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" I'm ready to own to you,” she said, yard of the Croix d'Or ; but Mr. Downes " that I was very much annoyed about had not remarked it till one of its occuthat note. I knew nothing about pants stepped on to the round pavingit till I found Miss Coppock reading stones of the yard. It was Miss Coppock. it this morning before she started. I Mr. Downes started back. “Here sent it back to Lord Charles at once; again!” he said, and a cold chill of unbeI thought it would be the best way lief came over him. to stop such boyish folly ; but, Maurice, Patty was beside him instantly. She I meant to tell you this myself ; surely looked down into the court-yard, and there was no need for me to confess her eyes met those of Patience. to Miss Coppock when she took upon Mrs. Downes saw a determination herself to accuse me of all sorts of fully equal to her own—and then she things. I dare say I was impulsive saw Nuna. and foolish–I know I felt very angry, “Maurice !" she grasped his arm so but the woman disgusted me by her low convulsively that he looked at her in suspicions ; you can't think what dread- alarm—“keep that woman Patience ful things she said, and I told her she away from me; I can't tell you how must go. Her conduct grew outrageous I feel now that I know she has tried then, such falsehoods I never listened to poison you against me. Let her say

what she will, falsehood can harm no Mr. Downes' face had cleared, but he one, only keep her away from me; you looked uneasy still.

don't know who she has brought with "Do you care to hear what else she her; that's Mr. Whitmore's dear little said ?" and as he looked at his wife, wife-bring her to me, dear, at once ; Miss Coppock's words seemed so wild I have a message to her from her and improbable that he felt ashamed to husband." repeat them.

Mr. Downes was appeased. Patty put her hand on his arm.

Patty could not have appealed more | “I dare say you think, Maurice, be- effectually to her husband. His wife's cause I've none of the wheedling ways manner towards the artist bad often of some women about me, that I don't annoyed him at the outset of the jourcare for you. I never can show my ney; it was like a revelation to guess feelings. Why, when I saw that woman now that those long talks had been with you-strong as I felt in my own about Mr. Whitmore's wife—a wife innocence-I trembled, yes indeed, I too, who, from the glimpses he had did tremble after her threats. Who caught of her, seemed attractive enough have I to stand up for me in the for any husband. world but you? There's the French He kissed Patty. schoolmistress, of course, and my foster “I'll keep Miss Coppock away, and father; but now old Mr. Parkins is dead, send Mrs. Whitmore to you here." I have no one creditable witness to bring forward. Ah, Maurice, I little thought I should ever want justifying to you."

CHAPTER LXVI. Her eyes were dry now, but she

“ONLY AN OLD LOVE-LETTER." clasped her hands in mute appeal, and it seemed to her husband there was an MR. Downes met Nuna on the stairs. unutterable sweetness in those soft heavy- “I believe you are Mrs. Whitmore. My lidded eyes.

wife has a message to you from your He hesitated between his wish to busband.” believe his wife and a haunting memory Nuna forgot Patty's letter, her con. of Miss Coppock's words. He had stood duct and all. She almost ran along the before Patty all this while—now he left gallery till she reached the door to which her, and walked to the window.

Mr. Downes pointed. A voiture was driving into the court Patty meantime had a sharp, brief

me.

struggle. Sho had seen this trial far off, “Thank you, I'm in great, dreadful and now it had really como.

trouble, and only you can help me. "I can't dare them both,” she said, Hush! what's that?”

Hush! what's that?” Such a change “I'm too heinmed in. I'd rather die cate in her face that Nuna was startled. than knock under to Patience ; surely I The lovely colour faded.

Patty grew can coax this weak, simple girl to stand whiter every moment, her lips were by me if I only show her she needn't trembling, and her eyes had a scared be jealous. She is a lady, simpleton as terror in them. she is.”

“ Sit down,” said Nuna; she thought Nuna went straight up to Patty, her Mrs. Downes would faint where she eyes full of question.

stood. “You have a message for me from

“ No."

Patty shook her head. my husband. Do you know where he “Don't be frightened, I haven't got is ?

feeling enough to faint.” She laughed For just an instant the selfish heart at the look of distress in Nuna's face. stirred with pity, and then self swept “You needn't be sorry for me, either. away every feeling but intense desire for

I don't want pity, I hate it, and I'm help. She looked at Nuna with keen, sure women get along much easier if searching eyes.

they haven't too much heart. I dare “Mr. Downes misunderstood me. I

say you suffer for everyone's troubles as have something to say about your hus much as for your own.

Well, I don't band, but I can only guess where he is. want you to be sorry

for me, only help We will help you to find bim, you may I don't profess to care for any one be sure we will, but I want you to help except myself. I know that woman me first, Mrs. Whitmore."

Patience has been telling you all sorts A look of pitiful distress came into of lies. Do you know why she brought Nuna's face; it seemed as if she must

She looked keenly into break down; but she strove hard not to the agitated face before her. “No, of yield up her courage.

course you don't, you only came to see "First,” said Patty, and a bright your husband.” There was a touch of flush of real shame tinged her cheeks, scorn in her voice, for Nuna's un“I can tell you what no one else can. consciousness. “Miss Coppock brought You may quite trust your husband. I you here to tell Mr. Downes all about have tried him on this journey, and I She wants him to know I was don't believe a man would have been so Patty Westropp, her apprentice, a vilindiff-rent if he had not dearly loved lage girl at Ashton, everything, I saw his wife.”

it in her face just now. Mrs. Whit She was forced to droop her eyes under more," Patty's voice grew passionate, Nuna's indignant glance.

· when you've worn out a gown you “You're annoyed; well, you don't throw it aside don't you, you don't keep understand me; you don't seem to see it by you for ever? That's what I've how much it costs a vain woman like done. I've done with the old life, why me to own that she can't charm a man should I tease my husband with it? who did admire her once."

You'll stand by me, won't you? you'll Again Nuna's fuce warned her. keep silent about your knowledge of

" What I want to know is whether me, you will I know. I'm sure you will." you will forgive me for trying to make Patty had meant to speak quite difyour husband flirt, or whether you ferently, to be calm and reasonable, and mean to bear me a grudge for it?” to treat of this as a mere matter of

Nuna's resentment faded; it seemed worldly wisdom; but nervous terror to her that only Patty Westropp could and excitement conquered, she took so speak, and she excused her, she held Nuna's hand in both hers, and pressed out her band, and Patty kept it in a i:, wule her face was full of convulsivo soft warm clasp.

agitatioă.

you here ?"

me.

you can do

"I can't tell a falsehood." Nuna very dearly, and ho will forgive you spoke hesitatingly, and Patty's courage Love will forgive everything." She rose. It seemed to her, her strong will looked pleadingly at Patty. A dark sulmust conquer this timid, irresolute len look came over the beautiful face. nature.

"You

say that because you love and “I've not told you all yet. My you could forgive, if I could love my husband's a proud man, he thinks low husband I might have a chance of his birth and vulgarity as bad as murder forgiving me. But I don't love him and stealing. He thinks I have always I can't, I can't; I almost despise him. been Miss Latimer, a gentleman's child, Could you be forgiven by a man you brought up abroad. If he finds out he despise--a man who you

feel has been deceived he'll never forgive as you like with ? I can only love what me, he'll cast me off. Look here, Mrs. I fear : I can't be forgiven-taken into Whitmore," she went on, vehemently, favour like a disgraced servant-by a " I'm not a good woman like you, I find man I've no respect for. Why, I should no comfort in church and prayers as you be watched at every turn, and never do; if my husband casts me off I can't believed again. I know my husbandbe left alone in the world, I must go to he would be ashamed of me for the rest some one else; I can't live without of his life: and just because he'd never society and amusement, I must be wor have had the wit to find it out for himshipped in one way or another."

self, once he knows it, he'll be finding " Oh, hush! pray dou't think of any- out lowness and vulgar ways in all I do thing so dreadful.'

and all I say. I'd rather hang myself Nuna laid her hand on Patty's arm, up to that pole, Mrs. Whitmore," --she but Patty broke from her passionately. pointed to the bed—“than live with

" It's all very well for you to call it him on those terms, No, it's your dreadful, but if I do it, remember you doing now. Take your choice: I won't will have driven me to it, Nuna Beau- speak again till you've made it-whether fort, yes, you only, you are driving me I'm to go on Mrs. Downes to the end, to shame and destruction, and you're or whether I'm to go off in an hour's doing it to revenge yourself on me be time with some one else.” cause you think I tried to steal your hus Nuna stood shocked and silent. Her band's love from you, and you set up shrinking from Patty was stronger than for being good and religious! If I had ever, and yet a spring of loving com

away
from
you you would have

passion was rising up in her heart for had more right; but when I tell you

I this wretched despairing woman. failed, what's all your goodness worth ? Patty's eyes were devouring in their You are as bad as I am after all." impatient expression, but Nuna still

She stopped, exhausted, panting, her stood silent. words had poured out so rapidly that “If your husband questions me Nuna could not have been heard if she must tell the truth,” she said at last; had spoken.

“but surely I need not see Mr. Downes “Don't talk so madly, I will do any.' again. I tell you that your only chance thing I can to help you, indeed I will." for real happiness lies in openness to There was a loving earnestness in her lim. Oh, Mrs. Downes, what is it: voice, which reached even through the just a little pain and humiliation soon passionate tumult that distracted Patty, over, and all that painful, shameful load " but, Mrs. Downes, you can help your. of concealment gone for ever. Why," self best of all; there is only one thing -her large dark eyes grew so earnest for you to do”—Patty's eyes filled in that Patty quailed before them-"you an instant with despairing hope—“ tell can't die deceiving your husband. You the truth ; go to your husband, tell him could not-you must tell him : then why your whole story, and ask him to for not give yourself happiness now? Ab, give your deceit. I'm sure he loves you you don't know what happiness it is to

got him

love your husband ! it is much happier to they were all too overwrought to notice love than to be loved oneself." She it then. had got Patty's band in both her own. "Don't harden yourself," he said.

Mr. Downes came in abruptly : he He looked at Nuna : he seemed to find heard Nuna's last words, and he looked hope and counsel too in those deep at her: he glanced on to his wife, but trusting eyes. “Elinor, why not trust she drooped her head, sullenly silent. me? Do you suppose I want to keep

“Mrs. Whitmore "there was more you with me except to make your life & sorrow than anger in his voice—"did happy one? I don't ask for any words : you ever know Mrs. Downes as a girl just give me your hand, and I will take called Patty Westropp?”

the rest on trust." Neither of them saw Patty as she Even then she hesitated; but Nuna stood blunched, shaking with terror. gently took the trembling, clammy fin. Nuna looked frankly at Mr. Downes. gers, and drew them towards her hus

"If I did, what of it? I knew no band's hand. harm of her-nothing that a man need The door shut suddenly-it seemed be ashamed of in his wife : and how to break the spell that had held them. hard she must have striven to fit herself “You do not want me any more ?” to be your wife. I am sure she is bitterly Nuna looked at Mr. Downes. “I am sorry for having kept her nanie from on my way to my husband.” you : the concealment has brought its “You will never find him by yourown punishment. On, Mr. Downes, self.” He put his hand to his head and we all make great mistakes in our lives : thought. “You must let me send my tell her you forgive her.” There was courier with you-indeed you must: he almost a fervour of earnestness in knows where the village is to which Nuna's voice. She turned again to your husband was going when he left Patty, put her arm round her, and us :" then, seeing her unwillingness, kissed her.

he whispered, “Surely after what you But Patty stood sullen, regardless of have done for me to-day you will let either Nuna or her husband.

me help you if I can; you don't know Mr. Downes did not answer: he had how much you have helped me." kept stern and still while Nuna spoke: To his worldly notions it seemed now he walked up and down the room marvellous that Nuna could so easily with his hands behind him, his eyes forgive his wife. bent on the ground. The silence was I thought came to Nuna while he unbroken : the two women stood still spoke. while he walked up and down: Nuna “Shall I take Miss Coppock with wondered what would be the end. me, Mr. Downes? Your wife ought not

He stopped short at last, and spoke to see her again.” to Nuna.

Mr. Downes pressed her hand. “Mrs. Whitmore, you are a noble “Yes, a good plan. Thank you very woman : you have taught me a lesson much. I'll find her for you." to-day. If all I've been told is true, Mr. Downes went to look, but you have as much to forgive my wife as Patience was no longer in the courtI have.” Then he turned with a look yard : the garçon was coming downstairs. of sudden appeal to Patty.

“Where is the English lady?” said “Elinor, why don't you speak—why Mr. Downes. don't you make it easier for both of us? The man looked surprised. I am ready to forgive you if you will “She followed you up-stairs, Monask me : in return I ask you to try to sieur. I thought she was with you.” love me."

Mr. Downes was very angry with “I don't want to be forgiven," she Patience Coppock: just then he would said haughtily.

like to have inflicted any punishment The door was quietly opened, but on her.

"Some one went up to the second story and lavished on others, seemed to fall on just now,” said the garçon, “it is pos his heart like stripes ; punishment, sible to have been Mademoiselle. No. 7 dealt justly to him in retribution. is the room of Mademoiselle; shall I tell He rose feebly from his knees and her that Monsieur is waiting ?”

staggered to a chair. Clearly, as before "No." Mr. Downes gave his in the mental sight of one drowning, was structions to the courier about Nuna, and the memory of that unexpected return then hurried upstairs; he thought be to his father's house and his meeting should save time by going himself to with Patience Clayton-he shuddered Miss Coppock; he was very unhappy, as her fresh young beauty came in it seemed to him that his wife was in a one vivid glance; and then more slowly, dangerous reckless temper; he did not because harder to the belief of the want to lose sight of her till she world-hardened conscience, came back softened.

those hours of boyish love, of mornings No. 7 stood at the end of the gallery; spent in a sort of hungering longing and he knocked sharply, but there was no unrest till he was sure of finding her answer.

alone in her little school-room. “I have no time for ceremony," he How vehemently he had resented his said angrily; he opened the door and stepmother's conduct; he knew without went in.

looking at it again, that the crumpled Miss Coppock was lying on her bed. letter, so carefully treasured, was full of

"Miss Coppock, I"_but the words passionate love and trust; in it he had stopped, and be stood still paralyzed. vowed to be always true to Patience.

An awful Presence filled the room, Why was all this so terribly real and drew his eyes to the upturned face and present now, and why had it all lying there so dreadful in its stillness. been so vague and far off and lost out

At first this presence filled his eyes, of memory, when he saw her again a his mind, so that he could not grasp friendless girl in London ? objects distinctly, and then he saw a moment it seemed to Maurice Downes, phial still held in one lifeless hand; in the terrible remorse that makes any close beside this hand was a paper, it effort, however unreal, possible and looked like a letter.

needful, that if he had married the girl Mr. Downes made a great effort to whose love he had won, it would have overcome his horror, he stretched out been just and righteous. She loved his hand and took this letter from the bim truly ; had any woman ever loved bed.

him so well, with so little requital ? · It was an old letter, soiled and much And then came back those words worn by folding and refolding; it was spoken to him in the court-yard so written in a boyish crabbed hand—in short a while ago-words which ho it was a lock of chestnut hair.

had despised her for uttering, because “My darling Patience," was at the top. he disbelieved in them.

“ There are “Only an

an old love-letter;- poor reasons why I'd still do much for you." creature," and then he looked on to the And she, with all her wrongs, despised, signature" Maurice Downes."

neglected, bad loved him to the end“Oh, my God !” he fell on his knees, had lived beside him all these months his head nearly touching the dead and seen his love lavished on Patty. woman. Who shall describe the utter A feeling of deep indignation rose horror and confusion of thought that against his wifo. came upon him in those awful moments, “ She must hear it all. If I confess while he knelt beside the dead body of to her,

it
may

bend her pride." his old love?

He got up and forced himself to take All the bitter upbraidings he had one long, fixed look at the poor pale given way to during these last weeks, face; then he went downstairs slowly while he had watched the smiles and and heavily to the room whiere he had louks he most coveted denied to himself left Patty.

For a

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