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LORD OAKBURN'S DAUGHTERS.

BY THE AUTHOR OF “EAST LYNNE.”

CHAPTER XLIII. MR. AND LADY LAURA

CARLTON AT HOME.

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able to suppress her emotion, to keep in bare

subjection the indignation that was rending LADY LAURA CARLTON stood in her drawing- her heart and her temper. It was no very room, dressed for dinner. Hastening home unusual thing for her to sit down alone, for from that expedition of hers to Tupper's Mr. Carlton's professional engagements rencottage, of which you read in the last chapter, dered him somewhat irregular. The servants where she saw Mr. Carlton and spoke after- in waiting saw that their lady was put out, wards with the little child, she made some

but of course it was no business of theirs. slight alteration in her attire and descended. Perhaps they thought it was occasioned by the In the few minutes her dressing occupied, her absence of their master. maid thought her petulant: but that was In point of fact, that gentleman was even nothing new. As she entered the drawing. then making his way home, speeding to it in room she rang the bell violently.

haste from a second visit to Mrs. Knagg's. " Where's Mr. Carlton ? "

Not that a second visit there was in the least “ Not in, my lady.”

required or expected of him, and Nurse Pepper“ Serve the dinner.”

fly opened her eyes in surprise when she saw Lady Laura Carlton was boiling over with him enter. “He had just called in in passing indignation. In this little child at Tupper's to see that all was going on well,” he observed cottage, she had seen what she thought a like- to the nurse ; and particularly kind and attenness to her husband, a most extraordinary tive that functionary thought it of him. Linlikeness, and she was suffering herself to draw gering a moment, he beckoned her from the inferences therefrom, more natural perhaps room, put a professional question or two as to than agreeable. She recalled with unnecessary the case in hand, and then led the way easily bitterness past suspicions of disloyalty on Mr. and naturally to the case at Tupper's cottage, Carlton's part, which, whether well-founded or the ailing knee of the boy. not, she had believed in; she remembered “I suppose there is no lack of means ?” he their, what might be called, renewed interchange casually remarked. “ The little fellow ought of good-feeling only on the previous night; to have the best of nourishment.” Lady Laura now believed that he was even “And so he do," was the response of Mrs. then deceiving her, and a miserable feeling of Pepperfly. “I never see a mother so fond of humiliation took possession of her spirit, and a child, though she's a bit rough in her ways. she stamped her foot in passion.

If he could eat gold she'd give it him. As to She lost sight of probabilities in her jealous money, sir, there ain't no want o' that; she indignation. An angry resentment against seems to have got plenty of it.” the woman at Tupper's cottage seated itself in “Have you not any idea who she can be ?” her heart, filling its every crevice.

What “Well, sir, in course ideas comes to one though the woman was getting in years ? promiscous, without fetching of 'em up ourthough she was hard-featured, singularly un- selves," answered Mrs. Pepperfly. I should attractive ? ? In Lady Laura's jealous mood, think she's the person that took away the she might have been as ugly as a kangaroo and babby — though I can't say that my memory it would have made no difference.

serves me to recognise her.' Earlier in the day, when she had first “May be,” carelessly remarked Mr. Carlton. passed the cottage with Lady Jane, the like- “ Remember that you keep a quiet tongue ness she detected to her husband, or fancied about this, Mrs. Pepperfly,” he concluded as she detected, excited only a half doubt in her he went out. mind, a sort of disagreeable perplexity. But “Trust me for that, sir," readily affirmed the doubt rankled there ; and as the day went

Mrs. Pepperfly. on, Lady Laura, than whom a worse or more And Mr. Carlton, conscious that his dinner irritable subject for this sort of suspicion could hour had struck, made haste home, and found not exist, felt impelled to wind her steps his wife at table. thither again. She could not have gone at a “ Have you begun, Laura ? Oh that's all worse moment: for what she saw changed all right. I have been detained.” her doubts into certainties.

Lady Laura made no reply, and Mr. Carlton She sat down to the dinner-table, scarcely | took his seat. She motioned to one of the

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servants to move the fish towards his master, nigh mad indeed with passion.

" Think who was the usual carver. For some minutes rather of yourself, of your own conduct. Such Mr. Carlton played with his dinner-played transgressions ou the part of a married man with it; did not eat it-and then he sent ' reflect bitter disgrace and humiliation upon the away his plate nearly untouched—and that he wife ; they expose her to the contemptuous appeared to do throughout the meal. Lady pity of the world. And they have so exposed Laura observed it, but said nothing ; she certainly was, as the servants expressed it “ Pshaw !” exclaimed Mr. Carlton, growing amongst themselves, “put out,” and when she cross, for this was but a repetition of scenes did speak it was only in monosyllables or enacted before. “I thought these heroics, abrupt sentences.

these bickerings, were done with. Remember “Are you going out this evening, Laura ?” what you said last night. What has raked asked Mr. Carlton.

them

up

?" “ No."

6 You ask me what has raked them

up “I thought you were engaged to the Ask yourself, Mr. Carlton. You know too Newberrys."

well.” “I am not going."

“By heaven, I do not! I have no more He ceased ; he saw, as well as the servants, notion what you meau than that !He that the lady was out of sorts.

She never

raised a wine glass as he spoke, and bringing spoke another word until the cloth was drawn, , it down again too fiercely, the fragments were the dessert on the table, and the servants shattered over the mahogany table. gone. Mr. Carlton poured out two glasses of The burst half frightened Laura. Mr. wine and handed one to Lady Laura. She Carlton's temper was im passive as his face, and did not thank him ; she did not take the she had never witnessed such from him before. glass.

Perhaps he was surprised at himself. But he “Shall I give you some grapes, my love ? ” had gone home full of inward trouble, and the

“ Your love !" she burst forth, with scorn- attack, so uncalled for, was more than he ful, mocking emphasis, “how dare you insult could patiently bear. me by calling me your love ?' Go to your “If you wish me to understand you, Laura, other loves, Mr. Carlton, and leave me; it is so as to be able to give you any answer, you time you did.”

must be more explanatory,” he said, resuming He looked up, astounded at the outbreak ; his equable tone of calmness. innocent in himself, so far as he knew, of any. Lady Laura's lips quivered, and she leaned thing that could have caused it.

over the table, speaking in a whisper, low as “ Laura ! What is the matter ?”

the unsatisfactory topic deserved. “You know,” she replied ; “your conscience “In that cottage of Tupper's on the Rise, a

How dare you so insult me, Mr. woman and a child are living. The child is Carlton ?"

“I have not insulted you; I am not con- An extraordinary change, possibly caused by scious of any offence against you.

What has surprise at the accusation, possibly by indignaput you out ?

tion, passed over the aspect of Mr. Carlton. Oh, fool that I was,” she passionately His face grew livid, his white lips parted. wailed, “to desert, for you, my father's home! Laura noted all. What has been my recompense ? disinheritance “It tells home, does it !” she exclaimed in by my father, desertion by my family, that I a tone of utter scorn. “I knew your conmight have expected; but what has my recom

science would accuse you.

What have I done, pense been from you ?

I ask, that this shameless woman should be “ Laura, I protest I do not know what can brought hither to insult me? Could you not have caused this ! If you have anything to have kept her where she came from? must you say against me, say it out."

bring her here and parade her in my very “ You do know,” she retorted. “Oh, it is presence ?shameful! shameful so to treat me!-to bring Mr. Carlton wiped the moisture from his this contumely upon me! I, an earl's face and recalled his senses, which seemed to daughter !

have been scattered. He looked at his wife in “You must be out of your mind,” exclaimed very amazement. Mr. Carlton, half doubting perhaps whether “Suspect that woman of- -You are a fool, such was not the fact. “What contumely' Laura, if you are not mad. I beg your parhave I brougnt upon you ?”

don, but it must be one of the two. Until “Don't insult me further ! don't attempt this day, when I was called in to attend the to defend yourself !” retorted Laura, well child, the woman was an utter stranger to me.

tells you.

yours !

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Why, she looks old enough to be my mother ! draw so, Laura, upon your flighty imaginaWhat are you thinking of ?

tion ?Lady Laura was thinking of a great many “There never was, I believe, so great a one things, and they were not pleasant ones. in the world," was Laura's answer.

" Every Nevertheless her husband spoke so earnestly, feature is similar, save the eyes. That is not so truthfully, that she was somewhat staggered all. Your ears are a peculiar shape, unlike any in spite of her exasperation.

one's I ever saw; so are that child's. The “It will come, next, that I must not visit a very feather here,” touching the parting of her patient when called out to one,” he proceeded own hair in front, “ the wave of the flaxen in a severe tone. “You speak of shame, hair ; it is all you in miniature.” Laura, but I do not think it is I, who ought to Now Mr. Carlton had failed to observe any feel it. These absurd delusions bring yourself likeness to himself; the thought of such had share, but not me. I know nothing of the not crossed his mind. It was only natural, woman and her child. I solemnly declare to therefore, that he should disbelieve in the exisyou that until last night I did not know tence of any, and he thought his wife was assertTupper's cottage was occupied, or that such ing it, in her jealousy, without foundation. people existed."

“This is very absurd, Laura! I had hoped “Who summoned you to them ?” inquired these fancies were done with.” Laura, no relenting whatever in her words and “Why should he bear your name—Lewis?” aspect.

proceeded Lady Laura.“Pepperfly, the nurse. I met the old “ He does not bear it,” replied Mr. Carlton, woman at the gate here last night, as I was looking at her in increased surprise. coming home from the dinner. She said a “ He does! Where is the use of your denyperson with a sick child had come to Tupper's ing facts ?" she angrily demanded. cottage, and would I go up at my leisure, and “I asked the boy's name this afternoon, and see it.

If you will take the trouble to walk his mother told me it was George. If he bears there, and inquire, you will find my statement any other, all I can say, is, I do not know it. correct : the boy has a white swelling in the They did not mention another to me.” knee."

I heard the woman speak to him az Lewis. “I have been,” she replied, with sullen The boy told me himself at the gate that his composure.

name was Lewis,” reiterated Laura. “You Mr. Carlton gave a start of anger. “Very gave him that toy !well, my lady ; if you think it well to dodge

“ I know I did. I have no children of my my footsteps amongst my patients, you must own ; but I love children, and I often give a

I don't know how I can prevent it. plaything to my little patients. Is there any But if you hear nothing worse than that harm in it ?woman can tell you, you won't hurt."

“ Lewis is an uncommon name," she per“Mr. Carlton ! keep within the bounds of sistently resumed, fearing she was getting the truth, if you please. When did I ever dodge worst of the argument.

" And the likeness is your footsteps ?”

there!" It seems like it, at any rate."

“ Upon my word, Laura, this is very “No; my passing that cottage was acci- absurd ! If people call their children Lewis, dental. I was out with Jane to-day, and she I cannot help it. As to the likeness — pray had to go down Blister Lane.”

did Lady Jane see this astounding likeness ?” “What has given rise to this suspicion ?he broke off to ask. demanded Mr. Carlton, feeling completely in

“She did not say so." the dark. The very appearance of the No, no. I believe you have drawn solely woman might have shown you its absurdity. on your own imagination for this fancy, and You must have gone to sleep and dreamt it.” that nothing of the sort exists. I can only

Laura was in a cruel perplexity of mind. assure you, and with truth, that I failed to Were her suspicions right, or were they wrong? observe it, as I hardly should have failed had She looked ready to break a glass on her own it been there. The boy was a stranger to me score, and she dropped her voice again and until this day.” leaned towards Mr. Carlton.

Laura replied not. She had nearly arrived “If it be as you say, why should there be at the conclusion that she had made a very so extraordinary a likeness between you and ridiculous mistake. Mr. Carlton rose and the child.”

went over to her. “A likeness between me and the child !” “ Understand me, Laura,” he said, in a he echoed, in genuine surprise.

" There's none

serious and impressive tone, but one of friendly in the world, none whatever. How can you conciliation. "Whether the resemblance exists

do so.

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or not, it is equally unimportant to you and to here. Will you please let me go to my

I tell you that I was unconscious of the soldiers ?" existence of these people until now; I tell you “Presently. Is your father dead ?that, so far as I believe and know, the woman “He died before we came here ; he died in is a stranger to me. I have never known her Scotland. My black things are worn for him. in any way whatever; and I swear that I speak Mr. Carlton, will that soldier drum always ?” the truth, by the ties that exist between you “I think so,” said Mr. Carlton.

“George, and me!”

my little man, you want some fresh air, and I He held out his hand, and after a moment's shall put you outside in your chair until your struggle with herself—not caused so much by mother returns." the present point at issue, for she was now Mr. Carlton did so. He not only put the pretty well convinced that the likeness and boy in his chair, but he tied him in with a the name must be accidental, as by the remem- towel he espied ; and carrying boy, chair, aud brance of certain former grievances, which Mr. soldiers, he placed them against the wall of the Carlton had not been able so triumphantly to cottage outside. clear up—she gave him hers. Mr. Carlton Why do you tie me in, sir ?” stooped and kissed her, and she turned her “ That you may not get down to run face to him and burst into tears.

about." “If I am suspicious, you have made me so, "I won't do that. Since my leg was bad, Lewis. You should never have tried me." I don't like running.” • The trials have been chiefly of your own

Mr. Carlton made no reply. He went inmaking," he whispered, “but we will not doors, beyond reach of the view of the boy, revert to the past. But now-am I to go on and there he began a series of extraordinary attending this child, or am I not, Laura ? It

Up-stairs and down, up-stairs shall be as you please; it is nothing to me one first, he went peeping about, now into this way or the other.

If you wish me not, I'll box, now into that; now into this drawer, now hand the case over to Grey."

into that cupboard. One small box baffled “ Nonsense,” responded Lady Laura. him, for it was locked and double locked, and

Which Mr. Carlton of course took to be an he thrust it back into its receptacle, inside intimation that he was to go on with it. And another, for he had nothing to force it with, accordingly on the afternoon of the following though he had tried his penknife. What was day, he again went up to Tupper's cottage. he hunting for ? Mrs. Smith had the boy on her lap at the Leaving everything in its place, so that no table, the soldiers before him in battle array. trace of the search might be found, he went

“I have forgotten half my errand,” the down to the kitchen again, drew open a drawer, surgeon exclaimed, as he threw himself in a and turned over its contents. An old envelope chair, after speaking with her and the boy. he clutched eagerly; it contained a prescription, “I intended to bring up a box of ointment and nothing else, but that he did not know. and I have left it behind me.

He was about to dive into its folds, when he “ Is it of consequence, sir ?”

became conscious that he was not alone. Mrs. Yes, it is. I wanted to put some on his Smith stood in the doorway, watching him knee myself. I'm dead tired, for I have been

with all her eyes.

What on earth had brought on foot all day, running about. Would it be her back so quickly ? was Mr. Carlton's too much to ask you to step down to my house thought. for it? It is not far. I'll look at his leg the He dropped the envelope with a quick while."

motion, recollected himself, and continued to Mrs. Smith paused, hesitated, and then look in the drawer, his manner cool and said she would go. Mr. Carlton told her what collected. “I am searching for some rag,” to ask for : a small box done up in white said he, turning to her. paper standing near the scales in the surgery. Rag! ”repeated Mrs. Smith, who did not As she departed, he untied the linen round appear particularly pleased at his off-handed the child's knee, gave a cursory glance at it, proceedings. “I don't keep rag in those and tied it up again.

drawers. You might have waited, sir, I think, “ What's your name, my boy ?

till I came home.“ Lewis,” said the child.

You were so long," replied Mr. Carlton, I thought your mother told me yesterday “I have not the time to stop.” it was George ?"

Then, sir, I don't know what you'd call “So it is George. It's Lewis George. short,” returned Mrs. Smith, “I ran all the Mother used to call me Lewis always, but she

way there and back.” calls me George sometimes since we

Mr. Carlton took the ointment from her,

66

came

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