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Mrs. Kirkman had of bringing herself down mouth, sbe burst out crying, as might have to her audience, and uniting herself, as it been expected too. were, to ordinary humanity; for if there This was a result which her companion was one thing more than another for which had not in the least calculated upon, for she was distinguished, it was her beautiful Mrs. Kirkman, notwithstanding her belief Christian humility; and this was the sense in Mary's insensibility, had not very lively in which she now spoke.

feelings, and was not quick at divining Please don't say so," cried the ensign's other people. But she was a good woman wife, who was an unmanageable eighteen- notwithstanding all her talk. She came year-old, half-Irish creature. “I am sure down off her mountain top, and soothed she has twenty thousand times more feeling her little visitor, and gave her a glass of than you and — than both of us put togeth- wine, and even kissed her, to make matters er. It's because she is real good; and the up. Major is an old dear. He is a fidget and "I know she has a way, when people are he's awfully aggravating, and he puts one sick” – said the Colonel's wife ; and then, in a passion ; but he's an old dear, and so after that confession, she sighed again. “ If you would

say
if

you knew him as well as only she does not put her trust in her own I do."

works,” Mrs. Kirkman added. Mrs Kirkman regarded the creature by For, to tell the truth, the Chaplain of the her side, as may be supposed, with the calm regiment was not (as she thought) a spiritcontent which her utterance merited. She ual-minded man, and the Colonel's wife was looked at her, out of those “ down-dropt,” troubled by an abiding consciousness that it half-veiled eyes, with that look which every- was into her hands that Providence had body in the station knew so well, as if she committed the souls of the station " Which was looking down from an infinite distance was an awful responsibility for a sinful with a serene surprise which was too far off creature,” she said in her letters home; and elevated to partake of the nature of and one that required constant watch over disgust. If she knew him as well as this herself.” baby did! But the Colonel's wife did not Perhaps, in a slightly different way, Mrs. take any notice of the audacious sugges- Ochterlony would have been similarly put tion. It was her duty, instead of resenting down and defended in the other two centres the impertinence to herself, to improve the of society at the station. “ She is intellioccasion for the offender's own sake. gent," Miss Sorbette said; “I don't deny

“My dear, there is nobody really good," that she is intelligent; but I would not say said Mrs. Kirkman. “We have the highest she was superior. She is fond of reading, authority for that. I wish I could think but then most people are fond of reading, dear Mary was possessed of the true secret when it's amusing, you know. She is a little of a higher life; but she has so much of too like Amelia in Vanity Fair.' She is that natural amiability, you know, which is, one of the sweet women. In a general of all things, the most dangerous for the way, I can't bear sweet women ; but I must soul. I would rather, for my part, she was confess she is the very best specimen I ever

I not so 'good' as you say. It is all filthy saw.” rags,” said Mrs. Kirkman, with a sigh. “It As for Mrs. Hesketh, her opinion was not might be for the good of her soul to be much worth stating in words. If she had brought low, and forced to abandon these any fault to find with Mrs. Ochterlony, it refuges of lies”

was because Mary had sometimes a good Upon which the little Irish wild-Indian deal of trouble in making the two ends blazed up with natural fury.

meet. “I cannot endure people that are al“I don't believe she ever told a lie in her ways having anxieties,” said the rich wo·life. I'll swear to all the lies she tells,” man of the station, who had an idea that cried the foolish little woman ; " and as for everybody could be comfortable if they rags- it's horrible to talk so. If you only liked, and that it was an offence to all his knew — if you only could think how neighbours when a man insisted on being kind she was to me!”

poor; but at the same time everybody For this absurd little hapless child had knew that she was very fond of Mary. had a baby, as might have been expected, This had been the general opinion of her and would have been in rags indeed, and for all these years, and naturally Mrs. Ocheverything that is miserable, but for Mary, terlony was used to it, and, without being who had taken her in hand; and being not at all vain on the subject, had that sense of much more than a baby herself, and not the atmosphere of general esteem and restrong yet, and having her heart in her gard which surrounded her, which has a

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favourable influence upon every character, pray for, should be some startling blow to lead

I and which did a great deal to give her that her back to a better state of mind. But sweet composure and serenity for which she naturally that was a kind of discipline was famed. But from the time of that first which for herself, or indeed for anybody conversation with her husband, a change else, Mary was not far enough advanced to came upon the Madonna of the station. desire. It was not perceptible to the general vision, Perhaps, however, it was partly true yet there were individual eyes which found about the pride. Mrs. Ochterlony did not out that something was the matter, though say anything about it, but she locked the nobody could tell what. Mrs. Hesketh door of her own room the next morning thought it was an attack of fever coming after that talk with the Major, and searched on, and Mrs. Kirkman hoped that Mrs. through all her repositories for those “marOchterlony was beginning to occupy her- riage lines,” which no doubt she had put self about her spiritual state ; and the one away somewhere, and which she had naturecommended quinine to Mary, and the rally forgotten all about for years. It was other sent her sermons, which, to tell the equally natural, and to be expected, that truth, were not much more suitable to her she should not find them. She looked

But Mary did not take any of the through all her papers and letters and little charitable friends about her into her con- sacred corners, and found many things that fidence. She went about among them as a filled her heart with sadness and her eyes prince might have gone about in his court, with tears — for she had not come through or a chief among his vassals, after hearing those ten years without leaving traces bein secret that it was possible that one day hind her where her heart had been woundhe may be discovered to be an impostor. ed and bad bled by the way — but she did Or, if not that, for Mary knew that she not find what she was in search of. She never conld be found out an impostor, tried hard to look back and think, and to go at least, that such a change was hanging over in her mind the contents of het little over her head, and that somebody might school-girl desk, which she had left at Aunt believe it; and that her history would be Agatha’s cottage, and the little work-table, discussed and her name get into people's and the secretary with all its drawers. But mouths and her claims to their regard be she could not recollect anything about it, questioned. It was very hard upon her nor where she had put it, nor what could to think that such a thing was possible with have become of it; and the effect of her excomposure, or to contemplate her husband's amination was to give her, this time in rerestless ways, and to recollect the indiscreet ality, a headache, and to make her eyes contidences which he was in the habit of heavy and her heart sore. But she did not making. He had spoken to Colonel Kirk- say a syllable about her search to the Major, man about it, and even quoted his advice who was (as, indeed, he always was) as about the marriage lines; and Mary could anxiously affectionate as a man could be, not but think (though in this point she did and became (as he always did), when he the Colonel injustice) that Mrs. Kirkman found his wife suffering, so elaborately too must know; and then, with a man of noiseless and still, that Mary ended by a Major Ochterlony's temperament, nobody good fit of laughing, which was of the great-could make sure that he would not take est possible service to her. young Askell, the ensign, or any other boy “When you are so quiet, you worry me, in the station, into his confidence, if he Hugh,” she said. “I am used to hear you should happen to be in the way. All this moving about.”. was very galling to Mary, who had so high “My dear, I hope I am not such a brute an appreciation of the credit and honour as to move about when you are suffering," which, up to this moment, she had enjoyed; her husband replied. And though his mind and who felt that she would rather die than had again begun to fill with the dark come down to be discussed and pitied and thoughts that had been the occasion of all talked about among all these people. She Mary's annoyance, he restrained himselt thought in her disturbed and uneasy mind, with an heroic effort, and did not say a sylthat she could already hear all the different lable about it all that night. tones in which they would say “ Poor But this was a height of virtue which it Mary !” and all the wonders, and doubts, was quite impossible any merely mortal powand inquiries that would rise up round her. ers could keep up to. He began to make Mrs. Kirkman would have said that all mysterious little broken speeches next day, these were signs that her pride wanted hum- and to stop short and to say, “ My darling, I bling, and that the thing her friends should mustn't worry you," and to sigh like fur

over.

nace, and to worry Mary to such an ex-drawers of the secretary,” said Mary calmtremity that her difficulty in keeping her ly, giving those local specifications with a temper and patience grew indescribable. certainty which she was far from feeling. And then, when he had afflicted her in this As for the Major, he was arrested by the way till it was impossible to go any further circumstance which made her faint hope

when he had betrayed it to her in every and supposition look somehow like truth. look, in every step, in every breath he “If I could hope that that was the case,” drew — which was balf a sigh — and in he said ; " but it can't be the case, Mary. every restless movement he made; and when You never were at home after we were Mrs. Ochterlony, who could not sleep for it, married — you forget that.

We went to nor rest, nor get any relief from the torture, Earlston for a day, and we went to your bad two red lines round her eyes, and was guardian's ; but never to Aunt Agatha. all but out of her senses — the stream burst You are making a mistake, my dear; and forth at last, and the Major spoke :

God bless me, to think of it, what would beYou remember, perhaps, Mary, what come of you if anything were to happen to we were talking of the other day,” he said, me?” in an insidiously gentle way, on an early “ I hope there is nothing going to happen morning — when they had still the long, to you; but I don't think in that case it long day before them to be miserable in. would matter what became of me," said I thought it very important, but perhaps Mary in utter depression; for by this time you may have forgot — about old Sommer- she was worn out. ville who died ?

“You think so now, my love ; but you "Forgot!” said Mary. She felt it was would be obliged to think otherwise," said coming now, and was rather glad to have it Major Ochterlony: “I hope I'm all right

" I don't know how I could forget, for many a year; but a man can never tell. Hugh. What you said would have made And the insurance, and pension, and everyone recollect anything; but you cannot thing — and Earlston, if my brother should make old Sommerville come alive again, leave it to us — all your future, my darling. whatever you do.”

I think it will drive me distracted,” said the · My dear, I spoke to you about some Major, “not a witness, nor a proof left!” about a

paper,” said the Major. “Lines Mary could make no answer. - that is what the Scotch call them quite overwhelmed by the images thus called though, I daresay, they're very far from be- before her: for her part the pension and the ing poetry: Perhaps you have found them, insurance money had no meaning to her Mary,” said Major Ochterlony, looking into ears; but it is difficult not to put a certain her face in a pleading way, as if he prayed faith in it when a man speaks in such a cirher to answer yes. And it was with diffi- cumstantial way of things that can only hap.culty that she kept as calm as she wished to pen after his death. do, and answered without letting him see “ You have been talking to the doctor, the agitation and excitement in her mind. and he has been putting things into your

“I don't know where I have put them, head,” she said faintly." It is cruel to Hugh,” she said, with a natural evasion, and torture me so. We know very well how in a low voice. She did not acknowledge we were married, and all about it, and so do having looked for them, and having failed our friends, and it is cruel to try to make to find them; but in spite of herself, she me think of anything happening. There is answered with a certain humility as of a nobody in the regiment so strong and well woman culpable. For, after all, it was her as you are," she continued, taking courage *fault.

a little. She thought to herself he looked, “ You don't know where you have put as people say, the picture of health as he them,” said the Major, with rising horror. sat beside her, and she began to recover “ Have you the least idea how important out of her prostration. As for spleen or they are? They may be the saving of you liver, or any of those uncomfortable attriand of your children, and you don't know butes, Major Octorloney, up to this mowhere you have put them! Then it is all ment, had not known whether he possessed as I feared,” Major Ochterlony added with them which was most re-assuring a groan, "and everything is lost.”

thought, naturally, for his anxious wife. * What is lost ? ” said Mary,

“ You

“ Thank God," said the Major, with a litspeak to me in riddles, Hugh. I know I tle solemnity. It was not that he had any put them somewhere - I must have put presentiment, or thought himself likely to them somewhere safe. They are most like- die early ; but simply that he was in the pady in my old desk at home, or in one of the thetic way, and had a naïf and innocent

She was

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pleasure in deepening his effects; and then terlony. “You know very well it is not he took to walking about the room in his myself, but you I am thinking of; that you nervous manner. After a while he came to may have everything in order, and your a dead stop before his wife, and took both future provided for, whatever may happen. her hands into his.

It may be absurd, you know; but a woman “ Mary,” he said, “I know it's an idea mustn't mind being absurd to please her that you don't like; but for my peace of husband. We'll ask our friends to step mind. Suppose — just suppose for the over with us to church in the morning, and sake of supposing — that I was to die now, in half an hour it will be all over. Don't and leave you without a word to prove your cover your face, Mary. It worries me not claims. It would be ten times worse than to see your face. God bless me, it is nothdeath, Mary; but I could die at peace if ing to make such a fuss about,” said the you would only make one little sacrifice to Major, getting excited. “I would do a my peace of mind.”

great deal more, any day, to please you.” “Oh, Hugh, don't kill me

you are not

“I would cut off my hand to please you,” going to die," was all Mary could say. said Mary, with perhaps a momentary ex

“No, my darling, not if I can help it; but travagance in the height of her passion. if it were only for my peace of mind. “ You know there is no sacrifice I would There's no harm in it, that I can see. It's not make for you; but oh, Hugh, not this, ridiculous, you know; but that's all, Mary,” not this,” she said, with a sob that startled said the Major, looking anxiously in her him — one of those sobs that tear and rend face. “Why, it is what hosts of people the breast they come from, and have no acdo every day. It is the easiest thing to companiment of tears. do- a mere joke for that matter. They His answer was to come up to her side, will say, you know, that it is like Ochter and take the face which she had been covlony, and a piece of his nonsense. Iering between his hands, and kiss it as if it know how they talk ; but never mind. I had been a child's. “My darling, it is only know very well there is nothing else that this that will do me any good. It is for my you would not do for my peace of mind. peace of mind,” he said, with all that tenIt will set your future above all casualties, derness and effusion which made him the and it will be all over in half an hour. For best of husbands. He was so loving to her, instance, Churchill says”.

that, even in the bitterness of the injury, it “ You have spoken to Mr. Churchill, was hard for Mary to refuse to be soothed too ?” said Mary, with a thrill of despair. and softened. He had got his way, and his

"A man can never do any harm speaking unbounded love and fondness surrounded to his clergyman, I hope,” the Major said, her with a kind of atmosphere of tender peevishly. *** What do you mean by too? enthusiasm. He knew so well there was I've only mentioned it to Kirkman besides none like her, nobody fit to be put for a - I wanted his advise — and to Sorbette, moment in comparison with his Mary; and to explain that bad headache of yours. this was how her fate was fixed for her, and And they all think I am perfectly right.” the crisis came to an end.

Mary put her hands up to her face, and gave a low but bitter cry. She said nothing more - not a syllable. She had already been dragged down without knowing it, and set low among all these people. She “I am going with you, Mary,” said Mrs. who deserved nothing but honour, who had Kirkman, coming suddenly in upon the done nothing to be ashamed of, who was the morning of the day which was to give peace same Madonna Mary whom they had all re- to Major Ochterlony's mind, and cloud garded as the “ wisest, virtuousest, discreet- over with something like a shadow of shame est, best” By this time they had all be- (or at least she thought so) his wife's fair gun to discuss her story, and to wonder if all matron fame. The Colonel's wife had put had been quite right at the beginning, and to on her last white bonnet, which was not so say, “ Poor Mary!” She knew it as well fresh as it had been at the beginning of the as if she had heard the buzz of talk in those season, and white gloves which were also a three houses to which her husband had con- little the worse for wear. To be sure the fided his difficulty. It was a horrible tor- marriage was not like a real marriage, and ture, if you will but think of it, for an in- nobody knew how the unwilling bride nocent woman to bear.

would think proper to dress. Mrs. Kirk" It is not like you to make such a fuss man came in at a quicker pace than ordinaabout so simple a ihing," said Major Och- ry, with her hair hanging half out of curl

CHAPTER IV.

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on either side of her face, as was always man. “You may depend upon it he has the case. She was fair, but of a greyish reason for what he is doing; and I do hope complexion, with light blue eyes à fleur de you will see a higher hand in it all, and feel la tête, which generally she kept half veiled that you are being humbled for your good. within their lids — a habit which was par- “I wish you would tell me how it can be ticularly aggravating to some of the livelier for my good,” said Mrs. Ochterlony,“ when spirits. She came in hastily (for her), and even you, who ought to know better, talk of found Mary seated disconsolately enough, doubt - you who have known us all along with an entire want of occupation, which is, from the very first. Hugh has taken it into in such a woman, one of the saddest signs his head - that is the whole matter; and of a mind disturbed. Mrs. Ochterlony sat, you, all of you know, when he takes a thing dropped down upon a chair, with her hands into his head listlessly clasped in her lap, and a hot flush She had been hurried on to say this, by upon her cheek. She was lost in a dreary the rush of her disturbed thoughts; but contemplation of the sacrifice which was Mary was not a woman to complain of her about to be exacted from her, and of the husband. She came to a sudden standstill, possible harm it might do. She was think and rose up, and looked at her watch. ing of her children, what effect it might It is about time to go,” she said, “and have on them — and she was thinking bit- I am sorry to give you the trouble of going terly, that for good or evil she could not with me. It is not worth while for so short help it; that again, as on many a previous a distance; but, at least, don't say anything occasion, her husband's restless mind had more about it, please.” carried the day over her calmer judgment, Mrs Kirkman had already made the reand that there was no way of changing it. mark that Mary was not at all " dressed." To say that she consented with personal She had on her brown muslin, which was pain of the most acute kind, would not be the plainest morning dress in her possession, to say all. She gave in, at the same time as everybody knew; and instead of going with a foreboding utterly indistinct, and to her room to make herself a little nice, which she would not have given utterance she took up her bonnet, which was on the tato, yet which was strong enough to heighten ble, and tied it on without even so much as into actual misery the pain and shame of looking into the glass. I am quite ready," her position. When Mrs. Kirkman came she said, when she had made this simple adin, with her eyes full of observation, and dition to her dress, and stood there, looking making the keenest scrutiny from beneath everything that was most unlike the Mathe downcast lids, Mrs. Ochterlony was not donna of former days— flushed and clouded in a position to hide her emotions. She over, with lines in her forehead, and the was not crying, it is true, for the circum- corners of her mouth dropped, and her fair stances were too serious for crying; but it large serene beauty hidden beneath the was not difficult to form an idea of her state thunder-cloud. And the Colonel's wife was of mind from her strangely listless attitude, very sorry to see her friend in such a state and the expression of her face.

of mind, as may be supposed. “I have come to go with you,” said Mrs. “My dear Mary,” Mrs Kirkman said, takKirkman. “I thought you would like to ing her arm as they went out, and holding have somebody to countenance you. It it fast. “I should much wish to see you in will make no difference to me, I assure you, a better frame of mind. Man is only the Mary; and both the Colonel and I think if instrument in our troubles. It must have there is any doubt, you know, that it is by been that Providence saw you stood in need far the wisest thing you could do. And I of it, my dear. He knows best. It would only hope

not have been sent if it had not been for • Doubt!” said Mary, lighting up for the your good.” moment. “ There is no more doubt than "In that way, if I were to stand in the there is of all the marriages made in Scot- sun till I got a sunstroke, it would still be land. The people who go there to be mar- for my good,” said Mary in her anger, ried are not married again afterwards that “You would say, it was God's fault, and I ever heard of. There is no doubt what- not mine. But I know it is my fault; I ever — none in the world. I beg your par- ought to have stood out and resisted, and I don. I am terribly vexed and annoyed, have not had the strength; and it is not for and I don't know what I am saying. To good, but evil. It is not God's fault, but hear any one talk of doubt!”

ours. It can be for nobody's good.” “My dear Mary, we know nothing but But after this, she would not say any what the Major has told,” said Mrs. Kirk- more. Not though Mrs. Kirkman

was

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