Зображення сторінки

to lift and to show her all her his own perplexing thoughts, was carefully devised and scientifically startled suddenly by a loud burst constructed plans lying in a heap of laughter from the window. It of ruins at her feet. It was borne was the laugh of the luckless vicin upon her that her life was for tim of fate, who, while he is crythe moment objectless; that her ing out for a weapon wherewith presence at Floundershayle, at any to revenge himself against the rate, was absolutely empty of all world in general for being happier meaning, since the object that had than he is, suddenly discovers that brought her here lay among that he holds the very weapon in his heap of ruins. Everything had hand. Maud's mind was peculiarfailed her. Not one of her aims, ly fitted for the taking up of sudnot one of her purposes, stood up- den resolutions; in one instant she right.. Which way was she to saw where her chance lay. Brought turn? At whose door was she up short by the failure of one ob next to beg her bread? If it was ject, she was already intent on the true that Lady Baby bore upon accomplishment of another. She her tho mark of good - luck, then had, as it were, reversed her surely Maud Epperton was branded engines at full steam. What was with bad-luck's deepest sign. She passing in her mind now was not had lost Germaine. Before losing at all unlike what had passed in Germaine, she had lost Sir Peter. her mind on the evening of the Before losing Sir Peter- But tableaux at Kippendale at the mohold! What was this new light ment that she had met Germaine's flashing like lightning into Maud's first admiring gaze upon her. eyes? Why did her angry tears Then also a resolve had been condry up so suddenly on her củeek, ceived ; on that evening a thread and even her breath seem to cease had been broken off, to-day it was for a moment, as she stood quite to be picked up again. It was but still by the window, her lips parted, the resuming of an old campaign; and her eyes staring wide as though and, by the ease with which she at some wonderful vision of the air? fell into the plan, Maud recogWas Sir Peter lost to her? It was nised how much the idea had been the upstarting of this question in her thoughts lately, in defiance which had taken her breath away. of her better self. The train had He was not Lady Baby's yet. He long been laid; it wanted but the would not be Lady Baby's until spark to fire it, and the spark had all doubts about this new copper fallen to-day. were cleared away, for until then Maud was still laughing as she would the barrier of pride stand turned from the window, so overbetween them. And the fixity of come was she at the change that that barrier she all at once realised had come over her prospects

within was in no other keeping than her the last two minutes. As her eye own. A hasty backward glanee at fell on Mr Carbury, whose existber interviễw with Germaine as- ence she had almost forgotten, she sured her that the secret was not laughed still more.

« That man out, that the trump-card was still would do anything in the world, in her hand, that she was still at if he thought he had the ghost of liberty to play it in any way she a chance."

Once more her own liked.

words recurred to her, and this Mr Carbury, sitting plunged in time they bore a significance she had never discovered in them be- there are so many, and they get so fore. It was wonderful how per- mixed.” Then to herself she confect the opportunity was, as it tinued : ** Yes, that is the way; dawned upon her bit by bit. Here that will work ; I believe that will had been two people asking them- answer.” “Mr Carbury," she said selves which way to turn— two aloud, “would you like to be put hands groping about in the dark, in the way of earning the eternal when all they had to do was to gratitude of Lady Baby and all clutch each other for mutual sup her relations ?” port. It must have been her good “I don't want their gratitude,” angel-or her bad one—that had said Carbury, sullenly. inspired her not to snub Mr Car- “ Not even if it prove a stepbury and send him away. Charity ping-stone to your purpose ?” for once had truly been its own My purpose? What on earth reward.

do you mean by my purpose ?” “Oh, Mr Carbury,” exclaimed “ The one for which you left Maud, as she returned to her chair London. It was to try again straight opposite to him, “I have that you came down here, was made such a mistake! I told you it not ?” just now that Sir Peter's return Carbury started bolt - upright. was nothing to me, instead of “I am not thinking of doing any. thanking you so much for bringing thing of the sort. At least,-1 me the intelligence. I didn't mean that I left London without quite understand it then, but I any such

purpose in

my unind.” see it all now—I see it all quite

“ Then you are a greater clearly before me. The ways of pardon me - fool than I should Providence are strange. Do you

havo taken


Such a believe in fate, Mr Carbury? I combination of circumstances ! do; and I believe it is no Such situation ! Such trying not to do a thing when it is chance ! ” destined that you are to do it.” “I don't understand you

Mr Carbury stared at her in " You shall presently. Love perplexity for a moment, and then, may be awakened by gratitude, with some vague idea that Miss may it not ?” Epperton was not quite in her “ And how is this gratitude to right mind, made an undetermined be awakened ?” asked Carbury in movement towards his hat. She the most ungracious of tones. saw it at once.

“By playing Providence to them.

she said, I meant to do it myself, but I quickly. “You have been sent yield to you the whole honour and me in the very nick of time. I glory. I believe I have let slip have not half explained to you the the secret to you already, but I interest I feel in your case. You have let it slip to no one else, so must let me help you. That was

its market-valụe is still intact." another mistake that I made when And then she very briefly told I said that I could not help you. him of the old shoemaker on the I can do so very easily."

moor and the discovery she had Mr Carbury said nothing, but made. “I make you a present of looked at her with some suspicion. the secret,” she concluded, "and

“Wait; you must give me a along with it I make you a prerent minute to disentangle the threads of the fate of the entire Bovan


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

6 Don't go


[ocr errors]


family. Use it as your feelings Carbury looked down intently

ll direct. If with that weapon into her fące. Will you swear in your hand you cannot extort to me that this is your conviction ? from Fate what you want, you are Will you swear that you have no too great a hungler to be pitied; reason to suppose that her feeling I wash my hands of you.”

for Wyndhurst is anything deeper. Before she had done speaking than this—than the sort you have Carbury was pacing the room in just described ?” an excitement which he vainly at For just one little instant Maud tempted to mask. He had spoken hesitated, -just one little doubt the truth, or at least as much of flickered across her mind. Up to the truth as he was aware of, when this moment her treachery had not he said that he had left London been very deep; she was almost without any intention of “trying quite sure of her own theory; she again”; but since he had left Lon- honestly saw no reason why Mr don there had been that vision on Carbury should not yet cut out the cliff, and from that moment Sir Peter. And yet, there had he had known that merely to been moments, - lights on Lady feast his eyes upon her humilia- Baby's face, shadows in Lady tion would never satisfy the pas- Baby's eyes,—bah ! after all, she sion that was tearing his soul. He was but a child, and no child ever

a weaker if not exactly a cries for long. more mercifully inclined man than “As many oaths as you like," he had been but a few hours back. she laughed. “Sir Peter was a new This hope, flashed so dexterously toy, and when the varnish was into his eyes, was fast upsetting rubbed off she threw him away, his senses. This chance · pushed and now that he is gone she would right into his hand, would it be like to have him back again ; that possible to resist it?

is not love, that is the contrari“But if she-if she cares for ness' of human nature. Give her bim," he said at last with an ef a newer toy and the old one will fort, “what good will all that be forgotten.” do? Does she care for him ?” he Carbury had resumed his pacing abruptly inquired, standing still of the room, but his step was now before Maud.

more hurried and the pulses in his “Of course she cares for him," temples hammered feverishly. If was Maud's serene reply. " Wait she did not love him—and must a minute," as his face darkened- not Miss Epperton know her own “I am not done yet. Have you sex and her own friend I then ever heard of a girl of seventeen 'indeed a new light would have who was not ready to care for a fallen on the situation; at worst it walking-stick, as long as the thing would be but a fair race between had a well-cut coat over it and a himself and Wyndhurst,-always pair of lips wherewith to propose supposing that he should really to her ?

Your coat is quite as resolve to take the field again; well cut as Sir Peter's ; ergo, your could the result be doubtful : chances are quite as good." Laurence Carbury did not think “ Then why-

so, at any rate not at this mo“Why was he the favoured one ment. As he restlessly paced the ‘and not you ? Because he was first little inn-parlour from end to end, in the field, voilà lout."

Maud's arguments poured into his


ears, smoothing out his ruffed “Well,” he col uy inquired, vanity and pointing out to him " and if I did ?” the peculiar advantages of this Maud struck her forehead. “How new position, in which she pro like a man! Why, don't you sce posed to place him. It was neces that in that way you are simply sary to do so if he were to be her

throwing your chances by handally, her unwitting and unconscious fuls out of the window ? Don't ally, as she had already determined you know that you are erer so that he should be. Neither was much more likely to succeel if the task a very harıl one, consider you go in by the back door ining the inan she had to deal with, stead of by the front? Bless the and cousidering the woman she man, that's not the way to do it

The revulsion of feeling at all ! ” brought by the last hour had para I never said that I intended lysed her conscience and hardened to do it at all,” remarked Carbury, her heart to a stone. All the evil in his most ill-tempered tone. instincts in her were awake, and “ The


is to find out where had trainpled down all the good in- she walks," continued Maud calmstincts into a corner where they ly, disregarding the interruption; could neither stir nor cry out, “it will probably be somewhere much as the mutinous crew of a near the sea. So much the better, ship may fall upon the right com as nothing makes a better backmander and his supporters, and ground than waves; you cannot having put them in irons and fail to have a halo of poetry battened down the hatchways, about you. Meet her alone, of usurp the guidance of the ship for course. What you will say to a time.

her, I think I can safely leave “If only it wasn't so confound

But just one hint; edly like a thing in a play,” re the more you can manage to reflected Carbury as he listened. semble the hero of a three-volume “ And yet if it's the only way novel, the better it will be. She in which the thing is to be done, will probably be reading one when I'll do it; by ,

I'll do it!”. you come across her among the Nothing perhaps so distinctly rocks, and all will depend upon showed the violence of the shock how you compare with the lover which had convulsed his nature in those printed pages. You have as that he should not scorn to oue immense advantage play the family saviour. Even his mon with most novel-heroes. You supreme self was eclipsed; he had are poor--at least you are poor reached that state of mind when a compared to Sir Peter; that in ruan no longer cares how he gets a itself ought to give you a pull thing, so long as he gets it; nor. over hin. No heroine worth her on what ternis lie is taken, so long salt, having the choice between a as he is taken at all. Presently, millionaire and a pauper, ever hesiin the midst of his walk, he turned tates in favour of the pauper. Oh, aside and picked up his lat. Mr Carbury, I do believe that no

to you.


Maud watclied him with an man ever before had such a chance aniused smile. If I do not stop

as you have got !” you,” sho said, “I do believe that Without signifying by a single you will go straight off to Gullys- word whether he intended to adopt

the course recominended or not



and without so much as taking for him, that he found it after all leave, Carbury walked to the door. but natural that this should be His fingers were on the handle done for him too. Since all didiwhen she called him back,

culties and bothers had always “One more picce of advice,” heen cleared out of his daily she said, rising and looking him path, why shouldn't difficulties steadily in the face. « Watch and bothers be cleared out of his your moment; don't be in too love affairs as well? He supposed great a hurry to disclose your wonien liked to do that sort of secret. Remember that in giving thing; he supposed it was what the clue to the copper, you knock they

meant for. This over the barrier that now stands friendly interference was a pleasbetween Sir Peter and Lady Baby. ant fact, which he accepted much Be careful, Mr Carbury ; I want in the same spirit as he accepted you to succeed.

the pleasant fact of his toast at “Why does she want me to breakfast being done to a turn, or succeed ?” reflected Carbury, as his slippers being warmed for him he walked up tlie village street. before the fire. “Why does she want to leave to "I think I have got matters me the honour and the glory into the right groove,” said Maud of the announcement ?” Maud's to licrself, alone in the inn

-pareagerness in his cause was obvi- lour. “It is playing. Va Banque, ous; the reason for it was not so of course, but at any rate it is a obrious. But the questiou dil no chance; the rest must be left to more than pass through Citrbury's lunan nature and to fate. And mind. He had been so used all now I wonder wlien Sir Peter will his life to have every tling done Lo liere ?"

« НазадПродовжити »