trast, certainly, now between his affected humility and his boundless authority in that old castle; while he evidently had a dreadful pleasure in the exercise of his extraordinary genius for intrigue, and in considering all around him as mere puppets to be wound up, or wound down, at his own

supreme will.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Something in the tone and manner of Lady Eaglescairn boded, to the quick ear of Lady Edith, no good. Her hostess could not stand being face to face and eye to eye with her, but appeared to veil some concealed, evasive meaning in all she said-except one meaning, which was plain enough --that her guest was expected to depart, on that day, alone. To leave Beatrice behind for a single hour was out of the question; therefore Lady Edith at once politely intimated her fixed resolution to wait until Beatrice could be ready to move, even if she had to wait a week longer.

Father Eustace shot a glance at Lady Eaglescairn of warning or admonition, while he turned over the rustling sheets of a newspaper, as if absorbed in politics; and Lady Eaglescairn, looking much perplexed at this claim on her hospitality, remained silent.

There was a quiet firmness and dignity in Lady Edith's manner, very superior to the mere fineladyism of Lady Eaglescairn, who looked anxiously at Father Eustace, and his eyes remained on the ground. At length, Lady Eaglescairn, after having appeared for some time intent on matching a thread of crimson Berlin wool, felt obliged to say some


thing, and exclaimed, “What a misfortune it is not to have more carriages! I am quite grieved, Lady Edith! - Where are my gloves? – I am quite vexed and annoyed. Have you got the Morning Post,” Father Eustace ?"

It became perfectly obvious that no close carriage was to be forthcoming that day for the conveyance of Beatrice; therefore Lady Edith, politely repeating her hope that next morning they might be kindly favoured with the use of one, rose, with her usual quiet grace of manner, and slowly withdrew.

As Lady Edith opened the door, she was surprised, and almost startled, to meet Mr. Clinton entering Lady Eaglescairn's boudoir. He carried in his hand a box of metallic colours, and a large portfolio, containing sheets of glass, on which Father Eustace was teaching him and Lady Eaglescairn to paint some legendary subject for an eastern window to be placed in his own little chapel. By means of these lessons, and the planning of encaustic tiles, Lady Eaglescairn had found an outlet for all her spare time and thoughts; while, with Mr. Clinton and Father Eustace, she pored over the lives of Romish saints, in search of subjects for her brush. While Father Eustace taught his zealous pupils to copy missals and brasses, and to study all the mysteries of rubrical or legendary antiquity, he talked, with sententious learning, of rood-screens, stone-altars, albs, copes, tunicles, eagles, ambos, and lecterns, till their minds were in a whirl, like any kaleidoscope.



“A lip of lies, a face form’d to conceal,
And without feeling, mock at all who feel ;
With a vile mask the Gorgon would disown,
A cheek of parchment and an eye of stone.” – Byron.

Lady Eaglescairn's carriage stood before the gateway next morning, at the hour appointed by Lady Edith; and all her own baggage had been placed there, but Lord Eaglescairn's servants appeared most unaccountably to have overlooked that of Beatrice, which stood ready packed in her room. Miss Farinelli had actively arranged it all herself early in the morning, in the full anticipation of going home; but, nevertheless, Lady Edith observed a tremulous hurry in her manner, and a burning hectic on her cheek, which unmistakeably indicated an extraordinary degree of suppressed agitation. Beatrice was, if that had been possible, more than usually affectionate in manner to her anxiously observant benefactress, who, nevertheless, fancied that she traced in the tone of her voice an almost compassionate melancholy, which amazed and

perplexed her. Their whole intercourse now gave Lady Edith a vague feeling of apprehension, as if Beatrice knew of some great but inevitable misfortune about to befal them both; and yet how could it be! Though Lady Edith had not forgotten the remark of Junius, that a priest's resentment is implacable, yet she apprehended nothing from Father Eustace; and in the whole wide circuit of her conjectures, could imagine nothing sufficiently agitating to account for the perfect agony of tenderness with which Beatrice had embraced

her when they met in the morning, and which still thrilled in her voice, as well as spoke in her

tearful eyes.

“When we get home,” thought Lady Edith, cheerfully, “no mysteries are acted there: all is free and open as Heaven's own light. Those who have stolen from me the confidence of my own child here, cannot follow me there. Lady Eaglescairn must see, from what I said yesterday, that priestly intriguers need expect no admission to my little home of simple habits, and of simple, unadorned faith, - a home of peace, without manoeuvres, mysteries, or cabals, where life passes according to the plainest dictates of nature and of

Divine grace.

Lady Edith had been impatient to set off during some time, waiting for Beatrice, when it suddenly struck her as very surprising what could be thus delaying her usually punctual companion, who had been evidently anxious herself to escape as early as possible from Eaglescairn Castle. Finding from her watch that it was already long after the hour, and her own impatience making it seem double the time, Lady Edith threaded her way through the long passages to Beatrice's apartment, whom she had so little doubt of finding there, that she spoke while opening the door—but Lady Edith's words seemed to come back as an empty echo. No one was there, and though the baggage of Beatrice was packed, it lay untouched on the floor.

When Lady Edith stood alone in the vacant

room, a sense of unaccountable apprehension suddenly came over her. Why was Beatrice absent so long, and where had she gone? Dr. M Indre had thought it almost too great a risk of fatigue if she ventured down stairs at all, and had with the greatest hesitation consented that she should attempt the drive to Heatherbrae. That she had left her room, therefore, without Lady Edith was surprising, and still more so that she remained long absent. Beatrice had jestingly said that very morning, in pronouncing a jocular panegyric on herself, that if all the time she had ever in her life kept anybody waiting were thrown together it would not make ten minutes, and here she was keeping Lady Eaglescairn's carriage at the door nearly an hour.

Lady Edith sat anxiously down to watch for the return of Beatrice, who must, she thought, be detained in the grand exclusive boudoir of Lady Eaglescairn, there to take a more friendly leave than in the drawing-room would be vouchsafed to herself. Lady Eaglescairn was a great giver of small presents, and Lady Edith saw before her mind's

eye the little painted paper cutter or cardboard work-box she would probably give as mark of everlasting friendship and patronage to Beatrice, after having elaborately displayed to her all the splendours of her own magnificent jewelbox. Lady Edith amusing her weariness thus with an imaginary sketch of Lady Eaglescairn's pompous farewell, seated herself almost absently in the window of her own room, gazing at the


« VorigeDoorgaan »