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CHAPTER XXX.

BACK AT THE OLD HOME.

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known, that he had a refuge just then to hide Jane crushed the letter in her hand and let himself in.

her head fall, a convulsive sob that arose in “It's new lines to them yet, Eliza,” he her throat from time to time alone betraying called out as he went, for the benefit of his her anguish. If ever the iron entered into the rebellious daughters. " To Jane especially. soul of woman, it had surely entered into that They haven't got their sea-legs on at present; of Jane Chesney. but it will be all right in a day or two. Or you shall ask them the reason why.”

An exceedingly smart lady's maid brushed They stood together in the library—the earl past the earl, brushed past Jane, and addressed and his daughter Jane. The morning sun her mistress, with whom she had arrived. streamed in at the window, playing on the fair

“ Your chamber is in order now, my lady, smooth hair of Jane, showing all too conspiand what you'll want to-night unpacked. I cuously the paleness of her cheek, the utter thought your ladyship might like a fire, so I misery of her countenance. a

The earl, looking have had one lighted.”

bluff and uncomfortable, paced the carpet restThe countess passed out of the room, glad as lessly, his stick, for a wonder, lying unheeded the earl, perhaps, to make her escape. Jane in a corner. grasped a chair in her heart-sickness.

It was their first meeting since the moment Oh, reader ! surely you can feel for her! of his return the previous night. Ah, what a She was hurled without warniug from the post night it had been for Jane ! Never for an of authority in her father's home, in which she instant had she closed her eyes. As she went had been mistress for years ; she was hurled to bed, so she rose ; not having once lost confrom the chief place in her father's heart. sciousness of the blow that had been dealt out One whom she regarded as in every way to her. beneath her, whom she disliked and despised, She had heard the earl go into the library, over whom she had held control, was exalted after his breakfast. He had taken it with the into her place ; raised over her. She might countess and Lucy. And Jane, drinking at a have borne that bitterness : not patiently, but gulp the cup of tea brought to her, and which still she might have borne it : but what she had stood neglected until it was cold, went could not bear was that another should down stairs and followed him in. become more to her father than she was. He Not to reproach him ; not to cast a word of whom she had so revered and loved, he in indignation on the usurping countess; simply whom her very life had been bound up, had to speak of herself, and what her future course now taken to himself an idol-and Jane hence- must be. forth was nothing.

“ This is no longer a home for me, papa,” She dragged her aching limbs back to her she quietly began, striving to subdue all outdressing-room and cowered down before the ward token of emotion, of the bitter pain that fire with a low moan. Judith found her there. was struggling withiu her. “I think you must The girl had a letter in her hand.

see that it is not. Will you help me to “My lady, Pompey's nearly out of his another ?mind with alarm. He says he'd rather run “Don't talk nonsense, Jane," said the earl, away back to Africa than that his fault should testily, wishing he was breasting the waves in become known to his master. My lord gave a hurricane off the Cape, rather than in this him a letter to post for you yesterday, and he dilemma. " It will all smooth down in a few forgot it, and has just found it in his pocket.” days, if you'll only let it."

Jane mechanically stretched out her hand Jane lifted her eyes to him, a whole world for the letter; mechanically opened it.

of anguish in their depths. “I could not stop short and pithy.

here,” she said, in a low tone, quite painful

from its earnestness. “ Papa, it would kill Dear Jane:-I married Miss Lethwait

me." this morning, and we shall be home to tea to

And it seemed as if it really would kill her. morrow : have things ship-shape.

You be. Lord Oakburn grunted something unintelligible, haved ill to her when she was with us, and she

and looked uncommonly ill-at-ease.
“ You must let me go away, papa.

Perfelt it keenly, but you'll take care to steer clear of that quicksand for the future ; for haps you will help me to another home ?

“ What home ? remember she's my wife now, and will be the

Where d'ye want to go ?” mistress of my home.

| he crossly asked.

I have been thinking that I could go to " Your affectionate father,

South Wennock," she said. "I cannot re“ OAKBURN.” mair in London, The house at South Wennock

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has not let since we left it ; it is lying useless suppose you can remain bere with Lady Lucy. there, with its furniture ; and, now that the They will want a maid for her, unless Lady winter is approaching, it will not be likely to Oakburn's is to attend on her. That can be let. Suffer me to go back there.

ascertained." Lord Oakburn took a few strides up and “I will go with you, my lady,” said Judith. down without reply. Jane stood, as before, "I shall be glad if you will. But mine will near the table, one hand leaning on it, as if be a very quiet household. Only you and for support.

another, at the most.” “It's the most rubbishing folly in the world, - I would prefer to go with you, my Jane! You'd be as comfortable at home as lady.” ever you were, if you'd only bring your mind “ Then, Judith, let us make haste with the to it. Do you suppose she has come into the preparations. We must be away from this house to make things unpleasant for us? You , house to.day.” don't know her, if you think that. But there ! Scarcely had she spoken when Lncy came -have it your own way! If you'd like to go dancing in, her cheeks and her eyes glowing. back to South Wennock for the winter, you “O Jane! I hope we shall all be happy

together !” she exclaimed. “ I think we can “ Thank you,” answered Jane, with a sup- be. Lady Oakburn is so kind. She means to pressed sob. * You will allow me sufficient to get Miss Snow a nice situation, and to teach live upon, papa ?”

me herself.

She says she will not entrust my “I'll see about that,” said the earl, testily. education to anybody else.” “Let me know what you want, and I'll do “I am going away, Lucy,” said Jane, drawwhat I can.”

ing the little girl to her. "I wish–I wish I “ I should like to continue in it, papa : to could have had you with me? But papa will make it my home for life.”

not-4" “Stuff, Jane! Before you have been there Going away!” repeated Lucy. “Where ?" six months you'll be right glad to come back “I am going back to South Wennock to to us."

live.” “ You will let ine take Lucy, papa ?”

“Oh Jane ! And to leave papa !

What I'll be shot if I do!” returned the will he do without you

?earl, raising his voice in choler. "I don't A spasm passed over Jane Chesney's face. approve of your decamping off at all, though I “ He has some one else now, Lucy." give in to it ; but I will never permit Lucy to Lucy burst into tears. “ And I, Jane ! share in such rebellion. You needn't say

What shall I do? You have never been away more, Jane.

If my other daughters leave me, from me in all my life!” I will keep her.”

A struggle with herself, and then Jane's Jane sighed as she gave up the thought of tears burst forth. For the first time since the Lucy.

She moved from th table and held descending of the blow. She laid her face on out her hand.

Lucy's neck and sobbed aloud. “Good-by, papa. I shall go to-day.

Only for a few moments did she suffer her. “Short work, my young lady,” was the an- self to indulge the grief. “I cannot afford swer. “ You'll come to see the folly of your this, child,” she said ; “ I have neither time whim speedily, I hope."

nor emotion to spare to-day. You must leave He shook hands. But, in his vexation and me, or I shall not be ready." annoyance, he did not offer to kiss her, and he Lucy went down, her face wet. Lady Oakdid not say “ Good-by.Perhaps he felt burn, who seemed to be taking to her new Texed at himself as much as at Jane.

home and its duties quite naturally, was sortShe went up to her room. Judith was busy ing some of Lucy's music in the drawing-room. at the dressing-table, and a maid was making She looked just as she had used to look as the bed. Jane motioned to the latter to quit Miss Lethwait ; but she wore this morning a the chamber.

beautiful dress of lama, shot with blue and “I am going back to South Wennock, gold, and a lace cap of guipure. Lucy's noisy Judith, to live at the old house on the Rise. entrance and noisy grief caused her to turn I leave for it to-day.

Would you like to go, abruptly. and remain with me?

“My dear child, what is the matter ?Judith looked too surprised to speak. She " Jane is going away," was the sobbing had a glass toilette-bottle in her hand, dusting answer. it, and she laid it down in wonder. Jane Going away !” echoed the countess, not continued.

understanding. “ If you do not wish to go with me, I Yes, she is going back to live at South

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Wennock, she says.

She and Judith are short,” she continued : “may I request to be packing up to go to-day.”

left alone?" Lady Oakburn was as one struck dumb. For Lady Oakburn saw there was no help for it, a minute she could neither stir nor speak. no remedy ; and she turned to quit the room Self-reproach was taking possession of her. with a gesture of grief and pain. “I can only “Does your papa know of this, Lucy ?pray that the time may come when you will Oh

yes, I think so," sobbed Lucy. “Jane know me better, Lady Jane. Believe me, I said she had asked papa to let me go with her, would rather have died, than been the means and he would not.”

of turning you from your home.” Lady Oakburn quitted the room and went in Taking leave of none but Lucy and Miss search of the earl. He was in the library still, Snow, Lady Jane quitted the house with Judith pacing it with his stick now—the stick having in the course of the afternoon. Lord Oakjust menaced poor Pompey's head, who had burn had gone out : his wife, Jane would not come in with a message.

And in that impromptu fashion Lady “Lucy tells me that Lady Jane is about to Jane returned to South Wennock, and took up leave,” began the countess. “Oh, Lord Oak- her abode again in the old house, startling the burn, it is what I feared! I would almost woman who had charge of it. rather have died than come here to SOW The next day Jane wrote to her father. Her dissension in your house. Can nothing be intention was to live as quietly as possible, she done ?

told him, keeping only two maids-Judith, to “No, it can't,” said the earl. “When Jane's attend upon her personally, and a general serdetermined upon a thing, she is determined. vant—and a very nodest sum indeed Jane It's the fault of the family, my lady ; as you'll named as an estimation of what it would cost find when you have been longer iu it."

her to live upon.

But Lord Oakburn was more “ But, Lord Oakburn-2"

liberal, and exactly doubled it: in his answer “My dear, look here. All the talking in he told her, her allowance would be at the rate the world won't alter it, and I'd rather hear of five hundred a year. no more upon the subject. Jane will go to But the past trouble reacted upon Jane, and South Wennock ; but I daresay she'll come she became really ill. Mr. John Grey was to her senses before she has lived there many called in to her. He found the sickness more months."

of the mind than the body, and knew that Did a recollection cross the earl's mind of time alone could work a cure. another of his daughters, of whom he had used “My dear lady, if I were to undertake you the self-same words ? Clarice ! She would as a patient I should but be robbing you," he come to her senses, he said, if let alone. But said to her, at his second interview. " Tonics ? it seemed she had not come to them yet. Well, you shall have some if you wish ; but

Lady Oakburn, more grieved, more desolate the best tonic will be time." than can well be imagined, for she was feeling She saw that he divined how cruel had been herself to be a wretched interloper, in her lively the blow of the earl's marriage, the news of conscientiousness, went upstairs to Jane's room which had caused quite a commotion in South and knocked at it. Jane was alone then. She Wennock. Even this remote allusion to it was standing before a chest of drawers, taking Jane would have resented in some ; but there out their contents. The countess was agitated, was that about Mr. Grey that seemed to draw even to tears.

her to him as a friend. She sat at the table “Oh, Lady Jane, do not inflict this unhappi- in tbe little square drawing-room—little, as ness upon me! I wish I had never entered the compared to some of the rooms to which she house, if the consequences are to involve your had lately been accustomed—and leaned her leaving it.”

cheek upon her hand. Mr. Grey was seated Jane stood, calm, impassive, scarcely deign- on the other side the hearth, opposite to her. ing to raise her haughty eyelids.

It was getting towards the dusk of evening, “ You should have thought of consequences and the red blaze of the fire played on Jane's before, madam.”

pale face. “ If you could know how very far from my “Yes,” she acknowledged, “it is time alone thoughts it would be to presume in any way that can do much for me, I believe. I feel upon my position ! ” continued the countess I feel that I shall never be blithe again. But imploringly. “If you would consent to be still I should like some tonic medicine, Mr. Grey." the mistress of the house, Lady Jane--" “ You shall have it, Lady Jane. I fancy

“I beg your pardon,” interrupted Jane, in you are naturally not very strong.” a haughty tone nf reproof, as if she would re- “ Not very strong, perhaps. But I have call her to common sense. “My time is very hitherto enjoyed good health.

Are there any

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changes at South Wennock ?" she continued, “Very much so indeed. It so impressed not sorry to quit the subject of self for some me at the time of the occurrence ; far inore other.

than it did my brother." “No, I think not,” he answered ; “10- " It would almost as though-as thing in particular, that would interest you. A though the poor young lady had had few people have died ; a few have married : as husband,” concluded Lady Jane. “ If it be is the case in all places.”

not uncharitable to the dead to say so.” “Does Mr. Carlton get much practice ?” “ That is the opinion I incline to," avowed she asked, overcoming her repugnauce to speak Mr. John Grey. “ My brother, on the conof that gentleman, in her wish for some informa- trary, will not entertain it; he feels certain, tion as to how he and Laura were progressing. he says, that in that respect things were as

“He gets a great deal,” said Mr. Grey. straight as they ought to be. But for one “The fact is, quite a tide has set in against

tide has set in against thing, I should avlopt my opinion indubitably, my brother,

and Mr. Carlton reaps the and go on, as a natural sequence, to the belief benefit."

that she herself introduced the fatal drops into “I do not understand,” said Jane.

the draught.” " People seem to have taken a dislike to And that one thing-what is it?" asked my brother, on account of that unhappy affair Jane, interested in spite of her own cares. in Palace Street,” he explained. “Or rather, But indeed the tragedy from the first had I should say, to distrust him.

In short,

borne much interest for her—as it had for people won't have Mr. Stephen Grey to attend everybody else in South Wennock. them any longer : if I can't go, they run for “ The face that was seen on the stairs by Mr. Carlton, and thus he has now a great Mr. Carlton." many of our former patients. South Wennock “But I thought Mr. Carlton maintained is a terrible place for gossip ; everybody must afterwards that he had not seen any face there interfere with his neighbour's affairs. Just --that it was a misapprehension of his own ?now," added Mr. John Grey, with a genial “Rely upon it, Mr. Carlton did see a face smile, “the town is commenting on Lady there, Lady Jane. The impression conveyed Jane Chesney's having called in me, instead of to his mind at the moment was, that a faceMr. Carlton, her sister's husband.”

let us say a man—was there ; and I believe it Jane shook her head. “I dislike Mr. to have been a right one. The doubt arose to Carlton personally very much,” she said. him afterwards with the improbability : and, “Had he never entered our family to sow for one thing, he may wish to believe that dissension in it, I should still have disliked there was nobody, and to impress that belief him. But this must be a great trouble to Mr. Stephen Grey."

“But why should he wish to do that?" asked "It is a great annoyance.

I wonder some- Jane. times that Stephen puts up with it so patiently. “ Because he must be aware that it was 'It will come round with time,' is all he very careless of him not to have put the

matter beyond doubt at the time.

To see a “ Has any clue been obtained to the un- man hovering in that stealthy manner near a fortunate lady who died ?" asked Jane. sick lady's room would be the signal for un

“ Not the slightest. She lies, poor thing, earthing him to most medical attendants. It in the corner of St. Mark's Churchyard, un- ought to have been so to Mr. Carlton ; and he claimed and unknown.”

is no doubt secretly taking blame to himself “But, has her husband never come forward for not having done it.” to inquire after her ?” exclaimed Lady Jane, “I thought he did search." in wonder. “ It was said at the time, I re- “ Yes, superficially. He carried out a candle member, that he was travelling. Surely he and looked around. But he should have remust have returned ?"

mained on the landing, and called to those “No one whatever has come forward,” was below to bring lights, so as not to allow a Mr. Grey's reply. “Neither he nor anybody chance of escape. Of course, he had no thought else. In short, Lady Jane, but for that hum- of evil.” ble grave and the obloquy that has become “And you connect that man with the the property of my brother Stephen, the whole evil ?affair might well seem a myth ; a something “I do,” said Mr. Grey, as he rose to leave. that had only happened in a dream.”

“ There's not a shadow of doubt on my mind “ Does it not strike you as being altogether that that man was the author of Mrs. Crane's very singular ?” said Lady Jane, after a pause death." of thought. " The affair itself, I mean.”

(To be continued.)

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HEFFIE'S TROUBLE.

renunciation too impossible. But, ah ! at Ash

wood my love had never been put to a severer I REMEMBER how late we all sat round the test than the little daily efforts to please my fire that night, Aunt Rachel, Cousin Lucy, and gentle aunt and cousins. Beyond them I 1. It was such a cold wild night, and such a wanted no one else ; I never cared to make tumult was going on out of doors, as made the friends. Even my father's name, that name pleasant cheerful warmth within seem doubly which above all others, should have had a sacred pleasant and cheerful.

shrine in my heart (I say it now in all the

anguish of a sorrowful shame burning at my My aunt had been left a widow some years breast), had little power to kindle any emotion since, with two children, a son and a daughter; there. And so, when one day the news had my cousin Lucy, and Arthur, who was now come to us that he was going to marry again in a government office in London. I had a widow lady, with an only daughter a little lived my childish years away, knowing no older than myself) it did not please or trouble other home than my aunt's pretty cottage at I received it calmly and quietly, as someAshwood, no mother's face but hers. I thing I had little concern in. But when, a had been given to her when my parents left little later, a letter came telling of their arrival England for India, when I was little more than in England, and that now he had returned four years old ; it was there my mother died home he wished to have his child again, I felt soon after their arrival, leaving my poor father as if a heavy blow had fallen upon my heart, desolate in a strange land. And now, after and only yielded as to a cruel necessity. twelve years of Indian service, he had come Dreadful to me was the thought of leaving my back to live in the old Hall at Riverbank, aunt and cousins, of changing my calm, unlovely spot, which had belonged to our family ruffled life at Ashwood for a new existence for many generations past.

among strangers, for they were all more or less To that sweet home, one golden June day, strangers to me. he had brought my gentle mother, a pretty And so, as I said before, we three sat round bride of seventeen ; and there, about a year the fire very late that night. We heard the after, I, their only child, was born. Being so clock in the hall strike the hour of midnight, young when I left it, I had of course little or and still we never moved. I think each of us no recollection of the place, nor do I remember in her secret heart dreaded to be the first to having any desire to see it again. You call break up that last home conference. Lucy, this strange and unnatural ; perhaps it was, but with an expression of touching sadness in her then our home at Ashwood was very retired sweet face, sat looking into the fire far more indeed, a sunny nook in a quiet corner of this gently and submissively than I into my future busy moving world. Beyoud the rector and life ; whilst dear, kind, Aunt Rachel would his wife, we had very few neighbours. Lucy now and then try to cheer us by some pleasant, and I had only each other to play with while hope-assuring word, though I could see that Arthur was away at school ; and when he re- her own eyes were growing dim while she spoke. turned for the holidays, we were happy indeed. And so at last we said good night, once more

So quietly and peacefully the narrow, wave- and for the last time; and once more Cousin less stream of our life flowed on, and we were Lucy and I lay down to sleep, side by side, in happy and content; not knowing any other, the two little French beds with rosebud curwe cared not to have it widened. I do not tains, in that same dear room we had called think this circumscribed life of ours did any the nursery long ago.

Before the sun went real harm to Lucy ; with me it was otherwise. down again we were many long miles apart. I suffered, where she escaped untouched ; for The old life was gone ; and Aunt Rachel's we were very different, very unlike each other. fond, earnest blessing, and Lucy's tearful em

a frank, sympathetic, trusting brace, were all that remained to me of the nature, that easily attached itself. You could happy home days that would never come back. not help loving her if you tried. She would Well, I arrived at the old house at Rivercreep into your heart like a little bird, and bank, that house which had been my mother's there make a green little nest for herself, even home for nearly all her married life ; yet my before you were aware.

My disposition, on heart refused to recognise it as my own. My the contrary, was shy, reserved, and cold ; or, father met me in the hall and said, “ Heffie, rather, my affections were not easily stirred you are quite a woman ; I am glad, very glad, into warmth. I was slow to open my heart, to have my child again.' And my stepmother and I opened it only to a few; but for them I greeted me kindly, affectionately ; and Agnes had a kind of passionate worship, that would took my hand and said (with her eyes looking have considered no sacrifice too great, no self- | kindly into mine), “shall we be sisters ?”

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