Imágenes de página



[ocr errors]

de E


not the woman to let an injury go unavinged.” Then becoming suddenly calm,

she murmured, “Blessed Mary, forgive me, va Barrington was a graceful horse- this timper will be the ruin of me sowl

woman, and extremely fond of riding. afther all !" Part of every day she spent on horseback “ Did you want to speak to me? Can I accompanied by Sir Gerard, or attended by a do anything for you ?” asked Eva Barrington groom whenever the baronet's visits to Jose- kindly. Notwithstanding her haughtiness phine interfered with his attendance on her. she was charitable to the poor, and never One of her favourite rides was the ruggedroad turned a deaf ear to the appeal of want. following the line of coast. She delighted “I do want to spake to you. I have to feel the salt sea-breeze fanning her face, something to tell which is only for yourself as she rode quickly along, imparting exhila- to hear.” The voice was low and earnest, ration to her spirits and the glow of health —the dark eyes gleaming with an exciteto her cheeks. She never looked better ment she tried in vain to subdue. than on horseback, her fine figure appeared Maurice, ride


and wait for me at the to such advantage in her closely-fitting rid foot of the hill,” said the young heiress, ading-habit, sitting gracefully on her spirited dressing her groom. chesnut mare, one small gauntleted hand “ Maurice need'nt stir a step !" broke in grasping the reins, while with the other she Dinah, with decision," he can wait here caressed the proudly-arched neck of the while you come with me into the Friary of St. beautiful animal, or lightly touched its flanks Bride." with her small riding-whip, the gold handle Eva's countenance expressed the astonishof which gleamed in the sunlight. A stylish ment she felt at this arrangement-at the looking hat surmounted the silken masses of tone of command in the woman's voice. her black hair, its crimson plume contrasting “Why should I go into the Friary?" she well with their raven hue.

demanded, in haughty aceents, her curiosity One bright, pleasant day, in the month of somewhat aroused. September, as Eva Barrington was slowly “Bekase there's one spot there I want ascending the steep road leading to the you to see. It is only there I can spake Friary of St. Bride, her mare was startled by what's on me mind.” the appearance of an old woman, whose tall “The woman is mad,” said Maurice, imweird figure, rising suddenly from behind a petuously. “Don't heed her, Miss Barringhedge, stood right in the way before her. ton, she's out of her mind !" The animal reared, but the woman caught A doubt of her sanity did flash through the reins fearlessly, listening with contemp- Eva's mind, and she was about to pass on, tuous indifference to the abuse the groom when Dinah, who read her thoughts, laid a poured upon her.

detaining grasp on the reins :—“ I am not “What did you do that for, woman, mad!" she observed, vehemently, “though frightening the mare so? Are you mad?” I have had throuble enough to dhrive me out he broke forth indignantly. “I have a mind of me sinses. You needn't fear me, 1'11 to horsewhip you,” and he raised his whip do you no harm, only come with me for a threateningly.

while and listen to what I have to say," she The old woman glared upon him. “Lay added with earnest entreaty. it on if you dare !" she hissed forth, her The expression of her face re-assured voice trembling with passion. “It'll be the Eva. She dismounted and accompanied worst blow you ever gave. Dinah Blake is her into the ruins. The weather was unu

[ocr errors]

the me

sually fine for the time of the year,

woman buried here more nor eighteen ridian sun was glittering on the quiet ocean, years ago was your mother.” and gleaming on the white sailed craft flit- A feeling of alarm thrilled the young lady ting across its blue expanse.

From the ele. at this strange announcement. The woman vated situation of St. Bride's Friary the must be mad, she thought. Not for a mosweep of horizon which it commanded was ment did she believe her startling assermost magnificent--the grey rugged line of tion. coast, the numerous headlands, some blue "You don't believe me, but I tell


the and misty in the distance, the straggling thruth ; I swear it on this blessed cross," said town of Carraghmore, and the noble man- Dinah, with emphatic solemnity kissing the sion on Barrington Height--all were clearly sacred symbol. seen, with the barren gigantic mountains in Still Eva stared at her, incredulous. “How the background. With the bright sunshine could that be possible?" broke from her around, and the sun-light of happiness in with lofty scorn. If you are not mad, woher own heart, Eva Barrington followed her man, you are telling me a wicked lie to exstrange companion over grass-grown graves tort money!” she added, with vehement inand sculptured fragments of crosses and dignation. columns, little dreaming of the terrible dis- “No," said Dinah, with grave earnestness, closure about to be made, which was to cast “I want none of your money. All I want is a dark cloud over her future life, and with to do justice to her I wronged before I die." draw the light of joy from her path. She “Her you wronged?” repeated Eva, a entered those ivied ruins a gay, proud, light- terrible thought creeping towards her-her hearted girl, she left them not long after eyes dilating with horror as she regarded crushed to the earth with sorrow and bitter the woman, and her breath coming in gasps humiliation-her life blighted by the sins of from her heaving bosom. others.

“Yes, the girl I cruelly wronged when I

Ι Stopping beside a small green mound, stole her years ago from Barrington House, headed by a wooden cross, Dinah Blake and left you, me own daughther's child, in pointed to the name roughly carved upon her place !" it. It was situated in a remote corner of A wild cry of anguish escaped from Eva's the ruins, the lonely spot where Norah Blake white lips, and she sank upon the ground had been long since laid to rest till the re. stunned by the crushing shock. Dinah supsurrection morning. Eva Barrington stoop- ported her in her arms till she revived a ed and read the simple inscription.

little--her wan, withered face expressing “ Your daughter lies buried here?” she commiseration for the stricken girl. As soon said, by way of interrogation.

as consciousness returned, Eva, with a shud“ Yes, she was my daughther, about your der and a gesture of abhorrence, withdrew own age too when death took her, and as from her support. purty as yourself,” said Dinah, gloomily, wip- “You my grandmother !” she fiercely exing the tears from her eyes, which started claimed, with a look of mingled scorn and unbidden at the sight of that humble disgust. “I will not believe it. It cannot, grave.

must not be! How dare you fabricate such Eva eyed the distressed mother pityingly, a story!" she continued, hissing the words wondering, however, what the tidings were through her set teeth, her face colourless she had brought her there to hear. She was with passionate emotion. not left long in suspense. With her usual “ There isn't a word of lie in it,” mainabruptness Dinah continued—“The young tained Dinah stoutly, her feelings of com


passion giving way to the irritation she felt ful heiress of Barrington Height,” was the at Eva's scorn.

startling answer, spoken with a sullen, “There is ; it is all a made-up story to ex offended air. tort money!" retorted the maddened girl “Good Heavens, what an assertion !' furiously. “I will have you punished, put burst from Mr. Crofton, in amazement; the in jail for daring to say such a thing !" and woman who made it could not be in her gathering up the long train of her riding- right mind, he thought ; and yet it might be habit she was about to rush from the spot, true. Strange things do happen in life; he scarcely knowing what she did in her wild would inquire further into this mysterious excitement

affair. You may as well take it aisy,” remon- “If Miss Barrington is not the rightful strated Dinah. “ You can't put me in pri- owner of Barrington Height, who is?" he son for spaking the thruth. Sure I'll swear asked, eagerly. it afore a magistrate."

“You see the blue smoke curling up Steps were now heard rapidly approach- among the threes far beyant there," and ing, crunching the dry grass. "And, bedad, Dinah's bony hand pointed in the direction here's one coming just in the nick of time,” of the Rev. Max. Butler's residence. “ There's she added, as the tall commanding figure of where you'll find her." Mr. Crofton was seen issuing from the ruined “Do you mean Miss Dormer?” asked cloister. His coming there at this moment Mr. Crofton, with eagerness, a new light was not merely accidental. He had been dawning upon his mind, as he remembered riding along the road, and seeing Maurice the singular resemblance between Josephine waiting for his mistress, had enquired where and Miss Barrington. she was.

The groom related what had oc- “Herself, and no other," was the curt curred, and Mr. Crofton, sharing the fears rejoinder. of the servant with regard to Dinah's insan- Eva groaned at this revelation. It was so ity, followed Miss Barrington into the ruins. intensely painful and humiliating to think The passionate ring of her voice, and the that the girl she had treated with such fury gleaming in her pallid countenance, haughty condescension was the rightful excited his surprise. “ What is the matter? | owner of those broad acres she had looked What has this woman said to annoy you, upon as her own. Miss Barrington?" he asked, in tones of “ This cannot be true, woman,” observed respectful kindness.

Mr. Crofton, sharply. “You are an imposThere was no answer ; the words seemed tor, and I'll have you taken up and sent to to choke Eva, as she tried to communicate prison.” the strange, horrible disclosure of Dinah “No, you won't,” remarked Dinah, coolly, Blake. Good heavens, what a trial this was " and where would be the use of that? You for the proud girl ; that any one should hear couldn't stop me tongue there, and people

; that maddening assertion. “ Your mother would be found to believe me, though you lies buried here,—here in this humble, dis- don't.” honoured grave !" How the words seemed “What proof have you to bring forward, to stamp themselves on her brain in charac- to support your strange assertion ?" ters of fire. Determined to have some ex- “The servant Lynch, who nursed the girl planation of the scene, Mr. Crofton turned you call Miss Barrington knows she was to Dinah Blake, and sternly demanded what changed at her birth. Put her on her oath she had said or done to vex the young lady. about it. She'll not dare perjure hersell,

"I only tould her that she isn't the right- although she held her tongue at the time,



[ocr errors]

bekase she didn't want to lose her good disclosed troubled him as well as Eva, beplace."

cause it deeply affected his interests as well “ Did she aid you in making the exchange as her's. If it could be proved that she was of infants?" asked Mr. Crofton, who was not the heiress of Barrington Height, and if beginning to fear that Dinah's story was the estate passed to its rightful owner, then indeed true.

he would be obliged to give an account of "No, she didn't ; she wasn't to blame at his stewardship during the years it had been all, at all ; she knew nothing of me or my under his management, a proceeding that

would embarrass him considerably. The “And who was the mother of the child truth was, Mr. Crofton had used part of you left at Barrington House?” asked Mr. Miss Barrington's money in speculating Crofton, very eagerly.

lately, and it would require time to refund "Me own daughter Norah.”

this, and make his accounts square, if the "And her father was Major Barrington, I property passed to other hands. Something suppose?”

must be done to ward off the threatened “You have guessed right, he was that evil for the present, and Dinah Blake must same, I'm sorry to say,” Dinah rejoined, be prevented from making public the dismoodily.

closure she had made. Addressing her in a "Now I understand your motive in the conciliating tone, he enquired what her exchange of children," resumed Mr. Crofton, motive was in now revealing the evil she thoughtfully. “If indeed your word can be had done. relied on,” he added hastily ; “your story “Repintance has come to me at last, and seems hardly probable."

I want to make aminds for it afore I die,” " It's thrue, any way, you may depind on she answered shortly, and turning away as that."

she spoke, she walked slowly through the " But I will not depend on the truth of ruins toward the high road. what you say," observed Mr. Crofton, Mr. Crofton hastily followed her. “Come sternly. “Is it at all probable that one like to my house to-night,” he said, in a low you could secretly enter Barrington House, voice, as he joined her. and carry off the infant heiress ?”

“What for?" she demanded, curiously. “It was done, I tell you !" maintained “I want to speak to you privately about Dinah, vehemently. “Where is the use of this affair; you must tell me more about it, talking any more about it? If you won't and we'll think what is best to be done.” believe

others will !"

“I'll come," she answered quietly, and “No, they will not credit such an impro- again moved slowly forward, almost stagbable story,” retorted Mr. Crofton, quickly, gering as she walked. Dinah was not well. " and you have not sufficient proof to bring She had recently risen from a sick bed, and forward.”

this painful scene beside Norah's grave had "Och! never fear about that ; there'll be affected her deeply. proof enough when it's wanted ; more nor you think, 'cute as you are !"

CHAPTER XV. There was an angry disdain in the tones of Dinah's voice, which irritated the agent exceedingly; he could not brook anything like contempt from an inferior, but he HE looks as if she had not long to checked his rising temper, it would not be live," was the pleasing thought that wise to exasperate Dinah. What she had suggested itself to Mr. Crofton's mind, as he

[ocr errors]




[ocr errors]

walked back to the spot where he had left familiarity of manner. The young girl was Eva.

in his power—he knew that. She had thrown herself on Norah's grave, There was a pause for a few moments ; in the abandonment of her grief, and was there was a strife of mingled emotions in giving way to a tempest of sobs and tears. Eva Darrington's heart, a conflict between How overwhelming was the blow that had pride and principle. Should she yield to fallen upon her, crushing out the joy and the suggestions of the former and retain happiness of her young life. “What was possession of Barrington Height, at the ex

, she now ?" she asked herself wildly,—"the pense of conscience : she had no right to child of sin and shame! That odious it now, it was Josephine Dormer's. Mr. woman her grandniother!" Oh, it was in- Crofton said he could prevent Dinah Blake tensely bitter, this degradation. She could from revealing her terrible secret. Should not endure the dreadful humiliation--the she place herself in his power by giving her exposure would kill her. The convulsions consent to the concealment of those shame. of grief that shook her frame, touched with ful facts she had that day heard? Principle pity even the hard heart of the agent. He stood up boldly confronting pride, but only had known her from a child, and she had for a little while ; the dominant feeling of confided the management of her affairs to the girl's heart conquered, the passionate him with implicit trust, winning thereby his desire to retain the wealth and station that gratitude, for he had consequently been had hitherto been her's could not be denied enabled, more than once, to use her money -must be gratified at any cost. That madas a capital to enable him to make money. dening exposure of her shameful birth, the If the estate passed out of her hands he sinful disgraceful story of her dead parents would probably lose the management of it, must be hidden from the world. Every and the advantages he at present enjoyed. better feeling and consideration went down The more he thought upon the subject, the before that proud resolve, and Eva Barringmore he was determined to prevent by any ton shut the door on conscience. means the exposure Miss Barrington dreaded, “What do you propose to do in this as much for his own interest as her's. Dinah dreadful affair ?” she asked at length, turning Blake must not be permitted to make public her pale agitated face towards Mr. Crofton. the shameful disclosure she had that day “How can you secure Dinah Blake's silence? made.

If money is necessary you need not spare it." “Rouse yourself from this grief and take “Nor shall I," he answered quickly. comfort,” he said, in kind, encouraging “Of course money will be needed, but you accents," this unpleasant matter shall give won't mind the loss of that!” you no more annoyance; trust to me.” “No, if it were even to the half of my for

Eva raised her pallid face inquiringly : tune!" she said passionately. “I would “Do you doubt the woman's story; do you rather lose even all I possess, than have think she is mad ?" she asked, with a wistful this story made public. Good heavens! can look.

it indeed be true?" she added with another “No," he replied deliberately. “I do wild burst of weeping. not think that now, I did at first ; but her “Don't give way so Miss Barrington, constory, though it seemed improbable, is I be- trol this passionate grief. There is really lieve true. However I shall take care she no need to fret so. This threatening evil communicates it to no one else. You and can be crushed in the bud. How fortunate I can keep the secret, he added with a that I should have been here in time to significant smile, and with an unusual advise and aid you. Now let me beg of you

« AnteriorContinuar »