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Bartley at what must follow; but come what might, no power should
induce her to say the word that should send Walter Clifford to jail for
seven years.

Bartley came to her; she trembled, and her hands worked.

"What are you saying, you fool?" he whispered. "The lady that left the
bracelet was there with a gentleman."

Mary winced.

Then Bartley said, sternly, "Who was your companion?"

"I must not say."

"You will say one thing," said Bartley, "or I shall have no mercy on you.
Are you secretly married?"

Then a single word flashed across Mary's almost distracted
mind - SELF-SACRIFICE. She held her tongue.

"Can't you speak? Are you a wife?" He now began to speak so loud in his
anger that everybody heard it.

Mary crouched a little and worked her hands convulsively under the
torture, but she answered with such a doggedness that evidently she would
have let herself be cut to pieces sooner than said more.

"I - don't - know."

"You don't know?" roared Bartley.

Mary paused, and then, with iron doggedness, "I - don't - know."

This apparent insult to his common-sense drove Bartley almost mad. "You
have given these cursed Cliffords a triumph over me," he cried; "you have
brought shame to my door; but it shall never pass the threshold." Here
the Colonel uttered a contemptuous snort. This drove Bartley wild
altogether; he rushed at the Colonel, and shook his fist in his face.
"You stand there sneering at my humiliation; now see the example I can
make." Then he was down upon Mary in a moment, and literally yelled at
her in his fury. "Go to your paramour, girl; go where you will. You never
enter my door again." And he turned his back furiously upon her.

This terrible denunciation overpowered poor Mary's resolution; she clung
to him in terror. "Oh, mercy, mercy, papa! I'll explain to _you_, have
pity on your child!"

Bartley flung her so roughly from him that she nearly fell, "You are my
child no more."

But at that moment in strode William Hope, looking seven feet high, and
his eyes blazing. "Liar and hypocrite," he roared, "_she never was your
child_!" Then, changing to a tone of exquisite love, and stretching out
both his hands to Mary, "SHE IS MINE!"

Mary, being now between the two men, turned swiftly first to one, then to
the other, and with woman's infallible eye knew her own flesh and blood
in that half-moment. She uttered a cry of love and rapture that went
through every heart that heard it; and she flung herself in a moment upon
her father's bosom.

He whirled her round like a feather on to his right arm, then faced both
her enemies, Clifford and Bartley, with haughty defiance, head thrown
back, and eyes that flashed black lightning in defense of his child.




CHAPTER XVII.

LOVERS' QUARRELS.


It was a living picture. The father protecting his child like an eagle;
Bartley cooled in a moment, and hanging his head apart, gloomy and
alarmed at the mad blunder rage had betrayed him into; Colonel Clifford
amazed and puzzled, and beginning to see the consequences of all this;
Julia clasping her hands in rapture and thrilling interest at so
romantic an incident; Fitzroy beaming with delight at his sweetheart
being cleared; and, to complete the picture, the villainous face of
Leonard Monckton, disguised as an old man, showed itself for a moment
sinister and gloomy; for now all hope of pecuniary advantage to him was
gone, and nothing but revenge was on the cards, and he could not see his
way clear to that.

But Hope was no posture-maker; he turned the next moment and said a word
or two to all present.

"Yes, this is Grace Hope, my daughter. We were very poor, and her life
was in danger; I saw nothing else but that; my love was stronger than my
conscience; I gave her to that man upon a condition which he has now
broken. He saved her life and was kind to her. I thanked him; I thank him
still, and I did my best to repay him. But now he has trusted to
appearances, and not to her; he has belied and outraged her publicly. But
I am as proud of her as ever, and don't believe appearances against her
character and her angel face and - "

"No more do I," cried Julia Clifford, eagerly. "I know her. She's purity
itself, and a better woman than I shall ever be."

"Thank you, Miss Clifford," said Hope, in a broken voice; "God bless you.
Come, Grace, and share my humble home. At all events, it will shelter you
from insult."

And so the pair went lovingly away, Grace clinging to her father,
comforted for the moment, but unable to speak, and entered Hope's little
cottage. It was but a stone's-throw from where they stood.

This broke up the party.

"And my house is yours," said Colonel Clifford to Julia. "I did not
believe appearances against a Clifford." With these words he took two
steps toward his niece and held out his arm. She moved toward him. Percy
came forward radiant to congratulate her. She drew up with a look of
furious scorn that made him recoil, and she marched proudly away with
her uncle. He bestowed one parting glance of contempt upon the
discomfited Bartley, and marched his niece proudly off, more determined
than ever that she should be his daughter. But for once he was wise
enough not to press that topic: he let her indignation work alone.
Moreover, though he was a little wrong-headed and not a little
pig-headed, he was a noble-minded man, and nothing noble passed him
unobserved or unappreciated.

"_That_ Bartley's daughter!" said he to Julia. "Ay, when roses spring
from dunghills, and eagles are born of sparrow-hawks. Brave
girl! - brave girl!"

"Oh, uncle," said Julia, "I am so glad you appreciate her!"

"Appreciate her!" said the Colonel; "what should I be worth if I did not?
Why, these are the women that win Waterloo in the persons of their sons.
That girl could never breed a coward nor a cheat." Then his incisive
voice mellowed suddenly. "Poor young thing," said he, with manly emotion,
"I saw her come out of that room pale as death to do another woman
justice. She's no fool, though that ruffian called her one. She knew what
she was doing, yet for all her woman's heart she faced disgrace as
unflinchingly as if it was, only death. It was a great action, a noble
action, a just action, and a manly action, but done like a very woman.
Where the two sexes meet like that in one brave deed it's grand. I
declare it warms an old soldier's heart, and makes him thank God there
are a few creatures in the world that do humanity honor."

As the Colonel was a man that stuck to a topic when he got upon it, this
was the main of his talk all the way to Clifford Hall. He even remarked
to his niece that, so far as his observations of the sex extended, great
love of justice was not the leading feature of the female mind; other
virtues he ventured to think were more prominent.

"So everybody says," was Julia's admission.

"Everybody is right for once," said the Colonel.

They entered the house together, and Miss Clifford went up to her room;
there she put on a new bonnet and a lovely shawl, recently imported from
Paris. Who could this be for? She sauntered upon the lawn till she found
herself somehow near the outward boundary, where there was a gate leading
into the Park. As she walked to and fro by this gate she observed, out of
the tail of her eye of course, the figure of a devoted lover creeping
toward her. Whether this took her by surprise, or whether the lovely
creature was playing the part of a beautiful striped spider waiting for
her fly, the reader must judge for himself.

Percy came to the gate; she walked past him twice, coming and going with
her eyes fixed upon vacancy. She passed him a third time. He murmured in
a pleading voice,

"Julia!"

She neither saw nor heard, so attractive had the distant horizon become.

Percy opened the gate and came inside, and stood before her the next time
she passed. She started with _surprise_.

"What do you want here?" said she.

"To speak to you."

"How dare you speak to me after your vile suspicions?"

"Well, but, Julia - "

"How dare you call me Julia?"

"Well, Miss Clifford, won't you even hear me?"

"Not a word. It's through you poor dear Mary and I have both been
insulted by that wretch of a father of hers."

"Which father?"

"I said wretch. To whom does that term apply except to Mr. Bartley, and"
(with sudden vigor) "to you."

"Then you think I am as bad as old Bartley," said Percy, firing up.

"No, I don't."

"Ah," said Percy, glad to find there was a limit.

But Julia explained: "I think you are a great deal worse. You pretend to
love me, and yet without the slightest reason you doubt me."

"What did I doubt? I thought you had parted with my bracelet to another
person, and so you had. I never doubted your honor."

"Oh yes, you did; I saw your face."

"I am not r - r - responsible for my face."

"Yes, you are; you had no business to look broken-hearted, and miserable,
and distrustful, and abominable. It was your business, face and all, to
distrust appearances, and not me."

"Ap - pear - ances were so strong that not to look m - miserable would have
been to seem indifferent; there is no love where there is no jealousy."

"Oh," said Julia, "he has let that out at last, after denying it a
hundred times. Now I say there is no true love without respect and
confidence, and this doesn't exist where there is jealousy, and all about
a trumpery bracelet."

"Anything but tr - ump - ump - umpery; it came down from my ancestors."

"You never had any; your behavior shows that."

"I tell you it is an heirloom. It was given to my mother by - "

"Oh, we know all about that," said Julia. "'This bracelet did an Egyptian
to my mother give.' But you are not going to play Othello with me."

"I shouldn't have a very gentle Desdemona."

"No, you wouldn't, candidly. No man shall ever bully and insult me, and
then wake me out of my first sleep to smother me because my maid has lost
one of his handkerchiefs at the wash."

He burst out laughing at this, and tried to inveigle her into good-humor.

"Say no more about it," said he, "and I'll forgive you."

"Forgive me, you little wretch!" cried Julia. "Why, haven't you the
sense to see that it is serious this time, and my patience is exhausted,
and that our engagement is broken off, and I never mean to see you
again - except when you come to my wedding?"

"Your wedding!" cried Percy, turning pale. "With whom?"

"That's my business; you leave that to me, sir. Hold out your hand - both
hands; here is the ancestral bracelet - it shall pinch me no longer,
neither my wrist nor my heart; here's the brooch you gave me - I won't be
pinned to it any longer, nor to you neither; and there is your bunch of
charms; and there is your bundle of love-letters - stupid ones they are;"
and she crammed all the aforesaid treasures into his hands one after the
other. So this was what she went to her room for.

Percy looked down on his handful ruefully. "My very letters! There was no
jealousy in them; they were full of earnest love."

"Fuller of bad spelling," said the relentless girl. Then she went into
details: "You spell abominable with two m's - and that's abominable; you
spell ridiculous with a k - and that's ridicklous. So after this don't you
presume to speak to me, for I shall never speak to you again."

"Very well, then," said Percy. "I, too, will be silent forever."

"Oh, I dare say," said Julia; "a chatter-box like you."

"Even chatter-boxes are silent in the grave," suggested Percy; "and if we
are to part like this forever to-day, to-morrow I shall be no more."

"Well, you could not be much less," said Julia, but with a certain
shame-faced change of tone that perhaps, if Percy had been more
experienced, might have given him a ray of hope.

"Well," said he, "I know one lady that would not treat these presents
with quite so much contempt."

"Oh, I have seen her," said Julia, spitefully. "She has been setting
her cap at you for some time; it's Miss Susan Beckley - a fine
conquest - great, fat, red-haired thing."

"Auburn."

"Yes, all-burn, scarlet, carrots, _flamme d'enfer_. Well, go and give her
my leavings, yourself and your ancestral - paste."

"Well," said Percy, gloomily, "I might do worse. You never really loved
me; you were always like an enemy looking out for faults. You kept
postponing our union for something to happen to break it off. But I won't
be any woman's slave; I'll use one to drive out the other. None of you
shall trample on me." Then he burst forth into singing. Nobody stammers
when he sings.

"Shall I, wasting in despair,
Sigh because a woman's fair?
Shall my cheeks grow pale with care
Because another's rosy are?
If she be not kind to me,
What care I how fair she be?"

This resolute little gentleman passed through the gate as he concluded
the verse, waved his hand jauntily by way of everlasting adieu, and
went off whistling the refrain with great spirit, and both hands in
his pockets.

"You impudent!" cried Julia, almost choking; then, authoritatively,
"Percy - Mr. Fitzroy;" then, coaxingly, "Percy _dear_."

Percy heard, and congratulated himself upon his spirit. "That's the way
to treat them," said he to himself.

"Well?" said he, with an air of indifference, and going slowly back to
the gate. "What is it now?" said he, a little arrogantly.

She soon let him know. Directly he was quite within reach she gave him a
slap in the face that sounded like one plank falling upon another, and
marched off with an air of royal dignity, as if she had done the most
graceful and lady-like thing in all the world.

How happy are those choice spirits who can always preserve their dignity!

Percy retired red as fire, and one of his cheeks retained that high
color for the rest of the day.




CHAPTER XVIII.

APOLOGIES.


We must now describe the place to which Hope conducted his daughter, and
please do not skip our little description. It is true that some of our
gifted contemporaries paint Italian scenery at prodigious length _à
propos de bottes_, and others show in many pages that the rocks and the
sea are picturesque objects, even when irrelevant. True that others gild
the evening clouds and the western horizon merely to please the horizon
and the clouds. But we hold with Pope that

"The proper study of mankind is man,"

and that authors' pictures are bores, except as narrow frames to big
incidents. The true model, we think, for a writer is found in the opening
lines of "Marmion," where the castle at even-tide, its yellow lustre, its
drooping banner, its mail-clad warders reflecting the western blaze, the
tramp of the sentinel, and his low-hummed song, are flung on paper with
the broad and telling touch of Rubens, not from an irrelevant admiration
of old castles and the setting sun, but because the human figures of the
story are riding up to that sun-gilt castle to make it a scene of great
words and deeds.

Even so, though on a much humbler scale, we describe Hope's cottage and
garden, merely because it was for a moment or two the scene of a
remarkable incident never yet presented in history or fiction.

This cottage, then, was in reality something between a villa and a
cottage; it resembled a villa in this, that the rooms were lofty, and the
windows were casements glazed with plate glass and very large. Walter
Clifford had built it for a curate, who proved a bird of passage, and
the said Walter had a horror of low rooms, for he said, "I always feel as
if the ceiling was going to flatten me to the floor." Owing to this the
bedroom windows, which looked westward on the garden, were a great height
from the ground, and the building had a Gothic character.

Still there was much to justify the term cottage. The door, which looked
southward on the road, was at the side of the building, and opened, not
into a hall, but into the one large sitting-room, which was thirty feet
long and twenty-five feet broad, and instead of a plaster ceiling there
were massive joists, which Hope had gilded and painted till they were a
sight to behold. Another cottage feature: the walls were literally
clothed with verdure and color; in front, huge creeping geraniums,
jasmine, and Virginia creepers hid the brick-work; and the western walls,
to use the words of a greater painter than ourselves, were

"Quite overcanopied with lush woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine."

In the next place, the building stood in a genuine cottage garden. It was
close to the road. The southern boundary was plain oak paling, made of
upright pieces which Hope had varnished so that the color was now a fine
amber; the rest of the boundary was a quick-set hedge, in the western
division of which stood an enormous oak-tree, hollow at the back. And the
garden was fair with humble flowers - pinks, sweet-williams, crimson
nasturtiums, double daisies, lilies, and tulips; but flower beds shared
the garden with friendly cabbages, potatoes, onions, carrots, and
asparagus.

To this humble but pleasant abode Hope conducted his daughter, and
insisted upon her lying down on the sofa in the sitting-room. Then he
ordered the woman who kept the house for him to prepare the spare
bedroom, which looked into the garden, and to cut some of the
sweet-smelling flowers. He himself had much to say to his daughter, and,
above all, to demand her explanation of the awkward circumstances that
had been just revealed. But she had received a great shock, and, like
most manly men, he had a great consideration for the weakness of women,
and his paternal heart said, "Let her have an hour or two of absolute
repose before I subject her to any trial whatever." So he opened the
window to give her air, enjoining her most strictly not to move, and even
to go to sleep if she could; and then he put on his shooting coat, with
large inside pocket, to go and buy her a little wine - a thing he never
touched himself - and what other humble delicacies the village afforded.
He walked briskly away from his door without the least idea that all his
movements were watched from a hiding-place upon his own premises, no
other than the great oak-tree, hollow and open at the back, in which
Leonard Monckton had bored two peep-holes, and was now ensconced there
watching him.

Hope had not gone many yards from his own door when he was confronted
by one of those ruffians who, by their way of putting it, are the
eternal butt of iniquitous people and iniquitous things, namely, honest
men, curse them! and the law, confound it! This was no other than that
Ben Burnley, who, being a miner, had stuck half-way between Devonshire
and Durham, and had been some months in Bartley's mine. He opened on
Hope in a loud voice, and dialect which we despair of conveying with
absolute accuracy.

"Mr. Hope, sir, they won't let me go down t' mine."

"No; you're discharged."

"Who by?"

"By me."

"What for?"

"For smoking in the mine, in spite of three warnings."

"Me smoking in t' mine! Who telt you yon lie?"

"You were seen to pick the lock of your Davylamp, and that put the mine
in danger. Then you were seen to light your pipe at the bare light, and
that put it in worse peril."

"That's a lie. What mak's yer believe my skin's nowt to me? It's all one
as it is to them liars that would rob me of my bread out of clean spite."

"It's the truth, and proved by four honest witnesses. There are a hundred
and fifty men and twenty ponies in that mine, and their lives must not be
sacrificed by one two-legged brute that won't hear reason. You are
discharged and paid; so be good enough to quit the premises and find work
elsewhere; and Lord help your employer, whoever he is!"

Hope would waste no more time over this fellow. He turned his back, and
went off briskly on his more important errand.

Burnley shook his fist at him, and discharged a volley of horrible curses
after him. Whilst he was thus raging after the man that had done his duty
he heard a satirical chuckle. He turned his head, and, behold! there was
the sneering face of his fellow jail-bird Monckton. Burnley started.

"Yes, mate," said Monckton, "it is me. And what sort of a pal are you,
that couldn't send me a word to Portland that you had dropped on to this
rascal Hope? You knew I was after him. You might have saved me the
trouble, you selfish brute."

Burnley submitted at once to the ascendency of Monckton; he hung his
head, and muttered, "I am no scholard to write to folk."

"You grudged a joey to a bloke to write for you. Now I suppose you expect
me to be a good pal to you again, all the same?"

"Why not?" said Burnley. "He is poison to you as well as to me. He
gave you twelve years' penal; you told me so at Portland; let's be
revenged on him."

"What else do you think I am here for, you fool? But empty revenge,
that's child's play. The question is, can you do what you are told?"

"Ay, if I see a chance of revenge. Why, I always did what you told me."

"Very well, then; there's nothing ripe yet."

"Yer don't mean I am to wait a year for my revenge."

"You will have to wait an opportunity. Revenge is like other luxuries,
there's a time for it. Do you think I am such a fool as to go in for
blindfold revenge, and get lagged or stretched? Not for Joseph, nor for
you, either, Benjamin. I'll tell you what, though, I think this will be a
busy day; it must be a busy day. That old fox Bartley has found out his
blunder before now, and he'll try something on; then the Cliffords, they
won't go to sleep on it."

"I don't know what yer talking about," says Burnley.

"Remain in your ignorance, Ben. The best instrument is a blind
instrument; you shall have your revenge soon or late."

"Let it be soon, then."

"In the meantime," said Monckton, "have you got any money?"

"Got my wages."

"That will do for you to-day. Go to the public-house and get half-drunk."

"Half-drunk?"

"Half-drunk! Don't I speak plain?"

"Miners," said Burnley, candidly, "never get half-drunk in t' county
Durham; they are that the best part of their time."

"Then you get half-drunk, neither more nor less, or I'll discharge you as
Hope has done, and that will be the worst discharge of the two for you.
When you are half-drunk come here directly, and hang about this place.
No; you had better be under that tree in the middle of the field there,
and pretend to be sleeping off your liquor. Come, mizzle!"

When he had packed off Burnley, he got back into his hiding-place, and
only just in time, for Hope came back again upon the wings of love, and
Grace, whose elastic nature had revived, saw him coming, and came out to
meet him. Hope scolded her urgently: why had she got off the sofa when
repose was so necessary for her?

"You are mistaken, dear father," said she. "I am wonderfully strong and
healthy; I never fainted away in my life, and my mind will not let me
rest at present - I have been longing so for my father."

"Ah, precious word!" murmured Hope. "Keep saying that word to me,
darling. Oh, the years that I have pined for it!"

"Dear father, we will make up for all those years. Oh, papa, let us not
part again, never, never, not even for a day."

"My child, we never will. What am I saying? I shall have to give you back
to one who has a stronger claim than I - to your husband."

"My husband?" said Mary, turning pale.

"Yes," said Hope; "for you know you have a husband. Oh, I heard a few
words there before I interfered; but it is not to me you'll say '_I
don't know_.' That was good enough for Bartley and a lot of strangers.
Come, Grace dear, take my arm; have no concealments from me. Trust to a
father's infinite love, even if you have been imprudent or betrayed; but
that's a thing I shall never believe except from your lips. Take a turn
with me, my child, since you can not lie down and rest; a little air,
and gentle movement on your father's arm, and close to your father's
heart, will be the next best thing for you." Then they walked to and fro
like lovers.

"Why, Grace, my child," said he, "of course I understand it all. No
doubt you promised to keep your marriage secret, or had some powerful
reason for withholding it from strangers; and, indeed, why should you
reveal such a secret to insolence or to mere curiosity. But you will tell
the truth to me, your father and your best friend; you will tell me you
are a wife."

"Father," said Mary, trembling, and her eyes roved as if she was looking
out for the means of flight.

Hope saw this look, and it made him sick at heart, for he had lived too
long, and observed too keenly, not to know that innocence and purity are
dangers, and are more often protected by the safeguards of society than


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