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

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the nearly deserted platform, and was hurrying
to the outlet, when his eyes fell upon Edward.
At sight of his friend he was quite bewildered,
and could not speak.


" Here I am, Mr. Graye," said Edward cheer-
fullj. '' I have seen Cytherea, and she has
been waiting for you these two or three hours."

Owen took Edward's hand, pressed it, and
looked at him in silence. Such was the concen-
tration of his mind, that not till manv minutes
after did he think of inquiring how Springrove
had contrived to be there before him.

§ 10. Eleven o'clock, p.m.

On their arrival at the door of the hotel, it
Avas arranged between Springrove and Graye
that the latter only should enter, Edward wait-
ino; outside. Owen had remembered continu-
ally what his friend had frequently overlooked,
that there was yet a possibility of his sister
being Manston's wife, and the recollection
taught him to avoid any rashness in his pro-
ceedings which might lead to bitterness here-

Entering the room, he found Manston sitting
in the chair which had been occupied by


Cytlierea on Edward's visit, three hours' earher.
Before Owen had spoken, Manston arose, and
stepping past him, closed the door. His face
appeared harassed — much more troubled than
the slight circumstance which had as yet come
to his knowledge seemed to account for.

Manston could form no reason for Owen's
presence, but intuitively linked it with Cy-
therea's seclusion. "Altogether this is most
unseeml}^" he said, " whatever it may mean."

"Don't think there is meant anything un-
friendly by my coming here," said Owen,
earnestly ; " but listen to this and think if I
could do otherwise than come."

He took from his pocket the confession of
Chinney the porter, as hastily w^ritten out by
the vicar, and read it aloud. The aspects of
Manston's face whilst he listened to the open-
ing words were strange, dark, and mysterious
enough to have justified suspicions that no
deceit could be too complicated for the pos-
sessor of such impulses, had there not over-
ridden them all, as the reading went on, a new


and irrepressible expression — one unmistakably
honest. It ^ras that of unquahfiecl amazement
in the steward's mind at the news he heard.
Owen looked up, and saw it. The sight only
confirmed him in the behef he had held
throughout, in antagonism to Edward's sus-

There could no longer be a shadow of doubt
that if the first Mrs. Manston lived, her hus-
band was ignorant of the fact. What he could
have feared by his ghastly look at first, and
now have ceased to fear, it was quite futile to

"Now I do not for a moment doubt your
complete ignorance of the whole m.atter ; you
cannot suppose for an instant that I do/' said
Owen when he had finished reading. " But is
it not best for both that Cytherea should come
back with me till the matter is cleared up ^ In
fact, under the circumstances, no other course
is left open to me than to request it."

Whatever Manston's original feelings had
been, all in him now gave way to irritation.


and irritation to rage. He paced up and down
the room till he had mastered it ; then said in
ordinary tones : —

" Certainl}^ I know no more than you and
others know — it was a gratuitous unpleasant-
ness in you to say you did not doubt me.
Why should you, or anybody have doubted
me ? "

" Well, where is my sister 1 " said Owen.

"Locked in the next room.^'

His own answer reminded Manston that
Cytherea must by some inscrutable means have
had an inkling of the event.

Owen had gone to the door of Cytherea's

"Cytherea, darhng — 'tis Owen," he said,
outside the door. A rustling of clothes, soft
footsteps, and a voice saying from the inside,
" Is it really you, Owen — is it really 1 "

" It is."

" 0, will you take care of me ! "


She unlocked the door and retreated again.


Mansion camo forward from the other room*
with a candle in his hand, as Owen pushed
open the door.

Her frightened eyes were unnatm*allj large,
and shone like stars in the darkness of the
background, as the light fell upon them. She
leapt up to Owen in one bound, her small taper
fingers extended like the leaves of a lupine.
Then she clasped her cold and trembling hands
round his neck, and shivered.

The sight of her ao-ain kindled all Mansion's
passions into activity. " She shall not go with
you," he said firmly, and stepping a pace or
two closer, " unless you prove that she is not
my wife ; and you can't do it ! "'

" This is proof," said Owen, holding up the

"No proof at all!" said Mansion hotly.
" 'Tis not a death-bed confession, and those are
the only things of the kind held as good



" Send for a lawyer," Owen returned, " and
let him tell us the proper course to adopt."


"Never mind the law — ^let me go with
Owen!" cried Cjtherea, still holding on to him.
'' You will let me go with him, won't you, sir?"
she said, turning apjoealingly to Manston.

"We'll have it all right and square," said
Manston, with more quietness. " I have no
objection to your brother sending for a lawyer
if he wants to."

It was getting on for twelve o'clock, but the
proprietor of the hotel had not yet gone to bed
on account of the mystery on the first floor,
which was an occurrence unusual in the quiet
family lodging. Owen looked over the ban-
nisters, and saw him standing in the hall. It
struck Graye that the wisest course would be
to take the landlord to a certain extent into
their confidence, appeal to his honour as a
gentleman, and so on, in order to acquire the
information he wanted, and also to prevent the
episode of the evening from becoming a pubUc
piece of news. He cajled the landlord up to
where they stood, and told him the main facts
of the story.


The landlord ^\as fortunately a quiet, pre-
judiced man, and a meditative smoker.

" I know the very man you want to see — the
very man/^ he said, looking into the extreme
centre of the candle flame. " Sharp as a needle
and not over rich. Timms will put you all
straight in no time — trust Timms for that."

" He's in bed by this time, for certain," said

"Never mind that — Timms knows me, I
know him. Hell oblige me as a personal
favour. Wait here a bit. Perhaps too he's up
at some party or another — he's a nice jovial
fellow, sharp as a needle too ; mind you, sharp
as a needle too."

He went down-stairs, put on his overcoat, and
left the house, the three persons most concerned
entering the room, and standing motionless,
awkward, and silent in the midst of it. Cytherea
pictured to herself the long weary minutes she
would have to stand there, whilst a sleepy man
could be prepared for consultation, till the
constraint between them seemed unendurable


to her — she could never last out the time.
Owen was annoyed that Manston had not
quietly arranged with him at once ; Manston at
Owen's homeliness of idea in proposing to send
for an attorney, as if he would be a touchstone
of infallible proof.

Eeflection was cut short by the approach of
footsteps, and in a few moments the proprietor
of the hotel entered, introducing his friend.
"Mr. Timms has not been in bed," he said;
"he had just returned from dining with a few
friends, so there's no trouble given. To save
time I explained the matter as we came along.''

It occurred to Owen and Manston both that
they might get a misty exposition of the law
from Mr. Timms at that moment of concluding
dinner with a few friends.

" As far as I can see," said the lawyer,
yawning, and turning his vision inward by main
force, " it is quite a matter for private arrange-
ment between the parties, whoever the parties
are — at least at present. I speak more as a
father than as a lawyer, it is true, but let the


young lady stay with her father, or guardian,
safe out of shame's way, until the mystery is
sifted, whatever the mystery is. Should the
evidence prove to be false, or trumped up by
anybody to get her away from you, her
husband, you may sue them for the damages
accruing from the delay."

"Yes, yes," said Manston, who had com-
pletely recovered his self-possession and common
sense, "let it all be settled by herself"
Turning to Cytherea he whispered so softly that
Owen did not hear the w^ords,

" Do you wish to go back with your brother,
dearest, and leave me here miserable, and
lonely, or will you stay with me, your own
husband ? "

'•ril go back with Owen."

"Very well." He relinquished his coaxing
tone, and went on sternly, "And remember
this, Cytherea, I am as innocent of deception
in this thing as you are 3^ourself. Do you
believe me 1 "

"' I do," she said.


" I had no shadow of suspicion that my first
wife Hved. I don't think she does even now.
Do you beheve me '? "

" I beheve you," she said.

"And now% good evening/'' he continued,
opening the door and pohtely intimating to
the three men standing by that there was no
further necessity for their remaining in his
room. " In three days I shall claim her.''

The lawyer and the hotel-keeper retired
first. Owen, gathering up as much of his
sister's clothing as lay about the room, took her
upon his arm, and followed them. Edward, to
whom she owed everything, who had been left
standing in the street like a dog without a
home, was utterly forgotten. Owen paid the
landlord and the lawyer for the trouble he had
occasioned them, looked to the packing, and
went to the door.

A cab, which somewhat unaccountably was
seen lingering in front of the house, was called
up, and Cytherea's luggage put upon it.

" Do you know of any hotel near the station


that is open for niglit arrivals '? " Owen in-
quired of the driver.

"A place has been bespoken for you, sir, at
the White Unicorn — and the gentleman wished
me to give you this."

" Bespoken by Springrove, who ordered the
cab, of course," said Owen to himself. By the
light of the street-lamp he read these lines,
hurriedly traced in pencil : —

" I have gone home by the mail-train. It is
better for all parties that I should be out of the
way. Tell Cytherea that I apologise for having
caused her such unnecessary pain, as it seems I
did — but it cannot be helped now.

"E. S."

Owen handed his sister into the vehicle, and
told the cabman to drive on.

" Poor Springrove — I think w^e have served
him rather badly," he said to Cytherea, re-
peating the words of the note to her.

A thrill of pleasure passed through her

VOL. ir. u


bosom as she listened to them. They were
the genuine reproach of a lover to his mistress ;
the trifling coldness of her ans\ver to him would
have been noticed by no man who was only a
friend. But, in entertaining that sweet thought,
she had forgottten herself, and her position for
the instant.

Was she still Manston's wife — that was the
terrible supposition, and her future seemed still
a possible misery to her. For, on account of
the late jarring accident, a life with Manston
which would otherwise have been only a sad-
ness, must become a burden of unutterable

Then she thought of the misrepresentation
and scandal that would ensue if she were no
wife. One cause for thankfulness accompanied
the reflection ; Edward knew the truth.

They soon reached the quiet old inn, which
had been selected for them by the forethought
of the man who loved her well. Here they
installed themselves for the night, arranging to
go to Creston by the first train the next day.


At this hour Edward Springrove was fast
approaching his native county on the wheels of
the night mail.






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Online LibraryThomas HardyDesperate remedies : a novel. In three volumes (Volume 2) → online text (page 12 of 12)