Jauet only turned to them, her hands
lifted, to enjoin silence, a warning word
upon her lips. Bexley came running
in, and looked at his master.
" Hell be better presently," he whis-
" Yes, he will be better presently,"
assented Janet. " But I should like
Snow to be here."
Bexley was the only man-servant
left at Ashlydyat. Short work is
generally made of the dispersion of a
household when the means come to a
summary end, as they had with the
Godolphins : and there had been no
difficulty in finding places for the
valuable servants of Ashlydyat. Bex-
ley had stoutly refused to go. He
didn't want wages, he said, but he
was not going to leave his master, so
long as Bexley did not say so
long as what, but they had understood
him. So long as his master was in life.
Thomas began to revive. He slowly
opened his eyes, and raised his hand
to wipe the moisture from his white
face. On the table before him lay
i ne of the letters open. Janet recog-
nized the handwriting to be that of
She spurned the letter from her.
With a gesture of grievous vexation,
her hand pushed it across the table.
ā¢' It is that which has affected you !"
she cried out, with a wail.
" Not so," breathed Thomas. " It
was the pain here."
He touched himself below the chest;
considerably lower ; in the same place
where the pain had come before.
Which pain had taken him ? the men-
tal agony arising from George's con-
duct, or the physical agony of his
disease ? Probably somewhat of both.
He stretched out his hand towards
the letter, making a motion that it
should be folded. Bexley, who could
not have read a word without his
glasses, had it been to save his life,
took up the letter, folded it, and placed
it in its envelope. Thomas's mind
then seemed at rest, and he closed his
" I'll step for Mr. Snow now, ma'am,"
whispered Bexley to Janet. " I shall
catch him before he goes out on his
Bexley got his hat and went down
to Prior's Ash the nearest way, put-
ting out his quickest step. When he
reached the surgery, Mr. Snow's
assistant was the centre of a whole lot
of patients. It was the morning for
the poor. Mr. Snow was out.
"Will he be long?" asked Bex-
" I don't know," was the assistant's
reply. " He was called out at six
" He is wanted at Ashlydyat par-
ticularly," said Bexley. " Mr. Godol-
" Is he !" returned the assistant, his
quick tone indicating concern. And
the poor patients looked round, con-
cerned also. Thomas Godolphin had
always been their friend. And they
were not creditors of the bank, or the
fresh grievance might have blotted
out the good remembrance of long
" I can tell you where he is ; and
that's at Major Meersom's," continued
the assistant. " You might call and
speak to him if you like : it is on your
Bexley hastened away to Major
Meersom's, and succeeded in seeing
the surgeon. He informed him that
his master was worse, ā was very ill.
" One of the old attacks of pain, I
suppose ?" said Mr. Snow.
" Yes, sir," answered Bexley. " He
was taken while he was reading his
letters. Miss Janet thought it might
be some ill news or other that put him
"Ah," said Mr. Snow, and there
was a world of emphasis on the
THE SHADOW OF ASHLYDYAT
monosyllable. " Well, I shan't be
detained above half an hour longer
here, Bexley, and I'll come straight
He reached Ashlydyat within the
half hour after Bexley, rather than
over it : doctors' legs get over the
ground quick. Janet saw his ap-
proach, and came into the hall to
meet him. She was looking very sad
"Another attack, I hear," began
Mr. Snow, in his unceremonious
mode of salutation. " Bothered into
it, no doubt. Bexley says it came on
when he was reading letters."
" Yes," answered Janet in aquiesc-
ence, her tone a resentful one. " The
handwriting of the letter was George's,
I saw : and nothing pleasant could
come from him."
Mr. Snow gave a grunt as he turn-
ed towards the stairs. " Not there,"
interposed Janet. " He is in the
With the wan wbito look upon his
face, with the moisture of pain still
upon his brow, l?y Thomas Godol-
phin. He wr-s <^n the sofa now ; but
he partially rose from it and assumed
a sitting posture when the surgeon
A few professional questions and
answers, and then Mr. Snow began to
grumble. "Did I not warn you that
you must have perfect tranquillity ?"
cried he. " Rest of body and of
" You did. But how am I to get
it ? Even now, I ought to be at the
bank, facing the trouble there."
" Where's George ?" sharply asked
" In London," replied Thomas Go-
dolphin. But he said it in no com-
plaining accent : neither did his tone
invite further comment.
Mr. Snow was one who did not
wait for an invitation in such a cause,
ere he spoke. "It is just one of two
things, Mr. Godolphin. Either George
must come back and face this worry,
or else you'll die."
" I shall die, however it may be,
Snow," was the reply of Thomas Go-
" So will most of us, I expect," re-
turned the doctor. " But there's no
necessity for our being helped on to it
by others, ages before death would
come of itself. What's your brother
at, in London ?"
" I realh r do not know."
"Amusing himself, of course. What's
his address ?"
"That I do not know."
" Who does know it ? His wife ?"
" I think it likely she does now. I
have not made the inquiry of her."
"Well, he must be got here."
Thomas shook his head. The ac-
tion, as implying a negative, aroused
the wrath of Mr. Snow. "Do you
want to die ?" he asked. " One would
think it, by your keeping your brother
" There is no person would be more
glad to see my brother here than I,"
returned Thomas Godolphin. "If ā
if it were expedient that he should
"Need there be affected conceal-
ment between us, Mr. Godolphin ?"
resumed the surgeon, after a pause.
"You must be aware that I have
heard the rumor afloat. A doctor
hears every thing, you know. You
are uncertain whether it would be
safe for George to come back to
" It is something of that, Snow."
"But now, what is there against
him ā it is of no use to mince the mat-
ter ā besides those bonds of Lord
"There's nothing else against him.
At least, in ā in " He did not go
on. He could not bring his lips to
say of his brother ā " in a criminal
point of view."
" Nothing else of which unpleasant
legal cognizance can be taken," freely
interposed Mr Snow. "Well, now,
it is my opinion that there's not a
shadow of fear to be entertained from
Lord Averil. He is your old and firm
friend, Mr. Godolphin."
" He has been mine, ā yes. Not
THE SHADOW OF A S IT L Y D Y A T
much of George's. Most men in such
a case of ā of loss, would resent it,
without reference to former friendship.
I am not at any certainty, you see:
and therefore I cannot take the re-
sponsibility of saying to my brother
' It is safe for you to return.' Lord
Averil has never been near me since.
I argue ill from it."
" He has not been with you for the
best of all possible reasons, ā that he
has been away from Prior's Ash," ex-
plained Mr. Snow.
" He has been away ? I did not
" He has, then. He was called
away unexpectedly by some relative's
illness, a day or two after your house
was declared bankrupt. He may
have refrained from calling on you just
at the time of that happening,from mo-
tives of delicacy."
" True," replied Thomas Godolphin.
But his tone was not a hopeful one.
" When does he return ?"
" He has returned. He came back
last night." '
There was a pause. Thomas Go-
dolphin broke it. " I wish you could
give me something to avert or miti-
gate these sharp attacks of pain,
Snow," he said. " It is agony, in
fact; not pain."
" I know it," replied Mr. Snow.
"Where's the use of my attempting to
give you any thing? You don't take
Thomas lifted his eyes in some sur-
prise. "I have taken all that you de-
" No you have not. I prescribe
tranquillity of mind and body. You
Thomas Godolphin leaned a little
nearer to the doctor, and paused be-
fore he answered. " Tranquillity of
mind, for me, has passed. I can
never know it again. Were my life
to be prolonged, the great healer of
all things, Time, might bring it to me
in a degree : but, for that, I shall not
live. Snow, you must know this to
be the case, under the calamity which
has fallen upon my head."
" It ought to have fallen upon your
brother's head, not upon yours," was
the rejoinder of the surgeon, spoken
crossly, in his inability to contradict
Mr. Godolphin's words. " At any
rate, you cannot go on any longer,
facing this business in person."
" I must indeed. There is no help
"And suppose it kills you?" was
"If I could help going, I would,"
said Thomas. " But there is no help.
One of us must be there ; and George
cannot. You are not ignorant of the
laws of bankruptcy."
"It is another nail in your coffin,"
grunted Mr. Snow, as he took his
He went direct to the bank. He
asked to see Mrs. George Godolphin.
Maria, in her pretty morning-dress of
lavender-spotted muslin, was seated
with Meta on her knees. She had
been reading the- child a Bible-story,
and was now talking to her in a low
voice, ā her own face, so gentle, so
pure, and so sad, bent towards the
little one upturned to it.
" Well, young lady, and how are all
the dolls ?" was the surgeon's greet-
ing. " Will you send her away to
play with them, Mrs. George ?"
Meta ran on the errand. She in-
tended to come bustling down with
her arms full. Mr. Snow took his
seat opposite Maria.
" Why does your husband not come
back ?" he abruptly asked.
The question seemed to turn Ma-
ria's heart to sickness. She opened
her lips to answer, but stopped in
hesitation. Mr. Snow resumed :
" His staying away is killing Thomas
Godolphin. I prescribe tranquillity
for him ; total rest : instead of which
he is obliged to come here day after
day, and be in a continuous scene of
turmoil. Your husband must return,
Mrs. George Godolphin."
" Y ā es," she faintly answered, lack-
ing the courage to say that considera-
tions for his personal security might
" Murder will not mend these un-
happy matters, Mrs. George Godol-
THE SHADOW OF ASHLYDYAT,
phin ; nor would it be a desirable
ending to them. And it will be nothing
less than murder, if he does not come
back, for Mr. Godolphin will surely
All Maria's pulses seemed to beat
the quicker. "Is Mr. Godolphin
worse ?" she asked.
" He is considerably worse. I have
been called in to him this morning.
My last orders to him were, not to at-
tempt to come to the bank. His an-
swer was, that he must come; that
there was no help for it. I believe
there is no help for it, George being
away. You must get him home, Mrs.
She looked sadly blank, sadly per-
plexed. Mr. Snow read it correctly.
" My dear, I think there would be no
hazard, Lord Averil being a personal
friend of Mr. Godolphin's. I think
there's none for another reason ā that
if the viscount's intention had been to
stir unpleasantly in the affair, he would
have done it ere this."
" Yes ā I have thought of that," she
"And now I must go again," he
said, rising. " I wish to-day was
twenty-four hours long for the work
J have to do in it ; but I spaced a few
minutes to call in and tell you this.
Get your husband here, for the sake
of his good brother."
The tears were in Maria's eyes.
She could scarcely think of Thomas
Godolphin and his unmerited troubles
without their rising. Mr. Snow saw
the wet eyelashes, and laid his hand
on the smoothly-parted hair.
" You have had your share of sor-
row just now, child," he said ; "more
than you ought to have. It is making
you look like a ghost. Why does he
leave you to battle it out alone ?"
added Mr. Snow, his anger overmas-
tering him, as he gazed at her pale
face, her rising sobs. " Prior's Ash
is crying shame upon him. Are you
and his brother of less account than
he, in his own eyes, that he should
abandon you to it ?"
She strove to excuse her husband ā
he was her husband, in spite of that
cruel calumny divulged by Margery ā
but Mr. Snow would not listen. He
was in a hurry he said, and went bus-
tling out of the door, nearly upsetting
Meta, with her dolls, who was bustling
Maria sent the child to the nursery
again after Mr. Snow's departure, and
stood, her head pressed against the
frame of the open window, looking un-
consciously on to the terrace, and re-
volving the words recently spoken.
" It is killing Thomas Godolphin. It
will be nothing less than murder, if
George does not come back."
Every fibre of her frame was thrill-
ing to it in answer; every generous
impulse of her heart was stirred to its
depths. He ought to be back. She
had long thought so. For her sake ā
but she was nothing; for Thomas Go-
dolphin's ; for her husband's own repu-
tation. Down deep in her heart she
thrust that dreadful revelation of his
falsity, and strove to bury it, as an
English wife and gentlewoman has no
resource but to do. Ay ! to bury it ;
and to keep it buried ! though the con-
cealment eat away her life ā as that
scarlet letter A, you have read of, eat
into the bosom of another woman re-
nowned in story. It seemed to Maria
that the time was come when she must
inquire a little into the actual state of
affairs, instead of hiding her head and
spending her days in the indulgence
of her fear and grief. If the whole
world spoke against him, ā if the
whole world had cause to speak, ā she
was his wife still, and his interests anil
welfare were hers. Were it possible
that any effort she could make would
bring him back, she must make it.
The words of Mr. Snow still rang
in her ears. How was she to set
about it ? A few minutes given to
reflection, her aching brow pressed on
the cold window-frame, and she turned
and rang the bell. When the servant
appeared, she sent him into the bank
with a request that Mr. Hurde would
come and speak with her for five
Mr. Hurde was not long in obe}Miig
the summons. He appeared with a
THE SHADOW OP A S H L Y D Y A T
pen behind his ear, and his spectacles
pushed up on his brow.
It was not a pleasant task, and Ma-
ria had to swallow a good many lumps
in her throat before she could make
known precisely what she wanted.
" Would Mr. llurde tell her the exact
state of things ? What there was, or
was not, against her husband."
Mr. Hurde gave no very satisfac-
tory reply. He took off his glasses
and wiped them. Maria had invited
him to a chair, and sat near him, her
elbow leaning on the table, and her
face slightly bent. Mr. Hurde did not
know what Mrs. George Godolphin
had or had not heard, or how far it
would be expedient for him to speak.
She guessed at his dilemma.
" Tell me all, Mr. Hurde," she said,
lifting her face to his with imploring
eagerness. "It is well that you
should, for nothing can be more cruel
than the uncertainty and suspense I
am in. I know about Lord Averil's
"Ay ?". he replied. But he said no
" I'll tell you why I ask," said Ma-
ria. "Mr. Snow has been here, and
he informs me that the coming to the
bank daily, the worry, is killing Mr.
Godolphin. He says Mr. George
ought to be back in his brother's
place. I think if he can come, he
" I wish he could," returned Mr.
Hurde, more quickly and impressively
than he usually spoke. " It is killing
Mr. Godolphin, ā that, and the bank-
ruptcy together. But I don't know
that it would be safe for him, on ac-
count of these very bonds, ā Lord
" What else is there against him ?"
" There's nothing else."
" Nothing else ?" she echoed, a
shade of hope lighting up her face
and her heart.
" Nothing else. That is, nothing
that he can be made criminally re-
sponsible for," added the old clerk,
with marked emphasis, as if he thought
that there was a great deal more, had
the law but taken cognizance of it.
If Lord Averil should decline to prose-
cute), he might come back to-morrow.
He must be back soon, whether or
not, to answer to his bankruptcy ;
or else "
" Or else, ā what ?" asked Maria,
falteringly, for Mr. Hurde had stop-
" Or else never come back at all, ā .
never be seen, in fact, in England.
That's how it is, ma'am."
"Would it not be well to ascertain
Lord Averil's feelings upon the sub-
ject, Mr. Hurde ?" she rejoined, break-
ing a silence.
" It would be very well, if it could
be done. But who is to do it ?"
Maria was beginning to think that
she would. " You are sure there is
nothing else against him V ohe re-
" Nothing that need prevent his
returning to Prior's Ash."
There was no more to be answered,
and Mr. Hurde withdrew. Maria lost
herself in thought. Could she dare
to go to Lord Averil and beseech his
clemency ? Her brow flushed at the
thought. But she had been inured
to humiliation of late, and it would
be but another di*op in the cup of
pain. Oh, the relief it would be could
the dreadful suspense, the uncertainty,
end ! The suspense was awful. Even
if it ended in the worst, it would be
almost a relief. If Lord Averil should
be intending to prosecute, who knew
but he might forego the intention at
her prayers ? If so, ā if so, ā why, she
should ever say that God had sent her
There was the reverse side of the
picture. A haughty reception of her
ā for was she not the wife of the man
who had wronged him ? ā and a cold
refusal. How she should bear that
she did not like to think. Should
she go ? Could she go ? Even now
her heart was failing her ā
What noise was that? A sort of
commotion in the hall ? She opened
the dining-room door and glanced out
Thomas Godolphin, leaning on his
servant Bexley's arm, had come, and
THE SHADOW OF ASHLYDYAT
was entering the bank, there to go
through his day's work, looking more
fit to be in his coffin. It was the
turning of the scale.
" I will go to him !" murmured
Maria to herself. "I will go to Lord
Averil and hear all there may be to
hear. Let me do it ! Let me do it ! ā
for the sake of Thomas Godolphin !"
A VISIT OF PAIN.
The proposed application of Maria
firodolphin to Lord Averil may appear
but a very slight affair to the careless
and thoughtless, ā one of those trifling
annoyances which must occasionally
beset our course through life. Why
should Maria have shrunk from it
with that shiveringly sensitive dread ?
. ā and have set about it as a forced
duty, with a burning cheek and fail-
ing heart ? Consider what it was
that she undertook, you who would
regard it lightly ; pause an instant
and look at it in all its bearings.
Her husband, George Godolphin, had
robbed Lord Averil of sixteen thou-
sand pounds ; or their value. It is
of no use to mince the matter. He
had shown himself neither more nor
less than a common robber, a thief, a
swindler. He, a man of the same
social stamp as Lord Averil, moving
in the same sphere of county society,
had fallen from his pedestal by his
own fraudulent act, down to a level
(in crime) with the very dregs of
mankind. Perhaps no one in the
whole world could ever feel it in the
same humiliating degree as did his
wife, ā unless it might be Thomas
Godolphin. Both of them, unfor-
tunately for them, ā yes, I say it ad-
visedly ā unfortunately for them in
this bitter storm of shame, ā both of
them were of that honorable, upright,
ultra-refined nature on which such a
blow falls far more cruelly than death.
Death ! death ! If it does come, it
brings at least one recompense : the
humiliation and the trouble, the bitter
pain and the carking care are escaped
from, left behind forever in the cruel
world. Oh, if these miserable ill-
doers could but bear in their own
person all the pain and shame ! ā if
George Godolphin could but have
stood out on a pinnacle in the face of
Prior's Ash and expiated all his folly
alone ! But it could not be. It never
can or shall be. As the sins of the
people in the Israelitish camp were
laid upon the innocent and unhappy
scape-goat, the sins which men com-
mit in the present day are heaped upon
unconscious and guileless heads. As
the poor scape-goat wandered away
with his hidden burden into the re-
mote wilderness, away from the
haunts of man, so do these other
heavily-laden ones stagger away with
their unseen load, only striving to
hide themselves from the eyes of men
ā anywhere ā in patience and silence
. ā praying to die.
Every humiliation which . George
Godolphin had brought upon himself
ā every harsh word cast to him by
the world ā every innate sense of
guilt and shame, which must accom-
pany such conduct, was being ex-
piated by his wife. Yes, it fell worst
upon her: Thomas was but his
brother ; she was part and parcel of
himself. But that God's ways are not
as our ways, we might feel tempted
to ask why it should be that these
terrible trials are so often brought
upon the head of siich women as
Maria Godolphin, ā timid, good, gen-
tle, sensitive, ā the least of all able to
bear them. That such is frequently
the case, is indisputable. In no way
was Maria fitted to cope with this.
Many might have felt less this very
expedition to Lord Averil : to her it
was as the very bitterest humiliation.
She had hitherto met Loi'd Averil as
an equal ; she had entertained him at
her house as such ; she had stood
before him always in her calm self-
possession, with a clear face and a
clear conscience. And now she must
go to him, a humble petitioner ; bow
THE SHADOW OF ASIILYDYAT.
before liim in all her self-conscious
disgrace ; implore him to save her
husband from the consequences of his
criminal act, ā the standing at the
felon's bar and its sequel, the work-
ing at the hulks. She must virtually
ask Lord Averil to put up quietly
with the loss of the sixteen thousand
pounds, and to make no sign.
With a cheek flushed with emotion,
with a heart sick unto faintness,
Maria Godolphin stepped out of her
house in the full blaze of the midday
sun. A gloomy day, showing hei*-
sclf less conspicuously to the curious
gazers of Prior's Ash had been more
welcome to her. She had gone out
so rarely since the crash came ā but
that once, in fact, when she went to
see her mother ā that her appearance
was the signal for a commotion.
" There's Mrs. George Godolphin !
There's Mrs. George Godolphin !"
and Prior's Ash flocked to its doors
and its windows as if Mrs. George
Godolphin had been some unknown
curiosity in the animal world, never
yet exhibited to the eyes of the public.
Maria shielded her burning face from
observation as well as she could with
her small parasol, and passed on.
Lord Averil, she had found, was
staying with Colonel Max, and her
way led her past the rectory of All
Souls, past the house of Lady Sarah
Grame. Lady Sarah was at the win-
dow, and Maria bowed. The bow
was not returned. It was not returned !
ā ā Lady Sarah turned away with a
haughty movement, a cold glance.
It told cruelly upon Maria. Had any
thing been wanted to prove to her the
estimation in which she was now held
by Prior's Ash, that would have
The distance from her own house
to that of Colonel Max was about
two miles. Rather a long walk for
Maria at the present time, for she was
not in a condition of health to endure
fatigue. It was a square, moderate-
sized, red-brick house, standing con-
siderably back from the high-road,
and as Maria turned into its avenue
of approach, what with the walk, and
what with the dread apprehension of
the coming interview, the sick faint-
ness at her heart had begun to show
itself upon her face. The insult of-
fered her (could it be called any thing
less ?) by Lady Sarah Grame had
somehow seemed an earnest of what
she might expect from Lord Averil.
Lady Sarah had not a tenth of the
grievance against the bank that the
Nobody ever approached the col-
onel's house without having their ears
saluted with the baying and snarling
of his fox-hounds, whose kennels were
close by. In happier days ā days so
recently past, that they might almost
be counted as present ā when Maria
had gone to that house to dinner-
parties, she had drawn closer to