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Complete Stories.} '« fALL RIGHTS RESERVED.] MY HORRIBLE HONEYMOON. A CHRISTMAS GHOST STORY. BY KENTON KERRIESLA W. .Author of Caught in a Snow-drift," A New Woman A Rustic Penelope," etc. "IF I cannot go to Heidelhoff I will not go to the Continent at all!" I cry pettishly, and twist myself away from Jack's encirling arm. "Then whither will you go, sweet- heart?" he—John Delivers, of Hurst- bourne Manor, Norfulk-asks, placidly. Scotland ? The Lakes ? Torquay ? Scotland The Lakes! In mid-wiuler!" I exclaim, scornfully. "And Torquay— Oh! one meets everybody there. I am so disappointed about Heidelhoff that I've half a mind to declare that I will have no honeymoon at all, nor"—with a long-drawn sigh—" any occasion for one." As I turn my eyes away not to see the dismay that ought—though I know it will not, as he is pretty well used to my threats by this time—to appear in my fiance's face. they fall upon a photo-view that stands on a silk-draped easel on the* piano near. But for the very English park in which the bouse represented stands, and the well-fed, decidedly English cattle in the fore-ground, you might imagine you were gazing on an Itahan or Greek landscape, so quaintly foreign is the mansion, with its broad verandah running round three sides, whose roof— which is a continuation of the flat roof of the house—supported by slender villars in clusters of two and three at intervals, is edged with a frieze of curious mythol- ogical figures in HAS relief. The house stands on an elevation in the midst of the park, and from the broad terrace under the verandah, the tesselated pavement of which the photograph has faithfully reproduced, marble STE|W lead down to the greensward on every side. A dark wood in the back-ground adds cosiness to the scene, and, altogether, it is such a charming picture that a sudden inspiration seizes me. 1 will go to Denvercombe." I declare, decidedly. Dismay in real earnest comes into Jack's grey eyes now. "But, my darling Tess he is be ginning, when I, seeing that this is goini; to be a case for coaxing, rei urn to MY place at his side, and, throwing one arm round his neck, lay my other hand lightly upon his lips. Hear me first, Jack," I say, "and then stale your objections. Firstly. ITVJ positively certain that we cannot go to Heidelhoff, isn't it?" "Certain, dear. Greiffenhaus is no alarmist, and would not have wired without due cause. You see what he says." I look again at the telegram we have just read together. Thus it runs "From Greiffeubaus, Heidelhoff. "To Denvers, Hurstbonrne Manor, "Norfolk, England Fever broken out here. Advise yor to keep away." Doctor Greiffenhaus is the chum of Jack's student, days from wholll my nance had obtained informal ion anent train, and coach service, hotel accommodation, etc., to and in the little oul-of-t he-way South German town which I had decided upon -as the LOCATE of our honeymoon. \Vell, then, lleidellmff is impossible. Scotland and 'the Lakes' out. of the • question. Torquay is'taboo' because we • don't want Society, and yet I have a fancy for Devonshire. Indeed. I had thought of Devonshire hefore I chose Heidelhoff. Denvercombe is yours, has been for the .last two years. It is in a very quiet neigh- bourhood, and iu a very secluded situ;U- tion. Denvercombe Giange!—Wiiy, Jack, to spend Christmas" (we are to be married on the lUth of December) in an old English Grange, a Manor House, (though I must say it doesn't !ook much like one), a place of which you are squire, and where the rustics wiil most likely have a fendal reverence for your ancient name—Why, the idea is entrancing!" A feudal reverence," Jack laughs grimly. "I don't think the Jast owner of the house and name was a man to inspire mnch reverence of any so it. BlIl," he goes on more seriously, you don't under- stand what you ask, my dear Tess. The place is hardly habitable. No one has lived in it, except for just a night or two at a time, for forty years. Just forty years ago Wicked Denvers,' as he came to he called, came into possession of the f)roperty, and having at the time deve- opedamad craze for Italian or Grecian architecture, I don't know which—I'm afraid I'm not well lip in that sort of thing—he started to build a new house completely round the old one, which was a quaint old country mansion, intending, when the new was completed, to pull down the old, and have the space thus created converted into it. square courtyard, with a fountain in the centre, after the style of the ancient Greek or Roman houses he had seen in his travels abroad. But before the work was hal f way through, funds failed, or perhaps be tired of his craze; anyway, he suddenly had the building operations, which he had been ;personally superintending, stopped, and went off to London, and except for a brief occasional visit in the height of the shooting season, or a month or two when some one or other of his devilries (pardon ine, Tess, but no other word describes them) being discovered, or in danger of discovery, made it necessary for him to lie low for a time, never lived at Denver- combe after. It's a quaint, and picturesque place enough, as I have seen it, once or twice when down in the neighbourhood on a shooting excursion, to ramble over on a warm summer dav, with its passages, and ramshackle staircases, and odd, cavernous vaults running under the unfinished floors of the new part. But to live in, in the depth winter—faugh Of course opposition only makes my desire the stronger. We don'T want to live ill it, Jack," I coax. "Indeed I won't ask you to stay there very long. Just over ) he Christmas, Jack, darling. 1'111 sure it must be the sort of place one rea.dsabout in XIIIMS numbers. A kind of Hauiit-ed Grange! Everywhere else that we could go would seem so V miserably prosaic now that I ha ve thought of this. Do give HIP. my wish. Jack. You know you left the loca'TF of our trip to ittie, and you can't go back upon your • wot-d." I would go anywhere to please you, XVAS—and with you," lie adds, tenderly, but you see the place rea.ly isn't bank- able. It's WN kept wind and weather- proof and that's ail, all these years. The old Squire, my cousin, never kept up any establishment "■Neither should we want to keep up an establishment. I whisper. "Just a servant or two TO get. THE mca's, and tliev Would have A HIGH T.itiu*, for thwouldn't need to do any CLEANING in a ruin, von know; and my maid, and your man, and James, the new butler, to keep him comjMiny, as it's fiVt. miles from every- where. Why, it would be ii!-E ha,ving a (DELIGHTFUL picnic ail t O OUR.SEI < "I'icnicing in mid-winter!Jack inler- rrupts with a comic groan. But the old country HOUSE, the mystic -Bloated Grange of my fancy, and the Christmas Annuals, have taken STRONG bold upon my imagination, and I still GO "There must have b en at least half adozen rooms fit Lo live in, for the Squire to have stayed there a tail. Jack, darling, you will see to Jl; send down James and Jliller, and let me see theiu before they go, and I uj sure they'll Lave tb. place quite cosy for us. And I promise one thing—if our quarters there are not all that can be desired, I'll make no objection to moving on to a hole! at Exeter.' Of course I get my own way in the end, and the evening of the nineteenth sees the lumbering village fly depositing Jack and Mrs. Delivers (which same was Theresa Beauchamp this morning) AND Merton, the smart maid mamma has procured for roe, on the steps that lead to the big front door of the Grange. .P"? .4J It is too late to see much of the place that night, but next morning we find that only two of the rooms in the new wing have been found at all fit for living in, and that both, as indeed all the others are intended to, open by huge glass doors, to which are affixed stout wooden shutters, on to the broad verandah. There is no upper story to the new part, but the old house seems to me to be all upper stories, or at least staircases, so that I can scarcely tell when I am on the ground floor. It is certainly the most curious place I have ever seen, and simply baffles description. Chiefest among its curiosities perhaps ranks the means of communication be- tween the servants' working domains, and a wing in which are a number of bedrooms, which rooms our servants, findingthem to be in the best repair, have appropriated. Close to what has been the butler's pantry, a door at the top of a flight of wooden steps gives access to another flight of steps, this time of iron, with high iron banisters each side which actually crosses a square court-yard, sus- pended (the stairs, not the yard), like Mahomet's coffin, 'twixt earth and sky, in the open air. A door at the top opens upon a landing from which queer, tortuous passages lead into about a dozen small bedrooms. That staircase certainly makes me shudder, and 1 feel quite grateful to our men and maids for yielding to the incon- veniences of the situation so gracefully. Two happy days within doors, though without they are characterized by the muggy atmosphere, and ceaseless drip, drip of rain that 130 often precedes Christmas in our delightfully variable climate, and then the morning of the twenty-second breaks clear and frosty. The hoar-frost, sparkling and scintil- lating on the grass of the park like so many diamonds in the rays of a wintry sun, looks so tempting that I readily accede to Jack's proposal of a walk as I push open the window of our sitting-room, and ste^> out on the terrace to crumble the remains of my breakfast roll for the pigeons strutting there. I have on thick shoes, I inform him (indeed Merton will not unpack thin ones for me as long as we are in this half- floored mansion), and only require a wrap. He goes into the bedroom, which is the next room to this, divided from it by a very thick partition wall, to fetch the wrap. Manlike, he takes the first he finds, and is soon unceremoniously folding me in the smart, fur-lined, velvet cape that has been one of the most expensive items of my trosseau. I thought it was the warmest," he explains, when I laughingly scold him, and make him put it away in the ward- robe, which, built into the wall of our room, is a fixture of the house, while I look in one of my trunks for something more suitable for a country stroll. An exclamation from Jack, as I bend over the box, makes me look up. He is fumbling with one of the doors of the ward robe. I'm afraid I've broken the lock," he says. "I can't fasten this plaguy door. But come along, Tess, I'll see to it when we come in. The frost will all have dis- appeared if we don't make haste." At one end of the park is a little knoll from which you command a bird's eye view of the ancient city of Exeter, some six miles away. Thither we bend our steps, and I see it for the first time—the two square towers of its cathedral stand- ing out clear against the horizon, and, with the spires and towers of its other numerous churches, the most conspicuous objects in the view. "Before all things a Cathedral City," Jack remarks. We are turning away, for the fi-osty air does not tempt one to long inactivity, when a queer little cottage, half buried in a wood on the other side of the road from our property, catches my attention. In the garden in front an old woman is standing, and, feeling sociable, we stroll across to pass the time of day in pleasant, country fashion. In a sheltered nook under the wall of the cottage a few late chrysanthemums have the temerity to lift their hardy heads, and, as I admire them, the old lady asks us to step in, and look at them more closely, and, finally, insists on giving me a bloom or two. I have a walking-stick in my right hand, and so have to put out my left from the shelter of my cloak to receive the flowers, and Jack notices, for the first time, the sunlight glittering on my broad new wedding ring calling his attention to the fact, that I have no gloves on. "Tess-" he begins, and gets no further, for a strange howling cry coming from the interior of the cottage startles us aU, while the casement window near us rattles, as if a sudden gust of wind had shaken it. The uncanny sounds seem not merely to startle the old woman, they frighten her out of all her senses, for, without ceremony, she flings open the gate near which she stands, and begs, nay, commands us with the air of a tragedy queen, to go at once, she can waste no more time with us. r'm not sure that I ought not to examine into this," Jack says, seriously, as we go up the lane. I must find out what the keeper at the lodge knows of the inhabitants of the Knoll cottage." Hut very soon a more important matter drives all memory of the cottage incident out of our minds. As the white gates of the park swing to behind us Merton comes in sight, Slurrying down the drive with a square white envelope in her hand, j "A letter for master, ma'am," she says, rather breathlessly. It's marked 'Im- portant,' so I thought it best to come to look for you. It came hy the twelve o'clock mail, and a hoy has just ridden up from Stoverton Station with it." "I hope cook has given the boy some-I thing to eat," I say, and Merton answers in the affirmative just as Jack tears open the letter, and reads it, I looking over. It runs— Dear Jack, "I would not worry you if I knew another soul who could help me. Just at this time, too, I am so sorry, and I don't know what darling Tessie will say. Oh, Jack, the trouble we have been dread- ing so long has come now. Poor Fiauk —lean but pity him, blame-worthy though he is—is raving. The doctors say he must be put under restraint at once, or they will not answer for the consequences, and yet they will not take the responsibility without the sanction of a male lelative of mine, or Us. He has no one, as we know, and I h»** only YOII. Oh, Jack, dear, I hate to ask you to come, but if you only knew my distress. "Your broken-hearted sister, "MIRIAM CARHUTHKRS." An angry exclamation passes injr hus- band's lips as he finishes this sad, incoherent letter. Poor Miriam," I say, softly. Yes! I'm sorry for Miriam." Jack says. "BuL" (grimiy), "as for that drunken wretch—but what am I to do, Tess, darling? Of course you must go at once, and I with you;" but he points to this post- script— "The children have scarlatina. If. is only in a mild form, but 1 should nof like deal" Tess to run aiiy risk, and, besides, there are scenes occurring here not fit for her to witness." "I will take you to your brother's house ill town, Tess; or 1 will take you to Exeter, and leave you and Merlon in the best, hotel there." "No, no, Jiu-.k!" I interrupt, eagerly, "Any arrangement for me must mean delay in your getting to your sister-" "As if you were not my first con- sideration," lie interpolates, tenderly. "Hear me out, Jack," I go on. Putting all other considerations on one side, it would really be more pleasant for me to remain here, than to have to explain the reason of our parting, after two days of married life, to my friends, and risk the chatter that would arise." "Then I'll wire to Mercedes to come and keep you company." "You will do no such thing," I cry. with spirit. "You are treating me like I a child instead of a married woman. As if I could not take care of my house- hold and myself for a couple of days; you won't be longer than that. Besides, supposing you wire now, it would take my sister Mercedes till to-morrow evening to get her wardrobe together and reach. here, and by that time the time of your absence would be half over; and then"— this, I feel, will be a clincher—"think how horribly in the way she will be when you return." He starts one objection more, but this mildly: "If it were only a more civilized spot to leave you in." "It's my own choice," I answer, valiantly. "And how can any evil befall I me with three men-servants (for I have no doubt the keeper will spare his son to sleep in the house while you are away) I and three maids as a bodyguard." So it is settled, and evening finds me silting alone, and half inclined to cry for piLy of my loneliness, in the breakfast- room. 1 am not naturally nervous, neverthe- less I am glad to-night to get away to bed early, and try to go to sleep before all household sounds shall cease. The corridors and staircases look so long and echoing that intervene between me and the servants' quarters, that as soon as I have locked the door behind Merton, I tumble hastily into bed, and bury my head in the pillows to shut out the sound of her footsteps growing fainter and fainter in the distance. I seem to have been asleep but a very short time, though it must be really hours, for the fire on which my eyes first rest has burnt itself out to a mass of grey ashes, when I awake to a miserable, alarming consciousness that somebody, or something, is ill the room. Almost immediately the rings and chain upon my dressing-table fall to- gelher with a very audible crash, and then-l stiffen with horror—for, very dim, and ghostly, and indistinct, in the darkness made visible of my night-light, a shadowy form, a woman's, by the gigantic reflection thrown upon the ceil- ing, rises up at the foot of the bed, moves swiftly across the room, and— disappears, it seems, into the solid wall on the other side of the wardrobe! < Too scared to move before the spell that was upon me is broken by the van- ishing of the apparition, and I turn over sharply to pull my bell with all my j might. J But my hand is arrested on the rope. The slout. oaken shutters that guard the window do not quite meet the frame at the top, and through the open space a ray of light is streaming. The wintry dawn is breaking. The sight gives me courage, and, relinquishing my hold upon the bell- rope, I spring out of bed, and fling the shutters wide. Across the park, not a stone's throw away, is the lodge, bathed in the earliest rays of sunlight. Sunlight sickly and faint it is true, but none the less wel- come to my eyes. A thin curl of smoke is ascending from one of the chimneys, and, as I look, a woman comes to the door, I and shakes out a while table-cloth. Now that I am in a state to listen, too, I I can catch faint sounds of moving about in my own domains, and the sense of human companionship restores my shat- tered nerves rapidly. So rapidly that when I turn to look back into the room, and notice its appearance of cosy, every- day comfort, I laugh out at my foolish self for mistaking a mere dream, a re- markably vivid dream, doubtless, but still only a dream, for reality. The thing is impossible, I argue, as I contemplate the solid wall into which my apparition had disappeared, and, open- ing the unlocked wardrobe door, run my hands along its firm, baize-covered back, and remember that it is built quite into the wall. I turn next to my rings and trinklets; they are just as I left them last night, and have evidently not been touched. As I finger them, with my nervous folly receding farther and farther into the background, there comes a tap at the door. It is Merton with my early cup of tea. On the tray is a letter from Jack, and the last fragments of my dream-vision are dissipated at once. I do not even tell Merton of my fright. I am so greatly in dread of her thinking me childish and silly. What with reading, and writing a long answer to Jack, and ordering, and seeing to the getting in of the things he most likes for the next day's dinner—his letter has told me he will be at home to dine on Christmas Eve—the day passes off very well. But as darkness comes over the landscape, a nervous feeling comes over me, and, more earnestly than I have ever wished for anything in my life before, I begin to wish that I could see Jack's dear face bending close to mine. Outside the shuttered windows the wind soughs and wails in the laurels, and the ilex grove that shuts out the view of the high road to Exeter, and moans and whistles through the Pinal's that support the verandah. Do what I will, the memory of my morning's dream keeps returning tome, and when Merton comes in with James a.nd the lights I tell her that I have a headache, aud shall go straight to hed, simply because I know that in my bed- room I shall be able to hear something of their voices and laughter in the \1 kitchen, which, situated in the old wing, is across the courtyard I have already mentioned from my bedroom. While Merton is brushing my hair I feel half tempted to bid her sleep in my room, but I should have, so doing, to acknowledge my timidity to her, so pride prevails, and 1 let the girl go, only asking her to be sure to come at once should I have occasion to ring during the night. She promises, and goes off to the keeping dp of "Christinas Yave's Yave," as the rustics around call it, with the others; and I fall asleep to the sweet music, to me, just now, of their merry laughter, subdued hy the thick walls of the kit- chen, aud my room. All is silent when I awake, though it must be but little past, midnight. Yet, as on the previous night, it seems as if something unwonted had aroused Ute. The fire, this time, is burning brightly, by which, indeed, I judge the night, to ht: still young. This time my eyes fall first upon the wardrobe, towards which my face happens to he turned to my horror I set; that one of its doors is wide open. At the moment I realise this, my chain and rings fall together again, as they did last night. Again before my terror-struck eyes a shadowy form arises; again it. moves across the room; but this lime does not disappear. In the first moment of awaking I have thrown out my left band, and it lies now upon the coverlet, rigid, motion- less, for I iim powerless 10 move a. muscle. The eyes of the ghost are turned towards llle, and I can only suppose that the sparkle of tlu; firelight upon the ring I must have drawn the ghostly notice to my hand, for, suddenly, a low. dreadful #ry, such as I have heard but once before, breaks the st illness, and t hen—the ghost has thrown itself upon the bed, and is tearing my wedding-ring off my linger! Till now horror of the supernat.urjJ has paralysed my limbs, but the fingers that touch mine, though cold and clammy, are distinctly human, and, a.s the know- ledge that this is no visitor from the unseen world, hut a midnight robber try- ing to stea my most precious possession, bursts upon me, the blood, that has stood still in my veins, begins to course again furiously, and now wiLh anger I rather than fear. Taken, as I am, by surprise, for the moment I am powerless to resist, and in that moment she is gone, through the wardrobe it seems, and my ring with her. With no thought but of recovering the ring, just as I am, in my nightdress, and with my feet bare, and dishevelled hair, I spring from my bed to follow i her. I am too excited to feel the least surprise at the fact that the apparently solid wall against which the wardrobe is built, offers no bar whatever to my pro- gress. Along the corridor, past the open arch that gives ingress to the labyrin- thine underground passages, leading nobody knows where, that it had been a freak of the old Squire's to have cut in all directions in the early days of his possession, past the grand staircases of the old part, I can follow the flying figure easily by the moon-rays that pour through the sky-light; but at the end this corridor takes a sharp turn towards the kitchen regions, and another to the right towards the front door. When 1 reach this spot my ghost has vanished, but the door that gives upon the iron, outdoor staircase is open, show- ing the way she has gone. Up these stairs, still nerved by passion- ate anger at the impudence of the theft, I ny by a miracle, it seems, in safety, for the steps my feet scarce touch are crisp and slippery with hoar-frost. At the top the narrow landing branches off towards a host of bed-rooms, as 1 have said before, and there I find myself in total darkness. Instantly lilY courage fails me, and I shrink cowering against the wall, and cling to it for support, just as the flying foot-steps, which have been inaudible for a time, become distinct again. Another moment, and the ghostly skirts sweep fluttering past me. sweep- ing away the last atom of my bravery, and at the instant a thud and a cry, which I am too scared to notice at the time, though I recall them afterwards, break the stillness, I fling myself at the door of the room occupied by Mertonand cook and Elizabeth, and beat frantically with my fists upon the panels. As soon as they understand something of what is amiss the frightened women hastily rouse the men, and they having dressed with all speed, two of them go down to look for the thief. They come back with the report that she is nowhere to he seen but that my midnight visitor is no figment of my brain, is conclusively proved by the fact that the innocent-looking, baize-covered back of the wardrobe in my room being flung back reveals itself as the entrance lo a hitherto unsuspected passage which actually exists in the partition wall be- tween the bedroom and the breakfast room. Though the thickness of this wall had often been commented on, nobody, except of course the builder, had suspected that it was not solid. Where the piussage ends a long, narrow cupboard is built; in, the door of a piece with the rest of the panelling of the corridor, and the back of this being as false as that of the ward- robe, the whole contrivance stands exposed. They add that, ghost, or human being, it would seem that the thief must cer- tainly have sustained a severe fall, for the last half dozen steps of the iron out-door flight are swept clear of frost as by the passing of a heavy body, and splinters are broken from the balustrade of the wooden ones below. A little later, when I am safe in the breakfast room (I decline to enter my bedroom again), the men, who have been still pursuing their investigations, come to LeI I me that the thief must havegot clear off, for, pushing their search a little beyond, the open arch I have mentioned, they bad perceived a glimmer of light in one of the passages, which following, they had discovered to proceed from the moon, the passage having egress by a trapdoor, now open, into the ruins of a dismantled collage situate in the middle of a copse. Hastily flinging some logs that lay around in to obstruct the passage, and piling more on the trap-door, they had come back across the park to re-assure us, and there for the moment the matter ends, for, greatly to the men's chagrin, ] resolutely refuse to let them take any further steps in the affair till the master comes home. The short winter afternoon of Christmas Eve is almost past when the welcome sound of wheels announcing my lord's return is heard and I, who have been what Jack laughingly calls "doingsentry- go" up and down the hall, in which the servants have somehow contrived by hanging lamps, lamps in sconces, lamps everywhere, to create a perfect blaze of light, rush out on the steps to welcome him. I have intended not to tell him of the occurrences during his absence till lie has had some refreshment, but directly we are come into the light he misses my wed- ding ring. You see it is too new a pos- session for me to crowd it with others on the same hand. "Why Tess he is beginning, when a low moan, as from some one in pain, be- comes distinctJy audible. "Hullo! What's amiss ? Who is hurt?" he cries, but I recognise the tone, and disengaging myself from his arm, I catch up a lamp from a bracket and speed under the arch, and along a narrow, vault-like Kassage (not the principal one, explored by the men) from which the sound appears to come. Quick as I am, however, Jack is quicker. His eyesight too, must he better than mine, for where I see only a dark heap, perhaps of rubbish, lying against the wall, be must see something else, for he turns me sharply away from it. and puts me into Miller's arms, who is follow- ing us, with an authoritative— "Take your mistress to Merton, and then come back to me." It is ever so much later when Jack appears in the breakfast room, and evidently he has been enlightened as to the events of the past night, for he folds me in his arms regardless of Merlon's pre- sence, and blames himself fiercely for having left me alolle-as if the silly boy could have helped that: liesides, as I tell him, my fright is a thing of the past now that he is back again, and then I summon up courage to ask what the dark object was. Don't you think you'd better wait till the morning to hear, dear?" lie says. "No, indeed!" I cry. "1 shall not Bleep a wink to-night if I am kepI, in ignorance, I know and Jack, if you can in any way explain last night's visitation it would be cruel not to do so, for even now, with you here, I cannot quite get rid of the uncanny feeling that il was a ghost." It was no ghost," he says. "Though were she to appear now "Is she dead?" I ask, in an awe- struck whisper. He nods. "if you are sure you would rather bear the story to-night, Tess, there is one outside will tell you better than I." He is absent but a few minutes, and then opening the door, ushers in—the old woiuivu uf the Knoll cottage, She hns cvi.TenlJy been crying, indeed it is uol without the interruption of many a sob that she tells her gruesome slory. Briefly it runs thus:— "My niece was the ghost you saw, ma'am. My dead brother's child she was, and a bettor, quieter girl never wort; shoe- leather t ban Na.il was till wicked Delivers —J beg the Master's pardon, 'tis the old Squire rm talking about—crossed her path. It was one summer when he'd brought down a few friends for the shooting, and the housemaid here — lie did keep up a bit of a household for a few months just then—had had 10 go away sudden, because of illness. The house- keeper was much put about to supply her place, and my Nan being home out of a situation, 1 let her come up here to do the housema id's work. "She was apretty slipofagirl, ma'am, then. and wicked Denvers professed to fall in love with her. But Nan was honest, and she would have nothing to say to him till Well, ma'am, she was never over strong in her intellects, and it was easy enough to persuade her that a mock marriage, with one of the bad friends he used to fill the house with now and again in those days for parson, was a real one. She thought because she'd put her name in a book with his, and had a wedding ting upon her finger, she was his wife, poor thing. Aye, and she always thought so. He told her some tale about the neces- sity for keeping the affair secret, and didn't take her here to live with him. It wasn't that he wasn't shameless enough nothing could shame wicked Denvers; but just about that time he was supposed to be courting Miss Mary Lawton, Sir Humphrey Lawton's daughter and heiress, over to Stoverton, or her money, so it wasn't convenient to make his name any worse than it was already. "I got a letter from the poor lass directly after she disappeared, posted in London, and saying she was well, and happy, and married—though of course she did n tfeay who to—and I wasn't to trouble, and that kept me quiet. But I've known sincet ma'am, that for many a long day after tile letter came, she was no farther away from me than in Denvercombe Copse, in that little cottage that's a ruin there now, that the Squire had built when he first came into the property, we can only guess for what bad purposes, and that she only went to London at the end of the shooting season, when the Squire and his ill-begotten friends left the Grange. But,, as I said, I was in a measure con- tent about her after I got that letter, and I lived on quietly, alone, in my cottage, hearing nothing more of her till one bitter winter's night three years ago. Then she came home to me, in rags, and half- starved, and worn to a shadow, having tramped all the weary way from London, and worse than all-JJOpelessly daft. Not violent, but just quietly mad, poorcreature. "It was midnight when she got here, and as you see, I have no neighbours, so, after I had warmed and fed her, and seen the poor girl fall comfortably asleep, I sat by her side through the rest of the night, and thought, and thought whether I could keep Uer return secret. I've seen better days, ma'am, and I didn't want the village folks to know what a bad market my poor Nan had driven her pigs to; and again, the parish authorities would insist on putting her in the asylum, and I just couldn't bear the thought of her going there. "WeJl, next day I found that it would be easy enough to keep her concealed, for she only wanted to be allowed to creep into a corner out of sight, and cried piteously when I tried her lo go out-doors. So I've kept her these three years (I've got my own little bit of money, enough to live on. I don't visit anybody, and nobody visits me), and nobody's been any the worse for her till now: and I'll tell you how this, that I'm so sorry for, has happened now. Though she'd scarcely a decent gar- ment left upon her when she came home, the poor soul still clung to the broad gold ring the squire had put upon her finger. Why didn't you sell that bit of gold when you were so hard put to it for food?' I said to her one day, when she was a little brighter than usual, and had let fall a sentence or two that told of the hardships she had endured after he deserted her. "She gave me such a look, and hugged her hand up tight to her breast. "'What? Part with my wedding ring ?' she said. 'Oh, never! Oh, never! I couldn't rest quiet even in my grave without it,' and then she wandered again, muttering and mumbling—she was never sane for more than a minute or two at a time. I believe she'd got the idea in her poor dazed brain that it was wearing the wedding-ring made her an honest woman, and she d sit contented for hours doing nothing but twist it round and round upon her finger, till, what with twisting it, and what with twirling it, and rub- bing it up and down, about a week ago the finger began to gather under it. It got rapidly worse, till, three days ago—she having resisted all my efforts to take off the ring so as to poultice the finger, and I fearing that if she kept it on much longer it would be a serious case, the metal was fretting it so—I gave her something to make her sleep heavy when she went to bed, and removed it gently while she slept. "Ma'am, I hardly knew her when she awoke and found it was gone, she was so violent. I had actually to tie her to her arm-chair in the little sitting-room, and lock the door upon her, while I did my work. "That morning was the one when you stopped, you will remember, at my cot- tage to admire the flowers. It was poor Nan's cry that startled you. She must have caught a glimpse of your wedding- ring. I noticed it myself, gleaming in the sunlight, when you put out your hand for the flowers, and I suppose she thought it was her own. I hurried you off rudely, I was in such haste lo get to her, for I didn't know what desperate effort she might not make to get to you and the ring. I found that she had freed herself, and was standing by the window looking out; but, ma'am, the cunning of the mad had come to her, and she was so auiet and calm that I was wholly eceived, and even thought that my ears must have played me false about that cry. "She said not a word about the ring, but talked quite reasonably for a minute or two, so that, when presently she asked who the pretty lady was that had just gone by, I answered quite unsuspiciously, and indeed, delighted to find, as I imagined, her thoughts turned away from her loss, that you were a rich lady who had come to live at the Grange, aud that she would often see you pass. "All that day and all yesterday she was so quiet and well behaved I,hat. 1 was lulled into a false security, but this morning when I woke she was gone from her bed which I wasn't surprised at, as she often got up before I woke, and—which last scared me greatly—gone from the house. All day have I been out and about search- ing for her quietly, asking no questions of any because I expecled her to return every minute, till, when it began to grow dark, I grew thoroughly frightened, and was coming across the park to tell the master, and beg for his help, when one of your men, rushing for the doctor, met me aud told me what bad happened here. "Words would fail me, ma'am, to tell you bow sorry I am that you should have had so terrible a fright through her. You will think me very blameworthy not to have looked after her heller." "No, no!" I disclaim, eagerly. "How could you guess what was in her mind to do. Now that I know the truth I am only infinitely grieved for her and you. Anything we can do for you. The funeral expenses—Jack, tell her I thank you, ma'am. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, but I have enough for my small needs, and now that Nan living will want no more from me, I couldn't bear that Nan, dead, should be beholden to anyone but me. No, ma'am, it's kind of you and the Master to offer, but I can pay for all myself, and when I've seen my poor girl buried, I shall go .y from these parts. 1 couldn't bear 1 the cottage without Nan. No, thank you, sir! rising, as Jack motions to Merton to offer her some- thing from the decanters Miller has placed on a table near. I couldn't take bile or sup just now. And now, if you'll excuse me, ma'am, I'll go to Nan. The doctor will have finished by now, and I shouldn't like anybody else to do the last for my poor girl." We are silent for a few minutes after she has gone. Then a thought strikes me. "Oh, Jack!" I cry, in horror. "To think that, through me, that poor soul has lain in the cellar in agony all day. II I had only allowed the meu to continue their search." "Had you done so they would not have thought of searching further in the houfce, having decided, as they tell me, I bat she had quitted it through the pas- sage lo the wood. HilL do not agibite yourse.'f, Tess, dear. She cannot have been in pain all <h<y, or someone must have Iward her o:u» before. No, I think that after ing down the steps, she probably j ;>. ad strength enough to CKM'H LH the spot where we found her, anc. Mam inn t have tainted away ) he cry we heard, In my opinion, was the first effort of returning conscious- ness—and the last," he adds, under his breath, and evidently not for my ears, out, I catch the words. Was she dead when you reached tier ? I ask. "I fear she must have been, as she made no further sound. J expect the fail injured her internally, hut we shall know more when the Stoverton doctor, who is with the body now, has finished his examination. At all events yon must not leproach yourself, Teresa, darling, and, indeed, you must dismiss this sad affair from your thoughts, and try to drink this wine and eat some- thing, or I shall have but a wan looking bride to present when I take you back lo town, which I shall do to-morrow. You have had enough of Devonshire for one while." There is a knock at the door. Merlon answers it, and returns to us with something in the palm of her hand. "They have sent back your ring, ma'am," she says, and holds out her hand to me. But I turn away, and hide my face in my husband's shoulder. "Let tlietu bury it with her," I say, jointly. "You must get me another, Jack. I—" (with a sick shudder) "I can never wear that one again."

A KIND REMEMBRANCE

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