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“Very well.

What motive, then, could Mr. A move ?” she repeated, while Frederick Carlton have had to work her ill ? The very turned round from the window, where he was Forst man permitted to live on earth would now standing, and looked at his father. not poison à fellow-creature, and a stranger, “ We must move from this place, Mary, to for the sake of pastime; and Mr. Carlton is an one where the gossip of Stephen Grey's having educated man, a man of a certain refinement, supplied poison in mistake for safe medicine and, so far as I have seen—for I met him two will not have penetrated. It gets worse erery

or three times before I left home-he is a day, and John's temper is tried. No wonder: | pleasant and agreeable one. Assuming for the he is worked like a horse. Just now he came

moment's argument that your views were cor- in, jaded and tired, and found three messengers rect, what motive could have actuated Mr. waiting to see him, ready to squabble amid Carlton?"

themselves who should get him first.

"I am Frederick Grey leaned his head on his hand. really unable to go,' he said. I have been The question was a poser : in fact, it was the with a patient for the last seven hours and am precise point that had puzzled him throughout. fit for nothing. Mr. Stephen will attend.' Judith Ford, the widow Gould, Mr. Stephen No, there was not one would have Mr. himself, had all testified that the lady had Stephen : their orders were, Mr. Grey or come to South Wennock a stranger to Mr. nobody. John is gone, unfit as he is : but Carlton as to the Greys.

this sort of thing cannot last.” “I don't deny that that's a point difficult Of courso it cannot,” said Mrs. Stephen to get over, or that the case is completely, Grey. “How extraordinary it is ! Why shrouded in mystery,” he confessed at length. should people be prejudiced in the face of " It puzzles me so that sometimes I can't facts ?.slæp, and I get thinking that I must be “I had a talk with John yesterday, and wronging Carlton. I ask myself what he broached to him what has been in my owu thought to gain by it. Nothing, that I can mind for weeks. He and I must part. John

Of course he now keeps up the prejudice must take a partner who will be more palatable against papa to get his patients ; but he to South Wennock than I now am, and I must could not have entered upon it from that try my fortune elsewhere. If I am ruined motive-"

myself, it is of no use dragging John down "For shame, Frederick !”

with me; and, were I to stay with him, I “Dear mamma, I am sorry you are so believe the whole practice would take itself Texed, and I wish I had not mentioned it at away.” all. I tell you I have lain awake night after Mrs. Grey's heart sank within her. Can night, thinking it over in all its aspects, and I any one wonder ?-hearing that her home of see that any probable accession of practice years must be broken up.

" Where could we could not have been his motive, for the draught go ?" she cried in agitation. might have been made up by me or by Mr. “I don't know. Perhaps London would Whittaker, for all Mr. Carlton knew, and in be best. There, a person does not know his that case the odium could not have touched next-door neighbour, and nobody will know papa I see that you are angry with me, and me as the unfortunate practitioner from South I only wish I could put away this suspi- Wennock.” cion of Carlton from my mind. There is one

It is a great misfortune to have fallen loop-hole : that the man he saw concealed on upon us !” she murmured. the stairs may have been the villain, after “ It is unmerited,” returned Stephen Grey ; all."

“that's my great consolation. God knows how “What man ? What stairs ? exclaimed innocent I was in that unhappy business, and Mrs. Grey in astonishment.

I trust He will help me to get a living “As Mr. Carlton was leaving the sick lady's elsewhere. It's possible that it may turn room that same night, he saw-Hush ! Here's out for the best in the end." papa !" cried the boy, breaking off abruptly. " What man was it that Mr. Carlton saw on “Don't breathe a word of what I have been the stairs that night ?” inquired Mrs. Grey, saying, there's a dear mother.”

after a pause, her thoughts reverting, in spite Mr. Stephen Grey came in, a gloomy cloud of herself, from their own troubles. And on his usually cheerful face. He threw him- Frederick, as he heard the question, glanced self in an armchair opposite his wife's sofa, uneasily at his mother, lest she should be about bis mood one of grievous weariness.

to betray confidence. “Are you tired, Stephen ?" she asked.

Nobody can tell. And Carlton fancied " Tired to death,” he answered ; " tired of afterwards that he might have been mistaken it all. We shall have to make a move." -that the moonlight deceived him. But

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CHAPTER XXXII.

AN UNLUCKY ENCOUNTER.

there's not the least doubt some one was there, “ Frederick, this is one of your crotchets, concealing himself, and I and John have pri- Be still ; be still !” vately, urged it upon the police never to cease their search after him. That man was the guilty agent.”

RECLINING languidly in her easy chair one You think so ?” cried Mrs. Stephen, after bright afternoon, was Lady Jane Chesney. an awe-struck pause.

The reaction of the passionate excitement, “I feel sure of it. No reasonable being arising from the blow dealt out to her so can entertain a doubt of it. But for this suddenly, had come, and she felt utterly mistaken idea that people have picked up, weary both in mind and body. Some little that the mistake was mine in mixing the bustle and talking outside was heard, as if a sleeping draught—there would not be two visitor had entered, and then the room door opinions upon

in the town. The only point opened. There stood Laura Carlton. I cannot understand, is-Carlton's having “Well, Jane! I suppose I may dare to smelt the poison in the draught when it was

come in ?delivered ; but I can only come to the con- She spoke in a half laughing, half deprecating clusion that Carlton was mistaken, unac- tone, and looked out daringly at Jane from her countable as it seems for him to have fancied dazzling beauty. A damask colour shone in a smell where no smell was.”

her cheek, a brilliant light in her eye. She “ How full of mystery it all sounds !” wore a rich silk dress with brocaded flounces,

“ The affair is a mystery altogether ; it's and a white lace bonnet all gossamer and nothing but mystery from beginning to end. prettiness. Jane retained her hand as she Of course the conclusion drawn is—and the gazed at her. coroner was the first to draw it—that that man “You are happy, Laura ?was the ill-fated young lady's husband, stolen “Oh, so happy !” was the echoed answer. into the house for the purpose of deliberately “ But I want to be reconciled to you all. destroying her. If so, we may rest satisfied Papa is dreadfully obstinate when he is that it will be cleared up sometime, for mur- crossed, I know that, but he need not hold out der is safe to come out, sooner or later.” so long. And you, Jane, to have been here

As Stephen Grey concluded the last words going on for a fortnight and not to have taken he quitted the room. Mrs. Grey approached notice of me!”

“I have been ill,” said Jane. “My dear, you hear what your papa says.

“Oh I daresay ! I

suppose

the fact is, How is it possible that you can suffer your papa forbade you to call at my house or to suspicions to stray to any other than that con- receive me here." cealed man ?

No, he did not. But let us come to a The boy turned, and wound his mother's arm thorough understanding at once, Laura, as you about him as he answered, his frank, earnest are here : it may spare trouble to both of us ; eyes lifted trustingly to hers.

perhaps some heart-burning. I must decline, “I am just puzzled to death over it, mother myself, to visit at your house. I will receive mine. I don't feel a doubt that some wicked you here with pleasure, and be happy to see fellow was there ; I can't doubt it; and of you whenever you like to come : but I cannot course he was not there for good. Still, I receive Mr. Carlton.” cannot overget that impression of falseness in Why will you not visit at my house ? Mr. Carlton. There is such a thing as bribery, “ Because it is Mr. Carlton's. I would you know.”

prefer not to meet him-anywhere." “ Bribery !repeated Mrs. Grey, not Laura's resentment bubbled up. understanding his drift.

prejudice against Mr. Carlton to last for “If Carlton did not commit the ill himself,

ever ?" he may be keeping the counsel of that man

“I cannot say.

I confess that it is strong who did. Mother dear, don't take your arm against him at present. I never liked him, from me in anger. I can't drive the feeling Laura ; and his underhand conduct with away from me. Mr. Carlton may not have regard to you has not tended to soften the been the actual culprit ; but, that he knows dislike. I cannot extend my hand in greetmore of the matter than he suffers to appear, I ing to Mr. Carlton. It is altogether better that am as certain of as that I am in life.”

we should not meet. Like him, I never can. And Mrs. Stephen Grey shivered within her i “And never will, so long as you persist in as she listened to the words, terrified for the shutting yourself out from all intercourse with consequences should they come to be over- him," retorted Laura. “ What! would it hurt heard.

you, Jane, to meet my husband ?

her son.

66

“ Is your

“We will drop the subject,” said Jane. pelled to tell his wife she must practise “To pursue it would be productive of no end. economy; and every hour of the day Laura When I tell you that my own feelings (call caught herself wishing for a thousand and one them prejudices if you will) forbid me to see articles that only wealth can purchase. Her Mr. Carlton, I tell you truth.

And some

vanity had certainly not lessened with the deference is due to the feelings of my father. accession to her title. I will not reproach you, Laura, for the step “I think it shameful of papa not to allow you took : the time has gone by for that; but me an income, now that he enjoys the Chesney yon must not ask me to countenance Mr. estates, or else present my husband with an Carlton."

adequate sum of ready money,” exclaimed “You speak of deference to papa's feelings, Laura, in a resentful tone. " Mr. Carlton, I Jane! I don't think he showed much to yours. am sure, feels the injustice, though he does not What a simpleton he has made of himself !” speak of it.”

Jane Chesney's face burnt with a sudden “ Injustice ?” interrupted Jane with marked glow, and her drooping eyelids were not emphasis. raised. The old spirit, always ready to uphold "Yes, it is unjust ; shamefully unjust. her father, whether he was right or whether What was my offence ?— that I chose the he was wrong, had gone out of her crushed husband he would have denied me.

And now heart for ever.

look at what he has done !-married a woman " What sort of a woman is she?" resumed obnoxious to us all. If it was derogatory for Laura,

Miss Laura Chesney to choose a surgeon when O, Laura, what matters it ?" Jane an- she had not a cross or a coin to bless herself swered in a tone that betrayed how full of with, I wonder what it is for the Earl of pain was the subject. “He has married her, Oakburn, the peer, to lower himself to his and that is enough. - I cannot talk of it.” daughter's governess ?”

“Why did you not bring away Lucy ?” Jane made no reply. There was some logic “I was not permitted to bring her.” in Laura's reasoning ; although she appeared

“And do you mean to say that you shall to ignore the fact that she owed obedience to live here, all by yourself ?

her father, and had forfeited it. 6 Whom have I to live with ? I may as “You were devoted to him, Jane, and how well occupy this house as any other. My has he repaid you ? Just done that which means will afford nothing better. That I do has driven you from his home. He has driven not repine at; it is good enough for me ; and you with as little compunction, I dare say, to be able to live at peace in it is a great as he would drive a dog—Jane, be quiet ; I improvement upon the embarrassment we used will say what I have to say. He has got his to undergo."

new lady, and much value you and I are to “But it is so lonely an existence for you! him henceforth !” It seems like isolation."

You are wrong, Laura,” Jane answered Jane was silent. The sense of her lonely with emotion. “I came away with my own lot was all too present to her as her sister free will when he would have kept me. He spoke : but she knew that she must bear. but I-I-cannot bear to speak of it. I do

“How much are you to be allowed, not defend his marriage ; but he is not the Jane?

first man who has been led away by a design“ Five hundred a year.”

ing woman." “Five hundred a year for the Lady Jane “He is a hard man," persisted Laura, Chesney !” returned Laura with flashing eyes. working herself into a state of semi-fury ; "he " It is not half enough, Jane.”

is heartless as the grave. Why else has he “It is enough for comfort. And grandeur not forgiven Clarice ?” I have done with. May I express a hope, “ Clarice! He bas forgiven her.” Laura, that you find your income adequate “ Has he !” returned Laura, upon whom to your expectations,” she added in a spirit the words acted as a sudden check.

" She is of kindness.

not at home. I am sure she's not !Laura's colour deepened. Laura was learn- Jane dropped her voice, “We cannot find ing to estimate herself by her new standard, Clarice, Laura.” as the Earl of Oakburn's daughter ; she was “ Not find Clarice! What do you mean ? " longing for the display and luxury that rank “Simply what I say : we cannot find her. generally gives. But Mr. Carlton's father had I sought out the situation she was at in Glounot come forward with money ; and they had cester Terrace,-in fact, she was at two situato content themselves with what Mr. Carlton tions there, one after the other, but she did made by his profession : he had been com- not remain long at either. She quitted the

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last of them a twelvemonth ago last June, and horror — but, I am foolish, I think,"

," broke no trace of her since then can be discovered. off Jane. I shall say no more about it, Our only conjecture is, that she must have Laura.” gone on the Continent with some family, or Laura did not care. She had been in the elsewhere abroad. Papa has caused the lists habit of laughing at Jane's dreams, and she of passports at the most frequented ports to be would laugh still. Jane Chesney had certainly searched, but without success; but that we had two or three most singular dreams, which think little of, as she may have been entered had borne reference in a remarkable degree to

“the governess.” In short, we have subsequent realities of life. One of them had searched for her in all ways, and the police foreshadowed her mother's death, and Jane have searched ; and we can hear nothing of had told it before the death took place. That her, The uneasiness this gives me, Laura, I the events following upon and bearing out the cannot express to you ; and papa—in spite of dreams were singular coincidences, can at least your opinion of his heartlessness—is as much be said. And yet Jane Chesney was not by troubled as I am.”

nature inclined to superstition, but the dreams “I never heard of such a thing,” exclaimed had, in a degree, forced it upon her. She Laura, when her astonishment allowed her to buried the feeling within herself, as we all like speak. “ Not find Clarice !”

to bury those feelings which touch wholly on In her eagerness she reiterated question the imagination—that inner life within the upon question, and Jane told her all the parti- life. But of all her dreams, never had she culars she had been able to glean. They were been visited by one bearing, half the vivid with difficulty received.

horror, the horror of reality, as did this last "Nothing at all bas been heard of her since one relating to her sister Clarice. last June—that is, June twelvemonth ?” “ It is very deceitful of you, Jane, to perrepeated Laura. “But, Jane, you had letters sist to my face that you have not heard from from her subsequent to that ? ”

Clarice since the new year," resumed Laura. “I know I bad ; one : but it gave me no Jane raised her eyelids. “I have not clue to where she was. It was the letter that heard from her since.” came to us last New Year's day, to wish us “Where's the use of saying it, Jane ?” and the bonne année."

Laura's voice took a peevish tone, for she had That was not the last letter you bad from as much dislike to being kept in the dark as her ?

had her father the earl. “You know quite “Yes, it was. I wrote three letters to her well that you had at least one letter subsequent subsequent to that, the letters that I after to that, and a most affectionate and loving wards found lying at the library, unclaimed. Do you recollect my telling you of a very Jane was surprised. “I do not know what singular dream I had, relating to Clarice-a your head is running on, Laura, but I do disagreeable dream ?

know that I never had a line or syllable from “I recollect your not telling me,” replied Clarice subsequent to that January letter.” Laura. “You said you had a dream that Laura took out her purse, a handsome portetroubled you, but you would not tell it, fear- monnaie, tie gift of Mr. Carlton, and extracted ing my ridicule.”

from it a small piece of paper that had once “ Yes,” said Jane: “it was in March. The formed part of a letter. dream made me very uneasy, and I wrote, as “Look there, Jane. You would know I tell you, more than once to Clarice, begging Clarice's writing, is that hers or not? I put tidings of her. They were the letters I speak it in my purse to-day to bring to you." of. Every phase of that dream is as vivid to “Oh yes, it is Clarice's writing," said my mind now as it was then.

There are
Jane, the instant it was in her hands.

It was moments when the superstition is all too the upper part of the first page, where the strong upon me that it only shadowed forth writing commenced, and was dated from the reality of Clarice's fate. I seem to know London on the 28th of the previous February. that we shall never find her-in life.”

It began as follows :Laura would have liked to ridicule then. My dearest, I am about to make a proCan't you tell me the dream, Jane ?” posal to you, and

"No," shuddered Jane, “I cannot tell it. Then the paper was torn. On the reverse Least of all to you."

side was the conclusion of the note, which had Laura became curious. Why least of all apparently been a short one. to me ?"

"--without delay. Ever your own, “Because--because—in the same dream, Clarice.” mixed up with Clarice, mixed up with the Jane Chesney pondered over the words,

one.”

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me ?"

to me.

especially over the date. But she had never “I must be going now. I shall come in scen the note in her life before, and said so. again soon, for I have not said half I thought

“Nonsense,” said Laura. “ If it was not to say, or remembered half the questions. addressed to you, Jane, to whom was it Good-by, Jane ; come with me as far as the addressed ? Clarice never wrote home to any- gate." body but you since her departure.”

“I don't feel well enough to go out," was “How did you become possessed of this ?Jane's answer. inquired Jane.

“Nonsense, that's all fancy. A minute's “It came from home with my clothes." walk in this bright sunshine will do you good.”

“Impossible,” said Jane. “I collected Jane yielded to the persuasion. She muffled your things myself and packed them. There herself up and accompanied Laura to the gate. was no such scrap of paper, as this, amongst | It was a balmy autumu day, the sun brilliant, them.”

and the red leaves shining in the foliage. “I tell you, Jane, it came to me in my box Jane really did feel the air revive her, and she of clothes. Some little time ago a pair of my

did not hasten indoors immediately. lace sleeves got mislaid. I was angry with my Laura shook hands and proceeded down the maid, and turned the drawer, where my lace road. Just after she had passed its bend, she things are kept, out upon the floor. In pick- encountered her husband. He was advancing ing them up to replace, I found the paper. at a quick step, swinging a cane in his hand. That it had come from home with my lace “Oh, Lewis, were you coming in search of things is certain, for they were emptied straight from the trunk into that drawer. “ Not I,” said Mr. Carlton, laughing. “It And there it must have remained since would take I don't know what amount of unnoticed, probably slipped under the paper moral courage to venture into the precincts of laid at the bottom of the drawer.

my enemy, Lady Jane.

Has it been a stormy “It appears to me inexplicable,” returned interview, Laura ?Jane. “I know that I never received the " It has been a pleasant one. Not note; and, as you say, Clarice wrote home only that Jane is a model of suavity in all thing.

But she never worded her letters in She tells me I may go and see her whenever I that strain : it is more as a wife would write to please, but you are not to go, and she won't her husband.”

come to my house." “ The display of affection struck me,” said “ Then I'd retaliate, Laura, by not going to Laura, “I thought she had grown over-fond hers.” all on a sudden.”

“Oh, I don't know," was Laura's careless “Clarice has too much good sense to indulge answer ; “ I should like to go to her sometimes, in foolishly-fond expressions. I cannot under- and I daresay she'll come round after a while. stand this,” resumed Jane. " It seems all on a Won't you walk home with me, Lewis ?” par with the rest, full of nothing but mystery. I cannot, my dearest. A patient is waiting Will you give me this scrap of paper, Laura ?for me.

"You may keep it, and welcome. I hope " Who is it?" we shall soon hear of her, It is so dreadfully “ A farmer's wife : nobody you know. She inconsistent for Lady Clarice Chesney, or Lady is very ill.” anybody else, to be getting her living as a They parted different ways.

Laura went governess.

But I suppose she cannot have towards home, and Mr. Carlton continued his heard of the change. Jane-to alter the road up the Rise. As he passed the bend, he subject-do you know that I saw papa at became aware that some one was advancing Pembury?

from an opposite direction, and recognised “ No."

young Frederick Grey. And Master Frederick "I did. I was visiting Colonel and Mrs. was in a fiery temper. Marden, they are such nice people—but you A word of explanation as to its cause is know them for yourself. I was driving through necessary.

At the Michaelmas just passed, a the street in the pony carriage with Mrs. Mr. Thrupp and his wife, people from a disMarden, and we met Sir James's mail-cart, he tance, had come to live at a small farm just and papa inside it. Between astonishment and beyond the Rise.

A short time after taking fear I was nearly frightened out of my wits. I possession, the wife was seized with illness, pulled the reins and started the ponies off, and and Mr. Carlton was called in. The farmer the next day we heard that papa had left knew nothing and had heard nothing of the again."

merits of the different practitioners of the “Are you going ?” asked Jane, for Laura place, but Mr. Carlton lived nearest to him, had risen.

and therefore he was summoned.

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