|Chapter Number||Second period. First narrative: III - V|
|Newspaper Title||The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)|
|Trove Title||The Moonstone|
BY WILKIE COLLINS. Author of "The Woman in White," "No Name," etc.
CONSIDERATION for poor Lady Verinder for-<*> bade me even to hint that I had guessed the melancholy truth before she opened her lips. I waited her pleasure in silence; and having
privately arranged to say a few sustaining words at the first convenient opportunity, felt prepared for any duty that could claim me, no matter how painful it might be. " I have been seriously ill, Drusilla, for some time past," my aunt began. " And, strange to say, without knowing it myself." I thought of the thousands on thousands of perishing human creatures who were all at that moment spiritually ill, without knowing it them selves. And I greatly feared that my poor aunt might be one of the number. " Yes, dear," I eaid, sadly. "Yes." " I brought Eachel to London, as you know, for medical advice," she went on. " I thought it right to consult two doctors." Two doctors! And, oh me (in Bachel's state), not one clergyman ! " Yes, dear ?" I said once more. " Yes ?" " One of the two medical men," proceeded my aunt, " was a stranger to me. The other had been an old friend of my husband's, and had always felt a sincere interest in me for my husband's sake. After prescribing for Kachel, he said he wished to speak to me privately in another room. I expected, of course, to receive some special directions for the management of my daughter's health. To my surprise, he took me gravely by the hand, and said, ' I have been looking at you-, Lady Verinder, with a profes sional as well as a personal interest. You are, I am afraid, far more urgently in need of medi cal advice than your daughter.' He put some questions to me which I was at first inclined to treat lightly enough, until I observed that my answers distressed him. It ended in his making an appointment to come and see me, accom panied by a medical friend, on the next day, at an hour when Kachel would not be at home. The result of that visit—most kindly and gently conveyed to me—satisfied both the physicians that there had been precious time lost which could never be regained, and that my case had now passed beyond the reach of their art. For more than two yearß I have been suffering Tinder an insidious form of heart disease, which, without any symptoms to alarm me, has, by little and little, fatally broken me down. I may live for some months, or I may die before another day has passed over my head—the doctors cannot, and dare not, speak more postively than this. It would be vain to say, my dear, that I have not had some miserable moments since my real situation has been made known to me. But lam more resigned than I was, and I am doing my best to set my worldly affairs in order. My one great anxiety ia that Bachel should be kept in ignorance of the truth. If she knew it, she would at once attribute my broken health to anxiety about the diamond, and would repioach herself bitterly, poor child, for what is in no sense her fault. 4 Both the doctorß agree that the mischief began two, if no£ three years since. I am sure yon will keep mw secret, Drußilla—for I am sure I see sincere^orrow and sympathy for me in your face." J Little dyTmy poor aunt imagine what a gush of devout;' thankfulness thrilled through me as she approached the close of her melancholy story.' Here was a career of usefulness opened before me! Here was a beloved relative and perishing fellow-creature on the eve of the great change, utterly unprepared; and led, providentially led, to reveal her situatiqn to me! How can I describe the joy with wbica I now remembered that the precious clerical Vriends on whom I could rely were to be counted, not by ones or twos, but by ten and twenties! I took my aunt in my arms—my overflowing tenderness was not to be satisfied now with anything less than an embrace. " Oh!" I said to her, fervently, "the indescribable interest with which you inspire me ! Oh! the good I mean to do you, dear, before we part!" After another word or two of earnest prefatory warn ing, I gave her her choice of three precious friends, all plying the work of mercy from morning to night in her neighborhood ; all equally inexhaustible in exhortation ; all affec. taonately ready to exercise their gifts at a word from me. Alas! the result was far from en couraging. Poor Lady Verinder looked puzzled and frightened, and met everything I could say to her with the purely worldly objection that she was not strong enough to face strangers. I yielded—for the moment only, of course. My large experience (as reader and visitor, under not less, firßt and last, than fourteen beloved clerical friends) informed me that this was another case for preparation by books. I possessed a little library of works, all suitable to the present emergency, all calculated to arouse, convince, prepare, enlighten, and fortify my aunt. " You will read, dear, won't you ?" I said, in my most winning way. " Yoa will read, if I bring you my own precious book 9 ? Turned down at all the right places, aunt; and marked in pencil where you are to stop and ask yourself, 'Does this apply to me?'" Even that simple appeal—so absolutely heathenising is the influence of the world—appeared to startle my aunt. She said, " I will do what I can, Drusilla, to please you," with a look of surprise, which was at once instructive and terrible to see. Not a moment was to be lost. The clock on the mantle-piece informed me that I had just time to hurry home, to pro vide myself with a first series of selected read ings (say a dozen only), and to return in time to meet the lawyer, and witness Lady Verin der's will. Promising faithfully to be back by 5 o'clock, I left the house on my errand of mercy. When no interests but my own are involved, I am humbly content to get from place to place by the omnibus. Permit me to give an idea of my devotion to my aunt's interests by recording that, on this occasion, I committed the pro digality of taking a cab. I drove home, selected and marked my first series of readings, and drove back to Montagu Square with a dozen works in a carpet-bag, the like of which, I firmly believe, arc not to be found in the literature of any other country in Europe. I paid the cabman exactly his fare. He received it with an oath; upon which I instantly gave him a tract. If I had presented a pistol at his head this abandoned wretch could hardly have exhibited greater consternation- He jumped up on his box, and, with profane exclamations of dismay, drove off furiously. Quite useless, lam happy to say! I sowed the
good seed, in spite of him, by throwing a second tract in at the window of the cab. * The servant who answered the door—not the person with the cap-ribbons, to my great relief, but the footman—informed me that the doctor had called, and was still shut up with Lady Verinder. Mr. Bruff, the lawyer, had arrived a minute since, and was waiting in the library. I was shown into the library to wait too. Mr. Bruff looked surprised to see me. He is the family solicitor, and we had met more than once, on previous occasions, under Lady Verin der's roof. A man, I grieve to say, grown old , j and grizzled in the service of the world. A man who, in his hours of business, was the chosen prophet of Law and Mammon; and who, in his hourß of leisure, was equally capable of read ing a novel and of tearing up a tract. " Have you come to stay here, Miss Clack ?" he asked, with a look at my carpet-bag. To reveal the contents of my precious bag to such a person as this would have been eimply to invite an outburst of profanity. I lowered my self to his own wordly level and mentioned my business in the house. " My aunt has informed me that she is about to sign her will," I answered. " She has been so good as to ask me to be one of the witnesses." "Ay? ay? Well, Miss Clack, you will do. You are over twenty-one, and you have not the slightest pecuniary interest in Lady Verinder's will." Not the slightest pecuniary interest in Lady Verinder's "will. Oh, how thankful I felt when I heard that! If my aunt, possessed of* thousands, had remembered poor me, to whom five pounds is an object —if my name had appeared in the will, with a little comforting legacy attached to it—my enemies might have doubted the motive which had loaded me with the choicest treasures of my library, and had drawn upon my failing resources for the prodi gal expenses of a cab. Not the crueleet scoffer of them all could doubt now. Much better as it was! Oh, surely, surely, muoh better as it was! I was aroused from these consoling reflections by the voice of Mr. Bruff. My meditative silence appeared to weigh upon the spirits of this worldling, and to force him, as it were, into talking to me against his own will. " Well, Miss Clack, what's the last news in the charitable circles ? How is your friend Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite, after the mauling he got from the rogues in Northumberland-street? Egad! they're telling a pretty story about that charitable gentleman at my club !" I had passed over the manner in which this person had remarked that I was more than twenty-one, and that I had no pecuniary inter est in my aunt's will. But the tone in which he alluded to dear Mr. Godfrey was too much for my forbearance. Feeling bound, after what had passed in my presence that afternoon, to assert the innocence of my admirable friend, whenever I found it called in question—l own to having also felt bound to include in the accomplishment of this righteous purpose a stinging castigation in the case of Mr. Bruff. " I live very much out of the world," I said; "and I don't possesß the advantage, sir, of belonging to a club. But I happen to know the story to which you allude ; and I also know .thata viler falsehood than that story never was told." " Yes, yes, Miss Clack—you believe in your friend. Natural enough. Mr. Godfrey Able white won't find the world in general quite so easy to convince as a committee of charitable ladies. Appearances are dead against him. He was in the house when the diamond was lost. And he was the firßt person in the house to go to London afterward. Those are ugly circum stances, ma'am, viewed by the light of later events." I ought, I know, to have set him right before he went any further. I ought to have told him that he was speaking in ignorance of a testi mony to Mr. Godfrey's innocence, offered by the only person who t was undeniably competent to speak from a positive knowledge of the Bubject. Alas! the temptation to lead the lawyer artfully on to his own discomfiture was too much for me. I asked what he meant by " later events *' —with an appearance of the utmost innocence. "By later events, Miss Clack, I mean events in which the Indians are concerned," proceeded Mr. Bruff, getting more and more superior to poor me the longer he went on. " What do the Indians do the moment they are let out of the prison at Frizinghall? They go straight to London and fix on Mr. Luker. What does Mr. Luker say when he first applies to the magis trates for protection ? He owns to suspecting a foreign workman in his establishment of collusion with the Indians. Can there be plainer moral evidence, so far, that the rogues had found an accomplice among the persons in Mr. Luker's employment, and that they knew the Moonstone to be in Mr. Luker's house ? Very well. What follows ? Mr. Luker feels alarmed (and with good reason) for the safety of the jewel which he has got in pledge. He lodges it privately (under a general description) in his banker's Btrong-room. Wonderfully clever of him ; but the Indians are just as clever on their side. They have their suspicions that the diamond is being shifted from one place to another; and they hit on a singularly bold and complete way of clearing those sus picions up. Whom do they seize and search ? Not Mr. Luker only—which would be intelligible enough—but Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite as well. Why? Mr. Ablewhite's explanation is, that they acted on blind suspicion, after seeing him accidentally speaking to Mr. Luker. Absurd j Half a dozen other people spoke to Mr. Luker that morning. Why were they not followed home too, and decoyed into the trap ? No! no! The plain inference is, that Mr. Ablewhite had his private interest in the Moonstone as well as Mr. Luker, and that the Indians were so uncertain as to which of the two had the dis posal of the jewel that there was no alternative but to search them both. Public opinion Bays that, Miss Clack; and public opinion, on this occasion, is not easily refuted." He said those last words looking so wonder fully wise in his own worldly conceit, that I really (to my shame be it spoken) could not resist leading him on a little farther still before I overwhelmed him with the truth. " I don't presume to argue with a clever law yer like you," I said. " But is it quite fair, sir, to Mr. Ablewhite to pass over the opinion of the famous London police-officer who investigated this case? Not the shadow of a suspicion rested on anybody but Miss Verinder, in the mind of Sergeant Cuff." "Do you mean to tell me, Miss Clack, that you agree with the sergeant ?" " I judge nobody, sir, and I offer no opinion." " And I commit both those enormities, ma'am. I judge the sergeant to have been utterly wrong; and I offer the opinion that, if he had known Rachel's character as I know it, he would hare
suspected everybody in the house before he suspected her. I admit that she has her faults —she is secret, and self-willed ; odd, and wild, and unlike other girls of her age. But true as steel, and high-minded, and generous to a fault. If the plainest evidence in the world pointed one way, and if nothing but Bachel's word of honor pointed the other, I would take her word before the evidence, lawyer as I am! Strong language, Miss Clack; but I mean it." " Would you object to illustrate your mean ing, Mr. Bruff, so that I may be sure I under i stand it? Suppose you found Miss Verinder quite unaccountably interested in what haß happened to Mr. Ablewhite and Mr. Luker ? Suppose she asked the strangest questions about this dreadful scandal, and displayed the most ungovernable agitation when she found the turn it was taking ?" " Suppose anything you please, Miss Clack, it wouldn't shake my belief in Rachel Verinder by a hairs-breadth." "She is so absolutely to be relied on as that?" " So absolutely to be relied on as that." " Then permit me to inform you, Mr. Bruff, that Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite was in this house not two hours since, and that his entire inno cence of all concern in the disappearance of the Moflnstone was proclaimed by Miss Verinder herself, in tho strongest language I ever heard used by a young lady in my life." I enjoyed the triumph—the unholy triumph, I fear, I must admit —of seeing Mr. Bruff utterly confounded and overthrown by a few plain words from me. He started to his feet and stared at] me in silence. I kept my seat, undisturbed, and related the whole scene exactly as it had occurred. " And what do you say about Mr. Ablewhite now ?" I asked, with the utmost possible gentleness, as soon as I had done. "If Rachel has testified to his innocence, Miss Clack, I don't scruple to say that I believe in his innocence as firmly as you do. I have been misled by appearances, like the rest of the world; and I will make the best atonement I can, by publicly contradicting the scandal which has assailed your friend wherever I meet with it. In the mean time, allow me to congratulate you on the masterly manner in which you have opened the full fire of your batteries on me at the moment when I least expected it. You would have done great things in my profession, me'am, if you had happened to be a man." With those words he turned away from me, and began walking irritably up and down the room. * I could see plainly that the new light I had thrown on the subject had greatly surprised And disturbed him. Certain expressions dropped from his lips as he became more and more ab sorbed in his own thoughts, which suggested to my mind the abominable view that he had hitherto taken of the mystery of the lost Moon stone. He had not scrupled to suspect dear Mr. Godfrey of the infamy of taking the diamond, and to attribute Bachel's conduct to a generous resolution to conceal the crime. On Miss Verinder's own authority—a perfectly un assailable authority, as you are aware, in the estimation of Mr. Bruff—that explanbtion of the circumstances was now shown to be utterly wrong. The perplexityjnto which I had plunged this high legal authority was so overwhelming that he was quite unable to conceal it from notice. " What a case!" I heard him say to himself, stopping at the window in his walk, and drumming on the glass with his fingers. " It not only defies explanation, it's even beyond conjecture!" There was nothing in those words which made any reply at all needful on my part—and yet I answered them! It seems hardly credible that I should not have been able to let Mr. Bruff alone, even now. It seems almost beyond mere mortal perversity that I should have discovered, in what he had just said, a new opportunity of making myself personally disagreeable to him. But—ah, my friends!—nothing is beyond mortal perversity; and anything is credible when our fallen natures get the better of ub ! " Pardon me for intruding on your reflec tions," I said to the unsuspecting Mr. Bruff. " But surely there is a conjecture to make which has not occurred to us yet?" " Maybe, Miss Clack. I own I don't know what it is." " Before I was so fortunate, sir, as to con vince you of Mr. Ablewhite's innocence, you mentioned it as one of the reasons for suspect ing him that he was in the house at the time when the diamond was lost. Permit me to re mind you that Mr. Franklin Blake was also in the house at the time when the diamond was lost." The old worldling left the window, took a chair exactly opposite to mine, and looked at me steadily, with a hard and vicious smile. " You are not so good a lawyer, Miss Clack," he remarked, in a meditative manner, "as I supposed. You don't know how to let well alone." " I am afraid I fail to follow you, Mr. Bruff,'' I said, modestly. :c It won't do, Miss Clack—it really won't do a second time. Franklin Blake is a prime favorite of mine, as you are well aware. But that dosen't matter. I'll adopt your view, on this occasion, before you have time to turn round on me. You're quite right, ma'am. I have suspected Mr. Ablewhite on grounds which abstractedly justify suspecting Mr. Blake too. Very good—let's suspect him together. It's quite in his character, we will say, to be capable of stealing the Moonstone. The only question is, whether it was his interest to do it." "Mr. Franklin Blake's debts," I remarked* " are matters of family notoriety." " And Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite's debts have not arrived at that stage of development yet« Quite true. But there happen to be two diffi culties in the way of your theory, Miss Clack. I manage Franklin Blake's affairs, and I beg to inform you that the vast majority of his creditors (knowing his father to be a rich man) are quite content to charge interest on their debts, and to wait for their money. There is the first difficulty —which is tough enough. You will find the , second tougher still. I have it on the authority of Lady Verinder herself, that her daughter was ready to marry Franklin Blake before that in fernal Indian diamond disappeared from the house. She had drawn him on and put him off again, with the coquetry of a young girl. But she had confessed to her mother that she loved cousin Franklin, and her mother had trusted consin Franklin with the secret. So there he was, Mis 9 Clack, with his creditors content to wait, and with the certain prospect before him of marrying an heiress. By all means consider him a scoundrel; but tell me, if you please, why he should steal the Moonstone ?" " The human heart is unsearchable," I said, gently, " Who is to fathom it?" "In other words, ma'am—though he hadn't the shadow of a reason for taking the diamond
—he might have taken it, nevertheless, through natural depravity. Very well. Say he did. Why the devil ?" " I beg your pardon, Mr. Bruff. If I hear the devil referred to in that manner, I must leave the room." " I beg your pardon, Miss Clack—l'll be more careful in my choice of language for the. future. All I meant to ask was this : Why—even sup posing he did take the diamond—should Frank lin Blake make himself the most prominent per son in the house in trying to recover it ? You may tell me he cunningly did that to divert sus picion from himself. I a&wer'tbat he had no seed to divert suspicion—because, nobody sus pected him. He first steak, the - Moonstone (without the slightest reason) through natural depravity; and he then acts a* part, in relation to the loss of the jewel, which there is not the slightest necessity to act, and which leads to his mortally offending the • young lady who would otherwise have married him. That is the mon strous proposition which you are driven to assert, if you attempt to associate the disap pearance of the Moonstone with Franklin Blake. | No, no, Miss Clack! After what has passed here to-day, between us two, the dead-lock in this case is complete. Rachel's own innocence is (as her mother knows, and as I know) beyond a doubt. Mr. Ablewhite's innocence is equally certain—or Rachel would never have testified to it. And Franklin's Blake's innocence as you have just seen, unanswerably asserts itself. On the one hand, we are morally certain of all these things; and, on the other hand, we are equally sure that somebody has brought the Moonstone to London, and that Mr. Luker, or his banker, is in private possession of it at this moment. What is the use of my experience, what is the use of any person's experience, in such a case as that ? It baffles me; it baffles you; it baffles everybody." No—not everybody. It had not baffled Ser geant Cuff. I was about to mention this with all possible mildness, and with every necessary protest against being supposed to cast a slur upon Rachel—when the servant came in to say that the doctor had gone, and that my aunt was waiting to receive us. This stopped the discussion. Mr. Bruff col lected his papers, looking a little exhausted by the demands which our conversation had made on him. I took up my bag-full of precious pub lications, feeling as if I could have gone on talk ing for hours. We proceeded in silence to Lady Verinder's room. Permit me to add here, before my narrative advances to other events, that I have not de scribed what passed between the lawyer and me without having a definite object in view. lam ordered to include in my contribution to the shocking story of the Moonstone a plain dis closure aot only of the turn which suspicion took, but even of the names* of the persons on whom suspicion rested at the time when the Indian diamond waß known to be in London. A report of my conversation in the library with Mr. Bruff appeared to me to be exactly what was wanted to answer this purpose—while, at the same time, it possessed the great moral ad vantage of rendering a sacrifice of sinful self esteem essentially necessary on my part. I hare been obliged to acknowledge that my fallen nature got the better of me. In making that humiliating confession I get the better of my fallen nature. The moral balance is restored ; the spiritual atmosphere feels clear once more. Dear friends we may go on again. Chaptbb IV. The signing of the will was a much shorter matter than I.had anticipated. It was hurried over, to my thinking, in indeoent 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 wordson this solemn occasion. But Mr. JBruffs manner convinced me that it was wisest to check the impulse while he was in the room. In less 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 Verinder'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 get 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-Conrersion-Society that night, summoned expressly with a tiew 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 one 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 racter, and to become associated in my mind as one of the most awful backslidings of modern times. To return, however, to the history of the pas ing day. On finding myself alone in my room, I naturally turned mjrfattention to the parcel which appeared to haTffao strangely intimidated the fresh-colored young, footman. Had my aunt I 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 hadVlttered through the house on the previous day ; ,all returned to me by the doc tor's orders! Wjjll 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 frying to get a little sleep. I said I would wai^n 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 own disposal. My aunt's correspondence of the morning— I 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 sown on the basement story, I ran lightly up stairs to scatter my 'mercies next over the drawing-room floor. 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 wae 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 arid 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 floer. Who could this favored male visitor possibly be ? Almost as soon as I asked myaelf the question the answer occurred to me. Who could it be but the doctor ? In the case of any other visitor I should hare 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 pases 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 listened. The words I heard were, " I'll do it to day!" And the voice that spoke them was Mr. God frey Ablewhite's Chapter V. 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 waating 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. Wo 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 i noiselessly arranged the curtains so that I could
both see and hear. And then I met my martyr- I 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 them." 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 fore. " Well ?" she went on. " What did you say to them ?" "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 concert ?" " Those were the words. They were 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 intoposi tion would soon pasa away.",.. * " You don't think it's^fious, do you, God-" frey ?" " Far from it! ,«*n 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 mxich happier 1 am—here, with you!" He clasped his hands, and looked at her. In I the position which he occupied, when he did that, he turned my way. Can words describe 1 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 6aid " 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 coHntry ? 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 lam ! Leave me my delusion, dearest! I must have that to cherish, and to comfort me, if I kave 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 audienc, the cheers, and the,glass of water. Even her. obdurate nature was touched. I saw herJeari a little nearer to him. I heard a new tone of interest in her xiext words. " Are you speaking of the Moonbtone, God frey ?" \ " 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 Laccepted 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 ?" "Yes?" " 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 ?" "Yes?" I "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 bidden ? 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—l don't care what happens—l will never, never, never see him again ! Don't ask me his name ! Don't ask me any more! Let'B 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 doe 9 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 roe! 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 words ? "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—l 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 thing. " 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 ennoblo 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 wife ?" : « 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 fonnd 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 lores and honors
you ; a home whose peaceful claims and happy I 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—l will be content with : your affection and regard. Let the rest be left, i confidently left, to your husband's deTotion, and | to Time that heals even wounds as deep as , yours." : She began to yield already. Oh, what a bringmg-up she must have had! Oh, how differently I should have acted in her place! j "Don't tempt me, Godfrey," she said; "I 1 am wretched enough and reckless enough as it is. Don't tempt me to be more wretched and I more reckless still!" ! " One question, Rachel. Have you any per ; sonal objection to me ?" ... i "I! I always liked you. After what you have j just said to me, I should be insensible indeed if I I didn't respect and admire you as well." " Do you know manynwives, 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 wo&en try marriage as a refuge, far more numerously than they are willing to admit; and, what isinore, they find that marriage has justified their confidence in it. Look at youWjwn case once again. At your age, and with youmttractions, is it possible for you to sentence yourself to a single life ? Trust my knowledge of the world—npthing is less possible. It is merely a question of time. You may many 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 women 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 I all my other prospects are closed before me. I j tell you again, I am miserable enough and des perate enough, if you say another word, to marry you on your own terme. 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 gether?" " 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 lore —she had gi/en 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 Ifoan give?" / ', I "My angel! I only ask you to gire me your self." "Take me!" \ In those two words she accepted him! He had another burs^-a burst of unholy rap ture this timo. He drew'.har nearer and nearer to him till her face touchecK his; and then- No ! I really can not prevaikuppn 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 t one moment too late. I had calculated, you see, on her resisting. She submitted. Tb^everv right-feeling person of my own sex volumeaU;oufll say no more. Even my innocencflutfsuch matters began to see its way to the end\of the interview now. They understood each other so thoroughly bj this time that I fully expected to Bee 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 ie 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 yon ?" 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 appeared to be q^itc 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 alarn. " Miss Rachel!" he called out, " where are you, Miss Rachel ?" She sprang back from the curtains and ran to the door. The 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 letch the doctor. "Go in, and help i them!" he said, pointing to the room. I found I Rachel on her knees by the sofa, with her mo : ther's head on her bosom. One look at my aunt's face (knowing what I knew) 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. (to be continued.)
A Woed to Gibls.—When you stop trying to mate such Herculean efforts to please, that moment you will become pleasing. When you learn to cease your continual flow of small talk, to " keep up the conversation," and learn instead to listen intelligently—not stupidly, not ab sently,—but showing, now and then, by a question or comment, that you are willing another than yourself should, occasionally, hare attention and preference,—then you will charm, with-one half the effort you now pat forth every da^ and hour. Statistics of Intoxication;— Dr. Caffede votes, in the Journal ties Connaissances Medi cates, an interesting article to this curious sub* ject. Every nation has its peculiar intoxicating drug. Siberia has its fungus; Turkey, India, and China, havo their opium; Persia, India, Turkey, and Africa, from Morocco down to the Cape of Good Hope, and even the Indians of Brazil, have their hemp and hashish ; India, China, and the Eastern Archipelago have their betel and betel-peper; the islands of the Pacific have their daily hava; Peru and Bolivia have their eternal coca j New Grenada and the chains of the Himulay i their red thorny apple j Asia, America, and the whole world perhaps, patronise tobacco ; the Engluh and Germans have hops, and the French have lettuce. Of all these drugs tobacco is that, which claims sovereignty over the largest portion of the hu man race, for its votaries are stated at 900 millions; opium fortunately does not boast more than 400 millions; but hashish, a drug quite as intoxicating as opium, is commonly indulged in by 300 millions of people. Betel, which, in point of fact, is hardly more than a gentle stimulant, extends its sway over about 100 millions. Coca, the virtues of which have scarcely been sufficiently studied except by Professor Mantegazza,* of Mtyan, can barely muster ten millions of pebplfe; and all the other drugs taken together, 'including the Ilex vomitoria of Florida, are used by about twenty five millions of the human race.