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-how carelessly he had spoken of her, and how happy she had felt to hear him speak slightingly of her rival; but the next moment Frank's words returned to her mind. Jack, the man she had so loved, was the husband of another, and that other, most likely, this very Miss Brown, the girl he had called both ugly and vulgar! Ah, but the thought that he might not love her did not alleviate her sorrow it only seemed to present him to her as a darker villain than before; he had sacrificed her, not for his own happiness, but to marry a woman for the sake of her money!

Ah, this was a sad trial for the proud patrician-yet she scorned consolation; her heart was dead, and she tried to convince herself that no human sympathy could alleviate her misery. Those sorrows that inflict the hardest blows, that embitter and mar human lives for ever, are but seldom breathed into human ears; they are betrayed by no sounds except low moans of anguish wrung from the heart during the long weary nights of sleepless misery.

A softer-hearted-I may almost say a more feminine-woman, in such a crisis as this, would have found some consolation in the memory of the happy days she had spent with the man she had so loved, and even now, in spite of herself, she would have cherished his memory. Deeply as any woman must necessarily feel the pangs of being jilted by the one man she loves best in the world, a gentler, more dependent spirit would soften at the thought of all that had been good in him-would do justice to all the brilliant qualities that she knew him to possess, even in the keen distress of the first discovery of his unworthiness; for most women are like children, who cling, with tears in their eyes, to their

raspberry tart even after it has given them indigestion, and though they may rail passionately at him all the time, their hearts are softened by the remembrance of the happy hours they have spent with the man they loved. Many women would have shed bitter tears on such an occasion, cursed their fate, pronounced anathemas against the faithless lover, yet at the bottom of their hearts would have loved him still. But Laura was not a

woman like the rest of her sex: her proud commanding spirit suffered with all the intenser, fiercer, deeper agony of a man, but, like a man, suffered in silence, and no tears of regret came to soothe her misery.

For days she went about the house as if she saw and heard nothing that took place around her, yet visiting the poor as usual, giving the children their lessons, and attending to the wants of her father, as if nothing had happened. A stranger, who did not know of her distress, would never have guessed what her poor heart was suffering, for to all outward appearance she looked very much as usual, though certainly whiter, and her voice was sad; but Frank, who knew what was passing in her mind, saw a great change in her, and it was not difficult for him to guess at what a fearful cost this outward composure was maintained.

Her heart was broken; she had not exaggerated when she had said so on first receiving the dreadful news. To all the intents and purposes of everyday life she was still the same Lady Laura; but she could no longer feel as she had once felt, she could no longer enter into the joys and sorrows of others as she had done before; henceforward she could no more sympathise with the happiness or misery of other human beings than the most perfect of machines could have done. She still retained, it

is true, a certain amount of heart, but it was a selfish feeling that could no longer be affected by the feelings of others; her heart was dead for the rest of humanity from that day; henceforward she lived and thought and acted as if she had been the only person left in the world. Love, and all belonging to it, was gone for ever out of her life; and the one man on whom she had placed all her affections having proved untrue and unworthy of her, she was no longer capable of feeling any real affection towards any other human being.

In such a frame of mind, it is not to be wondered at that the sight of Marie and her young, handsome, and passionate lover should have been exceedingly painful to her. She could no longer enter into their joys, and the perpetual sight of their happiness rendered her miserable.

Frank had brought with him from England some costly jewels as presents for his young bride, and one night after dinner, when the children had gone to bed, and the three were sitting alone in the drawing-room, he took them out of their cases, and amused himself by adorning his beloved and beautiful Marie with them.

Hers was a beauty that jewels became, and the splendid diamonds looked dazzling on her alabaster neck and amongst her raven locks. Frank was enchanted.

'Why,' he said, 'you look exactly like the Princess of Tulle! Who would have thought that a few diamonds could have made such a difference in you?'

She turned very pale, and with a determined look, but an unsteady hand, she took off all the jewels and replaced them in their cases.

'I do not want to look like that woman,' she said; 'I will never put them on again.'

'Why, my pet, you do not mean

to tell me that you are jealous of her! Ah, what a funny, funny girl you are, Marie and he took her in his arms.

Lady Laura looked at them in silence, envying their happiness.

'Take heed,' she said at last, when the lovers turned towards her -' take heed, for remember there is a proverb that warns us grief is nearest when joy is at its height.'

Both Frank and Marie felt the reproach, and after this they tried their best to control their feelings before her.

Marie knew of her sorrow. Frank, with his usual openness, had told her of it on his arrival ; but she respected it, and not a word ever escaped her that might have recalled the past to Lady Laura.

Some time elapsed thus-a couple of months, that seemed as so many brief days for the loving young couple, and as so many long years for the poor jilted girl: such is the irony of Fate!

One day Lord Westra received a letter from Sir Ronald Forsinard, informing him that he was cruising about amongst the Orkneys in a friend's yacht, and that he would come and pay him a flying visit at Inganess.

This was the first change they had known for many a day, and Frank received the news with rapture; for he thought that a little excitement would be good for his poor friend, and might perhaps give her a new interest in life, varying the monotony of her now sunless existence. But Laura seemed indifferent to it, and set about preparing the rooms for the expected guests as if she had been but the housekeeper, whose duty it was to see to the comfort of the visitors, but from whose society she could not expect any amusement. Not so Marie, however. When her husband informed her of Sir Ronald's intended

visit she grew deadly pale and her whole frame trembled. 'Must these people come?' she exclaimed, to Frank's astonishment. 'Is there no way of preventing them?'

'I should have thought, my pet, that you would have been glad to see new faces. Are you not tired of being always alone with us?'

'I have you, my François; with you I need no other. It is foolish of me to be so frightened, but something tells me that from the moment strangers begin to come between us our happiness will end. We are so happy now! Oh, would to the Blessed Virgin we could live alone like this for ever!'

'You would soon get tired of me then, my darling! No; you must get used to the presence of strangers, you must mix with the world; or else how will you be able to hold your position when you are Lady Rollingford, and have to entertain my friends at Rollingford House ?'

'I do not want to be Lady Rollingford; I do not want to mix with the world.'

'But you cannot help yourself, dearest. Remember that you are my wife now; when you married me, you not only took upon your self to love me and make me the happiest of men, but also to become one of the leaders of society, such as my mother was in her day, and my grandmother before her.'

'I should not have married you, François !'

'Do you regret it, Marie? Oh, how can you say that! Since when have you ceased to love me?'

'I have not ceased to love you. I love you now as much as I ever loved you-nay more, if possible; and it is because I fear that you will no longer care for me when we live in the world that I dread the sight of strangers.'

'Ah, my angel! But you see

these people have invited themselves we cannot put them off.'

'They must not see me, then.'
'Are you so afraid of them ?
'If you knew all, François !
'All what?'

'Whatever happens though, mon ami, promise me that you will not tell them that I am your wife.'

'I am tired of this eternal life of concealment; why should I dissemble any longer? Let the whole world know that I have married you. I am not ashamed of you.' 'But your father?'

'My father! Ah, Marie, Marie! I cannot help thinking now that we have acted most unwisely. Of course I did it all for the best. I would gladly have renounced everything to possess you, but I could not bear the thought of sacrificing you to my love. You agreed to marry me without my father's consent; it seemed to me that the least I could do for you was to insure that you did not marry a beggar.'

'Would to God you had loved me less! If the day ever comes when you regret having married me, I think I shall die. You ought to have obtained your father's consent; you ought to have inquired about my family and my history, and satisfied all your friends, or not have married me at all. As it is, I shall ever remain Marie Gautier, the poor little French governess, to the whole world, and be your wife only to yourself. I will never take your name, François-I am unworthy of it! Love makes our hearts equal, but our worldly positions can never be altered.'

'What nonsense you do talk, dearest! You are my wife, and, as such, as high and noble as any lady in England or Scotland. But as our marriage must remain a secret till my father's death, you can act any part you like before these people.'

Three days after this conversa

He was

tion Sir Ronald arrived. in a little sailing yacht, and his only companions were a Mr. Lee, the owner of it, and his own nephew, Mr. Hopestone.

That same afternoon they went on to the castle, and agreed to dine at Inganess and sleep there, but only for one night, as they would have to start early the following morning for the Shetlands.

Marie pleaded the excuse of a bad headache so as not to dine with them, and remained the whole evening shut up in her room, much to the regret of Frank, who would have liked every one to see and admire her, so proud did he feel of his lovely wife.

CHAPTER XXII.

A TERRIBLE DISCOVERY.

AFTER dinner they all went upstairs to the drawing-room, where they sat for about an hour talking on indifferent subjects; but as Lady Laura was not in the mood to enjoy the pleasures of society, she retired at an early hour to her room, and her father, Lord Westra, was not long in following her example. The poor man had lived so long alone in this island, never going out of the house from one end of the year to the other, that the presence of strangers fatigued him, and he was only too glad to have an excuse to leave them.

As soon as he had retired, as it was yet rather early to go to bed, Frank suggested that they should go and have a cigar.

'It is against the rules of the house to smoke here, in the drawing-room, and the library is too cold to be pleasant; but if you like to have a smoke, there is a little room close by, opening out of the great hall, where I often indulge in a weed of an evening.'

Mr. Lee and Mr. Hopestone were quite ready to follow him to any room where they could have a smoke; and Sir Ronald, though he did not smoke himself, was only too glad to accompany them. Contrary to his usual custom, he seemed rather serious that evening, and was evidently greatly preoccupied.

Frank, with a light step, and humming the refrain of one of Marie's favourite French romances, took up the lamp and led the way across the old hall to the little room beyond, of which he had spoken.

It was a tiny chamber, evidently built in the thickness of the wall, and was hung with faded tapestry similar to that which lined the walls of the entrance-hall, out of which this little room opened.

Frank deposited the lamp on the table, and produced some Havannah cigars. He then sat down near Mr. Hopestone, and began talking to him in a light-hearted manner. He liked this man, for, though younger than himself in years, he possessed a vast knowledge of the world, and could talk exceedingly well on all fashionable subjects. But Sir Ronald presently drew a chair near him and began speaking, after a little hesitation.

'There is one thing,' he said, in an abrupt staccato sort of way, 'which I should like to let Lord Westra know. I think he ought to know of it; and yet he is such a peculiar man that I hardly like to broach the subject to him. But perhaps you, Reymond, who are so intimate here, will not mind telling him.'

'How serious you look, Sir Ronald! I hope there is nothing

amiss.'

'It is a delicate subject certainly, and I am sure you will be the first to see that I am right in mentioning it-having such a profound interest, as you must natu

rally have, for everything relating to Lady Laura Londesdale,' he said, with a knowing smile.

'Ah, evidently he thinks I am in love with Laura,' he thought. 'Well, perhaps it is better so; that will account in a plausible way for my long stay at Westra.'

'Both my friend Lee and my nephew here have recognised her; and after such a discovery, we all three think-'

'You alarm me, Sir Ronald. What discovery? what do you mean?'

'This young lady-this French girl who lives here

'Yes, the French governess; what about her?'

'Do you know who she is, Reymond?'

'I? No. I only know that she is a young lady whom Lady Laura obtained, through an advertisement in the Times, to teach the children French and music. She is a most accomplished and respectable young lady, I assure you.'

The three men looked at each other.

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'Could we have been mistaken?' knell, came from the desolate hall, one said.

'Impossible! I dined with her in Paris not two years ago,' Sir Ronald answered.

Frank began to feel uneasy. 'What do you mean? You know something about her-what is it? Pray tell me at once,' he said, in faltering accents.

'Did you ever hear of Marietta?' Sir Ronald said.

'Yes,' added his nephew-'that girl so often with Prince della Rocca-Tagi, and for whom half Paris went mad one season.'

For a moment every hue of life vanished from Frank's cheek; his hands fell, cold and nerveless, by his side, and his breath grew thick. He raised his eyes, too astonished to speak, and he noticed that in the doorway, to which all the rest

and at that moment he recognised his wife Marie in the dark figure that had stood there watching them.

'What can be her object in coming to these outlandish parts and acting the part of a governess ?' young Hopestone remarked.

'These women are very deep, one can hardly account for anything they do; but I suppose they have always some end or other in view.'

Frank felt as if the whole world was coming to an end, he could neither think nor speak; then, the forlorn hope of despair coming to his rescue, he said, in a hollow voice,

'Are you quite sure of what you say? You might have been mistaken; resemblances are so bewildering, so deceiving.'

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