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ma'am; only Mrs. Wimple said she didn't | in any outlines that had been left a little want me,” remarked Jane.

vague. “ Then go in immediately and make a “We know each other so well now, I fire," answered Mrs. North imperiously; don't think I ought to call you Mrs. Baines “and if there are no coals get some in- any longer. I want to call you something stantly, from your mother's cottage or any else.” where else. There must be shops in the “Let it be anything you like, my dear." village. Order tea and sugar, and every; “ What does the Madon - Mrs. Hibthing else you can think of. I will send bert call you? But I know; she calls to London for my maid and cook to come you Aunt Anne. Let me do the same.” and help you. Make haste and light a fire • Yes, dear, you shall call me Aunt in the Where is my shawl? | Anne." Here, driver, take this telegram; and “Oh, I am so glad to be with you," order these things from the village, and Mrs. North went on. “I have longed say they are wanted instantly” — she had sometimes to put down my head on your written the list on the leaf of a note-book ; lap and cry. I have been just as misera. "and this is for your trouble,” she added. ble as you have — more, a thousand times

“ Now, you dear old lady,” she said, more ; for my shame" — she liked indulggoing back to “let me put this shawling Aunt Anne in her estimate of her own over your feet first, for we must make you conduct —"has been all my own wicked warm. Consider that I have adopted doing, but yours was only a sad mistake. you.” In a moment she ran up-stairs, and I don't think we ought to be separated searched for a soft pillow to put under any more, Aunt Anne; we ought to live Aunt Anne's head, and then produced together, and take care of each other." some grapes and jelly from the basket she My dear," said the old lady, still lying had brought with her. Aunt Anne sucked on the sofa, “there will be no living for in a little of the jelly almost eagerly, and me; I am going to die.” as she did so Mrs. North realized that she “Oh no," Mrs. North answered, with a had only just come in time. “We must little gasp," you are going to live and be send for a doctor," she thought ; " but I taken care of, and loved properly. I wish am afraid that everything is too late." the doctor would come again. Then I

In twenty-four hours the cottage looked should speak on medical authority. Go to like another place. Mrs. North's cook sleep a little while; I will sit by you." had taken possession of the kitchen; a An hour passed. Aunt Anne opened comfortable-looking, middle-aged maid her eyes. went up and down the stairs; the windows “ Could you put me by the fire, my were open, though there were fires burn- dear; I am very cold.” ing in all the grates. There were good “ Yes, of course I can; but wait a mothings in the larder, and an atmosphere of ment. Clarke will come and help me. home was everywhere. Aunt Anne was Clarke," she called, "I want you to come bewildered, but Mrs. North looked quite and help me to move Mrs. Baines.” happy.

Now you look more comfortable,” she “I have taken possession of you," she said, when it' was done. “ There is a footexplained, the second morning after she stool for your feet, and the peacock beside came. “You ought to have sent for me you to keep you company.' sooner. In fact, you ought never to have Aunt Anne sat still for a moment, look.

You only got into mischief, and ing at the fire. so did I."

“My dear,” she said presently, “I have “Yes, my dear,” said Aunt Anne been thinking of what you said; we have feebly, we both did."

both suffered very much; we ought to be Mrs. North's lips quivered for a mo- together. Only now you have the hope ment.

of a new life before you. But we have " It shows that we ought to have stayed both suffered,” she repeated. together,” she said, half crying.

“ Per

Mrs. North knelt down beside her like haps I should have been better if you had a girl. “Suffered,” she said. “Oh, dear not gone. Oh, I shall never forget all you old lady, if you only knew what I have suftold me this morning.” For Aunt Anne, fered - the loneliness of my girlhood, the in sheer desperation, as well as in penitent misery of my marriage, the perpetual hun. love and gratitude, had poured out the ger for happiness, the struggle to get it. whole history of her life since she left And oh! the longing to be loved, and the Cornwall Gardens, and Mrs. North's keen madness when love came, and then then perception and quick sympathy had filled | — but you know,” she whispered passion

left me.

ately – “ I need not go over it; the shame, that is the meaning of the happiness that and the publicity, and the relief I dared has forced itself upon me lately. It is oo not to acknowledge even to myself, when use trying to be miserable any longer. I was set free. And then the awful dread Happiness seems to be coming nearer and that even he, the man for whom I did it nearer. I have a sense of forgiveness in all, would perhaps despise me as the rest my heart; surely I know what it means ? of the world did. I am not wicked nat. Perhaps, as Aunt Anne says, all I have urally, I am not, indeed — I don't think suffered has been an atonement for the any woman on this green earth has loved wrong. One little letter, and I shall be beautiful things and longed to do righteous content. The dear old lady shall never go things, more than I have, or felt the mis- away from me; she shall just be made as ery of failure more bitterly.'

happy as possible.” She got up and went " It will come right now, my love," to the window, and leaned out towards the Aunt Anne said gently. “You are young; garden. “Those trees at the end," she it will all come right. You said you had said to herself,“ surely must hide the way a telegram, and that he was coming back?" down to the dip, where she listened. It is

“Yes, he is coming back,” Mrs. North very lovely to-day"- and she looked up answered, in a low voice; “but I do not at the sky; “but I wish the doctor would want him to set it right because I did the come, I should feel more satisfied." wrong for him, or just to make reparation There was a footstep. “Yes, Clarke; is from a sense of honor. I do not want to anything the matter? Why have you spoil his life; for some people will cut come? You look quite pale.' him if he marries me; it is only — only • Mrs. Baines is going to die, ma'am; I - if he loves me still, and more than all am certain of it." the world, as I do him — that is the only “Going to die? " Mrs. North's face chance of it all coming right. It is time I turned white, and she went towards the had a letter But here is your beef-tea. door. Let us try and forget all our troubles, and “ I don't mean this minute, .ma'am; but get a little peace together.” She looked just now she opened her eyes and looked up with an April-day smile, took the beef- round as if she didn't see, and then she tea from Clarke, and, holding it before picked at her dress as dying people do at Aunt Anne, watched with satisfaction the sheet — it's a sure sign. Besides, she every mouthful she took.

is black round the mouth. I don't believe “I fear I give you a great deal of she will live three days." trouble,” the old lady said gratefully. Mrs. North clasped her hands with fear.

“It isn't trouble”- and the tears came “I wish she would stay in bed; the docto her eyes; "it is blessedness. I never tor said she ought to do so yesterday ; but had any one before to serve and wait on she seemed better, and begged so hard to whom I loved; even my hands are sensible come down this morning that I gave way;" of the happiness of everything they do for “It's another sign,” said the maid; you. It is new life. But now we have they always want to get up towards the talked too much, and you must go to last.” sleep."

“ The doctor promised he would be here “ Yes, my love" - and Aunt Anne put by twelve, and now it is nearly two.” her head back on the pillow; “I will do He came an hour later. "She must be as you desire, but you are very autocratic.” | taken up-stairs at once," he said; so they

« Of course." Mrs. North laughed at carried her up, Clarke and the docior be. hearing the familiar word, and then went tween them, while Mrs. North followed to the dining-room for a little spell of anxiously; and all of them knew that Aunt quietness.

Anne would never walk down the stairs * Clarke," she said to the maid who had again. been waiting there, “ go in and watch by Then a telegram was sent to Florence Mrs. Baines; she must not be left alone." and Walter, at Monte Carlo.

Mrs. North sat down on the chair that But she was a little better in the evenAunt Anne bad pulled out for Alfreding, and Mrs. North brightened up as she Wimple after her return from London. saw it. Perhaps Clarke was a foolish

“Oh, I wonder if it will come right?” | croaker, and signs were foolish things to she said to herself. “If it does — if it does trouble one's self about. The old lady

- if it does ! But I ought to have had a might live, after all, and there would be letter by this time; it is long enough since some happiness yet. the telegram from Bombay. Something No, Aunt Anne, you are not going to tells me that it will come right; I think I get up yet,” she said next morning, in



answer to an inquiring look ; "you must tion. That horrid lord mayor, as she wait until the doctor has been ; remember mentally called Sir William, had probably it is my turn to be autocratic."

told his solicitor all about Alfred Wimple; “ Yes, my love ” — and she dozed off. and the little dried-up gentleman before Half her time was spent in sleep. Since her, who was (as she had instantly rememMrs. North's arrival there had stolen over bered) the uncle, had come to see how the her a gradual contentment, as if a crisis land lay. Mrs. North felt as convinced as had occurred, and the blackness of the Sir William had done that the whole past grown din. Perhaps it was giving affair was a conspiracy between the uncle place to all that was in her heart, or the and nephew, and she promptly determined sound of Mrs. North's fresh young voice, to make Mr. Boughton as uncomfortable or the loving touch of her hand. Be it as possible. what it might, Alfred Wimple and the mis- " I quite understand the business on ery that he had caused seemed to have which you have come to see Mrs. Baines," gone farther and farther away, while peace- she said, with decision, but with a twinkle fulness was stealing over her. “It is like of mischief she could not help in her being with my dear Florence and Walter,” eyes. “ You have heard, of course, that she said to Mrs. North once — “only the conduct of your delightful nephew, perhaps you understand even better than Mr. Alfred Wimple, is entirely found out.' they could, for you have gone through the “God bless my soul !” said Mr. pain."

Boughton, astonished out of his senses. 6 Yes, dear Aunt Anne, I have gone “ What has he to do with Mrs. Baines ?" through the pain” – and Mrs. North sat “You perhaps approved of his romantic waiting for the doctor again, not that she marriage ?” Mrs. North inquired politely. was very uneasy to-day, for the old lady She was enjoying herself enormously. was a little better, and hope grows up “ His romantic marriage !” exclaimed quickly when youth passes by.

the lawyer. “I know nothing about it.

My dear madam, what do you mean? Is CHAPTER XXII.

that scoundrel married ?" The sound of the door-bell, and of “ Most certainly he is married,” Mrs. some one being shown into the drawing- North went on; "and, as far as I can

gather particulars from Mrs. Baines, your “The doctor has come, Aunt Anne," charming niece is a dressmaker at LipMrs. North said. “I will invigorate my hook.” self with a talk before I bring him to you, "At Lipbook !” exclaimed Mr. Boughand tell him that you are much better.” ton, more and more astonished ; "why — But instead of the doctor she found a little why dried-up-looking old gentleman standing " Where she lives with her grandin the middle of the room, holding his hat mother,” continued Mrs. North, in the and umbrella in one hand. She looked at most amiable voice. “Her mother, I unhim inquiringly.

derstand, lets lodgings in the Gray's Inn "I understood that Mrs. Baines was Road, and it was Mr. Wimple's kind inhere," he said. Mrs. North looked up tention to pay the amount he owes her with expectation. “I have come from out of Mrs. Baines's fortune." London expressly to see her on important “Good gracious! that was the woman business. I was solicitor to the late Sir who came to me the other day. I never William Rammage,” he added. Mrs. heard of such a thing in my life! How North's spirits revived. This looked like did he get hold of Mrs. Baines ?” There a new and exciting phase of the story. was something so genuine in his bewilder. “ Are you Mr. Boughton ?”

ment that Mrs. North began to believe in “I am Mr. Boughton ” — and he made his honesty, but she was determined not her a formal little bow. “I see you un to be taken in too easily. derstand

“The details are most exciting, and will "Oh, yes," she said eagerly; "and the be exceedingly edifying in a court of jusex-lord mayor was the old lady's cousin. tice. Now may I inquire why you so I regret to say that she is very ill in bed, particularly wish to see the old lady?” and cannot possibly see you, but I should * I came to see her about the late Sir be happy to deliver any message.” Mr. William Rammage,” Mr. Boughton said, Boughton looked at her with benevolent finding it difficult to collect his scattered criticism, and thought her a most beautiful wits after Mrs. North's information. young woman. She, meanwhile, grasped “ Is he really dead, then?" she asked the whole situation to her own satisfac. politely.


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“Most certainly; he died on the fifth, remark now” — she said the last words and Mrs. Baines

between laughter and tears. “She is much too ill to see anybody; My dear madam," Mr. Boughton exand as I understand he burned his will

, claimed, in rather a shocked voice, “pray and has not left her any money, it is don't let us begin a discussion. To go hardly worth while to worry her with par- back to Mrs. Baines, I thiok if I could ticulars of his unlamented death."

see her “ Burned his will? Yes, for some ex- “It is quite impossible ; you would retraordinary reason he did – so Charles, mind her of your horrible nephew, and the manservant, tells me — he did it in that would kill her." her presence. He had no time to make “What on earth has she got to do with another, for the agitation caused by her my nephew ?” and this time his manner visit killed him."

convinced Mrs. North that he was not an “Or perhaps it was the mercy of Prov. impostor. idence,” remarked Mrs. North.

* Mr. Boughton,” she said gravely, Mr. Boughton did not heed the remark," the old lady is very, very ill. The docbut asked :

tor says she cannot live, and I fear that " May I inquire if you are in Mrs. the sight of you would kill her straight Baines's confidence ?"

off; but, if you like, I will go and sound “Entirely," she answered decisively. her, and find out if she is strong enough

“Then I may tell you that no former to bear a visit from you ” — and, the lawwill has been found, and she is next of yer having agreed to this, Mrs. North kin. There are no other relations at all, went up-stairs. I believe, and she will therefore inherit “Dearest old lady" — her girlish voice about three times as much as if the had always a tender note in it when she burned will had remained in existence.” spoke to Aunt Anne. “ I have some good

“Really!” — and Mrs. North clapped news for you - very good news. her hacds for joy. And then the tears think you could bear to hear it?” came into her eyes. “Oh, but it is too late, “ Yes, my love," Aunt Anne answered for she is dying ; nothing can save her; wheezily, but you must forgive me if I she is dying. I I have telegraphed to her am sceptical as to its goodness.” nephew and niece to come back from Mrs. North knelt down by the bedside, Monte Carlo. She has had a terrible and stroked the thin hands.

" Mr. shock, from which she will never recover; Boughton is down-stairs; he has come to and besides that she has virtually starved tell you that Sir William Rammage is herself and taken a hundred colds. She dead.” has not the strength of a fly left. I know “ Then it is true," Mrs. Baines said she is dying,” Mrs. North added, with a sadly, “Poor William! My dear, we sob she could not help.

once lay in the same cradle together, while “Don't you think that the good news I our mothers watched beside it. What bring might save her life ?”

does Mr. Boughton say about Alfred ? " “ No; and I am not sure that it would “ He doesn't appear to know anything be good to save it, she has suffered so about bis wickedness." cruelly. What a wicked old man Sir “I felt sure he did not; I never beWilliam Rammage was !” she burst out, lieved in the depravity of human nature.” and looked up sympathetically at Mr. “ Then how would you account for Mr. Boughton.

Wimple? ” she asked, with much interest. “He was my client,” the lawyer urged. The old lady considered for a moment.

“He allowed the poor old lady to starve “Perhaps he was my punishment for for want of money, and now that he is all I did in the past. I'have thought that dead and she is dying it comes to her.” lately, and tried to bear it only it is

“Yes, it is very unfortunate very un- more than I can bear. It has humiliated fortunate."

me too much. Tell me why Mr. Boughton “ Everything seems to be a point of has come; is it anything about Alfred ?" view," Mrs. North went on, in the eager “Nothing," was the emphatic answer; manner which so often characterized her. " and if you see him I advise you not to

Poverty is the point of view from which mention Mr. Wimple's name. we look at riches we cannot get; from vice “ My dear," Aunt Anne said impres. we look at virtue which we cannot attain ; sively, "except to yourself, his name will from hell we look at the heaven we cannot never pass my lips again. I feel that it is reach. Perhaps Sir William Rammage desecration to my dear Walter and Florwould appreciate the latter part of the ence to mention it in their house. I shall



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never forgive myself for having brought | niary obligation I shall still remain your him into it. But perhaps all I have suf-debior. But there are some things I fered is some expiation ; you and I have should like to do. I wish Mrs. North to both felt that about our frailty” — and have a sum of money; I will tell her my she shook her head. “What is the good wishes in regard to it.” news?”

“ Perhaps I had better return in a day “Mr. Boughton brought it, and it is or two. You must forgive me for saying, about Sir William's money.” Mrs. Baines my dear madam, that, with the vast sum was silent for a moment; then she looked that is now at your disposal, you ought to up, with a little wink, and a smile came to make a will immediately. I could take her lips. “I should like to see him," she instructions now if you like." said. “ But will you help me to get up

" Instructions ?" she repeated, with a first? I think if I could sit by the open puzzled air; “I will give them all to Mrs. window I should be better."

North, and you can take them from her. "Perhaps you would, you dear; it's You will not think me inhospitable if I warm enough for summer. Let me help ask you to leave me now, Mr. Boughton ? you into your dressing-gown. Stay, you I am very tired. Tell me, did they send shall wear mine. It is very smart, with for you when William Rammage died ? lavender bows; quite proper halt-mourn. "'They telegraphed for me immediately, ing for a cousin. There - - now – gently " and when I got to the office I found your - and she helped the old lady into the letter waiting for me -- the one you wrote easy-chair by the window. It was a long before you left London, giving me your business, but at last she was safely there, address here.". She did not hear him; with the sunshine falling on her, and the her eyes had closed again, ard her chin soft lace and lavender ribbons of Mrs. rested down on the lavender ribbons; the North's dressing-gown about her poor old sunshine came in and lighted up her face, neck.

and that which Mr. Boughton saw written " And are you sure it's good news, my on it was unmistakable. love ? ” she asked Mrs. North.

“ You are quite right, my dear madam,” “ I am quite sure,” Mrs. North an- he said to Mrs. North, as he sat partaking swered, as she tucked an eider-down quilt of the refreshment Aunt Anne had devised round Aunt Anne. “He has come from for him; "it has come too late." London on purpose to bring it to you." He looked at his watch when he had

Has he partaken of any refreshment finished. “I have only a quarter of an since he arrived ?"

hour to stay,” he said.

" Before I go, “No; but I will have some ready for would you give me some explanation of him when he comes down from his talk the extraordinary statements you made on with you. Now you shall have your tête- my arrival ?" d-tête– and Mrs. North went back to “ You shall have it," Mrs. North anthe lawyer.

swered eagerly; “but wait one moment, “ You must break it to her very, very till I have taken this egg and wine to Mrs. gently, and you mustn't be more than five Baines and seen that the maid is with her." or ten minutes with her,” she said, as she "That's a remarkably handsome girl,” took him up to the bedroom door.

the lawyer thought, when she had disap. Aunt Anne was so much fatigued with peared; “I wonder where I have heard the exertion of getting up that she found her name before, and who she is ?” But it a hard matter to receive Mr. Boughton this speculation was entirely forgotten with all the courtesy she desired to show when he heard the story of his nephew's him. She took the news of her fortune doings of the last few months. “God very quietly; it did not even excite her. bless my soul!” he exclaimed; “ why, he

"It is too late,” she said. "Nothing might be sent to prison with hard labor can solace me for what I have lost; but it and serve him right, the scoundrel!” will enable me to make provision for my “I am delighted to hear you say dear Walter and Florence.” Her eyes it,” Mrs. North answered impulsively. closed; her head sank on her breast; she “ Please shake hands with me. I am put out her hand towards the window, as ashamed to say I thought it all a conif to clutch at something that was not spiracy, even after you came, and that is there.

why I was so disagreeable." Mr. Boughton saw it, and understood. “ Conspiracy, my dear madam ? — why, "I cannot repay you for your kindness the last thing I did to Wimple was to kick

í and consideration," she went on presently. him out of my office ; and I have been “ Even when I have discharged my pecu- / worried by his duos ever since. As for


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