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one believed her to be his wife, that she bore his name, and that both his father and her father had recognised her as such; but she could not deceive herself, even though she was firmly convincd that Marie could never prove herself to be Lord Rollingford's true wife; there was always the moral knowledge of the fact, a knowledge which she could not banish from her troubled breast.

She grew restless and excitable, she who generally was so calm and self-possessed; but then this seemed only natural in a poor young wife whose husband had been seized so suddenly with such a dangerous illness.

Why had she consented to become his wife? Why? This was the one question which she was now for ever asking herself. A few months before she would have shrunk from committing any such dishonourable act; but then she was quite a different being. As long as she had thought Jack Howard faithful to her, she had felt strong and happy, for no woman can be desolate and unhappy as long as there is a man for whom she can feel trust and reverence. Her love for her cousin had been something like a strong balustrade ever by her path, that supported her in all her actions, and gave her confidence in herself; but since it had suddenly been snatched away from her, fallen into a bottomless abyss before her very eyes, no firmness of the ground she trod on could save her from reeling, staggering, and falling.

But yet, was this life after all not preferable to her life at Westra, with her dull old-fashioned father, and her innumerable brothers and sisters, to whom she had been little better than a perpetual nurse and governess? Now that she knew what real life was, and that she had seen Paris and London,

and participated in all the gaieties they afford, the thought of being shut up away from the world in that northern home of her ancestors made her shudder.

Besides, she had long ere this said good-bye to all the romantic dreams of her youth, to that craving in her girl's heart for some firm and sure ideal of manly love, courage, and devotion, which had been so strong in her that she had clung to it through good and evil report; and in marrying Frank Reymond she knew but too well what she had to expect.

Mrs. Champion often came to see her, and though she could not bring herself to sympathise very deeply with a woman of whom, for some psychological reason easy to understand, she felt rather afraid, she always received her kindly, and listened with attention, if not with interest, to what she had to say.

One afternoon, three days after the incident in the opera-house, Mrs. Champion had called to see her, and they were sitting together in the pretty little drawing-room overlooking the gay street below. Frank was a trifle better that day, but he was now so very weak that the doctors had requested his wife not to let him talk too much; nor, indeed, to sit with him for any length of time, as, in his present state, any kind of excitement would be fatal to him.

The conversation of the two ladies ran, as usual, almost entirely on Italian topics, for Mrs. Champion could hardly think of anything else; she had devoted her life to one cause, and she lived entirely in it and for it.

'Your husband,' she said to Lady Rollingford, 'just before he was seized with this strange illness, gave me to understand that he would help me in the grand cause I have undertaken; he sympathises greatly with the Italians, and has

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'Indeed! And pray, Mrs. Champion, what can he do for them?'

'Any man, if he is so minded, can do a great deal of good in his own way. Of course I should be the last person in the world to advise him to give up his country and his home, to join the Roman volunteers; particularly now that he is a married man, and an English statesman; but he is immensely rich, and money can do a great deal.'

'And you would have him devote all his money to the cause of Italian liberty?'

'No, not all; but a few thousand pounds cannot be a matter of vital importance to him, and they might procure a legion of volunteers. I used to despise money; I never knew its full value till now, but I see that with money one can accomplish almost anything. And everything is so expensive! I have myself spent more than twenty thousand pounds already in this ambulance I have undertaken to provide but I do not regret it; our soldiers cannot be allowed to remain wounded and neglected on the battle-field-and some one must provide doctors and nurses for them.'

'And do you think that all this bloodshed is right, and should be encouraged? I belong to the old school, you know, and I must confess that I cannot bring myself to sympathise with men whose object is to overthrow all authority, alter the established laws, and dethrone princes and deprive them of their lawful rights.'

'And I hold it blasphemy to say that a man ought not to fight against princes, and overthrow their authority, when they only use this authority to tyrannise over and enslave the people. I reverence

the laws, but not when these laws are but mere pretexts for deeds of tyranny and oppression which it should be the very object of law to prevent. There is no great religion and no great nation that has not first revolted against the old laws and overthrown them before adopting new ones.'

But the right of rebellion, it seems to me, is the right to seek a higher rule, and not to wander in mere lawlessness.'

'I suppose you believe all that is said against the Roman republic, and give credit to every scandalous act that is reported against it in the newspapers of a nation whose interest it is to lower the cause of freedom in the eyes of Europe?'

'No, I do not believe everything the papers say; but I hate republics, and I think that an English nobleman should be the last man in the world to give money to aid the people in the overthrow of his own class; for the rights of princes and their nobility are the same all over the world, and it seems to me that a nobleman owes something to his birth and station, and has no right to take up this or that notion simply because it pleases his fancy for the moment.'

Mrs. Champion saw that the proud patrician would always remain inexorable on this point, and that it would be of no use to try and convince her against herself; but she was not a woman to be thus easily thwarted: she had made up her mind that Lord Rollingford should help her in her cause, and she was determined to leave no stone unturned, now that she had his promise, to obtain this assistance as soon as possible.

The keen eyes of her aristocratic companion were fixed upon her with distrust: it was evident that she was not a woman to be easily led, and Mrs. Champion felt that she had at the same time to try and

find out from Lady Rollingford sentiments, for at heart, like all what her husband intended to do, and yet to speak to her as if she were fully acquainted with his intentions.

She tried a new line of tactics.

'You are right, Lady Rollingford,' she said, after a pause. But you speak only of what you know; of course your sentiments are mine as regards England, for I too am an Englishwoman, and believe in all that Englishmen believe; but Italy is a very different country. You know nothing of what goes on there; how can you, therefore, feel for it-you who are one of the proudest and most noble of the daughters of the most noble and proudest of nations? And how can I expect you to feel for the debasing thraldom of Italy-you who have the noble privilege of being a Protestant ?'

She had touched the right chord in Lady Rollingford's heart at last. 'Do you really think that Italy could one day be brought to see the truth?' she inquired, with some animation.

'Oh, yes; Italians have suffered too much already from the tyranny and misrule of priests not to long for a truer and freer religion.'

'If I thought that there was a chance of Italy adopting the true faith-'

'My dear Lady Rollingford, there is every chance of it; have we not already expelled the Pope from Rome? The great capital of Christianity, the Eternal City that was the first to establish in the world a liberal and religious government, the centre of liberty, the main fountain of eloquence and military genius, that for so many years has been the stronghold of the Antichrist, is no longer garrisoned by monks and governed by a doting priest.'

I must remark that these were by no means Mrs. Champion's real

true Italians, she was much more of a Catholic than a Protestant; but she was a woman who held all means as righteous if they but led to the advancement of her cause; and she was not slow in taking advantage of the weak point she had discovered in her listener.

'But that doting priest of whom you speak boasts of more than two hundred millions of subjects, who are so blinded by their mistaken faith that they would do anything to support him.'

If the republic be once fairly established in Rome, I do not fear much from his hosts; Garibaldi will soon drive them out of Italy, and then not even Napoleon will be able to reinstate the Pope on his throne.'

'Garibaldi! But he is not a Protestant.'

'Well, no; but at present he is the only man who can collect and lead an army against the Pope.'

'And Italians will open their eyes to the true faith, you think?'

'Oh, yes; but let us be content just now with gradually developing the intelligence of the people, and they will of their own accord, as you will see, throw aside one superstition after another. Knowledge, believe me, is the only proper disturber of faith. It is of no use to extinguish the candle before letting in the sunshine.'

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The servant retired, but soon afterwards he returned, and, after again whispering something to her, handed her a card which she refused to take.

'Tell her that his lordship is too ill to see any one.'

'But she will not be refused; she insists on seeing your ladyship, if she cannot see my lord,' the servant said, very much bewildered.

Lady Rollingford grew livid, and, stamping upon the floor, she cried,

'No, no! no power on earth shall ever induce me to receive this woman in my apartments!'

Mrs. Champion began to feel alarmed. What is the matter?' she said, approaching her; 'could I help you in any way?' 'You! No, no !'

'But who is this woman who wants to force herself into your apartments?'

She turned to the servant as if seeking an explanation from him, and he handed her the visiting card which Lady Rollingford had refused to take.

Mrs. Champion glanced at it, and exclaimed,

"This woman? the famous Marietta ?'

Laura rose, and walked up to her.

'Have you ever seen her?' she said.

'I? Never. But is this really that dreadful creature who ruined Prince Tagi, and who lately, after nearly causing the death of the poor Marquis Capuletti, has entrapped Count Mazerolle ?'

'Yes, I suppose it is the same.' 'I know nothing about her excepting what I have heard people say; but what on earth does she want with Lord Rollingford? Surely-no, it cannot be! He is much too high-principled for that; and besides, he has not been long enough in Paris.'

The words were hardly out of her mouth when the door was thrown violently open, and a lady dressed entirely in black entered the room.

Mrs. Champion uttered a cry of astonishment, and shrank back as she recognised in her the pretty French governess of Inganess Castle, Marie Gautier.

CHAPTER VIII.

MARIETTA.

A LONG cloak of black velvet lined with fur enveloped her from head to foot; she wore a bonnet also of black velvet, and her lace veil was thrown back; there was no mistaking the handsome face, the perfect features, and those wondrous black eyes that seemed to flash fire.

She appeared taller and more developed than when they had last seen her, and there was a look of supreme command, and yet of great anxiety, in her face. Both the ladies were for some moments too much astonished to address a single word to her, and the servant, after looking from one to the other in mute bewilderment, feeling that his presence no doubt was embarrassing, politely retired and closed the door behind him.

Marie was evidently not prepared for the presence of Mrs. Champion, and on seeing her her eyes fell, and she started back disconcerted. Lady Rollingford saw this at a glance, and feeling that if she could only succeed in terrifying her all would yet be right, she advanced boldly towards her.

How dare you force yourself into my apartment? What can there be in common between you and me?'

The resolute unrelenting hatred of her tone, and its cold stern

sharpness, went straight to the girl's heart.

'Madame,' she stammered, 'had I not heard that Lord Rollingford was dying, I should never have come here, believe me—' 'Ah!'

Her voice faltered.

'I could not think of his dying without forgiving me. I have come to ask his forgiveness.'

'What you have done to him is beyond forgiveness. Are you not ashamed to think of the misery you have brought upon him? Yes, it is thanks to you that Lord Rollingford is now on his deathbed.'

Her lips quivered as she spoke, yet a look of triumph was already in her eyes. The woman she most dreaded and feared in the world stood meek and abased before her.

'O Lady Rollingford! dear Lady Rollingford, how I feel for you Mrs. Champion said, coming up to her; and Laura could not but smile to herself, well pleased as to the result of her manœuvres. But the battle was yet to be won -or lost.

'I shudder to think what a wretch you are,' she cried, determined to remain on the offensive as long as she could, and to persuade Mrs. Champion that she was the person to be pitied. 'He was a foolish boy to be taken in by the mock modesty and consummate acting of a creature like you.'

'Oh, for God's sake, spare me! spare me, Lady Laura, if you would be spared yourself! I come here not to accuse you, but to ask his forgiveness.'

If I would be spared!' she retorted fiercely. What is there in common between us?'

'Alas, nothing but our sex.'

'Not even that. I deny that a creature like you can possibly belong to the same sex as a respectable woman; and such a claim, preferred by one as infamous as

you, would at once extinguish any compassion I might entertain for you, had I any feelings in my breast but scorn and abhorrence. Reserve your acting for your dupes; do not hope to move me by your tears. I am not a man to be charmed and made the slave of your smiles, you perjured woman.'

She stood before her stern and inflexible, like a statue of injured innocence, looking down upon Marie with intense scorn; her lips were tightly compressed, as if she felt that in spite of her indignation she would not allow herself to be carried away by her feelings.

Marie could control herself no longer.

'Madame,' she said, drawing herself up to her full height, and folding her velvet cloak about her, ‘I came not to be insulted, but to see my husband.'

Her husband Mrs. Champion exclaimed; her husband!

'Yes, Mrs. Champion,' she said, turning to her, her beautiful eyes full of fire. 'I am Lord Rollingford's lawful wife, and I have a right to see him. I insist on being admitted at once to his room. I never meant to disclose this fact,' she added, confronting Lady Laura, who now trembled before her menacing look-'I never meant to disclose this fact. I should have been only too glad to allow the past to remain for ever a sealed page between us, but you have forced me to speak, Lady Laura, and if you dare to insult me any more, I shall no longer shrink from informing every one that Lord Rollingford is my husband. See,' she added, turning again to Mrs. Champion, but no longer with an imploring face-'see, she cannot deny it. I appeal to you whether I have or I have not a right to see my husband.'

'You must not believe her, dear Mrs. Champion,' Lady Rollingford

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