She had received an offer from a young
and handsome earl ; it would have
been a match every way desirable :
THE SHADOW OF ASIILYDYAT,
but poor Cecil found that Lord Averil
was too deeply seated in her heart for
her to admit thought of another. And
now Lord Averil was back at Prior's
Ash ; and, as Cecil had heard, was to
dine that day at Lady Godolphin's
Folly. He had called at Ashlydyat
gince his return, but she was out.
She sat there thinking of him : her
prominent feeling against him being
anger. She believed to this hour that
he had used her ill, ā that his behavior
had been unbecoming a gentleman.
Her reflections were disturbed by
the sight of Mr. Snow. It was grow-
ing dusk then, and she wondered what
brought him there so late, ā in fact,
what brought him there at all. She
turned and asked the question of
" He has come to see Thomas," re-
plied Janet. And Cecil noticed that
her sister was sitting in a strangely
still attitude, her head bowed down.
But she did not connect it with its
true cause. It was nothing unusual
to see Janet lost in deep thought.
" What is the matter with Thomas,
that Mr. Snow should come ?" inquired
"He did not feel well, and sent for
It was all that Janet answered.
And Cecil continued in blissful igno-
rance of any thing being wrong, and
resumed her reflections on Lord
Janet saw Mr. Snow before he went
away. Afterwards she went to Thom-
as's room and remained in it. Cecil
stayed in the drawing-room, buried in
her dream. The room was lighted,
but the blinds were not drawn down :
Cecil was at the window, looking
forth into the bright moonlight.
It must have been getting quite late
when she discerned some one ap-
proaching Ashlydyat, on the road
from Lady Godolphin's Folly. From
the height, she fancied at first that it
might be George ; but as the figure
drew nearer, her heart gave a great
bound, and she saw that it was he upon
whom her thoughts had been fixed.
Yes, it was Lord Averil. When
he mentioned to Charlotte Pain that
ho had a visit yet to pay to a sick
friend, he had alluded to Thomas Go-
dolphin. Lord Averil, since his re-
turn, had been struck with the change
in Thomas Godolphin. It was more
perceptible to him than to those who
saw Thomas habitually. And when
the apology came for Mr. Godolphin's
absence, Lord Averil determined to
call upon him that night. Though,
in talking to Mrs. Pain, he nearly let
the time for it slip by.
Cecil rose up when he entered. In
broad day he might have seen, beyond
doubt, her changing face, telling of
emotion. Was he mistaken, in fancy-
ing that she was agitated ? His
pulses quickened at the thought: for
Cecil was as dear to him as she bad
" Will you pardon my intrusion at
this hour ?" he asked, taking her hand,
and bending towards her with his
sweet smile. " It is later than I
thought it was," ā in truth, ten was
striking that moment from the hall-
clock. " I was concerned to hear of
Mr. Godolphin's illness, and wished
to ascertain how he was, before re-
turning to Prior's Ash."
" He has kept his room this even-
ing," replied Cecil. "My sister is
sitting with him. I do not think it is
any thing serious. But he has not
appeared very well of late."
" Indeed, I trust it is nothing seri-
ous," warmly responded Lord Averil.
Cecil fell into silence. She sup-
posed they had told Janet of the visit,
and that she would be coming in.
Lord Averil went to the window.
" The same charming Scene !" he
exclaimed. " I think the moonlight
view from this window beautiful.
The dark trees around, and the white
walls of Lady Godolphin's Folly, ris-
ing there, remain on my memory like
the scene of an old painting."
He folded his arms and stood there,
gazing still. Cecil stole a look up at
him, ā at his pale, attractive face, with
its expression of care. She had won-
dered once why that look of cars
should be conspicuous there : but not
THE SHADOW OF ASHLYDYAT.
after she became acquainted with his
" Have you returned to England to
remain, Lord Averil ?"
The question awoke him from his
reverie. He turned to Cecil, and a
sudden impulse prompted him to stake
his fate on the die of the moment.
It was not a lucky throw.
" I would remain if I could induce
one to share my name and home.
Forgive me, Cecil, if I anger you by
thus hastily speaking. Will you for-
get the past, and help me to forget it ?
ā will you let me make you my dear
In saying " Will A r ou forget the
past," Lord Averil had alluded to his
first marriage. In his extreme sensi-
tiveness upon that point, he doubted
whether Cecil might not object to
succeed the dead Lady Averil : he
believed those hasty and ill-natured
words, reported to him as having been
spoken by her, bore upon that sore
point alone. Cecil, on the contrary,
assumed that her forgetfulness was
asked for his own behavior to her, in
so far that he had gone away and left
her without a word of explanation.
She grew quite pale with anger.
Lord Averil resumed, his manner
earnest, his voice low and tender.
"I have loved you Cecil, from the
first day that I saw you at Mrs. Ave-
ril's. I dragged myself away from
the place, because I loved you, fearing
lest you might come to see my folly.
It was worse than folly then, for I was
not a free man. I have gone on lov-
ing you more and more, from that
time to this. I went abroad this last
time hoping to forget you; striving
to forget you : but I cannot do it, and
the love has only become stronger.
Forgive, I say, my urging it upon
you in this moment of impulse."
Poor Cecil was all at sea. " Went
abroad hoping to forget her; striving
to forget her !" It was worse and
worse. She flung his hand away.
" Oh, Cecil ! can you not love me ?"
he exclaimed, in agitation. " Will
you not give me hopes that you will
sometime be my wife ?"
" No, I cannot love you. I will
not give you hopes. I would rather
marry any one in the world than you.
You ought to be ashamed of yourself,
Lord Averil !"
Not a very dignified rejoinder. And
Cecil, what with anger, what with
love, burst into even less dignified
tears, and quitted the room in a pas-
sion. Lord Averil bit his lips to pain.
Janet entered, unsuspicious. He
turned from the window, and smoothed
his brow, gathering what equanimity
he could, as he proceeded to inquire
after Mr. Godolphin.
CHARLOTTE PAIN'S " TURN-OUT."
A stylish vehicle, high enough
for a fire-escape, its green wheels
picked out with gleaming red, was
clashing up the street of Prior's Ash.
A lady was seated in it, driving its
pair of blood-horses, whose restive
mettle appeared more fit for a man's
guidance than a woman's. You need
not be told that it was Charlotte Pain :
nobody else of her sex in Prior's Ash
would have driven such a turn-out.
Prior's Ash, rather at a loss what
name to give it, for the like of it had
never been seen in that sober place,
christened it " Mrs. Pain's turn-out :"
so, if you grumble at the name, you
must grumble at them, not at me.
Past the bank it flew ; when, as if a
sudden thought appeared to take the
driver, it suddenly whirled round, to
the imminent danger of the street in
general, retraced its steps past the
bank, dashed* round the corner of
Crosse Street, and drew up at the en-
trance to Mr. George Godolphin's.
The servant sprang from the seat be-
"Inquire if Mrs. George Godolphin
Mrs. George Godolphin was within,
and Charlotte entered. Across the
hall, up the handsome staircase, lined
THE' SHADOW OF ASIILYDYAT.
with painting's, to the still more hand-
some drawing-room, swept she, con-
ducted by a servant. Margery looked
out at an opposite door, as Charlotte
entered that of the drawing-room, her
curious eyes taking in at a glance
Charlotte's attire. Charlotte wore a
handsome mauve brocaded skirt, trail-
ing on the ground at the very least
half a yard behind her, and a close
habit body of mauve velvet. A black
hat with a turned-up brim, and profu-
sion of mauve feathers surmounted her
head ; and a little bit of gauze, mauve-
colored also, came half-way down her
face, fitting tight round the nose and
Margery retired with a sniff. Had
it been anybody she approved, any
especial friend of her mistress's, she
would have invited her into her mis-
tress's presence, to the little sitting-
room, where Maria was, ā a pretty
sitting-room, tastily furnished. The
bed-room, dressing-room, and this
sitting-room communicated with each
other. Being who it was, Margery
allowed the grand drawing-room the
honor of receiving the visitor.
Maria sat at a table, her drawing
materials before her. Miss Meta,
perched in a high chair, was accom-
modated with a pencil and paper op-
posite. " It's Mrs. Pain in a mask,"
was the salutation of Margery.
Maria laid down her pencil. " Mrs.
Pain in a mask !" she echoed.
" It looks like nothing else, ma'am,
the thing she's got on," responded
Margery. "J never saw Christian
folks make themselves into such spec-
tacles afore. It's to be hoped she
won't go in that guise to call at Ashly-
dyat : Miss Janet would be for send-
ing for the mad doctor."
Mai'ia smiled. " You never admire
Mrs. Pain's style of dress, Margery."
" It's not a taking one," rejoined
Margery. " Honest faces would as
soon see themselves standing out from
a brass warming-pan, as wuth one of
them brazen hats stuck atop of 'em."
Apart from her prejudices against
Mrs. Pain, ā whatever those prejudices
might be, ā it was evident that Mar-
gery did not admire the fashionable
head-gear. Had Maria ventured to
put one on, Margery would most prob-
ably have removed it from her head
with her own fingers, and an intima-
tion that it was not "proper." Maria
moved to the door, and Miss Meta
scrambled off her chair, to follow her.
"Meta go too, mamma."
Margery caught the child up as if
she were snatching her from a burn-
ing furnace, smothered her in her
arms, and whispered unheard-of vis-
ions of immediate cakes and sweet-
meats that were to be had by ascend-
ing to the nursery, and bore her away
in triumph. Did she fear there was
contamination for the child in Mrs.
Pain's hat ?
Maria not having observed the bit
of by-play, proceeded to the presence
of Charlotte. Not a greater contrast
had there been between them in those
old days at Broomhead, than there
was now. Maria, the same quiet,
essentially lady -like girl as of yore :
she looked but a girl still, in her pretty
dress of spring muslin. Charlotte
was standing at the window, watch-
ing her restless horses, which the ser-
vant was driving about, from one
street to the other, but could scarcely
manage. She put back her hand to
" How are you to-day, Mrs. George
Godolphin ? Excuse my apparent
rudeness : I am looking at my horses.
If the man cannot keep them within
bounds, I must go down myself."
Maria took her place by the side of
Charlotte. The horses looked terrific
animals to her eyes, very much in-
clined to kick the carriage to pieces
and to bolt into the bank afterwards.
" Did you drive them here ?"
" Nobody else can drive them," re-
plied Charlotte, with a laugh. "I
should like to seduce Kate behind
them some day when she is down
here : she would be in a fit with fright
before we were home again."
" How can you risk your own life,
Mrs. Pain ?"
"My life ! that is a good joke," said
Charlotte. " If I could not manage
T IT E SHADOW OF A S IT L Y D Y A T ,
the horses, I should not drive them.
Did you notice the one I was riding
yesterday, when you met me with
your husband ā a party of us together ?"
"Not particularly," replied Maria.
" It was just at the turn of the road,
you know. I think I looked chiefly
" You ought to have noticed my
horse. You must see him another
time. He is the most splendid ani-
mal, ā down from London only the
previous day. I rode him yesterday
for the first time."
" I should not detect any of his
beauties ; I scarcely know one horse
from another," acknowledged Maria.
'''Ah ! You are not particularly ob-
servant," returned Charlotte, in agood-
humored tone of sarcasm. " The horse
was a present to me. He cost a hun-
dred and thirty guineas. Those ani-
mals below are getting quieter now."
She withdrew from the window,
sitting down on a sofa. Maria took a
seat near her. " We had been to see
Mrs. Averil yesterday when w T e met
you," observed Maria. " She is still
a great sufferer."
" So Lord Averil told me," answered
Charlotte. " He dined at the Folly
" Did he ? George did not mention
that Lord Averil was of the party.
Did you dine with them ?"
"Not I," answered Charlotte. "It
was bore enough to have them in the
drawing-room afterwards. Only a few
of them came in. As to your hus-
band, I never set eyes upon him at
"He came home early. I think his
head ached. He "
"Oh, he did come home, then !" in-
Maria looked surprised. " Of course
he came home. Why should he not ?"
" How should I know why ?" was
Charlotte's answer. " This house has
the bother of it to-night, I hear. It
is nothing but a bother, a gentleman's
" It is a sort of business-party to-
night, I believe," observed Maria.
" Verrall is coming. He told me
so. Do you know how Mr. Godol-
phin is ?" '
" He seems as well as usual. He
is come to-day, and I saw him for a
minute. George told me that he did
not appear at dinner yesterday. Mar-
A commotion in the street. Char-
lotte flew to one of the windows,
opened it, and stretched herself out.
But she could not see the carriage,
which was then in Crosse Street. A
mob was collecting and shouting.
" I suppose I had better go. That
stupid man never can keep horses in
good humor, if they have any spirit,
Good-by, Mrs. George Godolphin."
She ran down the stairs and out at
the hall-door, giving no time to a
servant to show her out, Maria pro-
ceeded to her little sitting-room, which
looked into Crosse Street, to see
whether any thing was the matter.
Something might have been, but
that George Godolphin hearing the
outcry, had flown out to the aid of
servant. The man, in his fear ā he
was a timid man with horses, and it
was a wonder Charlotte kept him ā
had got out of the carriage. George
leaped into it, took the reins and the
whip, and succeeded in restoring the
horses to what Charlotte called good
humor. Maria's heart beat when she
saw her husband there : she, like the
man, was timid. George, however,
alighted unharmed, and stood talking
with Charlotte. He was without his
hat. Then he handed Charlotte in,
and stood looking up and talking to
her again, the seat being about a mile
above his head. Charlotte, at any
rate, had no fear ; she nodded a final
adieu to George, and drove away at a
fast pace, George gazing after her.
Intimate as George Godolphin was
with Charlotte Pain, no such thought
as that of attributing it to a wrong mo-
tive, ever occurred to Maria. She had
been jealous of Charlotte Pain in the
old days, when she was Maria Hast-
ings, dreading that George might
choose her for his wife : but with
their marriage all such feeling ceased.
Maria was an English gentlewoman,
THE S n A I) W OF A S II L Y D Y A T
in the best sense of the term ; of a re-
fined, retiring; nature, of simply modest
speech, innocent of heart: to associate
harm now with her husband and Char-
lotte, was athing next to impossible for
her to glance at. Unbiased by others,
she would never be likely to glance at
it. She did not like Charlotte : where
tastes and qualities are so much op-
posed as they were in her and Char-
lotte Pain, mutual predilection is not
easy : but, to suspect any greater
cause for dislike, was foreign to Ma-
ria's nature. Had Maria even re-
ceived a hint that the fine saddle-
horse, boasted of by Charlotte as
worthy Maria's special observation,
and costing a hundred and thirty
guineas, was a present from her hus-
band, she would have attached no
motive to the gift, but kindness ; given
him no worse word than a hint at
extravagance. Maria could almost
as soon have disbelieved in herself as
disbelieved in the cardinal virtues of
It was the day of one of George's
dinner-parties, ā as Charlotte has an-
nounced for our information. Four-
teen were expected to sit down, inclu-
sive of himself and his brother, ā mostly
countrymen ; men who did business
with the bank; Mi*. Verrall and Lord
Averil being two of them : but Mr.
Verrall did not do business with the
bank, and was not looked upon as a
countryman. It was not Maria's cus-
tom to appear at all at these parties :
she did not, like Charlotte Pain, play
the hostess afterwards in the drawing-
room. Sometimes Maria would spend
these evenings out: at Ashlydyat, or
at the rectory : sometimes, as was her
intention on this evening, she would
remain in the pretty sitting-room in
her own apartments, leaving the house
froe. She had been busy over her
drawing all day, and had not quitted
it to stir abroad.
Mr. George had stirred abroad. Mr.
George had taken a late afternoon
ride with Charlotte Pain. He came
home barely in time to dress. The
bank was closed for the day : the
clerks had all gone, save one, ā the old
cashier, Mr. Hurde. He sometimes
stayed later than the rest.
"Any private letters for me?" in-
quired George, hastening into the
office, whip in hand, and devouring the
letter-rack with eager eyes, where the
unopened letters were usually put.
The cashier, a tall man once, but
stooping now, with silver spectacles
and white whiskers, stretched up his
neck to look also. " There's one
there, sir," he cried, before George
had quite crossed the office.
George made a grab at the letter.
It stuck in the rack, and he gave vent
to an impatient word. A Wank look
of disappointment came over his face,
when he saw the direction.
"This is not for me. This is for
Mr. Hastings. Who sorted the letters ?"
"Mr. Hastings, I believe, sir, as usual."
"What made him put his own letter
in the rack ?" muttered George to him-
self. He went about the office ; he went
into the private room and searched his
own table. No : there was no letter for
him. Mr. Hurde remembered that
Mr. George Godolphin had been put
out in the morning by not receiving
an expected letter.
George looked at his watch. " There's
no time to go to Yerrall's," he thought.
"And he would be starting to come
here by the time I got up to the Folly."
Up to his own room to dress, which
was not a long process. He then en-
tered his wife's sitting-room.
" Drawing still, Maria ?"
She looked up with a bright glance.
" I have been so industrious ! I have
been drawing nearly all day. See ! I
have nearly finished this."
George stood by the table in a list-
less manner, his thoughts preoccupied,
ā not pleasantly preoccupied, either.
Presently he began turning over the
old sketches in Maria's portfolio. Ma-
ria quitted her seat, and stood by her
husband, her arni round his neck. He
was now sitting sideways on a chair.
" I put some of these drawings into
the portfolio this morning," she ob-
served. " I found them in a box in
the lumber-room. They had not been
disinterred. I do believe, since they
THE SHADOW OF ASHLYDYAT.
came here from the rectory. Do you
remember that one, George ?"
He took the sketch she pointed to,
in his hand. A few moments and then
the recollection flashed over him. " It
is a scene near Broomhcad 1 That is
" How glad I am that you recog-
nize it !" she cried, gleefully. " It is
a proof that I sketched it faithfully.
Do you remember the day that I did
it, George ?"
George could not remember that.
"Not particularly," he answered.
"Oh, George! It was the day I
was frightened by seeing that snake,
ā or whatever it was. You, and I,
and Charlotte Pain, were there. We
took refuge in Bray's house."
" Refuge from the snake ?" asked
Maria laughed. " Lady Godolphin
came up, and said I ought to go there
and rest, and take some water. How
terribly frightened I was ! I can re-
call it still. Bray wanted to marry us
afterwards," she continued, laughing
" Bray would have married me to
both of you, you and Charlotte, for a
crown apiece," said George.
" Were you in earnest. ā when you
asked me to let him do it ?" she
dreamily inquired, after a pause, her
thoughts cast back to the past.
" I dare say I was, Maria. We
do foolish things sometimes. Had
you said yes, I should have thought,
you a silly girl afterwards for your
" Of course you would. Do you see
that old Welshwoman in the door-
way?" resumed Maria, pointing to the
drawing. " She was a nice old body,
in spite of her pipe. I wonder whether
she is alive ? Perhaps Margery knows.
Margery had a letter from her sister
"Had she?" carelessly returned
George. " I saw there was a letter
for her with the Scotch postmark. Has
Bray come to grief yet ?"
"I fancy they are always in grief,
by the frequency of the appeals to
Margery. Lady Godolphin is kind to
the wife. She tells Margery, if it
were not for my lady, she would
An arrival was heard as Maria
spoke, and George rang the bell. It
was answered by Maria's maid, but
George said he wanted the butler.
The man appeared.
" Is Mr. Yerrall come ?"
"No, sir. It is Mr. Godolphin."
" When Mr. Yerrall comes, show
him into the bank-parlor, and call me.
I wish to see him before he goes into
The man departed with his order.
George went into the bedroom which
was adjoining. A few minutes, and
some one else was heard to come in,
and run up the stairs with eager steps.
It was followed by an impatient knock-
ing at Maria's door.
"It proved to be Isaac Hastings,
ā a fine-looking young man, with a
sensible countenance. " Have they
gone in to dinner yet, Maria?" he
" No. It is not time. Nobody's
come but Mr. Godolphin."
" I did such a stupid trick. I "
" Is it you, Isaac ?" interrupted
George, returning to the room. " I
could not think who it was, rushing
" I wanted to catch you, sir, before
you went in to dinner," replied Isaac,
holding out a letter to George. " It
came for you this afternoon," he con-
tinued, " and I put it, as I thought, in
the rack ; and one for myself, which
also came, I put in my pocket. Just
now I found that I had brought away
yours, and left mine."
" Yours is in the rack now," said
George. " I wondered what brought
it there. Hurde said you sorted the
He took the letter, glanced at its
superscription, and retired to the win-
dow to read it. There appeared to be
but a very few lines. George read it
twice over, and then lifted his flushed
face, ā flushed as it seemed with pain,
with a perplexed, hopeless sort of ex-
pression. Maria could see his face in
the pier-glass. She turned to him :
THE SHADOW OF ASHLYDYAT.
" George, what is it ? You have
bad news !"
He crushed the letter in his hand :
"Bad news! Nothing of the sort.
Why should you think that ? It is a
business-letter that I ought to have
had yesterday, though, and I am vexed
at the delay."
He left the room again. Isaac pre-
pared to depart.
" Will you stay and take tea with
me, Isaac ?" asked Maria. " I have
dined. I am expecting Rose."
" I am out at tea already," answered
Isaac, with a laugh. " I was at Grace's.
We were beginning tea, when I put
my hand in my pocket to take out the
letter, and found it was Mr. George
"You were not in a hurry to read
your own letter," returned Maria.
" No. I knew whom it was from.
There was no hurry. I ran all the
way from Grace's here, and now I
must run back again. Good-by,
Isaac went. George was in and out
of the room, walking about in a rest-
less manner. Several arrivals had
been heard, and Maria felt sure that
all the guests, or nearly all, must have
come. " Why don't you go to them,
George ?" she asked.
The hour for dinner struck as she
spoke, and George quitted the room.
He did not enter the drawing-room,
but went down and spoke to the
" Is Mr. Yerrall not come yet ?"
" No, sir. Every one else is
George retraced his steps up-stairs
and entered the drawing-room. He
was gay George again ; handsome
George ; not a line of perplexity could
be traced on his open brow, not a