صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني


(foolishly enough) to cast up the small sum (that seems so simple, but is often found so intricate), and which is familiarly called putting two and two together. Then all things seemed to contribute towards swelling his jealous suspicions concerning Helen's past. Mrs. Wraxham's coarse insinuations, her own allusions to *the advice given her concerning bimself, and then the man's own letter, for it was, indeed, of the humble, unoffending assistant-surgeon that Philip — though he would have resented the accusation as an insult. jealous in his heart of hearts. Yes, Colonel Thornleigh - fine gentleman, and fearless and without reproach as he deemed himself had condescended to listen to the voice of slander to listen and to believe! And so the sacrifice was offered; and he must learn to be happy after another fashion.

But what need is there to follow Helen through this dreary passage of her existence? What need to draw a picture of her grief, for the comment of the many who have endured tribulations, and for the few who have escaped them?

Helen is not an imaginary character, she has existed, and does still exist; and so, remembering that

“Virtuous and vicious, every one must be;
Few in the extreme, but all in the degree!”

we will not describe her as perfect in her patience. Still, she was brave and prudent, not dwelling ceaselessly on her great wrong, but with something of anger towards him whom she endeavoured to forget, struggling through the painful interval between the infliction of the wound and the healing thereof.

Her resolution to accept no pecuniary assistance

from Philip was never changed; nor would she consent to hold any communication with him, either in person or by letter. This grieved Philip more than he cared to own; and could Gertrude Mainwaring have guessed how often his thoughts wandered towards his lost love, she might perhaps have feared to entrust her happiness to his keeping, and have refused to accept the sacrifice that was offered her.


“And look before you ere you leap,
For as you sow, you're like to reap


She that soweth the storm shall reap the whirlwind."


We have given but a hurried sketch of Helen Langton's early history, and must now leave her for a time, in order that we may recount, in as few words as possible, the events that followed on Thornleigh's marriage. The capital of love, on which Gertrude and her husband began their matrimonial career, might have lasted them their lives, had circumstances not been adverse; and had not the unthinking pair (like many another newly-wedded couple) mistaken their principal for their income, and so spent it lavishly.

The portion brought by Gertrude to the general stock was by far the larger of the two, and when she discovered that domestic secret, she not only felt aggrieved, but was imprudent enough to make a display of her disappointment. But after all, what cause had she for complaint? She had obtained the object of her ambition, -- her escape from an unhappy home had been effected, and the cri de la nature 'épousezmoi!” had been duly and properly responded to.

Philip's love had been at the first as wild and absorbing as the passion he had once felt for Helen Langton; a cleverer and a less demonstrative woman

might, in the early days of their married life, have turned that passion to good account; but Gertrude, though possessed of a nature as passionate, and nearly as impulsive as her rival's, was wholly deficient in that variety of charm which is the best safeguard against satiety. With her there was nothing to discover, nothing to hope for, and nothing to fear, for all seemed known and given at once, with lavish hand, openly and without reserve; and then when the burst of passion was spent, there remained the days, and months, and years, in which Gertrude believed that her husband took no delight either in her or her society. But she was wrong in this, and perhaps the conviction that she was in error, had many a time rested on the merest chance - a word, a look even, might have brought together those estranged hearts; but, as we have before said, the tide of circumstances set against them, and so side by side, like parallel lines, they remained separated and apart.

They had two children; a boy, named Edgar, and a pretty fairy girl, the "little Marie," whose spirit ministered to her father's when his was hovering on the confines of eternity. Philip dearly loved those children, and so loving them, could not but feel drawn to her who had bestowed on him those valued blessings; but Lady Thornleigh (for Sir Edgar's white head was laid on the lap of earth, where, let us hope, he slept as soundly as in his elbow chair in the old Abbey), Lady Thornleigh herself repelled by her conduct the advances of returning tenderness.

The youngest child was about two years old, when the aged baronet, having lived to see a new generation spring up at Thornleigh, bade it farewell for ever.

It was

There was peace and seeming confidence then within its walls; but in another year all was altered; for the demons of doubt and discord spread their dark wings over the household, and hung and fluttered there.

At that period various circumstances arose, which awoke the spirit of watchfulness in Philip's breast. It was not only that his wife's visits to her children in their

nursery had become more rare, and that she had ceased to take her former delights in the simple pleasures that are sufficient for a heart at ease. not only that at the hour when letters were expected, her cheeks would flush and her hands tremble; nor was it that she flew to excitement to escape the gnawing anxiety, which in the quiet of her home seemed for ever wearing away her spirits. It was not one, but all these evil symptoms combined, which raised doubts and alarms in Philip's mind, filling it with a vague uneasiness and a sense of painful insecurity. He had no confidant, for to no living being would he allow himself to confess his fears; but there was one who guessed them; and, singular as it may appear, that one was a young and guileless girl.

Alice Ellerton, Lady Thornleigh's half-sister, was essentially "country bred;" she had never possessed that thing of doubtful good, a young female friend, nor had she ever wished for a companion of her own age, to share in either her pleasures or her pains. Hers was a fine, intelligent, unwarped, upright character; too intelligent not to guess at the nature of the husband's fears, and too straightforward to pretend, even to herself, that the proper simplicity of girlish seventeen should have revolted from such precocious surmises. Young as she was, Alice was already an affianced

« السابقةمتابعة »