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Desperate remedies : a novel. In three volumes (Volume 2) online

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thought, like an old one of mine, will carry
them back to what I used to sa}^ and hurt their
hearts a little that they blamed me so soon.
And they will pause just for an instant, and
^ive a sigh to me, and think, 'Poor girl,'



THE EVENTS OF ONE DAY. 229

believing they do great justice to my memory
by this. But they ^vill never, never reahze
that it was my single opportunity of existence,
as well as of doino* mv dutv, wliich thev are
regarding ; they will not feel that what to them
is but a thought, easily held in those tvs-o words
of pity, ' Poor girl/ was a whole life to me ;
as full of hours, minutes, and peculiar minutes,
of hopes and dreads, smiles, whisperings, tears,
as theirs : that it was my world, what is to
them their world, and thev in that Kfe of mine,
however much I cared for them, only as the
thought I seem to them to be. Xobody can
enter into another's nature truly, that's what
is so grievous."'

" Well, it cannot be helped," said Owen.

" But we must not stay here," she continued,
starting up and going. " We shall be missed.
ril do my best, Owen — I will, indeed.'*'

It had been decided that, on account of the
wretched state of the roads, the newly married
pair should not drive to the station till the latest
hour in the afternoon at which they could get



230 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

a train to take tliem to Southampton (their
destination that night) by a reasonable time in
the evening. They intended the next morning
to cross to Havre, and thence to Paris — a place
Cytherea had never visited — for their wedding
tour.

The afternoon drew on. The packing was
done. Cytherea was so restless that she could
stay still nowhere. Miss Aldclyffe, who, though
she took little part in the day's proceedings,
was as it were instinctively conscious of all
their movements, put down her charge s agita-
tion for once as the natural result of the novel
event, and Manston himself was as indulgent as
could be wished.

At length Cytherea wandered alone into the
conservatory. When in it, she thought she
would run across to the hot-house in the outer
garden, having in her heart a whimsical desire
that she should also like to take a last look at
the familiar flowers and luxuriant leaves col-
lected there. She pulled on a pair of over-
shoes, and thither she went. Not a soul was



THE EVENTS OF ONE DAY. 231

in or around the place. The gardener was
making merry on Mansion's and her account.

The happiness that a generous spirit derives
from the hehef that it exists in others is often
greater than the primary happiness itself.
The gardener thought, " How happy they
are!" and the thought made him happier than
they.

Coming out of the forcing- house again, she
was on the point of returning in-doors, when a
feeling that these moments of solitude would
he her last of freedom induced her to prolong
them a little, and she stood still, unheeding the
wintry aspect of the curly leaved plants, the
straw-covered beds, and the bare fruit-trees
around her. The garden, no part of which
was visible from the house, sloped down to a
narrow river at the foot, dividing it from the
meadows without.

A man was lingering along the public path
on the other side of the river ; she fancied she
knew the form. Her resolutions, taken in the
presence of Owen, did not fail her now. She



232 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

hoped and prayed that it might not be one
who had stolen her heart away, and still kept
it. Why should he have re-appeared at all,
when he had declared that he went out of her
sight for ever ?

She hastil}^ hid herself in the lowest corner
of the garden close to the river. A large
dead tree, thickly robed in ivy, had been
considerably depressed by its icy load of the
morning, and hung low over the stream,
which here ran slow" and deep. The tree
screened her from the eyes of any passer on
the other side. '

She waited timidly, and her timidity in-
creased. She would not allow herself to see
him — she would hear him pass, and then Igok
to see if it had been Edward.

But, before she heard anything, she became
aware of an object reflected in the water from
under the tree, which hung over the river in
such a way that, though hiding the actual path,
and objects upon it, it permitted their reflected
images to pass beneath its boughs. The re-



THE EVENTS OF ONE DAY. 233

fleeted form was that of the man she had seen
farther off, but being inverted, she could not
definitely characterize him.

He was looking at the upper windows of the
House — at hers — was it Edward, indeed \ If so,
he was probably thinking he would like to say
one parting word. He came closer, gazed into
the stream, and walked very slowly. She was
almost certain that it was Edward. She kept
more safely hidden. Conscience told her that she
ought not to see him. But she suddenly asked
herself a question ; " Can it be possible that he
sees my reflected image, as I see his % Of
course he does ! "

He w^as looking at her in the water.

.She could not help herself now. She stepped
forward just as he emerged from the other side
of the tree and appeared erect before her. It
was Edward Springrove, — till the inverted
vision met his e^^e, dreaming no more of
seeing his Cytherea there than of seeing the
dead themselves.

" Cytherea ! "



234 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

"Mr. Springrove/' she returned, in a low voice,
across the stream.

He was tlie first to speak again.
"Since we have met, I want to tell you some-
thing, before we become quite as strangers to
each other."

" No — not now — I did not mean to speak —
it is not right, Edward." She spoke hurriedly
and turned away from him, beating the air with
her hand.

"Not one common word of explanation 1 '' he
implored. " Don't think I am bad enough to
try to lead you astray. Well, go — it is
better."

Their eyes met again. She was nearly
choked. how she longed — and dreaded — to
hear his explanation !

" What is it 1 " she said, desperately.
" It is that I did not come to the church this
morning in order to distress you: I did not,
Cytherea. It was to try to speak to you before
you were — married."

He stepped closer, and went on, " You know



THE EVENTS OF ONE DAY. 235

what has taken place ? Surely you do ? — my
cousin is married, and I am free."

"Married — and not to you V Cytherea
faltered, in a weak whisper.

" Yes, she was married yesterday ! A rich
man had appeared, and she jilted me. She said
slie never would have jilted a stranger, but that
by jilting me, she only exercised the right
everybody has of snubbing their own relations.
But that's nothing now. I came to you to ask
once more if ... . But I was too late."

"But, Edward, what's that, what's that!" she
cried, in an agony of reproach. " Why did you
leave me to return to her 1 Why did you write
me that cruel, cruel letter that nearly killed me !"

" Cytherea ! Why, you had grown to love —
like — Mr. Manston, and how could you be any-
thing to me — or care for me ? Surely I acted
naturally '? "

" no — never ! I loved you — only you —
not him — always you ! — till lately .... I try
to love him now."

" But that can't be correct ! Miss Aldclyffe



236 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

told me that you wanted to hear no more of me
— proved it to me ! " said Edward.

" Never ! she couldn't."

" She did, Cjtherea. And she sent me a
letter — a love-letter, you wrote to Mr. Man-
ston.''

" A love-letter I wrote '? " ■ t

"Yes, a love-letter — a^ou could not meet him
just then, you said you were sorry, but the
emotion you had felt with him made you forget-
ful of realities."

The strife of thought in the unhappy girl
who listened to this distortion of her meaning-
could find no vent in words. And then there
followed the slow revelation in return, bringing
with it all the misery of an explanation which
comes too late. The question whether Miss
Aldclyffe was schemer or dupe was almost
passed over by Cytherea, under the immediate
oppressiveness of her despair in the sense that
her position was irretrievable.

Kot so Springrove. He saw through all the
cunning half-misrepresentations — worse than



THE EVENTS OF ONE DAY. 237

downright lies — which had just been sufficient
to turn the scale both with him and with her ;
and from the bottom of his soul he cursed the
woman and man who had brought all this agony
upon him and his Love.

But he could not add more misery to the
future of the poor child by revealing too much.
The whole scheme she should never know.

" I was indifferent to my own future,"
Edward said, " and was urged to promise
adherence to my engagement with my cousin
Adelaide by Miss Aldclyffe : now you are
married I cannot tell you how, but it was on
account of my father. Being forbidden to
think of you, what did I care about anything 1
3Ty new thought that you still loved me was
first raised by wdiat my father said in the letter
announcing my cousin's marriage. He said that
although you were to be married on Old Christ-
mas-day — that is to-morrow — he had noticed
your appearance with pity : he thought you
loved me still. It was enough for me — I came
down by the earliest morning train, thinking j



238 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

could see you some time to-day, the day, as I
thought, before your marriage, hoping, but
hardly daring to hope, that you might be
induced to marry me. I hurried from the
station ; when I reached the bottom of Church
Lane I saw idlers about the church, and the
private gate leading to the House open. I ran
into the church by the north door and saw you
come out of the vestiy ; I was too late. I have
now told you. I was compelled to tell you. 0,
my lost darling, now I shall live content — or
die content ! "

"I am to blame, Edward, I am," she said,
mournfully ; " I was taught to dread pauperism ;
my nights were made sleepless ; there w^as
continually reiterated in my ears till I be-
lieved it : —

" ' The world and its ways have a certain worth,
And to press a point where these oppose
W^e a simple policy.'

" But I will say nothing about who influenced —
who persuaded. The act is mine after all.
Edward, I married to escape dependence for



THE EVENTS OF ONE DAY. 239

my bread upon the whim of Miss Aldclyffe, or
others like her. It was clearly represented to
me that dependence is bearable if we have
another place ^Yhicl^ we can call home ; but to
be a dependent and to have no other spot for
the heart to anchor upon — it is mournful and
harassing ! . . . . But that without which all
persuasion would have been as air, was added
by my miserable conviction that you were false :
that did it, that turned me ! You were to be
considered as nobody to me, and Mr. Manston
was invariably kind. Well, the deed is done —
I must abide by it. I shall never let him know
that I do not love him — never. If things had
only remained as they seemed to be, if you had
really forgotten me and married another woman,
I could have borne it better. I wish I did not
know the truth as I know it now ! But our
life, wheat is it ? Let us be brave, Edward, and
live out our few remaining years with dignity.
They will not be long. I hope they will not

be long ! Kow, good-bye, good-bye ! "

" " I wish I could be near and touch you once,



240 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

just once/^ said Springrove, in a voice which he
vainly endeavoured to keep firm and clear.

They looked at the river, then into it ; a
shoal of minnows were floating over the sandy
bottom, like the black dashes on miniver ; though
narrow, the stream was deep, and there was no
bridge.

" Cytherea, reach out your hand that I may
just touch it with mine.'^

She stepped to the brink and stretched out
her hand and fingers towards his, but not into
them. The river was too wide.

" I^ever mind," said Cytherea, her voice bro-
ken by agitation, '' I must be going. God bless
and keep you, my Edward ! God bless you ! "

" I must touch you, I must press your hand,''
he said.

They came near — nearer — nearer still — their
fingers met. There w\is a long firm clasp, so
close and still that each hand could feel the
other's pulse throbbing beside its own.

" My Cytherea ! my stolen pet lamb ! "

She glanced a mute farewell from her large



THE EVENTS OF OXE DAY. 241

perturbed eyes, turned, and ran up the garden
^vithout looking back. All ^yas over between
them. The river flowed on as quietly and ob-
tusely as ever, and the minnows gathered again
in their favourite spot as if they had never been
disturbed.

Nobody indoors guessed from her countenance
and bearing that her heart was near to breaking
with the intensity of the misery which gnawed
there. At these times a woman does not faint,
or weep, or scream, as she will in the moment
of sudden shocks. "When lanced by a mental
agony of such refined and special torture that
it is indescribable by men's words, she moves
among her acquaintances much as before, and
contrives so to cast her actions in the old
moulds that she is only considered to be rather
duller than usual.



§ 5. Ilalf-past two to five o'clock, p.m.

Owen accompanied the newly married couple
to the railway-station, and in his anxiety to see

VOL, 11. R



242 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

the last of his sister, left the brougham and
stood upon his crutches whilst the train was
starting.

When the husband and wife were about to
enter the railway-carriage they saw one of the
porters looking frequently and furtively at them.
He was pale, and apparently very ill.

'' Look at that poor sick man/' said Cytherea,
compassionately, " surely he ought not to be
here.''

" He's been very queer to-day, madam, very
queer," another porter answered. " He do
hardly hear w^hen he's spoken to, and d' seem
giddy, or as if something was on his mind.
He's been like it for this month past, but
nothing so bad as he is to-day."

" Poor thing."

She could not resist an innate desire to do
some just thing on this most deceitful and
w^retched day of her life. Going up to him she
gave him money, and told him to send to the
old manor-house for wine or whatever he wanted.

The train moved off as the trembling man



THE EVENTS OF ONE DAY. 213

was murmuring liis incoherent thanks. Owen
Tvavecl his hand ; Cytherea smiled back to him
as if it Avere unknown to her that she wept all
the while.

Owen was driven back to the Old House.
But he could not rest in the lonely place. His
conscience began to reproach him for having
forced on the marriage of his sister with a little
too much peremptoriness. Taking up his
crutches he went out of doors and wandered
about the muddy roads with no object in view
save that of getting rid of time.

The clouds which had hung so low and
densely during the day cleared from the west
just now as the sun was setting, calling forth a
weakly twitter from a few small birds. Owen
crawled down the path to the waterfall, and lin-
gered thereabout till the solitude of the place
oppressed him, when he turned back and into
the road to the village. He was sad; he said to
himself, —

" If there is ever any meaning in those heavy
feelings which are called presentiments — and I



2i4 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

don't believe there is — there will be in mine to-
day .... Poor little Cytherea ! "

At that moment the last low rays of the sun
touched the head and shoulders of a man who
was approaching, and showed him up to Owen's
view. It was old Mr. Springrove. They had
grown familiar witli each other by reason of
Owen's visits to Knap water during the past
year. The farmer inquired how Owens foot
was progressing, and was glad to see him so
nimble ao-ain.

o

"How is your sonl" said Owen mechanically.

'•' He is at home, sitting by the fire," said
the farmer, in a sad voice. " This mornen he
slipped indoors from God knows where, and
there he sits and mopes, and thinks, and thinks,
and presses his head so hard, that I can't help
feelen for him."

*' Is he married '? " said Owen. Cytherea
had feared to tell him of the interview in the
garden.

" No. I can't quite understand how the
matter rests. ... Ah ! Edward, too, who



THE EVENTS OF ONE DAY. 245

started ^ith such promise ; that he should
now have become such a careless fellow — not
a month in one place. There, 3[r. Graye, I
know what it is mainlv owino- to. If it hadn t
been for that heart affair, he might have

done but the less said about him the better.

I don't know what we should have done if
Miss Aldcljffe had insisted upon the conditions
of the leases. Your brother-in-law the steward
had a hand in makeu it light for us, I know,
and I heartily thank him for it."" He ceased
speaking, and looked round at the sky.

" Have you heard o' what's happened \ "
he said suddenly ; '' I was just comen out to
learn about it."

" I haven't heard of anything.''

" It is something very serious, though I
don't know what. All I know is what I heard
a man call out by-no w — that it very much
concerns somebody who lives in the parish."

It seems singular enough, even to minds who
have no dim beliefs in adumbration and pre-
sentiment, that at that moment not the shadow



24-6 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

of a thought crossed Owen's mind that the
somebody whom the matter concerned might
be himself, or any belonging to him. The
event about to transpire was as portentous to
the woman whose welfare was more dear to
him than his own, as any, short of death itself,
could possibly be ; and ever afterwards, when
he considered the effect of the knowledge the
next half-hour -convej^ed to his brain, even
his practical good sense could not refrain from
wonder that he should have walked toward the
village, after hearing those words of the farmer,
in so leisurely and unconcerned a way. " How
unutterably mean must my intelligence have
appeared to the eye of a foreseeing God," he
frequently said in after time. " Columbus on
the eve of his discovery of a world was not so
contemptibly unaware."

After a few additional words of common-
place, the farmer left him, and, as has been
said, Owen proceeded slowly and indifferently
towards the village.

The labouring men had just left work, and



THE EVENTS OF ONE DAY. 247

passed the park gate, which opened into the
street as Owen came down towards it. They
went along in a drift, earnestly talking, and
were finally about to turn in at their respective
doorways. But upon seeing him they looked
significantly at one another, and paused. He
came into the road, on that side of the village
green which was opposite the row of cottages,
and turned round to the rioht. When Owen

o

turned, all eyes turned ; one or two men
went hurriedly indoors, and afterwards ap-
peared at the doorstep with their wives, who
also contemplated him, talking as they looked.
They seemed uncertain how to act in some
matter.

" If they want me, surely they will call me,"
he thought, wondering more and more. He
could no longer doubt tliat he was connected
with the subject of their discourse.

The first who approached him was a boy.

" What has occurred '? " said Owen.

" Oh, a man ha' got crazy-religious, and sent
for the pa'son."



248 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

" Is that all ? "

" Yes, sir. He wished he was dead, he said,
and he's almost out of his mind wi' wishen it
so much. That was before Mr. Raunham
came."

" Who is he ? " said Owen.

"Joseph Chinney, one of the rail way -porters ;
he used to be night porter."

"Ah — the man who was ill this afternoon;
by-the-way, he was told to come to the house
for something, but he hasn't been. But has
anything else happened — anything that con-
cerns the wedding to-day 1"

^•' No, sir.''

Concluding that the connection which had
seemed to be traced between himself and the
event must in some w^ay have arisen from
Cytherea's friendliness towards the man, Owen
turned about and went homewards in a much
quieter frame of mind — yet scarcel^^ satisfied
with the solution. The route he had chosen
led through the dairy-yard, and he opened the
gate.



THE EVENTS OF ONE DAY. 249

Five minutes before this point of time,
Edward Springrove ^vas looking over one of his
father's fields at an outlying hamlet of three or
four cottages some mile-and-a-half distant. A
turnpike-gate was close by the gate of the field.

The carrier to Froominster came up as
Edward stepped into the road, and jumped
down from the van to pay toll. He recognised
Springrove. " This is a pretty set-to in your
place, sir," he said. "' You don't know about it,
I supposed"

"Whaf?" said Springrove.

The carrier paid his dues, came up to
Edward, and spoke ten words in a confidential
whisper : then sprang upon the shafts of his
vehicle, gave a clinching nod of significance to
Springrove, and rattled away.

Edward turned pale with the intelligence.
His first thought was, "Bring her home!"

The next — did Owen Graye know what had
been discovered? He probably did by that time,
but no risk of probability must be run by a
woman he loved dearer than all the world



250 DESPERATE REMEDIES.

besides. He would at any rate make perfectly
sure that her brother was in possession of the
knowledge, by telling it him with his own lips.

OflP he ran in the direction of the old manor-
house.

The path was across arable land, and was
ploughed up with the rest of the field every
autumn, after which it was trodden out afresh.
The thaw had so loosened the soft earth, that
lumps of stiff mud were lifted by his feet at every
leap he took, and flung against him by his rapid
motion, as it were doggedly impeding him, and
increasing tenfold the customary effort of
running.

But he ran on — up hill, and down hill, the
same pace alike — like the shadow of a cloud.
His nearest direction too, like Owen's, was
through the dairy-barton, and as Owen entered
it he saw the figure of Edward rapidly de-
scending the opposite hill, at a distance of two
or three hundred yards. Owen advanced amid
the cows.

The dairyman, who had hitherto been talking



THE EVENTS OF ONE DAY. 251

loudly on some absorbing subject to the maids
and men milking around him, turned his face
towards the head of the cow when Owen
passed, and ceased speaking.

Owen approached him and said,

" A singular thing has happened, I hear.
The man is not insane, I suppose?"

" Xot he — he's sensible enough," said the
dairyman, and paused. He was a man nois}'
with his associates — stolid and taciturn with
strangers.

'•' Is it true that he is Chinney the railway-
porter 1"

" That's the man, sir."' The maids and men
sitting under the cows were all attentively
listening to this discourse, milking irregularly,
and softly directing the jets against the sides of
the pail.

Owen could contain himself no longer, much
as his mind dreaded anything of the nature of
ridicule. " The people all seem to look at me,
as if something seriously concerned me ; is it
this stupid matter, or what is it % "



-3^ DESPERATE REMEDIES.

" Surely sir, you know better than anybody
else if such a strange thing concerns you."

''What strange thing r'

" Don't 3'ou know ! His confessing to Parson
Raunham."

" What did he confess ; tell me."

''If you really ha'n't heard, 'tis this. He
was as usual on duty at the station on the night
of the fire last year, otherwise he wouldn't ha
known it.''

" Known what 1 for God's sake tell, man."

But at this instant the two opposite gates of
the dairy -yard, one on the east, the other on the
west side, slammed almost simultaneously.

The rector from one, Springrove from the
other, came striding across the barton.

Edward was nearest, and spoke first. He
said in a low voice, " Your sister is not legally
married I His first wife is still living ! How it
comes out I don't know ! "

" here you are at last, Mr. Graye, thaidc
heaven ! " said the rector, breathlessly. " I
have been to the Old House and then to Miss



THE EVENTS OF ONE DAY. 253

Aldclyffe's looking for you — something very
extraordinary." He beckoned to Owen, after-
wards included Springrove in his glance, and the
three stepped aside together.

" A porter at the station. He was a curious
nervous man. He had been in a strange state
all day, but he wouldn't go home. Your sister
was kind to him, it seems, this afternoon. When
she and her husband had gone, he went on with
his work, shifting luggage-vans. Well, he got
in the way, as if he were quite lost to what was
going on, and they sent him home at last.
Then he wished to see me. I went directly.
There was something on his mind, he said, and


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