Seventh. - Yes, I will hope!
To-night I heard Grimsby and
Hattersley grumbling together
about the inhospitality of their
host. They did not know I was
near, for I happened to be standing
behind the curtain in the bow
of the window, watching the moon
rising over the clump of tall
dark elm-trees below the lawn,
and wondering why Arthur was
so sentimental as to stand without,
leaning against the outer pillar
of the portico, apparently watching
'So, I suppose we've seen the
last of our merry carousals in
this house,' said Mr. Hattersley;
'I thought his good-fellowship
wouldn't last long. But,' added
he, laughing, 'I didn't expect
it would meet its end this way.
I rather thought our pretty hostess
would be setting up her porcupine
quills, and threatening to turn
us out of the house if we didn't
mind our manners.'
'You didn't foresee this, then?'
answered Grimsby, with a guttural
chuckle. 'But he'll change again
when he's sick of her. If we
come here a year or two hence,
we shall have all our own way,
'I don't know,' replied the
other: 'she's not the style of
woman you soon tire of. But be
that as it may, it's devilish
provoking now that we can't be
jolly, because he chooses to
be on his good behaviour.'
'It's all these cursed women!'
muttered Grimsby: 'they're the
very bane of the world! They
bring trouble and discomfort
wherever they come, with their
false, fair faces and their deceitful
At this juncture I issued from
my retreat, and smiling on Mr.
Grimsby as I passed, left the
room and went out in search of
Arthur. Having seen him bend
his course towards the shrubbery,
I followed him thither, and found
him just entering the shadowy
walk. I was so light of heart,
so overflowing with affection,
that I sprang upon him and clasped
him in my arms. This startling
conduct had a singular effect
upon him: first, he murmured,
'Bless you, darling!' and returned
my close embrace with a fervour
like old times, and then he started,
and, in a tone of absolute terror,
exclaimed, 'Helen! what the devil
is this?' and I saw, by the faint
light gleaming through the overshadowing
tree, that he was positively
pale with the shock.
How strange that the instinctive
impulse of affection should come
first, and then the shock of
the surprise! It shows, at least,
that the affection is genuine:
he is not sick of me yet.
'I startled you, Arthur,' said
I, laughing in my glee. 'How
nervous you are!'
'What the deuce did you do
it for?' cried he, quite testily,
extricating himself from my arms,
and wiping his forehead with
his handkerchief. 'Go back, Helen
- go back directly! You'll get
your death of cold!'
I've told you
what I came for. They are blaming
you, Arthur, for your temperance
and sobriety, and I'm come to
thank you for it. They say it
is all "these cursed women," and
that we are the bane of the world;
but don't let them laugh or grumble
you out of your good resolutions,
or your affection for me.'
He laughed. I squeezed him
in my arms again, and cried in
tearful earnest, 'Do, do persevere!
and I'll love you better than
ever I did before!'
'Well, well, I will!' said
he, hastily kissing me. 'There,
now, go. You mad creature, how
could you come out in your light
evening dress this chill autumn
'It is a glorious night,' said
'It is a night that will give
you your death, in another minute.
Run away, do!'
'Do you see my death among
those trees, Arthur?' said I,
for he was gazing intently at
the shrubs, as if he saw it coming,
and I was reluctant to leave
him, in my new-found happiness
and revival of hope and love.
But he grew angry at my delay,
so I kissed him and ran back
to the house.
I was in such a good humour
that night: Milicent told me
I was the life of the party,
and whispered she had never seen
me so brilliant. Certainly, I
talked enough for twenty, and
smiled upon them all. Grimsby,
Hattersley, Hargrave, Lady Lowborough,
all shared my sisterly kindness.
Grimsby stared and wondered;
Hattersley laughed and jested
(in spite of the little wine
he had been suffered to imbibe),
but still behaved as well as
he knew how. Hargrave and Annabella,
from different motives and in
different ways, emulated me,
and doubtless both surpassed
me, the former in his discursive
versatility and eloquence, the
latter in boldness and animation
at least. Milicent, delighted
to see her husband, her brother,
and her over-estimated friend
acquitting themselves so well,
was lively and gay too, in her
quiet way. Even Lord Lowborough
caught the general contagion:
his dark greenish eyes were lighted
up beneath their moody brows;
his sombre countenance was beautified
by smiles; all traces of gloom
and proud or cold reserve had
vanished for the time; and he
astonished us all, not only by
his general cheerfulness and
animation, but by the positive
flashes of true force and brilliance
he emitted from time to time.
Arthur did not talk much, but
he laughed, and listened to the
rest, and was in perfect good-humour,
though not excited by wine. So
that, altogether, we made a very
merry, innocent, and entertaining
9th. - Yesterday, when Rachel
came to dress me for dinner,
I saw that she had been crying.
I wanted to know the cause of
it, but she seemed reluctant
to tell. Was she unwell? No.
Had she heard bad news from her
friends? No. Had any of the servants
'Oh, no, ma'am!' she answered;
'it's not for myself.'
'What then, Rachel? Have you
been reading novels?'
'Bless you, no!' said she,
with a sorrowful shake of the
head; and then she sighed and
continued: 'But to tell you the
truth, ma'am, I don't like master's
ways of going on.'
'What do you mean, Rachel?
He's going on very properly at
'Well, ma'am, if you think
so, it's right.'
And she went on dressing my
hair, in a hurried way, quite
unlike her usual calm, collected
manner, murmuring, half to herself,
she was sure it was beautiful
hair: she 'could like to see
'em match it.' When it was done,
she fondly stroked it, and gently
patted my head.
'Is that affectionate ebullition
intended for my hair, or myself,
nurse?' said I, laughingly turning
round upon her; but a tear was
even now in her eye.
'What do you mean, Rachel?'
'Well, ma'am, I don't know;
but if - '
'Well, if I was you, I wouldn't
have that Lady Lowborough in
the house another minute - not
another minute I wouldn't!
I was thunderstruck; but before
I could recover from the shock
sufficiently to demand an explanation,
Milicent entered my room, as
she frequently does when she
is dressed before me; and she
stayed with me till it was time
to go down. She must have found
me a very unsociable companion
this time, for Rachel's last
words rang in my ears. But still
I hoped, I trusted they had no
foundation but in some idle rumour
of the servants from what they
had seen in Lady Lowborough's
manner last month; or perhaps
from something that had passed
between their master and her
during her former visit. At dinner
I narrowly observed both her
and Arthur, and saw nothing extraordinary
in the conduct of either, nothing
calculated to excite suspicion,
except in distrustful minds,
which mine was not, and therefore
I would not suspect.
Almost immediately after dinner
Annabella went out with her husband
to share his moonlight ramble,
for it was a splendid evening
like the last. Mr. Hargrave entered
the drawing-room a little before
the others, and challenged me
to a game of chess. He did it
without any of that sad but proud
humility he usually assumes in
addressing me, unless he is excited
with wine. I looked at his face
to see if that was the case now.
His eye met mine keenly, but
steadily: there was something
about him I did not understand,
but he seemed sober enough. Not
choosing to engage with him,
I referred him to Milicent.
'She plays badly,' said he,
'I want to match my skill with
yours. Come now! you can't pretend
you are reluctant to lay down
your work. I know you never take
it up except to pass an idle
hour, when there is nothing better
you can do.'
'But chess-players are so unsociable,'
I objected; 'they are no company
for any but themselves.'
'There is no one here but Milicent,
and she - '
'Oh, I shall be delighted to
watch you!' cried our mutual
friend. 'Two such players - it
will be quite a treat! I wonder
which will conquer.'
'Now, Mrs. Huntingdon,' said
Hargrave, as he arranged the
men on the board, speaking distinctly,
and with a peculiar emphasis,
as if he had a double meaning
to all his words, 'you are a
good player, but I am a better:
we shall have a long game, and
you will give me some trouble;
but I can be as patient as you,
and in the end I shall certainly
win.' He fixed his eyes upon
me with a glance I did not like,
keen, crafty, bold, and almost
impudent; - already half triumphant
in his anticipated success.
'I hope not, Mr. Hargrave!'
returned I, with vehemence that
must have startled Milicent at
least; but he only smiled and
murmured, 'Time will show.'
We set to work: he sufficiently
interested in the game, but calm
and fearless in the consciousness
of superior skill: I, intensely
eager to disappoint his expectations,
for I considered this the type
of a more serious contest, as
I imagined he did, and I felt
an almost superstitious dread
of being beaten: at all events,
I could ill endure that present
success should add one tittle
to his conscious power (his insolent
self-confidence I ought to say),
or encourage for a moment his
dream of future conquest. His
play was cautious and deep, but
I struggled hard against him.
For some time the combat was
doubtful: at length, to my joy,
the victory seemed inclining
to my side: I had taken several
of his best pieces, and manifestly
baffled his projects. He put
his hand to his brow and paused,
in evident perplexity. I rejoiced
in my advantage, but dared not
glory in it yet. At length, he
lifted his head, and quietly
making his move, looked at me
and said, calmly, 'Now you think
you will win, don't you?'
'I hope so,' replied I, taking
his pawn that he had pushed into
the way of my bishop with so
careless an air that I thought
it was an oversight, but was
not generous enough, under the
circumstances, to direct his
attention to it, and too heedless,
at the moment, to foresee the
after-consequences of my move.
'It is those bishops that trouble
me,' said he; 'but the bold knight
can overleap the reverend gentlemen,'
taking my last bishop with his
knight; 'and now, those sacred
persons once removed, I shall
carry all before me.'
'Oh, Walter, how you talk!'
cried Milicent; 'she has far
more pieces than you still.'
'I intend to give you some
trouble yet,' said I; 'and perhaps,
sir, you will find yourself checkmated
before you are aware. Look to
The combat deepened. The game
was a long one, and I did give
him some trouble: but he was
a better player than I.
'What keen gamesters you are!'
said Mr. Hattersley, who had
now entered, and been watching
us for some time. 'Why, Mrs.
Huntingdon, your hand trembles
as if you had staked your all
upon it! and, Walter, you dog,
you look as deep and cool as
if you were certain of success,
and as keen and cruel as if you
would drain her heart's blood!
But if I were you, I wouldn't
beat her, for very fear: she'll
hate you if you do - she will,
by heaven! I see it in her eye.'
'Hold your tongue, will you?'
said I: his talk distracted me,
for I was driven to extremities.
A few more moves, and I was inextricably
entangled in the snare of my
'Check,' cried he: I sought
in agony some means of escape.
'Mate!' he added, quietly, but
with evident delight. He had
suspended the utterance of that
last fatal syllable the better
to enjoy my dismay. I was foolishly
disconcerted by the event. Hattersley
laughed; Milicent was troubled
to see me so disturbed. Hargrave
placed his hand on mine that
rested on the table, and squeezing
it with a firm but gentle pressure,
murmured, 'Beaten, beaten!' and
gazed into my face with a look
where exultation was blended
with an expression of ardour
and tenderness yet more insulting.
'No, never, Mr. Hargrave!'
exclaimed I, quickly withdrawing
'Do you deny?' replied he,
smilingly pointing to the board.
'No, no,' I answered, recollecting
how strange my conduct must appear:
'you have beaten me in that game.'
'Will you try another, then?'
'You acknowledge my superiority?'
'Yes, as a chess-player.'
I rose to resume my work.
'Where is Annabella?' said
Hargrave, gravely, after glancing
round the room.
'Gone out with Lord Lowborough,'
answered I, for he looked at
me for a reply.
'And not yet returned!' he
'I suppose not.'
'Where is Huntingdon?' looking
'Gone out with Grimsby, as
you know,' said Hattersley, suppressing
a laugh, which broke forth as
he concluded the sentence. Why
did he laugh? Why did Hargrave
connect them thus together? Was
it true, then? And was this the
dreadful secret he had wished
to reveal to me? I must know,
and that quickly. I instantly
rose and left the room to go
in search of Rachel and demand
an explanation of her words;
but Mr. Hargrave followed me
into the anteroom, and before
I could open its outer door,
gently laid his hand upon the
lock. 'May I tell you something,
Mrs. Huntingdon?' said he, in
a subdued tone, with serious,
'If it be anything worth hearing,'
replied I, struggling to be composed,
for I trembled in every limb.
He quietly pushed a chair towards
me. I merely leant my hand upon
it, and bid him go on.
'Do not be alarmed,' said he:
'what I wish to say is nothing
in itself; and I will leave you
to draw your own inferences from
it. You say that Annabella is
not yet returned?'
'Yes, yes - go on!' said I,
impatiently; for I feared my
forced calmness would leave me
before the end of his disclosure,
whatever it might be.
'And you hear,' continued he,
'that Huntingdon is gone out
'I heard the latter say to
your husband - or the man who
calls himself so - '
'Go on, sir!'
'I heard him
- "I shall manage it, you'll
see! They're gone down by the
water; I shall meet them there,
and tell him I want a bit of
talk with him about some things
that we needn't trouble the lady
with; and she'll say she can
be walking back to the house;
and then I shall apologise, you
know, and all that, and tip her
a wink to take the way of the
shrubbery. I'll keep him talking
there, about those matters I
mentioned, and anything else
I can think of, as long as I
can, and then bring him round
the other way, stopping to look
at the trees, the fields, and
anything else I can find to discourse
of."' Mr. Hargrave paused, and
looked at me.
Without a word of comment or
further questioning, I rose,
and darted from the room and
out of the house. The torment
of suspense was not to be endured:
I would not suspect my husband
falsely, on this man's accusation,
and I would not trust him unworthily
- I must know the truth at once.
I flew to the shrubbery. Scarcely
had I reached it, when a sound
of voices arrested my breathless
'We have lingered too long;
he will be back,' said Lady Lowborough's
'Surely not, dearest!' was
his reply; 'but you can run across
the lawn, and get in as quietly
as you can; I'll follow in a
My knees trembled under me;
my brain swam round. I was ready
to faint. She must not see me
thus. I shrunk among the bushes,
and leant against the trunk of
a tree to let her pass.
'Ah, Huntingdon!' said she
reproachfully, pausing where
I had stood with him the night
before - 'it was here you kissed
that woman!' she looked back
into the leafy shade. Advancing
thence, he answered, with a careless
'Well, dearest, I couldn't
help it. You know I must keep
straight with her as long as
I can. Haven't I seen you kiss
your dolt of a husband scores
of times? - and do I ever complain?'
'But tell me, don't you love
her still - a little?' said she,
placing her hand on his arm,
looking earnestly in his face
- for I could see them, plainly,
the moon shining full upon them
from between the branches of
the tree that sheltered me.
'Not one bit, by all that's
sacred!' he replied, kissing
her glowing cheek.
'Good heavens, I must be gone!'
cried she, suddenly breaking
from him, and away she flew.
There he stood before me; but
I had not strength to confront
him now: my tongue cleaved to
the roof of my mouth; I was well-nigh
sinking to the earth, and I almost
wondered he did not hear the
beating of my heart above the
low sighing of the wind and the
fitful rustle of the falling
leaves. My senses seemed to fail
me, but still I saw his shadowy
form pass before me, and through
the rushing sound in my ears
I distinctly heard him say, as
he stood looking up the lawn,
- 'There goes the fool! Run,
Annabella, run! There - in with
you! Ah, - he didn't see! That's
right, Grimsby, keep him back!'
And even his low laugh reached
me as he walked away.
'God help me now!' I murmured,
sinking on my knees among the
damp weeds and brushwood that
surrounded me, and looking up
at the moonlit sky, through the
scant foliage above. It seemed
all dim and quivering now to
my darkened sight. My burning,
bursting heart strove to pour
forth its agony to God, but could
not frame its anguish into prayer;
until a gust of wind swept over
me, which, while it scattered
the dead leaves, like blighted
hopes, around, cooled my forehead,
and seemed a little to revive
my sinking frame. Then, while
I lifted up my soul in speechless,
earnest supplication, some heavenly
influence seemed to strengthen
me within: I breathed more freely;
my vision cleared; I saw distinctly
the pure moon shining on, and
the light clouds skimming the
clear, dark sky; and then I saw
the eternal stars twinkling down
upon me; I knew their God was
mine, and He was strong to save
and swift to hear. 'I will never
leave thee, nor forsake thee,'
seemed whispered from above their
myriad orbs. No, no; I felt He
would not leave me comfortless:
in spite of earth and hell I
should have strength for all
my trials, and win a glorious
rest at last!
Refreshed, invigorated, if
not composed, I rose and returned
to the house. Much of my new-born
strength and courage forsook
me, I confess, as I entered it,
and shut out the fresh wind and
the glorious sky: everything
I saw and heard seemed to sicken
my heart - the hall, the lamp,
the staircase, the doors of the
different apartments, the social
sound of talk and laughter from
the drawing- room. How could
I bear my future life! In this
house, among those people - oh,
how could I endure to live! John
just then entered the hall, and
seeing me, told me he had been
sent in search of me, adding
that he had taken in the tea,
and master wished to know if
I were coming.
'Ask Mrs. Hattersley to be
so kind as to make the tea, John,'
said I. 'Say I am not well to-night,
and wish to be excused.'
I retired into the large, empty
dining-room, where all was silence
and darkness, but for the soft
sighing of the wind without,
and the faint gleam of moonlight
that pierced the blinds and curtains;
and there I walked rapidly up
and down, thinking of my bitter
thoughts alone. How different
was this from the evening of
yesterday! That, it seems, was
the last expiring flash of my
life's happiness. Poor, blinded
fool that I was to be so happy!
I could now see the reason of
Arthur's strange reception of
me in the shrubbery; the burst
of kindness was for his paramour,
the start of horror for his wife.
Now, too, I could better understand
the conversation between Hattersley
and Grimsby; it was doubtless
of his love for her they spoke,
not for me.
I heard the drawing-room door
open: a light quick step came
out of the ante-room, crossed
the hall, and ascended the stairs.
It was Milicent, poor Milicent,
gone to see how I was - no one
else cared for me; but she still
was kind. I shed no tears before,
but now they came, fast and free.
Thus she did me good, without
approaching me. Disappointed
in her search, I heard her come
down, more slowly than she had
ascended. Would she come in there,
and find me out? No, she turned
in the opposite direction and
re- entered the drawing-room.
I was glad, for I knew not how
to meet her, or what to say.
I wanted no confidante in my
distress. I deserved none, and
I wanted none. I had taken the
burden upon myself; let me bear
As the usual hour of retirement
approached I dried my eyes, and
tried to clear my voice and calm
my mind. I must see Arthur to-
night, and speak to him; but
I would do it calmly: there should
be no scene - nothing to complain
or to boast of to his companions
- nothing to laugh at with his
lady-love. When the company were
retiring to their chambers I
gently opened the door, and just
as he passed, beckoned him in.
'What's to do with you, Helen?'
said he. 'Why couldn't you come
to make tea for us? and what
the deuce are you here for, in
the dark? What ails you, young
woman: you look like a ghost!'
he continued, surveying me by
the light of his candle.
'No matter,' I answered, 'to
you; you have no longer any regard
for me it appears; and I have
no longer any for you.'
'Hal-lo! what the devil is
this?' he muttered.
'I would leave you to-morrow,'
continued I, 'and never again
come under this roof, but for
my child' - I paused a moment
to steady, my voice.
'What in the devil's name is
this, Helen?' cried he. 'What
can you be driving at?'
'You know perfectly well. Let
us waste no time in useless explanation,
but tell me, will you -?'
He vehemently swore he knew
nothing about it, and insisted
upon hearing what poisonous old
woman had been blackening his
name, and what infamous lies
I had been fool enough to believe.
'Spare yourself the trouble
of forswearing yourself and racking
your brains to stifle truth with
falsehood,' I coldly replied.
'I have trusted to the testimony
of no third person. I was in
the shrubbery this evening, and
I saw and heard for myself.'
This was enough. He uttered
a suppressed exclamation of consternation
and dismay, and muttering, 'I
shall catch it now!' set down
his candle on the nearest chair,
and rearing his back against
the wall, stood confronting me
with folded arms.
'Well, what then?' said he,
with the calm insolence of mingled
shamelessness and desperation.
'Only this,' returned I; 'will
you let me take our child and
what remains of my fortune, and
'Anywhere, where he will be
safe from your contaminating
influence, and I shall be delivered
from your presence, and you from
'Will you let me have the child
then, without the money?'
'No, nor yourself without the
child. Do you think I'm going
to be made the talk of the country
for your fastidious caprices?'
'Then I must stay here, to
be hated and despised. But henceforth
we are husband and wife only
in the name.'
'I am your child's mother,
and your housekeeper, nothing
more. So you need not trouble
yourself any longer to feign
the love you cannot feel: I will
exact no more heartless caresses
from you, nor offer nor endure
them either. I will not be mocked
with the empty husk of conjugal
endearments, when you have given
the substance to another!'
'Very good, if you please.
We shall see who will tire first,
'If I tire, it will be of living
in the world with you: not of
living without your mockery of
love. When you tire of your sinful
ways, and show yourself truly
repentant, I will forgive you,
and, perhaps, try to love you
again, though that will be hard
'Humph! and meantime you will
go and talk me over to Mrs. Hargrave,
and write long letters to aunt
Maxwell to complain of the wicked
wretch you have married?'
'I shall complain to no one.
Hitherto I have struggled hard
to hide your vices from every
eye, and invest you with virtues
you never possessed; but now
you must look to yourself.'
I left him muttering bad language
to himself, and went up-stairs.
'You are poorly, ma'am,' said
Rachel, surveying me with deep
'It is too true, Rachel,' said
I, answering her sad looks rather
than her words.
'I knew it, or I wouldn't have
mentioned such a thing.'
'But don't you trouble yourself
about it,' said I, kissing her
pale, time-wasted cheek. 'I can
bear it better than you imagine.'
you were always
for "bearing." But
if I was you I wouldn't bear
it; I'd give way to it, and cry
right hard! and I'd talk too,
I just would - I'd let him know
what it was to - '
'I have talked,' said I; 'I've
'Then I'd cry,' persisted she.
'I wouldn't look so white and
so calm, and burst my heart with
keeping it in.'
'I have cried,' said I, smiling,
in spite of my misery; 'and I
am calm now, really: so don't
discompose me again, nurse: let
us say no more about it, and
don't mention it to the servants.
There, you may go now. Good-night;
and don't disturb your rest for
me: I shall sleep well - if I
Notwithstanding this resolution,
I found my bed so intolerable
that, before two o'clock, I rose,
and lighting my candle by the
rushlight that was still burning,
I got my desk and sat down in
my dressing-gown to recount the
events of the past evening. It
was better to be so occupied
than to be lying in bed torturing
my brain with recollections of
the far past and anticipations
of the dreadful future. I have
found relief in describing the
very circumstances that have
destroyed my peace, as well as
the little trivial details attendant
upon their discovery. No sleep
I could have got this night would
have done so much towards composing
my mind, and preparing me to
meet the trials of the day. I
fancy so, at least; and yet,
when I cease writing, I find
my head aches terribly; and when
I look into the glass, I am startled
at my haggard, worn appearance.
Rachel has been to dress me,
and says I have had a sad night
of it, she can see. Milicent
has just looked in to ask me
how I was. I told her I was better,
but to excuse my appearance admitted
I had had a restless night. I
wish this day were over! I shudder
at the thoughts of going down
to breakfast. How shall I encounter
them all? Yet let me remember
it is not I that am guilty: I
have no cause to fear; and if
they scorn me as a victim of
their guilt, I can pity their
folly and despise their scorn.