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Chapter 27

  • We concluded our wedding-tour rather sooner than we had at first intended, an_eturned to England and Willowsmere Court about the middle of August. I had _ague notion stirring in me that gave me a sort of dim indefinabl_onsolation, and it was this,—I meant to bring my wife and Mavis Clar_ogether, believing that the gentle influence of the gracious and happ_reature, who, like a contented bird in its nest, dwelt serene in the littl_omain so near my own, might have a softening and wholesome effect upo_ibyl's pitiless love of analysis and scorn of all noble ideals. The heat i_arwickshire was at this time intense,—the roses were out in their ful_eauty, and the thick foliage of the branching oaks and elms in my ground_fforded grateful shade and repose to the tired body, while the tranqui_oveliness of the woodland and meadow scenery, comforted and soothed th_qually tired mind. After all there is no country in the world so fair a_ngland,—none so richly endowed with verdant forest and fragrant flowers,—non_hat can boast of sweeter nooks for seclusion and romance. In Italy, that lan_o over-praised by hysterical  _poseurs_  who foolishly deem it admirable t_lorify any country save their own, the fields are arid and brown and parche_y the too fervent sun,—there are no shady lanes such as England can boast o_n all her shires,—and the mania among Italians for ruthlessly cutting dow_heir finest trees has not only actually injured the climate, but has s_poilt the landscape that it is difficult to believe at all in its onc_enowned and still erroneously reported charm. Such a bower of beauty as 'Lil_ottage' was in that sultry August could never have been discovered in all th_ength and breadth of Italy. Mavis superintended the care of her garden_erself,—she had two gardeners, who under her directions kept the grass an_rees continually watered,—and nothing could be imagined more lovely than th_icturesque old-fashioned house, covered with roses and tufts of jessamin_hat seemed to tie up the roof in festal knots and garlands, while around th_uilding spread the reaches of deep emerald lawn and bosky arbours of foliag_here all the most musical song-birds apparently found refuge and delight, an_here at evening a perfect colony of nightingales kept up a bubbling fountai_f delicious melody. I remember well the afternoon, warm, languid and still, when I took Sibyl to see the woman-author she had so long admired. The hea_as so great that in our own grounds all the birds were silent, but when w_pproached 'Lily Cottage' the first thing we heard was the piping of a thrus_p somewhere among the roses,—a mellow liquid warble expressing 'swee_ontent,' and mingling with the subdued coo-cooings of the dove 'reviewers'
  • who were commenting on whatever pleased or displeased them in the distance.
  • "What a pretty place it is !" said my wife, as she peeped over the gate an_hrough the odorous tangles of honeysuckle and jessamine. "I really think i_s prettier than Willowsmere. It has been wonderfully improved."
  • We were shown in, and Mavis, who had expected our visit, did not keep u_aiting long. As she entered, clad in some gossamer white stuff that clun_oftly about her pretty figure and was belted in by a simple ribbon, an od_ickening pang went through my heart. The fair untroubled face, the joyous ye_reamy student eyes, the sensitive mouth,—and above all, the radiant look o_appiness that made the whole expression of her features so bright an_ascinating, taught me in one flash of conviction all that a woman might be, and all that she too frequently was not. And I had hated Mavis Clare !—I ha_ven taken up my pen to deal her a wanton blow through the medium of anonymou_riticism, … but this was before I knew her,—before I realized that ther_ould be any difference between her and the female scarecrows who s_requently pose as 'novelists' without being able to write correct English, and who talk in public of their 'copy' with the glibness gained from Gru_treet and the journalists' cheap restaurant. Yes—I had hated her,—an_ow—now, almost I loved her! Sibyl, tall, queenly and beautiful, gazed upo_er with eyes that expressed astonishment as well as admiration.
  • "To think that  _you_  are the famous Mavis Clare!" she said, smiling as sh_eld out her hand. "I always heard and knew that you did not look at al_iterary, but I never quite realized that you could be exactly what I see yo_re!''
  • "To look literary does not always imply that you  _are_  literary!" returne_avis, laughing a little. "Too often I am afraid you will find that the wome_ho take pains to  _look_  literary are ignorant of literature! But how glad _m to see you, Lady Sibyl! Do you know I used to watch you playing about o_he lawns at Willowsmere when I was quite a little girl?"
  • "And I used to watch  _you,"_  responded Sibyl. "You used to make daisy-chain_nd cowslip-balls in the fields opposite on the other side of the Avon. It i_ great pleasure to me to know we are neighbours. You must come and see m_ften at Willowsmere."
  • Mavis did not answer immediately,—she busied herself in pouring out tea an_ispensing it to both of us. Sibyl, who was always on the alert for glimpse_f character, noticed that she did not answer, and repeated her word_oaxingly.
  • "You will come, will you not? As often as you like; the oftener the better. W_ust be friends, you know!"
  • Mavis looked up then, a frank sweet smile in her eyes.
  • "Do you really mean it?" she asked.
  • "Mean it!" echoed Sibyl.  _"_ Why, of course I do!"
  • "How can you doubt it!" I exclaimed.
  • "Well, you must both forgive me for askingsuch a question,'' said Mavis, stil_miling. "But you see you are now among what are called the 'county magnates,'
  • and county magnates consider themselves infinitely above all authors.'' Sh_aughed outright, and her blue eyes twinkled with fun. "I think many of the_stimate writers of books as some sort of strange outgrowth of humanity tha_s barely decent. It is deliciously funny and always amuses me; nevertheless, among my many faults, the biggest one is, I fancy, pride, and a dreadfull_bstinate spirit of independence. Now, to tell you the truth, I have bee_sked by many so-called 'great' people to their houses, and when I  _have_one, I have generally been sorry for it afterwards."
  • "Why?" I asked. "They honour themselves by inviting you."
  • "Oh, I don't think they take it in that way at all!" she replied, shaking he_air head demurely. "They fancy they have performed a great act o_ondescension,—whereas it is really I who condescend, for it is very good o_e, you know, to leave the society of the Pallas Athene in my study for tha_f a flounced and frizzled lady of fashion." Her bright smile again irradiate_er face and she went on— "Once I was asked to luncheon with a certain baro_nd baroness who invited a few guests 'to meet me,' so they said. I was no_ntroduced to more than one or two of these people, —the rest sat and stare_t me as if I were a new kind of fish or fowl. Then the baron showed me hi_ouse, and told me the prices of his pictures and his china,—he was even goo_nough to explain which was Dresden and which was Delft ware, though _elieve, benighted author as I am, I could have instructed him equally o_hese and other matters. However, I managed to smile amicably through th_hole programme, and professed myself charmed and delighted in the usua_ay;—but they never asked me to visit them again, —and (unless indeed the_anted me to be impressed with their furniture-catalogue), I can never mak_ut what I did to be asked at all, and what I have done never to be asked an_ore!"
  • "They must have  _been parvenus,"_  said Sibyl indignantly. "No well-bre_eople would have priced their goods to you, unless they happened to be Jews."
  • Mavis laughed—a merry little laugh like a peal of bells,— then she continued—
  • "Well, I will not say who they were,—I must keep something f ir my 'literar_eminiscences' when I get old! Then all these people will be named, and g_own to posterity as Dante's enemies went down to Dante's hell! I have onl_old you the incident just to show you why I asked you if you meant it, whe_ou invited me to visit you at Willowsmere. Because the baron and baroness _ave spoken of 'gushed' over me and my poor books to such an extent that yo_ould have fancied I was to be for evermore one of their dearest friends,—an_hey  _didn't_  mean it. Other people I know embrace me effusively and invit_e to their houses, and  _they_  don't mean it. And when I find out thes_hams, I like to make it very clear on my own side that I do not seek to b_mbraced or invited, and that if certain great folks deem it a 'favour' to as_e to their houses, I do not so consider it, but rather think the 'favour' i_ntirely on my part if I accept the invitation. And I do not say this for m_wn self at all,—self has nothing to do with it,—but I do say it and strongl_ssert it for the sake of the dignity of Literature as an art and profession.
  • If a few other authors would maintain this position, we might raise th_tandard of letters by degrees to what it was in the old days of Scott an_yron. I hope you do not think me too proud?"
  • "On the contrary, I think you are quite right," said Sibyl earnestly. "And _dmire you for your courage and independence. Some of the aristocracy are, _now, such utter snobs that often I feel ashamed to belong to them. But as fa_s we are concerned, I can only assure you that if you will honour us b_ecoming our friend as well as neighbour, you shall not regret it. Do try an_ike me if you can!"
  • She bent forward with a witching smile on her fair face. Mavis looked at he_eriously and admiringly.
  • "How beautiful you are !" she said frankly. "Everybody tells you this o_ourse,—still, I cannot help joining in the general chorus. To me, a lovel_ace is like a lovely flower, —I must admire it. Beauty is quite a divin_hing, and though I am often told that the plain people are always the goo_eople, I never can quite believe it. Nature is surely bound to give _eautiful face to a beautiful spirit."
  • Sibyl, who had smiled with pleasure at the first words of the open complimen_aid her by one of the most gifted of her own sex, now flushed deeply.
  • "Not always, Miss Clare," she said, veiling her brilliant eyes beneath th_roop of her long lashes. One can imagine a fair fiend as easily as a fai_ngel."
  • "True!" and Mavis looked at her musingly; then suddenly laughing in her blith_right way, she added, ''Quite true! Really I cannot picture an ugl_iend,—for the fiends are supposed to be immortal, and I am convinced tha_mmortal ugliness has no part in the universe. Downright hideousness belong_o humanity alone,—and an ugly face is such a blot on creation that we ca_nly console ourselves by the reflection that it is fortunately perishable, and that in course of time the soul behind it will be released from its ill- formed husk, and will be allowed to wear a fairer aspect. Yes, Lady Sibyl, _ill come to Willowsmere; I cannot refuse to look upon such loveliness a_ours as often as I may!"
  • "You are a charming flatterer!" said Sibyl, rising and putting an arm roun_er in that affectionate coaxing way of hers which seemed so sincere and whic_o frequently meant nothing. "But I confess I prefer to be flattered by _oman rather than by a man. Men say the same things to all women,—they have _ery limited repertoire of compliments,—and they will tell a fright she i_eautiful if it happens to serve their immediate purpose. But women themselve_an so hardly be persuaded to admit that any good qualities exist eithe_nward or outward in one another, that when they do say a kind or generou_hing of their own sex it is a wonder worth remembering. May I see you_tudy?"
  • Mavis willingly assented, and we all three went into the peaceful sanctu_here the marble Pallas presided, and where the dogs Tricksy and Emperor wer_oth ensconced,—Emperor sitting up on his haunches and surveying the prospec_rom the window, and Tricksy with a most absurd air of importance, imitatin_he larger animal's attitude precisely, at a little distance off. Bot_reatures were friendly to my wife and to me, and while Sibyl was stroking th_t Bernard's massive head, Mavis said suddenly—
  • "Where is the friend who came with you here first, Prince Rimanez?"
  • "He is in St Petersburg just now," I answered. "But he will be here in two o_hree weeks to stay with us on a visit for some time.''
  • "He is surely a very singular man," said Mavis thoughtfully. "Do you remembe_ow strangely my dogs behaved to him? Emperor was quite restless an_roublesome for two or three hours after he had gone."
  • And in a few words, she told Sibyl the incident of the St Bernard's attac_pon Lucio.
  • "Some people have a natural antipathy to dogs," said Sibyl, as she heard. "An_he dogs always find it out and resent it. But I should not have though_rince Rimanez had an antipathy to any creatures except—women!"
  • And she laughed, a trifle bitterly.
  • "Except women!" echoed Mavis surprisedly. "Does he hate women? He must be _ery good actor then, for to me he was wonderfully kind and gentle."
  • Sibyl looked at her intently, and was silent for a minute. Then she said—
  • "Perhaps it is because he knows you are unlike the ordinary run of women an_ave nothing in common with their usual trumpery aims. Of course he is alway_ourteous to our sex,—but I think it is easy to see that his courtesy is ofte_orn as a mere mask to cover a very different feeling."
  • "You have perceived that, then, Sibyl?" I said with a slight smile.
  • "I should be blind if I had not perceived it," she replied. "I do not, however, blame him for his pet aversion,—I think it makes him all the mor_ttractive and interesting."
  • "He is a great friend of yours?" inquired Mavis, looking at me as she put th_uestion.
  • "The very greatest friend I have," I replied quickly. "I owe him more than _an ever repay,—indeed I have to thank him even for introducing me to m_ife.''
  • I said the words unthinkingly and playfully, but as I uttered them, a sudde_hock affected my nerves,—a shock of painful memory. Yes, it was true!—I owe_o him, to Lucio, the misery, fear, degradation and shame of having such _oman as Sibyl was, united to me till death should us part. I felt mysel_urning sick and giddy, and I sat down in one of the quaint oak chairs tha_elped to furnish Mavis Clare's study, allowing the two women to pass out o_he open French window into the sunlit garden together, the dogs following a_heir heels. I watched them as they went,—my wife, tall and stately, attire_n the newest and most fashionable mode; Mavis, small and slight, with he_oft white gown and floating waist-ribbon,—the one sensual, the othe_piritual,—the one base and vicious in desire, the other pure-souled an_spiring to noblest ends,—the one a physically magnificent animal, the othe_erely sweet-faced and ideally fair like a sylph of the woodlands,—an_ooking, I clenched my hands as I thought with bitterness of spirit what _istaken choice I had made. In the profound egotism which had always been par_f my nature I now actually allowed myself to believe that I might, had _hosen, have wedded Mavis Clare,—never for one moment imagining that all m_ealth would have been useless to me in such a quest, and that I might as wel_ave proposed to pluck a star from the sky as to win a woman who was able t_ead my nature thoroughly, and who would never have come down to my money- level from her intellectual throne,—no, not though I had been a monarch o_any nations. I stared at the large tranquil features of the Pallas Athene, and the blank eyeballs of the marble goddess appeared to regard me in tur_ith impassive scorn. I glanced round the room, and at the walls adorned wit_he wise sayings of poets and philosophers,—sayings that reminded me of truth_hich I knew, yet never accepted as practicable; and presently my eyes wer_ttracted to a corner near the writing-desk, which I had not noticed before, where there was a small dim lamp burning. Above this lamp an ivory crucifi_leamed white against draperies of dark purple velvet,—below it, on a silve_racket, was an hour-glass through which the sand was running in glistenin_rains, and round the entire little shrine was written in letters of gold,
  • "Now is the acceptable time!"—the word ' Now' being in larger characters tha_he rest. 'Now' was evidently Mavis's motto,—to lose no time, but to work, t_ray, to love, to hope, to thank God and be glad for life, all in the
  • 'Now'—and neither to regret the past nor forebode the future, but simply d_he best that could be done, and leave all else in child-like confidence t_he Divine Will. I got up restlessly,—the sight of the crucifix curiousl_nnoyed me ;—and I followed the path my wife and Mavis had taken through th_arden. I found them looking in at the cage of the 'Athenaeum' owls,—the owl- in-chief being as usual puffed out with his own importance and swellin_isibly with indignation and excess of feather. Sibyl turned as she sa_e,—her face was bright and smiling.
  • "Miss Clare has very strong opinions of her own, Geoffrey," she said. "She i_ot as much captivated by Prince Rimanez as most people are,—in fact, she ha_ust confided to me that she does not quite like him."
  • Mavis blushed, but her eyes met mine with fearless candour.
  • "It is wrong to say what one thinks, I know," she murmured in somewha_roubled accents. "And it is a dreadful fault of mine. Please forgive me, M_empest! You tell me the prince is your greatest friend,—and I assure you _as immensely impressed by his appearance when I first saw him, … bu_fterwards, … after I had studied him a little, the conviction was borne i_pon me that he was not altogether what he seemed."
  • "That is exactly what he says of himself," I answered, laughing a little. "H_as a mystery I believe,—and he has promised to clear it up for me some day.
  • But I'm sorry you don't like him, Miss Clare,—for he likes you."
  • "Perhaps when I meet him again my ideas may be different," said Mavis gently.
  • "At present, … well—do not let us talk of it anymore,—indeed I feel I hav_een very rude to express any opinion at all concerning one for whom you an_ady Sibyl have so great a regard. But somehow I seemed impelled, almos_gainst my will, to say what I did just now."
  • Her soft eyes looked pained and puzzled, and to relieve her, and change th_ubject, I asked if she was writing anything new.
  • "Oh, yes," she replied. "It would never do for me to be idle. The public ar_ery kind to me,—and no sooner have they read one thing of mine than the_lamour for another, so I am kept very busy."
  • "And what of the critics?" I asked, with a good deal of curiosity.
  • She laughed.
  • "I never pay the least attention to them," she answered, "except when they ar_asty and misguided enough to write lies about me,—then I very naturally tak_he liberty to contradict those lies, either through my own statement or tha_f my lawyers. Apart from refusing to allow the public to be led into a fals_otion of my work and aims, I have no grudge whatever against the critics.
  • They are generally very poor, hard-working men, and have a frightful struggl_o live. I have often, privately, done some of them a good turn without thei_nowledge. A publisher of mine sent me an MS. the other day by one of m_eadliest enemies on the press, and stated that my opinion would decide it_ejection or acceptance. I read it through, and though it was not ver_rilliant work it was good enough, so I praised it as warmly as I could, an_rged its publication, with the stipulation that the author should never b_old I had had the casting vote. It has just come out, I see,—and I'm sure _ope it will succeed." Here she paused to gather a few deep damask roses, which she handed to Sibyl. "Yes, critics are very badly, even cruelly paid,"
  • she went on musingly. "It is not to be expected that they should writ_ulogies of the successful author, while they continue unsuccessful,—such wor_ould not be anything but gall and wormwood to them. I know the poor littl_ife of one of them,—and settled her dressmaker's bill for her because she wa_fraid to show it to her husband. The very week afterwards he slashed away a_y last book in the most approved style in the paper on which he is employe_nd got, I suppose, about a guinea for his trouble. Of course he didn't kno_bout his little wife and her dunning dressmaker; and he never will know, because I have bound her over to secrecy."
  • "But why do you do such things?" asked Sibyl astonished. "I would have let hi_ife get into the County Court for her bill, if I had been you!"
  • "Would you ?" and Mavis smiled gravely. "Well, I could not. You know Who i_as that said 'Bless them that curse you, and do good to them that hate you.'
  • Besides, the poor little woman was frightened to death at her own expenditure.
  • It is pitiful, you know, to see the helpless agonies of people who  _will_ive beyond their incomes,—they suffer much more than the beggars in th_treet who make frequently more than a pound a day by mere whining an_nivelling. The critics are much more in evil case than the beggars—few o_hem make even a pound a day, and of course they regard as their natura_nemies the authors who make thirty to fifty pounds a week. I assure you I a_ery sorry for critics all round,— they are the least-regarded and worst- rewarded of all the literary community. And I never bother myself at all abou_hat they say of me, except as I before observed, when in their haste the_ell lies,—then of course it becomes necessary for me to state the truth i_imple self-defence as well as by way of duty to my public. But as a rule _and over all my press-notices to Tricksy there,"—indicating the minut_orkshire terrier who followed closely at the edge of her white gown,—"and h_ears them to indistinguishable shreds in about three minutes!"
  • She laughed merrily, and Sibyl smiled, watching her with the same wonder an_dmiration that had been expressed in her looks more or less since th_eginning of our interview with this light-hearted possessor of literary fame.
  • We were now walking towards the gate preparatory to taking our departure.
  • "May I come and talk to you sometimes?" my wife said suddenly, in he_rettiest and most pleading voice. "It would be such a privilege!"
  • "You can come whenever you like in the afternoons," replied Mavis readily.
  • "The mornings belong to a goddess more dominant even than Beauty,—Work!"
  • "You never work at night?" I asked.
  • "Indeed no! I never turn the ordinances of Nature upside down, as I am sure _hould get the worst of it if I made such an attempt. The night is for sleep, and I use it thankfully for that blessed purpose."
  • "Some authors can only write at night though," I said.
  • "Then you may be sure they only produce blurred pictures and indistinc_haracterization," said Mavis. "Some I know there are, who invite inspiratio_hrough gin, or opium, as well as through the midnight influences, but I d_ot believe in such methods. Morning and a freshly rested brain are require_or literary labour,—that is, if one wants to write a book that will last fo_ore than one 'season.'"
  • She accompanied us to the gate, and stood under the porch, her big dog besid_er and the roses waving high over her head.
  • "At anyrate, work agrees with you," said Sibyl, fixing upon her a long, intent, almost envious gaze. "You look perfectly happy."
  • "I  _am_  perfectly happy," she answered, smiling. "I have nothing in all th_orld to wish for, except that I may die as peacefully as I have lived."
  • "May that day be far distant!" I said earnestly.
  • She raised her soft meditative eyes to mine.
  • "Thank you!" she responded gently. "But I do not mind when it comes, so lon_s it finds me ready."
  • She waved her hand to us as we left her and turned the corner of the lane,—an_or some minutes we walked on slowly in absolute silence. Then at last Siby_poke—
  • "I quite understand the hatred there is in some quarters for Mavis Clare," sh_aid. "I am afraid I begin to hate her myself!"
  • I stopped and stared at her, astonished and confounded.
  • "You begin to hate her—you?—and why?"
  • "Are you so blind that you cannot perceive why?" she retorted, the littl_align smile I knew so well playing round her lips. "Because she is happy!
  • Because she has no scandals in her life, and because she dares to be content!
  • One longs to make her miserable! But how to do it? She believes in a God,—sh_hinks all He ordains is right and good. With such a firm faith as that, sh_ould be happy in a garret earning but a few pence a day. I see now perfectl_ow she has won her public,—it is by the absolute conviction she has hersel_f the theories of life she tries to instil. What can be done against her?
  • Nothing! But I understand why the critics would like to 'quash' her,—if I wer_ critic, fond of whisky-and-soda and music-hall women, I should like to quas_er myself for being so different to the rest of her sex."
  • "What an incomprehensible woman you are, Sibyl!" I exclaimed with rea_rritation. "You admire Miss Clare's books,—you have always admired them,—yo_ave asked her to become your friend,—and almost in the same breath you ave_ou would like to 'quash' her or to make her miserable. I confess I canno_nderstand you !''
  • "Of course you cannot!" she responded tranquilly, her eyes resting upon m_ith a curious expression, as we paused for an instant under the deep shade o_ chestnut tree before entering our own grounds. "I never supposed you could, and, unlike the ordinary  _femtne incomprise,_  I have never blamed you fo_our want of comprehension. It has taken me some time to understand myself, and even now I am not quite sure that I have gauged the depths o_hallownesses of my own nature correctly. But on this matter of Mavis Clare, can you not imagine that badness may hate goodness? That the confirme_runkard may hate the sober citizen? That the outcast may hate the innocen_aiden? And that it is possible that I,—reading life as I do, and finding i_oathsome in many of its aspects,—distrusting men and women utterly,— an_eing destitute of any faith in God,—may hate,—yes  _hate"_ —and she clenche_er hand on a tuft of drooping leaves and scattered the green fragments at he_eet—"a woman who finds life beautiful, and God existent,—who takes no part i_ur social shams and slanders, and who in place of my selftorturing spirit o_nalysis, has secured an enviable fame and the honour of thousands, allied t_ serene content? Why, it would be something worth living for to make such _oman wretched for once in her life !—but as she is constituted it i_mpossible to do it."
  • She turned from me and walked slowly onward,—I following in a pained silence.
  • "If you do not mean to be her friend, you should tell her so," I sai_resently. "You heard what she said about pretended protestations of regard ?''
  • "I heard,'' she replied morosely. "She is a clever woman, Geoffrey, and yo_ay trust her to find me out without any explanation!"
  • As she said this, I raised my eyes and looked full at her,— her exceedin_eauty was becoming almost an agony to my sight, and in a sudden fool'_aroxysm of despair I exclaimed—
  • "Oh, Sibyl, Sibyl! Why were you made as you are?"
  • "Ah, why indeed?" she rejoined, with a faint mocking smile. "And why, bein_ade as I am, was I born an Earl's daughter? If I had been an Arab of th_treet, I should have been in my proper place,—and novels would have bee_ritten about me, and plays,—and I might have become such a heroine as shoul_ause all good men to weep for joy because of my generosity in encouragin_heir vices! But as an Earl's daughter, respectably married to a millionaire, I am a mistake of nature. Yet nature does make mistakes sometimes, Geoffrey, and when she does they are generally irremediable."
  • We had now reached our own grounds, and I walked, in miserable mood, besid_er across the lawn towards the house.
  • "Sibyl," I said at last, "I had hoped you and Mavis Clare might be friends… ."
  • She laughed.
  • "So we shall be friends, I daresay,—for a little while," she replied. "But th_ove does not willingly consort with the raven, and Mavis Clare's way of lif_nd studious habits would be to me insufferably dull. Besides, as I sai_efore, she, as a clever woman and a thinker, is too clear-sighted not to fin_e out in the course of time. But I will play humbug as long as I can. If _erform the part of 'county lady' or 'patron,' of course she won't stand m_or a moment. I shall have to assume a much more difficult role,—that of a_onest woman."
  • Again she laughed,—a cruel little laugh that chilled my blood, and pace_lowly into the house through the open windows of the drawing-room. And I, left alone in the garden among the nodding roses and waving trees, felt tha_he beautiful domain of Willowsmere had suddenly grown hideous and bereft o_ll its former charm, and was nothing but a haunted house o_esolation,—haunted by an all-dominant and ever victorious Spirit of Evil.