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you'll approve the result; and now this moment comprehend, and the that I have collected the facts, and whole was based on the most precan show you, darling, exactly what posterous blunder; and I will tell the chances are, you must consent to you in a little time everything about hear the long story, and when you it. I would this moment-I'd be dehave heard, give me your advice." lighted--only just until I have got a
Dorcas smiled, and only plucked a letter which I expect--a letter, I aslittle flowery tendril from a plant sure you, nothing more-and until I that hung in a natural festoon above have got it, it would be simply to her.
waste your time and patience to “I assure you, darling, I am se
with any such-any rious ; you must not look so incredu- such”. lous ; and it is the more provoking, Secret,” said Dorcas. because I love you so. I think I have Secret, then, if you will have it a right to your advice, Dorkie.” so,” retorted Stanley, suddenly, with Why don't
you ask Rachel, she's one of those glares that lasted for cleverer than I, and you are more in just one fell moment; but he inthe habit of consulting her ?" stantly recovered himself. Secret
“Now Dorkie is going to talk her yes—but no secret in the evil sense wicked nonsense over again, as if I å secret only awaiting the evidence had never answered it. What about which I daily expect, and then to be Radie ? I do assure you, so far from stated fully and frankly to you, my taking her advice, and thinking her only darling, and as completely blown an oracle, as you suppose, I believe to the winds.” her in some respects very little re- Dorcas looked in his strange face moved from a fool.”
with her proud, sad gaze, like one “I think her very clever, on the guessing at a funereal allegory. contrary,” said Dorcas, enigmati- He kissed her cheek again, placing cally.
one arm round her slender waist, and “Well, she is clever in some re- with his other hand taking hers. spects; she is gay, at least she used “Yes, Dorcas, my beloved, my to be, before she fell into that tran- only darling, you will yet know all it scendental parson's hands-I mean has cost me to retain from you even poor, dear William Wylder ; and she this folly ; and when you have heard can be amusing, and talks very well, all-which, upon my soul and honour, but she has no sense--she is utterly you shall the moment I am enabled to Quixotic--she is no more capable of prove all-you will thank me for advising than a child.”
having braved your momentary dis“I should not have fancied that, al- pleasure, to spare you a great deal of though you say so, Stanley,” she an- useless and miserable suspense. I swered carelessly, adding a geranium trust you, Dorcas, in everything imsprig to her bouquet.
plicitly “say?" cause you have seen us once or twice “I don't urge you, I never havetalking together”
to reveal that which you describe so Stanley paused, not knowing ex- strangely as a concealment, yet no actly how to construct the remainder secret; as an absurdity, and yet of his sentence.
fraught with miserable suspense. Dorcas added another blossom. “Ah, Dorcas, why will you mis
“I think that blue improves it construe me? Why will you not bewonderfully. Don't you ?"
lieve me? I long to tell you this, “The blue ? Oh yes, certainly.” which, after all, is an ulter absurdity,
“And now that little star of yel- a thousand times more than you can low will make it perfect,” said Dor- desire to hear it; but my doing so
now, unfortified by the evidence “Yes--yellow-quite perfect,” said I shall have in a very few days, Stanley. “But when you saw Rachel would be attended with a danger and me talking together, or rather which you will then understand. Rachel talking to me, I do assure Won't you trust me ? you, Dorcas, upon my sacred honour, “And now for my advice,” said one half of what she said I do not tó Dorcas, smiling down in her mys
terious way upon a crimson exotic stand these things. But there are near her feet.
ways of getting money by mortgages “Yes, darling, thank you. In sober and loans, and paying them off, withearnest, your advice," answered Lake; out losing the property.” "and you must advise me. Several of " I've the greatest possible objecour neighbours—the Hillyards, the tion to raising money in that way. Ledwiches, the Wynderineres, and It is, in fact, the first step towards ever so many more-have spoken to ruin ; and nobody has ever done it me very strongly about contesting who has not regretted that he did the county, on the old Whig princi- not sell instead." ples, at the election which is now im- “I won't sell Five Oaks, Stanley,". minent. There is not a man with a said the young lady, seriously. chance of acceptance to come for- “I only said a part,” replied Stanward, if I refuse. Now, you know, ley. what even moderate success in the “I won't sell at all.” House, when family and property go “Oh! And I won't mortgage,” said together, may accomplish. There are Stanley. “ Then the thing can't go the Dodminsters. Do you think on ?” they would ever have got their title “I can't help it." by any other means? There are the “But I'm resolved it shall;" anForresters??
swered Stanley “I know it all, Stanley; and at “I tell you, Stanley, plainly, I will once I say, go on. I thought you not sell. The Brandon estate shall must have formed some political pro- not be diminished in my time.”. ject, Mr. Wealdon has been with you Why, you perverse idiot, don't so often ; but you tell me nothing, you perceive you impair the estate as Stanley
much by mortgaging as by selling, “Not, darling, till I know it my- with ten times the ultimate danger. self. This plan, for instance, until I tell you I won't mortgage, and you you spoke this moment, was but a shall sell.” question, and one which I could not "This, sir, is the first time I have submit until I had seen Wealdon, and been spoken to in such terms." heard how matters stood, and what And why do you contradict and chances of success I should really thwart me upon business of which I have. So, darling, you have it all; know something, and you nothing? and I am so glad you advise me to What object on earth can I have in go on. , It is five-and-thirty years impairing the estate? I've as deep an since any one connected with Brandon interest as you in it. It is perfectly came forward. But it will cost a plain we should sell; and I am degreat deal of money, Dorkie.” termined we shall. Come now, Dor
“Yes, I know. I've always heard --I'm sorry, I'm such a brute, it cost my uncle and Sir William you know, when I'm vexed. You Camden fifteen thousand pounds.” mustn't be angry; and if you'll be a
“Yes, it will be expensive, Weal- good girl, and trust me in matters of don thinks-very, this time. The business other side will spend a great deal of 'Stanley, I tell you plainly once money. It often struck me as a more, I never will consent to sell one great mistake, that, where there is a acre of the Brandon estates." good income, and a position to be “Then we'll see what I can do maintained, there is not a little put without you, Dorkie," he said, in a by every year to meet cases like this pleasant, nusing way. --what they call a reserve fund in He was now looking down, with trading companies."
his sly, malign smile; and Dorcas “I do not think there is much could almost fancy two yellow lights money. You know, Stanley.” reflected upon the floor.
“Whatever there is, is under settle- “Ishall protect the property of my ment, and we cannot apply it, Dorkie." family, sir, from your folly or your The only thing to be done, it strikes machinations; and I shall write to me, is to sell a part of Five Oaks.” Chelford, as my trustee, to come here
"I'll not sell any property, Stanley." to advise me. "And what do you propose, then ?" “And I snap my fingers at you both, “I don't know. I' don't under- and meet you with defiance;">
Stanley's singular eyes glared upon her He looked steadily on her, smiling for a few seconds.
for a second or two more, and then Dorcas turned in her grand way, glided from the conservatory. and walked slowly toward the door. It was the first time Dorcas
Stay a moment, I'm going,” said had seen Stanley Lake's features in Stanley, overtaking and confronting that translated state which indicated her near the door. “I've only one the action of his evil nature, and the word. I don't think you quite know apparition haunted her for many a me. It will be an evil day for you, day and night. Dorcas, when you quarrel with me.
CONCERNING A NEW DANGER WHICH THREATENED CAPTAIN STANLEY LAKE.
THE ambitious Captain walked out, its external varnish, was of the sort
had anticipated, and found his wife It was not from malice.
The not only competent ferre aspectum to worthy Attorney had much more of endure his maniacal glare and scowl, that leaven than he. Stanley Lake but serenely to defy lis violence and d'll not care to smash any man, except his wrath. He had abundance of 3912 ili mind als wity. He hadla matter for thouzht and perturbation, inercant.le notion, and never exercised and felt himself, when the images of his craft, violence, and ferocity, on men Larcom, Larkin, and Jim Dutton or objects, when no advantage was crossed the retina of his memory, obtainable by so doing. When, some thrill of the fear which“ hath however, fortune so placed them torment” —the fear of a terrible coerthat one or other must go to the wall, cion which he liked so well to pracCaptain Stanley Lake was awfully tise in the case of others. unscrupulous. But, having disabled, In this mood he paced, without and struck him down, and won the minding in what direction he went, stakes, he would have given what under those great rows of timber remained of him his cold, white hand which over-arch the pathway leading to shake, or sipped claret with him toward Redman's Dell--the path at his own table, and told him stories, that he and Mark Wylder had trod and entertained him with sarcastic on that misty moonlight walk on sallies, and thought how he could which I had seen them set out tomake use of him in an amicable way. gether.
But Stanley Lake's cold, commer- Before he had walked five minutes cial genius, his craft and egotism, in this direction, he was encountered were frustrated occasionally by his by a little girl in a cloak, who stoptemper, which, I am afraid, with all ped and dropped a courtesy. The
Captain stopped also, and looked at What a genius they have for her with a stare which, I suppose, teasing ! How women do contrive to had something forbidding in it, for waste our time and patience over nonthe child was frightened. But the sense! How ingeniously. perverse wild and menacing look was uncon
their whimsies are ! I do believe scious, and only the reflection of the Beelzebub employs them still, as he dark speculations and passions which did in Eden, for the special plague were tumbling and breaking in his of us, poor devils. Here's a lecture soul.
or an exhortation from Miss Radie, Well, child," said he, gently, "I and a quantity of infinitely absurd think I know your face, but I forget advice, all which I am to read, and your name.
inwardly digest, and discuss with her “Little Margery, please sir, from whenever she pleases. I've a great Miss Lake at Redman's Farm,” she mind to burn it quietly.” replied, with a courtesy.
But he applied his match, instead, - Oh! to be sure, yes. And how is to his cigar; and having got it well Miss Rachel ?”
lighted, he leaned back, and broke the * Very bad with a head-ache, seal, and read this letter which, I please, sir."
suspect, notwithstanding his prelimi“ Is she at home ?”
nary thoughts, he fancied might conYes, sir, please.”
tain matter of more practical import. Any message ?"
I write to you, my beloved and “Yes, sir, please-a note for you, only brother, Stanley, in an altered sir;" and she produced a note, rather, state of mind, and with clearer views indeed, a letter.
of duty than, I think, I have ever had “She desired me, sir, please, to before.” give it into your own hand, if I “Just as I conjectured,” muttered could, and not to leave it, please, sir, Stanley, with a bitter smile, as he unless you were at home when I shook the ashes off the top of his reached.”
cigar—"a woman's homily. He read the direction, and drop- He read on, and a livid frown ped it unopened into the pocket of gradually contracted his forehead as his shooting coat. The peevish he did so. glance with which he eyed it be- “I do not know, Stanley, what trayed a presentiment of something your feelings may be. Mine have unpleasant.
been the same ever since that night Any answer required ?”
in which I was taken into a confi“No, sir, please — only to leave it." dence so dreadful. The circumstances “And Miss Lake is quite well ?”. are fearful ; but far more dreadful to
No, sir, please-a bad head-ache me, the mystery in which I have lived to-day.
ever since. I sometimes think I “Oh! I'm very sorry, indeed. Tell have only myself to blame. But you
She is at home, is she ?" know, my poor brother, why I con“Yes, sir.”
sented, and with what agony. Ever “ Very well, that's all. Say I am since, I have lived in terror, and very sorry to hear she is suffering ; worse, in degradation. I did not and, if I can find time, I hope to see know, until it was too late, how great her to-day; and remember to say I was my guilt. Heaven knows, when have not read her letter, but if I find I consented to that journey, I did it requires an answer, it shall have not comprehend its full purpose, one.
though Î knew enough to have He looked round, like a man newly warned me of my danger, and underawakened, and up among the great took it in great fear and anguish of boughs and interlacing foliage of the mind. I can never cease to mourn noble trees, and the child made him over my madness. Oh! Stanley, you two courtesies, and departed towards do not know what it is to feel, as I Redman's Farm.
do, the shame and treachery of my Lake sauntered back slowly to- situation ; to try to answer the smiles ward the Hall. On his way, a rustic of those who, at least, once loved me, seat under the shadow invited him, and to take their hands; to kiss Dorand he sat down, drawing Rachel's cas and good Dolly; and feel that all letter from his pocket.
the time I am a vile impostor, stained
incredibly, from whom they would depended on his speed. Gradually he turn in horror and disgust. Now, recovered his self-possession. He sat Stanley, I can bear anything but this down under the shade of a knot of baseness-anything but the life-long beech trees, overlooking, that illpractice of perfidy-that, I will not omened tarn, which we have often and cannot endure. Dorcas must mentioned, upon a lichen-stained know the truth. That there is a se- rock, his chin resting on his clenched cret jealously guarded from her, she hand, his elbow on his knee, and the does know-no woman could fail to heel of his other foot stamping out perceive that; and there are few, bits of the short, green sod. Stanley, who would not prefer the “That d-d girl deserves to lose certainty of the worst, to the anguish her life for her treachery,” was the of such relations of mystery and re- first sentence that broke from his serve with a husband. She is clever, white lips. she is generous, and has many noble It certainly was an amazing outqualities. She will see what is right, rage upon his self-esteem, that the seand do it. Me she may hate, and cret which was the weapon of terror must despise ; but that were to me by which he meant to rule his sister more endurablethan friendship gained Rachel, should, by her slender hand, on false pretences. I repeat, there- be taken so easily from his grasp, and fore, Stanley, that Dorcas must know lifted to crush him. the whole truth. Do not suppose, my The Captain's plans were not workpoor brother, that I write from im- ing by any means so smoothly as he pulse-I have deeply thought on the hall expected. That sudden stab from subject.
Jos Larkin, whom he always despised, "Deeply,” repeated Stanley, with and now hated-whom he believed
to be a fifth-rate, pluckless rogue, And the more I reflect, the more without audacity, without invention; am I convinced-if you will not tell whom he was on the point of tripping her, Stanley, I must. But it will be up, that he should have turned short wiser and better, terrible as it may and garotted the gallant Captain, was be, that the revelation should come a provoking turn of fortune. from you, whom she has made her That when a dire necessity subjuhusband. The dreadful confilence gated his will, his contempt, his rage, would be more terrible from any and he inwardly decided that the atother. Be courageous then, Stanley ; torney's extortion must be submitted you will be happier when you have to, his wife—whom he never made disclosed the truth, and released, at all any account of in the transaction, events, one of your victims.
whom he reckoned carelessly on turn“Your sorrowful and only sister, ing about as he pleased, by a few com
RACHEL.” pliments and cajoleries-should have
started up, cold and inflexible as On finishing the letter, Stanley rose marble, in his path, to forbid the quickly to his feet. He had become payment of the black mail, and exgradually so absorbed in reading it, pose him to the unascertained and that he laid his cigar unconsciously formidable consequences of Dutton's beside him, and suffered it to go out. story, and the disappointed attorney's With downcast look, and an angry vengeance-was another stroke of grin, he tore the sheets of note-paper luck which took him altogether by across, and was on the point of reduc- surprise. ing them to a thousand little snow And to crown all, Miss Radie had flakes, and giving them to the wind, grown tired of keeping her own sewhen, on second thoughts, he crum- cret, and must needs bring to light pled them together, and thrust them the buried disgraces which all coninto his breast pocket.
cerned were equally interested in hidHis excitement was too intense for ing away for ever. foul terms, or even blasphemy. With Stanley Lake's position, if all were the edge of his nether lip nipped in known, was at this moment formidhis teeth, and his clenched hands in able enough. But he had been fifty his pockets, he walked through the times over, during his brief career, in forest trees, to the park, and in its scrapes of a very menacing kind ; solitudes hurried onward as if his life once or twice, indeed, of the most