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66 Oh no.

had had another son, older than this, but he to Lady Jane Chesney were not common. had died; she had married very late in life. The servant opened the drawing-room door. Her husband had occupied a good post in a

" Mr. Frederick Grey, my lady." manufactory at Paisley, in Scotland, and there Lucy threw down her embroidery.

Jane her little boy had been reared. Upon her smiled ; the dull evening had changed for husband's death that summer, she had left the Lucy. place and come back to her native country, He came in with a radiant face. They England. So far as that, Mrs. Smith was questioned him upon his appearance in South communicative enough; but beyond these Wennock, when they had believed him in points she would not go ; and upon Lady London, reading hard for his degree. FredeJane's rather pressing one or two questions, the rick protested his uncle John had invited him widow was quite rude. Her business was her down. own, she said, and she did not recognise the “).

suppose the truth is, you proffered him a right of strangers to pry into it. Lady Jane visit,” said Jane. “ Or perhaps came without was baffled.

Of course it might all be as the any notice to him at all.” woman said ; but there was a certain secrecy in l

Frederick Grey laughed. The latter was in her manner that Jane suspected. She had, how- truth the fact. But Frederick never stood on ever, no plea for pressing the matter further ; ceremony at his uncle John's: he was as much and she preferred to wait and, as it were, feel at home there as at his father's.

But she thought of it incessantly, And as the days went on and the sickand it had rendered her usually equable man- ness in South Wennock increased, Mr. John ner occupied and absent, so much so as to have Grey declared that his nephew's visit was the been observed by Lucy.

most fortunate circumstance that could have “Is it anything about Laura ?” asked Lucy, happened. For the medical men were scarcely in answer to Jane's last observation.

equal to the additional calls upon them, and Nothing at all.”

Frederick took his full share of the duty. So, Do you think, Jane, that Laura is happy? after all, the visit, which had been intended She seems at times so strangely restless, so by him to be nothing but a short and delightpetulant."

ful holiday with Lucy Chesney, was changed “Lucy, I hope she is happy : I cannot tell. into one of labour, and—in one sense--disapI have observed what you say, but I know pointment. For he could only venture to see nothing."

her once in a way, every other day or so; “Mr. Carlton seems very indulgent to her," veither had he time for more ; and then, with returned Lucy.

all the precaution of changing his clothes. And in point of fact, Lucy had been quite Lady Laura Carlton's feet seemed instinctstruck with this indulgence. Jane's own deci- | ively to take her to Blister Lane, past the sion, not to visit at the house of Mr. Carlton, front of Tupper's cottage. Jealousy has carwhether springing from repugnance or pride, or ried women to more inconvenient places. The what not, she had strictly adhered to, but she unhappy suspicion-how miserably unhappy it had not seen fit to extend the prohibition to was to be in its ultimate effects, neither Laura Lucy; and Lucy was often at Laura's, and nor any one else could dream of !-connecting thus had an opportunity of seeing Mr. Carlton's her husband with that little child had grown behaviour to his wife. She told Jane that she to a height that was scarcely repressible; and liked Mr. Carlton better than she had liked Laura was in the dangerous frame of mind him as a little girl ; she remembered, she said that has been metaphorically designated as with a laugh, that she then entertained a great touchwood—wanting but a spark to kindle it prejudice against him ; but she liked him now into a flame. very well, and he was certainly fond of Laura. Not a day passed but she was walking down Jane agreed that Mr. Carlton's manners were Blister Lane. She would take her way up the gentlemanlike and agreeable; she had now and Rise, turn down the lane, pass the cottage, then met him in society, and nothing could be which was situated at this end of it, walk on a more courteous than was Mr. Carlton's manner little way, and then come back again. to herself ; but, into his house Jane still de- if she were taking a walk to get a mouthful of clined to enter.

fresh air. If she saw the little boy in the I think he has always been most indulgent garden she would stop and speak to him ; her to her,” observed Jane. “Laura, I fear, is of a jaundiced eyes devouring the likeness which difficult temper, but- -Are we going to have she thought she detected to Mr. Carlton ; it visitors to-night ?”

seemed that she could never tire of looking at The break in her sentence was used by a it. visitor's knock. Impromptu evening visitors It was not altogether the jealousy itself that

All as

He says

took Lady Laura there, but a determination work, so confused and contradictory as nearly that had sprung out of it. A resolve had to drive the young woman will, and then seated itself firmly in her mind to sift the retraced her fierce steps back again.

Very matter to its very foundation, to bring to light excessively astonished was she, to see, just on the past.

She cared not what means she this side of Tupper's cottage, a sort of handused : the truth she would know, come what carriage standing in the middle of the road would. Of a sufficiently honourable nature on path, and the little boy seated in it. Не the whole, Lady Laura forgot honour now ; looked weak and wan and pale, but his beautiMr. Carlton had reproached her with “ dodg- ful eyes smiled a recognition of Lady Laura. ing” his steps ; she was prepared to do that “ Why are you here?” she asked. and worse in her route of discovery.

“She took off her pattens and forgot them, It might have been described as a disease, and she has got a hole in her boot,” lucidly this mania that was distracting her. What replied the child. did she promise herself would be gained by

“ Who's she?" resumed Laura. these hauntings of Blister Lane ? She did not “The girl that Mr. Carlton sent. know ; all that she could have told was, that I must go out as long as I can, and she comes she was unable to rest away from the place.

to draw me. The drum's broke," continued For one thing, she wanted to ascertain how the boy, his countenance changing to intense frequently Mr. Carlton went to the cottage. trouble ; “Mr. Carlton broke it. He kissed

But fortune had not favoured her. Not me because I didn't cry, and he says he'll once had she chanced to light upon the time bring me another." that Mr. Carlton paid his professional visit. “ Is Mr. Carlton there now ?" hastily asked Had she met bim—of which there was of course Laura, indicating the cottage. a risk-an excuse was ready. As if fate

"Yes. It was the drum broke, not the wished to afford her a facility of operation, soldier. He hit it too hard." Lady Laura had become acquainted with the The clanking of pattens was heard in the fact that a young woman, expert in fine needle- garden path, and a stout-looking country girl work, lived in Blister Lane ; she immediately

came forth.

She knew Lady Laura by sight, supplied her with some, and could have been and curtsied to her. Laura recognised her as going there to see about it had she been incon- a respectable peasant's daughter who was glad veniently met.

to go out by day, but who could not take a perOne gloomy day in the beginning of Novem- manent situation on account of a bed-ridden ber, Laura bent her steps in the usual direc- mother. tion. It did not rain, but the skies were “ The little boy looks ill,” remarked Lady lowering, and anybody might have supposed Laura, rather taken to, and saying any words that Lady Laura was better indoors than out. that came uppermost. She, however, did not think so. In her mind's Yes, my lady ; and they say he is weaker fever, outward discomfort was as nothing. to-day than he has been at all.”

As she passed the gate of Tupper's cottage, “Mr. Carlton says so ?” Mrs. Smith, in her widow's cap, was leaning

“His mother says so.

Mr. Carlton hasn't over it, gazing in the direction of South Wen

seen him.

He has not been to-day.” nock, as if expecting some one. She looked at Laura strode away, vouchsafing no further Laura as she came up; but she did not know notice of the speaker, not so much as a word of her for the wife of Mr. Carlton. And Lady adieu to the little child. In her heart of hearts Laura, with averted eyes and a crimson blush she believed the girl was telling her a lie ; was on her haughty cheeks, went right into the purposely deceiving her; and that Mr. Carlton road amidst the mud, rather than pass close to was even then inside the cottage. The child's the gate. It was the only time she had seen words, “the girl that Mr. Carlton sent,” were Mrs. Smith since that first day, for the widow beating their refrain on her brain. Why should kept much to the house.

Mr. Carlton send a girl to draw out any child, On went Laura in her fury, and never unless he held some peculiar interest in him i turned until she came to the cottage of the she was asking herself. Ah, if she could seamstress. It seemed that she required an but have seen the thing as it actually had excuse to her own mind for being in the lane been !-how innocent it was ! When the boy that day.

The conclusion she had arrived at got past running about, Mír. Carlton said he in her insensate folly was, that the woman was must still go into the open air. The mother looking impatiently for the advent of Mr. hired this little carriage, and was regretting to Carlton. What passion that this earth con- Mr. Carlton that she could not hear of a fit tains can ever befool us like that of jealousy ! person to draw it; he thought at once of this

She went in, gave some directions about the young woman ; he was attending the mother




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hour ago.

at the time ; and said he would send her. She turned away whilo she spoke, and Mr. That was the whole history. Laura Carlton, in Carlton looked after her in surprise, as she her blind jealousy, knew not the bed that she made her way quickly up the stairs. was preparing for herself.

So in this instance, at least, there had been She went straight home, walking fast, and no treachery, and Lady Laura, so far, might entered the house by the surgery entrance, as have sat down with a mind at rest. The little she would do now and then in impatient moods, child had evidently not comprehended her when she could not bear to wait while the street question, when she asked whether Mr. Carlton door was opened. Mr. Carlton's assistant, Mr. was indoors then. Jefferson, was standing there, and raised his hat to her.

When do you expect Mr. Carlton in ?" she asked, as she swept past.

On the morning subsequent to this, Lady “Mr. Carlton is not out, Lady Laura.” Jane and Lucy were sitting together after

“Mr. Carlton is out,” she rejoined, turning breakfast. Lucy had complained of a headher angry face upon the surgeon.

ache; she was leaning her head upon her hand, He looked surprised. “Indeed po, Lady , when Judith came in with a note. It proved Laura. Mr. Carlton came in about half an to be from Lady Laura. She had twisted her

He down in the drug-room.” ankle, she said ; was consequently a prisoner, Lady Laura did not believe a word of it. and wished Lucy to go and help her to pass a Were they all in league to deceive her? She dull day. turned to the lower stairs, determined to see “I should like to go, Jane. A walk in with her own eyes and confute the falsehood. the air may take my headache off.” This drug-room, sometimes styled shortly the “ You are sure you have no sore throat ?cellar, was a small boarded apartment, to which asked Jane, somewhat anxiously. She had access could be had only through the cellar. put the question once before. Mr. Carlton kept drugs and other articles Lucy smiled. Of course people were suspithere pertaining to his profession; the servants cious of headaches at this time! “I don't had strict orders never to enter it, lest, as think I have any sore throat, Jane ; I ate Mr. Carlton once told them, they might set my breakfast very well. I did not sleep well their feet on chemical materials of a combustible last night, and that has made my head feel nature, and get blown up. They took care to heavy.” keep clear of it after that warning.

Lucy found Laura on a sofa in her dressingLady Laura passed through the cellar and room, a pretty apartment on the first floor. peered in. Standing before an iron safe, its Are you quite an invalid ?” asked Lucy. door thrown wide open, was Mr. Carlton. “Not quite ; I can manage to limp across Laura saw what looked like bundles of papers the room. But the ankle is swollen and rather and letters within it; but so entirely astonished painful. Did Jane object to your coming ?” was she to see her husband, that a sudden " Not at all. How did you contrive to exclamation escaped her.

hurt it, Laura ?You have heard of this room and this safe “I was in mischief,” returned Lady Laura, before. Mr. Carlton once locked up a letter with a half laugh. And you know, when in it which he had received from his father, people do get up to mischief on the sly, puthe long-ago evening when he first heard of nishment is sure to follow. Don't our first the illness of Mrs. Crane. Laura knew of the lessons in the spelling-book tell us so ?” safe's existence, but had not felt any curiosity in “What was the mischief,” returned Lucy. regard to it. She had penetrated to this room “I and Mr. Carlton are not upon the best once in her early married days, when Mr. of terms; there is a grievance between us," Carlton was showing her over the house, but was Laura's answer. “ You need not look so never since.

serious, Lucy ; I do not mean to imply that we A sudden exclamation escaped her. It are quite cat-and-dog, but we are not precisely appeared to startle Mr. Carlton. He shut the turtle-doves. He has secrets which he keeps safe door in evident haste, and turned round. from me ; I know he has ; and get at them I " Laura ! Is it you?

What ever do you

will. There's deceit abroad just now, and I want down here?

vow and declare I'll come to the bottom of it." Laura was unable to say at the moment Lucy listened in wondering surprise. Laura what she wanted, and in her perplexity spoke would say no more. “ No," she observed, something very near the truth. Mr. Jefferson “it is nothing particularly suitable to your had said he was there, but she thought he was ears : let it pass, so far. He has got a strong out, and came to soe.

iron safe in the cellar, and in this safe he keeps

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papers and letters and things; I know, because least it was so reported in the old days, I I went down yesterday, when he had the lid remember. But that is all past and done open, and he started like a coward when he with. Frederick Grey is not interfering with saw me, and shut it to. Well, I thought I Mr. Carlton's practice.” would see what there is in that safe, and I “No; Mr. Carlton would see him far stole down to the cellar last night with my enough away, rather than allow that. Lucy ! bunch of keys, to try whether any one of them are you ill ? Your eyes look heavy, and your would unlock it.”

cheeks are flushed.” “Oh, Laura !” broke forth Lucy, shocked Lucy had been bending her head upon her and pained beyond expression. “How could hand for the last few moments, as she had you think of such a thing ?”

done earlier in the morning at her sister Jane's. “ Wait until you have a husband like Mr. I got up with a headache,” she replied, liftCarlton, who puts your temper up with his ing her eyes wearily. “I thought the air, as I underhand ways, and then see what you would came along, might have done it good, but it has “think' and do," retorted Lady Laura.

not, and my throat is getting sore.” And Lucy ventured no further remonstrance, " Throat getting sore !” echoed Laura, for she had once been a child under Laura's An instant's pause, and she started from the control, and was somewhat in awe of her still. sofa in consternation, forgetting her lameness,

“I went in the dark, lest the servants slıould seized her sister, and drew her to the light of see me," proceeded Lady Laura, "taking some the window. wax matches with me, to light when I got Lucy! it cannot be !

You are never down. All went well ; I tried the keys (none going to have the fever !” of which fitted, so I was baffled there), and But Lucy was going to have the fever. In blew out my lights to come back again. We fact, Lucy had got the fever. And Lady Jane have to go down three steps in coming out of did not know of it until night, when she was the drug-room, where the safe is, and mount expecting Lucy home ; for Laura, from caretwo to get into the cellar-wretched incapables lessness or from some other motive, never the builders must have been, to make you go sent to tell her. At nine o'clock the footman down steps only to come up again! Well, was dispatched with the news, but it was Mr. Lucy, I slipped on something at the top of Carlton who sent him. these three steps, something sticky, it seemed, Lady Jane could not believe it.

It was and down I went to the bottom. I could simple Jonathan, and she did think the man hardly get up at first, for pain in my foot, and must have made some mistake. Lady Lucy a regular fright I was in, fearing I must call was in bed, he said. She had been taken ill the servants; however, I did succeed in crawl- soon after reaching their house. Mr. Carlton ing back. There's the history.” '

was out then, but on his return he pronounced And a very creditable one! Lucy sat in it to be the fever, and ordered her instantly to wonder.

bed. He had charged Jonathan to give his “I have told it you out of bravado,” con- respects to Lady Jane, and to assure her that tinued Laura, who seemed to be in a reckless every care and attention should be paid to the mood, "and you may repeat it to Jane, if you invalid. like. When he came home he wanted to Now nothing in the world could have been know how I had done it. "Slipped,'I answered; much less welcome than this news to Lady and he got no more out of me.'

Jane Chesney. To her mind there was someA silence ensued, which Lucy broke. “We thing underhanded in their thus taking possesheard a rumour, Laura, that Mr. Carlton was sion of Lucy, and she complained privately to likely to give up his practice here. Frederick Judith. Apart from Lady Jane's anxiety for Grey mentioned it.”

Lucy, she had an unconquerable aversion to “He says he shall. I don't know. Of her lying ill at Mr. Carlton's, to her being course London's the best field for a medical attended by that gentleman, or to herself be

Talking of Frederick Grey, what's the coming an inmate, however temporarily, in reason that Mr. Carlton dislikes him his house, which she must do, were Lucy to much?

remain. She took a moment's counsel with I know nothing about it,” replied Lucy. herself, for Lady Jane was one who rarely

“I heard him going on to Mr. Jefferson did things upon impulse, then attired herself about Frederick Grey's being down here inter- for walking, and proceeded to Mr. Carlton's, fering with the practice. There never was any taking Judith with her, and ordering her own love between them. Young Grey used to say footman to go as quickly as he could to Mr. Mr. Carlton drove his father from the town." Grey's and bring back that gentleman to Mr.

“As he did," returned Lucy, quietly. “At | Carlton's.





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for years.

The best room, a large and handsome spare for Mr. Grey, that he may come here and give chamber adjoining Lady Laura's dressing-room, me his opinion upon the point. In doing this,

. had been hastily prepared for Lucy. She was I wish to cast no slight upon your judgment lying in it, looking flushed and anxious, and and skill, Mr. Carlton, but Mr. Grey is my complaining of her head and throat.

own attendant, and I have unusual confidence Jane,” she whispered, as her sister bent in him ; moreover, he will not be prejudiced, over her, “Mr. Carlton says it is the fever. I for her removal or against it. You and I, sir, wish I could have been at home with you!” perhaps are so; though on opposite sides.

" You should have returned the instant you I do not understand you,” spoke the found yourself getting worse, Lucy," was Jane's surgeon. answer. I thought you were possessed of “I am prejudiced in favour of taking her ; common sense, child. Laura, you ought to you, in favour of keeping her ; Mr. Grey, on have sent her ; where was your carriage, that the contrary, will give his honest opinion, for she could not have the use of it?"

he can have no motive to be biassed either “ It was not her fault-or mine," replied way." Laura. « Mr. Carlton administered some re- “Yes, he can,” rejoined Mr. Carlton.

"A medies this morning, and wished to see the profitable patient will fall into his hands, if he effect ; to-night he says she is too ill to go. gets her away.” But, if you will allow me to express my pri- True, so far ; but the words vexed Jane, vate opinion, Jane, I should say that it has all “ She will be his patient in either case, Mr. happened for the best, for where can she be so Carlton. I mean, I say, no reflection on your well attended to as in the house of a medical skill; but my own doctor must attend on Lady man ? And you may be sure she shall have Lucy, wherever she may be." good nursing.”

The cold, haughty tone of the words and “ Laura, I would rather have her with me ; manner, the "Lady Lucy,” stung Mr. Carlton. she is under my charge, you know. I wonder Jane's treatment of him, her utter rejection of if she can be moved now ?"

any intimacy, had been boiling up within him “You must be stupid to think it,” returned

He so far forgot his usual equiaLaura.

nimity, he so far forgot himself, as to demand “I told Mr. Carlton I felt well enough to with a flash of passion and a word that had be taken home," spoke Lucy, “but he said I been better left unsaid, whether he was not as did not understand the risk. I think I might efficient as John Grey. Jane put him down be taken, Jane."

with calm self-possession. Jane inquired after Mr. Carlton.

He was

“Sir, it is true that my sister is your wife ; in the dining-room, taking some refreshment but I beg you not to forget that I ain Lady after a hard day's work, and' she went to him. Jane Chesney, and that a certain amount of He rose in astonishment. Lady Jane Chesney respect is due to me, even in your house. I in his house !

do believe you to be as efficient as Mr. Grey; “ Mr. Carlton,” she said, speaking quietly that your skill is equal to his ; but that is not in spite of her anger, and she did feel very the question. He is my medical attendant, angry, “I have come to convey Lady Lucy and I would prefer that he took the case.” home. I fancy it may be done without risk.” “ It's well known, sir, that when people are

“Impossible, Lady Jane. It might cost her ill, there's no place seems to them like home,” her life.”

interposed Judith, who had quite adopted her “I cannot but think, sir, before you had lady's prejudices in the affair.

“We'd a great assumed to yourself the responsibility of keep- deal better have her at home.” ing her, that you might have sent to inquire Before any rejoinder could be made, a noise my pleasure upon the subject,” returned Lady was heard in the hall, and Mr. Carlton turned Jane, with dignity. “The fever must be quite to it, Jane following him. Frederick Grey at its earliest stage, and there was no reason had entered : and Mr. Frederick was in a state why she could not have been sent home. of agitation scarcely suppressible. He caught She was well enough to walk here this morning, hold of Lady Jane. and she was, I make no doubt, not sufficiently “My uncle was out, and I came in his ill to debar her returning this evening." stead,” he cried, his words rendered half unin

" It has come on very rapidly indeed," telligible by emotion. “ Where is she? Is replied Mr. Carlton ; “and I think she will she very ill ?” have it badly.”

An altercation ensued. Mr. Carlton, whose “I still wish to take her, if possible,” per- temper was up (a most unusual thing with him) sisted Jane, somewhat agitated at the last stepped before his visitor to impede his way to words, “and I have dispatched a messenger / the stairs.

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