"Hopes, what are they? Beads of
Strung on slender blades of grass;
Or a spider's web adorning
In a strait and treacherous pass."
the middle of March, Tiny went with Lady Harewood on a few days'
visit to General and Lady Isabella Drummond. Her mother
insisted on taking Tiny to Bellingham Castle, because she heard that
Sir Guy Fairfax would be there; and she felt the time was drawing
near when her favourite scheme must be relinquished altogether,
unless Sir Guy was aided, both speedily and effectually, in his
pursuit of Tiny's hand.
Tiny left London in happy ignorance of her mother's
intentions, which were, however, destined to meet with signal
disappointment; for, on reaching the Castle, Lady Harewood
discovered Sir Guy was not expected until the very day on which she
and Tiny were to take their departure. Her mortification was
extreme; and so was her rage against Lady Isabella, whom she
secretly accused of machinations to entrap the wealthy young baronet
"for one of those tall, gawky girls of hers, about whom she made
such a ridiculous fuss."
Tiny and the Miss Drummonds had always been on the best of
terms; indeed, it was very difficult for any one to resist Tiny's
coaxing ways, which perfectly bewitched men, and so fascinated the
ladies of her acquaintance, that she generally escaped being judged
by the ordinary standard. This was certainly very fortunate
for Miss Tiny Harewood, for she was in the habit of saying and doing
in one day more daring and unconventional things than most young
ladies would venture upon in the whole course of their lives.
The Drummonds were getting up some private theatricals which
were to take place the week after Easter, and to be followed by a
dance. Tiny was soon pressed into the service; and, after much
reflection on the part of Lady Harewood as to the probable result of
leaving her, it was arranged that she should stay on at Bellingham
Castle after her mother's departure, in order to take her part in
the necessary rehearsals. Lady Harewood and her other
daughters were to come for the second performance of the play, which
was to be given on two consecutive nights. The Drummonds'
visiting list was so extensive, that no amount of crushing would
have enabled them on one night to receive all the people they "ought
to ask," and the old General was very particular in never allowing
the miniature theatre to be overcrowded.
The play selected was ''The Hunchback;" and Modus was
the part assigned to Reginald Macnaghten, Lady Isabella's nephew, a
young lieutenant in the Guards. Until Tiny's arrival the Miss
Drummonds could not agree as to who would best acquit herself as
Helen; but, with one accord, they fixed upon her, declaring that
she would act the part to perfection. Tiny at first scrupled
to undertake the representation of this forward young damsel, and
hesitated about making the necessary overtures to Mr. Macnaghten in
his character of Modus; but the girls assured her that, as
their cousin was as good as engaged to a certain Miss Lucy Scott,
there could be no possible objection to her making love to him in
the play. So all lingering doubts or objections on Wilfred's
account were dismissed. Tiny learnt her part; the different
scenes were rehearsed; and the days were spent in preparation for
the grand performance which was to crown their labours.
At first, Mr. Reginald Macnaghten was not over pleased with
the idea of Tiny Harewood as Helen. He made this as
apparent as he could, with any show of politeness, before the young
lady herself, and expressed his disapproval openly to Gertrude and
Isabel Drummond: but they fired up so vehemently in defence of
Tiny's capability of doing full justice to the part assigned her,
that young Macnaghten perceived that it was a settled thing, and he
must make the best of it.
At the very first rehearsal, however, he was forced to
acknowledge the wisdom of his cousins' choice; and, before long, the
curious dominion Tiny exerted over men, which made them go down on
their knees at once, became apparent in the young Guardsman's case.
His manner in the final love-making scene became a great deal too
earnest and life-like, and the whole position enabled him to assume
an intimacy with Tiny Harewood which was (to say the least of it)
extremely dangerous for both.
Is it not Thackeray who remarks that it is "fortunate for men
that women, like the beasts of the field, don't know their own
power; they would overcome men entirely if they did"? Perhaps
it was Tiny's accurate measurement of her own attractions which made
them so peculiarly fatal!
A great deal went on before any one noticed the flirtation;
and when the girls first saw how completely épris their
cousin was, they considered it excellent fun, and a righteous
judgment upon that young gentleman for the slighting manner in which
he had at first spoken of Tiny. Lady Isabella was the last to
remark the state of affairs, but when she did observe it she was not
inclined to interfere with either of her guests. Tiny's
position with regard to Wilfred Lane was unknown to her; and she
thought it always much wiser, in such matters, to let things take
their own course. Besides, Tiny carried on her part of the
flirtation in such an exeedingly open fashion, that Lady Isabella
doubted if she had any real feeling for Reginald Macnaghten; and as
for him, he was old enough to manage his own affairs. If his
attachment for Lucy Scott was of so slight a nature, why, it was
better for the poor girl to find it out before marriage than after.
So Miss Tiny Harewood and the young Guardsman had it all
their own way.
Tiny quickly perceived that Mr. Macnaghten had not in the
first instance evinced a due appreciation of her charms, so she
resolved to bring him into proper subjection; and it must be
confessed she effected this with a rapidity which even astonished
herself. When Tiny determined to fascinate a man she seldom
failed to accomplish it; and was scarcely likely to do so in the
case of one so inexperienced as her present admirer, whose feeling
for Lucy Scott was but the first sentimental affection of a mere
Tiny was not so heartless as to have any definite intention
of bringing pain to the girl, who all this while cherished a belief
in an affection which was sensibly diminishing before the bright
glances of another. But she was utterly thoughtless.
"And evil is wrought by want of thought,
As well as by want of heart."
Reginald Macnaghten's indifference during the first days of
their acquaintance, had fired her with the old love of conquest; and
her vanity and love of admiration were insatiable. Now that
she allowed the old spirit to assert itself, it did so with renewed
vigour, and after a few days Tiny seemed to lose all power of
controlling it, and was soon in the midst of a flirtation which
threatened to exceed even those in which she had indulged the season
before she accepted the love of her cousin, and promised to regard
herself as his affianced wife.
Wilfred Lane was not there to influence her; and as no one at
Bellingham Castle interfered, these young people afforded a great
deal of amusement to the whole circle of their friends, and were
quite undisturbed in the plans they daily made for their mutual
entertainment. If Tiny rode, it was looked upon as a settled
thing that Reginald would also ride; and it followed as a natural
consequence, that, when the riding party divided into pairs,
Reginald and Tiny fell behind and kept at a distance, which was by
no means as necessary for the convenience of the rest of the party
as their own. If Tiny walked, Reginald's horse was
countermanded; and if he did not actually take her in to dinner,
somehow or other they always found themselves side by side.
Sir Guy Fairfax came down at the appointed time, and left in
despair. He could never get a word with Tiny "for that
confounded puppy Macnaghten;" and began to weary of this fruitless
pursuit of a girl who seemed utterly indifferent to attractions
readily enough appreciated by most of the young ladies of his
General Drummond and Wilfred's father had been great friends
in early life; and, as it was no uncommon event for Wilfred to spend
a few days at Bellingham Castle, it excited no surprise, when Lady
Isabella announced at breakfast one morning, that she had invited
him to join the party on the following Saturday.
Tiny was absolutely delighted when she heard Wilfred was
coming; and not only gave full vent to her feelings in public, but
privately indited a note, begging him to remain over the Monday if
he could get leave of absence, because Monday was the day for the
first dress rehearsal, and she wanted him to be present above
In the meantime Mr. Macnaghten's feeling for Tiny was fast
passing all bounds; and, whenever they were alone, she had enough to
do to laugh away his serious speeches. It taxed her ingenuity
not a little, to keep him to the absurd and ridiculous style they
assumed towards each other in public. Once or twice Reginald
had been on the point of declaring his affection for her, but as, in
her opinion, this would have spoilt the whole affair, Tiny kept such
a firm hand over him, that he feared to risk his position by a
premature avowal, conscious that, at present, Tiny would cut the
matter short, and thus bring to an end their free and pleasant
So he contented himself by giving Tiny to understand, as far
as he dared, that he was resolved to wait, in the hope of inducing
her some day to return the affection she had inspired malgré lui
in his own breast. He even alluded to Lucy Scott, when he
found that Tiny was in possession of his little secret, and assured
her that no engagement had ever existed between them, and that he
should "pitch into his cousins for such an unwarrantable use of Miss
Scott's name, at the first possible opportunity." Mr. Reginald
Macnaghten was discovering that "absence makes the heart grow fonder
― of somebody else.''
It was all very well to assure Tiny Harewood that he had
never loved Lucy Scott; but the young lieutenant was somewhat
troubled in his own mind about his conduct. He felt himself in
an awkward position; for Miss Scott and he had exchanged sundry
words which he now wished altogether expunged from her memory.
He was not engaged to her; but he knew he had taken as much trouble
last summer to secure the confiding heart of that quiet retiring
girl, as he was now bestowing to capture this provoking little
butterfly, who seemed to elude him just when he made most sure of
winning her; and who yet continued to draw him on in a manner which
so tantalized him, that more than once he was on the point of losing
his well-sustained control, and risking his fate by an immediate
Tiny's interest in the arrival of Mr. Wilfred Lane was by no
means pleasing to her present adorer, who never felt less inclined
to obey her commands than he did on that Saturday afternoon, when
she requested him to gather a fresh sprig of ivy from the wall they
were passing, because her cousin liked her to wear it in her hair in
preference to all the wreaths which ever came out of Regent Street.
His displeasure amounted to absolute exasperation when the
gentleman in question made his appearance. True to his promise
to Lady Harewood, Mr. Lane was guarded in society, in order to
prevent his real position with his cousin being remarked upon.
But the eyes of a jealous lover were too keen to be deceived by a
disguise which did well enough for the rest of the world; and, in
spite of all caution, there was a quiet sense of ownership in
Wilfred's manner with Tiny, which perfectly infuriated Macnaghten.
He thought, too, that Tiny seemed afraid of Lane; doubtless he
exercised some authority over her, for Reginald noticed that she
avoided him after Lane's arrival, and for the first time purposely
went to the other side of the table at dinner, and transferred all
her attentions to this odious cousin.
Mr. Macnaghten considered himself aggrieved, and not
unnaturally hated Wilfred Lane from the bottom of his soul.
After the ladies retired, he sat opposite his enemy, cracking nuts,
and feeling there was no injury in the world he would not do him if
a benevolent providence ever placed it in his power. Quite
unconsciously Wilfred increased the young man's wrath; noticing
Macnaghten's silence, and attributing it to shyness, he tried to
draw him into conversation, which Reginald mistook for malicious
condescension, and resented accordingly.
During the evening Tiny was asked to sing; Wilfred, being
near the piano-forte, opened it for his cousin, and helped her to
find her music (which was of course in confusion and in everybody's
portfolio instead of her own). Macnaghten watched them;
scowling at Wilfred with a rising anger, which nearly burst all
bounds when the latter in his quiet easy manner removed the song
before Tiny, and insisted on her singing one selected by himself
from the mass of music before them.
''The cool impudent beggar!" muttered the disconcerted
Macnaghten between his teeth; "how she can stand his interference I
can't think. If I asked for a particular song, it would be
quite enough to make her say it was the very one which did not suit
When Tiny finished singing "Dove sono,'' Reginald
found every fault he could think of with it, in a way which Wilfred
thought exceedingly rude. Tiny was secretly amused; she knew
well enough what was passing in both their minds, and resolved to
excite the indignation of her youthful admirer still more; so she
paid no attention to his remarks, but, turning to Wilfred, asked him
to sing her favourite song by Hatton, "To Anthea who may command him
anything," the accompaniment of which she knew by heart; Wilfred did
not understand much about music. He was a little too fond of
taking his "own time" to please Tiny; but then he had a pleasant
voice and a perfect ear, and his enunciation was so clear and
distinct that his singing was generally liked. On the present
occasion he did full justice to this spirited song; and when
Macnaghten saw the glance he gave Tiny as he came to the words ―
"Thou art my life, my soul, my heart,
The very eyes of me;
And hast command of every part
To live and die for thee " ―
which he sang with intense feeling, Reginald thought he should like
"to pitch the confounded fellow out of the window, and the
music-stool after him."
As the proprieties of the nineteenth century forbade this
summary way of proceeding, he was forced to content himself with the
observation that he thought "the accompaniment extremely loud and
noisy; and the words the most foolish he had ever heard in his
life," leaving Mr. Lane wavering between doubts as to the sanity of
this young man, and a growing conviction that Mr. Reginald
Macnaghten was, without exception, the rudest and most ill-mannered
individual in Her Majesty's service!
When the music ceased, whist was proposed, and Wilfred was
placed at a table with General Drummond, Mrs. Wilmot (a pretty young
widow staying in the house), and Miss Robertson, who was dining
there with her father that evening; not far off was another quartet,
composed of Gertrude, Tiny, Captain Reynolds, and Reginald.
Now that Wilfred was at some little distance, and Tiny
resumed her old playful manner, Reginald began to thaw; indeed it
would have been a difficult task for a more ill-tempered man than he
was to remain sulky under the influence of the fun and merriment
Tiny Harewood always introduced at cards ― much to the displeasure
of graver people, who generally seem to regard whist as a serious
game, in which their reputations as well as their purses are at
stake, objecting to the utterance of a single unnecessary word
during the whole game. Tiny openly avowed that she abhorred
such solemnity, ― she hated whist unless allowed to cheat and talk
as much as she pleased! With or without permission Tiny's
tongue seldom stopped; and she certainly neglected no opportunity of
looking over her neighbour's cards, and proclaiming, for the benefit
of the entire party, the trump card she discovered in an opponent's
It was now Wilfred's turn to look somewhat eagerly across the
room to the table from which all this fun and merriment proceeded;
and it required no small effort on his part to conceal how fearfully
his own game bored him. During the last rubber he made a mis-deal;
twice he failed to return his partner's lead; and once, to Mrs.
Wilmot's great disgust, he nearly trumped her trick. To his
relief the third rubber at last came to an end; and, paying up his
losses, Wilfred rose, in order, as he said, to make room for a
better player. So Mr. Robertson, encouraged by Mr. Lane's
misfortune (yet declaring himself no player at all), ventured to
hope Mrs. Wilmot would accept him as Wilfred's substitute, and that
he should help her to retrieve her past ill-luck.
Wilfred Lane strolled to the other table, and stood behind
Macnaghten, watching the game. His familiarity with Tiny was
extremely distasteful to Wilfred; and the way in which he addressed
her as "partner" did not at all diminish the dislike which the young
man's rudeness had already excited.
When the ladies left the drawing-rooms, Gertrude took such
firm possession of his cousin that Wilfred saw he had no chance of a
word with her unobserved by the company at large; so he said
good-night to them both, his eyes resting with a loving longing
expression upon Tiny. Just as they reached the door, Reginald
Macnaghten jumped up, and catching hold of Gertrude's arm, to
Wilfred's great annoyance left the room with the two girls.
Some minutes later, when Wilfred crossed the hall with
General Drummond on the way to the billiard room, he looked up and
saw Tiny and Gertrude still talking on the staircase to this
obnoxious little Guardsman; and heard him say, as he turned from
Tiny ― with a gesture and familiarity which absolutely enraged him ―
"Her lips shall be in danger
"When next she trusts them near me!"
Wilfred Lane knew all about the play; but, in his anger, it
did not occur to him that Mr. Macnaghten's speech was a simple
It was, perhaps, well for all parties that only Captain
Reynolds joined the billiard players that night, and that Mr. Lane's
anger had time to expend itself on the unlimited number of cigars
which he smoked before he went to bed.
"Sundaies the pillars are
On which heav'n's palace arched lies;
The other dayes fill up the spare
And hollow room with vanities.
The Sundaies of man's life,
Thredded together on time's string,
Make bracelets to adorn the wife
Of the eternall glorious King.
On Sunday heaven's gate stands ope;
Blessings are plentifull and rife,
More plentifull than hope."
at Bellingham Castle on Sunday morning was always at nine, instead
of ten o'clock. Lady Isabella Drummond wished her servants to
go to church, and this could scarcely be managed unless the rooms
were vacated at an earlier hour than usual. So the gong
sounded as the clock in the turret struck nine. As it did so,
Wilfred Lane opened the door of the gallery which led on to the
general staircase from the set of rooms in which his own was
situated; and Tiny did precisely the same at the opposite end.
Seeing Wilfred she ran towards him, exclaiming in her bright and
joyous way ―
"The top of the morning to you, Wil, dear. Isn't this a
pleasant house? I am so happy here; now you have come, it's
"I think you made yourself very comfortable before," replied
Wilfred, with a shadow of coldness in his tone, for he could not
forget last night's episode; it had rankled in his mind ever since.
"Now, Mr. Gravity," said Tiny ― linking herself on his arm
with both hands, and looking up into his face, with an expression
which set his heart off thumping as quickly as ever ― "you don't
wish your little wife to be as sober as a judge before she really
takes upon herself the fearful responsibility of keeping you in
order? Come, Wil," she added in a pleading voice, which
touched his heart directly, "I have not been so very light-hearted
lately, that you need reproach me because my spirits run away with
me now I find myself with girls of my own age."
The gallery door opened again as Tiny spoke, and Gertrude and
Isabel appeared; as they greeted one another, Wilfred Lane was
calling himself hard names, for his want of generosity in having
harboured such ill-conditioned thoughts about Tiny; and, in his
genial pleasant manner, he began to make amends for it, by talking
to the three girls as they went down the stairs together into the
pleasant breakfast room; which looked cheerful enough, until young
Macnaghten thrust himself into the very seat next Tiny which Wilfred
was standing by, and intended to occupy.
The facetious conversation which ensued annoyed Wilfred
exceedingly. He had seldom seen Tiny in this kind of mood; and
it was so infinitely below the rest of her character, that it grated
upon his taste and sense of propriety. Young Macnaghten's
noisy mirth, and the nonsense they talked, seemed but little in
accordance with the quiet Sunday morning, which was always a double
rest, in the country, to this man who worked half the night, as well
as all the day, in London. Wilfred Lane made it a rule, from
which he seldom deviated, to keep one day out of the seven clear
from the working atmosphere of the rest; and as free from care and
anxiety as he could make it. Breathless and weary with the
labours of the past week, and the full weight of the world's
temptations, he had looked forward to this special day, as one from
which he should gain fresh strength and hope; and anything more
discordant than this foolish flippant jesting could scarcely be
conceived. He walked round the table, and took the vacant seat
between Gertrude Drummond and Mrs. Wilmot; very nearly opposite to
Tiny and her companion.
Several times he found himself looking at them with positive
amazement; for their absurdity was unredeemed by any particular wit
or originality, and it appeared to Wilfred only fit for the nursery
It was no relief to see that the Drummonds were accustomed to
this style of behaviour: nor was he better pleased when Mrs. Wilmot
remarked with a significant nod, "What a charming cousin you have,
Mr. Lane, and what a perfect little coquette! She has quite
turned poor Reginald Macnaghten's head; and I don't think she really
means to be merciful to him in the end."
Wilfred stammered out some answer about Tiny's amazing life
and spirits, and her extraordinary powers of attraction; but he
differed from Mrs. Wilmot in calling her a coquette, "for any one
less conscious of her powers of fascination he never saw;" a remark
which considerably diminished Mrs. Wilmot's respect for his
judgment, and somewhat jarred against a conviction which was gaining
strength in his own mind.
As the church was at some little distance, the open carriage
started from the hall-door at halfpast ten; and those who liked to
walk followed rather later, as they could take a short cut through
the shrubbery, and across the deer park.
Tiny was a great walker; and, a few minutes after the less
active members of the party had driven off, she appeared with
Gertrude and Mrs. Wilmot. They were at once joined by the
gentlemen who had made up their minds to go to church ― a resolution
which was confined to Wilfred, Captain Reynolds, and young
Macnaghten, whose attraction was neither the service nor the sermon,
but the prospect of a walk with Miss Tiny Harewood.
The ladies went in single file through the shrubberies, and,
in crossing the park, they were all together, so the conversation
was pretty evenly distributed; and the fresh, pleasant country air
gave Wilfred such a sense of enjoyment, that, by the time they
reached the quaint little country church, all traces of annoyance
had disappeared; his eyes were resting lovingly upon his cousin, and
he was longing for the time when her acknowledged position would
prevent any man from taking the shadow of a liberty with one who had
promised to love and honour him alone.
The pew belonging to the Castle was reached by outer steps,
which led into a comfortable square room, with a huge fireplace at
one end, and luxurious arm-chairs all round. It was no wonder
that when the General did come to church, he always went fast asleep
during the second lesson, and seldom awoke till the sermon was
ended; even Lady Isabella declared that the walls of Bellingham
Church were sown with poppy seed, and the curate's voice was
"somnolent and sleep-compelling."
Wilfred hated these kind of pews; they seemed to him to spoil
the meaning of the beautiful Church Service, which calls together
"rich and poor, one with another," into the presence of their Maker,
as brethren in this world, and heirs together of one blessed home in
the world to come.
He had not the least tendency to ritualism, for he could not
endure the introduction of practices which appeared to him to make
the heart sad of those whom God had not made sad, and laid burdens
upon men, grievous to be borne, and increased in an unnatural manner
the distance between the soul of man and its Maker.
Perhaps he could scarcely be called a good churchman; though
he belonged to the Church of England, and nothing would have induced
him to quit her communion, for he loved her noble Book of Prayer,
which is so catholic and so comprehensive, and so much in advance of
the practice of the Church.
He liked, too, the open churches and their free seats, where
all mingled together without respect of persons; he cared, too, that
the music should be of the best and highest description ― such as
might really elevate the hearts of those who wished to sing to the
honour and glory of God ― and it always grated against his sense of
the fitness of things, when he heard (as you yet may in too many
English country churches) the hymn given out by an illiterate clerk
(whose mispronunciation would spoil the best words which were ever
written), and sung by a congregation who neither care nor know
whether they keep to the tune they attempt to sing or not.
The service on the morning in question was very well
performed; the chants and anthem were sung with real feeling and
without display; the prayers were read by a curate, who was devout
without being unctuous; and the hymn ―
"Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee,
E'en though it be a cross
That raiseth me ―"
which preceded the sermon, was a special favourite, and one which
often came back to Wilfred in after days, when he remembered the
quiet service in this little country church.
The sermon was preached by a stranger, and addressed
particularly to the younger members of the congregation, who were
preparing for confirmation. The preacher warned them that they
had in a special sense their choice to make, and that the complexion
of their after life depended very much upon the line of conduct they
adopted during this period ― not because their younger days were
likely to be more sinful than those of after life, for each time had
its special sins, and perhaps the less prominent sins of later years
are even more hateful in the sight of God.
He implored the young men who were present, to believe that
the enemies of their souls were real and very deadly; that "the
world is an enemy, with its temptation to set the affections on
things beneath, not on things above; to have the mind choked up by
worldly ambitions ― the eyes dazzled with the sight of the kingdoms
of this world and the glory of them ― a temptation of which every
middle-aged man in that church would confess the power, and of which
perhaps nearly each had experienced the danger."
"The flesh," he continued, with increased earnestness, "is a
real enemy, and an enemy in the camp; one, moreover, which will
assail us under the most insinuating disguises, and which finds
special strength and support in the ardent temperament of young
blood. The devil, too, is a real enemy ― never believe that
the devil is a fiction, but regard him as the most awful of facts.
Here, then, I say, are real enemies, and who shall overestimate
their power? Young men and women! These are terrible
enemies if any there be; and that was God's truth in which you were
baptized, where you were pledged with the sign of Christ's cross to
fight against them. And what I desire to impress upon you is,
that you can only fight successfully by ruling yourselves according
to the Word of God. Let me beg of you to mark those words,
ruling yourselves ― implying, as I conceive, that constant drill
which makes the soldier ― constant discipline ― constant energy in
doing good ― not implying a few good resolutions now and then ― not
implying mere religious fits; fits of exercise never yet made a
soldier, and fits of religious feelings will never make a soldier of
When they came out of church, Wilfred Lane felt but little
disposed to talk. Several words in the sermon had come home to
him with such power, that he was unable to shake off the thoughts
they brought as soon as he crossed the church portal.
But he was obliged, like Felix, to put them aside for "a more
convenient season," and to help the ladies with their sundry wraps
and books into the carriage, which was waiting at the farther end of
the churchyard ― then he joined the walkers.
Though he took no share in the conversation on the way home,
it disturbed and distracted him.
"Now, that is a nice kind of sermon," said the sprightly
little widow; ''I can't bear all those long discourses about
'predestination' and 'baptismal regeneration.'"
"No," said Captain Reynolds; "those are things, as Lord
Dundreary would say, 'no feller can be expected to understand.'"
"Well ― I liked it, because it was short," said Gertrude;
"Mr. Williamson sometimes preaches for an hour, and by the time I
come out of church I have forgotten even the text he began with."
"You would like to have 'sat under' Peter Pindar, perhaps;"
exclaimed Reginald Macnaghten ― eagerly seizing the opportunity of
bringing in a favourite story of his, which he never lost the chance
of telling, since he heard it two years before. "Did you ever
hear, Miss Harewood, of a sermon preached by that celebrated divine
on the text 'Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards'?"
Tiny said she had not; so he continued ― "Well, if you don't
know it, and it isn't long, I must repeat it to you. 'Dearly
beloved brethren; I am going to preach to-day from the verse "Man is
born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards," and I shall divide my
sermon into three heads:
" 'I. Man's ingress into the world.
" 'II. Man's progress through the world.
" 'III. Man's egress out of the world.
" 'I. Man's ingress into the world ― naked and bare.
II. Man's progress through the world ― trouble and care. III.
Man's egress out of the world ― no one knows where; and if I were to
preach for a year I could tell you nothing more ― so now ― Amen.'"
Of course, every one laughed when Mr. Macnaghten concluded,
and Peter Pindar's point and brevity were duly appreciated.
But, when Mrs. Wilmot proceeded to remark upon the profanity
attributed to that departed worthy, Tiny, watching her opportunity,
slipped away from the others to join Wilfred, who was walking a
little apart from the rest.
Gradually they fell behind, and began to talk of what was
uppermost in both their minds.
Tiny, too, had listened to the sermon, and it had made its
impression on her; for the moment she felt forced to acknowledge
that the power of ruling herself was precisely what she most needed.
She had a wonderful way of analyzing her own character, and of
seeing its defects, but there she stopped. Sometimes, indeed,
she made a few valiant resolutions, but the first temptation put
them all to flight. Changeable in temperament, she often
seemed worse and often better than she really was; but her
unsteadiness in the small matters of life, and her want of ballast,
undermined her good intentions before she was aware of it.
When Tiny Harewood was a few years younger, Wilfred used to say of
her that she was like "Milton's Eve, the type of the masculine
standard of perfection in women; a graceful figure, an abundance of
fine hair, much coy submission, and such a degree of unreasoning
wilfulness as shall risk perdition."
There was only one point to which Tiny remained constant ―
her affection for Wilfred. This, she protested, was based upon
the deeper part of her mind; his love was essential to her.
At the time of their first separation she had been so long
under Wilfred's immediate influence, that she continued to live in
the atmosphere of the high and noble thoughts and interests he was
gradually developing in her. But, on her return to London, the
difficulty of her position with Wilfred, and the want of an elevated
tone in her mother's house, added to her own love of perpetual
"change," kept fallow a soil which Nature had endowed with her
richest gifts. Tiny's good aspirations were at first allowed
to rove at large, and finally devoted to vanity and frivolity, until
her whole being succumbed to the first temptation which assailed
her. In the present instance this met her in the form of a
flirtation with a lively young man, over whom she consciously
exerted her power in a way which she knew to be unworthy of her
better self, and inconsistent with her position with Wilfred Lane.
The sermon to-day had aroused her to a fresh sense of this;
and when she came up to her cousin and took his arm, she did so with
a firm resolution to alter her manner towards Reginald Macnaghten
from that very moment. But she did not feel disposed to own as
much as this to Wilfred, not even when he expressed his annoyance at
the foolish bantering tone she allowed Macnaghten to assume, which
was so ill in keeping with the tie existing between them. Tiny
felt the justice of his reproof; but her wilful little spirit
rebelled against his plain unvarnished condemnation of her conduct;
and she resented his expressing the very thoughts which were passing
through her own mind.
Wilfred Lane's patience and tenderness over Tiny's
waywardness about Captain Foy had been unbounded; but this was a
very different sort of thing, and he gave Tiny to understand he
would by no means tolerate it.
"Right thro' his manful breast darted the
That makes a man, in the sweet face of her
Whom he loves most, lonely and miserable."
Idylls of the King.
extremely quiet throughout the whole of luncheon. She was
either convinced by what Wilfred had said, or else, having found the
censure already administered exceedingly unpalatable, she feared to provoke another.
Her conscience told her how little Wilfred knew all that had taken place, and how thoroughly
she deserved his condemnation.
Of course this alteration in Tiny's behaviour was
not lost on Mr. Macnaghten. Nor was he backward in attributing it to the interference of that
"conceited prig of a cousin, who was so dull and
morose himself that he hated to see other people
jolly enough to enjoy themselves." And the
young Lieutenant registered a vow that if ever
Miss Tiny Harewood became "Mrs. Reginald
Macnaghten," as he fondly believed she ultimately
would, that ''kill-joy-fellow" should never darken
his doors, if he could help it. He glanced
fiercely at Mr. Lane, longing to deliver Tiny out
of his clutches.
It must be confessed that Wilfred did not
appear at this moment to advantage at Bellingham Castle.
Naturally of an easy and genial temperament, his friends were surprised at a taciturn and
crude manner most unusual to him. His disapproval of the
intimacy between Tiny and Mr. Macnaghten was evident to the Drummonds; but,
being ignorant of the real tie between the cousins,
they were unable to understand his conduct, and
felt inclined to resent it as most unreasonable.
Never had an exhortation to ''rule himself"
come at a more seasonable time to Wilfred; for
he felt very angry with Tiny, exceedingly sore
with Reginald Macnaghten, and hurt at the suspicions entertained by his friends.
When Tiny made him miserable on board the
yacht, there was a depth and earnestness about
the matter which drew out the finer parts of her
character and claimed a certain kind of respect.
In the present instance, however, Wilfred had
a very different sort of feeling, in which respect
did not mingle in the least.
There was something so peculiarly aggressive in
Macnaghten's manner towards himself personally,
that Wilfred almost lost sight of the fact that
the young man was unconsciously injuring him by
his attentions to his affianced wife; and perhaps
Wilfred did not care to open his eyes to what
made Tiny's share in the blame so much the
Lady Isabella Drummond next came in for a
share of his displeasure. He thought her wrong
to countenance her nephew's open admiration of a
young guest left completely under her protection.
The least she could have done would have been to compel Reginald to
cease from making a conspicuous display of his feeling for Tiny: and,
as these thoughts passed through his mind, he became moody and silent.
When he had finished blaming the whole party,
he began to condemn himself; for he was fond of
the Drummonds, and hated himself for having
hard thoughts of the people by whom he was surrounded, and of whose
hospitality he was partaking.
Finding Tiny surrounded by the girls in the
drawing-room after luncheon, he resolved to go
for a long walk. He was indisposed for any
company but his own, and hoped that exercise
might disperse the ill-conditioned state of mind
in which he found himself. So off he started,
unobserved by any one; thinking of Tiny the
whole time, he paid no heed to the direction he
took, and walked so far that the first bell had
already rung when he returned, and there was
scarcely time to dress for dinner.
Tiny, too, had been revolving matters in her
own mind, during the short time she had been
alone. But first of all she had accompanied the
old General and his daughters to the stables,
where the horses were duly inspected, according
to the regular Sunday-afternoon practice, and a
piece of sugar administered to each with scrupulous impartiality. Then they made the tour of
the kitchen gardens and forcing houses; after
which Tiny Harewood retired with Gertrude and
heard certain confidences touching Horace Alvanley, who had been for some time paying her very
It was wonderful, considering the frank and open
manner Tiny possessed, to see how very closely
she could keep her own concerns to herself, while
she gave people the impression of always saying
whatever was passing in her mind. Tiny never
allowed a human being to know her one bit more
intimately than she thought convenient; and on
this occasion she considered it was better for her
friends to know nothing of her engagement to Wilfred Lane. She
even allowed Gertrude to remark how much more self-engrossed Wilfred appeared, and how far less agreeable he was than
usual, and still refrained from giving her friend the
key to her cousin's conduct.
At the same time, next to feeling out of conceit
with herself, she was really vexed at the unfavourable impression
Wilfred was making upon everybody; but she was selfish enough to be still more
sore with his plain condemnation of her own conduct, and not at all disposed to overlook his absenting himself the whole afternoon; this she
regarded as a great slight to herself, and exceedingly rude to everybody.
Tiny went down to dinner with a wicked little
demon sitting in the coils of her beautiful hair,
prompting her to all kinds of extravagance, with
plausible reasons attached to each. If she altered
her manner to Reginald while Wilfred was in the
house, it suggested she would make matters infinitely worse; not only would every one accuse her
of fearing her cousin, but they would attribute to
her conduct a greater degree of blame than she
considered it deserved; or else Wilfred would be
placed in the odious position of a marplot. Next the little
demon whispered that, by making herself doubly agreeable, she would not only atone
for Wilfred's behaviour, but divert attention from
him by directing it to herself.
While the servants were in the room things
went on pretty quietly; but at dessert Tiny astonished them all, and yet was so exceedingly
original and daring that it was impossible for any
one but Wilfred to refrain from laughing.
After dinner, the gentlemen adjourned to the
smoking room; for, a long Sunday evening,
without whist or music, induced them to postpone
their entrance into the drawing-room to an unusually late hour.
Lady Isabella objected to music on a Sunday,
because her mother had done so before her; and
the girls had tried in vain to introduce sacred
music by Handel and Mozart, which would not
only have relieved the tedium of those evenings,
but might have supplied the very spiritual element
of which they were so sadly destitute.
When Wilfred entered the drawing-room, about
half-past nine o'clock, he found Tiny and Mr.
Macnaghten seated on a sofa, with a large photograph book into which they were looking; or
rather, behind which they were talking.
Tiny looked uncomfortable when she saw the
expression of her cousin's face; and this was immediately attributed by Reginald to her imagined
fear of Lane, who appeared to him to act the
mentor over her in a most unwarrantable manner.
"You seem very much afraid of Mr. Secretary
Lane," said Reginald, while pretending to look
at another page; "for my part I hate fellows who
think such a lot of themselves, and interfere with
other people's affairs."
"Indeed, I'm not in the least afraid of him.
Wilfred is the best creature in the world," she
added; coming, with a true woman's instinct, to the
defence of the man she loved directly any one
This did not mitigate Macnaghten's wrath, and
he ventured on another depreciatory remark, which
Tiny effectually silenced by rising from her seat
and saying she did not care to look at any more
photographs. She went to Wilfred, and in a low
voice asked him not to look so cross.
Wilfred was conscious of feeling exceedingly
savage. He was indignant with Tiny for raising up, in his own
nature, passions he heartily despised ― and he was rendered still more angry,
when, in answer to the reply he made her, Tiny
told him that the whole thing arose from his being
"so ridiculously jealous and disagreeable to the
poor boy, that she was forced to be extra kind
and amiable to make up for his want of manners."
A stronger expression and nearer to an oath
than Wilfred Lane was at all in the habit of using,
escaped from his lips, as Tiny uttered this mean
and ungenerous subterfuge.
Bound by the peculiar circumstances of his
promise to Lady Harewood, he was forced to accept one of the most intolerable positions in which
any one can be placed.
No honourable man could stand quietly by, and
see the girl to whom he is pledged suffer another
to approach her with attentions which would not
be offered her as his wife. The very concealment
of the tie between them only made it more wrong
of Tiny to take advantage of such a position. It
was for her to check Macnaghten's advances, not
to encourage them as if she were free to receive all
he might feel disposed to offer.
The long-suffering that Wilfred had shown in
the matter of Captain Foy, only made him less
inclined to take a lenient view of Tiny's present
conduct. She ought to have learnt from her own
sorrow something of the pain she had inflicted
upon him; and when her feeling for Captain Foy
ceased, and she refused to accept the freedom Wilfred had pressed upon her, he felt he had a right
to expect that this girl ― for whose love he had
waited so patiently and for whom he had suffered
so much ― should cleave to him with her whole
heart and soul. To find her amusing herself by a
flirtation with Reginald Macnaghten thoroughly
roused his indignation; and, for the first time in
his life, Wilfred Lane was not only angry with
Tiny, but a shadow of disgust crept into the feeling
with which he had hitherto regarded her. As he
stood, apparently turning over the leaves of a
book which lay on the table beside him, his whole
soul was in a tumult ―
"For, to be wroth with one we love,
Doth work like madness on the brain."
"People who love downy peaches are not
apt to think of the stone, and sometimes jar their teeth
terribly against it.
Tiny came down to breakfast the next morning she found to her
amazement that Wilfred had already left for London.
Late on the previous night, while smoking with General
Drummond, he suddenly remembered some important papers which
required to be despatched without delay. Never suspecting
Wilfred's real motive, the General proposed to send a telegram; but
on Wilfred's assurance that no one could find the despatches but
himself, it was arranged that the dog-cart should be ready at eight
o'clock, in time to catch the morning express at Farnham.
So, while Tiny slept, Wilfred was taking his solitary
breakfast; and the noise which awoke her, and for which she could
not account, was made by the wheels of the dog-cart which carried
him rapidly away over the fresh gravel-path under her bedroom
Wilfred Lane had passed a restless night. He could not
shut his eyes to the impropriety of Tiny's manner. It was a
new development, for which he was totally unprepared. In the
midst of what he had suffered about Captain Foy, he had been
sustained by the belief, that when once Tiny recovered from her
glamour all her affections would return to himself. He knew
that she could neither mistake nor doubt his entire devotion to her.
This pure and true love had utterly effaced the fevered and troubled
passion of his youth, and Wilfred had not a thought apart from Tiny.
Her love was his very life. She had entwined herself so
completely around his whole being, that the world was to him Tiny ―
and Tiny was the world.
He realized that their position was a difficult one; a secret
understanding must always be such; and fearing that his presence
hampered her, he resolved to leave the Castle without seeing her.
One thing was obvious; it was high time Tiny should abstain of her
own free will from actions which the commonest sense of right and
wrong condemned. If she could flirt with the first man into
whose society she was intimately thrown after her feeling for Foy
subsided, Wilfred felt the love she professed to give him unworthy
of his acceptance. His holding her to their mutual promise
would only sooner or later bring about a calamity to both. At
present there was time for Tiny; no one knew of the tie between
When General Drummond told Miss Tiny Harewood, as she sat
down to breakfast, of Wilfred's departure, that young lady was, for
one moment, disconcerted; but, seeing Mr. Macnaghten's eyes fixed
upon her, with a presence of mind worthy of a better cause she
carelessly observed that her cousin had told her on their way from
church that he feared he should be forced to leave early the next
Lady Isabella was just about to say she understood that
Wilfred had only remembered these papers late on the preceding
night, when something in Tiny's face arrested the words on her lips;
and, as Gertrude at that moment began to discuss a letter just
received from Dublin, the conversation was fortunately turned into
As soon as Tiny got back to her own room, this strange little
damsel gave vent to her disappointment; and, after crying for a good
half hour, opened her writing-case, and, taking out a sheet of
foreign letter paper, wrote as follows:
"Oh! Wil, I am so thoroughly
ashamed of myself; do forgive me this once for making you angry, and
I will never do so again. I am utterly miserable, and I think
you have punished me very cruelly by going away without saying one
word to me. I don't know how this state of things came about,
and I look upon the whole affair as so curious that I don't
understand myself in the least. I frankly confess that I have
given way to my old wicked spirit, and I know your confidence in me
is completely shaken.
"But is it not better, Wil, for you to know me as I really
am? You cannot help and guide me, if you do not. I think
one of your highest points is your entire belief in those you love;
but you never can be sufficient or good for a person, if you are
blind to their faults. And the sort of life I am leading, away
from you, is so bad for my disposition, that you ought to pity,
rather than to blame me. You will find that I shall be quite
different after June; and you don't know how intensely I long for
the time when we shall be always together. Have patience till
then, with this little girl you have made so miserable today.
I would rather you should write me volumes of scoldings, than have
thoughts of which you will not tell me. Believe me, Wil, as
you love me, the hope of our future life together is the most
precious thing in the world to me, for I feel my life fast clinging
round yours. It would indeed be a terrible wrench to break it
asunder now. So don't punish me any more for what has really
been a foolish piece of nonsense, of which I am heartily ashamed.
I don't know how it all came about; I suppose it was through this
odious play, which I now hate and detest. Shall I throw it up?
Write by return of post; for if you don't like me to act, I will
give up my part at once.
Oh, Wil, I am so wretched! I think I scarcely deserved
such a severe punishment after all. I shall not have a
moment's peace till I hear you have really forgiven
"Your penitent little
What could Wilfred say when he received this letter?
Poor infatuated fellow! He began to agree with Tiny, and to
think he need not have left the Castle so hastily. The foolish
nonsense between Tiny and Macnaghten had by no means deserved such a
severe measure. After all, it was that noisy young man who was
really to blame ― it was his conduct which had drawn every one's
attention to Tiny; and Wilfred, instead of letting his wrath fall on
the right object, had deprived himself of the day in the country to
which he had looked forward with such pleasure, and made his poor
little Tiny wretched as well.
He was clearly a stupid blundering idiot, and unable to
fathom the mysterious depths of a woman's delicate nature!
He sat down and wrote to Tiny, and begged her not to give up
the play. He confessed he had left, because his private
relationship with her made it impossible for him either to witness
or prevent the attentions another man chose to pay her. He
thought she had been wrong to allow Macnaghten to assume such a
footing with her; but he could not doubt her real fidelity to
himself after the letter he had just received. "At the same
time," he added, "it seems to me, Tiny, that, lacking as we do the
public acknowledgments and safeguards which such ties as ours
generally receive in the world, we are doubly bound to cherish our
private position, and to remember the duties we owe to each other."
Before Tiny received this answer, she was evidently anxious
and depressed; and discomfited the young Guardsman not a little by
the snubs she administered whenever he attempted to resume the old
familiarities she had allowed before her cousin's visit. Once
assured of Wilfred's forgiveness, Tiny soon recovered her spirits,
and, with them, her dislike of appearing disagreeable to any one;
and, as it was obviously disagreeable to Mr. Reginald Macnaghten to
be checked in his advances, Tiny soon permitted them as freely as
The play went off gloriously; and on the afternoon of the
second performance Lady Harewood and her two daughters arrived.
Tiny acted her part to perfection, for, in truth, the
character of Helen in Sheridan Knowles' "Hunchback" exactly
Her sisters, who were in total ignorance of the flirtation
with Reginald Macnaghten, noticed the peculiar look exchanged
between them on the stage, when the latter, as Modus
"Your hand upon it!"
And Tiny answers:
"Hand and heart.
Hie to thy dressing-room, and I'll to mine.
Attire thee for the altar ― so will I,
Whoe'er may claim me, thou'rt the man shall have me."
Encouraged by that glance, and Tiny's excited manner,
Reginald induced her, later in the evening, to throw an opera cloak
over her shoulders, and to come on to the terrace, away from the
crowded and heated rooms.
The night was cold and clear, for the moon was at the full,
and every little blade of grass could be seen as plainly as at
noonday. They walked slowly to the end of the terrace, and
then Reginald insisted on sitting down for one moment in the
summer-house, which commanded a fine view of the exquisite landscape
before them. Everything looked so lovely and mysterious in the
moonlight, that Tiny's senses were quite bewitched.
There was something in Reginald's manner which told her that
it was impossible to escape the inevitable explanation. "Under
all the circumstances," thought Tiny, "would it not be better to
have it over at once?"
She had not long to wait before he told her how he loved her,
and entreated her to be his wife; and without waiting for any
answer, the impetuous young man put his arms round her and kissed
"Stay, Mr. Macnaghten," cried Tiny, disengaging herself as
best she could; "you have quite mistaken me. I thought you
understood me better than to do this. I have often said enough
to make you know that we could never be anything but friends; and if
you do not control yourself, I shall feel very angry. It is
unmanly of you," she continued, hastily springing up from her seat,
and getting out of the summer-house on to the terrace, where the
moonlight seemed to offer her some protection, "to abuse my
confidence by such conduct. I feel very angry with you, indeed
If Tiny had said "very frightened of you" it would have
better expressed her meaning, for Reginald's violence had positively
He had felt so sure of a different answer, and was so excited
by the acting and various glasses of champagne imbibed between the
scenes, that Tiny's rebuff fairly staggered him. The way in
which she had acted the part of Helen was so real and
lifelike, that he had allowed himself to be carried away by the
notion that, if an engagement existed (of which he had some dim
surmise) between herself and that grave cousin. Tiny was ready to
throw it over for his sake, and meant him to understand this, when
she exclaimed with so much significance ―
"Whoe'er may claim me, thou'rt the man shall
Stammering out an apology, Reginald declared he was so
excited, he was more like a madman than anything else that night.
"Well then," said Tiny, feeling more secure as they neared
the little side door, through which they had made their exit from
the ball-room, "let us consider that your temporary fit of insanity
is over, and do not let this subject ever be resumed."
He was on the point of speaking, when Tiny stopped him by
saying, in a gentler voice, ''I am sorry to pain you. You
cannot think how it hurts me;" for she saw the young man was growing
deadly pale. "It has been a great mistake. I am already
engaged to my cousin, but you must not speak of it."
Reginald Macnaghten was silent. Tiny's words and manner
told him he had nothing to hope, and he was struggling with his
disappointment, which was real; for he had learnt to love this girl
who had only trifled with him.
"Come, Reginald," said Tiny, calling him for the first time
by his Christian name, "give me your hand on it, and let us be
friends. I like you very much," she said, holding out her
hand, "and should care to have you for a friend."
He kissed it, for he could not speak; but, instead of
following her into the house, allowed her to pass in alone, and
without another word, walked rapidly from the terrace into the dark
That night Reginald Macnaghten never reappeared in the
ball-room; some hours later he was found in his room; having
retired, he said, with a violent headache.
Now that Tiny realized what she had done, she was sorry for
it; but, unfortunately, her repentance came too late; and, in this
instance, was accompanied by so many fears on her own account, that
she had enough to do to think of how she should get out of this
business with the least blame to herself.
It was a great relief to think that she was going away the
next morning, or rather that very day; for the sun had risen long
before her sisters left her in undisturbed possession of her room,
and with thoughts which were anything but calm and pleasant.
"At any rate," said Tiny to herself, ''it was fortunate that
Wilfred could not get leave of absence; and yet, perhaps, if he had
come down to the play, this last catastrophe might have been
She felt she should never dare confess all to him, for she
knew she had acted foolishly in going out on the terrace; her own
sense told her that, in doing so, she provoked the declaration which
followed; and when she recalled the pained expression of Reginald's
face as she last saw it, before he strode away into the shrubbery to
conceal his emotion, a genuine regret came over her, and a sense of
shame for having indulged her vanity at his expense.
But Tiny hated to think of what pained her, and consoled
herself with a sweeping condemnation of her mother, for forcing her
to conceal her position with Wilfred ― of Wilfred, for not being
present to take care of her ― and of Reginald Macnaghten, for not
restraining his feelings ― and then she fell into a peaceful sleep,
as if nothing whatever had happened, and she had never given a human
being a moment's disquietude.
"O purblind race of miserable men,
How many among us at this very hour
Do forge a life-long trouble for ourselves,
By taking true for false, and false for true."
Idylls of the King.
the next few weeks Tiny astonished everybody by her eagerness to go
to all the balls and parties for which the Harewoods received cards.
When alone with Wilfred she was constrained and nervous.
She had not told him about Reginald Macnaghten's proposal, and was
in constant dread of his hearing more about her conduct at
Bellingham Castle than he knew already. If that displeased
him, Tiny wondered what he would say if he knew all which had taken
place since she wrote that penitent letter. The whole thing
made her so restless and unhappy, that she craved for fresh
excitement, and was never satisfied without it.
Nor was Wilfred happy. He could not disengage his
affections from this enticing little piece of naughtiness, and yet
his illusion was gone ― gone far more completely than he thought it
even that miserable night when he paced up and down the deck of the
yacht at Ryde, and for the first time learned that Tiny loved
another when she promised to be his wife.
And so these two, who, a few weeks before, had seemed so
bound up in each other that nothing could sever them, began to grow
wider and wider apart, until they were once more united by a common
During this time, Wilfred Lane devoted himself more than ever
to his work. His daily visit to Grosvenor Crescent was no
longer expected as a matter of course. If he came, he found
the drawing-room so full that he had no chance of a quiet talk with
Tiny; if he dined there, she often left before dessert to prepare
for some ball, to which she had promised to accompany Lady Harewood;
and their quiet Sunday afternoons were now constantly broken into by
interruptions which Wilfred knew well enough Tiny would have evaded
in earlier days.
Still, he clung obstinately to the belief that all this
sprang from the unnatural state of things to which Lady Harewood
forced their submission. He thought that Tiny's restless love
of excitement would subside, and the happiness she had expressed in
her old letters from Rome would be hers, when she was settled in a
quiet little home of her own, for which he so impatiently sighed.
Tiny, too, often spoke of her happiness as certain, when removed
from an atmosphere which, she assured Wilfred, she loathed and
Such was the state of things on the 31st of May, between
these two who had once thought it impossible to wait till then for
the marriage which was to make them as publicly one, as their hearts
long since had made them.
Wilfred was on his way to speak to Lady Harewood that
evening, when he met one of his aunt's servants, who gave him a note
from Tiny, begging him by no means to come to the house, because
Madeline, who had been very poorly for the last few days, had
scarlet fever, and the whole household was in confusion.
He had no fears for himself, having had the scarlet fever at
Harrow; but, knowing he might convey the infection to others, he
felt he must refrain from going to Tiny; for what would Lady Slade
say, if she heard that Mr. Lane attended the War Office as usual,
after visiting Grosvenor Crescent under present circumstances?
With an expression which did not sound like a blessing on the rising
generation of little Slades, he retraced his steps in the direction
of his own chambers.
During the next few days constant notes passed between them,
for Wilfred was not only anxious about Madeline, but in hourly dread
lest Tiny should take the fever.
At first the accounts were favourable; but, by the end of the
week, bad symptoms appeared; and the doctors warned them all to
prepare for the worst. After a night of great suspense,
Wilfred received a line from Tiny, to say that poor Madeline had
sunk from exhaustion at four o'clock that bright June morning ; and
Lady Harewood was so much alarmed lest any fresh case should break
out, that she had resolved to leave the infected house that very
day, and had actually despatched Watson to engage rooms at Walmer,
as the quietest place they could think of in their distress.
Poor Tiny's letter was blotted all over with tears, for she
was heart-broken at the sudden loss of her favourite sister, and
horrified at the idea of leaving the house as soon as ever Madeline
ceased to breathe.
Of course, Wilfred was thankful to hear of this plan, as it
was evident the fever was of a malignant kind; but he felt very
deeply the death of a cousin with whom so many early associations
How differently this first week in June passed to what any of
them had expected!
Every day brought Wilfred a letter from Walmer, which he
eagerly opened, fearing it might contain news of further illness;
but the cruel fever had done its work: gradually all alarm subsided;
and, at the end of three weeks. Sir Thomas Slade (unknown to his
wife) told Mr. Lane he might safely run down and see poor Lady
Harewood and his cousins.
On the following Saturday afternoon, Wilfred astonished his
aunt and cousins by walking into the small house they occupied,
facing the sea.
When Tiny saw him her grief burst out afresh, for they had
not met since Madeline's death; and directly they were alone, she
hid her face on his shoulder, and, refusing to be comforted, wept as
if her very heart would break.
After dinner they walked together on the beach; but although
they both shrank from speaking of their hope of future happiness, in
the presence of this new sorrow, they seemed to be nearer to each
other; nearer than they had been for many weeks.
The next morning Wilfred took Tiny across the fields to the
church at Upper Deal. On their return, Lady Harewood consulted
them about a very kind letter she had received from Lady Lothian,
inviting them all to her place in Scotland. A few years
before, Lady Lothian had lost her own daughter in scarlet fever; and
she begged the Harewoods to come to her as soon as they felt
inclined, promising that no one should intrude on them, for she knew
how to sympathize with their deep sorrow.
Wilfred had never seen Lady Lothian, as the Harewoods had
made her acquaintance in Rome; but he was much pleased with her
letter, and, when they talked it over, he advised her offer should
be accepted. It was accordingly settled that they should
propose to be with her the second week in July; and as it was
considered more prudent to avoid Grosvenor Crescent altogether,
Wilfred was to engage rooms at the Euston Square Hotel, to enable
them to rest one night in London, and to take the day mail to
Tiny wrote every day, whilst she was at the sea-side ―
letters full of the old love ― and again told Wilfred how she longed
for the time which would put an end to a separation which became
more and more wearisome.
On the fourteenth of July the Harewoods left Walmer for the
Euston Square Hotel, where Wilfred was waiting to receive them.
He took the first possible opportunity of telling Lady
Harewood that, although this sorrow had prevented their claiming her
promise on the first of June, they trusted she would consent to
their marriage during the autumn, and added he was about to see a
cottage at Chislehurst, to which Tiny had taken a fancy.
Lady Harewood seemed considerably softened by her recent
grief, and said she had been expecting this communication, and would
talk to Tiny when they were at Lady Lothian's; she also requested
him to write fully about ways and means after his visit to
Chislehurst. Then she wished him good-by, rather more
cordially than usual, and retired with Charlotte in order to give
Wilfred a quiet half hour with Tiny.
Before they parted that night, Tiny unburdened her heart, and
confessed the extent of Reginald Macnaghten's influence over her.
She spoke, too, again of Captain Foy; of her unrest and craving for
excitement; and then assured Wilfred of her perfect love for
himself, and her happiness in looking forward to the day which
should unite them forever.
Still, as Wilfred Lane walked home, he determined to give her
the chance of once more reconsidering the whole matter, but resolved
to wait until she had settled down at Dunoon. In the meantime
he went to Chislehurst, and made every inquiry, as if the result
were certain to be in accordance with his wishes. Tiny soon
sent him news of their arrival in Edinburgh, and their subsequent
welcome from Lady Lothian at her lovely place on the banks of the
"His grand excellence was this, that he
Tiny had been about ten days in Scotland she received the following
"I have been thinking so much of all
you told me the night before you left London, that I feel I ought to
ask you to reconsider your position with regard to me. This
separation has been brought about in such a strange and mysterious
manner, that it almost seems as if it had been sent on purpose to
enable you once more to deliberate before your final decision.
So now, Tiny, believe me, when I say I honestly want you to consider
yourself unfettered by any previous promise; as having, in fact,
your choice to make. Do not suppose, my beloved, that I write
thus because I love you less, or am a shade less eager for our
marriage; on the contrary, Tiny, I seem every day to love and need
you more; but I love you so infinitely more than I do my own
happiness, that I can surrender it to yours. Do not fear to
If there is any doubt on your mind; if you have the shadow of
a suspicion that life with me will not give you all you can imagine
possible under such circumstances, I think you are bound to
hesitate, even now, at the eleventh hour, in spite of any present
suffering and humiliation to me. You see, my darling, one
point has been made clear to you this year, and your doubts and
difficulties respecting Captain Foy are forever set at rest.
This gives you a far better opportunity of deciding your own future,
than could be the case while your little mind was harassed by all
these cruel perplexities which tormented it so long. But,
Tiny, I sometimes tremble lest you should have mistaken your feeling
for me, because I was able in the first instance unconsciously to
help you to bear your sorrow, and, after you confided in me, to
sympathize with every little difficulty and pain it brought you.
Therefore, I want you once more to consider the whole matter.
Do not, for any fear of bringing trouble upon me, hesitate to do
what is best for your own happiness. Remember, my darling, you
would bring a far greater misery upon me in the end, if I found, a
few weeks after our marriage, that it did not yield you all the joy
you expected. Tiny, the thought that I could never help you,
never release you from such a bondage, would be intolerable to me.
For both our sakes I implore you to make no mistake about your love
"Let me speak plainly to you, which I can do much more calmly
than when present with you.
"It is not that I love you less, or that I can ― even while I
tell you to choose afresh ― think of parting with you without a
thorough upset of my life and the only happiness I have ever
pictured ― the future I have treasured for years! But I dare
not (after what I saw at Bellingham, and what you have since told me
about your feeling for Macnaghten) refrain from offering to set you
free from the tie which has hitherto bound us.
"It is easier, Tiny, to say things than to forget them; just
as it was easier for me to be angry at Bellingham, rather than wise
and patient; but what you said and did then, took away from me the
confidence I had in our future, and left in its place a thousand
doubts and difficulties.
"When I first told you I loved you, and asked you to be my
wife, you made me believe that your love for me was so completely a
part of your nature, that nothing short of our marriage would
satisfy you: and that the happiness of such a union would more than
counterbalance any trials and drawbacks incidental to our position.
If I had ever doubted this, I should have felt it wrong to offer
your mother the decided opposition I did. When I learnt for
the first time at Ryde the existence of a previous attachment, you
know, Tiny, what I wished to do. I allowed you to overrule me,
because I believed events would turn out as they have, in one way;
but I never dreamt that any other feeling would take the slightest
hold upon you ― even to the extent it did at Bellingham.
"I cannot write calmly, after all; and I don't know that many words
are wanted. All I have to say is, that I implore you, my
darling, to be very sure you are making no mistake now. Unless
you love me wholly our marriage will simply expose you to a thousand
miseries and dangers, of which you have at present no conception.
Without love, Tiny ― the deepest love of your whole being ― it will
be destitute of the greatest safeguard against temptations to which
some natures are peculiarly liable. Think over this while you
are away from me, my darling; you are better able now to come to a
clear decision about the state of your own mind, and what will best
promote your future welfare. Do not hesitate to choose what
seems happiest for you, because your kind little heart shrinks from
wounding me; remember I am a great strong fellow, and can better
face this trouble, than you could cope with such a life-long
difficulty as an incomplete marriage.
"I know too much of the wretchedness and sin such marriages
produce, ever to forget it; and therefore solemnly conjure you,
Tiny, not to link your fate with mine if you have one doubt about
your affection for me. The thought that I might prove your
evil, and not your good, has sent me down on my knees more than
once, and I would welcome any present desolation for myself rather
than run such a fearful risk for you, my own dear one ― dearer far
than my own soul.
"I would not answer your letter,
my darling Wil, in a hurry; so I kept it for two days in my pocket,
and have read it through a great many times since it came.
"You are a dear, noble, generous-hearted fellow; but there
was no occasion for you to write as you did, or to place so much
weight upon what I have said and done, when I was in an
"If I wanted anything to convince me that I never could be
happy without you, this separation would have done it. I feel
such a blank, and one does not quite know why it is, till I picture
what this place would be like if you were only here; and then I find
it is your absence which makes the want. My own Wil! our life
together is the only one I can think of with any satisfaction; and I
feel sure it will be a happy one, if, as you said in our last sweet
talk together, we make up our minds to do all we can for each
other's happiness. Certainly, it is only by doing my duty by
you that I shall ever get any real happiness, or do myself any good;
you must think the same, and then our little home will be a sweet
and peaceful one. I do indeed realize this, and am ready to do
my best. I think I must succeed better than I have before,
because all seems so much clearer. You may be sure that it is
no sudden impulse which makes me say this. I may be changeable
in temperament; but I am certain that my feeling for you is based
upon the deepest part of my mind, and life would be incomplete
"I quite understand your letter, Wilfred, and feel for you in
a way which will, I hope, make me in the future more considerate to
you than I have been in the past. I know I was very wrong
about Reginald Macnaghten, or rather, I missed the highest right,
chiefly from not seeing what I was doing; and, as I am quite, quite
certain that a life with you would secure for me a far greater
amount of happiness than anything else in the world, I will be more
unselfish in the future. I am writing this after some very serious
"Believe me, I could not part with you, any better than you
could part with me. The happiest moment in the day is when I
come down and find a letter from you on the breakfast-table; and the
next best ― when I sit down to answer it. Every day makes me
more dependent upon you ― no, my darling, I never could do without
you now, and you would be more than satisfied if you knew how I am
longing for the time when we shall always be together in a peaceful
little home of our own. I was counting even yesterday the days
to that dearest event, and wondering if Mamma would insist on our
waiting until the six dreariest months I have ever spent in my life
are completed. So good-by, my own; for my own you always,
always must be, and that is your answer. I kiss your dear ring
as I write. I have no time for more.
"Your own little
This letter extinguished Wilfred's last lingering suspicion;
his whole nature rejoiced in the thought of his darling's love; and
he thanked God for this rich gift, and prayed to be able to make her
He pursued the owner of the cottage at Chislehurst with
renewed vigour, and at last obtained his definite answer. Mr.
Hall was about to leave England, and wished to sell his cottage,
together with the old oak furniture and the curious cabinets it
contained. The house was fitted up with such perfect taste,
that Tiny used often to say if she herself had planned it, she could
not have succeeded better.
After a few days' negotiation, matters were finally arranged;
and, in spite of the heavy sum it required, Wilfred succeeded in
obtaining the cottage, as Mr. Hall agreed to give him immediate
possession, and to let part of the purchase-money stand over for
another year. So, when the night mail travelled down to
Scotland on the following Monday, it carried a letter which much
delighted the little person to whom it was addressed.
"Your letter has made me the happiest
man in the whole world! I will never again have another doubt
about your love, so I shall 'let the dead past bury its dead,'
including Mr. Reginald Macnaghten, and, by way of acting in the
'living present,' as the poet says, I have just signed, sealed, and
paid over the greater part of the purchase-money for that queer
little place at Chislehurst, which took your fancy so last year.
As Mr. Hall is going to live in Florence, he wished to sell the
whole house as it stands; so you may now consider yourself the
mistress of this quaint little cottage. How I wish you could
put yourself into an envelope, and come back in the next post-bag,
to preside over your new possession and me! I am getting so
hungry for you, Tiny, that, when I do get hold of you, I shall
devour you altogether ― there will be nothing of you left. I
shall be like the old bear in the story, 'who growled over her a
little while and then ate her up.' Well, if we had not waited
all this time, I should never have saved enough money, so it is all
right, I suppose.
"But we shall not want to buy any more houses, so please tell
your mother we really cannot wait any longer. I don't see at
all why she should not agree to our being married in September,
without any fuss or ceremony. It will then be two years since
that day when you found out what those little marks meant in my
Browning. Well, my own, if I felt so for you then, I do ten
thousand times more now. You seem a very part of me ― and the
best part, too. And, after that sweet letter you have written
in answer to my offer to let you spread your little wings and fly
away, I feel as I used to do when I was a schoolboy at Harrow, the
day before the holidays. If I don't take care I shall be
playing off a practical joke upon Sir Thomas Slade!
"So you were kissing my ring for want of something better,
eh? Ah, my little sunshine, if I could only gather you up in my arms
at this moment! Well ― Christmas Day will, I hope, find us sitting
by our own fireside at Chislehurst. The very thought of it makes me
feel like a giant! God bless you.
This news made Tiny wild with joy. She had taken such a
fancy to this cottage, that she declared she would rather live there
than in any other place in England; and, for the next fortnight, she
was continually suggesting a hundred little alterations she wanted
made in their future home; and told Wilfred, above everything, to
"cultivate earwigs, as no place was really delightful without them."
Lady Harewood was interested in hearing about the house and
their future plans, but still said she would not allow the marriage
to take place before the end of the prescribed six months.
"So," wrote Tiny, ''it must be November instead of June."
"I would not have that exotic virtue
which is kept from the chill blast, hidden from evil,
without any permission to be exposed to temptation.
That alone is virtue which has good placed before it and
evil, and, seeing the evil, chooses the good."
lovely morning towards the end of August, Lady Lothian and her
guests stepped through an open window on to the lawn at Dunoon,
while discussing the contents of the letter-bag, which had arrived
Lady Lothian had been surprised by a letter from her son, who
had reached London from St. Petersburgh nearly a fortnight before he
was expected. He wanted to bring a friend down for some grouse
shooting; and Lady Lothian was extremely uncomfortable, because she
fancied that any society would at present be distasteful to Lady
On reading this letter, Lady Lothian had expressed her
astonishment at her son's return, and she felt it was useless to
delay mooting the other point to which it referred. "Herbert
wishes to come here next Saturday; and talks of bringing his friend,
Henry Talbot, with him. Will you tell me frankly, dear Lady
Harewood, if this would be disagreeable to you and the girls?
If you feel it an intrusion, Herbert can easily go to his own moor
in Aberdeenshire, without coming here at all."
"I would not, on any account, keep Lord Lothian away,"
replied her guest. "The very thought of such a thing makes me
uncomfortable at trespassing so long on your hospitality; and we
really ought to be going home."
"I will not hear of that. You promised me to stay until
the end of September, and by that time I do hope to see you looking
a little stronger. Poor Tiny, too, is only just beginning to
get a little colour on her cheeks."
"Oh, I am very well," said Tiny, slipping her hand into Lady
Lothian's, with whom she was a special favourite, for she often
reminded her of the daughter she had lost. For her sake and
Charlotte's, Lady Lothian was glad that her son talked of coming
with his friend; for though the young men would spend the greater
part of the day on the moors, the very fact of their being in the
house would add to its general liveliness.
There is a certain amount of decorum which ought to be
observed; but when grief is genuine, people need not be afraid of
making their outward circumstances as cheerful as possible.
And certainly the arrival of Lord Lothian and Mr. Talbot made a
difference to everybody in the house, although at first the days
were spent in the pursuit of grouse; and when they returned, tired
with their sport, they did not always join the ladies after dinner.
But, before very long, an excursion was planned to Loch
Katrine and the Trossachs, and sundry boating expeditions followed.
Tiny's letters to Wilfred were filled with descriptions of the
lovely scenery through which they passed; and he rejoiced to find
how rapidly she was recovering her spirits, and that the seclusion
Lady Harewood at first rigidly enforced had come to so timely an
But when Tiny's letters became shorter than before, he almost
grudged the time spent in these mountain and boating excursions;
and, at last, when a whole week passed and he never heard at all, he
felt anxious, and despatched a grumbling epistle to Dunoon.
Tiny answered by saying "the days were so full, that even
letters to him 'seemed a push;'" ― an expression which somewhat
astonished him, though he did not wonder at her raptures over "an
atmosphere which seemed to have so little of the nineteenth century
about it." "I cannot describe the feeling," she said; "but
there is such an absence of that irritating shallowness of perpetual
go, which means nothing, and produces nothing lasting, and never can
do any one any good."
In the same letter she said:
"I read Thomas-a-Kempis every day,
as you asked me to do. The thing he appears to dwell on most
is the necessity of training the mind to the inward, and not to the
outward condition of life. That is, as you often say, my
greatest difficulty; and habit has increased my natural tendency to
externals. But, Wil, I can honestly say that I derive very
little pleasure from them; at least, the pleasure which comes is so
unsatisfactory that it is nearer like vexation. I read such a
glorious chapter in Proverbs this morning; one verse in it made me
think for a long time: it was about the spirit of a man being the
candle of the Lord reaching the inmost parts; that spirit, I find,
is the only finger-post to the path where one's duty lies, and I try
to test my feeling for you by that, and to act accordingly. I
quite understand your complaining about my letters. I don't
know why I feel so disinclined to write about our proceedings; but
you don't know the people here, and details of going out and coming
in are only interesting when connected with people you know
This last sentence seemed to Wilfred strangely inconsistent
with Tiny's previous delight in telling him every passing incident
of her daily life.
"Till from the straw the flail the corn
Until the chaff be purged from the wheat,
Yea, till the mill the grains in pieces tear
The richness of the flour will scarce appear.
So, till men's persons great afflictions touch
If worth be found, their worth is not so much,
Because, like wheat in straw, they have not yet
That value which in threshing they may get.
For, till the bruising flail of God's corrections
Have threshed out of us our vain affections;
Till those corruptions which do misbecome us
Are by thy sacred Spirit winnowed from us;
Until from us the straw of worldly treasures,
Till all the dusty chaff of empty pleasures,
Yea! till His flail upon us He doth lay
To thresh the husk of this our flesh away
And leave the soul uncovered; nay, yet more
Till God shall make our very spirit poor.
We shall not up to highest wealth aspire.
But then we shall; and that is my desire."
passed away, and the first week in October found the Harewoods still
at Dunoon. For ten days Wilfred had not heard from Tiny: one
morning, however, he found a thick envelope on the breakfast-table;
eagerly seizing it, and pushing aside his breakfast, he sat down to
devour its contents.
It commenced with an account of two days spent in Arran, and
then continued, after a break:
''This autumn weather, the falling
leaves, and the lovely tints, have such a strange effect upon me.
Such a view we saw yesterday as we were walking home ― thick mists
rose in the valley, which were bright pink where the sun shone
through them ― deep blue where they were in shade ― and the woods a
thousand colours; cherry, orange, and every conceivable shade.
The outlines were as magical as Turner's, or some of Gustave Dore's
Here the letter broke off, and was, apparently, continued a few days
"Oh, Wil, life is very difficult, with all its
complicated feelings and necessities! But I suppose we are
given something inside us to guide us in these complications.
We stumble, fall, and dissemble; and the dissembling returns upon
ourselves. The heart alone knoweth its own bitterness, but
also alone knoweth its own comfort. Wilfred, the more I see of
myself the more diffident I get about myself. Such a curious
feeling has come into my life that I dare no longer deceive you. I
have a feeling for Lord Lothian.
"Dishonest I have not been, because I have deceived myself
more than you. I came to you full of the intensest feeling
towards another. Your superiority to me, in so many ways, gave
me such a respect for you that it blinded me to the sin I was
committing ― and so it has been all along. The great good and
strength you were to me, deadened the feeling that I was not all I
should have been to you; and my real affection ― a thousand times
greater now than when you first told me that you loved me ― made me
shrink from not trying to be all you wished me to be to you.
This is the truth, Wil. You may well say that I ought to have
said so when you wrote to me that letter some weeks ago, and asked
me to think seriously of our life. I did think, to the best of
my power, Wil darling; and it then seemed to me that a life with you
would be the best and happiest I could imagine.
"I thought that episode at Bellingham Castle was entirely my
own fault, arising from self-indulgence and love of admiration.
So it was; and if this feeling were like it, I should consider it as
unworthy as I consider that.
"God knows my strongest desire now is that you may not suffer
from my being what I am if I can help it. Though you would be
wrong to think I am happy, yet, when Lord Lothian asked me for my
love, I felt if I refused it him I should be shutting out of my life
the brightest glow of happiness I have ever imagined since that
miserable affair with Captain Foy.
"Since that winter at Windsor, I have not even imagined any
happiness in life till this time ― I mean happiness which God puts
into your nature without your asking for it or seeking it in any
way. I know that happiness is not the goal of life, nor is it
to be got by seeking it irrespectively of duty; and, Wil, believe me
when I say I have tried to do what I ought to do in this matter.
"Throughout all my weaknesses and changes there is but one
thing I am able steadily to believe and think of ― the strength and
help you have been to me. Wilfred, the growth of the little
that is worth having in me, is solely connected with the time I have
been so much with you. If the thought of me gives you pain, I
would, if I could, obliterate myself from your memory; though I can
hardly tell you what that would be to me. Whatever you may say
or do, I shall never be able to be anything but your own Tiny; own
in the best sense of the word ― for the only part I respect in
myself is closely united with something in you.
"Pity me, Wil, for I cannot be happy, knowing the wrong I
have done to you.
When Wilfred finished reading this letter, he began it again,
and read it through from beginning to end. He did not seem
able to understand it. At last his eyes fixed upon the words,
"I HAVE A FEELING FOR LORD LOTHIAN." He repeated them aloud;
and then seemed so startled by the sound of his own voice, that he
sat looking at that sentence without attempting to move.
He was disturbed by the entrance of the servant who came in
to remove the breakfast, wondering why Mr. Lane lingered such a long
time over it; wondering still more when she saw he had not touched
it. Before she could speak, Wilfred thrust his letter into his
breast-pocket, and, taking up his hat, went down the stairs at once
to avoid observation.
The blow had so crushed him that he wandered about the
streets like a man in a dream. He was neither conscious of
where he walked, nor of the crowd around him. Mechanically he
took his usual route to the War Office, but passed it without
knowing he did so. He turned to the left, up Regent Street,
passed the Langham Hotel, on through Portland Place, the Regent's
Park ― on, on, to Primrose Hill, with his eyes on the ground, and
his lips every now and then murmuring, ― "Tiny, Tiny!"
At last he suddenly remembered that it was Saturday morning.
There was some special work to be done that day at the War Office;
and after this he had arranged to go to Chislehurst, for he wanted
the place to be in perfect order before Tiny returned. Oh, how
he loathed the very name of Chislehurst now! It seemed to stab
him in every vulnerable part, and brought ten thousand pangs in
place of the happy confidence which had been his at this very hour
yesterday. He hastily retraced his steps, and calling a Hansom
cab, told the driver to hurry on to the War Office; and, as he
walked up the steps, he involuntarily exclaimed, "God help the man
she now says she loves!"
When Mr. Lane apologized to Sir Thomas Slade for his late
arrival, there was but little need to say he was ill; his face told
the tale plainly enough. A headache, however, did duty for the
real pain he was suffering; and after vainly attempting to work,
Wilfred was forced to return home.
He locked himself into his room. Feeling faint and
chilly, he poured out a tumbler of brandy and water, and drank it
off; then putting a match to his fire, threw himself into the
arm-chair before it, and sat hour after hour vacantly staring at the
flickering blaze ― perfectly stunned by this unexpected blow.
At last he drew out Tiny's letter; yes, there were the words
― "I have a feeling for Lord Lothian." Wilfred could
see nothing else on the whole sheet but those terrible words ― "I
have a feeling for Lord Lothian.'' He staggered to the
writing-table, and, unlocking a drawer, took out several bundles of
letters. Here was the packet from Rome ― these, tied up with a
lock of fair hair, were the letters from Berkshire. Opening
the foreign ones, he read them through; and, as he laid them back in
the drawer, he thought the novelist was right when he said there are
no better satires than letters.
"Vows ― love ― promises ―
confidences and gratitude ― how queerly they read after a while!
There ought to be a law in Vanity Fair ordering the destruction of
every written document (except receipted tradesmen's bills) after a
certain and proper period. The quacks and misanthropes who
advertise indelible ink should be made to perish along with their
wicked discoveries. The best ink for Vanity Fair use would be
one that faded utterly in a couple of days, and left the paper clean
and blank, so that you might write on it to somebody else."
Sweet and bitter thoughts were crowding through Wilfred's
mind, as he sat resting his head on his hands against the table ―
memories of infinite tendernesses he had received from Tiny; days
and hours which never could be forgotten; love which no future
falseness could ever quite efface! Recollections came, too, of
the hot and fatal passion of his youth ― his sin was finding him out
after many days!
Morning dawned, and Wilfred still sat battling with his
misery. He took up a pen, and, drawing closer to the table, he
began to write:
"Your letter, Tiny, was such a
shock to me, that I could not answer it as you requested, by return
of post. I feel bewildered. It is scarcely three weeks
since I received that dear and loving letter which I prized and
believed in so ― and now! What am I to think? what am I to
say? When did you deceive yourself ― then or now? There
is but one conclusion, Tiny ― you are utterly unstable; and I am
powerless to save you, because the feeling of love and honour which
you ought to have is wanting.
"After hours of battling with my own feelings, I can only
pray that you may not live out your present fancy as you have your
love for me. If you will indulge your perilous love of power,
it must end in corrupting the high and glorious spirit which God
meant to be the best part of you; but which you are extinguishing by
this perpetual crucifixion of your higher nature.
"I do not want to blame you. Tiny; I know our position
has been a very difficult one; with every one seeking to undermine
our tie instead of strengthening it, none but a very firm true heart
could have stood the test. But when you returned from Rome ―
but that was before you had lived through your feeling for me.
"Tiny, it is useless to write, and I am too bewildered to
think ― the misery of the last twentyfour hours seems simply unreal;
you, another person. To think of life with you out of it,
almost drives me mad; my mind seems to have lost its balance, and my
very body seems shaken already by the blow. You ask me to help
you. Tiny, I want help myself. The thought that you have
any pain from which I cannot shield you, tortures me. You
cannot be happy, my poor child, though you have not the misery I
have to bear. Oh! Tiny, my own ― I cannot write. No
words can recall the past: all we have now to do is to bury it
reverently, without recriminations ― and may God help us both in our
different kinds of need and misery! Tiny, though you have
sinned in the past, I implore you to be good and true in your next
relationship― for this I will never cease to pray.
"As for me, I have deserved this bitterness ― you are simply
the instrument of a just retribution; nothing short of having my own
happiness torn up by the very roots would ever have punished me as I
Just as Wilfred Lane finished writing, the Sunday-morning
church-bells rang out as usual; when he heard them, he gave a cry of
pain, and, kneeling down, hid his face in his hands. The
bitter sobs which broke from him for hours after told that the iron
had entered his soul as only the hand of Tiny could have driven it.