The Face in the Glass
AFTER this brief interval the monotony of olden days returned, as it seemed to me, with tenfold dreariness. I fought in vain with the depression which it produced, and now, except my walks on the terrace, I had no longer any amusement, for my aunt’s health failed daily. For the next two months, between prayers in the chapel, her bedside, and that solitary terrace forever haunted by the memory of my guardian’s stately figure, my days passed slowly away. My aunt suffered much ; and the dull stagnation which settled on my mind was quickened by my growing anxiety about her, — an anxiety which wore daily upon me. And daily, gathering force with every passing moment, swelled a longing more intense than I had yet known to be free, — free as I might have been but for my father’s commands and my courteous guardian’s relentless rule. Since I had seen my cousin I feared him more than ever; the softness of his voice and manner, the irresistible fascination of his presence, lingered no longer about me, but I recalled the fixed coldness, the iron resolve, which his courtly manner graced rather than concealed, and sighed and shuddered when I recalled his absolute power over me.
I was walking one evening on the terrace, musing on the sad past and veiled future of my life, when I heard a voice calling me. It was Father Romano, whom I had left with my aunt. He stood in a low archway which led to a private staircase communicating with the chapel, the crucifix in his hand. Something in his face, as I approached him, made my heart leap into my mouth, but the new-born fear kept me silent; I asked no question.
“ My daughter,” said he, in his calm voice, “ hasten to your aunt; her hours are numbered, the time of her departure is at hand, but she cannot be at peace until she makes a disclosure to you ; hasten, my daughter.”
I sprang past him, and hurried up stairs, and when I reached the room where she lay I saw indeed that death was close at hand ; and, kneeling by her side, I watched her agonies for the next two hours, and heard her constant, terrified warnings against my guardian, and at last promised that, when she had departed, I would leave all, all, and hide myself from him forever. When I had whispered this promise again and again into her ear, she permitted me to call Father Romano, and while he was performing the last rites of the Church she died.
“ Daughter,” said Father Romano, as I sank sobbing on that cold bosom which had for so many years beat warm for me, — “ daughter, she whom you loved is here no longer ; pray for the repose of her soul.” I rose at last; I left the servants to perform the last offices for her, and, going to my lonely room, I sat down to think. I was quite determined to go away. My aunt’s warnings ; her evident horror of Mr. Huntingdon ; most of all, the promises she had exacted from me, that I would sacrifice everything rather than be again under his control, — all combined to urge me to escape from a future which I dreaded. I dared tell no one, not even Father Romano, nor did I know where to go ; but the next morning I looked at the map, and, after carefully examining it, selected a far distant town in the heart of Germany, where I knew there was a convent, in which I hoped to hide myself from all pursuit. I determined to go as soon as my aunt was buried, and for the next three days I thought of little else. I had few preparations to make, money I had in plenty; luggage I dared not take, farewells it was safest not to make, as I wished above all things to keep the fact of my flight a. secret. I had not written to M. Baudet, for I wished to depart before my cousin could possibly hear of my aunt’s death. The days before her funeral wore themselves slowly away. At the close of the last, which was strangely and unnaturally warm for the time of year, I was sitting at the window of my aunt’s room. Not a breath of air freshened the hot stillness, and through it the ticking of the clock in my dressingroom, and even the guttering and flickering of the candles which burned in the chapel round the corpse, were distinctly audible.
I sat weeping silently, and almost chiding the lagging hours which would intervene before my departure. They were very few now, for my aunt was to be buried the next day, and early on the following morning I meant to leave Lascours. As I thus sat, so still that I scarcely breathed, I heard a sound which I at first supposed was the distant roll of thunder in the storm-laden air, but as it grew louder I perceived it to be the rumble of wheels. Nearer and nearer they came, until I could distinguish the clatter of hoofs ; in a few moments there entered the court a travelling carriage, drawn by four horses, and, as I distinctly saw by the light of the lamps, bearing the arms of Huntingdon emblazoned on the panels.
I descended instantly, without waiting to think, and as I reached the great door my guardian alighted.
He approached me with all his courtly deference of manner, but there was a change. Instead of taking my hand, as before, he clasped me in his arms.
“You are entirely mine now, you know,” said he, as he touched my forehead with his lips ; and, drawing my arm within his, he led me through the drawing-room to the terrace.
“ Madame de Renneville is dead,” said he, anticipating what I was about to say. “ I regret that she suffered so much, and rejoice for her sake that her sufferings are at an end.”
“ I regret still more,” he continued, after a moment’s pause, “ that it is necessary for me to take you to England at once. Had Madame de Renneville lived, I might indeed have waited ; now it is impossible, as I can neither leave you at Lascours alone nor delay my departure for England; unfortunately, therefore, we must go immediately.”
“ To-morrow, you mean,” said I, hoping to gain time.
“To-night,” he replied; “at once”; and his sweet voice grew colder as he spoke. “ If it were possible I would leave you here until after the burial of Madame de Renneville, but I have no alternative ; go I must, and speedily, and, Charlotte, you go with me.”
“ O Harrington ! ” said I, plucking my hand away from his, and bursting into tears of rage and disappointment, “ I cannot, — indeed, I cannot. Let me stay until to-morrow, I entreat you. I can follow you to England.
“ My dear Charlotte,” replied he, calmy, “you waste my time, and I assure you that I have no power to act in any other way. Entreaties cannot, and ought not, to avail with me ; it is enough that they cannot, and it is better for you to prepare for your journey. You will not, I am sure, compel me to use force in removing you. You know that I alone of all the world have any claim upon you ; I alone am allied to you by blood, I alone am vested with any power concerning you, and you know by whom that power was given to me. You cannot disregard your father’s commands,— I say cannot, for I am firm in obeying them.”
As he paused, the silence seemed laden to my ear with the burden of my father’s first and last letter.
“ Never deviate from his commands. If you do, I cannot rest in my grave.”
But I rose. Angry and impatient, I burst into fresh tears of rage and terror. “ I will not go,” I said passionately, “ I will not obey you. I think you are bitterly cruel, cold, pitiless. I cannot go, I will not go, until my aunt is laid in her grave ; that will be to-morrow ; O, be compassionate, Harrington, and let me stay until then ! ”
I fell on my knees as I spoke ; my guardian bent over me, he folded my hot hands in his cool silken clasp, and in tones whose gentleness was far more powerful than harshness he said: “ I have listened, Charlotte, but I can change nothing. I must entreat you not to spend your strength in such excitement as this. The moments I have allotted for your farewells are passing away, and I must beg you to begin your preparations at once.”
“ I will not go,” I reiterated.
“ In that case,” said he as calmly, though more sternly, than before, “ I will act for you.”
In two strides he had gained the drawing-room window, and rung a bell which stood there.
“ Mademoiselle is compelled to depart at once for England,” I heard him say ; “ but half an hour will be given for preparation. M. Baudet will be here to-morrow, and will make all payments and necessary arrangements. Let all the servants be assembled in the hall immediately, to bid mademoiselle farewell.”
I listened, speechless with anger and astonishment; yet when he again returned to my side, I made one more effort to change his determination.
“Listen to me,” I said; “but this once yield to me in this one thing, and I will yield in all other things.”
“ Yield to you, Charlotte,” he replied gently, — “ yield to you, — would that I had the power to yield, and the chateau Lascours should still be your home if you so wished ; must I again repeat that I have no such power, and that I cannot yield to you ? Rise, Charlotte, the ground is damp, and you shiver even in this warm air ; and, since you will not change your dress, it is better for you to remain in the drawing-room until we go.”
I said not another word. I rose, allowed him to fold my shawl about me, and entered the drawing-room in silence. I made no further attempt to change his determination ; I saw already that he was changeless. But what entreaties could not effect, stratagem, I thought, might; and, having thought of a plan of escape, I awaited the opportunity to put it into execution.
My guardian waited for some moments, and then said : “ Charlotte, you weep, you rebel, you detest this coercion, as you call it, — a coercion which has not given you more pain than me. You have already more than once called yourself a prisoner, yet your imprisonment has perhaps spared you much, as your father left the control of your marriage in my hands, and had you contracted (as in this solitary spot was not unlikely) an attachment for any one not your equal in rank, it might have resulted unhappily. But all that danger is over now ; all pain of that nature,—and you are yet too young to know what it would have been,— is spared you. The future before you is brilliant, and, if the dangers are great, I have the power to protect you from them.”
“ What dangers ? ” I asked, involuntarily.
“ Dangers which you cannot understand as yet, —dangers awaiting all who are young and beautiful, dangers especially awaiting heiresses of your vast expectations.”
Something strangely ominous in his clear low tones made me tremble. He paused for a moment, and then continued, “ Your marriage will be your best protection.”
“ I do not wish to marry,” I rejoined.
“ But it is my wish that you should do so,”—-and as he said this he placed me in a seat, and stood before me, — “ it is my wish that you should do so, Charlotte.”
“ But if I do not wish it — ”
“It is precisely in this respect that the dangers of which I have spoken will be greatest ; it is necessary that you should marry a man whose rank and wealth are equal to your own, that you may not become the prey of the adventurers, who already know that Miss Carteret is possessed of the best blood of England and France and of vast wealth ; lastly, it is necessary that you should marry a man whose honor is a sufficient guaranty for your protection.”
“ I do not wish to marry,” I reiterated.
“ Have I not told you that you must marry, Charlotte ? It was your father’s wish.”
I remained silent; my marriage, I saw, was decided upon ; and as I had been educated in the belief that Mr. Huntingdon was to choose my husband, I really cared very little, thinking that, if I should not succeed in escaping from Lascours, my marriage would at least separate me from him.
My guardian continued: “ I am, as I have said, in possession of your father’s wishes on this subject, and am about to propose to you the husband whom he selected and whom I wish you to accept. In birth and fortune he is your equal; as to his other qualities I shall say nothing. The moment has arrived which I have been anticipating for so many years.”
He paused, and I looked at him with a wildly beating heart. Standing opposite to me, the perfect symmetry of his figure, the exquisite grace of his attitudes, the paleness of his fine features, even his white hands and the elegance of his dress, were admirably shown by the light of the chandelier beneath which he stood, and which only partially illumined the vast and sombre room in which we were.
After a moment’s silence he resumed : “ He whom I am about to propose to you has long cared for you. He would have chosen you had yours been a humble lot, for to his rank yours and your possessions can add nothing.”
“ He has your consent ? ” I stammered ; “ Harrington, who is he ? ”
He smiled, and taking my hand said: “ Charlotte, the coercion which so pains you, the guardianship you so detest, the control from which you so revolt, end here. Not as Miss Carteret, the ward of a stem guardian, do I propose to take you back to England, but as my wife. I offer you, Charlotte, my hand, my heart, and my fortune,— I who have never before so spoken to any woman ; answer me now, and answer as your father would have wished.”
He ceased, but those tones, the singular melody of which lent a charm to his lightest word, yet echoed in my ear, and I had no power to resist them, no power to draw back from his encircling arms as he folded me to his breast. But a few days before my aunt had whispered in her agony, “ See him no more. If you see him, you are undone.”Alas, I had seen him, I had listened to his voice, had felt the mysterious magnetism of his presence, and I was indeed undone!
“ Come now, my Charlotte,”he said.
“ I have already overstayed my time. Your farewells must be spoken, and we must spend some moments at the church.”
“ Why ? ” I asked.
“ We must be married at once. Father Romano is there now, and M. Baudet waits there to give you away.”
“ To-night ? " I said, recoiling.
Mr. Huntingdon smiled. “ Yes, Charlotte, at once. You must return to England as my wife.”
We had by this time reached the hall where the servants were assembled; and when I had bidden them farewell I turned to Mr. Huntingdon, saying that I wished to go to the chapel, and wished him to wait for me. He assented, and I ascended the staircase alone.
The chapel where my aunt lay was quite at the other end of the château, and as I walked along the long galleries the recollection of all that she had said rushed over me. The dread of my guardian, none the less painful because so indefinable, returned. I thought of my promise to my aunt, of the hope of escape to which I still clung, until I came to the rooms which had once been my father’s. The door which led to them was open, and as I crept past it, trembling, I almost expected to hear a voice saying : “ Never deviate from Ins commands. If you do, I cannot rest in my grave.55
I reached the chapel at last. All draped in black it was, except that stiff white figure about which the tall candles were burning. I advanced, I knelt at the foot of the bier, and, gazing at the pale and rigid face of the dead, I thought of my promise to her ; I dared not break it then. 1 thought if I did those fast-closed lids would open, those folded hands unlock themselves and beckon me away from the man she so hated, and whom I had sworn to avoid. And now I was to be his wife! When I thought of that I almost screamed, and the wind rustled the folds of the pall. Could the dead come back ? Should I wake her from that last sleep if I returned to my guardian’s side ? Fie was waiting, he bade me take my farewell speedily.
I knelt thus tortured by conflicting doubts and fears, wavering between my promise to my aunt and my duty to my father; but I rose at length, determined to escape. Behind the altar was a secret door, which led to the ruined wing of the chateau, and once there I was safe. I knew where the key of the staircase was kept, and took it ; then wrapping my veil and mantle about me, I returned to the chapel, and, bending over the corpse, kissed its cold blue lips, and whispered a farewell in those unheeding ears.
Would she wake, I thought. No. I stood one moment gazing on her still face, then, gliding softly behind the altar, I touched the panel, which after some difficulty yielded to my hand, and, having closed it carefully behind me, I began to descend the steps. At the foot of the staircase was a narrow passage, which led to another secret door, opening on a small stone staircase which descended toward a long-deserted part of the woods. The stairs were partly in ruins, and the stones loose ; and I crept down very carefully at first, pausing and listening at every step, though I felt tolerably secure, as the ruins were in such an entirely different direction from the chapel that I did not anticipate that any search would be made there for me. When I paused for the last time, I was upon the last turn of the staircase, and within a few steps of the bottom; it was quite dark, and I listened intently,—listened in vain; for never was there a stillness more profound. I was alone and safe. Reassured and eager, I hastened on ; but on the last step but one my foot turned on a loose stone, and I stumbled and fell, — almost, but not quite, for my guardian’s arms received me. Against his bosom he stifled the shriek which burst from my lips, and, lifting me in his arms, he carried me across the court, and placed me on a stone seat. He stood by me in silence until I had somewhat recovered myself, and then said: “Are you sufficiently rested to walk across the park ? I have directed the carriage to be in waiting at the door of the church, and it is already past nine.”
I rose at once. Never again, I well knew, would I dare to dispute his commands ; and as I drew my mantle about me the keys of the secret staircase fell to the ground. Mr. Huntingdon stooped, and, taking them up, flung them with a strong hand and unerring aim into a well on the other side of the court; then, taking my hand, he said: “ Are you ready, Charlotte ? we have no time to lose.”
Supported by his firm clasp I reached the church. The door was open, and by the light of the tapers dimly burning on the high altar I could see the servants assembled near it, and Father Romano on his knees. As I expected, he was at his vigils. He rose as we approached the altar, and Monsieur Baudet, advancing, took his place behind me, and the service began. I opened the white bridal prayer-book which Mr. Huntingdon placed in my hand ; but the words swam before my eyes, and I listened and responded like one in a dream. It seemed indeed all a dream to me, — the old church dimly lighted by the tapers burning on the high altar; the monotonous tones of Father Romano, which I had last heard in the offices for the dying ; the clear responses pronounced at my side. I realized nothing until the rite was over, and I was in the carriage, when M. Baudet, taking my hand, wished “ madame a pleasant journey.”
Then, and as the order for departure was given, I covered my face, and burst into tears. Mr. Huntingdon had taken his seat opposite me ; he bent forward to let down the window, and to inquire whether I liked the air, but did not again address me, and I sobbed myself to sleep unheeded.
At break of day we reached a small town, where we halted to rest for a short time, and it was yet early when we resumed our journey. Not once during all that day did Mr. Huntingdon address me; he sat absorbed in thought, and I was equally absorbed in watching him, though no change ever swept across his calm countenance, and though he never glanced at me except to wrap my shawl about me, to close or open the window, or to perform some slight courtesy of that kind.
On the fifth day after our departure from Lascours we sailed from Calais for England. We landed at Dover on a rainy, dreary November day; and as Mr. Huntingdon placed me in the carriage which was in waiting for us, I asked if we were expected at Carteret ?
“ They are prepared for us both at Carteret and at Huntingdon, but we shall go to neither place. I propose going to a small estate of mine on the borders of Scotland.”
“ I would rather go to Carteret,” I answered, — not so much that I cared, for indeed I now cared for very little. I was confused and mentally wearied by the excitement I had undergone, but I felt that I wished to say something, express some desire, irritate, if I could not please, this man of marble. “ I would rather go to Carteret,” I repeated.
He only smiled in answer, and six days after, though no word had been spoken by him on the subject, we arrived at Banmore. It was a gloomy place, enclosed with yew-trees, and kept in a sort of stiff repair which was more dreary than dilapidation or decay ; and when I went to my rooms, which were newly and well furnished, I dismissed my silent English maid, and sat down oppressed and sad. From that night began a life of which I could not speak if I would, so nameless were its tortures. No visitors were ever admitted, Mr. Huntingdon saying that respect to the memory of my aunt required that we should live in the strictest seclusion ; we paid no visits for the same reason. The servants, though obsequious and attentive, were strangely silent and quiet; Mr. Huntingdon so devoted that I was never for one moment unconscious of his observation, yet he hardly ever addressed me.
The monotony of my life at Lascours was as nothing compared with that at Banmore. Every day at the same hour we entered the carriage, and took a long and dreary drive ; every day, at Mr. Huntingdon’s side, I paced the same walk in a long, deserted avenue in the park. I cannot separate those hours, days, weeks, from one another. They were all alike ; and then at that time I felt'—T began to feel, I mean — that my mind was going, was shaken from its equilibrium. I began to doubt my powers, my memory, my perceptions. I often wished to be alone, which I never was ; for my husband never left me, and my morning-room opened into the library where he sat, when not walking or driving with me, engaged in reading or writing.
I say he never left me. If I rose to leave the room, he rose also and followed me. I began at length to tremble, if but a moment alone, lest he should come and find me. To avoid being followed, I followed him ; to avoid being watched, I sat close to him, usually at his feet ; and so perfect was his calm politeness, his complete courtesy, that I frequently upbraided myself for my undutifulness and want of affection. Sometimes, actuated by those strange moods which sway the maniac, I caressed him passionately; I did not then hate, I wished to love him.
Kisses as cold as those of the dead he gave me, embraces as loveless ; and I flung away in mingled rage and terror from his passionless calm.
Sometimes as I sat at his feet, luxuriously cushioned, — for he always insisted on giving me the softest seat, — sometimes so sitting, looking alternately at the low fire and cold landscape, and listening to the only sound ever heard in that house, the ceaseless scraping of his pen on the paper, — fierce impulses would seize me to shriek aloud, to spring upon him ; and always, just as the cry trembled upon my lips, as the convulsion seemed about to seize my limbs, his cool hand touched my head, his calm, considerate voice said, “ You can no longer sit still, I see. I will ring for your maid, and then walk with you ” ; and the thought that he was thus intuitively conscious of my silent inward struggles filled me with vague dread, and heightened the growing restlessness which was fast making my life a physical as well as a mental torture.
BEYOND the fact that he thus watched and followed me, and that he seemed to know my thoughts and impulses, my husband gave no sign which could lead me to think that he was aware of the misery I suffered, — a misery which was none the less intolerable because, when I strove to analyze it, I could not define in what it consisted.
But it Increased so rapidly that I began at length to doubt whether I existed at all, whether my surroundings were real; if the past, as I recollected it, had ever been, nothing seemed to me real or actual except Mr. Huntingdon and his hold upon my, life.
Towards the close of the winter he announced his intention of going to London to attend the opening of Parliament. I expected to be left alone, and something like hope shot through my mind as 1 thought. It was dispelled as he added, “We shall leave next week.”
“ Am I to go ? ” I said, sullenly.
“ Certainly,” he replied, calmly.
“ I do not wish to go to London,” I answered ; “ I prefer to spend the time of your absence at Carteret.”
“ That cannot be,” he said after a moment’s pause. “ I cannot leave you alone for so long, and I cannot leave London while Parliament is sitting.”
“ I wish to be alone,” I sobbed, in a burst of tears ; “ I wish to do as I please.”
He made no reply to this, but, drawing up his desk, began to write steadily and rapidly as usual.
I continued to sob, first with anger and disappointment, afterwards from nervousness ; and as I wept the paroxysm increased in violence, until at length I became utterly incapable of controlling myself, and stamped and shrieked aloud. Mr. Huntingdon then raised his eyes for the first time, and surveyed me. There was neither scorn nor anger nor agitation in his glance ; it said only, “ I was prepared for this.”
He rose and opened the window, and then, returning to his seat, began to fold and seal the letter he had written.
His composure irritated me beyond endurance. I redoubled my cries, and, throwing myself on the ground, began to tear my hair.
As I lay thus, convulsed and disordered, the door opened, and the butler appeared with some water. Mr. Huntingdon took a glass from the tray, and offered it to me ; the unruffled courtesy of his manner and the curious glances of the servant transported me with rage. I took the glass, and flung it with all my strength against the marble chimney-piece.
“ Leave the room,” said Mr. Huntingdon to the servant. “ Madame,” he continued, turning to me, “rise immediately” ; and as I refused he lifted and carried me, still struggling and screaming, into my morning-room ; then closing the door, and placing me before the mirror, he awaited the result in silence.
What a sight I saw ! what a hideous, mortifying sight! — my flushed and swollen face, dishevelled hair, and disordered dress, a torn handkerchief in one hand, the other cut with the broken glass, and, standing behind me, with a contemptuous smile upon his lips, my husband, serene and cold, with his perfectly arranged hair and dress in as exquisite order as usual. I was calmed in a moment. I saw, with a keen anguish which I can even now recall, how I must have appeared, and I sat motionless and silent.
I do not know how long we remained thus, — my eyes fixed upon the mirror and my husband’s also. We outstayed my languor, stayed until the dreadful restlessness, which was my almost constant companion, beset me again and tormented me grievously ; for I dared not move while my husband’s hand rested upon my shoulder, nor close my eyes while he gazed upon me. At last he spoke : “ It is best for you to lie down, Charlotte ; you must be exhausted.”
A disclaimer rose to my lips, but I withheld it, and obeyed in silence.
All that night he sat beside me, reading ; and whenever I opened my eyes he met them with his calm, attentive, watchful gaze, until I wished myself dead, and buried deep out of that ceaseless scrutiny.
At the close of the following week we arrived in London. The house which Mr. Huntingdon had selected was vast and sombre, standing in a small court, and surrounded by a wall so high that the windows of my apartments, which were on the second floor, commanded nothing beyond.
Closed within those walls I dragged out four wearisome months. The fact that Mr. Huntingdon was absent a great deal of the time was no relief to me, as I soon found that in his absence I was a prisoner.
I need not dilate on those days ; they were all alike,— solitary, dreary, hopeless. Attacks of frenzy, like the one I had had at Banmore, came on frequently ; and while they were upon me I destroyed everything within my reach. My husband never remonstrated or complained. Often when my paroxysm was at its height did the door open noiselessly, and his calm face look in, but he never spoke; usually he stood with folded arms, and silently surveyed the scene. The next day I invariably found that the articles I had destroyed were replaced without comment of any kind.
Conduct so forbearing, so cool, so patient, failed to soothe ; it irritated me beyond endurance ; it intensified the dislike and dread I felt for him,—a dislike which was fast deepening into hate, and which my fear of him alone kept in check.
Such was my condition when we left London for Huntingdon Hall, early in July. We stopped at Carteret Castle and Branthope Grange on the way, and were magnificently entertained at both places. When we entered the village of Carteret, bonfires were blazing on the surrounding hills, triumphal arches spanned the streets, the castle and park were illuminated, and all the tenants and servants assembled to welcome us.
Never shall I forget passing through that long line of eager and curious faces ; how the desire to control myself made me tremble; how I raised my head defiantly and eyed them all curiously ; how, long before we reached the end of the hall, my assumed composure gave way, and I hid my face, and whispered to my husband to take me away. I could not listen to the speech with which the old steward welcomed me, and twice endeavored to break away from my husband’s detaining arm ; and it was a relief to me when the speech was ended, and he responded briefly, alleging my ill health as a reason for my retirement.
Our reception at Huntingdon was equally formal, and my want of selfcontrol, as I was painfully aware, still more apparent; I was fatigued by the motion of the carriage, by the excitement of my visit to Carteret, and by the fruitless efforts I had made to control what I now know must have been a disease. As I descended the grand, staircase, after I was dressed, each of the lights with which the hall was illuminated seemed to me a curious eye, and all the magnificence displayed in my honor intolerably oppressive. Dinner was always a tedious ceremonial to me, and on this occasion it was even more so than usual; the great diningroom was blazing with lights and silver, and gay with flowers and the superb liveries of the servants, Mr. Huntingdon handsomer and more graceful than ever. I was the skeleton at that feast, — I who carried an aching head and disappointed heart beneath my tiara and necklace of diamonds ; who felt the jewels with which I was loaded to be heavier than a prisoner’s chains; who saw a jailer in the husband sitting opposite to me, and spies in the attentive servants hovering about my chair.
Mr. Huntingdon glanced at me once or twice. I saw that he was prepared for an outburst, and this, while it chafed, made me the more anxious to control myself. I averted my face, and bit my lips to restrain the hysterical laughter which trembled upon them, but in vain. The consciousness that I was closely watched irritated and confused me. I raised my head for a moment, and as I met the curious peering glances of the line of servants opposite my chair I lost all command of myself.
“ How dare you look at me in that way ? ” I exclaimed. “ Am I a monster, that I should be thus watched and examined ? ”
As I spoke, all the hysterical emotion which I had so long pent up burst forth. “Go, go!” I screamed,—stamping furiously as I saw the servants had made no attempt to leave the room, — “go, I tell you ! ”
All this time Mr. Huntingdon had been occupied with his dinner ; he now rose, and, signing the servants to leave the room, approached me, saying simply : “You are not well, I see. Let me take you to your room.”
He conducted me up stairs in silence ; and, as the door of my apartments closed behind us, he said, in his calmest voice, “After this scene it will be best for you not to attempt to appear in public.”
So began the fourth era of my imprisonment.