Puslapio vaizdai

cured of my jealousy. 'Tis gone, along with my love. You and your saintly sinner are safe from me. I am come hither for my own, my two thousand pounds, and for nothing more."

"Ah! you are come back for money, not for me?" she murmured, with forced calmness.

"For money, and not for you, of course," said he, coldly.

The words were hardly out of his mouth, when the proud lady flung his arm from her. "Then money shall you have, and not me; nor aught of me but my contempt."

But she could not carry it off as heretofore. She turned her back haughtily on him; but, at the first step, she burst out crying, "Come, and I'll give you what you are come for," she sobbed. "Ungrateful! heartless! O, how little I knew this man!"

She crept away before him, drooping her head, and crying bitterly; and he followed her, hanging his head, and ill at ease; for there was such true passion in her voice, her streaming eyes, and indeed in her whole body, that he was moved, and the part he was playing revolted him. He felt confused and troubled, and asked himself how on earth it was that she, the guilty one, contrived to appear the injured one, and made him, the wronged one, feel almost remorseful.

Mrs. Gaunt took no more notice of him now than if he had been a dog following at her heels. She went into the drawing-room, and sank helplessly on the nearest couch, threw her head wearily back, and shut her eyes. Yet the tears trickled through the closed lids. Griffith caught up a hand-bell, and rang it vigorously.

Quick, light steps were soon heard pattering; and in darted Caroline Ryder, with an anxious face; for of late she had conceived a certain sober regard for her mistress, who had ceased to be her successful rival, and who bore her grief like a man.

At sight of Griffith, Ryder screamed aloud, and stood panting.

Mrs. Gaunt opened her eyes. “Ay, child, he has come home," said she, bitterly; "his body, but not his heart."

She stretched her hand out feebly, and pointed to a bottle of salts that stood on the table. Ryder ran and put them to her nostrils. Mrs. Gaunt whispered in her ear, "Send a swift horse for Father Francis; tell him. life or death!"

Ryder gave her a very intelligent look, and presently slipped out, and ran into the stable-yard.

At the gate she caught sight of Griffith's horse. What does this quickwitted creature do but send the groom off on that horse, and not on Mrs. Gaunt's.

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'Ah, you can remember my faults." "I remember all, Kate."

"Thank you, at least, for calling me Kate. Well, Griffith, since you abandoned us, I thought, and thought, and thought, of all that might befall you; and I said, 'What will he do for money? My jewels, that you did me the honor to take, would not last you long, I feared. So I reduced my expenses three fourths at least, and I put by some money for your need."

Griffith looked amazed. need?" said he.

For my

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prudent. But, O Griffith, as I hope to be saved, it was the imprudence of innocence and over-confidence."

"Mistress," said Griffith, in a stern, yet agitated voice, "be advised, and leave all this rouse not a man's sleeping wrath. Let bygones be bygones."

Mrs. Gaunt rose, and said, faintly, "So be it. I must go, sir, and give some orders for your entertainment."

"O, don't put yourself about for me," said Griffith: "I am not the master of this house."

Mrs. Gaunt's lip trembled, but she was a match for him. "Then are you my guest," said she; "and my credit is concerned in your comfort."

She made him a courtesy, as if he were a stranger, and marched to the door, concealing, with great pride and art, a certain trembling of her knees.

At the door she found Ryder, and bade her follow, much to that lady's disappointment; for she desired a têteà-tête with Griffith, and an explanation.

As soon as the two women were out of Griffith's hearing, the mistress laid her hand on the servant's arm, and, giving way to her feelings, said, all in a flutter: "Child, if I have been a good mistress to thee, show it now. Help me keep him in the house till Father Francis comes."

"I undertake to do so much," said Ryder, firmly. "Leave it to me, mistress."

to perfection, and told her her dear papa was come home. She then worked upon the child's mind in that subtle way known to women, so that Rose went down stairs loaded and primed, though no distinct instructions had been given her.

As for Griffith, he walked up and down, uneasy; and wished he had stayed at the "Packhorse." He had not bargained for all these emotions; the peace of mind he had enjoyed for some months seemed trickling away.


'Mercy, my dear," said he to himself, "'t will be a dear penny to me, I doubt."

Then he went to the window, and looked at the lawn, and sighed. Then he sat down, and thought of the past.

Whilst he sat thus moody, the door opened very softly, and a little cherubic face, with blue eyes and golden hair, peeped in. Griffith started. "Ah!" cried Rose, with a joyful scream; and out flew her little arms, and away she came, half running, half dancing, and was on his knee in a moment, with her arms round his neck.

"Papa! papa!" she cried. "O my dear, dear, dear, darling papa!" And she kissed and patted his cheek again and again.

Her innocent endearments moved him to tears. "My pretty angel!" he sighed: "my lamb!"

"How your heart beats! Don't cry,

Mrs. Gaunt threw her arms round dear papa. Nobody is dead: only we Ryder's neck and kissed her.

It was done so ardently, and by a woman hitherto so dignified and proud, that Ryder was taken by surprise, and almost affected.

As for the service Mrs. Gaunt had asked of her, it suited her own designs. "Mistress," said she, "be ruled by me; keep out of his way a bit, while I get Miss Rose ready. You understand."

"Ah! I have one true friend in the house," said poor Mrs. Gaunt. She then confided in Ryder, and went away to give her own orders for Griffith's reception.

Ryder found little Rose, dressed her

thought you were. I'm so glad you are come home alive. Now we can take off this nasty black: I hate it." "What, 't is for me you wear it, pretty one?"

"Ay. Mamma made us. Poor mamma has been so unhappy. And that reminds me: you are a wicked man, papa. But I love you all one for that. It is so dull when everybody is good like mamma; and she makes me dreadfully good too; but now you are come back, there will be a little, little wickedness again, it is to be hoped. Are n't you glad you are not dead, and are come home instead? I am."

"I am glad I have seen thee. Come,

take my hand, and let us go look at the old place."

"Nay, papa."

"That is strange. She visits him,

"Ay. But you must wait till I get then?" on my new hat and feather."


"What, mamma? She seldom stirs

Nay, nay; art pretty enough bare- out; and never beyond the village. headed."

"O papa! but I must, for decency. You are company now; you know."

"Dull company, sweetheart, thou 'lt find me."

"I don't mean that: I mean, when you were here always, you were only papa; but now you come once in an age, you're COMPANY. I won't budge without 'em; so there, now."

"Well, little one, I do submit to thy hat and feather; only be quick, or I shall go forth without thee."

"If you dare," said Rose impetuously; "for I won't be half a moment." She ran and extorted from Ryder the new hat and feather, which by rights she was no to have worn until next month.

Griffith and his little girl went all over the well-known premises, he sad and moody, she excited and chattering, and nodding her head down, and cocking her eye up every now and then, to get a glimpse of her feather.

"And don't you go away again, dear papa. It is so dull without you. Nobody comes here. Mamma won't let 'em."

"Nobody except Father Leonard," said Griffith, bitterly.

"Father Leonard? Why, he never comes here. Leonard! That is the beautiful priest that used to pat me on the head, and bid me love and honor my parents. And so I do. Only mamma is always crying, and you keep away; so how can I love and honor you, when I never see you, and they keep telling me you are good for nothing, and dead."

"My young mistress, when did you see Father Leonard last?" said Griffith, gnawing his lip.

"How can I tell? Why, it was miles ago; when I was a mere girl. You know he went away before you did."

"I know nothing of the kind. Tell me the truth now. He has visited here since I went away.”

We keep no carriage now. Mamma is turned such a miser. She is afraid you will be poor; so she puts it all by for you. But now you are come, we shall have carriages and things again. O, by the by, Father Leonard! I heard them say he had left England, so I did."


'When was that?"

"Well, I think that was a little bit after you went away."

"That is strange," said Griffith, thoughtfully.

He led his little girl by the hand, but scarcely listened to her prattle; he was so surprised and puzzled by the information he had elicited from her.

Upon the whole, however, he concluded that his wife and the priest had perhaps been smitten with remorse, and had parted— when it was too late.

This, and the peace of mind he had found elsewhere, somewhat softened his feelings towards them. "So," thought he, "they were not hardened creatures after all. Poor Kate!"

As these milder feelings gained on him, Rose suddenly uttered a joyful cry; and, looking up, he saw Mrs. Gaunt coming towards him, and Ryder behind her. Both were in gay colors, which, in fact, was what had so delighted Rose.

They came up, and Mrs. Gaunt seemed a changed woman. She looked young and beautiful, and bent a look of angelic affection on her daughter; and said to Griffith, "Is she not grown? Is she not lovely? Sure you will never desert her again."

"'T was not her I deserted, but her mother; and she had played me false with her d-d priest," was Griffith's reply.

Mrs. Gaunt drew back with horror. "This, before my girl?" she cried. "GRIFFITH GAUNT, YOU LIE!"

And this time it was the woman who menaced the man. She rose to six feet

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Then he put his hands in his pockets with a dogged air, and said, grinding his teeth," But as you are not a man, and I'm not a woman, we can't settle it that way. So I give you the last word, and good day. I'm sore in want of money; but I find I can't pay the price it is like to cost me. Farewell."

"Begone!" said Mrs. Gaunt: "and, this time, forever. Ruffian, and fool, I loathe the sight of you."

Rose ran weeping to her. "O mamma, don't quarrel with papa": then back to Griffith, "O papa, don't quarrel with mamma, - for sake." my

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Griffith hung his head, and said, in a broken voice: "No, my lamb, we twain must not quarrel before thee. We will part in silence, as becomes those that once were dear, and have thee to show for 't. Madam, I wish you all health and happiness. Adieu."

He turned on his heel; and Mrs. Gaunt took Rose to her knees, and bent and wept over her. Niobe over her last was not more graceful, nor more sad.

As for Ryder, she stole quietly after her retiring master. She found him peering about, and asked him demurely what he was looking for.

"My good black horse, girl, to take me from this cursed place. Did I not tie him to yon gate?"

"The black horse? Why I sent him for Father Francis. Nay, listen to me, master; you know I was always your friend, and hard upon her. Well, since you went, things have come to pass that make me doubt. I do begin to fear you were too hasty."

"Do you tell me this now, woman?" cried Griffith, furiously.

"How could I tell you before? Why

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Perhaps it may, sir. I could n't say; but there is one coming that knows the very truth."

"Who is that?"

"Father Francis. The moment you came, sir, I took it on me to send for him. You know the man: he won't tell a lie to please our dame. And he knows all; for Leonard has confessed to him. I listened, and heard him say as much. Then, master, be advised, and get the truth from Father Francis."

Griffith trembled. "Francis is an honest man," said he; "I'll wait till he comes. But O, my lass, I find money may be bought too dear."

"Your chamber is ready, sir, and your clothes put out. Supper is ordered. Let me show you your room. We are all, so happy now."

"Well," said he, listlessly, "since my horse is gone, and Francis coming, and I'm wearied and sick of the world, do what you will with me for this one day."

He followed her mechanically to a bedroom, where was a bright fire, and a fine shirt, and his silver-laced suit of clothes airing.

A sense of luxurious comfort struck him at the sight.

“Ay,” said he, "I'll dress, and so to supper; I'm main hungry. It seems a man must eat, let his heart be ever so sore."

Before she left him, Ryder asked him coldly why he had broken his appointment with her.

"That is too long a story to tell you now," said he, coolly.

"Another time then," said she; and went out smiling, but bitter at heart.

Griffith had a good wash, and enjoyed

certain little conveniences which he had not at the "Packhorse." He doffed his riding suit, and donned the magnificent dress Ryder had selected for him; and with his fine clothes he somehow put on more ceremonious manners. He came down to the dining-room. To his surprise he found it illuminated with wax candles, and the table and sideboard gorgeous with plate.

Supper soon smoked upon the board; but, though it was set for three, nobody else appeared..

Griffith inquired of Ryder whether he was to sup alone.

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"Let me read them at once," said he: and stretched out his hand, with eyes like a dog's in the dark.

Francis withdrew them, quietly. "Not till she is also present," said he.


At that Griffith's good-nature, multiplied by a good supper, took the alarm. Come, come, sir," said he, "have a little mercy. I know you are a just man, and, though a boon companion, most severe in all matters of morality. But, I tell you plainly, if you are going to drag this poor woman in the dirt, I shall go out of the room. What is the use tormenting her? I've told her my mind before her own child: and now I wish I had not. When I caught them

She replied: My mistress desires you not to wait for her. She has no stomach." "Well, then, I have," said Griffith, in the grove I lifted my hand to strike and fell to with a will.

Ryder, who waited on this occasion, stood and eyed him with curiosity: his conduct was so unlike a woman's.

Just as he concluded, the door opened, and a burly form entered. Griffith rose, and embraced him with his arms and lips, after the fashion of the day. "Welcome, thou one honest priest!" said he.

"Welcome, thrice welcome, my long lost son!" said the cordial Francis.

"Sit down, man, and eat with me. I'll begin again, for you."

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Presently, Squire; I've work to do first. Go thou and bid thy mistress come hither to me."

Ryder, to whom this was addressed, went out, and left the gentlemen together.

Father Francis drew out of his pocket two packets, carefully tied and sealed. He took a knife from the table and cut the strings, and broke the seals. Griffith eyed him with curiosity.

Father Francis looked at him. "These," said he, very gravely, “are the letters that Brother Leonard hath written, at sundry times, to Catharine Gaunt, and these are the letters Catharine Gaunt hath written to Brother Leonard."

Griffith trembled, and his face was convulsed.

her, and she never winced; I had better have left that alone too, methinks. D-n the women: you are always in the wrong if you treat 'em like men. They are not wicked: they are weak. And this one hath lain in my bosom, and borne me two children, and one he lieth in the churchyard, and t'other hath her hair and my very eyes: and the truth is, I can't bear any man on earth to miscall her, but myself. God help me; I doubt I love her still too well to sit by and see her tortured. She was all in black for her fault, poor penitent wretch. Give me the letters; but let her be."

Francis was moved by this appeal, but shook his head solemnly; and, ere Griffith could renew his argument, the door was flung open by Ryder, and a stately figure sailed in, that took both the gentlemen by surprise.

It was Mrs. Gaunt, in full dress. Rich brocade that swept the ground; magnificent bust, like Parian marble varnished; and on her brow a diadem of emeralds and diamonds that gave her beauty an imperial stamp.

She swept into the room as only fine women can sweep, made Griffith a haughty courtesy, and suddenly lowered her head, and received Father Francis's blessing: then seated herself, and quietly awaited events.

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