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tion might be vouchsafed to her, and the bitter mocking-cry rose in her heart—“ There is no peace to the wicked.”

“What had she to do with peace? What peace could life ever bring her ?” so she thought. Resignation—what did it mean ? She knew she must live. She knew she must guard the secret with her life; that she with her weak woman's will must work the work of earthly atonements. Resignation was for people who might believe that God had done what was best for them. How could she believe this? How could she, in the first overwhelming sense of weakness and loneliness, sinking under the burden of past guilt, and looking fearfully forward to bearing that burthen henceforth alone-how could she see the mercy in the dispensation ? True, death coming before the dreaded annihilation of reason, one trial had been spared her.

No-no! There was no peace, no resignation for such as she. She must forget that she had a heart of flesh; she must crush out all soft tender memories, and learn to defy and trample down her nature, and call every womanly tenderness a weakness. These had been the thoughts which came to her in the first days of her desolation. How soon she wrought this work we have seen.

She never shirked the stern work before her, and so crowded had the last year been by strange events and anxieties that the worn and wearied heart looked back as, in the ordinary way, one is used to gaze upon long years of life ; in her case not to be counted by days or months, but by the agony and strain she had endured. A period too remote to span and too painful to recall.

She thought of it, however, now, after Silvia had bidden her goodnight, and as she watched the flicker of the dying logs, changing, bit by bit, into white ash. She thought of it as she stood by the window, looking out into the still moonlit night, where great chequered shadows from the leafless trees lay upon the grass ; and the white mist, filling up the hollows, made mimic lakes ; not a breath of wind stirred the air, which was throbbing with the voice of the sea in the distance.

She had changed her room since her return to Thornhill, and the window before which she was standing looked towards the garden, across which Captain Guest had taken his way that night, when the banshee-like shrieks brought Silvia from her bedroom. Lady Wimborne thought of that night as she stood there, how, after a day of more than ordinary anxiety, she had left her husband sleeping off the opiate he had taken, and stolen out of sight and hearing to battle with the wild pain that was bursting at her heart. She thought of how she had run across the grass, and the shudder as she touched it, cold and dew-laden, with her naked feet; and how she had fallen and returned to consciousness-listening to a wild strange voice thrilling across her lips until they trembled and grew rigid-how she had buried her face in the turf to stifle the voice, but it would come, again and again, until, exhausted by the struggle, she had given in.

She remembered the dull dread of awakening, the pain of returning reason, and the sound of an approaching footstep rousing the dim light to action, and how she had dragged herself under the pendent branches of a Diadora pine, and, crouching there, she had seen Gerald Guest pass.

She remembered her husband laughing at him the next morning about his ghost story, and her own deep sense of relief when she was convinced that he had no suspicion.

She could see the very tree now, rising dark and stately in the pale light, the side next the house in deep shadow, the crest just tipped with the silver light. Suddenly her gaze became intensified--surely something was moving in the darkened shadow, the branches could not move in that way. A feeling more akin to curiosity than fear was upon her. She brushed off the moisture upon the windows, and, more convinced than ever that she could distinguish the outline of a person's figure, she opened the sash, and her doubts were set at rest, for, as she looked out, a man emerged from beside the tree, and walked quickly towards the house, but, keeping the walk beside the elm-trees, she could only catch a glimpse of him from time to time, and presently he disappeared round the turretted parapet which enclosed the south front.

Now it is not pleasant to see a stranger, especially a strong-built vigorous man, taking a survey of your house and premises at an hour when all honest folks are supposed to be asleep. Lady Wimborne's first impulse had been to ring the bell and rouse the house, but the man had been too unguarded surely to be a burglar ; no thief would have walked there in the bright moonlight, exposed to the chances of being seen from any number of windows; there was nothing ghost-like about him, either, no ghost ever walked with such a firm step, or smoked cigars. What could it mean? Who could he be? The figure was too tall by a head for Grey—the only person she could think of as daring enough to haunt the house in this way, perhaps with the intention of forcing an interview upon her.

She could see plainly enough to decide that it was neither Gerald, Captain Elmes, nor Roger, and yet that he was no labourer.

Who could it possibly be ? the question was perplexing ; perhaps she could see him again and more distinctly from the front windows ; so picking up a shawl she threw it round her and went into the corridor which led along the south front, and into which a perfect flood of moonlight was pouring, rendering it almost as light as day.

None of the sleeping rooms then in use opened upon this passage, so, having locked the door of communication with the stairs, she felt perfectly secure from interruption.

For some minutes she looked eagerly round the terrace, and into the dim and indistinct shade of the shrubbery ; no one was to be seen, not a branch moved, the dead leaves lay glistening in the moonbeams, the broad laurel leaves were all filagreed with silver light—there was no sign of life ; the man must have walked past.

A few moments more, and she had determined to wake Roger, and tell him what she had seen, but the determination was put to flight, for across the smooth gravel court, in the full light of the moon, but with bent down head, and hurried steps, came the night wanderer.

She could not see his face, even in the light, intense as it was. But the figure and gait—what was there in that to make her brain reel, and to bring her hands clutching at the windowsill to steady her shaking limbs? Was it that it recalled her dead husband's figure in years gone by, or was it like her lost boy's ?

Before her bewildered eyes had time to win conviction, before she could decide what to do, the man had led out a horse from a clump of trees, and the smart thud of hoofs upon the turf told her that the mysterious visitor was gone.

CHAPTER XXXVI.

A PLEASANT DRIVE FOR CAPTAIN ELMES.

ROGER was quite right when he said that Charley Elmes would not allow the grass to grow under his feet after that visit to Wellingford. He came down to breakfast looking very determined, and as if he had made up his mind about something. Roger—who, like most people who knew Charley intimately, soon learnt to read his face, where his thoughts were generally very well illustrated-saw at once how the land lay. Had he not been sure that Silvia only came downstairs when he did, he would have thought the affair had come on before breakfast, something after the fashion he had nearly come to grief with Lilly Babbington.

Gerald was late, and when he did appear it made matters no belter ; Silvia clattered away amongst the cups and saucers to hide her uneasiness, and made all sorts of blunders ; Charley never opened his lips except to eat; and Gerald, after a glance at the pair, seemed to arrive at the same conclusion Roger might have done, but for his superior knowledge of facts, and a grey look spread over his face. The supposition was not an agreeable one, it would seem; and so Captain Guest, though he talked incessantly and chaffed Mr. Weymouth almost into tears over the losses at Newmarket, his “vanished hopes," as he called the ill-made book, did not add to the comfort of the breakfast

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table, and everybody seemed glad when the meal was over and a move made for the day's work.

Charley evidently shirked the cover, and, seeing this, Lady Wimborne came to the rescue.

“You are tired of shooting, Captain Elmes. Will you drive me into Chichester ? I must go this forenoon."

What could the gallant Captain do but acquiesce, and profess himself delighted to become a martyr to circumstances, comforting himself with the thought that they would be home soon in the afternoon, if not to lunch, and that he would then learn his fate? Poor Charley little thought what the drive was to bring forth, or how long he would hate the very name of the ancient cathedral city.

Nothing particular was said upon the way in, but when their faces were turned homewards Lady Wimborne began her task. She told him very plainly, and kindly as words could make a death blow, the true state of Silvia's feelings towards him, ending by asking him not to bring matters to a crisis by speaking, but to avoid anything that would make a rupture in their friendship. Charley had marched up the hill at the Alma with his pulse scarcely quickened; he had counted the shells whistling past as he lay in the ditch at the Redan; and he had ridden" the favourite" at the Curragh last year, when, as they were cheering her in, she had broken down with her nose nearly in a line with the post-he had done all these things with that lazy cool pluck which seems inherent in some of our men; but as he sat, with the reins and whip in his hands, steering the bays along the turnpike, and listening to the low gentle voice tearing up in one grasp the love whose roots had twined themselves in his very life blood, big drops of sweat came rolling down his face, and the strong white teeth left a scar in the lip they stayed quivering.

“I cannot give her up !—I cannot give her up!" was the cry going on in his heart; but as her mother pleaded, and talked of the pain his distress would cause Silvia, he bethought him that the pain would be equal, and equally better avoided; and yet-and yet to tell her how he loved her would be a great comfort. He was silent for a long time after Lady Wimborne had ceased speaking-so long, that she became doubtful as to the result of her communication.

Charley's hands had clenched the reins in the bitter pang, and the white kids he had found in his pocket had not been proof against the strain of the iron muscles; there was an ugly gash from finger to wrist in both, through which the brown skin and veins looked forth. Charley, glancing down, saw the witness of his weakness, and laughed bitterly as he pulled the gloves off and threw them away,

“ Then there is no chance," he said, turning half-round, and looking in his companion's face; "and I am not to speak to her about it?"

“ I think not; it will only bring about estrangement, and she feels you are her friend."

Charley's teeth went down on his lip again, and there was another pause.

“May I not tell her how I've loved her, without asking for anything?"

“No, no ! it is only bringing pain upon you both; you may blame her now, but she never suspected you cared more for her than a friend until last night."

“Last night!” burst out Charley, “last night! she found it out last night, and told you ?”

Charley was thinking of last night, and had been thinking of it all day.

“No, she did not tell me until I asked. I found it out myself, and, as her mother, thought it my duty both to you and her to spare any further misunderstanding and pain. When you are able to think over it quietly, you will see that I am right.”

“Does she care for anyone else ?"_he was going to say Captain Guest, but the name seemed to choke him. “ For if she does not, if there is no one really in the way, I might still hope. I'd go away, dear Lady Wimborne, and never show my face again until you gave me leave. If there's no one else she loves better, I don't think I could give in and say I would not hope for a better ending. You don't know how I worshipped her."

There was a sob in Charley's deep voice as he uttered the last appeal.

“I will not deceive you, Captain Elmes, there is no chance for you. I have been honest with you, but remember, Silvia is my child; you must not expect me to tell you more than I have done, or give me any reason to repent trusting you."

When they reached the lodge-gates, Charley said

“ I'll never trouble you with my love or feelings again, Lady Wimborne, but do let me say one thing-if ever she speaks of me, and you tell her of what I have said to-day, will you tell her, too, that she must not regret having made me love her, for I've been a changed man ever since that time I saw her at Spenithorne; the hope of winning her for my wife has kept me out of mischief, and it is really to her I owe my good fortune. My uncle told me he would never have left me a penny if he had not seen and heard how I had sobered down ; she'll be glad to hear this—and to know that, although she cannot make me all I hoped, all the best of me is her doing. God bless her—whoever wins her!”

And so ended Charley Elmes' love-dream; he behaved very quietly, he kept his sorrow to himself, and showed a brave front, in what, to the best of us, is fearsome battle.

(To be continued.)

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