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“I have some money—a few pounds “And yet,” said Sheila, with a smile --that my papa gave me,” Sheila said. -and it seemed so strange to Mairi to “And when that is done?”
see her smile—“we will not compare “He will give me more.”
badly in health with the people about “ And yet you don't wish him to us here." know you have left your husband's Mrs. Lavender dropped the question, house! What will he make of these and began to explain to Sheila what she repeated demands for money ? "
advised her to do. In the meantime both “My papa will give me anything I the girls were to remain in her house. want, without asking any questions." She would guarantee their being met
“ Then he is a bigger fool than I ex by no one. When suitable rooms had pected. Oh, don't get into a temper been looked out by Paterson, they were again. Those sudden shocks of colour, to remove thither. The whole situation child, show me that your heart is out of of affairs was at once perceived by Mrs. order. How can you expect to have a Lavender's attendant, who was given to regular pulsation if you flare up at understand that no one was to know anything anyone may say? Now go of young Mrs. Lavender's being in the and fetch me your Highland cousin." house. Then the old woman, much con
Mairi came into the room in a very tented with what she had done, resolved timid fashion, and stared with her big, that she would reward herself with a light-blue eyes into the dusky recess joke; and sent for Edward Ingram. in which the little old woman sat up in When Sheila, as already described, bed. Sheila took her forward.
came into the room, and found her old “This is my cousin Mairi, Mrs. La friend there, the resolution she had vender.”
formed went clean out of her mind. “And are you ferry well, ma'am ?” She forgot entirely the ban that had said Mairi, holding out her hand very been placed on Ingram by her husband. much as a boy pretends to hold out But after her first emotion on seeing him his hand to a tiger in the Zoological was over, and when he began to discuss Gardens.
what she ought to do, and even to advise “Well, young lady," said Mrs. La her in a diffident sort of way, she revender, staring at her, “and a pretty membered all that she had forgotten, mess you have got us into !"
and was ashamed to find herself sitting “Me!” said Mairi, almost with a cry there, and talking to him, as if it were in of pain : she had not imagined before her father's house at Borva. Indeed, that she had anything to do with when he proposed to take the manageSheila's trouble.
ment of her affairs into his own hands, “No, no, Mairi," her companion said, and to go and look at certain apartments taking her hand ; “it was not you. Mrs. that Paterson had proposed, she was Lavender, Mairi does not understand forced, with great heart-burning and our way of joking in London. Perhaps pain, to hint to him that she could not she will learn before she goes back to avail herself of his kindness. the Highlands."
“But why?” he asked, with a stare of “There is one thing," said Mrs. La- surprise. vender, observing that Mairi's eyes had “You remember Brighton," she an. filled the moment she was charged with swered, looking down. “You had a bad bringing trouble on Sheila, “there is return for your kindness to me then. , one thing you people from the Highlands “Oh, I know," he said, carelessly.
seem never disposed to learn, and that “And I suppose Mr. Lavender wished is, to have a little control over your pas you to cut me after my impertinent insions. If one speaks to you a couple of terference. But things are very much words, you either begin to cry or go off changed now. But for the time he went into a flash of rage. Don't you know North, he has been with me nearly every how bad that is for the health ?”
hour since you left."
“Has Frank been to the Lewis ?” she sentiments are all very well; but they said, suddenly, with a look of fear on won't stand in the place of a husband her face.
to you; and you will soon find out the “Oh no; he has only been to Glas difference between living by yourself gow to see if you had gone to catch the like that, and having some one in the Clansman, and go North from there.” house to look after you. Am I right,
“Did he take the trouble to do all Mr. Ingram, or am I wrong ?”. that ?" she asked, slowly and wistfully. Ingram paused for a moment, and
“ Trouble!” cried Ingram. “He ap- said pears to me neither to eat nor sleep day “I have not the same courage that or night; but to go wandering about in you have, Mrs. Lavender. I dare not search of you in every place where he advise Sheila one way or the other just fancies you may be. I never saw a at present. But if she feels in her own man so beside himself with anxiety — " heart that she would rather return now
"I did not wish to make him anxious," to her husband, I can safely say that said Sheila, in a low voice. “Will you she would find him deeply grateful to tell him that I am well ?”
her, and that he would try to do everyMrs. Lavender began to smile. Were thing that she desired. That I know. there not evident signs of softening? He wants to see you, Sheila, if only for But Ingram, who knew the girl better, five minutes—to beg your forgivewas not deceived by these appearances. nessHe could see that Sheila merely wished “I cannot see him," she said, with that her husband should not suffer pain the same sad and settled air. on her account: that was all.
“I am not to tell him where you “I was about to ask you," he said, are ?”. gently, “what I may say to him. He “Oh no!" she cried, with a sudden comes to me continually ; for he has and startled emphasis. “You must not always fancied that you would commu- do that, Mr. Ingram. Promise me you nicate with me. What shall I say to will not do that?” him, Sheila ?”
“I do promise you; but you put a “You may tell him that I am well.” painful duty on me, Sheila ; for you
Mairi had by this time stepped out know how he will believe that a short of the room. Sheila sat with her eyes interview with you would put everyfixed on the floor, her fingers working thing right, and he will look on me as nervously with a paper-knife she held preventing that.”
“Nothing more than that?” he said. “Do you think a short interview at “ Nothing more.”
present would put everything right ?”. He saw by her face, and he could tell she said, suddenly looking up, and reby the sound of her voice, that her de garding him with her clear and steadfast cision was resolute.
"Don't be a fool, child,” said Mrs. He dared not answer. He felt in his Lavender, emphatically. “Here is your inmost heart that it would not. husband's friend, who can make every “Ah, well,” said Mrs. Lavender, thing straight and comfortable for you “young people have much satisfaction in an hour or two, and you quietly put in being proud; when they come to my aside the chance of reconciliation, and age, they may find they would have bring on yourself any amount of misery been happier if they had been less I don't speak for Frank. Men can take disdainful." care of themselves ; they have clubs, “It is not disdain, Mrs. Lavender,” and friends, and amusements for the said Sheila, gently. whole day long. But you—what a “Whatever it is,” said the old woman, pleasant life you would have, shut up “I must remind you two people that I in a couple of rooms, scarcely daring to am an invalid. Go away, and have show yourself at a window! Your fine luncheon. Paterson will look after you.
Mr. Ingram, give me that book, that I door for nearly an hour, until Ingram, may read myself into a nap ; and don't coming out, asked him why he had forget what I expect of you.”
waited; whereupon he said, with an air Ingram suddenly remembered. He of perfect indifference, “Oo aye, there and Sheila and Mairi sat down to wass something said about a dram; but luncheon in the dining-room; and, hoot toots ! it is of no consequence what while he strove to get them to talk ever!" And was it true that the Sheriff about Borva, he was thinking all the of Stornoway was so kind-hearted a time of the extraordinary position he man that he remitted the punishment was expected to assume towards Sheila. of certain culprits, ordained by the Not only was he to be the repository of statute to be whipped with birch-rods, the secret of her place of residence, and on the ground that the island of Lewis the message-carrier between herself and produced no birch, and that he was not her husband; but he was also to take bound to import it? And had Mairi Mrs. Lavender's fortune, in the event heard any more of the Black Horse of of her dying, and hold it in trust for Loch Suainabhal ? And where had she the young wife. Surely this old pulled those splendid bunches of bellwoman, with her suspicious ways and heather? her worldly wisdom, would not be so He suddenly stopped, and Sheila foolish as to hand him over all her pro- looked up with inquiring eyes. How perty, free of conditions, on the simple did he know that Mairi had brought understanding that when he chose he those things with her ? Sheila saw that could give what he chose to Sheila ? he must have gone up with her husAnd yet that was what she had vowed band, and must have seen the room she would do, to Ingram's profound which she had decorated in imitation dismay.
of the small parlour at Borvabost. She He laboured hard to lighten the would rather not think of that room spirits of those two girls. He talked now. of John the Piper, and said he would “When are you going to the Lewis ?" invite him up to London ; and described she asked of him, with her eyes cast his probable appearance in the Park. down. He told them stories of his adventures “Well, I think I have changed my while he was camping out with some mind about that, Sheila. I don't think young artists in the western Highlands; I shall go to the Lewis this autumn." and told them anecdotes, old, recent, Her face became more and more emand of his own invention, about the barrassed; how was she to thank him people he had met. Had they heard for his continued thoughtfulness and of the steward on board one of the self-sacrifice ? Clyde steamers, who had a percentage “There is no necessity," he said, on the drink consumed in the cabin, lightly. “The man I am going with and who would call out to the captain, has no particular purpose in view. “Why wass you going so fast ? Dinna We shall merely go cruising about put her into the quay so fast! There is those wonderful lochs and islands; and a gran' company down below, and they I am sure to run against some of those are drinking fine !" Had he ever told young fellows I know, who are prowl. them of the porter at Arran who had ing about the fishing-villages with portdemanded sixpence for carrying up some able easels. They are good boys, those luggage, but who, after being sent to get boys. They are very hospitable, if they a sovereign changed, came back with have only a single bed-room in a small only eighteen shillings, saying, “Oh, cottage as their studio and receptionyes, it iss sexpence! Oh, aye, it iss room combined. I should not wonder, sex pence! But it iss two shullens ta Sheila, if I went ashore somewhere, and you !” Or of the other, who, after put up my lot with those young fellows, being paid, hung about the cottage- and listened to their wicked stories, and
lived on whisky and herrings for a he had as yet undertaken. He had to month. Would you like to see me make sundry and solemn resolves to put return to Whitehall in kilts ? And I a bold face on the matter at the outset, should go into the office, and salute and declare that wild horses would not everybody with 'And are you ferry tear from him any further information. well ?' just as Mairi does. But don't He feared the piteous appeals that be down-hearted, Mairi. You speak might be made to him ; the representaEnglish a good deal better than many tions that, merely for the sake of an English folks I know; and by the time imprudent promise, he was delaying a you go back to the Lewis, we shall have reconciliation between these two until you fit to become a school-mistress, not that might be impossible ; the reasons only in Borva, but in Stornoway that would be urged on him for consideritself."
ing Sheila's welfare as paramount to his “I wass told it is ferry good English own scruples. He went through the thay hef in Stornoway," said Mairi, not interview, as he foresaw it, a dozen very sure whether Mr. Ingram was times over; and constructed replies to joking or not.
each argument and entreaty. Of course “My dear child !” he cried, “I tell it would be simple enough to meet all you it is the best English in the world. Lavender's demands with a simple“No ;" If the Queen only knew, she would send but there are circumstances in which her grandchildren to be educated there. the heroic method of solving difficulties But I must go now. Good-bye, Mairi. becomes a trifle inhuman. I mean to come and take you to a theatre He had promised to dine with some night soon."
Lavender that evening at his club. Sheila accompanied him out into the When he went along to St. James's hall.
Street at the appointed hour, his host “When shall you see him ?" she said, had not arrived. He walked about for with her eyes cast down.
ten minutes, and then Lavender ap“This evening," he answered.
peared, haggard and worn-out with “I should like you to tell him that I fatigue. am well, and that he need not be “I have heard nothing-I can hear anxious about me."
nothing—I have been everywhere,” he And that is all ?".
said, leading the way at once into the “ Yes, that is all."
dining-room. “I am sorry I have kept “Very well, Sheila. I wish you had you waiting, Ingram.” given me a pleasanter message to carry ; They sat down at a small side-table; but when you think of doing that, I there were few men in the club at this shall be glad to take it."
late season; so that they could talk · Ingram left, and hastened in to his freely enough when the waiter had office. Sheila's affairs were consider come and gone. ably interfering with his attendance “ Well, I have some news for you, there, there could be no question of Lavender," Ingram said: that; but he had the reputation of “Do you know where she is ?" said being able to get through his work the other, eagerly. thoroughly, whatever might be the “Yes." hours he devoted to it; so that he did “Where ?” he almost called aloud, in not greatly fear being rebuked for his his anxiety. present irregularities. Perhaps, if a “Well,” Ingram said, slowly, “she grave official warning had been pro- is in London, and she is very well ; and bable, even that would not have inter- you need have no anxiety about her.” fered much with his determination to “But where is she?" demanded do what could be done for Sheila.
Lavender, taking no heed of the waiter But this business of carrying a mes- who was standing by and uncorking a sage to Lavender was the most serious bottle.
"I promised her not to tell you."
“ What did she say? Where has she been ? Good heavens, Ingram ! you don't mean to say you are going to keep it a secret?”
“Oh no," said the other; “I will tell you everything she said to me, if you like. Only I will not tell you where she is. "
"I will not ask you," said Lavender, at once, “if she does not wish me to know. But you can tell me about herself. What did she say? What was she looking like? Is Mairi with her ?”
“Yes, Mairi is with her. And of course she is looking a little troubled, and pale, and so forth ; but she is very well, I should think, and quite comfortably situated. She said I was to tell you that she was well, and that you need not be anxious."
“She sent a message to me?”.
“ By Jove, Ingram ! how can I ever thank you enough ? I feel as glad just now as if she had really come home again. And how did you manage it?"
Lavender, in his excitement and gratitude, kept filling up his friend's glass the moment the least quantity had been taken out of it; the wonder was he did not fill all the glasses on that side of the table, and beseech Ingram to have two or three dinners all at once.
“Oh, you needn't give me any credit about it,” Ingram said. “I stumbled against her by accident—at least, I did not find her out myself.”
“Did she send for you ?"
“No. But look here, Lavender, this sort of cross-examination will lead to but one thing; and you say yourself you won't try to find out where she is.”
“Not from you, anyway. But how can I help wanting to know where she is ? And my aunt was saying just now that very likely she had gone right away to the other end of London, to Peckham, or some such place,"
“ You have seen Mrs. Lavender, then?"
"I have just come from there. The old heathen thinks the whole affair rather a good joke; but perhaps that was only her way of showing her temper, for she was in a bit of a rage, to be sure. And so Sheila sent me that message ?”
“Does she want money? Would you take her some money from me?" he said, eagerly. Any bond of union between him and Sheila would be of some value.
“I don't think she needs money; and in any case, I know she wouldn't take it from you."
“Well, now, Ingram, you have seen her, and talked with her. What do you think she intends to do? What do you think she would have me do ?”
« These are very dangerous questions for me to answer," Ingram said. “I don't see how you can expect me to assume the responsibility.”
“I don't ask you to do that at all. But I never found your advice to fail. And if you give me any hint as to what I should do, I will do it on my own responsibility.”
« Then I won't. But this I will do. I will tell you as nearly as ever I can what she said; and you can judge for yourself.”
Very cautiously indeed did Ingram set out on this perilous undertaking. It was no easy matter so to shut out all references to Sheila's surroundings, that no hint should be given to this anxious listener as to her whereabouts. But Ingram got through it successfully; and when he had finished, Lavender sat some time in silence, merely toying with his knife, for, indeed, he had eaten nothing.
“If it is her wish," he said, slowly, “ that I should not go to see her, I will not try to do so. But I should like to know where she is. You say she is comfortable, and she has Mairi for a companion—and that is something. In the meantime, I suppose I must wait."
“I don't see myself how waiting is likely to do much good," said Ingram. 6. That won't alter your relations much."