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"Are you sure that you never saw it was that poor, weeping, terrible woman, opened? Do you remember our conversa- my cousin Hilda. Yes, that was when it tion the first evening that we met Mr. Sey--my vision, I mean-really happened, in mour Kennedy? I begin to think that some recollection of your first visit has all this time been working in your brain without your own knowledge."
66 Are you certain that you did not dream all this yourself?"
"Well, that is a question we can soon settle; I will undertake to teach you the way to open the hidden drawer as you taught it to me last night."
The breakfast-bell sounded before we were ready for it: and we would not keep the servants loitering over their work on a Sunday morning: but, as soon as we had despatched the meal, we hastened to search the ebony cabinet. I must confess that I felt a little doubtful of my own senses, when I saw its improbable aspect, and Lelgarde was inclined to laugh at me, perhaps really to hide some little tremor.
"Is this the little ivory knob? This third one on the right side? I do not believe it, Joan; it is impossible to get a sufficient hold of it to pull it-ah!"
She broke off suddenly; with unexpected force the little projection seemed almost to spring to meet her fingers, and, as she drew out the peg, down fell the small uncovered box with its hoard of tightly compressed papers.
"There was I dreaming ?" I exclaimed; but Lelgarde interrupted me with a shrill cry, half fright, half relief, and clasped her fingers over her eyes.
"I see I see it all. I remember the whole of it!" she cried, eagerly; "it all comes back to me. Oh, poor little creature, how I suffered! how scared and terrified I used to be."
66 Are you crazy, my child? What is it you remember ?"
"This drawer-that opening-was not it just what a child would remember? And the way I was shown it-the fright! Oh, no wonder I had a nervous fever-no wonder I ran away: this has reminded me of everything.'
"Tell me what it is, quickly, dearest ; but don't get so excited about it."
Gathering the papers up in her hand, she said:
"I do not know what these are, I never did know; but, Joan, I know now who it
truth, not in fancy. It was she who used to come, with her terrible weeping, and wake me up at night, and bring me down here, poor little, cold, scared thing, and show me the secret of the hiding-place, and repeat again and again those words about wrong never being right; and make me promise to look here in case I should ever be mistress of Athelstanes. What ever these papers contain, remember, Joan, I said all this before I looked at them."
"Then Miss Hilda, not Miss Etheldreda, was your tormentor after all. But surely, Lelgarde, she was bed-ridden, or, rather, sofa-ridden; had she not lost the use of her limbs ?"
"Of course she had; every one said so. Oh! I see this room now just as it used to be, and her waxen-looking face and hands, and draperies, all as white as snow, on this red couch. That was the dreadful thing; seeing her lie motionless all day, and then being visited by her in this stealthy, fearful way at night; and then she wept. Oh! how is it I ever forgot that weeping?"
"She must have been a most persistent humbug, or else crazy," I said, feeling anything but charitable towards Miss Hilda.
"Let us see what she had had to turn her brain. I almost begin to think I can guess," said Lelgarde, growing a shade paler. She opened the first paper, glanced over the few lines which it contained, did the same with the next, and then placed them in my hands with a strange sort of smile. "No wonder," was all she said.
The first paper was a certificate of the marriage of Hilda Atheling with Henry Hamilton at some church in the City; the second, bearing date about a year later, recorded the baptism of a second Henry Hamilton, at a seaside town, far away in the West of England.
The secret of Hilda Atheling's life was out at last.
On the 27th of April will be commenced
THE YELLOW FLAG.
BY EDMUND YATES,
was that frightened me at Athelstanes; it | Author of "BLACK SHEEP," "NOBODY'S FORTUNE," &C.
The Light of Translating Articles from ALL THE YEAR ROUND is reserved by the Authors.
Fublished at the Office, 26, Wellington St., Strand. Printed by C. WHITING, Beaufort House, Duke St., Lincoln's Inn Fields.
THE WICKED WOODS OF TOBEREEVIL.
BY THE AUTHOR OF "HESTER'S HISTORY."
CHAPTER XXXI. THE FALSE LOVE.
SIMON was getting through the cold weather badly. He missed Tibbie, and he missed the fool. He had now to light his scrap of fire with his own trembling fingers, and to cook his morsels of food himself. He had no one to scold, no one on whom to vent in passion the anxiety of his mind, which feared that he must yet be robbed, and live to die a pauper. His soul, too, was racked by tortures of doubt as to his nephew's fitness for the trust which had been reposed in him. In the business of wringing money from the tenants he did not show that eagerness and ingenuity which Simon had hoped to find in him. He had proposed to grant a small piece of mountain land to a certain old beggar woman, so that she might build herself a house, and live in it free of rent. There was an audacity in this proposal which had terrified the miser. How was he safe in the hands of a person who could conceive and give utterance to such an idea? He could only keep watch over the doings of this nephew and agent, exerting himself meanwhile to make amends, by personal economy, for any extravagance which the young man might perpetrate. He had now reduced the cost of his living very low, powder and shot being the chief items of his expenditure; and larks and thrushes, erows and sparrows, were the dainties which supplied the absence of more ordinary food. Since Tibbie's disappearance he had not enjoyed the luxury of bread. The birds of the air and the roots of the
earth were more than enough to satisfy his appetite. He ate but once a day, and the fire was allowed to go out as soon as his dinner had been cooked. This was a new plan of saving, for formerly he had been used to have a fire, however small, at which to warm his frail body in the winter weather. So now he suffered sorely from the cold, though that was little to Simon while he felt that he did his duty. He missed the fool even more than Tibbie, for Con would not now be coaxed within his doors; but would nevertheless come hovering about the place, peering in at the keyholes, and flattening his white face against the window-panes. Simon was often unconsciously an object of close observation to the fool, who, with the strong fascination of hatred, would watch him unseen through some secret loophole; but if Simon chanced to espy him, this irregular visitor would at once vanish off into the woods.
Whilst Tibbie and Katherine were making their way into the house, Simon was sitting in state in his freezing den, expecting the arrival of the new agent upon business. His pistols were beside him on the table; for he never forgot that he was subject to a danger from the presence of his nephew. The fear of the fulfilment of the prophecy by Paul haunted him unceasingly, and made him wary in his dealings with this young man, whom he had admitted into his confidence. He never turned his back upon him for a moment, and never, during their interviews, moved from the table where the pistols lay near his hand. To-day he was sitting thus, provided against danger, when Paul made his appearance-a good deal changed from the Paul of a few months ago, looking pale and thin, with restless eyes and a nervous and uneasy expression about the mouth.
He looked as if the sun had not shone on him for a year. His dress, too, was more careless than it used to be, and he appeared altogether as if things were far from well with him. The change did not escape Simon's eye, and he was pleased with it. "The young man is taking a lesson from me," thought the miser; "he is growing more saving of his pocket, and more sparing of his enjoyments. I see that I have but to be patient with him, and he will yet turn out well."
Paul drew his chair to the opposite side of the table, and uncle and nephew set to work to do their business together. They made a striking contrast, though there was some likeness between them. Paul had his mother's fair skin and fair hair, and was so far unlike the race of the misers, who were of a swarthy complexion. He had a broader forehead than had been the share of any of his fathers, but he had the arched nose of the Finistons, and the dark flashing eye, deep-set under graceful brows. There was enough likeness between the old and the young man to make a looker-on tremble for what Paul might yet become.
Paul delivered over the money which he had collected for rent, but the sum fell short of the miser's expectations.
You had better let them stay where they are," said Paul. "Good times may come, and they may be enabled to meet your demand. Turn them out of the country, and where are the wealthier tenants to fill their place? You will find empty cabins, and no money at all."
"That is your ignorance," said the miser; "but I am willing to teach you. There are shepherds, Scotchmen, who would take the whole mountain from me at a handsome rent. Now am I-a man practising self-denial in my own personto make enormous sacrifice for the sake of pampered beggars who, I doubt not, will have their two meals in the day? My plan is to get rid gradually of the poorest amongst my tenants. People have no right to live in a country which is not able to
support them. For the future I shall expect you to understand me in this matter. If the people will not pay you, you must send the people away."
"I have no liking for the work, sir. I don't see how I can obey you."
"Then, sir, I don't see how you can expect to be my heir. I am not bound to leave my little property to you. I have connexions in England, wise, rich men, who look well to the increase of their store, and deserve a helping hand on that account. To them shall go every penny I am possessed of, if you set up your ideas in opposition to mine."
Paul flushed and turned pale. The time was gone past when such a threat as this had no terrors for him. It was dreadful to him now, for the thirst for power had taken possession of his soul. It enraged him to think of those wise, rich men from England coming over here to plant, and to sow, and to build upon his land. He was convinced that he could rule the country better than they could do, and it might be well to save the many by the sacrifice of a few. Evil must be done in order that good might come of it. Paul swiftly argued thus in his own mind—that clouded mind which was no longer what it had been.
He was conscious of a falling off in his own mental powers, in his capacity for thought and feeling. The consciousness tortured him, but he could not see where he had gone wrong, nor discern any means by which he could become better or wiser in the future. He could not even think the matter out, for his mind would not fasten on it, and all his moral perceptions were becoming hazy and dull. His memory was whimsical; certain ideas passed away! from it, like the mist of breath from off a glass, whilst others enlarged themselves, became distorted, and were not to be effaced. He forgot at this moment his former desire to be independent of the miser, his aspirations after honest industry, however meagre the reward. He thought no more of the plans which May: had helped him to map out. He remembered only that he wanted Tobereevil, and also that if he quarrelled with the miser, certain rich men from England would step into the inheritance which he coveted. Upon this one point his mind fastened its strength, and the fierce desire for posses sion took firm hold of his brain. promised Simon that he would see abou: the matter.
"See about it in time, then," said the miser, "for you have natural disqualifications for your office, and you will need to work hard in order to overcome them. But I will give you time, for we are a slow race in developing. As young men we are spendthrifts, and seem in danger of being ruined, but time improves us, and we grow we grow old. So you may go away now, and think over this matter of the Scotch shepherds. Have a calculation made by the next time you come here, and let me know how soon we shall be ready for them."
Paul went away with slow steps and aching heart, knowing that he had bound himself to do work which his soul abhorred, and yet feeling himself utterly unable to struggle with the unholy force which had thus dragged him into bondage. Having thus, as he believed, sold himself to evil, he shrank from the eye of the heavens, and from the sad face of the land which lay so sadly waiting for its deliverance. He was seized with a passionate desire to gloat over the old walls, which contained somewhere that treasure which was to make him master of everything that a man could covet in the world. As he went up the grand staircase the thought of May crossed his mind, a vision of her imploring face arose before his eyes, and for a moment the madness of supreme anguish made him dizzy. What would she say when she found that he had fallen so low? But the throe passed, and again he thought with delight of the miser's gold, then reflected with sudden wonder upon the condition of his own feelings, since this new joy of avarice had more power to keep its hold of him than had sorrow for the pain of his love. Was it possible that May had become less dear to him than she used to be? He groaned at this thought, and almost declared to himself in his passion that it must be so. this were indeed the case, then must he rush on headlong to an evil end. Was this, indeed, a fate that was pursuing him? Must the love of May be thrust out of his heart by the power of that curse which was already beginning to work upon him? He leaned against the wall, and hid his face between his hands. He was not false, nor had he tired of her tenderness. She was still rare, and holy, and beautiful in his eyes; but he only seemed to understand this, not to feel it with his heart, into which had come the greed for gold. He seemed to see her at a distance, whither
she had retired slowly and cruelly, and against his will. Longing would not bring her to him, despair could not break down the barrier which had erected itself between them. As he stood there, wrestling with an agony such as he had never suffered before, her saddened eyes seemed to shine out of a cloud which was beyond and above him. His woe became intolerable, and he tried to dash it from him, hurrying upward through the chambers of the mouldering mansion, and striving to revive within him all his old loathing of the race which had dwelt in it, and of their treasure which had made them what they were. These fierce efforts wasted him, and he looked thin and worn as he wandered, more tranquilly now, from room to room. A happier thought of his love came uppermost in his mind, and an unutterable longing for her presence took possession of him. If she were only here to receive the confession of his weakness! With this better thought in his mind, he looked up and saw Katherine.
The place of this meeting was on that high remote passage lined with goblin presses, where, not quite a year ago, the miser had essayed to make a bargain with the pedlar. Paul had not seen it since that evening when he had suddenly sickened with fear, and had fled from the spot, hoping to return never more. Now his wanderings had unexpectedly brought him here again. Katherine had been looking out of the little window from which he himself had gazed whilst the miser sorted his wares; the place was dim and ghostly, and she made a striking picture with her white-clad shoulders and gleaming head lit up by the only ray that found its way into the twilight.
She turned to him smiling with genuine delight.
"So you have come at last," she said; "but how did you know I was here ?" "I did not know that you were here," said Paul.
"You need not be uneasy about her, for she is making cakes, and she could not leave them. She would not risk the proper shade of brown upon the crust-not for the sweetest conversation that heart ever held with heart."
"You wrong her," said Paul. "She can do much for those she loves."
"Who are they?" said Katherine. "May love any one! The fancy makes me smile."
"You forget that she loves me." Katherine shrugged her shoulders. "Does that idea really still bewitch your imagination? You think May loves you ? It is so odd."
"I remember that you are a lady," said Paul; "but you try my patience too much." "Do I?" said Katherine. "I admit that I am rather outspoken. I am not like her-calm, cold, and proper. My patience is tired. I cannot quietly look on and see one like you bound heart and soul, for life, to such an iceberg."
She was still leaning against the little window, with her head and shoulders framed by it. A stray gleam of sun had pierced the opening; illumined her golden head and scintillating eyes; put a carmine touch on her speaking lips, and a rosy curve of light round the rim of her peachy face. The white-furred shoulders stirred slightly, and the jewel at her throat quivered as if with feeling. Never was an 'unlovely soul more enchantingly disguised. Paul stood opposite, wrapped in the twilight, leaning against one of the goblin presses. His face was stern, but he started as a flashing look of homage was flung upon him, flattering him from head to foot. Katherine went on without waiting for him to recover from his surprise.
his heart shook with terror of an evil far greater than anything he had imagined.
"Oh, I have said too much. Surely I have forgotten myself. Whispered words between friends ought to be kept sacred, ought they not? I am sure you know that girls are apt to make confidences to each other. But I forgot that you have known so little about women." Katherine sighed. "I have already said too much. I will not be guilty of making mischief between | you.'
"You are rather late with that resolution," said Paul. "I am at a loss to know why you have spoken so at all."
Katherine turned away a little towards | the embrasure of the window, and her head drooped on her hands.
"I have done wrong," she said, “and I cannot say any more. A woman must not betray herself. I did not mean to speak, only when one has a passionate interest at heart, prudence sometimes gets swept away upon the wave of too much feeling."
It came slowly into Paul's mind that her meaning was to drive May out of his heart, and thrust herself therein. He burned with surprise and shame, that a woman, and such a woman, should love him unsought. He pitied her, was grateful to her, admired and despised her, all in one moment. Then indignation took possession of him as he thought of May; and a superstitious dread of Katherine mingled itself with his anger. The spirit of maddening despondency which pursued him, whispered to him now that this woman was a part of his evil! destiny, that she would separate him from May, and thus help his ruin. When Katherine looked up to see the effect of her words, she saw a face not full of tenderness, but of hatred and anger. Her blue eyes met his, and opened themselves scared. The sun shone more brightly through the little square of window, and made Katherine more beautiful every moment, intensifying its lustre in her frightened eyes, and shedding a more golden bloom on her cheek, which had turned pale with real woe. For the second time in his life Paul found himself struggling with the frantic desire to harm a fellow-creature; and on the very same spot whence he had fled from the temptation so many months ago. But the fear in the woman's eyes touched all that was manly in his nature, and this passion left him suddenly, and he was shocked at himself.
"It is getting late," he said. bright gleam comes just before