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The Woman-Hater
by Charles Reade
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The ladies were both ready.

But Vizard had not appeared.

This caused an uneasy discussion.

"He must be very angry," said Fanny, in a half whisper.

"I cannot go while he is," sighed La Klosking. "There is a limit even to my courage."

"Mr. Harris," said Rhoda, "would you mind telling Mr. Vizard?"

"Well, miss," said Harris, softly, "I did step in and tell him. Which he told me to go to the devil, miss—a hobservation I never knew him to make before."

This was not encouraging. Yet the Klosking quietly inquired where he was.

"In there, ma'am," said Harris. "In his study."

Mademoiselle Klosking, placed between two alternatives, decided with her usual resolution. She walked immediately to the door and tapped at it; then, scarcely waiting for an instant, opened it and walked in with seeming firmness, though her heart was beating rather high.

The people outside looked at one another. "I wonder whether he will tell her to go to the devil," said Fanny, who was getting tired of being good.

"No use," said Miss Gale; "she doesn't know the road."

When La Klosking entered the study, Vizard was seated, disconsolate, with two pictures before him. His face was full of pain, and La Klosking's heart smote her. She moved toward him, hanging her head, and said, with inimitable sweetness and tenderness, "Here is a culprit come to try and appease you."

There came a time that he could hardly think of these words and her penitent, submissive manner with dry eyes. But just then his black dog had bitten him, and he said, sullenly, "Oh, never mind me. It was always so. Your sex have always made me smart for— If flying from my house before you are half recovered gives you half the pleasure it gives me pain and mortification, say no more about it."

"Ah! why say it gives me pleasure? my friend, you cannot really think so."

"I don't know what to think. You ladies are all riddles."

"Then I must take you into my confidence, and, with some reluctance, I own, let you know why I leave this dear, kind roof to-day."

Vizard's generosity took the alarm. "No," said, "I will not extort your reasons. It is a shame of me. Your bare will ought to be law in this house; and what reasons could reconcile me to losing you so suddenly? You are the joy of our eyes, the delight of our ears, the idol of all our hearts. You will leave us, and there will be darkness and gloom, instead of sunshine and song. Well, go; but you cannot soften the blow with reasons."

Mademoiselle Klosking flushed, and her bosom heaved; for this was a strong man, greatly moved. With instinctive tact, she saw the best way to bring him to his senses was to give him a good opening to retreat.

"Ah, monsieur," said she, "you are trop grand seigneur. You entertain a poor wounded singer in a chamber few princes can equal. You place everything at her disposal; such a physician and nurse as no queen can command; a choir to sing to her; royal sables to keep the wind from her, and ladies to wait on her. And when you have brought her back to life, you say to yourself, She is a woman; she will not be thoroughly content unless you tell her she is adorable. So, out of politeness, you descend to the language of gallantry. This was not needed. I dispense with that kind of comfort. I leave your house because it is my duty, and leave it your grateful servant and true friend to my last hour."

She had opened the door, and Vizard could now escape. His obstinacy and his heart would not let him.

"Do not fence with me," said he. "Leave that to others. It is beneath you. If you had been content to stay, I would have been content to show my heart by halves. But when you offer to leave me, you draw from me an avowal I can no longer restrain, and you must and shall listen to it. When I saw you on the stage at Homburg, I admired you and loved you that very night. But I knew from experience how seldom in women outward graces go with the virtues of the soul. I distrusted my judgment. I feared you and I fled you. But our destiny brought you here, and when I held you, pale and wounded, in my very arms, my heart seemed to go out of my bosom."

"Oh, no more! no more, pray!" cried Mademoiselle Klosking.

But the current of love was not to be stemmed. "Since that terrible hour I have been in heaven, watching your gradual and sure recovery; but you have recovered only to abandon me, and your hurry to leave me drives me to desperation. No, I cannot part with you. You must not leave me, either this day or any day. Give me your hand, and stay here forever, and be the queen of my heart and of my house."

For some time La Klosking had lost her usual composure. Her bosom heaved tumultuously, and her hands trembled. But at this distinct proposal the whole woman changed. She drew herself up, with her pale cheek flushing and her eyes glittering.

"What, sir?" said she. "Have you read me so ill? Do you not know I would rather be the meanest drudge that goes on her knees and scrubs your floors, than be queen of your house, as you call it? Ah, Jesu, are all men alike, then; that he whom I have so revered, whose mother's songs I have sung to him, makes me a proposal dishonorable to me and to himself?"

"Dishonorable!" cried Vizard. "Why, what can any man offer to any woman more honorable than I offer you? I offer you my heart and my hand, and I say, do not go, my darling. Stay here forever, and be my queen, my goddess, my wife!"

"YOUR WIFE?" She stared wildly at him. "Your wife? Am I dreaming, or are you?"

"Neither. Do you think I can be content with less than that? Ina, I adore you."

She put her hand to her head. "I know not who is to blame for this," said she, and she trembled visibly.

"I'll take the blame," said he, gayly.

Said Ina, very gravely. "You, who do me the honor to offer me your name, have you asked yourself seriously what has been the nature of my relation with Edward Severne?"

"No!" cried Vizard, violently; "and I do not mean to. I see you despise him now; and I have my eyes and my senses to guide me in choosing a wife. I choose you—if you will have me."

She listened, then turned her moist eyes full upon him, and said to him, "This is the greatest honor ever befell me. I cannot take it."

"Not take it?"

"No; but that is my misfortune. Do not be mortified. You have no rival in my esteem. What shall I say, my friend?—at least I may call you that. If I explain now, I shall weep much, and lose my strength. What shall I do? I think—yes, that will be best—you shall go with me to-day."

"To the end of the world!"

"Something tells me you will know all, and forgive me."

"Shall I take my bag?"

"You might take an evening dress and some linen."

"Very well. I won't keep you a moment," said he, and went upstairs with great alacrity.

She went into the hall, with her eyes bent on the ground, and was immediately pinned by Rhoda Gale, whose piercing eye, and inquisitive finger on her pulse, soon discovered that she had gone through a trying scene. "This is a bad beginning of an imprudent journey," said she: "I have a great mind to countermand the carriage."

"No, no," said Ina; "I will sleep in the railway and recover myself."

The ladies now got into the carriage; Ashmead insisted on going upon the box; and Vizard soon appeared, and took his seat opposite Miss Gale and Mademoiselle Klosking. The latter whispered her doctress: "It would be wise of me not to speak much at present." La Gale communicated this to Vizard, and they drove along in dead silence. But they were naturally curious to know where they were going; so they held some communication with their eyes. They very soon found they were going to Taddington Station.

Then came a doubt—were they going up or down?

That was soon resolved.

Mr. Ashmead had hired a saloon carriage for them, with couches and conveniences.

They entered it; and Mademoiselle Klosking said to Miss Gale, "It is necessary that I should sleep."

"You shall," said Miss Gale.

While she was arranging the pillows and things, La Klosking said to Vizard, "We artists learn to sleep when we have work to do. Without it I should not be strong enough this day." She said this in a half-apologetic tone, as one anxious not to give him any shadow of offense.

She was asleep in five minutes; and Miss Gale sat watching her at first, but presently joined Vizard at the other end, and they whispered together. Said she, "What becomes of the theory that women have no strength of will? There is Mademoiselle Je le veux in person. When she wants to sleep, she sleeps; and look at you and me—do you know where we are going?"

"No."

"No more do I. The motive power is that personification of divine repose there. How beautiful she is with her sweet lips parted, and her white teeth peeping, and her upper and lower lashes wedded, and how graceful!"

"She is a goddess," said Vizard. "I wish I had never seen her. Mark my words, she will give me the sorest heart of all."

"I hope not," said Rhoda, very seriously.

Ina slept sweetly for nearly two hours, and all that time her friends could only guess where they were going.

At last the train stopped, for the sixth time, and Ashmead opened the door.

This worthy, who was entirely in command of the expedition, collected the luggage, including Vizard's bag, and deposited it at the station. He then introduced the party to a pair-horse fly, and mounted the box.

When they stopped at Bagley, Vizard suspected where they were going.

When he saw the direction the carriage took, he knew it, and turned very grave indeed.

He even regretted that he had put himself so blindly under the control of a woman. He cast searching glances at Mademoiselle Klosking to try and discover what on earth she was going to do. But her face was as impenetrable as marble. Still, she never looked less likely to do anything rash or in bad taste. Quietness was the main characteristic of her face, when not rippled over by a ravishing sweetness; but he had never seen her look so great, and lofty, and resolute as she looked now; a little stern, too, as one who had a great duty to do, and was inflexible as iron. When truly feminine features stiffen into marble like this, beauty is indeed imperial, and worthy of epic song; it rises beyond the wing of prose.

My reader is too intelligent not to divine that she was steeling herself to a terrible interview with Zoe Vizard—terrible mainly on account of the anguish she knew she must inflict.

But we can rarely carry out our plans exactly as we trace them—unexpected circumstances derange them or expand them; and I will so far anticipate as to say that in this case a most unexpected turn of events took La Klosking by surprise.

Whether she proved equal to the occasion these pages will show very soon.



CHAPTER XXVI.

POIKILUS never left Taddington—only the "Swan." More than once he was within sight of Ashmead unobserved. Once, indeed, that gentleman, who had a great respect for dignitaries, saluted him; for at that moment Poikilus happened to be a sleek dignitary of the Church of England. Poikilus, when quite himself, wore a mustache, and was sallow, and lean as a weasel; but he shaved and stuffed and colored for the dean. Shovel-hat, portly walk, and green spectacles did the rest. Grandfather Whitehead saluted. His reverence chuckled.

Poikilus kept Severne posted by letter and wire as to many things that happened outside Vizard Court; but he could not divine the storm that was brewing inside Ina Klosking's room. Yet Severne defended himself exactly as he would have done had he known all. He and Zoe spent Elysian hours, meeting twice a day in the shrubbery, and making love as if they were the only two creatures in the world; but it was blind Elysium only to one of them—Severne was uneasy and alarmed the whole time. His sagacity showed him it could not last, and there was always a creeping terror on him. Would not Uxmoor cause inquiries? Would he not be sure to tell Vizard? Would not Vizard come there to look after Zoe, or order her back to Vizard Court? Would not the Klosking get well, and interfere once more? He passed the time between heaven and hell; whenever he was not under the immediate spell of Zoe's presence, a sort of vague terror was always on him. He looked all round him, wherever he went.

This terror, and his passion, which was now as violent as it was wicked, soon drove him to conceive desperate measures. But, by masterly self-government, he kept them two days to his own bosom. He felt it was too soon to raise a fresh and painful discussion with Zoe. He must let her drink unmixed delight, and get a taste for it; and then show her on what conditions alone it could be had forever.

It was on the third day after their reconciliation she found him seated on a bench in the shrubbery, lost in thought, and looking very dejected. She was close to him before he noticed; then he sprung up, stared at her, and began to kiss her hands violently, and even her very dress.

"It is you," said he, "once more."

"Yes, dear," said Zoe, tenderly; "did you think I would not come?"

"I did not know whether you could come. I feel that my happiness cannot last long. And, Zoe dear, I have had a dream. I dreamed we were taken prisoners, and carried to Vizard Court, and on the steps stood Vizard and Mademoiselle Klosking arm-in-arm; I believe they were man and wife. And you were taken out and led, weeping, into the house, and I was left there raging with agony. And then that lady put out her finger in a commanding way, and I was whirled away into utter darkness, and I heard you moan, and I fought, and dashed my head against the carriage, and I felt my heart burst, and my whole body filled with some cold liquid, and I went to sleep, and I heard a voice say, 'It is all over; his trouble is ended.' I was dead."

This narrative, and his deep dejection, set Zoe's tears flowing. "Poor Edward!" she sighed. "I would not survive you. But cheer up, dear; it was only a dream. We are not slaves. I am not dependent on any one. How can we be parted?"

"We shall, unless we use our opportunity, and make it impossible to part us. Zoe, do not slight my alarm and my misgivings; such warnings are prophetic. For Heaven's sake, make one sacrifice more, and let us place our happiness beyond the reach of man!"

"Only tell me how."

"There is but one way—marriage."

Zoe blushed high, and panted a little, but said nothing.

"Ah!" said he, piteously, "I ask too much."

"How can you say that?" said Zoe. "Of course I shall marry you, dearest. What! do you think I could do what I have done for anybody but my husband that is to be?"

"I was mad to think otherwise," said he, "but I am in low spirits, and full of misgivings. Oh, the comfort, the bliss, the peace of mind, the joy, if you would see our hazardous condition, and make all safe by marrying me to-morrow."

"To-morrow! Why, Edward, are you mad? How can we be married, so long as my brother is so prejudiced against you?"

"If we wait his consent, we are parted forever. He would forgive us after it—that is certain. But he would never consent. He is too much under the influence of his—of Mademoiselle Klosking."

"Indeed, I cannot hope he will consent beforehand," sighed Zoe; "but I have not the courage to defy him; and if I had, we could not marry all in a moment, like that. We should have to be cried in church."

"That is quite gone out among ladies and gentlemen."

"Not in our family. Besides, even a special license takes time, I suppose. Oh no, I could not be married in a clandestine, discreditable way. I am a Vizard—please remember that. Would you degrade the woman you honor with your choice?"

And her red cheeks and flashing eyes warned him to desist.

"God forbid!" said he. "If that is the alternative, I consent to lose her—and lose her I shall."

He then affected to dismiss the subject, and said, "Let me enjoy the hours that are left me. Much misery or much bliss can be condensed in a few days. I will enjoy the blessed time, and we will wait for the chapter of accidents that is sure to part us." Then he acted reckless happiness, and broke down at last.

She cried, but showed no sign of yielding. Her pride and self-respect were roused and on their defense.

The next day he came to her quietly sad. He seemed languid and listless, and to care for nothing. He was artful enough to tell her, on the information of Poikilus, that Vizard had hired the cathedral choir three times a week to sing to his inamorata; and that he had driven her about Taddington, dressed like a duchess, in a whole suit of sables.

At that word the girl turned pale.

He observed, and continued: "And it seems these sables are known throughout the county. There were several carriages in the town, and my informant heard a lady say they were Mrs. Vizard's sables, worth five hundred guineas—a Russian princess gave them her."

"It is quite true," said Zoe. "His mother's sables! Is it possible!"

"They all say he is caught at last, and this is to be the next Mrs. Vizard."

"They may well say so, if he parades her in his mother's sables," said Zoe, and could not conceal her jealousy and her indignation. "I never dared so much as ask his permission to wear them," said she.

"And if you had, he would have told you the relics of a saint were not to be played with."

"That is just what he would have said, I do believe." The female heart was stung.

"Ah, well," said Severne, "I am sure I should not grudge him his happiness, if you would see things as he does, and be as brave as he is."

"Thank you," said Zoe. "Women cannot defy the world as men do." Then, passionately, "Why do you torment me so? why do you urge me so? a poor girl, all alone, and far from advice. What on earth would you have me do?"

"Secure us against another separation, unite us in bliss forever."

"And so I would if I could; you know I would. But it is impossible."

"No, Zoe; it is easy. There are two ways: we can reach Scotland in eight hours; and there, by a simple writing and declaration before witnesses, we are man and wife."

"A Gretna Green marriage?"

"It is just as much a legal marriage as if a bishop married us at St. Paul's. However, we could follow it up immediately by marriage in a church, either in Scotland or the North of England But there is another way: we can be married at Bagley, any day, before the registrar."

"Is that a marriage—a real marriage?"

"As real, as legal, as binding as a wedding in St. Paul's."

"Nobody in this county has ever been married so. I should blush to be seen about after it."

"Our first happy year would not be passed in this country. We should go abroad for six months."

"Ay, fly from shame."

"On our return we should be received with open arms by my own people in Huntingdonshire, until your people came round, as they always do."

He then showed her a letter, in which his pearl of a cousin said they would receive his wife with open arms, and make her as happy as they could. Uncle Tom was coming home from India, with two hundred thousand pounds; he was a confirmed old bachelor, and Edward his favorite, etc.

Zoe faltered a little: so then he pressed her hard with love, and entreaties, and promises, and even hysterical tears; then she began to cry—a sure sign of yielding. "Give me time," she said—"give me time."

He groaned, and said there was no time to lose. Otherwise he never would have urged her so.

For all that, she could not be drawn to a decision. She must think over such a step. Next morning, at the usual time, he came to know his fate. But she did not appear. He waited an hour for her. She did not come. He began to rage and storm, and curse his folly for driving her so hard.

At last she came, and found him pale with anxiety, and looking utterly miserable. She told him she had passed a sleepless night, and her head had ached so in the morning she could not move.

"My poor darling!" said he; "and I am the cause. Say no more about it, dear one. I see you do not love me as I love you, and I forgive you."

She smiled sadly at that, for she was surer of her own love than his.

Zoe had passed a night of torment and vacillation; and but for her brother having paraded Mademoiselle Klosking in his mother's sables, she would, I think, have held out. But this turned her a little against her brother; and, as he was the main obstacle to her union with Severne, love and pity conquered. Yet still Honor and Pride had their say. "Edward," said she, "I love you with all my heart, and share your fears that accident may separate us. I will let you decide for both of us. But, before you decide, be warned of one thing. I am a girl no longer, but a woman who has been distracted with many passions. If any slur rests on my fair name, deeply as I love you now, I shall abhor you then."

He turned pale, for her eye flashed dismay into his craven soul.

He said nothing; and she continued: "If you insist on this hasty, half-clandestine marriage, then I consent to this—I will go with you before the registrar, and I shall come back here directly. Next morning early we will start for Scotland, and be married that other way before witnesses. Then your fears will be at an end, for you believe in these marriages; only as I do not—for I look on these legal marriages merely as solemn betrothals—I shall be Miss Zoe Vizard, and expect you to treat me so, until I have been married in a church, like a lady."

"Of course you shall," said he; and overwhelmed her with expressions of gratitude, respect, and affection.

This soothed her troubled mind, and she let him take her hand and pour his honeyed flatteries into her ear, as he walked her slowly up and down.

She could hardly tear herself away from the soft pressure of his hand and the fascination of his tongue, and she left him, more madly in love with him than ever, and ready to face anything but dishonor for him. She was to come out at twelve o'clock, and walk into Bagley with him to betroth herself to him, as she chose to consider it, before the stipendiary magistrate, who married couples in that way. Of the two marriages she had consented to, merely as preliminaries to a real marriage, Zoe despised this the most; for the Scotch marriage was, at all events, ancient, and respectable lovers had been driven to it again and again.

She was behind her time, and Severne thought her courage had failed her, after all. But no: at half-past twelve she came out, and walked briskly toward Bagley.

He was behind her, and followed her. She took his arm nervously. "Let me feel you all the way," she said, "to give me courage."

So they walked arm-in-arm; and, as they went, his courage secretly wavered, her's rose at every step.

About half a mile from the town they met a carriage and pair.

At sight of them a gentleman on the box tapped at the glass window, and said, hurriedly, "Here they are together."

Mademoiselle Klosking said, "Stop the carriage": then, pausing a little, "Mr. Vizard—on your word of honor, no violence."

The carriage was drawn up, Ashmead opened the door in a trice, and La Klosking, followed by Vizard, stepped out, and stood like a statue before Edward Severne and Zoe Vizard.

Severne dropped her arm directly, and was panic-stricken.

Zoe uttered a little scream at the sight of Vizard; but the next moment took fire at her rival's audacity, and stepped boldly before her lover, with flashing eyes and expanded nostrils that literally breathed defiance.



CHAPTER XXVII.

"YOU infernal scoundrel!" roared Vizard, and took a stride toward Severne.

"No violence," said Ina Klosking, sternly: "it will be an insult to this lady and me."

"Very well, then," said Vizard, grimly, "I must wait till I catch him alone."

"Meantime, permit me to speak, sir," said Ina. "Believe me, I have a better right than even you."

"Then pray ask my sister why I find her on that villain's arm."

"I should not answer her," said Zoe, haughtily. "But my brother I will. Harrington, all this vulgar abuse confirms me in my choice: I take his arm because I have accepted his hand. I am going into Bagley with him to become his wife."

This announcement took away Vizard's breath for a moment, and Ina Klosking put in her word. "You cannot do that: pray he warned. He is leading you to infamy."

"Infamy! What, because he cannot give me a suit of sables? Infamy! because we prefer virtuous poverty to vice and wealth?"

"No, young lady," said Ina, coloring faintly at the taunt; "but because you could only be his paramour; not his wife. He is married already."

At these words, spoken with that power Ina Klosking could always command, Zoe Vizard turned ashy pale. But she fought on bravely.

"Married? It is false! To whom?"

"To me."

"I thought so. Now I know it is not true. He left you months before we ever knew him."

"Look at him. He does not say it is false."

Zoe turned on Severne, and at his face her own heart quaked. "Are you married to this lady?" she asked; and her eyes, dilated to their full size, searched his every feature.

"Not that I know of," said he, impudently.

"Is that the serious answer you expected, Miss Vizard?" said Ina, keenly: then to Severne, "You are unwise to insult the woman on whom, from this day, you must depend for bread. Miss Vizard, to you I speak, and not to this shameless man. For your mother's sake, do me justice. I have loved him dearly; but now I abhor him. Would I could break the tie that binds us and give him to you, or to any lady who would have him! But I cannot. And shall I hold my tongue, and let you be ruined and dishonored? I am an older woman than you, and bound by gratitude to all your house. Dear lady, I have taxed my strength to save you. I feel that strength waning. Pray read this paper, and consent to save yourself."

"I will read it," said Rhoda Gale, interfering. "I know German. It is an authorized duplicate certifying the marriage of Edward Severne, of Willingham, in Huntingdonshire, England, to Ina Ferris, daughter of Walter Ferris and Eva Klosking, of Zutzig, in Denmark. The marriage was solemnized at Berlin, and here are the signatures of several witnesses: Eva Klosking; Fraulein Graafe; Zug, the Capellmeister; Vicomte Meurice, French attache'; Count Hompesch, Bavarian plenipotentiary; Herr Formes."

Ina explained, in a voice that was now feeble, "I was a public character; my marriage was public: not like the clandestine union which is all he dared offer to this well-born lady."

"The Bavarian and French ministers are both in London," said Vizard, eagerly. "We can easily learn if these signatures are forged, like your acceptances."

But, if one shadow of doubt remained, Severne now removed it; he uttered a scream of agony, and fled as if the demons of remorse and despair were spurring him with red-hot rowels.

"There, you little idiot!" roared Vizard; "does that open you eyes?"

"Oh, Mr. Vizard," said Ina, reproachfully, "for pity's sake, think only of her youth, and what she has to suffer. I can do no more for her: I feel—so—faint."

Ashmead and Rhoda supported her into the carriage. Vizard, touched to the heart by Ina's appeal, held out his eloquent arms to his stricken sister, and she tottered to him, and clung to him, all limp and broken, and wishing she could sink out of the sight of all mankind. He put his strong arm round her, and, though his own heart was desolate and broken, he supported that broken flower of womanhood, and half led, half lifted her on, until he laid her on a sofa in Somerville Villa. Then, for the first time, he spoke to her. "We are both desolate, now, my child. Let us love one another. I will be ten times tenderer to you than I ever have been." She gave a great sob, but she was past speaking.



Ina Klosking, Miss Gale, and Ashmead returned in the carriage to Bagley. Half a mile out of the town they found a man lying on the pathway, with his hat off, and white as a sheet. It was Edward Severne. He had run till he dropped.

Ashmead got down and examined him. He came back to the carriage door, looking white enough himself. "It is all over," said he; "the man is dead."

Miss Gale was out in a moment and examined him. "No," said she. "The heart does not beat perceptibly; but he breathes. It is another of those seizures. Help me get him into the carriage."

This was done, and the driver ordered to go a foot's pace.

The stimulants Miss Gale had brought for Ina Klosking were now applied to revive this malefactor; and both ladies actually ministered to him with compassionate faces. He was a villain; but he was superlatively handsome, and a feather might turn the scale of life or death.

The seizure, though really appalling to look at, did not last long. He revived a little in the carriage, and was taken, still insensible, but breathing hard, into a room in the railway hotel. When he was out of danger, Miss Gale felt Ina Klosking's pulse, and insisted on her going to Taddington by the next train and leaving Severne to the care of Mr. Ashmead.

Ina, who, in truth, was just then most unfit for any more trials, feebly consented, but not until she had given Ashmead some important instructions respecting her malefactor, and supplied him with funds. Miss Gale also instructed Ashmead how to proceed in case of a relapse, and provided him with materials.

The ladies took a train, which arrived soon after; and, being so fortunate as to get a lady's carriage all to themselves, they sat intertwined and rocking together, and Ina Klosking found relief at last in a copious flow of tears.

Rhoda got her to Hillstoke, cooked for her, nursed her, lighted fires, aired her bed, and these two friends slept together in each other's arms.

Ashmead had a hard time of it with Severne. He managed pretty well with him at first, because he stupefied him with brandy before he had come to his senses, and in that state got him into the next train. But as the fumes wore off, and Severne realized his villainy, his defeat, and his abject condition between the two women he had wronged, he suddenly uttered a yell and made a spring at the window. Ashmead caught him by his calves, and dragged him so powerfully down that his face struck the floor hard and his nose bled profusely. The hemorrhage and the blow quieted him for a time, and then Ashmead gave him more brandy, and got him to the "Swan" in a half-lethargic lull. This faithful agent, and man of all work, took a private sitting room with a double bedded room adjoining it, and ordered a hot supper with champagne and madeira. Severne lay on a sofa moaning.

The waiter stared. "Trouble!" whispered Ashmead, confidentially. "Take no notice. Supper as quick as possible."

By-and-by Severne started up and began to rave and tear about the room, cursing his hard fate, and ended in a kind of hysterical fit. Ashmead, being provided by Miss Gale with salts and aromatic vinegar, etc., applied them, and ended by dashing a tumbler of water right into his face, which did him more good than chemistry.

Then he tried to awaken manhood in the fellow. "What are you howling about?" said he. "Why, you are the only sinner, and you are the least sufferer. Come, drop sniveling, and eat a bit. Trouble don't do on an empty stomach."

Severne said he would try, but begged the waiter might not be allowed to stare at a broken-hearted man.

"Broken fiddlesticks!" said honest Joe.

Severne tried to eat, but could not. But he could drink, and said so.

Ashmead gave him champagne in tumblers, and that, on his empty stomach, set him raving, and saying life was hell to him now. But presently he fell to weeping bitterly. In which condition Ashmead forced him to bed, and there he slept heavily. In the morning Ashmead sat by his bedside, and tried to bring him to reason. "Now, look here," said he, "you are a lucky fellow, if you will only see it. You have escaped bigamy and a jail, and, as a reward for your good conduct to your wife, and the many virtues you have exhibited in a short space of time, I am instructed by that lady to pay you twenty pounds every Saturday at twelve o'clock. It is only a thousand a year; but don't you be down-hearted; I conclude she will raise your salary as you advance. You must forge her name to a heavy check, rob a church, and abduct a schoolgirl or two—misses in their teens and wards of Chancery preferred—and she will make it thirty, no doubt;" and Joe looked very sour.

"That for her twenty pounds a week!" cried this injured man. "She owes me two thousand pounds and more. She has been my enemy, and her own. The fool!—to go and peach! She had only to hold her tongue, and be Mrs. Vizard, and then she would have had a rich husband that adores her, and I should have had my darling beautiful Zoe, the only woman I ever loved or ever shall."

"Oh," said Ashmead, "then you expected your wife to commit bigamy, and so make it smooth to you."

"Of course I did," was the worthy Severne' s reply; "and so she would, if she had had a grain of sense. See what a contrast now. We are all unhappy—herself included—and it is all her doing."

"Well, young man," said Ashmead, drawing a long breath; "didn't I tell you you are a lucky fellow? You have got twenty pounds a week, and that blest boon, 'a conscience void of offense.' You are a happy man. Here's a strong cup of tea for you: just you drink it, and then get up and take the train to the little village. There kindred spirits and fresh delights await you. You are not to adorn Barfordshire any longer: that is the order."

"Well, I'll go to London—but not without you."

"Me! What do you want of me?"

"You are a good fellow, and the only friend I have left. But for you, I should be dead, or mad. You have pulled me through."

"Through the window I did. Lord, forgive me for it," said Joseph. "Well, I'll go up to town with you; but I can't be always tied to your tail. I haven't got twenty pounds a week. To be sure," he added, dryly, "I haven't earned it. That is one comfort."

He telegraphed Hillstoke, and took Severne up to London.

There the Bohemian very soon found he could live, and even derive some little enjoyment from his vices—without Joseph Ashmead. He visited him punctually every Saturday, and conversed delightfully. If he came any other day, it was sure to be for an advance: he never got it.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

FANNY DOVER was sent for directly to Somerville Villa; and, three days after the distressing scene I have endeavored to describe, Vizard brought his wrecked sister home. Her condition was pitiable; and the moment he reached Vizard Court he mounted his horse and rode to Hillstoke to bring Miss Gale down to her.

There he found Ina Klosking, with her boxes at the door, waiting for the fly that was to take her away.

It was a sad interview. He thanked her deeply for her noble conduct to his sister, and then he could not help speaking of his own disappointment.

Mademoiselle Klosking, on this occasion, was simple, sad, and even tender, within prudent limits. She treated this as a parting forever, and therefore made no secret of her esteem for him. "But," said she, "I hope one day to hear you have found a partner worthy of you. As for me, who am tied for life to one I despise, and can never love again, I shall seek my consolation in music, and, please God, in charitable actions."

He kissed her hand at parting, and gave her a long, long look of miserable regret that tried her composure hard, and often recurred to her memory.

She went up to London, took a small suburban house, led a secluded life, and devoted herself to her art, making a particular study now of sacred music; she collected volumes of it, and did not disdain to buy it at bookstalls, or wherever she could find it.

Ashmead worked for her, and she made her first appearance in a new oratorio. Her songs proved a principal feature in the performance.



Events did not stand still in Barfordshire; but they were tame, compared with those I have lately related, and must be dispatched in fewer words.

Aunt Maitland recovered unexpectedly from a severe illness, and was a softened woman: she sent Fanny off to keep Zoe company. That poor girl had a bitter time, and gave Doctress Gale great anxiety. She had no brain fever, but seemed quietly, insensibly, sinking into her grave. No appetite, and indeed was threatened with atrophy at one time. But she was so surrounded with loving-kindness that her shame diminished, her pride rose, and at last her agony was blunted, and only a pensive languor remained to show that she had been crushed, and could not be again the bright, proud, high-spirited beauty of Barfordshire.

For many months she never mentioned either Edward Severne, Ina Klosking, or Lord Uxmoor.

It was a long time before she went outside the gates of her own park. She seemed to hate the outer world.

Her first visit was to Miss Gale; that young lady was now very happy. She had her mother with her. Mrs. Gale had defeated the tricky executor, and had come to England with a tidy little capital, saved out of the fire by her sagacity and spirit.

Mrs. Gale's character has been partly revealed by her daughter. I have only to add she was a homely, well-read woman, of few words, but those few—grape-shot. Example—she said to Zoe, "Young lady, excuse an old woman's freedom, who might be your mother: the troubles of young folk have a deal of self in them; more than you could believe. Now just you try something to take you out of self, and you will be another creature."

"Ah," sighed Zoe, "would to Heaven I could!"

"Oh," said Mrs. Gale, "anybody with money can do it, and the world so full of real trouble. Now, my girl tells me you are kind to the poor: why not do something like Rhoda is doing for this lord she is overseer, or goodness knows what, to?"

Rhoda (defiantly), "Viceroy."

"You have money, and your brother will not refuse you a bit o' land. Why not build some of these new-fangled cottages, with fancy gardens, and dwarf palaces for a cow and a pig? Rhoda, child, if I was a poor woman, I could graze a cow in the lanes hereabouts, and feed a pig in the woods. Now you do that for the poor, Miss Vizard, and don't let my girl think for you. Breed your own ideas. That will divert you from self, my dear, and you will begin to find it—there—just as if a black cloud was clearing away from your mind, and letting your heart warm again."

Zoe caught at the idea, and that very day asked Vizard timidly whether he would let her have some land to build a model cottage or two on.

Will it be believed that the good-natured Vizard made a wry face? "What, two proprietors in Islip!" For a moment or two he was all squire. But soon the brother conquered. "Well," said he, "I can't give you a fee-simple; I must think of my heirs: but I will hold a court, and grant you a copy-hold; or I'll give you a ninety-nine years' lease at a pepper-corn. There's a slip of three acres on the edge of the Green. You shall amuse yourself with that." He made it over to her directly, for a century, at ten shillings a year; and, as he was her surviving trustee, he let her draw in advance on her ten thousand pounds.

Mapping out the ground with Rhoda, settling the gardens and the miniature pastures, and planning the little houses and outhouses, and talking a great deal, compared with what she transacted, proved really a certain antidote to that lethargy of woe which oppressed her: and here, for a time, I must leave her, returning slowly to health of body, and some tranquillity of mind; but still subject to fits of shame, and gnawed by bitter regrets.



CHAPTER XXIX.

THE reputation Mademoiselle Klosking gained in the new oratorio, aided by Ashmead's exertions, launched her in a walk of art that accorded with her sentiments.

She sung in the oratorio whenever it could be performed, and also sung select songs from it, and other sacred songs at concerts.

She was engaged at a musical festival in the very cathedral town whose choir had been so consoling to her. She entered with great zeal into this engagement, and finding there was a general desire to introduce the leading chorister-boy to the public in a duet, she surprised them all by offering to sing the second part with him, if he would rehearse it carefully with her at her lodgings. He was only too glad, as might be supposed. She found he had a lovely voice, but little physical culture. He read correctly, but did not even know the nature of the vocal instrument and its construction, which is that of a bagpipe. She taught him how to keep his lungs full in singing, yet not to gasp, and by this simple means enabled him to sing with more than twice the power he had ever exercised yet. She also taught him the swell, a figure of music he knew literally nothing about.

When, after singing a great solo, to salvos of applause, Mademoiselle Klosking took the second part with this urchin, the citizens and all the musical people who haunt a cathedral were on the tiptoe of expectation. The boy amazed them, and the rich contralto that supported him and rose and swelled with him in ravishing harmony enchanted them. The vast improvement in the boy's style did not escape the hundreds of persons who knew him, and this duet gave La Klosking a great personal popularity.

Her last song, by her own choice, was, "What though I trace" (Handel), and the majestic volume that rang through the echoing vault showed with what a generous spirit she had subdued that magnificent organ not to crush her juvenile partner in the preceding duet.

Among the persons present was Harrington Vizard. He had come there against his judgment; but he could not help it.

He had been cultivating a dull tranquillity, and was even beginning his old game of railing on women, as the great disturbers of male peace. At the sight of her, and the sound of her first notes, away went his tranquillity, and he loved her as ardently as ever. But when she sung his mother's favorite, and the very roof rang, and three thousand souls were thrilled and lifted to heaven by that pure and noble strain, the rapture could not pass away from this one heart; while the ear ached at the cessation of her voice, the heart also ached, and pined, and yearned.

He ceased to resist. From that day he followed her about to her public performances all over the Midland Counties; and she soon became aware of his presence. She said nothing till Ashmead drew her attention; then, being compelled to notice it, she said it was a great pity. Surely he must have more important duties at home.

Ashmead wanted to recognize him, and put him into the best place vacant; but La Klosking said, "No. I will be more his friend than to lend him the least encouragement."

At the end of that tour she returned to London.

While she was there in her little suburban house, she received a visit from Mr. Edward Severne. He came to throw himself at her feet and beg forgiveness. She said she would try and forgive him. He then implored her to forget the past. She told him that was beyond her power. He persisted, and told her he had come to his senses; all his misconduct now seemed a hideous dream, and he found he had never really loved any one but her. So then he entreated her to try him once more; to give him back the treasure of her love.

She listened to him like a woman of marble. "Love where I despise!" said she. "Never. The day has gone by when these words can move me. Come to me for the means of enjoying yourself—gambling, drinking, and your other vices—and I shall indulge you. But do not profane the name of love. I forbid you ever to enter my door on that errand. I presume you want money. There is a hundred pounds. Take it; and keep out of my sight till you have wasted it."

He dashed the notes proudly down. She turned her back on him, and glided into another room.

When she returned, he was gone, and the hundred pounds had managed to accompany him.

He went straight from her to Ashmead and talked big. He would sue for restitution of conjugal rights.

"Don't do that, for my sake," said Ashamed. "She will fly the country like a bird, and live in some village on bread and milk."

"Oh, I would not do you an ill turn for the world," said the Master of Arts. "You have been a kind friend to me. You saved my life. It is imbittered by remorse, and recollections of the happiness I have thrown away, and the heart I have wronged. No matter!"

This visit disturbed La Klosking, and disposed her to leave London. She listened to a brilliant offer that was made her, through Ashmead, by the manager of the Italian Opera, who was organizing a provincial tour. The tour was well advertised in advance, and the company opened to a grand house at Birmingham.

Mademoiselle Klosking had not been long on the stage when she discovered her discarded husband in the stalls, looking the perfection of youthful beauty. The next minute she saw Vizard in a private box. Mr. Severne applauded her loudly, and flung her a bouquet. Mr. Vizard fixed his eyes on her, beaming with admiration, but made no public demonstration.

The same incident repeated itself every night she sung, and at every town.

At last she spoke about it to Ashmead, in the vague, suggestive way her sex excels in. "I presume you have observed the people in front."

"Yes, madam. Two in particular."

"Could you not advise him to desist?"

"Which of 'em, madam?"

"Mr. Vizard, of course. He is losing his time, and wasting sentiments it is cruel should be wasted."

Ashmead said he dared not take any liberty with Mr. Vizard.

So the thing went on.

Severne made acquaintance with the manager, and obtained the entre'e behind the scenes. He brought his wife a bouquet every night, and presented it to her with such reverence and grace, that she was obliged to take it and courtesy, or seem rude to the people about.

Then she wrote to Miss Gale and begged her to come if she could.

Miss Gale, who had all this time been writing her love-letters twice a week, immediately appointed her mother viceroy, and went to her friend. Ina Klosking explained the situation to her with a certain slight timidity and confusion not usual to her; and said, "Now, dear, you have more courage than the rest of us; and I know he has a great respect for you; and, indeed, Miss Dover told me he would quite obey you. Would it not be the act of a friend to advise him to cease this unhappy— What good can come of it? He neglects his own duties, and disturbs me in mine. I sometimes ask myself would it not be kinder of me to give up my business, or practice it elsewhere—Germany, or even Italy.

"Does he call on you?"

"No."

"Does he write to you?"

"Oh no. I wish he would. Because then I should be able to reply like a true friend, and send him away. Consider, dear, it is not like a nobody dangling after a public singer; that is common enough. We are all run after by idle men; even Signorina Zubetta, who has not much voice, nor appearance, and speaks a Genoese patois when she is not delivering a libretto. But for a gentleman of position, with a heart of gold and the soul of an emperor, that he should waste his time and his feelings so, on a woman who can never be anything to him, it is pitiable."

"Well, but, after all, it is his business; and he is not a child: besides, remember he is really very fond of music. If I were you I'd look another way, and take no notice."

"But I cannot."

"Ah! And why not, pray?"

"Because he always takes a box on my left hand, two from the stage. I can't think how he gets it at all the theaters. And then he fixes his eyes on me so, I cannot help stealing a look. He never applauds, nor throws me bouquets. He looks: oh, you cannot conceive how he looks, and the strange effect it is beginning to produce on me."

"He mesmerizes you?"

"I know not. But it is a growing fascination. Oh, my dear physician, interfere. If it goes on, we shall be more wretched than ever." Then she enveloped Rhoda in her arms, and rested a hot cheek against hers.

"I see," said Rhoda. "You are afraid he will make you love him."

"I hope not. But artists are impressionable; and being looked at so, by one I esteem, night after night, when my nerves are strung—cela m'agace;" and she gave a shiver, and then was a little hysterical; and that was very unlike her.

Rhoda kissed her, and said resolutely she would stop it.

"Not unkindly?"

"Oh no."

"You will not tell him it is offensive to me?"

"No."

"Pray do not give him unnecessary pain."

"No."

"He is not to be mortified."

"No."

"I shall miss him sadly."

"Shall you?"

"Naturally. Especially at each new place. Only conceive: one is always anxious on the stage; and it is one thing to come before a public all strangers, and nearly all poor judges; it is another to see, all ready for your first note, a noble face bright with intelligence and admiration—the face of a friend. Often that one face is the only one I allow myself to see. It hides the whole public."

"Then don't you be silly and send it away. I'll tell you the one fault of your character: you think too much of other people, and too little of yourself. Now, that is contrary to the scheme of nature. We are sent into the world to take care of number one."

"What!" said Ina; "are we to be all self-indulgence? Is there to be no principle, no womanly prudence, foresight, discretion? No; I feel the sacrifice: but no power shall hinder me from making it. If you cannot persuade him, I'll do like other singers. I will be ill, and quit the company."

"Don't do that," said Rhoda. "Now you have put on your iron look, it is no use arguing—I know that to my cost. There—I will talk to him. Only don't hurry me; let me take my opportunity."

This being understood, Ina would not part with her for the present, but took her to the theater. She dismissed her dresser, at Rhoda's request, and Rhoda filled that office. So they could talk freely.

Rhoda had never been behind the scenes of a theater before, and she went prying about, ignoring the music, for she was almost earless. Presently, whom should she encounter but Edward Severne. She started and looked at him like a basilisk. He removed his hat and drew back a step with a great air of respect and humility. She was shocked and indignant with Ina for letting him be about her. She followed her off the stage into her dressing room, and took her to task. "I have seen Mr. Severne here."

"He comes every night."

"And you allow him?"

"It is the manager."

"But he would not admit him, if you objected."

"I am afraid to do that."

"Why?"

"We should have an esclandre. I find he has had so much consideration for me as to tell no one our relation; and as he has never spoken to me, I do the most prudent thing I can, and take no notice. Should he attempt to intrude himself on me, then it will be time to have him stopped in the hall, and I shall do it cou'te que cou'te. Ah, my dear friend, mine is a difficult and trying position."

After a very long wait, Ina went down and sung her principal song, with the usual bravas and thunders of applause. She was called on twice, and as she retired, Severne stepped forward, and, with a low, obsequious bow, handed her a beautiful bouquet. She took it with a stately courtesy, but never looked nor smiled.

Rhoda saw that and wondered. She thought to herself, "That is carrying politeness a long way. To be sure, she is half a foreigner."

Having done his nightly homage, Severne left the theater, and soon afterward the performance concluded, and Ina took her friend home. Ashmead was in the hall to show his patroness to her carriage—a duty he never failed in. Rhoda shook hands with him, and he said, "Delighted to see you here, miss. You will be a great comfort to her."

The two friends communed till two o'clock in the morning: but the limits of my tale forbid me to repeat what passed.

Suffice it to say that Rhoda was fairly puzzled by the situation; but, having a great regard for Vizard, saw clearly enough that he ought to be sent back to Islip. She thought that perhaps the very sight of her would wound his pride, and, finding his mania discovered by a third person, he would go of his own accord: so she called on him.

My lord received her with friendly composure, and all his talk was about Islip. He did not condescend to explain his presence at Carlisle. He knew that qui s'excuse s'accuse, and left her to remonstrate. She had hardly courage for that, and hoped it might be unnecessary.

She told Ina what she had done. But her visit was futile: at night there was Vizard in his box.

Next day the company opened in Manchester. Vizard was in his box there—Severne in front, till Ina's principal song. Then he came round and presented his bouquet. But this time he came up to Rhoda Gale, and asked her whether a penitent man might pay his respects to her in the morning.

She said she believed there were very few penitents in the world.

"I know one," said he.

"Well, I don't, then," said the virago. "But you can come, if you are not afraid."

Of course Ina Klosking knew of this appointment two minutes after it was made. She merely said, "Do not let him talk you over."

"He is not so likely to talk me over as you," said Rhoda.

"You are mistaken," was Ina's reply. "I am the one person he will never deceive again."

Rhoda Gale received his visit: he did not beat about the bush, nor fence at all. He declared at once what he came for. He said, "At the first sight of you, whom I have been so ungrateful to, I could not speak; but now I throw myself on your forgiveness. I think you must have seen that my ingratitude has never sat light on me."

"I have seen that you were terribly afraid of me," said she.

"I dare say I was. But I am not afraid of you now; and here, on my knees, I implore you to forgive my baseness, my ingratitude. Oh, Miss Gale, you don't know what it is to be madly in love; one has no principle, no right feeling, against a real passion: and I was madly in love with her. It was through fear of losing her I disowned my physician, my benefactress, who had saved my life. Miserable wretch! It was through fear of losing her that I behaved like a ruffian to my angel wife, and would have committed bigamy, and been a felon. What was all this but madness? You, who are so wise, will you not forgive me a crime that downright insanity was the cause of?"

"Humph! if I understand right, you wish me to forgive you for looking in my face, and saying to the woman who had saved your life, 'I don't know you?'"

"Yes—if you can. No: now you put it in plain words, I see it is not to be forgiven."

"You are mistaken. It was like a stab to my heart, and I cried bitterly over it."

"Then I deserve to be hanged; that is all."

"But, on consideration, I believe it is as much your nature to be wicked as it is my angel Ina's to be good. So I forgive you that one thing, you charming villain." She held out her hand to him in proof of her good faith.

He threw himself on his knees directly, and kissed and mumbled her hand, and bedewed it with hysterical tears.

"Oh, don't do that," said she; "or I'm bound to give you a good kick. I hate she men."

"Give me a moment," said he, "and I will be a man again."

He sat with his face in his hands, gulping a little.

"Come," said she, cocking her head like a keen jackdaw; "now let us have the real object of your visit."

"No, no," said he, inadvertently—"another time will do for that. I am content with your forgiveness. Now I can wait."

"What for?"

"Can you ask? Do you consider this a happy state of things?"

"Certainly not. But it can't be helped: and we have to thank you for it."

"It could be helped in time. If you would persuade her to take the first step."

"What step?"

"Not to disown her husband. To let him at least be her friend—her penitent, humble friend. We are man and wife. If I were to say so publicly, she would admit it. In this respect at least I have been generous: will she not be generous too? What harm could it do her if we lived under the same roof, and I took her to the theater, and fetched her home, and did little friendly offices for her?"

"And so got the thin edge of the wedge in, eh? Mr. Severne, I decline all interference in a matter so delicate, and in favor of a person who would use her as ill as ever, if he once succeeded in recovering her affections."

So then she dismissed him peremptorily.

But, true to Vizard's interest, she called on him again, and, after a few preliminaries, let him know that Severne was every night behind the scenes.

A spasm crossed his face. "I am quite aware of that," said he. "But he is never admitted into her house."

"How do you know?"

"He is under constant surveillance."

"Spies?"

"No. Thief-takers. All from Scotland Yard."

"And love brings men down to this. What is it for?"

"When I am sure of your co-operation, I will let you know my hopes."

"He doubts my friendship," said Rhoda sorrowfully.

"No; only your discretion."

"I will be discreet."

"Well, then, sooner or later, he is sure to form some improper connection or other; and then I hope you will aid me in persuading her to divorce him."

"That is not so easy in this country. It is not like our Western States, where, the saying is, they give you five minutes at a railway station for di—vorce."

"You forget she is a German Protestant and the marriage was in that country. It will be easy enough."

"Very well; dismiss it from your mind. She will never come before the public in that way. Nothing you nor I could urge would induce her."

Vizard replied, doggedly, "I will never despair, so long as she keeps him out of her house."

Rhoda told Ina Klosking this, and said, "Now it is in your own hands. You have only to let your charming villain into your house, and Mr. Vizard will return to Islip."

Ina Klosking buried her face in her hands, and thought.

At night, Vizard in his box, as usual. Severne behind the scenes with his bouquet. But this night he stayed for the ballet, to see a French danseuse who had joined them. He was acquainted with her before, and had a sprightly conversation with her. In other words, he renewed an old flirtation.

The next opera night all went as usual. Vizard in the box, looking sadder than usual. Rhoda's good sense had not been entirely wasted. Severne, with his bouquet, and his grave humility, until the play ended, and La Klosking passed out into the hall. Her back was hardly turned when Mademoiselle Lafontaine, dressed for the ballet, in a most spicy costume, danced up to her old friend, and slapped his face very softly with a rose, then sprung away and stood on her defense.

"I'll have that rose," cried Severne.

"Nenni."

"And a kiss into the bargain."

"Jamais."

"C'est ce que nous verrons."

He chased her. She uttered a feigned "Ah!" and darted away. He followed her; she crossed the scene at the back, where it was dark, bounded over an open trap, which she saw just in time, but Severne, not seeing it, because she was between him and it, fell through it, and, striking the mazarine, fell into the cellar, fifteen feet below the stage.

The screams of the dancers soon brought a crowd round the trap, and reached Mademoiselle Klosking just as she was going out to her carriage. "There!" she cried. "Another accident!" and she came back, making sure it was some poor carpenter come to grief, as usual. On such occasions her purse was always ready.

They brought Severne up sensible, but moaning, and bleeding at the temple, and looking all streaky about the face.

They were going to take him to the infirmary; but Mademoiselle Klosking, with a face of angelic pity, said, "No; he bleeds, he bleeds. He must go to my house."

They stared a little; but it takes a good deal to astonish people in a theater.

Severne was carried out, his head hastily bandaged, and he was lifted into La Klosking's carriage. One of the people of the theater was directed to go on the box, and La Klosking and Ashmead supported him, and he was taken to her lodgings. She directed him to be laid on a couch, and a physician sent for, Miss Gale not having yet returned from Liverpool, whither she had gone to attend a lecture.

Ashmead went for the physician. But almost at the door he met Miss Gale and Mr. Vizard.

"Miss," said he, "you are wanted. There has been an accident. Mr. Severne has fallen through a trap, and into the cellar."

"No bones broken?"

"Not he: he has only broken his head; and that will cost her a broken heart."

"Where is he?"

"Where I hoped never to see him again.

"What! in her house?" said Rhoda and, hurried off at once.

"Mr. Ashmead," said Vizard, "a word with you."

"By all means, sir," said Ashmead, "as we go for the doctor. Dr. Menteith has a great name. He lives close by your hotel, sir.

As they went, Vizard asked him what he meant by saying this accident would cost her a broken heart.

"Why, sir," said Ashmead, "he is on his good behavior to get back; has been for months begging and praying just to be let live under the same roof. She has always refused. But some fellows have such luck. I don't say he fell down a trap on purpose; but he has done it, and no broken bones, but plenty of blood. That is the very thing to overcome a woman's feelings; and she is not proof against pity. He will have her again. Why, she is his nurse now; and see how that will work. We have a week's more business here; and, by bad luck, a dead fortnight, all along of Dublin falling through unexpectedly. He is as artful as Old Nick; he will spin out that broken head of his and make it last all the three weeks; and she will nurse him, and he will be weak, and grateful, and cry, and beg her pardon six times a day, and she is only a woman, after all: and they are man and wife, when all is done: the road is beaten. They will run upon it again, till his time is up to play the rogue as bad as ever."

"You torture me," said Vizard.

"I am afraid I do, sir. But I feel it my duty. Mr. Vizard, you are a noble gentleman, and I am only what you see; but the humblest folk will have their likes and dislikes, and I have a great respect for you, sir. I can't tell you the mixture of things I feel when I see you in the same box every night. Of course, I am her agent, and the house would not be complete without you; but as a man I am sorry. Especially now that she has let him into her house. Take a humble friend's advice, sir, and cut it. Don't you come between any woman and her husband, especially a public lady. She will never be more to you than she is. She is a good woman, and he must keep gaining ground. He has got the pull. Rouse all your pride, sir, and your manhood, and you have got plenty of both, and cut it; don't look right nor left, but cut it—and forgive my presumption."

Vizard was greatly moved. "Give me your hand," he said; "you are a worthy man. I'll act on your advice, and never forget what I owe you. Stick to me like a leech, and see me off by the next train, for I am going to tear my heart out of my bosom."

Luckily there was a train in half an hour, and Ashmead saw him off; then went to supper. He did not return to Ina's lodgings. He did not want to see Severne nursed. He liked the fellow, too; but he saw through him clean; and he worshiped Ina Klosking.



CHAPTER XXX.

AT one o'clock next day, Ashmead received a note from Mademoiselle Klosking, saying, "Arrange with Mr. X—— to close my tour with Manchester. Pay the fortnight, if required." She was with the company at a month's notice on either side, you must understand.

Instead of going to the manager, he went at once, in utter dismay, to Mademoiselle Klosking, and there learned in substance what I must now briefly relate.

Miss Gale found Edward Severne deposited on a sofa. Ina was on her knees by his side, sponging his bleeding temple, with looks of gentle pity. Strange to say, the wound was in the same place as his wife's, but more contused, and no large vein was divided. Miss Gale soon stanched that. She asked him where his pain was. He said it was in his head and his back; and he cast a haggard, anxious look on her.

"Take my arm," said she. "Now, stand up."

He tried, but could not, and said his legs were benumbed. Miss Gale looked grave.

"Lay him on my bed," said La Klosking. "That is better than these hard couches."

"You are right," said Miss Gale. "Ring for the servants. He must be moved gently."

He was carried in, and set upon the edge of the bed, and his coat and waistcoat taken off. Then he was laid gently down on the bed, and covered with a down quilt.

Doctress Gale then requested Ina to leave the room, while she questioned the patient.

Ina retired. In a moment or two Miss Gale came out to her softly.

At sight of her face, La Klosking said, "Oh, dear; it is more serious than we thought."

"Very serious.

"Poor Edward!"

"Collect all your courage, for I cannot lie, either to patient or friend."

"And you are right," said La Klosking, trembling. "I see he is in danger."

"Worse than that. Where there's danger there is hope. Here there is none. HE IS A DEAD MAN!"

"Oh, no! no!"

"He has broken his back, and nothing can save him. His lower limbs have already lost sensation. Death will creep over the rest. Do not disturb your mind with idle hopes. You have two things to thank God for—that you took him into your own house, and that he will die easily. Indeed, were he to suffer, I should stupefy him at once, for nothing can hurt him."

Ina Klosking turned faint and her knees gave way under her. Rhoda ministered to her; and while she was so employed, Dr. Menteith was announced. He was shown in to the patient, and the accident described to him. He questioned the patient, and examined him alone.

He then came out, and said he would draw a prescription. He did so.

"Doctor," said La Klosking, "tell me the truth. It cannot be worse than I fear."

"Madam," said the doctor, "medicine can do nothing for him. The spinal cord is divided. Give him anything he fancies, and my prescription if he suffers pain, not otherwise. Shall I send you a nurse?"

"No," said Mademoiselle Klosking, "we will nurse him night and day."

He retired, and the friends entered on their sad duties.

When Severne saw them both by his bedside, with earnest looks of pity, he said, "Do not worry yourselves. I'm booked for the long journey. Ah, well, I shall die where I ought to have lived, and might have, if I had not been a fool."

Ina wept bitterly.

They nursed him night and day. He suffered little, and when he did, Miss Gale stupefied the pain at once; for, as she truly said, "Nothing can hurt him." Vitality gradually retired to his head, and lingered there a whole day. But, to his last moment, the art of pleasing never abandoned him. Instead of worrying for this or that every moment, he showed in this desperate condition singular patience and well-bred fortitude. He checked his wife's tears; assured her it was all for the best, and that he was reconciled to the inevitable. "I have had a happier time than I deserve," said he, "and now I have a painless death, nursed by two sweet women. My only regret is that I shall not be able to repay your devotion, Ina, nor become worthy of your friendship, Miss Gale."

He died without fear, it being his conviction that he should return after death to the precise condition in which he was before birth; and when they begged him to see a clergyman, he said, "Pray do not give yourselves or him that trouble. I can melt back into the universe without his assistance."

He even died content; for this polished Bohemian had often foreseen that, if he lived long, he should die miserably.

But the main feature of his end was his extraordinary politeness. He paid Miss Gale compliments just as if he were at his ease on a sofa: and scarce an hour before his decease he said, faintly, "I declare—I have been so busy—dying—I have forgotten to send my kind regards to good Mr. Ashmead. Pray tell him I did not forget his kindness to me."

He just ceased to live, so quiet was his death, and a smile rested on his dead features, and they were as beautiful as ever.

So ended a fair, pernicious creature, endowed too richly with the art of pleasing, and quite devoid of principle. Few bad men knew right so well, and went so wrong. Ina buried her face for hours on his bed, and kissed his cold features and hand. She had told him before he died she would recall all her resolutions, if he would live. But he was gone. Death buries a man's many faults, and his few virtues rise again. She mourned him sincerely, and would not be comforted; she purchased a burying place forever, and laid him in it; then she took her aching heart far away, and was lost to the public and to all her English friends.



The faithful Rhoda accompanied her half way to London; then returned to her own duties in Barfordshire.



CHAPTER XXXI.

I MUST now retrograde a little to relate something rather curious, and I hope not uninteresting.

Zoe Vizard had been for some time acting on Mrs. Gale's advice; building, planning for the good of the poor, and going out of herself more and more. She compared notes constantly with Miss Gale, and conceived a friendship for her. It had been a long time coming, because at first she disliked Miss Gale's manners very much. But that lady had nursed her tenderly, and now advised her, and Zoe, who could not do anything by halves, became devoted to her.

As she warmed to her good work, she gave signs of clearer judgment. She never

mentioned Severne; but she no longer absolutely avoided Ina Klosking's name; and one day she spoke of her as a high-principled woman; for which the Gale kissed her on the spot.

One name she often uttered, and always with regret and self-reproach—Lord Uxmoor's. I think that, now she was herself building and planning for the permanent improvement of the poor, she felt the tie of a kindred sentiment. Uxmoor was her predecessor in this good work, too; and would have been her associate, if she had not been so blind. This thought struck deep in her. Her mind ran more and more on Uxmoor, his manliness, his courage in her defense, and his gentlemanly fortitude and bravery in leaving her, without a word, at her request. Running over all these, she often blushed with shame, and her eyes filled with sorrow at thinking of how she had treated him; and lost him forever by not deserving him.

She even made oblique and timid inquiries, but could learn nothing of him, except that he sent periodical remittances to Miss Gale, for managing his improvements. These, however, came in through a country agent from a town agent, and left no clew.

But one fine day, with no warning except to his own people, Lord Uxmoor came home; and the next day rode to Hillstoke to talk matters over with Miss Gale. He was fortunate enough to find her at home. He thanked her for the zeal and enthusiasm she had shown, and the progress his works had made under her supervision.

He was going away without even mentioning the Vizard family.

But the crafty Gale detained him. "Going to Vizard Court?" said she.

"No," said he, very dryly.

"Ah, I understand; but perhaps you would not mind going with me as far as Islip. There is something there I wish you to see."

"Humph? Is it anything very particular? Because—"

"It is. Three cottages rising, with little flower gardens in front. Square plots behind, and arrangements for breeding calves, with other ingenious novelties. A new head come into our business, my lord."

"You have converted Vizard? I thought you would. He is a satirical fellow, but he will listen to reason."

"No, it is not Mr. Vizard; indeed, it is no convert of mine. It is an independent enthusiast. But I really believe your work at home had some hand in firing her enthusiasm."

"A lady! Do I know her?"

"You may. I suppose you know everybody in Barfordshire. Will you come? Do!"

"Of course I will come, Miss Gale. Please tell one of your people to walk my horse down after us."

She had her hat on in a moment, and walked him down to Islip.

Her tongue was not idle on the road. "You don't ask after the people," said she. "There's poor Miss Vizard. She had a sad illness. We were almost afraid we should lose her."

"Heaven forbid!" said Uxmoor, startled by this sudden news.

"Mademoiselle Klosking got quite well; and oh! what do you think? Mr. Severne turned out to be her husband."

"What is that?" shouted Uxmoor, and stopped dead short. "Mr. Severne a married man!"

"Yes; and Mademoiselle Klosking a married woman."

"You amaze me. Why, that Mr. Severne was paying his attentions to Miss Vizard."

"So I used to fancy," said Rhoda carelessly. "But you see it came out he was married, and so of course she packed him off with a flea in his ear."

"Did she? When was that?"

"Let me see, it was the 17th of October."

"Why, that was the very day I left England."

"How odd! Why did you not stay another week? Gentlemen are so impatient. Never mind, that is an old story now. Here we are; those are the cottages. The workmen are at dinner. Ten to one the enthusiast is there: this is her time. You stay here. I'll go and see."

She went off on tiptoe, and peeped and pried here and there, like a young witch. Presently she took a few steps toward him, with her finger mysteriously to her lips, and beckoned him. He entered into the pantomime—she seemed so earnest in it—and came to her softly.

"Do just take a peep in at that opening for a door," said she, "then you'll see her; her back is turned. She is lovely; only, you know, she has been ill, and I don't think she is very happy."

Uxmoor thought this peeping at enthusiasts rather an odd proceeding, but Miss Gale had primed his curiosity, and he felt naturally proud of a female pupil. He stepped up lightly, looked in at the door, and, to his amazement, saw Zoe Vizard sitting on a carpenter's bench, with her lovely head in the sun's rays. He started, then gazed, then devoured her with his eyes.

What! was this his pupil?

How gentle and sad she seemed! All his stoicism melted at the sight of her. She sat in a sweet, pensive attitude, pale and drooping, but, to his fancy, lovelier than ever. She gave a little sigh. His heart yearned. She took out a letter, read it slowly, and said, softly and slowly, "Poor fellow!" He thought he recognized his own handwriting, and could stand no more. He rushed, in, and was going to speak to her; but she screamed, and no conjurer ever made a card disappear quicker than she did that letter, as she bounded away like a deer, and stood, blushing scarlet, and palpitating all over.

Uxmoor was ashamed of his brusquerie. "What a brute I am to frighten you like this!" said he. "Pray forgive me; but the sight of you, after all these weary months—and you said 'Poor fellow!'"

"Did I?" said Zoe, faintly, looking scared.

"Yes, sweet Zoe, and you were reading a letter."

No reply.

"I thought the poor fellow might be myself. Not that I am to be pitied, if you think of me still."

"I do, then—very often. Oh, Lord Uxmoor, I want to go down on my knees to you."

"That is odd, now; for it is exactly what I should like to do to you."

"What for? It is I who have behaved so ill."

"Never mind that; I love you."

"But you mustn't. You must love some worthy person."

"Oh, you leave that to me. I have no other intention. But may I just see whose letter you were reading?"

"Oh, pray don't ask me."

"I insist on knowing."

"I will not tell you. There it is." She gave it to him with a guilty air, and hid her face.

"Dear Zoe, suppose I were to repeat the offer I made here?"

"I advise you not," said she, all in a flurry.

"Why?"

"Because. Because—I might say 'Yes.'"

"Well, then I'll take my chance once more. Zoe, will you try and love me?"

"Try? I believe I do love you, or nearly. I think of you very often."

"Then you will do something to make me happy."

"Anything; everything."

"Will you marry me?"

"Yes, that I will," said Zoe, almost impetuously; "and then," with a grand look of conscious beauty, "I can make you forgive me."

Uxmoor, on this, caught her in his arms, and kissed her with such fire that she uttered a little stifled cry of alarm; but it was soon followed by a sigh of complacency, and she sunk, resistless, on his manly breast.

So, after two sieges, he carried that fair citadel by assault.

Then let not the manly heart despair, nor take a mere brace of "Noes" from any woman. Nothing short of three negatives is serious.

They walked out in arm-in-arm and very close to each other; and he left her, solemnly engaged.

Leaving this pair to the delights of courtship, and growing affection on Zoe's side—for a warm attachment of the noblest kind did grow, by degrees, out of her penitence, and esteem, and desire to repair her fault—I must now take up the other thread of this narrative, and apologize for having inverted the order of events; for it was, in reality, several days after this happy scene that Mademoiselle Klosking sent for Miss Gale.



CHAPTER XXXII.

VIZARD, then, with Ashmead, returned home in despair; and Zoe, now happy in her own mind, was all tenderness and sisterly consolation. They opened their hearts to each other, and she showed her wish to repay the debt she owed him. How far she might have succeeded, in time, will never be known. For he had hardly been home a week, when Miss Gale returned, all in black, and told him Severne was dead and buried.

He was startled, and even shocked, remembering old times; but it was not in human nature he should be sorry. Not to be indecorously glad at so opportune an exit was all that could be expected from him.

When she had given him the details, his first question was, "How did she bear it?"

"She is terribly cut up—more than one would think possible; for she was ice and marble to him before he was hurt to death."

"Where is she?"

"Gone to London. She will write to me, I suppose—poor dear. But one must give her time."

From that hour Vizard was in a state of excitement, hoping to hear from Ina Klosking, or about her; but unwilling, from delicacy, to hurry matters.

At last he became impatient, and wrote to Ashmead, whose address he had, and said, frankly, he had a delicacy in intruding on Mademoiselle Klosking, in her grief. Yet his own feelings would not allow him to seem to neglect her. Would Mr. Ashmead, then, tell him where she was, as she had not written to any one in Barfordshire—not even to her tried friend, Miss Gale.

He received an answer by return of post.



"DEAR SIR—I am grieved to tell you that Mademoiselle Klosking has retired from public life. She wrote to me, three weeks ago, from Dover, requesting me to accept, as a token of her esteem, the surplus money I hold in hand for her—I always drew her salary—and bidding me farewell. The sum included her profits by psalmody, minus her expenses, and was so large it could never have been intended as a mere recognition of my humble services; and I think I have seldom felt so down-hearted as on receiving this princely donation. It has enabled me to take better offices, and it may be the foundation of a little fortune; but I feel that I have lost the truly great lady who has made a man of me. Sir, the relish is gone for my occupation: I can never be so happy as I was in working the interests of that great genius, whose voice made our leading soprani sound like whistles, and who honored me with her friendship. Sir, she was not like other leading ladies. She never bragged, never spoke ill of any one; and you can testify to her virtue and her discretion.

"I am truly sorry to learn from you that she has written to no one in Barfordshire. I saw, by her letter to me, she had left the stage; but her dropping you all looks as if she had left the world. I do hope she has not been so mad as to go into one of those cursed convents.

"Mr. Vizard, I will now write to friends in all the Continental towns where there is good music. She will not be able to keep away from that long. I will also send photographs; and hope we may hear something. If not, perhaps a judicious advertisement might remind her that she is inflicting pain upon persons to whom she is dear. I am, sir, your obliged and grateful servant,

JOSEPH ASHMEAD."



Here was a blow. I really believe Vizard felt this more deeply than all his other disappointments.

He brooded over it for a day or two; and then, as he thought Miss Gale a very ill-used person, though not, of course, so ill-used as himself, he took her Ashmead's letter.

"This is nice!" said she. "There—I must give up loving women. Besides, they throw me over the moment a man comes, if it happens to be the right one."

"Unnatural creatures!" said Vizard.

"Ungrateful, at all events."

"Do you think she has gone into a convent?"

"Not she. In the first place, she is a Protestant; and, in the second, she is not a fool."

"I will advertise."

"The idea!"

"Do you think I am going to sit down with my hands before me, and lose her forever?"

"No, indeed; I don't think you are that sort of a man at all, ha! ha!"

"Oh, Miss Gale, pity me. Tell me how to find her. That Fanny Dover says women are only enigmas to men; they understand one another."

"What," said Rhoda, turning swiftly on him; "does that little chit pretend to read my noble Ina?"

"If she cannot, perhaps you can. You are so shrewd. Do tell me, what does it all mean?"

"It means nothing at all, I dare say; only a woman's impulse. They are such geese at times, every one of them."

"Oh, if I did but know what country she is in, I would ransack it."

"Hum!—countries are biggish places."

"I don't care."

"What will you give me to tell you where she is at this moment?"

"All I have in the world."

"That is sufficient. Well, then, first assign me your estates; then fetch me an ordnance map of creation, and I will put my finger on her."

"You little mocking fiend, you!"

"I am not. I'm a tall, beneficent angel; and I'll tell you where she is—for nothing. Keep your land: who wants it?—it is only a bother."

"For pity's sake, don't trifle with me."

"I never will, where your heart is interested. She is at Zutzig."

"Ah, you good girl! She has written to you."

"Not a line, the monster! And I'll serve her out. I'll teach her to play hide-and-seek with Gale, M.D.!"

"Zutzig!" said Vizard; "how can you know?"

"What does that matter? Well, yes—I will reveal the mental process. First of all, she has gone to her mother."

"How do you know that?"

"Oh, dear, dear, dear! Because that is where every daughter goes in trouble. I should—she has. Fancy you not seeing that—why, Fanny Dover would have told you that much in a moment. But now you will have to thank my mother for teaching me Attention, the parent of Memory. Pray, sir, who were the witnesses to that abominable marriage of hers?"

"I remember two, Baron Hompesch—"

"No, Count Hompesch."

"And Count Meurice."

"Viscount. What, have you forgotten Herr Formes, Fraulein Graafe, Zug the Capellmeister, and her very mother? Come now, whose daughter is she?"

"I forget, I'm sure."

"Walter Ferris and Eva Klosking, of Zutzig, in Denmark. Pack—start for Copenhagen. Consult an ordnance map there. Find out Zutzig. Go to Zutzig, and you have got her. It is some hole in a wilderness, and she can't escape."

"You clever little angel! I'll be there in three days. Do you really think I shall succeed?"

"Your own fault if you don't. She has run into a cul-de-sac through being too clever; and, besides, women sometimes run away just to be caught, and hide on purpose to be found. I should not wonder if she has said to herself, 'He will find me if he loves me so very, very much—I'll try him.'"

"Not a word more, angelic fox," said Vizard; "I'm off to Zutzig."

He went out on fire. She opened the window and screeched after him, "Everything is fair after her behavior to me. Take her a book of those spiritual songs she is so fond of. 'Johnny comes marching home,' is worth the lot, I reckon."

Away went Vizard; found Copenhagen with ease; Zutzig with difficulty, being a small village. But once there, he soon found the farmhouse of Eva Klosking. He drove up to the door. A Danish laborer came out from the stable directly; and a buxom girl, with pale golden hair, opened the door. These two seized his luggage, and conveyed it into the house, and the hired vehicle to the stable. Vizard thought it must be an inn.

The girl bubbled melodious sounds, and ran off and brought a sweet, venerable name. Vizard recognized Eva Klosking at once. The old lady said, "Few strangers come here—are you not English?"

"Yes, madam."

"It is Mr. Vizard—is it not?"

"Yes, madam."

"Ah, sir, my daughter will welcome you, but not more heartily than I do. My child has told me all she owes to you"—then in Danish, "God bless the hour you come under this roof."

Vizard's heart beat tumultuously, wondering how Ina Klosking would receive him. The servant had told her a tall stranger was come. She knew in a moment who it was; so she had the advantage of being prepared.

She came to him, her cheeks dyed with blushes, and gave him both hands. "You here!" said she; "oh, happy day! Mother, he must have the south chamber. I will go and prepare it for him. Tecla!—Tecla!"—and she was all hostess. She committed him to her mother, while she and the servant went upstairs.

He felt discomfited a little. He wanted to know, all in a moment, whether she would love him.

However, Danish hospitality has its good side. He soon found out he might live the rest of his days there if he chose.

He soon got her alone, and said, "You knew I should find you, cruel one."

"How could I dream of such a thing?" said she, blushing.

"Oh, Love is a detective. You said to yourself, 'If he loves me as I ought to be loved, he will search Europe for me; but he will find me.'"

"Oh, then it was not to be at peace and rest on my mother's bosom I came here; it was to give you the trouble of running after me. Oh, fie!"

"You are right. I am a vain fool."

"No, that you are not. After all, how do I know all that was in my heart? (Ahem!) Be sure of this, you are very welcome. I must go and see about your dinner."

In that Danish farmhouse life was very primitive. Eva Klosking, and both her daughters, helped the two female servants, or directed them, in every department. So Ina, who was on her defense, had many excuses for escaping Vizard, when he pressed her too hotly. But at last she was obliged to say, "Oh, pray, my friend—we are in Denmark: here widows are expected to be discreet."

"But that is no reason why the English fellows who adore them should be discreet."

"Perhaps not: but then the Danish lady runs away."

Which she did.

But, after the bustle of the first day, he had so many opportunities. He walked with her, sat with her while she worked, and hung over her, entranced, while she sung. He produced the book from Vizard Court without warning, and she screamed with delight at sight of it, and caught his hand in both hers and kissed it. She reveled in those sweet strains which had comforted her in affliction: and oh, the eyes she turned on him after singing any song in this particular book! Those tender glances thrilled him to the very marrow.

To tell the honest truth, his arrival was a godsend to Ina Klosking. When she first came home to her native place, and laid her head on her mother's bosom, she was in Elysium. The house, the wood fires, the cooing doves, the bleating calves, the primitive life, the recollections of childhood—all were balm to her, and she felt like ending her days there. But, as the days rolled on, came a sense of monotony and excessive tranquillity. She was on the verge of ennui when Vizard broke in upon her.

From that moment there was no stagnation. He made life very pleasant to her; only her delicacy took the alarm at his open declarations; she thought them so premature.

At last he said to her, one day, "I begin to fear you will never love me as I love you."

"Who knows?" said she. "Time works wonders."

"I wonder," said he, "whether you will ever marry any other man?"

Ina was shocked at that. "Oh, my friend, how could I—unless," said she, with a sly side-glance, "you consented."

"Consent? I'd massacre him."

Ina turned toward him. "You asked my hand at a time when you thought me—I don't know what you thought—that is a thing no woman could forget. And now you have come all this way for me. I am yours, if you can wait for me."

He caught her in his arms. She disengaged herself, gently, and her hand rested an unnecessary moment on his shoulder. "Is that how you understand 'waiting?'" said she, with a blush, but an indulgent smile.

"What is the use waiting?"

"It is a matter of propriety."

"How long are we to wait?"

"Only a few months. My friend, it is like a boy to be too impatient. Alas! would you marry me in my widow's cap?"

"Of course I would. Now, Ina, love, a widow who has been two years separated from her husband!"

"Certainly, that makes a difference—in one's own mind. But one must respect the opinion of the world. Dear friend, it is of you I think, though I speak of myself."

"You are an angel. Take your own time. After all, what does it matter? I don't leave Zutzig without you."

Ina's pink tint and sparkling eyes betrayed anything but horror at that insane resolution. However, she felt it her duty to say that it was unfortunate she should always be the person to distract him from his home duties.

"Oh, never mind them," said this single-hearted lover. "I have appointed Miss Gale viceroy."

However, one day he had a letter from Zoe, telling him that Lord Uxmoor was now urging her to name the day; but she had declined to do that, not knowing when it might suit him to be at Vizard Court. "But, dearest," said she, "mind, you are not to hurry home for me. I am very happy as I am, and I hope you will soon be as happy, love. She is a noble woman."

The latter part of this letter tempted Vizard to show it to Ina. He soon found his mistake. She kissed it, and ordered him off. He remonstrated. She put on, for the first time in Denmark, her marble look, and said, "You will lessen my esteem, if you are cruel to your sister. Let her name the wedding-day at once; and you must be there to give her away, and bless her union, with a brother's love."

He submitted, but a little sullenly, and said it was very hard.

He wrote to his sister, accordingly, and she named the day, and Vizard settled to start for home, and be in time.

As to the proprieties, he had instructed Miss Maitland and Fanny Dover, and given them and La Gale carte blanche. It was to be a magnificent wedding.

This being excitement, Fanny Dover was in paradise. Moreover, a rosy-cheeked curate had taken the place of the venerable vicar, and Miss Dover's threat to flirt out the stigma of a nun was executed with promptitude, zeal, pertinacity, and the dexterity that comes of practice. When the day came for his leaving Zutzig, Vizard was dejected. "Who knows when we may meet again?" said he.

Ina consoled him. "Do not be sad, dear friend. You are doing your duty; and as you do it partly to please me, I ought to try and reward you; ought I not?" And she gave him a strange look.

"I advise you not to press that question," said he.

At the very hour of parting, Ina's eyes were moist with tenderness, but there was a smile on her face very expressive; yet he could not make out what it meant. She did not cry. He thought that hard. It was his opinion that women could always cry. She might have done the usual thing just to gratify him.

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