ing I shall run away."
"And what will you do then ?"
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 105
She looked back as she went out of the
doorway. " Walk all over the world, seek-
ing - "
" Seeking what ?"
"I don't know yet but I shall."
" She is like a woman in a dream," Mrs.
Oswell said to her husband that night. " Poor
little soul, I wish she would wake up."
" Humph ! Perhaps she is better off in the
4 ' Perhaps oh, Fred, dear, what a blessing
you are ! I feel as if I ought to say grace over
you, thanking God for my good husband as
children sometimes thank Him for their good
"I don't think we have a bad time on the
" We have a splendid time," she answered.
IT was nearly Easter. Katherine had been
married more than a year. The buds were on
the trees again : there was blue in the sky, and
the sun was shining. The streets were full
of flower-sellers. People loitered as they
walked, looking in at the shops or stayed
in the park to watch the carriages driving
quickly along the faces in them looked as
though they had been told a secret that was
" I know what it is," Katherine said to her-
self, "they may look old, but they feel young.
Spring has touched their hearts, the sunshine
is in their eyes and they see how lovely it is.
I wish Edward ' But as she thought of
him thei^e came back the memory of his jibes
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 107
and his mocking tone, his visible intolerance
of her presence. " I wish I could disappear
out of his life. I am like a prisoner at the end
of a chain that lets me go out a little way, just
so far, and never any farther." She stopped,
as she went along Oxford Street, at a flower-
stall. There were bunches of daffodils, round
balls of them, each with a few green blades in
"Twopence a bunch, miss," the man said.
She had a shilling of her own, and walked
back to Montague Place with her arms full of
flowers. People looked at her as she passed
them by. Her dark hair was coiled up into
a knot, her grey-blue eyes looked fearlessly
ahead, as if into the future. She had the ex-
pression of a woman who is waiting and knows
that she has far to go before she reaches her
goal. But her face had grown more content.
The beauty of the world appealed to her so
strongly that her own life seemed too trivial
a thing to consider over much. Besides, she
felt that even that trivial thing, her own life,
108 A FLASH OF SUMMER.
belonged to the world far more than to Mr.
Belcher. "I shall live in the world all my
days, whether I am with him or not, and be
buried in it when I die," she thought. He
did not want her, though between them there
was the terrible fetter of marriage that she
hated and at which he chafed, but that neither
of them could break. " For only death or sin
could undo marriage, no matter how blindly
it was entered upon or how miserable it
proved," she thought hopelessly.
" A handsome girl," a man said to his wife
as they passed her.
" Beautiful," answered the woman.
Katherine heard them ; a smile came to her
lips and looked out of her eyes. " I wonder
if it is true," she said to herself: u to be
beautiful in a beautiful world sounds wonder-
ful," and she went on her way. "I wish
some giant would arrive," she thought, "and
sweep all these houses into the sea, and we
could devise some way of living without them,
under trees or in tents. If we could wander
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 1Q9
away to the far ends of the world just as we
liked, how much better it would be. Then
Edward would not sit in an office all day and
listen to quarrels and grievances, and he would
think some good of human nature, just as
Mrs. Oswell does, and he wouldn't care for
money he would be altogether different.
Perhaps his office is very ugly, and the peo^
pie who go to him are mean and ugly too :
"trying to get money may have made them so,
and they reflect themselves in him. He may
have been quite different when he started in
life" she was turning the key in the door
of Montague Place, and entered with her
daffodils. "If he would only be different
again ! I shouldn't fall in love with him as
Mrs. Oswell said, but I should like to admire
him and to think how good he was, and that
it was all my fault if we were not happy to-
He was going to dine at home that evening,
so she arranged some daffodils for the table,
wondering if they would please him ; but it was
HO A FLASH OF SUMMER.
a forlorn hope, she had made the place pretty
with flowers before and looked her best at din-
ner and tried all the artifices that youth and
prettiness know only to find them useless.
He had seen through them, and showed her
that he did, and gone out. It was four o'clock
when the flowers were done : two or three
hours yet before he came home. An idea
crossed her mind and took possession of her.
" I'll go and see Uncle Robert," she said ;
" it's just possible I may find him in, and it is
a long time since I saw him." As if she had
been touched by a finger of fate, she turned
and went out of the house. She had only been
to see him once or twice before since he had
come to town, she never understood what hur-
ried her to him now. The Frenchwoman
opened the door and looked radiant.
" Oh, this is good ! " she cried ; "I am glad
that you have come ; there is great news. Go
upstairs, madame, and let monsieur your uncle
tell you himself."
The sitting-room was in a state of chaos.
A FLASH OF SUMMER.
Mr. Morris was packing some papers into a
box; he looked at her with a moment's silent
bewilderment before he spoke.
" Katherine" his voice was eager and hur-
ried "I did not expect you. Why have you
come ? I have not told Belcher yet."
" What has happened, Uncle Robert?" she
asked. "Are you going away?" He looked
at her under his eyebrows while he answered
in the old hard manner that he only seemed
to maintain with a struggle.
"I had a letter to-day by the Australian
mail. Richard my son, has left a wife and
two boys. I go to Liverpool to-morrow, and
sail for Melbourne on Wednesday."
U I am glad. Oh! dear Uncle Robert, I'm
" Belcher won't be," he said shortly ; " he'll
think that I shall not leave you so much
"What does it matter? People seem to
buy wickedness and misery with money. Per-
haps these children will make you happy."
112 A FLASH OF SUMMER.
"But what will your husband say ?" She
stopped and considered ; a shudder passed
"I don't know," she answered, and quailed
" I did not know he was so hard, Katherine,
or I would not have let you marry him. I
thought I was doing the best I could for you.
A woman is better married, and there was no
one else." It was the only apology he could
bring himself to make, and he made it grudg-
"Perhaps he doesn't mean ' she be-
"I'm glad you have come," Mr. Morris
went on, not heeding her, "for I wanted to
give you this ; I wrote it out, and have been
wondering how to get it to you without his
knowledge. It is a cheque for two hundred
pounds. If I should not return, and he treats
you badly, it will help you to do something
or bring you out to Australia. Perhaps you
had better cash it to-morrow ; it is not crossed ;
A FLASH OF SUMMER. H3
go to the bank, get notes, and keep them by
" Oh, Uncle Robert, could you not take
me with you? He does not want me, in-
"Nonsense ! A woman's place is with her
husband," he said, with his old curtness, and
she knew there was no appeal. " I must have
a talk with Belcher ; there is a great deal to
say to him before I go. I'll come and dine
with you to-night. You had better go back
now. Tell him I shall be there by half-past
seven and, Katherine, get that cheque cashed
to-morrow, but don't spend the money unless
you're obliged. Stay! Can you take this
telegram for me ? I must tell them to keep a
room for me to-morrow night at the hotel at
Liverpool, or I may find myself stranded ; I
sail on Wednesday morning. Now, good-
bye." He looked at her for a moment, and
the expression of his face softened. "You
have grown into a handsome girl," he said ;
"the Frenchwoman downstairs talks a good
114 A FLASH OF SUMMER.
deal of nonsense about you, but I believe she's
right." He put his hands upon her shoulder
and kissed her forehead. That was his fare-
well, for, though he came to dinner that night,
she did not see him alone again. She asked
if she might see him off from Euston, but he
refused, though he seemed pleased at the re-
MR. BELCHER hardly spoke to Katharine
that evening while her uncle was there, and
the next morning he seemed too much en-
grossed with his own thoughts even to be
aware of her presence ; but he looked back
with an expression that frightened her as he
left the house. It was the day Mr. Morris left
London ; she knew that he had some business
with her husband in the middle of the day,
and that was all.
The storm burst at dinner. He hardly
spoke till the cloth was cleared and Harriet
had left the room.
"Your uncle is probably in Liverpool by
this time," he said.
"I know," she said, feeling that there was
more to come.
A FLASH OF SUMMER.
" And has left me saddled with you for the
rest of my days."
"I am sorry, but it is not my fault,"
she said, and stood facing him on the hearth-
"If you had been a clever woman you
would have managed him. You haven't a
spark of cleverness in you. The result is that
he has made a totally inadequate provision for
you, and, if this woman and her brats get over
him, he'll probably make it worse still. I
suppose he calls that behaving like an honest
man. I don't. An old fool he was always
an old fool ! "
"Please don't say that to me," she said
gently. "I am sorry he has gone, and I hope
he will find his grandchildren. They will
make him happier."
"Bosh! I hate sentiment. I wonder if
you know how tired I am of seeing you, -Kath-
erine. I only married you because Morris
wanted to get rid of you."
"He didn't," she flashed. He looked at
A FLASH OF SUMMER.
her for a moment and tried to cow her with a
still more bullying manner.
" He wanted to get rid of you, and there
was no other way of doing it. He was tired
of you, as I am."
"Why did you marry me? You knew
that I did not want you, and you were not
obliged to do it ; and you didn't do it because
you liked me, but only because you thought
you would get money by it. Oh ! I hate
money ; I hate nothing in the world so much
as money. But now that is done," she went
on quickly, with a tremble in her voice, " what
is the good of making me miserable ? I have
done nothing that I knew would vex you since
I' ve come into the house. Why can't you be
"I don't want to be kind to you. I know
that you dislike me, and I dislike you, wan-
dering up and down the house with your soft
footsteps like a cat. You are just like a cat ! "
"Why do you say such cruel things to
me ? I have done nothing to make you hate
118 A FLASH OF SUMMER.
me so much. Is it because you like anybody
else?" she asked, remembering Mrs. Oswell's
"Yes, I like someone else," he answered
triumphantly, "and always have. Somebody
who has plenty to say, and is quick and merry,
and doesn't bore one as you do."
"Why didn't you marry her?" she asked
" She was married, and found her husband
as great a clog as I find a wife ; but now he's
dead he died six months ago and she is
free, and I always hated girls : they are so
"And I hate you," she cried, "more than
anything in the world. You married me for
money, and I'm glad you have not got it. I
hope you will never get any, and I shall write
and tell Uncle Robert so."
"You can write him anything you please.
He has gone to the devil, and I wish you
would go after him. I saw Williams, the
doctor, this afternoon, and he said that the
A FLASH OF SUMMER. H9
chances are nineteen to twenty against his re-
turning alive ; and he did his worst, as far as
you are concerned, before he started to-day."
She turned to leave the room without an-
"This has been a nice little scene," he said.
" Oh ! " she said, and burst into tears, " will
nothing set us free ? I never wanted to marry
you, and you have never cared for me ; it is
frightful to think that we are condemned to
be together all our lives. Couldn't we part
or at least try to be a little better towards
each other 3" She unconsciously held out
her hand as if in pacification. With uncon-
trollable rage he struck it away.
"Get out ! " he said, opening the door ; "I
am sick and tired of the sight of you, and
have no patience with tears." She looked at
her hand unbelievingly and at him, then
walked slow]y away. He heard her going
upstairs. He stood still for a moment. "I
wonder why I hate her so much. Some men
would like her she is growing handsome. I
120 A FLASH OF SUMMER.
believe I hate her because she doesn't light me.
I like a spice of the devil in a woman."
Katherine went into the little room she
called her own. It was still gay with daffo-
dils. She threw herself down on the sofa. A
corner as of something sharp made itself felt
against her chest ; she put up her hand to it
and remembered. It was the bank notes into
which she had changed her uncle's cheque.
She came down early the following morn-
ing, for sleep was impossible. The bitterness
and insult of the quarrel last night had stag-
gered her ; she shivered as she entered the
dining-room. There were two letters by her
plate on the breakfast table ; the top one was
addressed in Susan's handwriting, the other
she did not know. She slipped them quickly
into her pocket, for she knew that Mr. Belcher
would jeer at them even if he did not read
them. She heard him coming, and put her
hand to her throat for a moment to steady
A FLASH OF SUMMER.
u Good morning," he said, in the mocking
voice that always made her writhe; " slept
well?" She looked back at him with the
clear, unflinching expression that provoked
" Yes, I slept well," she said. "It was
happiness to sleep, for I forgot everything."
Her manner was distant, but so oddly cour-
teous that for a moment he was puzzled. She
stood looking at him, tall and scornful yet
polite, older by five years than when he had
married her, although it was only fifteen
"In a temper?"
"No," she answered calmly. "Perhaps
we'd better have breakfast." She poured out
his coffee and put it beside him, with his pa-
per. There were some minutes of silence, then
he looked up.
" I think we arrived at a full understanding
last night," he said. " If you had been a clever
woman you would have wheedled your uncle
out of some money."
122 A FLASH OF SUMMER.
U I did not want it."
"There'll be next to nothing now when he
dies that is, if he gets out there safely and
finds these brats. I should not wonder if he
makes a new will, and does away with the
little he has left you. He'll probably stay out
there. He has resigned his directorship and
everything else. Meanwhile, I'm saddled with
a log in the shape of a woman all my life. I
thought he was going to leave you twenty-five
thousand pounds, Katherine." She got up
and poked the fire.
"I'm glad you are not going to get it."
"Glad, are you?" he exclaimed, starting
up and staring at her face.
" Yes, glad ! " she cried. " You have made
me miserable. I'm glad you are not going to
get his money."
" You fool ! " he exclaimed, and raised his
hand and struck her again, just as when she
was a child, and before he had grown more
gentle, her Uncle Robert used to strike her.
She turned, and looked at him with a face so
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 123
white and terrible that he was frightened. She
put her hand upon the bell ; he seized it and
pulled it away. "Go and sit down," he said,
and almost pushed her back into her place.
"Will you never understand that I was hood-
winked into marrying you a schoolgirl I
don't care twopence about thinking you
would have what you never will have? I've
not wanted to be unkind to you," he said
half apologetically, "but it makes me so
impatient to think that I am tied to a dum-
my, a fool, a log, a mill-stone ; and mar-
riage is so interminable." She got up again,
and stood on the same, spot where he had
" I don't want it to go on," she said. " You
made me marry you. I was a baby, and did
not dare oppose you and Uncle Robert. But
it is not marriage," she said with sudden bit-
terness ; "it's not like the Oswells' marriage,
or the marriage of the men and women I see
walking about. You have never been kind to
me, and you have given me no sympathy or
A FLASH OF SUMMER.
companionship since the day we started from
Shooter's Hill together."
"I've given it elsewhere."
" You have only insulted me and made me
miserable," she went on calmly, not noticing
his remark. " Why must we go on living to-
gether? I know you hate me, as I do you.
My one desire is to go out of your sight for-
ever. Let me go ! "
" You can go to the devil, if you like," he
said. And he thought, "She's uncommonly
good-looking, and I had no idea that there was
so much spirit in her. Perhaps, after all, she's
only artful, and not such a fool as I took her
"Let me go," she repeated, "and live with
Susan in Somersetshire, or in one of the little
cottages beyond the churchyard at Eltham."
And she thought of the palace and the crane.
" Who's to pay for the separate establish-
ment, I should like to know ? It might, of
course, be amusing to go and see you in a cot-
tage," he sneered ; "it would make you seem
A FLASH OP SUMMER. 125
less like a wife a wife is such a bore. I could
run down and dine with you sometimes. I
never understood why people should be forced
to live together all their days, and every day,
just because they're married. If you lived in
the next street, we should not hate each other
"If you would only let me go," she went'
on, not heeding his remark. "I could live
on very little money."
"I don't choose you to go away. Your
precious uncle would certainly do nothing for
Gibson opened the door and looked in.
"Your portmanteau is ready, sir."
"Send for a hansom." Then he spoke to
Katherine again. "I am going out of town
for a few days. This is Wednesday the day
your precious uncle goes on board at Liver-
pool. I shall be away over Easter. If you
hadn't been a fool I might have taken you
with me ; as it is, I shall get pleasanter com-
pany. When I return we'll continue our ami-
120 A FLASH OF SUMMER.
able relations. I'll put two pounds on the
mantelpiece in case you want any money while
I'm away; you can keep an account of it."
He opened the door. " Is the hansom there ? "
" Good-bye," he said, turning back to Kath-
erine ; ' ' perhaps as we are going to be sep-
arated for a whole week we'd better kiss each
"If you dare," she said scornfully, her
eyes flashing with anger. "I hate you I
hate you I hate you ! I would rather be
bitten by a tiger or stung anything in the
world rather than let you touch me. Go
away, go away ! " He stood and looked at
her for a moment with amazement. Gibson
came to the door.
" Your bag's on the top, sir," she said.
He looked at Katherme again and laughed.
"You did that very well," he said, and
went out of the house followed by Gibson.
"If she were always like that," he thought,
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 127
as he drove off, " she'd be something like. I
begin to think she's rather amusing, after
The hansom drove away. Gibson came up
the steps, and closed the dining-room door as
she passed. Then Katherine walked up and
down trying to get calm. "I can't bear it,"
she cried to herself, "I can't go on bearing it.
I would rather die than live like this. Uncle
Robert sails to-day " she stopped and consid-
ered. "But there would be no time to over-
take him at Liverpool ; he may have started
already. I'll telegraph to him," and she went
to the writing-table by the window ; "but no,
it would be no good. Oh ! " and with a sense
of insult that was not to be borne, she put
her hands against the side of her face that
he had struck. "I cannot cannot live and
see him again ; I must go away somewhere.
Uncle Robert gave me the money he surely
gave it me for this. I'll follow him out"-
but as she said it a feeling of despair came
over her, and she shook her head. "He
128 A FLASH OP SUMMER.
wouldn't understand," she said; "he used-
he used" she hesitated, for she could not
bear to remember unkindness after so many
years u he used to strike me, too, when I
was little. He thinks about women as Edward
does that they should have no feeling but
submission towards men, and take even blows
with meekness." It was the old idea, she
thought. But men were not like it in these
days, or only the few, and they the second-
rate men, who were afraid of being found out
if they did not protect themselves with tyran-
ny. The best men of any class were different.
She knew that it was so. She had seen Mr.
and Mrs. Oswell and all the people who walked
together in the streets of London. Little Har-
riet downstairs was miserable for months after
her father died, and her mother had nearly
died, too, of a broken heart. No one would
die of a broken heart for Mr. Belcher. "Oh,
I can't bear it! I can't bear it!" she cried,
and hid her face in her hands. "I will go
away right away and never let him see me
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 129
again. I will go to Susan and live with her."
Then she remembered that there was a letter
from Susan in her pocket, as well as another
in a strange hand the letters she had found
on the table when she came down. Susan's
was merely to wish her a happy Easter, and
to say that she had not been well lately, and
had a niece coming to stay with her. Kath-
erine read it first from a sense of loyalty, but
she was curious about the strange one : it
made a break in the misery of that terrible
morning. It proved to be from a firm of
solicitors in Chancery Lane, and enclosed a
cheque for ninety pounds, a legacy less duty,
bequeathed her by Mrs. Barrett, who had died
three months before. She looked up with
amazement, a little dulled by the excitement
she had been going through. Ninety pounds,
and no one knew she had it, besides the two
hundred her uncle had given her on Monday !
It was a fortune to Katherine, for she was
wholly unused to deal with money, and knew
but little of its value. It was surely a chance
130 A FLASH OF SUMMER,
sent from Heaven? If only Mrs. Oswell were
in town she would have gone to consult her ;
as it was, she sat still with clasped hands
looking at the cheque. It was crossed and
payable to order. "I will go to the bank
and cash it, and then I'll go to Bridgwater
to Susan and have one happy peaceful week
before he comes back, and then he shall come
and fetch me if he wants me. Poor Susan !
if she is ill I can nurse her," she thought,
longing to be tender to somebody. "She will
be glad when she sees me. I cannot stay. I
must go I must ; and it is best for both of
us. I cannot, cannot stay ! " she kept on re-
peating to herself as she went slowly upstairs
and, like a woman in a dream, gathered to-
gether most of her belongings. 4< I had better
take them. I shall never come back unless
he makes me," she thought; " perhaps Susan
will like them when I am dead." She pulled
her trunk, the one she had taken to Winder-
mere, out from the corner. The lock was
broken ; it did not matter ; there was a little
A FLASH OF SUMMER. 131
strap on either side that would be fastening
enough. She began putting in one thing after
another till it was full, hardly knowing what
she did, only eager to get away from the
house, away from Mr. Belcher for ever and
ever. She took Uncle Robert's money out of
the little desk in which she had hidden it last
night, and put it in her bosom, and then she
looked at the cheque for Mrs. Barrett's legacy.
"I wonder if she knows about me now," she
said to herself, u or if the dead know nothing,
but lie in their graves straight and still for
ever." She went to the glass to put on her
hat and stared at her own face. It was like
a stranger's. Then she wandered aimlessly
round the room, as if trying to remember
something. "No, no; that is all." She
sighed and rang the bell.
" Harriet," she said, "send for a cab and
have this box put on it. I am going to Bridg-
Gibson came up quickly.