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Daddy's Girl
by L. T. Meade
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"This will set matters right," said Ogilvie. "Put it in an envelope. If I sail to-morrow, I may as well take it myself."

"Her Majesty's mail would be best," answered Rycroft. "You can see Grayleigh almost as soon as he gets the report. Remember, I am responsible for it as well as you, and it would be best for it to go in the ordinary way." As he spoke, he stretched out his hand, took the document and folded it up.

Just at this moment there came a tap at the door. Rycroft cried, "Come in," and a messenger entered with a cablegram.

"For Mr. Ogilvie," he said.

"From Grayleigh, of course," said Rycroft, "how impatient he gets! Wait outside," he continued to the messenger.

The man withdrew, and Ogilvie slowly opened the telegram. Rycroft watched him as he read. He read slowly, and with no apparent change of feature. The message was short, but when his eyes had travelled to the end, he read from the beginning right through again. Then, without the slightest warning, and without even uttering a groan, the flimsy paper fluttered from his hand, he tumbled forward, and lay in an unconscious heap on the floor.

Rycroft ran to him. He took a certain interest in Ogilvie, but above all things on earth at that moment he wanted to get the document which contained the false report safely into the post. Before he attempted to restore the stricken man, he took up the cablegram and read the contents. It ran as follows:—

"Sibyl has had bad fall from pony. Case hopeless. Come home at once."

"So Sibyl, whoever Sibyl may be, is at the bottom of Ogilvie's fall," thought Rycroft. "Poor chap! he has got a fearful shock. Best make all safe. I must see things through."

Without an instant's hesitation Rycroft took the already signed document, thrust it into an envelope, directed it in full and stamped it. Then he went to the telegraph messenger who was still waiting outside.

"No answer to the cable, but take this at once to the post-office and register it," he said; "here is money—you can keep the change."

The man departed on his errand, carrying the signed document.

Rycroft now bent over Ogilvie. There was a slightly blue tinge round his lips, but the rest of his face was white and drawn.

"Looks like death," muttered Rycroft. He unfastened Ogilvie's collar and thrust his hand beneath his shirt. He felt the faint, very faint beat of the heart.

"Still living," he murmured, with a sigh of relief. He applied the usual restoratives. In a few moments Ogilvie opened his eyes.

"What has happened?" he said, looking round him in a dazed way. "Oh, I remember, I had a message from London."

"Yes, old fellow, don't speak for a moment."

"I must get back at once; the child——"

"All right, you shall go in the Sahara to-morrow."

"But the document," said Ogilvie, "it—isn't needed; I want it back."

"Don't trouble about it now."

Ogilvie staggered to his feet.

"You don't understand. I did it because—because of one who will not need it. I want it back."

"Too late," said Rycroft, then. "That document is already in the post. Come, you must pull yourself together for the sake of Sibyl, whoever she is."



CHAPTER XVI.

There was a pretty white room at Silverbel in which lay a patient child. She lay flat on her back just as she had lain ever since the accident. Her bed was moved into the wide bay window, and from there she could look out at the lovely garden and at the shining Thames just beyond. From where she lay she could also see the pleasure boats and the steamers crowded with people as they went up and down the busy river, and it seemed to her that her thoughts followed those boats which went toward the sea. It seemed to her further that her spirit entered one of the great ships at the mouth of the Thames and crossed in it the boundless deep, and found a lonely man at the other side of the world into whose heart she crept.

"I am quite cosy there," she said to herself, "for father's perfect heart is big enough to hold me, however much I suffer, and however sad I am."

Not that Sibyl was sad, nor did she suffer. After the first shock she had no pain of any sort, and there never was a more tranquil little face than hers as it lay on its daintily frilled pillow and looked out at the shining river.

There was no part of the beautiful house half so beautiful as the room given up to her use. It might well and aptly be called the Chamber of Peace. Indeed, Miss Winstead, who was given to sentimentalities and had a poetic turn of mind, had called Sibyl's chamber by this title.

From the very first the child never murmured. She who had been so active, like a butterfly in her dancing motion, in her ceaseless grace, lay on her couch uncomplaining. And as to pain, she had scarcely any, and what little she had grew less day by day. The great specialist from London said that this was the worst symptom of the case, and established the fact beyond doubt that the spine was fatally injured. It was a question of time. How long a time no one could quite tell, but the great doctors shook their heads over the child, and an urgent cablegram was sent to Ogilvie to hurry home without a moment's delay.

But, though all her friends knew it, no one told Sibyl herself that she might never walk again nor dance over the smoothly kept lawns, nor mount the nameless pony, nor carry apples to Dan Scott. In her presence people thought it their duty to be cheerful, and she was always cheerful herself. After the first week or so, during which she was more or less stunned and her head felt strangely heavy, she liked to talk and laugh and ask questions. As far as her active little brain went there was but little difference in her, except that now her voice was low, and sometimes it was difficult to follow the rapid, eager words. But the child's eyes were quite as clear and beautiful as ever, and more than ever now there visited them that strange, far-away look and that quick, comprehending gaze.

"I want nothing on earth but father, the touch of father's hand and the look in his face," she said several times; and then invariably her own eyes would follow the steamers and the boats as they went down the river toward the sea, and she would smile as the remembrance of the big ships came to her.

"Miss Winstead," she said on one of these occasions, "I go in my own special big ship every night across the sea to father. I sleep in father's heart every night, that's why I don't disturb you, and why the hours seem so short."

Miss Winstead had long ceased to scold Sibyl, and nurse was now never cross to the little girl, and Mrs. Ogilvie was to all appearance the most tender, devoted mother on earth. When the child had been brought back after her accident Mrs. Ogilvie had not yet returned from town. She had meant to spend the night at the house in Belgrave Square. An urgent message, however, summoned her, and she arrived at Silverbel about midnight. She lost all self-control when she saw the beautiful unconscious child, and went into such violent hysterics that the doctors had to take her from the room.

But this state of grief passed, and she was able, as she said to herself, to crush her mother's heart in her breast and superintend everything for Sibyl's comfort. It was Mrs. Ogilvie herself who, by the doctor's orders, sent off the cablegram which her husband received at the very moment of his fall from the paths of honor. It was she who worded it, and she thought of nothing at that moment but the child who was dying in the beautiful house. For the time she quite forgot her dreams of wealth and of greatness and of worldly pleasure. Nay, more, she felt just then that she could give up everything if only Sibyl might be saved. Mrs. Ogilvie also blamed herself very bitterly for forgetting her promise to the child. She was indeed quite inconsolable for several days, and at last had a nervous attack and was obliged to retire to her bed.

There came an answering cable from Ogilvie to say that he was starting on board the Sahara, and would be in England as quickly as the great liner could bring him across the ocean. But by the doctor's orders the news that her father was coming back to her was not told to Sibyl.

"Something may detain him; at any rate the suspense will be bad for her," the doctors said, and as she did not fret, and seemed quite contented with the strange fancy that she crossed the sea at night to lie in his arms, there was no need to give her any anxiety with regard to the matter.

But as the days went on Mrs. Ogilvie's feelings, gradually but surely, underwent a sort of revulsion. For the first week she was frantic, ill, nervous, full of intense self-reproach. But during the second week, when Sibyl's state of health assumed a new phase, when she ceased to moan in her sleep, and to look troubled, and only lay very still and white, Mrs. Ogilvie took it into her head that after all the doctors had exaggerated the symptoms. The child was by no means so ill as they said. She went round to her different friends and aired these views. When they came to see her she aired them still further.

"Doctors are so often mistaken," she said, "I don't believe for a single instant that the dear little thing will not be quite as well as ever in a short time. I should not be the least surprised if she were able to walk by the time Philip comes back. I do sincerely hope such will be the case, for Philip makes such a ridiculous fuss about her, and will go through all the apprehension and misery which nearly wrecked my mother's heart. He will believe everything those doctors have said of the child."

The neighbors, glad to see Mrs. Ogilvie cheerful once more, rather agreed with her in these views, that is, all who did not go to see Sibyl. But those who went into her white room and looked at the sweet patient's face shook their heads when they came out again. It was those neighbors who had not seen the child who quoted instances of doctors who were mistaken in their diagnoses, and Mrs. Ogilvie derived great pleasure and hope from their conversation.

Gradually, but surely, the household settled down into its new life. The Chamber of Peace in the midst of the house diffused a peaceful atmosphere everywhere else. Sibyl's weak little laugh was a sound to treasure up and remember, and her words were still full of fun, and her eyes often brimmed over with laughter. No one ever denied her anything now. She could see whoever she fancied, even to old Scott, who hobbled upstairs in his stockings, and came on tiptoe into the room, and stood silently at the foot of the white bed.

"I won't have the curse of the poor, I did my best," said Sibyl, looking full at the old man.

"Yes, you did your best, dearie," he replied. His voice was husky, and he turned his head aside and looked out of the window and coughed in a discreet manner. He was shocked at the change in the radiant little face, but he would not allow his emotion to get the better of him.

"The blessing of the poor rests on you, dear little Miss," he said then, "the blessing of the poor and the fatherless. It was a fatherless lad you tried to comfort. God bless you for ever and ever."

Sibyl smiled when he said this, and then she gazed full at him in that solemn comprehending way which often characterized her. When he went out of the room she lay silent for a time; then she turned to nurse and said with emphasis:

"I like old Scott, he's a very religious man."

"That he is, darling," replied nurse.

"Seems to me I'm getting religious too," continued Sibyl. "It's 'cos of Lord Jesus, I 'spect. He is kind to me, is Lord Jesus. He takes me to father every night."

The days went by, and Mrs. Ogilvie, who was recovering her normal spirits hour by hour, now made up her mind that Sibyl's recovery was merely a question of time, that she would soon be as well as ever, and as this was the case, surely it seemed a sad pity that the bazaar, which had been postponed, should not take place.

"The bazaar will amuse the child, besides doing a great deal of good to others," thought Mrs. Ogilvie.

No sooner had this idea come to her, than she found her engagement-book, and looked up several items. The bazaar had of course been postponed from the original date, but it would be easy to have it on the 24th of September. The 24th was in all respects a suitable date, and those people who had not gone abroad or to Scotland would be glad to spend a week in the beautiful country house. It was such a sad pity, thought Mrs. Ogilvie, not to use the new furniture to the best advantage, not to sleep in the new beds, not to make use of all the accessories which had cost so much money, or rather which had cost so many debts, for not a scrap of the furniture was paid for, and the house itself was only held on sufferance.

"It will be doing such a good work," said Mrs. Ogilvie to herself. "I shall be not only entertaining my friends and amusing dear little Sibyl, but I shall be collecting money for an excellent charity."

In the highest spirits she ran upstairs and burst into her little daughter's room.

"Oh, Mummy," said Sibyl. She smiled and said faintly, "Come and kiss me, Mummy."

Mrs. Ogilvie was all in white and looked very young and girlish and pretty. She tripped up to the child, bent over her and kissed her.

"My little white rose," she said, "you must get some color back into your cheeks."

"Oh, color don't matter," replied Sibyl. "I'm just as happy without it."

"But you are quite out of pain, my little darling?"

"Yes, Mummy."

"And you like lying here in your pretty window?"

"Yes, mother darling."

"You are not weary of lying so still?"

Sibyl laughed.

"It is funny," she said, "I never thought I could lie so very still. I used to get a fidgety sort of pain all down me if I stayed still more than a minute at a time, but now I don't want to walk. My legs are too heavy. I feel heavy all down my legs and up to the middle of my back, but that is all. See, Mummy, how nicely I can move my hands. Nursie is going to give me some dolls to dress."

"What a splendid idea, Sib!" said Mrs. Ogilvie, "you shall dress some dolls for mother's bazaar."

"Are you going to have it after all?" cried Sibyl, her eyes brightening. "Are the big-wigs coming?"

"Yes, pet, and you shall help me. You shall dress pretty little dolls which the big-wigs shall buy—Lord Grayleigh and the rest."

"I like Lord Grayleigh," replied Sibyl. "I am glad you are going to have the bazaar, Mummy."

Mrs. Ogilvie laughed with glee. She seated herself in a comfortable rocking chair near the window and chatted volubly. Sibyl was really a wonderfully intelligent child. It was delightful to talk to her. There was no narrowness about Sibyl. She had quite a breadth of view and of comprehension for her tender years.

"My dear little girl," said Mrs. Ogilvie, "I am so glad you like the idea. Perhaps by the day of the bazaar you will be well enough to come downstairs and even to walk a little."

Sibyl made no answer to this. After a moment's pause she said:

"Do have the bazaar and let all the big-wigs come. I can watch them from my bed. I can look out of the window and see everything—it will be fun."

Soon afterward Mrs. Ogilvie left the room. She met Miss Winstead on the stairs.

"Miss Winstead," she said, "I have just been sitting with the child. She seems much better."

"Do you think so?" replied Miss Winstead shortly.

"I do. Why do you stare at me in that disapproving manner? You really are all most unnatural. Who should know of the health of her child if her own mother does not? The little darling is recovering fast—I have just been having a most interesting talk with her. She would like me to have the bazaar."

"The bazaar!" echoed Miss Winstead. "Surely you don't mean to have it here?"

"Yes, here. The child is greatly interested. She would like me to have it, and I am going to send out invitations at once. It will be held on the 24th and 25th of the month."

"I would not, if I were you," said Miss Winstead slowly. "You know what the doctors have said."

Mrs. Ogilvie first turned white, and then her face grew red and angry.

"I don't believe a single word of what they say," she retorted with some passion. "The child looks better every day. What the dear little thing wants is rousing. The bazaar will do her no end of good. Mark my words, Miss Winstead, we shall have Sibyl on her feet again by the 24th."

"You forget," said Miss Winstead slowly, "the Sahara is due in England about that date. Mr. Ogilvie will be back. He will not be prepared for—for what he has to see."

"I know quite well that my husband will return about then, but I don't understand what you mean by saying that he will not be prepared. There will be nothing but joyful tidings to give him. The child nearly herself and the bazaar at its height. Delightful! Now pray, my good creature, don't croak any more; I must rush up to town this afternoon—there is a great deal to see about."



CHAPTER XVII.

Lord Grayleigh was so anxious about the Syndicate that he would not go to Scotland for the shooting as usual. Later on he would attend to his pleasures, but not now. Later on when Ogilvie had returned, and the company was finally floated, and the shares taken up, he would relax his efforts, but just at present he was engaged over the biggest thing of his life. He was cheerful, however, and full of hope. He even thanked Providence for having aided all his exertions. So blinded was he by the glare of avarice and the desire for adding wealth to wealth that Ogilvie's cablegram set every anxiety at rest. He even believed that the mine was as full of gold as the cablegram seemed to indicate. Yes, everything was going well. The Lombard Deeps Company would be floated in a short time, the Board of Directors was complete.

Ogilvie's cablegram was shown to a few of the longest-headed men in the financial world, and his report was anxiously looked for. Rumors carefully worded got by degrees into the public press, the ominous whispers were absolutely silenced: all, in short, was ripe for action. Nothing definite, however, could be done until the full report of the mine arrived.

Lord Grayleigh was fond of saying to himself: "From the tone of Ogilvie's cablegram the mine must be all that we desire, the ore rich, the veins good, the extent of the wealth unlimited. It will be nice," Lord Grayleigh reflected, "to be rich and also honest at the same time." He was a man with many kindly impulses, but he had never been much troubled by the voice of conscience. So he went backward and forward to his lovely home in the country, and played with his children, and enjoyed life generally.

On a certain day in the first week of September he received a letter from Mrs. Ogilvie; it ran as follows:—

"MY DEAR LORD GRAYLEIGH,

"You have not, I hope, forgotten your promise to be, as Sibyl said, one of the big-wigs at my bazaar."

"But I had forgotten it," muttered Grayleigh to himself. "That woman is, in my opinion, a poor, vain, frivolous creature. Why did she hamper Ogilvie with that place in his absence? Now, forsooth, she must play at charity. When that sort of woman does that sort of thing she is contemptible."

He lowered his eyes again, and went on reading the letter.

"I was obliged to postpone the original date," continued his correspondent, "but I have quite fixed now that the bazaar shall be held at our new lovely place on the 24th. You, I know, will not disappoint me. You will be sure to be present. I hope to clear a large sum for the Home for Incurables at Watleigh. Have you heard how badly that poor dear charity needs funds just now? If you hesitate for a moment to come and help, just cast a thought on the poor sufferers there, the children, who will never know the blessing of strength again. Think what it is to lighten the burden of their last days, and do not hesitate to lend your hand to so worthy a work. I have advertised you in the papers as our principal supporter and patron, and the sooner we see you at Silverbel the better.

"With kind regards, I remain, "Yours sincerely, "MILDRED OGILVIE.

"P.S.—By the way, have you heard that our dear little Sibyl has met with rather a nasty accident? She fell off that pony you gave her. I must be frank, Lord Grayleigh, and say that I never did approve of the child's riding, particularly in her father's absence. She had a very bad tumble, and hurt her back, and has since been confined to her couch. I have had the best advice, and the doctors have been very silly and gloomy in their reports. Now, for my part, I have not the slightest faith in doctors, they are just as often proved wrong as right. The child is getting much better, but she is still, of course, confined to her bed. She would send you her love if she knew I was writing."

Lord Grayleigh let this letter drop on to the table beside him. He sat quite still for a moment, then he lit a cigarette and began to pace the room. After a pause he took up Mrs. Ogilvie's letter and re-read the postscript.

After having read it a second time he rang his bell sharply. A servant appeared.

"I am going to town by the next train; have the trap round," was Grayleigh's direction.

He did go to town by the next train, his children seeing him off.

"Where are you going, father?" called out Freda. "You promised you would take us for a long, long drive this afternoon. Oh, this is disappointing. Are you coming back at all to-night?"

"I don't think so, Freda. By the way, have you heard that your little friend Sibyl has met with an accident?"

"Has she?" replied Freda. "I am very sorry. I like Sibyl very much."

"So do I!" said Gus, coming up, "she's the best sort of girl I ever came across, not like an ordinary girl—quite plucky, you know. What sort of accident did she have, father?"

"I don't know; I am going to see. I am afraid it has something to do with the pony I gave her. Well, good-by, youngsters; if I don't return by the last train to-night, I'll be back early to-morrow, and we can have our drive then."

Lord Grayleigh drove at once to Victoria Station, and took the next train to Richmond. It was a two-mile drive from there to Silverbel. He arrived at Silverbel between five and six in the afternoon. Mrs. Ogilvie was pacing about her garden, talking to two ladies who had come to call on her. When she saw Lord Grayleigh driving up the avenue, she uttered a cry of delight, apologized to her friends, and ran to meet him—both her hands extended.

"How good of you, how more than good of you," she said. "This is just what I might have expected from you, Lord Grayleigh. You received my letter and you have come to answer it in person."

"I have come, as you say, to answer it in person. How is Sibyl?"

"Oh, better. I mean she is about the same, but she really is going on very nicely. She does not suffer the slightest pain, and——"

"Can I see her?"

"Of course you can. I will take you to her. Dear little thing, she will be quite delighted, you are a prime favorite of hers. But first, what about the bazaar? Ah, naughty man! you need not think you are going to get out of it, for you are, as Sibyl says, one of the big-wigs. We cannot do without big-wigs at our bazaar."

"Well, Mrs. Ogilvie, I will come if I can. I cannot distinctly promise at the present moment, for I may possibly have to go to Scotland; but the chances are that I shall be at Grayleigh Manor, and if so I can come."

Mrs. Ogilvie was walking with Lord Grayleigh down one of the corridors which led to the Chamber of Peace while this conversation was going on. As he uttered the last words she flung open the door.

"One of the big-wigs, Sibyl, come to see you," she said, in a playful voice.

Lord Grayleigh saw a white little face with very blue eyes turned eagerly in his direction. He did not know why, but as he looked at the child something clutched at his heart with a strange fear. He turned to Mrs. Ogilvie and said,

"Rest assured that I will come." He then went over, bent toward Sibyl and took her little white hand.

"I am sorry to see you like this," he said. "What has happened to you, my little girl?"

"Oh, nothing much," answered Sibyl, "I just had a fall, but I am quite all right now and I am awfully happy. Did you really come to see me? It is good of you. May I talk to Lord Grayleigh all by myself, mother darling?"

"Certainly, dear. Lord Grayleigh, you cannot imagine how we spoil this little woman now that she is lying on her back. I suppose it is because she is so good and patient. She never murmurs, and she enjoys herself vastly. Is not this a pretty room?"

"Beautiful," replied Lord Grayleigh, in an abstracted tone. He sank into a chair near the window, and glanced out at the smoothly kept lawn, at the flower-beds with their gay colors, and at the silver Thames flowing rapidly by. Then he looked again at the child. The child's grave eyes were fixed on his face; there was a faint smile round the lips but the eyes were very solemn.

"I will come back again, presently," said Mrs. Ogilvie. "By the way, Sib darling, Lord Grayleigh is coming to our bazaar, the bazaar for which you are dressing dolls."

"Nursie is dressing them," replied Sibyl in a weak voice—the mother did not notice how weak it was, but Lord Grayleigh did. "It somehow tires me to work. I 'spect I'm not very strong, but I'll be better perhaps to-morrow. Nursie is dressing them, and they are quite beautiful."

"Well, I'll come back soon; you mustn't tire her, Lord Grayleigh, and you and I have a great deal to talk over when you do come downstairs."

"I must return to town by the next train," said Lord Grayleigh; but Mrs. Ogilvie did not hear him. She went quickly away to join the friends who were waiting for her in the sunny garden.

"Lord Grayleigh has come," she said. "He is quite devoted to Sibyl; he is sitting with her for a few minutes; the child worships him. Afterward he and I must have a rather business-like conversation."

"Then we will go, dear Mrs. Ogilvie," said both ladies.

"Thank you, dear friends; I hope you don't think I am sending you away, but it is always my custom to speak plainly. Lord Grayleigh will be our principal patron at the bazaar, and naturally I have much to consult him about. I will drive over to-morrow to see you, Mrs. Le Strange, and we can discuss still further the sort of stall you will have."

The ladies took their leave, and Mrs. Ogilvie paced up and down in front of the house. She was restless, and presently a slight sense of disappointment stole over her, for Lord Grayleigh was staying an unconscionably long time in Sibyl's room.

Sibyl and he were having what he said afterward was quite a straight talk.

"I am so glad you have come," said the little girl; "there are some things you can tell me that no one else can. Have you heard from father lately?"

"I had a cablegram from him not long ago."

"What's that?"

"The same as a telegram; a cablegram is a message that comes across the sea."

"I understand," said Sibyl. She thought of her pretty fancy of the phantom ships that took her night after night to the breast of her father.

"What are you thinking about?" said Lord Grayleigh.

"Oh, about father, of course. When he sent you that message did he tell you there was much gold in the mine?"

"My dear child," said Lord Grayleigh, "what do you know about it?"

"I know all about it," answered Sybil. "I am deeply interested, deeply."

"Well, my dear little girl, to judge from your father's message, the mine is full of gold, quite full."

"Up to the tip top?"

"Yes, you can express it in that way if you like, up to the tip top and down, nobody knows how deep, full of beautiful yellow gold, but don't let us talk of these things any more. Tell me how you really fell, and what that naughty pony did to you."

"You must not scold my darling nameless pony, it was not his fault a bit," said Sibyl. She turned first red and then whiter than usual.

"Do you greatly mind if I don't talk about it?" she asked in a voice of sweet apology. "It makes me feel——"

"How, dear?"

"I don't know, only I get the up and down and round and round feel. It was the feel I had when pony sprang; he seemed to spring into the air, and I fell and fell and fell. I don't like to get the feel back, it is so very round and round, you know."

"We won't talk of it," said Lord Grayleigh; "what shall I do to amuse you?"

"Tell me more about father and the mine full of gold."

"I have only just had the one cablegram, Sib, in which he merely stated that the news with regard to the mine was good."

"I am delighted," said Sibyl. "It's awfully good of Lord Jesus. Do you know that I have been asking Lord Jesus to pile up the gold in the mine. He can do anything, you know, and He has done it, you see. Isn't it sweet and dear of Him? Oh, you don't know all He has done for me! Don't you love Him very much indeed, Lord Grayleigh?"

"Who, Sibyl?"

"My Lord Jesus Christ, my beautiful Lord Jesus Christ."

Lord Grayleigh bent and picked up a book which had fallen on the carpet. He turned the conversation. The child's eyes, very grave and very blue, watched him. She did not say anything further, but she seemed to read the thought he wished to hide. He stood up, then he sat down again. Sibyl had that innate tact which is born in some natures, and always knew where to pause in her probings and questionings.

"Now," she continued, after a pause, "dear Mr. and Mrs. Holman will be rich."

"Mr. and Mrs. Holman," said Lord Grayleigh; "who are they?"

"They are my very own most special friends. They keep a toy-shop in Greek Street, a back street near our house. Mrs. Holman is going to buy a lot of gold out of the mine. I'll send her a letter to tell her that she can buy it quick. You'll be sure to keep some of the gold for Mrs. Holman, she is a dear old woman. You'll be quite sure to remember her?"

"Quite sure, Sibyl."

"Hadn't you better make a note of it? Father always makes notes when he wants to remember things. Have you got a note-book?"

"In my pocket."

"Please take it out and put down about Mrs. Holman and the gold out of the mine."

Lord Grayleigh produced a small note-book.

"What do you wish me to say?" he inquired.

"Put it this way," said Sibyl eagerly, "then you won't forget. Some of the gold in the——"

"Lombard Deeps Mine," supplied Lord Grayleigh.

"Some of the gold in the Lombard Deeps Mine," repeated Sibyl, "to be kept special for dear Mr. and Mrs. Holman. Did you put that? Did you put dear Mr. and Mrs. Holman?"

"Just exactly as you have worded it, Sibyl."

"Her address is number ten, Greek Street, Pimlico."

The address being further added, Sibyl gave a sigh of satisfaction.

"That is nice," she said, "that will make them happy. Mrs. Holman has cried so often because of the dusty toys, and 'cos the children won't come to her shop to buy. Some children are very mean; I don't like some children a bit."

"I am glad you're pleased about the Holmans, little woman."

"Of course I am, and aren't you. Don't you like to make people happy?"

Again Lord Grayleigh moved restlessly.

"Have you any other notes for this book?" he said.

"Of course I have. There's the one who wants to marry the other one. I'm under a vow not to mention names, but they want to marry so badly, and they will in double quick time if there's gold in the mine. Will you put in your note-book 'Gold to be kept for the one who wants to marry the other,' will you, Lord Grayleigh?"

"I have entered it," said Lord Grayleigh, suppressing a smile.

"And mother, of course," continued Sibyl, "wants lots of money, and there's my nurse, her eyes are failing, she would like enough gold to keep her from mending stockings or doing any more fine darning, and I'd like Watson to have some. Do you know, Lord Grayleigh, that Watson is engaged to be married? He is really, truly."

"I am afraid, Sibyl, I do not know who Watson is."

"Don't you? How funny; he is our footman. I'm awfully fond of him. He is full of the best impulses, is Watson, and he is engaged to a very nice girl in the cookery line. Don't you think it's very sensible of Watson to engage himself to a girl in the cookery line?"

"I think it is thoroughly sensible, but now I must really go."

"But you won't forget all the messages? You have put them all down in your note-book. You won't forget any of the people who want gold out of the Lombard Deeps?"

"No, I'll be certain to remember every single one of them."

"Then that's all right, and you'll come to darling mother's bazaar?"

"I'll come."

"I am so glad. You do make me happy. I like big-wigs awfully."



CHAPTER XVIII.

A few days before the bazaar Lady Helen Douglas arrived at Silverbel. She had returned from Scotland on purpose. A letter from Lord Grayleigh induced her to do so. He wrote to Lady Helen immediately after seeing Sibyl.

"I don't like the child's look," he wrote; "I have not the least idea what the doctors have said of her, but when I spoke on the subject to her mother, she shirked it. There is not the least doubt that Mrs. Ogilvie can never see a quarter of an inch beyond her own selfish fancies. It strikes me very forcibly that the child is in a precarious state. I can never forgive myself, for she met with the accident on the pony I gave her. She likes you; go to her if you can."

It so happened that by the very same post there had come an urgent appeal from Mrs. Ogilvie.

"If you cannot come to the bazaar," she wrote to Lady Helen, "it will be a failure. Come you must. Your presence is essential, because you are pretty and well born, and you will also act as a lure to another person who can help me in various ways. I, of course, allude to our mutual friend, Jim Rochester."

Now Lady Helen, even with the attraction of seeing Mr. Rochester so soon again, would not have put off a series of visits which she was about to make, had not Lord Grayleigh's letter decided her. She therefore arrived at Silverbel on the 22d of September, and was quickly conducted to Sibyl's room. She had not seen Sibyl for a couple of months. When last they had met, the child had been radiant with health and spirits. She was radiant still, but that quick impulsive life had been toned down to utter quiet. The lower part of the little body was paralyzed, the paralysis was creeping gradually up and up. It was but a question of time for the loving little heart to be still for ever.

Sibyl cried with delight when she saw Lady Helen.

"Such a lot of big-wigs are coming to-morrow," she said, "but Lord Grayleigh does not come until the day of the bazaar, so you are quite the first. You'll come and see me very, very often, won't you?"

"Of course I will, Sibyl. The fact is I have come on purpose to see you. I should not have come to the bazaar but for you. Lord Grayleigh wrote to me and said you were not well, and he thought you loved me, little Sib, and that it would cheer you up to see me."

"Oh, you are sweet," answered the child, "and I do, indeed I do love you. But you ought to have come for the bazaar as well as for me. It is darling mother's splendid work of charity. She wants to help a lot of little sick children and sick grown up people: isn't it dear of her?"

"Well, I am interested in the bazaar," said Lady Helen, ignoring the subject of Mrs. Ogilvie's noble action.

"It is so inciting all about it," continued the little girl, "and I can see the marquee quite splendidly from here, and mother flitting about. Isn't mother pretty, isn't she quite sweet? She is going to have the most lovely dress for the bazaar, a sort of silvery white; she will look like an angel—but then she is an angel, isn't she, Lady Helen?"

Lady Helen bent and kissed Sibyl on her soft forehead. "You must not talk too much and tire yourself," she said; "let me talk to you. I have plenty of nice things to say."

"Stories?" said Sibyl.

"Yes, I will tell you stories."

"Thank you; I do love 'em. Did you ever tell them to Mr. Rochester?"

"I have not seen him lately."

"You'll be married to him soon, I know you will."

"We need not talk about that now, need we? I want to do something to amuse you."

"It's odd how weak my voice has grown," said Sibyl, with a laugh. "Mother says I am getting better, and perhaps I am, only somehow I do feel weak. Do you know, mother wanted me to dress dolls for her, but I couldn't. Nursie did 'em. There's one big beautiful doll with wings; Nurse made the wings, but she can't put them on right; will you put them on proper, Lady Helen?"

"I should like to," replied Lady Helen; "I have a natural aptitude for dressing dolls."

"The big doll with the wings is in that box over there. Take it out and sit down by the sofa so that I can see you, and put the wings on properly. There's plenty of white gauze and wire. I want you to make the doll as like an angel as you can."

Lady Helen commenced her pretty work. Sibyl watched her, not caring to talk much now, for Lady Helen seemed too busy to answer.

"It rests me to have you in the room," said the child, "you are like this room. Do you know Miss Winstead has given it such a funny name."

"What is that, Sibyl?"

"She calls it the Chamber of Peace—isn't it sweet of her?"

"The name is a beautiful one, and so is the room," answered Lady Helen.

"I do wish Mr. Rochester was here," was Sibyl's next remark.

"He will come to the bazaar, dear."

"And then, perhaps, I'll see him. I want to see him soon, I have something I'd like to say."

"What, darling?"

"Something to you and to him. I want you both to be happy. I'm tremendous anxious that you should both be happy, and I think—I wouldn't like to say it to mother, for perhaps it will hurt her, but I do fancy that, perhaps, I'm going to have wings, too, not like dolly's, but real ones, and if I have them I might——"

"What, darling?"

"Fly away to my beautiful Lord Jesus. You don't know how I want to be close to Him. I used to think that if I got into father's heart I should be quite satisfied, but even that, even that is not like being in the heart of Jesus. If my wings come I must go, Lady Helen. It will be lovely to fly up, won't it, for perhaps some day I might get tired of lying always flat on my back. Mother doesn't know, darling mother doesn't guess, and I wouldn't tell her for all the wide world, for she thinks I'm going to get quite well again, but one night, when she thought I was asleep, I heard Nursie say to Miss Winstead, 'Poor lamb, she'll soon want to run about again, but she never can, never.' I shouldn't like to be always lying down flat, should you, Lady Helen?"

"No, darling, I don't think I should."

"Well, there it is, you see, you wouldn't like it either. Of course I want to see father again, but whatever happens he'll understand. Only if my wings come I must fly off, and I want everyone to be happy before I go."

Lady Helen had great difficulty in keeping back her tears, for Sibyl spoke in a perfectly calm, contented, almost matter-of-fact voice which brought intense conviction with it.

"So you must marry Mr. Rochester," she continued, "for you both love each other so very much."

"That is quite true," replied Lady Helen.

Sibyl looked at her with dilated, smiling eyes. "The Lombard Deeps Mine is full to the brim with gold," she said, in an excited voice. "I know—Lord Grayleigh told me. He has it all wrote down in his pocket-book, and you and Mr. Rochester are to have your share. When you are both very, very happy you'll think of me, won't you?"

"I can never forget you, my dear little girl. Kiss me, now—see! the angel doll is finished."

"Oh, isn't it lovely?" said the child, her attention immediately distracted by this new interest. "Do take it down to mother. She's dressing the stall where the dolls are to be sold; ask her to put the angel doll at the head of all the other dolls. Take it to mother now. I can watch from my window—do go at once."

Lady Helen was glad of an excuse to leave the room. When she got into the corridor outside she stopped for a moment, put her handkerchief to her eyes, made a struggle to subdue her emotion, and then ran downstairs.

The great marquee was already erected on the lawn, and many of the stall-holders were arranging their stalls and giving directions to different workmen. Mrs. Ogilvie was flitting eagerly about. She was in the highest spirits, and looked young and charming.

"Sibyl sent you this," said Lady Helen.

Mrs. Ogilvie glanced for a moment at the angel doll.

"Oh, lay it down anywhere, please," she said in a negative tone. But Lady Helen thought of the sweet blue eyes looking down on this scene from the Chamber of Peace. She was not going to put the angel doll down anywhere.

"Please, Mrs. Ogilvie," she said, "you must take an interest in it." There was something in her tone which arrested even Mrs. Ogilvie's attention.

"You must take a great interest in this doll," she continued. "Little Sibyl thinks so much of it. Forgive me, Mrs. Ogilvie, I——"

"Oh, what is it now," said Mrs. Ogilvie, "what can be the matter? Really everyone who goes near Sibyl acts in the most extraordinary way." She looked petulantly, as she spoke, into Lady Helen's agitated face.

"I cannot help thinking much of Sibyl," continued Lady Helen, "and I am very—more than anxious about her. I am terribly grieved, for—I think——"

"You think what? Oh, please don't begin to be gloomy now. You have only seen Sibyl for the first time since her accident. She is very much better than she was at first. You cannot expect her to look quite well all of a sudden."

"But have you had the very best advice for her?"

"I should rather think so. We had Sir Henry Powell down twice. Everything has been done that could be done. It is merely a question of time and rest. Time and rest will effect a perfect cure; at least, that is my opinion."

"But what is Sir Henry Powell's opinion?"

"Don't ask me. I don't believe in doctors. The child is getting better, I see it with my own eyes. It is merely a question of time."

"Sibyl is getting well, but not in the way you think," replied Lady Helen. She said the words with significance, and Mrs. Ogilvie felt her heart throb for a moment with a sudden wild pain, but the next instant she laughed.

"I never knew anyone so gloomy," she said, "and you come to me with your queer remarks just when I am distracted about the great bazaar. I am almost sorry I asked you here, Lady Helen."

"Well, at least take the doll—the child is looking at you," said Lady Helen. "Kiss your hand to her; look pleased even if you are not interested, and give me a promise, that I may take to her, that the angel doll shall stand at the head of the doll stall. The child wishes it; do not deny her wishes now."

"Oh, take her any message you like, only leave me, please, for the present. Ah, there she is, little darling." Mrs. Ogilvie took the angel doll in her hand, and blew a couple of kisses to Sibyl. Sibyl smiled down at her from the Chamber of Peace. Very soon afterward Lady Helen returned to her little friend.

It was on the first day of the bazaar when all the big-wigs had arrived, when the fun was at its height, when the bands were playing merrily, and the little pleasure skiffs were floating up and down the shining waters of the Thames, when flocks of visitors from all the neighborhood round were crowding in and out of the marquee, and people were talking and laughing merrily, and Mrs. Ogilvie in her silvery white dress was looking more beautiful than she had ever looked before in her life, that a tired, old-looking man appeared on the scene.

Mrs. Ogilvie half expected that her husband would come back on the day of the bazaar, for if the Sahara kept to her dates she would make her appearance in the Tilbury Docks in the early morning of that day. Mrs. Ogilvie hoped that her husband would get off, and take a quick train to Richmond, and arrive in time for her to have a nice straight talk with him, and explain to him about Sibyl's accident, and tell him what was expected of him. She was anxious to see him before anyone else did, for those who went in and out of the child's room were so blind, so persistent in their fears with regard to the little girl's ultimate recovery; if Mrs. Ogilvie could only get Philip to herself, she would assure him that the instincts of motherhood never really failed, that her own instincts assured her that the great doctors were wrong, and she herself was right. The child was slowly but gradually returning to the paths of health and strength.

If only Ogilvie came back in good time his wife would explain these matters to him, and tell him not to make a fool of himself about the child, and beg of him to help her in this great, this auspicious occasion of her life.

"He will look very nice when he is dressed in his, best," she said to herself. "It will complete my success in the county if I have him standing by my side at the door of the marquee to receive our distinguished guests."

As this thought came her eyes sparkled, and she got her maid to dress her in the most becoming way, and she further reflected that when they had a moment to be alone the husband and wife could talk of the wonderful golden treasures which Ogilvie was bringing back with him from the other side of the world. Perhaps he had thought much of her, his dear Mildred, while he had been away.

"Men of that sort often think much more of their wives when they are parted from them," she remembered. "I have read stories to that effect. I dare say Philip is as much in love with me as he ever was. He used to be devoted to me when first we were married. There was nothing good enough for me then. Perhaps he has brought me back some jewels of greater value than I possess; I will gladly wear them for his sake."

But notwithstanding all her dreams and thoughts of her husband, Ogilvie did not come back to his loving wife in the early hours of the first day of the bazaar. Neither was there any message or telegram from him. In spite of herself, Mrs. Ogilvie now grew a little fretful.

"As he has not come in time to receive our guests, if I knew where to telegraph, I would wire to him not to come now until the evening," she thought. But she did not know where to telegraph, and the numerous duties of the bazaar occupied each moment of her time.

According to his promise Lord Grayleigh was present, and there were other titled people walking about the grounds, and Lady Helen as a stall-holder was invaluable.

Sibyl had asked to have her white couch drawn nearer than ever to the window, and from time to time she peeped out and saw the guests flitting about the lawns and thought of her mother's great happiness and wonderful goodness. The band played ravishing music, mostly dance music, and the day, although it was late in the season, was such a perfect one that the feet of the buyers and sellers alike almost kept time to the festive strains.

It was on this scene that Ogilvie appeared. During his voyage home he had gone through almost every imaginable torture, and, as he reached Silverbel, he felt that the limit of his patience was almost reached. He knew, because she had sent him a cable to that effect, that his wife was staying in a country place, a place on the banks of the Thames. She had told him further that the nearest station to Silverbel was Richmond. Accordingly he had gone to Richmond, jumped into the first cab he could find, and desired the man to drive to Silverbel.

"You know the place, I presume?" he said.

"Silverbel, sir, certainly sir; it is there they are having the big bazaar."

As the man spoke he looked askance for a moment at the occupant of his cab, for Ogilvie was travel-stained and dusty. He looked like one in a terrible hurry. There was an expression in his gray eyes which the driver did not care to meet.

"Go as fast as you can," he said briefly, and then the man whipped up his horse and proceeded over the dusty roads.

"A rum visitor," he thought; "wonder what he's coming for. Don't look the sort that that fine young lady would put up with on a day like this."

Ogilvie within the cab, however, saw nothing. He was only conscious of the fact that he was drawing nearer and nearer to the house where his little daughter—but did his little daughter still live? Was Sibyl alive? That was the thought of all thoughts, the desire of all desires, which must soon be answered yea or nay.

When the tired-out and stricken man heard the strains of the band, he did rouse himself, however, and began dimly to wonder if, after all, he had come to the wrong house. Were there two houses called Silverbel, and had the man taken him to the wrong one? He pulled up the cab to inquire.

"No, sir," replied the driver, "it's all right. There ain't but one place named Silverbel here, and this is the place, sir. The lady is giving a big bazaar and her name is Mrs. Ogilvie."

"Then Sibyl must have got well again," thought Ogilvie to himself. And just for an instant the heavy weight at his breast seemed to lift. He paid his fare, told the man to take his luggage round to the back entrance, and jumped out of the cab.

The man obeyed him, and Ogilvie, just as he was, stepped across the lawn. He had the air of one who was neither a visitor nor yet a stranger. He walked with quick, short strides straight before him and presently he came full upon his wife in her silvery dress. A large white hat trimmed with pink roses reposed on her head. There were nature's own pink roses on her cheeks and smiles in her eyes.

"Oh, Phil!" she cried, with a little start. She was quite clever enough to hide her secret dismay at his arriving thus, and at such a moment. She dropped some things she was carrying and ran toward him with her pretty hands outstretched.

"Why, Phil!" she said again. "Oh, you naughty man, so you have come back. But why didn't you send me a telegram?"

"I had not time, Mildred; I thought my own presence was best. How is the child?"

"Oh, much the same—I mean she is going on quite, quite nicely."

"And what is this?"

Ogilvie motioned with his hand as he spoke in the direction of the crowd of people, the marquee, and the band. The music of the band seemed to get on his brain and hurt him.

"What is all this?" he repeated.

"My dear Phil, my dear unpractical husband, this is a bazaar! Have you never heard of a bazaar before? A bazaar for the Cottage Hospital at Watleigh, the Home for Incurables; such a useful charity, Phil, and so much needed. The poor things are wanting funds dreadfully; they have got into debt, and something must be done to relieve them Think of all the dear little children in those wards, Phil; the Sisters have been obliged to refuse several cases lately. It is most pathetic, isn't it? Oh, by the way, Lord Grayleigh is here; you will be glad to see him?"

"Presently, not now. How did you say Sibyl was?"

"I told you a moment ago. You can go and see her when you have changed your things. I wish you would go away at once to your room and get into some other clothes. There are no end of people you ought to meet. How strange you look, Phil."

"I want to know more of Sibyl." Here the husband caught the wife's dainty wrist and drew her a little aside. "No matter about other things at present," he said sternly. "How is Sibyl? Remember, I have heard no particulars; I have heard nothing since I got your cable. How is she? Is there much the matter?"

"Well, I really don't think there is, but perhaps Lady Helen will tell you. Shall I send her to you? I really am so busy just now. You know I am selling, myself, at the principal stall. Oh, do go into the house, you naughty dear; do go to your own room and change your things! I expected you early this morning, and Watson has put out some of your wardrobe. Watson will attend on you if you will ring for him. You will find there is a special dressing room for you on the first floor. Go, dear, do."

But Ogilvie now hold both her hands. His own were not too clean; they were soiled by the dust of his rapid journey. He gripped her wrists tightly.

"Where is the child?" he repeated again.

"Don't look at me like that, you quite frighten me. The child, she is in her room; she is going on nicely."

"But is she injured? Can she walk?"

"What could you expect? She cannot walk yet, but she is getting better gradually—at least, I think so."

"What you think is nothing, less than nothing. What do the doctors say?"

As Ogilvie was speaking he drew his wife gradually but surely away from the fashionably dressed people and the big-wigs who were too polite to stare, but who were all the time devoured with curiosity. It began to be whispered in the crowd that Ogilvie had returned, and that his wife and he were looking at certain matters from different points of view. There were several men and women present, who, although they encouraged Mrs. Ogilvie to have the bazaar, nevertheless thought her a heartless woman, and these people now were rather rejoicing in Ogilvie's attitude. He did not look like a person who could be trifled with. He drew his wife toward the shrubbery.

"I will see the child in a minute," he said; "nothing else matters. She is ill, unable to walk, lying down. I want to hear full particulars. If you will not tell them to me, I will send for the doctor. The question I wish answered is this, what do the doctors say?"

Tears filled Mrs. Ogilvie's pretty, dark eyes.

"Really, Phil, you are too cruel. After these weeks of anxiety, which only a mother can understand, you speak to me in that tone, just as if the dear little creature were nothing to me at all."

"You can cry, Mildred, as much as you please, and you can talk all the sentimental stuff that best appeals to you, but answer my question now. What do the doctors say, and what doctors has she seen?"

"The local doctor here, our own special doctor in town, and the great specialist, Sir Henry Powell."

"Good God, that man!" said Ogilvie, starting back. "Then she must have been badly hurt?"

"She was badly hurt."

"Well, what did the doctors say? Give me their verdict. I insist upon knowing."

"They—they—of course, they are wrong, Phil. You are hurting me; I wish you would not hold my hands so tightly."

"Speak!" was his only response.

"They said at the time—of course they were mistaken, doctors often are. You cannot imagine how many diagnoses of theirs have been proved to be wrong. Yes, I learned that queer word; I did not understand it at first. Now I know all about it."

"Speak!" This one expression came from Ogilvie's lips almost with a hiss.

"Well, they said at the time that—oh, Phil, you kill me when you look at me like that! They said the case was——"

"Hopeless?" asked the man between his white lips.

"They certainly said it. But, Phil; oh, Phil, dear, they are wrong!"

He let her hands go with a sudden jerk. She almost fell.

"You knew it, and you could have that going on?" he said. "Go back to your bazaar."

"I certainly will. I think you are terribly unkind."

"You can have those people here, and that band playing, when you know that? Well, if such scenes give you pleasure at such a time, go and enjoy them."

He strode into the house. She looked after his retreating figure; then she took out her daintily laced handkerchief, applied it to her eyes, and went back to her duties.

"I am a martyr in a good cause," she said to herself; "but it is bitterly hard when one's husband does not understand one."



CHAPTER XIX.

This was better than the phantom ship. This was peace, joy, and absolute delight. Sibyl need not now only lie in her father's arms at night and in her dreams. She could look into his face and hear his voice and touch his hand at all hours, day and night.

Her gladness was so real and beautiful that it pervaded the entire room, and in her presence Ogilvie scarcely felt pain. He held her little hand and sat by her side, and at times when she was utterly weary he even managed to raise her in his arms and pace the room with her, and lay her back again on her bed without hurting her, and he talked cheerfully in her presence, and smiled and even joked with her, and they were gay together with a sort of tender gaiety which had never been theirs in the old times. At night, especially, he was her best comforter and her kindest and most tender nurse.

For the first two days after his return Ogilvie scarcely left Sibyl. During all that time he asked no questions of outsiders. He did not even inquire for the doctor's verdict. Where was the good of asking a question which could only receive one answer? The look on the child's face was answer enough to her father.

Meanwhile, outside in the grounds, the bazaar went on. The marquee was full of guests, the band played cheerily, the notable people from all the country round arrived in carriages, and bought the pretty things from the different stall-holders and went away again.

The weather was balmy, soft and warm, and the little skiffs with their gay flags did a large trade on the river. Lord Grayleigh was one of the guests, returning to town, it is true, at night, but coming back again early in the morning. He heard that Ogilvie had returned and was naturally anxious to see him, but Ogilvie sent word that he could not see anyone just then. Grayleigh understood. He shook his head when Mrs. Ogilvie herself brought him the message.

"This cuts him to the heart," he said; "I doubt if he will ever be the same man again."

"Oh, Lord Grayleigh, what nonsense!" said the wife. "My dear husband was always eccentric, but as Sibyl recovers so will he recover his equanimity. It is a great shock to him, of course, to see her as she is now, dear little soul. But I cannot tell you how bad I was at first; indeed, I was in bed for nearly a week. I had a sort of nervous attack—nervous fever, the doctor said. But I got over it. I know now so assuredly that the darling child is getting well that I am never unhappy about her. Philip will be just the same by-and-by."

Grayleigh made no reply. He gave Mrs. Ogilvie one of his queer glances, turned on his heel and whistled softly to himself. He muttered under his breath that some women were poor creatures, and he was sorry for Ogilvie, yes, very sorry.

Grayleigh was also anxious with regard to another matter, but that anxiety he managed so effectually to smother that he would not even allow himself to think that it had any part in Ogilvie's curious unwillingness to see him.

At this time it is doubtful whether Ogilvie did refuse to see Grayleigh in any way on account of the mine, for during those two days he had eyes, ears, thoughts, and heart for no one but Sibyl. When anyone else entered her room he invariably went out, but he quickly returned, smiling as he did so, and generally carrying in his hand some treasure which he had brought for her across the seas. He would then draw his chair near the little, white bed and talk to her in light and cheerful strains, telling her wonderful things he had seen during his voyage, of the sunsets at sea, of a marvelous rainbow which once spanned the sky from east to west, and of many curious mirages which he had witnessed. He always talked to the child of nature, knowing how she understood nature, and those things which are the special heritage of the innocent of the earth, and she was as happy during those two peaceful days as it was ever the lot of little mortal to be.

But, in particular, when Mrs. Ogilvie entered the sick room did Ogilvie go out. He had during those two days not a single word of private talk with his wife. To Miss Winstead he was always polite and tolerant; to nurse he was more than polite, he was kind, and to Sibyl he was all in all, everything that father could be, everything that love could imagine. He kept himself, his wounded conscience, his fears, his heavy burden of sin in abeyance for the sake of the fast-fleeting little life, because he willed, with all the strength of his nature, to give the child every comfort that lay in his power during her last moments.

But the peaceful days could not last long. They came to an end with the big bazaar. The band ceased to play on the lawn, the pleasure boats ceased to ply up and down the Thames, the lovely Indian summer passed into duller weather, the equinoctial gales visited the land, and Ogilvie knew that he must brace himself for something he had long made up his mind to accomplish. He must pass out of this time of quiet into a time of storm. He had known from the first that he must do this, but until the bazaar came to an end, by a sort of tacit consent, neither the child nor the man talked of the gold mine.

But now the guests having gone, even Lady Helen Douglas and Lord Grayleigh having left the house, Ogilvie knew that he must act.

On the morning of the third day after his return Mrs. Ogilvie entered Sibyl's room. She came in quietly looking pale and at the same time jubilant. The result of the bazaar was a large check which was to be sent off that day to the Home for Incurables at Watleigh. Mrs. Ogilvie felt herself a very good and charitable woman indeed. She wore her very prettiest dress and had smiles in her dark eyes.

"Oh! my ownest darling mother, how sweet you look!" said little Sibyl. "Come and kiss me, darling mother."

Mrs. Ogilvie had to bend forward to catch the failing voice. She asked the child what she said. Sibyl feebly repeated her words.

"Don't tire her," said Ogilvie; "if you cannot hear, be satisfied to guess. The child wishes you to kiss her."

Mrs. Ogilvie turned on her husband a look of reproach. There was an expression in her eyes which seemed to say: "And you think that I, a mother, do not understand my own child." But Ogilvie would not meet his wife's eyes. He walked to one of the windows and looked out. The little, white couch had been moved a trifle out of the window now that the weather was getting chilly, and a screen was put up to protect the child from any draught.

Ogilvie stood and looked across the garden. Where the marquee had stood the grass was already turning yellow, there were wisps of straw about; the scene without seemed to him to be full with desolation. Suddenly he turned, walked to the fireplace, and stirred the fire into a blaze. At that moment Miss Winstead entered the room.

"Miss Winstead," said Ogilvie, "will you sit with Sibyl for a short time? Mildred, I should like a word with you alone."

His voice was cheerful, but quite firm. He went up to Sibyl and kissed her.

"I shall soon be back, my little love," he said, and she kissed him and smiled, and watched both parents as they went out of the room.

"Isn't it wonderful," she said, turning to her governess, "how perfect they both are! I don't know which is most perfect; only, of course I can't help it, but I like father's way best."

"I should think you did," replied Miss Winstead. "Shall I go on reading you the new fairy tale, Sibyl?"

"Not to-day, thank you, Miss Winstead," answered Sibyl.

"Then what shall I read?"

"I don't think anything, just now. Father has been reading the most beautiful inciting things about a saint called John, who wrote a story about the New Jerusalem. Did you ever read it?"

"You mean a story out of the Bible, from the Book of Revelation?"

"Perhaps so; I don't quite know what part of the Bible. Oh, it's most wonderful inciting, and father reads so splendid. It's about what happens to people when their wings are grown long. Did you never read about it, Miss Winstead? The New Jerusalem is so lovely, with streets paved with gold, same as the gold in the gold mine, you know, and gates all made of big pearls, each gate one big whole pearl. I won't ask you to read about it, 'cos I like father's way of reading best; but it's all most wonderful and beautiful."

The child lay with a smile on her face. She could see a little way across the garden from where she lay.

Meanwhile Ogilvie and his wife had gone downstairs. When they reached the wide central hall, he asked her to accompany him into a room which was meant to be a library. It looked out toward the back of the house, and was not quite in the same absolute order as the other beautiful rooms were in. Ogilvie perhaps chose it for that reason.

The moment they had both got into the room he closed the door, and turned and faced his wife.

"Now, Mildred," he said, "I wish to understand—God knows I am the last person who ought to reproach you—but I must clearly understand what this means."

"What it means?" she repeated. "Why do you speak in that tone? Oh, it's very fine to say you do not mean to reproach me, but your eyes and the tone of your voice reproach me. You have been very cruel to me, Philip, these last two days. What I have suffered, God only knows. I have gone through the most fearful strain; I, alone, unaided by you, have had to keep the bazaar going, to entertain our distinguished guests, to be here, there, and everywhere, but, thank goodness, we did collect a nice little sum for the Home for Incurables. I wonder, Philip, when you think of your own dear little daughter, and what she may——"

"Hush!" said the man.

Mrs. Ogilvie paused in her rapid flow of words, and looked at him with interrogation in her eyes.

"I refuse to allow Sibyl's name to enter into this matter," he said. "You did what you did, God knows with what motive. I don't care, and I do not mean to inquire. The question I have now to ask is, what is the meaning of this?" As he spoke he waved his hand round the room, and then pointed to the grounds outside.

"Silverbel!" she cried; "but I wrote to you and told you the place was in the market. I even sent you a cablegram. Oh, of course, I forgot, you rushed away from Brisbane in a hurry. You received the other cablegram about little Sibyl?"

"Yes, I received the other cablegram, and, as you say, I rushed home. But why are you here? Have you taken the house for the season, or what?"

Mrs. Ogilvie gave an excited scream, ending off in a laugh.

"Why, we have bought Silverbel," she cried; "you are, you must be pleased. Mr. Acland lent me enough money for the first deposit, and you have just come back in time, my dear Phil, to pay the final sum due at the end of October, eighteen thousand pounds. Quite a trifle compared to the fortune you must have brought back with you. Then, of course, there is also the furniture to be paid for, but the tradespeople are quite willing to wait. We are rich, dear Phil, and I am so happy about it."

"Rich!" he answered. He did not say another word for a moment, then he went slowly up to his wife, and took her hand.

"Mildred," he said slowly, "do you realize—do you at all realize the fact that the child is dying?"

"Nonsense," she answered, starting back.

"The child is dying," repeated Ogilvie, "and when the child dies, any motive that I ever had for amassing gold, or any of those things which are considered essential to the worldly man's happiness, goes out. After the child is taken, I have no desire to live as a wealthy man, as a man of society, as a man of means. Life to me is reduced to the smallest possible modicum of interest. When I went to Queensland, I went there because I wished to secure money for the child. I did bitter wrong, and God is punishing me, but I sinned for her sake.... I now repent of my sin, and repentance means——"

"What?" she asked, looking at him with round, dilated eyes.

"Restitution," he replied; "all the restitution that lies in my power."

"You—you terrify me," said Mrs. Ogilvie; "what are you talking about? Restitution! What have you to give back?"

"Listen, and I will explain. You knew, Mildred—oh, yes, you knew it well enough—that I went to Australia on no honorable mission. You did not care to inquire, you hid yourself behind a veil of pretended ignorance; but you knew—yes, you did, and you dare not deny it—that I went to Queensland to commit a crime. It would implicate others if I were to explain things more fully. I will not implicate others, I will stand alone now, in this bitter moment when the fruit of my sin is brought home to me. I will bear the responsibility of my own sin. I will not drag anybody else down in my fall, but it is sufficient for you to know, Mildred, that the Lombard Deeps Mine as a speculation is worthless."

"Worthless!" she cried, "impossible!"

"Worthless," he repeated.

"Then why, why did you send a cablegram to say the mine was full of gold? Lord Grayleigh told me he had received such a message from you."

"I told a dastardly lie, which I am about to put straight."

"But, but," she began, her lips white, her eyes shining, "if you do not explain away your lie (oh, Phil, it is such an ugly word), if you do not explain it away, could not the company be floated?"

"It could, and the directors could reap a fortune by means of it. Do you understand, Mildred, what that implies?"

"Do I understand?" she replied. "No, I was always a poor little woman who had no head for figures."

"Nevertheless you will, I think, take it in when I explain. You are not quite so stupid as you make yourself out. The directors and I could make a fortune—it would be easy, for there is enough gold in the mine to last for at least six months, and the public are credulous, and can be taken in. We should make our fortunes out of the widows and orphans, out of the savings of the poor clerks, and from the clergyman's tiny stipend. We could sweep in their little earnings, and aggrandize our own wealth and importance, and lose our souls. Yes, Mildred, we could, but we won't. I shall prevent that. I have a task before me which will save this foulest crime from being committed."

Mrs. Ogilvie dropped into a chair; she burst into hysterical weeping.

"What you say can't be true, Phil. Oh, Phil, darling, do have mercy."

"How?" he asked.

"Don't do anything so mad, so rash. You always had such a queer, troublesome sort of conscience. Phil, I cannot stand poverty, I cannot stand being dragged down; I must have this place; I have set my heart on it."

He came up to her and took both her hands.

"Is it worth evil?" he asked.

"What do you mean?"

"Is anything under the sun worth evil?" She made no answer. He dropped her hands and left the room.



CHAPTER XX.

Ogilvie went up to Sibyl. Suffering and love had taught him many lessons, amongst others those of absolute self-control. His face was smiling and calm as he crossed the room, bent over the child and kissed her. Those blue eyes of hers, always so full of penetration and of knowledge, which was not all this earth, could detect no sorrow in her father's.

"I must go to town, I shall be away for as short a time as possible. As soon as I come back I will come to you," he said. "Look after her, please, Miss Winstead. If you cannot remain in the room, send nurse. Now, don't tire yourself, my little love. Remember that father will be back very soon."

"Don't hurry, father darling," replied Sibyl "'cos I am quite happy thinking about you, even if you are not here."

He went away, ran downstairs, put on his hat and went out. His wife was standing in the porch.

"One moment, Phil," she called, "where are you going?"

"To town."

"To do what?"

"To do what I said," he answered, and he gave her a strange look, which frightened her, and caused her to fall back against the wall.

He disappeared down the avenue, she sank into a chair and began to weep. She was thoroughly miserable and frightened. Philip had returned, but all pleasant golden dreams were shattered, for although he had sent a cablegram to Lord Grayleigh, saying that all was well, better than well, his conscience was speaking to him, that troublesome terrible conscience of his, and he was about to destroy his own work.

"What fearful creatures men with consciences are," moaned Mrs. Ogilvie.

Meanwhile Ogilvie walked quickly up the avenue. Just at the gates he met an old couple who were coming in. They were a queer-looking old pair, dressed in old-fashioned style. Ogilvie did not know them, but the woman paused when she saw him, came forward, dropped a curtsey and said:

"I beg your pardon, sir."

"What can I do for you?" said Ogilvie. He tried to speak courteously, but this delay, and the presence of the old couple whose names he did not even know, irritated him.

"If you please, sir, you are Mr. Ogilvie?"

"That is my name."

"We know you," continued the old woman, "by the likeness to your little daughter."

The mention of Sibyl caused Ogilvie now to regard them more attentively.

"May I inquire your names?" he asked.

"Holman, sir," said the woman. "This is my husband, sir. We heard only yesterday of dear little Missie's illness, and we couldn't rest until we came to enquire after her. We greatly 'opes, sir, that the dear little lamb is better. We thought you wouldn't mind if we asked."

"By no means," answered Ogilvie. "Any friends of Sibyl's, any real friends, are of interest to me."

He paused and looked into the old woman's face.

"She's better, ain't she, dear lamb?" asked Mrs. Holman.

Ogilvie shook his head; it was a quick movement, his face was very white, his lips opened but no words came. The next instant he had hurried down the road, leaving the old pair looking after him.

Mrs. Holman caught her husband's hand.

"What do it mean, John?" she asked, "what do it mean?"

"We had best go to the house and find out," was Holman's response.

"Yes, we had best," replied Mrs. Holman; "but, John, I take it that it means the worst. The little lamb was too good for this earth. I always said it, John, always."

"Come to the house and let's find out," said Holman again.

He took his old wife's hand, and the strange-looking pair walked down the avenue. Presently they found themselves standing outside the pretty old-fashioned porch of lovely Silverbel. They did not know as they walked that they were in full view of the windows of the Chamber of Peace, and that eager blue eyes were watching them, eager eyes which filled with love and longing when they gazed at them.

"Miss Winstead!" cried little Sibyl.

"What is it, dear?" asked the governess.

Sibyl had been silent for nearly a quarter of an hour, and Miss Winstead, tired with the bazaar and many other things, had been falling into a doze. The sudden excitement in Sibyl's voice now arrested her attention.

"Oh, Miss Winstead, they have come."

"Who have come, dear?"

"The Holmans, the darlings! I saw them walking down the avenue. Oh, I should so like to see them. Will you go down and bring them up? Please do."

"But the doctor said you were to be quiet, and not excite yourself."

"What does it matter whether I incite myself or not? Please, please let me see the Holmans."

"Yes, dear," replied Miss Winstead. She left the room and went downstairs. As she entered the central hall she suddenly found herself listening to an animated conversation.

"Now, my good people," said Mrs. Ogilvie's voice, raised high and clear, "you will be kind enough to return to town immediately. The child is ill, but we hope soon to have her better. See her, did you say, my good woman? Certainly not. I shall be pleased to offer you refreshment if you will go round to the housekeeper's entrance, but you must take the next train to town, you cannot see the child."

"If you please, Mrs. Ogilvie," here interrupted Miss Winstead, coming forward. "Sibyl noticed Mr. and Mrs. Holman as they walked down the avenue, and is very much pleased and delighted at their coming to see her, and wants to know if they may come up at once and have a talk with her?"

"Dear me!" cried Mrs. Ogilvie; "I really must give the child another bedroom, this sort of thing is so bad for her. It is small wonder the darling does not get back her health—the dreadful way in which she is over-excited and injudiciously treated. Really, my good folks, I wish you would go back to town and not make mischief."

"But if the little lady wishes?" began Mrs. Holman, in a timid voice, tears trembling on her eyelids.

"Sibyl certainly does wish to see you," said Miss Winstead in a grave voice. "I think, Mrs. Ogilvie," she added, "it would be a pity to refuse her. I happen to know Mr. and Mrs. Holman pretty well, and I do not think they will injure dear little Sibyl. If you will both promise to come upstairs quietly," continued Miss Winstead, "and not express sorrow when you see her, for she is much changed, and will endeavor to speak cheerfully, you will do her good, not harm."

"Oh, yes, we'll speak cheerfully," said Holman; "we know the ways of dear little Miss. If so be that she would see us, it would be a great gratification, Madam, and we will give you our word that we will not injure your little daughter."

"Very well," said Mrs. Ogilvie, waving her hand, "My opinion is never taken in this house, nor my wishes consulted. I pass the responsibility on to you, Miss Winstead. When the child's father returns and finds that you have acted as you have done you will have to answer to him. I wash my hands of the matter."

Mrs. Ogilvie went out on to the lawn.

"The day is improving," she thought. She glanced up at the sky. "It certainly is miserable at home, and every one talks nonsense about Sibyl. I shall really take a drive and go and see the Le Stranges. I cannot stand the gloom of the house. The dear child is getting better fast, there is not the least doubt of it, and why Phil should talk as he does, and in particular why he should speak as if we were paupers, is past bearing. Lose Silverbel! I certainly will not submit to that."

So the much aggrieved wife went round in the direction of the stables, gave orders that the pony trap was to be got ready for her, and soon afterward was on her way to the Le Stranges. By the time she reached that gay and somewhat festive household, she herself was as merry and hopeful as usual.

Meantime Miss Winstead took the Holmans upstairs.

"You must be prepared for a very great change," said Miss Winstead, "but you will not show her that you notice it. She is very sweet and very happy, and I do not think anyone need be over-sorry about her."

Miss Winstead's own voice trembled. The next moment she opened the door of the Chamber of Peace, and the old-fashioned pair from whom Sibyl had bought so many dusty toys stood before her.

"Eh, my little love, and how are you, dearie?" said Mrs. Holman. She went forward, dropped on her knees by the bed, and took one of Sibyl's soft white hands. "Eh, dearie, and what can Mrs. Holman do for you?"

"How do you do, Mrs. Holman?" said Sibyl, in her weak, but perfectly clear voice; "and how do you do, Mr. Holman? How very kind of you both to come to see me. Do you know I love you very much. I think of you so often. Won't you come to the other side of the bed, Mr. Holman, and won't you take a chair? My voice is apt to get tired if I talk too loud. I am very glad to see you both."

"Eh! but you look sweet," said Mrs. Holman.

Mr. Holman now took his big handkerchief and blew his nose violently. After that precautionary act he felt better, as he expressed it, and no longer in danger of giving way. But Mrs. Holman never for a single instant thought of giving way. She had once, long ago, had a child of her own—a child who died when young—and she had sat by that dying child's bed and never once given expression to her feelings. So why should she now grieve little Sibyl by showing undue sorrow?

"It is nice to look at you, dearie," she repeated, "and what a pretty room you have, my love."

"Everything is beautiful," said little Sibyl, "everything in all the world, and I love you so much."

"To be sure, darling, and so do Holman and I love you."

"Whisper," said Sibyl, "bend a little nearer, my voice gets so very tired. Have you kept your hundred pounds quite safe?"

"Yes, darling, but we won't talk of money now."

"Only," said Sibyl, "when the gold comes from the mine you'll be all right. Lord Grayleigh has wrote your name and Mr. Holman's in his note-book, and he has promised that you are to get some of the gold. You'll be able to have the shop in Buckingham Palace Road, and the children will come to you and buy your beautiful toys." She paused here and her little face turned white.

"You must not talk any more, dearie," said Mrs. Holman. "It's all right about the gold and everything else. All we want is for you to get well."

"I am getting well," answered Sibyl, but as she said the words a curious expression came into her eyes.

"You know," she said, as Mrs. Holman rose and took her hand before she went away, "that when we have wings we fly. I think my wings are coming; but oh, I love you, and you won't forget me when you have your big shop in Buckingham Palace Road?"

"We will never forget you, dearie," said Mrs. Holman, and then she stooped and kissed the child.

"Come, Holman," she said.

"If I might," said old Holman, straightening himself and looking very solemn, "if I might have the great privilege of kissing little Missie's hand afore I go."

"Oh, indeed, you may," said Sibyl.

A moment later the old pair were seen going slowly down the avenue.

"Blessed darling, her wings are very near, I'm thinking," said Mrs. Holman. She was sobbing now, although she had not sobbed in the sick room.

"Queer woman, the mother," said Holman. "We'll get back to town, wife; I'm wonderful upset."

"We'll never sell no more of the dusty toys to no other little children," said Mrs. Holman, and she wept behind her handkerchief.



CHAPTER XXI.

Ogilvie went straight to town. When he arrived at Victoria he took a hansom and drove to the house of the great doctor who had last seen Sibyl. Sir Henry Powell was at home. Ogilvie sent in his card and was admitted almost immediately into his presence. He asked a few questions, they were straight and to the point, and to the point did the specialist reply. His last words were:

"It is a question of time; but the end may come at any moment. There never was any hope from the beginning. From the first it was a matter of days and weeks, I did not know when I first saw your little daughter that she could live even as long as she has done, but the injury to the spine was low down, which doubtless accounts for this fact."

Ogilvie bowed, offered a fee, which Sir Henry refused, and left the house. Although he had just received the blow which he expected to receive, he felt strangely quiet, his troublesome heart was not troublesome any longer. There was no excitement whatever about him; he had never felt so calm in all his life before. He knew well that, as far as earthly success and earthly hope and earthly joy went, he was coming to the end of the ways. He knew that he had strength for the task which lay before him.

He went to the nearest telegraph office and sent three telegrams to Lord Grayleigh. He pre-paid the answers of each, sending one to Grayleigh's club, another to his house in town, and another to Grayleigh Manor. The contents of each were identical.

"Wire immediately the next meeting of the directors of the Lombard Deeps."

He gave as the address to which the reply was to be sent his own house in Belgrave Square.

Having done this he paid a visit to his solicitor, Mr. Acland. Acland did not know that he had come back, and was unfeignedly glad to see him, but when he observed the expression on his friend's face, he started and said:

"My dear fellow, you don't look the better for your trip; I am sorry to see you so broken down."

"I have a good deal to try me," said Ogilvie; "please do not discuss my looks. It does not matter whether I am ill or well. I have much to do and must do my work quickly. You have heard, of course, about the child?"

"Of her accident?" exclaimed Acland; "yes, her mother wrote to me some time ago—she had a fall from her pony?"

"She had."

"Take a chair, won't you, Ogilvie?"

Ogilvie dropped into one. Acland looked at him and then said, slowly:

"I judged from Mrs. Ogilvie's note that there was nothing serious the matter. I hope I am not mistaken."

"You are mistaken," replied Ogilvie; "but I cannot quite bear to discuss this matter. Shall we enter at once on the real object of my visit?"

"Certainly," said Acland.

A clerk entered the room. "Leave us," said Acland to the man, "and say to any inquirers that I am particularly engaged. Now, Ogilvie," he added as the clerk withdrew, "I am quite at your service."

"Thank you. There is a little business which has just come to my ears, and which I wish to arrange quickly. My wife tells me that she has borrowed two thousand pounds from you in order to pay a deposit on the place on the Thames called Silverbel."

"Yes, the place where your wife is now staying."

"Exactly."

"I hope you approve of Silverbel, Ogilvie; it is really cheap at the price; and, of course, everyone knows that you have returned a very rich man. It would have been pleasanter for me had you been at home when the purchase was made, but Mrs. Ogilvie was insistent. She had taken a strong fancy to the place. There were several other less expensive country places in the market, but the only one which would please her was Silverbel. I cabled to you, but got no reply. Your wife implored me to act, and I lent her the deposit. The purchase must be completed at the end of October, in about a month from now. I hope you don't blame me, Ogilvie?"

"I don't blame you—I understand my wife. It would have been difficult to refuse her. Of course, had you done so matters might have been a little easier for me now. As it is, I will pay you back the deposit. I have my cheque-book with me."

"What do you mean?"

"I should like to write a cheque for you now. I must get this matter put straight, and, Acland, you must find another purchaser."

"Not really!" cried Mr. Acland. "The place is beautiful, and cheap at the price, and you have come back a rich man."

"On the contrary, I have returned to England practically a pauper."

"No!" cried Mr. Acland; "but the report of the Lombard Deeps——"

"Hush, you will know all soon. It is sufficient for you at present to receive the news in all confidence that I am a ruined man. Not that it matters. There will be a trifle for my wife—nothing else concerns me. May I fill in this cheque?"

"You can do so, of course," replied Acland. "I shall receive the money in full sooner or later from the other purchaser, and then you can have it back."

"It would be a satisfaction to me, however, to pay you the deposit you lent my wife at once."

"Very well."

Ogilvie filled in a cheque for two thousand pounds.

"You had better see Mrs. Ogilvie with regard to this," he said, as he stood up. "You transacted the business with her, and you must break to her what I have already done, but what I fear she fails to believe, that the purchase cannot possibly go on. It will not be in my power, Acland, to complete it, even if I should be alive at the time."

"I know another man only too anxious to purchase," said Acland; "but I am deeply sorry for you—your child so ill, your own mission to Queensland a failure."

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