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came to me or not, when the time ar- beauty in youth. Even now in her old rived; that she was, however, still able age her chiselled features and dark and anxious to work, and that their eyes would have attracted attention in only reason for wanting to part with a woman of any rank in life, and had the woman was that the rest of their a look of breeding that is rare in the household was banded together in arms humbler walks. Age and hard work against her, and the retreat of one side had furrowed her features; the fire in of the battle was necessary for the the woman's eyes, one could see, would general peace and comfort. Obvi- be unquenchable. Her thick gray ously the retreat of the numerically hair was hidden away in a servant's smaller, if not the weaker, side would cap. She was illiterate: her house accause less inconvenience, Mrs. counts were miracles of laborious illSmith should come to me.
spelling Clarke hated her. He com"Now, don't argue about it," Lady plained bitterly to me of the wrongs Colesden said. "You know I wouldn't he suffered at her hands; but, whensend you any one I didn't think would ever I investigated a complaint, it really suit you, and the old soul is hon- turned out Mrs. Smith was in the right est as daylight and as sober as a judge, and Clarke was in fault. So he soon and I'll send her down to-morrow to gave up complaining to me. see you. If you are very nice to her It was during the investigation of and make the best of the place, per- some of these indictments that I came haps I'll be able to drive her out of my to know the woman better and to like house and into yours by next week, her more. Her rigid devotion to my and then we shall both be happy ever interests became apparent, as well as after. If you find her intolerable, let her loyalty to a fellow-servant, even me know at once and I'll take her under pretty difficult conditions. And away and send her to the country I took occasion to tell Clarke that I in some capacity or other, but I thought him a poor-spirited individual, really believe she is exactly what you and that if he didn't work amicably want."
with my housekeeper there were So Mrs. Smith came, and my mate- plenty of other valets who would. He rial comfort was assured from that mo- wasn't a bad sort of fellow in his way, ment. We didn't, however, take very and he responded to treatment and readily to one another. It occurred to got on better. But he was afraid of me that perbaps she thought I was Mrs. Smith. more deeply concerned in the plot to Now, in order to show the extraoreject her from Lady Colesden's than dinary character of Mrs. Smith and the was the case; and I doubted her re- influence she has had upon my affairs, maining with me long. But she was I must go back to earlier years and an excellent cook, never plagued me relate certain circumstances that I to order dinner or anything else, and have never cared to speak of to any she kept the weekly bills down to a one since they occurred. figure that the most critical of my fe- And the three beloved people for male acquaintances were fain to admit whom alone I am writing this must unwas miraculous.
derstand that the whole course of And I couldn't help feeling an inter- events which followed my engageest in the woman. She was remark- ment of Mrs. Smith only became known able to look at. She was very tall, to me afterwards: at the time of their spare, and muscular. And her face occurrence I was kept in ignorance of had evidently been of remarkable them, and, as far as Jrs. Smith was
concerned, I should have remained in grown into a beautiful and gracious ignorance of them to this day.
woman, tall and grave, but with a
sweet smile, people said, that charmed We had played together as children, all and sundry. It was reported that Helen and I: our homes were within a all the under-secretaries were her couple of miles of one another: our willing slaves, that foreign nobles parents were intimate friends. My risked their lives and limbs freely at father was master of foxhounds and the "chasse au wild-fox" when Helen friend of all the county. Helen's fa- rode and negotiated her fences as ther was in the diplomatic service, and neatly as my father had taught her. only came home from abroad at rare En amazone she was irresistible; and intervals during her childhood. After the Marquis de Gallifet-Perpignan, her mother died, the little girl of four who had never been on a horse in his or five was sent home and lived there life, but attended every "rendezvous" entirely during the five years of her in a “mail," had a scarlet dress-coat father's widowhood and until his sec- faced with blue made at his tailor's, ond wifea cousin of Lady Colesden, and gilt buttons adorned with his own mentioned before in this chronicle coronet, and wore the thing at the Emcame to take charge of her. During bassy ball, to his own intense satisfacthose five years my mother had had the tion, feeling certain that the subjecchild a great deal with her, and when tion of mademoiselle was then only a I was at home for my school holidays matter of moments to any one so killwe bad hunted together on our ponies ing and so altogether sporting in apand together enjoyed all the fun and pearance. amusement that boys and girls can de- Helen wrote to my mother an amusvise in an English country home. And ing account of it and of the poor little Helen was happy on the whole-lonely man's afterdoubts as to whether be at times, but with an intense joy in shouldn't have worn spurs to complete life and activity and the human sym- the effect. pathy of those she knew and loved; shy That Christmas she came to London, and reserved with strangers, afraid of and stayed a little while with my her grave and silent father, whose mother, and I saw her again. caress was a cold handshake, whose She was as cordial and friendly with vision was too short to see the love me as ever, and we talked over all our and longing drowning in the child's old adventures and jaunts together, great brown eyes just for lack of a and laughed over our happy days, our touch, a word, to draw them to him rides, our long, cold waitings under the from those depths.
fir-trees for wood pigeons, when Helen Then for six or seven years Helen had the chilly satisfaction of holding lived nearly altogether abroad. I don't the next two cartridges for my gun, think I saw her more than once or and hung between joy on the one hand twice during that time. I was grown to and horror at the sight of the killed manhood; she was growing to woman- on the other,-a wounded bird was hood. My father died, and our old more than she could bear without prohome was broken up, and I only went testing tears. But to my wondering back to its neighborhood when I could delight she was no longer the child find time from my work to pay visits. whose moods were as open to me as the Whenever I rode through Alderholt its air. She was a shy and lovely woman. blinds were down, its chimneys smoke- trained in the ways of society to a less. Rumor told that Helen had saroir faire perfect for her youth and
position. With her gracious friendli- earliest date that could be arranged ness there was a serene and womanly was the most satisfactory way out of reserve that seemed to compel courtesy his "anxieties and difficulties," as he and chivalry wherever she went.
called them, as to his child, and he My mother was charmed by her; the thanked her sincerely. girl's attention to the elder woman It was April before she reached Lonwas beautiful in its unostentatious don, and she came rather sad and and natural kindness and simplicity. troubled. Her father had decided to When she went abroad again my break up his household altogether and mother openly lamented. She said she dismiss all his English servants to wished she had a daughter like Helen their homes. Helen foresaw that she to comfort her in her old age. I didn't would hardly prevail on him to let her answer that rather wistful remark. collect an establishment again later
Helen was gone, and life seemed in the year, and it meant either his rather drab and work rather more coming home to England then, or living than usually dry and uninteresting for abroad without her, or without a seta long time after.
tled home for her to share with him. Some few months later we heard of Above all, she deplored losing her own her stepmother's death. Helen wrote especial Catherine, who had been her that her father was much broken, and particular and attached guardian and had thoughts of retiring from the sery- body-servant since her childhood, ever ice and coming home, but she almost since Helen's stepmother had brought hoped he would not do so; she could her to the house. I believe Catherine not think what he would make of life was what is called a school-room maid. alone with her at Alderholt. After Anyhow, Helen loved the woman and some hesitation he chose, we heard, to valued her. She was to have a lady'sremain in the service; and Helen did maid with all the accomplishments not come home that winter. Her requisite in such a person, and Catherfather asked my mother if she would ine was to return to Larks Lacey to have her to stay in London during the her dead mistress's family—with whom following season, when her mourning she had lived many years. Helen was might be mitigated, and she might see especially sad the day she parted with something of society in London; and her Catherine in London. She came my mother accepted the plan with downstairs with her eyes very bright, pleasure.
and my mother gave her a watch on a Her father wrote again: he was in- little chain for her birthday soon afterfinitely relieved-he had of late been wards, since from that afternoon Helen deeply concerned about Helen's future wore no watch. and prospects. He had the greatest Well, the season wore on and Helen anxiety as to her proper chaperonage enjoyed it. My mother, I think, enand care. Situated as he was, he joyed her own rejuvenation as she scarcely knew whether it was right she called it, as keenly as the beautiful should be abroad with him at all with girl. It was a delight to the elder no other lady in the house. My mother woman to have so striking and altosmiled a contemptuous smile, and gave gether charming a companion to take a little snort of impatience at the man's about, to present to her Sovereignstupidity. “But he always was a self- Helen's high-bred beauty shone reish toad,” she muttered with apparent splendent that day,—to talk to of all irrelevance.
the womanly things that women love Helen's coming to my mother at the to discuss. My mother was womanly
to the core, though she took a masculine, and never a feminine, view of all questions, if there were such a choice of views
I was never much of a ball-goer, but I went to balls that year just to see Helen dance and to help her, if I could, to enjoy them. We rarely stayed late. She liked her morning canter in the Park, and my mother made me get the most perfect hack I could procure for her to ride. I enjoyed taking her to the Row more than going with her to balls, and I think, on the whole, I preferred the young men who wanted to ride alongside her to the young men who crowded round her in the ballroom praying for dances. There were plenty of them in both places.
There was one who rarely failed to appear both at the balls and in the Row, and I know I didn't like him to be near her in either place. He was the handsomest man in his way I have ever seen, and a born actor. Of an old ennobled family, he was the eldest of a large number of sons, every one of whom was wild and ungoverned. He alone of them preserved a show of respectability and decorum, and did it very well.
His pose was respectabil. ity and decorum under difficulties. He had the art of living in public with the appearance of wishing to be obscure and retired of showing that he knew all his family's shortcomings while seeming to strive to hide them from the world. He belonged to good clubs, but had no intimate men friends. I had been at Eton with him and remembered him at Oxford too. Well, I wasn't his intimate friend at either place.
It was only after he had left those seats of learning that the actor's art had been brought to such perfection, though it had served him well with masters and others in authority in his boyhood. But then he had over-acted, and we, bis contemporaries in age,
were perhaps more disgusted with his attempts to conceal his misdeeds than with his iniquities themselves. Youth will forgive most things to the ingenuous and sincere.
Now Helen liked him, and it worried me to see him about her.
Early in July she had a telegram from her father and
was called abroad. He had had a severe accident, and Helen left us in haste in charge of a suitable chaperone for the journey.
Her accounts of her father were not reassuring. My mother wanted to go out to her, but Helen wrote they were up in the hills where her father had met with his accident, and there was no accommodation except for the necessary nurses and the doctor, and that she was well and was well looked after. Should need arise she would telegraph.
By degrees the injured man mended, and at last they were able to move him down to the sea at Bordighera, and there it was proposed they should winter.
My mother went to them in November and sent me news from time to time. Helen was well-her father very much failed. That man whose presence near Helen had troubled me was at Bordighera too, and they saw a great deal of him. He was kindness itself to the sick man; and his musical genius--as real as his facility in foreign languages-was a constant solace and pleasure to them all.
Well, it all ended as I knew from that moment it would end. Helen loved him, and in March, before her father died, she married this man.
For four years I never saw her at all, nor was she in England for more than fleeting visits, and I only heard of them when she had gone. And then I saw her again.
We met in Curzon Street by chance as she was turning to go into a house; and, after warmly greeting her, I
asked if I might come in and see her. ness. I went as often as I could, but I have never paid so sad a visit as this. it was a misery and a torture to see my Helen looked twenty years older than dear companion of the past so changed when she left US-a sad, broken and ill. It seemed to do her good at woman, careworn and tired. I could first, and then later on I could see she scarcely believe it was our Helen. She was more wretched still. She kept a opened the door of the room on the brave and smiling face, you must refirst floor, evidently a sitting-room in a member, and it was terrible to us both private hotel, and seemed nervous and when one day I was shown into her anxious on entering. But no one was drawing-room and found her whiter there. We talked long about my than a ghost, shivering and cold, mother and her recent death, and though it was July, while on the parHelen's tears fell when she deplored quet of the long inner room I heard a her loss and recalled her friendship man's step-I knew it was her husand affection.
band's-retreating towards the stair"I am a good deal alone in the world case. now," she said-and I dared not re- What had passed I knew not, but I ply. “You see I have lived so much took Helen's hand and held it in both abroad and seen so little of people mine and told her I had always loved here, and my relations are all gone: I her as a dear sister—that her bidding never had many. Still, I mustn't was my law—that if there was any groan, for those friends I have are near service in the world I could render her, and dear.” And she smiled very sadly, then or ever, she must speak and it I thought, and half rose, as if she must were done. be alone. So I left her. It was more than I could do to remain longer with- It was not many months after their out speaking out and asking what was that I left London. She had made me killing her. And all the time I was promise to keep away.
She had promcertain I knew the answer. I could ised that if I could help she would let have shot that man then.
me. She had begged me not to write. I had a letter from her next evening I felt I could not ask Lady Colesden telling me they were leaving London. or any one else about her, but Helen's They were to take a house there later sad voice haunted me night and day. on and live in England. She didn't know if she was glad or sorry. She To return to my bachelor home. I hoped to see me when they came. was away on a shooting visit for three
I could do nothing: I went to Lady nights. It was freezing hard and five Colesden and heard from time to time o'clock in the evening. Mrs. Smith where they were, and where the house was alone in the house at tea in her was they had taken, and when they tidy little kitchen and my old dog was were coming. I wouldn't ask Lady comfortably curled up in front of the Colesden about Helen or what was fire. Snddenly he lifted his head and wrong, and she said little, but enough a moment later the front-door bell to confirm what I felt before.
rang. Mrs. Smith went to the door When they came to London I wrote and opened it. and asked Helen if I should come and “Catherine, is it you ?" said a tremsee her, and she replied I must come, bling voice, and a trembling hand and often, but I should not find the caught her arm; "but are you alone? house very lively. She was not very Is this your house? Oh, surely I have well, and had lost the art of cheerful- made some mistake."