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PAID IN HIS OWN COIN., Issue 7946, 29 June 1889, Supplement
PAID IN HIS OWN COIN.
UY EhWAIID J. GuUI'MAN, Author of' Too Curious.'
VOL. HI.-CHAFTER 11.
TWO LETTEHS. And Helen thoi-ght she was not jealous ! No, the was not jealous ; so, at leabt, ehe tried to per.made herself. Thi3 was not 'jealousy, this sore, bitter feeling which she experienced at what she believed to bohcr lover's deception, for had he not deceived her? Granted that Mrs Fleming had exaggerated tho significance of hut attentions —his words, hi-i looks, hii acts—still, was it not only too probable that Mark had been attracted by her charms—for sho was indeed beautiful—and had given her some encouragement? But at least, whatever he himself might have felt, he must have known what were Mrs Fleming's feelings with regard to him ; and had lie not acted unfairly, cruelly, iu introducing his nliiauctd wife as governess to the house of such a woman ? These reflections tortured her mind, and caused her, for the first time in her life, to think of her lover with some resentment. Y«t she would not condemn l.im unheard. After all, Mrs Fleming might have been sivstakc!', and even Mark's conduct in that tainting scene illicit be explained away. >[.•■, she w.uld not judge him until she had fcceii and .spoken with him. Lbuhthxß she would see him that f-viming. Dr Elliot usually looked in at Eden Villa, if only for a bhort vuit, when there was no urgent demand fur his professional services elsewhere, and that night she confidently expected that he would call. So it was with much surprise, uud no slight misgiviog, that as soon as she had enured the house she found on the hall table a. letter, delivered that afternoon by hand, and addressed to her in the writing of her lover himself. She took it wi';h her up to her room, and there she opened it and read its contents, which ran as follows :
PHAKEfT Helen',—You will, no doubt, be hea:tbrokon at tho news, but you will Hfc nothing oi me this evening, uor I expect for several evening-* to c.imo. Seiioudy, however, tny beloved girl, you will do pleas-ed to hear that I have- just Imel a great iiieco ot luck. My good old fiiond Filmer has been summoned to attend a vfiy rich cuuntiy tenure at his place down iu Leicestershire, find as ho can't go himself, ho has kindly recommended no, and my humble service-) arc accepted- I an' eff in a huny toe itch tho afternoon txprcso, as the case is urgent. I am to meet tho great ;ir Thonns (iuy in consultation, and altogether it ?» a fine chance rYr me, a-) if I tucceed in helping to pull the tquire through, it may or-cj ■up a Br.ft-rato connection. My business will bo to watch him night and day till he gets ©wr tho criaix, and you may bo sure I slull do my best. Sowi.h me hi:k, drarect girl. I 'hall probably be away for a few days', ptrhap) a wick or mure, but I know you won't mind that under the ciicumstances, Hope all is goirg on well in May fair. Kind regards to the- fair widow and the (late) tennagint.—Yeur ever loving, M.mik Elliot.
At any other time, how delighted Helen would havo been to hear this £o-od news! And even now, in spite of the bitter feeling that distracted her heart, she could not but be glad to hear that her lover had secured such a chance of success. Yet, would that this cr.mnr'ssion had come at some other time than that, when she was so eager to seo him ! Besides, she was placed in a very awkward position. How could she go to her lessons on the morrow at Mrs Fleming'*,? and how could she account for her absence if she did not go ? And bho had no one to talk to, no one to consult, in this painful dilemma—no one. Between herself on the one hand, aud her mother and sister on tho other, there were no confidences as regards her own ai'Lura, and the question of IV Kiliot's relation* with Mrs Fleming was about the hist thing on which she would tare tj speak to thein. Yet there was soijienno with whom she could take counsel. Was there not her dear friend and coubin, Jane Wynd'.' Ttue, there had been, for some time past, a painful restraint in their loving intercourse, for Jane had often cheeked a disposition on her part to speak of her troubles and hopes, Shu was not much at a loss to guess the cause of this. She was sure that Jane feared to be obliged to repeat her confidences to Ur Wynd, and she was accordingly careful in her speech. But about this matter she must talk to Jane, whatever the consequence might be, and, after all, even if Dr Wynd should get to know that Mrs Fleming felt tenderly towards Mark, what did it matter ? He could make no possible use of the information.
80 to Jane Wynd she resolved to go without delay, hoping to fiud her alono. It was, therefore, with some anxiety that she asked Sarah whether her master was in, when that faithful servitor opened the door. " No, he ain't," replied Sarah, " he's out —bless him ! And," she added under her breath, "I wish he'd stop out, and never come in again." "Is Mrs Wynd downstairs, or in her room? - ' asked Helen.
"In the sitting room, miss,' Sarah answered.
" And I am so glad you've come tonight, Miss Mu3gravr. Poor Missis is very low this evening. She and the master have been having a long talk, and there's somothing gone wrong somehow. I don't know what it is."
This naturally mado Helen feel anxious, and her anxiety wa.s not allayed when she entered the sitting room and perceived the look of evident distress and pain expressed in her cousin's countenance. Jane kissed her -svitVi evon more tUan ordinary atfection* and gazed into her face with au air of deep sadness and pity. " Why, Jennie dear," exclaimed Helen, when the two women had seated themselves side by tide on tho sofa, " what is the matter? What has happoncd ? has he been treating yon unkindly ?'' "Oh no, Lennie, not at all," replied Mrs Wynd eagerly. "It is not that." " Well," Helen said, as her friend cast her eyes down, and seemed reluctant to speak, " what is it, dear ? Ttll mo nil about it at once. You make mo feel quite uneasy." "I hardly like to tell you," said Jane, "it is so—so painful. But," she added with a deep sigh, "I suppose I must." Helen was in a stato of mind that rendered her peculiarly liable to take alarm just then, and Eho already felt a vague suspicion that tho painful matter to which her cousin referred had some relation to the matter which sho herself had come to discuss "Is it," she asked, "about me?" " Yes, Lennie," was the reply. "At least it is about Mark and—and " She paused, and Helen, burning with impatience to hear tho rest of tho unfinished sentence, and with a dreadful presentiment of what was coming, exclaimed ; " For Heaven's sake, Jennie, do not keep me in suspense ! You cannot know why ycur hesitation distresses me so just now. Who i 3 it besides Mark ?'' " Mrs Fleming," said Jane almost in a
whisper. "Mrs Fleming?" echoed Helen, and she repeated to herself "Mrs Fleming!" What could Jane have heard about her ami Mark ? It was impossible that she could know anything of that scene in the widow's drawing room earlier on that day ; and if not that, what else? " Yes, Lennie," Mrs Wynd went on. I had better tell you at once ; but I am grieved to do it, and you will be grieved at I hive to pay. There are dreadful stones being told about Mark and Mrs Fleming. They arc the talk of all the neighborhood in which flic lives." " Who told you this?" asked Helen ; but sh«i did not wait for an answer, and added, "Your hußband, of course." " Yes, Abel told me, and it seems he got his information from u lady's-maid, called Louise, who hud been living with Mrs Fleming." . And Mark's attentions to Mrs Heming were actually the talk of the neighborhood ! Gladly would she have made light of this gossip, but she dared not do so in view of what had passed between herself and the widow. "So," said Helen, "yr.ttr husband has told youtorepcatto me tliif —this idle tittle-tactle --got up by a spiteful and discharged servant, and retailed from motivta about which I do not care to speak to you." " Oh, JLennle!" exclaimed her amain, " I knew it would dwtt'e'se y'o'n; but what
could I do? If Mark has not behaved rightly to you, it is necessary that you should know it. If he has been slandered, you can help him to clear his character by knowing what has been said/' " Weil, Jennie, tell mo all you havo heard. What is it that thiii woman has told your husband ':'' " A story, dear Lcnnie, that I hope, I am sure, cannot be true, not about something she had heard of from others, but what she says she actually saw herself. Oh, Lcnnie ! if I tell you, do not think that I believe it posfi'ile." " Tell it inc. just the same," said Helen in a firm voice.
"Well, th' n," Jane went on, "this woman declares that one day—tho day when Mark decided not to go on visiting Mrs Fleming any more, and before she called him back again, she—that is, tho lady'smaid—happened to come suddenly into the drawing room, and thero she saw Mrs Fleming in Dr Elliot's arms, and he was bending over her, and—and " " And whal-, Jennie, for God's sake ?'
" Kissing her." At tins Helen rose suddenly. Sho bit her lips and clenched her hands, and for a few minutes stood pale and trembling. She soon, however, recovered her composure, and seated herself again by her cousin's dide. " Well," she said, with suppressed emotion, " is there any more of this ?" "The lady's-maid told Abel,"_ replied Jane, "that us eoon as she came in, Mrs Fleming broke away from Dr Elliot, and that they both looked very confused." "After that!" "The servant left the room immediately, and saw no more ; but Dr Elliot remained a very few minutes, and then he went away, and did not conic back again till Mrs Fleming sent for him some weeks afterwards. That ia what she said. But oh, Lcnnie dear ! you don't believe thif, do you ?'' "I don't know what to believe," replied Helen, " or what to think." " Shall you sneak to Mark about it '(" "Of course l'shall. But I cannot do 60 at present. He is out of town, attending to a case in the country. Oh, Jennie ! I have many—many troubles, but this is far tho worst of all."
And, in spite of her charts to remain calm, the tears began to gather in her eyes. Mrs Wynd threw her arms around her cousin, and kissed and tried to comfort her.
"I am grieved to see that this story pains you so much," she said; "I thought you would have eatd at once that it must bo untrue."
"Jennie," exclaimed Helen, "I cannot say that." , "Why? Have you any reason to think that Mark has not been acting properly ?" "I have. Wo have been talking about—about Dr Elliot, and she has made to me a confession which has startled and pained me." " Indeed ! What was it?"
Mrs Wynd looked into her cousin's face with an expression of great surprise and sympathetic curiosi'y, but there was something in her glance which suggested to Helen a painful suspicion. "Jennie," she said, ''if I tell you what passed betweenmc and Mrs Fleming, will you respect my confidence ?" J aue-understood what she meant, and cast hor eyea to the ground. She dared not reply in the affirmative. "Yes, dear," she sighed, " I know what yen mean. And, perhaps, you had better tell me nothing which you would not wishothers to hear. If he asks me what you have suiil, how could I repeat to him your secrets, and how could I deny that you had told me anything?' " Jennie !" exclaimed Helen, her wrath rising, as she felt burning with indignation at the conduct of the man who could set his wife to play the spy upon her. But a glance iuto Jauc's eoi-rowful, pleading face aroused her pity. She could not pain tho poor, feeble woman by expressing the bitter thoughts that were passing through her mind, " Jennie,"she rqeated in a softer tone, " J understand the relations between you and your husband, and I know how elidicult it must be for you to conceal from him nuything he desires to learn. Perhaps it id best that wc should be silent on this subject. It is dreadful to think that we, who have always opened our hearts to one another ever since we were children together, must now be guarded in our conversation. But oh, my dear ! I wish I could lighten the load on my heart by telling you my griefs aud fears " " Never mind, Lenuic," said Jane, pressing her friend's hand. "Imagine that you have told me what you wished to say ; I can do nothing to help you, but you know how I love yon, you know that you have my heartfelt sympathy in all your troubles." " I do know that, indeed," cried Helen ; "but I am sadly, sorely perplexed in this matter. And I can say nothing, do nothing, till I have seen Mark."
"When do you think ho will return?" asked Jaue. "I cannot tell. Perhaps not for several days." "Might you not write to him ?'' " I have thought of that; but it would be dillieult to put in a letter what I would wish to say ; and, besides, he has an anxious ease on his hands, a case that may have the most important results for him, and I would not wish to distress him at such a moment. Oh, Jennie ! the suspense is hard to bear, but bear it I must till Mark returns."
Helen had little heart for prolonging tho conversation by talking on other subjects, so stie once more embraced her cousin, and ihen left the house. As she walked home, she further revolved in her mind the report sho had heard from Jane, and gradually formed a. plun of action. Mark was away, and could not be questioned at present; and it was impossible that she could absent herself from Mrs Fleming's house. What course, then, should eho take ? It needed only a little reflection to convince a woman of her disposition that the situation wos one that demanded tho exercise of two qualities —courage and candor. Ycb, she would go to Mrs Fleming's. She would givo Una her lessons as usual, and then seek the widow, and tell her honestly and plainly the real tuflh of the matter. She would inform her of the fact of her engagement to Mark Elliot, aud ask her whether that story of the Freuch lady's-maid was true or not. What she might do next must depend upon circumstances. The next morning, however, her plans were again upset, and once more by a letter. She had finished her toilet, and wa3 about to go dov/n to breakfast, when Fanny knocked at her door, and placed in her hands a letter, which the postman had just delivered. The sight of the direction filled her with as much surprise and alarm as she had felt when she had received Mark's missive on the previous evening. There was no mistaking that handwriting, which she had done so much to improve. It was Una's. With all her self-control, Helen could not wholly repress the agitation with which she opened her pupil's letter, and she tore away the envelope witli a trembling hand. What fresh bad news—for she felt it must be bad news—awaited her. Tho letter was a long one, and that alono was an ominous sign. Then she read it.
Dkak—l'KAK Wins Musobavk,—l nm so grieved to have to wiite to you, for I have to tell you that you must rot come here any more. Poor mamma is ill-very ill—for she lias just hrard tome news that gave her such a shock that nhe went into hj stories at once, and then fainted. And wo have had to send for a doctor fur lier-Di- Westlake, who lives near here; and he frays if -he is not ktpt very quiet she may have brain fever. Oh, dear Miss Muegtave ! how can I Ml you what it is that has mail) my poor mamma so ill ? But she has told mi; to wiite to you and let you know, and believe me, that 1 don't think it at all your fault, and that I am sure you would have told mamma all about it in time. Woll, this evening mamma received a letter from that wicked, spit, ful woman, Louise, w horn wo sent away the other d ly. It was written in Fronch, and I had to translate it; and oh ! I tan't toil you what my feelingsjwere, as I had to read out to dear mamma in English all the dreadful things, ono after another, that that abominable woman said. And I can't tell you all. It would only distress and disgust you, and a great deal of it is wickedly false. But some things she said which Kust be true, and one of them is that you are engaged to bo married to Dr Elliot, and have been for a lorg long time. Wo would not have believed it if Louise only had said it; but she enclosed inherletterapieceoutofan old newspaper, which contained what was said at the tiial of Dr Wynd about Dr Elliot being engaged to you. And tliere was what he said himoelf, so it must be true, Ob, dear Um Mu.Fgrn.ve ! *by did
we not know about this before 'I AVlia 1 . a pity it in, for I know that mamma was very fond of Dr Elliot, and had often talked ahcut him to me, and asked mc whether I thould like her to marry liira, and I said I would very much indeed. I don't blame you, dear Miss Musgrave, as J said beforo ; but v/\\j—why did not Dr Klliot tell mamma of this long ago? It would have saved her so much vain, and now tho nuwH, coming so suddenly, and in such a way. haj almost broken her heart. And lam quite heartbroken, too, dear fllus Musgrave, for your sake; for I lovo you very, very much, and can -.nly think of all your kindness to me, and how you have got me on in my studies, and borne my ill-tempered ways, and cheeked them so gently. And to think you are not to teach mo any more, Ih.it, poi haps, I shallnevor reo you again—never— nivcr ! lam crying all the time 1 vrifce this, dou Miss Mu-grave, so excuse me if the paper ia blotted; but oh, I lovo yuu so, and it breaks my heart to think I shall never ecc you any moro! For mamma bigs you not to como hero again, as she could not bear to see you, though she is not angry with you at all-it would only grieve her to talk to you, and do no good. But she tells me to say that she hopes you will ho very—very happy with Dr Klliot, and so do I. And perhaps, after all, we may meet agiin ono of these days, when minima's grief is sof'ened, and you are married, God bless you, dear Miss Musgrave, and goodbye! I can say no moro.—Your loving pupil and Mend, UNA Flkminc F.S.-Mamma tells mo she hopes you will accept the enclosed, which is the least she can give you for all you havo done for me. If this letter was written with tears, be suroit was read with tears. Helen rarely gave" way to such emotion, but ehe fairly broke down over her pupil's touching and loving words, and wept long and bitterly. Poor Airs Fleming ! Poor Una ! Her first thoughts wero for thern. She herself had been badly treated ; but what was the cruelty to her compared with that inflicted on them ? And r.ll this was done by her lover._ Yes; Mark had been very much to blame indeed, whether that vile story was true or not, and most of all if it were true. But of that last dreadful imputation she must not think at present. She took up the enclosurn mentioned in Una's postscript. It was a cheque for ono hundred pounds. A generous gift indeed, and one she could not hesitate to accept as compensation for her abrupt dismissal for no fault whatever of her own. But she thought nothing of the money. She thought only of the kindness which dictated its bestowal, and more than ever grieved for the poor deceived woman—self-deceived for the most part, it is true—whose heart was broken by the disappointment ofjher hopes. Gladly would she have flown to Mrs Fleming and endeavored to console her and implore her forgiveness, so far at least as she could ask to be forgiven, for a wrong of which she was only the innocent cause. But tho prohibition contained in Una'B letter forbade her to do this. She dared not go near the house. So she wrote to Una, saying how sorry she was to hear of the cruel manner in which the news of her engagement had been broken ; how she had intended herself to mention the fact, but did not think there was any reason for doing so hitherto; how grieved she was to part with Una, and how much she loved her, and how sincerely she appreciated her mamma's generosity. And she said as little as possiblo about Dr Elliot, and nothing, of course, about that cruel story ; and she, too, hoped that ono of these days, when the sorrow of that sad time had been healed, sho and Una and her mother might meet and be friends again. But this could not be the end of it. As the days passed by there grew up in Helen's breast an eager desire to see and speak with Mrs Fleming, not only to comfort her in her grief and disappointment, but to solve the mystery that was torturing her mind. So sho went to tho widow's house on the fourth day after the receipt of Una's lotter, determined to have an interview with Mrs Fleming if the latter were well enough to receive her.
As soon as she had arrived before the familiar door which, until now, it had ever been a pleasure to her to cuter, she saw that which caused her a shock of surpriso and alarm. Every blind iu tvery window was drawn down, as though there was a death in the house. Good Heavens ! she thought, was it possible that the blow which that poor woman had received had proved fatal ? With a trembling hand Bhe rang the bell. She waited a few minutes and then rang again. Presently the door was opened, and she was confronted, not by the parlor-maid whom she had been accustomed to seo, but by two strangers, one a middle - aged respectable-looking woman, and the other an elderly gentleman, who had his hat and overcoat on, and appeared about to quit the house.
Helen could only mention the name of her late employer in an inquiring tone, " Mrs Fleming ?" Sho dared not ask if that lady were at home. The elderly gentleman lifted his hat and eyed her narrowly, not without evident admiration. He seemed to guess who she was, for he said, in the most courteous tone :
" Miss Musgrave, I think ?'' and as Helen bent her head iu-assent, he continued: "My name is Cardwell; lam Mrs Fleming's solicitor and man of business, and have been instructed by her to let or sell this house and its furniture." " Indeed !" cried Helen.
" Yes," replied the solicitor. "Are yon not aware that Mrs Fleming and her daughter have left London and have gone to travel on the Continent?"
" No," replied Helen, " I did not know that."
"Oh yes," said Mr Cardwell; " Mrs Fleming's medical adviser told her that nothing but immediate change of scene would restore her, aud indeed prevent her from having a serious illness ; so she and Miss Una started the day beforo yesterday." ""Do you know thcii' acl<lre3s ?"' asked Helen.
" Not at present," replied the solicitor. "They will travel for some time from place to placn, and I do not expect to hear from them for several weeks." ( To be continued.)
PAID IN HIS OWN COIN., Issue 7946, 29 June 1889, Supplement
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