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"But she meant us to knowthat letter, if I had ever got it! She was young and foolish, young and foolish. Put it away, my dear; don't destroy it, but lock it away safe, and let us think of it no more."

"That is impossible, Henry. You must think of it, in justice to her-poor thing;" this Mrs Hayward said unwillingly, from a sense of what was right and fitting, and with a compunction in her heart,

-"and for the sake," she added firmly, after a moment, "of your child."

"The girl," he said, vaguely. Then he came closer to her, and put his arm within hers. "You will see to all that, Elizabeth. You understand these sort of things better than I do. It would

be very awkward for me, you know, a man." To describe the persuasive tone, the ingratiating gesture with which, in his simplicity, he put this burden upon her, would be impossible. Even she, well as she knew him, was struck with surprise-a surprise which was half happiness and half indignation.

"Henry!" she cried, resisting the appealing touch, "have you no heart for your own child?"

He leant upon her for a moment, drawing as it seemed her whole little person, and all her energy and strength, into himself. "I'm all upset, Elizabeth. I don't know what I have, whether heart or anything else-except you, my dear, except you. Everything will go right as long as I have you."

CHAPTER X.

In the perplexity of this extraordinary crisis they both went, without another word, "home": though it was no more home than these wonderful new circumstances were the course of everyday. If we were to prophesy the conduct of human creatures in moments of great emotion by what would seem probable, or even natural, how far from the fact we should be! Colonel Hayward, a man of the tenderest heart and warmest affections, suddenly discovers that he has a child- a child by whose appearance, and everything about her, he has been pleased and attracted, the child of his first love, his young wife to whose cruel death he has contributed, though unwittingly, unintentionally, mean ing no evil. Would not all ordinary means of conveyance be too slow, all obstacles as nothing in his way, the very movement of the world arrested till he had

taken this abandoned child into his arms, and assured her of his penitence, his joy, his love? But nothing could be further from his actual action. He went back to Bellendean with a feeling that he would perhaps know better what to do were he within the four walls of a room where he could shut himself and be alone. It would be easier to think there than in the park, where everything was in perpetual motion, leaves rustling, branches waving, birds singing,the whole world astir. "If we were only in our own room," he said to his wife, we could think what it was best to do."

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She said nothing, but she longed also for the quiet and shelter of that room. She recognised, as indeed she might have done from the first, that whatever had to be done, it was she that must do it. And Mrs Hayward was entirely dépaysée, and did not know how

to manage this business. Janet Matheson was a new species to a woman who had done a great deal of parish work, and was not unacquainted with the ordinary ways of managing "the poor." She did not understand how to deal with that proud old woman, to whom she could not offer any recompense, whom she would scarcely dare even to thank for her "kindness. Janet had repudiated that injurious word, and Mrs Hayward felt that it would be easier to offer money to Mrs Bellendean than to this extraordinary cottager. To be sure, that was nothing, a trifle not worth consideration in face of the other question, of Joyce herself, who would have to be adopted, removed from the cottage, taken home as Miss Hayward, a new, and perhaps soon the most important, member of the family. Elizabeth's heart beat as it had never done before, scarcely even when she married Captain Hayward, accepting all the risks, taking him and his incoherent story at a terrible venture. That was an undertaking grave enough, but this was more terrible still. She felt, too, that she would be thankful to get into the quiet of her own room to think it over, to decide what she should best do.

This, however, was more easily Isaid than done. The anxious pair were met in the hall by Mrs Bellendean with looks as anxious as their own. She was breathless with interest, expectation, and excitement and came up to them in a fever of eagerness, which, to Mrs Hayward at least, seemed quite unnecessary, holding out a hand to each. "Well?" she cried, as if their secrets were hers, and her interest as legitimate as their own. In short, the pair, who were very grave and preoccupied, having exhausted

the first passion of the discovery, had much less appearance of excitement and expectation than this lady, who had nothing whatever to do with it. A shade of disappointment crossed her face when she saw their grave looks; but Mrs Bellendean's perceptions were lively, and she perceived at the same moment tokens of agitation in the old Colonel's face which reassured her. It would have been too much if, after all her highly raised expectations, nothing had happened at all.

"Come into my room," she said quickly; "we have half an hour before luncheon, and there we shall be quite undisturbed." She led the way with a rapidity that made it impossible even to protest, and opening the door, swept them in before her, and drew an easychair forward for Mrs Hayward. "Now," she said, "tell me! You have found out something, I can see."

They looked at each other,—Mrs Hayward with the liveliest inclination to tell the lady, whom she scarcely knew, that that their affairs were their own. It would have been a little relief to her feelings could she have done so; but this was just the moment, as she knew very well, in which the Colonel was sure to come to the front.

"Yes," he said, with a sigh, in which there was distinct relief. (He found it so easy to relieve himself in that way!) "We have found out-all we wanted, more than we expected. Apart from all other circumstances, this is a memorable visit to me, Mrs Bellendean. We have found or rather Elizabeth has foundShe is always my resource in everything

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"What?" cried Mrs Bellendean, clasping her hands. "Please ex

cuse me, I am so anxious. Some- and if Mrs Bellendean thinks I thing about Joyce?"

"You must understand that I had no notion of it, no idea of it all the time. I was as ignorant There may have been things in which I was to blamethough never with any meaning: but of this I had no idea-none : she never gave me the slightest hint-never the least," said the Colonel, earnestly. "How could I imagine for a moment-when she never said a word?”

Mrs Bellendean looked at Mrs Hayward with an appeal for help, but she gave a smile and glance of sympathy to the Colonel, who seemed to want them most. His wife sat very straight, with her shoulders square, and her feet just visible beneath her gown-very firm little feet, set down steadily, one of them beating a faint tattoo of impatience on the carpet. She was all resistance, intending, it was apparent, to reveal as little as possible but the Colonel, though his style was involved, was most willing to explain.

"It is," he said, "my dear lady, I assure you, as much a wonder and revelation to me as to any one. I never thought of such a possibility never. Elizabeth knows that nothing was further from my mind."

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Henry," said his wife suddenly, "you have been very much agitated this morning. All these old stories coming up again have given you a shake. Go up, my dear, to your room, and I will tell Mrs Bellendean all that she cares to hear."

am to blame, she need not be embarrassed about it, as she might be before me. I think you are right as you always are. And perhaps she will give you some good advice, my love, as to what we ought to do."

"I am sure I shall not think you to blame, Colonel Hayward," cried Mrs Bellendean, with that impulse of general amiability which completed the exasperation with which Elizabeth sat looking on.

"Yes, no doubt, she will give me good advice," she said, with irrepressible irritation; "oh, no doubt, no doubt!-most people do. Henry, take mine for the moment, and go up-stairs and rest a little. Remember you have to meet all the gentlemen at luncheon: and after that there will be a great deal to do."

"I think I will, my dear," Colonel Hayward said: but he paused again at the door with renewed apologies and doubts-" if Mrs Bellendean will not think it rude, and even cowardly, of me, Elizabeth, to leave all the explanations to you."

Finally, when Mrs Bellendean had assured him that she would not do so, he withdrew slowly, not half sure that, after all, he ought not to return and take the task of the explanation into his own hands. There was not a word said between the ladies until the sound of his steps, a little hesitating at first, as if he had half a mind to come back, had grown firmer, and at last died away. Then Mrs Hayward for the first time looked "Eh? do you think so, Eliza- at the mistress of the house, who, beth? I have got a shake. It half amused, half annoyed, and full agitates a man very much to be of anxiety and expectation, had carried back twenty years. Per- been looking at her, as keenly as haps you are right: you can ex- politeness permitted, from every plain everything-much better point of view. than I can-much better always;

"My husband has been very

much agitated you will not wonder when I tell you all; and he is never very good at telling his own story. A man who can do what he can do-may be excused if he is a little deficient in words."

She spoke quickly, almost sharply, with a little air of defiance, yet with moisture in her eyes.

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Surely," said Mrs Bellendean, we know what Colonel Hayward is; but pardon me, it was a much less matter-it was about Joyce I wanted to know."

"The one story cannot be told without the other. My husband," said Mrs Hayward, with a long breath, "had been married before -before he married me. He had married very hurriedly a young lady who came out to some distant relations in India. They were at a small station out of the way. She was not happy, and he married her in a great hurry. Afterwards, when she was in England by herself, having come home for her health, some wicked person put it into the poor thing's head that her marriage was not a good one. She was fool enough to believe it, though she knew Henry. Forgive me if I speak a little hastily. She ought to have known better, knowing him; but some people never know you, though you live by their side a hundred years."

She stopped to exhale another long breath of excitement and agitation. It was cruel to impute blame to the poor dead girl, and she felt this, but could not refrain.

"And suddenly, after one letter full of complaint and reproach, she wrote no more. He was in active service, and could not get home. It was not so easy then to come home on leave. He wrote again and again, and when he got no answer, employed people to find

her out. I can't tell you all the things that were done — everything, so far as he knew how to do it. I didn't know him then. I daresay he wasted a great deal of money without getting hold of the right people. He never heard anything more of her, never a word, till the other day."

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"Then that poor young creature And Joyce, Joyce!who is Joyce? Mrs Hayward, do you mean really that Joyce

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Joyce was his first wife: and this girl-who has the same name,

I have not seen her, I don't know her, I can express no feeling about her, this young lady is my husband's daughter, Mrs Bellendean."

"Colonel Hayward's daughter!" Mrs Bellendean sprang to her feet in her surprise and excitement. She threw up her hands in wonder and delight and sympathy, her eyes glittered and shone, a flush of feeling came over her. Any spectator who had seen the two ladies at this moment would have concluded naturally that it was Mrs Bellendean who was the person chiefly concerned, while the little woman seated opposite to her was a somewhat cynical looker-on, to whom it was apparent that the warmth of feeling thus displayed was not quite genuine. The Colonel's wife was moved by no enthusiasm. She sat rigid, motionless, except for that one foot, which continued to beat upon the carpet a little impatient measure of its own.

"Oh," cried Mrs Bellendean, "I always knew it! One may deceive one's self about many people, but there was no possibility with Joyce. She was-she is—I never saw any one like her-quite, quite unprecedented in such a place as thislike nobody about her a girl whom any one might be proud of

-a girl who-oh yes, yes! you are right in calling her a young lady. She could be nothing less. I always knew it was so."

"She is my husband's daughter," said Mrs Hayward, without moving a muscle. She remained unaffected by her companion's enthusiasm. She recognised it as part of the burden laid upon her that she should have to receive the outflowings of a rapture in which she had no share.

"And what did Joyce say?" asked the lady of Bellendean. "And poor old Janet; oh, it will not be good news to her. But what did Joyce say? I should like to have been there; and why, why did not you bring her up to the house with you? But I see,—oh yes, it was better, it was kinder to leave her a little with the old people. The poor old people, God help them! Oh, Mrs Hayward, there is no unmixed good in this world. It will kill old Janet and her old husband. There's no unmixed good."

"No," said Mrs Hayward, quietly. She sat like a little figure of stone, nothing moving in her, not a finger, not an eyelash,-nothing but the foot, still beating now and then a sort of broken measure upon the floor.

Mrs Bellendean sat down again when she had exhausted her first excitement. There is nothing that chills one's warmest feelings like the presence of a spectator who does not share one's satisfaction. Mrs Hayward would have been that proverbial wet blanket, if there had not been in the very stiffness of her spectatorship signs of another and still more potent excitement of her own. Strong self-repression at the end comes to affect us more than any demonstration. Mrs Bellendean was very quick, and it perhaps affected her

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"Mrs Bellendean,” cried Elizabeth, suddenly, "I am sure you are very kind. You would not have invited me here as you have done, without knowing anything of me, if you had not been kind. But perhaps you don't quite put yourself in my place. I did not mean to say anything on that subject, but my heart is full, and I can't help it. I married Colonel Hayward-he was only Captain Hayward then-knowing everything, and that it was possible, though not likely, that this wife of his might still be alive. It was a great venture to make. I have kept myself in the background always, not knowing-whether I had any real right to call myself Mrs Hayward. Joyce has not been a name of good omen to me."

"Dear Mrs Hayward!" cried the impulsive woman before her, leaning over the table, holding out both her hands.

"No, don't praise me. I believe I ought to have been blamed instead; but, anyhow, I took the risk. And I have never repented it, though I did not know all that would be involved. And now, when we are growing old, and calm should succeed to all the storms, here is her daughter-with her name-not a child whom I could influence, who might get to be fond of me, but a woman, grown up, educated in her way, clever,

all that makes it so much the

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