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same roof with me, if any alternative were open to her; at the same time I felt deeply hurt to think that my imprudence should be the means of driving her from the shelter of it. Janie, on the other hand, innocent as to the cause, had no reason to feel hurt, except by the want of confidence reposed in her; but she was wonderfully astonished, and disposed to resent my not being so as an additional grievance.
• Why, you don't seem in the least surprised to hear it, Robert!' she complained. “Has Margaret said anything about it to you before ?
· The subject has never been broached between us; but Miss Anstruther has a right, of course, to follow her own inclinations, and we none to interfere with them.'
* No; but what can be the reason ?'
Of course; but she only says that she does not feel so well here as she did at Madras.'
'I think that is quite sufficient to account for her desiring a change. Strength soon gives way in this country; and I don't think your cousin has been looking well or strong lately. What we know of her sleep-walking propensity is a proof of that.'
' Then I mustn't persuade her to stop with us, Robert ?' continued Janie pleadingly.
By no means, dear. Let her follow the bent of her own wishes; it will be best for all of us.'
* But uncle Henry will be so surprised; and I am afraid he will be angry—and—and I had so hoped she was going to stay with me, Robert; and I feel so ill—and—and—so nervous, and I can't bear that Margaret should go away.' And here the poor girl was quite overcome by the prospect of her own weakness and her companion's departure, and burst into a flood of childish tears.
I felt very sorry for Janie. She has so thoroughly enjoyed the society of her cousin, and she is not in a condition to be vexed and thwarted with impunity. And then again I thought of Lionne travelling all the way back to Madras by herself, to accept a home from strangers, with nothing but her present unhappiness and her future uncertainty to bear her company; and I felt that neither of these should be the one to suffer, and that if the circumstances required a victim, it should be myself. I did not particularly wish to leave my regiment, nor my wife, nor any one else; but if it is impossible for us to continue on the same footing with one another, I felt that I should be the one to go. So I did not hesitate ; but telling Janie to keep her tears until she should be sure they were required, went in search of Margaret Anstruther.
She was neither in the drawing-room nor in the dining-room, but in a little ante-chamber which it pleases my wife to call her
. I am.
boudoir, but which is the dullest and most unfrequented apartment in the house. There I found her, lying on the sofa, shading her eyes with her hand, but making no attempt at work or reading. Margaret, may I speak to you ?
?' I could not, because I had offended her, go back to the more formal appellation of Miss Anstruther;' it seemed so much as though we had quarrelled.
If it is of anything I should care to hear,' she said languidly.
It is of something to which I much desire you should listen,'I replied. “Janie has just been telling me that you purpose leaving
Is that true ?'
'I will not ask you for what reason,'I went on to say, “because your wishes are your own and shall be sacred; but if
your decision is not irrevocable, think twice before you inflict such a disappointment on poor Janie. You know how weak and ill she is at present.'
• Captain Norton, I must go.'
you ? If I leave the house myself—if I leave the cantonment, and do not return ?'
* You are not in earnest ?' she said, raising her eyes to mine, too weary to be called surprised.
I have long intended going to Haldabad on a shooting excursion, which may detain me for two or three months. Inadvertently almost I have delayed it, your visit and Janie's illness coming in the way; but now I am ready to start at twelve hours' notice, if need be indeed, I am anxious to be gone.'
* And what will Janie say to that, Captain Norton ?' she demanded in a lowered voice.
At this moment I believe that my absence will affect Janie less than your departure would do. She is very much attached to you, and she feels the comfort of a woman's presence.
Added to which, Margaret, I am in a great measure responsible to your uncle for your proceedings, and I shall not feel easy if you leave my house for a stranger's without previously asking his consent. He will imagine I have proved unfaithful to my trust. Do you wish others to think as badly of me as I do of myself ?'
As I uttered these words I dropped my voice almost to a whisper, but she heard them plainly.
0, let me go— let me go!' she exclaimed wildly. It will be better-far better for all of us. I cannot, indeed I cannot, remain here; the air of this place stifles me.'
'I have made you despise me,' I said despondently.
'No; O no!' and her dark eyes were fixed upon me for a moment with an expression which I would have kept in them for ever ; but-you know, Captain Norton, that it is best--that, in fact, we must part.'
'I do know it,' I replied ; ' and therefore I am going. By this time to-morrow I hope to have made all necessary preparations, and to be ready for a start. Meanwhile you will stay here—I know you will, because I ask you—to comfort and look after Janie until you receive your uncle's consent to go to Madras. And when it arrives, and you have left Mushin-Bunda, I will return to it.'
And we shall never—never meet again !' she said in a voice so broken as to be almost inarticulate.
I dared not answer her ; had I spoken, I must have poured out all my heart.
• You have consented ?' were my next words.
'Yes, since you think it best; only I am sorry to be the means of driving you from home.'
* If you are—though you have no need to be--will you give me one recompense, Margaret ?'
She lifted her eyes inquiringly; speech seemed almost lost to her.
'Say you forgive me for what I told you yesterday. I have sorely reproached myself since.'
She stretched out her hand, and met mine in a grasp which, though firm, was cold as that of death.
• Then we part friends ?'
It was again myself who spoke ; she nodded her head in acquiescence, and I felt my prudence evaporating and rushed from the apartment.
Written down, this interview seems nothing ; but to those who feel as we do, the misery of years may be compressed into an hour; and that small room, for both of us, was worse than a torturechamber.
I have scarcely seen her since, except at meals; but, as I anticipated, my wife was so delighted to learn that she should retain her cousin's company, that she thought next to nothing of my proposed shooting excursion, except to beg that I would take care of myself, and to wonder how I could like going after those · horrid bears' and 'awful tigers.' Indeed, on the whole, I half suspect the little woman is rather glad to get rid of me, and pleased at the idea of having Margaret all to herself for a few weeks; for she has occasionally displayed the faintest touch of jealousy when I have broken up their tête-à-tête conferences. So I have sent them word down to the Fort to lay my dawk' for me, and I shall start as soon as tomorrow's sun goes down.
I almost think we shall have a storm first; which would pleasantly clear the air, for the sky has been indigo-colour all to-day, and there is a strange heaviness over everything as I write.
I have been packing my portmanteau and cleaning my weapons, until I have fairly tired myself out; but were I to stop to think, I could never summon courage enough to go. The household is asleep, and has been for hours; and I am sadly in want of rest, for I can hardly keep my eyes open or guide my pen upon the paper--and yet I feel as though I should never sleep again.
Bah! I must be mad or dreaming. I am only starting on an ordinary shooting excursion, and I feel as though I were going to my grave.
This is folly-monomania ; I shall be thankful when the hour comes for me to leave.
Madras, October 20th. It is more than two months since I transcribed a line in this written record of my inmost thoughts; more than two months since that awful, horrible, and most unexpected catastrophe occurred, which I cannot now recall without a shudder, and which, for a time, seemed as if it must obliterate my reason or my life. But I am spared (though I cannot yet say, thank God that it is so); and were it not that my soul seems to die within me, and my energy to languish for want of some one or thing to which I may confide my sorrow, I should not have the courage even now to write the story down. But I must speak, even though it be but to a silent confidante, for my spirit fails for lack of sympathy; and therefore I draw out my old diary, and having read (shall I be ashamed to say with tears ?) what I have written in these foregoing pages, proceed to bring the tale to a conclusion.
Let me try to collect my scattered thoughts, so apt to wander when I approach this miserable subject, and carry them back to the eventful moment when I last left off to the night of the 12th of August.
I had sat up, packing my wardrobe and writing my diary, until I had fairly tired myself out, and then, having put away my book and writing materials into the table-drawer, I locked it, and lighting a cigar, sat down to think; of what, and in what strain, I and these pages, to my misery, best know.
I had no intention of permitting myself to fall asleep; but it is my custom to smoke just before retiring to bed, and I should have anticipated a broken rest without the indulgence. At the same time my fatigue was greater than I thought, and after a little while drowsiness came over me, and before I knew that sleep was coming I was in the land of dreams.
And such a land! Thank heaven, for those who are not destined in this world to know substantial happiness, that dreams remain to them.
I dreamt that I was with Margaret again on the sea-shore; not riding, but wandering hand-in-hand; not speaking coldly or with averted faces, but eyes to eyes, and heart to heart. I dreamt that I was watching the damask blush which mantled on her cheek, and listening to the low mellow sound of her rich voice, and that mingled with my own reply came the hoarse murmur of the ocean as it swelled and surged upon the shore.
I dreamt that we were one; not one in the earthly acceptation of the word, but in that fuller sense by which spirits are united to each other, never more to part; and that as we strolled upon the beach together we knew that neither death nor injury could sever us again. And amidst it all I was listening to the hoarse murmur of the waves, which rolled up to our very feet, and broke away, but to return with an energy louder and more imperative than before. I dreamt that as I stood thus, enfolding my new-found treasure in my arms, I started to find that the sky was overcast, and that the tide had surrounded us, and was behind as well as before, and threatening to overwhelm my darling. I dreamt that in my fear and solicitude I drew her backwards, trembling for her safety, and that as I whispered words of love and reassurance, I woke-to dream no more.
I woke, at the bidding of a loud and terrified scream from the lips of my native servants, and springing to my feet, became first aware of a sensation of intense chilliness, and next, as my remaining senses gradually returned to me, of a hoarse murmur somewhere near me, which recalled the memory of my dream.
The night was intensely dark; there seemed to be neither moon nor stars; and for one moment I stood, uncertain which way to move, and waiting to hear if the cry had only been my fancy, or would be repeated. Too soon it came again, this time louder, more terrified, more piercing than before ; and its burden words of fearful import, too fearful to be at first believed. Master, master!' it said in Hindustani ; 'master, the sea is on us !' And before I could scarcely realise the meaning of the words, the natives who slept in the verandah had rushed into my presence, and were immediately followed by a huge wave of water, which, with the hollow roar to which I had listened in my dreams, burst into the unprotected sitting-rooms, and washed over my feet.
Master,' cried the natives, as they clambered upon tables and chairs, “the sea has burst its bounds; the sea is coming on us; the whole cantonment will be under water !'
• Close the doors and windows !' I exclaimed loudly; but no one stirred, and I attempted to set them the example of doing as I said; but it was too late. I perceived a dark volume of water stealing stealthily upon us from all sides, and even as I advanced towards the verandah, a huge wave dashed against me, washing me to the middle, knocking me backwards on the drawing-room table, and carrying away a chair as it retreated. At the same moment, a scream from the women's apartments told me that the sea had reached that quarter; and with no thought but for the safety of those dear to me, I dashed without ceremony into Miss Anstruther's room. I found