the sub stance of It. ? ? Be began In the moat strangely sudden I way by asking— *' Why should there be any fear of discovery, when every possible care had been taken to prevent It I The danger from unexptcted events was far more disquieting. A man might find himself bound In honor to disclose what It had been the chief anxiety of hla life to conceal. For example, could he let ! an Innocent person be the victim of de- , liberate suppression of the truth, no ' matter how justifiable that suppression might appear to I On tho other hand, : dreadful consequences might follow an honorable confession. There might be a cruel eacrltice of tender affection ; there mluht be a shocking betrayal of Innocent , hope and trust.' 1 remember those last words just as he dictated them, because heanddenly stopped there, looking, poor dear, distressed and , confused. lie pnt hla hand to hla head I and went back to the sofa. 'I am tired,' he said. ' Walt for me while I rest.' In a taw minutes he fell asleep. Ik was a deep repoae that came to him now ; and though I don't think it lasted much longer than half an hour It prodaoed a

wonderful change in him for the batter when he woke. He apoke quietly and kindly, and when he returned to me at the table and looked at the page on which I had been writing he smiled. ' Oh, my dear, what bad writing. I declare I cant read what I told you to write myself. No, no, don't be down hearted about it. You are not used to writipg from dictation, and I dare say I have been too quick for you.' He kissed me and encouraged me. ' You know how fond 1 am of my* little girl,' he said ; ' I am afraid I like my Eunice jnst the least in the world more than I like my Helena. All, you are beginning to look a little happier now !' He had filled me with such confidence and such pleasure that I could not help thinking of my sweetheart. Oh, dear ! when shall I learn to be distrustful of my own feelings 1 The temptation to say a good word fcr Philip quite mastered any little discretion that I possessed. I said to papa, ' If yon knew how to make me happier than I have ever been in all my life before, would you do it ?' 'Of course I would.' ' Then send for Philip, dear, and be a little kinder to him this time.' His pale face turned red with anger ; he pushed me away from him. *' That man again !' he burst out. 'Am I never to hear the last of him ? Go away, Eunice. You are of no use here.' He took up my unfortunate page of writing and ridiculed it with a bitter laugh. ' ' What is this fit for 1' He crumpled it up in hia hand and tossed it into the fire. I ran out of the room in such a state of mortification that I hardly knew what I was about. If some hard-hearted person had come to me with a cup of pobon and had said — ' Eunice, you are not fit to live any longer ; take this,' I do believe I should have taken it. If I thought of anything, I thought of going back to Selina. My ill luck still pursued me ; she had disappeared. I looked about in a helpless way, completely at a loss what to do next — so stupefied, I may even say, that it was some time before I noticed a little three-cornered note on the table by which I was standing. The note was ad dressed to me : — ' Ever-dearest Euneece — I have tried to make myself useful to you and have failed. But how can I see the sad sight of your wretchedness and not feel the Im pulse to try again ? I have gone to the hotel to find Philip, and to bring him back to you a penitent and faithful man. Wait for me and hope for great things. A hundred thousand kisses to my sweet Euneece.— S.J.' Wait for her after reading that note ! How could she expect it ? I had only to follow her and to find Philip. In another minute I was on my way to the hotel. {To be continued. )