Love Works Wonders
by Charlotte M. Brame
CHAPTER I. A
GIRL WITH A
IS A PRISON TO
SOCIETY IS ALL
CHAPTER IV. “YOU
ARE GOING TO
SPOIL MY LIFE.”
CHAPTER VI. THE
PROGRESS MADE BY
CHAPTER IX. THE
CHAPTER XI. HOW
WILL IT END?
UNCLE AND NIECE.
CHAPTER XVI. THE
QUEEN OF THE
CHAPTER XXIV. A
CHAPTER XXV. A
CHAPTER XXVI. A
READING OF THE
WILL FATE AID
“I HAVE HAD MY
THE STRANGER ON
THE STORY OF
PAULINE AND LADY
FACE TO FACE.
DYING IN SIN.
CHAPTER XLI. THE
LOVE AND SORROW.
SHADOW OF ABSENT
CHAPTER I. A GIRL WITH A CHARACTER.
It was a strange place for an intelligence office, yet Madame Selini
evidently knew what she was doing when she established her office in an
aristocratic neighborhood, and actually next door to the family mansion
of the Countess Dowager of Barewood. The worthy countess was shocked,
and, taking counsel of her hopes, predicted that Madame Selini's
institution would soon prove a failure. Notwithstanding this
prediction, the agency prospered, and among its patrons were many of
One fine morning in May a carriage stopped before Madame Selini's
door, and from it descended a handsome, aristocratic gentleman,
evidently of the old school. There was some little commotion in the
interior of the building, and then a foot-page appeared to whom Sir
Oswald Darrell—for that was the gentleman's name—gave his card.
“I am here by appointment,” he said, “to see Madame Selini.”
He was ushered into a handsomely furnished room, where, in a few
minutes, he was joined by Madame Selini herself—a quick, bright
Frenchwoman, whose dark eyes seemed to embrace everything in their
comprehensive glance. Sir Oswald bowed with stately courtesy and
quaint, old-fashioned grace.
“Have you been so fortunate, madame, as to find that which I am in
search of?” he inquired.
“I think you will be pleased, Sir Oswald—nay, I am sure you will,”
answered the lady. “I have a lady waiting to see you now, who will
prove, I should say, a treasure.”
Sir Oswald bowed, and madame continued:
“Miss Hastings—Miss Agnes Hastings—has been for the last six years
finishing governess at Lady Castledine's, and her two pupils make their
debut this year; so that there is no longer any occasion for her
“And you think she would be fitted, madame, to occupy the position
for which I require a lady of talent and refinement?”
“I am quite sure of it,” replied madame. “Miss Hastings is thirty
years of age. She is highly accomplished, and her manners are
exceedingly lady-like. She is a person of great refinement; moreover,
she has had great experience with young girls. I do not think, Sir
Oswald, that you could do better.”
“Is the lady here? Can I see her?”
Madame Selini rang, and desired the little page to ask Miss Hastings
to come to her. In a few minutes an elegant, well-dressed lady entered
the room. She advanced with a quiet grace and dignity that seemed
natural to her; there was not the slightest trace of awkwardness or
mauvaise honte in her manner.
Madame Selini introduced her to Sir Oswald Darrell.
“I will leave you,” she said, “to discuss your private
Madame quitted the room with gliding, subtle grace, and then Sir
Oswald, in his courtly fashion, placed a chair for Miss Hastings. He
looked at the pale, clear-cut face for a few minutes in silence, as
though he were at a loss what to say, and then he commenced suddenly:
“I suppose Madame Selini has told you what I want, Miss Hastings?”
“Yes,” was the quiet reply; “your niece has been neglected—you want
some one to take the entire superintendence of her.”
“Neglected!” exclaimed Sir Oswald. “My dear madame, that is a mild
word, which does not express the dreadful reality. I wish to disguise
nothing from you, I assure you—she literally horrifies me.”
Miss Hastings smiled.
“Neglected!” he repeated—“the girl is a savage—a splendid
savage—nothing more nor less.”
“Has she not received any kind of training, then, Sir Oswald?”
“Training! My dear madame, can you imagine what a wild vine is—a
vine that has never been cultivated or pruned, but allowed to grow wild
in all its natural beauty and strength, to cling where it would, to
trail on the ground and to twine round forest trees? Such a vine is a
fit type of my niece.”
Miss Hastings looked slightly bewildered. Here was a very different
pupil from the elegant, graceful daughters of Lady Castledine.
“I should, perhaps,” continued Sir Oswald, “explain to you the
peculiar position that my niece, Miss Pauline Darrell, has occupied.”
His grand old face flushed, and his stately head was bowed, as
though some of the memories that swept over him were not free from
shame; and then, with a little gesture of his white hand, on which
shone a large diamond ring, he said:
“There is no need for me to tell you, Miss Hastings, that the
Darrells are one of the oldest families in England—ancient, honorable,
and, I must confess, proud—very proud. My father, the late Sir
Hildebert Darrell, was, I should say, one of the proudest and most
reserved of men. He had but two children, myself and a daughter twelve
years younger—my sister Felicia. I was educated abroad. It was one of
my father's fancies that I should see many lands, that I should study
men and women before settling down to my right position in the world;
so that I knew but little of my sister Felicia. She was a child when I
left home—the tragedy of her life had happened before I returned.”
Again a great rush of color came over the pale, aristocratic face.
“I must apologize, Miss Hastings, for troubling you with these
details, but unless you understand them you will not understand my
niece. I cannot tell you how it happened, but it did so happen that
while I was away my sister disgraced herself; she left home with a
French artist, whom Sir Hildebert had engaged to renovate some choice
and costly pictures at Darrell Court. How it came about I cannot
say—perhaps there were excuses for her. She may have found home very
dull—my father was harsh and cold, and her mother was dead. It may be
that when the young artist told her of warm love in sunny lands she was
tempted, poor child, to leave the paternal roof.
“My father's wrath was terrible; he pursued Julian L'Estrange with
unrelenting fury. I believe the man would have been a successful artist
but for my father, who had vowed to ruin him, and who never rested
until he had done so—until he had reduced him to direst poverty—and
then my sister appealed for help, and my father refused to grant it. He
would not allow her name to be mentioned among us; her portrait was
destroyed; everything belonging to her was sent away from Darrell
“When I returned—in an interview that I shall never forget—my
father threatened me not only with disinheritance, but with his curse,
if I made any attempt to hold the least communication with my sister. I
do not know that I should have obeyed him if I could have found her,
but I did not even know what part of the world she was in. She died,
poor girl, and I have no doubt that her death was greatly hastened by
privation. My father told me of her death, also that she had left one
daughter; he did more—he wrote to Julian L'Estrange, and offered to
adopt his daughter on the one condition that he would consent never to
see her or hold the least communication with her.
“The reply was, as you may imagine, a firm refusal and a fierce
denunciation. In the same letter came a note, written in a large,
“'I love my papa, and I do not love you. I will not come to live
with you. You are a cruel man, and you helped to kill my dear mamma.'
“It was a characteristic little note, and was signed 'Pauline
L'Estrange.' My father's anger on receiving it was very great. I
confess that I was more amused than angry.
“My father, Miss Hastings, lived to a good old age. I was not a
young man when I succeeded him. He left me all his property. You must
understand the Darrell and Audleigh Royal estates are not entailed. He
made no mention in his will of the only grandchild he had; but, after I
had arranged all my affairs, I resolved to find her. For ten years I
have been doing all I could—sending to France, Italy, Spain, and every
country where I thought it possible the artist might have sought
“Three months since I received a letter from him, written on his
death-bed, asking me to do something for Pauline, who had grown up into
a beautiful girl of seventeen. I found then that he had been living for
some years in the Rue d'Orme, Paris. I buried him, brought his daughter
to England, and made arrangements whereby she should assume the name of
Darrell. But I little knew what a task I had undertaken. Pauline ought
to be my heiress, Miss Hastings. She ought to succeed me at Darrell
Court. I have no other relatives. But—well, I will not despair; you
will see what can be done with her.”
“What are her deficiencies?” asked Miss Hastings.
Sir Oswald raised his white hands with a gesture of despair.
“I will tell you briefly. She has lived among artists. She does not
seem to have ever known any of her own sex. She is—I am sorry to use
the word—a perfect Bohemian. Whether she can be transformed into
anything faintly resembling a lady, I cannot tell. Will you undertake
the task, Miss Hastings?”
She looked very thoughtful for some minutes, and then answered:
“I will do my best, Sir Oswald.”
“I thank you very much. You must permit me to name liberal terms,
for your task will be no light one.”
And the interview ended, to their mutual satisfaction.
CHAPTER II. “DARRELL COURT IS A
PRISON TO ME!”
It was a beautiful May day, bright with fresh spring loveliness. The
leaves were springing fresh and green from the trees; the hedges were
all abloom with pink hawthorn; the chestnut trees were all in flower;
the gold of the laburnum, the purple of the lilac, the white of the
fair acacia trees, and the delicate green of the stately elms and limes
gave a beautiful variety of color. The grass was dotted with a hundred
wild-flowers; great clusters of yellow buttercups looked in the
distance like the upspreading of a sea of gold; the violets perfumed
the air, the bluebells stirred in the sweet spring breeze, and the
birds sang out loudly and jubilantly.
If one spot looked more lovely than another on this bright May day,
it was Darrell Court, for it stood where the sun shone brightest, in
one of the most romantic and picturesque nooks of England—the part of
Woodshire bordering on the sea.
The mansion and estates stood on gently rising ground; a chain of
purple hills stretched away into the far distance; then came the pretty
town of Audleigh Royal, the Audleigh Woods, and the broad, deep river
Darte. The bank of the river formed the boundary of the Darrell
estates, a rich and magnificent heritage, wherein every beauty of
meadow and wood seemed to meet. The park was rich in its stately trees
and herds of deer; and not far from the house was a fir-wood—an
aromatic, odorous fir-wood, which led to the very shores of the smiling
By night and by day the grand music of nature was heard in
perfection at Darrell Court. Sometimes it was the roll of the wind
across the hills, or the beat of angry waves on the shore, or the wild
melody of the storm among the pine trees, or the full chorus of a
thousand feathered songsters. The court itself was one of the most
picturesque of mansions. It did not belong to any one order or style of
architecture—there was nothing stiff or formal about it—but it looked
in that bright May sunshine a noble edifice, with its square towers
covered with clinging ivy, gray turrets, and large arched windows.
Did the sun ever shine upon such a combination of colors? The spray
of the fountains glittered in the air, the numerous balconies were
filled with flowers; wherever it was possible for a flower to take
root, one had been placed to grow—purple wistarias, sad, solemn
passion-flowers, roses of every hue. The star-like jessamine and
scarlet creepers gave to the walls of the old mansion a vivid glow of
color; gold and purple enriched the gardens, heavy white lilies
breathed faintest perfume. The spot looked a very Eden.
The grand front entrance consisted of a large gothic porch, which
was reached by a broad flight of steps, adorned with white marble vases
filled with flowers; the first terrace was immediately below, and
terrace led from terrace down to the grand old gardens, where sweetest
There was an old-world air about the place—something patrician,
quiet, reserved. It was no vulgar haunt for vulgar crowds; it was not a
show place; and the master of it, Sir Oswald Darrell, as he stood upon
the terrace, looked in keeping with the surroundings.
There was a distingue air about Sir Oswald, an old-fashioned
courtly dignity, which never for one moment left him. He was thoroughly
well bred; he had not two sets of manners—one for the world, and one
for private life; he was always the same, measured in speech, noble in
his grave condescension. No man ever more thoroughly deserved the name
of aristocrat; he was delicate and fastidious, with profound and
deeply-rooted dislike for all that was ill-bred, vulgar, or mean.
Even in his dress Sir Oswald was remarkable; the superfine white
linen, the diamond studs and sleeve links, the rare jewels that gleamed
on his fingers—all struck the attention; and, as he took from his
pocket a richly engraved golden snuff-box and tapped it with the ends
of his delicate white fingers, there stood revealed a thorough
aristocrat—the ideal of an English patrician gentleman.
Sir Oswald walked round the stately terraces and gardens.
“I do not see her,” he said to himself; “yet most certainly Frampton
told me she was here.”
Then, with his gold-headed cane in hand, Sir Oswald descended to the
gardens. He was evidently in search of some one. Meeting one of the
gardeners, who stood, hat in hand, as he passed by, Sir Oswald asked:
“Have you seen Miss Darrell in the gardens?”
“I saw Miss Darrell in the fernery some five minutes since, Sir
Oswald,” was the reply.
Sir Oswald drew from his pocket a very fine white handkerchief and
diffused an agreeable odor of millefleurs around him; the gardener had
been near the stables, and Sir Oswald was fastidious.
A short walk brought him to the fernery, an exquisite combination of
rock and rustic work, arched by a dainty green roof, and made musical
by the ripple of a little waterfall. Sir Oswald looked in cautiously,
evidently rather in dread of what he might find there; then his eyes
fell upon something, and he said:
“Pauline, are you there?”
A rich, clear, musical voice answered:
“Yes, I am here, uncle.”
“My dear,” continued Sir Oswald, half timidly, not advancing a step
farther into the grotto, “may I ask what you are doing?”
“Certainly, uncle,” was the cheerful reply; “you may ask by all
means. The difficulty is to answer; for I am really doing nothing, and
I do not know how to describe 'nothing.'”
“Why did you come hither?” he asked.
“To dream,” replied the musical voice. “I think the sound of falling
water is the sweetest music in the world. I came here to enjoy it, and
to dream over it.”
Sir Oswald looked very uncomfortable.
“Considering, Pauline, how much you have been neglected, do you not
think you might spend your time more profitably—in educating yourself,
“This is educating myself. I am teaching myself beautiful thoughts,
and nature just now is my singing mistress.” And then the speaker's
voice suddenly changed, and a ring of passion came into it. “Who says
that I have been neglected? When you say that, you speak ill of my dear
dead father, and no one shall do that in my presence. You speak
slander, and slander ill becomes an English gentleman. If I was
neglected when my father was alive, I wish to goodness such neglect
were my portion now!”
Sir Oswald shrugged his shoulders.
“Each one to his or her taste, Pauline. With very little more of
such neglect you would have been a——”
He paused; perhaps some instinct of prudence warned him.
“A what?” she demanded, scornfully. “Pray finish the sentence, Sir
“My dear, you are too impulsive, too hasty. You want more quietness
of manner, more dignity.”
Her voice deepened in its tones as she asked:
“I should have been a what, Sir Oswald? I never begin a sentence and
leave it half finished. You surely are not afraid to finish it?”
“No, my dear,” was the calm reply; “there never yet was a Darrell
afraid of anything on earth. If you particularly wish me to do so, I
will finish what I was about to say. You would have been a confirmed
Bohemian, and nothing could have made you a lady.”
“I love what you call Bohemians, and I detest what you call ladies,
Sir Oswald,” was the angry retort.
“Most probably; but then, you see, Pauline, the ladies of the house
of Darrell have always been ladies—high-bred, elegant women. I doubt
if any of them ever knew what the word 'Bohemian' meant.”
She laughed a little scornful laugh, which yet was sweet and clear
as the sound of silver bells.
“I had almost forgotten,” said Sir Oswald. “I came to speak to you
about something, Pauline; will you come into the house with me?”
They walked on together in silence for some minutes, and then Sir
“I went to London, as you know, last week, Pauline, and my errand
was on your behalf.”
She raised her eyebrows, but did not deign to ask any questions.
“I have engaged a lady to live with us here at Darrell Court, whose
duties will be to finish your education, or, rather, I may truthfully
say, to begin it, to train you in the habits of refined society,
to—to—make you presentable, in fact, Pauline, which I am sorry,
really sorry to say, you are not at present.”
She made him a low bow—a bow full of defiance and rebellion.
“I am indeed indebted to you, Sir Oswald.”
“No trifling,” said the stately baronet, “no sarcasm, Pauline, but
listen to me! You are not without sense or reason—pray attend. Look
around you,” he continued; “remember that the broad fair lands of
Darrell Court form one of the grandest domains in England. It is an
inheritance almost royal in its extent and magnificence. Whoso reigns
here is king or queen of half a county, is looked up to, respected,
honored, admired, and imitated. The owner of Darrell Court is a power
even in this powerful land of ours; men and women look up to such a one
for guidance and example. Judge then what the owner of the inheritance
The baronet's grand old face was flushed with emotion.
“He must be pure, or he would make immorality the fashion;
honorable, because men will take their notions of honor from him; just,
that justice may abound; upright, stainless. You see all that,
“Yes,” she assented, quickly.
“No men have so much to answer for,” continued Sir Oswald, “as the
great ones of the land—men in whose hands power is vested—men to whom
others look for example, on whose lives other lives are modeled—men
who, as it were, carry the minds, if not the souls, of their fellow men
in the hollows of their hands.”
Pauline looked more impressed, and insensibly drew nearer to him.
“Such men, I thank Heaven,” he said, standing bareheaded as he
uttered the words, “have the Darrells been—loyal, upright, honest,
honorable, of stainless repute, of stainless life, fitted to rule their
fellow men—grand men, sprung from a grand old race. And at times women
have reigned here—women whose names have lived in the annals of the
land—who have been as shining lights from the purity, the refinement,
the grandeur of their lives.”
He spoke with a passion of eloquence not lost on the girl by his
“I,” he continued, humbly, “am one of the least worthy of my race. I
have done nothing for its advancement; but at the same time I have done
nothing to disgrace it. I have carried on the honors passively. The
time is coming when Darrell Court must pass into other hands. Now,
Pauline, you have heard, you know what the ruler of Darrell Court
should be. Tell me, are you fitted to take your place here?”
“I am very young,” she murmured.
“It is not a question of youth. Dame Sibella Darrell reigned here
when she was only eighteen; and the sons she trained to succeed her
were among the greatest statesmen England has ever known. She improved
and enlarged the property; she died, after living here sixty years,
beloved, honored, and revered. It is not a question of age.”
“I am a Darrell!” said the girl, proudly.
“Yes, you have the face and figure of a Darrell; you bear the name,
too; but you have not the grace and manner of a Darrell.”
“Those are mere outward matters of polish and veneer,” she said,
“Nay, not so. You would not think it right to see an unformed,
untrained, uneducated, ignorant girl at the head of such a house as
this. What did you do yesterday? A maid displeased you. You boxed her
ears. Just imagine it. Such a proceeding on the part of the mistress of
Darrell Court would fill one with horror.”
A slight smile rippled over the full crimson lips.
“Queen Elizabeth boxed her courtiers' ears,” said the girl, “and it
seemed right to her.”
“A queen, Pauline, is hedged in by her own royalty; she may do what
she will. The very fact that you are capable of defending an action so
violent, so unlady-like, so opposed to all one's ideas of feminine
delicacy, proves that you are unfit for the position you ought to
“I am honest, at least. I make no pretensions to be what I am not.”
“So is my butler honest, but that does not fit him to be master of
Darrell Court. Honesty is but one quality—a good one, sturdy and
strong; it requires not one, but many qualities to hold such a position
as I would fain have you occupy.”
Miss Darrell's patience was evidently at an end.
“And the upshot of all this, Sir Oswald, is——”
“Exactly so—that I am anxious to give you every chance in my
power—that I have found an estimable, refined, elegant woman, who will
devote her time and talents to train you and fit you for society.”
A low, musical laugh broke from the perfect lips.
“Have you any idea,” she asked, “what I shall be like when I am
“Like a lady, I trust—a well-bred lady. I can imagine nothing more
beautiful than that.”
“When is she coming, this model of yours, Sir Oswald?”
“Nay, your model, niece, not mine. She is here now, and I wish to
introduce her to you. I should like you, if possible,” he concluded,
meekly, “to make a favorable impression on her.”
There was another impatient murmur.
“I wish you to understand, Pauline,” he resumed, after a short
pause, “that I shall expect you to render the most implicit obedience
to Miss Hastings—to follow whatever rules she may lay down for you, to
attend to your studies as she directs them, to pay the greatest heed to
all her corrections, to copy her style, to imitate her manners, to——”
“I hate her!” was the impetuous outburst. “I would sooner be a
beggar all my life than submit to such restraint.”
“Very well,” returned Sir Oswald, calmly. “I know that arguing with
you is time lost. The choice lies with yourself. If you decide to do as
I wish—to study to become a lady in the truest sense of the word—if
you will fit yourself for the position, you shall be heiress of Darrell
Court; if not—if you persist in your present unlady-like, unrefined,
Bohemian manner, I shall leave the whole property to some one else. I
tell you the plain truth without any disguise.”
“I do not want Darrell Court!” she cried, passionately; “it is a
prison to me!”
“I excuse you,” rejoined Sir Oswald, coldly; “you are excited, and
so not answerable for what you say.”
“Uncle,” said the girl, “do you see that beautiful singing bird
there, giving voice to such glorious melody? Do you think you could
catch it and put it in a cage?”
“I have no doubt that I could,” replied Sir Oswald.
“But, if you did,” she persisted; “even suppose you could make it
forget its own wild melodies, could you teach it to sing formally by
note and at your will?”
“I have never supposed anything of the kind,” said Sir Oswald. “You
are possessed of far too much of that kind of nonsense. The young
ladies of the present day—properly educated girls—do not talk in that
“I can easily believe it,” she returned, bitterly.
“Miss Hastings is in the library,” said Sir Oswald, as they entered
the house. “I hope to see you receive her kindly. Put away that frown,
Pauline, and smile if you can. Remember, it is characteristic of the
Darrells to be gracious to strangers.”
With these words Sir Oswald opened the library door, and holding his
niece's hand, entered the room. Miss Hastings rose to receive them. He
led Pauline to her, and in the kindest manner possible introduced them
to each other.
“I will leave you together,” he said. “Pauline will show you your
rooms, Miss Hastings; and I hope that you will soon feel happy, and
quite at home with us.”
Sir Oswald quitted the library, leaving the two ladies looking in
silence at each other.
CHAPTER III. “YOUR GOOD SOCIETY IS
Miss Hastings had been prepared to see a hoiden, an awkward,
unfledged schoolgirl, one who, never having seen much of good society,
had none of the little graces and charms that distinguish young ladies.
She had expected to see a tall, gaunt girl, with red hands, and a
general air of not knowing what to do with herself—that was the idea
she had formed. She gazed in wonder at the reality—a magnificent
figure—a girl whose grand, pale, statuesque beauty was something that
could never be forgotten. There was nothing of the boarding-school
young lady about her; no acquired graces. She was simply
magnificent—no other word could describe her. Miss Hastings, as she
looked at her, thought involuntarily of the graceful lines, the
beautiful curves, the grand, free grace of the world-renowned Diana of
the Louvre; there was the same arched, graceful neck, the same royal
symmetry, the same harmony of outline.
In one of the most celebrated art galleries of Rome Miss Hastings
remembered to have seen a superb bust of Juno; as she looked at her new
pupil, she could almost fancy that its head had been modeled from hers.
Pauline's head was royal in its queenly contour; the brow low, white,
and rounded at the temples; the hair, waving in lines of inexpressible
beauty, was loosely gathered together and fastened behind with a
gleaming silver arrow. The eyes were perhaps the most wonderful feature
in that wonderful face; they were dark as night itself, somewhat in hue
like a purple heartsease, rich, soft, dreamy, yet at times all fire,
all brightness, filled with passion more intense than any words, and
shining then with a strange half-golden light. The brows were straight,
dark, and beautiful; the lips crimson, full, and exquisitely shaped;
the mouth looked like one that could persuade or contemn—that could
express tenderness or scorn, love or pride, with the slightest play of
Every attitude the girl assumed was full of unconscious grace. She
did not appear to be in the least conscious of her wonderful beauty.
She had walked to the window, and stood leaning carelessly against the
frame, one beautiful arm thrown above her head, as though she were
weary, and would fain rest—an attitude that could not have been
surpassed had she studied it for years.
“You are not at all what I expected to see,” said Miss Hastings, at
last. “You are, indeed, so different that I am taken by surprise.”
“Am I better or worse than you had imagined me?” she asked, with
“You are different—better, perhaps, in some things. You are taller.
You are so tall that it will be difficult to remember you are a pupil.”
“The Darrells are a tall race,” she said, quietly. “Miss Hastings,
what have you come here to teach me?”
The elder lady rose from her seat and looked lovingly into the face
of the girl; she placed her hand caressingly on the slender shoulders.
“I know what I should like to teach you, Miss Darrell, if you will
let me. I should like to teach you your duty to Heaven, your
fellow-creatures, and yourself.”
“That would be dry learning, I fear,” she returned. “What does my
uncle wish me to learn?”
“To be in all respects a perfectly refined, graceful lady.”
Her face flushed with a great crimson wave that rose to the white
brow and the delicate shell-like ears.
“I shall never be that,” she cried, passionately. “I may just as
well give up all hopes of Darrell Court. I have seen some ladies since
I have been here. I could not be like them. They seem to speak by rule;
they all say the same kind of things, with the same smiles, in the same
tone of voice; they follow each other like sheep; they seem frightened
to advance an opinion of their own, or even give utterance to an
original thought. They look upon me as something horrible, because I
dare to say what I think, and have read every book I could find.”
“It is not always best to put our thoughts in speech; and the
chances are, Miss Darrell, that, if you have read every book you could
find, you have read many that would have been better left alone. You
are giving a very one-sided, prejudiced view after all.”
She raised her beautiful head with a gesture of superb disdain.
“There is the same difference between them and myself as between a
mechanical singing bird made to sing three tunes and a wild, sweet bird
of the woods. I like my own self best.”
“There is not the least doubt of that,” observed Miss Hastings, with
a smile; “but the question is not so much what we like ourselves as
what others like in us. However, we will discuss that at another time,
“Has my uncle told you that if I please him—if I can be molded into
the right form—I am to be heiress of Darrell Court?” she asked,
“Yes; and now that I have seen you I am persuaded that you can be
anything you wish.”
“Do you think, then, that I am clever?” she asked, eagerly.
“I should imagine so,” replied Miss Hastings. “Pauline—I need not
call you Miss Darrell—I hope we shall be friends; I trust we shall be
“It is not very likely,” she said, slowly, “that I can like you,
“Why not?” asked the governess, astonished at her frankness.
“Because you are to correct me; continual correction will be a great
annoyance, and will prevent my really liking you.”
Miss Hastings looked astounded.
“That may be, Pauline,” she said; “but do you know that it is not
polite of you to say so? In good society one does not tell such
“That is just it,” was the eager retort; “that is why I do not like
good society, and shall never be fit for it. I am truthful by nature.
In my father's house and among his friends there was never any need to
conceal the truth; we always spoke it frankly. If we did not like each
other, we said so. But here, it seems to me, the first lesson learned
to fit one for society is to speak falsely.”
“Not so, Pauline; but, when the truth is likely to hurt another's
feelings, to wound susceptibility or pride, why speak it, unless it is
Pauline moved her white arms with a superb gesture of scorn.
“I would rather any day hear the truth and have my mind hurt,” she
said, energetically, “than feel that people were smiling at me and
deceiving me. Lady Hampton visits Sir Oswald. I do not like her, and
she does not like me; but she always asks Sir Oswald how his 'dear
niece' is, and she calls me a 'sweet creature—original, but very
sweet' You can see for yourself, Miss Hastings, that I am not that.”
“Indeed, you are not sweet,” returned the governess, smiling; “but,
Pauline, you are a mimic, and mimicry is a dangerous gift.”
She had imitated Lady Hampton's languid tones and affected accent to
“Sir Oswald bows and smiles all the time Lady Hampton is talking to
him; he stands first upon one foot, and then upon the other. You would
think, to listen to him, that he was so charmed with her ladyship that
he could not exist out of her presence. Yet I have seen him quite
delighted at her departure, and twice I heard him say 'Thank
Heaven'—it was for the relief. Your good society is all deceit, Miss
“I will not have you say that, Pauline. Amiability, and the desire
always to be kind and considerate, may carry one to extremes at times;
but I am inclined to prefer the amiability that spares to the truth
“I am not,” was the blunt rejoinder. “Will you come to your rooms,
Miss Hastings? Sir Oswald has ordered a suite to be prepared entirely
for our use. I have three rooms, you have four; and there is a study
that we can use together.”
They went through the broad stately corridors, where the warm sun
shone in at the windows, and the flowers breathed sweetest perfume. The
rooms that had been prepared for them were bright and pleasant with a
beautiful view from the windows, well furnished, and supplied with
every comfort. A sigh came from Miss Hastings as she gazed—it was all
so pleasant. But it seemed very doubtful to her whether she would
remain or not—very doubtful whether she would be able to make what Sir
Oswald desired out of that frank, free-spoken girl, who had not one
“Sir Oswald is very kind,” she said, at length, looking around her;
“these rooms are exceedingly nice.”
“They are nice,” said Pauline; “but I was happier with my father in
the Rue d'Orme. Ah me, what liberty we had there! In this stately life
I feel as though I were bound with cords, or shackled with chains—as
though I longed to stretch out my arms and fly away.”
Again Miss Hastings sighed, for it seemed to her that the time of
her residence at Darrell Court would in all probability be very short.
CHAPTER IV. “YOU ARE GOING TO SPOIL
Two days had passed since Miss Hastings' arrival. On a beautiful
morning, when the sun was shining and the birds were singing in the
trees, she sat in the study, with an expression of deepest anxiety, of
deepest thought on her face. Pauline, with a smile on her lips, sat
opposite to her, and there was profound silence. Miss Darrell was the
first to break it.
“Well,” she asked, laughingly, “what is your verdict, Miss
The elder lady looked up with a long, deep-drawn sigh.
“I have never been so completely puzzled in all my life,” she
replied. “My dear Pauline, you are the strangest mixture of ignorance
and knowledge that I have ever met. You know a great deal, but it is
all of the wrong kind; you ought to unlearn all that you have learned.”
“You admit then that I know something.”
“Yes; but it would be almost better, perhaps, if you did not. I will
tell you how I feel, Pauline. I know nothing of building, but I feel as
though I had been placed before a heap of marble, porphyry, and
granite, of wood, glass, and iron, and then told from those materials
to shape a magnificent palace. I am at a loss what to do.”
Miss Darrell laughed with the glee of a child. Her governess,
repressing her surprise, continued:
“You know more in some respects than most educated women; in other
and equally essential matters you know less than a child. You speak
French fluently, perfectly; you have read a large number of books in
the French language—good, bad, and indifferent, it appears to me; yet
you have no more idea of French grammar or of the idiom or construction
of the language than a child.”
“That, indeed, I have not; I consider grammar the most stupid of all
Miss Hastings offered no comment.
“Again,” she continued, “you speak good English, but your spelling
is bad, and your writing worse. You are better acquainted with English
literature than I am—that is, you have read more. You have read
indiscriminately; even the titles of some of the books you have read
are not admissible.”
The dark eyes flashed, and the pale, grand face was stirred as
though by some sudden emotion.
“There was a large library in the house where we lived,” she
explained, hurriedly, “and I read every book in it. I read from early
morning until late at night, and sometimes from night until morning;
there was no one to tell me what was right and what was wrong, Miss
“Then,” continued the governess, “you have written a spirited poem
on Anne Boleyn, but you know nothing of English history—neither the
dates nor the incidents of a single reign. You have written the half of
a story, the scene of which is laid in the tropics, yet of geography
you have not the faintest notion. Of matters such as every girl has
some idea of—of biography, of botany, of astronomy—you have not even
a glimmer. The chances are, that if you engaged in conversation with
any sensible person, you would equally astonish, first by the clever
things you would utter, and then by the utter ignorance you would
“I cannot be flattered, Miss Hastings,” Pauline put in, “because you
humiliate me; nor can I be humiliated, because you flatter me.”
But Miss Hastings pursued her criticisms steadily.
“You have not the slightest knowledge of arithmetic. As for
knowledge of a higher class, you have none. You are dreadfully
deficient. You say that you have read Auguste Comte, but you do not
know the answer to the first question in your church catechism. Your
education requires beginning all over again. You have never had any
settled plan of study, I should imagine.”
“No. I learned drawing from Jules Lacroix. Talk of talent, Miss
Hastings. You should have known him—he was the handsomest artist I
ever saw. There was something so picturesque about him.”
“Doubtless,” was the dry response; “but I think 'picturesque' is not
the word to use in such a case. Music, I presume, you taught yourself?”
The girl's whole face brightened—her manner changed.
“Yes, I taught myself; poor papa could not afford to pay for my
lessons. Shall I play to you, Miss Hastings?”
There was a piano in the study, a beautiful and valuable instrument,
which Sir Oswald had ordered for his niece.
“I shall be much pleased to hear you,” said Miss Hastings.
Pauline Darrell rose and went to the piano. Her face then was as the
face of one inspired. She sat down and played a few chords, full,
beautiful, and harmonious.
“I will sing to you,” she said. “We often went to the opera—papa,
Jules, Louis, and myself. I used to sing everything I heard. This is
from 'Il Puritani.'”
And she sang one of the most beautiful solos in the opera.
Her voice was magnificent, full, ringing, vibrating with passion—a
voice that, like her face, could hardly be forgotten; but she played
and sang entirely after a fashion of her own.
“Now, Miss Hastings,” she said, “I will imitate Adelina Patti.”
Face, voice, manner, all changed; she began one of the far-famed
prima-donna's most admired songs, and Miss Hastings owned to herself
that if she had closed her eyes she might have believed Madame Patti
“This is a la Christine Nilsson,” continued Pauline; and
again the imitation was brilliant and perfect.
The magnificent voice did not seem to tire, though she sang song
after song, and imitated in the most marvelous manner some of the
grandest singers of the day. Miss Hasting left her seat and went up to
“You have a splendid voice, my dear, and great musical genius. Now
tell me, do you know a single note of music?”
“Not one,” was the quick reply.
“You know nothing of the keys, time, or anything else?”
“Why should I trouble myself when I could play without learning
anything of the kind?”
“But that kind of playing, Pauline, although it is very clever,
would not do for educated people.”
“Is it not good enough for them?” she asked, serenely.
“No; one cannot help admiring it, but any educated person hearing
you would detect directly that you did not know your notes.”
“Would they think much less of me on that account?” she asked, with
the same serenity.
“Yes; every one would think it sad to see so much talent wasted. You
must begin to study hard; you must learn to play by note, not by ear,
and then all will be well. You love music, Pauline?”
How the beautiful face glowed and the dark eyes shone.
“I love it,” she said, “because I can put my whole soul into
it—there is room for one's soul in it. You will be shocked, I know,
but that is why I liked Comte's theories—because they filled my mind,
and gave me so much to think of.”
“Were I in your place I should try to forget them, Pauline.”
“You should have seen Sir Oswald's face when I told him I had read
Comte and Darwin. He positively groaned aloud.”
And she laughed as she remembered his misery.
“I feel very much inclined to groan myself,” said Miss Hastings.
“You shall have theories, or facts, higher, more beautiful, nobler,
grander far than any Comte ever dreamed. And now we must begin to work
in real earnest.”
But Pauline Darrell did not move; her dark eyes were shadowed, her
beautiful face grew sullen and determined.
“You are going to spoil my life,” she said. “Hitherto it has been a
glorious life—free, gladsome, and bright; now you are going to parcel
it out. There will be no more sunshiny hours; you are going to reduce
me to a kind of machine, to cut off all my beautiful dreams, my lofty
thoughts. You want to make me a formal, precise young lady, who will
laugh, speak, and think by rule.”
“I want to make you a sensible woman, my dear Pauline,” corrected
Miss Hastings, gravely.
“Who is the better or the happier for being so sensible?” demanded
She paused for a few minutes, and then she added, suddenly:
“Darrell Court and all the wealth of the Darrells are not worth it,
“Not worth what, Pauline?”
“Not worth the price I must pay.”
“What is the price?” asked Miss Hastings, calmly.
“My independence, my freedom of action and thought, my liberty of
“Do you seriously value these more highly than all that Sir Oswald
could leave you?”
“I do—a thousand times more highly,” she replied.
Miss Hastings was silent for some few minutes, and then said:
“We must do our best; suppose we make a compromise? I will give you
all the liberty that I honestly can, in every way, and you shall give
your attention to the studies I propose. I will make your task as easy
as I can for you. Darrell Court is worth a struggle.”
“Yes,” was the half-reluctant reply, “it is worth a struggle, and I
will make it.”
But there was not much hope in the heart of the governess when she
commenced her task.
CHAPTER V. PAULINE'S GOOD POINTS.
How often Sir Oswald's simile of the untrained, unpruned,
uncultivated vine returned to the mind of Miss Hastings! Pauline
Darrell was by nature a genius, a girl of magnificent intellect, a
grand, noble, generous being all untrained. She had in her capabilities
of the greatest kind—she could be either the very empress of
wickedness or angelic. She was gloriously endowed, but it was
impossible to tell how she would develop; there was no moderation in
her, she acted always from impulse, and her impulses were quick, warm,
and irresistible. If she had been an actress, she would surely have
been the very queen of the stage. Her faults were like her virtues, all
grand ones. There was nothing trivial, nothing mean, nothing ungenerous
about her. She was of a nature likely to be led to the highest
criminality or the highest virtue; there could be no medium of mediocre
virtue for her. She was full of character, charming even in her
willfulness, but utterly devoid of all small affectations. There was in
her the making of a magnificent woman, a great heroine; but nothing
could have brought her to the level of commonplace people. Her
character was almost a terrible one in view of the responsibilities
attached to it.
Grand, daring, original, Pauline was all force, all fire, all
passion. Whatever she loved, she loved with an intensity almost
terrible to witness. There was also no “middle way” in her
dislikes—she hated with a fury of hate. She had little patience,
little toleration; one of her greatest delights consisted in ruthlessly
tearing away the social vail which most people loved to wear. There
were times when her grand, pale, passionate beauty seemed to darken and
to deepen, and one felt instinctively that it was in her to be cruel
even to fierceness; and again, when her heart was touched and her face
softened, one imagined that she might be somewhat akin to the angels.
What was to become of such a nature? What was to develop it—what
was to train it? If from her infancy Pauline had been under wise and
tender guidance, if some mind that she felt to be superior to her own
had influenced her, the certainty is that she would have grown up into
a thoughtful, intellectual, talented woman, one whose influence would
have been paramount for good, one to whom men would have looked for
guidance almost unconsciously to themselves.
But her training had been terribly defective. No one had ever
controlled her. She had been mistress of her father's house and queen
of his little coterie; with her quiet, unerring judgment, she had made
her own estimate of the strength, the mind, the intellect of each one
with whom she came in contact, and the result was always favorable to
herself—she saw no one superior to herself. Then the society in which
her father had delighted was the worst possible for her; she reigned
supreme over them all—clever, gifted artists, good-natured Bohemians,
who admired and applauded her, who praised every word that fell from
her lips, who honestly believed her to be one of the marvels of the
world, who told her continually that she was one of the most beautiful,
most talented, most charming of mortals, who applauded every daring
sentiment instead of telling her plainly that what was not orthodox was
seldom right—honest Bohemians, who looked upon the child as a wonder,
and puzzled themselves to think what destiny was high enough for
her—men whose artistic tastes were gratified by the sight of her
magnificent loveliness, who had for her the deepest, truest, and
highest respect, who never in her presence uttered a syllable that they
would not have uttered in the presence of a child—good-natured
Bohemians, who sometimes had money and sometimes had none, who were
always willing to share their last sou with others more needy
than themselves, who wore shabby, threadbare coats, but who knew how to
respect the pure presence of a pure girl.
Pauline had received a kind of education. Her father's friends
discussed everything—art, science, politics, and literature—in her
presence; they discussed the wildest stories, they indulged in
unbounded fun and satire, they were of the wittiest even as they were
of the cleverest of men. They ridiculed unmercifully what they were
pleased to call the “regulations of polite society;” they enjoyed
unvarnished truth—as a rule, the more disagreeable the truth the more
they delighted in telling it. They scorned all etiquette, they pursued
all dandies and belles with terrible sarcasm; they believed in every
wild or impossible theory that had ever been started; in fact, though
honest as the day, honorable, and true, they were about the worst
associates a young girl could have had to fit her for the world. The
life she led among them had been one long romance, of which she had
The house in the Rue d'Orme had once been a grand mansion; it was
filled with quaint carvings, old tapestry, and the relics of a by-gone
generation. The rooms were large—most of them had been turned into
studios. Some of the finest of modern pictures came from the house in
the Rue d'Orme, although, as a rule, the students who worked there were
It was almost amusing to see how this delicate young girl ruled over
such society. By one word she commanded these great, generous,
unworldly men—with one little white finger upraised she could beckon
them at her will; they had a hundred pet names for her—they thought no
queen or empress fit to be compared with their old comrade's daughter.
She was to be excused if constant flattery and homage had made her
believe that she was in some way superior to the rest of the world.
When the great change came—when she left the Rue d'Orme for Darrell
Court—it was a terrible blow to Pauline to find all this superiority
vanish into thin air. In place of admiration and flattery, she heard
nothing but reproach and correction. She was given to understand that
she was hardly presentable in polite society—she, who had ruled like a
queen over scholars and artists! Instead of laughter and applause, grim
silence followed her remarks. She read in the faces of those around her
that she was not as they were—not of their world. Her whole soul
turned longingly to the beautiful free Bohemian world she had left. The
crowning blow of all was when, after studying her carefully for some
time, Sir Oswald told her that he feared her manners were against
her—that neither in style nor in education was she fitted to be
mistress of Darrell Court. She had submitted passively to the change in
her name; she was proud of being a Darrell—she was proud of the grand
old race from which she had sprung. But, when Sir Oswald had uttered
that last speech, she flamed out in fierce, violent passion, which
showed him she had at least the true Darrell spirit.
There were points in her favor, he admitted. She was magnificently
handsome—she had more courage and a higher spirit than fall even to
the lot of most men. She was a fearless horse-woman; indeed it was only
necessary for any pursuit to be dangerous and to require unlimited
courage for her instantly to undertake it.
Would the balance at last turn in her favor? Would her beauty, her
spirits, her daring, her courage, outweigh defective education,
defective manner, and want of worldly knowledge?
CHAPTER VI. THE PROGRESS MADE BY THE
It was a beautiful afternoon in June. May, with its lilac and
hawthorn, had passed away; the roses were in fairest bloom, lilies
looked like great white stars; the fullness and beauty, the warmth and
fragrance of summer were on the face of the land, and everything living
rejoiced in it.
Pauline had begged that the daily readings might take place under
the great cedar tree on the lawn.
“If I must be bored by dry historical facts,” she said, “let me at
least have the lights and shadows on the lawn to look at. The shadow of
the trees on the grass is beautiful beyond everything else. Oh, Miss
Hastings, why will people write dull histories? I like to fancy all
kings heroes, and all queens heroines. History leaves us no illusions.”
“Still,” replied the governess, “it teaches us plenty of what you
love so much—truth.”
The beautiful face grew very serious and thoughtful.
“Why are so many truths disagreeable and sad? If I could rule, I
would have the world so bright, so fair and glad, every one so happy. I
cannot understand all this under-current of sorrow.”
“Comte did not explain it, then, to your satisfaction?” said Miss
“Comte!” cried the girl, impatiently. “I am not obliged to believe
all I read! Once and for all, Miss Hastings, I do not believe in Comte
or his fellows. I only read what he wrote because people seemed to
think it clever to have done so. You know—you must know—that I
believe in our great Father. Who could look round on this lovely world
and not do so?”
Miss Hastings felt more hopeful of the girl then than she had ever
felt before. Such strange, wild theories had fallen at times from her
lips that it was some consolation to know she had still a child's
Then came an interruption in the shape of a footman, with Sir
Oswald's compliments, and would the ladies go to the drawing-room?
There were visitors.
“Who are they?” asked Miss Darrell, abruptly.
The man replied:
“Sir George and Lady Hampton.”
“I shall not go,” said Pauline, decidedly; “that woman sickens me
with her false airs and silly, false graces. I have not patience to
talk to her.”
“Sir Oswald will not be pleased,” remonstrated Miss Hastings.
“That I cannot help—it is not my fault. I shall not make myself a
hypocrite to please Sir Oswald.”
“Society has duties which must be discharged, and which do not
depend upon our liking; we must do our duty whether we like it or not.”
“I detest society,” was the abrupt reply—“it is all a sham!”
“Then why not do your best to improve it? That would surely be
better than to abuse it.”
“There is something in that,” confessed Miss Darrell, slowly.
“If we each do our little best toward making the world even ever so
little better than we found it,” said Miss Hastings, “we shall not have
lived in vain.”
There was a singular grandeur of generosity about the girl. If she
saw that she was wrong in an argument or an opinion, she admitted it
with the most charming candor. That admission she made now by rising at
once to accompany Miss Hastings.
The drawing-room at Darrell Court was a magnificent apartment; it
had been furnished under the superintendence of the late Lady Darrell,
a lady of exquisite taste. It was all white and gold, the white
hangings with bullion fringe and gold braids, the white damask with a
delicate border of gold; the pictures, the costly statues gleamed in
the midst of rich and rare flowers; graceful ornaments, tall, slender
vases were filled with choicest blossoms; the large mirrors, with their
golden frames, were each and all perfect in their way. There was
nothing gaudy, brilliant, or dazzling; all was subdued, in perfect good
taste and harmony.
In this superb room the beauty of Pauline Darrell always showed to
great advantage; she was in perfect keeping with its splendor. As she
entered now, with her usual half-haughty, half-listless grace, Sir
Oswald looked up with admiration plainly expressed on his face.
“What a queenly mistress she would make for the Court, if she would
but behave like other people!” he thought to himself, and then Lady
Hampton rose to greet the girl.
“My dear Miss Darrell, I was getting quite impatient; it seems an
age since I saw you—really an age.”
“It is an exceedingly short one,” returned Pauline; “I saw you on
Tuesday, Lady Hampton.”
“Did you? Ah, yes; how could I forget? Ah, my dear child, when you
reach my age—when your mind is filled with a hundred different
matters—you will not have such a good memory as you have now.”
Lady Hampton was a little, over-dressed woman. She looked all
flowers and furbelows—all ribbons and laces. She was, however, a
perfect mistress of all the arts of polite society; she knew exactly
what to say and how to say it; she knew when to smile, when to look
sympathetic, when to sigh. She was not sincere; she never made the
least pretense of being so. “Society” was her one idea—how to please
it, how to win its admiration, how to secure a high position in it.
The contrast between the two was remarkable—the young girl with her
noble face, her grand soul looking out of her clear dark eyes; Lady
Hampton with her artificial smiles, her shifting glances, and would-be
charming gestures. Sir Oswald stood by with a courtly smile on his
“I have some charming news for you,” said Lady Hampton. “I am sure
you will be pleased to hear it, Miss Darrell.”
“That will quite depend on what it is like,” interposed Pauline,
“You dear, droll child! You are so original; you have so much
character. I always tell Sir Oswald you are quite different from any
And though her ladyship spoke smilingly, she gave a keen, quiet
glance at Sir Oswald's face, in all probability to watch the effect of
“Ah, well,” she continued, “I suppose that in your position a little
singularity may be permitted,” and then she paused, with a bland smile.
“To what position do you allude?” asked Miss Darrell.
Lady Hampton laughed again. She nodded with an air of great
“You are cautious, Miss Darrell. But I am forgetting my news. It is
this—that my niece, Miss Elinor Rocheford, is coming to visit me.”
She waited evidently for Miss Darrell to make some complimentary
reply. Not a word came from the proud lips.
“And when she comes I hope, Miss Darrell, that you and she will be
“It is rather probable, if I like her,” was the frank reply.
Sir Oswald looked horrified. Lady Hampton smiled still more sweetly.
“You are sure to like her. Elinor is most dearly loved wherever she
“Is she a sweet creature?” asked Pauline, with such inimitable
mimicry that Miss Hastings shuddered, while Sir Oswald turned pale.
“She is indeed,” replied Lady Hampton, who, if she understood the
sarcasm, made no sign. “With Sir Oswald's permission, I shall bring her
to spend a long day with you, Miss Darrell.”
“I shall be charmed,” said Sir Oswald—“really delighted, Lady
Hampton. You do me great honor indeed.”
He looked at his niece for some little confirmation of his words,
but that young lady appeared too haughty for speech; the word “honor”
seemed to her strangely misapplied.
Lady Hampton relaxed none of her graciousness; her bland suavity
continued the same until the end of the visit; and then, in some way,
she contrived to make Miss Hastings understand that she wanted to speak
with her. She asked the governess if she would go with her to the
carriage, as she wished to consult her about some music. When they were
alone, her air and manner changed abruptly. She turned eagerly to her,
her eyes full of sharp, keen curiosity.
“Can you tell me one thing?” she asked. “Is Sir Oswald going to make
that proud, stupid, illiterate girl his heiress—mistress of Darrell
“I do not know,” replied Miss Hastings. “How should I be able to
answer such a question?”
“Of course I ask in confidence—only in strict confidence; you
understand that, Miss Hastings?”
“I understand,” was the grave reply.
“All the county is crying shame on him,” said her ladyship. “A
French painter's daughter. He must be mad to think of such a thing. A
girl brought up in the midst of Heaven knows what. He never can intend
to leave Darrell Court to her.”
“He must leave it to some one,” said Miss Hastings; “and who has a
better right to it than his own sister's child?”
“Let him marry,” she suggested, hastily; “let him marry, and leave
it to children of his own. Do you think the county will tolerate such a
mistress for Darrell Court—so blunt, so ignorant? Miss Hastings, he
“I can only suppose,” replied the governess, “that he will please
himself, Lady Hampton, without any reference to the county.”
CHAPTER VII. CAPTAIN LANGTON.
June, with its roses and lilies, passed on, the laburnums had all
fallen, the lilies had vanished, and still the state of affairs at
Darrell Court remained doubtful. Pauline, in many of those respects in
which her uncle would fain have seen her changed, remained
unaltered—indeed it was not easy to unlearn the teachings of a
Miss Hastings, more patient and hopeful than Sir Oswald, persevered,
with infinite tact and discretion. But there were certain peculiarities
of which Pauline could not be broken. One was a habit of calling
everything by its right name. She had no notion of using any of those
polite little fictions society delights in; no matter how harsh, how
ugly the word, she did not hesitate to use it. Another peculiarity was
that of telling the blunt, plain, abrupt truth, no matter what the
cost, no matter who was pained. She tore aside the flimsy vail of
society with zest; she spared no one in her almost ruthless
denunciations. Her intense scorn for all kinds of polite fiction was
“You need not say that I am engaged, James,” she said, one day, when
a lady called whom she disliked. “I am not engaged, but I do not care
to see Mrs. Camden.”
Even that bland functionary looked annoyed. Miss Hastings tried to
make some compromise.
“You cannot send such a message as that, Miss Darrell. Pray listen
“Sir Oswald and yourself agreed that she was——”
“Never mind that,” hastily interrupted Miss Hastings. “You must not
hurt any one's feelings by such a blunt message as that; it is neither
polite nor well-bred.”
“I shall never cultivate either politeness or good breeding at the
expense of truth; therefore you had better send the message yourself,
“I will do so,” said the governess, quietly. “I will manage it in
such a way as to show Mrs. Camden that she is not expected to call
again, yet so as not to humiliate her before the servants; but,
remember, not at any sacrifice of truth.”
Such contests were of daily, almost hourly, occurrence. Whether the
result would be such a degree of training as to fit the young lady for
taking the position she wished to occupy, remained doubtful.
“This is really very satisfactory,” said Sir Oswald, abruptly, one
morning, as he entered the library, where Miss Hastings awaited him.
“But,” he continued, “before I explain myself, let me ask you how are
you getting on—what progress are you making with your tiresome pupil?”
The gentle heart of the governess was grieved to think that she
could not give a more satisfactory reply. Little real progress had been
made in study; less in manner.
“There is a mass of splendid material, Sir Oswald,” she said; “but
the difficulty lies in putting it into shape.”
“I am afraid,” he observed, “people will make remarks; and I have
heard more than one doubt expressed as to what kind of hands Darrell
Court is likely to fall into should I make Pauline my heiress. You see
she is capable of almost anything. She would turn the place into an
asylum; she would transform it into a college for philosophers, a home
for needy artists—in fact, anything that might occur to her—without
the least hesitation.”
Miss Hastings could not deny it. They were not speaking of a
manageable nineteenth century young lady, but of one to whom no
ordinary rules applied, whom no customary measures fitted.
“I have a letter here,” continued Sir Oswald, “from Captain Aubrey
Langton, the son of one of my oldest and dearest friends. He proposes
to pay me a visit, and—pray, Miss Hastings, pardon me for suggesting
such a thing, but I should be so glad if he would fall in love with
Pauline. I have an idea that love might educate and develop her more
quickly than anything else.”
Miss Hastings had already thought the same thing; but she knew
whoever won the love of such a girl as Pauline Darrell would be one of
the cleverest of men.
“I am writing to him to tell him that I hope he will remain with us
for a month; and during that time I hope, I fervently hope, he may fall
in love with my niece. She is beautiful enough. Pardon me again, Miss
Hastings, but has she ever spoken to you of love or lovers?”
“No. She is in that respect, as in many others, quite unlike the
generality of girls. I have never heard an allusion to such matters
from her lips—never once.”
This fact seemed to Sir Oswald stranger than any other; he had an
idea that girls devoted the greater part of their thoughts to such
“Do you think,” he inquired, “that she cared for any one in
Paris—any of those men, for instance, whom she used to meet at her
“No,” replied Miss Hastings; “I do not think so. She is strangely
backward in all such respects, although she was brought up entirely
“Among—pardon me, my dear madame, not gentlemen—members, we will
say, of a gentlemanly profession.”
Sir Oswald took from his gold snuff-box a pinch of most
delicately-flavored snuff, and looked as though he thought the very
existence of such people a mistake.
“Any little influence that you may possess over my niece, Miss
Hastings, will you kindly use in Captain Langton's favor? Of course, if
anything should come of my plan—as I fervently hope there may—I shall
stipulate that the engagement lasts two years. During that time I shall
trust to the influence of love to change my niece's character.”
It was only a fresh complication—one from which Miss Hastings did
not expect much.
That same day, during dinner, Sir Oswald told his niece of the
expected arrival of Captain Langton.
“I have seen so few English gentlemen,” she remarked, “that he will
be a subject of some curiosity to me.”
“You will find him—that is, if he resembles his father—a
high-bred, noble gentleman,” said Sir Oswald, complacently.
“Is he clever?” she asked. “What does he do?”
“Do!” repeated Sir Oswald. “I do not understand you.”
“Does he paint pictures or write books?”
“Heaven forbid!” cried Sir Oswald, proudly. “He is a gentleman.”
Her face flushed hotly for some minutes, and then the flush died
away, leaving her paler than ever.
“I consider artists and writers gentlemen,” she retorted—“gentlemen
of a far higher stamp than those to whom fortune has given money and
nature has denied brains.”
Another time a sharp argument would have resulted from the throwing
down of such a gantlet. Sir Oswald had something else in view, so he
allowed the speech to pass.
“It will be a great pleasure for me to see my old friend's son
again,” he said. “I hope, Pauline, you will help me to make his visit a
“What can I do?” she asked, brusquely.
“What a question!” laughed Sir Oswald. “Say, rather, what can you
not do? Talk to him, sing to him. Your voice is magnificent, and would
give any one the greatest pleasure. You can ride out with him.”
“If he is a clever, sensible man, I can do all that you mention; if
not, I shall not trouble myself about him. I never could endure either
tiresome or stupid people.”
“My young friend is not likely to prove either,” said Sir Oswald,
angrily; and Miss Hastings wondered in her heart what the result of it
all would be.
That same evening Miss Darrell talked of Captain Langton, weaving
many bright fancies concerning him.
“I suppose,” she said, “that it is not always the most favorable
specimens of the English who visit Paris. We used to see such droll
caricatures. I like a good caricature above all things—do you, Miss
“When it is good, and pains no one,” was the sensible reply.
The girl turned away with a little impatient sigh.
“Your ideas are all colorless,” she said, sharply. “In England it
seems to me that everybody is alike. You have no individuality, no
“If character means, in your sense of the word, ill-nature, so much
the better,” rejoined Miss Hastings. “All good-hearted people strive to
save each other from pain.”
“I wonder,” said Pauline, thoughtfully, “if I shall like Captain
Langton! We have been living here quietly enough; but I feel as though
some great change were coming. You have no doubt experienced that
peculiar sensation which comes over one just before a heavy
thunder-storm? I have that strange, half-nervous, half-restless
“You will try to be amiable, Pauline,” put in the governess,
quietly. “You see that Sir Oswald evidently thinks a great deal of this
young friend of his. You will try not to shock your uncle in any
way—not to violate those little conventionalities that he respects so
“I will do my best; but I must be myself—always myself. I cannot
assume a false character.”
“Then let it be your better self,” said the governess, gently; and
for one minute Pauline Darrell was touched.
“That sweet creature, Lady Hampton's niece, will be here next week,”
she remarked, after a short pause. “What changes will be brought into
our lives, I wonder?”
Of all the changes possible, least of all she expected the tragedy
that afterward happened.
CHAPTER VIII. THE INTRODUCTION.
It was a never-to-be-forgotten evening when Captain Langton reached
Darrell Court—an evening fair, bright, and calm. The sweet southern
wind bore the perfume of flowers; the faint ripples of the fountains,
the musical song of the birds, seemed almost to die away on the evening
breeze; the sun appeared unwilling to leave the sapphire sky, the
flowers unwilling to close. Pauline had lingered over her books until
she could remain in-doors no longer; then, by Miss Hastings' desire,
she dressed for dinner—which was delayed for an hour—and afterward
went into the garden.
Most girls would have remembered, as they dressed, that a handsome
young officer was coming; Miss Darrell did not make the least change in
her usual toilet. The thin, fine dress of crape fell in statuesque
folds round the splendid figure; the dark hair was drawn back from the
beautiful brow, and negligently fastened with her favorite silver
arrow; the white neck and fair rounded arms gleamed like white marble
through the thin folds of crape. There was not the least attempt at
ornament; yet no queen arrayed in royal robes ever looked more lovely.
Pauline was a great lover of the picturesque. With a single flower,
a solitary knot of ribbon, she could produce an effect which many women
would give all their jewels to achieve. Whatever she wore took a kind
of royal grace from herself which no other person could impart. Though
her dress might be made of the same material as that of others, it
never looked the same. On her it appeared like the robes of a queen.
As Pauline was passing through the corridor, Miss Hastings met her.
The governess looked scrutinizingly at the plain evening dress; it was
the same that she had worn yesterday. Evidently there was no girlish
desire to attract.
“Pauline, we shall have a visitor this evening,” said Miss Hastings;
“you might add a few flowers to your dress.”
She passed on, with a smile of assent. Almost the first thing that
caught her attention out of doors was a large and handsome fuchsia. She
gathered a spray of the rich purple and crimson flowers, and placed it
negligently in her hair. Many women would have stood before their
mirror for an hour without producing the same superb effect. Then she
placed another spray of the same gorgeous flowers in the bodice of her
dress. It was all done without effort, and she would have been the last
in the world to suspect how beautiful she looked. Then she went on to
the fountain, for the beautiful, calm evening had awakened all the
poet's soul within her. The grand, sensitive nature thrilled—the
beautiful, poetic mind reveled in this hour of nature's most supreme
loveliness. A thousand bright fancies surged through her heart and
brain; a thousand poetical ideas shaped themselves into words, and rose
to her lips.
So time passed, and she was unconscious of it, until a shadow
falling over the great white lilies warned her that some one was near.
Looking up quickly, she saw a tall, fair, handsome young man gazing
at her with mingled admiration and surprise. Beside him stood Sir
Oswald, courtly, gracious, and evidently on the alert.
“Captain Langton,” he said, “let me introduce you to my niece, Miss
Not one feature of the girl's proud, beautiful face moved, but there
was some little curiosity in her dark eyes. They rested for a minute on
the captain's face, and then, with a dreamy look, she glanced over the
heads of the white lilies behind him. He was not her ideal, not her
hero, evidently. In that one keen, quick glance, she read not only the
face, but the heart and soul of the man before her.
The captain felt as though he had been subjected to some wonderful
“She is one of those dreadfully shrewd girls that pretend to read
faces,” he said to himself, while he bowed low before her, and replied
with enthusiasm to the introduction.
“My niece is quite a Darrell,” said Sir Oswald, proudly. “You see
she has the Darrell face.”
Again the gallant captain offered some flattering remark—a neatly
turned compliment, which he considered ought to have brought her down,
as a skillful shot does a bird—but the dark eyes saw only the lilies,
“She is proud, like all the Darrells,” he thought; “my father always
said they were the proudest race in England.”
“I hope,” said Sir Oswald, courteously, “that you will enjoy your
visit here, Aubrey. Your father was my dearest friend, and it gives me
great delight to see you here.”
“I am sure of it, Sir Oswald. I am equally happy; I cannot see how
any one could be dull for one minute in this grand old place.”
Sir Oswald's face flushed with pleasure, and for the first time the
dark eyes slowly left the lilies and looked at the captain.
“I find not only one minute, but many hours in which to be dull,”
said Pauline. “Do you like the country so well?”
“I like Darrell Court,” he replied, with a bow that seemed to
embrace Sir Oswald, his niece, and all his possessions.
“You like it—in what way?” asked Pauline, in her terribly downright
manner. “It is your first visit, and you have been here only a few
minutes. How can you tell whether you like it?”
For a few moments Captain Langton looked slightly confused, and then
he rallied. Surely a man of the world was not to be defied by a mere
“I have seen that at Darrell Court,” he said, deferentially, “which
will make the place dear to me while I live.”
She did not understand him. She was far too frank and haughty for a
compliment so broad. But Sir Oswald smiled.
“He is losing no time,” thought the stately old baronet; “he is
falling in love with her, just as I guessed he would.”
“I will leave you,” said Sir Oswald, “to get better acquainted.
Pauline, you will show Captain Langton the aviary.”
“Yes,” she assented, carelessly. “But will you send Miss Hastings
here? She knows the various birds far better than I do.”
Sir Oswald, with a pleased expression on his face, walked away.
“So you have an aviary at the Court, Miss Darrell. It seems to me
there is nothing wanting here. You do not seem interested; you do not
“Not caged ones,” she replied. “I love birds almost as though they
were living friends, but not bright-plumaged birds in golden cages.
They should be free and wild in the woods and forests, filling the
summer air with joyous song. I love them well then.”
“You like unrestricted freedom?” he observed.
“I do not merely like it, I deem it an absolute necessity. I should
not care for life without it.”
The captain looked more attentively at her. It was the Darrell face,
surely enough—features of perfect beauty, with a soul of fire shining
“Yet,” he said, musingly, cautiously feeling his way, “there is but
little freedom—true freedom—for women. They are bound down by a
thousand narrow laws and observances—caged by a thousand restraints.”
“There is no power on earth,” she returned, hastily, “that can
control thoughts or cage souls; while they are free, it is untrue to
say that there is no freedom.”
A breath of fragrant wind came and stirred the great white lilies.
The gallant captain saw at once that he should only lose in arguments
“Shall we visit the aviary?” he asked.
And she walked slowly down the path, he following.
“She is like an empress,” he thought. “It will be all the more glory
for me if I can win such a wife for my own.”
CHAPTER IX. THE BROKEN LILY.
Pauline Darrell was a keen, shrewd observer of character. She judged
more by small actions than by great ones; it was a characteristic of
hers. When women have that gift, it is more to be dreaded than the
cool, calm, matured judgment of men. Men err sometimes in their
estimate of character, but it is very seldom that a woman makes a
The garden path widened where the tall white lilies grew in rich
profusion, and there Pauline and Captain Langton walked side by side.
The rich, sweet perfume seemed to gather round them, and the dainty
flowers, with their shining leaves and golden bracts, looked like great
Captain Langton carried a small cane in his hand. He had begun to
talk to Pauline with great animation. Her proud indifference piqued
him. He was accustomed to something more like rapture when he devoted
himself to any fair lady. He vowed to himself that he would vanquish
her pride, that he would make her care for him, that the proud, dark
eyes should soften and brighten for him; and he gave his whole mind to
the conquest. As he walked along, one of the tall, white lilies bent
over the path; with one touch of the cane he beat it down, and Pauline
gave a little cry, as though the blow had pained her. She stopped, and
taking the slender green stem in her hand, straightened it; but the
blow had broken one of the white leaves.
“Why did you do that?” she asked, in a pained voice.
“It is only a flower,” he replied, with a laugh.
“Only a flower! You have killed it. You cannot make it live again.
Why need you have cut its sweet life short?”
“It will not be missed from among so many,” he said.
“You might say the same thing of yourself,” she retorted. “The world
is full of men, and you would hardly be missed from so many; yet you
would not like——”
“There is some little difference between a man and a flower, Miss
Darrell,” he interrupted, stiffly.
“There is, indeed; and the flowers have the advantage,” she
The captain solaced himself by twisting his mustache, and relieved
his feelings by some few muttered words, which Miss Darrell did not
hear. In her quick, impulsive way, she judged him at once.
“He is cruel and selfish,” she thought; “he would not even stoop to
save the life of the sweetest flower that blows. He shall not forget
killing that lily,” she continued, as she gathered the broken chalice,
and placed it in her belt. “Every time he looks at me,” she said, “he
shall remember what he has done.”
The captain evidently understood her amiable intention, and liked
her accordingly. They walked on for some minutes in perfect silence;
then Pauline turned to him suddenly.
“Have you been long in the army, Captain Langton?”
Flattered by a question that seemed to evince some personal
interest, he hastened to reply:
“More than eight years. I joined when I was twenty.”
“Have you seen any service?” she asked.
“No,” he replied. “My regiment had been for many years in active
service just before I joined, so that we have been at home since then.”
“In inglorious ease,” she said.
“We are ready for work,” he returned, “when work comes.”
“How do you employ your time?” she asked; and again he was flattered
by the interest that the question showed. His face flushed. Here was a
grand opportunity of showing this haughty girl, this “proudest Darrell
of them all,” that he was eagerly sought after in society such as she
had not yet seen.
“You have no conception of the immense number of engagements that
occupy our time,” he replied; “I am fond of horses—I take a great
interest in all races.”
If he had added that he was one of the greatest gamblers on the
turf, he would have spoken truthfully.
“Horse racing,” said Miss Darrell—“that is the favorite occupation
of English gentlemen, is it not?”
“I should imagine so. Then I am considered—you must pardon my
boasting—one of the best billiard players in London.”
“That is not much of a boast,” she remarked, with such quiet
contempt that the captain could only look at her in sheer wonder.
“There are balls, operas, parties, suppers—I cannot tell what; and
the ladies engross a great deal of our time. We soldiers never forget
our devotion and chivalry to the fair sex, Miss Darrell.”
“The fair sex should be grateful that they share your attention with
horses and billiards,” she returned. “But what else do you do, Captain
Langton? I was not thinking of such trifles as these.”
“Trifles!” he repeated. “I do not call horse racing a trifle. I was
within an inch of winning the Derby—I mean to say a horse of mine was.
If you call that a trifle, Miss Darrell, you go near to upsetting
English society altogether.”
“But what great things do you do?” she repeated, her dark eyes
opening wider. “You cannot mean seriously that this is all. Do you
never write, paint—have you no ambition at all?”
“I do not know what you call ambition,” he replied, sullenly; “as
for writing and painting, in England we pay people to do that kind of
thing for us. You do not think that I would paint a picture, even if I
“I should think you clever if you did that,” she returned; “at
present I cannot see that you do anything requiring mind or intellect.”
“Miss Darrell,” he said, looking at her, “you are a radical, I
“A radical?” she repeated, slowly. “I am not quite sure, Captain
Langton, that I know what that means.”
“You believe in aristocracy of intellect, and all that kind of
nonsense,” he continued. “Why should a man who paints a picture be any
better than the man who understands the good points of a horse?”
“Why, indeed?” she asked, satirically. “We will not argue the
question, for we should not agree.”
“I had her there,” thought the captain. “She could not answer me.
Some of these women require a high hand to keep them in order.”
“I do not see Miss Hastings,” she said at last, “and it is quite
useless going to the aviary without her. I do not remember the name of
a single bird; and I am sure you will not care for them.”
“But,” he returned, hesitatingly, “Sir Oswald seemed to wish it.”
“There is the first dinner-bell,” she said, with an air of great
relief; “there will only just be time to return. As you seem solicitous
about Sir Oswald's wishes we had better go in, for he dearly loves
“I believe,” thought the captain, “that she is anxious to get away
from me. I must say that I am not accustomed to this kind of thing.”
The aspect of the dining-room, with its display of fine old plate,
the brilliantly arranged tables, the mingled odor of rare wines and
flowers, restored him to good humor.
“It would be worth some little trouble,” he thought, “to win all
He took Pauline in to dinner. The grand, pale, passionate beauty of
the girl had never shown to greater advantage than it did this evening,
as she sat with the purple and crimson fuchsias in her hair and the
broken lily in her belt. Sir Oswald did not notice the latter until
dinner was half over. Then he said:
“Why, Pauline, with gardens and hothouses full of flowers, have you
chosen a broken one?”
“To me it is exquisite,” she replied.
The captain's face darkened for a moment, but he would not take
offense. The elegantly appointed table, the seductive dinner, the rare
wines, all made an impression on him. He said to himself that there was
a good thing offered to him, and that a girl's haughty temper should
not stand in his way. He made himself most agreeable, he was all
animation, vivacity, and high spirits with Sir Oswald. He was
deferential and attentive to Miss Hastings, and his manner to Pauline
left no doubt in the minds of the lookers on that he was completely
fascinated by her. She was too proudly indifferent, too haughtily
careless, even to resent it. Sir Oswald Darrell was too true a
gentleman to offer his niece to any one; but he had given the captain
to understand that, if he could woo her and win her, there would be no
objection raised on his part.
For once in his life Captain Langton had spoken quite truthfully.
“I have nothing,” he said; “my father left me but a very moderate
fortune, and I have lost the greater part of it. I have not been
careful or prudent, Sir Oswald.”
“Care and prudence are not the virtues of youth,” Sir Oswald
returned. “I may say, honestly, I should be glad if your father's son
could win my niece; as for fortune, she will be richly dowered if I
make her my heiress. Only yesterday I heard that coal had been found on
my Scotch estates, and, if that be true, it will raise my income many
thousands per annum.”
“May you long live to enjoy your wealth, Sir Oswald!” said the young
man, so heartily that tears stood in the old baronet's eyes.
But there was one thing the gallant captain did not confess. He did
not tell Sir Oswald Darrell—what was really the truth—that he was
over head and ears in debt, and that this visit to Darrell Court was
the last hope left to him.
CHAPTER X. PAULINE STILL
Sir Oswald lingered over his wine. It was not every day that he
found a companion so entirely to his taste as Captain Langton. The
captain had a collection of anecdotes of the court, the aristocracy,
and the mess-room, that could not be surpassed. He kept his own
interest well in view the whole time, making some modest allusions to
the frequency with which his society was sought, and the number of
ladies who were disposed to regard him favorably. All was narrated with
the greatest skill, without the least boasting, and Sir Oswald, as he
listened with delight, owned to himself that, all things considered, he
could not have chosen more wisely for his niece.
A second bottle of fine old port was discussed, and then Sir Oswald
“You will like to go to the drawing-room; the ladies will be there.
I always enjoy forty winks after dinner.”
The prospect of a tete-a-tete with Miss Darrell did not
strike the captain as being a very rapturous one.
“She is,” he said to himself, “a magnificently handsome girl, but
almost too haughty to be bearable. I have never, in all my life, felt
so small as I do when she speaks to me or looks at me, and no man likes
that sort of thing.”
But Darrell Court was a magnificent estate, the large annual income
was a sum he had never even dreamed of, and all might be his—Sir
Oswald had said so; his, if he could but win the proud heart of the
proudest girl it had ever been his fortune to meet. The stake was well
worth going through something disagreeable for.
“If she were only like other women,” he thought, “I should know how
to manage her; but she seems to live in the clouds.”
The plunge had to be made, so the captain summoned all his courage,
and went to the drawing-room. The picture there must have struck the
least imaginative of men.
Miss Hastings, calm, elegant, lady-like, in her quiet evening dress
of gray silk, was seated near a small stand on which stood a large
lamp, by the light of which she was reading. The part of the room near
her was brilliantly illuminated. It was a spacious apartment—unusually
so even for a large mansion. It contained four large windows, two of
which were closed, the gorgeous hangings of white and gold shielding
them from view; the other end of the room was in semi-darkness, the
brilliant light from the lamp not reaching it—the windows were thrown
wide open, and the soft, pale moonlight came in. The evening came in,
too, bringing with it the sweet breath of the lilies, the perfume of
the roses, the fragrance of rich clover, carnations, and purple
heliotropes. Faint shadows lay on the flowers, the white silvery light
was very peaceful and sweet; the dewdrops shone on the grass—it was
the fairest hour of nature's fair day.
Pauline had gone to the open window. Something had made her restless
and unquiet; but, standing there, the spell of that beautiful moonlit
scene calmed her, and held her fast. With one look at that wonderful
sky and its myriad stars, one at the soft moonlight and the white
lilies, the fever of life died from her, and a holy calm, sweet
fancies, bright thoughts, swept over her like an angel's wing.
Then she became conscious of a stir in the perfumed air; something
less agreeable mingled with the fragrance of the lilies scent of which
she did not know the name, but which—some she disliked ever afterward
because the captain used it. A low voice that would fain be tender
murmured something in her ear; the spell of the moonlight was gone, the
quickly thronging poetical fancies had all fled away, the beauty seemed
to have left even the sleeping flowers. Turning round to him, she said,
in a clear voice, every word sounding distinctly:
“Have the goodness, Captain Langton, not to startle me again. I do
not like any one to come upon me in that unexpected manner.”
“I was so happy to find you alone,” he whispered.
“I do not know why that should make you happy. I always behave much
better when I am with Miss Hastings than when I am alone.”
“You are always charming,” he said. “I want to ask you something,
Miss Darrell. Be kind, be patient, and listen to me.”
“I am neither kind nor patient by nature,” she returned; “what have
you to say?”
It was very difficult, he felt, to be sentimental with her. She had
turned to the window, and was looking out again at the flowers; one
little white hand played impatiently with a branch of guelder roses
that came peeping in.
“I am jealous of those flowers,” said the captain; “will you look at
me instead of them?”
She raised her beautiful eyes, and looked at him so calmly, with so
much conscious superiority in her manner, that the captain felt
“smaller” than ever.
“You are talking nonsense to me,” she said, loftily; “and as I do
not like nonsense, will you tell me what you have to say?”
The voice was calm and cold, the tones measured and slightly
contemptuous; it was very difficult under such circumstances to be an
eloquent wooer, but the recollection of Darrell Court and its large
rent-roll came to him and restored his fast expiring courage.
“I want to ask a favor of you,” he said; and the pleading expression
that he managed to throw into his face was really creditable to him. “I
want to ask you if you will be a little kinder to me. I admire you so
much that I should be the happiest man in all the world if you would
but give me ever so little of your friendship.”
She seemed to consider his words—to ponder them; and from her
silence he took hope.
“I am quite unworthy, I know; but, if you knew how all my life long
I have desired the friendship of a good and noble woman, you would be
kinder to me—you would indeed!”
“Do you think, then, that I am good and noble?” she asked.
“I am sure of it; your face——”
“I wish,” she interrupted, “that Sir Oswald were of your opinion.
You have lived in what people call 'the world' all your life, Captain
Langton, I suppose?”
“Yes,” he replied, wondering what would follow.
“You have been in society all that time, yet I am the first 'good
and noble woman' you have met! You are hardly complimentary to the sex,
The captain was slightly taken aback.
“I did not say those exact words, Miss Darrell.”
“But you implied them. Tell me why you wish for my friendship more
than any other. Miss Hastings is ten thousand times more estimable than
I am—why not make her your friend?”
“I admire you—I like you. I could say more, but I dare not. You are
hard upon me, Miss Darrell.”
“I have no wish to be hard,” she returned. “Who am I that I should
be hard upon any one? But, you see, I am unfortunately what people call
very plain-spoken—very truthful.”
“So much the better,” said Captain Langton.
“Is it? Sir Oswald says not. If he does not make me his heiress, it
will be because I have such an abrupt manner of speaking; he often
tells me so.”
“Truth in a beautiful woman,” began the captain, sentimentally; but
Miss Darrell again interrupted him—she had little patience with his
“You say you wish for my friendship because you like me. Now, here
is the difficulty—I cannot give it to you, because I do not like you.”
“You do not like me?” cried the captain, hardly able to believe the
evidence of his own senses. “You cannot mean it! You are the first
person who ever said such a thing!”
“Perhaps I am not the first who ever thought it; but then, as I tell
you, I am very apt to say what I think.”
“Will you tell me why you do not like me?” asked the captain,
quietly. He began to see that nothing could be gained in any other
Her beautiful face was raised quite calmly to his, her dark eyes
were as proudly serene as ever, she was utterly unconscious that she
was saying anything extraordinary.
“I will tell you with pleasure,” she replied. “You seem to me
wanting in truth and earnestness; you think people are to be pleased by
flattery. You flatter Sir Oswald, you flatter Miss Hastings, you
flatter me. Being agreeable is all very well, but an honest man does
not need to flatter—does not think of it, in fact. Then, you are
either heedless or cruel—I do not know which. Why should you kill that
beautiful flower that Heaven made to enjoy the sunshine, just for one
idle moment's wanton sport?”
Captain Langton's face grew perfectly white with anger.
“Upon my word of honor,” he said, “I never heard anything like
Miss Darrell turned carelessly away.
“You see,” she said, “friendship between us would be rather
difficult. But I will not judge too hastily; I will wait a few days,
and then decide.”
She had quitted the room before Captain Langton had sufficiently
recovered from his dismay to answer.
CHAPTER XI. HOW WILL IT END?
It was some minutes before Captain Langton collected himself
sufficiently to cross the room and speak to Miss Hastings. She looked
up at him with a smile.
“I am afraid you have not had a very pleasant time of it at that end
of the room, Captain Langton,” she said; “I was just on the point of
“Your pupil is a most extraordinary young lady, Miss Hastings,” he
returned; “I have never met with any one more so.”
Miss Hastings laughed; there was an expression of great amusement on
“She is certainly very original, Captain Langton; quite different
from the pattern young lady of the present day.”
“She is magnificently handsome,” he continued; “but her manners are
“She has very grand qualities,” said Miss Hastings; “she has a noble
disposition and a generous heart, but the want of early training, the
mixing entirely with one class of society, has made her very strange.”
“Strange!” cried the captain. “I have never met with any one so
blunt, so outspoken, so abrupt, in all my life. She has no notion of
repose or polish; I have never been so surprised. I hear Sir Oswald
coming, and really, Miss Hastings, I feel that I cannot see him; I am
not equal to it—that extraordinary girl has quite unsettled me. You
might mention that I have gone out in the grounds to smoke my cigar; I
cannot talk to any one.”
Miss Hastings laughed as he passed out through the open French
window into the grounds. Sir Oswald came in, smiling and contented; he
talked for a few minutes with Miss Hastings, and heard that the captain
was smoking his cigar. He expressed to Miss Hastings his very favorable
opinion of the young man, and then bade her good-night.
“How will it end?” said the governess to herself. “She will never
marry him, I am sure. Those proud, clear, dark eyes of hers look
through all his little airs and graces; her grand soul seems to
understand all the narrowness and selfishness of his. She will never
marry him. Oh, if she would but be civilized! Sir Oswald is quite
capable of leaving all he has to the captain, and then what would
become of Pauline?”
By this time the gentle, graceful governess had become warmly
attached to the beautiful, wayward, willful girl who persisted so
obstinately in refusing what she chose to call “polish.”
“How will it end?” said the governess. “I would give all I have to
see Pauline mistress of Darrell Court; but I fear the future.”
Some of the scenes that took place between Miss Darrell and the
captain were very amusing. She had the utmost contempt for his somewhat
dandified airs, his graces, and affectations.
“I like a grand, rugged, noble man, with the head of a hero, and the
brow of a poet, the heart of a lion, and the smile of a child,” she
said to him one day; “I cannot endure a coxcomb.”
“I hope you may find such a man, Miss Darrell,” he returned,
quietly. “I have been some time in the world, but I have never met with
such a character.”
“I think your world has been a very limited one,” she replied, and
the captain looked angry.
He had certainly hoped and intended to dazzle her with his worldly
knowledge, if nothing else. Yet how she despised his knowledge, and
with what contempt she heard him speak of his various experiences!
Nothing seemed to jar upon her and to irritate her as did his
affectations. She was looking one morning at a very beautifully veined
leaf, which she passed over to Miss Hastings.
“Is it not wonderful?” she asked; and the captain, with his
eye-glass, came to look at it.
“Are you short-sighted?” she asked him, abruptly.
“Not in the least,” he replied.
“Is your sight defective?” she continued.
“No, not in the least degree.”
“Then why do you use that eye-glass, Captain Langton?”
“I-ah-why, because everybody uses one,” he replied.
“I thought it was only women who did that kind of thing—followed a
fashion for fashion's sake,” she said, with some little contempt.
The next morning the captain descended without his eye-glass, and
Miss Hastings smiled as she noticed it.
Another of his affectations was a pretended inability to pronounce
his “t's” and “r's.”
“Can you really not speak plainly?” she said to him one day.
“Most decidedly I can,” he replied, wondering what was coming next.
“Then, why do you call 'rove' 'wove' in that absurd fashion?”
The captain's face flushed.
“It is a habit I have fallen into, I suppose,” he replied. “I must
break myself of it.”
“It is about the most effeminate habit a man can fall into,” said
Miss Darrell. “I think that, if I were a soldier, I should delight in
clear, plain speaking. I cannot understand why English gentlemen seem
to think it fashionable to mutilate their mother tongue.”
There was no chance of their ever agreeing—they never did even for
one single hour.
“What are you thinking about, Pauline?” asked Miss Hastings one day.
Her young pupil had fallen into a reverie over “The History of the
“I am thinking,” she replied, “that, although France boasts so much
of her military glory, England has a superior army; her soldiers are
very brave; her officers the truest gentlemen.”
“I am glad to hear that you think so. I have often wondered if you
would take our guest as a sample.”
Her beautiful lips curled with unutterable contempt.
“Certainly not. I often contrast him with a Captain Lafosse, who
used to visit us in the Rue d'Orme, a grand man with a brown, rugged
face, and great brown hands. Captain Langton is a coxcomb—neither more
nor less, Miss Hastings.”
“But he is polished, refined, elegant in his manner and address,
which, perhaps, your friend with the brown, rugged face was not.”
“We shall not agree, Miss Hastings, we shall not agree. I do not
like Captain Langton.”
The governess, remembering all that Sir Oswald wished, tried in vain
to represent their visitor in a more favorable light. Miss Darrell
simply looked haughty and unconvinced.
“I am years younger than you,” she said, at last, “and have seen
nothing of what you call 'life'; but the instinct of my own heart tells
me that he is false in heart, in mind, in soul; he has a false,
flattering tongue, false lips, false principles—we will not speak of
Miss Hastings looked at her sadly.
“Do you not think that in time, perhaps, you may like him better?”
“No,” was the blunt reply, “I do not. I told him that I did not like
him, but that I would take some time to consider whether he was to be a
friend of mine or not; and the conclusion I have arrived at is, that I
could not endure his friendship.”
“When did you tell him that you did not like him?” asked Miss
“I think it was the first night he came,” she replied.
Miss Hastings looked relieved.
“Did he say anything else to you, Pauline?” she asked, gently.
“No; what should he say? He seemed very much surprised, I suppose,
as he says most people like him. But I do not, and never shall.”
One thing was certain, the captain was falling most passionately in
love with Miss Darrell. Her grand beauty, her pride, her originality,
all seemed to have an irresistible charm for him.
CHAPTER XII. ELINOR ROCHEFORD.
It was a morning in August, when a gray mist hung over the earth, a
mist that resulted from the intense heat, and through which trees,
flowers, and fountains loomed faintly like shadows. The sun showed his
bright face at intervals, but, though he withheld his gracious
presence, the heat and warmth were great; the air was laden with
perfume, and the birds were all singing as though they knew that the
sun would soon reappear.
One glance at her pupil's face showed Miss Hastings there was not
much to be done in the way of study. Pauline wanted to watch the mist
rise from the hills and trees. She wanted to see the sunbeams grow
bright and golden.
“Let us read under the lime trees, Miss Hastings,” she said, and
Captain Langton smiled approval. For the time was come when he followed
her like her shadow; when he could not exist out of her presence; when
his passionate love mastered him, and brought him, a very slave, to her
feet; when the hope of winning her was dearer to him than life itself;
when he would have sacrificed even Darrell Court for the hope of
calling her his wife.
If she knew of his passion, she made no sign; she never relaxed from
her haughty, careless indifference; she never tried in the least to
make herself agreeable to him.
Sir Oswald watched her with keen eyes, and Miss Hastings trembled
lest misfortune should come upon the girl she was learning to love so
dearly. She saw and understood that the baronet was slowly but surely
making up his mind; if Pauline married the captain, he would make her
his heiress; if not, she would never inherit Darrell Court.
On this August morning they formed a pretty group under the shadowy,
graceful limes. Miss Hastings held in her hands some of the fine fancy
work which delights ladies; the captain reclined on a tiger-skin rug on
the grass, looking very handsome, for, whatever might be his faults of
mind, he was one of the handsomest men in England. Pauline, as usual,
was beautiful, graceful, and piquant, wearing a plain morning dress of
some gray material—a dress which on any one else would have looked
plain, but which she had made picturesque and artistic by a dash of
scarlet—and a pomegranate blossom in her hair. Her lovely face looked
more than usually noble under the influence of the words she was
“Tennyson again!” said the captain, as she opened the book. “It is
to be regretted that the poet cannot see you, Miss Darrell, and know
how highly you appreciate his works.”
She never smiled nor blushed at his compliments, as she had seen
other girls do. She had a fashion of fixing her bright eyes on him, and
after one glance he generally was overcome with confusion before his
compliment was ended. .
“I should not imagine that anything I could say would flatter a
poet,” she replied, thoughtfully. “Indeed he is, I should say, as far
above blame as praise.”
Then, without noticing him further, she went on reading. Captain
Langton's eyes never left her face; its pale, grand beauty glowed and
changed, the dark eyes grew radiant, the beautiful lips quivered with
emotion. He thought to himself that a man might lay down his life and
every hope in it to win such love as hers.
Suddenly she heard the sound of voices, and looking up saw Sir
Oswald escorting two ladies.
“What a tiresome thing!” grumbled the captain. “We can never be
alone a single hour.”
“I thought you enjoyed society so much!” she said.
“I am beginning to care for no society on earth but yours,” he
whispered, his face flushing, while she turned haughtily away.
“You are proud,” murmured the captain to himself—“you are as
haughty as you are beautiful; but I will win you yet.”
Then Sir Oswald, with his visitors, advanced. It was Pauline's
aversion, Lady Hampton, with her niece, Miss Rocheford.
Lady Hampton advanced in her usual grave, artificial manner.
“Sir Oswald wanted to send for you, but I said 'no.' What can be
more charming than such a group under the trees? I am so anxious to
introduce my niece to you, Miss Darrell—she arrived only yesterday.
Elinor, let me introduce you to Miss Darrell, Miss Hastings, and
Pauline's dark eyes glanced at the blushing, sweet face, and the
shrinking graceful figure. Miss Hastings made her welcome; and the
captain, stroking his mustache, thought himself in luck for knowing two
such pretty girls.
There could not have been a greater contrast than Pauline Darrell
and Elinor Rocheford. Pauline was dark, proud, beautiful, passionate,
haughty, and willful, yet with a poet's soul and a grand mind above all
worldliness, all meanness, all artifice. Elinor was timid, shrinking,
graceful, lovely, with a delicate, fairy-like beauty, yet withal keenly
alive to the main chance, and never forgetting her aunt's great
maxim—to make the best of everything for herself.
On this warm August morning Miss Rocheford wore a charming gossamer
costume of lilac and white, with the daintiest of Parisian hats on her
golden head. Her gloves, shoes, laces, parasol, were perfection—not a
fold was out of place, not a ribbon awry—contrasting most forcibly
with the grand, picturesque girl near her.
Lady Hampton seated herself, and Miss Rocheford did the same. Sir
Oswald suggesting how very refreshing grapes and peaches would be on so
warm a morning, Captain Langton volunteered to go and order some. Lady
Hampton watched him as he walked away.
“What a magnificent man, Sir Oswald! What a fine clever face! It is
easy to see that he is a military man—he is so upright, so easy; there
is nothing like a military training for giving a man an easy, dignified
carriage. I think I understood that he was the son of a very old friend
“The son of the dearest friend I ever had in the world,” was the
reply; “and I love him as though he were my own—indeed I wish he
Lady Hampton sighed and looked sympathetic.
“Langton,” she continued, in a musing tone—“is he one of the
Langtons of Orde?”
“No,” replied Sir Oswald; “my dear old friend was of a good family,
but not greatly blessed by fortune.”
It was wonderful to see how Lady Hampton's interest in the captain
at once died out; there was no more praise, no more admiration for him.
If she had discovered that he was heir to an earldom, how different it
would have been! Before long the captain returned, and then a rustic
table was spread under the lime trees, with purple grapes, peaches,
crimson and gold apricots, and ruby plums.
“It's quite picturesque,” Lady Hampton declared, with a smile; “and
Elinor, dear child, enjoys fruit so much.”
In spite of Lady Hampton's wish, there did not appear to be much
cordiality between the two girls. Occasionally Elinor would look at the
captain, who was not slow to return her glances with interest. His eyes
said plainly that he thought her very lovely.
Miss Rocheford was in every respect the model of a well brought up
young lady. She knew that the grand end and aim of her existence was to
marry well—she never forgot that. She was well-born, well-bred,
beautiful, accomplished, but without fortune. From her earliest
girlhood Lady Hampton had impressed upon her the duty of marrying
“You have everything else, Elinor,” she was accustomed to say. “You
must marry for title and money.”
Miss Rocheford knew it. She had no objection to her fate—she was
quite passive over it—but she did hope at times that the man who had
the title and money would be young, handsome, and agreeable. If he were
not, she could not help it, but she hoped he would be.
Lady Hampton had recently become a widow. In her youth she had felt
some little hope of being mistress of Darrell Court; but that hope had
soon died. Now, however, that a niece was thrown upon her hands, she
took heart of grace in another respect; for Sir Oswald was not an old
man. It was true his hair was white, but he was erect, dignified, and,
in Lady Hampton's opinion, more interesting than a handsome young man,
who would think of nothing but himself. If he would be but sensible,
and, instead of adopting that proud, unformed girl, marry, how much
better it would be!
She knew that her niece was precisely the style that he
admired—elegant, delicate, utterly incapable of any originality, ready
at any moment to yield her opinions and ideas, ready to do implicitly
as she was told, to believe in the superiority of her husband—a model
woman, in short, after Sir Oswald's own heart. She saw that the baronet
was much struck with Elinor; she knew that in his own mind he was
contrasting the two girls—the graceful timidity of the one, her
perfect polish of manner, with the brusque independence and terribly
plain-spoken fashion of the other.
“It would be ten thousand pities,” said Lady Hampton to herself, “to
see that girl mistress of Darrell Court. She would make a good queen
for the Sandwich Islands. Before I go, I must open Sir Oswald's eyes,
and give him a few useful hints.”
CHAPTER XIII. SIR OSWALD THINKS OF
Fortune favored Lady Hampton. Sir Oswald was so delighted with his
visitors that he insisted upon their remaining for luncheon.
“The young ladies will have time to become friends,” he said; but it
was well that he did not see how contemptuously Pauline turned away at
the words. “Pauline,” he continued, “Miss Rocheford will like to see
the grounds. This is her first visit to Darrell Court. Show her the
fountains and the flower-gardens.”
Elinor looked up with a well-assumed expression of rapture;
Pauline's look of annoyance indicated that she obeyed greatly against
Sir Oswald saw the captain looking wistfully after the two girlish
“Go,” he said, with a courtly smile. “Young people like to be
together. I will entertain Lady Hampton.”
Greatly relieved, the captain followed. He was so deeply and so
desperately in love that he could not endure to see Pauline Darrell
talking even to the girl by her side. He would fain have engrossed
every word, every glance of hers himself; he was madly jealous when
such were bestowed upon others.
The three walked down the broad cedar path together, the captain all
gallant attention, Miss Rocheford all sweetness, Pauline haughty as a
young barbaric queen bound by a conqueror's chains. She did not like
her companions, and did not even make a feint of being civil to them.
Meanwhile the opportunity so longed for by Lady Hampton had arrived;
and the lady seized it with alacrity. She turned to Sir Oswald with a
“You amuse me,” she said, “by giving yourself such an air of age.
Why do you consider yourself so old, Sir Oswald? If it were not that I
feared to flatter you, I should say that there were few young men to
compare with you.”
“My dear Lady Hampton,” returned the baronet, in a voice that was
not without pathos, “look at this.”
He placed his thin white hand upon his white hair. Lady Hampton
“What does that matter? Why, many men are gray even in their youth.
I have always wondered why you seek to appear so old, Sir Oswald. I
feel sure, judging from many indications, that you cannot be sixty.”
“No; but I am over fifty—and my idea is that, at fifty, one is
“Nothing of the kind!” she said, with great energy. “Some of the
finest men I have known were only in the prime of life then. If you
were seventy, you might think of speaking as you do. Sir Oswald,” she
asked, abruptly, looking keenly at his face, “why have you never
He smiled, but a flush darkened the fine old face.
“I was in love once,” he replied, simply, “and only once. The lady
was young and fair. She loved me in return. But a few weeks before our
marriage she was suddenly taken ill and died. I have never even thought
of replacing her.”
“How sad! What sort of a lady was she, Sir Oswald—this fair young
love of yours?”
“Strange to say, in face, figure, and manner she somewhat resembled
your lovely young niece, Lady Hampton. She had the same quiet, graceful
manner, the same polished grace—so different from——”
“From Miss Darrell,” supplied the lady, promptly. “How that
unfortunate girl must jar upon you!”
“She does; but there are times when I have hopes of her. We are
talking like old friends now, Lady Hampton. I may tell you that I think
there is one and only one thing that can redeem my niece, and that is
love. Love works wonders sometimes, and I have hopes that it may do so
in her case. A grand master-passion such as controls the Darrells when
they love at all—that would redeem her. It would soften that fierce
pride and hauteur, it would bring her to the ordinary level of
womanhood; it would cure her of many of the fantastic ideas that seem
to have taken possession of her; it would make her—what she certainly
is not now—a gentlewoman.”
“Do you think so?” queried Lady Hampton, doubtfully.
“I am sure of it. When I look at that grand face of hers, often so
defiant, I think to myself that she may be redeemed by love.”
“And if this grand master-passion does not come to her—if she cares
for some one only after the ordinary fashion of women—what then?”
He threw up his hands with a gesture indicative of despair.
“Or,” continued Lady Hampton—“pray pardon me for suggesting such a
thing, Sir Oswald, but people of the world, like you and myself, know
what odd things are likely at any time to happen—supposing that she
should marry some commonplace lover, after a commonplace fashion, and
that then the master-passion should find her out, what would be the
fate of Darrell Court?”
“I cannot tell,” replied Sir Oswald, despairingly.
“With a person, especially a young girl, of her self-willed,
original, independent nature, one is never safe. How thankful I am that
my niece is so sweet and so womanly!”
Sir Oswald sat for some little time in silence. He looked on this
fair ancestral home of his, with its noble woods and magnificent
gardens. What indeed would become of it if it fell into the
ill-disciplined hands of an ill-disciplined girl—unless, indeed, she
were subject to the control of a wise husband?
Would Pauline ever submit to such control? Her pale, grand face rose
before him, the haughty lips, the proud, calm eyes—the man who
mastered her, who brought her mind into subjection, would indeed be a
superior being. For the first time a doubt crossed Sir Oswald's mind as
to whether she would ever recognize that superior being in Captain
Langton. He knew that there were depths in the girl's nature beyond his
own reach. It was not all pride, all defiance—there were genius,
poetry, originality, grandeur of intellect, and greatness of heart
before which the baronet knew that he stood in hopeless, helpless awe.
Lady Hampton laid her hand on his arm.
“Do not despond, old friend,” she said. “I understand you. I should
feel like you. I should dread to leave the inheritance of my fathers in
such dangerous hands. But, Sir Oswald, why despond? Why not marry?”
The baronet started.
“Marry!” he repeated. “Why, I have never thought of such a thing.”
“Think of it now,” counseled the lady, laughingly; “you will find
the advice most excellent. Instead of tormenting yourself about an
ill-conditioned girl, who delights in defying you, you can have an
amiable, accomplished, elegant, and gentle wife to rule your household
and attend to your comfort—you might have a son of your own to succeed
you, and Darrell Court might yet remain in the hands of the Darrells.”
“But, my dear Lady Hampton, where should I find such a wife? I am no
longer young—who would marry me?”
“Any sensible girl in England. Take my advice, Sir Oswald. Let us
have a Lady Darrell, and not an ill-trained girl who will delight in
setting the world at defiance. Indeed, I consider that marriage is a
duty which you owe to society and to your race.”
“I have never thought of it. I have always considered myself as
having, so to speak, finished with life.”
“You have made a great mistake, but it is one that fortunately can
Lady Hampton rose from her seat, and walked a few steps forward.
“I have put his thoughts in the right groove,” she mused; “but I
ought to say a word about Elinor.”
She turned to him again.
“You ask me who would marry you. Why, Sir Oswald, in England there
are hundreds of girls, well-bred, elegant, graceful, gentle, like my
niece, who would ask nothing better from fortune than a husband like
She saw her words take effect. She had turned his thoughts and ideas
in the right direction at last.
“Shall we go and look after our truants?” she asked, suavely.
And they walked together down the path where Pauline had so
indignantly gathered the broken lily. As though unconsciously, Lady
Hampton began to speak of her niece.
“I have adopted Elinor entirely,” she said—“indeed there was no
other course for me to pursue. Her mother was my youngest sister; she
has been dead many years. Elinor has been living with her father, but
he has just secured a government appointment abroad, and I asked him to
give his daughter to me.”
“It was very kind of you,” observed Sir Oswald.
“Nay, the kindness is on her part, not on mine. She is like a
sunbeam in my house. Fair, gentle, a perfect lady, she has not one idea
that is not in itself innately refined and delicate. I knew that if she
went into society at all she would soon marry.”
“Is there any probability of that?” asked Sir Oswald.
“No, for by her own desire we shall live very quietly this year. She
wished to see Darrell Court and its owner—we have spoken so much of
you—but with that exception we shall go nowhere.”
“I hope she is pleased with Darrell Court,” said Sir Oswald.
“How could she fail to be, as well as delighted with its hospitable
master? I could read that much in her pretty face. Here they are, Sir
Oswald—Miss Darrell alone, looking very dignified—Elinor, with your
friend. Ah, she knows how to choose friends!”
They joined the group, but Miss Darrell was in one of her most
dignified moods. She had been forced to listen to a fashionable
conversation between Captain Langton and Miss Rocheford, and her
indignation and contempt had got the better of her politeness.
They all partook of luncheon together, and then the visitors
departed; not, however, until Lady Hampton had accepted from Sir Oswald
an invitation to spend a week at Darrell Court. Sir Francis and Lady
Allroy were coming—the party would be a very pleasant one; and Sir
Oswald said he would give a grand ball in the course of the week—a
piece of intelligence which delighted the captain and Miss Rocheford
Then Lady Hampton and her niece set out. Sir Oswald held Elinor's
hand rather longer than strict etiquette required.
“How like she is to my dead love!” he thought, and his adieu was
more than cordial.
As they drove home, Lady Hampton gazed at her niece with a look of
“You have a splendid chance, Elinor,” she said; “no girl ever had a
better. What do you think of Darrell Court?”
“It is a palace, aunt—a magnificent, stately palace. I have never
seen anything like it before.”
“It may be yours if you play your cards well, my dear.”
“How?” cried the girl. “I thought it was to be Miss Darrell's. Every
one says she is her uncle's heiress.”
“People need not make too sure of it. I do not think so. With a
little management, Sir Oswald will propose to you, I am convinced.”
The girl's face fell.
“But, aunt, he is so old.”
“He is only just fifty, Elinor. No girl in her senses would ever
call that old. It is just the prime of life.”
“I like Captain Langton so much the better,” she murmured.
“I have no doubt that you do, my dear; but there must be no nonsense
about liking or disliking. Sir Oswald's income must be quite twenty
thousand per annum, and if you manage well, all that may be yours. But
you must place yourself under my directions, and do implicitly what I
tell you, if so desirable a result is to be achieved.”
CHAPTER XIV. PAULINE'S LOVE FOR
Miss Darrell preserved a dignified silence during dinner; but when
the servants had withdrawn, Sir Oswald, who had been charmed with his
“I am delighted, Pauline, that you have secured a young lady friend.
You will be pleased with Miss Rocheford.”
Pauline made no reply; and Sir Oswald, never thinking that it was
possible for one so gentle and lovely as Miss Rocheford to meet with
anything but the warmest praise, continued:
“I consider that Lady Hampton has done us all a great favor in
bringing her charming niece with her. Were you not delighted with her,
Miss Darrell made no haste to reply; but Sir Oswald evidently
awaited an answer.
“I do not like Miss Rocheford,” she said at length; “it would be
quite useless to pretend that I do.”
Miss Hastings looked up in alarm. Captain Langton leaned back in his
chair, with a smile on his lips—he always enjoyed Pauline's “scenes”
when her anger was directed against any one but himself; Sir Oswald's
“Pray, Miss Darrell, may I ask why you do not like her?”
“Certainly. I do not like her for the same reason that I should not
like a diet of sugar. Miss Rocheford is very elegant and gentle, but
she has no opinions of her own; every wind sways her; she has no ideas,
no force of character. It is not possible for me to really like such a
“But, my dear Pauline,” interposed Miss Hastings, “you should not
express such very decided opinions; you should be more reticent, more
“If I am not to give my opinion,” said Pauline, serenely, “I should
not be asked for it.”
“Pray, Miss Hastings, do not check such delightful frankness,” cried
Sir Oswald, angrily, his hands trembling, his face darkening with an
He said no more; but the captain, who thought he saw a chance of
recommending himself to Miss Darrell's favor, observed, later on in the
“I knew you would not like our visitor, Miss Darrell. She was not of
the kind to attract you.”
“Sir Oswald forced my opinion from me,” she said; “but I shall not
listen to one word of disparagement of Miss Rocheford from you, Captain
Langton. You gave her great attention, you flattered her, you paid her
many compliments; and now, if you say that you dislike her, it will
simply be deceitful, and I abominate deceit.”
It was plain that Pauline had greatly annoyed Sir Oswald. He liked
Miss Rocheford very much; the sweet, yielding, gentle disposition,
which Pauline had thought so monotonous, delighted him. Miss Rocheford
was so like that lost, dead love of his—so like! And for this girl,
who tried his patience every hour of the day, to find fault with her!
It was too irritating; he could not endure it. He was very cold and
distant to Pauline for some time, but the young girl was serenely
unconscious of it.
In one respect she was changing rapidly. The time had been when she
had been indifferent to Darrell Court, when she had thought with regret
of the free, happy life in the Rue d'Orme, where she could speak
lightly of the antiquity and grandeurs of the race from which she had
sprung; but all that was altered now. It could not be otherwise,
considering how romantic, how poetical, how impressionable she was, how
keenly alive to everything beautiful and noble. She was living here in
the very cradle of the race, where every tree had its legend, every
stone its story; how could she be indifferent while the annals of her
house were filled with noble retrospects? The Darrells had numbered
great warriors and statesmen among their number. Some of the noblest
women in England had been Darrells; and Pauline had learned to glory in
the old stories, and to feel her heart beat with pride as she
remembered that she, too, was a Darrell.
So, likewise, she had grown to love the Court for its picturesque
beauty, its stately magnificence, and the time came soon when almost
every tree and shrub was dear to her.
It was Pauline's nature to love deeply and passionately if she loved
at all; there was no lukewarmness about her. She was incapable of those
gentle, womanly likings that save all wear and tear of passion. She
could not love in moderation; and very soon the love of Darrell Court
became a passion with her. She sketched the mansion from twenty
different points of view, she wrote verses about it; she lavished upon
it the love which some girls lavish upon parents, brothers, sisters,
She stood one day looking at it as the western sunbeams lighted it
up until it looked as though it were bathed in gold. The stately towers
and turrets, the flower-wreathed balconies, the grand arched windows,
the Gothic porch, all made up a magnificent picture; the fountains were
playing in the sunlit air, the birds singing in the stately trees. She
turned to Miss Hastings, and the governess saw tears standing warm and
bright in the girl's eyes.
“How beautiful it is!” she said. “I cannot tell you—I have no words
to tell you—how I love my home.”
The heart of the gentle lady contracted with sudden fear.
“It is very beautiful,” she said; “but, Pauline, do not love it too
much; remember how very uncertain everything is.”
“There can be nothing uncertain about my inheritance,” returned the
girl. “I am a Darrell—the only Darrell left to inherit it. And, oh!
Miss Hastings, how I love it! But it is not for its wealth that I love
it; it is my heart that is bound to it. I love it as I can fancy a
husband loves his wife, a mother her child. It is everything to me.”
“Still,” said Miss Hastings, “I would not love it too well;
everything is so uncertain.”
“But not that,” replied Pauline, quickly. “My uncle would never dare
to be so unjust as to leave Darrell Court to any one but a Darrell. I
am not in the least afraid—not in the least.”
CHAPTER XV. BREACH BETWEEN UNCLE AND
A few days later the tranquillity of Darrell Court was at an end.
The invited guests were expected, and Sir Oswald had determined to do
them all honor. The state-apartments, which had not been used during
his tenure, were all thrown open; the superb ball-room, once the pride
of the county, was redecorated; the long, empty corridors and suites of
apartments reserved for visitors, were once more full of life. Miss
Hastings was the presiding genius; Pauline Darrell took far less
interest in the preparations.
“I am glad,” she said, one morning, “that I am to see your 'world,'
Sir Oswald. You despise mine; I shall be anxious to see what yours is
The baronet answered her testily:
“I do not quite understand your remarks about 'worlds.' Surely we
live under the same conditions.”
“Not in the same world of people,” she opposed; “and I am anxious to
see what yours is like.”
“What do you expect to find in what you are pleased to call my
world, Pauline?” he asked, angrily.
“Little truth, and plenty of affectation; little honor, and plenty
of polish; little honesty, and very high-sounding words; little
sincerity, and plenty of deceit.”
“By what right do you sit in judgment?” he demanded.
“None at all,” replied Pauline; “but as people are always speaking
ill of the dear, honest world in which I have lived, I may surely be
permitted to criticise the world that is outside it.”
Sir Oswald turned away angrily; and Miss Hastings sighed over the
“Why do you talk to Sir Oswald in a fashion that always irritates
him?” she remonstrated.
“We live in a free country, and have each of us freedom of speech.”
“I am afraid the day will come when you will pay a sad price for
But Pauline Darrell only laughed. Such fears never affected her; she
would sooner have expected to see the heavens fall at her feet than
that Sir Oswald should not leave Darrell Court to her—his niece, a
Darrell, with the Darrell face and the Darrell figure, the true, proud
features of the race. He would never dare to do otherwise, she thought,
and she would not condescend to change either her thought or speech to
“The Darrells do not know fear,” she would say; “there never yet was
an example of a Darrell being frightened into anything.”
So the breach between the uncle and the niece grew wider every day.
He could not understand her; the grand, untrained, undisciplined,
poetical nature was beyond him—he could neither reach its heights nor
fathom its depths. There were times when he thought that, despite her
outward coldness and pride, there was within a soul of fire, when he
dimly understood the magnificence of the character he could not read,
when he suspected there might be some souls that could not be narrowed
or forced into a common groove. Nevertheless he feared her; he was
afraid to trust, not the honor, but the fame of his race to her.
“She is capable of anything,” he would repeat to himself again and
again. “She would fling the Darrell revenues to the wind; she would
transform Darrell Court into one huge observatory, if astronomy pleased
her—into one huge laboratory, if she gave herself to chemistry. One
thing is perfectly clear to me—she can never be my heiress until she
is safely married.”
And, after great deliberation—after listening to all his heart's
pleading in favor of her grace, her beauty, her royal generosity of
character, the claim of her name and her truth—he came to the decision
that if she would marry Captain Langton, whom he loved perhaps better
than any one else in the world, he would at once make his will, adopt
her, and leave her heiress of all that he had in the world.
One morning the captain confided in him, telling him how dearly he
loved his beautiful niece, and then Sir Oswald revealed his intentions.
“You understand, Aubrey,” he said—“the girl is magnificently
beautiful—she is a true Darrell; but I am frightened about her. She is
not like other girls; she is wanting in tact, in knowledge of the
world, and both are essential. I hope you will win her. I shall die
content if I leave Darrell Court in your hands, and if you are her
husband. I could not pass her over to make you my heir; but if you can
persuade her to marry you, you can take the name of Darrell, and you
can guide and direct her. What do you say, Aubrey?”
“What do I say?” stammered the captain. “I say this—that I love her
so dearly that I would marry her if she had not a farthing. I love her
so that language cannot express the depth of my affection for her.”
The captain was for a few minutes quite overcome—he had been so
long dunned for money, so hardly pressed, so desperate, that the chance
of twenty thousand a year and Darrell Court was almost too much for
him. His brow grew damp, and his lips pale. All this might be his own
if he could but win the consent of this girl. Yet he feared her; the
proud, noble face, the grand, dark eyes rose before him, and seemed to
rebuke him for his presumptuous hope. How was he to win her? Flattery,
sweet, soft words would never do it. One scornful look from her sent
his ideas “flying right and left.”
“If she were only like other girls,” he thought, “I could make her
my wife in a few weeks.”
Then he took heart of grace. Had he not been celebrated for his good
fortune among the fair sex? Had he not always found his handsome
person, his low, tender voice, his pleasing manner irresistible? Who
was this proud, dark-eyed girl that she should measure the depths of
his heart and soul, and find them wanting? Surely he must be superior
to the artists in shabby coats by whom she had been surrounded. And yet
he feared as much as he hoped.
“She has such a way of making me feel small,” he said to himself;
“and if that kind of feeling comes over me when I am making her an
offer, it will be of no use to plead my suit.”
But what a prospect—master of Darrell Court and twenty thousand per
annum! He would endure almost any humiliation to obtain that position.
“She must have me,” he said to himself—“she shall have me! I will
force her to be my wife!”
Why, if he could but announce his engagement to Miss Darrell, he
could borrow as much money as would clear off all his liabilities! And
how much he needed money no one knew better than himself. He had paid
this visit to the Court because there were two writs out against him in
London, and, unless he could come to some settlement of them, he knew
what awaited him.
And all—fortune, happiness, wealth, freedom, prosperity—depended
on one word from the proud lips that had hardly ever spoken kindly to
him. He loved her, too—loved her with a fierce, desperate love that at
times frightened himself.
“I should like you,” said Sir Oswald, at the conclusion of their
interview, “to have the matter settled as soon as you can; because, I
tell you, frankly, if my niece does not consent to marry you, I shall
marry myself. All my friends are eagerly solicitous for me to do so;
they do not like the prospect of seeing a grand old inheritance like
this fall into the hands of a willful, capricious girl. But I tell you
in confidence, Aubrey, I do not wish to marry. I am a confirmed old
bachelor now, and it would be a sad trouble to me to have my life
changed by marriage. Still I would rather marry than that harm should
come to Darrell Court.”
“Certainly,” agreed the captain.
“I do not mind telling you still further that I have seen a lady
whom, if I marry at all, I should like to make my wife—in fact, she
resembles some one I used to know long years ago. I have every reason
to believe she is much admired and sought after; so that I want you to
settle your affairs as speedily as possible. Mind, Aubrey, they must be
settled—there must be no deferring, no putting off; you must have an
answer—yes or no—very shortly; and you must not lose an hour in
communicating that answer to me.”
“I hope it will be a favorable one,” said Aubrey Langton; but his
mind misgave him. He had an idea that the girl had found him wanting;
he could not forget her first frank declaration that she did not like
“If she refuses me, have I your permission to tell Miss Darrell the
alternative?” he asked of Sir Oswald.
The baronet thought deeply for some minutes, and then said:
“Yes; it is only fair and just that she should know it—that she
should learn that if she refuses you she loses all chance of being my
heiress. But do not say anything of the lady I have mentioned.”
The visitors were coming on Tuesday, and Thursday was the day
settled for the ball.
“All girls like balls,” thought Captain Langton. “Pauline is sure to
be in a good temper then, and I will ask her on Thursday night.”
But he owned to himself that he would rather a thousand times have
faced a whole battalion of enemies than ask Pauline Darrell to be his
CHAPTER XVI. THE QUEEN OF THE BALL.
It was many years since Darrell Court had been so gay. Sir Oswald
had resolved that the ball should be one that should reflect credit on
the giver and the guests. He had ordered a fine band of music and a
magnificent banquet. The grounds were to be illuminated, colored lamps
being placed among the trees; the ball-room was a gorgeous mass of
brilliant bloom—tier after tier of magnificent flowers was ranged
along the walls, white statues gleaming from the bright foliage, and
little fountains here and there sending up their fragrant spray.
Sir Oswald had sent to London for some one to superintend the
decorations; but they were not perfected until Miss Darrell, passing
through, suggested first one alteration, and then another, until the
originators, recognizing her superior artistic judgment and picturesque
taste, deferred to her, and then the decorations became a magnificent
work of art.
Sir Oswald declared himself delighted, and the captain's praises
were unmeasured. Then, and then only, Miss Darrell began to feel some
interest in the ball; her love of beauty was awakened and
pleased—there was something more in the event than the mere
gratification of seeing people dance.
The expected visitors had arrived on the Tuesday—Lady Hampton,
radiant with expected victory; Elinor, silent, thoughtful, and more
gentle than ever, and consequently more pleasing.
Lady Hampton was delighted with the idea of the ball.
“You must make a bold stroke for a husband on that evening, Elinor,”
she said. “You shall have a superb dress, and I shall quite expect you
to receive and accept an offer from Sir Oswald.”
Elinor Rocheford raised her eyes. There was something wistful in
“Oh, aunt,” she said, “I like the captain so much better!”
Lady Hampton did not lose her good humor—Elinor was not the first
refractory girl she had brought to her senses.
“Never mind about liking the captain, my dear; that is only natural.
He is not in love with you. I can see through the whole business. If
Darrell Court goes to Miss Darrell, he will marry her. He can marry no
girl without money, because he is, I know, over head and ears in debt.
Major Penryn was speaking of him to-day. The only way to prevent his
marriage with Miss Darrell is for you to take Sir Oswald yourself.”
Elinor's face flushed.
Lady Hampton certainly understood the art of evoking the worst
feelings. Jealousy, envy, and dislike stirred faintly in the gentle
heart of her niece.
“I hope you will do your very best to win Sir Oswald's affections,”
continued Lady Hampton, “for I should not like to see Darrell Court
fall into the hands of that proud girl.”
“Nor should I,” assented Miss Rocheford.
The evening of the ball arrived at last, and Lady Hampton stood like
a fairy godmother in Elinor's dressing-room, superintending the toilet
that was to work such wonders. Lady Hampton herself looked very
imposing in her handsome dress of black velvet and point lace, with
diamond ornaments. Elinor's dress was a triumph of art. Her fresh,
fair, gentle loveliness shone to perfection, aided by her elaborate
costume of white silk and white lace, trimmed with green and silver
leaves. The ornaments were all of silver—both fringe and leaves; the
headdress was a green wreath with silver flowers. Nothing could have
been more elegant and effective. There was a gentle flush on the fair
face and a light in the blue eyes.
“That will do, Elinor,” said Lady Hampton, complacently. “Your dress
is perfection. I have no fear now—you will have no rival.”
Perhaps Lady Hampton had never disliked Pauline Darrell more than on
that night, for the magnificent beauty of the girl had never been so
apparent. Sir Oswald had given his niece carte blanche in
respect to preparation for the ball, but she had not at first taken
sufficient interest in the matter to send to London, as he wished, for
a dress. Later on she had gone to the large wardrobe, where the
treasures accumulated by the Ladies Darrell lay. Such shining treasures
of satin, velvet, silk, cashmere, and such profusion of laces and
ornaments were there! She selected a superb costume—a magnificent
amber brocade, embroidered with white flowers, gorgeous, beautiful,
artistic. It was a dress that had been made for some former Lady
How well it became her! The amber set off her dark beauty as a
golden frame does a rich picture. The dress required but little
alteration; it was cut square, showing the white, stately, graceful
neck, and the sleeves hung after the Grecian fashion, leaving the
round, white arms bare. The light shining upon the dress changed with
every movement; it was as though the girl was enveloped in sunbeams.
Every lady present envied that dress, and pronounced it to be gorgeous
Pauline's rich curls of dark hair were studded with diamond stars,
and a diamond necklace clasped her white throat—this was Sir Oswald's
present. Her artistic taste had found yet further scope; for she had
enhanced the beauty of her dress by the addition of white daphnes
shrouded in green leaves.
Sir Oswald looked at her in admiration—her magnificent beauty, her
queenly figure, her royal grace and ease of movement, her splendid
costume, all impressed him. From every fold of her shining dress came a
rich, sweet, subtle perfume; her usually pale face had on it an
unwonted flush of delicate rose-leaf color.
“If she would but be like that sweet Elinor!” thought Sir Oswald. “I
could not wish for a more beautiful mistress for Darrell Court.”
She stood by his side while he received his guests, and her
dignified ease delighted him.
“Had she been some Eastern queen,” he thought, “her eccentricities
would have hurt no one. As it is——” and Sir Oswald concluded his
sentence by a grave shake of the head.
The captain, pleased with Miss Rocheford's graceful loveliness, had
been amusing himself by paying her some very choice compliments, and
she was delighted with them.
“If Sir Oswald were only like him!” she thought; and Aubrey Langton,
meeting the timid, gentle glance, said to himself that he must be
careful—he had no wish to win the girl's heart—he should be quite at
a loss to know what to do with it.
When he saw Pauline his courage almost failed him.
“How am I to ask that magnificent girl to marry me?” he said.
Sir Oswald had expressed a wish that Aubrey and Pauline would open
the ball; it would give people an idea of what he wished, he thought,
and prevent other gentlemen from “turning her head” by paying her any
marked attention. Yet he knew how difficult it would be for any one to
win Pauline's regard. She made no objection when he expressed his wish
to her, but she did not look particularly pleased.
Captain Langton understood the art of dancing better perhaps than
the art of war; he was perfect in it—even Pauline avowed it. With him
dancing was the very poetry of motion. The flowers, the lights, the
sweet, soft music, the fragrance, the silvery sound of laughter, the
fair faces and shining jewels of the ladies, all stirred and warmed
Pauline's imagination; they brought bright and vivid fancies to her,
and touched the poetical beauty-loving soul. A glow came over her face,
a light into her proud, dark eyes, her lips were wreathed in smiles—no
one had ever seen Pauline so beautiful before.
“You enjoy this, do you not?” said Aubrey Langton, as he watched her
“I shall do so,” she replied, “very much indeed;” and at what those
words implied the captain's courage fell to zero.
He saw how many admiring eyes followed her; he knew that all the
gentlemen in the room were envying him his position with Miss Darrell.
He knew that, pretty as some of the girls were, Pauline outshone them
as the sun outshines the stars; and he knew that she was queen of the
fete—queen of the ball.
“This is the first time you have met many of the county people, is
it not?” he asked.
She looked round indifferently.
“Yes, it is the first time,” she replied.
“Do you admire any of the men? I know how different your taste is
from that of most girls. Is there any one here who has pleased you?”
“I cannot tell,” she answered; “you forget this is the first dance.
I have had no opportunity of judging.”
“I believe that I am jealous already,” he observed.
She looked at him; her dark eyes made his heart beat, they seemed to
look through him.
“You are what?” she asked. “Captain Langton, I do not understand.”
He dared not repeat the words.
“I wish,” he said, with a deep sigh, “that I had all the talent and
all the wealth in the world.”
“For what reason?” she inquired.
“Because you would care for me then.”
“Because of your talent and wealth!” she exclaimed. “No, that I
“But I thought you admired talent so much,” he said, in surprise.
“So I do; but mere talent would never command my respect, nor mere
“The two together might,” he suggested.
“No. You would not understand me, Captain Langton, were I to
explain. Now this dance is over, and I heard you engage Miss Rocheford
for the next.”
“And you,” he said, gloomily—“what are you going to do?”
“To enjoy myself,” she replied; and, from the manner in which her
face brightened when he left her, the captain feared she was pleased to
be quit of him.
CHAPTER XVII. PAULINE'S BRIGHT
The ball at Darrell Court was a brilliant success. Sir Oswald was
delighted, Lady Hampton complimented him so highly.
“This is just as it ought to be, Sir Oswald,” she said. “One who can
give such entertainments as this should not think of retiring from a
world he is so well qualified to adorn. Confess, now, that under the
influence of that music you could dance yourself.”
Sir Oswald laughed.
“I must plead guilty,” he said. “How beautiful Miss Rocheford looks
“It is well for you, Sir Oswald, that you have not heard all the
compliments that the dear child has lavished on you; they would have
made you vain.”
Sir Oswald's face brightened with pleasure.
“Is your niece pleased? I am very glad indeed. It was more to give
her pleasure than from any other motive that I gave the ball.”
“Then you have succeeded perfectly. Now, Sir Oswald, do you not see
that what I said was true—that an establishment like this requires a
mistress? Darrell Court always led the hospitalities of the county. It
is only since no lady has lived here that it has fallen into the
“It shall be in the background no longer,” said Sir Oswald. “I think
my first ball is a very successful one. How happy everybody looks!”
But of all that brilliant company, Pauline Darrell was queen. There
were men present who would have given anything for one smile from her
lips. They admired her, they thought her beautiful beyond comparison,
but they did not feel quite at ease with her. She was somewhat beyond
them; they did not understand her. She did not blush, and glow, and
smile when they said pretty things to her. When they gave her their
most brilliant small-talk, she had nothing to give them in return. A
soul quite different from theirs looked at them out of her dark, proud
eyes. They said to themselves that she was very beautiful, but that she
required softening, and that something lovable and tender was wanting
in her. She was a queen to be worshiped, an empress to receive all
homage, but not a woman to be loved. So they thought who were not even
capable of judging such capacity for love as hers.
She was also not popular with the ladies. They thought her very
superb; they admired her magnificent dress; but they pronounced her
proud and reserved. They said she gave herself airs, that she took no
pains to make friends; and they did not anticipate any very great
rejoicings when Darrell Court should belong to her. The elder ladies
pronounced that judgment on her; the younger ones shrank abashed, and
were slightly timid in her presence.
Sir Oswald, it was noticed, led Miss Rocheford in to supper, and
seemed to pay her very great attention. Some of the ladies made
observations, but others said it was all nonsense; if Sir Oswald had
ever intended to marry, he would have married years ago, and his choice
would have fallen on a lady of mature age, not on a slight, slender
girl. Besides—and who could find an answer to such an argument?—was
it not settled that Miss Darrell was to be his heiress? There was no
doubt about that.
The baronet's great affection for Aubrey Langton was also known.
More than one of the guests present guessed at the arrangement made,
and said that in all probability Miss Darrell would marry the captain,
and that they would have the Court after Sir Oswald's death.
The banquet was certainly a magnificent one. The guests did full
justice to the costly wines, the rare and beautiful fruits, the
recherche dishes prepared with so much skill and labor. When supper
was ended, the dancers returned to the ball-room, but Miss Darrell was
already rather weary of it all.
She stole away during the first dance after supper. The lamps were
lighted in the conservatory, and shed a soft, pearly light over the
fragrant flowers; the great glass doors at the end were open, and
beyond lay the moonlight, soft, sweet, and silvery, steeping the
flowers, the trees, and the long grass in its mild light. Without, all
was so calm, so still; there was the evening sky with its myriad stars,
so calm and so serene; close to the doors stood great sheaves of white
lilies, and just inside was a nest of fragrant daphnes and jessamines.
Pauline stood lost in delight; the perfume seemed to float in from
the moonlight and infold her. This quiet, holy, tranquil beauty touched
her heart as the splendor of the ball-room could not; her soul grew
calm and still; she seemed nearer happiness than she had ever been
“How beautiful the world is!” she thought. She raised her face, so
serenely placid and fair in the moonlight; the silver radiance fell
upon it, adding all that was needed to make it perfect, a blended
softness and tenderness. The gorgeous, golden-hued dress falling around
her, glistened, gleamed, and glowed; her diamonds shone like flames. No
artist ever dreamed of a fairer picture than this girl in the midst of
the moonlight and the flowers.
Bright fancies thronged her mind. She thought of the time when she
should be mistress of that rich domain. No mercenary delight made her
heart thrill; it was not the prospect of being rich that delighted her;
it was a nobler pride—delight in the grand old home where heroes had
lived and died, earnest thoughts of how she would care for it, how she
would love it as some living thing when it should be her own.
Her own! Verily her lines were cast in pleasant places! She dreamed
great things—of the worthy deeds she would do, of the noble charities
she would carry out, the magnificent designs she would bring to
maturity when Darrell Court should be hers.
It was not that she wished for it at once. She did not love Sir
Oswald—their natures were too antagonistic for that; but she did not
wish—indeed, she was incapable of wishing—that his life should be
shortened even for one hour. She only remembered that in the course of
time this grand inheritance must be hers. How she would help those
artist-friends of her father's! What orders she would give them, what
pictures she would buy, what encouragement she would give to art and
literature! How she would foster genius! How she would befriend the
clever and gifted poor ones of the earth!
The beautiful moonlight seemed to grow fairer, the blue, starry
heavens nearer, as the grand and gracious possibilities of her life
revealed themselves to her. Her heart grew warm, her soul trembled with
And then—then there would be something dearer and fairer than all
this—something that comes to every woman—her birthright—something
that would complete her life, that would change it, that would make
music of every word, and harmony of every action. The time would come
when love would find her out, when the fairy prince would wake her from
her magic sleep. She was pure and spotless as the white lilies standing
near her; the breath of love had never passed over her. There had been
no long, idle conversations with young girls on the subject of love and
lovers; her heart was a blank page. But there came to her that night,
as she stood dreaming her maiden dreams among the flowers, an idea of
how she could love, and of what manner of man he would be who should
win her love.
Was she like Undine? Were there depths in her heart and soul which
could not be reached until love had brought them to light? She felt in
herself great capabilities that had never yet been exercised or called
into action. Love would complete her life; it would be the sun endowing
the flowers with life, warmth, and fragrance.
What manner of man must he be who would wake this soul of hers to
perfect life? She had seen no one yet capable of doing so. The mind
that mastered hers must be a master-mind; the soul that could bring her
soul into subjection must be a grand soul, a just soul, noble and
Ah, well, the moonlight was fair, and the flowers were fair. Soon,
perhaps, this fair dream of hers might be realized, and then——
CHAPTER XVIII. REJECTED.
A shadow came between Pauline and the moonlight, and a quiet voice
“Miss Darrell, I am so glad to find you here, and alone!”
Looking up, she saw Aubrey Langton standing by her side. Aubrey's
fair, handsome face was flushed, and there was the fragrance of the
wine-cup about him, for the gallant captain's courage had failed him,
and he had to fortify himself.
He had seen Miss Darrell go into the conservatory, and he understood
her well enough to be sure that she had gone thither in search of
quiet. Here was his opportunity. He had been saying to himself all day
that he must watch for his opportunity. Here it was; yet his courage
failed him, and his heart sank; he would have given anything to any one
who would have undertaken the task that lay before him. There was so
much at stake—not only love, but wealth, fortune, even freedom—there
was so much to be won or lost, that he was frightened.
However, as he said to himself, it had to be done. He went back to
the dining-room and poured out for himself a tumbler of the baronet's
generous old wine, which made his heart glow, and diffused warmth
through his whole frame, and then he went on his difficult errand. He
walked quietly through the conservatory, and saw Pauline standing at
He was not an artist, he had nothing of the poet about him, but the
solemn beauty of that picture did touch him—the soft, sweet moonlight,
the sheaves of white lilies, the nest of daphnes, and that most
beautiful face raised to the starry sky.
He stood for some minutes in silence; a dim perception of his own
unworthiness came over him. Pauline looked as though she stood in a
charmed circle, which he almost feared to enter.
Then he went up to her and spoke. She was startled; she had been so
completely absorbed in her dreams, and he was the last person on earth
with whom she could identify them.
“I hope I have not startled you,” he said. “I am so glad to find you
here, Miss Darrell. There is something I wish to say to you.”
Perhaps that beautiful, calm night-scene had softened her; she
turned to him with a smile more gentle than he had ever seen on her
“You want to tell me something—I am ready to listen, Captain
Langton. What is it?”
He came nearer to her. The sweet, subtle perfume from the flowers at
her breast reached him, the proud face that had always looked proudly
on him, was near his own.
He came one step nearer still, and then Pauline drew back with a
haughty gesture that seemed to scatter the light in her jewels.
“I can hear perfectly well,” she said, coldly. “What is it you have
to tell me?”
“Pauline, do not be unkind to me. Let me come nearer, where I may
kneel at your feet and pray my prayer.”
His face flushed, his heart warmed with his words; all the
passionate love that he really felt for her woke within him. There was
no feigning, no pretense—it was all reality. It was not Darrell Court
he was thinking of, but Pauline, peerless, queenly Pauline; and in that
moment he felt that he could give his whole life to win her.
“Let me pray my prayer,” he repeated; “let me tell you how dearly I
love you, Pauline—so dearly and so well that if you send me from you
my life will be a burden to me, and I shall be the most wretched of
She did not look proud of angry, but merely sorry. Her dark eyes
drooped, her lips even quivered.
“You love me,” she rejoined—“really love me, Captain Langton?”
He interrupted her.
“I loved you the first moment that I saw you. I have admired others,
but I have seen none like you. All the deep, passionate love of my
heart has gone out to you; and, if you throw it from you, Pauline, I
“I am very sorry,” she murmured, gently.
“Nay, not sorry. Why should you be sorry? You would not take a man's
life, and hold it in the hollow of your hand, only to fling it away.
You may have richer lovers, you may have titles and wealth offered to
you, but you will never have a love truer or deeper than mine.”
There was a ring of truth about his words, and they haunted her.
“I know I am unworthy of you. If I were a crowned king, and you, my
peerless Pauline, the humblest peasant, I should choose you from the
whole world to be my wife. But I am only a soldier—a poor soldier. I
have but one treasure, and that I offer to you—the deepest, truest
love of my heart. I would that I were a king, and could woo you more
She looked up quickly—his eyes were drinking in the beauty of her
face; but there was something in them from which she shrank without
knowing why. She would have spoken, but he went on, quickly:
“Only grant my prayer, Pauline—promise to be my wife—promise to
love me—and I will live only for you. I will give you my heart, my
thoughts, my life. I will take you to bright sunny lands, and will show
you all that the earth holds beautiful and fair. You shall be my queen,
and I will be your humblest slave.”
His voice died away in a great tearless sob—he loved her so dearly,
and there was so much at stake. She looked at him with infinite pity in
her dark eyes. He had said all that he could think of; he had wooed her
as eloquently as he was able; he had done his best, and now he waited
for some word from her.
There were tenderness, pity, and surprise in her musical voice as
she spoke to him.
“I am so sorry, Captain Langton. I never thought you loved me so
well. I never dreamed that you had placed all your heart in your love.”
“I have,” he affirmed. “I have been reckless; I have thrown heart,
love, manhood, life, all at your feet together. If you trample
ruthlessly on them, Pauline, you will drive me to desperation and
“I do not trample on them,” she said, gently; “I would not wrong you
so. I take them up in my hands and restore them to you, thanking you
for the gift.”
“What do you mean, Pauline?” he asked, while the flush died from his
“I mean,” she replied, softly, “that I thank you for the gift you
have offered me, but that I cannot accept it. I cannot be your wife,
for I do not love you.”
He stood for some minutes dazed by the heavy blow; he had taken hope
from her gentle manner, and the disappointment was almost greater than
he could bear.
“It gives me as much pain to say this,” she continued, “as it gives
you to hear it; pray believe that.”
“I cannot bear it!” he cried. “I will not bear it! I will not
believe it! It is my life I ask from you, Pauline—my life! You cannot
send me from you to die in despair!”
His anguish was real, not feigned. Love, life, liberty, all were at
stake. He knelt at her feet; he covered her white, jeweled hands with
kisses and with hot, passionate tears. Her keen womanly instinct told
her there was no feigning in the deep, broken sob that rose to his
“It is my life!” he repeated. “If you send me from you, Pauline, I
shall be a desperate, wicked man.”
“You should not be so,” she remarked, gently; “a great love, even if
it be unfortunate, should ennoble a man, not make him wicked.”
“Pauline,” he entreated, “you must unsay those words. Think that you
might learn to love me in time. I will be patient—I will wait long
years for you—I will do anything to win you; only give me some hope
that in time to come you will be mine.”
“I cannot,” she said; “it would be so false. I could never love you,
He raised his face to hers.
“Will you tell me why? You do not reject me because I am poor—you
are too noble to care for wealth. It is not because I am a soldier,
with nothing to offer you but a loving heart. It is not for these
things. Why do you reject me, Pauline?”
“No, you are right; it is not for any of those reasons; they would
never prevent my being your wife if I loved you.”
“Then why can you not love me?” he persisted.
“For many reasons. You are not at all the style of man I could love.
How can you doubt me? Here you are wooing me, asking me to be your
wife, offering me your love, and my hand does not tremble, my heart
does not beat; your words give me no pleasure, only pain; I am
conscious of nothing but a wish to end the interview. This is not love,
is it, Captain Langton?”
“But in time,” he pleaded—“could you not learn to care for me in
“No, I am quite sure. You must not think I speak to pain you, but
indeed you are the last man living with whom I could fall in love, or
whom I could marry. If you were, as you say, a king, and came to me
with a crown to offer, it would make no difference. It is better, as I
am sure you will agree, to speak plainly.”
Even in the moonlight she saw how white his face had grown, and what
a sudden shadow of despair had come into his eyes. He stood silent for
“You have unmanned me,” he said, slowly, “but, Pauline, there is
something else for you to hear. You must listen to me for your own
sake,” he added; and then Aubrey Langton's face flushed, his lips grew
dry and hot, his breath came in short quick gasps—he had played a
manly part, but now he felt that what he had to say would sound like a
He did not know how to begin, and she was looking at him with those
dark, calm eyes of hers, with that new light of pity on her face.
“Pauline,” he said, hoarsely, “Sir Oswald wishes for this marriage.
Oh, spare me—love me—be mine, because of the great love I bear you!”
“I cannot,” she returned; “in my eyes it is a crime to marry without
love. What you have to say of Sir Oswald say quickly.”
“But you will hate me for it,” he said.
“No, I will not be so unjust as to blame you for Sir Oswald's
“He wishes us to marry; he is not only willing, but it would give
him more pleasure than anything else on earth; and he says—do not
blame me, Pauline—that if you consent he will make you mistress of
Darrell Court and all his rich revenues.”
She laughed—the pity died from her face, the proud, hard expression
“He must do that in any case,” she said, haughtily. “I am a Darrell;
he would not dare to pass me by.”
“Let me speak frankly to you, Pauline, for your own sake—your own
sake, dear, as well as mine. You err—he is not so bound. Although the
Darrell property has always descended from father to son, the entail
was destroyed fifty years ago, and Sir Oswald is free to leave his
property to whom he likes. There is only one imperative
condition—whoever takes it must take with it the name of Darrell. Sir
Oswald told me that much himself.”
“But he would not dare to pass me—a Darrell—by, and leave it to a
“Perhaps not; but, honestly, Pauline, he told me that you were
eccentric—I know that you are adorable—and that he would not dare to
leave Darrell Court to you unless you were married to some one in whom
he felt confidence—and that some one, Pauline, is your humble slave
here, who adores you. Listen, dear—I have not finished. He said
nothing about leaving the Court to a stranger; but he did say that
unless we were married he himself should marry.”
She laughed mockingly.
“I do not believe it,” she said. “If he had intended to marry, he
would have done so years ago. That is merely a threat to frighten me;
but I am not to be frightened. No Darrell was ever a coward—I will not
be coerced. Even if I liked you, Captain Langton, I would not marry you
after that threat.”
He was growing desperate now. Great drops stood on his brow—his
lips were so hot and tremulous that he could hardly move them.
“Be reasonable, Pauline. Sir Oswald meant what he said. He will most
certainly marry, and, when you see yourself deprived of this rich
inheritance, you will hate your folly—hate and detest it.”
“I would not purchase twenty Darrell Courts at the price of marrying
a man I do not like,” she said, proudly.
“You think it an idle threat—it is not so. Sir Oswald meant it in
all truth. Oh, Pauline, love, riches, position, wealth, honor—all lie
before you; will you willfully reject them?”
“I should consider it dishonor to marry you for the sake of winning
Darrell Court, and I will not do it. It will be mine without that; and,
if not, I would rather a thousand times go without it than pay the
price named, and you may tell Sir Oswald so.”
There was no more pity—no more tenderness in the beautiful face. It
was all aglow with scorn, lighted with pride, flushed with contempt.
The spell of the sweet moonlight was broken—the Darrell spirit was
aroused—the fiery Darrell pride was all ablaze.
He felt angry enough to leave her at that moment and never look upon
her again; but his position was so terrible, and he had so much at
stake. He humbled himself again and again—he entreated her in such
wild, passionate tones as must have touched one less proud.
“I am a desperate man, Pauline,” he cried, at last; “and I pray you,
for Heaven's sake, do not drive me to despair.”
But no words of his had power to move her; there was nothing but
scorn in the beautiful face, nothing but scorn in the willful,
“Sir Oswald should have known better than to use threats to a
Darrell!” she said, with a flash of her dark eyes; and not the least
impression could Aubrey Langton make upon her.
He was silent at last in sheer despair. It was all over; he had no
more hope. Life had never held such a brilliant chance for any man, and
now it was utterly lost. Instead of wealth, luxury, happiness, there
was nothing before him but disgrace. He could almost have cursed her as
she stood there in the moonlight before him. A deep groan, one of
utter, uncontrollable anguish escaped his lips. She went nearer to him
and started back in wonder at the white, settled despair on his face.
“Captain Langton,” she said, quietly, “I am sorry—I am sorry—I am
indeed sorry—that you feel this so keenly. Let me comfort you.”
He appealed to her again more passionately than ever, but she
“You mistake me,” she said; “I am grieved to see you suffer, but I
have no thought of altering my mind. Let me tell you, once and for all,
I would rather die than marry you, because I have neither liking nor
respect for you; but your sorrow I cannot but feel for.”
“You have ruined me,” he said, bitterly, “and the curse of a
broken-hearted man will rest upon you!”
“I do not think the Darrells are much frightened at curses,” she
retorted; and then, in all the magnificence of her shining gems and
golden-hued dress, she swept from the spot.
Yes, he was ruined, desperate. Half an hour since, entering that
conservatory, he had wondered whether he should leave it a happy,
prosperous man. He knew now that there was nothing but blank, awful
despair, ruin and shame, before him. He had lost her, too, and love and
hate fought fiercely in his heart. He buried his face in his hands and
A ruined man! Was ever so splendid a chance lost? It drove him mad
to think of it! All was due to the willful caprice of a willful girl.
Then he remembered that time was passing, and that he must tell Sir
Oswald that he had failed—utterly, ignominiously failed. He went back
to the ball-room and saw the baronet standing in the center of a group
of gentlemen. He looked anxiously at the captain, and at his approach
the little group fell back, leaving them alone.
“What news, Aubrey?” asked Sir Oswald.
“The worst that I can possibly bring. She would not even hear of
“And you think there is no hope either now or at any future time?”
“I am, unfortunately, sure of it. She told me in plain words that
she would rather die than marry me, and she laughed at your threats.”
Sir Oswald's face flushed; he turned away haughtily.
“The consequence be on her own head!” he said, as he moved away. “I
shall make Elinor Rocheford an offer to-night,” he added to himself.
The captain was in no mood for dancing; the music and light had lost
all their charms. The strains of a beautiful German waltz filled the
ball-room. Looking round, he saw Pauline Darrell, in all the sheen of
her jewels and the splendor of her golden-hued dress, waltzing with
Lord Lorrimer. Her beautiful face was radiant; she had evidently
forgotten all about him and the threat that was to disinherit her.
Sir Oswald saw her too as he was searching for Elinor—saw her
radiant, triumphant, and queenly—and almost hated her for the grand
dower of loveliness that would never now enhance the grandeur of the
Darrells. He found Elinor Rocheford with Lady Hampton. She had been
hoping that the captain would ask her to dance again. She looked toward
him with a feint smile, but was recalled to order by a gesture from
Sir Oswald, with a low bow, asked if Miss Rocheford would like a
promenade through the rooms. She would fain have said “No,” but one
look from her aunt was sufficient. She rose in her quiet, graceful way,
and accompanied him.
They walked to what was called the white drawing-room, and there,
standing before a magnificent Murillo, the gem of the Darrell
collection, Sir Oswald Darrell made Elinor Rocheford a quiet offer of
his hand and fortune.
Just as quietly she accepted it; there was no blushing, no
trembling, no shrinking. He asked her to be Lady Darrell, and she
consented. There was very little said of love, although his wooing was
chivalrous and deferential. He had secured his object—won a fair young
wife for himself, and punished the proud, defiant, willful girl who had
laughed at his threats. After some little time he led his fair
companion back to Lady Hampton.
“Miss Rocheford has done me very great honor,” he said; “she has
consented to be my wife. I will give myself the pleasure of waiting
upon you to-morrow, Lady Hampton, when I shall venture to ask for a
happy and speedy conclusion to my suit.”
Lady Hampton, with a gentle movement of her fan, intended to express
emotion, murmured a few words, and the interview was ended.
“I congratulate you, Elinor,” she said. “You have secured a splendid
position; no girl in England could have done better.”
“Yes,” returned Elinor Rocheford, “I ought to be ticketed, 'Sold to
advantage;'“ and that was the only bitter thing the young girl ever
said of her brilliant marriage.
Of course Lady Hampton told the delightful news to a few of her
dearest friends; and these, watching Pauline Darrell that night in the
splendor of her grand young beauty, the sheen of her jewels, and the
glitter of her rich amber dress, knew that her reign was ended, her
chance of the inheritance gone.
CHAPTER XIX. PAULINE THREATENS
“Pray do not leave us, Miss Hastings; I wish you to hear what I have
to say to my niece, if you will consent to remain;” and Sir Oswald
placed a chair for the gentle, amiable lady, who was so fearful of
coming harm to her willful pupil.
Miss Hastings took it, and looked apprehensively at the baronet. It
was the morning after the ball, and Sir Oswald had sent to request the
presence of both ladies in the library.
Pauline looked fresh and brilliant; fatigue had not affected her.
She had taken more pains than usual with her toilet; her dress was a
plain yet handsome morning costume. There was no trace of fear on her
countenance; the threats of the previous night had made no impression
upon her. She looked calmly at Sir Oswald's flushed, agitated face.
“Pray be seated, Miss Darrell,” he said; “it is you especially whom
I wish to see.”
Pauline took a chair and looked at him with an air of great
attention. Sir Oswald turned the diamond ring on his finger.
“Am I to understand, Miss Darrell,” he asked, “that you refused
Captain Langton last evening?”
“Yes,” she replied, distinctly.
“Will you permit me to ask why?” he continued.
“Because I do not love him, Sir Oswald. I may even go further, and
say I do not respect him.”
“Yet he is a gentleman by birth and education, handsome, most
agreeable in manner, devoted to you, and my friend.”
“I do not love him,” she said again; “and the Darrells are too true
a race to marry without love.”
The allusion to his race pleased the baronet, in spite of his anger.
“Did Captain Langton give you to understand the alternative?” asked
Sir Oswald. “Did he tell you my resolve in case you should refuse him?”
She laughed a clear, ringing laugh, in which there was a slight
tinge of mockery. Slight though it was, Sir Oswald's face flushed hotly
as he heard it.
“He told me that you would disinherit me if I did not marry him; but
I told him you would never ignore the claim of the last living
Darrell—you would not pass me over and make a stranger your heir.”
“But did he tell you my intentions if you refused him?”
Again came the musical laugh that seemed to irritate Sir Oswald so
“He talked some nonsense about your marrying,” said Pauline: “but
that of course I did not believe.”
“And why did you not believe it, Miss Darrell?”
“Because I thought if you had wished to marry you would have married
before this,” she replied.
“And you think,” he said, his face pale with passion, “that you may
do as you like—that your contempt for all proper laws, your willful
caprice, your unendurable pride, are to rule every one? You are
mistaken, Miss Darrell. If you had consented to marry Aubrey Langton, I
would have made you my heiress, because I should have known that you
were in safe hands, under proper guidance; as it is—as you have
refused in every instance to obey me, as you have persisted in ignoring
every wish of mine—it is time we came to a proper understanding. I beg
to announce to you the fact that I am engaged to be married—that I
have offered my hand and heart to a lady who is as gentle as you are
A dread silence followed the words; Pauline bore the blow like a
true Darrell, never flinching, never showing the least dismay. After a
time she raised her dark, proud eyes to his face.
“If your marriage is for your happiness, I wish you joy,” she said,
“There is no doubt but that it will add greatly to my happiness,” he
put in, shortly.
“At the same time,” resumed Pauline, “I must tell you frankly that I
do not think you have used me well. You told me when I came here that I
was to be heiress of Darrell Court. I have grown to love it, I have
shaped my life in accordance with what you said to me, and I do not
think it fair that you should change your intentions.”
“You have persistently defied me,” returned the baronet; “you have
preferred your least caprice to my wish; and now you must reap your
reward. Had you been dutiful, obedient, submissive, you might have made
yourself very dear to me. Pray, listen.” He raised his fine white hand
with a gesture that demanded silence. “My marriage need not make any
difference as regards your residence here. As you say, you are a
Darrell, and my niece, so your home is here; and, unless you make
yourself intolerable, you shall always have a home suitable to your
position. But, as I can never hope that you will prove an agreeable
companion to the lady who honors me by becoming my wife, I should be
grateful to Miss Hastings if she would remain with you.”
Miss Hastings bowed her head; she was too deeply grieved for words.
“It is my wish that you retain your present suite of rooms,”
continued Sir Oswald; “and Lady Darrell, when she comes, will, I am
sure, try to make everything pleasant for you. I have no more to say.
As for expressing any regret for the part you have acted toward my
young friend, Aubrey Langton, it is useless—we will let the matter
All the Darrell pride and passion had been slowly gathering in
Pauline's heart; a torrent of burning words rose to her lips.
“If you wish to marry, Sir Oswald,” she said, “you have a perfect
right to do so—no one can gainsay that; but I say you have acted
neither justly nor fairly to me. As for the stranger you would bring to
rule over me, I shall hate her, and I will be revenged on her. I shall
tell her that she is taking my place; I shall speak my mind openly to
her; and, if she chooses to marry you, to help you to punish me, she
shall take the consequences.”
Sir Oswald laughed.
“I might be alarmed by such a melodramatic outburst,” he said, “but
that I know you are quite powerless;” and with a profound bow to Miss
Hastings, Sir Oswald quitted the library.
Then Pauline's anger burst forth; she grew white with rage.
“I have not been fairly used,” she cried. “He told me Darrell Court
was to be mine. My heart has grown to love it; I love it better than I
love anything living.”
Miss Hastings, like a sensible woman, refrained from saying anything
on the subject—from reminding her that she had been warned time after
time, and had only laughed at the warning. She tried to offer some
soothing words, but the girl would not listen to them. Her heart and
soul were in angry revolt.
“I might have been a useful woman,” she said, suddenly, “if I had
had this chance in life; I might have been happy myself, and have made
others happy. As it is, I swear that I will live only for vengeance.”
She raised her beautiful white arm and jeweled hand.
“Listen to me,” she said; “I will live for vengeance—not on Sir
Oswald—if he chooses to marry, let him—but I will first warn the
woman he marries, and then, if she likes to come here as Lady Darrell,
despite my warning, let her. I will take such vengeance on her as suits
a Darrell—nothing commonplace—nothing in the way of poisoning—but
such revenge as shall satisfy even me.”
In vain Miss Hastings tried to soothe her, to calm her, the torrent
of angry words had their way.
Then she came over to Miss Hastings, and, placing her hand on her
“Tell me, whom do you think Sir Oswald is going to marry?”
“I cannot imagine—unless it is Miss Rocheford.”
“Elinor Rocheford—that mere child! Let her beware!”
CHAPTER XX. CAPTAIN LANGTON
A short period of calm fell upon Darrell Court. Miss Darrell's
passion seemed to have exhausted itself.
“I will never believe,” she said one day to Miss Hastings, “that Sir
Oswald meant what he said. I am beginning to think it was merely a
threat—the Darrells are all hot-tempered.”
But Miss Hastings had heard more than she liked to tell her pupil,
and she knew that what the baronet had said was not only quite true,
but that preparations for the marriage had actually commenced.
“I am afraid it was no threat, Pauline,” she said, sadly.
“Then let the new-comer beware,” said the girl, her face darkening.
“Whoever she may be, let her beware. I might have been a good woman,
but this will make me a wicked one. I shall live only for revenge.”
A change came over her. The improvement that Miss Hastings had so
fondly noticed, and of which she had been so proud, died away. Pauline
seemed no longer to take any interest in reading or study. She would
sit for hours in gloomy, sullen silence, with an abstracted look on her
face. What was passing in her mind no one knew. Miss Hastings would go
to her, and try to rouse her; but Pauline grew impatient.
“Do leave me in peace,” she would say. “Leave me to my own thoughts.
I am framing my plans.”
And the smile that came with the words filled poor Miss Hastings
with terrible apprehensions as to the future of her strange, willful
The captain was still at the Court. He had had some vague idea of
rushing off to London; but a letter from one of his most intimate
friends warned him to keep out of the way until some arrangement could
be made about his affairs. More than one angry creditor was waiting for
him; indeed, the gallant captain had brought his affairs to such a pass
that his appearance in London without either money or the hope of it
would have been highly dangerous.
He was desperate. Sir Oswald had hinted to him, since the failure of
their plan, that he should not be forgotten in his will. He would have
borrowed money from him but for that hint; but he did not care to risk
the loss of many thousand pounds for the sake of fifteen hundred.
Fifteen hundred—that was all he wanted. If he could have gone back
to London the betrothed husband of Pauline Darrell, he could have
borrowed as many thousands; but that chance was gone; and he could have
cursed the girlish caprice that deprived him of so splendid a fortune.
In his heart fierce love and fierce hate warred together; there were
times when he felt that he loved Pauline with a passion words could not
describe; and at other times he hated her with something passing common
hate. They spoke but little; Miss Darrell spent as much time as
possible in her own rooms. Altogether the domestic atmosphere at
Darrell Court had in it no sunshine; it was rather the brooding, sullen
calm that comes before a storm.
The day came when the Court was invaded by an army of workmen, when
a suit of rooms was fitted up in the most superb style, and people
began to talk of the coming change. Pauline Darrell kept so entirely
aloof from all gossip, from all friends and visitors, that she was the
last to hear on whom Sir Oswald's choice had fallen. But one day the
baronet gave a dinner-party at which the ladies of the house were
present, and there was no mistaking the allusions made.
Pauline Darrell's face grew dark as she listened. So, then, the
threat was to be carried out, and the grand old place that she had
learned to love with the deepest love of her heart was never to be
hers! She gave no sign; the proud face was very pale, and the dark eyes
had in them a scornful gleam, but no word passed her lips.
Sir Oswald was radiant, he had never been seen in such high spirits;
his friends had congratulated him, every one seemed to approve so
highly of his resolution; a fair and gentle wife was ready for him—one
so fair and gentle that it seemed to the old man as though the lost
love of his youth had returned to him. Who remembered the bitter,
gnawing disappointment of the girl who had cared so little about making
The baronet was so delighted, and everything seemed so bright and
smiling, that he resolved upon an act of unusual generosity. His guests
went away early, and he retired to the library for a few minutes. The
captain followed the ladies to the drawing-room, and, while pretending
to read, sat watching Pauline's face, and wondering how he was to pay
To ask for the loan of fifteen hundred pounds would be to expose his
affairs to Sir Oswald. He must confess then that he had gambled on the
turf and at play. If once the stately old baronet even suspected such a
thing, there was no further hope of a legacy—the captain was quite
sure of that. His anxiety was terrible, and it was all occasioned by
that proud, willful girl whose beautiful face was turned resolutely
Sir Oswald entered the room with a smile on his face, and, going up
to Aubrey Langton, slipped a folded paper into his hands.
“Not a word of thanks,” he said; “if you thank me, I shall be
And Aubrey, opening the paper, found that it was a check for five
“I know what life in London costs,” said Sir Oswald; “and you are my
old friend's son.”
Five hundred pounds! He was compelled to look exceedingly grateful,
but it was difficult. The gift was very welcome, but there was this
great drawback attending it—it was not half sufficient to relieve him
from his embarrassments, and it would quite prevent his asking Sir
Oswald for a loan. He sighed deeply in his dire perplexity.
Still smiling, the baronet went to the table where Pauline and Miss
Hastings sat. He stood for some minutes looking at them.
“I must not let you hear the news of my good fortune from
strangers,” he said; “it is only due to you that I should inform you
that in one month from to-day I hope to have the honor and happiness of
making Miss Elinor Rocheford my wife.”
Miss Hastings in a few cautious words wished him joy; Pauline's
white lips opened, but no sound escaped them. Sir Oswald remained for
some minutes talking to Miss Hastings, and then he crossed the room and
rang the bell.
“Pauline, my dearest child!” whispered the anxious governess.
Miss Darrell looked at her with a terrible smile.
“It would have been better for her,” she said, slowly, “that she had
never been born.”
“Pauline!” cried the governess. But she said no more.
A footman entered the room, to whom Sir Oswald spoke.
“Go to my study,” he said, “and bring me a black ebony box that you
will find locked in my writing-table. Here are the keys.”
The man returned in a few minutes, bearing the box in his hands. Sir
Oswald took it to the table where the lamps shone brightly.
“Aubrey,” he said, “will you come here? I have a commission for
Captain Langton followed him to the table, and some remark about the
fashion of the box drew the attention of all present to it. Sir Oswald
raised the lid, and produced a diamond ring.
“You are going over to Audleigh Royal to-morrow, Aubrey,” he said;
“will you leave this with Stamford, the jeweler? I have chosen a new
setting for the stone. I wish to present it to Miss Hastings as a mark
of my deep gratitude to her.”
Miss Hastings looked up in grateful wonder. Sir Oswald went on
talking about the contents of the ebony box. He showed them many quaint
treasures that it contained; among other things he took out a roll of
“That is not a very safe method of keeping money, Sir Oswald,” said
“No, you are right,” he agreed. “Simpson's clerk paid it to me the
other day; I was busy, and I put it there until I had time to take the
numbers of the notes.”
“Do you keep notes without preserving a memorandum of their numbers,
Sir Oswald?” inquired Aubrey Langton. “That seems to me a great risk.”
“I know it is not prudent; but there is no fear. I have none but
honest and faithful servants about me. I will take the numbers and send
the notes to the bank to-morrow.”
“Yes,” said Miss Hastings, quietly, “it is better to keep temptation
“There is no fear,” he returned. “I always put the box away, and I
sleep with my keys under my pillow.”
Sir Oswald gave Captain Langton a few directions about the diamond,
and then the ladies withdrew.
“Sir Oswald,” said Captain Langton, “let me have a cigar with you
to-night. I must not thank you, but if you knew how grateful I
“I will put away the box first, and then we will have a glass of
The baronet went to his study, and the captain to his room; but in a
few minutes they met again, and Sir Oswald ordered a bottle of his
choicest Madeira. They sat talking for some time, and Sir Oswald told
Aubrey all his plans—all that he intended to do. The young man
listened, with envy and dissatisfaction burning in his heart. All these
plans, these hopes, these prospects, might have been his but for that
girl's cruel caprice.
They talked for more than an hour; and then Sir Oswald complained of
“The wine does not seem to have its usual flavor to-night,” he said;
“there is something wrong with this bottle.”
“I thought the same thing,” observed Aubrey Langton; “but I did not
like to say so. I will bid you good-night, as you are tired. I shall
ride over to Audleigh Royal early in the morning, so I may not be here
They shook hands and parted, Sir Oswald murmuring something about
his Madeira, and the captain feeling more desperate than ever.
CHAPTER XXI. MYSTERIOUS ROBBERY.
The sun shone on Darrell Court; the warmth and brightness of the day
were more than pleasant. The sunbeams fell on the stately trees, the
brilliant flowers. There was deep silence in the mansion. Captain
Langton had been gone some hours. Sir Oswald was in his study. Pauline
sat with Miss Hastings under the shade of the cedar on the lawn. She
had a book in her hands, but she had not turned a page. Miss Hastings
would fain have said something to her about inattention, but there was
a look in the girl's face that frightened her—a proud, hard, cold look
that she had never seen there before.
Pauline Darrell was not herself that morning. Miss Hastings had told
her so several times. She had asked her again and again if she was
ill—if she was tired—and she had answered drearily, “No.” Partly to
cheer her, the governess had suggested that they should take their
books under the shade of the cedar tree. She had assented wearily,
without one gleam of animation.
Out there in the sunlight Miss Hastings noticed how cold and white
Pauline's face was, with its hard, set look—there was a shadow in the
dark eyes, and, unlike herself, she started at every sound. Miss
Hastings watched her keenly. She evinced no displeasure at being so
watched; but when the elder lady went up to her and said, gently:
“Pauline, you are surely either ill or unhappy?”
“I am neither—I am only thinking,” she returned, impatiently.
“Then your thoughts must be very unpleasant ones—tell them to me.
Nothing sends away unpleasant ideas so soon as communicating them to
But Miss Darrell had evidently not heard the words; she had relapsed
into deep meditation, and Miss Hastings thought it better to leave her
alone. Suddenly Pauline looked up.
“Miss Hastings,” she said, “I suppose a solemn promise, solemnly
given, can never be broken?”
“It never should be broken,” replied the governess. “Instances have
been known where people have preferred death to breaking such a
“Yes, such deaths have been known. I should imagine,” commented
Pauline, with a gleam of light on her face, “that no Darrell ever broke
his or her word when it had been solemnly given.”
“I should imagine not,” said Miss Hastings.
But she had no clew to her pupil's musings or to the reason of her
So the noon-day shadows crept on. Purple-winged butterflies
coquetted with the flowers, resting on the golden breasts of the white
lilies, and on the crimson leaves of the rose; busy bees murmured over
the rich clove carnations; the birds sang sweet, jubilant songs, and a
gentle breeze stirred faintly the leaves on the trees. For once Pauline
Darrell seemed blind to the warm, sweet summer beauty; it lay unheeded
Miss Hastings saw Sir Oswald coming toward them; a murmur of
surprise came from her lips.
“Pauline,” she said, “look at Sir Oswald—how ill he seems. I am
afraid something is wrong.”
He drew near to them, evidently deeply agitated.
“I am glad to find you here, Miss Hastings,” he said; “I am in
trouble. Nay, Pauline, do not go; my troubles should be yours.”
For the girl had risen with an air of proud weariness, intending to
leave them together. At his words—the kindest he had spoken to her for
some time—she took her seat again; but the haughty, listless manner
did not change.
“I am nearly sixty years of age,” said Sir Oswald, “and this is the
first time such a trouble has come to me. Miss Hastings, do you
remember that conversation of ours last night, over that roll of notes
in the ebony box?”
“I remember it perfectly, Sir Oswald.”
“I went this morning to take them from the box, to take their
numbers and send them to the bank, and I could not find them—they were
“Gone!” repeated Miss Hastings. “It is impossible! You must be
mistaken; you must have overlooked them. What did they amount to?”
“Exactly one thousand pounds,” he replied. “I cannot understand it.
You saw me replace the notes in the box?”
“I did; I watched you. You placed them in one corner. I could put my
finger on the place,” said Miss Hastings.
“I locked the box and carried it with my own hands to my study. I
placed it in the drawer of my writing-table, and locked that. I never
parted with my keys to any one; as is my invariable rule, I placed them
under my pillow. I slept soundly all night, and when I woke I found
them there. As I tell you I have been to the box, and the notes are
gone. I cannot understand it, for I do not see any indication of a
theft, and yet I have been robbed.”
Miss Hastings looked very thoughtful.
“You have certainly been robbed,” she said. “Are you sure the keys
have never left your possession?”
“Never for one single moment,” he replied.
“Has any one in the house duplicate keys?” she asked.
“No. I bought the box years ago in Venice; it has a peculiar
lock—there is not one in England like it.”
“It is very strange,” said Miss Hastings. “A thousand pounds is no
trifle to lose.”
Pauline Darrell, her face turned to the flowers, uttered no word.
“You might show some little interest, Pauline,” said her uncle,
sharply; “you might have the grace to affect it, even if you do not
“I am very sorry indeed,” she returned, coldly. “I am grieved that
you have had such a loss.”
Sir Oswald looked pacified.
“It is not so much the actual loss of the money that has grieved
me,” he said; “I shall not feel it. But I am distressed to think that
there should be a thief among the people I have loved and trusted.”
“What a solemn council!” interrupted the cheery voice of Aubrey
Langton. “What gloomy conspirators!”
Sir Oswald looked up with an air of great relief.
“I am so glad you are come, Aubrey; you can advise me what to do.”
And the baronet told the story of his loss.
Captain Langton was shocked, amazed; he asked a hundred questions,
and then suggested that they should drive over to Audleigh Royal and
place the affair in the hands of the chief inspector of police.
“You said you had not taken the numbers of the notes; I fear it will
be difficult to trace them,” he said, regretfully. “What a strange,
mysterious robbery. Is there any one you suspect, Sir Oswald?”
No; in all the wide world there was not one that the loyal old man
suspected of robbing him.
“My servants have always been to me like faithful old friends,” he
said, sadly; “there is not one among them who would hold out his hand
to steal from me.”
Captain Langton suggested that, before going to Audleigh Royal, they
should search the library.
“You may have made some mistake, sir,” he said. “You were tired last
night, and it is just possible that you may have put the money
somewhere else, and do not remember it.”
“We will go at once,” decided Sir Oswald.
Miss Hastings wished them success; but the proud face directed
toward the flowers was never turned to them. The pale lips were never
unclosed to utter one word.
After the gentlemen had left them, when Miss Hastings began to speak
eagerly of the loss, Pauline raised her hand with a proud gesture.
“I have heard enough,” she said. “I do not wish to hear one word
The robbery created a great sensation; inspectors came from Audleigh
Royal, and a detective from Scotland Yard, but no one could throw the
least light upon the subject. The notes could not be traced; they had
been paid in from different sources, and no one had kept a list of the
Even the detective seemed puzzled. Sir Oswald had locked up the
notes in the box at night, he had kept the keys in his own possession,
and he had found in the morning that the box was still locked and the
notes were gone. It was a nine days' wonder. Captain Langton gave all
the help he could, but as all search seemed useless and hopeless, it
was abandoned after a time, and at the end of the week Captain Langton
was summoned to London, and all hope of solving the mystery was
CHAPTER XXII. FULFILLING THE
The preparations for the wedding went on with great activity; the
rooms prepared for the bride were a marvel of luxury and beauty. There
was a boudoir with rose-silk and white-lace hangings, adorned with most
exquisite pictures and statues, with rarest flowers and most beautiful
ornaments—a little fairy nook, over which every one went into raptures
except Pauline; she never even looked at the alterations, she never
mentioned them nor showed the least interest in them. She went on in
her cold, proud, self-contained manner, hiding many thoughts in her
“Miss Hastings,” she said, one morning, “you can do me a favor. Sir
Oswald has been saying that we must call at the Elms to see Lady
Hampton and Miss Rocheford. I should refuse, but that the request
exactly suits my plans. I wish to see Miss Rocheford; we will drive
over this afternoon. Will you engage Lady Hampton in conversation while
I talk to her niece?”
“I will do anything you wish, Pauline,” returned Miss Hastings;
“but, my dear child, be prudent. I am frightened for you—be prudent.
It will be worse than useless for you to make an enemy of the future
Lady Darrell. I would do anything to help you, anything to shield you
from sorrow or harm, but I am frightened on your account.”
Caresses and demonstrations of affection were very rare with
Pauline; but now she bent down with a softened face and kissed the
“You are very good to me,” she said. “You are the only one in the
wide world who cares for me.”
And with the words there came to her such a sense of loneliness and
desolation as no language could describe. Of what use had been her
beauty, of which her poor father had been so proud—of what avail the
genius with which she was so richly dowered?
No one loved her. The only creature living who seemed to enter into
either her joys or her sorrows was the kind-hearted, gentle governess.
“You must let me have my own way this time, Miss Hastings. One
peculiarity of the Darrells is that they must say what is on their
minds. I intend to do so now; it rests with you whether I do it in
peace or not.”
After that Miss Hastings knew all further remonstrance was useless.
She made such arrangements as Pauline wished, and that afternoon they
drove over to the Elms. Lady Hampton received them very kindly; the
great end and aim of her life was accomplished—her niece was to be
Lady Darrell, of Darrell Court. There was no need for any more envy or
jealousy of Pauline. The girl who had so lately been a dangerous rival
and an enemy to be dreaded had suddenly sunk into complete
insignificance. Lady Hampton even thought it better to be gracious,
conciliatory, and kind; as Elinor had to live with Miss Darrell, it was
useless to make things disagreeable.
So Lady Hampton received them kindly. Fruit from the Court hothouses
and flowers from the Court conservatories were on the table. Lady
Hampton insisted that Miss Hastings should join her in her afternoon
tea, while Pauline, speaking with haughty grace, expressed a desire to
see the Elms garden.
Lady Hampton was not sorry to have an hour's gossip with Miss
Hastings, and she desired Elinor to show Miss Darrell all their
Elinor looked half-frightened at the task. It was wonderful to see
the contrast that the two girls presented—Pauline tall, slender,
queenly, in her sweeping black dress, all passion and magnificence;
Miss Rocheford, fair, dainty, golden-haired, and gentle.
They walked in silence down one of the garden-paths, and then Miss
Rocheford said, in her low, sweet voice:
“If you like roses, Miss Darrell, I can show you a beautiful
Then for the first time Pauline's dark eyes were directed toward her
“I am a bad dissembler, Miss Rocheford,” she said, proudly. “I have
no wish to see your flowers. I came here to see you. There is a seat
under yonder tree. Come with me, and hear what I have to say.”
Elinor followed, looking and feeling terribly frightened. What had
this grand, imperious Miss Darrell to say to her? They sat down side by
side under the shade of a large magnolia tree, the white blossoms of
which filled the air with sweetest perfume; the smiling summer beauty
rested on the landscape. They sat in silence for some minutes, and then
Pauline turned to Elinor.
“Miss Rocheford,” she said, “I am come to give you a warning—the
most solemn warning you have ever received—one that if you have any
common sense you will not refuse to heed. I hear that you are going to
marry my uncle, Sir Oswald. Is it true?”
“Sir Oswald has asked me to be his wife,” Elinor replied, with
downcast eyes and a faint blush.
Pauline's face gleamed with scorn.
“There is no need for any of those pretty airs and graces with me,”
she said. “I am going to speak stern truths to you. You, a young girl,
barely twenty, with all your life before you—surely you cannot be so
shamelessly untrue as even to pretend that you are marrying an old man
like my uncle for love? You know it is not so—you dare not even
Elinor's face flushed crimson.
“Why do you speak so to me, Miss Darrell?” she gasped.
“Because I want to warn you. Are you not ashamed—yes, I repeat the
word, ashamed—to sell your youth, your hope of love, your life itself,
for money and title? That is what you are doing. You do not love Sir
Oswald. How should you? He is more than old enough to be your father.
If he were a poor man, you would laugh his offer to scorn; but he is
old and rich, and you are willing to marry him to become Lady Darrell,
of Darrell Court. Can you, Elinor Rocheford, look me frankly in the
face, and say it is not so?”
No, she could not. Every word fell like a sledge-hammer on her
heart, and she knew it was all true. She bent her crimson face, and hid
it from Pauline's clear gaze.
“Are you not ashamed to sell yourself? If no truth, no honor, no
loyalty impels you to end this barter, let fear step in. You do not
love my uncle. It can give you no pain to give him up. Pursue your
present course, and I warn you. Darrell Court ought to be mine. I am a
Darrell, and when my uncle took me home it was as his heiress. For a
long period I have learned to consider Darrell Court as mine. It is
mine,” she continued—“mine by right, for I am a Darrell—mine by right
of the great love I bear it—mine by every law that is just and right!
Elinor Rocheford, I warn you, beware how you step in between me and my
birthright—beware! My uncle is only marrying you to punish me; he has
no other motive. Beware how you lend yourself to such punishment! I am
not asking you to give up any love. If you loved him, I would not say
one word; but it is not a matter of love—only of sale and barter. Give
“How can you talk so strangely to me, Miss Darrell? I cannot give it
up; everything is arranged.”
“You can if you will. Tell my uncle you repent of the unnatural
compact you have made. Be a true woman—true to the instinct Heaven has
placed in your heart. Marry for love, nothing else—pure, honest
love—and then you will live and die happy. Answer me—will you give it
“I cannot,” murmured the girl.
“You will not, rather. Listen to me. I am a true Darrell, and a
Darrell never breaks a word once pledged. If you marry my uncle, I
pledge my word that I will take a terrible vengeance on you—not a
commonplace one, but one that shall be terrible. I will be revenged
upon you if you dare to step in between me and my just inheritance! Do
you hear me?”
“I hear. You are very cruel, Miss Darrell. You know that I cannot
help myself. I must fulfill my contract.”
“Very well,” said Pauline, rising; “then I have no more to say. But
remember, I have given you full, fair, honest warning. I will be
revenged upon you.”
And Miss Darrell returned to the house, with haughty head proudly
raised, while Elinor remained in the garden, bewildered and aghast.
Two things happened. Elinor never revealed a word of what had
transpired, and three weeks from that day Sir Oswald Darrell married
her in the old parish church of Audleigh Royal.
CHAPTER XXIII. NO COMPROMISE WITH
It was evident to Miss Hastings that Sir Oswald felt some little
trepidation in bringing his bride home. He had, in spite of himself,
been somewhat impressed by his niece's behavior. She gave no sign of
disappointed greed or ambition, but she bore herself like one who has
been unjustly deprived of her rights.
On the night of the arrival every possible preparation had been made
for receiving the baronet and his wife. The servants, under the
direction of Mr. Frampton, the butler, were drawn up in stately array.
The bells from the old Norman church of Audleigh Royal pealed out a
triumphant welcome; flags and triumphal arches adorned the roadway. The
Court was looking its brightest and best; the grand old service of
golden plate, from which in olden times, kings and queens had dined,
was displayed. The rooms were made bright with flowers and warm with
fires. It was a proud coming home for Lady Darrell, who had never known
what a home was before. Her delicate face flushed as her eyes lingered
on the splendor around her. She could not repress the slight feeling of
triumph which made her heart beat and her pulse thrill as she
remembered that this was all her own.
She bowed right and left, with the calm, suave smile that never
deserted her. As she passed through the long file of servants she tried
her best to be most gracious and winning; but, despite her delicate,
grave, and youthful loveliness, they looked from her to the tall,
queenly girl whose proud head was never bent, and whose dark eyes had
in them no light of welcome. It might be better to bow to the rising
sun, but many of them preferred the sun that was setting.
Sir Oswald led his young wife proudly through the outer rooms into
“Welcome home, my dear Elinor!” he said. “May every moment you spend
in Darrell Court be full of happiness!”
She thanked him. Pauline stood by, not looking at them. After the
first careless glance at Lady Darrell, which seemed to take in every
detail of her costume, and to read every thought of her mind, she
turned carelessly away.
Lady Darrell sat down near the fire, while Sir Oswald, with tender
solicitude, took off her traveling-cloak, his hands trembling with
“You will like to rest for a few minutes before you go to your
rooms, Elinor,” he said.
Then Miss Hastings went up to them, and some general conversation
about traveling ensued. That seemed to break the ice. Lady Darrell
related one or two little incidents of their journey, and then Sir
Oswald suggested that she should go to her apartments, as the
dinner-bell would ring in half an hour. Lady Darrell went away, and Sir
Oswald soon afterward followed.
Pauline had turned to one of the large stands of flowers, and was
busily engaged in taking the dying leaves from a beautiful plant
bearing gorgeous crimson flowers.
“Pauline,” said the governess, “my dear child!”
She was startled. She expected to find the girl looking sullen,
angry, passionate; but the splendid face was only lighted by a gleam of
intense scorn, the dark eyes flashing fire, the ruby lips curling and
quivering with disdain. Pauline threw back her head with the old
“Miss Hastings,” she said, “I would not have sold myself as that
girl has done for all the money and the highest rank in England.”
“My dear Pauline, you must not, really, speak in that fashion. Lady
Darrell undoubtedly loves her husband.”
The look of scorn deepened.
“You know she does not. She is just twenty, and he is nearly sixty.
What love—what sympathy can there be between them?”
“It is not really our business, my dear; we will not discuss it.”
“Certainly not; but as you are always so hard upon what you call my
world—the Bohemian world, where men and women speak the truth—it
amuses me to find flaws in yours.”
Miss Hastings looked troubled; but she knew it was better for the
passionate torrent of words to be poured out to her. Pauline looked at
her with that straight, clear, open, honest look before which all
“You tell me, Miss Hastings, that I am deficient in
good-breeding—that I cannot take my proper place in your world because
I do not conform to its ways and its maxims. You have proposed this
lady to me as a model, and you would fain see me regulate all my
thoughts and words by her. I would rather die than be like her! She may
be thoroughly lady-like—I grant that she is so—but she has sold her
youth, her beauty, her love, her life, for an old man's money and
title. I, with all my brusquerie, as you call it, would have
scorned such sale and barter.”
“But, Pauline——” remonstrated Miss Hastings.
“It is an unpleasant truth,” interrupted Pauline, “and you do not
like to hear it. Sir Oswald is Baron of Audleigh Royal and master of
Darrell Court; but if a duke, thirty years older, had made this girl an
offer, she would have accepted him, and have given up Sir Oswald. What
a world, where woman's truth is so bidden for?”
“My dear Pauline, you must not, indeed, say these things; they are
“I begin to think that all truth is unlady-like,” returned the girl,
with a laugh. “My favorite virtue does not wear court dress very
“I have never heard that it affects russet gowns either,” said Miss
Hastings. “Oh, Pauline, if you would but understand social politeness,
social duties! If you would but keep your terrible ideas to yourself!
If you would but remember that the outward bearing of life must be as a
bright, shining, undisturbed surface! Do try to be more amiable to Lady
“No!” exclaimed the girl, proudly. “I have warned her, and she has
chosen to disregard my warning. I shall never assume any false
appearance of amiability or friendship for her; it will be war to the
knife! I told her so, and she chose to disbelieve me. I am a Darrell,
and the Darrells never break their word.”
Looking at her, the unstudied grace of her attitude, the perfect
pose, the grand face with its royal look of scorn, Miss Hastings felt
that she would rather have the girl for a friend than an enemy.
“I do hope, for your own sake, Pauline,” she said, “that you will
show every respect to Lady Darrell. All your comfort will depend upon
it. You must really compromise matters.”
“Compromise matters!” cried Pauline. “You had better tell the sea to
compromise with the winds which have lashed it into fury. There can be
no compromise with me.”
The words had scarcely issued from her lips when the dinner-bell
sounded, and Lady Darrell entered in a beautiful evening dress of white
and silver. Certainly Sir Oswald's choice did him great credit. She was
one of the most delicate, the most graceful of women, fair, caressing,
insinuating—one of those women who would never dream of uttering
barbarous truth when elegant fiction so much better served their
purpose—who loved fine clothes, sweet perfumes, costly jewels—who
preferred their own comfort in a graceful, languid way to anything else
on earth—who expected to be waited upon and to receive all homage—who
deferred to men with a graceful, sweet submission that made them feel
the deference a compliment—who placed entire reliance upon
others—whom men felt a secret delight in ministering to, because they
appeared so weak—one of those who moved cautiously and graciously with
subtle harmonious action, whose hands were always soft and jeweled,
whose touch was light and gentle—a woman born to find her place in the
lap of luxury, who shuddered at poverty or care.
Such was Elinor Darrell; and she entered the drawing-room now with
that soft, gliding movement that seemed always to irritate Pauline. She
drew a costly white lace shawl over her fair shoulders—the rich dress
of silver and white was studded with pearls. She looked like a fairy
“I think,” she said to Miss Hastings, in her quiet, calm way, “that
the evening is cold.”
“You have just left a warm country, Lady Darrell,” was the gentle
reply. “The South of France is blessed with one of the most beautiful
climates in the world.”
“It was very pleasant,” said Lady Darrell, with a dreamy little
sigh. “You have been very quiet, I suppose? We must try to create a
little more gayety for you.”
She looked anxiously across the room at Pauline; but that young
lady's attention was entirely engrossed by the crimson flowers of the
beautiful plant. Not one line of the superb figure, not one expression
of the proud face, was lost upon Lady Darrell.
“I have been saying to Sir Oswald,” she continued, looking intently
at the costly rings shining on her fingers, “that youth likes
gayety—we must have a series of parties and balls.”
“Is she beginning to patronize me?” thought Pauline.
She smiled to herself—a peculiar smile which Lady Darrell happened
to catch, and which made her feel very uncomfortable; and then an
awkward silence fell over them, only broken by the entrance of Sir
Oswald, and the announcement that dinner was served.
CHAPTER XXIV. A RICH GIFT DECLINED.
The bride's first dinner at home was over, and had been a great
success. Lady Darrell had not evinced the least emotion; she had
married for her present social position—for a fine house, troops of
servants, beautiful, warm, fragrant rooms, choice wines, and luxurious
living; it was only part and parcel of what she expected, and intended
to have. She took the chair of state provided for her, and by the
perfect ease and grace of her manner proved that she was well fitted
Sir Oswald watched her with keen delight, only regretting that years
ago he had not taken unto himself a wife. He was most courtly, most
deferential, most attractive. If Lady Darrell did occasionally feel
weary, and the memory of Aubrey Langton's face rose between her and her
husband, she made no sign.
When the three ladies withdrew, she made no further efforts to
conciliate Pauline. She looked at her, but seemed almost afraid to
speak. Then she opened a conversation with Miss Hastings, and the two
persevered in their amiable small talk until Pauline rose and went to
the piano, the scornful glance on her face deepening.
“This is making one's self amiable!” she thought. “What a blessing
it would be if people would speak only when they had something sensible
She sat down before the piano, but suddenly remembered that she had
not been asked to do so, and that she was no longer mistress of the
house—a reflection sufficiently galling to make her rise quickly, and
go to the other end of the room.
“Pauline,” said Lady Darrell, “pray sing for us. Miss Hastings tells
me you have a magnificent voice.”
“Have I? Miss Hastings is not so complimentary when she speaks to me
Then a sudden resolution came to Lady Darrell. She rose from her
seat, and, with the rich robe of silver and white sweeping around her,
she went to the end of the room where Pauline was standing, tall,
stately, and statuesque, turning over the leaves of a book. The
contrast between the two girls—the delicate beauty of the one, and the
grand loveliness of the other—was never more strongly marked.
Lady Darrell laid her white hand, shining with jewels, on Pauline's
arm. She looked up into her proud face.
“Pauline,” she said, gently, “will you not be friends? We have to
live together—will you be friends?”
“No!” replied Miss Darrell, in her clear, frank voice. “I gave you
warning. You paid no heed to it. We shall never be friends.”
A faint smile played round Lady Darrell's lips.
“But, Pauline, do you not see how useless all your resentment
against me is now? My marriage with Sir Oswald has taken place, and you
and I shall have to live together perhaps for many years—it would be
so much better for us to live in peace.”
The proud face wore its haughtiest look.
“It would be better for you, perhaps, Lady Darrell, but it can make
no difference to me.”
“It can, indeed. Now listen to reason—listen to me!” and in her
eagerness Lady Darrell once more laid her hand on the girl's arm. Her
face flushed as Pauline drew back, with a look of aversion, letting the
jeweled hand fall. “Listen, Pauline!” persevered Lady Darrell. “You
know all this is nonsense—sheer nonsense. My position now is
established. You can do nothing to hurt me—Sir Oswald will take good
care of that. Any attempt that you may make to injure me will fall upon
yourself; besides, you know you can do nothing.” In spite of her words,
Lady Darrell looked half-fearfully at the girl's proud, defiant face.
“You may have all kinds of tragic plans for vengeance in your mind, but
there are no secrets in my life that you can find out to my
discredit—indeed, you cannot injure me in any possible way.” She
seemed so sure of it, yet her eyes sought Pauline's with an anxious,
questioning fear. “Now, I, on the contrary,” she went on, “can do much
for you—and I will. You are young, and naturally wish to enjoy your
life. You shall. You shall have balls and parties, dresses—everything
that you can wish for, if you will only be friends with me.”
She might as well have thrown drops of oil on an angry ocean to
moderate its wrath.
“Lady Darrell,” was the sole reply, “you are only wasting your time
and mine. I warned you. Twenty years may elapse before my vengeance
arrives, but it will come at last.”
She walked away, leaving the brilliant figure of the young bride
alone in the bright lamp-light. She did not leave the room, for Sir
Oswald entered at the moment, carrying a small, square parcel in his
hand. He smiled as he came in.
“How pleasant it is to see so many fair faces!” he said. “Why, my
home has indeed been dark until now.”
He went up to Lady Darrell, as she stood alone. All the light in the
room seemed to be centered on her golden hair and shining dress. He
“I have brought the little parcel, Elinor, thinking that you would
prefer to give your beautiful present to Pauline herself. But,” he
continued, “why are you standing, my love? You will be tired.”
She raised her fair, troubled face to his, with a smile.
“Moreover, it seems to me that you are looking anxious,” he resumed.
“Miss Hastings, will you come here, please? Is this an anxious look on
Lady Darrell's face?”
“I hope not,” said the governess, with a gentle smile.
Then Sir Oswald brought a chair, and placed his wife in it; he next
obtained a footstool and a small table. Lady Darrell, though
half-ashamed of the feeling, could not help being thankful that Pauline
did not notice these lover-like attentions.
“Now, Miss Hastings,” spoke Sir Oswald, “I want you to admire Lady
He opened the parcel. It contained a morocco case, the lid of which,
upon a spring being touched, flew back, exposing a beautiful suite of
rubies set in pale gold.
Miss Hastings uttered a little cry of delight.
“How very beautiful!” she said.
“Yes,” responded Sir Oswald, holding them up to the light, “they
are, indeed. I am sure we must congratulate Lady Darrell upon her good
taste. I suggested diamonds or pearls, but she thought rubies so much
better suited to Pauline's dark beauty; and she is quite right.”
Lady Darrell held up the shining rubies with her white fingers, but
she did not smile; a look of something like apprehension came over the
“I hope Pauline will like them,” she said, gently.
“She cannot fail to do so,” remarked Sir Oswald, with some little
hauteur. “I will tell her that you want to speak to her.”
He went over to the deep recess of the large window, where Pauline
sat reading. He had felt very sure that she would be flattered by the
rich and splendid gift. There had been some little pride, and some
little pomp in his manner as he went in search of her, but it seemed to
die away as he looked at her face. That was not the face of a girl who
could be tempted, pleased, or coaxed with jewels. Insensibly his manner
“Pauline,” he said, gently, “Lady Darrell wishes to speak to you.”
There was evidently a struggle in her mind as to whether she should
comply or not, and then she rose, and without a word walked up to the
“What do you require, Lady Darrell?” she asked; and Miss Hastings
looked up at her with quick apprehension.
The fair face of Lady Darrell looked more troubled than pleased. Sir
Oswald stood by, a little more stately and proud than usual—proud of
his niece, proud of his wife, and pleased with himself.
“I have brought you a little present, Pauline, from Paris,” said
Lady Darrell. “I hope it will give you pleasure.”
“You were kind to remember me,” observed Pauline.
Sir Oswald thought the acknowledgment far too cool and calm.
“They are the finest rubies I have seen, Pauline; they are superb
He held them so that the light gleamed in them until they shone like
fire. The proud, dark eyes glanced indifferently at them.
“What have you to say to Lady Darrell, Pauline?” asked Sir Oswald,
growing angry at her silence.
The girl's beautiful lip curled.
“Lady Darrell was good to think of me,” she said, coldly; “and the
jewels are very fine; but they are not suitable for me.”
Her words, simple as they were, fell like a thunder-cloud upon the
“And pray why not?” asked Sir Oswald, angrily.
“Your knowledge of the world is greater than mine, and will tell you
better than I can,” she replied, calmly. “Three months since they would
have been a suitable present to one in the position I held then; now
they are quite out of place, and I decline them.”
“You decline them!” exclaimed Lady Darrell, hardly believing that it
was in human nature to refuse such jewels.
Pauline smiled calmly, repeated the words, and walked away.
Sir Oswald, with an angry murmur, replaced the jewels in the case
and set it aside.
“She has the Darrell spirit,” he said to his wife, with an awkward
smile; and she devoutly hoped that her husband would not often exhibit
CHAPTER XXV. A TRUE DARRELL.
The way in which the girl supported her disappointment was lofty in
the extreme. She bore her defeat as proudly as some would have borne a
victory. No one could have told from her face or her manner that she
had suffered a grievous defeat. When she alluded to the change in her
position, it was with a certain proud humility that had in it nothing
approaching meanness or envy.
It did not seem that she felt the money-loss; it was not the
disappointment about mere wealth and luxury. It was rather an unbounded
distress that she had been set aside as unworthy to represent the race
of the Darrells—that she, a “real” Darrell, had been forced to make
way for what, in her own mind, she called a “baby-faced stranger”—that
her training and education, on which her dear father had prided
himself, should be cast in her face as unworthy and deserving of
reproach. He and his artist-friends had thought her perfection; that
very “perfection” on which they had prided themselves, and for which
they had so praised and flattered her, was the barrier that had stood
between her and her inheritance.
It was a painful position, but her manner of bearing it was exalted.
She had not been a favorite—the pride, the truth, the independence of
her nature had forbidden that. She had not sought the liking of
strangers, nor courted their esteem; she had not been sweet and
womanly, weeping with those who wept, and rejoicing with those who
rejoiced; she had looked around her with a scorn for conventionalities
that had not sat well upon one so young—and now she was to pay the
penalties for all this. She knew that people talked about her—that
they said she was rightly punished, justly treated—that it was a
blessing for the whole county to have a proper Lady Darrell at Darrell
Court She knew that among all the crowds who came to the Court there
was not one who sympathized with her, or who cared in the least for her
disappointment. No Darrell ever showed greater bravery than she did in
her manner of bearing up under disappointment. Whatever she felt or
thought was most adroitly concealed. The Spartan boy was not braver;
she gave no sign. No humiliation seemed to touch her, she carried
herself loftily; nor could any one humiliate her when she did not
humiliate herself. Even Sir Oswald admired her.
“She is a true Darrell,” he said to Miss Hastings; “what a grand
spirit the girl has, to be sure!”
The Court was soon one scene of gayety. Lady Darrell seemed
determined to enjoy her position. There were garden-parties at which
she appeared radiant in the most charming costumes, balls where her
elegance and delicate beauty, her thoroughbred grace, made her the
queen; and of all this gayety she took the lead. Sir Oswald lavished
every luxury upon her—her wishes were gratified almost before they
Lady Hampton, calling rather earlier than usual one day, found her
in her luxurious dressing-room, surrounded by such treasures of silk,
velvet, lace, jewels, ornaments of every description of the most costly
and valuable kind, that her ladyship looked round in astonishment.
“My dearest Elinor,” she said, “what are you doing? What beautiful
Lady Darrell raised her fair face, with a delicate flush and a
“Look, aunt,” she said, “I am really overwhelmed.”
“What does it mean?” asked Lady Hampton.
“It means that Sir Oswald is too generous. These large boxes have
just arrived from Paris; he told me they were a surprise for me—a
present from him. Look at the contents—dresses of all kinds, lace,
ornaments, fans, slippers, gloves, and such articles of luxury
as can be bought only in Paris. I am really ashamed.”
“Sir Oswald is indeed generous,” said Lady Hampton; then she looked
round the room to see if they were quite alone.
The maid had disappeared.
“Ah, Elinor,” remarked Lady Hampton, “you are indeed a fortunate
woman; your lines have fallen in pleasant places. You might have looked
all England over and not have found such a husband. I am quite sure of
one thing—you have everything a woman's heart can desire.”
“I make no complaint,” said Lady Darrell.
“My dear child, I should imagine not; there are few women in England
whose position equals yours.”
“I know it,” was the calm reply.
“And you may really thank me for it; I certainly worked hard for
you, Elinor. I believe that if I had not interfered you would have
thrown yourself away on that Captain Langton.”
“Captain Langton never gave me the chance, aunt; so we will not
discuss the question.”
“It was a very good thing for you that he never did,” remarked her
ladyship. “Mrs. Bretherton was saying to me the other day what a very
fortunate girl you were—how few of us have our heart's desire.”
“You forget one thing, aunt. Even if I have everything I want, still
my heart is empty,” said the girl, wearily.
Lady Hampton smiled.
“You must have your little bit of sentiment, Elinor, but you are too
sensible to let it interfere with your happiness. How are you getting
on with that terrible Pauline? I do dislike that girl from the very
depths of my heart.”
Lady Darrell shrugged her delicate shoulders.
“There is a kind of armed neutrality between us at present,” she
said. “Of course, I have nothing to fear from her, but I cannot help
feeling a little in dread of her, aunt.”
“How is that?” asked Lady Hampton, contemptuously. “She is a girl I
should really delight to thwart and contradict; but, as for being
afraid of her, I consider Frampton, the butler, a far more formidable
person. Why do you say that, Elinor?”
“She has a way with her—I cannot describe it—of making every one
else feel small. I cannot tell how she does it, but she makes me very
“You have more influence over Sir Oswald than any one else in the
world; if she troubles you, why not persuade him to send her away?”
“I dare not,” said Lady Darrell; “besides, I do not think he would
ever care to do that.”
“Then you should be mistress of her, Elinor—keep her in her place.”
Lady Darrell laughed aloud.
“I do not think even your skill could avail here, aunt. She is not
one of those girls you can extinguish with a frown.”
“How does she treat you, Elinor? Tell me honestly,” said Lady
“I can hardly describe it. She is never rude or insolent; if she
were, appeal to Sir Oswald would be very easy. She has a grand, lofty
way with her—an imperious carriage and bearing that I really think he
admires. She ignores me, overlooks me, and there is a scornful gleam in
her eyes at times, when she does look at me, which says more plainly
than words, 'You married for money.'”
“And you did a very sensible thing, too, my dear. I wish, I only
wish I had the management of Miss Darrell; I would break her spirit, if
it is to be broken.”
“I do not think it is,” said Lady Darrell, rising as though she were
weary of the discussion. “There is nothing in her conduct that any one
could find fault with, yet I feel she is my enemy.”
“Wait a while,” returned Lady Hampton; “her turn will come.”
And from that day the worthy lady tried her best to prejudice Sir
Oswald against his proud, beautiful, wayward niece.
CHAPTER XXVI. A PUZZLING QUESTION.
“Does Miss Darrell show any signs of disappointment?” inquired Lady
Hampton one day of Miss Hastings.
Miss Hastings, although she noticed a hundred faults in the girl
which she would fain have corrected, had nevertheless a true, strong,
and warm affection for her pupil; she was not one therefore to play
into the enemy's hand; and, when Lady Darrell fixed her eyes upon her,
full of eagerness and brightened by curiosity, Miss Hastings quietly
resolved not to gratify her.
“Disappointment about what?” she asked. “I do not understand you,
“About the property,” explained Lady Hampton, impatiently. “She made
so very sure of it. I shall never forget her insolent confidence. Do
tell me, is she not greatly annoyed and disappointed?”
“Not in the way you mean, Lady Hampton. She has never spoken of such
Her ladyship felt piqued; she would have preferred to hear that
Pauline did feel her loss, and was grieving over it. In that case she
would have been kind to her, would have relented; but the reflection
that her pride was still unbending annoyed her, and she mentally
resolved to try if she could not force the girl into some expression of
her feelings. It was not an amiable resolve, but Lady Hampton was not
naturally an amiable woman.
Fortune favored her. That very day, as she was leaving the Court,
she saw Pauline standing listlessly by the lake side feeding the
graceful white swans. She went up to her with a malicious smile, only
half-vailed by her pretended friendly greeting.
“How do you do, Miss Darrell? You are looking very melancholy. There
is nothing the matter, I hope?”
For any one to attempt to humiliate Pauline was simply a waste of
time; the girl's natural character was so dignified that all attempts
of the kind fell through or told most upon her assailants. She answered
Lady Hampton with quiet politeness, her dark eyes hardly resting for a
moment upon her.
“You do not seem to find much occupation for your leisure hours,”
continued Lady Hampton. “You are making the round of the grounds, I
suppose? They are very beautiful. I am afraid that you must feel keenly
how much my niece has deprived you of.”
It was not a lady-like speech; but Lady Hampton felt irresistibly
impelled to make it—the proud, defiant, beautiful face provoked her.
Pauline merely smiled; she had self-control that would have done honor
to one much older and more experienced.
“Your niece has deprived me of nothing, Lady Hampton,” she returned,
with a curl of the lip, for which the elder lady could have shaken her.
“I possess one great advantage of which no one living can deprive
me—that is, the Darrell blood runs in my veins.”
And, with a bow, she walked away, leaving her ladyship more angry
than she would have cared to own. So Pauline met all her enemies.
Whatever she might suffer, they should not triumph over her. Even Sir
Oswald felt himself compelled to yield to her an admiration that he had
never given before.
He was walking one evening on the terrace. The western sunbeams,
lingering on the grand old building, brightened it into beauty.
Flowers, trees, and shrubs were all in their fullest loveliness.
Presently Sir Oswald, leaning over the balustrade of the terrace, saw
Pauline sketching in the grounds below. He went to her, and looked over
her shoulder. She was just completing a sketch of the great western
tower of the Court; and he was struck with the vivid beauty of the
“You love Darrell Court, Pauline?” he said, gently.
She raised her face to his for a minute; the feud between them was
forgotten. She only remembered that he was a Darrell, and she his
nearest of kin.
“I do love it, uncle,” she said, “as pilgrims love their favorite
shrine. It is the home of beauty, of romance, the cradle of heroes;
every stone is consecrated by a legend. Love is a weak word for what I
He looked at the glowing face, and for a few moments a doubt
assailed him as to whether he had done right in depriving this true
Darrell of her inheritance.
“But, Pauline,” he said, slowly, “you would never have——”
She sprang from her seat with a quickness that almost startled him.
She had forgotten all that had happened; but now it all returned to her
with a bitter pang that could not be controlled.
“Hush, Sir Oswald!” she cried, interrupting him; “it is too late for
us to talk about Darrell Court now. Pray do not misunderstand me; I was
only expressing my belief.”
She bent down to take up her drawing materials.
“I do not misunderstand you, child,” he said, sadly. “You love it
because it is the home of a race you love, and not for its mere worth
Her dark eyes seemed to flash with fire; the glorious face had never
softened so before.
“You speak truly,” she said; “that is exactly what I mean.”
Then she went away, liking Sir Oswald better than she had ever liked
him in her life before. He looked after her half-sadly.
“A glorious girl!” he said to himself; “a true Darrell! I hope I
have not made a mistake.”
Lady Darrell made no complaint to her husband of Pauline; the girl
gave her no tangible cause of complaint. She could not complain to Sir
Oswald that Pauline's eyes always rested on her with a scornful glance,
half-humorous, half-mocking. She could not complain of that strange
power Miss Darrell exercised of making her always “feel so small.” She
would gladly have made friends with Miss Darrell; she had no idea of
keeping up any species of warfare; but Pauline resisted all her
advances. Lady Darrell had a strange kind of half-fear, which made her
ever anxious to conciliate.
She remarked to herself how firm and steadfast Pauline was; there
was no weakness, no cowardice in her character; she was strong,
self-reliant; and, discerning that, Lady Darrell asked herself often,
“What will Pauline's vengeance be?”
The question puzzled her far more than she would have cared to own.
What shape would her vengeance assume? What could she do to avoid it?
When would it overtake her?
Then she would laugh at herself. What was there to fear in the
wildly-uttered, dramatic threats of a helpless girl? Could she take her
husband from her? No; it was not in any human power to do that. Could
she take her wealth, title, position, from her? No; that was
impossible. Could she make her unhappy? No, again; that did not seem to
be in her power. Lady Darrell would try to laugh, but one look at the
beautiful, proud face, with its dark, proud eyes and firm lips, would
bring the coward fear back again.
She tried her best to conciliate her. She was always putting little
pleasures, little amusements, in her way, of which Pauline never
availed herself. She was always urging Sir Oswald to make her some
present or to grant her some indulgence. She never interfered with her;
even when suggestions from her would have been useful, she never made
them. She was mistress of the house, but she allowed the utmost freedom
and liberty to this girl, who never thanked her, and who never asked
her for a single favor.
Sir Oswald admired this grace and sweetness in his wife more than he
had ever admired anything else. Certainly, contrasted with Pauline's
blunt, abrupt frankness, these pretty, bland, suave ways shone to
advantage. He saw that his wife did her best to conciliate the girl,
that she was always kind and gracious to her. He saw, also, that
Pauline never responded; that nothing ever moved her from the proud,
defiant attitude she had from the first assumed.
He said to himself that he could only hope; in time things must
alter; his wife's caressing ways must win Pauline over, and then they
would be good friends.
So he comforted himself, and the edge of a dark precipice was for a
time covered with flowers.
The autumn and winter passed away, spring-tide opened fair and
beautiful, and Miss Hastings watched her pupil with daily increasing
anxiety. Pauline never spoke of her disappointment; she bore herself as
though it had never happened, her pride never once giving way; but, for
all that, the governess saw that her whole character and disposition
was becoming warped. She watched Pauline in fear. If circumstances had
been propitious to her, if Sir Oswald would but have trusted her, would
but have had more patience with her, would but have awaited the sure
result of a little more knowledge and experience, she would have
developed into a noble and magnificent woman, she would have been one
of the grandest Darrells that ever reigned at the old Court. But Sir
Oswald had not trusted her; he had not been willing to await the result
of patient training; he had been impetuous and hasty, and, though
Pauline was too proud to own it, the disappointment preyed upon her
until it completely changed her. It was all the deeper and more
concentrated because she made no sign.
This girl, noble of soul, grand of nature, sensitive, proud, and
impulsive, gave her whole life to one idea—her disappointment and the
vengeance due to it; the very grandeur of her virtues helped to
intensify her faults; the very strength of her character seemed to
deepen and darken the idea over which she brooded incessantly by night
and by day. She was bent on vengeance.
CHAPTER XXVII. SIR OSWALD'S DOUBTS.
It was the close of a spring day. Lady Hampton had been spending it
at Darrell Court, and General Deering, an old friend of Sir Oswald's,
who was visiting in the neighborhood, had joined the party at dinner.
When dinner was over, and the golden sunbeams were still brightening
the beautiful rooms, he asked Sir Oswald to show him the
“You have a fine collection,” he said—“every one tells me that; but
it is not only the pictures I want to see, but the Darrell faces. I
heard the other day that the Darrells were generally acknowledged to be
the handsomest race in England.”
The baronet's clear-cut, stately face flushed a little.
“I hope England values us for something more useful than merely
handsome faces,” he rejoined, with a touch of hauteur that made
the general smile.
“Certainly,” he hastened to say; “but in this age, when personal
beauty is said to be on the decrease, it is something to own a handsome
The picture-gallery was a very extensive one; it was wide and well
lighted, the floor was covered with rich crimson cloth, white statues
gleamed from amid crimson velvet hangings, the walls were covered with
rare and valuable pictures. But General Deering saw a picture that day
in the gallery which he was never to forget.
Lady Hampton was not enthusiastic about art unless there was
something to be gained by it. There was nothing to excite her cupidity
now, her last niece being married, so her ladyship could afford to take
matters calmly; she reclined at her ease on one of the crimson lounges,
and enjoyed the luxury of a quiet nap.
The general paused for a while before some of Horace Vernet's
battle-pieces; they delighted him. Pauline had walked on to the end of
the gallery, and Lady Darrell, always anxious to conciliate her, had
followed. The picture that struck the general most were the two ladies
as they stood side by side—Lady Darrell with the sheen of gold in her
hair, the soft luster of gleaming pearls on her white neck, the
fairness of her face heightened by its dainty rose-leaf bloom, her
evening dress of sweeping white silk setting off the graceful, supple
lines of her figure, all thrown into such vivid light by the crimson
carpet on which she stood and the background of crimson velvet; Pauline
like some royal lady in her trailing black robes, with the massive
coils of her dark hair wound round the graceful, haughty head, and her
grand face with its dark, glorious eyes and rich ruby lips. The one
looked fair, radiant, and charming as a Parisian coquette; the other
like a Grecian goddess, superb, magnificent, queenly, simple in her
exquisite beauty—art or ornaments could do nothing for her.
“Look,” said the general to Sir Oswald, “that picture surpasses
anything you have on your walls.”
Sir Oswald bowed.
“What a beautiful girl your niece is!” the old soldier continued.
“See how her face resembles this of Lady Edelgitha Darrell. Pray do not
think me impertinent, but I cannot imagine, old friend, why you
married, so devoted to bachelor life as you were, when you had a niece
so beautiful, so true a Darrell, for your heiress. I am puzzled now
that I see her.”
“She lacked training,” said Sir Oswald.
“Training?” repeated the general, contemptuously. “What do you call
training? Do you mean that she was not experienced in all the little
trifling details of a dinner-table—that she could not smile as she
told graceful little untruths? Training! Why, that girl is a queen
among women; a noble soul shines in her grand face, there is a royal
grandeur of nature about her that training could never give. I have
lived long, but I have never seen such a woman.”
“She had such strange, out-of-the-way, unreal notions, I dared
not—that is the truth—I dared not leave Darrell Court to her.”
“I hope you have acted wisely,” said the general; “but, as an old
friend and a true one, I must say that I doubt it.”
“My wife, I am happy to say, has plenty of common sense,” observed
“Your wife,” returned the general, looking at the sheen of the
golden hair and the shining dress, “is pretty, graceful, and amiable,
but that girl has all the soul; there is as much difference between
them as between a golden buttercup and a dark, stately, queenly rose.
The rose should have been ruler at Darrell Court, old friend.”
Then he asked, abruptly:
“What are you going to do for her, Sir Oswald?”
“I have provided for her,” he replied.
“Darrell Court, then, and all its rich revenues go to your wife, I
“Yes, to my wife,” said Sir Oswald.
“Unconditionally?” asked the general.
“Most certainly,” was the impatient reply.
“Well, my friend,” said the general, “in this world every one does
as he or she likes; but to disinherit that girl, with the face and
spirit of a true Darrell, and to put a fair, amiable blonde stranger in
her place, was, to say the least, eccentric—the world will deem it so,
at any rate. If I were forty years younger I would win Pauline Darrell,
and make her love me. But we must join the ladies—they will think us
“Sweet smiles, no mind, an amiable manner, no intellect, prettiness
after the fashion of a Parisian doll, to be preferred to that noble,
truthful, queenly girl! Verily tastes differ,” thought the general, as
he watched the two, contrasted them, and lost himself in wonder over
his friend's folly.
He took his leave soon afterward, gravely musing on what he could
not understand—why his old friend had done what seemed to him a rash,
He left Sir Oswald in a state of great discomfort. Of course he
loved his wife—loved her with a blind infatuation that did more honor
to his heart than his head—but he had always relied so implicitly on
the general's judgment. He found himself half wishing that in this, the
crowning action of his life, he had consulted his old friend.
He never knew how that clever woman of the world, Lady Hampton, had
secretly influenced him. He believed that he had acted entirely on his
own clear judgment; and now, for the first time, he doubted that.
“You look anxious, Oswald,” said Lady Darrell, as she bent down and
with her fresh, sweet young lips touched his brow. “Has anything
“No, my darling,” he replied; “I do not feel quite well, though. I
have had a dull, nervous heaviness about me all day—a strange
sensation of pain too. I shall be better to-morrow.”
“If not,” she said, sweetly, “I shall insist on your seeing Doctor
Helmstone. I am quite uneasy about you.”
“You are very kind to me,” he responded, gratefully.
But all her uneasiness did not prevent her drawing the white lace
round her graceful shoulders and taking up the third volume of a novel
in which she was deeply interested, while Sir Oswald, looking older and
grayer than he had looked before, went into the garden for a stroll.
The sunbeams were so loth to go; they lingered even now on the tips
of the trees and the flowers; they lingered on the lake and in the
rippling spray of the fountains. Sir Oswald sat down by the lake-side.
Had he done wrong? Was it a foolish mistake—one that he could not
undo? Was Pauline indeed the grand, noble, queenly girl his friend
thought her? Would she have made a mistress suitable for Darrell Court,
or had he done right to bring this fair, blonde stranger into his
home—this dearly-loved young wife? What would she do with Darrell
Court if he left it to her? The great wish of his heart for a son to
succeed him had not been granted to him; but he had made his will, and
in it he had left Darrell Court to his wife.
He looked at the home he had loved so well. Ah, cruel death! If he
could but have taken it with him, or have watched over it from another
world! But when death came he must leave it, and a dull, uneasy
foreboding came over him as to what he should do in favor of this
As he looked at it, tears rose to his eyes; and then he saw Pauline
standing a little way from him, the proud, beautiful face softened into
tenderness, the dark eyes full of kindness. She went up to him more
affectionately than she had ever done in her life; she knelt on the
grass by his side.
“Uncle,” she said, quietly, “you look very ill; are you in trouble?”
He held out his hands to her; at the sound of her voice all his
heart seemed to go out to this glorious daughter of his race.
“Pauline,” he said, in a low, broken voice, “I am thinking about
you—I am wondering about you. Have I done—I wonder, have I done
A clear light flashed into her noble face.
“Do you refer to Darrell Court?” she asked. “If you do, you have
done wrong. I think you might have trusted me. I have many faults, but
I am a true Darrell. I would have done full justice to the trust.”
“I never thought so,” he returned, feebly; “and I did it all for the
best, as I imagined, Pauline.”
“I know you did—I am sure you did,” she agreed, eagerly; “I never
thought otherwise. It was not you, uncle. I understand all that was
brought to bear upon you. You are a Darrell, honorable, loyal, true;
you do not understand anything that is not straightforward. I do,
because my life has been so different from yours.”
He was looking at her with a strange, wavering expression in his
face; the girl's eyes, full of sympathy, were turned on him.
“Pauline,” he said, feebly, “if I have done wrong—and, oh, I am so
loth to believe it—you will forgive me, my dear, will you not?”
For the first time he held out his arms to her; for the first time
she went close to him and kissed his face. It was well that Lady
Hampton was not there to see. Pauline heard him murmur something about
“a true Darrell—the last of the Darrells,” and when she raised her
head she found that Sir Oswald had fallen into a deep, deadly swoon.
CHAPTER XXVIII. READING OF THE WILL.
Assistance was soon procured, and Sir Oswald was carried to his
room; Doctor Helmstone was sent for, and when he arrived the whole
house was in confusion. Lady Darrell wrung her hands in the most
“Now, Elinor,” said Lady Hampton, “pray do not give way to anything
of that kind. It is a fortunate thing for you that I am here. Let me
beg of you to remember that, whatever happens, you are magnificently
provided for, Sir Oswald told me as much. There is really no need to
excite yourself in that fashion.”
While Lady Darrell, with a few graceful exclamations and a very
pretty show of sorrow, managed to attract all possible sympathy,
Pauline moved about with a still, cold face, which those best
understood who knew her nature. It seemed incredible to the girl that
anything unexpected should happen to her uncle. She had only just begun
to love him; that evening had brought those two proud hearts closer
together than they had ever been; the ice was broken; each had a
glimmering perception of the real character of the other—a perception
that in time would have developed into perfect love. It seemed too hard
that after he had just begun to like her—that as soon as a fresh and
genuine sentiment was springing up between them—he must die.
For it had come to that. Care, skill, talent, watching, were all in
vain; he must die. Grave-faced doctors had consulted about him, and
with professional keenness had seen at once that his case was hopeless.
The ailment was a sudden and dangerous one—violent inflammation of the
lungs. No one could account for the sudden seizure. Sir Oswald had
complained of pain during the day, but no one thought that it was
anything of a serious nature. His manner, certainly, had been strange,
with a sad pathos quite unlike himself; but no one saw in that the
commencement of a mortal illness.
Lady Hampton frequently observed how fortunate it was that she was
there. To all inquiries as to the health of her niece, she replied,
“Poor, dear Lady Darrell is bearing up wonderfully;” and with the help
of pathetic little speeches, the frequent use of a vinaigrette, a few
tears, and some amiable self-condolence, that lady did bear up.
Strange to say, the one who felt the keenest sorrow, the deepest
regret, the truest pain, was the niece with whom Sir Oswald had
continually found fault, and whom he had disinherited. She went about
with a sorrow on her face more eloquent than words. Lady Hampton said
it was all assumed; but Lady Darrell said, more gently, that Pauline
was not a girl to assume a grief which she did not feel.
So the baronet died after a week of severe illness, during which he
never regained the power of speech, nor could make himself
intelligible. The most distressing thing was that there was evidently
something which he wished to say—something which he desired to make
them understand. When Pauline was in the room his eyes followed her
with a wistful glance, pitiful, sad, distressing; he evidently wished
to say something, but had not the power.
With that wish unexpressed he died, and they never knew what it was.
Only Pauline thought that he meant, even at the last, to ask her
forgiveness and to do her justice.
Darrell Court was thrown into deepest mourning; the servants went
about with hushed footsteps and sorrowful faces. He had been kind to
them, this stately old master; and who knew what might happen under the
new regime? Lady Hampton was, she assured every one, quite
overwhelmed with business. She had to make all arrangements for the
funeral, to order all the mourning, while Lady Darrell was supposed to
be overwhelmed with sorrow in the retirement of her own room.
One fine spring morning, while the pretty bluebells were swaying in
the wind, and the hawthorn was shining pink and white on the hedges,
while the birds sang and the sun shone, Sir Oswald Darrell was buried,
and the secret of what he had wished to say or have done was buried
At Lady Darrell's suggestion, Captain Langton was sent for to attend
the funeral. It was a grand and stately procession. All the elite
of the county were there, all the tenantry from Audleigh Royal, all the
friends who had known Sir Oswald and respected him.
“Was he the last of the Darrells?” one asked of another; and many
looked at the stately, dark-eyed girl who bore the name, wondering how
he had left his property, whether his niece would succeed him, or his
wife take all. They talked of this in subdued whispers as the funeral
cortege wound its way to the church, they talked of it after the
coffin had been lowered into the vault, and they talked of it as the
procession made its way back to Darrell Court.
As Lady Hampton said, it was a positive relief to open the windows
and let the blessed sunshine in, to draw up the heavy blinds, to do
away with the dark, mourning aspect of the place.
Everything had been done according to rule—no peer of the realm
could have had a more magnificent funeral. Lady Hampton felt that in
every respect full honor had been done both to the living and the dead.
“Now,” she wisely remarked, “there is nothing to be done, save to
bear up as well as it is possible.”
Then, after a solemn and dreary dinner, the friends and invited
guests went away, and the most embarrassing ceremony of all had to be
gone through—the reading of the will.
Mr. Ramsden, the family solicitor, was in attendance. Captain
Langton, Lady Darrell, Lady Hampton, and Miss Darrell took their seats.
Once or twice Lady Hampton looked with a smile of malicious
satisfaction at the proud, calm face of Pauline. There was nothing
there to gratify her—no queen could have assisted at her own
dethronement with prouder majesty or prouder grace. Some of the old
retainers, servants who had been in the family from their earliest
youth, said there was not one who did not wish in his heart that
Pauline might have Darrell Court.
Lady Darrell, clad in deepest mourning, was placed in a large
easy-chair in the center of the group, her aunt by her side. She looked
extremely delicate and lovely in her black sweeping robes.
Pauline, who evidently thought the ceremony an empty one, as far as
she was concerned, stood near the table. She declined the chair that
Captain Langton placed for her. Her uncle was dead; she regretted him
with true, unfeigned, sincere sorrow; but the reading of his will had
certainly nothing to do with her. There was not the least shadow on her
face, not the least discomposure in her manner. To look at her one
would never have thought she was there to hear the sentence of
Lady Darrell did not look quite so tranquil; everything was at stake
for her. She held her dainty handkerchief to her face lest the
trembling of her lips should be seen.
Mr. Ramsden read the will, and its contents did not take any one
much by surprise. The most important item was a legacy of ten thousand
pounds to Captain Aubrey Langton. To Pauline Darrell was left an
annuity of five hundred pounds per annum, with the strict injunction
that she should live at Darrell Court until her marriage; if she never
married, she was to reside there until her death. To all his faithful
servants Sir Oswald left legacies and annuities. To his well-beloved
wife, Elinor, he bequeathed all else—Darrell Court, with its rich
dependencies and royal revenues, his estate in Scotland, his house in
town, together with all the valuable furniture, plate, jewelry,
pictures, all the moneys that had accumulated during his life-time—all
to her, to hold at her will and pleasure; there was no restriction, no
condition to mar the legacy.
To the foregoing Sir Oswald had added a codicil; he left Miss
Hastings one hundred pounds per annum, and begged of her to remain at
Darrell Court as companion to Lady Darrell and his niece.
Then the lawyer folded up the parchment, and the ceremony was ended.
“A very proper will,” said Lady Hampton; “it really does poor dear
Sir Oswald credit.”
They hastened to congratulate Lady Darrell; but Captain Langton, it
was noticed, forgot to do so—he was watching Pauline's calm,
unconcerned departure from the room.
CHAPTER XXIX. WAITING FOR REVENGE.
There was a slight, only a very slight difference of opinion between
Lady Darrell and her aunt after the reading of the will. Lady Hampton
would fain have given up the Elms, and have gone to live at Darrell
“Sir Oswald's will is a very just one,” she said, “admirable in
every respect; but I should never dream, were I in your place, Elinor,
of keeping that proud girl here. Let her go. I will come and live with
you. I shall make a better chaperon than that poor, faded Miss
But Lady Darrell was eager to taste the sweets of power, and she
knew how completely her aunt would take every vestige of it from her.
She declared her intention to adhere most strictly to the terms of
“And, aunt,” she continued, with firmness quite new to her, “it
would be so much better, I think, for you to keep at the Elms. People
might make strange remarks if you came here to live with me.”
Lady Hampton was shrewd enough to see that she must abide by her
The captain was to remain only two days at Darrell Court, and Lady
Darrell was anxious to spend some little time with him.
“I like the captain, aunt,” she said; “he amuses me.”
Lady Hampton remembered how she had spoken of him before, and it was
not her intention that her beautiful niece should fling away herself
and her magnificent fortune on Aubrey Langton.
“She is sure to marry again,” thought the lady; “and, dowered as she
is, she ought to marry a duke, at least.”
She represented to her that it was hardly etiquette for her, a widow
so young, and her loss being so recent, to entertain a handsome young
“I do not see that the fact of his being handsome makes any
difference, aunt,” said Lady Darrell; “still, if you think I must
remain shut up in my room while the captain is here, of course, I will
remain so, though it seems very hard.”
“Appearances are everything,” observed Lady Hampton, sagely; “and
you cannot be too careful at first.”
“Does he seem to pay Pauline any attention?” asked the young widow,
“I have never heard them exchange more than a few words—indeed the
circumstance has puzzled me, Elinor. I have seen him look at her as
though he worshiped her and as though he hated her. As for Miss
Darrell, she seems to treat him with contemptuous indifference.”
“I used to think he liked her,” said Lady Darrell, musingly.
“He liked the future heiress of Darrell Court,” rejoined Lady
Hampton. “All his love has gone with her prospects, you may rely upon
Lady Darrell, brought up in a school that would sacrifice even life
itself for the sake of appearances, knew there was no help for her
enforced retirement. She remained in her rooms until the young officer
had left the Court.
Lady Hampton was not the only one who felt puzzled at Pauline's
behavior to the captain. Miss Hastings, who understood her pupil
perhaps better than any one, was puzzled. There was somewhat of a calm,
unutterable contempt in her manner of treating him. He could not
provoke her; no matter what he said, she would not be provoked into
retort. She never appeared to remember his existence; no one could have
been more completely ignored; and Captain Langton himself was but too
cognizant of the fact. If he could have but piqued or aroused her, have
stung her into some exhibition of feeling, he would have been content;
but no statue could have been colder, no queen prouder. If any little
attention was required at her hands she paid it, but there was no
denying the fact that it was rendered in such a manner that the
omission would have been preferable.
On the evening of his departure Lady Hampton went down to wish him
farewell; she conveyed to him Lady Darrell's regret at not being able
to do the same.
“I am very sorry,” said the captain; “though, of course, under the
circumstances, I could hardly hope for the pleasure of seeing Lady
Darrell. Perhaps you will tell her that in the autumn, with her
permission, I shall hope to revisit the Court.”
Lady Hampton said to herself that she should take no such message.
The dearest wish of her heart was that the gallant captain should never
be seen there again. But she made some gracious reply, and then asked,
“Have you seen Miss Darrell? Have you said good-by to her?”
Aubrey Langton looked slightly confused.
“I have not seen her to-day,” he replied.
Lady Hampton smiled very graciously.
“I will send for her,” she said; and when, in answer to her summons,
a servant entered, she asked that Miss Darrell might be requested to
favor her with her presence in the library. It did not escape her keen
observation that Captain Langton would rather have avoided the
Pauline entered with the haughty grace so natural to her; her proud
eyes never once glanced at the captain; he was no more to her than the
very furniture in the room.
“You wished to see me, Lady Hampton,” she said, curtly.
“Yes—that is, Captain Langton wishes to say good-by to you; he is
leaving Darrell Court this morning.”
There was the least possible curl of the short upper lip. Lady
Hampton happened to catch the glance bestowed upon Pauline by their
visitor. For a moment it startled her—it revealed at once such
hopeless passionate love and such strong passionate hate. Pauline made
no reply; the queenly young figure was drawn up to its full height, the
thoughtful face was full of scorn. The captain concealed his
embarrassment as he best could, and went up to her with outstretched
“Good-by, Miss Darrell,” he said; “this has been a very sad time for
you, and I deeply sympathize with you. I hope to see you again in the
autumn, looking better—more like yourself.”
Lady Hampton was wont to declare that the scene was one of the
finest she had ever witnessed. Pauline looked at him with that
straight, clear, calm gaze of hers, so terribly searching and direct.
“Good-by,” she said, gravely, and then, utterly ignoring the
outstretched hands, she swept haughtily from the room.
Lady Hampton did not attempt to conceal her delight at the captain's
“Miss Darrell is very proud,” he said, laughing to hide his
confusion. “I must have been unfortunate enough to displease her.”
But Lady Hampton saw his confusion, and in her own mind she wondered
what there was between these two—why he should appear at the same time
to love and to hate her—above all, why she should treat him with such
sovereign indifference and contempt.
“It is not natural,” she argued to herself; “young girls, as a rule,
admire—nay, take an uncommon interest in soldiers. What reason can she
have for such contemptuous indifference?”
How little she dreamed of the storm of rage—of passion—of
anger—of love—of fury, that warred in the captain's soul!
He was ten thousand pounds richer, but it was as a drop in the ocean
to him. If it had been ten thousand per annum he might have been
grateful. Ten thousand pounds would discharge every debt he had in the
world, and set him straight once more; he might even lead the life he
had always meant to lead for two or three years, but then the money
would be gone. On the other hand, if that girl—that proud, willful,
defiant girl—would but have married him, Darrell Court, with all its
rich dependencies, would have been his. The thought almost maddened
How he loathed her as he rode away! But for her, all this grand
inheritance would have been his. Instead of riding away, he would now
be taking possession and be lord and master of all. These stables with
the splendid stud of horses would be his—his the magnificent grounds
and gardens—the thousand luxuries that made Darrell Court an earthly
paradise. All these would have been his but for the obstinacy of one
girl. Curses deep and burning rose to his lips; yet, for his
punishment, he loved her with a love that mastered him in spite of his
hate—that made him long to throw himself at her feet, while he could
have slain her for the wrong he considered that she had done him.
Lady Hampton could not refrain from a few remarks on what she had
“Has Captain Langton been so unfortunate as to offend you, Miss
Darrell?” she asked of Pauline. “I thought your adieus were of the
“Did you? I never could see the use of expressing regret that is not
“Perhaps not; but it is strange that you should not feel some little
regret at losing such a visitor.”
To this remark Pauline deigned nothing save an extra look of
weariness, which was not lost upon Lady Hampton.
* * * * *
“Pauline,” said Miss Hastings, one morning, “I do not think you are
compelled by the terms of Sir Oswald's will to reside at Darrell Court
whether you like it or not. There could be no possible objection to
your going away for a change.”
The beautiful, restless face was turned to her.
“I could not leave Darrell Court even if I would,” she returned.
“Why not? There is really nothing to detain you here.”
“I am waiting,” said the girl, her dark eyes lit by a fire that was
not pleasant to see—“I am waiting here for my revenge.”
“Oh, Pauline!” cried Miss Hastings, in real distress. “My dear
child, you must forget such things. I do not like to hear such a word
from your lips.”
Pauline smiled as she looked at her governess, but there was
something almost terrible in the calm smile.
“What do you think I am living here for—waiting here in patience
for? I tell you, nothing but the vengeance I have promised myself—and
it shall be mine!”
CHAPTER XXX. WILL FATE AID PAULINE?
Six months had passed since Sir Oswald's death, and his widow had
already put away her cap and heavy weeds. Six months of retirement, she
considered, were a very handsome acknowledgment of all her husband's
love and kindness. She was in a state of serene and perfect
self-content—everything had gone well with her. People had expressed
their admiration of her devotion to his memory. She knew that in the
eyes of the world she was esteemed faultless. And now it seemed to Lady
Darrell that the time was come in which she might really enjoy herself,
and reap the reward of her sacrifice.
The “armed neutrality” between Pauline and herself still continued.
Each went her own way—their interests never clashed. Lady Darrell
rather preferred that Pauline should remain at the Court. She had a
vague kind of fear of her, a vague dread that made her feel safer where
Pauline was, and where she could know something of her. Whole days
would pass without their meeting; but, now that there was to be a
little more gayety at Darrell Court, the two must expect to be brought
into daily communication.
Lady Darrell was an amiable woman. It was true she had a small soul,
capable of maintaining small ideas only. She would have liked to be
what she called “comfortable” with Pauline—to live on sisterly terms
with her—to spend long hours in discussing dress, ornaments,
fashionable gossip—to feel that there was always some one at hand to
listen to her and to amuse her. She, in her turn, would have been most
generous. She would have made ample presents of dresses and jewels to
such a friend; she would have studied her comfort and interests. But to
expect or to hope for a companion of that kind in Pauline was as though
some humble little wood-blossom could hope to train itself round a
grand, stately, sad passion-flower.
Lady Darrell's worldly knowledge and tact were almost perfect; yet
they could never reveal to her the depths of a noble nature like
Pauline's. She could sooner have sounded the depths of the Atlantic
than the grand deep of that young girl's heart and soul; they would
always be dead letters to her—mysteries she could not solve. One
morning the impulse was strong upon her to seek Pauline, to hold a
friendly conversation with her as to half-mourning; but when she
reached the door of the study her courage gave way, and she turned
abruptly, feeling rather than knowing why the discussion of dress and
mere personal appearance must prove distasteful to Miss Darrell.
Little by little Lady Darrell began to take her place in the grand
world; she was too wise and wary to do it all at once. The degrees were
almost imperceptible; even Lady Hampton, one of the most fastidious of
critics, was obliged to own to herself that her niece's conduct was
highly creditable. The gradations in Lady Darrell's spirits were as
carefully regulated as the gradations of color in her dress; with deep
lavender and black ribbons she was mildly sorrowful, the lighter grew
the lavender the lighter grew her heart. On the first day she wore a
silver gray brocade she laughed outright, and the sound of that laugh
was the knell of all mourning.
Visitors began to arrive once more at Darrell Court, but Lady
Darrell still exercised great restraint over herself. Her invitations
were at first confined to matrons of mature age. “She did not feel
equal to the society of gentlemen yet.”
There was a grand chorus of admiration for the nice feeling Lady
Darrell displayed. Then elderly gentlemen—husbands of the
matrons—were admitted; and, after a time, “braw wooers began to appear
at the hall,” and then Lady Darrell's reign began in real earnest.
From these admiring matrons, enthusiastic gentlemen, ardent lovers,
and flattering friends Pauline stood aloof. How she despised the whole
of them was to be gathered only from her face; she never expressed it
in words. She did not associate with them, and they repaid her behavior
by the most hearty dislike.
It was another proof of “dear Lady Darrell's sweet temper” that she
could live in peace with this haughty, abrupt, willful girl. No one
guessed that the bland, amiable, suave, graceful mistress of Darrell
Court stood in awe of the girl who had been disinherited to make way
“Pauline,” said Miss Hastings, one day, “I want you to accustom
yourself to the idea of leaving Darrell Court; for I do not think there
is any doubt but that sooner or later Lady Darrell will marry again.”
“I expect it,” she returned. “Poor Sir Oswald! His home will go to
strangers, his name be extinct. How little he foresaw this when he
“Let it take place when it may, the Court can be no home for you
then,” continued Miss Hastings.
Pauline raised her hand with a warning gesture.
“Do not say another word, Miss Hastings; I cannot listen. Just as
criminals were fastened to the rack, bound to the wheel, tied to the
stake, I am bound here—awaiting my revenge!”
“Oh, Pauline, if you would but forego such strange speech! This
longing for vengeance is in your heart like a deadly canker in a fair
flower. It will end badly.”
The beautiful face with its defiant light was turned toward her.
“Do not attempt to dissuade me,” she said. “Your warning is useless,
and I do not like to grieve you. I acquainted Lady Darrell with my
determination before she married my uncle for his money. She persisted
in doing it. Let her take the consequences—bear the penalty. If she
had acted a true womanly part—if she had refused him, as she ought to
have done—he would have had time for reflection, he would not have
disinherited me in his anger, and Darrell Court would have descended to
a Darrell, as it ought to have done.”
“If you could but forget the past, Pauline!”
“I cannot—it is part of my life now. I saw two lives before me
once—the one made noble, grand, and gracious by this inheritance,
which I should have known so well how to hold; the other darkened by
disappointment and shadowed by revenge. You know how some men wait for
the fair fruition of a fair hope—for the dawn of success—for the
sunshine of perfect prosperity; so do I wait for my revenge. We
Darrells never do things by halves; we are not even moderate. My heart,
my soul, my life—which might have been, I grant, filled with high
impulses—are concentrated on revenge.”
Though the words she spoke were so terrible, so bitter, there was no
mean, vindictive, or malign expression on that beautiful face; rather
was it bright with a strange light. Mistaken though the idea might be,
Pauline evidently deemed herself one chosen to administer justice.
Miss Hastings looked at her.
“But, Pauline,” she said, gravely, “who made you Lady Darrell's
“Myself,” she replied. “Miss Hastings, you often speak of justice;
let me ask, was this matter fair? My uncle was irritated against me
because I would not marry a man I detested and loathed; in his anger he
formed the project of marriage to punish me. He proposed to Elinor
Rocheford, and, without any love for him, she agreed to marry him. I
went to her, and warned her not to come between me and my rightful
inheritance. I told her that if she did I would be revenged. She
laughed at my threat, married my uncle, and so disinherited me. Now,
was it fair that I should have nothing, she all—that I, a Darrell,
should see the home of my race go to strangers? It is not just, and I
mean to take justice into my hands.”
“But, Pauline,” opposed Miss Hastings, “if Lady Darrell had not
accepted Sir Oswald, some one else would.”
“Are such women common, then?” she demanded, passionately. “I knew
evil enough of your world, but I did not know this. This woman is
sweet-voiced, her face is fair, her hair is golden, her hands are white
and soft, her manners caressing and gentle; but you see her soul is
sordid—it was not large enough to prevent her marrying an old man for
his money. Something tells me that the vengeance I have promised myself
is not far off.”
Miss Hastings wrung her hands in silent dismay.
“Oh, for something to redeem you, Pauline—something to soften your
heart, which is hardening into sin!”
“I do not know of any earthly influence that could, as you say,
redeem me. I know that I am doing wrong. Do not think that I have
transformed vice into virtue and have blinded myself. I know that some
people can rise to a far grander height; they would, instead of seeking
vengeance, pardon injuries. I cannot—I never will. There is no earthly
influence that can redeem me, because there is none stronger than my
The elder lady looked almost hopelessly at the younger one. How was
she to cope with this strong nature—a nature that could own a fault,
yet by strength of will persevere in it? She felt that she might as
well try to check the angry waves of the rising tide as try to control
this willful, undisciplined disposition.
How often in after years these words returned to her mind: “I know
of no earthly influence stronger than my own will.”
Miss Hastings sat in silence for some minutes, and then she looked
at the young girl.
“What shape will your vengeance take, Pauline?” she asked, calmly.
“I do not know. Fate will shape it for me; my opportunity will come
“Vengeance is a very high-sounding word,” observed Miss Hastings,
“but the thing itself generally assumes very prosaic forms. You would
not descend to such a vulgar deed as murder, for instance; nor would
you avail yourself of anything so commonplace as poison.”
“No,” replied Pauline, with contempt; “those are mean revenges. I
will hurt her where she has hurt me—where all the love of her heart is
garnered; there will I wound her as she has wounded me. Where she can
feel most there I mean to strike, and strike home.”
“Then you have no definite plan arranged?” questioned Miss Hastings.
“Fate will play into my hands when the time comes,” replied Pauline.
Nor could the governess extract aught further from her.
CHAPTER XXXI. FATE FAVORS PAULINE.
Autumn, with its golden grain, its rich fruits, and its luxuriant
foliage, had come and gone; then Christmas snow lay soft and white on
the ground; and still Captain Langton had not paid his promised visit
to Darrell Court. He sent numerous cards, letters, books, and music,
but he did not appear himself. Once more the spring flowers bloomed;
Sir Oswald had been lying for twelve months in the cold, silent family
vault. With the year of mourning the last of Lady Darrell's gracefully
expressed sorrow vanished—the last vestige of gray and lavender, of
jet beads and black trimmings, disappeared from her dresses; and then
she shone forth upon the world in all the grace and delicate loveliness
of her fair young beauty.
Who could number her lovers or count her admirers? Old and young,
peer and commoner, there was not one who would not have given anything
he had on earth to win the hand of the beautiful and wealthy young
Lady Hampton favored the suit of Lord Aynsley, one of the wealthiest
peers in England. He had met Lady Darrell while on a visit at the Elms,
and was charmed with her. So young, fair, gifted, accomplished, so
perfect a mistress of every art and grace, yet so good and
amiable—Lord Aynsley thought that he had never met with so perfect a
Lady Hampton was delighted.
“I think, Elinor,” she said, “that you are one of the most fortunate
of women. You have a chance now of making a second and most brilliant
marriage. I think you must have been born under a lucky star.”
Lady Darrell laughed her soft, graceful little laugh.
“I think, auntie,” she returned, “that, as I married the first time
to please you, I may marry now to please myself and my own heart.”
“Certainly,” said her ladyship, dubiously; “but remember what I have
always told you—sentiment is the ruin of everything.”
And, as Lady Hampton spoke, there came before her the handsome face
of Aubrey Langton. She prayed mentally that he might not appear again
at Darrell Court until Lord Aynsley had proposed and had been accepted.
But Fate was not kind to her.
The next morning Lady Darrell received a letter from the captain,
saying that, as the summer was drawing near, he should be very glad to
pay his long-promised visit to Darrell Court. He hoped to be with them
on Thursday evening.
Lady Darrell's fair face flushed as she read. He was coming, then,
this man who above all others had taken her fancy captive—this man
whom, with all her worldly scheming, she would have married without
money if he had but asked her. He was coming, and he would see her in
all the glory of her prosperity. He would be almost sure to fall in
love with her; and she—well, it was not the first time that she
whispered to her own heart how gladly she would love him. She was too
excited by her pleasant news to be quite prudent. She must have a
confidante—she must tell some one that he was coming.
She went to the study, where Miss Hastings and Pauline were busily
engaged with some water-colors. She held the open letter in her hand.
“Miss Hastings, I have news for you,” she said. “I know that all
that interested Sir Oswald is full of interest for you. Pauline, you
too will be pleased to hear that Captain Langton is coming. Sir Oswald
loved him very much.”
Pauline knew that, and had cause to regret it.
“I should be much pleased,” continued Lady Darrell, “if, without
interfering with your arrangements, you could help me to entertain
Miss Hastings looked up with a smile of assent.
“Anything that lies in my power,” she said, “I shall be only too
happy to do; but I fear I shall be rather at a loss how to amuse a
handsome young officer like Captain Langton.”
Lady Darrell laughed, but looked much pleased.
“You are right,” she said—“he is handsome. I do not know that I
have ever seen one more handsome.”
Then she stopped abruptly, for she caught the gleam of Pauline's
scornful smile—the dark eyes were looking straight at her. Lady
Darrell blushed crimson, and the smile on Pauline's lips deepened.
“I see my way now,” she said to herself. “Time, fate, and
opportunity will combine at last.”
“And you, Pauline,” inquired Lady Darrell, in her most caressing
manner—“you will help me with my visitor—will you not?”
“Pardon me, I must decline,” answered Miss Darrell.
“Why, I thought Captain Langton and yourself were great friends!”
cried Lady Darrell.
“I am not answerable for your thoughts, Lady Darrell,” said Pauline.
“But you—you sing so beautifully! Oh, Pauline, you must help me!”
persisted Lady Darrell.
She drew nearer to the girl, and was about to lay one white jeweled
hand on her arm, but Pauline drew back with a haughty gesture there was
“Pray understand me, Lady Darrell,” she said—“all arts and
persuasions are, as you know, lost on me. I decline to do anything
toward entertaining your visitor, and shall avoid him as much as
Lady Darrell looked up, her face pale, and with a frightened look
“Why do you speak so, Pauline? You must have some reason for it.
Tell me what it is.”
No one had ever heard Lady Darrell speak so earnestly before.
“Tell me!” she repeated, and her very heart was in the words.
“Pardon me if I keep my counsel,” said Pauline. “There is wisdom in
Then Miss Hastings, always anxious to make peace, said:
“Do not be anxious, Lady Darrell; Pauline knows that some of the
unpleasantness she had with Sir Oswald was owing to Captain Langton.
Perhaps that fact may affect her view of his character.”
Lady Darrell discreetly retired from the contest.
“I am sure you will both do all you can,” she said, in her most
lively manner. “We must have some charades, and a ball; we shall have
plenty of time to talk this over when our guests arrive.” And, anxious
to go before Pauline said anything more, Lady Darrell quitted the room.
“My dear Pauline,” said Miss Hastings, “if you would——”
But she paused suddenly, for Pauline was sitting with a rapt
expression on her face, deaf to every word.
Such a light was in those dark eyes, proud, triumphant, and
clear—such a smile on those curved lips; Pauline looked as though she
could see into futurity, and as though, while the view half frightened,
it pleased her.
Suddenly she rose from her seat, with her hands clasped, evidently
forgetting that she was not alone.
“Nothing could be better,” she said. “I could not have asked of fate
or fortune anything better than this.”
When Miss Hastings, wondering at her strange, excited manner, asked
her a question, she looked up with the vague manner of one just aroused
from deep sleep.
“What are you thing of, Pauline?” asked Miss Hastings.
“I am thinking,” she replied, with a dreamy smile, “what good
fortune always attends those who know how to wait. I have waited, and
what I desired is come.”
Thursday came at last. Certainly Lady Darrell had spared neither
time nor expense in preparing for her visitor; it was something like a
warrior's home-coming—the rarest of wines, the fairest of flowers, the
sweetest of smiles awaiting him. Lady Darrell's dress was the
perfection of good taste—plain white silk trimmed with black lace,
with a few flowers in her golden hair. She knew that she was looking
her best; it was the first time that the captain had seen her in her
present position, so she was anxious to make the most favorable
impression on him.
“Welcome once more to Darrell Court!” she said, holding out one
white hand in greeting.
“It seems like a welcome to Paradise,” said the captain, profanely;
and then he bowed with the grace of a Chesterfield over the little hand
that he still held clasped in his own.
CHAPTER XXXII. CAPTAIN LANGTON
Lady Darrell was obliged to own herself completely puzzled. All the
girls she had ever known had not only liked admiration, but had even
sought it; she could not understand why Pauline showed such decided
aversion to Captain Langton. He was undeniably handsome, graceful, and
polished in manner; Lady Darrell could imagine no one more pleasant or
entertaining. Why should Pauline show such great distaste for his
society, and such avoidance of him?
There were times, too, when she could not quite understand Aubrey
Langton. She had seen him look at Pauline with an expression not merely
of love, but with something of adoration in his eyes; and then again
she would be startled by a look of something more fierce and more
violent even than hate. She herself was in love with him; nor was she
ashamed to own the fact even to herself. She could let her heart speak
now—its voice had been stifled long enough; still she would have liked
to know the cause of Pauline's avoidance of him.
On the second day of his visit Lady Darrell gave a grand
dinner-party. Lady Hampton, who viewed the captain's arrival with great
disfavor, was, as a matter of course, to be present. All the neighbors
near were invited, and Pauline, despite her dislike, saw that she must
Lady Darrell took this opportunity of appearing, for the first time
since Sir Oswald's death, en grande toilette. She wore a dress
of blue brocade, a marvel of color and weaving, embroidered with
flowers, the very delicacy of which seemed to attract notice. She wore
the Darrell diamonds, her golden head being wreathed with a tiara of
precious stones. She looked marvelously bright and radiant; her face
was flushed with the most delicate bloom, her eyes were bright with
happiness. The guests remarked to each other how lovely their young
But when Pauline entered the room, Lady Darrell was eclipsed, even
as the light of the stars is eclipsed by that of the sun. Pauline wore
no jewels; the grand beauty of her face and figure required none. The
exquisite head and graceful, arched neck rose from the clouds of gray
tulle like some superb flower from the shade of its leaves; her dress
was low, showing the white neck and statuesque shoulders; the dark,
clustering hair was drawn back from the noble brow, a pomegranate
blossom glowing in the thick coils. Graceful and dignified she looked,
without glitter of jewels or dress—simple, perfect in the grandeur of
her own loveliness.
She was greatly admired; young men gazed at her from a distance with
an expression almost of infatuation, while the ladies whispered about
her; yet no one had the courage to pay her any great attention, from
the simple fact that Lady Hampton had insinuated that the young widow
did not care much about Miss Darrell. Some felt ill at ease in her
presence; her proud, dark eyes seemed to detect every little false
grace and affectation, all paltry little insincerities seemed to be
revealed to her.
Yet Pauline on this occasion did her best. Despite Sir Oswald's
false judgment of her, there was an innate refinement about her, and it
showed itself to-night. She talked principally to old Lady Percival,
who had known her mother, and who professed and really felt the most
profound liking and affection for Pauline; they talked during dinner
and after dinner, and then, seeing that every one was engaged, and that
no one was likely to miss her, Pauline slipped from the room and went
She gave a long sigh of relief as she stood under the broad, free
sky; flowers and birds, sunshine and shade, the cool, fragrant
gloaming, were all so much more beautiful, so much more to her taste,
than the warm, glittering rooms. In the woods a nightingale was
singing. What music could be compared to this? The white almond
blossoms were falling as she went down to the lakeside, where her
dreams were always fairest.
“I wonder,” mused the girl, “why the world of nature is so fair, and
the world of men and women so stupid and so inane.”
“Pauline,” said a voice near her, “I have followed you; I could not
help doing so.”
She turned hastily, and saw Captain Langton, his face flushed, his
eyes flaming with a light that was not pleasant to see.
“How have you dared to do so?” she demanded.
“I dare do anything,” he replied, “for you madden me. Do you hear?
You madden me!”
She paid no more heed to his words than she did to the humming of
the insects in the grass.
“You shall hear me!” he cried. “You shall not turn away your haughty
head! Look at me—listen to me, or I will——”
“Or you will murder me,” she interrupted. “It will not be the first
time you have used that threat. I shall neither look at you nor listen
“Pauline, I swear that you are driving me mad. I love you so dearly
that my life is a torment, a torture to me; yet I hate you so that I
could almost trample your life out under my feet. Be merciful to me. I
know that I may woo and win this glittering widow. I know that I may be
master of Darrell Court—she has let me guess that much—but, Pauline,
I would rather marry you and starve than have all the world for my
She turned to him, erect and haughty, her proud face flushing, her
eyes so full of scorn that their light seemed to blind him.
“I did not think,” she said, “that you would dare to address such
words to me. If I had to choose this instant between death and marrying
you, I would choose death. I know no words in which I can express my
scorn, my contempt, my loathing for you. If you repeat this insult, it
will be at your peril. Be warned.”
“You are a beautiful fiend!” he hissed. “You shall suffer for your
“Yes,” she said, calmly; “go and marry Lady Darrell. I have vowed to
be revenged upon her; sweeter vengeance I could not have than to stand
by quietly while she marries you.”
“You are a beautiful fiend!” he hissed again, his face white with
rage, his lips dry and hot.
Pauline turned away, and he stood with deeply muttered imprecations
on his lips.
“I love her and I hate her,” he said; “I would take her in my arms
and carry her away where no one in the world could see her beautiful
face but myself. I could spend my whole life in worshiping her—yet I
hate her. She has ruined me—I could trample her life out. 'Go and
marry Lady Darrell,' she said; I will obey her.”
He returned to the house. No one noticed that his face was paler
than usual, that his eyes were shadowed and strange; no one knew that
his breath came in hot gasps, and that his heart beat with great
“I will woo Lady Darrell and win her,” he said, “and then Pauline
What a contrast that graceful woman, with her fair face and
caressing manner, presented to the girl he had just left, with her
passionate beauty and passionate scorn! Lady Darrell looked up at him
with eyes of sweetest welcome.
“You have been out in the grounds,” she said, gently; “the evening
is very pleasant.”
“Did you miss me, Lady Darrell—Elinor?” he asked, bending over her
He saw a warm blush rising in her cheeks, and in his heart he felt
some little contempt for the conquest so easily made.
“Did you miss me, Elinor?” he repeated. “You must let me call you
Elinor—I think it is the sweetest name in all the world.”
It was almost cruel to trifle with her, for, although she was
conventional to the last degree, and had but little heart, still what
heart she had was all his. It was so easy to deceive her, too; she was
so ready to believe in him and love him that her misplaced affection
was almost pitiable. She raised her blue eyes to his; there was no
secret in them for him.
“I am very glad my name pleases you,” she said; “I never cared much
for it before.”
“But you will like it now?” he asked; and then bending over her
chair, he whispered something that sent a warm, rosy flush over her
face and neck.
Every one noticed the attention he paid her; Lady Hampton saw it,
and disliked him more than ever. Lord Aynsley saw it, and knew that all
hope of winning the beautiful widow was over for him. People made their
comments upon it, some saying it would be an excellent match, for Sir
Oswald had been much attached to Captain Langton, others thinking that
Lady Darrell, with her fair face and her large fortune, might have done
better. There was something, too, in the captain's manner which puzzled
simple-hearted people—something of fierce energy, which all the
softness of word and look could not hide.
“There is not much doubt of what will be the next news from Darrell
Court,” said one to another.
No one blamed the young widow for marrying again, but there was a
general expression of disappointment that she had not done better.
Those dwelling in the house foresaw what was about to take place.
Aubrey Langton became the widow's shadow. Wherever she went he followed
her; he made love to her with the most persevering assiduity, and it
seemed to be with the energy of a man who had set himself a task and
meant to go through with it.
He also assumed certain airs of mastership. He knew that he had but
to speak one word, and Darrell Court would be his. He spoke in a tone
of authority, and the servants had already begun to look upon him as
Silent, haughty, and reserved, Pauline Darrell stood aside and
watched—watched with a kind of silent triumph which filled Miss
Hastings with wonder—watched and spoke no word—allowed her contempt
and dislike to be seen in every action, yet never uttered one
word—watched like a beautiful, relentless spirit of fate.
Throughout the bright, long summer months Aubrey Langton staid on at
Darrell Court, and at last did what he intended to do—proposed to Lady
Darrell. He was accepted. It was the end of July then, but, yielding to
her regard for appearances, it was agreed that no further word should
be said of marriage until the spring of the following year.
CHAPTER XXXIII. “I HAVE HAD MY
It was a warm, beautiful morning, with a dull haze lying over the
fair summer earth; and Pauline Darrell, finding even the large, airy
rooms too warm, went out to seek her favorite shade—the shelter of the
great cedar tree. As she sat with her book in her hand—of which she
never turned a page—Miss Hastings watched her, wondering at the dark
shadow that had fallen over her beauty, wondering at the concentration
of thought in her face, wondering whether this shadow of disappointment
would darken all her life or if it would pass away, wondering if the
vengeance to which she had vowed herself was planned yet; and to them,
so silent and absorbed, came the pretty, bright vision of Lady Darrell,
wearing a white morning dress with blue ribbons in her golden hair. The
brightness and freshness of the morning seemed to linger on her fair
face, as she drew near them with a smile on her lips, and a look of
half-proud shyness in her eyes.
“I am glad you are both here,” she said; “I have something to tell
you.” The blush and the smile deepened. “Perhaps you can guess what it
is. Miss Hastings, you are smiling—Pauline, you do not look at me.
Captain Langton has asked me to be his wife, and I have consented.”
Then she paused. Miss Hastings congratulated her, and wished her
much happiness. Pauline started at first, clasping her hands while her
face grew white, and then she recovered herself and kept perfect
“Pauline,” said Lady Darrell, “I am very happy; do not shadow my
happiness. Will you not wish me joy?”
“I cannot,” replied the girl, in a trembling voice; “you will have
Then, seeing Lady Darrell's wondering face, she seemed to recover
herself more completely.
“I will wish you,” she said, bitterly, “as much happiness as you
“That would be but little,” returned Lady Darrell, with a faint
laugh; “I do not hold myself a particularly deserving person.”
Then Miss Hastings, thinking they might come to a better
understanding alone, went away, leaving them together.
Lady Darrell went up to the girl. She laid her hands on her arm
appealingly, and raised her face with a pleading expression.
“Pauline,” she said, her lips trembling with emotion, “after all, I
was your uncle's wife; for his sake you might show me a little
kindness. Marriage is a tie for life, not a bond for one day. Oh,
Pauline, Pauline, if there is any reason why I should not marry Aubrey
Langton, tell it—for Heaven's sake, tell it! Your manner is always so
strange to him; if you know anything against him, tell me now before it
is too late—tell me!”
There fell over them a profound silence, broken only by the sweet,
cheery music of a bird singing in the cedar tree, and the faint sighing
of the wind among the leaves.
“Tell me, for Heaven's sake!” repeated Lady Darrell, her grasp
tightening on Pauline's arm.
“I have nothing to tell,” was the curt reply. “Pray do not hold my
arm so tightly, Lady Darrell; I have nothing to tell.”
“Do not deceive me—there must be some reason for your strange
manner. Tell it to me now, before it is too late.”
There was almost an agony of pleading in her face and voice, but
Pauline turned resolutely away, leaving her beneath the cedar alone.
“I must be mistaken,” Lady Darrell thought. “What can she know of
him? I must be wrong to doubt him; surely if I doubt him I shall doubt
Heaven itself. It is her manner—her awkward manner—nothing more.”
And she tried her best to dismiss all thoughts of Pauline from her
mind, and give herself to her newly-found happiness.
“Pauline,” said Miss Hastings, sorrowfully, when she rejoined the
girl, “I cannot understand you.”
“I do not quite understand myself,” returned Miss Darrell. “I did
not think I had any weakness or pity in my heart, but I find it is
“You frighten me,” said Miss Hastings. “What makes you so strange?
O, Pauline, throw it off, this black shadow that envelopes you, and
forget this idea of vengeance which has so completely changed you!”
She looked up with a smile—a hard, bitter smile.
“I shall have had my revenge,” she said, gloomily, “when she has
Nor could any entreaties, any prayers of the kind-hearted woman move
her to say more.
Whether the mysterious and uncertain aspect of things preyed upon
Miss Hastings' mind, whether she grieved over her pupil and allowed
that grief to disturb her, was never revealed, but in the month of
August she became seriously ill—not ill enough to be obliged to keep
her room, but her health and her strength failed her, and day by day
she became weaker and less able to make any exertion.
Lady Darrell sent for Doctor Helmstone, and he advised Miss Hastings
to go to the sea-side at once, and to remain there during the autumn.
At her earnest request Pauline consented to accompany her.
“The change will do you good as well as myself,” said the anxious
lady; and Miss Darrell saw that she was thinking how much better it
would be that she should leave Darrell Court.
“I will go,” she said. “I know what you are thinking of. My
vengeance is nearly accomplished. There is no reason now why I should
After many consultations it was agreed that they should go to the
pretty little watering-place called Omberleigh. Many things recommended
it; the coast was sheltered, the scenery beautiful, the little town
itself very quiet, the visitors were few and of the higher class. It
was not possible to find a prettier spot than Omberleigh.
Lady Darrell was generosity itself! In her quiet, amiable way she
liked Miss Hastings as well as she was capable of liking any one. She
insisted upon making all kinds of arrangements for the governess—she
was to have every comfort, every luxury.
“And you must do nothing,” she said, in her most caressing manner,
“but try to get well. I shall expect to see you looking quite young and
blooming when you return.”
Lady Darrell had already written to Omberleigh, and, through an
agent there, had secured beautiful apartments. When Miss Hastings half
remonstrated with her, she laughed.
“I have nothing to do,” she said, “but make every one happy; and it
is my duty to find you always a comfortable home.”
Lady Darrell looked, as she was in those days, a most happy woman.
She seemed to have grown younger and fairer. The height of her
ambition, the height of her happiness, was reached at last. She was
rich in the world's goods, and it was in her power to make the man she
loved rich and powerful too. She was, for the first time in her life,
pleasing her own heart; and happiness made her more tender, more
amiable, more considerate and thoughtful for others.
Lady Hampton mourned over the great mistake her niece was making.
She had whispered in confidence to all her dear friends that Elinor was
really going to throw herself away on the captain after all. It was
such a pity, she said, when Lord Aynsley was so deeply in love with
“But then,” she concluded, with a sigh, “it is a matter in which I
Yet, looking at Lady Darrell's bright, happy face, she could not
quite regret the captain's existence.
“You will not be lonely, Lady Darrell,” said Miss Hastings, the
evening before her journey.
She never forgot the light that spread over the fair young face—the
intense happiness that shone in the blue eyes.
“No,” she returned, with a sigh of unutterable content, “I shall
never be lonely again. I have thoughts and memories that keep my heart
warm—all loneliness or sorrow is over for me.”
On the morrow Miss Darrell and the governess were to go to
Omberleigh, but the same night Lady Darrell went to Pauline's room.
“I hope you will excuse me,” she said, when the girl looked up in
haughty surprise. “I want to say a few words to you before you go.”
The cool, formal terms on which they lived were set aside, and for
the first time Lady Darrell visited Pauline in her room.
“I want to ask you one great favor,” continued Lady Darrell. “Will
you promise me that Miss Hastings shall not want for anything? She is
far from strong.”
“I shall consider Miss Hastings my own especial charge,” said
“But you must allow me to help you. I have a very great affection
for her, and desire nothing better than to prove it by kind actions.”
“Miss Hastings would be very grateful to you if she knew it,” said
“But I do not want her to be grateful. I do not want her to know
anything about it. With all her gentleness, Miss Hastings has an
independence quite her own—an independence that I respect greatly; but
it is quite possible, you know, Pauline, to manage an invalid—to
provide good wine and little delicacies.”
“I will do all that myself,” observed the young girl.
Lady Darrell went nearer to her.
“Pauline,” she said, gently, “you have always repelled every effort
of mine; you would not be friends with me. But now, dear—now that I am
so much happier, that I have no cloud in my sky save the shadow of your
averted face—be a little kinder to me. Say that you forgive me, if I
have wronged you.”
“You have wronged me, Lady Darrell, and you know it. For me to talk
of forgiveness is only a farce; it is too late for that. I have had my
Lady Darrell looked up at her with a startled face.
“What is that you say, Pauline?”
“I repeat it,” said the girl, huskily—“I have had my revenge!”
“What can you mean? Nothing of moment has happened to me. You are
“It would be well for you if I were,” said the girl; “but I tell you
in all truth I have had my revenge!”
And those words sounded in Lady Darrell's ears long after Pauline
had left Darrell Court.
CHAPTER XXXIV. THE STRANGER ON THE
The tide was coming in, the sun setting over the sea; the crimson
and golden light seemed to be reflected in each drop of water until the
waves were one mass of heaving roseate gold; a sweet western wind laden
with rich, aromatic odors from the pine woods seemed to kiss the waves
as they touched the shore and broke into sheets of beautiful white
foam. It was such a sunset and such a sea—such a calm and holy
stillness. The golden waters stretched out as far and wide as the eye
could reach. The yellow sands were clear and smooth; the cliffs that
bounded the coast were steep and covered with luxuriant green foliage.
Pauline Darrell had gone to the beach, leaving Miss Hastings, who
already felt much better, to the enjoyment of an hour's solitude.
There was a small niche in one of the rocks, and the young girl sat
down in it, with the broad, beautiful expanse of water spread out
before her, and the shining waves breaking at her feet. She had brought
a book with her, but she read little; the story did not please her. The
hero of it was too perfect. With her eyes fixed on the golden, heaving
expanse of water, she was thinking of the difference between men in
books and men in real life. In books they were all either brave or
vicious—either very noble or very base.
She passed in review all the men she had ever known, beginning with
her kind-hearted, genial father, the clever humorist artist, who could
define a man's character in an epigram so skillfully. He was no hero of
romance; he liked his cigar, his “glass,” and his jest. She thought of
all his rugged, picturesque artist-comrades, blunt of speech, honest of
heart, open-handed, generous, self-sacrificing men, who never envied a
comrade's prosperity, nor did even their greatest enemy an evil turn;
yet they were not heroes of romance. She thought of Sir Oswald—the
stately gentleman of the old school, who had held his name and race so
dear, yet had made so fatal an error in his marriage and will. She
thought of the captain, handsome and polished in manner, and her face
grew pale as she remembered him. She thought of Lord Aynsley, for whom
she had a friendly liking, not unmixed with wonder that he could so
deeply love the fair, soft-voiced, inane Lady Darrell.
Then she began to reflect how strange it was that she had lived
until now, yet had never seen a man whom she could love. Her beautiful
lips curled in scorn as she thought of it.
“If ever I love any one at all,” she said to herself, “it must be
some one whom I feel to be my master. I could not love a man who was
weak in body, soul, heart, or mind. I must feel that he is my master;
that my soul yields to his; that I can look up to him as the real
guiding star of my life, as the guide of my actions. If ever I meet
such a man, and vow to love him, what will my love do for me? I do not
think I could fall in love with a book-hero either; they are too coldly
perfect. I should like a hero with some human faults, with a touch of
pride capable of being roused into passion.”
Suddenly, as the thought shaped itself in her mind, she saw a tall
figure crossing the sands—the figure of a man, walking quickly.
He stopped at some little distance from the cliff, and then threw
himself on the sand. His eyes were fixed on the restless, beautiful
sea; and she, attracted by his striking masculine beauty, the
statuesque attitude, the grand, free grace of the strong limbs, the
royal carriage of the kingly head, watched him. In the Louvre she had
seen some marvelous statues, and he reminded her of them. There was one
of Antinous, with a grand, noble face, a royal head covered with
clusters of hair, and the stranger reminded her of it.
She looked at him in wonder. She had seen picturesque-looking
men—dandies, fops—but this was the first time she had ever seen a
noble and magnificent-looking man.
“If his soul is like his face,” she thought to herself, “he is a
She watched him quite unconsciously, admiration gradually entering
“I should like to hear him speak,” she thought. “I know just what
kind of voice ought to go with that face.”
It was a dreamy spot, a dreamy hour, and he was all unconscious of
her presence. The face she was watching was like some grand, harmonious
poem to her; and as she so watched there came to her the memory of the
story of Lancelot and Elaine. The restless golden waters, the yellow
sands, the cliffs, all faded from her view, and she, with her vivid
imagination, saw before her the castle court where Elaine first saw
him, lifted her eyes and read his lineaments, and then loved him with a
love that was her doom. The face on which she gazed was marked by no
great and guilty love—it was the face of Lancelot before his fall,
when he shone noblest, purest, and grandest of all King Arthur's
“It was for his face Elaine loved him,” thought the girl—“grand and
noble as is the face on which the sun shines now.”
Then she went through the whole of that marvelous story; she thought
of the purity, the delicate grace, the fair loveliness of Elaine, as
contrasted with the passionate love which, flung back upon itself, led
her to prefer death to life—of that strange, keen, passionate love
that so suddenly changed the whole world for the maid of Astolat.
“And I would rather be like her,” said the girl to herself; “I would
rather die loving the highest and the best than live loving one less
It had seized her imagination, this beautiful story of a deathless
“I too could have done as Elaine did,” she thought; “for love cannot
come to me wearing the guise it wears to others. I could read the true
nobility of a man's soul in his face; I could love him, asking no love
in return. I could die so loving him, and believing him greatest and
Then, as she mused, the sunlight deepened on the sea, the rose
became purple, the waters one beaming mass of bright color, and he who
had so unconsciously aroused her sleeping soul to life rose and walked
away over the sands. She watched him as he passed out of sight.
“I may never see him again,” she thought; “but I shall remember his
face until I die.”
A great calm seemed to fall over her; the very depths of her heart
had been stirred. She had been wondering so short a time before if she
should ever meet any one at all approaching the ideal standard of
excellence she had set up in her mind. It seemed like an answer to her
thoughts when he crossed the sands.
“I may never see him again,” she said; “but I shall always remember
that I have met one whom I could have loved.”
She sat there until the sun had set over the waters and the moon had
risen; and all the time she saw before her but one image—the face that
had charmed her as nothing in life had ever done before. Then, startled
to find that it had grown so late, she rose and crossed the sands. Once
she turned to look at the sea, and a curious thought came to her that
there, by the side of the restless, shining waters, she had met her
fate. Then she tried to laugh at the notion.
“To waste one's whole heart in loving a face,” she thought, “would
be absurd. Yet the sweetest of all heroines—Elaine—did so.”
A great calm, one that lulled her brooding discontent, that stilled
her angry despair, that seemed to raise her above the earth, that
refined and beautified every thought, was upon her. She reached home,
and Miss Hastings, looking at the beautiful face on which she had never
seen so sweet an expression, so tender a light before, wondered what
had come over her. So, too, like Elaine—
All night his face before her lived,
and the face was
Dark, splendid, sparkling in the silence, full
Of noble things.
All unconsciously, all unknowingly, the love had come to her that
was to work wonders—the love that was to be her redemption.
CHAPTER XXXV. THE STORY OF ELAINE.
Miss Hastings laid down the newspaper, with a quick glance of
“I am glad that I came to Omberleigh,” she said. “Imagine, Pauline,
who is here. You have heard me speak of the St. Lawrences. I educated
Laura St. Lawrence, and she married well and went to India. Her husband
holds a very high appointment there. Lady St. Lawrence is here with her
son, Sir Vane. I am so pleased.”
“And I am pleased for you,” responded Pauline, with the new
gentleness that sat so well upon her.
“I must go and see them,” continued Miss Hastings. “They are staying
at Sea View. We can soon find out where Sea View is.”
“St. Lawrence!” said Pauline, musingly; “I like the name; it has a
“They are noble people who bear it,” observed Miss Hastings. “Lady
St. Lawrence was always my ideal of a thoroughbred English gentlewoman.
I never heard how it was, but the greater part of their fortune was
lost when Sir Arthur died. He left but this one son, Vane; and,
although he has the title, he has but little to support it with. I know
their family estates were all sold. Lady St. Lawrence has a small
fortune of her own; but it is not much.”
Again Pauline repeated the name to herself—“Vane St.
Lawrence!”—thinking there was a sound as of half-forgotten music in
it. That was a name that would have suited the face she had watched on
“Vane St. Lawrence!”
Unconsciously to herself she had said the words aloud. Miss Hastings
looked up quickly.
“Did you speak, my dear?” she asked; and Pauline wondered to find
her face suddenly grow warm with a burning blush.
“I think,” said Miss Hastings, presently, “that I should like to
visit them at once. Lady St. Lawrence may not be staying long, and I
should never forgive myself if I were to miss her. Will you come with
She was ready to go anywhere, to do anything, with that great,
wonderful love, that great, grand calm, filling her heart and soul.
For the first time the sight of her own magnificent loveliness
“I may see him again,” she thought to herself with almost child-like
simplicity, “and I should like him to think of me.”
She took more pains than she had ever taken before; and the
picturesque taste that was part of her character greatly assisted her.
Her dress was of purple silk, plain, rich, and graceful; her hat, with
its drooping purple plume, looked like a crown on the beautiful head.
She could no more help looking royal and queenly than she could help
the color of her eyes and hair. Miss Hastings looked up with a smile of
surprise, the proud face was so wonderfully beautiful—the light that
never yet shone on land or sea was shining on it.
“Why, Pauline,” she said, laughing, “Lady St. Lawrence will think I
am taking the Queen of Sheba in disguise! What strange change is coming
over you, child?”
What indeed? Was it the shadow of the love that was to redeem
her—to work wonders in her character? Was it the light that came from
the half-awakening soul? Wiser women than good, kindly, simple-hearted
Miss Hastings might have been puzzled.
They were not long in finding Sea View—a pretty villa a little way
out of the town, standing at the foot of a cliff, surrounded by trees
and flowers—one of the prettiest spots in Omberleigh. They were shown
into the drawing-room, the windows of which commanded a magnificent
view of the sea.
Before they had been there many minutes there entered a fair,
gentle, gracious lady, whose eyes filled with tears as she greeted Miss
“You are like a spirit from the past,” she said. “I can see Laura a
little child again as I look at you. Nothing could have pleased me so
much as seeing you.”
Then she looked admiringly at the beautiful girl by her side. Miss
Hastings introduced her.
“Miss Darrell,” she said, “it seems strange that I should meet you.
My husband in his youth knew Sir Oswald well.”
Lady St. Lawrence was just what Miss Hastings had described her—a
thoroughly high-bred English lady. In figure she was tall and upright;
her face had been beautiful in its youth, and was even now comely and
fair; the luxuriant brown hair was streaked here and there with silver.
She wore a dress of rich brocade, with some becoming arrangement of
flowers and lace on her head; she was charming in her lady-like
simplicity and gentleness.
Pauline, knowing that the two ladies would have much to talk about,
asked permission to amuse herself with some books she saw upon the
“They belong to my son,” said Lady St. Lawrence, with a smile.
There were Tennyson, Keats, and Byron, and written inside of each,
in a bold, clear hand, was the name “Vane St. Lawrence.” Pauline lost
herself again in the sweet story of Elaine, from which she was aroused
at intervals by the repetition of the words—“My son Vane.”
She could not help hearing some part of Lady St. Lawrence's
confidential communication, and it was to the effect how deeply she
deplored the blindness of her son, who might marry his cousin Lillith
Davenant, one of the wealthiest heiresses in England. Miss Hastings was
all kindly sympathy.
“It would be such an excellent thing for him,” continued Lady St.
Lawrence; “and Lillith is a very nice girl. But it is useless
counseling him; Vane is like his father. Sir Arthur, you know, always
would have his own way.”
Pauline began to feel interested in this Vane St. Lawrence, who
refused to marry the wealthy heiress because he did not love her.
“He must be somewhat like me,” she said to herself with a smile.
Then the conversation changed, and Lady St. Lawrence began to speak
of her daughter Laura and her children. Pauline returned to Elaine, and
soon forgot everything else.
She was aroused by a slight stir. She heard Lady St. Lawrence say:
“My dear Vane, how you startled me!”
Looking up, she saw before her the same face that had engrossed her
thoughts and fancy!
She was nearer to it now, and could see more plainly the exquisite
refinement of the beautiful mouth, the clear, ardent expression of the
bold, frank eyes, the gracious lines of the clustering hair. Her heart
seemed almost to stand still—it was as though she had suddenly been
brought face to face with a phantom.
He was bending over Lady St. Lawrence, talking eagerly to her—he
was greeting Miss Hastings with much warmth and cordiality. Pauline had
time to recover herself before Lady St. Lawrence remembered her. She
had time to still the wild beating of her heart—to steady her
trembling lips—but the flush was still on her beautiful face and the
light in her eyes when he came up to her.
Lady St. Lawrence spoke, but the words sounded to Pauline as though
they came from afar off; yet they were very simple.
“Miss Darrell,” she said, “let me introduce my son to you.”
Then she went back to Miss Hastings, eager to renew the conversation
interrupted by the entrance of her son.
What did Sir Vane see in those dark eyes that held him captive? What
was looking at him through that most beautiful face? What was it that
seemed to draw his heart and soul from him, never to become his own
again? To any other stranger he would have spoken indifferent words of
greeting and welcome; to this dark-eyed girl he could say nothing. When
souls have spoken, lips have not much to say.
They were both silent for some minutes; and then Sir Vane tried to
recover himself. What had happened to him? What strange, magic
influence was upon him? Ten minutes since he had entered that room
heart-whole, fancy-free, with laughter on his lips, and no thought of
coming fate. Ten minutes had worked wonders of change; he was standing
now in a kind of trance, looking into the grand depths of those dark
eyes wherein he had lost himself.
They said but few words; the calm and silence that fell over them
during that first interval was not to be broken; it was more eloquent
than words. He sat down by her side; she still held the book open in
her hands. He glanced at it.
“Elaine,” he said, “do you like that story?”
She told him “Yes,” and, taking the book from her hands, he read the
noble words wherein Sir Lancelot tells the Lily Maid how he will dower
her when she weds some worthy knight, but that he can do no more for
Was it a dream that she should sit there listening to those words
from his lips—she had fancied him Sir Lancelot without stain, and
herself Elaine? There was a sense of unreality about it; she would not
have been surprised at any moment to awake and find herself in the
pretty drawing-room at Marine Terrace—all this beautiful fairy tale a
dream—only a dream. The musical voice ceased at last; and it was to
her as though some charm had been broken.
“Do you like poetry, Miss Darrell?” inquired Sir Vane.
“Yes,” she replied; “it seems to me part of myself. I cannot explain
clearly what I mean, but when I hear such grand thoughts read, or when
I read them for myself, it is to me as though they were my own.”
“I understand,” he responded—“indeed I believe that I should
understand anything you said. I could almost fancy that I had lived
before, and had known you in another life.”
Then Lady St. Lawrence said something about Sea View, and they left
fairy-land for a more commonplace sphere of existence.
CHAPTER XXXVI. REDEEMED BY LOVE.
“If anything can redeem her, it will be love.” So Miss Hastings had
said of Pauline long months ago, when she had first seen her grand
nature warped and soured by disappointment, shadowed by the fierce
desire of revenge. Now she was to see the fulfillment of her words.
With a nature like Pauline's, love was no ordinary passion; all the
romance, the fervor, the poetry of her heart and soul were aroused. Her
love took her out of herself, transformed and transfigured her,
softened and beautified her. She was not of those who could love
moderately, and, if one attachment was not satisfactory, take refuge in
another. For such as her there was but one love, and it would make or
mar her life.
Had Sir Vane St. Lawrence been merely a handsome man she would never
have cared for him; but his soul and mind had mastered her. He was a
noble gentleman, princely in his tastes and culture, generous, pure,
gifted with an intellect magnificent in itself, and cultivated to the
highest degree of perfection. The innate nobility of his character at
once influenced her. She acknowledged its superiority; she bowed her
heart and soul before it, proud of the very chains that bound her.
How small and insignificant everything else now appeared! Even the
loss of Darrell Court seemed trifling to her. Life had suddenly assumed
another aspect. She was in an unknown land; she was happy beyond
everything that she had ever conceived or imagined it possible to be.
It was a quiet, subdued happiness, one that was dissolving her pride
rapidly as the sunshine dissolves snow—happiness that was rounding off
the angles of her character, that was taking away scorn and defiance,
and bringing sweet and gracious humility, womanly grace and tenderness
in their stead.
While Sir Vane was studying her as the most difficult problem he had
ever met with, he heard from Miss Hastings the story of her life. He
could understand how the innate strength and truth of the girl's
character had rebelled against polite insincerities and conventional
untruths; he could understand that a soul so gifted, pure, and eager
could find no resting-place and no delight; he could understand, too,
how the stately old baronet, the gentleman of the old school, had been
frightened at his niece's originality, and scared by her uncompromising
love of truth.
Miss Hastings, whose favorite theme in Pauline's absence was praise
of her, had told both mother and son the story of Sir Oswald's project
and its failure—how Pauline would have been mistress of Darrell Court
and all her uncle's immense wealth if she would but have compromised
matters and have married Aubrey Langton.
“Langton?” questioned Sir Vane. “I know him—that is, I have heard
of him; but I cannot remember anything more than that he is a great
roue, and a man whose word is never to be believed.”
“Then my pupil was right in her estimate of his character,” said
Miss Hastings. “She seemed to guess it by instinct. She always treated
him with the utmost contempt and scorn. I have often spoken to her
“You may rely upon it, Miss Hastings, that the instinct of a good
woman, in the opinion she forms of men, is never wrong,” observed Sir
Vane, gravely; and then he turned to Lady St. Lawrence with the sweet
smile his face always wore for her.
“Mother,” he said, gently, “after hearing of such heroism as that,
you must not be angry about Lillith Davenant again.”
“That is a very different matter,” opposed Lady St. Lawrence; but it
seemed to her son very much the same kind of thing.
Before he had known Pauline long he was not ashamed to own to
himself that he loved her far better than all the world beside—that
life for him, unless she would share it, was all blank and hopeless.
She was to him as part of his own soul, the center of his existence; he
knew she was beautiful beyond most women, he believed her nobler and
truer than most women had ever been. His faith in her was implicit; he
loved her as only noble men are capable of loving.
As time passed on his influence over her became unbounded. Quite
unconsciously to herself she worshiped him; unconsciously to herself
her thoughts, her ideas, all took their coloring from his. She who had
delighted in cynicism, whose beautiful lips had uttered such hard and
cruel words, now took from him a broader, clearer, kinder view of
mankind and human nature. If at times the old habit was too strong for
her, and some biting sarcasm would fall from her, some cold cynical
sneer, he would reprove her quite fearlessly.
“You are wrong, Miss Darrell—quite wrong,” he would say. “The
noblest men have not been those who sneered at their fellow-men, but
those who have done their best to aid them. There is little nobility in
a deriding spirit.”
And then her face would flush, her lips quiver, her eyes take the
grieved expression of a child who has been hurt.
“Can I help it,” she would say, “when I hear what is false?”
“Your ridicule will not remedy it,” he would reply. “You must take a
broader, more kindly view of matters. You think Mrs. Leigh deceitful,
Mrs. Vernon worldly; but, my dear Miss Darrell, do you remember this,
that in every woman and man there is something good, something to be
admired, some grand or noble quality? It may be half-hidden by faults,
but it is there, and for the sake of the good we must tolerate the bad.
No one is all bad. Men and women are, after all, created by God; and
there is some trace of the Divine image left in every one.”
This was a new and startling theory to the girl who had looked down
with contempt not unmixed with scorn on her fellow-creatures—judging
them by a standard to which few ever attain.
“And you really believe there is something good in every one?” she
“Something not merely good, but noble. My secret conviction is that
in every soul there is the germ of something noble, even though
circumstances may never call it forth. As you grow older and see more
of the world, you will know that I am right.”
“I believe you!” she cried, eagerly. “I always believe every word
Her face flushed at the warmth of her words.
“You do me justice,” he said. “I have faults by the million, but
want of sincerity is not among them.”
So, little by little, love redeemed Pauline, took away her faults,
and placed virtues in their stead. It was almost marvelous to note how
all sweet, womanly graces came to her, how the proud face cleared and
grew tender, how pride died from the dark eyes, and a glorious
love-light came in its stead, how she became patient and gentle,
considerate and thoughtful, always anxious to avoid giving pain to
others. It would have been difficult for any one to recognize the
brilliant, willful Pauline Darrell in the loving, quiet, thoughtful
girl whom love had transformed into something unlike herself.
There came a new world to her, a new life. Instead of problems
difficult to solve, life became full of sweet and gracious harmonies,
full of the very warmth and light of Heaven, full of unutterable beauty
and happiness; her soul reveled in it, her heart was filled with it.
All the poetry, the romance, had come true—nay, more than true. Her
girlish dreams had not shown her such happiness as that which dawned
upon her now. She had done what she had always said she should
do—recognized her superior, and yielded full reverence to him. If
anything had happened to disenchant her, if it had been possible for
her to find herself mistaken in him, the sun of the girl's life would
have set forever, would have gone down in utter darkness, leaving her
This beautiful love-idyl did not remain a secret long; perhaps those
most interested were the last to see it. Miss Hastings, however, had
watched its progress, thankful that her prophecy about her favorite was
to come true. Later on Lady St. Lawrence saw it, and, though she could
not help mourning over Lillith Davenant's fortune, she owned that
Pauline Darrell was the most beautiful, the most noble, the most
accomplished girl she had ever met. She had a moderate fortune, too;
not much, it was true; yet it was better than nothing.
“And, if dear Vane has made up his mind,” said the lady, meekly, “it
will, of course, be quite useless for me to interfere.”
Sir Vane and Pauline were always together; but hitherto no word of
love had been spoken between them. Sir Vane always went to Marine
Terrace the first thing in the morning; he liked to see the beautiful
face that had all the bloom and freshness of a flower. He always
contrived to make such arrangements as would insure that Pauline and he
spent the morning together. The afternoon was a privileged time; it was
devoted by the elder ladies, who were both invalids, to rest. During
that interval Sir Vane read to Pauline, or they sat under the shadow of
the great cliffs, talking until the two souls were so firmly knit that
they could never be severed again. In the evening they walked on the
sands, and the waves sang to them of love that was immortal, of hope
that would never die—sang of the sweet story that would never grow
CHAPTER XXXVII. PRIDE BROUGHT LOW.
Pauline could have passed her life in the happy dream that had come
to her; she did not go beyond it—the golden present was enough for
her. The full, happy, glorious life that beat in her heart and thrilled
in her veins could surely never be more gladsome. She loved and was
beloved, and her lover was a king among men—a noble, true-hearted
gentleman, the very ideal of that of which she had always dreamed; she
did not wish for any change. The sunrise was blessed because it brought
him to her; the sunset was as dear, for it gave her time to dream of
him. She had a secret longing that this might go on forever; she had a
shy fear and almost child-like dread of words that must be spoken,
seeing that, let them be said when they would, they must bring a great
change into her life.
In this she was unlike Sir Vane; the prize he hoped to win seemed to
him so beautiful, so valuable, that he was in hourly dread lest others
should step in and try to take it from him—lest by some mischance he
should lose that which his whole soul was bent upon winning.
He understood the girlish shyness and sweet fear that had changed
the queenly woman into a timid girl; he loved her all the more for it,
and he was determined to win her if she was to be won. Perhaps she read
that determination in his manner, for of late she had avoided him. She
remained with Miss Hastings, and, when that refuge was denied her, she
sought Lady St. Lawrence; but nothing could shield her long.
“Miss Darrell,” said Sir Vane, one afternoon, “I have a poem that I
want to read to you.”
She was seated on a low stool at Lady St. Lawrence's feet, her
beautiful face flushing at his words, her eyes drooping with shy, sweet
pleasure that was almost fear.
“Will you not read it to me now, and here?” she asked.
“No; it must be read by the sea. It is like a song, and the rush of
the waves is the accompaniment. Miss Hastings, if you have brought up
your pupil with any notion of obedience, enforce it now, please. Tell
Miss Darrell to put on her hat and come down to the shore.”
Miss Hastings smiled.
“You are too old now, Pauline, to be dictated to in such matters,”
said Miss Hastings; “but if Sir Vane wishes you to go out, there is no
reason why you should not oblige him.”
Lady St. Lawrence laid her hand on the beautiful head.
“My son has few pleasures,” she said; “give him this one.”
Pauline complied. Time had been when anything like a command had
instantly raised a spirit of rebellion within her; but in this clearer
light that had fallen upon her she saw things so differently; it was as
though her soul had eyes and they were just opened.
She rose and put on the pretty, plumed hat which Miss Hastings
brought for her; she drew an Indian shawl over her shoulders. She never
once looked at Sir Vane.
“Your goodness is not only an act of charity,” he said, “but it is
also a case in which virtue will be its own reward. You have no notion
how beautifully the sun is shining on the sea.”
So they went out together, and Lady St. Lawrence looked after them
with a sigh.
“She is a most beautiful girl, certainly, and I admire her. If she
only had Lillith Davenant's money!”
Sir Vane and Pauline walked in silence down to the shore, and then
the former turned to his companion.
“Miss Darrell,” he said, “will you tell me why you were not willing
to come out with me—why you have avoided me and turned the light of
your beautiful face from me?”
Her face flushed, and her heart beat, but she made no answer.
“I have borne my impatience well for the last three days,” he said;
“now I must speak to you, for I can bear it no longer, Pauline. Oh, do
not turn away from me! I love you, and I want you to be my wife—my
wife, darling; and I will love you—I will cherish you—I will spend my
whole life in working for you. I have no hope so great, so sweet, so
dear, as the hope of winning you.”
She made him no answer. Yet her silence was more eloquent than
“It seems a strange thing to say, but, Pauline, I loved you the
first moment I saw you. Do you remember, love? You were sitting with
one of my books in your hand, and the instant my eyes fell upon your
beautiful face a great calm came over me. I could not describe it; I
felt that in that minute my life was completed. My whole heart went out
to you, and I knew, whether you ever learned to care for me or not,
that you were the only woman in all the world for me.”
She listened with a happy smile playing round her beautiful lips,
her dark eyes drooping, her flower-like face flushed and turned from
“You are my fate—my destiny! Ah! if you love me, Pauline—if you
will only love me, I shall not have lived in vain! Your love would
incite me to win name and fame—not for myself, but for you. Your love
would crown a king—what would it not do for me? Turn your face to me,
Pauline? You are not angry? Surely great love wins great love—and
there could be no love greater than mine.”
Still the beautiful face was averted. There was the sunlight on the
sea; the western wind sighed around them. A great fear came over him.
Surely, on this most fair and sunny day, his love was not to meet a
cruel death. His voice was so full of this fear when he spoke again
that she, in surprise, turned and looked at him.
“Pauline,” he cried, “you cannot mean to be cruel to me. I am no
coward, but I would rather face death than your rejection.”
Then it was that their eyes met; and that which he saw in hers was a
revelation to him. The next moment he had clasped her to his heart, and
was pouring out a torrent of passionate words—such words, so tender,
so loving, so full of passion and hope, that her face grew pale as she
listened, and the beautiful figure trembled.
“I have frightened you, my darling,” he said, suddenly. “Ah! do
forgive me. I was half mad with joy. You do not know how I have longed
to tell you this, yet feared—I knew not what—you seemed so far above
me, sweet. See, you are trembling now! I am as cruel as a man who
catches in his hands a white dove that he has tamed, and hurts it by
his grasp. Sit down here and rest, while I tell you over and over
again, in every fashion, in every way, how I love you.”
The sun never shone upon happier lovers than those. The golden doors
of Love's paradise were open to them.
“I never knew until now,” said Vane, “how beautiful life is. Why,
Pauline, love is the very center of it; it is not money or rank—it is
love that makes life. Only to think, my darling, that you and I may
spend every hour of it together.”
She raised her eyes to the fair, calm heavens, and infinite
happiness filled her soul to overflowing; a deep, silent prayer
ascended unspoken from her heart.
Suddenly she sprang from his side with a startled cry.
“Oh, Vane!” she said, with outstretched hands, “I had forgotten that
I am unworthy. I can never marry you!”
He saw such wild despair in her face, such sudden, keen anguish,
that he was half startled; and, kneeling by her side, he asked:
“Why, my darling? Tell me why. You, Pauline,” he cried—“you not
worthy of me! My darling, what fancy is it—what foolish idea—what
freak of the imagination? You are the noblest, the truest, the dearest
woman in the whole wide world! Pauline, why are you weeping so? My
darling, trust me—tell me.”
She had shrunk shuddering from him, and had buried her face in her
hands; deep, bitter sobs came from her lips; there was the very
eloquence of despair in her attitude.
“Pauline,” said her lover, “you cannot shake my faith in you; you
cannot make me think you have done wrong; but will you try, sweet, to
tell me what it is?”
He never forgot the despairing face raised to his, the shadow of
such unutterable sorrow in the dark eyes, the quivering of the pale
lips, the tears that rained down her face—it was such a change from
the radiant, happy girl of but a few minutes ago that he could hardly
believe it was the same Pauline.
He bent over her as though he would fain kiss away the fast falling
tears; but she shrank from him.
“Do not touch me, Vane!” she cried; “I am not worthy. I had
forgotten; in the happiness of loving you, and knowing that I was
beloved, I had forgotten it—my own deed has dishonored me! We must
part, for I am not worthy of you.”
He took both her hands in his own, and his influence over her was so
great that even in that hour she obeyed him implicitly, as though she
had been a child.
“You must let me judge, Pauline,” he said, gently. “You are mine by
right of the promise you gave me a few minutes since—the promise to be
my wife; that makes you mine—no one can release you from it. By virtue
of that promise you must trust me, and tell me what you have done.”
He saw that there was a desperate struggle in her mind—a struggle
between the pride that bade her rise in rebellion and leave him with
her secret untold, and the love that, bringing with it sweet and
gracious humility, prompted her to confess all to him. He watched her
with loving eyes; as that struggle ended, so would her life take its
He saw the dark eyes grow soft with good thoughts; he saw the
silent, proud defiance die out of the beautiful face; the lips
quivered, sweet humility seemed to fall over her and infold her.
“I have done a cruel deed, Vane,” she said—“an act of vengeance
that cuts me off from the roll of noble women, and dishonors me.”
Still keeping his hold of the white hand, he said:
“Tell me what it was—I can judge far better than you.”
It seemed to her fevered fancy that the song of the waves died away,
as though they were listening; that the wind fell with a low sigh, and
the birds ceased their song—a silence that was almost terrible fell
around her—the blue sky seemed nearer to her.
“Speak to me, Vane!” she cried; “I am frightened!”
He drew her nearer to him.
“It is only fancy, my darling. When one has anything weighty to say,
it seems as though earth and sky were listening. Look at me, think of
me, and tell me all.”
She could never remember how she began her story—how she told him
the whole history of her life—of the happy years spent with her father
in the Rue d'Orme, when she learned to love art and nature, when she
learned to love truth for its own sake, and was brought up amid those
kindly, simple-hearted artist friends, with such bitter scorn, such
utter contempt of all conventionalities—of her keen and passionate
sorrow when her father died, and Sir Oswald took her home to Darrell
Court, telling her that her past life was at an end forever, and that
even the name she had inherited from her father must be changed for the
name of her race—how after a time she had grown to love her home with
a keen, passionate love, born of pride in her race and in her name—of
the fierce battle that raged always between her stern, uncompromising
truth and the worldly polish Sir Oswald would have had her acquire.
She concealed nothing from him, telling him of her faults as well as
her trials. She gave him the whole history of Aubrey Langton's wooing,
and her contemptuous rejection of his suit.
“I was so proud, Vane,” she said, humbly. “Heaven was sure to punish
me. I surrounded myself, as it were, with a barrier of pride, scorn,
and contempt, and my pride has been brought low.”
She told him of Sir Oswald's anger at her refusal to marry Aubrey,
of her uncle's threat that he would marry and disinherit her, of her
scornful disbelief—there was no incident forgotten; and then she came
to the evening when Sir Oswald had opened the box to take out the
diamond ring, and had spoken before them all of the roll of bank-notes
“That night, Vane,” she said, “there was a strange unrest upon me. I
could not sleep. I have had the same sensation when the air has been
overcharged with electricity before a storm; I seemed to hear strange
noises, my heart beat, my face was flushed and hot, every nerve seemed
to thrill with pain. I opened the window, thinking that the cool night
air would drive the fever from my brain.
“As I sat there in the profound silence, I heard, as plainly as I
hear myself speaking now, footsteps—quiet, stealthy footsteps—go past
“Let me explain to you that the library, where my uncle kept his
cash-box and his papers, is on the ground floor; on the floor above
that there are several guest-chambers. Captain Langton slept in one of
these. My uncle slept on the third floor, and, in order to reach his
room, was obliged to go through the corridor where the rooms of Miss
Hastings and myself were.
“I heard those quiet, stealthy footsteps, Vane, and my heart for a
few moments beat painfully.
“But the Darrells were never cowards. I went to my door and opened
it gently. I could see to the very end of the corridor, for at the end
there was a large arched window, and a faint gray light coming from it
showed me a stealthy figure creeping silently from Sir Oswald's room;
the gray light showed me also a glimmer of steel, and I knew, almost by
instinct, that that silent figure carried Sir Oswald's keys in its
“In a moment I had taken my resolve. I pushed my door to, but did
not close it; I took off my slippers, lest they should make a sound,
and followed the figure down stairs. As I have said before, the
Darrells were never cowards; no dread came to me; I was intent upon one
thing—the detection of the wrongdoer.
“Not more than a minute passed while I was taking off my shoes, but
when I came to the foot of the grand staircase light and figure had
both disappeared. I cannot tell what impulse led me to the
library—perhaps the remembrance of Sir Oswald's money being there came
to me. I crossed the hall and opened the library door.
“Though I had never liked Captain Langton, the scene that was
revealed to me came upon me as a shock—one that I shall never forget.
There was Captain Langton with my uncle's cash-box before him, and the
roll of bank-notes in his hand. He looked up when I entered, and a
terrible curse fell from his lips—a frightful curse. His face was
fearful to see. The room lay in the shadow of dense darkness, save
where the light he carried shone like a faint star. The face it showed
me was one I shall never forget; it was drawn, haggard, livid, with
bloodless lips and wild, glaring eyes.
“He laid the bank-notes down, and, going to the door, closed it
softly, turning the key; and then clutching my arm in a grasp of iron,
he hissed rather than said:
“'What fiend has brought you here?'
“He did not frighten me, Vane; I have never known fear. But his eyes
were full of murderous hate, and I had an idea that he would have few
scruples as to taking my life.
“'So, Captain Aubrey Langton,' I said, slowly, 'you are a thief! You
are robbing the old friend who has been so good to you!'
“He dragged me to the table on which the money lay, and then I saw a
revolver lying there, too.
“'One word,' he hissed, 'one whisper above your breath, and you
“I know my face expressed no fear—nothing but scorn and
contempt—for his grew more livid as he watched me.
“'It is all your fault!' he hissed into my ear; 'it is your accursed
pride that has driven me to this! Why did you not promise to marry me
when my life lay in your hands?'
“I laughed—the idea of a Darrell married to this midnight thief!
“'I told you I was a desperate man,' he went on. 'I pleaded with
you, I prayed to you, I laid my life at your feet, and you trampled on
it with scorn. I told you of my debts, my difficulties, and you laughed
at them. If I could have gone back to London betrothed to you, every
city usurer would have been willing to lend me money. I am driven to
this, for I cannot go back to face ruin. You have driven me to it; you
are the thief, though my hands take the money. Your thrice-accursed
pride has ruined me!'
“'I shall go to Sir Oswald,' I said, 'and wake him. You shall not
“'Yes,' he returned, 'I shall. I defy you, I dare you; you shall
tell no one.'
“He took the revolver from the table and held it to my head; I felt
the cold steel touch my forehead.
“'Now,' he said, 'your life is in your own hands; you must take an
oath not to betray me, or I will fire.'
“'I am not afraid to die; I would rather die than hide such sin as
yours. You cannot frighten me; I shall call for assistance.'
“'Wait a moment,' he said, still keeping that cold steel to my
forehead, and still keeping his murderous eyes on my face; 'listen to
what I shall do. The moment you cry out I shall fire, and you will fall
down dead—I told you I was a desperate man. Before any one has time to
come I shall place the bank-notes in your hand, and afterward I shall
tell Sir Oswald that, hearing a noise in the library, and knowing money
was kept there, I hastened down, and finding a thief, I fired, not
knowing who it was—and you, being dead, cannot contradict me.'
“'You dare not be so wicked!' I cried.
“'I dare anything—I am a desperate man. I will do it, and the whole
world will believe me; they will hold you a thief, but they will
believe me honest.'
“And, Vane, I knew that what he said was true; I knew that if I
chose death I should die in vain—that I should be branded as a thief,
who had been shot in the very act of stealing.
“'I will give you two minutes,' he said, 'and then, unless you take
an oath not to betray me, I will fire.'
“I was willing to lose my life, Vane,” she continued, “but I could
not bear that all the world should brand me as a thief—I could not
bear that a Darrell should be reckoned among the lowest of criminals. I
vow to you it was no coward fear for my life, no weak dread of death
that forced the oath from my lips, but it was a shrinking from being
found dead there with Sir Oswald's money in my hand—a shrinking from
the thought that they would come to look upon my face and say to each
other, 'Who would have thought, with all her pride, that she was a
thief?' It was that word 'thief,' burning my brain, that conquered.
“'You have one minute more,' said the hissing whisper, 'and then,
unless you take the oath——'
“'I will take it,' I replied; 'I do so, not to save my life, but my
“'It is well for you,' he returned; and then he forced me to kneel,
while he dictated to me the words of an oath so binding and so fast
that I dared not break it.
“Shuddering, sick at heart, wishing I had risked all and cried out
for help, I repeated it, and then he laid the revolver down.
“'You will not break that oath,' he said. 'The Darrells invariably
keep their word.'
“Then, coolly as though I had not been present, he put the
bank-notes into his pocket, and turned to me with a sneer.
“'You will wonder how I managed this,' he said. 'I am a clever man,
although you may not believe it. I drugged Sir Oswald's wine, and while
he slept soundly I took the keys from under his pillow. I will put them
back again. You seem so horrified that you had better accompany me and
see that I do no harm to the old man.'
“He put away the box and extinguished the light. As we stood
together in the dense gloom, I felt his breath hot upon my face.
“'There is no curse a man can invoke upon the woman who has ruined
him,' he said, 'that I do not give to you; but, remember, I do not
glory in my crime—I am ashamed of it.'
“In the darkness I groped my way to the door, and opened it; in the
darkness we passed through the hall where the armor used by warriors of
old hung, and in the darkness we went up the broad staircase. I stood
at the door of Sir Oswald's room while Captain Langton replaced the
keys, and then, without a word, I went to my own chamber.
“Vane, I can never tell you of the storm, the tempest of hate that
raged within me. I could have killed myself for having taken the oath.
I could have killed Captain Langton for having extorted it. But there
was no help for it then. Do you think I did wrong in taking it?”
“No, my darling,” he replied, “I do not. Few girls would have been
so brave. You are a heroine, Pauline.”
“Hush!” she said, interrupting him. “You have not heard all. I do
not blame myself for acting as I did. I debated for some time whether I
ought to keep the oath or not. Every good impulse of gratitude prompted
me to break it; yet again it seemed to me a cowardly thing to purchase
my life by a lie. Time passed on—the wonder all died away. I said to
myself that, if ever any one were falsely accused, I would speak out;
but such an event never happened; and not very long after, as you know,
Sir Oswald died. I did not like living under the shadow of that
secret—it robbed my life of all brightness. Captain Langton came
again. No words of mine can tell the contempt in which I held him, the
contempt with which I treated him; every one noticed it, but he did not
dare to complain. He did dare, however, to offer me his hateful love
again, and, when I repulsed him in such a fashion as even he could not
overlook, he turned all his attention to Lady Darrell. I am a wicked
girl, Vane—now that the light of your love has revealed so much to me,
I can see how wicked. I have told you that I had sworn to myself to be
revenged on Lady Darrell for coming between me and my inheritance. I
have seen more of the world since then, but at that time it seemed to
me an unparalleled thing that a young girl like her should marry an old
man like Sir Oswald entirely for his money. I told her if she did so I
would be revenged. I know it was wrong,” Pauline continued, humbly; “at
the time I thought it brave and heroic, now I know it was wrong, and
weak, and wicked—your love has taught me that.”
“It was an error that sprang from pride,” he said, gently; “there is
nothing to part us.”
“You have not heard all. Vane, I knew Captain Langton to be a
thief—to be a man who would not scruple at murder if need required. I
knew that all the love he could ever give to any one he had given to
me, yet I——”
She paused, and the sad face raised humbly to his grew crimson with
a burning blush.
“Oh, Vane, how can I tell you the shameful truth? Knowing what he
was, knowing that he was going to marry Lady Darrell, I yet withheld
the truth. That was my revenge. I knew he was a thief, a cruel, wicked
slanderer, a thoroughly bad man, yet, when one word from me would have
saved her from accepting his proposal, I, for my vengeance sake,
refused to speak that word.”
Her voice died away in a low whisper; the very sound of her words
seemed to frighten her. Vane St. Lawrence's face grew pale and stern.
“It was unworthy of you, Pauline,” he said, unhesitatingly. “It was
a cruel revenge.”
“I know it,” she admitted. “No words can add to the keen sense of my
“Tell me how it was,” he said, more gently.
“I think,” continued Pauline, “that she had always liked Captain
Langton. I remember that I used to think so before she married my
uncle. But she had noticed my contempt for him. It shook her faith in
him, and made her doubt him. She came to me one day, Vane, with that
doubt in her face and in her words. She asked me to tell her if I knew
anything against him—if there was any reason why she should doubt him.
She asked me then, before she allowed herself to love him; one word
from me then would have saved her, and that word, for my vengeance
sake, I would not speak.”
“It should have been spoken,” observed Sir Vane, gravely.
“I know it. Captain Langton has no honor, no conscience. He does not
even like Lady Darrell; he will marry her solely that he may have
Darrell Court. He will afterward maltreat her, and hold her life as
nothing; he will squander the Darrell property. Vane, as truly as the
bright heaven shines above me, I believe him to have no redeeming
There was silence for some minutes, and then Sir Vane asked:
“Tell me, Pauline—do you think that Lady Darrell would marry him if
she knew what you have just told me?”
“I am sure she would not. She is very worldly, and only lives what
one may call a life of appearances; she would not marry him if she knew
him to be a thief—she would shrink from him. Elegant, polished,
amiable women like Lady Darrell are frightened at crime.”
“That one word ought to have been spoken, Pauline, out of sheer
womanly pity and sheer womanly grace. How could you refuse to speak
when she came to you with a prayer on her lips?”
“The pride and thirst for vengeance were too strong for me,” she
“And to these you have sacrificed the life and happiness of a woman
who has never really injured you. Lady Darrell and Captain Langton are
not yet married—are they, Pauline?”
“No, they are to be married in the spring,” she answered.
“Then listen to me, my darling. This marriage must never take place.
Your silence is wicked—you cannot honorably and conscientiously stand
by and see Lady Darrell throw herself away on a thief. You have done a
grievous wrong, Pauline. You must make a noble atonement.”
Something like a gleam of hope came into her eyes.
“Can I atone?” she asked. “I will do so if I know how, even at the
price of my life.”
“I tell you, frankly,” he said, “that you have done grievously
wrong. When that poor lady came to you in her doubt and perplexity, you
ought to have told her at least as much of the truth as would have
prevented the marriage. But, my darling, this shall not part us. If I
teach you how to atone will you atone?”
She crossed her hands as one praying.
“I will do anything you tell me, Vane.”
“You must go to Darrell Court, and you must make to Lady Darrell the
same ample avowal you have made to me; tell her the same story—how you
vowed vengeance against her, and how you carried that vengeance out;
and then see what comes of it.”
“But suppose she will not believe me—what then?”
“You will have done your best—you will at least have made atonement
for your secrecy. If, with her eyes open, Lady Darrell marries Captain
Langton after that, you will have nothing to blame yourself for. It
will be hard for you, my darling, but it is the brave, right, true
thing to do.”
“And you do not hate me, Vane?”
“No; I love you even better than I did. The woman brave enough to
own her faults and desirous to atone for them deserves all the love a
man can give her. Pauline, when you have done this, my darling, may I
ask you when you will be my wife?”
She sobbed out that she was unworthy—all unworthy; but he would not
even hear the words.
“None the less dear are you for having told me your faults. There is
only one word now, my darling, to keep in view; and that is,
She looked up at him with happy, glistening eyes.
“Vane,” she said, “I will go to Darrell Court to-morrow. I shall
never rest now until I have done what you wish me to do.”
So far had love redeemed her that she was ready to undo all the
wrong she had done, at any cost to her pride.
But love was to work even greater wonders for her yet.
CHAPTER XXXVIII. PAULINE AND LADY
Pauline communicated her resolution of going to Darrell Court to
Miss Hastings, and that lady looked up in surprise almost too great for
“You are going to Darrell Court to-morrow!” she exclaimed. “It
cannot be, Pauline; you must not travel alone. If you go, I must go
But Pauline threw one arm caressingly round her friend's neck.
“Do not try to stop me,” she said, pleadingly, “and let me go alone.
I did a great wrong at Darrell Court, and I must return to set it
right. Only alone can I do that.”
“Pauline,” asked Miss Hastings, gravely, “do you wish to atone for
“I do,” she replied, simply. “You must let me go alone; and when I
come back I shall have something to tell you—something that I know
will please you very much.”
Miss Hastings kissed the beautiful face.
“It is as I thought,” she said to herself—“in her case love has
worked wonders—it has redeemed her.”
* * * * *
Lady Darrell sat alone in her dressing-room; the autumn day was
drawing to a close. Greatly to her delight and surprise, Captain
Langton had unexpectedly appeared that morning. He knew that in the
absence of Miss Hastings he could not stop at Darrell Court; but he was
paying a visit, he told Lady Darrell, to Sir Peter Glynn, and hoped to
see her every day. He had declined dining at the Court, but promised to
spend some part of the evening there.
Lady Darrell had ordered an early dinner, and sat in her
dressing-room awaiting her maid. Of course she was going to dress for
the captain—to set off her delicate beauty to the greatest advantage.
A superb costume of pale pink brocade, with rich trimmings of white
lace, was ready for her. A suit of pearls and opals lay in their open
cases. The room presented a picturesque appearance of unbounded and
splendid confusion—lace, jewelry, fans, slippers, all kinds of
valuable and pretty ornaments were there; but nothing in that room was
one half so fair as the beautiful woman who sat with a pleased smile
upon her face.
Yet there was something like a sigh on her lips. Did he love her? Of
her own feelings she had no doubt. She loved him with her whole
heart—as she had never imagined herself capable of loving any one. But
did he love her? There was somewhat of coldness and indifference in his
manner—something she could not understand. He had greeted her
carelessly—he had bidden her a careless farewell, she said to herself.
Yet he must love her; for the face reflected in the mirror was a very
Then she remembered Pauline, and the old wonder came over her why
Pauline had always such great, such unbounded contempt for him.
Her maid came in, and Lady Darrell put on the pink brocade with its
white lace trimmings. The maid, in ecstasies, cried out that it was
superb—that “my lady” had “never looked so beautiful.”
Lady Darrell took up the pearl necklace and held it against the pink
brocade to note the contrast. While she held it in her hands one of the
servants gave a hurried rap at the door. She came to announce that Miss
Darrell had arrived suddenly, and wished to see Lady Darrell at once.
“Miss Darrell! Then something must be the matter with Miss Hastings.
Ask her to come to me at once.”
In a few moments Pauline was standing in that brilliant room,
looking pale and anxious.
“No,” she said, in answer to Lady Darrell's eager question; “there
is nothing the matter with Miss Hastings. I wanted to see you; I want
to see you alone. Can you spare a few minutes?”
Lady Darrell dismissed her maid, and then turned to Pauline.
“What is it?” she asked. “What has brought you here so suddenly?”
Without one word, Pauline went to the door and locked it, and then
she went back to Lady Darrell, who was watching her in wonder.
“I have done you a great wrong,” she said, humbly, “and I have come
to atone for it.”
Lady Darrell drew back, trembling with strange, vague fear.
“Oh, Pauline, Pauline, what have you done?”
Pauline threw aside her traveling cloak and took off her hat; and
then she came to Lady Darrell.
“Let me tell you my story, kneeling here,” she said; and she knelt
down before Lady Darrell, looking as she spoke straight into her face.
“Let me tell you before I begin it,” she added, “that I have no excuse
to offer for myself—none. I can only thank Heaven that I have seen my
fault before—for your sake—it is too late.”
Slowly, gravely, sometimes with bitter tears and with sobs that came
from the depths of her heart, Pauline told her story—how the captain
had loved her, how ill he had taken her repulse, how she had discovered
his vile worthlessness, but for the sake of her revenge had said
Lady Darrell listened as to her death-knell.
“Is this true, Pauline?” she cried. “You vowed vengeance against
me—is this your vengeance, to try to part me from the man I love, and
to take from me the only chance of happiness that my wretched life
Her fair face had grown deadly pale; all the light and the happiness
had fled from it; the pearls lay unheeded, the blue eyes grew dim with
“Is it possible, Pauline?” she cried again. “Have I given my love to
one dishonored? I cannot believe it—I will not believe it! It is part
of your vengeance against me. What have I done that you should hate me
The dark eyes and the beautiful face were raised to hers.
“Dear Lady Darrell,” said the girl, “I have never spoken a loving
word to you before; but I tell you now that, if I could give my life to
save you from this sorrow, I would do so.”
“Aubrey Langton a thief!” cried Lady Darrell. “It is not true—I
will swear that it is not true! I love him, and you want to take him
from me. How could you dare to invent such a falsehood of him, a
soldier and a gentleman? You are cruel and wicked.”
Yet through all her passionate denials, through all her bitter
anger, there ran a shudder of deadly fear—a doubt that chilled her
with the coldness of death—a voice that would be heard, crying out
that here was no wrong, no falsehood, but the bare, unvarnished truth.
She cast it from her—she trampled it under foot; and the girl kneeling
at her feet suffered as much as she did herself while she watched that
“You say that he would have murdered you—that he held a pistol to
your forehead, and made you take that oath—he, Aubrey Langton, did
“He did!” said Pauline. “Would to Heaven I had told you before.”
“Would to Heaven you had!” she cried. “It is too late now. I love
him—I love him, and I cannot lose him. You might have saved me from
this, and you would not. Oh, cruel and false!”
“Dearest Lady Darrell,” said the girl, “I would wash out my fault
with my heart's blood if I could. There is no humiliation that I would
not undergo, no pain that I would not suffer, to save you.”
“You might have saved me. I had a doubt, and I went to you, Pauline,
humbly, not proudly. I prayed you to reveal the truth, and you treated
me with scorn. Can it be that one woman could be so cruel to another?
If you had but spoken half the truth you have now told me, I should
have believed you, and have gone away; I should have crushed down the
love that was rising in my heart, and in time I should have forgotten
it. Now it is too late. I love him, and I cannot lose him—dear Heaven,
I cannot lose him!”
She flung up her arms with a wild cry of despair. None ever suffered
more than did Pauline Darrell then.
“Oh, my sin,” she moaned, “my grievous sin!”
She tried to soothe the unhappy woman, but Lady Darrell turned from
her with all the energy of despair.
“I cannot believe you,” she cried; “it is an infamous plot to
destroy my happiness and to destroy me. Hark! There is Aubrey Langton's
voice; come with me and say before him what you have said to me.”
CHAPTER XXXIX. FACE TO FACE.
Captain Langton looked up in surprise not altogether unfounded, the
sight that met his eyes was so unusual.
Before him stood Lady Darrell, her face white as death, her lips
quivering with excitement, her superb dress of pink brocade all
disarranged, her golden hair falling over her beautiful shoulders—a
sight not to be forgotten; she held Pauline by the hand, and in all her
life Lady Darrell had never looked so agitated as now.
“Captain Langton,” said Lady Darrell, “will you come here? I want
you most particularly.”
It was by pure chance that she opened the library door—it was the
one nearest to her.
“Will you follow me?” she said.
He looked from one to the other with somewhat of confusion in his
“Miss Darrell!” he cried. “Why, I thought you were at Omberleigh!”
Pauline made no reply.
Lady Darrell held the library door open while they entered, and then
she closed it, and turned the key.
Captain Langton looked at her in wonder.
“Elinor,” he said, “what does this mean? Are you going to play a
tragedy or a farce?”
“That will depend upon you,” she answered; “I am glad and thankful
to have brought you and Miss Darrell face to face. Now I shall know the
The surprise on his face deepened into an angry scowl.
“What do you mean?” he demanded, sharply. “I do not understand.”
It was a scene never to be forgotten. The library was dim with the
shadows of the autumn evening, and in the gloom Lady Darrell's pale
pink dress, golden hair, and white arms bare to the shoulder, seemed to
attract all the light; her face was changed from its great
agitation—the calm, fair beauty, the gentle, caressing manner were
Near her stood Pauline, whose countenance was softened with
compassion and pity unutterable, the dark eyes shining as through a
mist of tears.
Before them, as a criminal before his judges, stood Aubrey Langton,
with an angry scowl on his handsome face, and yet something like fear
in his eyes.
“What is it?” he cried, impatiently. “I cannot understand this at
Lady Darrell turned her pale face to him.
“Captain Langton,” she said, gravely, “Miss Darrell brings a
terrible accusation against you. She tells me that you stole the roll
of notes that Sir Oswald missed, and that at the price of her life you
extorted an oath from her not to betray you; is it true?”
She looked at him bravely, fearlessly.
“It is a lie!” he said.
Lady Darrell continued:
“Here, in this room, where we are standing now, she tells me that
the scene took place, and that, finding she had discovered you in the
very act of theft, you held a loaded pistol to her head until she took
the oath you dictated. Is it true or false?”
“It is a lie!” he repeated; but his lips were growing white, and
great drops stood upon his brow.
“She tells me,” resumed Lady Darrell, “that you loved her, and that
you care only for Darrell Court, not for me. Is it true?”
“It is all false,” he said, hoarsely—“false from beginning to end!
She hates you, she hates me, and this foul slander has only been
invented to part us!”
Lady Darrell looked from one to the other.
“Now Heaven help me!” she cried. “Which am I to believe?”
Grave and composed, with a certain majesty of truth that could never
be mistaken, Pauline raised her right hand.
“Lady Darrell,” she said, “I swear to you, in the presence of
Heaven, that I have spoken nothing but the truth.”
“And I swear it is false!” cried Aubrey Langton.
But appearances were against him; Lady Darrell saw that he trembled,
that his lips worked almost convulsively, and that great drops stood
upon his brow.
Pauline looked at him; those dark eyes that had in them no shadow
save of infinite pity and sorrow seemed to penetrate his soul, and he
shrank from the glance.
“Elinor,” he cried, “you believe me, surely? Miss Darrell has always
hated you, and this is her revenge.”
“Lady Darrell,” said the girl, “I am ashamed of my hatred and
ashamed of my desire for vengeance. There is no humiliation to which I
would not submit to atone for my faults, but every word I have said to
you is true.”
Once more with troubled eyes Lady Darrell looked from one to the
other; once more she murmured:
“Heaven help me! Which am I to believe?”
Then Captain Langton, with a light laugh, said:
“Is the farce ended, Lady Darrell? You see it is no tragedy after
Pauline turned to him, and in the light of that noble face his own
grew mean and weak.
“Captain Langton,” she said, “I appeal to whatever there is of good
and just in you. Own to the truth. You need not be afraid of it—Lady
Darrell will not injure you. She will think better of you if you
confess than if you deny. Tell her that you were led into error, and
trust to her kindness for pardon.”
“She speaks well,” observed Lady Darrell, slowly. “If you are
guilty, it is better to tell me so.”
He laughed again, but the laugh was not pleasant to hear. Pauline
“Let the evil rest where it is, Captain Langton; do not make it any
greater. In your heart you know that you have no love for this lady—it
is her fortune that attracts you. If you marry her, it will only be to
make her unhappy for life. Admit your fault and leave her in peace.”
“You are a remarkably free-spoken young lady, Miss Darrell—you have
quite an oratorical flow of words. It is fortunate that Lady Darrell
knows you, or she might be tempted to believe you. Elinor, I rest my
claim on this—since you have known Miss Darrell, have you ever
received one act of kindness from her, one kind word even?”
Lady Darrell was obliged to answer:
“Then I leave it,” he said, “to your sense of justice which of us
you are to believe now—her who, to anger you, swears to my guilt, or
me, who swears to my innocence? Elinor, my love, you cannot doubt me.”
Pauline saw her eyes soften with unutterable tenderness—he saw a
faint flush rise on the fair face. Almost involuntarily Lady Darrell
drew near to him.
“I cannot bear to doubt you, Aubrey,” she said. “Oh, speak the truth
to me, for my love's sake!”
“I do speak the truth. Come with me; leave Miss Darrell for a while.
Walk with me across the lawn, and I will tell you what respect for Miss
Darrell prevents my saying here.”
Lady Darrell turned to Pauline.
“I must hear what he has to say—it is only just.”
“I will wait for you,” she replied.
The captain was always attentive; he went out into the hall and
returned with a shawl that he found there.
“You cannot go out with those beautiful arms uncovered, Elinor,” he
He placed the shawl around her, trying to hide the coward, trembling
“As though I did not love you,” he said, reproachfully. “Show me
another woman only half so fair.”
Pauline made one more effort.
“Lady Darrell,” she cried, with outstretched hands, “you will not
decide hastily—you will take time to judge?”
But as they passed out together, something in the delicate face told
her that her love for Aubrey Langton was the strongest element in her
“Lady Darrell,” she cried again, “do not listen to him! I swear I
have told you the truth—Heaven will judge between him and me if I have
“You must have studied tragedy at the Porte St. Martin,” said Aubrey
Langton, with a forced laugh; “Lady Darrell knows which to believe.”
She watched them walk across the lawn, Captain Langton pleading
earnestly, Lady Darrell's face softening as she listened.
“I am too late!” cried the girl, in an agony of self-reproach. “All
my humiliation is in vain; she will believe him and not me. I cannot
save her now, but one word spoken in time might have done so.”
Oh, the bitterness of the self-reproach that tortured her—the
anguish of knowing that she could have prevented Lady Darrell's
wrecking her whole life, yet had not done so! It was no wonder that she
buried her face in her hands, weeping and praying as she had never wept
and prayed in her life before.
* * * * *
“Elinor, look at me,” said Captain Langton; “do I look like a thief
and a would-be murderer?”
Out of Pauline's presence the handsome face had regained its usual
careless, debonair expression.
She raised her eyes, and he saw in them the lingering doubt, the
“If all the world had turned against me,” he said, “and had refused
to believe in me, you, Elinor, my promised wife, ought to have had more
She made no reply. There had been something in the energy of
Pauline's manner that carried conviction with it; and the weak heart,
the weak nature that had always relied upon others, could form no
“For argument sake, let us reverse the case. Say that some
disappointed lover of yours came to tell to me that you had been
discovered stealing; should I not have laughed? Why, Elinor, you must
be blind not to see the truth; a child might discern it. The fact is
that long ago I was foolish enough to believe myself in love with Miss
Darrell; and she—well, honestly speaking, she is jealous. A gentleman
does not like to refer to such things, but that is the simple truth.
She is jealous, and would part us if she could; but she shall not. My
beautiful Elinor is all my own, and no half-crazed, jealous girl shall
come between us.”
“Is it so, Aubrey?” asked Lady Darrell.
“My dearest Elinor, that is the whole secret of Miss Darrell's
strange conduct to me. She is jealous—and you know, I should imagine,
what jealous women are like.”
She tried to believe him, but, when she recalled the noble face,
with its pure light of truth and pity, she doubted again. But Captain
Langton pleaded, prayed, invented such ridiculous stories of Pauline,
made such fervent protestations of love, lavished such tender words
upon her, that the weak heart turned to him again, and again its
doubtings were cast aside.
“How we shall laugh over this in the happy after years!” he said.
“It is really like a drama. Oh, Elinor, I am so thankful that I was
here to save you! And now, my darling, you are trembling with cold. My
fair, golden-haired Elinor, what must you think of that cruel girl? How
could she do it? No; I will not go in again to-night—I should not be
able to keep my temper. Your grand tragedy heroine will be gone
They stood together under the shadow of the balcony, and he drew her
nearer to him.
“Elinor,” he said, “I shall never rest again until you are my wife.
This plot has failed; Miss Darrell will plot again to part us. I cannot
wait until the spring—you must be my wife before then. To-morrow
morning I shall ride over to talk to you about it.”
She clasped her arms round his neck, and raised her sweet face to
“Aubrey,” she said, wistfully, “you are not deceiving me?”
“No, my darling, I am not.”
He bent down and kissed her lips. She looked at him again,
“Heaven will judge between us, Aubrey,” she said, solemnly. “I have
a sure conviction that I shall know the truth.”
“I hope Heaven will assist you,” he returned, lightly; “I am quite
sure the decision will be in my favor.”
And those words, so wickedly, so blasphemously false, were the last
he ever spoke to her.
CHAPTER XL. DYING IN SIN.
Captain Langton left Lady Darrell at the door of the porch, and went
round to the stables. He was a man as utterly devoid of principle as
any man could well be, yet the untruths he had told, the false
testimony he had given, the false oaths he had taken, had shaken his
“I should not care to go through such a scene as that again,” he
said—“to stand before two women as before my judges.”
He found his hands unsteady and his limbs trembling; the horse he
had to ride was a spirited one. The captain half staggered as he placed
his hand on the saddle.
“I am not very well,” he said to one of the grooms; “go to the house
and tell Frampton, the butler, to bring some brandy here.”
In a few minutes the butler appeared with a tray, on which stood
bottle and glass.
“This is some very old brandy, sir,” he said, “and very strong.”
But Captain Langton did not appear to heed him; he poured out half a
tumblerful and drank it, while the butler looked on in amazement.
“It is very strong, sir,” he repeated.
“I know what I am doing,” returned the captain, with an oath.
He was dizzy with fear and with his after-success; he shuddered
again as he mounted his horse, and the memory of Pauline's face and
Pauline's words came over him. Then he galloped off, and Frampton,
turning to the groom, with a scared face, said:
“If he gets home safely after taking so much of that brandy, and
with that horse, I will never venture to say what I think again.”
* * * * *
Lady Darrell returned to the library, where she had left Pauline.
They looked at each other in silence, and then Lady Darrell said:
“I—I believe in him, Pauline; he cannot be what you say.”
Miss Darrell rose and went up to her; she placed her in a chair, and
knelt at her feet.
“You do not believe what I have told you?” she questioned, gently.
“I cannot; my love and my faith are all his.”
“I have done my best,” said Pauline, sorrowfully, “and I can do no
more. While I live I shall never forgive myself that I did not speak
sooner, Lady Darrell. Elinor, I shall kneel here until you promise to
Then Lady Darrell looked at the beautiful face, with its expression
“Pauline,” she said, suddenly, “I hardly recognize you. What has
come to you? What has changed you?”
Her face crimson with hot blushes, Pauline answered her.
“It is to me,” she said, “as though a vail had fallen from before my
eyes. I can see my sin in all its enormity. I can see to what my
silence has led, and, though you may not believe me, I shall never rest
until you say that you have forgiven me.”
Lady Darrell was not a woman given to strong emotion of any kind;
the deepest passion of her life was her love for Aubrey Langton; but
even she could give some faint guess as to what it had cost the proud,
willful Pauline to undergo this humiliation.
“I do forgive you,” she said. “No matter how deeply you have
disliked me, or in what way you have plotted against me, I cannot
refuse you. I forgive you, Pauline.”
Miss Darrell held up her face.
“Will you kiss me?” she asked. “I have never made that request in
all my life before, but I make it now.”
Lady Darrell bent down and kissed her, while the gloom of the
evening fell round them and deepened into night.
“If I only knew what to believe!” Lady Darrell remarked. “First my
heart turns to him, Pauline, and then it turns to you. Yet both cannot
be right—one must be most wicked and most false. You have truth in
your face—he had truth on his lips when he was talking to me. Oh, if I
knew—if I only knew!”
And when she had repeated this many times, Pauline said to her:
“Leave it to Heaven; he has agreed that Heaven shall judge between
us, and it will. Whoever has told the lie shall perish in it.”
So some hours passed, and the change that had come over Lady Darrell
was almost pitiful to see. Her fair face was all drawn and haggard, the
brightness had all left it. It was as though years of most bitter
sorrow had passed over her. They had spoken to her of taking some
refreshment, but she had sent it away. She could do nothing but pace up
and down with wearied step, moaning that she only wanted to know which
was right, which to believe, while Pauline sat by her in unwearied
patience. Suddenly Lady Darrell turned to her.
“What is the matter with me?” she asked. “I cannot understand
myself; the air seems full of whispers and portents—it is as though I
were here awaiting some great event. What am I waiting for?”
They were terrible words, for the answer to them was a great
commotion in the hall—the sound of hurried footsteps—of many voices.
Lady Darrell stood still in dismay.
“What is it?” she cried. “Oh, Pauline, I am full of fear—I am
sorely full of fear!”
It was Frampton who opened the door suddenly, and stood before them
with a white, scared face.
“Oh, my lady—my lady!” he gasped.
“Tell her quickly,” cried Pauline; “do you not see that suspense is
“One of the Court servants,” said the butler, at once, in response,
“returning from Audleigh Royal, has found the body of Captain Langton
lying in the high-road, where his horse had thrown him, dragged him,
and left him—dead!”
“Heaven be merciful to him!” cried Pauline Darrell. “He has died in
But Lady Darrell spoke no words. Perhaps she thought to herself that
Heaven had indeed judged between them. She said nothing—she
trembled—a gasping cry came from her, and she fell face forward on the
They raised her and carried her up stairs. Pauline never left her;
through the long night-watches and the long days she kept her place by
her side, while life and death fought fiercely for her. She would awake
from her stupor at times, only to ask about Aubrey—if it could be true
that he was dead—and then seemed thankful that she could understand no
They did not think at first that she could recover. Afterward Doctor
Helmstone told her that she owed her life to Pauline Darrell's
unchanging love and care.
CHAPTER XLI. THE WORK OF ATONEMENT.
The little town of Audleigh Royal had never been so excited. It was
such a terrible accident. Captain Langton, the guest of Sir Peter
Glynn, so soon to be master of Darrell Court—a man so handsome, so
accomplished, and so universal a favorite—to be killed in the gloom of
an autumn night, on the high-road! Society was grieved and shocked.
“That beautiful young lady at the Hall, who loved him so dearly,
was,” people whispered to each other, “at death's door—so deep was her
An inquest was held at the “Darrell Arms;” and all the revelations
ever made as to the cause of Captain Langton's death were made then.
The butler and the groom at Darrell Court swore to having felt some
little alarm at seeing the deceased drink more than half a tumblerful
of brandy. The butler's prophecy that he would never reach home in
safety was repeated. One of the men said that the captain looked pale
and scared, as though he had seen a ghost; another told how madly he
had galloped away; so that no other conclusion could be come to but
this—that he had ridden recklessly, lost all control over the horse,
and had been thrown. There was proof that the animal had dragged him
along the road for some little distance; and it was supposed the fatal
wound had been inflicted when his head was dashed against the
mile-stone close to which he had been found.
It was very shocking, very terrible. Society was distressed. The
body lay at the “Darrell Arms” until all arrangements had been made for
the funeral. Such a funeral had never been seen in Audleigh Royal. Rich
and poor, every one attended.
Captain Langton was buried in the pretty little cemetery at
Audleigh; and people, as they stood round the grave, whispered to each
other that, although the horse that killed him had cost over a hundred
pounds, Sir Peter Glynn had ordered it to be shot.
Then, when the autumn had faded into winter, the accident was
forgotten. Something else happened which drove it from people's minds,
and the tragedy of Audleigh Royal became a thing of the past.
Pauline did not return to Omberleigh. Miss Hastings was dreadfully
shocked when she received a letter telling her of Captain Langton's
death and of Lady Darrell's serious illness. No persuasions could
induce her to remain longer away. She returned that same day to the
Court, and insisted upon taking her share in the nursing of Lady
Lady Hampton looked upon the captain's accident as the direct
interposition of Providence. Of course such a death was very shocking,
very terrible; but certainly it had never been a match she approved;
and, after all, say what one would, everything had happened for the
Lady Hampton went over to Darrell Court, and assisted in attending
to the invalid; but her thoughts ran more on Lord Aynsley, and the
chances of his renewing his offer, than on anything else. Elinor would
soon recover, there was no fear; the shock to her nerves had been
great, but people never died of nervousness; and, when she did get
well, Lady Hampton intended to propose a season in London.
But Lady Darrell did not get well as soon as Lady Hampton had
anticipated. Indeed, more than one clever doctor, on leaving her
presence, shook his head gravely, and said it was doubtful whether Lady
Darrell would ever recover at all; the shock to her nerves had been
But there was something to be said also of a blighted life and a
Autumn had drifted into winter; and one morning Lady Darrell, who
had been sleeping more soundly than usual, suddenly turned to Pauline,
who seldom left her.
“Pauline,” she whispered, “you have not told any one, have you?”
“Told what?” she inquired.
“About poor Aubrey's faults. I know now that he was guilty. Strange,
solemn thoughts, strange revelations, come to us, are made to us in
sickness, when we lie, where I have been lying, in the valley of the
shadow of death. I know that he was guilty, and that he died in his
sin. I know it now, Pauline.”
Miss Darrell bent over her and kissed the white brow.
“Listen to me, dear,” continued the weak voice. “Let this secret die
with us—let there be a bond between us never to reveal it. You will
never tell any one about it, will you, Pauline?”
“No,” she replied, “never. I should never have told you but that I
hoped to save you from a dreadful fate—and it would have been a
dreadful fate for you to have married him; he would have broken your
“It is broken now,” she said, gently. “Yet it comforts me to know
that no reproach will be heaped on Aubrey's memory.”
“You will get better,” observed Pauline, hopefully, “and then there
will be happier days in store for you.”
“There will be no happy days for me,” returned Lady Darrell,
sorrowfully. “You see, Pauline, I loved him very dearly—more dearly
than I knew. I had never loved any one very much until I saw him. I
could more easily have checked a raging fire than have restrained my
love after I had once given it. My life had in some way passed into
his, and now I do not care to live.”
“But you have so much to live for,” said Pauline.
“Not now. I do not care for aught about me. I have tried to remember
Darrell Court and all my wealth and grandeur, but they give me no
pleasure—the shadow of death lies over all.”
And it was all in vain that Pauline tried to rouse her; Lady
Darrell, after her unhappy love, never cared to be roused again. Lady
Hampton would not think seriously of her illness—it would pass away in
time, she said; but Miss Hastings shook her head gravely, and feared
The time came when Pauline told some part of her story to the
governess. She did not mention Aubrey's crime—that secret she kept
until death—but she gave a sketch of what had passed between her and
“Did I do right?” she asked, with that sweet humility which had
vanquished all pride in her.
“You acted worthily,” replied Miss Hastings, while she marveled at
the transformation which love had wrought in that once proud, willful
Time passed on, and by the wish of Miss Hastings a celebrated
physician was sent for from London, for Lady Darrell grew no better.
His opinion sounded somewhat like a death-warrant.
“She may recover sufficiently to quit her room and to linger on in
life—how long is uncertain; but the shock to her nerves she will never
fully recover from—while she lives she will be a victim to
nervousness. But I do not think she will live long. Let her have as
much cheerful society as possible, without fatigue; nothing more can be
done for her.”
And with that they were obliged to be content. Lady Hampton would
not admit that the London physician was correct.
“Nerves are all nonsense,” she said, brusquely. “How many nervous
shocks have I been through, with husband dead and children dead?
Elinor's only danger is her mother's complaint. She died of consumption
It was found, however, despite Lady Hampton's disbelief, that the
London physician had spoken truthfully. Lady Darrell rose from her sick
bed, but she was but the shadow of herself, and a victim to a terrible
Miss Hastings watched over her with great anxiety, but Pauline was
like a second self to the unhappy lady. They were speaking of her one
day, and Miss Hastings said:
“An illness like Lady Darrell's is so uncertain, Pauline; you must
not occupy yourself with her so entirely, or you will lose your own
But Pauline looked up with a smile—perhaps the gravest, the
sweetest and most tender her face had ever worn.
“I shall never leave her,” she returned.
“Never leave her?” questioned Miss Hastings.
“No. I shall stay with her to comfort her while life lasts, and that
will be my atonement.”
CHAPTER XLII. LOVE AND SORROW.
The beautiful golden summer came round, and Darrell Court looked
picturesque and lovely with its richness of foliage and flush of
flowers. The great magnolia trees were all in bloom—the air was full
of their delicate, subtle perfume; the chestnuts were in bloom, the
limes all in blossom. Sweet summer had scattered her treasures with no
niggard hand; and Lady Darrell had lived to see the earth rejoice once
Under the limes, where the shadows of the graceful, tremulous,
scented leaves fell on the grass—the limes that were never still, but
always responding to some half-hidden whisper of the wind—stood
Pauline Darrell and her lover, Sir Vane St. Lawrence. They had met but
once since their hurried parting at Omberleigh. Vane had been to
Darrell Court—for their engagement was no secret now. They wrote to
each other constantly.
On this fair June day Sir Vane had come to the Court with news that
stirred the depths of the girl's heart as a fierce wind stirs the
ripples on a lake.
As the sunlight fell through the green leaves and rested on her, the
change in her was wonderful to see. The beautiful, noble face had lost
all its pride, all its defiance; the play of the lips was tremulous,
sensitive, and gentle; the light in the dark eyes was of love and
kindness. Time had added to her loveliness; the grand, statuesque
figure had developed more perfectly; the graceful attitudes, the
unconscious harmony, the indefinable grace and fascination were more
apparent than ever. But she no longer carried her grand beauty as a
protest, but made it rather the crown of a pure and perfect womanhood.
Something dimmed the brightness of her face, for Sir Vane had come
to her with strange news and a strange prayer. His arm was clasped
round her as they walked under the shadow of the limes where lovers'
footsteps had so often strayed.
“Yes, Pauline, it has come so unexpectedly at last,” spoke Sir Vane.
“Ever since Graveton has been in office, my dear mother has been
unwearied in asking for an appointment for me. You know the story of
our impoverished fortunes, and how anxious my dear mother is to
Her hand seemed to tighten its clasp on his, as she answered:
“Yes, I know.”
“Now an opportunity has come. Graveton, in answer to my mother's
continued requests, has found for me a most lucrative office; but,
alas, my love, it is in India, and I must shortly set out.”
“In India!” repeated Pauline; “and you must set out shortly, Vane?
“In a fortnight from now,” he answered. “It is an office that
requires filling up at once, Pauline. I have come to ask if you will
accompany me? Will you pardon the short notice, and let me take my wife
with me to that far-off land? Do not let me go alone into exile—come
with me, darling.”
The color and light died out of her beautiful face, her lips
quivered, and her eyes grew dim as with unshed tears.
“I cannot,” she replied; and there was a silence between them that
seemed full of pain.
“You cannot, Pauline!” he cried, and the sadness and disappointment
in his voice made her lips quiver again. “Surely you will not allow any
feminine nonsense about dress and preparations, any scruple about the
shortness of time, to come between us? My mother bade me say that if
you will consent she will busy herself night and day to help us to
prepare. She bade me add her prayer to mine. Oh, Pauline, why do you
say you cannot accompany me?”
The first shock had passed for her, and she raised her noble face to
“From no nonsense, Vane,” she said. “You should know me better,
dear, than that. Nothing can part us but one thing. Were it not for
that, I would go with you to the very end of the world—I would work
for you and with you.”
“But what is it, Pauline?” he asked. “What is it, my darling?”
She clung to him more closely still.
“I cannot leave her, Vane—I cannot leave Lady Darrell. She is dying
slowly—hour by hour, day by day—and I cannot leave her.”
“But, my darling Pauline, there are others beside you to attend to
the lady—Lady Hampton and Miss Hastings. Why should you give up your
“Why?” she repeated. “You know why, Vane. It is the only atonement I
can offer her. Heaven knows how gladly, how happily, I would this
moment place my hand in yours and accompany you; my heart longs to do
so. You are all I have in the world, and how I love you you know, Vane.
But it seems to me that I owe Lady Darrell this reparation, and at the
price of my whole life's happiness I must make it.”
He drew her nearer to him, and kissed the trembling lips.
“She has suffered so much, Vane, through me—all through me. If I
had but foregone my cruel vengeance, and when she came to me with doubt
in her heart if I had but spoken one word, the chances are that by this
time she would have been Lady Aynsley, and I should have been free to
accompany you, my beloved; but I must suffer for my sin. I ought to
suffer, and I ought to atone to her.”
“Your life, my darling,” he said, “your beautiful bright life, your
love, your happiness, will all be sacrificed.”
“They must be. You see, Vane, she clings to me in her sorrow. His
name—Aubrey Langton's name—never passes her lips to any one else but
me. She talks of him the night and the day through—it is the only
comfort she has; and then she likes me to be with her, to talk to her,
and soothe her, and she tires so soon of any one else. I cannot leave
her, Vane—it would shorten her life, I am sure.”
He made no answer. She looked up at him with tearful eyes.
“Speak to me, Vane. It is hard, I know—but tell me that I am
“You are cruelly right,” he replied. “Oh, my darling, it is very
hard! Yet you make her a noble atonement for the wrong you have done—a
noble reparation. My darling, is this how your vow of vengeance has
ended—in the greatest sacrifice a woman could make.”
“Your love has saved me,” she said, gently—“has shown me what is
right and what is wrong—has cleared the mist from my eyes. But for
that—oh, Vane, I hate to think what I should have been!”
“I wish it were possible to give up the appointment,” he remarked,
“I would not have you do it, Vane. Think of Lady St. Lawrence—how
she has worked for it. Remember, it is your only chance of ever being
what she wishes to see you. You must not give it up.”
“But how can I leave you, Pauline?”
“If you remain in England, it will make but little difference,” she
said. “I can never leave Lady Darrell while she lives.”
“But, Pauline, it may be four, five, or six years before I return,
and all that time I shall never see you.”
She wrung her hands, but no murmur passed her lips, save that it was
her fault—all her fault—the price of her sin.
“Vane,” she said, “you must not tell Lady Darrell what you came to
ask me. She must know that you are here only to say good-by. I would
rather keep her in ignorance; she will be the happier for not knowing.”
Was ever anything seen like that love and that sorrow—the love of
two noble souls, two noble hearts, and the sorrow that parting more
bitter than death brought upon them? Even Miss Hastings did not know
until long after Sir Vane was gone of the sacrifice Pauline had made in
the brave endeavor to atone for her sin.
She never forgot the agony of that parting—how Sir Vane stood
before them, pale, worn, and sad, impressing one thing on them
all—care for his darling. Even to Lady Darrell, the frail, delicate
invalid, whose feeble stock of strength seemed to be derived from
Pauline, he gave many charges.
“It will be so long before I see her again,” he said; “but you will
keep her safely for me.”
“I almost wonder,” said Lady Darrell, “why you do not ask Pauline to
accompany you, Sir Vane. For my own sake, I am most selfishly glad that
you have not done so—I should soon die without her.”
They looked at each other, the two who were giving up so much for
her, but spoke no word.
Sir Vane was obliged to return to London that same day. He spoke of
seeing Pauline again, but she objected—it would only be a renewal of
most bitter and hopeless sorrow. So they bade each other farewell under
the lime trees. The bitter yet sweet memory of it lasted them for life.
Miss Hastings understood somewhat of the pain it would cause, but
with her gentle consideration, she thought it best to leave Pauline for
a time. Hours afterward she went in search of her, and found her under
the limes, weeping and moaning for the atonement she had made for her
CHAPTER XLIII. LADY DARRELL'S WILL.
Two years passed away, and Sir Vane St. Lawrence's circumstances
were rapidly improving; his letters were constant and cheerful—he
spoke always of the time when he should come home and claim Pauline for
his wife. She only sighed as she read the hopeful words, for she had
resolved that duty should be her watchword while Lady Darrell
lived—even should that frail, feeble life last for fifty years, she
would never leave her.
There came to her chill doubts and fears, dim, vague forebodings
that she should never see Vane again—that their last parting was for
ever; not that she doubted him, but that it seemed hopeless to think he
would wait until her hair was gray, and the light of her youth had left
Never mind—she had done her duty; she had sinned, but she had made
the noblest atonement possible for her sin.
Two years had passed, and the summer was drawing to a close. To
those who loved and tended her it seemed that Lady Darrell's life was
closing with it. Even Lady Hampton had ceased to speak hopefully, and
Darrell Court was gloomy with the shadow of the angel of death.
There came an evening when earth was very lovely—when the gold of
the setting sun, the breath of the western wind, the fragrance of the
flowers, the ripple of the fountains, the song of the birds, were all
beautiful beyond words to tell; and Lady Darrell, who had lain watching
the smiling summer heavens, said:
“I should like once more to see the sun set, Pauline. I should like
to sit at the window, and watch the moon rise.”
“So you shall,” responded Pauline. “You are a fairy queen. You have
but to wish, and the wish is granted.”
Lady Darrell smiled—no one ever made her smile except Pauline; but
the fulfillment of the wish was not so easy after all. Lady Hampton's
foreboding was realized. Lady Darrell might have recovered from her
long, serious illness but that her mother's complaint, the deadly
inheritance of consumption, had seized upon her, and was gradually
It was no easy matter now to dress the wasted figure; but Pauline
seemed to have the strength, the energy of twenty nurses. She was
always willing, always cheerful, always ready; night and day seemed
alike to her; she would look at her hands, and say:
“Oh! Elinor, I wish I could give you one-half my strength—one-half
“Do you? Pauline, if you could give me half your life, would you do
“As willingly as I am now speaking to you,” she would answer.
They dressed the poor lady, whose delicate beauty had faded like
some summer flower. She sat at the window in a soft nest of cushions
which Pauline had prepared for her, her wasted hands folded, her worn
face brightened with the summer sunshine. She was very silent and
thoughtful for some time, and then Pauline, fearing that she was dull,
knelt in the fashion that was usual to her at Lady Darrell's feet, and
held the wasted hands in hers.
“What are you thinking about, Elinor?” Pauline asked. “Something as
bright as the sunshine?”
Lady Darrell smiled.
“I was just fancying to myself that every blossom of that white
magnolia seemed like a finger beckoning me away,” she said; “and I was
thinking also how full of mistakes life is, and how plainly they can be
seen when we come to die.”
Pauline kissed the thin fingers. Lady Darrell went on.
“I can see my own great mistake, Pauline. I should not have married
Sir Oswald. I had no love for him—not the least in the world; I
married him only for position and fortune. I should have taken your
warning, and not have come between your uncle and you. His resentment
would have died away, for I am quite sure that in his heart he loved
you; he would have forgiven you, and I should have had a happier,
longer life. That was my mistake—my one great mistake. Another was
that I had a certain kind of doubt about poor Aubrey. I cannot explain
it; but I know that I doubted him even when I loved him, and I should
have waited some time before placing the whole happiness of my life in
his hands. Yet it seems hard to pay for those mistakes with my life,
does it not?”
And Pauline, to whom all sweet and womanly tenderness seemed to come
by instinct, soothed Lady Darrell with loving words until she smiled
“Pauline,” she said, suddenly, “I wish to communicate something to
you. I wish to tell you that I have made my will, and have left Darrell
Court to you, together with all the fortune Sir Oswald left me. I took
your inheritance from you once, dear; now I restore it to you. I have
left my aunt, Lady Hampton, a thousand a year; you will not mind
that—it comes back to you at her death.”
“I do not deserve your kindness,” said Pauline, gravely.
“Yes, you do; and you will do better with your uncle's wealth than I
have done. I have only been dead in life. My heart was broken—and I
have had no strength, no energy. I have done literally nothing; but you
will act differently, Pauline—you are a true Darrell, and you will
keep up the true traditions of your race. In my poor, feeble hands they
have all fallen through. If Sir Vane returns, you will marry him; and,
oh! my darling, I wish you a happy life. As for me, I shall never see
the sun set again.”
The feeble voice died away in a tempest of tears; and Pauline,
frightened, made haste to speak of something else to change the current
of her thoughts.
But Lady Darrell was right. She never saw the sun set or the moon
rise again—the frail life ended gently as a child falls asleep. She
died the next day, when the sun was shining its brightest at noon; and
her death was so calm that they thought it sleep.
She was buried, not in the Darrell vault, but, by Pauline's desire,
in the pretty cemetery at Audleigh Royal. Her death proved no shock,
for every one had expected it. Universal sympathy and kindness followed
her to her grave. The short life was ended, and its annals were written
Lady Hampton had given way; her old dislike of Pauline had changed
into deep admiration of her sweet, womanly virtues, her graceful
“If any one had ever told me,” she said, “that Pauline Darrell would
have turned out as she has, I could not have believed it. The way in
which she devoted herself to my niece was wonderful. I can only say
that in my opinion she deserves Darrell Court.”
The legacy made Lady Hampton very happy; it increased her income so
handsomely that she resolved to live no longer at the Elms, but to
return to London, where the happiest part of her life had been spent.
“I shall come to Darrell Court occasionally,” she said, “so that you
may not quite forget me;” and Pauline was surprised to find that she
felt nothing save regret at parting with one whom she had disliked with
all the injustice of youth.
A few months afterward came a still greater surprise. The lover from
whom Miss Hastings had been parted in her early youth—who had left
England for Russia long years ago, and whom she had believed
dead—returned to England, and never rested until he had found his lost
In vain the gentle, kind-hearted lady protested that she was too old
to marry—that she had given up all thoughts of love. Mr. Bereton would
not hear of it, and Pauline added her entreaties to his.
“But I cannot leave you, my dear,” said Miss Hastings. “You cannot
live all by yourself.”
“I shall most probably have to spend my life alone,” she replied,
“and I will not have your happiness sacrificed to mine.”
Between her lover and her pupil Miss Hastings found all resistance
hopeless. Pauline took a positive delight and pleasure in the
preparations for the marriage, and, in spite of all that Miss Hastings
could say to the contrary, she insisted upon settling a very handsome
income upon her.
There was a tone of sadness in all that Pauline said with reference
to her future which struck Miss Hastings with wonder.
“You never speak of your own marriage,” she said, “or your own
future—why is it, Pauline?”
The beautiful face was overshadowed for a moment, and then she
“It is because I have no hope. I had a presentiment when Vane went
away, that I should not see him again. There are some strange thoughts
always haunting me. If I reap as I have sowed, what then?”
“My dear child, no one could do more than you have done. You
repented of your fault, and atoned for it in the best way you were
But the lovely face only grew more sad.
“I was so willful, so proud, so scornful. I did not deserve a happy
life. I am trying to forget all the romance and the love, all the
poetry of my youth, and to live only for my duty.”
“But Sir Vane will come back,” said Miss Hastings.
“I do not know—all hope seemed to die in my heart when he went
away. But let us talk of you and your future without reference to
* * * * *
Miss Hastings was married, and after she had gone away Pauline
Darrell was left alone with her inheritance at last.
CHAPTER XLIV. SHADOW OF ABSENT LOVE.
Six years had passed since the marriage of the governess left Miss
Darrell alone. She heard as constantly as ever from Sir Vane; he had
made money rapidly. It was no longer the desire to make a fortune which
kept him away, but the fact that in the part of the country where he
was great danger existed, and that, having been placed there in a
situation of trust, he could not well leave it; so of late a hopeless
tone had crept into his letters. He made no reference to coming home;
and Pauline, so quick, so sensitive, saw in this reticence the shadow
of her own presentiment.
Six years had changed Pauline Darrell from a beautiful girl to a
magnificent woman; her beauty was of that grand and queenly kind that
of itself is a noble dowry. The years had but added to it. They had
given a more statuesque grace to the perfect figure; they had added
tenderness, thought, and spirituality to the face; they had given to
her beauty a charm that it had never worn in her younger days.
Miss Darrell, of Darrell Court, had made for herself a wonderful
reputation. There was no estate in England so well managed as hers.
From one end to the other the Darrell domain was, people said, a
garden. Pauline had done away with the old cottages and ill-drained
farm-houses, and in their stead pretty and commodious buildings had
been erected. She had fought a long and fierce battle with ignorance
and prejudice, and she had won.
She had established schools where children were taught, first to be
good Christians, and then good citizens, and where useful knowledge was
made much of. She had erected almshouses for the poor, and a church
where rich and poor, old and young, could worship God together. The
people about her rose up and called her blessed; tenants, dependents,
servants, all had but one word for her, and that was of highest praise.
To do good seemed the object of her life, and she had succeeded so far.
No young queen was ever more popular or more beloved than this lady
with her sweet, grave smile, her tender, womanly ways, her unconscious
grandeur of life. She made no stir, no demonstration, though she was
the head of a grand old race, the representative of an old honored
family, the holder of a great inheritance; she simply did her duty as
nobly as she knew how to do it. There was no thought of self left in
her, her whole energies were directed for the good of others. If Sir
Oswald could have known how the home he loved was cared for, he would
have been proud of his successor. The hall itself, the park, the
grounds, were all in perfect order. People wondered how it was all
arranged by this lady, who never seemed hurried nor talked of the work
Pauline occupied herself incessantly, for the bright hopes of
girlhood, she felt, were hers no longer; she had admitted that the
romance, the passion, the poetry of her youth were unforgotten, but she
tried to think them dead. People wondered at her gravity. She had many
admirers, but she never showed the least partiality for any of them.
There seemed to be some shadow over her, and only those who knew her
story knew what it was—that it was the shadow of her absent love.
She was standing one day in the library alone, the same library
where so much of what had been eventful in her life had happened. The
morning had been a busy one; tenants, agents, business people of all
kinds had been there, and Pauline felt tired.
Darrell Court, the grand inheritance she had loved and in some
measure longed for, was hers; she was richer than she had ever dreamed
of being, and, as she looked round on the treasures collected in the
library, she thought to herself with a sigh, “Of what avail are they,
save to make others happy?” She would have given them all to be by
Vane's side, no matter how great their poverty, no matter what they had
to undergo together; but now it seemed that this bright young love of
hers was to wither away, to be heard of no more.
So from the beautiful lips came a deep sigh; she was tired, wearied
with the work and incessant care that the management of her estates
entailed. She did not own it even to herself, but she longed for the
presence of the only being whom she loved.
She was bending over some beautiful japonicas—for, no matter how
depressed she might be, she always found solace in flowers—when she
heard the sound of a horse's rapid trot.
“Farmer Bowman back again,” she said to herself, with a smile; “but
I must not give way to him.”
She was so certain that it was her tiresome tenant that she did not
even turn her head when the door opened and some one entered the
room—some one who did not speak, but who went up to her with a beating
heart, laid one hand on her bowed head, and said:
“Pauline, my darling, you have no word of welcome for me?”
It was Vane. With a glad cry of welcome—a cry such as a lost child
gives when it reaches its mother's arms—the cry of a long-cherished,
trusting love—she turned and was clasped in his arms, her haven of
rest, her safe refuge, her earthly paradise, attained at last.
“At last!” she murmured.
But he spoke no word to her. His eyes were noting her increased
beauty. He kissed the sweet lips, the lovely face.
“My darling,” he said, “I left you a beautiful girl, but I find you
a woman beautiful beyond all comparison. It has seemed to me an age
since I left you, and now I am never to go away again. Pauline, you
will be kind to me for the sake of my long, true, deep love? You will
be my wife as soon as I can make arrangements—will you not?”
There was no coquetry, no affectation about her; the light deepened
on her noble face, her lips quivered, and then she told him:
“Yes, whenever you wish.”
They conversed that evening until the sun had set. He told her all
his experience since he had left her, and she found that he had passed
through London without even waiting to see Lady St. Lawrence, so great
had been his longing to see her.
But the next day Lady St. Lawrence came down, and by Sir Vane's wish
preparations for the marriage were begun at once. Pauline preferred to
be married at Audleigh Royal and among her own people.
They tell now of that glorious wedding—of the sun that seemed to
shine more brightly than it had ever shone before—of the rejoicings
and festivities such as might have attended the bridal of an
empress—of the tears and blessings of the poor—of the good wishes
that would have made earth Heaven had they been realized. There never
was such a wedding before.
Every other topic failed before the one that seemed
inexhaustible—the wonderful beauty of the bride. She was worthy of the
crown of orange-blossoms, and she wore them with a grace all her own.
Then, after the wedding, Sir Vane and Pauline went to Omberleigh. That
was the latter's fancy, and, standing that evening where she had seen
Vane first, she blessed him and thanked him with grateful tears that he
had redeemed her by his great love.
* * * * *
There was a paragraph in a recent issue of the Times
announcing that Oswald St. Lawrence, second son of Sir Vane and Lady
St. Lawrence, had, by letters-patent, assumed the name of Darrell. So
that the old baronet's prayer is granted, and the race of
Darrell—honored and respected, beloved and esteemed—is not to be
without a representative.