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Grantlcys. And the passers in the street "of the baser sort," as they looked up to the brilliantly-lighted room, and heard Ella's pure sweet voice ringing through the open windows, said one to another, " How happy those swells must be; nothing to do but to enjoy themselves I Why wasn't I born a swell instead of a poor unfort'nate cove?" lam afraid very few, high or low, would have exchanged their lota had the curtain been removed from the drama that was being enacted there. They only held to the popular fallacy that where there is wealth and luxury and splendour, there roust needs be happiness. And Ella herself, all this time, seemed to be affected by some unknown dread of future evil, which she in vain endeavoured to shake off, and laugh at as a foolish presentiment. A cold chilly fear would come over her heart in the moments of meditation which were afforded her, and they were not few nor far between—an idea not to be disregarded—that future grief and sorrow loomed in the horizon. I wonder what the mystic connexion is between matter and thought which mercifully warns us of impending danger. It is fashionable commonly to laugh at the idea of presentiment, to decry all such notions as superstitious, and to ally them with the Highlander's "second sight," and the Welshman's "corpse candle." But why is it that ere the blow falls we Beem to have an intuition of its proximity? Why are our nights sleepless and disturbed, our days fraught with gloomy foreboding? Shakespeare —and we may travel further and fare worse in search of a philosopher—certainly countenances the idea. Witness the loving injunction of Caesar's wife, that her lord stir not forth on the day of his doom. And in reading the sweet love-play of "Romeo and Juliet," we can detect running through the playful badinage of the loving couple, a tinge of dark foreboding. "Although I joy in thee, I have no joy ol this contract to-night. It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden." A cold blast, as it were, of the storm which is so soon to burst upon the fortunes of the happy lovers.

"Oh, it's all fancy," the young wife would say, and laugh off the presentiment. But it was not to be gotten rid of; and even in the midst of the most enjoyable gathering — croquetparty, dinner-party, or what not; amid the din of prattling voices and joyous laughter, a voice seemed to whisper to her heart, "There is trouble and danger in the future." She was tormented just like poor Gretchen in the Cathedral scene in *' Faust," who vainly strives to perform her religious duties; for amid the swell of the psalmody, and the rich music of the anthem, demon-voices are whispering in her ear, "Lost, lost!" So when Ella Grantley endeavoured to take counsel with herself, and tried to rout the evil presentiment, the terrible fear kept pressing on her heart, turning it to ice within her. "Something will surely happen to one of us," was her shuddering cry. "God keep my dear husband from all danger." And often the conscience - stricken Grantley

heard her moan and shudder in her sleep, and j the next morning her face would be weary and pale, as though to her sleep had brought no balm, no refreshing peace. And then for the thousandth time would he curse his folly, and repent of the evil when it was too late; while the horrible suspicion tortured him that she had got scent of the secret of his life. One consolation only soothed his mind; soon would a babe be born to his loving wife, and all would be forgotten in the sweet maternal instinct. The wee defenceless being would have magic in its cry to scare away the hosts of fear and anxiety.

Soon, too soon, the blow came. One morning at breakfast Ella seemed in unusually low spirits. "Something keeps weighing on my spirits," she said, apologetically, to her husband's anxious inquiry. "I know it is very foolish of me; but I really cannot help it. Bat here are the letters; a regular pile, I do declare. Four for me: one from mamma; this from Katie—I know her hand well enough; this en

invitation-card; and this I am sure I dc

not know this writing; some new frienc, suppose. Do you, Harry?"

Know it? ay, full well. And his face blanched as he read the direction. If he had dared, he would have snatched it away; but that would create suspicion, and it was too late. His feelings may be imagined as he recognised Nathalie's hand; and his heart told him what that letter contained—ruin to him—death, perchance, to his wife. Does the reader know the reluctance in the human mind to open a strange letter? People always leave it to the last, and then trifle with the seal, anything to delay the opening of it. Ella read in order the others— a maternal epistle, breathing love and anxiety —a chatty letter from Katie, touching on all the news at the Hall, the trifling details of which fell not on Grantley's ear: he was too stunned with fear —then a polite note of invitation to a conversazione—and then the last was taken up and reluctantly opened. He noted with despairing eagerness every trifling movement; saw the envelope opened, the letter taken out and unfolded, and his wife's eyes rest on the opening words; and waited for the result.

Something out of the common to work the fearful change in Ella's face—something strange to make her gasp, hoarsely, "It's come at last!" With a form quivering with emotion, horror-stricken eyes and asben face, Ella read every word, and then the head drooped and fell lifeless on her bosom. She had swooned.

"Ella, Ella 1 Oh, my God, it has killed her I" groaned the anguished man. "Speak to me, my darling." He rushed to the sideboard, and poured out some water; then gently sprinkled the death-white forehead, and chafed the delicate hands, till a little sign of returning animation showed itself, till the colour came back slowly to the cheek, and the eyes were opened, still with that shuddering stare in their depths

"Oh, Harry, Harry I Tell me that «M' horrible letter is unlrue. What caD it mean?

Cruel, cruel, to frighten one so."

He took the letter from her hand, and read; not till he had first drank a great draught of water, and unloosed his necktie, for he felt as though he were choking, and the perspiration stood out in great drops on his forehead. He might have guessed its contents. They were in this wise: no address, no date; simply—

Madam,—It is fitting that you should be aware of Harry Grantley's real character. His wife you are not; nor is he your husband. He has a wife living at this moment—his wife in the sight of heaven—a wife to whom he was legally married. And she writes to warn you in time of the sin you are committing in living with him. ISid him beware, for vengeance is surely on his track. May you never know the misary which he has caused

An Unfortunate Woman.

How he ever got to the end of the fatal letter he never could make out. The tempest of conflicting emotions was almost driving him mad. And—as though in a lightning flash—his memory took him back to the day when he had received that bit of pasteboard with Nathalie's name on it. As he was determined then, so he must be now. I have told you that in a crisis— a moment of imminent danger, the " cool captain's" nerve never failed him. He must be prompt and decisive now. He met the inquiring gaze o I nis wife steadily.

"My life, I cannot make this out. What reason there can have been for this cruel hoax —for hoax it surely is—I cannot determine. Now tell me, Ella, have you so lost faith and love for me that you will believe an anonymous letter before my word? It may be some delusion; many poor women labour under such, and worse ones, too. Shadow of truth there is none in it." Famous sophistry! But it seemed not so convincing to the wife of his bosom. "It may be some woman whom I have known long ago. You know a soldier's morality, Ella. If so, may God forgive me; I have repented of all those follies long ago." Magnanimous man! It was aa though the devil should quote scripture. Still the same horror in Ella's eye. She would not be comforted.

"Harry Grantley, if you have deceived me—"

"If I have deceived you, Ella.' What can you mean? Am I not your wedded husband? Am I not a soldier and a gentleman? I swear before God that there is not a shadow of truth >o this statement. There, there, think no more of it. I won't leave a stone unturned till I find out the writer. It's foolish for you to trouble yourself, my wife."

"Harry, it has nearly killed me," she gasped. "The shock. I feel as if I can't breathe, and my heart keeps leaping so."

"I will fetch Doctor Filmer," said Grantley. "Perhaps you had better lie down, my darling, till the Bhock is over. You'll get over it in a little time."

More dead than alive, Ella staggered to her

room, and when she had reached it dropped her head with a hopeless moan. "That woman at Turlminster, she wrote that letter, I am certain. Heaven help me if it should prove true."

Left to himself, Grantley fell into a painful reverie. Was the woman's oath coming true, then? And was this the first scene of the drama? "Curses on her," he muttered. "She swore that she would be revenged. If it were only myself, I should not care; but my poor Ella!" Then he rushed off to fetch the family doctor, a mild bald-headed little man, with a fussy air about him, as though he had more than he could do.

"My wife is taken very ill, doctor. Could you come at once?"

"Certainly, my dear sir, certain-ly. Poor lady! she looked delicate. I told her to be careful, ve-ry careful." And he rubbed his hands gently together. "But we'll bring her round all right again in no time." He told a different tale, though, after his interview with the suffering wife. "Very serious business, indeed," said he, in his softest tones. "She has evidently sustained a shock; and in her position, you know, Captain Grantley"

He turned fiercely round upon the little doctor. "Do you mean that her life is in danger—that she is seriously ill r"

"Uh, not so much as that. I will stay with her to-day as long as I can. Rest assured I will do all I can for her. Pray, don't excite yourself, my dear sir; don't excite yourself."

It was easy enough, thought Grantley, to say that. But how would it be with him should his dear wife die? Would he not be her murderer as much as if he had poisoned her with his own hand? And then the after-remorse. It was more than he could bear. He rushed out, like one demented, into the garden outside, and paced with hurried footsteps, whilst he kept his eyes fixed Upon that lighted window where lay his treasure, battling for dear life with the fell adversary. He tried to pray—unwonted exercise! And the sickening thought forced itself upon him that the heavens were as brass to the cry of such wretches as he. "Oh, God, spare her life! spare my dear one's life, and take the child if it be Thy will." Incoherent expressions escaped his lips. He felt that he should go mad if this suspense lasted. And meanwhile the night shadows fell, and the stars came out, and looked pityingly on the bareheaded man who walked in that garden. And, as if in mockery, the sound of pleasant voices came from the neighbouring houses; and from one room pealed forth a duet, "La ci darem." It was their favourite song, as if in hideous mockery; and to his distorted imagination the figure of Nathalie rose before him, and pointed with outstretched finger to the lighted window, and said, " This is my revenge."

The suspense was killing him—maddening htm. He could bear it no longer. "I must see her, must learn her state." And then he would cast his eyes up to the sick chamber, and watch the figures flitting to and fro in the room where, for aught be knew, the watchers would issue forth to bid him come and see his wife ere she died.

Have you ever waited in a sick chamber, reader? Or in a bouse where one near and dear lay battling with death i Have you ever watched and prayed in the ghastly solemn stillness, when nothing was heard but the dreary ticking of the clock, or the pattering of the ashes in the grate; when the very servant's face wore an aspect of awed dread? Have you ever waited for the verdict, listened eagerly to catch the footstep of the doctor as he opened the chamber-door, and came down to you noiselessly, watch in hand, and awakened you from your stupor with the glad news that the crisis was over, or tearfully—with a tremble in his kind voice—bid you be resigned for the worst? If so, then pity Grantley. Spite of his failings, he had a man's feelings. A servant appeared at the door, and beckoned him silently. There was real pain in the man's face, for Ella was mightily beloved by her dependants, while the Captain was feared. In feverish haste Grantley rushed into the house, and in the hall he saw Doctor Filmer.

"For God's sake, Filmer, tell me at once. I have suffered the tortures of hell for the last three hours. Is there any hope?"

"I am happy to say that there is," replied the little doctor, in a low voice. (An involuntary "Thank God !" burst from the suffering man's lips). "But"—and here his face grew sad— "but the child is dead. I did all I could, and the mother will do very well, as the crisis is past. On no account, Captain Grantley; are you mad i" cried he, as Grantley prepared to rush upstairs. "Why the excitement would kill her outright. You must not see her tonight; it would be madness, per-fect madness."

"And the child is dead," murmured Grantley. 'Ah, Nathalie! you are revenged sufficiently. That cruel letter has done its worst."

After having given his last directions to the nurse, Doctor Filmer took his departure. It was a commonplace thing, you see, for him, and he looked at it merely in a professional light, as one more victory for him.

But there was one woman who, when she read the list of " Births, Marriages, and Deaths" in the Times shortly after, stopped short at the name of Grantley, and muttered, in a triumphant tone, "That letter, then, did its work well. Now, perhaps, he will allow that my vow was no empty one. If it has made him weep tears of blood, all the better for me." Not that she intended stopping here; we shall see anon that this was but the first link in the chain of the injured woman's revenge.

One heart more was gladdened by these tidings—Delia Croce laughed one of his sneering little laughs. "Per Diaeolo ! my lady friend is no bad hand at revenge. You may repent yet, Signor Grantley, the night when we played {carte".

Chap. XXI.
A Parting Gleam.

Moralists will tell you that after the first step has been taken in crime the further progress is uncommonly easy; and I need not myself dip very far into the writings of .a very deep and learned Roman poet-moralist to find the oftquoted, but alas! not as often applied words: "Facilis descensus Averni." That journey, which the plain-spoken slang of the nineteenth century pithily describes as " going to the bad," seems somehow to get easier and more accommodating the further we toil along its weary, darksome road, the 'end of which is death and despair. It seems as if the white stones on the downward journey occur more frequently, and afford clearer direction in the ruinous march; just as in the descent of a steep declivity the landmarks gleam more frequently where the way is most trackless and dangerous. It is really astonishing with what ease one gets accustomed to sin and misery, and with what an easy and degage manner one wears the cloak of shame when it gets like an old coat—to fit well. I had a very dear friend once at the university: one of the most genial, loveable, open-hearted men it is possible to conceive; the name of Sparkler, of St. Bridget's, aroused sunny memories of pleasant nights, and merry stories and sterling wit. One little failing this intimate of mine had; he would get into debt. I remember that lad's expression of face when he was first dunned for a tradesman's account: the flash of honest indignation that suffused the fair white brow, and the rage that sparkled in his eyes. But as bills kept flowing in with the regularity of the tide, his manner assumed the stolid, careless look of defiance that distinguishes the habitual debtor. (Fathers and mothers, pray God on your bended knees that the fine young fellow you are going to send up to the university may never wear this expression!) And as he grew deeper in debt, and floundered on more hopelessly into the morass, he esteemed it rather a joke than otherwise to outwit the wary creditor; and when last I saw him—just fresh from the " whitewash" of the Court, a waif and stray in drear London, happy to earn a few pence as penny-a-liner to a common daily paper—he scrupled not to make jest of his passage through the Court, and mentioned it just as a matter of course; and as I looked at his face, which was already assuming the hawk-like look of a bird of prey, I felt assured that so it would be with him till the day of his death. So with Grantley. Every day the cursed infatuation of the gamingtable grew stronger upon him, and every day the face of his luckless wife grew thinner and more grief-lined, till people began to notice it, and made pretty little ill-natured remarks about Grantley's treatment of her, comparing him, for aught I know, to "Bloudie Jacke " of Shrewsbury, whose story is so pleasantly told by Tom Ingoklsby.

It is true that for the first few weeks after the

death of the child, and the terrible peril of his wife, whom he loved after a fashion—more perhaps in the feeling; of pride that he had stolen her from Dalton's arms, than in heart's affection; for I hold that a man can love but once: all the subsequent attacks are mere base shams and counterfeits, about as much like the real thing as are the whispered compliments and flirtation of an officer in the Line to a garrison btlle, who will be listening with the same attention and the same sparkling eye to the somewhat cumbrous badinage of a Heavy the next moment—Grantley's first love was given to Nathalie, and Ella, I am afraid, came in for but the cold reversion. Fashionable people as the Grantleys were—and it is not considered at all fashionable, we all know, to give way to feelings of sorrow or regret—fashionable though they were, still every Sunday they would walk out to the little country cemetery, where, under a pretty marble cross wreathed with immortelles (a shaydoover, so the sculptor, Mr. Phydias of the New Road, called it, in the pride of his artist's heart), slept the fir6t-born who looked at this weary world for a few short hours, and then, to adopt the usual formula, " left it for a better, poor lamb;" at least so said Mrs. Quickly, or Mrs. Gamp, the handmaid of Lucina.

And as they stood before the little lowly grave, where even now the sweet spring flowers were blooming over the sleeper, and the balmy country breeze stirred the wild rose that curled lovingly round the headstone, a chance thought of amendment may have crossed Grantley's mind, and he may have looked into his wife's eyes, and as he read there the faithful clinging look of devotion, may have vowed to desert the accursed board of green cloth.

"Harry dear, you will stay more with me now that I am so lonely? I have nothing to live for or to hope in this world, only you. Promise me this, my own husband; here, before our darling's grave. Promise me that I shan't have to go out to those dreadful wearisome parties without you; left to face those scandalmongering old women, and those brainless young men, with their vapid talk and fascinating smiles. Promise me that I shan't have to keep any more those dreadful night-watches. It will kill me in time, I know, having to sit up all alone in that large empty house, listening and fancying that every footstep is yours, and torturing myself with the idea that something has happened to you. Let us leave this dreadful London, in which I never have had a moment's happiness, and take a house in the country, where I can be near mamma, and see dear Katie sometimes." (Conclusive evidence of the wedded life's unhappiness this, when the wife longs to fly to the Home Penates so very soon).

She was a foolish little woman, was Ella Grantley, don't you see? And many a fashionable wife, whose only desire was to keep her husband as much from home as possible, would have laughed as she heard Ella's beseeching

prayer. Whether it is that the artificial air which surrounds the homes of the rich and fashionable is unfavourable to the growth of home affection, I don't know; it certainly is a rare exotic, and if once removed from the atmosphere of love and honesty, would soon pine and wither. Provided that the husband finds a box at the opera, where the loving wife can show once or twice a week, just by way of ceremony, and not through any regard for the music, which she scarcely condescends to listen to; as long as he provides plenty of pin-money, loads her with jewellery and fine clothes and loves of bonnets, in the purchasing of which she spends many a profitable and delightful afternoon propped up on a high chair at "Swan and Edgar's," listening to the highly-intellectual remarks of the gorgeous young men who attend upon her, and seriously thinking—with a satisfied sigh—that she has managed to get through the time so nicely before dinner, which would otherwise hang so heavily; all this provided, I say, it matters not to the really fashionable wife whether she sees little or much of her husband. They seem to live two really separate existences, happy fulfilment of the oath they took at the altar to become " one flesh." "My husband, you know, dear, is so occupied in his place in the city; he is so much taken up with those business speculations of his, that we really see very little of one another. Then he will go to that horrid club; I really think he prefers a chop there to the best dinner my servants can give him." Quid mirum? my aggrieved madam. If he goes to the club, which you empty the vial of your wrath upon, the chances are that he will meet some men whose intellects are on a par with his own, not over bright or anything very stupendous, but "wide-awake," and up to the affairs of the day, who can wonder with him what the Reform question will come to at last, and whether it is better to hang John Bright, or give him a public monument; how the funds are; and what the odds are on "Jock o' Hazeldean" for the Derby; or even might, perhaps, go so far as to canvas the merits of " Felix Holt," or the last article in the "Saturday." On the other hand, supposing that the much-maligned husband finished his day's business, went the round of his patients, pleaded a criminal cause, bought up much scrip on 'Change, so as to reach home before dinner, he would be rewarded by a glimpse of his wife, who would sit opposite him at dinner, and murmur, perhaps, between soup and fish, the astoundingly novel fact that "it has been very hot to-day, a fact which the husband, who has toiled and moiled for her through all the burning heat, could have told her himself. She then either relapses into silence, or entertains him (worse luck!) with choice fragments of conversations held with lady visitors during the day— how Mrs. Montmorency Jones's pet spaniel was seized with a violent attack of shivering, poor pet t and how Mrs. J. was in a great state in j consequence. Whereupon the husband makes 1 some very brutal remarks about there being hundreds of God's creatures dying for want of bread and fire and pure water at Poplar and the neighbourhood; and that if the ladies who devoted their time and energy in pampering ugly ill-tempered wheezing brutes, would only devote a little of both to the sufferings of their fellow-creatures, it would be better for them. Then the wife, who can't agree with this— because, forsooth, Mrs. Montmorency Jones is niece to a bishop, and must know what is right and proper—takes refuge in solemn silence, and the weary meal over, takes flight for one of the numerous engagements that occupy her nights; and the husband, as he catches the last gleam of her Cashmere shawl—which cost him something like fifty guineas — mutters something about a " very bad bargain." Yet what could he expect? It was a purely commercial speculation of his to buy so much fashion and grace and tolerable beauty, and so much good family; to enable himself to say, "Second cousin to Lord Poltimore, you know, my wife is;" to purchase all this as a set-off against bis wealth gained by commerce. He has but himself to blame for it.

I have finished my very tedious digression at last, my dear reader. I simply wanted to show you that poor Ella did really commit the very unfashionable crime of caring for her husband and his welfare. Let her name be written in the Golden Book: we shall find few like her. At any rate Grantley did promise, did fervently vow, that he would keep away as far as possible from his shady associates. He would try hard to conquer the itching his palm felt for the touch of a card — those "Devil's picture-Books." Common expressions are generally vulgar, but 1 don't think the common expression erred when it christened the painted bits of pasteboard by that name. He would cut all his old associates, and not go near the Club—he would be dashed if he wouldn't. He would try and realise the character of the fine old model husband. He would go into the country; take to sub-soil drainage and cattle-shows; he would do anything, provided Ella would cease her grief, and wear the old fond cheery expression she wore during the happy courting period.

"Cheer up, Ella darling; look as happy as you used to, when we were up the Rhine. I vow to God I will change, and make you happy yet."

"When we were up the Rhine." And as he said the words, a ray of pleasure — sickly, though, as when we see the sun steal through the watery clouds — shot across Ella's worn face. It seemed as if the exstatic dream-like happiness of that brief honeymoon was so great that it left even now, after much sorrow, a brief reflection, as though—to employ one more picture—the faint dim light from the declining sun should shoot across some dead brown moorland, and for a moment warm the tangle and fern and heath into golden life. That Rhine tour I Should she ever forget it? The pleasant voyage up the majestic river, mirroring in its bosom the mighty feudal strongholds that frowned above those grand masses of forest

land that rose tier upon tier from the waterside; those placid little villages that slept quietly on the river-bank; and then the lazy delicious rambles through cities whose renown has shaken the world; Cologne, of the hundred smells, and the strolls through the dimly-lit cathedral, where the simple worshippers still told their beads and murmured "Ave Maria;" and the halts in the world-famed picture-galleries, where the names of the gay, dissolute Rubens, the stern Rembrandt, and the whole noble family of them, arose at the sight of their master-creations on the world. That happy, happy Rhine tour 1 where every scene was tinged with the bright love-light, and the husband of her choice was before her! Ah, let us be thankful that memory is not always a "fond deceiver;" that the past is not all a charnelhouse, where hopes and memories lie buried and forgotten. Let us be thankful that sometimes the recollection of a kind deed or happy scene comes back to us, to cheer the uncertainty and misery of our life; and though the memory be chastened by experience, that it still wakens a chord in our heart, just such as the exiles on a foreign shore have awakened in them, when they hear the old familiar sailor's song borne across to them from the English ship in the offing.

And Grantley really tried bard to cleave to the promise made over the grave of his lost child, and made a home-staying man of himself, insomuch that the luckless youths, who used to lose so heavily in their trials of skill with him, drew a long breath, and had thoughts of making money now that the lucky man had settled down. And if we peep over Ella's shoulder this morning at a letter she is writing home, we shall see that the gambler's wife was happy in the newly-born hope.

"Dear Katie, you need not really worry yourself to death about me. And tell mamma that since the darling's death Harry is a changed man, and is quite devoted to me. Last night he took me to hear your favourite 'Puritan),' and there was a very fine new tenor who did 'Arturo' beautifully. The other evening we went to Lady Gatherum's, and had a nice time of it. You must really come up to town, dearest, and 6ee us." And much more which I need not weary you with—much that would amuse Katie in the seclusion of a countryhome, with only one Curate to tease by way of amusement, but would only be " the same old thing over and over again " to people of fashion like you or I.

And I would venture to assert that there never was man more welcome anywhere than the man who brought that letter to the Hall. In comparison with him, the wild rider who "brought the good news from Ghent to Aix, would fade into utter insignificance. It pleased everybody; it was balm to the dear old mothers spirit, for it reassured her as to the well-being of that daughter whose absence from the Hall she had never ceased to mourn; it made the squire less bitter in his tone to Grantley; »od of course it pleased Katie, and "paripassu" the

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