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'Nothing since that strange meeting in Paris,' said Madeleine. I almost wish he had not seen her at all; now he knows she is living, and unhappy, poor girl; what does it all mean?'
eleine's. The first pronounced him clever heard nothing since, or he would have let and agreeable; and the second, still puz- us know.' zled by a notion that he had seen him previously, though he could not remember where, said he was a gentlemanly young man, with something to talk about worth listening to, and content to acknowledge himself ignorant of subjects he knew nothing about. Mr. Horace Holmes had not a little propitiated Frank Burdett's liking by promptly declining Stephen's invitation to join the shooting-parties, adding a candid confession that he had not the least notion how to use a gun.
So different from that fellow Bingham! said Frank, who felt deeply and spoke strongly about this, his favourite grievance; 'he delights in spoiling sport, I do believe. How Gaynor can ever have put up with that insufferable booby, who must have been still more odious when travelling than when staying at home, I cannot make out.'
But then, you see, Mr. Gaynor is of a patient disposition, and you are not,' said Madeleine; you are such a terrible Turk. I am sure, however, you are right about Herbert Bingham's being an unpleasant travelling-companion; I could make that out from his own account-always standing on his own rights, and not caring in the least about any other person's tastes or wishes.'
You have not heard from Gaynor lately, have you?' asked Mr. Burdett of his brother-in law.
'No,' said Stephen. 'I suppose we shall see him when he returns.'
This trifling conversation was destined to have an effect out of proportion to its seeming insignificance. Madeleine laughingly related her father's strictures on Herbert Bingham, and his reflected commendation of Horace Holmes, to her aunt, and so led their conversation in the direction of Hugh Gaynor, to whom Madeleine-gratefully aware of his sympathy in her loveaffair, and confident in his taking her view of the inviolability of her faith and Verner's, and the eternal nature of their reciprocal constancy- -was sincerely attached.
The beautiful brown eyes of Madeleine filled with sudden tears, and an expression of sweet, heavenly compassion came into her face which became it better than its brightest, gayest, most smiling aspect.
She is not much older than I am, aunt,' the girl continued; she was seated on the floor, beside Julia's sofa, and her nutbrown head nestled by her aunt's side; and she has known so much trouble that we are sure of, besides what we cannot even guess at. How strange it is that the destinies of people in this world should be so different! Think of her and me, she so good and useful too. I think I almost ought to be ashamed of being so happy.' But you are good and useful too, Maddy,' said Julia; your sunshine is not all undeserved, my dear.'
Ah,' said Madeleine, with momentary thoughtfulness, I am only a creature of the human-butterfly species, after all, and you all spoil me. It's very nice to be spoiled, and I hope none of you will leave off, mind.'
'I don't think we shall,' said Julia, with a grave smile; and then she lay still for some minutes, her hand, thinner and whiter than it usually was, resting on her niece's sunny head. The young girl's words had sent her fancy back to her own youth, and to a brief contemplation of the dealings of destiny with herself. How completely all the conditions of her early life were reversed now! What calm and prosperity had come after the storm! Must there indeed be storm in every life, sooner or later? Could it not be that Madeleine's life might pass without any tempestuous weather?
'I wonder,' said Madeleine, breaking through Julia's reverie suddenly, and lifting up her face full of the animation of a new idea, - I wonder whether those French 'I wonder whether he has learned any- clergymen in Paris that Herbert Bingham thing about Alice Wood,' said Julia thought-knows-you remember the people I mean; fully. It was so like him to be so ear- Lady Bredisholme worries us about collectnestly anxious about the poor girl; so like ing for their church, don't you recollect? him not to forget her among all his other but said the demands upon her own purse anxieties and cares. It does one good to were so numerous she could not give anysee any human being so disinterested and thing herself-could help Mr. Gaynor? so conscientious; one cannot imitate, I Alice Wood being English and a Protessuppose at least, I could not-but one tant, I should think it likely they might can admire him. I wonder what has be- know something about her - should not come of her? I feel pretty sure he has you? She was so pretty, and so very un
Certainly I do,' answered Julia.
That is a capital idea of yours, Maddy, a most excellent idea. Everything renders it likely that the Protestant clergymen in Paris, or one of them at any rate, should know something of the poor girl, especially her being in some undeniable trouble.'
Then do you think I might write to Mr. Gaynor, when I ask Herbert Bingham the names and addresses of Lady Bredisholme's friends, and tell him you think it | likely they could help him to find Alice Wood? I cannot tell you what a strange feeling I have about this matter, aunt; I cannot make you understand it exactly, as if I might show some thankfulness for being so happy, and so well taken care of, and protected against every kind of trouble myself, by helping, in any little insignificant way that I could, to bring some consolation to this poor girl.'
I understand your meaning perfectly,' said Julia; and I think the feeling does you credit.
common-looking, if she came across them | Angelina considered them quite vulgarly at all they would be certain to take an in- expressive dark eyes of his, and anyone terest in her, and remember her. Don't might perceive by their glance when Madeyou think so, aunt?' leine's figure was hidden by the row of plants and the orange-trees, and when it emerged into the light, as she and her companion walked and talked in the conservatory. After some time, Herbert Bingham came from the conservatory into the drawing-room, crossed that apartment without a moment's delay, and left it by the opposite door-proceedings which Angelina regarded with intense curiosity. Madeleine was evidently awaiting his return. Angelina placed the chess-table in a position whence she could command a good view of the conservatory, sat down, and began to arrange the chessmen. The young artist stood behind her chair, and asked her - his eyes still following Madeleine - the names of the pieces on the board. After a few minutes, Herbert Bingham returned and rejoined Madeleine. As he passed her by, Angelina saw that he carried a pocket-book in his hand. The interview in the conservatory soon came to a termination, and when Madeleine rejoined the party in the drawMr. ing-room, her face was troubled. Madeleine seized the first opportunity Bingham did not seem to be in a particuafforded her of getting the desired infor- larly good humour either; and though Anmation from Herbert Bingham. That op-gelina succeeded in inducing him to play portunity occurred after dinner, when An- chess with her, she was unpleasantly congelina was preparing to ensnare her hon-scious that she did not make progress in ourable victim into playing a game of chess her other little game. with her. This was a solemn sort of pastime which suited the slow and pertina- 'Can you imagine anyone being so selfish, cious temperament of Mr. Bingham, and in so utterly inconsiderate of other people's it Angelina had great hope. Extreme, feelings, aunt?' said Madeleine, her eyes therefore, was the indignation with which sparkling with anger as she narrated to she beheld Madeleine approach, intimate to Mrs. Haviland the particulars of her interMr. Bingham that she had a message for view with Herbert Bingham. Just fancy him from her aunt, and withdraw with him his coming back to Paris, and the waiter's from the drawing-room to the conservatory, faithfully giving him the memorandum — where she immediately began to talk to him look there,' and she pointed to the last line with an air of confidential animation inex- of some writing on a paper in Julia's hand, pressibly disgusting to Angelina. ThatThis is very important to Mr. Gaynor,'discomfited young lady had not even the satisfaction of expressing her sense of Madeleine's conduct to Clementina, who was at the other end of the room, gazing at Captain Medway, and welcoming every silly sentence he uttered with fish-like gasps of admiration. No one was near her but Mr. Holmes, and he seemed more than usually absent-minded; besides, Angelina did not 'cultivate' Mr. Holmes, who had, in addition to his inherent insignificance, the unpardonable fault of having followed the multitude to do homage to Madeleine Burdett. It was really too laughable, but at that very moment he was following her with those singularly expressive—indeed
and never sending it on, or telling him he had got it, or anything. I have no patience with such people! And he talks cant by the hour, like his mother, and thinks no amount of attention and consideration too much to be shown to him.'
'Not at all an uncommon character, my dear,' said Julia, who was amused at the young girl's vehemence, while she fully shared her solicitude. It strikes you because you have not reached the age of observation yet; it is not new to me, I assure you.'
'It's very disgusting to me, I can tell you that,' said Madeleine; and if I found Verner out in anything of the kind, I should —'
'You would make excuses for him, Mad- | dear, indeed. But you must be satisfied to dy,' interrupted Julia, with a smile. But remember that you have gained much more don't let us mind either Verner or his than you had any reason to hope for, by brother just now. The mischief- all the your capital notion of speaking to Herbert mischief delay can do is done, and we Bingham. The most you expected was incannot help it. Let me understand you direct aid; whereas you have obtained a clearly. Herbert Bingham knew nothing direct, and we may hope unerring, clue. about the poor girl, I think, or about Mr. You ought to be satisfied with your day's Gaynor's search for her?' work, Madeleine. It really looks as if you were destined to be of use to this poor girl.' Julia paused for a moment, and then added:
Nothing. Mr. Gaynor had too much sense, I suppose, to confide anything of the sort to an unsympathising block like Herbert Bingham. He knew that the party had consented to remain a day longer in Paris than had originally been agreed upon, because there was some woman Mr. Gaynor wanted to see; but he knew nothing more, and thought nothing more about it, until I forced him much against his will, for he wanted to talk his dreary nonsense to me to think whether he could help us by applying to the Protestant clergymen in Paris. Then, by degrees, the thing seemed to take form in his stupid, egotistical head.'
Maddy, Maddy, strong language!'
O, never mind, aunt, it's only to you; and I do hate Herbert Bingham so. Well, at last he seemed to get hold of a notion on the subject, and then, in his chilly way, he remembered that he had a message given him for Mr. Gaynor; but, indeed, as Gaynor wasn't on the spot, and couldn't have looked into the matter, he hadn't thought it of any consequence. Did you ever hear anything like that? I actually could not make out whether he now understands that he did a selfish and unfeeling thing; and you may imagine the state I was in, until I found that he had not destroyed the paper -I suppose he was just gentlemanly enough not to do that or that he put it by and forgot it; however, there it is—there's the clue that Mr. Gaynor wants.'
Unless this woman has left the place she mentions,' said Julia.
'O, don't even think of such a thing!' said Madeleine; that would be too bad. At all events, we can make Herbert Bingham ascertain that. If she is still there, could we make any inquiries?'
I fear not,' said Julia; this Honorine Duclos does not know anything of us, nor does Alice Wood herself; and there is suflicient mystery about the whole affair to render it very unlikely that she would confide anything to strangers.'
Then there is nothing for it but to write and tell Mr. Gaynor what we have heard, to send him this memorandum, and he and we must wait with what patience we can until he returns from the Holy Land.'
There is nothing else to be done, my
'We will not write to Mr. Gaynor until we know about this Honorine Duclos. It would only grieve him more if the clue had been found but to be lost again.'
Then Herbert Bingham shall write tomorrow to the Hôtel Bristol,' said Madeleine with decision.
On the following day Mr. Bingham wrote the required letter to the dame de charge at the Hôtel Bristol. By return of post he received a reply. Honorine Duclos was still in service at the hotel, and, in case of her leaving, Mr. Bingham should be apprised, as he desired, of the occurrence.
A good many days had now gone by since Julia had been forced to acknowledge herself ill, and she was not yet able to leave her room. She did not recover her strength; she suffered from lassitude and depression; and though she would probably have made an effort to join the family party, she did not exert herself for the entertainment of the stranger element. There was no decided suffering about her state, and she became less impatient of her seclusion with every day it lasted. Sometimes she passed sleepless nights, and then she was low and drowsy in the mornings, and would occasionally sleep after she had been dressed and placed upon her sofa, close by the cheerful window which looked out upon the flower-garden. She was never disturbed at such times; and care was taken to keep the grassy terrace beneath her windows free from trespassers, whose voices might rouse her from her much-needed slumber. It chanced, however, that on one beautiful soft autumn day Julia fell asleep in the afternoon, contrary to her usual custom, and when no precautions had been taken; and after a short time was awoke by a sound which came from outside and beneath her window, and was evidently uttered by a man. She sat up with a start; the laugh was repeated, and she looked out. On the edge of the grassy terrace nearest to the garden Madeleine Burdett was standing, a bouquet of late autumnal flowers in her hands held out to her companion, who was rather awkwardly twisting a piece of bass
matting round the stalks. The girl's com- the common-place, middle-class order, Engpanion was a young man of an elegant fig- glish picture-dealers, or French bourgeois. ure; his profile was turned towards Julia, Since he had left school, and lost sight of but she could see that it was handsome, of Hugh Gaynor, he had never associated with a dark, baughty type. Madeleine was smil- a man who was at once a scholar and a ing brightly, and talking gaily. Julia drew gentleman; bis artistic tastes had never quite close to the window and looked out. known the gratification of domestic surOnce more she caught the sound of the roundings full of refinement, luxury, and young man's langh; and at that moment beauty. The English vie de château was inMadeleine looked up and saw ber. Julia deed unknown to him, as he had bitterly hurriedly drew back, and lay down again said, and when he was introduced to it, it on her sofa. In another minute Madeleine appealed irresistibly to all bis tastes and was in the room, hoping she and Mr. instincts. Holmes had not disturbed her aunt; re- His life had had a good deal of pleasure gretting she had drawn back her head so in it, pleasure too which in Paris may be quickly that Mr. Holmes bad not had a bad cheaply, without being necessarily chance of seeing her; exulting that it was coarse and degrading; but of real luxury, all right about her drawing-lessons, and as the normal condition of daily existence, she had begun that very day, and explain- without fear of its loss or diminution, he ing that they had been laughing at the mel- bad never before had any actual experience. ancholy manner in which Captain Medway These people among whom fate had now was just then taking the air in the flower- brought him knew no other life than this; garden, under the inexorable escort of in whose every hour money was expended Clementina.
without a thought, without the intrusion of * And so that handsome young man is Mr. its material agency, even as his visions had Holmes?' said Mrs. Haviland.
shown him it ought to be used, if life were • Yes,' said Madeleine. • He is hand- to be a happy, enviable possession. Here, some, isn't he?
beauty of form and decoration reigned; I only caught a glimpse of him,' said there was nothing to pain the eye with a Julia.
hint of mere frugal practical utility. With • But he really is. Rath stern — not what loathing the recollection of the dull an open, happy, pleasant face, you know.' apartment in Paris filled him! How he
' I know — like Verner Bingbam's.' turned from the remembrance of the mean
Yes then, of course, I mean not like seaside cottage where Alice dwelt, with its Verner's. I don't like men to have dark humble furniture, and its little ornaments, eyes at least, I shouldn't like Verner's so significant in their vulgarity! eyes to be dark.
But he is handsome; I'm In the young man's mood of mind there sure you'll like him, aunt.'
was much low and vulgar envy, combined So she chattered on for a little while; and with the sensuous and materialistic instincts when Julia was again alone, she tried in- and the really artistic sense of beauty, luxeffectually to find out what was the impres- ury, and refinement wbich he had always sion which had mingled with the sound of possessed. He could not permit himself to the laugh that had aroused her from her enjoy the temporary pleasure of his present sleep, and what was the association of ideas sojourn at Meriton, because of the sullen which brought suddenly to her memory a anger which consumed him. Why was this dreadful dream which had come to her luxury, this ease, this constant succession many years ago.
of social pleasures, this well-bred society, this life, from which everything that could offend the senses or burt the sensibilities was ex
cluded, to be theirs always, by right, and DANGEROUS DELIGHTS.
bis only for a little while, by accident, by THE Mitfords departed from Meriton, sufferance? If all the instincts in him did and Mr. Holmes was invited by Stephen not lie, if there were any truth at all in the Haviland to leave his neat but narrow quar- promptings of blood and race, his rightful ters at the village inn, and take up his place was in some such sphere as this into abode for the present at the great house. which he had strayed. How many men had All the young man's previous life had bad he known in his own class who could apnothing in it like the experience of the preciate all this even as he appreciated it, short time during which he had been a daily but who would never have dreamed of guest at Meriton. All his former associates coveting it, would just have looked and adhad been either wild, struggling, more or mired, and passed on and thought no more less disreputable young men, or persons of labout it, - have been disturbed by no tor
menting pangs of envy! Did not this dif- involuntarily-reproachful face, of her humference mean something? Did it not con- ble dress, her subdued manner, her lowly firm his conviction that the wrong which mind, which he called ignorant !) as she was fate had inflicted upon him had been the unlike the meretricious women in whose cruellest and worst of wrongs; that he had company he had so often forgotten poor been born to that alone which makes life Alice's tiresome virtues, and tedious acquiworth having wealth and station? escent talk. Her conquest of his whole There was no incongruity between the nature was as swift, as sudden, as irresistiyoung man and the hitherto unknown sphere ble, as it was unconscious. If he had ever in which he found himself. His appearance, been capable of any such superstitious his manners, his address, were in keeping scruple as he would have considered an obwith it all. If he wanted the unobtrusive, ligation of fidelity of feeling to his wife to unconscious, consummate ease which is the be, he would have ridiculed the idea of its decisive trait of good manners, the defi- being active in this case. How could he ciency passed unnoticed by reason of a resist such a spell as this? He had come certain gravity, amounting at times to stern-into a new world, and one of its fairest inness, which was not unsuitable to his dark, expressive face.
If the people among whom he was now thrown were conscious, as they undoubtedly were, that Mr. Holmes was not of them, the difference did not consist in a lower tone of manner, or in the awkwardness of an inferior station, but in some inexplicable mental distinction which made itself felt. More than one of the guests at Meriton thought, as Madeleine had said to her aunt, that Mr. Holmes' looked like a man with a story.'
habitants had enchanted him so that he was no longer his own master. Had not all that had gone before been but a mere miserable delusion the wretched tinsel that the untutored, unaccustomed eye takes for gold? Who but an idiot would hold himself accountable for the blunders of ignorance, or turn from such a revelation of delight as this new life had offered him? He would not listen for a moment to any whisper of his well-nigh dumb conscience. Society had deeply injured him; he had been the victim of wrong and treachery, which he had no means of measuring, from his birth; and not least among those wrongs was the ignorance of the world, the narrow sphere of life which had made him capable of the fatal blunder of his marriage. Such a mere boy as he had been! He did not remember- he did not think with any pity or remorse -how mere a girl Alice had been, and how soon and sadly her girlhood had ended in what faint-heartedness and melancholy defeat. For her he had no thoughts except those of impatient contempt. He had hung a millstone round his neck. She might, indeed, have been as insensible as one for any care he had for suffering of hers. His callousness would have surprised only a superficial observer; those whose observation goes deep, know that the interval between selfish indifference and tyrannical impulse in domestic life, and active aggression and cruelty, is but trifling, and easily bridged over by circumstances.
He was far from reciprocating the goodwill with which Stephen Haviland and Frank Burdett regarded him. On the contrary, he hated them both. He hated Stephen because he was the owner of this luxurious dwelling, the master of this fine establishment, this new-found world of pleasure, in which he was but a passing accident. His perverted mind turned the very kindness he received into an offence, and took though no sullenness, no awkwardness of manner betrayed the evil interpretation - genial hospitality for purse-proud patronage. He hated Frank Burdett because he was the father of that girl who had crossed his path like a splendid unearthly vision, and yet was real, the embodiment of all he had ever fancied as most beautiful and enchanting. In his miserable mood, he hated everyone who had the right to be with her, everyone to whom her presence gave innocent, rightful delight. Because the love of her had come to him as a curse, he hated all to whom it was a blessing.
In the tumult of his feelings, the young man did not ask himself what he hoped or To Horace Holmes the beauty, the fasci- what he feared; did not argue with himself nation, the enchanting grace, and sunny, that under any circumstances -even supfearless mirth, the brilliant prosperous girl- posing that the barrier of his marriage, of ishness, of Madeleine Burdett was a reve- whose existence he alone was aware, were lation of the utmost possibilities of feminine removed or had never been - he was hopecharm. No woman in any respect or degree|lessly divided by her wealth and station resembling her had ever been thrown in his way. She was as unlike Alice (how he loathed the memory of her pale, unsmiling,
from Madeleine Burdett. That he was a nameless man, and not of or in her world, he knew indeed, and felt with the bitterness