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Grantleys. And the passers in the street “ of heard her moan and shudder in her sleep, and the baser sort,” as they looked up to the the next morning her face would be weary and brilliantly-lighted room, and heard Ella's pure pale, as though to her sleep had brought no sweet voice ringing through the open windows, balm, no refreshing peace. And then for the said one to another, “ How happy those swells thousandth time would he curse his folly, and must be; nothing to do but to enjoy them- repent of the evil when it was too late; while selves! Why wasn't I born a swell instead of a the horrible suspicion tortured him that she had poor unfort'nate cove?" I am afraid very few, got scent of the secret of his life. One consohigh or low, would have exchanged their lots lation only soothed his mind; soon would a had the curtain been removed from the drama babe be born to his loving wife, and all would that was being enacted there. They only held be forgotten in the sweet maternal instinct. to the popular fallacy that where there is wealth The wee defenceless being would have magic in and luxury and splendour, there must needs be its cry to scare away the hosts of fear and happiness. And Ella herself, all this time, anxiety. seemed to be affected by some unknown dread Soon, too soon, the blow came. One mornof future evil, which she in vain endeavoured to ing at breakfast Ella seemed in unusually low shake off, and laugh at as a foolish presenti- spirits. “Something keeps weighing on my ment. A cold chilly fear would come over her / spirits,” she said, apologetically, to her husheart in the moments of meditation which were band's anxious inquiry. “I know it is very afforded her, and they were not few nor far foolish of me; but I really cannot help it. But between-an idea not to be disregarded that here are the letters ; a regular pile, I do declare. future grief and sorrow loomed in the horizon. Four for me: one from mamma; this from I wonder what the mystic connexion is between Katie-I know her hand well enough; this an matter and thought which mercifully warns us | invitation-card; and this I am sure I do of impending danger. It is fashionable not know this writing; some new friencing commonly to laugh at the idea of presentiment, suppose. Do you, Harry?" to decry all such notions as superstitious, and I know it? ay. full well. And his face to ally them with the Highlander's “second,
, blanched as he read the direction. If he bad sight,” and the Welshman's “corpse candle.”
e canale: dared, he would have snatched it away; but But why is it that ere the blow falls we seem to
that would create suspicion, and it was too late. have an intuition of its proximity? Why are
His feelings may be imagined as he recognised our nights sleepless and disturbed, our days
lays Nathalie's hand; and his heart told him what fraught with gloomy foreboding ? Shakespeare that letter contained-ruin to him-death, per—and we may travel further and fare worse in
chance, to his wife. Does the reader know the search of a philosopher-certainly countenances
reluctance in the human mind to open a strange the idea. Witness the loving injunction of
letter? People always leave it to the last, and Cæsar's wife, that her lord stir not forth on the day of his doom. And in reading the sweet
then trifle with the seal, anything to delay the love-play of “ Romeo and
opening of it. Ella read in order the othersJuliet,” we can
a maternal epistle, breathing love and anxiety detect running through the playful badinage of
-a chatty letter from Katie, touching on all the loving couple, a tinge of dark forebod.
the news at the Hall, the trifling details of ing. “Although I joy in thee, I have no joy of this contract to-night.
which fell not on Grantley's ear: he was too It is too rash, too un.
stunned with fear – then a polite note of invi. advised, too sudden." A cold blast, as it
tation to a conversazione—and then the last was were, of the storm which is so soon to burst upon the fortunes of the happy lovers.
taken up and reluctantly opened. He noted “Oh, it's all fancy," the young wife would
with despairing eagerness every trifling move
ment; saw the envelope opened, the letter taken say, and laugh off the presentiment. But it was
out and unfolded, and his wife's eyes rest on not to be gotten rid of; and even in the midst of the most enjoyable gathering — croquet
the opening words; and waited for the result. party, dinner-party, or what not; amid the din
Something out of the common to work the of prattling voices and joyous laughter, a voice
fearful change in Ella's face-something strange seemed to whisper to her heart, “There is
to make her gasp, hoarsely, “ It's come at trouble and danger in the future.” She was
last !” With a form quivering with emotion, tormented just like poor Gretchen in the Cathe
horror-stricken eyes and ashen face, Ella read dral scene in “Faust,” who vainly strives to
every word, and then the head drooped and fell perform her religious duties; for amid the swell
lifeless on her bosom. She had swooned. of the psalmody, and the rich music of the “Ella, Ella ! Oh, my God, it has killed her!” anthem, demon-voices are wbispering in her groaned the anguished man. “Speak to me, ear, “Lost, lost!” So when Ella Grantley my darling.” He rushed to the sideboard, and endeavoured to take counsel with herself, and poured out some water ; then gently sprinkled tried to rout the evil presentiment, the terrible the death-white forehead, and chafed the deli. fear kept pressing on her heart, turning it to cate hands, till a little sign of returning animaice within her. “Something will surely tion showed itself, till the colour came back happen to one of us," was her shuddering cry. slowly to the cheek, and the eyes were opened, “God keep my dear husband from all danger.” still with that shuddering stare in their depths. And often the conscience - stricken Grantley " Oh, Ilarry, Harry! Tell me that this
horrible letter is untrue. What can it mean? room, and when she had reached it dropped her Cruel, cruel, to frighten one so."
head with a hopeless moan. “That woman at He took the letter from her hand, and read; Turlminster, she wrote that letter, I am certain. pot till he had first drank a great draught of Heaven help me if it should prove true.” water, and unloosed his necktie, for he felt as Left to himself, Grantley fell into a painful though he were choking, and the perspiration reverie. Was the woman's oath coming true, stood out in great drops on his forehead. He then ? And was this the first scene of the drama? might have guessed its contents. They were “ Curses on her," he muttered. “She swore in this wise: no address, no date; simply that she would be revenged. If it were only
myself, I should not care; but my poor Ella!" MADAM, -It is fitting that you should be aware of Then he rushed off to fetch the family doctor, a Harry Grantley's real character. His wife you are mild bald-headed little man, with a fussy air not; nor is he your husband. He has a wife living about him, as though he had more than he at this moment-his wife in the sight of heaven-a could do. wife to whom he was legally married. And she writes “My wife is taken very ill, doctor. Could to warn you in time of the sin you are coinnitting in
you come at once ?" living with him. Bid him beware, for vengeance is
“ Certainly, my dear sir, certain-ly. Poor surely on his track. May you never know the misery Jesuche
sery lady! she looked delicate. I told her to be which he has caused AN UNFORTUNATE WOMAN.
careful, ve-ry careful.” And he rubbed his
| hands gently together. “But we'll bring her How he ever got to the end of the fatal letter
round all right again in no time.” He told a he never could make out. The tempest of
different tale, though, after his interview with conflicting emotions was almost driving him
the suffering wife.” “Very serious business, mad. And-as though in a lightning flash-his
indeed,” said he, in his softest tones. “She memory took him back to the day when he had
has evidently sustained a shock; and in her received that bit of pasteboard with Nathalie's
position, you know, Captain Grantley -- "
He turned fiercely round upon the little Dame on it. As he was determined then, so he
doctor. “Do you mean that her life is in must be now. I have told you that in a crisis- |
danger-that she is seriously ill ?" a moment of imminent danger, the “cool cap
“Oh, not so much as that. I will stay with tain's" nerve never failed him. He must be
her 10-day as long as I can. Rest assured I prompt and decisive now. He met the inquir
will do all I can for her. Pray, don't excite ing gaze o jnis wife steadily. "My life, I cannot make this out. What
yourself, my dear sir; don't excite yourself.” reason there can have been for this cruel hoax
It was easy enough, thought Grantley, to say --for hoax it surely is I cannot determine.
that. But how would it be with him should
his dear wife die? Would he not be her murNow tell me, Ella, have you so lost faith and
derer as much as if he had poisoned her with love for me that you will believe an anony
his own hand? And then the after-remorse. mous letter before my word ? It may be some
It was more than he could bear. He rushed delusion; many poor women labour under such,
out, like one demented, into the garden outside, and worse ones, too. Shadow of truth there is
and paced with hurried footsteps, whilst he kept none in it." Famous sophistry! But it seemed
his eyes fixed upon that lighted window where not so convincing to the wife of his bosom. “ It may be some woman whom I have known long
| lay his treasure, battling for dear life with the
fell adversary. He tried to pray-unwonted ago. You know a soldier's morality, Ella. If
exercise! And the sickening thought forced 80, may God forgive me; I have repented of all
itself upon him that the heavens were as brass those follies long ago." Magnanimous man !
to the cry of such wretches as he. “Oh, God, It was as though the devil should quote scrip
spare her life! spare my dear one's life, and ture. Still the same horror in Ella's eye. She would not be comforted.
take the child if it be Thy will.” Incoherent
expressions escaped his lips. He felt that he “Harry Grantley, if you have deceived me"
.should go mad if this suspense lasted. And "If I have deceived you, Ella? What can you mean? Am I not your wedded husband ?
meanwhile the night shadows fell, and the stars
came out, and looked pityingly on the bareAm I not a soldier and a gentleman? I swear
headed man who walked in that garden. And, before God that there is not a shadow of truth
as if in mockery, the sound of pleasant voices in this statement. There, there, think no more of it. I won't leave a stone unturned till I find
came from the neighbouring houses ; and from out the writer. It's foolish for you to trouble
one room pealed forth a duet, “La ci darem.”
It was their favourite song, as if in hideous yourself, my wife.” “Harry, it has nearly killed me," she gasped.
mockery; and to his distorted imagination the
figure of Nathalie rose before him, and pointed “ The shock. I feel as if I can't breathe, and my heart keeps leaping so.”
" with outstretched finger to the lighted window,
and said, “This is my revenge.” "I will fetch Doctor Filmer," said Grantley. The suspense was killing him-maddening "Perhaps you had better lie down, my darling, him. He could bear it no longer. “I must till the shock is over. You'll get over it in a see her, must learn her state.” And then he little time."
would cast his eyes up to the sick chamber, and More dead than alive, Ella staggered to her' watch the figures flitting to and fro in the room
where, for aught he knew, the watchers would
Chap. XXI. issue forth to bid him come and see his wife ere she died.
A PARTING GLEAM. Have you ever waited in a sick chamber, reader? Or in a house where one near and Moralists will tell you that after the first step dear lay battling with death ? Have you ever has been taken in crime the further progress is watched and prayed in the ghastly solemn still- uncommonly easy; and I need not myself dip ne88, when nothing was heard but the dreary very far into the writings of a very deep and ticking of the clock, or the pattering of the ashes learned Roman poet-moralist to find the oftin the grate; when the very servant's face wore quoted, but alas! not as often applied words: an aspect of awed dread? Have you ever “ Facilis descensus Averni.” That journey, waited for the verdict, listened eagerly to catch which the plain-spoken slang of the nineteenth the footstep of the doctor as he opened the century pithily describes as “ going to the bad," chamber-door, and came down to you noise- seems somehow to get easier and more accommolessly, watch in hand, and awakened you from dating the further we toil along its weary, darkyour stupor with the glad news that the crisis some road, the end of which is death and was over, or tearfully-with a tremble in his despair. It seems as if the white stones on the kind voice-bid you be resigned for the worst? | downward journey occur more frequently, and If so, then pity Grantley. Spite of his failings, afford clearer direction in the ruinous march; he had a man's feelings. A servant appeared just as in the descent of a steep declivity the at the door, and beckoned him silently. There l landmarks gleam more frequently where the way was real pain in the man's face, for Ella was l is most trackless and dangerous. It is really mightily beloved by her dependants, while the astonishing with what ease one gets accustomed Captain was feared. In feverish haste Grantley to sin and misery, and with what an easy and rushed into the house, and in the hall he saw degagé manner one wears the cloak of shame Doctor Filmer.
when it gets like an old coat-to fit well. I had “For God's sake, Filmer, tell me at once. a very dear friend once at the university: one I have suffered the tortures of hell for the last of the most genial, loveable, open-hearted men three hours. Is there any hope ?”
it is possible to conceive; the name of Sparkler, “I am happy to say that there is,” replied the of St. Bridget's, aroused sunny memories of tittle doctor, in a low voice. (An involuntary pleasant nights, and merry stories and sterling “ Thank God !” burst from the suffering man's wit. One little failing this intimate of mine lips). “But”-and here his face grew sad — had; he would get into debt. I remember that “but the child is dead. I did all I could, and lad's expression of face when he was first the mother will do very well, as the crisis is dunned for a tradesman's account : the flash of past. On no account, Captain Grantley; are honest indignation that suffused the fair white you mad ?” cried he, as Grantley prepared to brow, and the rage that sparkled in his eyes. rush upstairs. “Why the excitement would | But as bills kept flowing in with the regularity kill her outright. You must not see her to- of the tide, his manner assumed the stolid, night; it would be madness, per-fect madness." careless look of defiance that distinguishes the
* And the child is dead,” murmured Grantley. habitual debtor. (Fathers and mothers, pray "Ah, Nathalie! you are revenged sufficiently. God on your bended knees that the fine young That cruel letter has done its worst."
fellow you are going to send up to the university After having given his last directions to the may never wear this expression!) And as he nurse, Doctor Filmer took his departure. It grew deeper in debt, and floundered on more was a commonplace thing, you see, for him, and hopelessly into the morass, he esteemed it rather he looked at it merely in a professional light, as a joke than otherwise to outwit the wary credione more victory for him.
tor; and when last I saw him-just fresh from But there was one woman who, when she the “ whitewash" of the Court, a waif and stray read the list of “ Births, Marriages, and Deaths" | in drear London, happy to earn a few pence as in the Times shortly after, stopped short at the penny-a-liner to a common daily paper – he name of Grantley, and muttered, in a trium- scrupled not to make jest of his passage through phant tone, “That letter, then, did its work the Court, and mentioned it just as a matter of well. Now, perhaps, he will allow that my vow course; and as I looked at his face, which was was no empty one. If it has made him weep already assuming the hawk-like look of a bird tears of blood, all the better for me.” Not that of prey, I felt assured that so it would be with she intended stopping here; we shall see anon him till the day of his death. So with Grantley. that this was but the first link in the chain of Every day the cursed infatuation of the gamingthe injured woman's revenge.
table grew stronger upon him, and every day One heart more was gladdened by these the face of his luckless wife grew thinner and tidings-Della Croce laughed one of his sneer- more grief-lined, till people began to notice it, ing little laughs. “ Per Diavolo! my lady friend and made pretty little ill-natured remarks about is no bad hand at revenge. You may repent Grantley's treatment of her, comparing him, for yet, Signor Grantley, the night when we played | aught I know, to “Bloudie Jacke” of Shrewscarté.
bury, whose story is so pleasantly told by Tom Ingoldsby.
It is true that for the first few weeks after the
death of the child, and the terrible peril of his / prayer. Whether it is that the artificial air wife, whom he loved after a fashion-more which surrounds the homes of the rich and perhaps in the feeling of pride that he had | fashionable is unfavourable to the growth of stolen her from Dalton's arms, than in heart's home affection, I don't know; it certainly is a affection ; for I hold that a man can love but rare exotic, and if once removed from the atmo. once : all the subsequent attacks are mere base sphere of love and honesty, would soon pine shams and counterfeits, about as much like the and wither. Provided that the husband finds a real thing as are the whispered compliments and box at the opera, where the loving wife can show flirtation of an officer in the Line to a garrison once or twice a week, just by way of ceremony, belle, who will be listening with the same atten- and not through any regard for the music, tion and the same sparkling Eye to the some- which she scarcely condescends to listen to; as what cumbrous badinage of a Heavy the next long as he provides plenty of pin-money, loads moment—Grantley's first love was given to her with jewellery and fine clothes and loves of Nathalie, and Ella, I am afraid, came in for but bonnets, in the purchasing of wbich she spends the cold reversion, Fashionable people as the many a profitable and delightful afternoon Grantleys were-and it is not considered at all propped up on a high chair at “Swan and fashionable, we all know, to give way to feelings Edgar's," listening to the highly-intellectual of sorrow or regret-fashionable though they remarks of the gorgeous young men who attend were, still every Sunday they would walk out to upon her, and seriously thinking-with a satisthe little country cemetery, where, under a pretty fied sigh-that she has managed to get through marble cross wreathed with immortelles (a the time so nicely before dinner, which would shaydoover, so the sculptor, Mr. Phydias of otherwise hang so heavily; all this provided, I the New Road, called it, in the pride of his say, it matters not to the really fashionable wife artist's heart), slept the first-born who looked at whether she sees little or much of her husband. this weary world for a few short hours, and They seem to live two really separate existences, then, to adopt the usual formula, “left it for a happy fulfilment of the oath they took at the better, poor lamb ;” at least so said Mrs. altar to become “ one flesh.” “My husband, Quickly, or Mrs. Gamp, the handmaid of you know, dear, is so occupied in his place in Lucina.
the city; he is so much taken up with those And as they stood before the little lowly grave, business speculations of his, that we really see where even now the sweet spring flowers were very little of one another. Then he will go to blooming over the sleeper, and the balmy that horrid club; I really think he prefers a country breeze stirred the wild rose that curled chop there to the best dinner my servants can lovingly round the headstone, a chance thought give him." Quid mirum? my aggrieved of amendment may have crossed Grantley's madam. If he goes to the club, wbich you mind, and he may have looked into his wife's empty the vial of your wrath upon, the chances eyes, and as he read there the faithful clinging are that he will meet some men whose intellects look of devotion, may have vowed to desert the are on a par with his own, not over bright or accursed board of green cloth.
anything very stupendous, but “wide-awake," "Harry dear, you will stay more with me and up to the affairs of the day, who can wonder now that I am so lonely? I have nothing to with him what the Reform question will come to live for or to hope in this world, only you. at last, and whether it is better to hang John Promise me this, my own husband; here, before Bright, or give him a public monument; how our darling's grave. Promise me that I shan't the funds are; and what the odds are on have to go out to those dreadful wearisome" Jock o' Hazeldean” for the Derby; or even parties without you ; left to face those scandal-might, perhaps, go so far as to canvas the mongering old women, and those brainless merits of “Felix Holt," or the last article in the young men, with their vapid talk and fascinat- i “Saturday.” On the other hand, supposing that ing smiles. Promise me that I shan't have to the much-maligned husband finished his day's keep any more those dreadful night-watches. | business, went the round of his patients, pleaded It will kill me in time, I know, having to sit up a criminal cause, bought up much scrip on all alone in that large empty house, listening 'Change, so as to reach home before dinner, he and fancying that every footstep is yours, and would be rewarded by a glimpse of his wife, torturing myself with the idea that something who would sit opposite him at dinner, and has happened to you. Let us leave this dread. / murmur, perhaps, between soup and fish, the ful London, in which I never have had a astoundingly novel fact that "it has been very moment's happiness, and take a house in the hot to-day," a fact which the husband, who has country, where I can be near mamma, and see toiled and moiled for her through all the burndear Katie sometimes." (Conclusive evidence ing heat, could have told her himself. She then of the wedded life's unhappiness this, when the either relapses into silence, or entertains him wife longs to fly to the Home Penates so very (worse luck!) with choice fragments of conversoon).
sations held with lady visitors during the dayShe was a foolish little woman, was Ella how Mrs. Montmorency Jones's pet spaniel was Grantley, don't you see? And many a fashion- seized with a violent attack of shivering, poor able wife, whose only desire was to keep her pet! and how Mrs. J. was in a great state in husband as much from home as possible, would consequence. Whereupon the husband makes have laughed as she heard Ella's beseeching some very brutal remarks about there being hundreds of God's creatures dying for want of land that rose lier upon tier from the waterside ; bread and fire and pure water at Poplar and the thosc placid little villages that slept quietly on Deighbourhood; and that if the ladies who the river-bank; and then the lazy delicious devoted their time and energy in pampering rambles through cities whose renown has ugly ill-tempered wheezing brutes, would only shaken the world ; Cologne, of the hundred devote a little of both to the sufferings of their smells, and the strolls through the dimly-lit fellow-creatures, it would be better for them. cathedral, where the simple worshippers still Then the wife, who can't agree with this told their beads and murmured “Ave Maria ;" because, forsooth, Mrs. Montmorency Jones is and the halts in the world-famed picture-galleniece to a bishop, and must know what is right ries, where the names of the gay, dissolute and proper-takes refuge in solemn silence, and Rubens, the stern Rembrandt, and the whole the weary meal over, takes flight for one of the noble family of them, arose at the sight of their numerous engagements that occupy her nights ; inaster-creations on the world. That happy, and the husband, as he catches the last gleam happy Rhine tour! where every scene was tinged of her Cashmere shawl-which cost him some with the bright love-light, and the husband of thing like fifty guineas — mutters something her choice was before her ! Ah, let us be about a “very bad bargain." Yet what could thankful that memory is not always a “fond he expect? It was a purely commercial specu- deceiver;" that the past is not all a charnel. lation of his to buy so much fashion and grace house, where hopes and memories lie buried and tolerable beauty, and so much good family; and forgotten. Let us be thankful that some to epable himself to say, “Second cousin to times the recollection of a kind deed or happy Lord Poltimore, you know, my wife is ;" to scene comes back to us, to cheer the uncertainty purchase all this as a set-off against his wealth and misery of our life; and though the memory gained by commerce. He has but himself to be chastened by experience, that it still wakens blame for it.
a chord in our heart, just such as the exiles on a I have finished my very tedious digression at foreign shore have awakened in them, when they last, my dear reader. I simply wanted to show hear the old familiar sailor's song borne across you that poor Ella did really commit the very to them from the English ship in the offing. unfashionable crime of caring for her husband | And Grantley really tried hard to cleave to and his welfare. Let her naine be written in the promise made over the grave of his lost the Golden Book: we shall find few like her. / child, and made a home-staying man of himself, At any rate Grantley did promise, did fervently insomuch that the luckless youths, who used to vow, that he would keep away as far as possible lose so heavily in their trials of skill with him, from his shady associates. He would try hard drew a long breath, and had thoughts of making to conquer the itching his palm felt for the touch money now that the lucky man had settled of a card those “ Devil's picture-books.” | down. And if we peep over Ella's shoulder Common expressions are generally vulgar, but this morning at a letter she is writing home, I don't think the common expression erred we shall see that the gambler's wife was happy when it christened the painted bits of paste- | in the newly-born hope. board by that name. He would cut all bis old “Dear Katie, you need not really worry associates, and not go near the Club-he would yourself to death about me. And tell mamma be dashed if he wouldn't. He would try and that since the darling's death Harry is a changed realise the character of the fine old inodel hus- man, and is quite devoted to me. Last night band. He would go into the country ; take to be took me to hear your favourite . Puritani, sub-soil drainage and cattle-shows; he would and there was a very fine new tenor who did do anything, provided Ella would cease her ‘Arturu' beautifully. The other evening we grief, and wear the old fond cheery expression went to Lady Gatherum's, and had a nice time she wore during the happy courting period. j of it. You must really come up to town,
“ Cheer up, Ella darling ; look as happy as dearest, and see us.” And much more which I you used to, when we were up the Rhine. I vow need not weary you with-much that would to God I will cbange, and make you happy yet." | amuse Katie in the seclusion of a country.
“When we were up the Rhine." And as he home, with only one Curate to tease by way of said the words, a ray of pleasure – sickly, amusement, but would only be “the same old thougb, as when we see the sun steal through thing over and over again” to people of fashion the watery clouds — shot across Ella's worn like you or 1. face. It seemed as if the exstatic dream-like And I would venture to assert that there happiness of that brief honeymoon was so great never was man more welcome anywhere than that it left even now, after much sorrow, a | the man who brought that letter to the Hall. brief reflection, as thougb-to employ one more in comparison with him, the wild rider who picture-the faint dim light from the declining “ brought the good news from Ghent to Aix,” sun should shoot across some dead brown would fade into utter insignificance. It pleased moorland, and for a moment warm the tangle everybody; it was balm to the dear old mother's and fern and heath into golden life. That Rhine spirit, for it reassured her as to the well-being tour! Should she ever forget it? The plea- of that daughter whose absence from the Hall sant voyage up the majestic river, mirroring in she had never ceased to mourn; it made the its bosom the mighty feudal strongholds that squire less bitter in his tone to Grantley; and frowned above those grand masses of forest, of course it pleased Katie, and “pari passu” the