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the death and the burial, Jane borrowed the gestion sounds a forlorn one-perhaps she will countess's carriage-her own but one short kindly forward me word of it there." year before--and went to Gloucester Terrace. “I am sure you may rely upon her doing Though feeling a conviction that Mrs. West so,” returned Mr. West. " And I only wish would have sent to her had she heard news of I had been able to give your ladyship better Clarice, it did not seem right to Jane's anxious news now,” he heartily concluded. mind that she should leave London again Attending her outside, he stood on the pavewithout personally inquiring. But when she ment while she stepped into the carriage, and reached the house she received a disappoint- was driven away. Jane sat in it strangely ment; Mrs. West and her children, she was disheartened, considering that she had expected told, were at the sea-side.

no better.

A conviction had latterly been As Jane stood in the door-way in hesitation gaining upon her that Clarice was dead, and -as is the manner of many when they meet she seemed only to be able to think of her as with an unexpected check—a gentleman put such. his head out at one of the sitting-rooms,

But now there was one little item of news wondering perhaps who might be the visitor, regarding Miss Beauchamp that Mrs. West and what the colloquy was about.

He was a

had learnt since she last saw Lady Jane, and pleasant-looking man, short and stout, with a which she would certainly have imparted to her red face and bristling hair.

had she been at home, though she had not “It's a good six weeks before my mistress deemed it of sufficient importance to write to will be at home, ma'am," the servant was say- her. Mr. West knew it, but he never suping. “She only went ten days ago, and—- posed that it was not known to Lady Jane. but here's master,” she broke off, as the gentle- After all, it was not much ; and would have inan came forward. Perhaps he can tell left the affair in at least equal mystery to that more certain nor me.

which at present enshrouded it. Mr. West advanced to Lady Jane. His Jane went wearily up the stairs on her wife, Mrs. West, was out of town, he observed. return, and entered the countess's bed-room. Could he answer any questions for her, or Lady Oakburn was in an easy chair by the convey to her any message ?--he should be fire : she sat up for several hours a day now, joining her at Ramsgate on the morrow. although the nurse with her old-fashioned ideas

Jane stepped into the sitting room. He protested it was “too soon.” Only Laura would probably know as much as his wife, was was with her, and she, Laura, held the little the reflection that crossed her miud. She baby on her lap. Quite a mark of condescenmentioned the errand that she had come upon, sion for Laura, who was not fond of bringing and that she had been there some fifteen herself into contact with things so troublesome months previously on the same.

as babies. Oh

yes, yes," said Mr. West. "I “I wish my own had lived,” she was saying remember my wife spoke of the circumstance to Lady Oakburn. " It was the sweetest to me-Lady Jane Chesney, I presume," he little girl ever seen. But I should not have added with a bow. I am sorry to say that nursed it, you know ; I could not have subwe have never heard anything of her. Only a jected myself to the tie. I cannot think how short while before my wife left home for you can have undertaken such a task !-you'll Ramsgate, she was talking of Miss Beauchamp never be able to go out." and wondering whether her friends had found Lady Oakburn smiled. She and Laura her.”

were very different.

“ How long did your Jane sighed heavily, although she had ex- child live ?" she inquired. pected nothing else but the disappointment. “Only a day and a half.

Mr. Carlton saw “ No," she said, in a low tone, we have not from the first that it would not live ; but he heard of her.”

did not tell me, and I wondered why he had it "It is very extraordinary !” exclaimed Mr. baptised so quickly. When he asked me West.

what the name should be, and said Mr. Lycett “It is more than that,” said Jane, “it is was down-stairs and would baptise it, I alarming. Until lately we cherished the hope inquired why he wanted it done, and he said that she had gone abroad with some family, carelessly it was as well, when infants were but every month that glides on seems to set delicate. I thought nothing of the answer the hope more and more at nought. Thank then, but he has told me since." you,” she added, moving to the door, and “ What did you name it ?” handing him a card. "That is my address in

" Laura.

Mr. Carlton wished it, and I like the country, where I reside ; should Mrs. the name very well. What is Jane sitting in West ever hear of her—though indeed the sug- that strange manner for ? Like a statue ! ”

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For Jane Chesney on entering had sunk Lady Oakburn, as you know something of it, down quietly on the chair nearest the door ; and we are upon the subject. For a long, disappointment was pressing heavily upon her long while papa would not so much as allow heart. Laura turned to her in her wonder, her name to be mentioned in the house. By and Jane rose and came forward.

the way, Jane,” she continued, “ do you know, “I have had so fruitless a journey," she a thought has struck me more than once you said. “Mrs. West, the lady I went to call remember that scrap of a letter that I brought on, was at Ramsgate, but I saw her husband. to you when you first came back to South They have heard nothing whatever of Clarice. Wennock ?” I am sure she will never be found now."

“Do I remember it ! ” repeated Jane. “I should turn the world topsy-turvy but am looking at it often. It puzzles me more what I'd find her,” cried impetuous Laura. than I care to say.” “She can't be lost, you know ! Such a thing “Well, what has struck me is, that perhaps could not happen in these days."

-it is just possible--papa in his anger opened Jane shook her head in silence. All the that letter, although it was addressed to you, likely places she and her father could think and tore it up as soon as opened.” of had been turned “topsy-turvy” in one “No," said Jane. “ So unable was I to sense, but they had not found Clarice.

find any solution of the matter, that I, like you, “I am sure it was quite a weight upon fancied it possible papa had opened it, and I papa's mind at the last,” murmured Jane. wrote to him from South Wennock and put “Did he talk much of her ?” she continued, the question." lifting her eyes to Lady Oakburn.

And he said he had not ?" The countess replied almost eagerly. That “ He wrote to me by return of post. He some mystery was attaching to one of the earl's had never seen or heard of any such letter.” daughters she knew, for in the time of her “Then I think I remember the circumstance residence in the house as governess, chance --that is, your letter coming to him," interwords relating to the Lady Clarice had been posed the countess, looking at Jane. “ He dropped in her hearing. But she had heard was reading a letter from you one morning at nothing further. After her marriage she breakfast, when he grew a little excited, a little inquired about her of the earl, but he had angry, and called out he should like to know what passed the question over lightly, as if not Jane could mean. Lucy asked what it was, caring to speak of the subject. This she now and he answered that Jane had been writing told Jane.

to know if he had opened one of Clarice's “But—do you mean to say, Lady Oakburn, letters : as if he would have opened anythat

papa did not acquaint you with the par- thing from her at that time, he added : he ticulars ? ” asked Jane in some surprise.

would not have touched one with the end of his “He never did. I am sure he did not like stick. I recollect the words quite well,” conto speak of the subject."

tinued Lady Oakburn. “And I know I “I wonder that he did not,” said Jane. longed to inquire what the trouble was, regard

I don't wonder at it at all,” dissented ing Lady Clarice, but I did not like to.” Laura. “ I don't like to speak of it. Would Jane sighed. “I feel—I begin to feel that you believe, Lady Oakburn, that I have never we shall never find Clarice." once spoken of it to my husband ? He has not “Then that's nonsense,” returned Laura. the least idea that we ever had another sister." “She is sure to be found, dead or alive.”

“But why do you not speak of it to him ?” “Dead or alive,” repeated Jane, in a low returned Lady Oakburn.

tone. “Yes—perhaps she will. But it will I don't know," mused Laura. "I cannot not be alive." bear to speak of Clarice to any one. It does Laura liked the sunny points of life better not sound nice to confess to a sister who went than the shady ones, and rarely took a dark out as a governess in disobedience, and does not view of anything. These unpleasant forecome home again. I say I can't explain the bodings sounded as nonsense in her ears. feeling, but there it is within me, very strong. Jane turned to Lady Oakburn and related to I daresay papa felt the same ; we were much her the whole history of Clarice from beginalike, he and I. It will be time enough to ning to end. It impressed Lady Oakburn tell my husband about Clarice when she is very greatly; she thought she had never heard found.”

of anything so singular as this prolonged “Did she go in disobedience ?” asked Lady disappearance. Oakbum.

In telling the story, Jane made a passing “Yes,” said Laura. It was very wilful allusion to the dream relating to Clarice, which of her. I don't mind talking of it to you,

had so disturbed her. Laura, who was put

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ting the sleeping baby then into his little cot, The countess's mind was entirely free interrupted with a ridiculing word.

from superstition, and in a silent, inwardly Dreams, indeed ! One would suppose polite manner she had been wondering at Lady you were some old nurse, Jane! How you Jane. But the awe on the latter's countecan dwell upon that absurdity still, and nance, the hushed voice, the solemnity in repeat it, I cannot understand. Lady Oak- Jane's words, served to impart its own impresburn is staring at you—and well she may !” sion to her, and she felt inclined to have a fit

“At any rate we have never heard of of the shivers. Clarice since that dream,” was Jane's answer, “He was not Laura's husband then, but I and her low earnest voice told how much the was in the habit of seeing him daily, for he subject affected her. " When Clarice shall was my father's medical attendant; and I argue be restored to us, safe and well, then I will with myself that that fact, the seeing him so forget my dream."

frequently, caused him to be mixed up in the Laura threw up her supercilious head, and dream. I argue that it must have been a turned her back on Jane. “I must put my purely accidental coincidence ; but in spite of things on,” she remarked to the countess ; this, in spite of myself, my reason, my judgyour servants and horses will think I am not ment, I cannot get that sight of Mr. Carlton, as coming. I sent orders down to them to wait I saw him in the dream, from my mind ; and when they brought back Jane."

ever since that moment I have felt a sort of Jane had seen the look of surprise on Lady horror of Mr. Carlton. I cannot expect you, Oakburn's face, and spoke after a pause. I Lady Oak burn, to excuse this, or to understand ought to tell you, Lady Oakburn, as a sort of it ; 1 feel myself that it is very wrong. answer to Laura's ridicule, that in the course “ But did Mr. Carlton know your sister of my past life three or four most singular Clarice ?” demanded the countess, growing dreams have visited me. They have borne a strangely interested. strange coincidence—to say the least of it, “ Certainly not. And therefore my reason with speedily following events. I am not by and good sense stand in condemnation against nature superstitious; I believe that I was born me, while the feeling, the borror, remains. I the reverse of it; but it is impossible but these did once mention this to Laura—that Mr. dreams should have fixed themselves on my Carlton was mixed up most unpleasantly in the mind, as something neither to be accounted for dream, and that I could not help regarding him nor understood.”

with a sort of shrinking dread, but I fancy she “And you had one of these singular dreams has forgotten it. It was before her marriage. relating to Lady Clarice ?

At any rate, what with this, and what with She was not Lady Clarice then. Laura's general ridicule of such things, I never It was a very dreadful dream, and it appeared

care to allude to the dream in her presence. I to shadow forth her death. Hour by hour, never should allude to it but as an explanation day by day, the dream, taken in conjunction of the cause why I grew uneasy and wrote to with Clarice’s prolonged disappearance, becomes Clarice those letters, which have never been more vivid to my memory. I cannot forget answered.” it.”

“Won't you relate me the dream ?” asked “What was it ?” asked Lady Oakburn. the countess, in her interest. “I confess I am

“ I would prefer not to tell it you,” replied no believer in the theory some entertain, that Jane. “Sometimes I think that if I related dreams are sent as warnings ; I fear I ridicule it to Laura she would ridicule it less.'

them as heartily as Lady Laura ; but I should “ You have not related it to her ?

like to hear this one." “No. To her, of all others, my tongue

Jane shook her head. “I have never told is tied.”

it to any one. Pardon me, Lady Oakburn, if “But why to her in particular, Lady Jane?" I still decline to repeat it to you. Indepen

Well, the cause is but it sounds foolish dent of my own unconquerable repugnance, I even in my own ears when spoken of, so what do not think it would be fair to Mr. Carlton.” must it to a listener? The fact is—and a very Lady Oakburn could not forbear a smile, and curious fact it is, one which I cannot under- Jane saw it. stand—that in this dream Mr. Carlton, Laura's “Yes,” she said in answer, “I know how present husband, was most unpleasantly pro- foolish all this must seem to you. It is foolish; minent. The details I say I cannot give you, and I should be thankful if I could overget the but I dreamt Clarice was dead—I dreamt that prejudice it has given me against Mr. Carlton. she appeared to me dead, and that she indi- That prejudice is the most foolish of all. I cated Mr. Carlton as being the cause of her feel how unjustifiable it is, and yetm" death or in some manner aiding in it.”

Another dreamer interrupted them : the

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in his cradle. He raised his voice Mr. Carlton glanced at the carriage. He with all the power of his little lungs, and Jane saw the earl's coronet on it ; he saw the hastened to take him up and carry him to the servants in their handsome livery—for the countes3.

mourning was not assumed yet for the earl. Laura meanwhile, in Lady Oakburn's car- But Mr. Carlton did not entertain any overriage, was being rattled over the stones of Lon- due reverence for earls on the whole, and don. The carriage took its way to the East- carriages and servants he only regarded as end, to a populous but certainly not fashionable necessary appendages to comfort to those who locality. She was about to pay an impromptu could afford them. visit to her husband's father, Mr. Carlton.

“ Then I am very sorry you should have In a crowded and remote thoroughfare, come at this hour, young lady, that's all,” he where riches and poverty, bustle and idleness, said. “I cannot see patients at home after industry and guilt seemed to mingle incon- the clock strikes three : and it struck two gruously together, was situated the residence minutes ago ; you might have heard it from of Mr. Carlton. The carriage drew up before yonder church. Were I to break the rule a square red brick house ; not large, but suffi- once, I might be wanted to break it always. ciently commodious. It stood a little back If you will come to-morrow atfrom the street, and a paved court led to the I am not a patient," interrupted Laura. entrance. On the door was a brass plate, “Mr. “ Not a patient ? What are you, then ?” Carlton, Surgeon ; " and over the door was a “I am your son's wife, sir : Lady Laura large lamp of flaring yellow and red glass. Carlton."

Laura stepped out of the carriage, and a man Mr. Carlton betrayed no surprise. He servant opened the door almost the instant looked at her for a minute or two, his impasthat she had rung at it.

sive face never changing. Then he held out "Can I see Mr. Carlton ?

his arm with civility, and led her to the house. “ Not now, ma'am. It is not my master's The entrance at the forbidden hour which he hour for receiving patients. In a minute he would have denied to a patient, however will have left on his round of visits.”

valuable, he accorded to his daughter-in-law. The servant by a slight gesture indicated a He handed her into a room on the ground plain-looking brougham in waiting. Laura floor, a dining-room evidently; a dark sombre

a had not noticed it. The refusal did not please apartment, with heavy crimson velvet curtains, her, and she put on her most imperious and handsome furniture as sombre as the

The man-servant was removing the “ Your master is at home?

remains of some meal from the table, luncheon “ He is at home, ma'am, but I cannot or dinner ; but his master stopped him with a

It is the hour for his carriage, motion of the hand. and—and there he is going to it," added the Lay it again, Gervase.” servant, a sort of relief in his tone, for he did “ Not for me,” interposed Laura, as she sat not like controversy.

down in an arm-chair. “I would prefer not Laura turned quickly ; a thin man of sixty to take anything,” she added, to Mr. Carlton. had come out of a side door and was crossing Gervase went away with his tray. And Mr. the paved court. She stepped up and con- Carlton turned to her. “ And so you are the fronted him.

young lady my son has married !

I wish you “ Mr. Carlton, I presume ?

health and happiness ! ” She need not have asked. In the slender, “You are very kind,” said Laura, beginning spare, gentlemanlike form, in the well shaped to take a dislike to Mr. Carlton. She knew features, in the impassive expression of face, how useful some of his hoarded gains would be she saw ber husband over again ; her husband to them ; she hated him for his stinginess in as he would be when thirty more years should not having helped his son ; and she had come have passed over his head—if they were des- down in an impulse that morning to pay him

In the elder man's sharp tone, court and make friends with him. But there his decisive gesture as he turned and answered was something in his calm eye and calm bearto the call, she recognised the very manner of ing that told her her object would be lost, if him, so familiar to her. The tone and manner that object was the getting him to aid their

not discourteous certainly, but short pockets ; and Laura intrenched herself within and very uncompromising.

her own pride, and set herself to dislike him I am Mr. Carlton. What is your busi- -as she always did dislike anybody who Dess ?

thwarted her. “I have come to see you, sir. I have come I am in London for a few days, Mr. all the way from the West-end to see you.” Carlton, and I thought I would come and

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make your acquaintance before I left it. I did must be expected from Mr. Carlton. Laura not know it would be disagreeable to you." threw back her head disdainfully. Only asking “It is not disagreeable to me.

I am

it for the sake of him whom she so loved, really pleased to see you here. Is Lewis in town careless of money herself, she felt anger with you ?”

rather than disappointment. She rose to “As if he would not have come to you if leave with a haughty gesture. he had been!" retorted Laura. “I was sum- “Your husband knows my disposition, Lady moned to town on grievous business," she con- Laura : that I never can be badgered into tinued, her eye and voice alike softening. anything—and you must pardon the word. "My father was dying. I did not get up in Tell him I have not altered my will ; I shall time to see him alive."

not alter it if he keeps in my good books; but "Your father? I beg your pardon, I forget he must look to his own exertions while I live, who-2"

not to me." “The Earl of Oakburn," imperiously “I think you are a very unkind father, Mr. answered Laura, feeling excessively offended, Carlton.” and scarcely believing in the forgetfulness. “My dear, you can think so if you please,”

“ The Earl of Oakburn: true. When I was the equable answer, given in all courtesy. read of his death I felt sure that I ought to “You don't know your husband's disposition remember that name by some particular cause, yet. Shall I tell you what he is ? He makes, but I forgot that he was the father of my son's you say, six or seven hundred a year. If I wife. You look angry, my dear ; but if you allowed him from to-day six or seven hundred had the work on your hands that I have, you on to it, making twelve or fourteen, by the would not wonder at my forgetting things. I year's end he would find that too little, and ask and Lewis had but scant correspondence on the for fourteen hundred more. Lewis is one, safe subject of his marriage, and I am not sure that to spend all his income, no matter from what your father's name was mentioned in it more sources it may be derived; and I don't care to than once. Your own name is Laura."

have my hard-earned money wasted in my “I am Lady Laura," was the answer, given lifetime.” with a flash of impetuosity.

Laura drew her black lace shawl round her “ And a very pretty name it is ! Laura ! I with supercilious meaning, and swept from the had a little sister of that name once, who died. room, deaf to offers of wine and other good Dear

me, it seems ages and ages ago to look things. Mr. Carlton followed and held out back upon ! And how is Lewis getting on in

his arm.

Had it been anyone but her husband's South Wennock ? He ought to be a skilful father she would have refused it. practitioner by this time; he has the metal in “Where are you staying?” he asked. him if he chooses to put it out.”

“In the house with my dead father," He gets on as well as a doctor can do who passionately answered Laura. “I should not has his way to make unassisted,” returned have quitted it on any errand but this." Laura. “Nobody helps him. He ought to “ I have been glad to see you, my dear. I keep a close carriage, but he can't afford it.” shall always be glad to see you and Lewis,

If he had afforded it, his wife would have come and stay with me, both of you, for a appropriated it to her own use. Driving down week at any time. Should business or pleasure in that coroneted carriage with all the signs of bring you to London, Lady Laura, and you rank and wealth about it, was just the pastime can reconcile yourself to this end of the town, acceptable to Laura in her vanity.

make my house your home. You shall be “Ah, Lewis must be content to wait for heartily welcome.” that,” remarked Mr. Carlton. “I did not keep He led her out with quite an

excess of a close carriage until I had been more years stately courtesy, bowed her into the waiting in practice than Lewis has. Tell him from carriage, lifted his hat, and stood bareheaded me, my dear, that those who know how to win, until she had driven away. generally know how to wait.”

“ He is a gentleman in manners, with all his “ I'll not tell him,” said Laura, boldly. “I meanness," quoth Laura to herself. think, sir, you ought to help him.”

how I had feared he might not be. And I “Do you, young lady? What does he get by can understand now why he and Lewis have his practice ? Six or seven hundred a year ?” been so antagonistic—they are too much I think he gets that.”

like each other." “It's more than I got at his age.

And I vould recommend him to make it suffice."

CHAPTER XXXVI. THE FACE AGAIN ! The peculiar emphasis which accompanied It was the day of the funeral of the Earl the words, told a tale to Laura : that no help of Oakburn. In her dressing-room sat his

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