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herself in his arms, their tears mingling.

" Don't tell me any more."

" Forgive me, forgive me. I've never loved anyone else."

" Let me forget it — make me forget it."


"I will. I swear I will. Kjss. me. Say everything is

as it used to be "

" Oh ! Desmond ! " she said wildly.


He told his mother that evening what he understood, or
misunderstood himself. That it was all right between them,
but Eunice had better not be hurried. The baby must be
got out of the house, she must be given time to forget. He
could wait now, now that he knew she still cared for him
and would never leave them again.


Later on, after Lady Grindelay had been settled up for the
night, and Desmond and Eunice were both happily asleep,
dreaming, perhaps, of each other, two things happened under
the roof that sheltered them; two unrelated things.

Biddy, who for an unwonted time had kept sober, got
drunk. She drank steadily all through the day and night,
and at daybreak lay in a drunken sleep. That was the first.

The second was that Lady Grindelay, about three
o'clock in the morning, suddenly, and for no ostensible cause,
found herself broad awake, with the knowledge, cold and in-
controvertible, that the end was in sight. She was not in
pain, although pain lay in wait. But she was dying — dying.
The world was to go on without her ; her charities at Marley,
all she had done and left undone; Desmond. Dying! How
strange it was, and dreary and cold; the cold was perhaps
the worst.

She was very tired, exhausted with her long struggle,
needing rest. She looked at pale Death and smiled. Only
for a moment; then her face changed. Through the lethargy
that had almost fallen upon her broke that familiar call of
conscience. Her work was not done. Here there was nothing
waiting for her but pain. There, with Death, was rest. But
she could not go.

She began to think of her son, and, strangely enough,
of Andrew McKay. Both of them had asked gifts from her
and both she had sent empty away ; she, Avho loved giving !
For Andrew it was too late, there was no use thinking about
it. But Desmond ! She owed him so much, she had not
been a tender or comprehending mother in those early days.
Now he seemed to fill the world. She had loved no man until
this one grew to manhood. And she knew now, although it
was so late, what love meant, what was the fulfilment of it.

"My son!"



Into the words had come passion; they were like a new
and passionate prayer on her dying lips. She must do some-
thing for him before she went. There was nothing else in
her mind. For herself she wanted neither salvation nor
solace; she desired only to give him a last gift before she
died. She would live until the next day, see them married
by her bedside, leave someone in her place to care for him.
She was resolute to stay until she had done this.

At three o'clock the nurse brought her medicine; a morphia
cachet to be dissolved in lemonade. She had already deter-
mined she would not take it; knowing it dulled her mind
as well as her body. Pain or no pain she would keep her
mind clear until she had arranged for Desmond and Eunice
to be married by her bedside, and so had given him his bride.

Her hands were swollen and a little stiff ; the night nurse
was yawning and unobservant. Lady Grindelay took the
cachet, and let it fall into her lemonade. When the nurse
held the glass to her lips, thinking she had swallowed it, she
moistened her lips only, then watched the white envelope
melt and sink, discharging its contents.

The nurse went back to her sofa, and Agatha lay and
thought of her son. The first tiling in the morning she would
send for a clergyman, not to absolve her, there was no time,
and she was not thinking of herself, but only of her son,
and his young, yearning manhood, of how little she had ever
done for liim, of all her mistakes. In the morning the clergy-
man should marry them by her bedside, then there would be
nothing to keep her here, she could rest.

Slowly the dawn crept into the room — the night nurse
slept peacefully and well. Agatha lay awake and suffered.

She thought it was the presence of the baby upstairs that
kept Eunice so reluctant and shy of Desmond. It ought never
to have come here, never to have come to Marley.

WTien she repeated that to herself she heard the baby cry-
ing; crying in the night. It was a dream, of course, a dying
woman's dream. She was sensible enough to know that. For
the child was a long way from her, in another wing of the


The light grew stronger. Not the light at the end of the
channel where pale Death stood to welconae her, but the dawn
in the room.

At seven o'clock the night nurse yawned and stretched
herself, and woke again. Meeting Lady Grindelay's eyes, she


" You've had a nice sleep, haven't you ? Shall I make you
a cup of tea, or will you have your lemonade ? "

In the lemonade lay her surcease from pain, the end of
the conflict.

" I will have the lemonade later. Pull up the blinds, find
out if Miss Eunice is up, I want to see her as soon as she is
dressed." She wanted to tell Eunice what she had planned.

" I don't think anyone in the house is up yet, it is very
early," yawned the nurse. She was hardly awake. She had
slept all the afternoon and most of the night, and was still

"I hear them stirring," Lady Grindelay persisted. But
what she heard was the baby crying, as she had heard it these
last two hours.

This time it was not a dream, it could not be a dream, a
baby was crying outside her room, and she heard Eunice too,
and voices raised as if in altercation, Eeynolds's voice, and

" What is the matter? " she asked. " What is the matter?
Open the door." Pale Death had vanished from the room.
She was back here in Marley, in her own bedroom, with work
to do.

Eunice was outside, sobbing and excited. Eeynolds was
trying to prevent her coming in, was arguing with her. Lady
Grindelay heard what they were saying.

" She was sitting up yesterday. I'm sure she won't mind
my going in ; I know she is awake because I heard the blinds
being pulled up. She must see baby ; she will know what we
ought to do. Let me pass."

" Come in, come in," the weak voice called out. The nurse
opened the door. " What is the matter ? "

Eunice had a screaming baby in her arms. From where


Agatha lay, grey among her pillows, feeling the cold creeping
to her, she saw them both.

Her aunt might have been better or worse; it was true
that yesterday she had been sitting up. Eunice had really no
eyes for her, she was completely absorbed in the baby.

" I heard her crying and crying, I listened at the door in
the night and heard her crying. I couldn't make Biddy hear.
She was snoring, lying on her back. I took baby away into
my own bed, and tried to comfort her. But she got worse
and worse." Her tears were falling on the baby's convulsed
and twitching face; "Auntie, there is something the matter,
I'm sure she is in pain, I don't know what to do."

" Come nearer."

" Eeynolds said I was not to disturb you, but no one else
knows what to do for her."

" You were right to come."

Eeynolds interposed that she had already sent for the

" He can't be here for an hour," Eunice answered.

On a wave of semi-consciousness, with pain as an under-
current, Agatha became confused as to what was happening ;
the room seemed over full of people from Little Marley and
Great Marley, coming to her for help — a great concourse of
them. She brought herself back with an effort, and now all
she heard was the girl crying over the baby, Desmond's baby.
That was why she had not married Desmond. Was that why
she was crying? Eunice went on talking, coming nearer to
the bed, but looking only at the baby in her arms, never at
her aunt.

" She is so fearfully restless, I can hardly hold her. I
gave her a teaspoonful of milk, and she sucked and sucked
the spoon ; her throat and eyes seem parched, and she screams
or moans all the time."

Eeynolds, full of concern for her mistress, would have
taken the child, but Eunice resisted.

" Give her to me, don't trouble your aunt, Miss Eunice —
the doctor will soon be here.''

" Lay it beside me."


Of course her mind was not in a normal condition, it was
floating somewhere on the borderland, as it had been these
last few hours.

Eunice laid the baby gently beside her.

" I was right to bring her to you, wasn't I ? Jack Eeid
can't be here for an hour. What do you think it is ? I didn't
startle you, did I? I knew you were awake."

" You were quite right."

Eeynolds, now that the matter had been taken out of her
hands, began to retail the child's symptoms. She, too, had
always depended upon Lady Grindelay. Neither of them
noticed the change in her.

Eunice only said again :

" Can't you do something, auntie, before the doctor
comes ? "

Eunice was almost beside herself in face of the inarticu-
late suffering and her inability to assuage it.

Agatha lay still whilst Eeynolds told of the strange symp-
toms. Her mind was not quite there, although they thought
she was listening.

" I must say I've never seen anything like it. She seems
not to see what's before her, to be wandering, and then
excited. Her cries are hoarse, but it isn't croup. And look
how thirsty she is. Miss Eunice gave her milk, but I let her
sup a little water. Look at her now."

The baby tried to sit up; the excitement of which Eey-
nolds spoke was in the scarlet cheeks and groping arms and

" That's your lemonade she's after now. Poor lamb, she's
parched with thirst."

The dying woman was swaying on those waves of semi-
consciousness, the pain almost submerging her.

" It's your lemonade the poor little thing is after."

" Give it to her."

" I need not give her your lemonade ; I'll get some water,"
Eeynolds answered.

" There's a fresh jug outside," Eunice said quickly. She
took up the cup. " Shall I give it to her, auntie ? "


" Give mo the cup."

Two red spots burned now in her grey cheeks. In the
lemonade was surcease from pain ; she would give that, or
anything, that Eunice should not cry, should give herself
happily to Desmond, should not cry about his baby. "Let
me give it her myself."

Reynolds supported Lady Grindelay, helping her trembling
hands when she tried to give the cup to the baby. The baby
seized upon it as if it had been her bottle, only that at first
her hands were like the hands of the blind, groping, and she
caught the sleeve of Agatha's nightgown instead of the cup.
But when the cup had been guided to her mouth she drank
and drank thirstily, sucking it down; they could not get the
cup away from her, she sucked and sucked. When she had
finished all there was in it she let go, not until then. Eey-
nolds laid Lady Grindelay back, and the baby beside her. The
baby had grown quieter immediately. It was only then Eey-
nolds saw how ill Lady Grindelay looked. She thought the
exertion had been too much for her, that she had fainted.

"' Oh, my goodness, look at her. Give me the smelling
bottle — quick, nurse. Have you the brandy? Get the
brandy ! "

"I think she's better; I really think she seems easier,"
Eunice said, bending over the quieted baby.

Nurse came quickly at Reynolds's call, and she and the
maid exchanged glances.

" You'd better take the child away," the nurse said hastily.
Reynolds was holding the smelling salts; Agatha's nostrils
were pinched, and her breath was fluttering. *' You have sent
for the doctor, haven't you?" she added in a low voice to
Reynolds. " I do believe she's gone," the nurse said a minute
later. "I can't feel her pulse." They could not get the
brandy down.

Eunice went away as she was told, carrying the heavily
breathing child. Vaguely she knew that her aunt had fainted,
but it was for the baby she was concerned.

Dr. Reid came, and Jack with him. There were strych-
nine and ether, a cylinder of oxygen. Lady Grindelay was


not to be allowed to die. Science and the young man decreed
it, and the old man could not restrain them. They succeeded
in reviving her, and the first faint words they heard her say

" Did the clergyman come ? "

Nobody knew she had asked for a clergyman. Nobody
had thought of such a thing ; it was so unlike Lady Grindelay,

"We will send at once." It was Jack who answered.
" You will rest quietly until then."

They gave her brandy and Valentine's juice, and another
injection of strychnine ; they would keep life in her.

She was very drowsy. " He won't be long, will he ? "

" No, he won't be long."

But when the hastily summoned vicar arrived they would
not disturb her. She was sleeping, her breathing calmer,
the pulse improved. Jack Eeid had justified himself.

Late that afternoon, when she woke to something more
like consciousness, Andrew McKay was sitting by her side.
The doctors were gone; they were still in the house, but all
she knew was that they were not there, and that she and
Andrew were alone.

" That is you, isn't it, Andrew ? "

Her voice was very faint; it seemed to come from a long
way off. Her lover, faithful, although unfulfilled, answered
softly :

" Yes, Agatha, it is I. You've been asleep ? "

" You know I am dying ? "


" Don't be sorry. I'm glad to go."

He could not speak at that moment, and she seemed to be

"What is troubling me, Andrew?" she said again; she
seemed to be confused. "It isn't the orchid, is it?"

He answered quietly:

" The orchid is in full bloom, glorious bloom."

" The blue flower." And she added, drowsily : " I never
found it!"


He took her hand, the hand that lay outside the counter-
pane, no longer beautiful and slender, but heavy and swollen.
He kissed it, nevertheless. Andrew, the staid and grizzled
lawyer ! He to be kissing her hand ! Something like a smile
seemed to drift over her face.

" You have been very faithful ! "

He did not answer that.

" Is there anything I can do for you, dear ? " His voice
was stifled, speech was difficult.

" You would like a cutting. Tell Sanders I said you were
to have a cutting."

He had been sitting there a long time, ever since the doc-
tors had left. There was nothing more to be done, they had
brought her back, but only for a short time ; the light was on
her face, the opalescent, unmistakable light. Andrew sat
beside her and watched, but the nurse was within call.

" Desmond ? " she asked presently.

" I will fetch him." He rose heavily, he was even now
only second with her. ^'^I'll fetch him."

She called him back ; he heard that faint voice, a whisper
from her would have reached him, but this was a call ; hoarse,

" Stop — ^wait, Andrew ! Andrew, what have I done ? "

He came back; her breathing was quick, but it was her
eyes that startled him ; they had been dying eyes, half-closed
and looking into the distance, now they were open and there
was terror in them; Andrew thought it was terror. "My
draught ! I gave her my draught, so that Eunice should not
cry. What have I done ? Is it dead ? Desmond's child ? "

She asked it twice. And because it seemed she had con-
sciousness enough left to wish to know, he answered her out
of the depths of his wisdom, wisdom only of this world, but
out of his love and comprehension of her also. He answered
gently, and with her poor hand in his. As he spoke he felt
a sudden quickening of that poor hand, a spasm.

" And if it be dead, Agatha, it is better so. Poor mite !
She could never have been anything but a complication and
a difficulty. She had no place here, no real place, nor any-


where! You're not distressed about anything, Agatha, are



"How?" The word came out. None followed, but her
awakened and dying eyes implored an. answer.

" How did it die ? You want to know how or why the
baby died ? Perhaps it was the Lord speaking. . . .''

He paused; Andrew McKay had always been a religious
man. He thought now of the wisdom and goodness of God.

" Biddy has confessed," he continued. " The child was
poisoned; it was an accident."

" Poisoned ? "

Agatha's eyes were wide open with a terrified question.
He answered soothingly.

" It is all right. I will see that the best is done for

All the pangs of death assailed her; the shallow breath
and faintness, the heart that beat and stopped, the desperate
sickness, but she fought them all.

"Tell me."

"Biddy has confessed. Young Eeid thought there was
something the matter with the child's eyes; he was testing
them with atropine. Biddy had orders to drop it in the
eyes, one drop in each. Instead she gave it as medicine, the
whole bottle. She has been crying and raving ever since,
accusing herself."

" She didn't do it, Andrew; / did it ! "

Agatha's voice was very faint. He thought she was wan-
dering, and soothed her.

" Perhaps it was the Lord speaking. A good thing, per-
haps. Don't dwell upon it."

" Andrew ! "

"I'm here, dear."

" Andrew, help me ! "

He went down on his knees, his stiff old knees ; he thought
it was help through the passage she wanted. His voice shook :

" Give her comfort and sure confidence in Thee, Iceep her
in perpetual peace and safety, through Jesus Christ."


"Leave off praying, it is too late. I killed Desmond's

Andrew stood up.

" I did it, Andrew. So that Eunice should not cry ; I did
it for Desmond. I don't know why I did it. ... I can't
remember. Write it down. There's no barrier between them
now. I did it for my son, for my Desmond, so that he should
have his heart's desire. Now I can't die. . . ."

She left off speaking, but had not strength to close her
eyes. Under the half-closed lids they were still alive and

"You don't know what you are saying."

" I killed it, I know. I did it on purpose. . . .*'

" No, Agatha, no ; don't say so. It isn't true ! "

" It wasn't Biddy," she said again.

The words came through, jerkily, and with difficulty, but
they came through.

" The morphia was in the lemonade. My son, I was think-
ing of you, Eunice must not cry . . . you will be married
this morning."

She went on murmuring, saying the same words over and
over again.

The blood hammered in his head ; phrases beat about, legal


"Misadventure; death by misadventure!" was the chief

of them.

" It wasn't Biddy, Andrew. Write it down."

It might be true; he knew it was true. But what then?
What then? Well, that he must save her from the conse-
quences, save her memory. For soon that would be all there
was left to save. He bent over her.

" Lie quiet, then ; lie quiet, Agatha. I'll do what is right.
You hear, don't you ? "

She murmured something; he thought it was her son's
name, that she said it was for him. When he went out of
the room he walked like a very old man. He had to think
what was to be done, how her secret was to be kept. But
Biddy must not suffer. He must do the right thing. He


knew that what she had told him was true, and that she had
blundered for the last time. He knew the child had been
taken into her room that morning. Agatha! She had com-
mitted the dreadful irrevocable deed, and said it was on pur-
pose, that there should be no barrier between Desmond and
Eunice. There was blood on her hands. Agatha! Impos-
sible to picture his agony of mind.

The old doctor met him outside the door of the sick-room.

" No change ? " he asked.

Andrew stopped short; he did not know what he was
going to say.

" I think there is a change," he said then, slowly.

"For the better?"

" Perhaps ; she is not fully conscious, does not know what
she is saying." Andrew would take no risks. " I don't think
she knows what she is saying," he repeated.

" I am surprised if that is so. She was quite clear when
I saw her last. I thought she would go out like that. A dear,
good woman, her hand was always open. We shall miss her
here in Marley."

He went in, closing the door behind him quietly.

Andrew stood still a minute. What was the best thing
to do? She must make no confession, he had her reputation
to guard, her high repute.

As he stood there in thought Desmond came down the

" I'm just rushing off to the chemist. Jack thinks now
the child is coming round, reviving. Keep Biddy from going
to the police station, will you ? We don't want a scandal."


" She wants to give herself up."

" But that mustn't be allowed."

" I knew you'd agree about that."

Even now Andrew did not understand. If Biddy had not
given the baby the wrong medicine, why had she confessed to
having done so? Every step was a step in the dark, and his
heart was aching. He went slowly upstairs, and Biddy's
voice broke on his ear.


" An' didn't I have to coax and coax the darlint to ut, an'
she, as if she knew, turnin' from ut apn an' agin, an' crym'
out an' fightin'. Och, but they'll be hangin' me in me grey
hairs. Ochone ! ochone ! "

Biddy was rocking herself to and fro, scarcely recovered
from her debauch, red-eyed and dishevelled. Reynolds was
plying her with more brandy, wisely.

"You won't let her leave the house?" the lawyer said.
Reynolds reassured him.

In the day nursery, where Andrew went next, Eunice sat
on a low chair, with the baby girl in her arms. It did not
seem like a dying child, only a sleeping one. And she held
it as if it were an inestimable treasure, closely, with wet,
thankful eyes.

Jack Reid leant against the mantelpiece, watching them
with a gloomy face.

" I can't make it out," he said. " If Biddy had told us
earlier I could have given an injection; now, of course, it is
too late."

Eunice, speaking very softly, answered:

"Didn't Dr. Reid say you had better do nothing? She
is sleeping so beautifully, little darling ! "

But young and scientific doctors never do nothing. Nature
belittles their learning, puts them to shame.

" I shall try an injection of morphia when Desmond gets
back with it. The atropine bottle is empty."

"Biddy may have spilled some," Eunice suggested.
"Baby may only have had very little; the bottle wasn't

"But think of those symptoms you described. They'll
come on again. This is only a breathing time; you'll see,
she'll wake thirsty and confused."

That the baby should get well without treatment made
the young doctor gloomy and doubtful. All the time he
stood there he complained of the inaction to which his father
had urged him after Biddy's confession.

"It's absurd to be doing nothing. I've half a mind to
try mustard until Desmond comes back from the chemist."


Eunice held the threatened baby close. She was glad
when Jack Eeid went out of the room with the old lawyer.

Jack talked to Andrew as he went.

'^I can't make it out at all. Biddy must have given the
child, according to her own account, and judging from the
state of the bottle, at least a twentieth of a grain. And that
ought to have killed it ; it was practically dying when I came.
We lost between four and five hours through not knowing what
had happened. Now it is sleeping calmly, pulse and breath-
ing regular! Can there be anything in her constitution, I
wonder, some abnormality?"

He had all his degrees, and began to talk scientifically
about abnormal persons and their idiosyncracies, using
strange-sounding words such as " idiopathy." Andrew lis-
tened with half an ear.

" I had made up my mind to give an injection of mor-
phia. That's the antidote, you know. There is only one
antidote. But I've run out of it. And then, what d5es the
little beggar do but fall asleep ? Now, father urges me to wait ;
but I think it is an awful risk. . . ."

Andrew was an intelligent lawyer, and, although he was
so disturbed, his faculties were not obscured.

" The only possible antidote ? " he said quickly. " The
only possible antidote to what Biddy gave her?"

" That's so, there's nothing abstruse about that. It is in
all the text books. ' In case of atropine poisoning, give
morphia.' "

It was as if a weight were rolling off him, as if he could
breathe again, and freely; as if the goodness of God were
again made manifest.

" That explains everything," he exclaimed — " every-
thing ! "

" Explains everything ! " Jack repeated, staring at him.
" What do you mean ? "

" The baby lias been given the antidote."

"Wliat antidote? Who has prescribed for it? There has
been no one here but my father and myself."

''No one has prescribed it," Andrew said solemnly.

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