M. E. (Mary Elizabeth) Braddon.

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I. "The Kain set Early in To-night" ... 1

II. "But the Days drop One by One" ... 33

S III. "Oh Moment One and Infinite!" ... ... 61

"^ IV. " Dreaming, she knew it was a Dream " 93

V. "And the Child-cheek blushing Scaelet for

I the very Shame of Bliss" ... ... 113

VI. "A Love still Burning upward" ... 136

< VII. " Look through mine Eyes with thine, True

1 Wife"... ... ... ... ... 169

> VIII. My Frolic Falcon, avith Bright Eyes ... 184

v,> IX. "Lies Nothing buried long Ago?" ... 213

«) X. "Of the Weak my Heart is Weakest" 232

XI. "Where the Cold Sea Eaves" ... ... 265

r-A ^XII. " Far, too far off for Thought or any Prayer " 287

^ XIII. " Under the Pine- wood, Blind with Boughs " 298


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It had been raining all the morning, and it was
raining still, in that feeble and desultory manner
which presages a change of some kind, when the
postman came with the long-expected Indian

He was later than usual. It was nearly two
o'clock, and Isola had been watcLing for him
since one, watching with an unread book in
her lap, listening for the click of the gate.
She had been sitting by the open window, look-
ing out at the wet landscape, the glistening
hedgerow and dull grey river, with the great,
green hill beyond, a steep slope of meadow land,



dotted with red cattle, and so divided by hedge-
rows, as to look like a Titanic chessboard.

At last she heard the familiar tread of the
postman's heavy boots, and saw his shining oil-
skin hat moving above the edge of the hollies,
and heard the click of the iron latch as he came
into the little garden.

She called to him from the window, and he
came tramping across the sodden grass and put
three letters into her outstretched hand.

One from. her married sister in Hans Place.
That would keep. One from an old schoolfellow.
That would keep. And one — the long-looked-
for Indian letter, which she tore open eagerly,
and read hurriedly, devouring the close lines, in
the neat, black penmanship, with its decided up
and down strokes, and legible characters, so firm,
so strong, so straightforward, like the nature of
the man who wrote the letter.

The tears sprang to her eyes as she came to
the end, and her hands crushed the thin paper
in a paroxysm of vexation or despair.

" Six months — perhaps a year, before be can
come back, and I am to go on living here —
alone, unless I like to send for a girl whose face


I hardly know, to keep me company, and cheer me
with her good spirits. I want no strange girls.
I want no one's good spirits. I hate people with
good spirits. I want him, and nobody but him !
It is hard that we should be parted like this. I
ought to ^have gone with him, in spite of all the
doctors in Christendom."

She relented towards the letter which her
feverish hand had used so badly. She smoothed
out the flimsy paper carefully with that pretty
little hand, and then she re-read the husband's
letter, so full of grave tenderness and fond, con-
soling words.

He was with his regiment in Burmah, and the
present aspect of things gave him no hope of
being able to return to England for the next
half-year, and there was no certainty that the
half-year might not be stretched into a whole
year. The separation could not be more irksome
to his dearest Isola than it was to him, her
husband of little more than a year : but not for
worlds would he have exposed her to the risks of
that climate. He took comfort in thinkincr of
her in the snug little Cornish nest, with his good


Isola kissed the letter before she put it in her
pocket, and then she looked round the room
rather dolefully, as if the Cornish nest were not
altogether paradise. And yet it was a pretty
little room enough, half dining-room, half study,
with handsomely bound books on carved oak
shelves, and photographs and bright draperies, and
cosily-cushioned bamboo chairs, and a bird-cage,
and a Persian cat. Nor was the garden outside
flowerless, even on the threshold of winter. The
purple blossoms of the veronica were untouched
by frost ; there were pale tea roses gleaming
yonder against the dark gloss of holly and laureL
There were star-shaped single dahlias of vividest
red, like spots of flame ; and close under the open
window, last splendour of departed summer, the
waxen chalice of a lilium auratum trembled on
its tall stem, and filled the room with perfume.

The rain was over — the monotonous drip, drip,
which had irritated Isola's nerves all that morn-
ing, had ceased at last. She left the modest little
lunch untouched upon the table, and went out
into the hall, where her hat and jacket hung
handy for any impromptu ramble. No need to
look at one's self in the glass before going out of


doors, at twenty years of age, and in such a place
as Trelasco. Isola took her stick from the stand,
a green orange stick, bought in the sunny South,
on her way to Venice with her husband last year,
a leisurely trip, which had been to them as a
second honeymoon after a few happy months of
wedlock. Then had come the sadness of parting,
and a swift and lonely return journey for the
young wife — a lonely return to the Angler's Nest,
Trelasco, that cosy cottage between Lostwithiel
and Fowey, which Major Disney had bought and
furnished before his marriage. He was a son of
the soil, and he had chosen to pitch his tent in
that remote spot for the sake of old associations,
and from a fixed belief that there was no locality
of equal merit for health, beauty, and all other
virtues which a man should seek in his home.

Isola rarely touched that stick without remem-
bering the day it was bought — a rainy day in
Milan — just such a day as this, a low, grey sky,
and an oppressive mildness of atmosphere. She
remembered, with the sick pain that goes with
long partings, how she and her husband had
dawdled away an afternoon in the Victor
Emmanuel Gallery, buying handkerchiefs and


neckties, a book or two, a collection of photo-
graphs, and finally the orange stick.

JShe went out to walk down her depression
before tea-time, if possible. She went along a
narrow path by the river, then turned into a road
that skirted those green pastures which rose
sheer till the ragged edge of the topmost
boundary seemed to touch the dim, grey sky.
She passed the village inn, deadly quiet at this
season and at this hour. She passed the half-
dozen decent cottages, and the three or four
genteeler houses, each in its neatly kept garden,
and she walked with quick, light step along the
wet road, her useful tailor-gown well clear of the
mud, her stick striking the hedge-row now and
then, as she swung it to and fro in dreamy

A long, lonely winter to look forward to — a
winter like the last — with her books and drawing-
board, and her cottage piano, and the cat and
the fox-terriers, and Tabitha for her daily
companions. There were a few neighbours within
a radius of half a dozen miles, who had been very
civil to lier ; who called upon her, say once in
six weeks ; who sometimes invited her to a stately


dinner-party, and sometimes at a suspiciously
short notice, which made her feel she was wanted
to fill a gap ; who made her free of their tennis
lawns ; and who talked to her on Sundays after
church, and were always very particular in
inquiring for any news from India. There was
not one among them for whom she cared ; not
one to whom she would have liked to pour out
her thoughts about Keats or Shelley, or to whom
she would have confided her opinion of Byron.
She was more interested in Bulwer's " Audley
Egerton " than in any of those flesh and blood
neighbours. She was happier sitting by her
chimney corner with a novel than in the best
society available within a drive of Trelasco.

She struck off the high road into a lane, a lane
that led to the base of a wilder hill than that
where the red cattle were grazing. The crest of
the hill was common land, and dark fir-trees
made a waving line against the autumn sky, and
the view from the summit was wide and varied,
with a glimpse of the great brown cliffs and the
dark, grey sea far off to the west, to that dim
distance where the Dodman shut off the watery
way to the new world. On the landward slope of


that wild-looking ridge was tlie Mount, Lord
Lostwithiel's place, uninhabited for the greater
part of the year except by servants, his lordship
being the very last kind of man to bury himself
alive in a remote Cornish fastness, a long day's
journey from the London theatres, and the
E. Y. S. Clubhouse at Cowes.

Who was Lord Lostwithiel ? Well, in the
estimation of Trelasco he was the only nobleman
in England, or say that he was to all other peers
as the sun to the planets. He belonged to
Trelasco by reason of his large landed estate and
the accident of his birth, which had taken place
at the Mount ; and, although his character and
way of life were not altogether satisfactory to the
village mind, Trelasco made the best of him.

Isola Disney climbed the hill, an easy matter
to light-footed twenty. She stood amidst the
tall fir columns, and looked down at the Novem-
ber landscape, very distinctly defined in the soft,
grey atmosphere. She could see the plough
moving slowly across the red earth in the fields
beloAV, the clumsy farm horses, white against the
deep, rich red. She could see the winding river,
bluish grey, between its willowy banks, and far


off beyond Fowey wooded hills, where the foliage
showed orange, and tawny, and russet, and dun
colour between the blue-grey water, and the pale
grey sky.

She loved this wild, lonely hill, and felt her
spirits rise in this lighter atmosphere as she
stood resting against the scaly trunk of a Scotch
fir, with the wind blowing her hair. It was a
relief to escape from the silence of those empty
rooms, where she had only the sleepy Persian or
the hyper-intelligent fox-terrier for company.
There was a longer and more picturesque way
home than that by which she had come. She
could descend the other side of the hill, skirt
the gardens of the Mount, by a path that led
through the Park to a lodge gate on the
Fowey road. It was one of her favourite walks,
and she was so accustomed to seeing the shutters
closed at the great house that she never expected
to meet any one more alarming than a farm ser-
vant or a cottager's child upon the footpath.

There was a thick chestnut copse upon one
side, and the wide expanse of undulating turf,
with an occasional clump of choice timber, upon
the other. The house stood on higlier ground


than the park, but was hemmed in and hidden
by shrubberies that had overgrown the intention
of the landscape gardener who planned them.
Only the old grey-stone gables, with their heavy
slabs of slate, and the tall, clustered chimneys,
showed above the copper beeches, and deodaras,
the laurels, and junipers, and Irish yews, and the
shining masses of arbutus with their crimson
berries gleaming amongst the green. Isola had
never seen that old Manor House nearer than she
saw it to-day, from the path, which was a public
right of way through the park. She knew that
the greater part of the building dated from the
reign of Charles the Second, but that there were
older bits ; and that about the whole, and about
those ancient rooms and passages most especially,
there were legends and traditions and historical
associations, not without the suspicion of ghosts.
The Mount was not a show place, like the home
of the Trefifrys at Fowey, and of late years it had
been very seldom inhabited, except by certain
human fossils who had served the house of Hul-
bert for two generations. She had often looked
longingly at those quaint old gables, those clus-
tered stone chimneys, likening the house amidst


its overgrown shrubberies to the Palace of the
Sleeping Beauty, and had wished that she were
on friendly terms with one of those drowsy old

" I dare say if I were daring enough to open
one of the doors and go in I should find them all
asleep," she thought, " and I might roam all
over the house from cellar to garret without
awakening anybody." She was too depressed
to-day to give more than a careless, unseeing
glance at those many gables as she walked along
the muddy path beside the dripping copse. The
chestnut boughs were nearly bare, but here and
there clusters of bright yellow leaves were still
hanging, shining like pale gold in the last watery
gleams of the sun ; and though the leaves were
lying sodden and brown among the rank, wet
grass, there were emerald mosses and cool,
green ferns, and red and orange fungi to give
colour to the foreground, and to the little
vistas that opened here and there amidst the

Those final yellow gleams were fading low
down in the western sky as Isola turned her face
towards the river and the Angler's Nest, and


just above that pale radiance there stretched a
dense black cloud, like a monstrous iron bar,
which she felt must mean mischief. She looked
at that black line apprehensively. She was
three miles from home, without cloak or um-
brella, and with no available shelter within three-
quarters of a mile.

She quickened her pace, watching the fading
light and lowering cloud, expecting thunder,
lightning, hail, she knew not what. A sudden
deluge settled the question. Torrential rain !
That was the meaning of the inky bar above the
-setting sun. She looked round her helplessly.
Should she dart into the copse, and try to shelter
herself amidst those leafless twigs, those slender
withies and saplings ? Better to face the storm
and plod valiantly on. Her neat little cloth
gown would not be much the worse for a duck-
ing ; her neat little feet were accustomed to rapid
walking. Should she run ? No ; useless when
there were three miles to be got over. A brisk,
steady tramp would be better. But, brave as she
was, that fierce rain was far from pleasant. It
<;ut into her eyes and blinded her. She had to
grope her way along the path with her stick.


" Pray let me take you to the house," said a
voice close beside her, a man's voice — low and
deep, and with the accents of refinement.

Could one of Lord Lostwithiel's fossilized
servants talk like that? Impossible. She
looked up, as well as she could, under that
blinding downpour, and saw a tall man stand-
ing beside the pathway with his back to the
copse. He was over six feet two and of slim,
active figure. He was pale, and wore a short?
dark beard, and the eyes which looked at Isola
out of the pale, thin face were very dark. That
was about as much as she could see of the
stranger in the November dusk.

" Pray, let me persuade you to come to the
house," he said urgently. "You are being
drenched. It is absolutely dreadful to see any-
body out in such rain — and there is no other
shelter within reach. Let me take you there.
My housekeeper will dry your hat and jacket
for you. I ought to introduce myself, perhaps.
1 am Lord Lostwithiel."

She had guessed as much. Who else would
speak with authority in that place ? She
dimly recalled a photograph, pale and faded,


of a tall man in a yeomanry uniform, seen in
somebody's album ; and the face of the photo-
graph had been the same elongated oval face
— with long thin nose, and dark eyes a shade
too near together — which was looking down at
her anxiously now.

She felt it would be churlish to refuse shelter
so earnestly offered.

"You are very kind," she faltered. *'I am
sorry to be so troublesome. I ought not to
have come so far in such doubtful weather."

She went with him meekly, walking her
fastest under the pelting rain, which was at
her back now as they made for the house.

" Have you really come far ? " he asked. *

" From Trelasco. I live at the Angler's Nest,
a cottage by the river. You know it, perhaps? "

"Yes. I know every house at Trelasco.
Then you are staying with Mrs. Disney, I
presume ? "

'' I am Mrs. Disney."

" You ? " — with intense surprise. " I beg your
pardon. You are so young. I imagined Mrs.
Disney an older person."

He glanced at the girlish figure, the pale


delicate face, and told himself that his new
acquaintance could scarcely be more than nine-
teen or twenty. He had met Major Disney,
a man who looked about forty — a lucky fellow
to have caught such a pretty bird as this.

They had reached the shrubbery by this time,
and were hurrying along a winding walk where
the rain reached them with less violence. The
narrow walk brought them on to a broad terrace
in front of the house. Lostwithiel opened a
half-glass door, and led Mrs. Disney into, the
library, a long low room, full of curious nooks
and corners, formed by two massive chimney-
pieces, and by the projecting wings of the heavy
oak bookcases. Isola had never seen any room
so filled with books, nor had she ever seen a
room with two such chimney-pieces, of statuary
marble, yellowed with age, elaborately carved
with cherubic heads, and Cupids, and torches
and festal wreaths, bows and arrows, lyres and

A wood fire was burning upon one hearth, and
it was hither Lostwithiel brought his guest,
wheeling a large armchair in front of the


" If you will take off your hat and jackefy
and sit down there, I'll get my housekeeper to
attend to you," he said, with his hand upon
the bell.

"You are more than kind. I must hurry
home directly the rain abates a little. I have
a careful old servant who is sure to be anxious
about me," said Isola, devouring the room with
greedy eyes, wanting to take in every detail of
this enchanted castle.

She might never enter it again, perhaps.
Lord Lostwithiel was so seldom there. His
absenteeism was the lament of the neighbour-
hood. The things he ought to have done and
did not do would have filled a book. He had
been wild in his youth. He had once owned
a theatre. He had done, or was supposed to
have done, things which were spoken of with
bated breath ; but of late years he had developed
new ambitions, and had done with theatrical
speculations. He had become literary, scientific,
political. He was one of the lights of the
intellectual world, or of that small section of the
intellectual world which is affiliated to the smart
world. He knew all the clever people in


London, and a good many of the intellectualities
of Paris, Berlin, and Vienna. He had never
married ; but it was supposed that he would
eventually marry, before he was forty, for in-
stance, and that he would make a great match.
He was not rich, but he was Lord Lostwithiel.
He was by no means handsome, but he was said
to be one of the most fascinating men in

Isola pulled off her jacket slowly, looking
about her all the time ; and Lostwithiel forbore
from offering her any assistance lest he should
intensify her evident shyness.

A man in plain clothes, who looked more like
a valet than a butler, answered the bell.

*' Send Mrs. Mayne, and bring tea," ordered
his lordship.

What a slender, girlish form it was which the
removal of the tweed jacket revealed. The slim
waist and somewhat narrow shoulders betokened
a delicacy of constitution. The throat was
beautiful, milk white, the throat of Diana, and
the head, now the hat was off, would also have
done for Diana ; a small classic head, with soft,
brown hair drawn smoothly away from tlie low,

VOL. I. c


white brow and rolled into a knot at the back.
The features were as delicate as the complexion,
in which there was no brilliancy of colouring,
only a paleness as of ivory. The eyes were dark
grey, with long brown lashes, and their present
expression was between anxiety and wondering
interest. Lostwithiel was not such a coxcomb as
to appropriate that look of interest. He saw
that it was his house and not himself which
inspired the feeling.

" You like old houses, I can see, Mrs. Disney,"
he said, smiling at her.

"Intensely. They are histories in brick and
stone, are they not ? I dare say there are stories
about this room."

"Innumerable stories. I should have to
ransack the Kecord Office for some of them, and
to draw upon a very bad memory to a perilous
extent for others."

''Is it haunted?"

"I am not one of those privileged persons
who see ghosts ; neither seventh son of a seventh
son ; nor of the mediumistic temperament ; but I
have heard of an apparition pervading the house
on occasions, and being seen in this room, which


is one of the older rooms, a part of that building
which was once a grange appertaining to a
certain small monastery, put down by Henry
VIII., and recorded in the Black Book. As one
of the oldest rooms it is naturally uncanny ; but
as I have never suffered any inconvenience in
that line, I make it my den."

" It is the most picturesque room I ever saw.
And what a multitude of books ! " exclaimed

"Yes; I have a good many books. I am
always buying ; but I find I never have exactly
the book I want. And as I have no librarian I
am too apt to forget the books I have. If I
could afford to spend more of my life at the
Mount, I would engage some learned gentleman,
whose life had been a failure, to take care of
my books. Are you Cornish, like your husband,
Mrs. Disney ? "

" No. I was born at Dinan."

" What ! in that mediaeval Breton city ? You
are not French, though, I think ? "

"My mother and father were both English,
but my sister and I were born and brought up
in Brittany."


Lostwithiel questioned no further. He had a
shrewd idea that when English people live for a
good many years in a Breton town they have
reasons of their own, generally financial, for their
choice of a settlement. He was a man who
could not have spent six months of his life away
from London or Paris.

The housekeeper made her appearance and
offered her services. She wrung the rain out of
Isola's cloth skirt, and wiped the muddy hem.
She took charge of the jacket and hat, and at
Lostwithiel's suggestion she remained to pour
out the tea. She was a very dignified person,
in a black silk gown and a lace cap, and she
treated her master as if he had been a demi-god.
Isola could not be afraid of taking tea in this
matronly presence, yet she kept looking
nervously towards the window in front of her,
where the rain beat with undiminished force,
and where the darkening sky told of impending

"I see you are anxious to be on your way
home, Mrs. Disney," said Lostwithiel, who had
nothing to do but watch her face, such an ex-
pressive face at all times, so picturesquely


beautiful when touched by tlie flickering light
of the wood fire. " If you were to wait for fine
weather you might be here all night, and your
good people at home would be frantic. I'll
order a carriage, and you can be at home in
three-quarters of an hour."

"Oh no. Lord Lostwithiel, I couldn't give
you so much trouble. If your housekeeper will
be so kind as to lend me a cloak and umbrella,
I can get home very well. And I had better
start at once."

" In the rain, alone, and in the darkness ? It
will be dark before you are home, in any
case. No, Mrs. Disney, if I were to permit such
a thing I should expect Major Disney to call

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