صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]

I Hedrew a wide

but a suence of the visito to the 12 was


senses, and would lift my hand against a woman? Go, Alice" – and this time she, fearing any longer to disobey him, crept from the room, and the trembling wife was left alone with her accuser. and held it open before her.

"Do you recognise the writing?” he asked. than words was her only answer.id There were but a few lines

traced on that eondemning page; but to Thornleigh's mind they had seemed conclusive. They were these:

"Meet me at the usual hour and at the usual place. If I do not find you under the lime-trees by the rivers side at nine, I will wait for half-an-hour, and then conclude from your absence that the difficulties have been for the moment insuperable.” 21sten oth boa

There was no signature affixed, and the half-sheet of paper on which the words were written was evidently the concluding portion of a letter, the remainder of whieh was probably still within the envelope.logo

This most terrible evidence had been found by Philip as he walked along the riverside. The paper was wet with dew, and had been read by him with feelings that are more easily imagined than described. A few questions asked of and answered by the grandmother of the sick child, convinced him that the story furnished with these "damning proofs" (as he conhouse, fraught with the direst projects of vengeance."

vib And pray, may I inquiro,” he asked in a tone

that ih

[ocr errors]

for you

I shall take my own course." I shall

ominous from its enforced calmness, it where the rest of this precious letter is to be found?"117012"> **s i ti 1*: "It is destroyed indeed it is!" But let not that convict me, for I am innocent; I swear it before God, and by all my hopes of mercy. It was money that the man required, money that I had not to give, and I wrote to tell him go."

W "And you expect me to believe this story? What a fool you must think me!!!

“Oh! Philip, what can I say to convince you of my truth?"

"Nothing find this man, and kill him as I would a dog. And as

ins But a sudden inspiration saved Gertrude from the sentence about to be pronounced upon her.

netis live "Stay!" she cried; "I have not lost everything, for I have still a written evidence in my favour. Here is my answer. I was too late last night, and the man had

gone; but I wrote this on my return; read it and believe me.”

He took an undirected envelope from her shaking hands, and opening it read as follows: "I am very sorry,

pray believe that I have done my best. I have leftno means untried to obtain the money; and if I succeed later (as I hope to do), I will write to you as before.”ajit gou

This was all It was lowering, and doubtless mortifying, to Philip's pride to think that such a missive should have been written by his wife to any man; but the correspondence I was certainly not that of lovers, mysterious and questionable as it certainly appeared.

[ocr errors]


Philip returned the letter to Gertrude without a comment on its contents. I 4 it. Wright valt ter "And now you will have the goodness to direct it," he said, quietly-47a tot But salas for the credit of that sex that includes more than half of the civilized world! the old French est plus rusée que le renard," is as true now as it was when, in the Garden of Eden, the brute creation was first made subject to man.

Sir Philip Thornleigh perhaps fancied he had hit upon an ingenious device when, placing a pen between his wife's trembling fingers, he bade her write the name and address of the correspondent whose whereabouts it was her interest to conceal. He did not reckon on the wondrous rapidity of invention, which, joined to extraordinary command

, women; and so, little guessing that the direction which he had so carefully secured contained not one single letter of the name and address of the man on whom he meant to heap such signal vengeance, he put the note into his pocket-book, and left his unhappy wife to

sel her reflections.

It is almost needless to say that the writer of the obnoxious letter found by the river's bank was not on that oecasion discovered by the deceived and indignant husband, diligently as he was sought for by the latter: and so in process of time the storm blew over, this painful episode in the life of Lady Thornleigh seemed to be forgotten by all but her, for there were the children's interests to be considered, and the name at least of their mother to be guarded from reproach... Van


[ocr errors]


sworn net

Philip was one who loved a peaceful life, and he therefore endeavoured to persuade himself that his wife was imprudent merely thoughtless perhaps, anything rather than guilty; and Gertrude had not (after a while) found much difficulty in convincing him that the man (at whose disappearance she affected much surprise) was a needy adventurer, to whom the relation whose home she had once shared abroad had promised money in her name: dont Her relation .was, she said, in his power had

her to secrecy; and how, she asked, could she betray the secrets of the friend who had trusted her? A thousand times rather would she take upon herself unmerited blame than be guilty of a deed so base! i

By these and similar allusions she contrived to wrap the whole transaction in a shroud of mystery impenetrable to those about her: but while thus employed, she grew very, cautious, and as her, caution increased 80 also did the pallor of her cheek and the emaciation of her now, attenuated form. It was only Alice who guessed how much she suffered - only Alice who marked her silent tears, and suspected the hollowness of her forced smiles; and often did the girl implore her sister to pour her sorrows into her loving heart, that so they might share the burthen of them together, but Gertrude would only shake her head, and say mournfully:

"Do, not ask me, darling. I have promised and vowed, and I must keep my word; besides it is too late for frankness now. There was a time when ,

but why should I say this to you, dearest? The day will

but I shall be in my quiet grave, then when you will know the truth, and will confess that I


have been more sinned against than sinning, that I have been weak rather than wicked. But I have one comfort, and that is, that your love will never fail me; for you know that I'may claim that love, and that I could not lie down to sleep, praying, longing for the death that will not come, were my conscience burthened with the guilt of having betrayed my husband. Alice, tell me that you believe me."

And the trusting girl, with a broken voice, would give her the one comfort that she craved,"and their tears mingling together, were divested of half their bitterness. ^t li van binti ta ütar 900 VET9d

And thus between three and four years passed over their heads, new years during which but two circumstances occurred to greatly increase the painful curiosity felt by Alice on her sister's account. Of these two events (which, though small in themselves, perplexed her greatly), the first took place about a year after the scene that has just been narrated! Ang it is ha nchi of ** Lady Thorleigh was absent from home, having gone on a visit to her mother at Mainwaring Hall, and Alice was alone in the drawing-room at the Abbey, in that pretty cheerful room, with its French windows, through which, but a short twelvemonth before, she, and one who was now far away, had wandered forth on a lovely summer night to gaze 'upon its beauties. She was occupied according to her wont, for idleness was not in her nature, and her task was now to fill the flower vases with fresh blossoms in honour of her sister's expected return.''

Suddenly she ceased from her occupation, and the flower she held fell from her fingers to the ground.*

What was it that made her turn her head so

« السابقةمتابعة »