"STAY where you are, mother," cried Mr. Carrington
there is no danger whatever." Esther had alighted unassisted, and
was about to help her to descend the steps of the carriage, under the
apprehension that an accident had occurred.
An accident had occurred, but not to the carriage, about
which Mrs. Carrington was solicitous. The old lady resumed her seat,
and called to her son, "Is there anything wrong?"
It was the coachman who made the answer: "It's only a man
knocked down, ma'am."
Mr. Carrington was at that moment engaged, along with the
footman, in lifting the prostrate form, while Esther, coming forward,
uttered a suppressed cry.
"Had you not better come away, Benjamin?" exclaimed the old
lady, again thrusting out her head impatiently.
But Benjamin neither heard nor heeded.
"Carry him into my mother's house," Esther had said; and Mr.
Carrington and the footman followed her with the insensible Philip, while
she led the way thither.
They set him on the little sofa in the parlour, and Mary, who
had thrown aside a heap of homely needlework, was swift to bring a pillow
and lay him down there. It was not long before he came to himself
sufficiently to open his eyes and try to raise himself and to speak.
It was a curious group on which Philip opened his eyes.
There stood Mary Potter at his feet, and beside her an elegant-looking
young man in evening dress. By his side knelt Esther in the same gay
attire, and in the background hovered the footman, not knowing what to
make of the scene before him, but waiting his master's orders with his air
of accustomed formal seriousness. Philip contrived to raise himself,
but it was with a groan that he did so; and as he uttered it, a red stream
burst from his death-pale lips. Nearly as pale as himself, Esther
held her white handkerchief to them for a moment, till he took it from her
hand. He did not thank her; but his eyes rested on her lovingly, and
they had a wonderful power of expressing loving kindness.
"Where are you hurt?" said Mr. Carrington, gently.
"Here," he replied, faintly, laying his other hand on his
"Can you tell me where to find the nearest surgeon?" said Mr.
Carrington, turning to Mary.
"Take me to the hospital," said Philip, now fully roused; "I
have no one to care for me."
"We all care for you," said Mary. "We will not let you
"If he is able, it is the best thing that he could do," said
Philip rose to his feet. "I am quite able; it is all
here," he said, still holding his side.
"Some of the ribs are broken," said Mr. Carrington, after
having felt within Philip's vest.
To Esther it sounded very dreadful, and she gave a pitiful
"Drive your mistress home," said Mr. Carrington, turning the
footman; "and come back here for me as quickly as possible." Then,
taking further thought, he followed the man out of the house. It was
more than likely that his mother might refuse to go on without him.
He hastened up to the carriage window, and Mrs. Carrington
burst forth impatiently, "I thought you were never corning back. I
am perishing with cold sitting here."
"I am sorry you have been kept waiting, mother," he said,
gently. "You can drive home now, and send the carriage back for me."
"Are you not coming with me?" she exclaimed, in astonishment.
"I must stay and look after this poor man a little," he
"Can't the police look after him?" she rejoined. "He is
very likely tipsy—these sort of people always are. What was he doing
out at this time of night?"
"He is not tipsy, mother; and he has been hurt in trying to
do us a service," he answered, patiently. He was too much accustomed
to her to notice her unreasonableness.
"How did it happen?" she asked. "What was Reynolds
"I will tell you another time, mother," he replied; and this
time with an impatient gesture. "Drive on."
This last was addressed to the coachman, and, waving his
hand, the carriage moved off, and Mrs. Carrington resigned herself to her
corner, and to mental animadversions on "that Quixotic boy," as she had
more than once called her son.
To tell how it happened we must go back to the earlier part
of the evening; when Philip left his home, and followed through the snow
the strange woman who had stood before the Potters' parlour-window with a
gesture of menace.
The falling snow was bewildering; the movements of the woman
were bewildering too. Philip followed her to the bridge, and saw her
lean over the parapet and look down into the river. It was a strange
night to choose for outdoor meditation; on another kind of evening he
could have understood it. He passed, and repassed, and would have
spoken, but that his spirit was too sore to bear the repulse which
certainly awaited him, too sore to bear repulsion from the meanest of his
Then, as if scared by the passers-by, of whom there were
still a few, she abruptly quitted the bridge, and hastened along the side
of the river. There was very little to be distinguished in that maze
of snow-drift, even close at hand, and nothing at all at a little
distance, and not wishing to appear to watch her too closely, he allowed
her to pass out of sight, and awaited her return. That she must
return he knew, for the path along the river-bank ceased at a certain
point. After waiting for a while, he followed with a quickened pace;
but the woman was gone. She must have escaped past him in the
darkness on the other side of the way: except the river, there was no
Then he became absorbed in his own troubles. The
blackness closed over his soul; the horrid cruelties of sin assailed his
shrinking spirit. He could not utter a cry for pity to the pitiless
heaven above him, to the horror of great darkness around him.
He stood still by the river-brink. Not a sound came up
from the blackness. There was a light mid-way in the stream, whose
faint dismal reflection only served to show how black it was beneath,
above, on every side. Some barge was floating down with the tide.
Then another light moved towards where he stood, no doubt the policeman on
Suddenly there was a splash, and the light on the shore
disappeared. Philip ran in the direction of the sound, and gave
notice of his coming by a cry.
He was answered from the foot of a flight of steps that led
down to the river's brink, and which he had passed in the darkness—the
steps of an immemorial ferry, which still plied over the busy stream.
A policeman's lantern guided and a policeman's voice called out for his
aid. It was here that the woman had disappeared. She was now
struggling doggedly but silently with her rescuer.
"Give me a hand with this woman here, will you?" he cried.
Philip descended, and helped to drag her up upon the bank.
"A nice mess you've made of it," said the man, savagely, and
shaking the water from his nether garments by stamping violently.
"You took care to choose a place where there wasn't enough water to drown
a cat, you—" He didn't say what, which was just as well perhaps.
"Givin' a fellow a wetting enough to make him ketch his death, fishing you
out again, all for nothink." He seemed quite to resent the fact of
her safety. "Let me see you," he said, flashing his bull's-eye on
the forlorn figure, over which Philip's heart was yearning with his
chivalrous Christian tenderness. He had expected to see a younger
woman, as also had Philip, whose recognition of Mrs. Wiggett was
instantaneous, in spite of her present plight and absence from all that he
could associate with her. Her name burst from his lips in
"You know her, do you?" said the policeman, turning to
"What are you doing here?" asked the latter, in his turn.
"I believe she has gone out of her mind," he whispered to the
policeman. "I know her for an honest man's wife, and will take
charge of her, if you like."
"Honest man's wife or no, she must come along to the station
with me," replied the policeman.
"No, no!" shrieked the woman, struggling as he took hold of
her to lead her away.
The cry went to Philip's heart, as did every cry of distress
he ever heard. "I will take her home," he pleaded.
"No, I'm 'sponsibl.e for her now," answered the man more
civilly. "I wouldn't be doing my duty if I let her go. She
might try it on again."
Philip felt that this was true, and urged him no further, "I
will go and let her husband know," said he.
"Don't tell him!" she cried. "Let him take me,
but don't tell Timothy."
Philip was more than ever convinced that Mrs. Wiggett had
gone out of her mind, and in that condition had run away from home.
Dark and bitter as the night was, he resolved to take the
train to the nearest station, and warn the good gardener of his wife's
The snow had ceased to fall, and the stars were out in the
frosty sky, as Philip walked from the station to Hurst, and walked back
again, almost immediately, with Mr. Wiggett, silent and sorrowful, by his
side. It was midnight before they reached London, and Philip left
his companion, as he seemed to desire, and hastened home. As he
crossed the road to enter the court, a carriage drew up just before him.
In stopping, the horse slipped on the ice, and fell. It was Philip
who helped to raise it. But just as it got on its feet the horse
made a sudden start forward, and one of the shafts of the carriage struck
him on the chest and knocked him down, and, before it could be backed
sufficiently, the still startled animal had planted a foot on the
prostrate form, and Philip became insensible.
IN THE HOSPITAL.
"IT is the best thing he can do," repeated Mr
Carrington, when he returned and found the injured man bent on going to
the hospital. "My mother's carriage will return in a few minutes.
I will take you there myself," he added, turning to Philip. "I am a
governor, or something of that sort, I believe, of St. George's, and I
happen to know the house surgeon there."
Philip expressed his thanks. He lay on the sofa in
great pain, but with an expression of perfect sweetness on his pallid
face. The cloud was lifted from his spirit. The bodily
suffering had chased it quite away, and restored the inward peace, which
made it triumphant over pain. He had already lost sight of the
accident, and had yielded himself through the mystery of suffering into
the hands of his Father in heaven.
"You will let one of the boys," he said to Mary, speaking
with difficulty, "you will let one of the boys go to my place to-morrow,
and let them know what has happened."
She promised that it should be as he wished. Bob should
go in the morning, as he went to his work.
"Is there anything that I can do?" asked Mr. Carrington,
Philip shook his head, and thanked him.
"This will throw you out of work, will it not?" He was
about to say that he would gladly compensate him for the money lost, but
something checked him. A whisper from Esther had sufficed to let him
know who Philip was. He remembered her enthusiastic account of him
two years ago. In his present state of mind, it would probably have
prejudiced him against Philip but that there was something in the latter
which attracted him powerfully.
"My people will take me on again as soon as I am able to
work," was the reply.
"Have you any friends with whom I could communicate?" asked
Mr. Carrington again.
Once more Philip shook his head, this time somewhat sadly,
and Mary answered for him: "Mr. Ward has no relations."
There was nothing to be done but to wait for the coming of
the carriage, and they passed the rest of the time almost in silence.
Esther had performed a slight ceremony of introduction between Mr.
Carrington and her mother; but they were all suffering from the shock of
the accident, and the silence was less embarrassing than it would
otherwise have been. Philip, indeed, seemed the least concerned
At length the carriage arrived. Philip held out his
hand to Mary, and said, "Good-bye;" then he turned to Esther, who held out
her hand to him. He took it, and retained it in his for a moment.
"I may not get over this," he said. "If you hear that I am dying,
will you come and see me—let me see you—for the last time?"
In great suffering the body often seems to become more
transparent. Philip's look at that moment was transparent enough.
Mr. Carrington managed to slip into the background.
"I will—I will," said Esther, bursting into tears. "It
is all my fault that you are hurt. If I had not gone out is evening
it would not have happened. What had I to do with the gaieties of
the world any more—?"
"Hush!" he said, gently patting her as one might a child, and
leaving her weeping on her mother's shoulder. Carrington had no
opportunity of saying good-night, even, he only bowed to Mary as he passed
over the narrow threshold, saying to Philip, "Take my arm," and leading
him to the carriage.
They were soon at the hospital, and obtained without delay an
interview with the house surgeon, who found on examination that Philip was
suffering from the fracture of two of his ribs, and an injury to the
lungs, which was the cause of the hæmorrhage.
He was admitted at once, and almost immediately conducted to a small
surgical ward, undressed, and put to bed, and the necessary remedies
applied with wonderful celerity. Mr. Carrington did not leave the
hospital till he had seen him comfortably settled for the night.
"Thank you for all your kindness," said Philip, holding out
his hand to Carrington—a hand which the latter noticed was hardened and
distorted by labour, and not, to his fastidious eyes, too clean. The
engrained soil of his smithy work was not easily washed off.
"You have very little to thank me for," replied Carrington;
"but I hope you are comfortable for the night."
"I am quite happy," murmured Philip, dreamily. And then
rousing himself a little, he added, "If you only knew how happy! I
had lost my hold on life and peace, and through this suffering I have
found it again. If you know what I had lost, you will know that I
welcome the pain through which God has seen fit to restore me."
If he had been talking Sanscrit he could not have been more
unintelligible than he was to Benjamin Carrington; but the latter felt
that this man was speaking of a reality as great and palpable as life
itself, if he could have entered into it. He had known no living
soul with this spirit of life in it. But receiving a warning from
the attendant, he said simply, "I will come and see you to-morrow," and
On the way home his thoughts reverted to Esther. He
longed to take her out of those surroundings, which seemed to him, in
spite of himself, intolerably mean and poor. In spite of himself,
for he both professed and desired to judge differently, and to despise the
judgment of the world in which he moved, whose standards of life and
happiness were things of outward circumstance. And yet he was the
very slave of them. He had seen plainly enough on Philip's
transparent face the look of tender and passionate admiration, but he had
felt no jealousy. It seemed quite natural that he should feel thus
towards her. He, Benjamin Carrington, was too generous to think it a
presumption on Philip's part. It seemed quite natural, too, that
Esther should compassionate the poor fellow—that she should shed tears at
the thought of his dying of his hurt. He loved her all the more for
those tears. But as for her loving Philip, the idea never entered
his head; and in his present state of mind, in spite of his generosity, in
spite of his theories of equality, he would have recoiled from it as a
species of degradation; so potent is prejudice, the prejudice that is
sucked in with the mother's milk. He was quite capable of reasoning
differently; quite capable of admiring Philip's noble and beautiful
character, even to his own depreciation; quite capable of saying to
himself, "What a miserable fellow I, Benjamin Carrington, am, compared
with this man." But at present he was not reasoning, but feeling,
and feeling very pleasantly too. He indulged all the way home in a
delightful dream of the future, in which he was lavishing upon his
beautiful Esther all the good things which philosophically he held so
lightly. He fought his way to high position, and shared it with her;
to unbounded wealth, of which she was the joint administrator; to social
distinction, of which she was the adornment and the centre. He felt
himself glowing with a new energy under the stimulus of his dreams, and
the new energy and delight increased the ardour of his love. In this
frame of spirit he came home to find his lady mother in her most querulous
"How late you are!" she exclaimed on seeing him; "I am quite
worn out sitting up for you."
"Why did you not go to bed at once? I am sorry you have
tired yourself," he answered, kindly.
"I could not go to bed till I knew that you were safe," she
"Safe!" he exclaimed, laughing; "I have not been in danger."
"You never know what danger you may be in with characters
Mr. Carrington knew that his mother would persist in
supposing that Philip was some sort of a highwayman, and that there was no
use in arguing the point with her.
"What has detained you all this while?" she asked, in an
"I took the poor fellow to the hospital," he replied.
"Not in the carriage, I hope!" she exclaimed, with real
"Why not? He is a most respectable young workman, whom
we may have injured for life unknowingly," replied her son.
"How could you do such a thing?" the old lady burst forth,
indignantly. "A man picked up off the street! Why I shall have
to send it away at once to be cleaned. I can never use it again."
"Mother, I fancy it has never been so highly honoured, and
may never be again," he replied, in a gentle voice. But seeing that
she whom he addressed was very like to cry over her spoilt carriage, he
began to soothe her with commonplaces.
When he left her for the night his bright dreams had faded as
by magic. The hard cynicism, which seemed impossible an hour ago,
had crept over him. Life lay 'before him, dull, meaningless—a
HAVING spent the night in confinement, Mrs. Sarah
Wiggett was brought up the next morning, before the police magistrate of
the district, charged with having attempted to commit suicide. The
unhappy creature had spent the night in sleepless misery. Her
ill-regulated mind would not allow her to think of the doom she had
escaped and all its awful consequences; she only lamented that she had
been unable to carry out her purpose. The thought of her husband
would present itself, but only to torment her. "What am I but a
curse to him?" she wailed, in her cell. "Why was I ever born?
Why was I not permitted to die?"
Timothy, too, had spent a sleepless night. He had
walked up and down before the station-house for more than an hour, and
then he had betaken himself to a public house on the other side of the
street, where "beds" were advertised, and had hired one for the night, but
without the least intention of occupying it. He made sure that the
bedroom was to the front of the house, and then taking possession of it,
he locked the door, put out the light, and sat down at the window without
so much as taking off his hat. He had a stout walking-stick with
him, and grasping it with both his hands, he bent his broad back and leant
his chin upon them. It was an attitude of dogged
determination—determination to suffer and make no sign. From where
he sat he could see the lamps which lighted the station, and from the
building he hardly ever lifted his eyes all night long. He never
lifted them, but they sometimes closed in spite of him, and he would nod
forward on his stick, and fix them more resolutely than before. What
passed through his mind that night was not wholly articulate. Under
the like circumstances it would hardly have been so with a mind much more
accustomed to consequent trains of thought than his. A dumb sense of
shame and misery pressed upon him.
Morning came, it seemed to him quite swiftly, and before he
was prepared to meet it. His thoughts became more clear to him.
Close at hand was the (to him) terrible ordeal of appearing in court, of
undergoing an examination. The big brown man's sensitive and shy
nature felt as outraged in anticipation as any woman's about to be exposed
to some public shame. He had no manner of doubt that every incident
of his life would be revealed. He had married another man's wife
while that man was still living; it would be brought up against him
without doubt. His awe of the tribunals of his country was of the
same kind—only a great deal more definite and real—as the awe with which
he had been taught to regard the judgment-seat of God, and it is to be
feared that he applied to the latter the same arbitrary and legal
procedure which ruled in the former, and which was something quite apart
from ordinary human justice.
At length he found himself in the court-house, among the set
of ragamuffins who usually assemble there, friends and companions of the
drunken and disorderly crew who, day after day, appear before the
magistrates of a London district court. He took his seat among them,
stared at for his superior respectability, his neighbours, no doubt,
speculating on the chance he would have afforded them, under any other
circumstance, of relieving him of the bulky pocket-book which generally
accompanies men of his build and appearance. Several cases came on,
and were disposed of, the only one which roused Timothy's attention being
a case of wife-beating, in which a miserable-looking little woman was
dragged up against a great hulking fellow, only to plead for him that it
was all a mistake, that he was drunk when he gave her the blow which had
disfigured her poor face, and that he was the best of husbands when
sober—which she did not add he hardly ever was. As the man went out
of court, having entered into his own recognisances to keep the peace,
Timothy made a face at him which would have justified the magistrate in
holding him to the same, and groaned out, "Scoundrel!" between his teeth.
The next case was his own. There was his wife, led
forward by a policeman, kindly enough, and yet to see him touch her arm
made the strong man shiver. He rose in his place, thereby directing
attention to himself as connected with the case. Then he sat down
again, stretching out his arms on the bench before him, and taking up the
room of three men. Those about him would have been rude, but seeing
he was "in it," they cheerfully gave way to him. His wife had not
seen him, and her back was turned towards him now. But a lock of
disordered grey hair fell from under her bonnet, and caused Timothy's big
heart to heave with a hardly suppressed sob. Then he frowned
heavily, and sat looking as lowering and furtive as if he had committed
some horrible crime. The policeman gave his evidence clearly.
He had seen her loitering about the bridge; then he had missed her, and
happening to pass a flight of steps leading down to the river, but without
thinking of her, he had directed his lantern that way; it was his custom
as he passed the place, which was often occupied on fine nights by young
vagrants. Just then she flung herself in. The tide was low—at
its lowest ebb—otherwise she might have been drowned—might have struck her
head on the covered steps, and been floated away insensible. There
wasn't water to drown her then, but she had struggled to get away and go
further in; seemed very determined; did not appear to be in drink.
Met a young man who seemed to know her, and who thought she was a little
wrong; and the policeman touched his forehead significantly.
The magistrate then asked if there was any evidence to show
what had led her to make such a determined attempt on her life, and spoke
a few words to her on the culpability of the act, from the consequences of
which she had been mercifully saved. But Sarah Wiggett did not
answer, and the magistrate was about to remand her, when the policeman, to
whom Timothy had spoken the night before, informed him that the woman's
husband was in court. Timothy stood up in his place, ready to brave
The magistrate looked at him sternly. He was accustomed
to brutal husbands, and he thought, "Very likely, though he belongs to a
higher class than that last wretched wife-beater, he has driven this poor
woman mad with his cruelty." Everybody began to look at Timothy
sternly, and certainly he looked black enough to justify their suspicions.
His face was drawn into a dreadful frown, the effect of perplexity and
suppressed emotion, the corners of his large mouth went down almost to his
cravat, and his colour was nearly purple.
The magistrate asked him to come forward. He obeyed,
sullenly it seemed. He answered one or two simple questions in the
same manner. Sarah had covered her face with her hands as soon as
she heard his name, but at length she could bear it no longer. "Oh,
Timothy! what have I done?" she cried.
Timothy's face got darker and more dreadful than ever, quite
murderous looking, and suddenly it relaxed, and the great tears rolled
down his cheeks. "My poor Sally! what made ye do such a thing as
"Are you willing to take charge of your wife?" asked the
magistrate, more gently. "She must be looked after, and treated with
great consideration and kindness."
"Who said he has ever treated me with anything but kindness?"
burst forth the little woman, turning on the magistrate defiantly.
"He's the best and kindest husband that ever lived, and I've been nothing
but a trouble to him all my life."
"Well, well, my good woman; be calm now, and go home and do
better for the future."
Here the policeman whispered Timothy to thank his worship,
and take his wife away; which he did, holding her by the hand as if she
had been a child, and only breathing freely when he found himself once
more in the open air.
None of his fears had been realised, and so far he was
thankful enough; but a feeling of having been disgraced clung to him—a
feeling of having been driven out of the paradise of respectability.
They were in the street together. He thought everybody looked at
them; and probably they did, for the big man still held his small wife's
hand, and both looked agitated and disordered. He hailed the first
cab that came up, and they got into it and were driven to the station.
But Sarah did not sit by her husband's side. In spite of his
entreaties, she crouched down at his feet, and wept there.
"Let me alone," she cried; "I am better here; this will do me
"But it is doing me harm, Sally. If you go on like this
I'll never get over it. We must keep up appearances."
And to this argument Sarah Wiggett rose and sat beside her
husband, and made an attempt to look as if nothing had happened, and so to
put on the outward show of unimpeached and unimpeachable respectability.
And she in this succeeded better than Timothy did. His brow would
gloom, and the corners of his mouth would droop persistently into the
expression of what he felt himself to be—a man broken down and disgraced.
Sarah knew how heavy the trouble must be which weighed down a spirit so
happy as his, and the knowledge filled her with wholesome
remorse—wholesome, for it took her out of herself, and from the
contemplation of her own sufferings, and thus broke the bonds of selfish
misery which had bound her. As she glanced at him from time to time
she became more and more rational and subdued.
At the station she went into a waiting-room to arrange her
dress and to gain a few minutes' time to think. What a ghastly face
it was which confronted her in the mirror, all the more ghastly for the
cheeks, which looked painted with their hectic flush! Still,
according to Timothy's wish, she made the best of herself, like any
ordinary happy woman. And all the while Timothy stood, like a
sentinel at his post, outside the waiting-room door. He evidently
did not like to lose sight of her; she was a charge committed to him.
He felt a dim sense of some awful responsibility resting upon him.
When she came out, looking quite calm and respectable, with a
veil down over the haggard face, he handed her into the refreshment-room,
and they had a cup of tea together. It was the first time either of
them had broken their fast that day. There had been very little said
by either since the time when they first entered the cab. There lay
between them the one unapproachable subject—unapproachable at least to one
of them—the cause of all their misery. Not a word did Timothy say
about it, not a word did he intend to say, come what would. But
Sarah had made up her mind to speak, and put an end to it.
"Timothy," she began, as soon as they stood upon the
platform, "hadn't you better send me away at once?"
"Away—where?" he asked, bewildered, his mind working slowly
round to her meaning afterwards.
"Your house isn't the place for me any more," she said,
"As long as I have a house it's your place, Sally," he
"You know what I mean," she rejoined, with something of her
old impatience. "I have no right to be there, and you know it."
He would not look at her, he would not appear to understand.
She came very close to him, and stood on tiptoe as she hissed
rather than whispered, "You know you met Ned Brown yesterday."
He started. "Then you know, too, and that's what's done
it." He meant that it had driven her to make the attempt to drown
She was silent.
"Sally," he said, sorrowfully, "it was hard on me, you doin'
it. If you couldn't trust in the Lord, you might have trusted in me;
and if you had trusted in me, you would have been able to trust in Him."
He said it in all reverence. It was, perhaps, the first pious
utterance of his life, and, strange as it sounded, it was profoundly true.
He was doing his best to teach her that higher trust by making the lower
easy to her dwarfed and stunted nature.
"I've had no peace day or night ever since I heard that false
report of Ned's death. But for this I might have been a different
woman;" and she wrung her hands together beneath the folds of her cloak.
"I promise never to try that again for your sake," she added. "But
you'll let me go now; I'll get my own bread quietly somewhere or other and
I'll try to be a better woman."
"Come along home, Sally," said Timothy, hoarsely.
"That's our train there."
"I'll come to serve you, Timothy," she replied, whisper, and
added, "it's more than I deserve."
WHEN Mr. Carrington met his mother at the
breakfast-table in the morning, it was evident that she had not recovered
from her annoyance about the carriage. She was inclined to be
fretful and displeased. But her son was not, on that particular
morning—as sometimes happens even with the best of sons—in the mood to put
up with her displeasure; and, fortunately, she knew when and where to
stop. When he was going he said, simply, and without any
introduction of the subject—
"Mother, I wish you would call upon Miss—" he hesitated at
the name a moment, and then repeated, firmly—"Miss Potter to-day."
The old lady elevated her eyebrows. "She was very much agitated by
last night's accident," he added.
"Very well," replied Mrs. Carrington, in her usual tone.
And she meant to do what he requested. She had every confidence in
her own ability to conduct herself in any situation requiring difficult
social tactics. Besides, she was not quite sure that she did not
admire Esther sufficiently to covet her for a daughter after all. If
the thing was impossible, owing to Esther's relations, she had only to let
matters take their course; a little obstacle here and another there would
be quite sufficient. A vulgar mother-in-law in prospect might be
suffered to cross his path and deter him; and then Constance, clever,
cultivated, and refined, could be kept at hand to help to wean
him—Constance, whom the old lady half suspected of an affection for her
son, though it was well veiled in the frankness of an old friendship far
better veiled than it would have been by any amount of assumed coldness
Benjamin Carrington passed the day in the ordinary routine of
his profession, but he bent his steps westward at an unusually early hour,
and took his way to St. George's Hospital. His mood was the listless
and dreary one which had prevailed with him of late. Life seemed
quite devoid of sweetness and of joy to this young man, on whom every good
gift of nature and of fortune appeared to have been lavished. In
that mood of his nothing seemed worth doing, nothing worth gaining in the
The scene Benjamin Carrington was about to enter was not one
calculated to raise his spirits. Our cynic could not bear the sight
of suffering, and there it was, concentrated in its most palpable and
horrible shape; in bruised, and broken, and prostrate human forms.
Philip had been put into a small ward devoted to surgical cases, and these
chiefly accidental. There were one or two broken legs and a broken
arm, an amputation being necessary in one case, and disablement for life
impending in another; while in the next bed lay a little lad who had been
badly burnt about the face and neck, and whose mournful eyes looked out of
the midst of the dismal white bandages which still swathed the rest of his
countenance. It is strange how sad human eyes are apart from the
rest of the face, sad as the eyes of the beasts, that are always pleading
Carrington made his way to Philip's side without looking
round. The latter, lying comparatively at ease, saw him enter the
ward, and his pale face lighted up with its brilliant smile as his visitor
drew near. Carrington looked by far the most melancholy of the two,
as he stepped up to the bed and asked after the welfare of its occupant.
"I hope you are not suffering much," he said.
"Not much," answered Philip, with another smile.
"Are you comfortable here?" asked Carrington, sitting down
beside him and glancing round with a shudder.
"Quite," was the answer—"quite happy."
Carrington looked at him in amazement. It seemed simply
incredible that this man should be happy. It was probably a misuse
of language. But no, the beaming look told of a fullness of content
such as he had never known.
"I wish I knew the secret," said Carrington, half to himself.
"It is easily learnt," replied Philip; "live by faith."
"Fanaticism," thought his listener. "Well; if it makes
him happy, it is all right, poor fellow."
"You must not speak much, I suppose," he said aloud. "I
shall come and see you again and we will talk it over."
"I can speak, if you can hear," said Philip, eagerly.
"I know what you are thinking."
"What am I thinking?"
"You are thinking that I am only indulging in a very pleasant
dream, which you would not disturb for the world."
"You have guessed pretty closely," said Carrington; "I like
to keep hold of the facts of a case."
"Well, my happiness is a fact; just as much a fact as my
pain, and poverty, and friendlessness."
"I admit that," said Carrington, entering into the
disquisition with warmth; "it is the foundation of it I question. It
is grounded on some future hope which may prove—"
"Only a dream," said Philip, concluding the sentence for him;
and adding earnestly, "no; it is grounded on a present reality—on the love
of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The face of his listener expressed, along with a yearning
desire to enter into sympathy with the words of the speaker, the utter
blank of inability to do so.
"You go far to convince one of the reality of this life of
faith," he said, "since you hold fast to it in the face of such facts as
your present experience furnishes; but could you not imagine a depth of
wretchedness in which you would lose hold of it?"
"No, and yet yes," Philip answered. "I had lost it; but
not on account of pain or wretchedness. This present suffering of
mine restored me to it. God does not forsake those who put their
trust in Him."
"All things happen alike to all," muttered Carrington.
"That in itself is a ground of confidence," said Philip.
"I do not see it," said his visitor.
"If you cannot trust God for others, you cannot trust Him for
"I feel that most strongly," replied Carrington.
"Look round here," said Philip; "you see nothing but
"Does it distress you?" asked his visitor, hastily. "I could
not remain here; the mental suffering of witnessing all that goes on here
would overpower me; and you shall not remain if you desire to get away
"It does not distress me," answered Philip; "at least, not as
it would distress you, I dare say." Philip spoke with pauses between
his sentences, and the expressive face of Benjamin Carrington showed some
disappointment at the last. He was indeed feeling: "Here is the
horrible flaw which I have always found in the few efforts I have made to
understand religious people. Here crops out that dreadful self
complacency, contradicting all that has gone before."
But Philip went on: "I know that every sufferer is in God's
hands, even as I am. If I were not called to suffer with them, I
would be called to save them from their sufferings. I would feel the
divine impulse to heal, and help, and save?"
"But suppose neither you nor they were to be saved from their
sufferings?" said Carrington.
"I can't suppose that," replied Philip. "If you mean
that I might be left, all the while trusting in God, to perish of hunger,
or to endure any last extremity of ill, that might very well be; but I
should be saved from my suffering all the same, not only when death came
to put an end to it, but so long as I could hold on to the belief that it
was all consistent with His love."
"And then, though unconscious of the fact, I would still be
sustained, even to the end; till the great deliverance came."
"You put the world of faith and the world of fact quite
apart, it seems to me."
"No; they are always together, the one within, the other
"But what hope for the world have you here?" asked
"Boundless hope!" replied Philip, with kindling eagerness.
"In what does it lie?"
"In this: that every soul in which there is this life is
bound to communicate it."
"You know the life of Christ?" Carrington bowed a reverent
"By living as He lived," rejoined Philip; "I mean actually,
"It is impossible," said Carrington.
"Have you tried?"
Carrington acknowledged that he had not.
"I think," said Philip, nearly exhausted, and sinking back on
his pillow, "that you are like the young man of whom it is written that
HE looked on him and loved him."
But at this point a nurse approached and warned Mr.
Carrington that his stay had been sufficiently protracted, and on this he
rose and took his leave, promising to come again on the morrow.
THE school was rising for dismissal. Esther
stood at the door, while square after square of little ones rose from
their seats, fell into single file, and went past her, each with a
curtsey, and many with a smile, which showed how much they loved their
teacher, and what an influence she had begun to exercise on their childish
hearts and ways. And that teacher had an answering smile for every
smile of theirs. Those fortunate little scholars never knew what it
was to encounter a frowning face, which is to children what a sunless,
dark, and bitter day is to the growing plants, and which, if turned upon
them always, will blight their unformed affections as surely as that will
blight the blossoms, and kill the promise of the year. Grave enough
Esther often was over their faults and carelessnesses, but never angry
with the sinful, selfish anger which some teachers and some parents show,
thereby committing the first and greatest of offences—that against the
little ones. Esther made their school-time a happy time to her
little scholars, as Mary had done before her, and consequently her
teaching was to her a happy task. She felt the truth of the poet's
"All other joys go less,
To the great joy of doing kindnesses."
And the constant necessity for kindnesses made a refreshing stream pass
daily through her life. The life is sure to be a barren one in
which, either from within or from without, such a necessity is not felt or
is not satisfied.
And the day had been a more than usually happy and successful
day in the school-room, so that Esther was looking neither sad nor weary
when she entered the home parlour, whither Mary had preceded her by half
an hour. It was well that she found such delight in her work, for
both cares and trials awaited her at home. There was the pretty
constant pressure of money anxieties, for though the school had prospered
beyond expectation, it was still "little to earn," and there were "many to
keep." Her elder brothers helped bravely, and gave up their earnings
unmurmuringly to the common fund, but the younger ones were not yet
gaining enough for themselves; while the two children were at home with
Sarah—the patient, unselfish Sarah, whose services as maid-of-all-work
were absolutely necessary. As for the twins, they held together, and
apart from all the rest, more and more. They doled out a portion of
their earnings to their mother, and retained the rest for dress and other
purposes of their own. Day by day they became more selfish and more
unlovely, and were often a source of uneasiness to Mary, and of strife in
the family, the brothers Martin and Willie especially resenting their
And now they were about to suffer the consequences of their
ill-temper and selfishness. They were clever workwomen, and had been
more than once retained when others would have been sent away; but Emily
had been insufferably impertinent to the head of the establishment in
which they now worked for weekly wages, and she had been dismissed on the
spot. In Agnes's department they happened to be more than usually
busy, and calculating on the effect which she could produce—she had tried
the same thing before, and with success—she also threw up her situation,
saying she would not remain if her sister was sent away. But this
time her calculation failed, and the establishment dispensed with the
services of both.
They had remained at home already one whole week, and were
likely to remain longer; and that very morning Martin had told them,
somewhat harshly, that they would have to pay their board out of the money
they had saved, well knowing they had saved nothing. "If it had been
share and share alike with us," said the lad, "it would have been another
thing." Whereupon they had retorted that they were surely to be
trusted for a week or two's board and lodging in their mother's house; and
that, if not, they knew where they would be, and were quite ready to go.
All of which made poor Mary feel that her troubles with her children were
The twins were therefore in no very pleasant mood.
Indeed, that afternoon they seemed bent on making themselves disagreeable,
especially to Esther, whom the two lads regarded with warm affection,
which was always veiled in a touching respect, as if they could never
forget that she was a lady, and in some sort a stranger.
The grievance of the morning had been under discussion, and
Esther saw that her mother's eyes were red with weeping. Tea was
already on the table, but Mary left the room, conscious of the traces of
tears, and anxious to efface them, and Esther began gently to remonstrate
with her sisters, as she had already successfully remonstrated with
But Emily and Agnes were in no state of mind to bear
remonstrance, however gentle. They burst forth simultaneously with a
torrent of foolish, angry abuse. Esther was thoroughly ashamed of
them, and as she stood deprecating their loud and vulgar tones, the door
opened, and, preceded by Constance Vaughan, Mrs. Carrington sailed into
Esther could not help feeling and looking mortified and
confused. Emily and Agnes, still muttering wrathfully, brushed
rudely past the visitors. The very room was out of sorts. It
was littered with the materials on which the girls had been exercising
their skill for their own behoof. Esther had to make room for Mrs.
Carrington by clearing away a heap of millinery from the shabby sofa, and
she could see that the lady looked twice before she committed herself to
such a seat.
The visit was anything but a comfortable one. All were
equally constrained and miserable. If was far worse with Esther than
anything which Mrs. Carrington's imagination had been bold enough to
conceive. The girls were in the highest degree objectionable, what
could their mother be? It was in vain that Constance afterwards
assured her that Mary was charming—a calm, beautiful woman—a lady by right
of nature; she could not believe it.
"And that untidy girl who opened the door for us was her
sister, too," she would answer, "and that dirty child her brother!
There seemed to me no end of them. If Esther had been a girl of
spirit she would never have remained among them."
Sarah, and little Johnny, as he was still called, though the
epithet was becoming inappropriate enough, had made their appearance after
the unfortunate visit had come to a close. Mrs. Carrington, with
Constance by her side, was half way towards the entrance of the court,
when the former missed her parasol. Quick in all her movements, she
returned to find it, and encountered these other two objectionable
personages disputing over the parasol. Esther made her appearance in
the doorway as Sarah was saying to Mrs. Carrington, "I was coming after
you with the parasol your daughter left."
The toy seemed too small and gay for the elder lady in
Sarah's estimation, and the manners of the latter, not accustomed to
servitude, were, perhaps, a little too free.
"The parasol is mine," she said, haughtily; and, looking over
Sarah's head, she added, bowing to Esther, with a meaning and too amiable
smile, "and the young lady is not my daughter just yet."
The smile, and the two monosyllables, said plainly, "But I
hope she soon will be."
Mrs. Carrington came off with flying colours, to her own
complete satisfaction. She was quite pathetic over the fate of
Esther among her terrible relations. If she had been paying a visit
to a den of wild beasts she could not have described herself as more
shocked and appalled.
DAY after day found Mr. Carrington by Philip's bed,
and there sprang up between them that rare, and as some think impossible,
thing between two persons of different grades of society, a true
friendship. In spite of his democratical opinions, Benjamin
Carrington had very strong social antipathies, a thing by no means
uncommon, and which does more to keep the different classes apart than
anything else. He was ready enough to deplore the separation between
rich and poor, but he was not at all ready to put up with vulgarity, or
rudeness, or any kind of obtrusiveness. He found none of these
things in Philip, however, and for once his practice kept pace with his
creed. One day he was deploring the widening of the breach between
class and class, and remarked that "it was to some extent a question of
manners," when Philip surprised him by saying that that, in its turn, was
a question of morals.
"The gentleness, the courtesy, even the personal purity,
which you find lacking in us," he added, with a smile, "would all be
supplied by a higher spirit of morality; not the morality of mere
respectability, which is impotent and worse than impotent, but the
self-sacrificing morality of the Gospel."
"We may have all these things, and I don't deny that they are
good, and yet have nothing of the corresponding Spirit," rejoined
"In your class, but not in ours," said Philip.
"Then your class, you think, might be the greatest of all in
virtue as it is in numbers," said Carrington.
"I mean nothing less than that; I can believe nothing less,"
"Perhaps you are right," replied Carrington. "The man
who does not work can hardly be said to live."
He had also led Philip to talk of himself, and had learned by
degrees the whole of his history—the history he had already disclosed to
"What will you do when you come out, still, probably, unfit
for work? You will let me send you away till you are quite strong,
without feeling under any obligation?" said Carrington, questioningly.
Philip had flushed a little, and looked uneasy.
"I confess I do not like to lie under a money obligation," he
replied; "but I will not scruple to apply to you for a small loan till I
can repay it out of my regular earnings."
"Pardon me," said Carrington, "but in your position surely
you ought to try and save."
"Do you think it is right to secure yourself and see others
perish?" asked Philip. "If I had a wife and little ones it would be
"But you might come to form ties of your own," said
"You mean marry? No, I will never marry. It is
not for me. Every man must judge for himself. I would have to
give up everything, and devote myself to wife and children. I
question no man's right to do so, only I deny my own. Had you seen
as much of the life of the millions as I have seen, you would deny it
"Your Christianity is not an easy one," said Carrington.
"It is easy to believe and hard to practise," said Philip.
"And the current form of it is just the reverse," replied
Carrington, smiling. "It is very hard to believe, and wonderfully
easy to practise."
Carrington used to come away from these conferences, which
went on, and almost in whispers, by Philip's bed, a changed being.
He was catching the fire of Philip's enthusiasm. He was kindling his
spirit at that flame.
Esther's name had not been mentioned between them when one
day, after Philip had been pronounced fairly convalescent, Carrington,
sitting by him, saw a bright and tender light flash into his face—that
pale and clear-cut face, which his illness had made paler and clearer than
ever. The light was like that of a sudden sunshine on the face of a
hill which has been lying in shadow, and Carrington turned his head
instinctively to see what had brought it there.
It was Esther who had entered, and was now coming towards
them, her little sister by her side. Philip held out his hand, first
to the child and then to her, and she took the place from which Carrington
stood aside after exchanging with the latter a simple greeting.
Little Mary had carried in her hand a bunch of snowdrops.
"They are for you," she said, placing them in Philip's hand.
"And where did you get them, Fairy ?" he said, thanking her.
"Esther got them for you," said the truth-telling Mary.
"I bring you a message from a friend," said Esther, cutting
short the further thanks on Philip's lip, on which Carrington noticed a
quivering of emotion. "You are coming out on Saturday next, are you
"I believe I am," he replied.
"Mr. Wiggett will be here waiting for you," said Esther, and
if you will stay with him for a few weeks he will be glad to have you."
"Mr. Carrington has been kindly thinking of me," said Philip,
looking towards the latter.
"Mr. Wiggett is a market-gardener at Hurst," explained
Esther; "he has a very pretty house quite close to the Vaughans. You
must have seen it often in your rides. He has just lost his wife."
"Is the poor woman dead?" cried Philip, interrupting her.
"Yes, and he is sadly cast down. It would do him good
to have you with him. Little Mary here is going too, and," she
added, frankly, "I will be near at hand during the Easter holidays."
Mr. Carrington had stood aside while this was going on.
"The place is lovely in spring-time," he remarked.
"You will go, will you not?" asked Esther.
"Yes; I will go," he answered. "I never had so many
offers of kindness in my life," he added, looking again at Mr. Carrington.
It was settled at length that Mr. Wiggett should call for
Philip at two o'clock on Saturday, and then Esther took her leave.
Mr. Carrington did the same, and accompanied her into the street.
"Will you allow me to see you home?" he said.
"With pleasure," she replied; "but there is no necessity.
I have become quite used to going about alone, or only with my little
It had not struck him that there was anything peculiar in
Esther visiting a sick man in an hospital; for whatever she did she had
the faculty of doing so that it seemed the only thing to be done, so that
by the side of Philip's bed she seemed as welcome and as little out of
place as a sick-nurse, though looking more like the goddess of health; but
suddenly he remembered that it was a thing which no young lady would have
been allowed to do, and the thought vexed and annoyed him beyond measure.
He could not bear to think that there should be any flaw in her ladyhood,
though he would have been the first to denounce the conventional
restraints in which it is vainly imagined to consist.
"I hope you are not becoming emancipated," he said.
Something in his manner displeased her.
"Emancipated from what?" she said, gravely; "I am getting
quite emancipated from idleness and frivolity, I hope. In the class
to which I belong one woman cannot be spared to look after another."
There was a slight ring of scorn in her voice, which her
companion was keenly alive to.
"You seem perfectly satisfied with your lot," he said, "and I
have often thought it such a hard one."
He was trying to approach again to that sympathy on the very
verge of tenderness, which had been so easily established at the Wests'
party; but he felt himself repulsed. Esther was beside him, but
cold, haughty, unapproachable. She placed at once an infinite
distance between them. He could not otherwise account for her change
of manner than by thinking that she had detected the latent tenderness in
his tone and manner, and was resolved on repressing it—and the supposition
"I should always have required abundance of occupation and
interest," she replied; "and I would not exchange my present lot for that
of any woman I have known."
"She at least is not mercenary," thought Carrington,
dismally; "but then she clearly cares not a straw for me."
"I shall say good-bye here, Mr. Carrington," said Esther as
they turned into Belgrave Road, and long before she had reached home.
"Remember me to Constance."
He said good-bye at once, with grave politeness, and went his
"No wonder she does not care for an ineffectual fellow like
me" he thought. "What have I ever done that she should care for me?"
Then the thought started up suddenly, "Does she care for him?"—for Philip.
He remembered the sweetness of her face, the sweetness which had passed
out of it in talking to him. Then he remembered the little bunch of
snowdrops concerning which little Mary had told the truth, and the memory
of the cool white flowers was like drops of fire.
YOUNG Mrs. West was beginning to suffer terribly,
and the complaint under which she suffered—only a too common one—was the
suppression of the best part of her nature, and the consciousness that her
life was sinking down to a lower level, and becoming, instead of fuller
and nobler, infinitely emptier and meaner. She was active, both
bodily and mentally, both by nature and by a conscientious training, and
her lot was now one of supreme idleness. She was benevolent, with
all her love of splendour and luxury, and she was doing good to nobody.
Had she but known it, hard work and self-denial were the tonics her
vigorous nature needed, and under which its faults would have been
eliminated. But even if she had known this, it would have been
difficult to import these things into her life. Harry was utterly
unsympathising, and these tonics required the sustenance of sympathy.
He was quite incapable of feeling the life-weariness, the dissatisfaction
with self, which comes to all deeper natures at times, even in the best of
circumstances. He had no craving to make his life a better and
nobler thing, no desire to benefit his fellow-creatures, though he would
not have done harm to the meanest of them, unless they had come in his way
very much indeed, and then he would have swept them aside and thought no
more about them. He could not understand Kate wishing that he should
begin to do something with his life. He laughed at her idea of going
down to Oxford or Cambridge, and living there for a year or two as
students. "I will work with you," she had said, "and you—both of
us—will be better able to take a place in the world. You care for
science a little, you might work at that; or you might go into parliament,
and do something there."
In none of these things had Harry the slightest concern, and
he was beginning to resent her urgency as dissatisfaction with himself.
He could be the reverse of amiable when he chose, or rather when Kate
chose to rouse him by any expression of her uneasiness. And Kate was
beginning not to choose, but to drift apart in silence. If anything
disagreeable had passed between them, and visitors came in, Harry was all
lightness and brightness in a moment. The deceit was not
intentional, neither was it the result of the pride which throws a veil
over private sores; it was simply that he was immediately distracted from
his grievance, while poor Kate's once sunny face bore but too plainly the
signs of discontent.
She, too, sought distraction in society, and while it was all
new, and every face was fresh to him, Harry was well pleased. But he
was like other people, doomed to experience how small the world is after
all. He met the same people over and over again. He began to
find them uninteresting, and then tiresome; they had already found him
both. In their higher or deeper interests he had no share, and in
the exchange of vapid opinions about things that had often no interest at
all, weariness is sure to be produced.
Once and again, when wearied in this way, he had taken up the
idea of going back to Australia. He was one of those people who,
having very few ideas, always return to them again and again. Of
this particular idea Kate had a mortal dread. It was not much wonder
that she had. She was not one of those happy wives to whom their
husband's presence is their world. Kate was beginning to feel alone
in the midst of a crowd, for if the one who is nearest drifts apart the
outer circle widens, and leaves a dismal gulf of loneliness which can
hardly be bridged over. She could not bear the thought of being
separated from her father and sisters. They were dearer to her than
ever. Lately Constance had been much with her, and had too surely
discerned that her presence was needed. Then Kate had no dreams such
as Constance or Esther would have had, of a land or hope and promise
beyond the sea. She did not care for solitudes; and great plains,
covered with flocks and herds, presented to her no scope for imagining
anything but the dreariest of desolations. She might be told that
she could ride for days over Harry's lands and never come to anything but
a shepherd's hut, and she only thought, "Then there would be no use riding
at all." The idea of going to Australia was simply intolerable to
her. It was a dreadful negation of all in which her life had
hitherto consisted; of all in which she thought it possible for life to
consist. But, as yet the idea had hardly confronted her as anything
but an idea. As a possibility contained in her own life she had
never regarded it for a moment. Therefore, when Harry said, in his
usual careless tone, "I've been thinking over the Australian project
again," Kate replied, impatiently, "Well, I wish you would not think of
Kate had always some bit of feminine work in hand in these
morning hours, and she was throwing a little ivory shuttle through certain
mysterious meshes, her jewelled fingers flashing dexterously to and fro.
Harry was, as usual, walking up and down the room. Husband and wife
Nothing more was said for some time, only Kate had doubled
the swiftness of her shuttle-throwing, and the colour had heightened on
At length Harry stopped before her, and announced that had
made up his mind to go. "And you know when I make up my mind to a
thing, I like to do it at once," he added, coolly. "I mean to go and
look out a first-class ship to-day."
Kate's hands fell into her lap as if they had been smitten
with paralysis; her lips, but not her cheeks, turned pale.
"You do not mean it, Harry?" she said.
"Mean it," he repeated, "of course I do."
Their eyes met as he said this, flashed across each other
like drawn swords. Kate's spirit was up, and she was about to try it
against his—resolution against resolution—obstinacy against obstinacy.
But Kate had been gently nurtured, and there came to her a sense of the
sacred relation in which they stood to each other. She lowered her
eyes, and they filled with tears. She would use all her womanly
influence to turn him from his purpose; and with the good resolution came
the feeling of wifely love, which had sometimes of late been in abeyance,
to help her to carry it out. She threw aside her work, and rising
and linking her arm in his, with her hands clasped upon it, began to walk
up and down the room with him, as she had learnt to do in the first months
of their marriage. But it was not easy to accomplish such a
promenade in the crowded space of their drawing-room.
"There isn't room to stir here," he said, pushing aside an
ottoman which stood in the way. "I am tired of this place, and the
"You are tired of having nothing to do, Harry," said Kate;
"let us try and find some real work in the world, and set to it humbly,
and not seek our pleasure any more."
"Nothing to do!" he laughed heartily. "It is always the
same with you. I don't think I'm idle!"
Harry was under the impression that he lived a very active
"Do not let us quarrel," she rejoined meekly: "do not let us
"I was not thinking of quarrelling," he replied, at the same
time releasing his arm from her clasping hand; shaking off her
importunity, as it were.
Kate felt this, and her good resolution vanished on the spot.
She walked to her chair, and resumed her work. He had not intended
to be ill-natured, as he said he was not thinking of quarrelling. He
kept on walking up and down, and working out the details of his plan.
"We can either let or sell this place," he said. "That
is as you please," she answered stiffly.
"We could either return in a few years, or settle out there,"
he went on; "there are endless improvements to be made, and plenty of room
to make them. I think, for my own part, I would never care to come
back. But we might come on a visit. You would like to see your
father and sisters again."
Kate sat trembling with excitement. "You are not
planning all this for me?" she said in a suppressed voice.
He stopped before her again, and their eyes met once more—his
blue and glassy, and hard as they always were; hers flinty with resolve,
"What do you mean?" he said.
"Simply that you need not include me in your plan."
"I thought you said just now that we must not drift apart."
"And you know that I would rather die than go away from all I
"That's to say, you don't love me well enough to go with me,"
he retorted, justly enough.
She was silent.
The precious moments glided past, and in their silence these
two drifted apart widely—hopelessly—for ever. Harry was full of
resentment because his self-love was wounded. In a little while,
during which he waited for some concession from Kate, he turned on his
heel and left the room, and, soon after, Kate heard him quit the house.
And though her conscience smote her for not making such a
concession, she recognised at the same time that it would have been
practically useless—that it would have given her no hold over this man,
that she might as well have been tied for life to a piece of machinery,
kept in motion by a law of its own. Her hands in her lap, she sat
there motionless as a statue, with eyes fixed on vacancy. A servant
announced luncheon, and she rose mechanically, and shivered. It was
still cold, and the fire had gone out, there were only ashes on the
She had noticed that the servant had looked in before, and
In that time all her life had passed before her; her life at
home—it seemed to her like one long summer now, with its simple duties and
its constant pleasures. Why had they ever seemed insipid? Why
had she longed for a larger, freer world? Her married life—with its
excitements of travel and society, and its growing dissatisfaction.
What was it that she wanted? Nothing certainly that wealth could
buy; nothing forbidden or disallowed. She wanted to be in perfect
sympathy with her own husband—her life's companion, and she could not.
Her warm and rich affections withered in the hard shallow soil of his
"I know what I shall do," she said to herself, as she rose
from the meal at which she had made a pretence of eating. And she
went upstairs, and dressing herself hurriedly, left the house to go to her
"IT'S Kate," exclaimed Constance, as a fly drove up
to the door, and a lady got out. Her father looked up from his
review, and smiled as he laid it aside to go and welcome her in the hall.
"I wonder what has brought her here to-day," thought
Constance, already there, and with a dim presentiment of trouble.
Kate paid and dismissed the fly, and then turned and
encountered her sister's troubled, questioning face, and glanced beyond at
her father's smiling and unconscious one. A thick spangled veil was
over her own, and she did not as yet trust herself to speak. She
seized Constance by the hand, which she clasped and held convulsively like
one in extreme pain, suffered her father to kiss her veiled forehead, and
to make a little jest about its being armed with terrors, and passed into
There she sank into a seat, and raised her veil with a kind
of prolonged shiver.
"How cold you are," said Constance, kneeling at her feet on
the hearth-rug and chafing her hands. "You are positively blue with
cold. Let me take off your gloves;" and she began unbuttoning and
pulling at them, her heart all the while beating fast with vague
Mr. Vaughan even caught something of fear as he looked in his
daughter's face—one of those faces that do not pale under misery, but look
haggard in their brightness. Her lip quivered, but she did not
"Speak to us, Kate, please speak and tell us what has
happened," cried Constance, at last, unable to keep down her excitement
For answer, Kate bowed her head on to her sister's shoulder,
and began to sob with dry shaking sobs.
Her father came and stood over her, and laid his hand on her
gently and soothingly. "Kate, my child, what is this?" he said.
"Have you quarrelled with Harry?" He could think of nothing else.
"It is worse than a quarrel," she said, raising her head and
showing a face on which her father would gladly have seen childish tears.
"Has he done anything wrong?" asked her father, in real
alarm; "anything which has driven you from your home?"
"This is home!" cried Kate. "Why did I ever leave it!
Oh, father! will you take me back?"
"Hush, hush! my poor Kate! You do not know what you are
saying," rejoined her father. "Try and be calm, and tell me what has
With an effort she calmed herself, and told how Harry was
resolved to go back to Australia, though he knew that she hated and
dreaded it, that she had tried to turn him from his purpose and had
failed; that what she wished or desired was nothing to him, that whether
she went or stayed, even, seemed a matter of small moment.
"But, my child," remonstrated her father, "it is your duty to
go with your husband."
"To leave you all, and never see you again, perhaps," she
"If need be," he answered, and was going to add something
more, when she burst forth, passionately—
"But there is no need. If he were a poor man, and had
to go away to earn a living, I could bear it; but it is pure folly and
selfishness, and want of concern for others."
"Kate," said her father, almost sternly, "I never thought to
hear a daughter of mine say such words as these. Be loyal to your
husband. Does he wish to leave you behind?"
"No," Kate was obliged to answer, "only he does not care if I
stay, and he knows that if I go I shall go against my will."
"He may change his mind," said Constance, soothingly, "It may
all come right yet."
"He will not change his mind," Kate replied, "or if he does,
he will only come back to it again. He has gone to look out for a
"Oh, Kate!" cried Constance, and she fell to weeping; while
Mr. Vaughan hid his face for a moment in his hands.
"I am making you both miserable," she said, weeping herself
now, at the sight of their grief.
"It is very hard, Kate, to think of your being taken from us
in this way, and I do not wonder at your sorrow; but unless we can turn
Harry from his purpose, we must submit to the cruel parting."
"Why must we submit to what is cruel and unjust?" she asked,
with renewed passion; "why can I not return to you and be your daughter,
as I was before? I would never have married him if I had thought it
possible that he could drag me to that dreadful place against my will.
Oh! will you not take me back?—will you not take me back?"
"This is heart-breaking, Kate. You know, child, that I
would gladly have you back, but that I have no right to take you.
You want to be my daughter as you were before; you cannot, for you are
something more, you are a wife, and you cannot unmake yourself from being
one. Have faith in me my daughter. I know that the path of
separation which you would choose is far, far drearier than any that you
can tread by your husband's side. There are some cases in which it
is better for a woman to choose this path—cases far within the limits
prescribed by law, and if either body or spirit were threatened with
outrage I would take you from him."
"Then you will not?" said Kate, rising as if about to go.
"You make my duty a hard one, Kate," said her father, in a
broken voice; "the hardest I have ever had to perform. Does your
husband know you are here?"
"He does not," she answered, wearily.
"And he need not know," cried Constance. "Don't say any
more, papa. Katie will come up to my room and rest while I get
ready, and I will go back with her."
"Pardon me, Constance, but it is better that I should go back
with Kate. And it is better that her husband should know of her
"I don't want to hide it," said Kate.
"Come with me, Katie, then, for a little while, and I will
order the pony-carriage for you and papa;" and so saying, Constance led
her sister away to her room to remove the traces of her tears; and the
first thing they did was to sit down and cry together. This process
softened Kate considerably; but her sister's tender entreaties had no more
effect than her father's authority in convincing her that she ought not to
separate herself, even for a term of years, from her husband. On
this point she was hard and unrelenting. It seemed doubtful if she
would yield, even if her father denied her a home.
In a short time the sisters came down together, both dressed
and ready, for Constance proposed to drive them herself. They
swallowed a cup of tea in the drawing-room, and declared themselves ready,
at least Constance did, for Kate preserved an almost sullen silence.
They were soon driving rapidly along the road to the station.
Mr. Vaughan intended to remonstrate with Harry against his
suddenly-formed resolution of leaving the country, and he had hope that
his remonstrance would not be without effect. As he was hurried
along he thought out the arguments which he would address to his
son-in-law, and which he believed might prove effective; but, in case they
did not, he employed himself also in strengthening his failing resolution
to urge his daughter to go with her husband, and trust to his bringing her
back again to settle in England. Alas! there was, he confessed,
nothing to trust to, except that the restlessness which drove him away
would drive him back again.
They parted with Constance at the station, and after a
cheerless journey reached Kate's pretty little mansion in time, if she had
wished it, or her father had thought it right, to appear as if nothing
unusual had happened. The house was lighted up, the master had
returned, and dinner was ready.
Harry brightened up when he saw them, and looked perfectly
cordial. Kate, however, disappeared, and Mr. Vaughan set to work at
once on his unenviable task. He knew there was only the time to
spare in which Kate might be supposed to be dressing. Mr. Vaughan
told him plainly what had passed between his daughter and himself; it was,
he thought, the strongest argument he could use if Harry retained a
particle of tenderness towards his wife. He was quite unprepared to
find that, as Kate had said, he was willing to leave her, and did not look
upon her going to her father as such a heinous offence after all. He
might go and make a home for her, and return to take her out with him; or
she might join him in a year or two.
"She shall not leave you with my consent," Mr. Vaughan had
And Harry made answer that, of course, he should be very glad
if she would come with him and be reasonable.
Mr. Vaughan looked at Harry with the kind of tear with which
most men regard lunatics. Here was a being to him incalculable,
whose motives he had no means of gauging, and on whom the influences which
would have swayed him were altogether lost. As he looked at him, he
trembled for his daughter's future.
"Can we offer you no inducement to stay among us?" he began,
"I think not," he replied, in the same tone; "there's nothing
like freedom, and nobody here can do as he likes with himself or anything
that is his."
Kate made her appearance, elaborately dressed, as usual.
The dinner-bell sounded, she took her father's arm, and the three went in
Mr. Vaughan spoke of the events of the day, and Harry talked
as fast as ever. Their voices sounded across a table, but they were
far apart in spirit; no electric telegraph of sympathy passed from one to
another, for Kate had shut her heart towards her father, who was pierced
with sorrow at the lonely ring in her voice.
At last the dreaded subject came on. It would not have
been Harry if he had kept it long to himself.
"I find that a first-class vessel will sail the first week in
April," he said, looking at Mr. Vaughan, whose eyes sought Kate's in fear
But Kate sat as expressionless as a statue.
"But you do not think of going so soon as that?" said Mr.
"I don't see that it matters to us whether we go sooner or
"It matters a great deal to me, who must part with my child,"
Mr. Vaughan began.
Harry looked at Kate.
"It does not matter sooner or later," she said, perversely,
and rose from the table. "No, it does not matter what becomes of
me," she murmured, in the abandonment of youthful anguish, when she was
shut in the drawing-room alone.
Over their wine, Mr. Vaughan tried to soften the heart of his
obdurate son-in-law, and change his purpose; but in vain. "I never
was so near quarrelling utterly with any one in my life," he said to
Constance; "he is obstinate as a mule, only that is not his kind of
obstinacy. It is like beating a pillow to try and convince him, or
change his mind; and it would be nothing if his mind was worth anything;
but it is not. If it were not for the dreadful responsibility of
spoiling their lives by putting them asunder, I would never let her go."
"It would not spoil her life surely, papa, to come back to
us," said Constance, thinking now she might plead her sister's cause.
"I know the world and human nature better than you,
Constance," said her father, "and I feel sure it would. A deserted
wife is always a woman more or less suspecté.
Only think what that would be to our passionate, loving, generous Kate—a
torture in itself. Think of the galling of a tie which cannot be got
rid of, and which binds to nothing of love and duty; and as the dreary
years went on, and he did not return, there might come—warping her nature
continually—deadly temptations for both, which I cannot bear to think of.
We must beware of our very love for her leading us to desire to keep her.
It is better that she should go."