Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

served to be alone. A lady or gentleman near her might be presumed to be her protector by any one who took a thought upon the subject; and she felt that she must be safe while she kept her presence of mind.

It was a curious sight even to eyes that were accustomed to festive scenes. If May had ever been "out in the world, even in the mildest sense of the word, had ever danced at a ball or mixed in any gay crowd, the present experience might not have been so wonderful to her; but after a life spent in solitudes, it was not unnatural that a scene like the present should take away her breath. After a time she controlled her wonder, and drifted along with the crowd, becoming a part of the pageant, which seemed to grow familiar to her, as if in some other life she had shared in it before. She had made acquaintance with such a picture between the leaves of some old romance, and presently she became aware of this truth, which gave a fantastic unreality to all that she heard and saw. This very unreality was an assistance to her enterprise, for she could not feel greatly frightened at people who only seemed part of a dream. She was half carried along by the crowd, her eyes not dazzled but charmed by the subdued colour and glitter of the figures moving along with and around her, her ears not troubled by noise, but soothed with happy murmurs and softened music. The large tents on the lawn were filled with flowers, and refreshment tables were spread in them, and people sat among the flowers, or came in and out at will. A band was playing somewhere, and there was dancing on the lawn; yet from the sounds that came from the castle, and by the flashing of brilliant figures past the open windows, one could see that this outdoor entertainment was only the lesser portion of a curiously splendid whole.

As the crowd shifted about May attached herself first to one group and then to another, and in this manner made her way half across the lawn. She scanned anxiously every face that was uncovered, and every masculine figure that came within reach of her eyes, expecting a change in Paul, yet not knowing what appearance the change might take. She found herself watching the movements of a quadrille, in which Haroun Alraschid was dancing with a gipsy; it was a gay fantastic picture, but Paul did not make part of it. She peered into the last tent, which she had left uninspected; but there was no Paul anywhere as yet to be seen.

What if he were too ill to appear, and shut in some upper chamber of the castle. The thought was not to be entertained, but even in passing through her mind left a trail of horror behind it. She battled off the idea, and renewed her energies in the search. Might he not have escaped from the crowd, and be wandering in some of the dim alleys, or even down by the sea? She gazed towards these quiet places, but dared not venture near them till her search in the crowd had been thoroughly made.

Meanwhile, Paul and Katherine were dancing at this moment in the chief drawing-room of the castle, Katherine having kept her hand on Paul's arm ever since the first guests had made their appearance. May's acceptance of the invitation had caused her great amazement, and no little dread. A hundred times she told herself that it was utterly impossible the girl from Monasterlea could keep her word, yet had all the time a latent conviction that May meant what she had said, and an unacknowledged faith in her power of doing anything that she had deliberately undertaken. And then what change might be wrought in Paul by a sudden meeting with her? Would it bring back his memory all in a moment, and with it his love for May and dislike of herself? These thoughts were not good for Katherine, as she walked about with her hand on Paul's arm, making search through the rooms for May. As soon as she espied the unwelcome guest she would put Paul into safe keeping, and go off and dispose of May, for it must be the business of the night to keep the two apart. So her hand did not leave Paul's arm, and people pointed out Miss Archbold and her very singular lover. Now, while May hesitated outside the walls, uncertain whether to enter in at the door or peep through the windows, Katherine and Paul were dancing in a quadrille. Katherine was dressed like Marie Antoinette, in a robe of white satin, with her fair hair powdered and dressed high above her head, and one could hardly look away from her, she was so beautiful.

All this excitement had a singular effect on Paul. It had certainly driven away his stupid placidity, and his eyes had a wild brilliance. His movements in the dance were quite correct; he did what other people did; yet people watching him closely would say the man was out of his wits. Katherine watched him closely as they danced together; if he happened to turn

his head she turned her head also in the same direction, being not easy in her mind while he crossed the floor in the quadrille. She scarcely breathed freely when he passed out of the reach of her hand.

The reception rooms of the castle led one from another, and the windows came to the ground, and opened like so many doors. They were all flung wide now, with curtains of silk and lace meeting lightly within the opening. May passed along outside, looking through the windows into each room as she went; and she did this very cautiously, for fear of attracting notice to herself. So at last she caught sight of Paul; and Katherine in all her glory by his side. A great blow smote upon her heart, and her impulse was to turn at once and run away, to leave this false lover to a new love, new friends, and new magnificence. Was it not shame for her, May, to come here stealthily looking for him? Let her turn, and go home quickly, and leave these happy lovers to their dance.

But no; he was neither false nor happy, and she would not move an inch. He turned towards her suddenly, and it was not Paul's face, though the face of no other man. Oh, how had they been dealing with him that he had come to look like this? She saw plainly with her eyes the thing that Bid had described to her; Paul, and yet not Paul-a man whose mind was gone.

The dance over, Katherine took Paul's arm again, and moved with him towards May's lurking-place. May's eyes followed the pair, and Katherine looked even more proud and determined than usual. Her face was saying quite frankly that she had always had her way, and intended to have it always. She could break a hundred hearts to get her will. She had now laid aside all fear of seeing May's unwelcome face; it was past one o'clock; impossible that any guest should arrive at so late an hour, and she had taken note of every lady who had until now presented herself. So Katherine made up her mind to put this dread away from her. The rooms were very hot, and she wished for air, and stepped out of a window, still holding by Paul's arm. May, who was watching her movements, followed near as they crossed the lawn.

Katherine sauntered up and down for awhile, had some refreshment, spoke to everybody, and caused a little sensation wherever she went. She made the circuit of the whole lawn, while the poor little

Norman peasant who was following upon her footsteps began to feel her heart beat wildly, for the moon was already setting, and signs of approaching dawn were becoming visible in the heavens. True, it was still dark, but how long would the darkness last?

Katherine at last seated herself in a satisfied way upon a rustic bench under a tree; in a moment was surrounded by flatterers, and relinquished her hold of Paul, who remained standing by her side. People did not mind him much, but they paid eager court to her; one fanning her, another offering a smelling-bottle, and all expressing conviction that she was intolerably fatigued. Katherine yielded herself to the flattery and received the homage which was precious to her, and in her greediness over the feast she forgot her vigilance as to her charge. Paul was pushed a little here and a little there, and by degrees he became separated from her, and strayed, overlooked by the crowd, in the purposeless way now habitual to him. His look of excitement had passed away, his head had sunk on his breast, and he took no notice whatever of the scenes going on around him. May alone watched his movements, and after a time had the happiness of seeing him direct his steps towards those dim quiet alleys which had latterly become his accustomed haunt. He crept under the trees, and was alone in a dark walk walled by high hedges of beech.

He hesitated, as if uncertain where to go, and May's heart died within her as she saw that here was the opportunity which might never occur again. Would he go down towards the sea, or move upward towards the hills? While he wavered, the hum of merriment came swelling through the trees. May expected that at any moment figures might run through the bushes in search of Paul. Not yet-not yet; and meanwhile he walked up the alley which led to the woody hills. May waited then, just a very little longer, till the bushes and young trees had hidden him from the view of the possible seekers in the alley. Then she sprang on lightly and was at his side.

"Paul, Paul!" she said.
He stopped short suddenly.
"Who spoke?"

She put her hand lightly on his arm. "It is May-it is I. This is my hand. Don't you know me ?"

It was so dark here that he could not see her face; but her voice was enough for him.

"Know you?" he cried. "Of course I know you. Where have you been so long? —and I have been so wretched."

[ocr errors]

thorn-trees were to be seen peeping out from the darkness with an ashen look, as of fear upon them. But then May and Paul He had got her hand now. had reached the road and found their "Where are we this moment ?" he friends ready in waiting for them. They said. "I do not know I cannot re-seated themselves, one at each side of Bid, member. Oh, God! I cannot remember." in the vehicle behind the tree; the curtains "It doesn't matter about remembering,' were closely drawn, the gossoon cracked said May. "You have not been well, and his whip, and Miss Martha's little waggon this place is not good for you. I have set off on its journey home. come to fetch you away. You will not object to come with me ?" "What is not good for me?" said Paul. "And tell me where I have been. I cannot remember anything. My mind is all dark."

The mule trotted well; yet many a time before the journey was over had the waggon to get under a hedge, so that fine carriages might pass it on their way from the ball. The midsummer morning grew rosy above their heads, birds sang blithely, and the He spoke in a wailing tone, very terrible peasants whistled and lilted as they went to hear from a man. It shook May's heart, to their work; but the travellers did not but she only said, "Never mind-hold my enjoy these pleasant signs of life, and would hand, and let us keep close together!" He sooner it had been dark till home was obeyed her readily, and they plunged on reached. May sat in the corner of the through heather and furze-bushes, through waggon, holding Bid's arm, while Paul trees and loose stones, up the rugged hills, slept like a child with some straw supgetting every moment higher up into the porting his head; and in his sleep the marks air, and further removed from the castle of a change were very visible upon his lying glittering in the hollow. May trembled, thinking of her light dress, which she feared might attract attention, but she forgot that the merry-makers were surrounded by artificial lights, and their eyes too bedazzled to be caught by a speck of white up on the distant heights.

The fugitives pushed on together towards the rugged part of the hills, climbing slippery rocks and threading mazes of furze. Paul in his helplessness clung to the hand that dragged him on. He knew it was May's band, and that May was beside him; her voice had aroused him so far as to feel that a great affliction had come upon him, that he had quite lost his memory and powers of thought; but every idea fled away from him as quickly as it was grasped, except that May had long been lost to him, and that he had found and was trying to hold her. The shimmering castle, the fire-wreathed trees, and the tents of light, all danced and shifted very far below them now as they sped along; looking like sparks in burnt-out ashes when the children cry, "Look at the soldiers marching!" By-and-bye the clouds broke up suddenly, and the sky became of a chill and pallid grey. Stones, furze-bushes, and


Bid saw them as well as May, but she pretended not to think much of them. "He'll be Paul Finiston yet," she said, "in spite o' the devil."

It was about twelve o'clock in the day when the waggon was guided into another by-road, and Paul and May got out to walk to Monasterlea, which was only a mile away. May had stifled her heartache, and talked her old merry clatter as they strolled along through the daisies. Paul heard her with delight, and held her hand fast on his arm; but he did not know where they had come from; nor did he remember anything that had happened. Miss Martha saw them approaching; and so also did Nanny, who was getting vege tables in the kitchen garden.

"Musha, thin," said Nanny, returning to the house, "what for did you tell me Miss May was in her bed? She's comin' down the road wid Misther Paul; an' the hood o' her cloak turned over her head."

"Well!" said Bridget, "I could ha' sworn she didn't lave her room to-day. An' so she met wid Misther Paul. God sees it's nearly time he took a thought o' comin' back to us !"

The Right of Translating Articles from ALL THE YEAR ROUND is reserved by the Authors.

Published at the Office, 26, Wellington St,, Strand, Printed by C. WHITING, Beaufort House, Duke St, Lincoln's Inn Fields.

[blocks in formation]





"THE second floor front have come in, Ben," said Mrs. Mogg, of 19A, Polandstreet, as she opened the door to her husband on a wet and windy autumnal evening; "she have come and brought her luggage-a green carpet-bag with a pollparrot worked on it, and a foreign-looking bandbox tied up in a handkerchief-she's French, Ben, that's what she is!"

"Is she," said Mr. Mogg, shortly; "well, I'm hungry, that's what I am, so get me my tea.' He had had a long and dirty walk home from the West India Docks, where he was employed as a warehouseman, and chattering in a windy passage about his wife's lodger scarcely seemed to him the most desirable way of employing his first moments at home.

But after despatching two large breakfast-cups of tea, and several rounds of hot salt buttered toast, from which the crust had been carefully cut away, Mr. Mogg was somewhat mollified, and wiping his mouth and fingers on the dirty table-cloth, felt himself in cue to resume the conversation. "Oh, the new second floor has come, Martha, has she ?" he commenced, "and she's French you think; well," continued Mr. Mogg, who was naturally rather slow in bringing his ideas into focus, "Dickson may or may not be a French name; that it's an English one we all know, but that's no reason that it should not be a French one too, there being, as is well known, several words which are the same in both languages."


"She wrote down P. Dickson when she came to take the rooms this morning, and I see P. D. worked on her portmonnaie when she took it out to pay the first week's rent in advance," said Mrs. Mogg.

"Then it's clear enough her name is Dickson," said Mr. Mogg, with a singular facility of reasoning. "What should you say she was now, Martha-you're good at reckoning 'em up, you are- -what is the second floor front, should you say?"

"Either a gov'ness or a lady's-maid out of place," said Mrs. Mogg, decisively. "I thought she was a gov'ness until I see the sovereigns in her portmonnaie, and then made up my mind she was a lady's-maid as had given up her place either through a death or the family going abroad, or giving up housekeeping, and these were the sovereigns which she had just got from the wardrobe-shop for the perquisites and etceteras which she had brought away with her."

"You're a clear-headed one, you are," said Mr. Mogg, looking at his wife with great delight. "Has she had anything to eat?"

"Oh yes," said Mrs. Mogg, giggling with some asperity; "she brought a lettice in with her I suppose, for when I went up to ask her whether I should get in any little trifle for breakfast, I found her eating of it, and dropping some lumps of sugar into a tumbler of water."

[ocr errors][merged small]



"Well, so long as she pays regularly, and don't stop out late at night, it don't matter to us where she comes from," said Mr. Mogg, stretching out his arms, and indulging in a hearty yawn. "Now, Martha, get me my pipe, and when you have cleared these things away, come and sit down, and let's have a quiet talk about how we are to get rid of the German teacher in the back attic."

The newly-arrived tenant of the second floor, whom these worthies in the kitchen were thus discussing, was walking up and down her room in much the same manner as she had paced the platform at Lymington, or the Prado at Marseilles. It was very lucky that the occupant of the drawing-room, a gentleman who taught noblemen and senators the art of declamation, had not on that evening one of his usual classes, in which budding orators were accustomed to deliver Mark Anthony's speech over the sofa pillow, transformed for the nonce into the dead body of Cæsar, and where, to encourage his pupils, the professor would set forth that his name was Norval, and proceed to bewail the bucolic disposition of his parent, or the grinding sound of the heels above would have sadly interfered with the lesson. It was well that Pauline was not interrupted, for the demon of rage and jealousy was at work within her. The burning shame consequent on the belief that she had been deceived, and made a fool of, nearly maddened her, and as every phase of the deceit to which she now imagined she had fallen so ready a victim, rose before her mind, she clasped her arms above her head and groaned aloud.

"To think," she cried, "that I, who had known him so long and so intimately, I, who had been his companion in his plot tings and intrigues, who had sat by night after night, and day after day, watching the patience and skill with which he prepared the pitfalls for others, that I should be so blind, so weak, so besotted, as to fall into them myself. Lies from the first, and lie upon lie! A lie to the man Calverley, whose agent he pretended he would be, a lie to the old man Claxton, who obtained the place for him, and sent him the money by the pale-faced woman! Then a lie to me; a cleverer kind of lie! a lie involving some tracasserie, for I am not one to be deceived in the ordinary manner. To me he admitted he intended playing false with the others, and now I am reckoned among those whom he has hoodwinked and befooled!

"The notion that came across me at that place! It must be true! He never meant to come there; he sent me on a fool's errand, and he would never be within miles of the spot! The whole thing was a trick-a well-planned trick from the first, well-planned, and so plausible, too. The flight to Weymouth, then to Guernsey, hours of departure of trains and steamer all noted and arranged. What a cunning rogue! What a long-headed, plausible rascal! And the money, the two thousand pounds; many would be deceived by that. He thought I would argue that if he had intended to leave me, he never would have handed over to me those bank-notes.

"But I know him better! He is a vaurien, swindler, liar; but, though I suppose he never loved me in the way that other people understand love, I have been useful to him, and he has become used to me, so used that he cannot bear to think of me in misery or want. So he gave me the money to set his mind at ease, that my reproachful figure should not rise between him and his new-found happiness! Does he think that money can compensate me for the mental agony that I shall suffer always, that I suffer now? Does he think that it will salve my wounded pride? That it will do away with the misery and degradation I feel? And having been cheated by a shallow artifice, will money deprive me of my memory, and stop the current of my thoughts? Because I shall not starve, can money bereave me of my fancies, or keep away mental pictures as will drive me mad to contemplate? I can see them all now, can see him with her, can hear the very phrases he will use, and can imagine his manner when he talks of love to her! How short a time it seems since I listened to those burning words from the same lips! How well I remember each incident in the happy journey from Marseilles, the pleasant days at Genoa, the long stay at Florence! Where has he gone now, I wonder? To what haunt of luxury and ease has he taken his new toy? Fool that I am to remain here dreaming and speculating, when I want to know, when I must know! I must, and will find out where they are, and then quickness, energy, perseverance

he has praised them more than once when they served him-shall be brought into play to work his ruin!"

At this point in her train of thought Pauline was interrupted by a knock at the door of her room. Starting at the sound, she raised her head and listened eagerly,

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »