THIS terror which seized Edmund did not come upon him for the first time : he had already perceived the supreme danger of making known his suspicions of Stephen to Roger ; but there had been enough in the inquisition which was forced into his hands, and the question whether or not Stephen were really guilty, to distract his thoughts. Now, however, that he must carry back to Roger Stephen’s disavowal, a disavowal which could, he said to himself, convince nobody, and which was of something quite different from the simple question which Roger had intended to put, a real panic seized upon him. Lily’s disappearance was not an event which could be forgotten. It was not a thing of the moment, which could pass out of recollection, with all its attendant circumstances, when its novelty was exhausted. Had it been the father and mother alone, poor, helpless, miserable people, they might have been silenced somehow, and the cause of this misfortune concealed. But Roger would leave no stone unturned ; he would resolutely clear up the mystery, and seek the girl whom he had loved, so bitterly to his own cost, until at least he had found that the Lily of his dreams was lost forever. Edmund shuddered to think what would befall his brother when he made this discovery : but more terrible still was the thought of what would happen when, in that search, Roger was brought face to face with the man who bore his own name, his father’s son, his own flesh and blood.

In a state of distraction, the third of the sons of Melcombe, he who must stand between the two thus made deadly enemies, divided by a wrong which could never be forgotten or forgiven, dwelt upon this inevitable discovery, and hurrying through the streets, unconscious of the crowd, turned over and over in his confused mind every expedient by which it could be averted. A thousand schemes passed wildly before him, only to be rejected. He laughed within himself at the futile suggestion that Roger might be persuaded to go away, to withdraw from the scene of his loss, that first thought which occurs to every Englishman in trouble. It was not so long since he had himself hurried his brother over the banal road into the commonplace resorts of weariness and wretchedness. That was not to be done again ; and on what pretense, till Lily was proved unworthy, could Roger be driven from the new life he had planned ? And how was Lily to be accounted for without the unveiling of that most horrible complication of all, and the revelation of the destroyer of Roger’s hopes and dreams in his brother ?

Edmund felt himself paralyzed by this terror, which he saw no way of escaping. He was as helpless as he was panic-stricken, and wandered about for the rest of the day, with no aim but to keep out of Roger’s way, and no power to originate any expedient by which he might stave off the danger.

At last the moment came which could not have been long avoided. He met Roger at the end of the street in which their rooms were, about the hour of dinner, and for a moment hoped that he was going out to fill some engagement, and that there might still be a breathing time.

Roger had just come out, dressed for dinner, with a light overcoat over his evening clothes; and it seemed to Edmund, who was still in his country suit, not fit for London, and sadly worn out and wretched, that the mere fact of his careful dress showed that his brother had shaken off the impression of the bad news. But when he saw more distinctly, by the uncertain evening light, Roger’s face, white and rigid, with the upper lip closed down upon the lower, as if made of iron, he was quickly undeceived. As soon as they met, Roger put his arm within Edmund’s, and turned him round in the direction in which he was himself going, with that ignoring of his brother’s inclinations, even of his weariness and bodily needs, which is in some cases the highest compliment one man can pay to another.

“ Ned,” he began, without any preface, “ the more I think of it, the more wretched it makes me. Was she a girl to disappear like that, leaving her people in anxiety ? Besides, what motive was there for any such mystery ? She might have let them know somehow, — she must have done so. Ned, my Lily has been spirited away! ”

Edmund was taken by surprise. “No, no — who would do that ? ” he asked, bewildered by the suggestion.

“Who? Any one. Some madman who had seen her. We think we have outlived such things, but we have n’t, Ned. Passion is as mad as ever it was. Or even to get her out of my way, my father ” —

“ Impossible ! Such a thing would never enter his mind ! ”

“ There is nothing impossible! ” returned Roger, with nervous heat, “ except that my Lily should go — should consent ” — The deep murmur of his voice ceased in something inarticulate, a note of such immeasurable pain, of horrible doubt hidden under words of certainty, that Edmund felt all his fears realized. Then Roger gave himself a shake, as if to get rid of some nightmare, and asked, with an air of sudden awakening, “ Did Stephen see her ? Did he notice anything — which way she went ? ”

“ No, he noticed nothing.”

Something in Edmund’s tone made Roger look at him keenly. “ He must have seen her. I could bring it to his recollection, — the night we met and the circumstances, which of course you did not know.”

“Don’t, Roger, for Heaven’s sake! Why should you ask him again ? Don’t you believe me He knows nothing. Don’t let us bring in any one more. ”

“ There is something in that,” said Roger, with momentary acquiescence ; then, after a pause, he asked, “ Did he know her — at all ? ”

“ I can’t tell you,” replied Edmund hastily, feeling that the intolerableness of the situation began to affect his nerves and temper. “ I suppose he must have known her by sight: I don’t know. What is the use of bringing him into it ? He can tell us nothing.”

Roger looked at his brother with a dawning suspicion in his eyes. “I don t think you are just to Stephen,” he remarked. “I am going to see for myself.”

“ Roger,” said Edmund, making use, like a woman, of the weariness and exhaustion which he felt, — though, like a woman, he could have disguised and suppressed them, had not the other way afforded a possibility of deliverance, — “I wish you could come with me first, and get me some dinner. I am fairly worn out. It has not been a good time for me, these last few days, and I have been wandering about from one place to another ” —

“ How selfish I am,” interrupted Roger, “forgetting all you have been doing, and even to ask you — Come along, Ned ; we ’ll get something at the club.”

The penalty of this expedient was, that Edmund had to eat a prolonged dinner, which he needed, indeed, but for which he had no appetite, and which he allowed to linger on, through course after course while Roger sat opposite to him, eating nervously a piece of bread, drinking the wine that was poured out for him without even observing what it was, sending away dish after dish with a half shudder of disgust, and with the wonder of a preoccupied mind that his brother should be capable of dining in so prolonged a way at such a moment. Edmund had to pay this penalty, and accepted it with what fortitude he could. He calculated, while he sat having everything handed to him, that by this time, probably, Stephen was disposed of for the evening; dining out, perhaps ; or, which was more likely, — the horrible thought obtruded itself, even though it was so essential that he should give Roger no clue to the nature of his thoughts, — that Stephen might be at this moment by the side of the deceived and lost creature to whom Roger, with his white face of anxiety, was still holding loyally as his bride.

“Now,”said Roger, with a faint smile, “ if you are satisfied, Ned, don’t you think we might go ? ”

If he were satisfied! He tried to laugh, too, and answered, “ I had eaten nothing all day. Don’t you think it is a little too late now ? ”

“ I think — You shall go home and go to bed, Ned. You ’re worn out : and it cannot have the same overwhelming interest for you as for me, — though you ’re very good,” said Roger. It was Edmund’s rôle to have good intentions attributed to him. He took care not even to smile, not to groan, as he got up from the table at which he had been working so hard to make the meeting he dreaded impossible.

“ No,” he answered, “ I’m not going to bed. I’m going with you, Roger, wherever you go, — provided it is not among any of your fine friends, in this garb.”

“ My fine friends ! ” exclaimed Roger, with indignant astonishment. “ Can you suppose me capable of going anywhere — anywhere ! I thought you knew better what this is to me. Do you know what it is ? It is life or death ! If anything has happened to her — My God ! ”

The most tragic scenes, the most tragic words, are often mixed up in our strange life with the most petty and common, and desperate appeals to the last Arbiter of all things rise out of the depths of wretched hearts over the broken meats of a disordered table. There is something more heart-rending in them, under such circumstances, than when there is no jar of the ignoble matters of every day in the despair and passion. Roger standing over the table at which his brother had dined, in his correct evening dress, with his miserable face ; the brown bread which he had been crumbling to pieces before him; his overcoat, which he had not cared to take off, hanging open; the background of cheerful parties dining; the murmur of cheerful talk around, made such a combination as would have smitten the hardest heart. He had come to that, that he had begun to acknowledge the possibility of something having happened to Lily: something which could not but be disastrous, horrible; something which might make an end of that which no other power on earth could have ended, for which he had been prepared to sacrifice everything that could be called life. There was a tremor in him which was visible, even though he was nervously erect and steady, in the outline of his figure, — a faint, nervous trick of movement which he could not restrain, and of which, indeed, he was unconscious. He put his hand hastily upon Edmund’s arm, as they went out together. It was dry and burning, and he did not see the step at the door, and stumbled as they went out into the noise and bustle of the street.

Provided only that Stephen might not be found when they sought him at his club ! — for happily they could not seek him elsewhere. Edmund estimated the chances hurriedly, as they went along, and felt them to be all in his favor. If Lily were somewhere in London awaiting her lover, it was not possible that Stephen should spend the evening at his club. But Edmund was too anxious and too unhappy to take the comfort out of this which he felt to be justified ; for every one knows how perverse circumstances are, and how a chance which would have no importance on another occasion will often detain a man, when his detention for that uncalculated moment means a catastrophe. So inscrutable, so little to be reckoned upon, is this strange life, which seems the sport of accidents, which is at least so little in our hands to arrange or settle ! These thoughts went through Edmund’s mind in a confused torrent, as he walked with Roger to Stephen’s club, once more along that crowded pavement of Piccadilly, where so many men like themselves were hurrying on to all manner of engagements, and close to which so many carriages, coming and going, conveyed the fairest and the brightest and the most distinguished from one scene of pleasure to another, — of pleasure woven with so many threads of suffering, of festivity, and of tragedy. When the mind is full of distress and anxiety, such ideas come naturally. It is perhaps a little aid in bearing our own burdens to think how others are weighed down, and how little any one can know from the exterior.

It would have been, however, but a poor observer who could not have perceived that the two brothers walking along from one club to another were bound on no common errand. The faint yet almost palsied thrill of nervous movement about Roger, and Edmund’s fever of anxiety, were not sufficiently veiled to be imperceptible to any keen eye. Neither of them seemed to breathe, as they approached the place. Edmund, who knew how well his own excitement was justified, could not quite understand how it should have so communicated itself to Roger, who so far as he knew was unaware of any foundation for it. He pressed his brother’s arm, as they went up to the open door. “ Roger ! you ’ll take care not to let him pick a quarrel ? He was very impatient of my question; he may be still more so to have it repeated. A row in the family, between brothers ” —

“ Why should we quarrel ? What reason is there for any row ? ” Roger said sternly, and Edmund had no answer to give.

Stephen was there, — up-stairs. They went in together, Roger first, Edmund scarcely able to breathe. A group of men were descending as they went up, and on the landing the two brothers perceived Stephen, the last of the band. His companions were talking and laughing, but he was coining down silently, with an angry cloud on his face. The two young men waited for him on the landing, which gave them full time to note his aspect and the unusual gravity of his looks ; but he did not observe them, so occupied was he with his own thoughts, till he was close upon them. Then Roger put out his hand, and touched him on the arm. Stephen started, and raised his eyes with a sudden gleam of impatience : evidently he was not in a temper to be disturbed. But when he saw who it was a look of fury came into his eyes, — they were very light eyes, which looked sinister in excitement. “ Hallo ! ” he cried, “ you there again ! ” He passed over Roger with intention, and fixed his look upon Edmund, who stood behind.

“Stephen.”said Roger, “ I have a question to ask you.” He was drawing his breath quickly and with difficulty.

“ I presume,” said Stephen slowly, scowling, drawing back a little, “it’s the same question as that fellow put to me to-day. What the—is it your business whether I know or whether I don’t know ? I told him I’d break any man’s head that asked me that again! ”

“ Nevertheless, you must give me an answer,” returned Roger, making a step forward. The question had not been put into words; there seemed no need between them for any such details. Neither of his brothers was in the least aware what it was which brought such fury into Stephen’s eyes and tone. Roger, who accused him of nothing, whose question was in reality of the most simple character, was irritated by an opposition which appeared so uncalled for. He advanced a little as Stephen drew back. “ If you have any light to throw upon the matter, for Heaven’s sake answer me,” he said, putting up his hand, as Stephen thought, to seize him by the coat.

There was in the younger brother a fury which had no means of utterance, which caught at the first possibility of getting vent. He pushed Roger back with a violence of which he was himself totally unaware. “ I warned him — the first man that asked me that question again ” — he cried savagely, thrusting his brother from him with all his force. They were all three on the edge of the heavy stone stairs, none of them conscious or thinking of any danger. Perhaps there would have been no danger if Roger had been in his ordinary condition of health. As it was, before a word could be said or a breath drawn, before Stephen was aware of the violence of the thrust backward which he had given, Roger went down like a stone. There was a breathless, horrible moment, while the two who were left looked involuntarily into each other’s faces: then Edmund, with a spring, reached the bottom of the stairs, where all huddled upon himself, like a fallen house, his brother lay. In a moment, — it was no more : as if a flash of lightning had come out of the sky and struck him down there.



There is something in the atmosphere of a sick-room in which a man lies under the shadow of death, especially when that awful shadow has come upon the sky in a moment, winch changes the entire aspect of the world to those who stand at the bedside. There had been a moment of horror and dismay, in which Stephen’s bewilderment and terror-stricken compunction had obliterated all feeling of guilt on his part from his brother’s mind. Indeed, the catastrophe was so unlooked for, and seemed so entirely beyond any cause that could have brought it about, that the two brothers bent over Roger with equal anxiety, equal alarm and astonishment, forgetting everything but the sudden shock as of a thunderbolt falling, striking him down at their feet. Edmund had no time or power to think, during the turmoil and horrible pause which ensued, which might have lasted, so far as he knew, a day or ten minutes, in which Roger was examined by a grave doctor, who said little, and was then painfully transported to his own rooms and laid on his own bed. He had not recovered consciousness for a moment, nor did he during the long, terrible night which followed, in the course of which Edmund sat like a man paralyzed, within sight of the motionless figure, for which there was nothing to be done, none of those cares which keep the watcher from despair. The doctor had sent in a nurse, who, after vainly endeavoring to induce Edmund to withdraw (“ For he does n’t know you, or any one, nor won’t, perhaps, ever again, poor gentleman ! And what’s the good of wearing yourself out, when you can do nothing for him ? ” she had said, with that appalling reasonableness which kills), had herself retired to the next room, provident, as her class always are, of the rest which would be so needful to her, in face of whatever might occur to demand her watchfulness afterwards. Her words, her look, made Edmund’s heart sick, and the realization of the fact that there was nothing to be done, and that, whether for always or only for a time, Roger was beyond all possibility of succor, came over him with a sudden blankness of desolation. He knew nothing of illness, especially of illness so extraordinary and terrible. He felt that he could not tell from moment to moment what might be accomplishing itself on the curtainless bed, where Roger’s profile, stern in the silence, showed itself against the faintly colored wall. He sat there himself in a sort of trance of despair and anguish and deadly fear. His brother might die at any instant, for anything Edmund knew; the life which was already hidden and veiled might depart altogether, without a hand being held out to save. The horror of doing nothing, of sitting still, and perhaps seeing the precious life ebb away without putting out a finger, without an effort, as Edmund felt, was almost beyond bearing. He himself could do nothing, — he knew nothing that could be done. If the doctor had but remained, who knew ! but the doctor had said that to watch the patient was all that was possible; and Edmund was watching, Heaven knew how anxiously ! yet in his ignorance feeling that some change might occur which he would not observe, would not understand, and on which might hang the issues of life and death. Half a dozen times he had risen to call the nurse, that there might be some one who would know; then had restrained himself and noiselessly sat down again, remembering what she had said, and half afraid of crossing or irritating the attendant on whose services, for aught he knew, Roger’s life might depend. He felt like a fool, or a child, so ignorant, so helpless, so ready to be seized with unreasonable panic, — surely unreasonable, since both doctor and nurse had felt themselves at liberty to go away. It was about nine o’clock when the catastrophe had occurred, and by midnight it seemed to Edmund as if years had passed over him in that awful stillness, and as if everything in life had receded far away. By the bed where Roger lay unconscious there was no longer anything worth thinking of, except whether he would open his eyes, whether the hardness of his breathing would soften, whether any sign of life would break through that blank. Lily Ford? — who was she, what was she? If her name swept, in the current of his thoughts, over Edmund’s mind at all, he was impatient of it, and flung it from him, like something intrusive and impertinent. All the associations that had occupied his thoughts for days past went from him like vanities. He remembered them no more, or, if they recurred, brushed them from his mind, with indignant astonishment that such nothings could ever have occupied it. What was there to think of in all the world but that Roger lay there, an image of death in life, wrapped in darkness, and perhaps — perhaps — a horror that made his heart stand still — might never come out of it again ?

At midnight Stephen came in, trying, no doubt, to walk softly and speak softly ; opening the door with a creak, and stepping upon some loose plank in the flooring, which shivered and jarred under his foot. “ How is he now ? ” he asked in a rough whisper, which seemed to Edmund’s strained faculties more penetrating, more disagreeable, than any ordinary noise. Stephen made a step forward elaborately, and looked at the face upon the pillow. “ Don’t look much better, does he ? ” he said. In reality Stephen was very uncomfortable, — more than uncomfortable. He had not meant to do his brother any harm, — he had repeated that assurance to himself a hundred times within the last hour. He never meant to harm him, — why should he ? He had no motive for injuring his brother ; they had always been good friends. What had happened about their father’s will was nothing. There was no possible reason in that for quarreling with Roger, for he was quite out of it, and had nothing to say in the matter. Nobody would do Stephen the wrong to say that he had any bad meaning. How could he know that a man, a man as big as himself, would go down like that at a touch ? It was no fault of his : there must have been something the matter with the poor old fellow, or he must have been standing unsteadily, or — but certainly it was not Stephen who was to blame. He had repeated this to himself all the way, as he went along the streets. How could he be to blame ?

“For God’s sake, be quiet, — don’t disturb him ! ” said Edmund, with an impatience that was uncontrollable. Disturb him ! He would have given everything he had in the world to be able to disturb Roger, — to draw him out of that fatal lethargy; but the sound of Stephen’s jarring step, and the whisper which whistled through this sacred place, roused Edmund to a fever of suppressed passion.

“ Oh, nothing disturbs a man in that state. I ’ve seen ’em,” Stephen said, taking less precautions as he became familiar with the darkened room, the aspect of everything, “ when you might have fired a cannon-ball close to their ears, and they would have taken no notice. When is the doctor to come back ? Are you going to sit up all night ? I thought he had sent in a nurse. Then what’s the use of you sitting up ? You can’t do him any good.”

“ I can’t talk,” Edmund answered ; “don’t ask me any questions. We can only wait and see what the morning brings.”

Stephen nodded in assent. He stooped over the bed, looked at the motionless figure, and shook his head. “ Poor chap ! ” he said, “ he looks very bad.” Stephen was very uncomfortable, but he did not know how to express it. He stood swaying from one foot to the other, looking blankly about him. “ I don’t suppose I can be of any use, ” he said.

“ None, none ! ” replied Edmund. “ Nobody can be of any use.”

“ You’d rather I should go ? ” asked Stephen, glad to escape, yet reluctant to show it. “ I should n’t if I could be of any use ; but if I can’t — Look here, Ned, call the woman, and go to bed yourself ; you can’t do him any good, either.”

“ Oh, go, go ! ” Edmund said.

“ And, Ned — as for what he asked me, poor chap ! You may think it is n’t true, but it is true. I declare to you ” —

“ Oh, for Heaven’s sake,” cried Edmund, under his breath, “ go away, go home, go to bed ! What does it matter ? What does anything matter ? Do I care whether it is true or not ? Go, go! ”

“ You speak as if I had n’t as good a right — as if you thought I meant to — to do him harm. I never meant to do him harm, so help me ” —

“ Go now, Stephen, go home and go to bed. He may be better in the morning.”

“ Poor chap ! ” Stephen said once more, shaking his head ; and then creaking more than ever, like his father, making the boards jar and the room shake, he went away.

And again that awful silence came over the place, — a silence which thrilled and vibrated with dreadful meaning, till even the interruption of Stephen’s presence seemed to have been a gain. Edmund sat still and motionless, his heart within him in a fever of suspense, and fear and agitation indescribable rioting in his bosom with an independent, mad life of unendurable pain. How he kept still, how he did not cry out, spring up from his watch, drag back by any violent means the dead, dumb, marble image which was his brother to life, to life, to any kind of conscious being, even if it were agony, he could not tell. But something, whether it was reason, whether it was the mere solidity of flesh and blood, which bound the raging anxiety of the soul, kept him almost as still as Roger; watching, wondering what was to come and how he was to live through this awful night.

The morning brought little hope; and then ensued days upon days, of which Edmund knew nothing except that they came and passed and brought no change. Stephen appeared from time to time, stealing in with elaborate precautions, making every board creak, — as if it mattered! And presently the Squire arrived, like a larger Stephen, looking at the patient in the same helpless way, shaking his head. The father’s sanction was necessary before the dangerous operation, which was the only thing in which there was a glimmer of hope, could be attempted. Mr. Mitford was far from being without feeling. To see his son, his first-born, of whom he had been proud, lying on that bed, which was too evidently a bed of death, affected him deeply. He had asked a great many questions at first, and had been inclined to blame everybody. “ Why did you let him question Steve ? Steve never would stand questioning, from a child. Why did n’t you warn Steve that he was ill ? He must have been ill, or a mere push could not have harmed him. Was it only a push ? It must have been more than a push. They had a scuffle, I suppose, on the stairs ! By—! how could you be such a fool as to let two men in the heat of a quarrel meet on the stairs ? ” Thus he talked, in his large voice, with an angry cloud upon his face, as he came up-stairs. But when he entered Roger’s room the Squire was silenced. He stood and looked at his son with angry, helpless wretchedness, making a little sound of half-remonstrant trouble with his tongue against his palate. What could he do ? What could be done ? To know that it was all over would have been nothing compared to the misery of seeing him there, and not knowing what might happen at any moment. Mr. Mitford was glad to go away, making his progress audible by that faint sound of inarticulate perplexity and remonstrance, and by the unsubduable tread which shook the house. He had no objection to try the desperate expedient of the operation, though he did not in the least believe in it. “ He’s a dead man ! he’s a dead man ! I don’t believe they can do anything,” he said, in the hurried family council which was held in an adjoining room. And Stephen also shook his head. He was very like his father. He had the same expression of perplexed and irritated seriousness. He had taken up almost eagerly the same note of remonstrance. If Ned had only kept him quiet, kept him in-doors that night, when anybody might have seen he was out of sorts, and not fit to give and take, like other men. His discomfort as to his own share in the matter was wearing off, and he began to feel that he was an injured person, and had a right to complain.

Ah ! if Edmund had but been able to keep his brother in-doors that night! He said it to himself with a far more tragic sense of the impossibility than the others were capable of. If only — if ! — how lightly, it now seemed, all the miseries that existed before could have been borne. It gave him a pang indescribable to think, as he immediately did, of how simple it might have been, — how life might have flowed on quite smoothly : Roger miserable, perhaps, himself weighed down by the pressure of a secret never to be revealed ; but what of that, what trifles, what nothings, in comparison with this !

He was the only one who had any hope in the operation, though he was the last to consent to it. The others, no doubt, would have been glad if Roger had recovered, but they were almost as anxious to be freed from the dreadful pressure of the situation as to save his life : his life, if possible; but if not, that these paralyzing circumstances might come to an end. It was with the hope that one way or other this release might be accomplished that Mr. Mitford and Stephen awaited the result. They would not remain in the room, — it was too much for them : they remained close by, in Roger’s sitting-room, with all its scattered traces of his presence. Geraldine and Amy were there, too, with a little feminine rustle, crying from time to time, yet not unconscious of a curiosity about the photographs on the tables, which were not all family photographs, and about such other revelations as might be gleaned of the young man’s independent life; but ready to cry again, to give back all their attention to the one absorbing subject, whenever a door opened or a sound was heard. The Squire walked about the room with his heavy tread, taking up and throwing down again such articles as caught his eye, a whip, a cane, a cigar-case, little luxuries such as in some cases he despised. Stephen stood with his back to the others, looking out, with a curious mingling of compunction and resentment and self-defense in his mind. Nobody could say he was to blame, — how could he be to blame ? Was he to know that a man might be as weak as a cat, not fit to stand against a push ? Nobody could be expected to think of that.

Edmund alone stood by his unconscious brother, while the doctors were doing their work. He alone received the dazed, bewildered look which Roger cast round him in the first moment of relief, like a man awakening, yet with something awful in it, as if the awakening were from the dead. When that vague gaze fell upon Edmund, the sufferer recognized him for a moment, smiled, made a motion as if to put out his hand, and said something, which was audible only as a murmur in his throat. He was not allowed to do any more. The doctors interfered to ordain perfect quiet, perfect rest, the closest watch, and no excitement or movement. The operation had been successful, quite successful. Twenty-four hours’ perfect quiet, and then — The great operator, whose every minute was worth gold, looked in to the adjoining room himself, to relieve the anxiety of the family. " As an operation entirely satisfactory; everything now depends on the strength of the patient,” he said. The relief of the strain which had been upon their nerves was great. The girls got up from the corner with that pleasant rustle of their skirts, and uttered little cries of pleasure and thankfulness. Geraldine stood up before the glass over Roger’s chimney-piece to put her bonnet straight, which had been a little disarranged, she thought, by her crying. Amy made a little dart to a table, where there was a photograph of a woman which she had never seen before, and turned it over to see if there were any name or inscription. The Squire threw down a cane with a curious silver handle which he had been examining, and breathed forth a great sigh of relief. “ That’s all right! ” he said. It seemed to all of them that the incident was over, and that perhaps they had been unduly excited, and it had not been so important, after all.

But Edmund did not move from his brother’s room. His heart was sick with that deferred hope which it is so hard to bear. He too had thought the incident was over, for the first minute. He took his brother’s hand and pressed it in his own, and thought he felt a faint response. But when he was dismissed again to his watch, and forbidden to speak or touch the patient still hanging between life and death, his heart sank. The room relapsed once more, after all the silent strain and excitement, into absolute quiet. Presently the nurse came to Edmund’s side, and whispered, “ He’s going to sleep, sir, — the very best thing; and you should go and take a bit of rest. Nobody in this world can do without a bit of natural rest.”

Edmund scarcely understood what the woman said. He did not move; he could not have risen had his life depended upon it, nor withdrawn his eyes from the sleeper. Was it sleep? Was it death ? How could he tell ? No more than if he had been dying himself could he have moved from his brother’s side.

And in that sleep Roger died.



It is needless to say that this event, so unlooked for, coming with such a shock upon them all (though the two brothers-in-law, the husbands of Geraldine and Amy, declared that they had never for a moment looked for any other termination), produced a great effect upon the family. A death in a family always does so. There was a jar and startling stop of all the machinery of life. The two gay young houses in London, and the great house at Melcombe, were shut up. Geraldine and Amy, retired from all their pleasures, and with a good deal of sorrow for themselves, thus withdrawn from existence, as it were, so early in the season, crossed by a real transitory pang, more perhaps for the horror of the catastrophe than for the brother lost, made an occupation and distraction for themselves in the ordering of their mourning, which gave them a great deal to do, and a little much-desired novelty. They had never been in mourning before ; it was a new sensation ; they did not know whether it would be becoming or the reverse. Roger had not been much to them at any time, and if they cried a little now and then, when they remembered, and felt a sharp little sting of that almost remorseful pain with which simple minds contemplate the sweeping away of another life, while they still continue to enjoy the sunshine, it was all that could have been expected from these two untrained and uncherished girls. It is to be doubted even whether Roger would have felt so much for them. Women are more capable of having the feelings they ought to have, and responding to the exigencies of their position, than men.

At Melcombe the household lived, for the days which elapsed between the death and burial, in a pause of suspended excitement, with a great deal to talk about and think about, and a solemnity which was not unpleasant. Some of the old servants were truly grieved for Mr. Roger, but the subdued bustle in the funereal house, the continual succession of events, the comparison of facts and reports, the making out so far as they could of an extremely exciting story, and even the new mourning into which they were all put, men and women, with a fullness of provision which they felt showed the most real respect for the dead, occupied their minds and aroused their interest, — quickened, in short, their entire mental being. They all knew — though how nobody could have told — that Stephen was somehow connected with his brother’s death ; they all speculated as to what Lily Ford had to do with it. Was it jealousy ? What was it ? It was known by this time that Lily Ford was no longer in her father’s house. Indeed, Mrs. Ford proclaimed the fact to everybody, saying that her daughter was staying with some of her grand friends, and that she was glad of it, for Lily was very tender-hearted, and would have felt Mr. Roger’s death dreadful. The Fords, indeed, entirely confounded the ingenuity of the servants’ hall. Larkins, who was aware of that distracted visit to Edmund, had put on his most sympathetic face the next time he had met the gamekeeper’s wife. “ I hope, ma’am, that you 've better news,” he had said in the most mournful and confidential tone. “ Oh, thank you, sir, I ’ve had the best of news, and just as happy as can be,” she had responded cheerfully, taking him much by surprise. There was a mystery, but no one had even a guess what the mystery was.

The family, as was natural, assembled at Melcombe for the funeral, filling the house with guests and a kind of gloomy entertainment for three or four days. Poor Roger was laid, with “ every respect,” with all honor, in the family vault, a black-robed group of mourners, with respectfully bowed heads, standing round the coffin, which was concealed from sight, it need not be said, by wreaths of the most beautiful flowers, sent, according to the fashion of the time, from far and near. Father, brothers, brothers-in-law, cousins, old neighbors of all degrees, followed the melancholy train. More respect could not have been shown to a prince ; and some went away saddened by thoughts of the promising life cut short, and some with relief to think that at last all was over, which was scarcely a less human sentiment. In Melcombe perhaps the feeling of relief predominated. To be able to have the blinds drawn up, to look at the papers, to enter without self-reproach into ordinary subjects, after such a long and distressing break in all usual habits, was a welcome change. Poor Roger! it could not do him any good, poor fellow, that anybody should be ill at ease. All the crying in the world would not bring him back. Everything had been done that could be done, — more, far more than people in general were able to do ; and now that it was all over it was a relief to return to ordinary themes and ordinary habits once more.

The Squire was a man who did not feel very much except when he was put out and his habits were interfered with; but yet as much as was possible he had felt this. A man does not lose his eldest son by a sudden and almost violent death without feeling it; especially when he has just made a family revolution in consequence of that son’s proceedings, and altered the succession in a way that becomes ridiculous the moment the culprit disappears. He had put Roger out of his natural place, and he had put Stephen in it. And now that he had time to think, the arrangement struck him not only as very ridiculous, a thing that naturally everybody would think they had a right to demand explanations of, but also as unjust and unjustifiable. The wrong to Edmund had not troubled him, so long as Edmund’s refusal to carry out his wishes had stood between them. But now that these wishes had dropped, now that fate had ended all Roger’s chances, there was no doubt that to cut off Edmund for no reason at all was an injustice. He was now the eldest son, — there was no doubt on that point, — the natural heir, the head of the family after his father; whereas Stephen must bear the mark of cadency, however completely endowed he might be with the family honors. This troubled the Squire greatly, and prolonged the existence of the cloud which had arisen with Roger’s death. That event put everything out. It stultified him; it made him do what he had never intended to do. There was nothing, indeed, nothing in the world against Edmund. He had given his father no offense. He would, all things considered, probably make a better Squire of Melcombe than a man who had got a great deal too much of the messroom in him. The Squire was certainly uncomfortable, and yet he did not like to make again an exhibition of himself by another change. Pouncefort would say, “ I told you that you would regret it; ” he would say with his eyebrows, if not in words, that the Mitfords were hot-headed fools. He would perhaps talk of the risk, of which he had warned the Squire, of dying before dinner. Mr. Mitford was afraid of Stephen, too, who would not willingly part with the inheritance which he had accepted so readily. It requires a strong inducement to make a man expose himself to all these disagreeables, and in face of this paraphernalia of death and burial the Squire felt with a recoil the force of his own life and strength. Why should he hurry himself, expose himself to the remonstrances of Stephen and the jeers of Pouncefort ? But he was very uncomfortable, and troubled with an angry sense that his eldest son, whom he had so remorselessly cut out, had repaid him very summarily, almost shabbily, for this ill turn, and that Roger might have helped it if he would.

Stephen too was very uncomfortable, so uncomfortable that in one respect it did him good. It put Lily and the rage and the humiliation which her escape from his hands had caused him out of his mind. He forgot that he had been made a fool of, cheated, deceived, planté là, which was how he represented it to himself. There are different standards of pride and honor. Stephen had felt himself wronged, insulted, put to shame, by Lily. He would have thrown up his commission, abandoned all his occupations and pleasures, left England, disappeared he did not care where, had the story ever reached the ears of his set. It would have covered him with ridicule and shame; it made him ridiculous to himself, even, while he brooded furiously over it during the first day. He had spent half the night in the streets, like Lily, but not in the same streets, as it happened, and had not given up the search for twenty-four hours after ; not, indeed, until the morning on which Edmund found him, coming back, suspicious and on the watch for any look or hint that might show a consciousness of his secret. It was this rage of shame and terror of ridicule which had made him repulse his brothers, one after the other, in the latter case with such fatal effects. But the catastrophe delivered Stephen : he thought of Lily no more ; he forgot that disgusting episode, as he called it in his thoughts; the shock of this new and dreadful event drove her and the fury with which he had been regarding her out of his mind altogether. He was not very sensitive nor tender-hearted, but the sight of Roger’s fall would not go out of his eyes or his mind. When he was by himself it came back to him, — the sudden disappearance, the sound, so heavy, so horrible, so unlike any other sound. He could not forget it. Presently something of the same feeling with which he had regarded Lily when she escaped came into his thoughts of Roger, a sense of anger, as if he had been taken at a disadvantage, put into a position in which he could not but show badly, although he was not really to blame. Certainly he was not to blame. He had done nothing that the gentlest-tempered man might not have done. He did not strike nor knock down his assailant, as a hot-headed fellow would have done. He only pushed him back a bit; anybody would have done that. He meant no harm. How could he tell that Roger was weak, or unsteady, or excited ? He had done nothing wrong, but somehow he was put in the wrong, and he knew people would look at him askance. Edmund did, for one. They had walked together after the coffin, but Edmund had not said a word to him, had greeted him only with a hurried nod, had turned his eyes away, as if he could not bear the sight of him, which was unjust, — by Jove! abominably unjust. For he had done nothing, — nothing that any man would not have done in the circumstances. He was not to blame. He had not meant to hurt Roger. Why should he ? Roger was not in his way. Still, it is a disagreeable thing to have anything to do with the killing of your brother : no one likes to be mixed up in such a catastrophe, — and again Stephen would seem to see the face of Roger disappear from before him, and the mass all huddled up at the bottom of the stairs.

And this funeral party was very disagreeable to him. To act company with Statham and Markham, whose spirits were only temporarily subdued, and who seemed to think they should be taken over the stables (a duty which Edmund, retiring to his own rooms as soon as the funeral was over, would take no part in), and to show the civility of a son of the house, almost of a host, to the departing guests, who, he felt sure, must be commenting upon everything that had happened, — all that was wearisomeA man who has been so unfortunate as to shoot his father or his brother, as they push through the covert together, is pitied, though probably it is all due to his carelessness ; but a man who pushes his brother down-stairs, his brother whose rightful place he has just usurped ! Stephen felt that circumstances were very hard upon him; for it was no fault of his, — he was not to blame.

He would have liked above all things to leave Melcombe with the Stathams and the Markhams, next day ; they were unfeignedly glad to go, and so was Nina, who had persuaded Geraldine to take her “for a change.” “ Everybody goes for a change, when there has been a death,” Nina said, and the sisters acknowledged the justice of the statement. They all went away with serious looks, giving little pinches and pats to each other’s crape, which, being so stiff and new, would not “ sit; ” but by the time they got to the station they had all cheered up wonderfully, and begun to talk about what they had better do. The season was lost to them, but still the world was not without delights. “ It would be just the time to go for a little run abroad,” Geraldine had said, laying to heart that suggestion of Nina’s about a change after a death. Lady Statham had so far recovered her spirits as to suggest this, as they reached Molton Junction, whither they had driven to catch the express train.

Stephen turned back, with a sigh of angry pain. He could not go away, nor go abroad, nor even return to his regiment. His father had angrily insisted that he should remain. “ If you ’re going to be the head of this house, you ’d better give up the regiment,” he said. If, again ! — that if did Stephen a little good. It showed him that he might have to fight for his rights, which was exhilarating, and gave him something to think of. If! It was the governor’s own doing to put him in that place, but he was not going to give it up, — it would be the greatest folly to give it up. He was not one of those who could chop and change with every wind, he said to himself ; and if the governor meant to go back from his word he should not find it so easy as he had done with Roger. When a thing was settled, it was settled. The chance of a fight again did Stephen good. It kept him up after the others had gone away. To be left alone in the house with his father and Edmund was not a cheerful prospect, but if there were going to be a fight!

He had need of this little spark of pugnacity to sustain him, for it would be difficult to imagine anything more miserable than the dinner-table at Melcombe, on the first evening after the Stathams and Markhams had gone. Roger’s empty chair stood at the foot of the table, but no one took it ; neither Edmund, who had the natural right as the eldest surviving son. nor Stephen, who had the acquired right as the heir. They took their places on either side of their father, with a sense of desolation. Presently Edmund started up, pushing against the astonished Larkins, and himself put away the chair against the wall. No one said a word; the father and Stephen looked on, with a feeling that something of reproach to them was in this rapid movement, but they were too much cowed to protest or remonstrate. Larkins, following Edmund, cleared away very solemnly the knives and forks and glasses from the table, which had been laid as usual for that fourth who would never take his place there again. Larkins felt the reproach, also, though in a different way; but he had the support of feeling that he had done it for the best, not knowing which Mr. Edmund would prefer: to assume the place which was now his, or, for convenience, as there was so small a party, to keep his former position at the side. The butler put all the silver and crystal upon the tray which John Thomas held behind him, very slowly, and with great solemnity and just but suppressed indignation ; and they all looked on in silence, not saying a word. And so the last traces of Roger’s presence were swept away.

They were all glad when the meal was over, and they were at liberty to separate. Even Nina’s presence would have been a little relief. The three, each other’s nearest relations in the world, felt among them a sourd antagonism. To Stephen and his father Edmund’s silence was as a disapproval of both ; Mr. Mitford was angry with his youngest son for having gained a promotion to which he had no right, and Stephen was all in arms against any possible repentance of his father. How glad they were to rise, a few moments after Larkins, who was a sort of protection to them, left the room ! Each was afraid of what the other might say. Another night of repose, of postponement, before any explanation could be made, was the greatest gain which was possible. Mr. Mitford and Edmund retired quickly, taking different directions, the moment they rose from the table, to their own apartments. Stephen strolled out into the park with his cigar. He had no den within doors, no occupation to which he could withdraw. He did not read ; he could not play billiards or anything else without a companion ; and the billiard-room, to which he would have gone on an ordinary occasion, was full of the memory of Roger, so that Stephen felt with a shudder that he might see his dead brother, or imagine he saw him (for he was well aware that ghosts were but optical illusions), in the present disturbed state of his nerves, if he went there. But he had forgotten, when he stepped outside into the soft air of the summer night, that here were other associations not much more salutary for his nerves than a fancied apparition. How often had he gone forth, complacent, expanding his broad chest, pulling down his cuffs, with all the pleasure of a conqueror, to meet the little beauty, the admiring girl, who was ready to burn incense to him as much as he would, ready to drop into his arms as soon as he should hold up a finger ! (Stephen took no pains to keep his metaphors clear.) But now the very thought of Lily filled him with rage. He could not put her out of his mind, now that he had come back. He seemed to see her advancing towards him under the trees, hurrying to meet him. By George! she wished she could now, he did not doubt. She would give her ears that she had not been such a fool. She ran to be chased, to be sure ; the last thing in her mind was to be lost, to be allowed to get away. He caught eagerly at this idea, which occurred to him for the first time. Women always run away that men may run after them, but she had succeeded better than she wanted, this time. By Jove ! if she had ever supposed he would not have caught her up, she would not have been in such a hurry to run away: and then he began to compliment himself on his skill in missing Lily. What a life she would be leading him now, if he had found her, if he had seized her round some corner and brought her back, as no doubt she intended !

This was the way in which Stephen tried to subdue the furious recollections of that failure, when he brought the whole business back to his mind by strolling out into the park ; but the attempt was not very successful. He did not smoke his cigar out, but whirled it away into the twilight, as if it were a missile thrown at Lily, and went in again, discontented, sulky, miserable, to fall into his father’s hands.



Mr. Mitford, also, was sulky, miserable, and discontented. Perhaps in him it was grief taking another aspect, different from that of common grief. He was out of heart with himself and everything round. Roger was in his grave, — all his own fault, his obstinacy and folly, setting himself against his father and everything that was sensible ! But, however it came about, — and it was a faint satisfaction to think that it was Roger’s own fault, — the boy was in his grave. There was nothing more to discuss about him or to find fault with, — he was in his grave. The Squire had a dull sort of consciousness in his mind that Roger might meet his mother thereabouts, and that it would be a little triumph to her to find out that he had not succeeded with the boy, — for he had never agreed with his wife about education, and never would let her have her own way. She would say, “ This would not have happened if he had taken my advice.” Mr. Mitford had not thought of his wife for a long time, and he wondered how it was that this recollection should seize him now. It was not cheerful in the library, where he suddenly remembered that all the boys had been in the habit of meeting, the drawing-room being so little used after their mother’s death. All the boys ! — and now one of them was in his grave ; and another keeping apart, tacitly blaming his father (though how any man in his senses could think him to blame!) ; and the third, whom he had himself set above the others, made the master ! Stephen had never been very kind, always a selfish fellow, taking his own way. Well, well ! The Squire said to himself, with a sigh, that this was how children treated one, after all the trouble they were to bring up : went against you ; contradicted you ; died if they could not have their own way otherwise, and thought that was the thing that would annoy you most ; or sulked, making you believe that you were to blame. He found the silence of his room intolerable, that lingering, slow evening : the house was so quiet. He could remember when it had made him very angry to hear steps and voices about, and he had said that the servants were altogether forgetting themselves, and that Larkins and Mrs. Simmons must have lost their heads ; but he would have been glad to hear something moving to-night.

By and by he saw a red speck in the distance, in the evening gray, coming towards the house, and made out that it was Stephen chiefly by that hasty motion of flinging his cigar from him, which Stephen, on his side, had been driven to do by the hurry and stinging of his thoughts. Mr. Mitford was glad to see some one to whom he could talk, some one who had no right to be sulky ; who, if there were any blame, was worse than he was, far more deeply involved, and to whom he could furnish matter for thought such as perhaps Stephen would not like.

Short of getting rid of our own discomfort, there are few things so soothing as making other people uncomfortable, and the Squire felt that to plant Stephen’s pillow with thorns would restore a certain zest to life. He opened his door, accordingly, as his son came in, and said, “ If you ’ve nothing better to do, you may as well come in here for half an hour. I want to talk to you.”

“ I have nothing whatever to do,” returned Stephen resentfully, “ except to write some letters,” he added as an afterthought, perceiving the snare into which he had fallen.

“You can write your letters any time, but me you may n’t have — you may n’t have — so very long ” — Mr. Mitford had not at all intended to say anything of this lugubrious description, but it came to his lips unawares.

“ Why, you are as hale and hearty as any man could wish to be! ” said Stephen, surprised.

“ Perhaps so, — perhaps not,” remarked the Squire oracularly. “ Don’t vapor about, but sit down, for Heaven’s sake! Don’t stand and swing about. It’s a thing I cannot bear, as I always told ” — He would have said “ Roger,” with one of those curious returns upon a dead name which so constantly occurs when the void is fresh ; and though his feelings were not deep, he was touched by it in spite of himself. “ I ’ll never say that or anything else to him again, poor fellow ! Sit down. I have a great many things to say.” But though Stephen sat down with more than usual docility, perhaps moved in a similar way, it was some time before his father spoke. When he did, it was in the tone of a man who has been awaiting a tardy response. “ Well! you know what I said about sending in your papers ? ”

“ There can’t be any such dreadful hurry about it, I suppose ? ”

“ There is a hurry. You’ve stepped into the place, and you must fill it. I am not going to have a fellow here who is at home only when he pleases, or never at home at all. There’s no objection to that on the part of a younger son, who is of no particular account. But when you come to be the eldest, or at least to stand in the place of the eldest ” —

“ There’s many an eldest son who is as much away from home as I am. When the man of the house is as well and lively as you are ” — “ Lively, — with my poor boy in his grave ! ” said the Squire ; and then he abandoned this subject curtly. “ There’s a great deal more for you to do,” he added. “ I ’ll take nothing off your hands. You ’ll have to give your attention to Pouncefort and the rest. I’ve come to a time of life when I don’t choose to be troubled. I say when I don’t choose, — I don’t mean that I ’m not able enough to do whatever ’s wanted : but 1 don’t choose to bind myself. You ’ll have to stay at home and look after things.”

“ You know very well that you would n’t let me look after things, if I were to try.”

“ I know nothing of the sort,” returned Mr. Mitford, angrily. “ And more than that, you must marry and settle. It ’s not decent to go on as we’ve been doing, without a woman in the house.”

“ Marry! ” said Stephen, with a low whistle of ridicule and surprise.

“ Yes, marry. You may laugh, — that’s part of your libertine messroom ways ; but in my day, as soon as a young man knew how he was going to live he married, — it was the first thing that was thought of. If you are to have Melcombe, you must arrange your life accordingly.”

“If I laughed, — and I did not laugh, — it was to think of such a piece of advice from you, when we ’re all in the deepest of mourning.”

“Well! getting married is n’t fun, is it ? ” said the Squire. “ It’s not a frolic ; and besides, it’s not a thing that can be done in a moment. You can’t be introduced to a girl now, and propose to her in a week, and marry her, — in your mourning, as you say. Mourning does n’t last long nowadays. If you wear a hat-band for six months, I suppose it’s about as much as you ’ll do. Dead people are soon shoveled out of the way.” Mr. Mitford was not thinking now of Roger, but the summary way in which he himself would be disposed of, supposing such an unlikely thing to happen as that he should die. The thought recurred to him against his will.

“ You talk,” remarked Stephen, taking his cigar-case from his pocket, choosing a cigar, looking at it all round, and then returning the case to his pocket, in order to show by this expressive pantomime how hard a thing it was to sit and talk or be talked to without the help of smoke, — “ you speak, ” he said, poising the cigar in his fingers, “ as if you had settled it all ; not only the marrying, but whom I’m to marry. Oh, I’m not going to smoke. It’s absurd in a man’s room, but I know there’s no smoking allowed here.”

“ In my day a man could listen to what his father had to say to him with a little respect, without tobacco ; or else he ran the risk of being turned out of the house.”

“ Ah ! there’s been about enough of that, you must think,” Stephen said, with cool impatience. He began to examine his nails as he spoke, and took out a penknife to scrape off a sharp corner, with the air of finding this much more interesting than anything his father could have to say. And his words rendered Mr. Mitford speechless, partly with rage, which was an effect Stephen frequently produced upon him, and also because what he said was true. Turning out-of-doors was not an experiment to try again. The Squire had not found it a successful method. He could make no reply, though the taunt was hard to bear. There was a moment of silence, which Stephen was the first to break. “Well, sir,” he said, after he had finished the little operation on his nail, holding it up to the lamp to see that it was even, “ and who may the damsel be?”

The Squire sat up in his chair, red, with the pulses throbbing in his temples. It was very bad for him. The doctors had told him so a dozen times, — that to let himself get angry and excited was the worst thing he could do, and put his life in danger. So easy it is for doctors to speak, who probably have no sons, or only little ones, not old enough to drive them frantic with constant contradictions. He sat still, getting the better of himself ; and this not only on the consideration of health, but because he knew that his anger would have no effect upon Stephen.

A man who has an unrestrainable temper can find the means to restrain his temper when his motive is strong enough ; and though it was always on the cards that the indulgence of it might bring on a fit of apoplexy, yet Mr. Mitford could hold himself in check when it was his only policy to do so. Besides, there was always that recollection of Roger coming in to stop him. Things might have succeeded better if he had fallen on some other way with Roger. When you have tried les grands moyens and failed, needs must that you should return to influences of a more practicable kind. But it was not for a considerable time that Mr. Mitford could prevail upon himself to reply.

“The damsel !” he said. “You’ll have to mend your manners, if you ’re to do anything there. Ladies in the country are not hail-fellow-well-met, like some, I fear, of your fast young women in London.”

“ No ? ” queried Stephen. “ I’ve always found them very much alike. If it’s a duchess in her own right” —

“The lady I mean is a great deal too good for you, my fine fellow, whatever she is.”

“ I was going to say that in that case there was no difficulty at all, for they like it when a fellow shows that he forgets what swells they are.”

“ She’s no duchess,” said the father. He was a little nervous about the announcement he was going to make. “ She’s a very fine woman, as handsome a creature as ever I saw, and she has money enough to buy us all out twice over, though we ’re not so badly off at Melcombe ; and by George ! I’ve set my heart on one of you having her, Steve! You’re a man of the world ; you know sentiment is n’t everything, — though I give you my word she’s a fine woman apart from her money, and would be a credit to the house.”

“You’re very warm, governor,” observed Stephen, with a laugh. “ Why don’t you go in for her — whoever she is — yourself ? ”

“ Pooh ! " said the Squire ; but the suggestion mollified him. He began to give his son a sketch of the circumstances : the great fortune all in her own hands ; the old woman dependent upon her, who considered herself the mistress of the house ; all the little imbroglio of facts which a husband would have to clear up. He told the story as if lie were talking of a stranger, and it was not till he had gone on with rising enthusiasm to set forth the advantages of old Travers’s London property and all his profitable investments that Stephen suddenly interrupted him with a little shout:—

“ Why, you ’re talking of Lizzy Travers, the only woman I ever loved ! ”

“ None of your slang, sir. I’m talking, it’s true, of Miss Travers. What do you know of Miss Travers ? I did n’t know you had ever met.”

“ Governor,” said Stephen, “ all this has been too much for you; you want rest; you ’ll be forgetting your own name, next. Why, I’ve danced with her, ridden with her, flirted with her. Don’t you recollect the last Christmas I spent at home ? By the way, though,” said Stephen, pausing, “ that’s three years ago, and the fair Lizzy was n’t a baby then.”

“ She is five and twenty, — I know her age, and an admirable age, too : old enough to know a thing or two; to be aware what her money’s worth, for instance, and to like to see something solid in exchange. Now, Melcombe is all she could look for in that way, and if you see your true interest, and can show her what we might call a manly devotion " —

Stephen laughed. “ Oh, I ’ll show her a manly devotion,” he answered, “ or any other sort she likes. I ’ll be a troubadour or anything. I’m not such a fool as not to see the use of a match like that. I ’ll ride over and see her tomorrow, if you like, sir. I ’ll tell her I’ve come for sympathy, and that will make a very good opening. Women are fond of giving consolation. I ’ll tell her” —

“ Don’t go quite so fast! ” interrupted the Squire. He was greatly relieved to find that Stephen made no objection, — that he received the idea “in a right spirit,”which was what neither Roger nor Edmund had done; but at the same time he was disgusted with his son’s readiness, and with the laugh which accompanied his idea of going to seek consolation. Mr. Mitford felt at once that it was a very good idea, and that to kick Stephen for having it was the duty of every man. He could not do this himself, having found out, as already said, that les grands moyens were not always successful, but he felt that it ought to be done. And yet he was much satisfied with the easy conversion of Stephen, and he saw that his idea was a good one, — women are fond of consoling. It might be that Elizabeth (for the Squire believed women to be wholly unaccountable creatures) would at once answer to this rule; but not to-morrow, not so fast. In his mingled satisfaction and indignation he could not say any more.

“If that’s all,” said Stephen presently, rising and yawning broadly on the other side of the lamp, “ I think I ’ll go off to bed. It can’t be said, sir, that Melcombe is particularly amusing at this time of the year.”

“ Few houses are very amusing,” remarked the Squire, with dignity, " two days after the funeral of the eldest son.”

“ To be sure, there ’s something in that. Good-night, then,” said Stephen, again yawning, “ if that’s all you’ve got to say.”

All he had got to say! It meant only two lives, with a background of another life sacrificed; the one scarcely cold in his grave, the others with long years before them in which very possibly to be miserable. Mr. Mitford sat and thought it all over after Stephen was gone. He thought it highly desirable that Elizabeth should listen to this dashing soldier, this tall, well-set-up, well-looking Mitford, the handsomest of all the sons. Why should n’t she ? The fellow was a very good-looking fellow, well born, with a good estate behind him and a good position. There was nothing so likely as that she would be charmed with him. But whether it would be quite a good thing for her, whether she would live happy ever after, was a thing the Squire would not have taken upon him to prophesy. Quite probably the pair would not be what is commonly called happy, as Stephen did not even pretend to care anything for her, nor to contemplate happiness at all in the matter : and yet he said, if that were all! His father listened to his progress up-stairs to bed with various sensations, — glad of his acceptation of the part which had been in vain pressed upon Roger, yet with an angry scorn of Stephen, in comparison with Roger, which words could not express. She would have him, — no doubt she would have him ; and the Mitfords of Melcombe would increase and flourish. And yet how much better for poor Lizzy had it been Roger who had been persuaded to go a - wooing, — Roger newly laid in his grave !

Stephen paused on his way up-stairs to look out of the long staircase window. He was tickled by the turn which affairs had taken, and that he was to be the man to marry Lizzy Travers and get all that wealth. It would be a prodigious bore, but such a lot of money made almost anything supportable. He stopped to look out upon the long stretch of the park, all indistinct and blurred in the dim summer night. There lay the glade where he had gone to meet Lily, damn her ! — the little jilt, the little fool who had escaped him, who had run away to make him follow, whom he had lost in the London streets. If he could but have found her and killed her, he felt as if he would have liked to do it. He would never have killed her ; but to crush her, to humble her, to cover her with scorn and shame, would have been sweet. In the middle of his laugh about Lizzy Travers, thus offered to him, whom apparently he had only to put forth his hand and take, came in this image of the other, the country girl who had outwitted him, balked him, jilted him, curse her! — the little cheat, the little designing, mercenary flirt. He clenched his hand and set his teeth when he thought of it, still. He might have got over his fancy for her, — indeed, he had got over that; but the mortification, that was not so easy to forget. As he looked out over the dim trees in the direction of Lily’s home, Stephen suddenly remembered that the pleasure of revenge was now easy to be had. If he could not reach her, he could reach the father ; he could crush the family, he could turn them adrift upon the world. When she found herself without a crust, without a rag, then she would repent bitterly enough, if she had not done it already. Revenge is sweet, everybody says, — at least the anticipation is sweet. It is to be hoped that Stephen would not in any case have carried out all that he intended, but it gave him a fierce satisfaction to think he could bundle Ford out of the lodge to-morrow, take his bread from him and his character, and ruin the bad lot of them ! He went up to bed solaced by these thoughts, and presently laughed again when he thought of Lizzy Travers, the heiress, with all her money. She was not bad looking, either ; he did not mind taking a little trouble. But first he would have that Lily — lily, indeed ! common weed that she was — cast out upon a dunghill, to perish there. Let us hope that he could not have been in any circumstances so bad as his thoughts.

M. O. W. Olyphant.

T. B. Aldrich.