|Newspaper Title||The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)|
|Trove Title||The Moonstone|
BY WILKIE COLLINS.
Author or "The Woman in White," "No Name," etc.
The signing of the will was a much shorter matter than I had anticipated. It was hurried over, to my thinking, in indecent haste. Samuel, the footman, was sent for to act as second wit- ness—and the pen was put at once into my aunt's hand. I felt strongly urged to say a few appropriate words on this solemn occasion. But Mr. Bruff's manner convinced me that it was wisest to cheek the impulse while he was in the room. In loss than two minutes it was all over —and Samuel (unbenefited by what I might have said) had gone down stairs again.
Mr. Bruff folded up the will, and then looked my way ; apparently wondering whether I did, or did not, mean to leave him alone with my aunt. I had my mission of mercy to fulfil, and my bag of precious publications ready on my lap. He might as well have expected to move St. Paul's Cathedral by looking at it as to move me. There was one merit about him (due no doubt to his worldly training) which I have no wish to deny. He was quick at seeing things. I appeared to produce almost the same impres- sion on him which I had produced on the cab- man. He too uttered a profane expression, and withdrew in a violent hurry, and left me mistress of the field. The opportunity I improved, by distributing a book in every room, and then I
left the house.
I occupied the parlor floor at that period of my residence in London. The front parlor was my sitting-room. Very small, very low in the ceiling, very poorly furnished—but oh, so neat ! I looked into the passage to see which of Lady Verindor's servants had asked for me. It was the young footman, Samuel—a civil fresh-colored person, with a teachable look and a very oblig- ing manner. I had always felt a spiritual in- terest in Samuel, and a wish to try him with a few serious words. On this occasion I invited him into my sitting-room.
He came in, with a large parcel under his arm. When he put the parcel down it appeared to frighten him. " My lady's love, miss ; and I was to say that you would find a letter inside.'' Having given that message, the fresh-colored young footman surprised me by looking as if he would have liked to run away.
I detained him to make a few kind inquiries. Could I see my aunt, if I called in Montagu Square? No : she had gone out for a drive. Miss Rachel had gone with her, and Mr. Able- white had taken a seat in the carriage too. Knowing how sadly dear Mr. Godfrey's charit- able work was in arrear, I thought it odd that he should be going out driving, like an idle man. I stopped Samuel at the door, and made a few more kind inquiries. Miss Rachel was going to a ball that night, and Mr. Ablewhite had ar- ranged to come to coffee and go with her. There was a morning concert advertised for to-mor- row, and Samuel was ordered to take places for a large party, including a place for Mr. Able- white. " All the tickets may be gone," said this innocent youth, " if I don't run and got them at once !" He ran as he said the words—and I found myself alone again, with some anxious thoughts to occupy me.
We had a special meeting of the Mothers'- Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society that night, summoned expressly with a view to obtaining Mr. Godfrey's advice and assistance. Instead of sustaining our sisterhood, under an over- whelming flow of trousers which had quite prostrated our little community, he had ar- ranged to take coffee in Montagu Square, and to go to a ball afterwards ! The afternoon of the next day had been selected for the festival of the British-Ladies'-Servants' - Sunday - Sweetheart- Supervision-Society. Instead of being present, the life and soul of that struggling institution,
he had engaged to make on of a party of worldlings at a morning concert! I asked myself,
What did it mean ? Alas! it meant that our
hero was to reveal himself to me in a new cha- ractor, and to become associated in my mind as one of the most awful backslidings of modern
To return, however, to the history of the pas- ing day. On finding myself alone in my room, I naturally turned my attention to the parcel which appeared to have so strangely intimidated the fresh-colored young footman. Had my aunt sent me my promised legacy ? and had it taken the form of cast-off clothes, or worn-out silver spoons, or unfashionable jewellery, or anything of that sort ? Prepared to accept all, and to re- sent nothing, I opened the parcel—and what met my view ? The twelve precious publications which I had scattered through the house on the previous day ; all returned to me by the doc- tor's orders ! Well might the youthful Samuel shrink when he brought his parcel into my room ! Well might he run when he had per- formed his miserable errand ! As to my aunt's letter it simply amounted, poor soul, to this— that she dare not disobey her medical man.
Soon after 2 o'clock I was again on the field of pious conflict, addressing more kind inquiries to Samuel at Lady Verinder's door.
My aunt had had a bad night. She was again in the room in which I had witnessed her will, resting on the sofa, and trying to get a little sleep. I said I would wait in the library, on the chance of seeing her. In the fervor of my zeal to distribute the tracts, it never occur- red to me to inquire about Rachel. The house was quiet, and it was past the hour at which the musical performance began. I took it for granted that she and her party of pleasure-seekers (Mr. Godfrey, alas! included) were all at the concert, and eagerly devoted myself to my good work, while time and opportunity were still at my
My aunt's correspondence of the morning— including six awakening letters, each con- taining an appropriate quotation, which I had posted overnight—was lying unopened on the library table. She had evidently not felt her- self equal to dealing with a large mass of letters —and she might be daunted by the number of them, if she entered the library later in the day. I put one of a second set of six letters on the chimney-piece by itself ; leaving it to attract her curiosity by means of its solitary position, apart from the rest. A second letter I put purposely on the floor in the breakfast-room. The first servant who went in after me would conclude that my aunt had dropped it, and would be specially careful to restore it to her. The field thus sewn on the basement story, I ran lightly up stairs to scatter my mercies next over the
Just as I entered the front-room I heard a double knock at the street-door—a soft, flutter- ing, considerate little knock. Before I could
think of slipping back to the library (in which I was supposed to be waiting) the active young footman was in the hall, answering the door. It mattered little, as I thought. In my aunt's state of health visitors in general were not ad- mitted. To my horror and amazement the per- former of the soft little knock proved to be an exception to general rules. Samuel's voice be- low me (after apparently answering some ques- tions which I did not hear) said, unmistakably, " Up stairs if you please, sir " The next mo- ment I heard footsteps—a man's footsteps—ap- proaching the drawing-room floor. Who could this favored male visitor possibly be ? Almost as soon as I asked myself the question the
answer occurred to me. Who could it be but
the doctor ?
In the case of any other visitor I should have allowed myself to be discovered in the drawing- room. There would have been nothing out of the common in my having got tired of the library, and having gone up stairs for a change. But my own self-respect stood in the way of my meeting the person who had insulted me by sending me back my books. I slipped into the little third room, which I have mentioned as communicating with the back drawing room, and dropped the curtains which closed the open door- way. If I only waited there for a minute or two, the usual result in such cases would take place. That is to say, the doctor would be con- ducted to his patient's room.
I waited a minute or two, and more than a minute or two I heard the visitor walking rest- lessly backward and forward. I also heard him talking to himself. I even thought I recognised the voice. Had I made a mistake ? Was it not the doctor, but somebody else ? Mr. Bruff, for instance ? No! an unerring instinct told me it was not Mr. Bruff. Whoever he was he was still talking to himself. I parted the heavy cur- tains the least little morsel in the world, and
The words I heard were, " I'll do it to day!" And the voice that spoke then was Mr. God- frey Ablewhite's.
My hand dropped from the curtain. But don't suppose—oh, don't suppose—that the dreadful embarrassment of my situation was the uppermost idea in my mind! So fervent still was the sisterly interest I felt in Mr. God- frey that I never stopped to ask myself why he was not at the concert. No! I thought only of the words—the startling words— which had just fallen from his lips. He would do it to-day. He had said, in a tone of terrible resolution, he would do it to-day What, oh what, would he do ! Something even more deplorably unworthy of him than what he had done already ? Would he apostatise from the faith ? Would he aban- don us at the Mothers'-Small-Clothes ? Had we seen the last of his angelic smile in the com- mittee-room ? Had we heard the last of his unrivaled eloquence at Exeter Hall ? I was so wrought up by the bare idea of such awful eventualities as these, in connection with such a man, that I believe I should have rushed from my place of concealment, and implored him in the name of all the Ladies' Committees in Lon- don to explain himself—when I suddenly heard another voice in the room. It penetrated through the curtains, it was loud, it was bold, it was wanting in every female charm. The
voice of Rachel Verinder!
" Why have you come up here, Godfrey?"" she asked. " Why didn't you go into the library."
He laughed softly, and answered, " Miss Clack is in the library.
" Clack in the library!" She instantly seated herself on the ottoman in the back drawing- room. "You are quite right, Godfrey. We had much better stop here."
I had been in a burning fever a moment since, and in some doubt what to do next. I became extremely cold now, and felt no doubt whatever. To show myself after what I had heard, was im-
possible. To retreat—except into the fire-place —was equally out of the question. A martyr- dom was before me. In justice to myself, I noiselessly arranged the curtains so that I could both see and hear. And then I met my martyr- dom with a becoming spirit.
" Don't sit on the ottoman," the young lady proceeded. "Bring a chair, Godfrey. I like people to be opposite to me when I talk to
He took the nearest seat. It was a low chair. He was very tall, and many sizes too large for it. I never saw his legs to such disadvantage be-
'Well!" she went on. "What did you say
" Just what you said, dear Rachel, to me."
"That mamma was not at all well to-day ? And that I didn't quite like leaving to go to the
" Those were the words. They wore grieved to lose you at the concert, but they quite under- stood. All sent their love ; and all expressed a cheering belief that Lady Verinder's indisposi- tion would soon pass away."
" You don't think it's serious, do you, God- frey ?"
"Far from it! In a few days, I feel quite sure, all will be well again."
" I think so too I was a little frightened at first, but I think so too. It was very kind to go and make my excuses for me to people who are almost strangers to you. But why not have gone with them to the concert ? It seems very hard that you should miss the music, too."
" Don't say that, Rachel! If you only knew how much happier I am—here, with you!"
He clasped his hands, and looked at her. In the position which he occupied, when he did that, he turned my way. Can words describe how I sickened when I noticed exactly the same pathetic expression on his face, which had charmed me when he was pleading for destitute millions of his fellow creatures on the platform
at Exeter Hall!
" It's hard to get over one's bad habits, God- frey. But do try to get over the habit of pay- ing compliments—do to please me."
" I never paid you a compliment, Rachel, in my life. Successful love may sometimes use the language of flattery, I admit. But hopeless love, dearest, always speaks the truth."
He drew his chair close, and took her hand, when he said " hopeless love." There was a momentary silence. He who thrilled everybody had doubtless thrilled her. I thought I now understood the words which had dropped from him when he was alone in the drawing-room. " I'll do it to-day." Alas! the most rigid pro- priety could hardly have failed to discover that
he was doing it now.
" Have you forgotten what we agreed on, Godfrey, when you spoke to me in the country ? We agreed that we were to be cousins and no- thing more."
" I break the agreement, Rachel, every time I see you."
"Then don't see me."
" Quite useless! I break the agreement every time I think of you. Oh, Rachel! how kindly you told me, only the other day, that my place in your estimation was a higher place than it had ever been yet! Am I mad to build the hopes I do on those dear words ? Am I mad to dream of some future day when your heart may soften to me ? Don't tell me so, if I am! Leave me my delusion, dearest ! I must have that to cherish, and to comfort me, if I have nothing else!"
His voice trembled, and he put his white hand- kerchief to his eyes. Exeter Hall again! No- thing wanting to complete the parallel but the audience, the cheers, and the glass of water.
Even her obdurate nature was touched. I saw her lean a little nearer to him. I heard a new tone of interest in her next words.
" Are you speaking of the Moonstone, God-
" I certainly thought that you referred—"
" I referred to nothing of the sort. I can hear of the loss of the Moonstone, let who will speak of it, without feeling degraded in my own
estimation. If the story of the diamond ever comes to light, it will be known that I accepted a dreadful responsibility, it will be known that I involved myself into the keeping of a miserable secret—but it will be as clear as the sun at noon- day that I did nothing mean! You have mis- understood me, Godfrey. It's my fault for not speaking more plainly. Cost me what it may, I will be plainer now. Suppose you were not in love with me? Suppose you were in love with
some other woman ?"
" Suppose you discovered that woman to be utterly unworthy of you ? Suppose you were quite convinced that it was a disgrace to you to waste another thought on her ? Suppose the bare idea of ever marrying such a person made your face burn, only thinking of it ?"
"And, suppose, in spite of all that—you couldn't tear her from your heart? Suppose the feeling she had roused in you (in the time when you believed in her) was a feeling not to be hidden ? Suppose the love this wretch had inspired in you—? Oh, how can I find words to say it in! How can I make a man under- stand that a feeling which horrifies me at my- self can be a feeling that fascinates me at the same time ? It's the breath of my life, Godfrey, and it's the poison that kills me—both in one! Go away ! I must be out of my mind to talk as I am talking now. No ! you musn't leave me you musn't carry away a wrong impression. I must say what is to be said in my own defence. Mind this! He doesn't know—he never will know, what I have told you I will never see him—I don't care what happens—I will never, never, never see him again ! Don't ask me his name! Don't ask me any more! Let's change the subject. Are you doctor enough, Godfrey, to tell me why I feel as if I was stifling for want of breath ? Is there a form of hysterics that bursts into words instead of tears? I dare say! What does it matter ? You will get over any trouble I have caused you, easily enough now. I have dropped to my right place in your estima- tion, haven't I ? Don't notice me! Don't pity me! For God's sake, go away!"
She turned round on a sudden, and beat her hands wildly on the back of the ottoman. Her head dropped on the;cushions , and she burst out crying. Before I had time to feel shocked at this, I was horror struck by an entirely unex- pected proceeding on the part of Mr. Godfrey Will it be credited that he fell on his knees at
her feet ?—on both knees, I solemnly declare! May modesty mention that he put his arms round her next ? And may reluctant admira- tion acknowledge that he electrified her with two
" Noble creature!"
No more than that! But he did it with one of the bursts which have made his fame as a public speaker. She sat either quite thunder- struck, or quite fascinated—I don't know which —without even making an effort to put his arms back where his arms ought to have been. As for me, my sense of propriety was completely be- wildered. I was so painfully uncertain whether it was my first duty to close my eyes, or to stop my ears, that I did neither. I attribute my being still able to hold the curtain in the right position for looking and listening, entirely to suppressed hysterics. In suppressed hysterics, it is admitted even by the doctors, that one must hold some-
" Yes," he said, with all the fascination of his sweetest voice and manner, " you are a noble creature! A woman who can speak the truth, for the truth's own sake—a woman who will sacrifice her pride rather than sacrifice an honest man who loves her—is the most priceless of all treasures. When such a woman marries, if her husband only wins her esteem and regard, he wins enough to ennoble his whole life. You have spoken, dearest, of your place in my esti- mation. Judge what that place is—when I im- plore you on my knees, to let the cure of your poor wounded heart be my care. Rachel ! will
you honor me, will you bless me, by being my
By this time I should certainly have decided on stopping my ears, if Rachel had not en- couraged me to keep them open, by answering him in the first sensible words I had ever heard fall from her lips.
" Godfrey!" she said, " you must be mad!"
" I never spoke more reasonably, dearest—in your interests, as well as in mine. Look for a moment to the future. Is your happiness to be sacrificed to a man who has never known how you feel toward him, and whom you are resolved never to see again ? Is it not your duty to yourself to forget this ill fated attachment ? and is forgetfulness to be found in the life you are leading now ? You have tried that life and you are wearying of it already. Surround yourself with nobler interests than the wretched interests of the world. A heart that loves and honors you ; a home whose peaceful claims and happy duties win gently on you day by day—try the consolation, Rachel, which is to be found there! I don't ask for your love—I will be content with your affection and regard. Let the rest be left, confidently left, to your husband's devotion, and to Time that heals even wounds as deep as yours."
She began to yield already. Oh, what a bringing up she must have had ! Oh, how differently I should have acted in her place!'
" Don't tempt me, Godfrey," she said, " I am wretched enough and reckless enough as it is. Don't tempt me to be more wretched and
more reckless still!"
" One question, Rachel. Have you any per- sonal objection to me?"
"I! I always liked you. After what you have just said to me, I should be insensible indeed if I didn't respect and admire you as well."
" Do you know many wives, my dear Rachel, who respect and admire their husbands ? And yet they and their husbands get on very well. How many brides go to the altar with hearts that would bear inspection by the men who take them there ? And yet it doesn't end unhappily —somehow or other the nuptial establishment jogs on. The truth is, that women try marriage as a refuge, far more numerously than they are willing to admit, and, what is more, they find that marriage has justified their confidence in it. Look at your own case once again. At your age, and with your attractions, is it possible for you to sentence yourself to a single life ? Trust my knowledge of the world—nothing is less possible. It is merely a question of time. You may marry some other man, some years hence. Or you may marry the man, dearest, who is now at your feet, and who prizes your respect and admiration above the love of any other woman on the face of the earth."
" Gently, Godfrey ! you are putting something into my head which I never thought of before. You are tempting me with a new prospect, when all my other prospects are closed before me. I tell you again, I am miserable enough and des- perate enough, if you say another word, to marry you on your own terms. Take the warn- ing, and go!"
" I won't even rise from my knees till you have said yes !"
" If I say yes you will repent, and I shall re- pent when it is too late !"
" We shall both bless the day, darling, when I pressed, and when you yielded."
" Do you feel as confidently as you speak ?"
" You shall judge for yourself I speak from what I have seen in my own family. Tell me what you think of our household at Frizinghall. Do my father and mother live unhappily to-
" Far from it—so far as I can see."
" When my mother was a girl, Rachel (it is no secret in the family), she had loved as you love—she had given her heart to a man who was unworthy of her. She married my father, respecting him, admiring him, but nothing more. Your own eyes have seen the result. Is there no encouragement in it for you and for me?"
" You won't hurry me, Godfrey ?" " My time shall be yours."
" You won't ask me for more than I can give ?"
" My angel! I only ask you to give me your-
In those two words she accepted him!
He had another burst—a burst of unholy rap- ture this time. He drew her nearer and nearer to him till her face touched his, and then— No! I really can not prevail upon myself to carry this shocking disclosure any farther. Let me only say that I tried to close my eyes before
it happened, and that I was just one moment too late I had calculated, you see, on her resisting. She submitted. To every right-feeling person of my own sex volumes could say no more.
Even my innocence in such matters began to see its way to the end of the interview now. They understood each other so thoroughly by this time that I fully expected to see them walk off together, arm in arm, to be married. There appeared, however, judging by Mr. Godfrey's next words, to be one more trifling formality which it was necessary to observe. He seated himself—unforbidden this time—on the ottoman by her side. " Shall I speak to your dear mother ?" he asked. " Or will you ?"
She declined both alternatives.
" Let my mother hear nothing from either of us until she is better. I wish it to be kept a secret for the present, Godfrey. Go now, and come back this evening. We have been here alone together quite long enough."
She rose, and, in rising, looked for the first time toward the little room in which my martyr- dom was going on.
" Who has drawn those curtains ?" she ex- claimed. "The room is close enough, as it is, without keeping the air out of it in that way."
She advanced to the curtains. At the mo- ment when she laid her hand on them—at the moment when the discovery of me appealed to be quite inevitable—the voice of the fresh colored young footman, on the stairs, suddenly suspended any further proceedings on her side or on mine. It was unmistakably the voice of a man in great alarm.
" Miss Rachel" he called out, " where are you, Miss Rachel ?"
She sprang back from tho curtains and ran to
Tho footman came just inside the room. His ruddy color was all gone. He said, " Please to come down stairs, miss! My lady has fainted, and we can t bring her to again."
In a moment more I was alone, and free to go down stairs in my turn, quite unobserved.
Mr. Godfrey passed me in the hall, hurrying out to fetch the doctor. "Go in, and help them!" he said, pointing to the room. I found Rachel on her knees by the sofa, with her mo- tier's head on her bosom. One look at my aunt's face (knowing what I know) was enough to warn me of the dreadful truth. I kept my thoughts to myself till the doctor came in. It was not long before he arrived. He begun by sending Rachel out of the room—and then he told the rest of us that Lady Verinder. was no more Serious persons, in search of proofs of hardened scepticism, may be interested in hear- ing that he showed no signs of remorse when he
looked at me.
At a later hour I peeped into the breakfast room and the library. My aunt had died with out opening one of the letters which I had ad- dressed to her. I was so shocked at this that it never occurred to me, until some days after- ward, that she had also died without giving me my little legacy.
Lady Verinder's death left her daughter under the care of her brother-in-law, Mr. Able- white the elder. He was appointed guardian by the will, until his niece married, or came of age. Under those circumstances, Mr Godfrey informed his father, I suppose, of the new re- lation in which he stood toward Rachel. At any rate, in ten days from my aunt's death, the secret of the marriage engagement was no secret at all within the circle of the family, and the grand question for Mr. Ablewhite senior— another confirmed castaway!—was how to make himself and his authority most agreeable to the wealthy young lady who was going to marry
Rachel gave him some trouble, at the outset, about the choice of a place in which she could be prevailed upon to reside. The house in Montagu Square was associated with the calamity of her mother's death. The house in Yorkshire was associated with the scandalous affair of the lost Moonstone. Her guardian's own residence at Frizinghall was open to neither of these objections. But Rachel's presence in it, after her recent bereavement, operated as a check on the gaieties of her cousins, the Miss Ablewhites—and she herself requested that here visit might b deferred to a more favorable opportunity. It ended in a proposal, emanating from old Mr. Ablewhite, to try a furnished house at Brighton. His wife, an invalid daughter, and Rachel were to inhabit it together, and were to expect him to join them later in the season. They would see no society but a few old friends, and they would have his son, Godfrey, travel-
ling backward and forward by the London train, always at their disposal.
I describe this aimless flitting about from one place of residence to another—this insatiate rest-
lessness of body and appalling stagnation of soul —merely with a view of arriving at results. The event which (under Providence) proved to be the means of bringing Rachel Verinder and my- self together again, was no other than the luring of the house at Brighton.
My Aunt Ablewhite is a large, silent, fair complexioned woman, with one noteworthy point in her character. From the hour of her birth she has never been known to do anything for herself. She has gone through life accept- ing everybody's help, and adopting everybody's opinions. A more helpless person, in a spiritual point of view, I have never met with—there is absolutely, in this perplexing case, no obstruc- tive material to work upon. Aunt Ablewhite
would listen to the Grand Lama of Thibet ex- actly as she listens to me, and would reflect his views quite as readily as she reflects mine. She found the furnished house at Brighton by stop- ping at an hotel in London, composing herself on a sofa and sending for her son. She dis-
covered the necessary servants by breakfasting in bed one morning (still at the hotel), and giving her maid a holiday on condition that the girl " would begin enjoying herself by fetching Miss Clack. " I found her placidly fanning herself in her dressing gown at 11 0'clock. " Drusilla, dear, I want some servants. You are so clever —please get them for me. " I looked round the untidy room. The church bells were going for a week-day service , they suggested a word of affectionate remonstrance on my part. " Oh, aunt!" I said, sadly, "is this worthy of a Christian Englishwoman ? Is the passage from time to eternity to be made in this manner?" My aunt answered, " I'll put on my gown, Dru- silla, if you will be kind enough to help me." What was to be said after that ? I have done wonders with murderesses—I have never ad- vanced an inch with Aunt Ablewhite. " Where is the list," I asked, " of the servants whom you require?" My aunt shook her head, she hadn't even energy enough to keep the list. " Rachel has got it, dear," she said, " in the next room." I went into the next room, and so saw Rachel again, for the first time since we had parted in Montagu Square.
She looked pitiably small and thin in her deep mourning. If I attached any serious importance to such a perishable trifle as personal appear-
ance, I might be inclined to add that hers was one of those unfortunate complexions which always suffers when not relieved by a border of white next the skin. But what are our com- plexions and our looks ? Hindrances and pitfalls, dear girls, which beset us on our way to higher things! Greatly to my surprise, Rachel rose when I entered the room, and came forward to meet me with outstretched hand.
"I am glad to see you," she said "Dru- silla, I have been in the habit of speaking very foolishly and very rudely to you, on former occasions I beg your pardon. I hope you will forgive me."
"Where is the list, dear ?" was all I could say.
Rachel produced it.
" Cook, kitchen maid, house-maid, and foot- man, I read. " My dear Rachel, these servants are only wanted for a term—the term during which your guardian has taken the house. We shall have great difficulty in finding persons of character and capacity to accept a temporary engagement of that sort, if we try in London.
Has the house at Brighton been found yet?"
"Yes. Godfrey has taken it ; and persons in
the house wanted him to hire them as servants. He thought they would hardly do for us, and came back having settled nothing."
"And you have no experience yourself in these matters, Rachel ?"
" None whatever."
" And Aunt Ablewhite won't exert herself?"
" No, poor dear. Don't blame her, Drusilla. I think she is the only really happy woman I
have ever met with."
" There are degrees in happiness, darling. We must have a little talk some day on that subject. In the mean time I will undertake to meet the difficulty about the servants. Your aunt will write a letter to the people of the
" She will sign a letter if I write it for her, which comes to the same thing."
" Quito the same thing. I shall get the letter, and I will go to Brighton to-morrow."
" How extremely kind of you! We will join you as soon as you are ready for us. And you will stay, I hope, as my guest. Brighton is so lively ; you are sure to enjoy it.
In those words the invitation was given, and the glorious prospect of interference was opened before me, and all was soon ready.
Between 6 and 7 the travellers arrived. To my indescribable surprise they were escorted, not by Mr. Godfrey (as I had anticipated), but by the lawyer, Mr. Bruff.
"How do you do, Miss Clack?" he said. " I mean to stay this time."
That reference to the occasion on which I had
obliged him to postpone his business to mine, when we were both visiting in Montagu Square, satisfied me that the old worldling had come to Brighton with some object of his own in view. I had prepared quite a little Paradise for my beloved Rachel—and here was the serpent already!
" Godfrey was very much vexed, Drusilla, not to be able to come with us," said my Aunt Ablewhite. "There was something in the way which kept him in town. Mr. Bruff volunteered to take his place, and make a holiday of it till Monday morning. Bye-the-by, Mr. Bruff, I'm ordered to take exercise, and I don't like it.
That," added Aunt Ablewhite, pointing out of the window to an invalid going by in a chair on wheels, drawn by a man, " is my idea of exer-
cise. If it's air you want, you got it in your chair. And if it's fatigue you want, I'm sure it's fatiguing enough to look at the man."
Rachel stood silent at a window by herself, with her eyes fixed on the sea.
"Tired love?" I inquired.
" No. Only a little out of spirits," she an- swered. " I have often seen the sea, on our Yorkshire coast, with that light on it. And I was thinking, Drusilla, of the days that can never come again."
Mr. Bruff remained to dinner, and stayed through the evening. The more I saw of him, the more certain I felt that he had some private end to serve in coming to Brighton. I watched him carefully. He maintained the same ap- pearance of case, and talked the same godless gossip, hour after hour, until it was time to take leave. As he shook hands with Rachel I caught his hard and cunning eye resting on her for a moment with a very peculiar interest and at- tention. She was plainly concerned in the ob- ject that he had in view. He said nothing out of the common to her or to any one, on leaving. He invited himself to luncheon the next day, and then he went away to his hotel.
It was impossible, the next morning, to get my Aunt Ablewhite out of her dressing gown in time for church. Her invalid daughter (suffer- ing from nothing, in my opinion, but incurable laziness, inherited from her mother) announced that she meant to remain in bed for the day.
Rachel and I went alone together to church. A magnificent sermon was preached by my gifted friend, on the heathen indifference of the world to the sinfulness of little sins. For more than an hour his eloquence (assisted by his glorious voice) thundered through the sacred edifice. I said to Rachel, when we came out, " Has it found its way to your heart, dear ?" And she answered, "No, it has only made my head ache." This might have been discouraging to some people. But, once embarked on a career of manifest usefulness, nothing discourages me.
We found Aunt Ablewhite and Mr. Bruff at
luncheon. When Rachel declined eating any-
thing, and gave as a reason for it that she was suffering from a headache, the lawyer's cunning instantly saw, and seized, the chance that she had given him.
" There is only one remedy for a headache," said this horrible old man. " A walk, Miss Rachel, is the thing to cure you. I am entirely at your service, if you will honor me by accept- ing my arm."
" With the greatest pleasure. A walk is the very thing I was longing for."
" It's past 2," I gently suggested " And the afternoon service, Rachel, begins at 3."
" How can you expect me to go to church again," she asked, petulantly, "with such a
headache as mine ?"
Mr. Bruff officiously opened the door for her. In a minute more they were both out of the house. I don't know when I have felt the solemn duty of interfering so strongly as I felt it at that moment. But what was to be done ?
Nothing was to be done but to interfere, at the first opportunity, later in the day.
On my return from the afternoon service, I found that they had just got back. One look at them told me that the lawyer had said what he wanted to say. I had never before seen Rachel so silent and so thoughtful. I had never before seen Mr. Bruff pay her such devoted attention, and look at her with such marked respect. He had (or pretended that he had) an engagement to dinner that day—and he took an early leave of us all, intending to go back to London by the first train the next morning.
" Are you sure of your own resolution ?" he
said to Rachel at the door.
" Quite sure," she answered—and so they parted.
The moment his back was turned Rachel
withdrew to her own room. She never appeared at dinner. Her maid (the person with the cap- ribbons) was sent down stairs to announce that her headache had returned. I ran up to her, and made all sorts of sisterly offers through the door. It was locked, and she kept it locked. Plenty of obstructive material to work on here! I felt greatly cheered and stimulated by her locking the door.
When her cup of tea went up to her the next morning I followed it in. I sat by her bedside and said a few earnest words. She listened with languid civility. I noticed my serious friend's precious publications huddled together on a table in a corner. Had she chanced to look into them ?—I asked. Yes—and they had not in- terested her. Would she allow me to read a few passages, of the deepest interest, which had probably escaped her eye ? No, not now—she had other things to think of. She gave these answers, with her attention apparently absorbed in folding and refolding the frill of her night
gown. It was plainly necessary to rouse her by some reference to those worldly interests which
she still had at heart.
"Do you know, love," I said, "I had an odd fancy, yesterday, about Mr. Bruff? I thought, when I saw you after your walk with him, that he had been telling you some bad
Her fingers dropped from the frilling of her night gown, and her fierce black eyes flashed at
" Quite the contrary!" she said. " It was news I was interested in hearing—and I am deeply indebted to Mr Bruff for telling me of
"Yes?" I said, in a tone of gentle interest.
Her fingers went back to the frilling, and she turned her head sullenly away from me. I had been met in this manner, in the course of plying the good work, hundreds of times. She merely stimulated me to try again. In my dauntless zeal for her welfare I ran the great risk, and openly alluded to her marriage engagement.
" News you were interested in hearing ?" I repeated. "I suppose, my dear Rachel, that must be news of Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite ?"
She started up in the bed and turned deadly pale. It was evidently on the tip of her tongue
to retort on me with the unbridled insolence of former times. She checked herself—laid her
head back on the pillow—considered a minute —and then answered in these remarkable words :
" I shall never marry Mr. Godfrey Able-
It was my turn to start at that.
"What can you possibly mean ?" I exclaimed "The marriage is considered by the whole family as a settled thing?"
" Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite is expected here to- day," she said, doggedly " Wait till he comes
—and you will see."
" But my dear Rachel—"
She rang the bell at the hood of her bed. The person with the cap-ribbons appeared.
" Penelope! my bath."
Let me give her her due. In the state of my mind, at that moment, I do sincerely believe that she had hit on the only possible way of forcing me to leave the room.
She came down to breakfast, but she ate no- thing, and hardly uttered a word.
After breakfast she wandered listlessly from room to room—then suddenly roused herself and opened the piano. The music she selected to play was of the most scandalously profane sort, associated with performances on the stage which it curdles one's blood to think of. It would have been premature to interfere with her at such a time as this I privately ascer- tained the hour at which Mr, Godfrey Ablewhite was expected, and then I escaped the music by leaving the house.
Being out alone I took the opportunity of calling upon my two resident friends. It was an indescribable luxury to find myself indulg- ing in earnest conversation with serious persons. Infinitely encouraged and refreshed I turned my steps back again to the house, in excellent time to await the arrival of our expected visitor. I entered the dining-room, always empty at that hour of the day—and found myself face to face with Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite.
He made no attempt to fly the place. Quite the contrary. He advanced to meet me with the utmost eagerness.
" Dear Miss Clack, I have been only waiting to see you! Chance set me free of my London engagements to-day sooner than I expected— and I have got here, in consequence, earlier than my appointed time."
Not the slightest embarrassment encumbered his explanation though this was his first meet- ing with me after the scene in Montagu Square. He was not aware, it is true, of my having been a witness of that scene. But he knew, on the otherhand, that my attendances at the Mother's- Small-Clothes, and my relations with friends attached to other charities, must have informed me of his shameless neglect of his ladies and his poor. And yet there he was before me in full possession of his charming voice and his irresist-
" Have you seen Rachel yet ?" I asked.
He sighed gently, and took me by the hand. I should certainly have snatched my hand away, if the manner in which he gave his answer had not paralyzed me with astonishment.
" I have seen Rachel," he said, with perfect tranquility. "You are aware, dear friend, that she was engaged to me? Well, she has taken a sudden resolution to break the engagement.
Reflection has convinced her that she will best consult her welfare and mine by retract-
ing a rash promise, and leaving me free to make some happier choice elsewhere. That is the only reason she will give, and the only answer she will make to every question that I can ask
" What have you done on your side ?" I in- quired. " Have you submitted?"
His conduct, under the circumstances, was so utterly inconceivable that I stood bewildered with my hand in his. It is a piece of rudeness to stare at anybody, and it is an act of indelicacy to stare at a gentleman. I committed both those improprieties. And I said, as if in a dream,
' What does it mean ?"
" Permit me to tell you," he replied. " And suppose we sit down ?"
He led me to a chair. I have an indistinct
remembrance that he was very affectionate. I don't think he put his arm round my waist to support me—but I am not sure. I was quite helpless, and his ways with ladies were very en- dearing. At any rate, we sat down. I can answer for that, if I can answer for nothing
" I have lost a beautiful girl, an excellent social position and a handsome income," Mr. Godfrey began , "and I have submitted to it without a struggle. What can be the motive for such extraordinary conduct as that? My precious friend, there is no motive."
" No motive?" I repeated.
" Let me appeal, dear Miss Clack, to your experience of children," he went on. " A child pursues a certain course of conduct. You are greatly struck by it, and you attempt to get at the motive. The dear little thing is incapable of telling you its motive. You might as well ask the grass why it grows, or the birds why they sing. Well! in this matter, I am like the dear little thing—like the grass—like the birds. I don't know why I made a proposal of marriage to Miss Verinder. I don't know why I have shamefully neglected my dear ladies. I don't know why I have apostatised from the Mothers'—
Small-Clothes. You say to the child, why have you been naughty? And the little angel puts its finger into its mouth, and doesn't know. My case exactly, Miss Clack! I couldn't con- fess it to anybody else. I feel impelled to con- fess it to you!"
I began to recover myself. A mental problem was involved here. I am deeply interested in mental problems—and I am not, it is thought, without some skill in solving them.
" Best of friends, exert your intellect, and help me," he proceeded. "Tell me—why does a time come when those matrimonial pro- ceedings of mine begin to look like something done in a dream? Why does it suddenly occur to me that my true happiness is in helping my dear ladies, in going my modest round of useful work, in saying my few earnest words when called on by my chairman ? What do I want with a position ? I have got a position. What do I want with an income ? I can pay for my bread and cheese, and my nice little lodging, and my two coats a year. What do I want
with Miss Verinder? She has told me with
her own lips (this, dear lady, is between our- selves) that she loves another man, and that her only idea in marrying me is to try and put that other man out of her head. What a horrid union is this! Oh, dear me, what a horrid union is this! Such are my reflections, Miss Clack, on my way to Brighton. I approach Rachel with the feeling of a criminal who is going to receive his sentence. When I find that she has changed her mind too—when I hear her propose to break the engagement—I experience (there is no sort of doubt about it) a most overpowering sense of relief. A month ago I was pressing her rapturously to my bosom. An hour ago, the happiness of knowing that I shall never press her again, intoxicated me like strong liquor. The thing seems im- possible—the thing can't be. And yet there are the facts, as I had the honor of stating them when we first sat down together in these two chairs. I have lost a beautiful girl, an excel-
lent social position, and a handsome income, and I have submitted to it without a struggle. Can you account for it, dear friend? It's quite beyond me."
His magnificent head sank on his breast, and he gave up his own mental problem in despair.
I was deeply touched. The case (if I may speak as a spiritual physician) was now quite plain to me. It is no uncommon event, in the experience of us all, to see the possessors of exalted ability occasionally humbled to the level of the most poorly gifted people about them.
The object, no doubt, in the wise economy of Providence, is to remind greatness that it is mortal, and that the power which has conferred it can also take it away. It was now—to my mind—easy to discern one of those salutary humiliations in the deplorable proceedings on dear Mr. Godfrey's part, of which I had been the unseen witness. And it was equally easy to recognise the welcome reappearance of his
own finer nature in the horror with which he
recoiled from the idea of a marriage with Rachel, and in the charming eagerness which he showed to return to his ladies and his poor.
I put this view before him in a few simple and sisterly words. His joy was beautiful to
see. He compared himself, as I went on, to a lost man emerging from the darkness into the light. When I answered for a loving recep- tion of him, at the Mothers'-Small-Clothes, the grateful heart of our hero overflowed. He pressed my hands alternately to his lips. Overwhelmed by the exquisite triumph of hav- ing got him back among us, I let him do what he liked with my hands. I closed my eyes. I felt my head, in an ecstacy of spiritual self-for-
getfulness, sinking on his shoulder. In a moment more I should certainly have swooned away in his arms, but for an interruption from the outer world, which brought me to myself again. A horrid rattling of knives and forks sounded outside the door, and the footman came in to lay the table for luncheon.
Mr. Godfrey started up, and looked at the clock on the mantel-piece.
"How time flies with you!" he exclaimed. " I shall barely catch the train."
I ventured on asking why he was in such a hurry to get back to town. His answer re- minded me of family difficulties that were still to be reconciled, and of family disagreements that were yet to come.
"I have heard from my father," he said. "Business obliges him to leave Frizinghall for London to-day, and he proposes coming on here, either this evening or to-morrow. I must tell him what has happened between Rachel and me. His heart is set on our marriage— there will be great difficulty, I fear, in recon- ciling him to the breaking off of the engage- ment I must stop him, for all our sakes, from coming here till he is reconciled. Best and dearest of friends, we shall meet again!"
With these words he hurried out. In equal haste on my side, I ran up stairs to compose myself in my own room before meeting Aunt Ablewhite and Rachel at the luncheon-table.
I am well aware—to dwell for a moment yet on the subject of Mr. Godfrey—that the all- profaning opinion of the world has charged him with having his own private reasons for releas-
ing Rachel from her engagement, at the first opportunity she gave him. It has also reached my ears, that his anxiety to recover his place in my estimation has been attributed, in certain quarters, to a mercenary eagerness to make his peace (through me) with a venerable committee woman at the Mothers'-Small-Clothes, abund- antly blessed with the goods of this world, and a beloved and intimate friend of my own. I only notice these odious slanders for the sake of declaring that they never had a moment's in- fluence on my mind. In obedience to my instructions, I have exhibited the fluctuations in my opinion of our hero, exactly as I find them recorded in my diary. In justice to myself, let me here add that, once reinstated in his place in my estimation, my gifted friend never lost that place again. I write with the tears in my eyes burning to say more. But no—I am cruelly limited to my actual experi- ence of persons and things. In less than a
month from the time of which I am now
writing, events in the money market (which diminished even my miserable little income) forced me into foreign exile, and left me with nothing but a loving remembrance of Mr. God- frey which the slander of the world has assailed,
and assailed in vain.
Let me dry my eyes, and return to my narra-
I went down stairs to luncheon, naturally anxious to see how Rachel was affected by her release from her marriage engagement.
It appeared to me—but I own I am a poor authority in such matters—that the recovery of her freedom had set her thinking again of that other man whom she loved, and that she was furious with herself for not being able to con- trol a revulsion of feeling of which she was secretly ashamed. Who was the man? I had my suspicions—but it was needless to waste time in idle speculation. When I had con- verted her, she would, as a matter of course have no concealment from me. I should hear all about the man. I should hear all about the
Moonstone. If I had had no higher object in stirring her up to a sense of spiritual things the motive of relieving her mind of its guilty secrets would have been enough of itself to en- courage me to go on.
Aunt Ablewhite took her exercise in the after- noon in an invalid chair. Rachel accompanied her. " I wish I could drag the chair," she broke out, recklessly. "I wish I could fatigue myself till I was ready to drop !"
She was in the same humor in the evening. I discovered in one of my friend's precious pub- lications—The Life, Letters, and Labors of Miss Jane Ann Stamper, forty-fifth edition— passages which bore with a marvellous appro- priateness on Rachel's present position. Upon my proposing to lead them, she wont to the piano. Conceive how little she must have known of serious people, if she supposed that my patience was to be exhausted in that way! I kept Miss Jane Ann Stamper by me, and waited for events with the most unfaltering
trust in the future.
Old Mr. Ablewhite never made his appearance that night. But I knew the importance which his worldly greed attached to his son's marriage with Miss Verinder—and I felt a positive con- notion (do what Mr. Godfrey might to prevent it) that we should see him the next day. With his interference in the matter the storm on which I had counted would certainly come, and the salutary exhaustion of Rachel's resisting powers would as certainly follow. I am not ignorant that old Mr. Ablewhite has the repu- tation generally (especially among his inferiors) of being a remarkably good natured man. Ac- cording to my observation of him, he deserves his reputation as long as he has his own way, and not a moment longer.
His next day, exactly as I had foreseen, Aunt Ablewhite was as near to being astonished as her nature would permit, by the sudden ap- pearance of her husband. He had barely been a minute in the house, before he was followed, to my astonishment this time, by an unexpected complication, in the shape of Mr. Bruff.
I never remember feeling the presence of the lawyer to be more unwelcome than I felt it at that moment. He looked ready for anything in the way of an obstructive proceeding—capable even of keeping the peace, with Rachel for one
of the combatants !
" This is a pleasant surprise, sir," said Mr. Ablewhite, addressing himself with his decep- tive cordiality ta Mr. Bruff. "When I left your office yesterday, I didn't expect to have the honor of seeing you at Brighton to-day."
" I turned over our conversation in my mind after you had gone," replied Mr. Bruff. " And it occurred to me that I might perhaps be of some use on this occasion. I was just in time to catch the train, and I had no opportunity of discovering the carriage in which you were travelling."
Having given that explanation, he seated himself by Rachel, I retired modestly to a corner—with Miss Jane Ann Stamper on my lap, in case of emergency. My aunt sat at the window, placidly fanning herself as usual. Mr Ablewhite stood up in the middle of the room, with his bald head much pinker than I had ever seen it yet, and addressed himself in the
most affectionate manner to his niece.
" Rachel, my dear," he said, " I have heard some very extraordinary news from Godfrey. And I am here to enquire about it. You have a sitting room of your own in this house. Will you honor me by showing me the way to
Rachel never moved. Whether she was de-
termined to bring matters to a crisis, or whether she was prompted by some private sign from Mr. Bruff, is more than I can tell. She declined doing old Mr. Ablewhite the honor of conduct- ing him to her sitting room.
" Whatever you wish to say to me," she answered, " can be said here—in the presence of my relatives, and in the presence" (she looked at Mr. Bruff) " of my mother's trusted
' Just as you please, my dear," said the amiable Mr. Ablewhite. He took a chair. The rest of them looked at his face—as if they ex- pected it, after seventy years of worldly train- ing, to speak the truth. I looked at the top of his bald head, having noticed, on other occasions, that the temper which was really in him had a habit of registering itself there.
" Some weeks ago," pursued the old gentle-
man, " my son informed me that Miss Verinder had done him the honor to engage herself to marry him. Is it possible, Rachel, that he can have misinterpreted—or presumed upon—what you really said to him ?"
" Certainly not," she replied "I did en- gage myself to marry him.
" Very frankly answered!" said Mr. Able-
white. "And most satisfactory, my dear, so far. In respect to what happened some weeks since, Godfrey has made no mistake. The error is evidently in what he told me yesterday. I begin to see it now. You and he have had a
lovers' quarrel—and my foolish son has inter- preted it seriously. Ah! I should have known better than that, at his age."
The fallen nature in Rachel—the mother Eve, so to speak—began to chafe at this.
"Pray let us understand each other, Mr. Ablewhite," she said. " Nothing in the least like a quarrel took place yesterday between your son and me. If he told you that I pro- posed breaking off our marriage engagement, and that he agreed on his side—he told you the
The self-registering thermometer at the top of Mr. Ablewhite's bald head, began to indicate a rise of temper. His face was more amiable than ever—but there was the pink at the top of his face, a shade deeper already!
" Come, come, my dear," he said in his most soothing manner, "now don't be angry, and don't be hard on poor Godfrey ! He has evi-
dently said some unfortunate thing. He was always clumsy from a child—but he means well, Rachel, he means well!"
"Mr. Ablewhite, I have either expressed my self very badly, or you are purposely mistaking me. Once for all, it is a settled thing between your son and myself that we remain, for the rest of our lives, cousins and nothing more. Is that plain enough ?"
The tone in which she said those words made it impossible, even for old Mr. Ablewhite, to mistake her any longer. His thermometer went up another degree, and his voice when he next spoke, ceased to be the voice which is appropriate to a notoriously good-natured man.
"I am to understand, then," he said " that your marriage engagement is broken off?"
"You arr to understand that, Mr. Ablewhite, if you please."
" I am also to take it as a matter of fact that the proposal to withdraw from the engagement came in the first instance, from you ?"
" It came, in the first instance, from me And it met, as I have told you, with your son's consent and approval."
The thermometer went up to the top of the register. I mean, the pink changed suddenly
"My son is a mean-spirited hound!" cried this furious old worldling. " In justice to my- self as his father—not in justice to him—I beg to ask you, Miss Verinder, what complaint you have to make of Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite ?"
Here Mr. Bruff interfered for the first time.
"You are not bound to answer that question,"
he said to Rachel.
Old Mr. Ablewhite fastened on him instantly. "Don't forget, sir," he said, "that you are a self-invited guest here. Your interference would have come with a bettor grace if you
had waited till it was asked for."
Mr. Bruff took no notice. The smooth varnish on his wicked old face never cracked. Rachel thanked him for the advice he had given to her, and then turned to old Mr. Ablewhite —preserving her composure in a manner which (having regard to her age and her sex) was simply awful to see.
" Your son put the same question to me which you have just asked," she said. "I had only one answer for him, and I have only one answer for you. I proposed that we should release each other, because reflection had oon- vince me that I should best consult his wel- fare and mine by retracting a rash promise, and leaving him free to make his choice elsewhere."
" What has my son done ?" persisted Mr. Ablewhite. "I have a right to know that. What has my son done?"
She persisted just as obstinately on her
"You have had tho only explanation which I think it necessary to give you, or to him," she
"In plain English, it's your sovereign will and pleasure, Miss Verinder, to jilt my son ?"
Rachel was quiet for a moment. Sitting close behind her, I heard her sigh. Mr. Bruff took her hand, and gave it a little squeeze. She re- covered herself, and answered Mr. Ablewhite as boldly as ever.
"I have exposed myself to worse miscon- struction than that," she said "And I have borne it patiently. The time has gone by when you could mortify me by calling me a jilt."
She spoke with a bitterness of tone which satisfied me that the scandal of the Moonstone had been in some way recalled to her mind. " I have no more to say," she added, wearily, not addressing the words to anyone in particu- lar, and looking away from us all, out of the
window that was nearest to her.
Mr. Ablewhite got upon his foot, and pushed away his chair so violently that it toppled over
and fell on the floor.
" I have something more to say on my side," ho announced, bringing down the flat of his hand on the table with a bang. "I have to say that if my son doesn't feel this insult, I
Rachel started, and looked at him in sudden
"Insult?" she repeated "What do you
" Insult!" reiterated Mr. Ablewhite. " I know your motive, Miss Verinder, for breaking your promise to my son ! I know it as certainly as if you had confessed it in so many words. Your cursed family pride is insulting Godfrey, as it insulted me when I married your aunt. Her family—her beggarly family—turned their backs on her for marrying an honest man, who had made his own place and won his own for- tune. I had no ancestors .I wasn't descended from a set of cut-throat scoundrels who lived by robbery and murder. I couldn't point to the time when the Ablewhites hadn't a shirt to their backs, and couldn't sign their own names. Ha! ha! I wasn't good enough for the Hern- castles, when I married. And, now it comes to the pinch, my son isn't good enough for you. I suspected it all along. You have got the Herncastle blood in you, my young lady! I suspected it all along."
" A very unworthy suspicion," remarked Mr. Bruff. " I am astonished that you have the courage to acknowledge it."
Before Mr. Ablewhite could find words to answer in, Rachel spoke in a tone of the most exasperating contempt.
" Surely," she said to to lawyer, " this is beneath notice. If he can think in that way, let us leave him to think as he pleases."
From scarlet, Mr. Ablewhite was now be- coming purple. He gasped for breath, he looked, backwards and forwards from Rachel to Mr. Bruff in such a frenzy of rage with both of them that he didn't know which to attack first. His wife, who had sat impenetrably fanning herself up to this time, began to be alarmed, and attempted, quite uselessly, to quiet him. I had, throughout this distressing interview, felt more than one inward call to interfere with a few earnest words, and had controlled myself under a dread of the possible results, very un- worthy of a Englishwoman who looks, not to what is meanly prudent, but to what is morally right. At the point at which matters had now arrived, I rose superior to all considerations of more expediency. If I had contemplated in- terposing any remonstrance of my own humble devising, I might possibly still have hesitated. But the distressing domestic emergency which now confronted me, was most marvellously and beautifully provided for in the correspondence of Miss Jane Ann Stamper—leetter one thou- sand and one, on " Peace in Families " I rose in my modest corner, and I opened my precious
" Dear Mr. Ablewhite, I said, " one word!" When I first attracted the attention of the company by rising, I could see that he was on the point of saying something rude to me. My sisterly form of address chocked him. He
stared in heathen astonishment.
" As an affectionate well-wisher and friend," I proceeded, " and as one long accustomed to arouse, convince, prepare, enlighten, and fortify others, permit me to take the most pardonable of all liberties—the liberty of composing your
He began to recover himself, he was on the point of breaking out—he would have broken out, with anybody else. But my voice (habit- ually gentle) possesses a high note or so, in emergencies. In this emergency, I felt im- peratively called upon to have the highest
voice of the two.
I held up my precious book before him ; I rapped the open page impressively with my forefinger. " Not my words!" I exclaimed, in a burst of fervent interruption. "Oh, don't
suppose that I claim attention for my humble words! Manna in the wilderness, Mr. Able- white! Dew on the parched earth! Words of comfort, words of wisdom, words of love— the blessed, blessed, blessed words of Miss Jane Ann Stamper!"
I was stopped there by a momentary impedi- ment of the breath. Before I could îrecover myself, this monster in human form shouted out furiously,
" Miss Jane Ann Stamper be ——!"
It is impossible for me to write the awful word, which is here represented by a blank. I shrieked as it passed his lips ; I flew to my little bag on the side table ; I shook out all my tracts, I seized the one particular tract on pro- fane swearing, entitled, "Hush for Heaven's Sake!" I handed it to him with an expression of agonised entreaty. He tore it in two, and threw it back at me across the table. The rest of them rose in alarm, not knowing what might happen next. I instantly sat down again in my corner. There had once been an occasion, under somewhat similar circumstances, when Miss Jane Ann Stamper had been taken by the two shoulders and turned out of a room. I
waited, inspired by her spirit, for repetition of her martydom.
But no—it was not to be. His wife was the next person whom he addressed. " Who—who —who," he said, stammering with rage, " asked this impudent fanatic into the house ? Did you?"
Before Aunt Ablewhite could say a word,
Rachel answered for her.
Miss Clack is here," she said, " as my guest."
These words had a singular effect on Mr.
Ablewhite. They suddenly changed him from a man in a state of red-hot anger to a man in a state of icy-cold contempt. It was plain to everybody that Rachel had said something— short and plain as her answer had been—which gave him the upper hand of her at last.
" Oh ?" he said. " Miss Clack is here as our guest—in my house ?"
It was Rachel's turn to lose her temper at that. Her color rose, and her eyes brightened fiercely. She turned to the lawyer, and point- ing to Mr. Ablewhite, asked, haughtily, " What
does he mean ?"
Mr. Bruff interfered for the third time.
" You appear to forget," he said, addressing Mr. Ablewhite, "that you took this home as Miss Verinder's guardian, for Miss Verinder's
"Not quite so fast," interposed Mr. Able- white. " I have a last word to say, which I should have said some time since, if this—" He looked my way, pondering what abominable name he should call me—"if this rampant spinster had not interrupted us. I beg to in- form you, sir, that, if my son is not good enough to be Miss Verinder's husband, I cannot pre- sume to consider his father good enough to be Miss Verinder's guardian. Understand, if you please, that I refuse to accept the position which is offered to me by Lady Verinder's will. In your legal phrase, I decline to act. This house has necessarily been hired in my name. I take
the entire responsibility of it on my shoulders. It is my house. I can keep it, or let it, just as I please. I have no wish to hurry Miss Ve- rinder. On the contrary, I beg her to remove her guest and her luggage, at her own entire convenience." He made a low bow, and walked
out of the room.
That was Mr. Ablewhite's revenge on Rachel, for refusing to marry his son!
The instant the door closed, Aunt Able- white exhibited a phenomenon which silenced us all. She became endowed with energy enough to cross the room !
" My door," she said, taking Rachel by the hand, " I should be ashamed of my husband, if I didn't know that it is his temper which has spoken to you, and not himself. You," con- tinued Aunt Ablewhite, turning on me in my corner with another endowment of energy, in her looks this time instead of her limbs—"you are the mischievous person who irritated him. I hope I shall never see you or your tracts again. " She went back to Rachel, and kissed her. " I beg your pardon, my dear," she said, "in my husband's name. What can I do for you ?"
Consistently perverse in everything—capri-
cious and unreasonable in all the actions of her life—Rachel melted into tears at those com- mon-place words, and returned her aunt's kiss
"If I may be permitted to answer for Miss Verinder," said Mr. Bruff, "might I ask you, Mrs. Ablewhite, to send Penelope down with
her mistress's bonnet and shawl. Leave us ten minutes together," he added, in a lower tone, " and you may rely on my setting matters right, to your satisfaction as well as to Rachel's."
The trust of the family in this man was something wonderful to see. Without a word more, on her side, Aunt Ablewhite left the
"Ah!" said Mr. Bruff, looking after her. "The Herncastle blood has its drawbacks, I admit. But there is something in good breed-
ing after all!"
Having made that purely worldly remark, he looked hard at my corner, as if he expected me to go. My interest in Rachel—an infinitely higher interest than his—rivetted me to my
Mr. Bruff gave it up exactly as he had given it up at Aunt Verinder's, in Montagu Square. He led Rachel to a chair by the window, and spoke to her there.
"My dear young lady," he said, "Mr Able- white's conduct has naturally shocked you, and taken you by surprise. If it was worth while to contest the question with such a man, we might soon show him that he is not to have things all his own way. But it isn't worth while. You were quite right in what you said just now ; he is beneath our notice."
He stopped, and looked round at my corner. I sat there quite immovable, with my tracts at my elbow, and with Miss Jane Ann Stamper on my lap.
"You know," he resumed, turning back again to Rachel, " that it was part of your poor mother's fine nature always to see the best of the people about her, and never the worst. She named her brother-in-law your guardian be- cause she believed in him, and because she thought it would please her sister. I had never liked Mr. Ablewhite myself, and I induced your mother to let me insert a clause in the will, em- powering her executors, in certain events, to consult with me about the appointment of a new guardian. One of these events has hap- pened to day, and I find myself in a position to end all these dry business details, I hope agree- ably, with a message from my wife. Will you honor Mrs. Bruff by becoming her guest? And will you remain under my roof, and be one of my family, until we wise people have laid our heads together, and have settled what is to be
At those words, I rose to interfere. Mr. Bruff had done exactly what I had dreaded he would do, when he asked Mrs. Ablewhite for Rachel's
bonnet and shawl.
Before I could interpose a word, Rachel had accepted his invitation in the warmest terms. If I suffered the arrangement thus made be- tween them to be carried out—if she once passed the threshold of Mr. Bruff's door—fare- well to the fondest hope of my life, the hope of bringing my lost sheep back to the fold! The bare idea of such a calamity as this quite over-
whelmed me. I cast the miserable trammels of worldly discretion to the winds, and spoke with the fervour that filled me, in the words that
"Stop!" I said—"stop! I must be heard. Mr. Bruff! you are not related to her, and I am. I invite her—I summon the executors to appoint me guardian. Rachel, dearest Rachel, I offer you my modest home ; come to London by the next train, love, and share it with me !"
Mr. Bruff said nothing. Rachel looked at me with a cruel astonishment which she made no effort to conceal.
" You are very kind, Drusilla," she said. " I shall hope to visit you whenever I happen to be in London. But I have accepted Mr. Bruff's invitation, and I think it will be best, for the present, if I remain under Mr. Bruff's care."
" Oh, don't say so!" I pleaded. "I can't part with you, Rachel,—I can't part with you !"
I tried to fold her in my arms. But she drew back. My fervour did not communicate itself, it only alarmed her.
"Surely," she said, "this is a very unneces- sary display of agitation? I don't understand
" No more do I," said Mr. Bruff.
Their hardness—their hideous, worldly hard-
"Oh, Rachel! Rachel!" I burst out. " Haven't you seen yet, that my heart yearns to make a disciple of you? Has no inner voice told you that I am trying to do for you what I was trying to do for your dear mother when death snatched her out of my hands ?
Rachel advanced a stop nearer, and looked at me very strangely.
" I don't understand your reference to my mother," she said. "Miss Clack, will you have the goodness to explain yourself ?"
Before I could answer, Mr. Bruff came for- ward, and offering his arm to Rachel, tried to
lead he out of the room.
" You had better not pursue the subject, my dear," he said. " And Miss Clack had better not explain herself."
If I had been a stock or a stone, such an in- terference as this must have roused me into testifying to the truth. I put Mr. Bruff aside indignantly with my own hand, and, in solemn and suitable language, I stated the view with which sound doctrine does not scruple to re- gard the awful calamity of dying unprepared.
Rachel started back from me—I blush to write it—with a scream of horror.
" Come away !" she said to Mr. Bruff. " Come away, for God's sake, before that wo- man can say any more! Oh, think of my poor mother's harmless, useful, beautiful life ! You were at the funeral, Mr. Bruff ; you saw how everybody loved her ; you saw the poor helpless people crying at her grave over the loss of their best friend. And that wretch stands there, and tries to make me doubt that my mother, who was an angel on earth, is an angel in Heaven now I Don't stop to talk about it! Come away ! It stifles me to breathe the same air with her! It frightens me to feel that we art in the same room together !"
Deaf to all remonstrance she ran to the
At the same moment her maid entered with her bonnet and shawl. She huddled them on anyhow. " Pack my things," she said, " and bring them to Mr. Bruff's." I attempted to approach her—I was shocked and grieved, but, it is needless to say, not offended. I only wished to say to her, " May your hard heart be softened ! I freely forgive you !" She pulled down her veil, and tore her shawl away from my hand, and, hurrying out, shut the door in my face. I bore the insult with my customary fortitude I remember it now with my custom- ary superiority to all feeling of offence.
Mr. Bruff had his parting word of mockery for me, before he too hurried out, in his
" You had better not have explained yourself, Miss Clack," he said, and bowed and left the
The person with the cap-ribbons followed.
" It's easy to see who has set them all by the ears together," she said. "I'm only a poor servant—but I declare I'm ashamed of you!" She too went out, and banged the
door after her.
I was left alone in the room. Reviled by them all, deserted by them all ; I was left alone
in the room. _______
Is there more to be added to this plain state- ment of facts—to this touching picture of one persecuted by the world ? No! my diary reminds me that one more of the many chequered chapters in my life ends here. From that day forth, I never saw Rachel Verin- der again. She had my forgiveness at the time when she insulted me. She has had my prayer- ful good wishes ever since. And when I die— to complete the return on my part of good for evil—she will have the Life, Letters, and Labors of Miss Jane Ann Stamper left her as a legacy by my will.
[TO BE CONTINUED.]
A Man passing through a gateway in the dark hit his nose against the post. "I wish that post was in h—l," said he. " Better wish it somewhere else," said a by-stander¡ "you might run against it again."
A .MINISTER of Indianapolis proposes that hereafter, instead of saying, " Let us sing the Doxology," the minister say, "Let us put on our over-coats, adjust furs, slip on gloves, grab our hats, look to the Lord, and be dismissed."
A LITTLE girl, just past her fifth year, while chatting about the beaux that visited two of the sweet box in the same house of a more ma-
ture age, being asked, " What do you mean by beaux, Annie ?" replied " Why, I mean men that have not got much sense."
"I stand," said a stump orator "on the broad platform of the principles of manhood
suffrage, and palsied be my arm if I desert 'em." " You stand on nothing of the kind," interrupted a little shoemaker in the crowd ; "you stand in my boots, that you never paid me for, and I want the money."
The following is the negro's definition of a gentleman : " Massa make do black man workee—make do horse workee—make de ox workee—make ebery ting workee, only de hog —he no workee ; he eat, he drink, he walk 'bout, he go to sleep when he please—he liff like a gontleman."
One day at the table of the late Mr. Pease (Dean of Ely), just as the cloth was being re- moved, the subject of discourse happened to be that of an extraordinary mortality among the lawyers. " We have lost " said a gentleman, " not less than six eminent barristers in as many months." The dean who was quite deaf, rose as his friend finished his remarks, and gave the company grace : " For this and every mercy the Lord's holy name be praised."
A LITTLE fellow of some three summer had
presented to him three little sugar dolls. As he had already stuffed more than was proper, his mamma had made him promise that he would eat no more. A solemn engagement was entered into to that effect, but in a few moments the mother discovered that one of the dolls was gone. She scolded, and received the following irresistible explanation : " I was obliged to eat one up. There was the papa, the mamma, and the little boy." " Well, why should you eat one ?" "The little boy was so disobedient."
THE latest example of grammatical com- parison comes from a student traveller who has just made a tour through the mines of Australia : " Positive, mine ; comparative, miner ; superlative, minus !"—This is almost equal to the " parsing of a bright-eyed little fellow in a country school. The word " waif" occurred in the lesson, and he puzzled over it a few moments, when, as a bright idea struck him, he burst out with, " I can parse it. Positive, waif ; comparitive, waifer ; superlative, sealing-
MAKING A GREAT FUSS.—TWO Dutch farmers in Canada, whose farms were adjacent, were out in their respective fields, when one overheard an unusual loud hallooing in the direction of a gap in a high stone wall, and ran with all speed to the place and the following brief conversation ensued : —" Shou, vat ish to matter ?" Ven, den," says John, " I was trying to climb on to the top of dish high stone wall, and I fell off, and all to stone wall tumble down on to me, and it ash broke one of mine legs off and both of mine arms off, an smashed mine ribs in, and deece pig stones are lying onto to top of mine body." " Ish dat all ?" says the other, " Vy, you hollow so big loud I tot you got de toof-
DESIRES TO BE INFORMED.—If the person that " carried " his point had no money to pay a carman.—What weapon was used to "conquer pride?"—If the person that was thrown into an excitement was severely hurt.—If the person that " arrived at a conclusion" remained over night.—If the person that " broke the silence " ever repaired it.—If the young lady that " bent her step ever straightened it.—If the person that was " lost in thought " found his way out. —The width of the " fathomless abyss."—If the person that " sold his life dearly " received more than a thousand pounds.—If the person that read another's countenance could recite it the next day.—The exact spot on the earth where " night fell."—If the person that " bit the dust didn't have the toothache.—The name of the tune that was played upon the feelings.