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“You are frank, at all events, Ra- in you nor in me, but in circumchel, and truth is better than cour stances. The time is coming, Dorcas, tesy; but you forget that your bro- when you will know all, and, maybe, ther could not have returned so soon." judge me mercifully. In the mean

“Returned ?” said Rachel ; "I did time, Dorcas, you cannot like my not know he had left home.

company, because

you

do not like me; “It's strange he should not have and I do not like yours, just because, consulted you. I, of course, knew in spite of all, I love you still ; and in nothing of it until he had been more yours I only see the image of a lost than an hour upon his journey.” friend. You may be restored to me

Rachel Lake made no answer but soon-maybe never—but till then, I a little laugh.

have lost “He'll return to-morrow; and per “Well,” said Dorcas, “it may be haps your meeting may still be in time. there is a wild kind of truth in what I was thinking of a few minutes' you say, Rachel, and no matterwalk upon the terrace, but you are time, as you say, and light-I don't fatigued ; you had better come in and understand you, Rachel; but there is rest.

this in you that resembles me-we No, Dorcas, I won't go in.” both hate hypocrisy, and we are both,

But, Rachel, you are tired ; you in our own ways, proud. I'll come must come in with me, and drink tea, back, when I hear the carriage, and and then you can go home in the see you for a moment, as you won't brougham,” said Dorcas, more kindly. stay, or come with me, and bid you

“No, Dorcas, no ; I will not drink good-bye.' tea nor go in ; but I am tired, and as So Dorcas went her way; and alone, you are so kind, I will accept your on the terrace, looking over the stone offer of the carriage.”

balustrade-over the rich and sombre Larcom had, that moment, ap- landscape, dim and vaporous in the peared in the vestibule, and received twilight--she still saw the pale face the order.

of Rachel-paler than she liked to see “I'll sit in the porch, if you will it. Was she ill ?—and she thought allow me, Dorcas; you must not lose how lonely she would be if Rachel your little walk."

were to die-how lonely she was now. Then you won't come into the There was a sting compunction-a house, you won't drink tea with me, yearning—and then started a few bitand you won't join me in my littlé ter and solitary tears. walk; and why not any of these ?” In one of the great stone vases, that

Dorcas smiled coldly, and continued, are ranged along the terrace, there

“Well, I shall hear the carriage flourished a beautiful and rare rose. coming to the door, and I'll re- I forget its name. Some of my readers turn and bid you good night. It is will remember. It is first to bloomplain, Rachel, you do not like my first to wither. Its fragrant petals company.'

were now strewn upon the terrace " True, Dorcas, I do not like your underneath. One blossom only recompany. You are unjust; you have mained untarnished, and Dorcas no confidence in me; you prejudge plucked it, and with it in her fingers, me without proof; and you have she returned to the porch where Raquite ceased to love me. Wily should chel remained. I like your company ?"

“ You

see, I have come back a little Dorcas smiled a proud and rather before my time,” said Dorcas. “I sad smile at this sudden change from have just been looking at the plant the conventional to the passionate ; you used to admire so much, and the and the direct and fiery charge of her leaves are shed already, and it remindkinswoman was unanswered. ed me of our friendship, Radie; but

She stood meditating for a minute. I am sure you are right; it will all

“You think I no longer love you, bloom again, after the winter, you Rachel, as I did. Perhaps young know, and I thought I would come ladies' friendships are never very en- back, and say that, and give you this during; but, if it be so, the fault is relic of the bloom that is gone—the not mine.”

last token," and she kissed Rachel, as “No, Dorcas, the fault is not she placed it in her fingers, " a token yours, nor mine. The fault is neither of remembrance and of hope.”

VOL. LXIII. NO. CCCLXXIII.

“I will keep it, Dorkie. It was kind And it drew up close to the steps, of you,” and their eyes met regretfully. and Rachel entered ; and her little

'And--and, I think, I do trust you, handmaid got up in the seat behind ; Radie,” said the heiress of Brandon; and Dorcas and Rachel kissed their “and I hope you will try to like me hands, and smiled, and away the caron till--till spring comes, you know. riage glided ; and Dorcas, standing on And, I wish,” she sighed softly, “I the steps, looked after it very sadly. wish we were as we used to be. I am And when it disappeared, she sighed not very happy; and-here's the car- again heavily, still looking in its track; riage.'

and I think she said “Darling !"

CHAPTER LXIV.

RACHEL LAKE BEFORE THE ACCUSER.

66

TWILIGHT was darker in Redman's “Quite well, so far as I am aware," Dell than anywhere else. But dark answered the Attorney, with a grim as it was, there was still light enough politeness ; “perfectly; nothing has to enable Rachel, as she hurried across occurred, as yet at least, affecting the the little garden, on her return from interests of that family ; but someBrandon, to see a long white face, and thing is—I will not say, threatened— some dim outline of the figure to but I may say, mooted, which, were which it belonged, looking out upon any attempt seriously made to carry her from the window of her little draw- it into execution, would, I regret to ing-room.

say, involve very serious consequences But no, it could not be ; who was to a party whom, for, I may say, many there to call at so odd an hour ? She reasons, I should regret being called must have left something-a bag, or upon to affect unpleasantly." a white basket upon the window-sash. And pray, Mr. Larkin, can I be of She was almost startled, however, as any use ?” she approached the porch, to see it Every use, Miss Lake, and it is nod, and a hand dimly waved in to- precisely for that reason that I have ken of greeting.

taken the liberty of waiting upon you, Tamar was in the kitchen. Could at what, I am well aware, is a someit be Stanley ? But faint as the out- what unusual hour.” line was she saw, she fancied that it “Perhaps, Mr. Larkin, you would was not he. She felt a sort of alarm, be so good as to call in the morningin which there was some little mix- any hour you appoint will answer me, ture of the superstitious, and she said the young lady, a little stiffy. pushed open the door, not entering She was still standing at the door, the room, but staring in toward the with her hand upon the brass handle. window, where against the dim, ex “Pardon me, Miss Lake, the busiternal light, she clearly saw, without ness to which I refer, is really urgent.” recognising it, a tall figure, greeting “Very urgent, sir, if it cannot wait her with mop and moe.

till to-morrow morning.' “Who is that ?" cried Miss Lake, a “Very true, quite true, very urgent little sharply.

indeed," replied the Attorney, calmly ; “It is I, Miss Lake, Mr. Josiah “ I presume, Miss Lake, I may take a Larkin, of The Lodge,” said that gen- chair ?" tleman, with what he meant to be an Certainly, sir, if you insist on my air of dignified firmness, and look- listening to-night, which I should cering very like a tall constable in pos- tainly decline if I had the power. session; “I have taken the liberty “Thank you, Miss Lake." And the of presenting myself, although, I fear, Attorney took a chair, crossing one at a somewhat unreasonable hour, but long leg over the other, and throwing in reference to a little business, which, his head back, as he reclined in it unfortunately, will not, I think, bear with his long arm over the back--the to be deferred.”

express image,” as he fancied, of a “No bad news, Mr. Larkin, I hope polished gentleman, conducting a di-nothing has happened. The Wýl- plomatic interview with a clever and ders are all well, I hope ?”

high-bred lady.

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“Then it is plain, şir, I must hear which I have now an opportunity of you to-night," said Miss Lake, procuring.” Haughtily:

"A-exactly—yes—well, Miss Lake, “Not that, exactly, Miss Lake, but that is, of course, very kind of youonly that I must speak to-night-in very kind, indeed, and creditable to fact, I have no choice. The subject your feelings; but, as Mr. William of our conference really is, as you will Wylder's solicitor, and as I have alfind, an urgent one, and to-morrow ready demonstrated to him, I must morning, which weshould each equally now inform you, that the sum of six prefer, would be possibly too late - hundred pounds would be absolutely too late, at least, to obviate a very useless in his position. No party, Miss painful situation.'

Lake, in his position, ever quite appre“You will make it, I am sure, as hends, even if he could bring himself short as you can, sir,” said the young fully to state, the aggregate amount lady, in the same tone.

of his liabilities. I may state, howExactly my wish, Miss Lake,” re ever, to you, without betraying conplied Mr. Jos Larkin.

fidence, that ten times that sum would “Bring candles, Margery."

not avail to extricate him, even temAnd so the little drawing-room was porarily, from his difficulties. He sees illuminated ; and the bald head of the the thing himself, now; but drowning tall Attorney, and the gloss on his men will grasp, we know, at straws. easy, black frock-coat, and his gold However, he does see the futility of watch-chain, and the long and large. this; and, thankiug you most eargloved hand, depending near the car- nestly, he, through me, begs most pet, with the glove of the other in it. gratefully to decline it. In fact, my And Mr. Jos Larkin rose with a neg- dear Miss Lake—it is awful to 'conligent and lordly ease, and placed a template-he has been in the hands chair for Miss Lake, so that the light of Sharks, Harpies, my dear madam; might fall full upon her features, in but I'll beat about for the money, in accordance with his usual diplomatic the way of loan, if possible, and, one arrangement, which he fancied, com- way or another, I am resolved, if the placently, no one had ever detected; thing'sto be done, to get him straight.” he himself resuming his easy pose

There was here a little pause, and upon his chair, with his back, as much Mr: Larkin, finding that Miss Lake as was practicable, presented to the had nothing to say, simply addedcandles. And the long, bony fingers

for these reasons, and of the arm which rested on the table, with these views, my dear Miss Lake, negligently shading his observing lit- we beg, most respectfully, and I wilí tle eyes, and screening off the side say. gratefully, to decline

the proffered light from his expressive features. advance, which, I will say, at the

These arrangements, however, were same time, does honour to your feeldisconcerted by Miss Lake's sitting ings.” down at the other side of the table, I am sorry,” said Miss Lake, "you and quietly requesting Mr. Larkin to have had so much trouble in explainopen his case.

ing so simple a matter. I will call Why, really, it is hardly a five, early to-morrow, and see Mr. Wylder." minutes' matter, Miss Lake ; it refers "Pardon me,” said the Attorney, to the Vicar, the Rev. William Wyl- “I have to address myself next to the der, and his respectable family, and a second portion of your offer, as stated proposition which he, as my client, to me by Mr. W. Wylder, that which mentioned to me this evening. Hé. contemplates a residence in his house, stated that you had offered to advance and in the respectable bosom, I may a sum of £600, for the liquidation of say, of that, in many respects, unhis liabilities. It will, perhaps, con- blemished family.” duce to clearness to dispose of this

Miss Lake stared with a look of part of the matter first. May I there- fierce inquiry at the Attorney, fore ask, at this stage, whether the “The fact is, Miss Lake, that that Rev. William Wylder rightly, con is an arrangement which under existceived you, when he so stated your ing circumstances I could not think meaning to me ???

of advising. I think, on reflection, “Yes, certainly, I am most anxious you will see, that Mr. Wylder--thé to assist them with that little sum, Reverend William Wylder and his

4*

And so,

her gaze.

Lady-could not for one moment Miss Lake, I should take you at your seriously entertain it, and that I, who word. I don't-I wish to spare you. am bound to do the best I can for Your countenance, Miss Lake-you them, could not dream of advising

it." must pardon my frankness, it is my “I fancy it is a matter of total way-your countenance tells only too indifference, sir, what you may and plainly, that you now comprehend my what you may not advise in a matter allusion.” quite beyond your province-I don't There was a confidence and signifiin the least, understand, or desire to cance in the Attorney's air and accent, understand you—and thinking your and a peculiar look of latent ferocity manner impertinent and offensive, I in his evil countenance, which gradubeg that you will now be so good as ally excited her fears, and fascinated to leave my house."

Miss Rachel was very angry “Now, Miss Lake, we are sitting although nothing but her bright colour here in the presence of Him who is and the vexed flash of her eye showed the searcher of hearts, and before it.

whom nothing is secret-your eye is “I were most unfortunate-most upon mine and mine on yours--and unfortunate indeed, Miss Lake, if my I ask you do you remember the night manner could in the least justify the of the 29th of September last ?" strong and undue language in which That mean, pale, taunting face! the you have been pleased to characterize dreadful accents that vibrated within it. But I do not resent-it is not my her! How could that ill-omened way—“beareth all things,' Miss Lake, man have divined her connexion “beareth all things'-I hope I try to with the incidents—the unknown practise the precept; but the fact of incidents of that direful night? The being misunderstood, shall not deter lean figure in the black frock-coat, me from the discharge of a simple and black silk waistcoat, with that duty.”

great gleaming watch-chain, the long, "If it is part of your duty, sir, to shabby, withered face, and flushed, make yourself intelligible, may I beg bald forehead; and those paltry little that you will do it without further eyes, in their pink setting, that neverdelay.

theless fascinated her like the gaze of "My principal object in calling here a serpent. How had that horrible was to inform you, Miss Lake, that figure come there-why was this you must quite abandon the idea of meeting-whence his knowledge ? residing in the Vicar's house, as you An evil spirit incarnate he seemed to proposed, unless you wish me to her. She blanched before it-every state explicitly to him and to Mrs. vestige of colour fled from her features Wylder the insurmountable objec- --she stared-she gaped at him with tions which exist to any such ar a strange look of imbecility-and the rangement. Such a task, Miss Lake, long face seemed to enjoy and prowould be most painful to me. I hesi- tract its triumph. tate to discuss the question even with Without removing his gaze he was you ; and if you give me your word of fumbling in his pocket for his notehonour that you quite abandon that book, which he displayed with a idea, I shall, on the instant take my faint smile, grim and palid. leave, and certainly, for the present, “I see you do remember that night trouble you no further upon a most -as well you may, Miss Lake,” he painful subject."

ejaculated, in formidable tones, and And now, sir, as I have no inten- with a shake of his bald head. tion whatever of tolerating your “Now, Miss Lake, you see this incomprehensibly impertinent inter- book. It contains, madam, the skeleference, and don't understand your ton of a case. The bones and joints, meaning in the slightest degree, and ma’am, of a case. I have it here, noted do not intend to withdraw the offer and prepared. There is not a fact I have made to good Mrs. Wylder, you in it without a note of the name and will I hope perceive the uselessness address of the witness who can prove of prolonging your visit, and be so it-the witness-observe me.” good as to leave me in unmolested Then there was a pause of a few possession of my poor residence." seconds, during which he still kept

“If I wished to do you an injury, her under his steady gaze.

“On that night, Miss Lake, the The fact is the Attorney began to 29th September, you drove in Mr. apprehend an attack of hysterics, or Mark Wylder's tax-cart to the Dol- something even worse, and was himlington Station, where, notwithstand- self rather frightened. But Rachel ing your veil, and your caution, you was never long overwhelmed by any were seen and recognised. The same shock-fear was not for her-her occurred at Charteris. You accom- brave spirit stood her in stead ; and panied Mr. Mark Wylder in his mid- nothing rallied her so surely as the night flight to London, Miss Lake.

sense that an attempt was being made Of your stay in London I say nothing. to bully her. It was protracted to the 2nd October, “ What have I heard—what have when you arrived in the down train at I endured ? Listen to me, you cowDollington at twelve o'clock at night, ardly libeller. It is true that I was and took a cab to the White House, at Dollington, and at Charteris, on the where you were met by a gentleman night you name. Also true that I answering the description of your went to London-your hideous slander brother Captain Lake. Now, Miss is garnished with two or three bits of Lake, I have stated no particulars; truth--but only the more villanous but do you think that knowing all for that. All that you have dared to this, and knowing the fraud by insinuate is utterly false. Before Him which your absence was covered, who judges all, and knows all things and perfectly understanding, as every —utterly and damnably false !" man conversant with this sinful world The Attorney made a bow-it was must do, the full significance of all his best—he did not imitate a gentlethis, I could dream of permitting you, man happily, and was never so vulgar Miss Lake, to become domesticated as when he was finest. as an inmate in the family of a pure One word of her wild protest he minded, though simple and unfortu- did not believe. His bow was of that nate clergyman ?”

grave but mocking sort which was “It may become my duty to prose- meant to convey it. Perhaps if he cute a searching inquiry, madam, had accepted what she said it might into the circumstances of Mr. Mark have led him to new and sounder Wylder's disappearance. If you have conclusions. Here was light, but it the slightest regard for your own glared and flashed in vain for him. honour, you will not precipitate that Miss Lake was naturally perfectly measure, Miss Lake; and so sure as frank. Pity it was she had ever had you persist in your unwarrantable a secret to keep! These frank people designs of residing in that unsuspect- are a sore puzzle to gentlemen of ing family, I will publish what I shall Lawyer Larkin's quaint and sagacious then feel called upon by my position turn of mind. They can't believe that to make known; for I will be no party anybody ever speaks quite the truth, to seeing an innocent family com- when they hear it--they don't repromised by admitting an inmate of cognise it, and they wonder what the whose real character they have not speaker is driving at. The best the faintest suspicion, and I shall at method of hiding your opinion or once set in motion a public inquiry your motives from such men, is to into the circumstances of Mr. Mark tell it to them. They are owls. Their Wylder's disappearance.

vision is formed for darkness, and Looking straight in his face, with light blinds them. the same expression of helplessness, Rachel Lake rung her bell sharply, she uttered at last a horrible cry of and old Tamar appeared. anguish that almost thrilled that “Show Mr. Mr. -; show him callous Christian.

to the door,” said Miss Lake. “ I think I'm going mad !"

The Attorney rose, made another And she continued staring at him bow, and threw back his head, and all the time.

moved in a way that was oppressively “Pray, compose yourself, Miss Lake gentlemanlike to the door, and speedily —there's no need to agitate yourself vanished at the little wicket. Old ---nothing of all this need occur if you Tamar holding her candle to lighten do not force it upon me—nothing-I his path, as she stood, white and beg you'll collect yourself-shall I cadaverous, in the porch. call for water, Miss Lake ?"

“She's a little bit noisy to-night,"

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