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mistake in this case. There is physics, could cause him to forget every symptom of glaucoma.” small conventions. But Ernestine
“ Bah !” said Dr. Doldy, almost was yet young enough to be impatiently; “ seeing so many eye thorough. She sat down and took operations has turned your head. from her pocket a note-book which The man has dined out too fre- had been very recently filled, as quently, and has not taken enough might be easily seen by the fresh. exercise. That is all.”
ness of its leaves. Dr. Doldy and “Let me see him," said Ernes. Mr. Richy found her still absorbed tine.
in studying this. "Very well ; if you will be in the Mr. Richy knew her. He had drawing-room in about ten minutes met her once in society, and had I will bring him there. As he is a not forgotten her; for, as Dr. lover of beauty by profession I am Doldy had said, he was a professed sure he will be delighted to come. admirer of beauty. He saw in her I have yet to meet with the man the charming and beautiful wife of who would refuse your invitation." an old friend, and he bowed low
This was said with a smile of over her hand with the politeness mingled meanings, but Ernestine of the old school to which he did not respond but by a little sigh belonged, little aware of the mean. of regret.
ing of the keen glance which met “Well," she said, “I suppose I his eyes. must submit to that if you wish it; Mr. Richy had but a brief time but I should like to have used the to stay, for he had already proophthalmoscope myself to-day.” longed his consultation with Dr.
Dr. Doldy made no reply, but Doldy; and, after a few moments left her, and returned to his of small talk and some polite patient without even another look phrases of congratulation, he de. in her direction.
parted. The truth was that he scarcely Dr. Doldy, after bowing him out, knew what his eyes would express returned to Ernestine's side to find if he did look at her, for his mind her face of perplexity resolved into was for the moment much confused one of smiles and brightness. by a new aspect of their relations His was now the perplexed coun. to each other. As yet Ernestine tenance, for he did not understand had been to him a beautiful woman the secret of this change. with a foible. He had no mind to She looked up at him with a see in her an actual practitioner of smile of enthusiasm. a new school.
“We can save his sight," she Ernestine, meanwhile, went up said, “but it must be done at stairs, the straight downward line once." remaining unmoved upon her brow. “What are you talking of ?" said She went into the drawing-room Dr. Doldy. without removing her out-door “I am talking," said Ernestine, dress. Her mind was profoundly recalling herself to the reality of abstracted after the fashion of a the position, “ of Mr. Richy's eyes. new and earnest worker.
I feel some interest in them, for I Dr. Doldy would probably have like his pictures; and imagine," laughed at her if she had taken she added, “the horror to an artist him into her confidence at this whose sight is infinitely more moment. He had long passed the sensitive than ours, of total blind. stage when a patient's life or death, ness.” or a new discovery in medicine or “But there is no such danger for Richy,” said Dr. Doldy; "you “Don't think me pragmatical," are talking nonsense. There is a she added, pausing at the door, and haze over his eyes from bilious turning to him with a winning ness; he will be all right in a week smile. “I am really interested in or two with careful diet.
the case; it is not all the vain“No," said Ernestine; “I saw gloriousness of a young doctor. I that the pupil is dilated to a degree am not craving to perform the that shows only a mere ring of operation : I would not dare to iris; and the iris is discoloured.” attempt it. And I don't at all
Dr. Doldy laughed aloud. sympathise with the surgeons who “ That is all very well,” said delight in the operation of irideche;" but the man has constant tomy because it is so interesting to nausea."
give health to an eye by taking out “So I heard him say,” said the very part ordinarily considered Ernestine composedly. .“ You for necessary for health. I am not get that I heard him detail his afflicted with the passion for operasufferings; and, perhaps, you don't tions; iridectomy does not fascinate remember either that recurrent me because it is asserted that the vomiting is now ascertained to be larger the piece of the iris cut out, one of the symptoms in an acute the more complete the cure; and I case of glaucoma.”
am quite aware that, in some cases “You are falling into the snare where it has been performed, the which besets young doctors who other eye has got well. Indeed, study a specialty,” said Dr. Doldy, Arthur, I can quite understand with a rather ineffectual effort to your laughing at the absurdities retain his coolness. “You think committed by young doctors with every patient is afflicted in the specialties; and I am only anxious organ which you have studied. that Mr. Richy should have the Modern discoverers appear to dis- benefit of further examination.” cover what they want to find. She went away full of her Richy would think I was mad if thoughts, leaving Dr. Doldy to his I told him he was made sick by a own. These did not seem to be local disease of the eye. If new very tranquil ones, for he walked doctors avow such theories, I hope the drawing-room in a manner it is in the medical journals only, unusual to him. and not to their patients.”
This was the first sign of interErnestine had shut up her note. ference with his patients—the first book, and was moving towards the breach on the unwritten laws which door.
Ernestine had committed. Dr. “We need not discuss that,” Doldy would have been furiously said she, without any of the heat angry with anybody but Ernestine. in her voice which had begun to be with her it was different. It was apparent in Dr. Doldy's. She was a new sensation even thinking himmuch too interested in the matter self justified in being angry with in hand to think of quarrelling her. But still, he was intensely about it. “We need not discuss annoyed. that,” she said, “for we need not After some little time, he followed tell him anything until we are quite Ernestine, intending to talk the certain that iridectomy must be matter over with her, and dissuade performed at once. And to be her from doing anything to break certain of that we ought, of course, the harmony of their life. He to use the opthalmoscope in a good determined to point out to her that light.”
it was simple madness for her to interfere between himself and a she could not calculate on his propatient such as Mr. Richy.
bable actions. The combination of He could not find her; and, on worldliness with a certain chivalrous asking the servants, found that she purity of character which was had gone out.
visible in him puzzled her entirely. In the evening, when they met She distrusted him with a different again, the incident had almost been distrust from that which she forgotten by both.
bestowed on Mrs. Honiton. The
lady was wholly absorbed in self. CHAPTER XXVII.
interest; and Laura knew that
beyond a certain point her LEWIS LINGEN'S OFFICE.
sympathies were not to be expected. LAURA had temporised ; she had Dr. Doldy she mistrusted simply pawned as many jewels as she dared, because she never quite understood to gain a temporary reprieve from when he might turn upon her with Yriarte's claims. She wanted to horror and denounce her as having postpone her revenge on him—to gone too far. And, when he did put him out of her thoughts while condemn her, she feared him; his she carried on the more immediately judgment descended upon her from interesting operation of catching a à platform nearer her own than new lover.
Ernestine's; one less ideal and more But he had no idea of being intelligible to her. satisfied or even temporarily paci. Yriarte's threat could not have fied with the small sums she was come to her at a more alarming able to give him. He wrote to her moment. She dreaded the deagain, telling her that Anton abso. struction of all her hopes. She had lutely refused to give up any of the determined to marry Sir Percy; he letters unless the whole debt were was perfectly eligible himself ac. paid; and that he much feared cording to her taste, and his family Anton had read some of the letters was one she would wish to enter. and was likely himself to go to her But how dare she advance another uncle and demand money.
step in the matter with Yriarte and This letter-an ill-written, mis- his creditor in possession of her spelt scrawl-kept Laura in a letters--prepared at any moment fever for an hour, shut in her to reveal her secret to her uncleroom.
perhaps to Sir Percy himself ? Sir Percy Flaxen had proposed Her spirit rose with the exigency marriage to her only the night of her position; she determined to before, under the helpful influence take a step which she very much of a good deal of champagne. The dreaded. She did not know the announcement of her engagement real legal view of the position ; would be made whenever she gave what she might do and what she him permission to go to Dr. Doldy. might not do with safety. She
And now she dared not give this must have good advice. She must permission until she had taken go to Mr. Lingen and give him some step with regard to Yriarte. a half-confidence. And it took all If Dr. Doldy were in new posses. the necessity of her position to sion of her secret, when Sir Percy drive her to this ; for, with a secret Flaxen went to him—especially to keep, there was nothing she with Ernestine's influence upon dreaded so much as the blank gaze him—she knew not what catas- through Lewis Lingen's eye-glass. trophe might not result. She was She thought she knew this man unable to grasp her uncle's mind; well. She believed him heartless, keen as a knife all through. She pelled to sit there and herself reveal supposed him wholly incapable of the weak places in the armour of being affected by such an appeal as her reputation—which, if once made she had made to Ernestine, even if visible to the arch enemy who genuine. She prepared herself makes scandal, would have enabled simply to reserve from him all that the whole coat of mail to be shathe must not know. And this had tered, and have left the frail and to be done, not only in her words, defenceless being underneath to the but in every expression of her face mercy of all the winds of malice. while in his presence.
And if Laura had had experience of She dressed carefully, took her confessor's aspect in such interYriarte's letters, and drove alone, views she would have been alarmed. in Mrs. Honiton's carriage, to Mr. He had never used his keen eyes so Lingen's office.
little and had never listened to a He was disengaged: he could recital with so marked a lack of insee Miss Doldy at once. Laura terest. He wore the air of a novel left her carriage, and, gathering reader who, on opening the first her dainty skirts together, passed volume, is filled with a wearied sense in, much to the gratification of the that it is hardly worth while to ask clerks in the outer office, who looked for the third—the plot is so easily admiringly after her as she vanished understood. Laura's actual words within Mr. Lingen's sanctum. were the first volume of this story.
He sat in the dingy room, as To discover the whole history and usual, behind the table piled with amuse oneself with the intricacies dusty-looking papers, looking him of the plot, it would have been self as fresh and spotless as the necessary to study her face, and summer morning. He wore an there find the real interest of the abstracted air, and, holding the story. But perhaps her hearer had guard of his eye-glass in one hand, heard too many similar ones. At waved it gently to and fro, as all events, he did not seem to care though it were out of service just to penetrate beyond the sketch then, and were having a little play which she vouchsafed to him. time.
Laura did not know enough of Laura was delighted to see that him to be alarmed at this; on the when the ordinary greetings were contrary, it relieved her immensely, over, and she had taken a seat, and she was just pluming herself which brought her face as little on having relieved herself of her under the light as possible, he fell confidences in a most creditable into the same attitude and action way, when Lingen roused himself again.
from his abstraction, and turned Courage rose when she found to her with the languid air of a man that he did not even look at her who makes a remark which is void when she began to speak; and she of interest. proceeded to give a cleverly incom “Of course the first thing, at all plete account of the affair upon costs, is to regain the letters. We which she had come.
must not run any risk of their being Lewis Lingen was well accus. published.” tomed to such confidences. Many · Laura almost gasped for breath. a fashionable lady had sat in that What did he mean? She reviewed chair before Laura, and had en- her words hastily. She had cerdeavoured to tell her wrongs while tainly said nothing about the letters concealing her wrong-doings. Many except that they had been written a beautiful woman had been com- during her engagement. She
looked at him. His face was per- Laura, standing doubtfully beside fectly expressionless; his eyes had her chair. fallen upon a pile of papers in front “Unless,” he went on, "you not of him, and he seemed to be read. only wish to punish Mr. Yriarte for ing the uppermost one. She was his impertinent conduct, but also reassured; he meant nothing. She to suppress the actual facts of your moved her lips with some difficulty connection with him, you will gain and spoke hesitatingly.
little by consulting me about it.” “Certainly; any such publica. Laura sat down again. The tion would be very unpleasant." flush died out of her face beneath
“Humph!” said Mr. Lingen. that terrible eye-glass. She trem. He put his hand across the table bled beneath it. After a struggle and took up a little bundle, which she recalled a little of her cus. Laura had put on it. They were tomary presence of mind. Yriarte's letters asking for money. “I can understand now," she Mr. Lingen glanced them through, said, smiling faintly, “why you are and then put up his eye-glass and so dreaded by witnesses." turned it upon. Laura.
“Forgive me, Miss Doldy," he “Mr .Yriarte is a shrewd man,” said, courteously; “ I am not trying he said, reflectively. “He would to extract anything from you. I scarcely have threatened you with only wish you to see that it is the publication of these letters useless to come to me with half unless he were fully aware that the confidences. Perhaps, as Mr. weakness of your position lay in Yriarte is no longer your lover, your dreading their publication. you will allow me to call him a You must have forgotten what you scoundrel. A few months ago he said in them.”
was borrowing money on the asserLaura was at a loss for words. tion that he was engaged to an
“ But,” she said, at last, “what heiress who dared not risk her should I have said in them?” reputation by throwing him over.
Mr. Lingen raised his eyebrows, If you choose to allow that you and there was a curious flash in were that heiress I will arrange his eyes; but he was perfectly the matter for you and get him grave.
the punishment he so richly “That,” he said, “I must leave deserves; but, if you are not that to you."
heiress, my clerk can easily manage Laura was dumb for a moment, it for you.” paralysed with surprise and anger. Laura had not heard the last She rose with dignity after a little words. She leaned forward in her pause : her face was flushing darkly. chair with the flush rising again in
“I don't understand your mean. her face, and one hand clenched ing,” she said; “I will wish you a itself fiercely as it lay in her lap. good morning.”
“Dared not!” she said. “Dared Mr. Lingen rose languidly. not !-But I did! I threw him
“Excuse me, Miss Doldy, a over when I found he was a mere moment. When I undertake an fortune hunter !-and he thinks to affair like this I can only be of any intimidate me now!” use if I know the whole story. Mr. Lingen's brow cleared-he When a client chooses to tell me dropped his eyeglass and smiled. only a part of the facts, I am “Go straight to Dr. Doldy," he obliged to make up the rest from said, "and tell him as much as you my experience and knowledge.” told me at first. If you tell it to
"I-don't understand," said him as cleverly he will not suspect