Imatges de pÓgina

herited from her father, and were as elo- good deal, only complying because to refuse quent as other people's words. And the would be even more awkward, the girl, first sight of them bewitched Julius Crewk. hanging down her head and trembling all herne.

over, came quite close to the major, and That was the very phrase they had used taking a spray from her waist, tried to in the kitchen, when discussing the bearing fasten it into his coat. But her fingers of the major towards the two young ladies. were marvellously slow and heavy, and she Miss Belle, she was the one as ought bungled over her simple task in an unacto be, but Miss Rose, she had bewitched countable way. She felt as if she were him. And the word was not used without going to faint, to die, to laugh aloud, or meaning; for the Devonshire folk believe burst into tears; she did not indeed know in witches to this day; witches both white how or what she felt; and it did not help and black; witches who cast a spell and her when the major, suddenly taking that witches who take it off again; witches little quivering hand in his, kissed it that do harm and they that do good. tenderly, saying in a soft whisper as he Wherein was the sting of Mary Bernal's held it up to his cheek : words, which Jane Dalby had understood “May I ask your uncle to give me this, well enough; for Aunt Hagley, down at Rose ? Will you give it me yourself ?” Combe Andrew, was a white witch of The girl made no answer.

She only power, and renowned as such through all drooped her pretty head still lower, while the country side.

her blushes faded into absolute paleness, Long before the dinner-bell rang and the and her slight figure trembled more. rest of the guests had assembled, Major “Do you love me, Rose ?” the major Julius Crewkherne lounged into the draw. went on to say. “Do you love me well ing-room; and almost immediately after enough to like to stay with me for ever, came Rose Kenealy.

and marry me, and be my little wife? As Rose came in, fresh and simple as Will you not speak to me, my darling ?” usual, her dark-brown curly hair caught " Yes, I do love you," said Rose, in a back by a broad blue ribbon, and her white | low voice. dress looped here and there with blue, And then the major took her in his arms, her small waist trimly belted, yet leaving and lifted her fairly off her feet, as he her free and elastic, the major thought her kissed her silently, his heart, as hers, too the loveliest little rosebud of a girl he had full for words. And when he set her down ever seen; and with a nature as sweet and again she fled, frightened, happy, confused, pare as her face. That frank look of hers in such trouble of joy as to be almost pain, was enough for him. Rose blushed to the till she found herself in faithful Jane's very roots of her hair when she saw who sympathetic arms. was standing there in the bay window This day at dinner no one knew what alone; but she looked only prettier for ailed Rose that she looked so shy, and yet blushing; and as she did not attempt to so happy; or what had come into her face run away, the major liked her all the better to render her so beautiful. Only the major for her girlish embarrassment.

knew, and only Miss Loder guessed. He came out from the bay of the win- So now the thing was done; and Major dow, and met her midway. It was a rare Julius Crewkherne, the great match of the chance to see her alone; and he had made country, had committed himself to Miss up his mind to profit by the first that Rose Kenealy, a girl without a penny, just offered.

a pretty little maid with bright eyes, rose“What pretty flowers !” he said, point- red cheeks, a frank smile, and a true heart. ing to the Howers in her waistband. They While here was his naturally appointed were only a few sprays of jessamine, but bride, Miss Belle, who had everything in he spoke as if they were something quite her favour, shunted to the side, passed over, rare.

as we might say jilted. “I am so fond of jessamine,” said Rose, When Belle Loder heard the news, not simply.

the keenest observer could have said that “So am I,” returned the major. “Will she suffered, or indeed have told that you give me one for my coat ?"

she felt at all. It was Mrs. Rawdon “If you like,” said Rose.

herself who told her, quite apologetically, " And fasten it in for me?”

and with many-repeated assurances that This was coming to rather close quarters; she had been as much taken by surprise as and Rose was not used to gentlemen's coats. any one could be. She had never thought Hesitating then a little, and blushing a of such a thing! Rose, of all persons in the world, little more than a mere child by which she had to pass. Years ago there yet, only just out of the nursery!

had been a murder on the cliffs, and the On which Miss Loder, who until now body had been buried in the very hovel had been sitting, as if carved in alabaster, where Dame Hagley lived; then a child counting her fan-sticks, suddenly lifted up had been found cast like a dead sheep in a her eyes and looked Mrs. Rawdon full in deserted quarry; and a man had committed the face. And her look was so sudden, so suicide at the entrance of the combe. So fierce, so direct, her eyes were so large, the that, on the whole, it was an awful district pupils so dilated, the look so fixed, that all round, and one cause of Dame Hagley's poor Mrs. Rawdon turned quite pale, and influence was that she dared to live where looked as if she were going to faint. Then others dared hardly pass.

But her very Belle dropped her broad white lids again, living there added to the general terrors took once more to counting her fan-sticks, of the place. and drawled out, in a low and level voice : People wondered when they saw Mary

“Yes, just so; but, you see, at eighteen setting her face towards the cliff path ; but it is rather late to consider a girl as a child, Mary shared some of her aunt's courage. and Major Crewkherne is a good match She “ favoured” her in appearance, and it where there is no fortune."

was not thought unlikely by more than Which last observation affronted Mrs. one that she might follow in her steps, and Rawdon, and destroyed all her sympathy take up the trade when the other let it for Miss Loder's disappointment.

fall. Still, for all that, it was a bold thing If riches give social influence, knowledge for a young woman of thirty to go along gives moral power; and not Mr. Darcy that lonely cliff in the evening, with the Crewkherne himself, when he was alive-- sun setting so fiery red, and the black and he had been the king of those parts, loneliness, the haunted depths of Combe so to speak-had the hold on the people Andrew to follow. But Mary had become that Dame Hagley had, Mary Bernal's interested in this matter of the major and aunt. To the outer eye she was just a tall, Miss Belle, and it was not a little that dark-browed, powerful, and still handsome would have turned her back. woman, of about sixty, living in a solitary About an hour's hard walking brought mud hovel set in the heart of a wild and her to the point where, deep in the darkdesolate combe or valley, where nothing ness below, she saw a faint glimmer which grew on the hill-sides

save gorse and told her that her aunt was at home. It bracken and heather, and where even sheep was almost dark by now, but Mary knew could find no pasturage; but to the eye of the way, and skirted its dangers dexterfaith she was greater than the greatest, ously. She was quite free and undaunted, holding the power of the viewless ones of and did not even start when once a straythe air in her hand, and holding with these ing sheep came full butt against her, and the keys of life and death. Yet if spirits once she nearly fell over the dead carcass thronged to do her bidding, they were of another. Presently she came down the spirits of less malevolence, if of greater hill, and along the narrow winding way power, than those which obey the black that led to the hovel. witch. It was the black witch who Her aunt heard her step, and came out banned, and Dame Hagley who removed to the door. the ban at the grievous cost and suffering “I knew you were a-coming,” she said, of the former. And it was well known that quietly; “and I've made your tea.” not the wickedest old witch or wizard of “That's good,” said Mary. “It's a them all but trembled before her, and had rough road.” cause to repent her evil deeds if Dame The two women were strangely unHagley took her in hand.

demonstrative in manner to each other. "That cursed little girl has bewitched There were no feminine effusions, no enthe major, and my aunt shall know the dearments, such as most women of all rights of it,” said Mary Bernal to herself, classes indulge in, but they met and when she heard the news; it was Miss spoke together like two men. And, inBelle herself who told her. “I'll go over deed, handsome and bold and strong as to Combe Andrew to-morrow.”

they were, they were not unlike beardIt was a hot and fiery sunset when Mary, less men, and they were like each other. getting leave for the evening, set out to her The same low, broad brow, the same firm aunt's. It was a brave thing of her to do, eyebrows, the same dark and steady eyes, for the way was lonely, and not only the the same fleshy lips tightly shut, so cruel valley had a bad name, but many a place in repose, so sweet when smiling, and the same commanding height. They were as all of which Mary watched with a steady much alike as though they were mother pulse, though expecting to see in bodily and daughter; and they were equally for- shape one of those great spirits who were, midable.

she believed, about her aunt at this mo"So you knew I was a-coming ?” said ment, doing her service and imparting to Mary, after a long silence, during which her knowledge she had drunk her tea and eaten her cake After awhile Aunt Hagley lifted up

her with a relish.

head from the saucepan which, alternately Yes; They told me.”

with the cards, she had been peering into, “Maybe They told you why, then?” said and sighed deeply, wiping her face wearily, Mary, looking into her aunt's face with as she sank back in her high chair, as one simple faith.

exhausted. The older woman nodded. “Yes; They “ It has been a sore time, Mary," she told me that too,” she answered, watching said ; " but I've got the word and the sign her niece.

at last. Rose Kenealy: there it was “And can you do it, aunt ? Can

you written fair enough ; she it is as has laid take off the spell ?” said Mary, earnestly, the spell on the major, and you, my girl,

“I never knew of one I couldn't,” said can take it off. What would Miss Belle Dame Hagley.

give you, Mary, if you could get her the And it is a spell, aunt, ain't it now ? major?” she asked, suddenly. She has bewitched him?"

“ Give ! she'd give her ears," said Mary. “No fear," answered her aunt.

“I don't see as how you could do much “What else can it be?” cried Mary. with them,” Aunt Hagley replied gravely. “ What else, indeed !" echoed her aunt. “ To put 'em into a stocking would scarcely

“ There's Miss Belle, made for him, as grow guineas, my girl! No; I mean what one may say, brought up together a’most, would she give in money ? hard moneyand with a fine fortune when her father money down, Mary?” goes. And her father and his too, that “ Lord, aunt, I don't know," said Mary, wished it so. And here comes this sly shocked. It was one thing to do good little Rose Kenealy, a mere beggar to for loyalty and love, and another to work Miss Belle, and not half so pretty. And evil for money. But Aunt Hagley had long there's the major, clean mad about her, and ago reduced all life to the filling of her gone and asked her. It can't be right; it money-stocking, and the only thing she must be a spell!”

despised in her niece was the indifference “It ain't aught else," said Dame Hagley, she showed, as yet, to money. But she taking up the clue she had been waiting for. would improve, she used to say to herself; “It is a spell, Mary, and the major is be- she had good blood, and she would imwitched. Can't you bring Miss Belle here, prove. and I'll let her see the face as has done it?" “ It can't be done for nothing, Mary,"

Mary shook her head. "It's too rough she said gravely. “ If Miss Belle will a road, aunt, and Miss Belle's not over fain make it worth


while and yours-and to walk."

yours too, my girl ; I'm not selfish, and “ You want me, though, to work it?" | I will work for you as well as myself—but said Aunt Hagley, coming to business. if she'll do well by us I'll do well by her;

“ Yes; give me something as'll take it off, and Miss Rose shall trouble her no more. aunt. See, I've brought you Miss Belle's I'll take the spell off, no fear, but it's worth hair, and some of that Rose's, and there are money, Mary; why, it's worth hundreds nails of both of 'em, and the major's too. I of pounds to her, and you'll be a fool not tell you

I was clever to get all these, and to make a good bargain for yourself now it's cost me a deal of trouble. But I did it. you've got the power.' I don't like to see right wronged, and I I can't ask for money, aunt, for what I did it."

do for right's sake," said Mary sullenly. “ I'll see to it,” said Aunt Hagley Her aunt had been all this time putting gravely. “I dare say you've brought enow. some powder into a packet. I'll work the spell and then I'll let you All right, my girl; then you'll not know.”

have the spell, and Miss Rose will have the On which, with a pack of greasy cards, major,” and she put back on the shelf the some spirits of wine, a handful of salt, a small locked box from which she had taken pinch of benzoin, and another of lycopo- the powder. dium, the White Witch went through a As usual, that stronger will had its way, series of mutterings and strange gestures; and the weaker yielded. After a faint


resistance, it ended by Mary putting on her All this Mary said in a headlong, dashbonnet again, and carefully placing in her ing, earnest way, while dressing Miss parse a small packet of white powder, Loder's hair for dinner, the day after her which Miss Belle was to put into Miss evening expedition to Combe Andrew. Rose's coffee-nothing but coffee would do, “ Very well, you silly girl, I will do it to said Aunt Hagley-when Miss Rose would satisfy you, and show you how absurd you suffer as she ought, perhaps fly up the are in your superstitions. I will give Miss chimney as a bat, or they would see the Kenealy the charm as you call it, and you devil run out of her mouth as an eft or a will see nothing will come of it. There, toad, or something such like would happen give it to me. What is it?" to her, and the major would be restored to "This in coffee, miss," half whispered his senses. And then, being in a good Mary. “Only in coffee, miss; else the humour-for Mary had promised to ask for charm won't work!” handsome gains, and to give her half- Belle was sitting before the glass, and Aunt Hagley, without putting on her the eyes of mistress and maid met in the bonnet, took the road with her niece, mirror. The one was flushed, eager, coarse laughing a little grimly as she said, “You in her zeal, but honest and single-hearted; see, my dear, I ain't no reason to be afraid. the other pale, languid, reticent, seeing I shan't meet much that's uglier than my- farther and thinking deeper, and accepting self."

the responsibility of a possible evil, as far Wonld Miss Belle do it? That was now as the poles removed from the intentions Mary's difficulty. “You see gentlefolks of the simpler sinner. The one meant an are not like us," she argued. "They won't honest counter-charm — witchcraft foiled believe, and they say they know; but it's with its own weapons; the other meantwe as knows, not they. Would Miss Belle what? She took the packet and laughed. believe if I stood her out till Doomsday, The idea of witchcraft in these days! and told her what aunt had said ? Not a How absurd !” she said. bit of it. But how could aunt have known “ Try it, miss, and then maybe you'll that I was coming, or about the major and not say that !” said Mary earnestly; and that Rose, unless They had told her? And in her endeavour to persuade her to the as for this spell that is to break a spell, trial, she forgot all about the bargain she would Miss Belle do it, however much she was to have made, and the sum she was to was told ?” However, it had to be tried. have demanded. There was too much at stake for her not to Dinner was over, and the coffee was venture.

brought up. All during the meal Belle Mary approached the subject cautiously. Loder had been supremely sweet and Miss Belle was not one who ever made free friendly with both the major and little with servants, and even Mary, who had Rose. The major, whose conscience had been with her for years, had to be careful. its sore points, was quite grateful to her; She was prepared to be laughed at, of course, and Belle thought in her own mind, and and Belle did laugh at her, and she let her. wondered if-Rose being out of the wayShe wouldn't join in the laughter, for They well, ifwere about her, and They knew that she Coffee was handed round. knew them; but Miss Belle was different. “Shall I make yours, dear ?" said Belle And after she had let her laugh she brought graciously to Rose; and as she ladled out her round, bit by bit, to consent to work the crushed candy something more than her charm.

crushed candy fell from her dainty fingers. "You see, miss, if there's nothing in it, Oh, thank you!” said little Rose, it can't do no harm; but if there is, as aunt Alushing, in her turn pleased and grateful, says, Lord, miss! wouldn't it be fun to too, at this thawing of the Loder ice. see a toad run out of Miss Rose's mouth, She took the cup and laughed pleasantly ; or a hump grow on her back before your and Belle looked at her sleepily through eyes, and she stand there, just a witch, her half-closed lids. Out in the garden, and all the world to see it? If the major peering from under the blind, another pair is bewitched, why miss, as an old friend of eyes watched her curiously. They were and neighbour, you ought to help him to those of the White Witch come to witness his senses again. It isn't likely that aunt the result of her charm; and to claim its

of us think things as isn't. We price. Not a leaf stirred, not a creature know it can be done, and we know it can cried ; Rose raised the cup to her lips. be taken off again.

And there's no one “Rosy, give me a footstool, my dear,” like Aunt Hagley for taking off.”

said Mrs. Rawdon, lazily.

and so many

And Rose set down her cup untasted, none to give her aid or warning, none even and took her aunt the hassock. Then she to know of her danger or to pity her sat down on the sofa, and, nestling close destruction. The ruined hut was never to her, talked in a low voice, forgetting touched. No one owned the place, and her coffee.

not even the poorest squatter cared to build “ The fool, why don't she take it !" on so unlikely and evilly renowned a spot: muttered the woman watching her. “Who so no one dug deep enough among the ever saw the like of such foolishness—to charred ashes to find the mass of gold have it and not to take it !"

which the White Witch had hidden away The major was at the piano, turning in her stocking, and which she kept buried over some songs.

under the floor of her hut. And there it is “Belle, do you sing this ?” he asked. still for any brave adventurer who cares to And Belle, putting down her cup un- seek it. tasted, as Rose had done, went over to him, and discussed the music. Then they both

BAFFLED. came back to the table.

I WILL plant a tree for myself, she said, Why, your coffee must be cold,” said With clusters of crimson bloom, the major; and he looked into Belle's face,

Whose beauty shall dazzle the waking sight,

Whose scent shall fill all the dreamy night smiling that ineffable smile of his that had

With the breath of its sweet perfume. more witchcraft in it than all Dame But the blight fell down with the morning dew. Hagley knew. Belle looked back at him,

And the rose-tree died ere its first bud blew. with her large eyes fully opened ; and by

I will twine a wreath for myself, she said, that look lost the thread. He had the cups

Of myrtle, and laurel, and bay,

Whose glory shall halo my living head, in his hands, unsuspicious, unconscious; And over the grave where they lay me dead, and he gave one to each girl. At that Speak of me and my fame alway.

But the canker was deep, and the thorn was keen, moment the dog made a bound through

And the bright leaves withered her clasp between. the window, growling savagely, and the

I will carve my dream for myself, she said, woman who had kept the thread slunk Its loveliness fixed for ever, away among the bushes.

A thing of beauty and joy and life ; The next morning a great terror fell on

We will pass serene through the world's hot strife,

I and my work together. the house: Miss Belle Loder was found But death's strong hand struck sudden and cold, stiff and stark in her room. She went to The chisel dropped from her fainting hold. bed with the rest apparently in good health, They tossed them aside in a useless heap, but she must have died about midnight,

Dead root and blossoms, and half-wrought stone,

Where the river of time flowed swift and deep, said the medical men who made the post- And they left not a trace thereon! mortem examination: three hours after the butler had taken away the empty coffee

THE BLUEBOTTLE FLY. cups. Yet, though she had died with all the symptoms of blood poisoning, no tra

A FRENCH ART-STUDENT'S STORY. of poison could be found by any test known

IN FOUR CHAPTERS. CHAPTER II. to the experts. It was a mystery, they all The change of position, the slight exsaid, and a mystery it remained. Where- citement of the adventure, had aroused me fore, “ Died by the visitation of God,” from my torpor, and all my spirit was said the jury.

“ Died because you didn't renewed in the interest furnished by the work the spell as it should be worked, and accident. I hoped to find amusement in the get the money They had bespoke,” said recital of the circumstances by my fellowDame Hagley fiercely to her niece. And traveller. But I soon found that I must “Poisoned herself for love and disappoint- resign all hope of conversation with him. ment,” went the verdict of the world, He was bent on silence, and answered all repeated by the major's uneasy conscience; my eager questioning in short and almost but no one added, “Fallen into the pit sulky monosyllables. digged for another;" while only Mary How did the disaster happen?" Bernal suspected, and only Dame Hagley “ Thrown into a ditch." knew.

" What caused it?" Whatever the dame knew, it did not “A cursed fly!" trouble her long; for not more than a week

· The horse stung?" after Miss Loder was buried, a man going “ Kicked and reared like the devil !" to the hovel in Combe Andrew found Dame “Were you ever on this road before ?" Hagley and her miserable home a mere “No!" heap of blackened ashes. She had been “Shall you go back to Paris this same burned to death in a drunken sleep, with way?”

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