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see if she had gone mad; and then, “Yes; I will go and bring her to you. somehow, he instinctively turned to the It is not anyone in London she will door. He fancied he knew that quick, want to see as much as you." light step. And then, before he well Sheila left the room, and by and by knew how, Sheila had come forward to came back, leading the young Highland him, with her hands outstretched, and girl by the hand. Mairi was greatly with something like a smile on her pale embarrassed, scarcely knowing whether face. She looked at him for a second; she should show any gladness at meetshe tried to speak to him, but there ing this old friend amid so much was a dangerous quivering of the lips; trouble. But when Ingram shook and then she suddenly burst into tears, hands with her, and after she had and let go his hands and turned away. blushed, and looked shy, and said, In that brief moment he had seen what “And are you ferry well, sir ?" she havoc had been wrought within the managed somehow to lift her eyes to past two or three days. There were his face; and then she said, suddenlythe same proud and handsome features, “And it is a good day, this day, for but they were pale and wan; and Miss Sheila, that you will come to see there was a piteous and weary look in her, Mr. Ingram ; for she will hef a the eyes, that told of the trouble and friend now.” heartrending of sleepless nights.
“You silly girl," said Mrs. Lavender, “ Sheila," he said, following her and sharply, “why will you say “Miss taking her hand, “does anyone know Sheila'? Don't you know she is a of your being here?”
married woman ?" "No," she said, still holding her Mairi glanced in a nervous and timid head aside, and downcast; “no one. manner towards the bed. She was And I do not wish anyone to know. I evidently afraid of the little shrivelled am going away.”
old woman, with the staring black eyes “Where?”
and the harsh voice. "Don't you ask too much, Mr. “Mairi hasn't forgotten her old Ingram," said the old lady, from amid habits, that is all,” said Ingram, pather cushions and curtains. “Give her ting her good-naturedly on the head. that ammonia—the stopper only. Now, And then he sat down again ; and it sit down, child; and dry your eyes. seemed so strange to him to see these You need not be ashamed to show two together again, and to hear the odd Mr. Ingram that you knew where you inflection of Mairi's voice, that he ought to come to when you left your almost forgot that he had made a great husband's house. And if you won't discovery in learning of Sheila's wherestop here, of course I can't compel you; abouts, and wholly forgot that he had though Mr. Ingram will tell you you just been offered, and had just refused, might do worse."
a fortune. “ Sheila, why do you wish to go away? Do you mean to go back to the
CHAPTER XXI. Lewis ? "
MEETING AND PARTING. “Oh! no, no!” she said, almost shuddering.
The appearance of Sheila in Mrs. “ Where do you wish to go?"
Lavender's house certainly surprised "Anywhere-it does not matter. But Ingram ; but the motives which led I cannot remain here. I should meet her to go thither were simple enough. with-with many people I used to On the morning on which she had left know. Mrs. Lavender, she is kind her husband's house, she and Mairi had enough to say she will get me some been driven up to Euston Square Station place, for Mairi and me—that is all before she seemed capable of coming to as yet that is settled.”
any decision. Mairi guessed at what " Is Mairi with you ?"
had happened, with a great fear at her
heart, and did not dare to speak of it. She sat, mute and frightened, in a corner of the cab, and only glanced from time to time at her companion's pale face and troubled and distant eyes.
They were driven in to the station. Sheila got out, still seeming to know nothing of what was around her. The cabman took down Mairi's trunk, and handed it to a porter.
“Where for, miss ?” said the man. And she started.
“Where will you be going, Miss Sheila ?” said Mairi, timidly.
“It is no matter just now," said Sheila to the porter, “ if you will be so kind as to take charge of the trunk. And how much must I pay the cabman from Notting Hill ?”:
She gave him the money, and walked in to the great stone-paved hall, with its lofty roof and sounding echoes.
“Mairi,” she said, “I have gone away from my own home, and I have no home for you or myself either. What are we to do ?”
" Are you quite sure, Miss Sheila," said the girl, dismayed beyond expression, “that you will not go back to your own house? It wass a bad day this day that I wass come to London to find you going away from your own house."
And Mairi began to cry.
“ Will we go back to the Lewis, Miss Sheila ?” she said. “It is many a one there will be proud and pleased to see you again in sa Lewis, and there will be plenty of homes for you there—oh, yes! ferry many that will be glad to see you! And it wass a bad day sa day you left the Lewis whatever ; and if you will go back again, Miss Sheila, you will neffer hef to go away again not any more.”
Sheila looked at the girl—at the pretty pale face, the troubled lightblue eyes, and the abundant fair-yellow hair. It was Mairi, sure enough, who was talking to her; and yet it was in a strange place. There was no sea dashing outside--no tide running in from the Atlantic. And where was old Scarlett, with her complaints, and her petulance, and her motherly kindness?
“It is a pity you have come to Loudon, Mairi,” Sheila said, wistfully; “ for I have no house to take you into; and we must go now and find one."
“You will not go back to sa Lewis, Miss Sheila ?”
“ They would not know me in the Lewis any more, Mairi. I have been too long away, and I am quite changed. It is many a time I will think of going back; but when I left the Lewis, I was married ; and now How could I go back to the Lewis, Mairi ? They would look at me. They would ask questions. My father would come down to the quay, and he would say, “Sheila, have you come back alone?' And all the story of it would go about the island, and everyone would say I had been a bad wife, and my husband had gone away from me.”
“There is not anyone,” said Mairi, with the tears starting to her eyes again, “not from one end of sa island to sa other, would say that of you, Miss Sheila ; and there is no one would not come to meet you, and be glad sat you will come again to your own home. And as for going back, I will be ferry glad to go back whatever, for it was you I wass come to see, and not any town; and I do not like this town, what I hef seen of it, and I will be ferry glad to go away wis you, Miss Sheila."
Sheila did not answer. She felt that it was impossible she could go back to her own people with this disgrace upon her, and did not even argue the question with herself. All her trouble now was to find some harbour of refuge into which she could flee, so that she might have quiet, and solitude, and an opportunity of studying all that had befallen her. The noise around her—the arrival of travellers, the transference of luggage, the screaming of trainsstunned her and confused her ; and she could only vaguely think of all the people she knew in London, to see to whom she could go for advice and direction. They were not many. One after the other she went over the acquaintances she had made ; and not one of them appeared to her in the
light of a friend. One friend she had, respect his wish. Lavender would prewho would have rejoiced to have been fer that she should, in any great extreof the least assistance to her ; but her mity, go to his aunt for assistance and husband had forbidden her to hold counsel ; and to his aunt, despite her communication with him, and she felt own dislike of the woman, she would a strange sort of pride, even at this mo- go. At this moment, when Sheila's ment, in resolving to obey that injunc proud spirit had risen up in revolt tion. In all this great city that lay against a system of treatment that had around her, there was no other to whom become insufferable to her, when she she could frankly and readily go. That had been forced to leave her home and one friend she had possessed before she incur the contemptuous compassion of came to London ; in London, she had friends and acquaintances, if Edward not made another.
Ingram himself had happened to meet And yet it was necessary to do some her, and had begun to say hard things thing; for who could tell but that her of Lavender, she would have sharply husband might come to this station in recalled him to a sense of the discretion search of her ? Mairi's anxiety, too, was that one must use in speaking to a wife increasing every moment ; insomuch of her husband. that she was fairly trembling with ex- The two homeless girls got into ancitement and fatigue. Sheila resolved other cab, and were driven down to that she would go down and throw her- Kensington Gore. Sheila asked if she self on the tender mercies of that ter- could see Mrs. Lavender. She knew rible old lady in Kensington Gore. For that the old lady had had another bad one thing, she instinctively sought the fit ; but she was supposed to be recoverhelp of a woman in her present plight; ing rapidly. Mrs. Lavender would see and perhaps this harshly-spoken old her in her bedroom ; and so Sheila lady would be gentle to her when all went up. her story was told. Another thing that The girl could not speak. prompted this decision was a sort of “Yes, I see it--something wrong secret wish to identify herself even yet about that precious husband of yours," with her husband's family; to prove to said the old lady, watching her keenly. herself, as it were, that they had not "I expected it. Go on. What is the cast her off as being unworthy of him. matter ?” Nothing was further from her mind at “I have left him," Sheila said, with this moment than any desire to pave her face very pale, but no sign of emothe way for reconciliation and reunion tion about the firm lips. with her husband. Her whole anxiety “Oh, good gracious, child ! Left was to get away from him ; to put an him ? How many people know it ?” end to a state of things which she had “No one, but yourself, and a young found to be more than she could bear. Highland girl who has come up to see And yet, if she had had friends in me." London called respectively Mackenzie “ You came to me first of all ?" and Lavender, and if she had been “Yes." equally intimate with both, she would “Have you no other friends to go at this moment have preferred to go to ?” for help to those bearing the name of “I considered that I ought to come Lavender.
to you." There was doubtless something There was no cunning in the speech; strangely inconsistent in this instinct of it was the simple truth. Mrs. Lavenwifely loyalty and duty in a woman der looked at her hard for a second or who had just voluntarily left her hus- two, and then said, in what she meant band's house. Lavender had desired to be a kind wayher not to hold communication with “Come here, and sit down, child; Edward Ingram ; even now she would and tell me all about it. If no one else knows it, there is no harm done. We “Even if he turns her out of the can easily patch it up before it gets house ?” abroad."
“Perhaps it is she who is to blame," “I did not come to you for that, Mrs. Sheila said, humbly. “ Perhaps her Lavender," said Sheila, calmly. “That education was wrong-or she expects is impossible. That is all over. I have too much that is unreasonable-or percome to ask you where I may get lodg. haps she has a bad temper. You think ings for my friend and myself.”
I have a bad temper, Mrs. Lavender ; o Tell me all about it, first; and then and might it not be that?" we'll see whether it can't be mended. “Well, I think you want your own Mind, I am ready to be on your side, way; and doubtless you expect to have though I am your husband's aunt. I it now. I suppose I am to listen to all think you're a good girl-a bit of a your story, and I must not say a word temper, you know—but you manage to about my own nephew. But sit down keep it quiet ordinarily. You tell me and tell me all about it; and then you all about it ; and you'll see if I haven't can justify him afterwards, if you like." means to bring him to reason. Oh, It was probably, however, the notion yes-oh, yes—I'm an old woman ; but that Sheila would try to justify LavenI can find some means to bring him to der all through that put the old lady on reason.” And she laughed an odd, shrill her guard, and made her, indeed, regard laugh.
Lavender's conduct in an unfairly bad Å hot Aush came over Sheila's face. light. Sheila told the story as simply Had she come to this old woman only as she could, putting everything down to make her husband's degradation more to her husband's advantage that was complete ? Was he to be intimidated possible, and asking for no sympathy into making friends with her by a whatsoever. She only wanted to remain threat of the withdrawal of that money away from his house; and by what that Sheila had begun to detest? And, means could she and this young cousin this was what her notions of wifely duty of hers find cheap lodgings where they had led to !
could live quietly, and without much “Mrs. Lavender,” she said, with the fear of detection? proud lips very proud indeed, “I must Mrs. Lavender was in a rage ; and, as say this to you before I tell you any- she was not allowed to vent it on the thing. It is very good of you to say you proper object, she turned upon Sheila will take my side ; but I did not come to herself. you to complain. And I would rather “ The Highlanders are a proud race," not have any sympathy from you if it she said, sharply. “I should have only means that you will speak ill of thought that rooms in this house, even my husband. And if you think you with the society of a cantankerous old can make him do things because you woman, would have been tolerated for give him money—perhaps that is true a time.” at present; but it inay not always be “It is very kind of you to make the true, and you cannot expect me to wish offer," Sheila said, " but I do not wish it to continue. I would rather have to have to meet my husband or any of my present trouble twenty times over his friends. There is enough trouble than see him being bought over to any without that. If you could tell me woman's wishes."
where to get lodgings not far from this Mrs. Lavender stared at her.
neighbourhood, I would come to see you “ Why, you astonishing girl, I believe sometimes at such hours as I know he you are still in love with that man.” cannot be here.” Sheila said nothing.
“But I don't understand what you “Is it true ?” she said.
mean. You won't go back to your hus“I suppose a woman ought to love band-although I could manage that her husband,” Sheila answered.
for you directly. You won't hear of
negotiations, or of any prospect of your ended this morning-none at all, Mrs. going back; and yet you won't go home Lavender.” to your father.”
“And do you mean to say that you “I cannot do either," Sheila said. intend to live permanently apart from
“Do you mean to live in those lodg- your husband ?” ings always ? "
"I do not know,” said Sheila, in a "How can I tell ? ” said the girl, despairing tone. “I cannot tell you. piteously. “I only wish to be away; What I feel is that, with all this trouble, and I cannot go back to my papa, with it is better that our life as it was in that all this story to tell him.”
house should come to an end.” “Well, I didn't want to distress Then she rose. There was a tired you," said the old woman. “You know look about her face, as if she were too your own affairs best. I think you are weary to care whether this old woman mad. If you would calmly reason with would help her or no. Mrs. Lavender yourself, and show to yourself that, in regarded her for a moment, wondering, a hundred years, or less than that, it perhaps, that a girl so handsome, finewon't matter whether you gratified your coloured, and proud-eyed, should be pride or no, you would see that the distressing herself with imaginary senwisest thing you can do now is to take timents, instead of taking life cheeran easy and comfortable course. You fully, enjoying the hour as it passed, are in an excited and nervous state at and being quite assured of the interest, present, for example ; and that is de- and liking, and homage of everyone stroying so much of the vital portion of with whom she came in contact. Sheila your frame. If you go into these lodg- turned to the bed once more, about to ings, and live like a rat in a hole, you say that she had troubled Mrs. Lavenwill have nothing to do but nurse these der too much already, and that she sorrows of yours, and find them grow would look after these lodgings. But bigger and bigger, while you grow more the old woman apparently anticipated and more wretched. All that is mere as much, and said, with much deliberapride, and sentiment, and folly. On tion, that if Sheila and her companion the other hand, look at this. Your hus- would only remain one or two days in band is sorry you are away from him— the house, proper rooms should be proyou may take that for granted. You vided for them somewhere. Young say he was merely thoughtless ; now he girls could not venture into lodgings has got something to make him think, without strict inquiries being made. and would without doubt come and beg Sheila should have suitable rooms; and your pardon, if you gave him a chance. Mrs. Lavender would see that she was I write to him; he comes down here; properly looked after, and that she you kiss and make good friends again, wanted for nothing. In the meantime and to-morrow morning you are comfort. she must have some money. able and happy again.”
"It is kind of you," said thegirl, blush“ To-morrow morning !” said Sheila, ing hotly, “but I do not require it.” sadly. “Do you know how we should “Oh, I suppose we are too proud !” be situated to-morrow morning ? The said the old woman. “If we disapprove story of my going away would become of our husband taking money, we must known to his friends ; he would go not do it either. Why, child, you have among them as though he had suffered learnt nothing in London. You are a some disgrace, and I the cause of it. savage yet. You must let me give you And though he is a man, and would something for your pocket, or what are soon be careless of that, how could I go you to do? You say you have left with him amongst his friends, and feel everything at home; do you think hairthat I had shamed him? It would be brushes, for example, grow on trees, worse than ever between us; and I that you can go into Kensington Garhave no wish to begin again what dens and stock your rooms ?" No. 168.-TOL. XXVIII.