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full of her subject to permit her to restrain the same day which brought him Stephen all expression of her feeling:
Haviland's welcome invitation that he should • You will remember,' she wrote, that I leave the village inn and stay at Meriton. told you about my little pupil, Maggie Bur- It was addressed, as usual, to the postton, the boatman's child, and that she was office, Lynnstoke, and had lain there for ill when you were last at home, so that I some days, until Mr. Holmes bethought could not send for her to come and see you. himself of requesting that the first person I am glad you did not see her. It makes who should go from the village to the town my heart sick to think how I told you of the might be directed to inquire for his letters. model of childish beauty and joyousness I There was but this one, and it lay upon the bad found for you here. If you could see table in his little sitting-room when he reher now you would, I am sure, feel for her turned from an afternoon visit to Meriton, father and far berself as I feel. A dreadful his head and his heart filled partly with the accident has bappened to her. She went on fascinations of Madeleine Burdett, and Monday last to Carbury with some other partly with envy of the wealth, luxury and children, and was knocked down in the refinement amid which she lived. A rustic street by a runaway horse drawing a heavy waiter — who was a good fellow in his way, cart. One of the wheels went over her, not extraordinarily clumsy or exceptionally crushing her right leg in a frightful manner; rapacious, but who contrasted disadvantagethe wonder is that her head escaped, that ously with the gentleman in powder at Merishe was not killed on the spot. The dis-ton - accompanied Mr. Holmes to his room, traction of her father is as much beyond and observed that he merely glanced at the description as the child's sufferings. The letter without taking it up, and asked if leg has been set, and she is likely to live, that was the only one that had come for but will, the doctor says, be permanently him. lame. I am with her as much as possible ;
• It ain't from his sweetheart, anyhow, the little creature is accustomed to me, and Betsy,' said the rustic waiter to a chambertractable in my hands, and I nurse her bet- maid of still more pronounced rusticity, ter than anyone whom her poor father could when they were standing together at the afford to pay. This is Saturday, and I saw inn door presently, inspecting a procession little Maggie on Monday. She came to me of newly-purchased pigs through the vilon her way to the village, looking so pretty, lage-street; it certainly ain't from his so rosy, so happy. You cannot conceive sweetheart, or he'd ha' took it up a deal anything more painful than it is to look at more lively.' her little face, so wasted and discoloured, 0, you think so, do you ?' said Betsy, so sharp and Bushed and distorted, and to with a ponderous but not infelicitous imitalisten to the constant murmur of suffering tion of the scornfully-satirical style of flirtaand fever which comes unceasingly from her tion. You know so much about sweetpoor parched lips. There are those bere hearts' letters, you see.' who think it would have been better had the Don't I just!' returned the rustic waiter, accident been fatal; but her father is not administering to Betsy a portentous push, one of them, nor am I. The child will live, of the kind that ranks as a very emphatic I trust, and she will be as dear or dearer to caress in the queer category of Bri bim than ever, however disfigured, however love-making among people of that class. helpless she may be. I have troubled you. When you had your 'oliday down Southwith this story because I want to account hampton way I'm sure your hand improved for having to ask you if you can let me have wonderful. But,' continued the rustic a little more money than usual, or the regu- waiter, returning to his proposition with lar sum sooner than the regular time. This resolution, it ain't from his sweetheart.” was a case in which I could not be quite • P'raps it's from his mother, Bill,' sugprudent, and the child has become so accus- gested Betsy, as she settled herself against tomed to me that she looks to me as a mat- the door-post in a comfortable attitude for ter of course for what she wants, and I can- gossip, and cracked her finger-joints in sucnot check or resist that just now. I will cession, with a quiet air of enjoyment, like make up by stricter economy for additional that produced by taking snuff. expense now; but I am not afraid to ask • No, it ain't from his mother, neither,' you to let nie do what can be done for said Bill. • It's only young uns as writes poor little Maggie, for I am sure, if you so very straight and spidery, and puts a could see her, such would be your own lot more on the cover than the postman wish.'
wants to tell 'im where it's to be took to. The letter, of which this doleful story Besides, he'd ha' opened it pretty sharp formed a part, reached Horace Holmes on if it was from his mother, bless you.'
• Why?' asked Betsy seriously. She pect, in the simple decoration of the was beginning to regard Bill's opinions room. When the child's weary eyes were with respect, he delivered them with such turned upon the walls, there were cheap decision and backed them up with such pictures for her to see; a bird sang, in its convincing reasons.
cage, hung from the top of the window, * I'll tell you why, Betsy, said Bill con- shaded by clean white curtains; and a fidentially, and with another portentous goodly provision of story-books occupied push, but this time uninspired by ironical the window-sill. Little Maggie was inhumour, when young men gets letters deed sadly changed. She was no longer in from their mothers, them letters always pain; but the languor of severe illness, and has either money or good adwice, and in the mark of past suffering, were there. general both, inside of them. Now, as One thin hand lay on the clean coverlet, they can't know by just looking at the with which Alice had, to the child's great cover whether it's the adwice, as they wery joy, replaced the ordinary patchwork quilt; likely won't take, or the money, as they'll the other was placed under the wan cheek. be precious glad to get, as is inside, they The child's face was turned towards Alice, opens the letters sharp, and puts them- who sat beside the bed ; and the blue eyes, selves out of pain.'
still dim and weak, looked at her with the Betsy regarded Bill admiringly, and searching expression one sometimes sees in cracked all her finger-joints again. Then children's faces. Maggie's golden hair had she offered another suggestion.
all been cut off, and her head looked gro• P'raps he's married, after all, and it's tesquely bare and large as it lay upon the from his wife.'
pillow; but it inattered little, for it did lie • No, Betsy, that ain't it; though it would there; it no longer tossed and turned in account -- among gentlefolks, I mean – for the uncontrollable restlessness, the miserabis takin' of the letter so uncommon cool, ble weariness, of fever. Alice had been likewise for the spideriness; for there's no reading to her, but had discontinued the doubt but what she'd be young. But he exciting narrative of Pouset and bis brethain't married, Betsy ; because he's just ren – - after the adventurous hero had foiled been and ordered me to have his things the plans of his unnatural parents for the sent up to the Squire's, where he's agoin' second time — in order to talk to Maggie. to stay; and all the married men, Betsy, as * You will soon be getting well,' she regoes to Meriton brings their wives with peated,' very soon if you are good, and re
inember everything I have told you.' The conference was broken off at this Are you going away?' asked the child point by the ringing of a bell, which Bill deliberately and slowly, but with a slight was obliged to answer.
quiver through her limbs. When Alice's husband replied to her let- Going away, Maggie?' said Alice, lookter, he did so in a few careless lines. He ing away froin the child's eyes; no, of sent her the money she needed, and said course not.' she had better be careful how she passed • Then why do you tell me to be good much time in one of those wretched hovels, and remember? I needn't remember if or she would probably fall ill herself. And you are here, because you will tell me the home which was Alice's and his own, all over again, won't you? And I'ın very seemed hardly less revolting to his fancy as quiet when you read stories for me,' she he wrote, than the hovel' in which the added, with an alarmed glance at the little maimed child lay, watched by her patient red-and-gold book which lay open on
• Yes, dear,' said Alice, tenderly taking
the little wan hand in hers; you are very • You are much better now, Maggie; you good and quiet, but I want you to be so will soon be getting well,' Alice said to her when I cannot be so much with you. I little charge one day late in the autumn, shall have to stay at home for a few days when the leaves were strewn thickly on the now, and only just come to see you once or ground inland, and the sea looked gray twice in the day.' and cold as the wind ruffled its surface. The little face looked very sad and
The child was lying on a low bed placed wistful. near the window of the one bedroom the Alice went on : The reason of this is little cottage contained. Traces of Alice's because my husband is coming home for a care and thoughtful kindness would have while, and I must be with him.' been easily found by an observer in the • Does he not like sick children?' asked orderly arrangement, in the cheerful as the child simply.
Alice replied with embarrassment, which a coasting sailor, and bad often and often the keen, searching eyes saw readily: left her mother for weeks at a time.
“ He does not dislike them, Maggie ; • When you came back to her was she but men are not accustomed to children, glad ?' and to see illness, as women are. You Of course she was glad, Maggie,' ancannot understand this yet, my dear. My swered her father. “She were more downhusband thinks I ought to be at home when hearteder when I went away, and more uphe is there, and inako comfortable. hearteder when I comed back, nor anyone You understand that, Maggie?'
could think, wur your poor mother.' • Yes, I understand that,' said Maggie • She wasn't afraid of you, was she, seriously ; but father likes to bave things father?' comfortable too, and he never gets tired of • Lord bless you, child, no! What should me because I am sick.'
ha' made her afraid of me?' • But you are his own child,' said Alice.
Maggie lay silent for a few minutes, a She shook her feeble head, implying that considering look on her wistful little face. Alice was saying very weak things, and Then she spoke again: that it was no use, and said:
• The lady's husband isn't a sailor, is he, • But I am not your own child, and you father?' never get tired of ine cither.'
• No, he's a gentleman as makes pictures • I know, I know,' said Alice; “but it is of different places — grand houses, and different. I cannot make you understand; parks, and the like.' you must only promise me
to be very
•I know,' said Maggie sagely — like good.'
Bluebeard's Castle in the green
book.' Maggie assented wearily, and soon de- James Burton nodded.
He was clared herself drowsy, declining further to quainted with the work of art in question, investigate the history of Pouset. But the and regarded it as splendid. child did not go to sleep so soon as Alice • Is he wicked, father?' believed: she lay with her eyes closed, Wicked, Maggie? How should I thinking over what had passed. She had know? What ever has come to you, little strong natural good sense, and much can- un? No, he ain't wicked as I knows on.' dour and directness of character, in addi- • I think he is wicked - I am sure he is tion to that keen penetration of motives wicked,' said the child excitedly; he must and feelings which renders children such be, because I know she isn't glad to see terrible household police. Something in him. He must be wicked, because he frightall this contradicted what Alice had taught ens her.' her of the love for his fellows which God Nothing could shake this conviction on requires of man; and Maggie knew, as Maggie's part. Iler persistence disquieted well as Alice, that Alice would have to her father, to whom she said with her last keep her out of sight of this returning hus- good-night, her thin arms closely clasped band, and that she was afraid of him. about his neck, ‘Don't let him do the lady
She confided her feelings — not with re- any harm.' gard to herself, in that respect she main- From that hour the chill entertained a tained all a child's pride and reticence, sort of nervous aversion to Alice's husband but with regard to Alice – to her father who returned to Bateman's cottage on that night, when he was sitting by her bed af- the following day — which was probably a ter bis supper, and finding it, as usual, very morbid result of her suffering and debilihard work to keep his eyes open until the tated state. When Alice came to her for little one should settle into the sleep which a few minutes, she would look at her had now begun once more to last till morn- searchingly, with mysterious intelligence in ing.
her face; she would return her embrace • Did you ever go away from mother? I with almost desperate eagerness; she would don't mean to your work, but a long way turn away her head upon the pillow when off?' she said to her father, who looked Alice left her, and draw the sheet over her at her in surprise, and asked her what she face. The trouble of the child's mind was wanted to know that for.
strange, and she made no further progress • No, but did you ?' she repeated, with towards strength for many days. She was a little sign of impatience.
in so far recovered that her father, and the Then Burton told her that a long time ago, neighbour who helped him in his household before she was born, when no one at Car- cares, had been given permission to take bury wanted boats, and parties never went her up for some hours each day; but she to Green Island, when there were no cot- had no wish to profit by the permission. tages where they now lived, he had been •I would not like anyone to move me but the lady,' she said to her father; ' let trust he had voluntarily undertaken, which me wait until he is gone away again.
he read in her every glance. When Alice next made her a hurried The weather was rough and cold, but visit, her face was pale, and there were Henry Hurst went out early each day and dark lines under her eyes. Maggie saw in seldom returned until the light was waning. a minute that she had been crying, and Alice did not profit much by his absence to was so restless and excited all day that her visit little Maggie. Her trouble was very father thought the fever must be setting in keen and bitter in its revival; it was worse again. Another day Burton told her he than she had thought or feared. The knife was going to row the lady's husband to was at the wound again, and turned in it Green Island, cold and gloomy though the mercilessly. She lacked strength for anyweather was, and that he was outside wait- thing but solitude; she could not face the ing for him. Then Maggie made her searching looks, the sudden questions, of the father lift her up so that she could look little girl; neither could she command her through the window, but she took good care former facility of inventing stories, nor her not to be seen, murmuring to herself, 'He former indefatigability in reading them. So doesn't like sick children. She looked at she made doll's clothes for her, and supplied Henry Hurst as he stood on a little patch her with such simple toys as she could buy of gravel outside the cottage, his face in the village, and concocted broth and custurned towards the door, his sketch-book tards for her, and sent her servant often in his hand - looked at him with a child's during the day to see that the child wanted minute observation, and with mingled curi- for nothing, but she visited Maggie only in osity and aversion. Then Burton laid her the morning. The child imputed this down in her bed again and left her. change to the lady's' husband, and hated
“I thought I never saw him before,' she him with the full strength of her energetic 'muttered, and I didn't. How I wish he little heart, but, in her characteristic childwould go away.'
ish pride, she did not complain either to the The few days of her husband's stay neighbour who took care of her or to her brought to Alice even more suffering than father. she had apprehended. Their meeting was Alice had only a general and superficial on bis side cold, on hers embarrassed, and knowledge of her husband's proceedings they talked of few subjects except their during his absence. In his tyrannical dispomoney-matters and the common-place oc- sition, the love of concealment, when concurrences of their lives. Alice did her cealment was hurtful to her and furnished best to make her simple home comfortable him with a tacit manifestation of his confor him, and any other than Henry Hurst tempt, was strong, and he rarely told her would have acknowledged cheerfully that more than that he should be near a certain she had not succeeded badly. Everything post-town at a certain date. Still, during was neat and bright and clean, and the the spring months of that year she bad evidences of Alice's housewifely industry heard some particulars of his occupation, and invention in the decoration of the little and had even seen some of his drawings. sitting-room were by no means contempti- But now he told her literally nothing. The ble. But he saw it all with jaundiced eye:, name of Meriton, the mention of the Haviand a heart full of rebellion against his lands, never passed his lips. This absolute fate, and loathing of the tie which he had silence was not altogether the result of the entered into. A vision of Madeleine in sense of his own baseness – inseparable her rich, tasteful dress, with her airy, from his possession of intelligence which, graceful manner, moving about her luxuri- however he stifled it, he could not ignore – ous home, was for ever before his mind; it also formed a principal integral portion and here was this sad, faded woman before of a plan which had begun to take shape in his eyes, without one ray of the light which his mind before he left Meriton. emanated from the goddess of his recollec- In his walks by the coast, prolonged for tion, following him about with her timid, miles, Henry Hurst thought incessantly of the reproachful look. She did not intend to project of pleasure, freedom, delight, which reproach lim; she had long ago learned had been assuming more and more of the apthat reproaches and remonstrances were pearance and the attitude of possibility, every alike vain ; but it was impossible for him, day since he had caught a delirious glimpse though day by day his conscience became of it, in the desperation with which he had more callous and his heart was hardened, regarded his marriage when he first felt the to escape from the silent accusation of cow- sway of his vehement passion for Madeleine. ardice and the cruelest falsehood to the Alice must know that theirs could never be
a happy union. Before he could expect to unexplained, disturbing element added to see Madeleine again, he had to get through the already numerous sources of the disunsome weeks. During that time the scheme ion between herself and her husband, for which he had in his mind might be matured which her timid nature led her to blame and put in operation. He would return to herself mercilessly. Though an innocent, London as soon as he could, with any pro- unworldly, and in many respects a weak, priety, do so. It was not his interest just woman, Alice was by no means a dull one. then openly to outrage Alice's feelings. "He The instinctive feminine sagacity in all that occasionally devoted a little time to specu- concerns the affections was largely devellating upon those feelings; he required to oped in her, and she had very soon detected understand them now inore than he had in her husband's manner a preoccupation, a ever before needed such comprehension. concentration of thought, a musing moodiThe last thing that a man will ever permitness, which, if not so perpetually trying as himself to believe, no matter how lightly he his former incessant discontent, fault-findbas valued his wife's love, is that he has ing, and contempt, put her still farther from lost it; so that Henry Hurst had not even him, made her feel more hopelessly ignorant the trivial excuse of being able to persuade of his real life. For a little, Alice had felt himself that what he hoped to succeed in puzzled to account for this change; but doing was not really cruel; that it ought to that other terrible instinct, jealousy, awoke be an easier and pleasanter life for Alice to and told her what was the solution. Alice be entirely separated from him. Taking as was not actually much older than in the the base of his reflections the undoubted time at Paris, when she had suffered from fact that she loved him, he proceeded to jealousy in its general and most common discuss with himself the best means of per-| form. “But she was at an age when a little suading her that there was no chance of time makes a great difference in one's menpeace for her in opposing his wishes. tal condition; and she read now, with per
But, if she should persist in opposing him, spicacity which she could not then have athow could she carry her point? She had tained, the meaning of this new and more no friends, no one to whom she could resort tormenting mood of her tyrant. Reason as against him ; she knew nothing of his had no power over the anguish with which life when away from her, not even the name this fresh revelation of her misery filled of anyone with whom he associated. If he | Alice's heart. She could not say to herself, were to desert her, she would be helpless. Since I know he does not love me What could be more unlikely than that she since I know he has no generosity, no pity could trace him if, as he hoped, he should for me — since he makes me feel all this escape from the only sphere of life with every day and all day long – why should I which she was acquainted, and enter an- care how his heart is filled, how' his affecother with whose mere externals she was tions are bestowed?' Alice was too pure, quite unfamiliar? He could think of her too just, too jealous a woman for such reameek and gentle nature now; he could soning as this. While she knew by sad excomplacently call to mind her patience, her perience how love could change, and dreaded submission, her timidity, her silent ways, that the day might come in which she should her habit (which he called her love) of learn that it could be killed dead, — such a solitude, her quiet piety, and could give thought, such a possibility as that it might each its' place in his cruel calculation; he be transferred, never sullied her mind for a could judge calmly of the extent to which moment. No; if love for her husband were they would tell, in the inhuman bargain he dead within her, all love would be annihiproposed to make.
lated, and she might go out into the fullestIt was now the day before that on which crowded life of all the world and join the Henry Hurst intended to return to London. throng, — to her not only unknown but Hitherto he had not told Alice anything unimaginable, unconscious that such a about the probable duration of his absence, passion had any part in its composition. but had contented himself with vague re- She was very gentle, but she could be brave marks about the places he was likely to visit sometimes in her resistance to a great injusin the spring. Now he must tell her some- tice, in her resentment of a cruel injury. thing definite. She had been more fretful, · A woman has taken him quite away as he called it, this time than ever. In from me,' she thought, while bitter tears every respect she was an intolerable bore of anger and anguish — anger for which to him; nothing that she said or did but was there was no vent, anguish for which there perverted by his passion-ruled mind. was no solace - stained her delicate cheeks.
During this time, Alice had been by no : A woman has done this; and he is my means blind to the presence of some new, husband - my own — my own — all I have