The heiress of Greenhurst : An autobiography

By Ann S. Stephens

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Title: The heiress of Greenhurst
       An autobiography

Author: Ann S. Stephens

Release Date: May 24, 2023 [eBook #70851]

Language: English

Produced by: Richard Tonsing and the Online Distributed Proofreading
             Team at (This file was produced from
             images generously made available by The Internet Archive)


                         HEIRESS OF GREENHURST.
                           An Autobiography.

                        BY MRS. ANN S. STEPHENS,


                  *       *       *       *       *

                               NEW YORK:

                      EDWARD STEPHENS, PUBLISHER,
                           126 NASSAU STREET.


       Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857, by

                         MRS. ANN S. STEPHENS,

   In the Clerk’s Office of the United States District Court, for the
                     Southern District of New York.

                       W. H. TINSON, Stereotyper,
                           43 Centre street.

                    GEORGE RUSSELL & CO., Printers,
                           61 Beekman Street.


      CHAPTER                                                  PAGE
           I. The First Gift,                                     9
          II. The Sibyl’s Cave,                                  20
         III. Chaleco and his Plunder,                           28
          IV. The Midnight Ramble,                               37
           V. Fairy Scenes and Fatal Passions,                   56
          VI. The Sibyl and the Lovers,                          59
         VII. Waiting for Vengeance,                             66
        VIII. The Broken Idol,                                   70
          IX. Waiting and Fearing—A Wilderness of Beauty,        79
           X. The Courier and his Wild Visitor,                  83
          XI. A Traveller’s Toilet,                              88
         XII. Temptations and Resolutions,                       92
        XIII. The Weird Wedding,                                 99
         XIV. The Gitanilla’s Oath,                             104
          XV. The Mansion and the Cottage,                      110
         XVI. Concealments and Suspicions,                      115
        XVII. The Old Escritoir,                                124
       XVIII. The Lady of Marston Court,                        130
         XIX. My First Heart Tempest,                           139
          XX. My Mother’s Last Appeal,                          143
         XXI. The Oath Redeemed,                                151
        XXII. Lost Memories,                                    156
       XXIII. The Threshold of my Father’s House,               162
        XXIV. A Paradise of Rest,                               167
         XXV. Myself and my Shadow,                             174
        XXVI. The Fairy at the Pool,                            181
       XXVII. Funerals and Orphans,                             187
      XXVIII. Pleasant Days and Pleasant Teachings,             196
        XXIX. My Strange Acquaintance,                          204
         XXX. The Involuntary Hunt and its Consequences,        207
        XXXI. My Unexpected Escort,                             216
       XXXII. The Unwelcome Visitor,                            224
      XXXIII. Turner’s Struggle against Marriage,               230
       XXXIV. The Reluctant Proposal,                           236
        XXXV. The Jovial Wedding and Random Shot,               240
       XXXVI. My First Visit to Greenhurst—The Two Miniatures,  250
      XXXVII. Sorrows, Doubts and Conjectures,                  260
     XXXVIII. The Hazlenut Hedge,                               270
       XXXIX. My Father’s Return,                               276
          XL. Once More at Greenhurst,                          284
         XLI. My Strange Visitor,                               290
        XLII. Visions and Retrospections,                       301
       XLIII. The Desolate Bridal Chambers,                     310
        XLIV. The Bronze Coffer and my Mother’s Journal,        319
         XLV. The Shadowy Death-Chamber,                        330
        XLVI. A Visit to my Arch Enemy,                         339
       XLVII. My Lost Friend and my Lost Home,                  352
      XLVIII. Our Flight from Marston Court,                    366
        XLIX. The Mountain Lake and Hill-side Cottage,          368
           L. The Antique Bible,                                376
          LI. The Island Cove,                                  382
         LII. The Sheep-Farmer and his Wife,                    391
        LIII. Chaleco’s Triumph,                                397
         LIV. Irving and his Mother,                            404
          LV. Self-Abnegation,                                  411
         LVI. The Old Tower Chamber,                            425



  In dedicating this book to you, I have no choice of words; the
  memories of a helpless and feeble childhood crowd too closely on my
  heart for that. From the day when you received me an infant from the
  arms of a dying sister, down to the calm twilight of your own most
  useful life, I have a remembrance only of more than motherly kindness
  and entire affection. My childhood and my youth, with all their joys
  and tender griefs, are so beautifully blended with thoughts of your
  household virtues and maternal love, that it is impossible to realize
  that even partial orphanage was ever known to me.

  I once hoped to blend with yours the name of that honored father, who
  has but lately laid down the burden of almost fourscore years and ten,
  and gone forth from the faithful affection which surrounded him here,
  to the more perfect love of heaven. But my father is dead, and in the
  holy welcome of angels the voice of his own child is hushed. Still,
  through the golden chain of your love, my mother, this dedication
  shall yet reach him. With you—who made his old age tranquil almost as
  the heaven he approached, who went faithfully down to the valley of
  the shadow of death, giving him up only to the angels that waited
  there—I leave this homage, that it may be conveyed to him through your
  nightly prayers.

                                                        ANN S. STEPHENS.

  NEW YORK, _May, 1857_.

                       THE HEIRESS OF GREENHURST.

                               CHAPTER I.
                            THE FIRST GIFT.

It is my mother’s story that I am about to write—the story of her young
life, her wrongs, her sufferings, and the effects of those wrongs, those
sharp sufferings as they flowed in fire and tears through my own
existence. Her history ran like a destiny through my own. My life is but
a prolongation of hers. I have but done what she would have
accomplished, had she not been trampled down like a broken flower, in
the civilized life with which none of her blood or race could hope to
mingle and live.

She was a gipsy of Granada. You may search for her birthplace among the
caves that perforate the hill-side to the right, as you gaze down upon
Granada from the Alhambra. That hill, honeycombed with subterranean
dwellings, and its bosom swarming with human beings, was my mother’s
home. Beggars—yes, call them so—a people born to delude and prey upon
all other races, these were her companions. She was a gipsy of the pure
blood, not a drop, not a taint had ever mingled with the fiery life that
glowed in her veins.

Men call me beautiful. And so I am. But compared to my mother, as I
remember her, that which I possess is but the light of a star as it
pales into the morning, contrasted with the same bright jewel of the
sky, when it burns pure and undimmed in the purple of the evening. I
have, it is true, eyes like hers, long, black, almond shaped; but
English blood has thrown a soft mistiness upon their lightning. My
cheeks have a rich bloom; but hers were of a deeper and more peachy
crimson, glowing out through the soft creamy tint of her complexion with
a warmth that shames comparison. See, I can shake down my hair, and it
falls over me like a mantle rolling in heavy black waves far below my
waist; but hers swept to the ground. I have seen her bury her tiny foot
in the extremity of those raven curls, and press them to the earth while
she stood upright, without straightening a single tress. As for her
person, you could liken it to nothing of human beauty. An antelope—a
young leopardess, an Arab steed of the pure blood—these were the
comparisons that flashed to the mind as you watched the movements of
that lithe form—those delicate and slender limbs. Imagine, if you can, a
being like this, wild as a bird—utterly untamed, her veins burning with
that lava fire that seems caught from another world, her every movement
an inspiration. Imagine this creature at fourteen years of age roaming
beneath the old trees that lie at the foot of the Alhambra, and earning
a scant subsistence with her castanets, and her native dance, from the
few foreigners who brave the discomforts of Spanish travel to visit the

She was always among those beautiful old trees, haunting them like the
birds for shelter and subsistence. Sometimes you might have found her
crouching beneath a thicket half asleep, and dreamily listening to the
silvery flow of a hundred concealed rivulets, introduced by the Moors
into these shady walks. Sometimes she would lie for hours on the banks
of the river that flows through the outskirts of these woods, and weave
garlands from the wild blossoms so abundant there, crowning herself like
a May Queen, and using the waters for a mirror, the only one she had yet
seen. But in all this seeming idleness she was ever upon the alert,
listening for the sound of wheels, peering through the trees for a view
of any chance traveller that might ascend to the ruins on foot; in
short, feverish with anxiety to earn bread for her old grandmother, who
waited hungrily for it in the caves that yawned upon her from the
opposite hill.

One day, when my mother was a little less than fourteen, full-grown as
most females of that age are in Spain, yet delicate and slender as I
have described, she had come to the Alhambra woods with two or three
gipsy girls of her tribe, but wandered away alone as was her habit,
searching for wild flowers to compose a garland for her hair. Down in a
little hollow that sinks abruptly from the broad avenue leading to the
Alhambra, she found a profusion of these sweet stars of the wood, and
began to gather them in handsful, forming a drapery from her scant
calico robe, and filling it with the fragrant mass in pleasant
wantonness, for she had collected blossoms enough to crown half Granada.

She sat down on the ground, and selecting the most dewy buds, began to
weave them into a wreath, blending the tints with a degree of taste that
would have been pronounced artistic in civilized life. Red, yellow,
purple with delicate and starry white blossoms, all flashed through her
little hands, blending themselves, as it were, by magic into this rustic
crown. Now and then she paused and held the garland up admiringly with a
smile upon her lips, and her graceful head turned on one side, half
shyly, like a bird’s, as if she were ashamed of admiring her own work.

Her castanets lay upon the grass, and stretching one little naked foot,
plump as an infant’s, down to the rivulet that flowed by her, she began
to dip it up and down in the sparkling water, carelessly as a bird laves
itself in the morning. As the waters rippled over that little foot,
breaking up in diamond drops all around, she continued her sweet task,
leaning on one side, or bending backward now and then to gather some
green sprig or fresh bud that grew within reach.

My poor, poor mother—how little could she guess that the moment so full
of sweet repose, while the waters sung and whispered to her as they
passed, while the blossoms breathed balm all around, gratifying her
senses and her delicate taste at the same moment—how could she guess
that moment to be one of destiny to her, the single speck of time on
which all her after life depended!

She kept on with her pretty garlands, blending with unconscious taste, a
little delicate green, and a few white bells with the rich clusters of
crimson, yellow, and blue that predominated there.

When it was finished, she withdrew her foot from the water, that it
might not disturb the pure surface—watched the bubbles with a smile as
they floated downward, and, bending over the rivulet, wreathed her
garland among the rich folds of hair which I have mentioned as so glossy
and abundant.

A knot of scarlet ribbon—I know not how obtained, but it was her only
finery, poor thing—fastened this floral crown; and after arranging her
dress of many-colored chintz, she regarded herself in the water for an
instant with smiling admiration. And well she might, for the image
thrown back by that tranquil pool was full of picturesque beauty, unlike
anything you ever dreamed of even in romance.

A slight noise, something rustling among the neighboring foliage, made
her start from that graceful half-stooping position. She looked eagerly
around—and there, upon the upper swell of the bank, stood a young man
looking at her.

My poor mother had no thought but of the coin she might earn. A cry of
glad surprise broke from her lips, and seizing her castanets she sprang
from amid the litter of wild flowers that had fallen around her feet,
and with a single bound stood before the stranger, poising herself for
the national dance.

I cannot tell what it was, but some strange magnetic influence possessed
my mother. As her slender limbs were prepared for the first graceful
bound, her spirited ankle strained back, and one little foot just ready
to spurn the turf, a wonderful fascination came over her. She stood a
moment immovable, frozen into that graceful attitude, her eyes fixed
upon the stranger’s, her red lips parted in a half smile, checked and
still as her limbs. Then the eyelids, with their long, thick lashes,
began to quiver, and drooped heavily downward, veiling the fire of those
magnificent eyes. The tension slowly left her muscles, and with the
castanets hanging loose in her hands, she drooped languidly toward the
youth, as a flower bends on its stalks when the sunshine is too warm.

He addressed her in English, but, though she did not understand his
words, the very sound of his voice made her shiver from head to foot. He
spoke again and smiled pleasantly, not as men smile with their lips
alone, but with a sort of heart-bloom spreading all over the face. She
looked up, and knew that he was asking her to dance; but she, whose
muscles up to that moment had answered to her will, as harp-strings obey
the master-touch, found all her power gone. She could not even lift her
eyes to meet the admiring glance bent upon her, but shrunk timidly,
awkwardly—if a creature so full of native grace could be awkward—away,
and burst into tears.

That instant there came leaping up from a neighboring hollow, the half
dozen gipsy girls that my mother had forsaken in the woods. On they came
like a troop of young antelopes, leaping, singing, rattling their
castanets, and surrounding the stranger with smiles, gestures, and
sounds of eager glee.

He looked around, surprised and smiling. The scene took him unawares.
His heart was brimful of that sweet romance that hovers forever like a
spirit about the place, and this picturesque exhibition startled him
into enthusiasm. It was like enchantment. The wild poetry of the past
acted before him. His dark grey eyes grew brilliant with excitement. He
smiled, nay, even laughed gaily, scattering silver among the troop of
dark browed fairies that had beset his way. There was something eager
and grasping in the manner of these girls as they scrambled for the
money, pushing each other aside with lightning flashes of the eye, and
searching avariciously among the grass when all had been gathered up.

You could see that the young man was very fastidious from the effect
this had upon him. A look of disappointment, tinged with contempt, swept
the happy expression from his face; and when they began a new dance,
less modest than the preceding, he motioned them to desist. But they
were not to be driven away; he had been too liberal for that. They drew
back a little, but continued to dance, some moving around him on the
avenue, others choosing the turfy bank. Still he beckoned them to
desist, but misunderstanding his gestures, they became subdued, threw a
more voluptuous spirit into the dance, and the languor that tamed down
each movement seemed a portion of the balmy atmosphere, so subtle and
enervating was the effect.

But the stranger was no ordinary man. The very efforts that would have
charmed others, created a singular feeling of repulsion in him. He
turned from the dancing girls with a look of weariness, and would have
moved on; but disappointed in the result of the last effort, they sprang
into his path like so many bacchantes, making the soft air vibrate with
the rapidity and force of their movements. Half clothed—for the garments
of these young creatures reached but little below the knees, their
slender limbs and small, naked feet exposed in the wild frenzy of their
exertions, eager as wild animals who have tasted blood—they beset his
way with bolder and more desperate attempts to charm forth a new supply
of coin.

In the midst of this wild scene, the young man chanced to turn his eyes
upon my mother. She was standing apart, not drooping helplessly as at
first, but upright, spirited, with a curve of invincible scorn upon
those red lips, and a blush glowing like fire over every visible part of
her person. For the first time in her life, she seemed to be aroused to
the character of her national dance: for the first time in her life the
young gipsy had learned to blush.

The Englishman was struck by her appearance, and made an effort to draw
near, but his wild tormentors followed close, and, to free himself, he
adroitly flung a handful of small coin far up the avenue. Away sprang
the whole group, shouting, leaping, and hustling each other about, as
they cleared the distance between themselves and the Englishman.

He approached my mother with a little reluctance, such as a man feels
when he tries a new language, and uttered a few words in Spanish.

“Why do you remain behind? There is money up yonder,” he said.

My mother looked up. The tears which she had suppressed still sparkled
on her curling eyelashes.

“I do not want money,” she said; “I have done nothing to earn it.”

“And why did you not dance with the rest?”

“I don’t know. It seems to me now that I never have danced like them,
and yet, I tried to begin that very dance—tried and could not.”

The blush again burned on her face. She made a movement as if to cover
it with her hands, and desisted, ashamed of her new-born modesty.

“And why could you not dance for me as you have for others?”

“I do not know.”

“You have already earned money enough?”

“I have an old grandmother who has not tasted food to-day. She is
waiting in patient hunger till I shall bring money from the woods to
purchase it. My companions will carry food to their parents—mine must

“See, I have driven these people away. They did not please me, but you
shall give me a dance while they are busy. Here is a piece of good
English gold, which will supply your grandame with food during the next

My mother took the gold and examined it with great curiosity. She had
never seen so much money at once in her life.

“I—I am to dance before you, and this will be mine?” she said, at last.

“Yes, it will be yours!”

She handed him back the money, took up her castanets, and stepped forth
with a sort of haughty grace. Giving her person a willowy bend sideways,
she began, the tears starting afresh to her eyes as she made the effort.
But the elasticity seemed to have forsaken her limbs: she stopped
abruptly and retreated.

“I will not go on,” she said; “I don’t want the piece of gold; I only
know the dances that made you drive my companions away.”

There was no acting in this. My poor mother literally could not perform
her task, and it was this very failure that charmed the young
Englishman. Had she earned the money it would have been given, and she
possibly remembered no more; as it was—ah, would to heaven she had
earned it—earned it and gone on her way true to her people—true to the
blood that never mingles with that of another race without blending a
curse with it.

But there was something in my mother’s refusal that interested the
Englishman. He was very young, only in his twenty-fourth year, but of
mature intellect and strong of mind. Still the fresh and romantic
delicacy of youth clung to his feelings. They were both fresh and
powerful. The ideal blended with all things. He could never have been a
slave to the mere senses, but sensation excited, his poetical nature
made even that exquisite. He was not a man to indulge in light fancies,
but his imagination and his feelings were both strong, and in these lay
the danger.

Love is the religion of a woman educated as my mother had been. In her
it seemed like apostasy from the true faith to allow her heart a
moment’s resting-place out of her own race. Indeed, she deemed it an
impossibility, and thus secure, was all unconscious of the fatal passion
that had transformed her very nature in a single morning.

Not half an hour had elapsed since my mother had met the stranger. The
dew that trembled on her coronal of wild blossoms still glittered there;
the first footprint she had made upon the grass that morning still kept
its place. Yet how much time it has required for me to give you an idea
of the feelings that grew into strength in that brief time—feelings that
vibrated through more than one generation, that made me what I am; for
this man was my father.

Be patient, and I will tell you more; for there lies a long history
between that time and this, the history of many persons; for did I not
say that my life was but a continuation of hers? And I have known much,
felt much, suffered. But who that has known and felt, can say that he
has not suffered?

“Nay, you have fairly earned the gold,” said the Englishman, bending his
now bright and earnest eyes on my mother, with an expression that made
every nerve in her body thrill, as if it had been touched to music for
the first time—“take it for your grandam’s sake, my poor child!”

What charm possessed my mother? She who had been among the most eager
when money was to be obtained—why did she shrink and blush at taking the
gold from that generous palm? Why, when she happened to touch his hand
in receiving it, did the warm blood leap to each finger’s end, till the
delicately curved nails seemed red with some artificial dye? The gold
gave her no pleasure at first. It seemed a sacrilege to receive it from
him; but after a little it grew precious as her own life. Her
grandmother went hungry to bed that night, for the gipsy girl would not
part with this one piece of gold. She did not even acknowledge to any
one that it had been given her, but hid it away close to her heart, and
kept it there through many a sharp struggle that broke that poor heart
at last. I have it in my bosom. It was necessary at times that I should
feel it grating cold and hard, or something of tenderness would have
crept there. I could not have gone through with all that I had to
accomplish but for this gold—gold, gold. It is a fine thing to harden
the heart with; in many ways men have found it so.

My mother took the money, then, with a faint blush and a smile that
lighted up his face into absolute beauty, the young man said, “I see you
hesitate; you will not believe the money is fairly earned. Now to set
you at rest I will take the wreath you wear as full compensation. It
will remind me hereafter of my first day at the Alhambra.”

My mother smiled, and her face kindled up with the pleasure his request
had given. She unbound the wreath and presented it to him, ribbon and

That ribbon was the only ornament that she had in the world, but she
parted with it joyfully; though the diamonds that Queen Isabella
sacrificed to Christopher Columbus were not half so precious to their
owner as this scarlet snood had been to the gipsy girl.

I have the ribbon too. That piece of gold is suspended to it about my
neck—the first gift of my mother—the first gift of my father. He wore
the ribbon around his neck at the death-hour. The gold also; alas! it
was an awful hour when that piece of gold was laid in my palm.

The Englishman lingered for weeks at the Alhambra. He lived at a little
Fonda that stands close beneath the ruins, sometimes spending whole days
among the old Moorish remains, at others wandering thoughtfully beneath
the stately trees.

My mother had spent her life in those woods. She could not change her
habits now, for the love of those cool shadows had become a want of her
whole being; but she danced the gipsy dances and sung the gipsy songs no
more. Her companions wondered greatly at this, and triumphed over her
with a wild glee that would have roused her indignation a few weeks
before. Now, she turned from them with a quiet curve of scorn upon her
lip, and stole away by herself, weaving garlands, and listening to the
hidden waters that chimed their sweet voices in the solitude, whispering
a thousand dreamy fancies, which deepened almost into sadness as time
wore on.

I know not how often she saw the Englishman during that period. Not very
frequently, I am sure; for she had become timid as a fawn, and would sit
crouching among the thickets for hours, only to see him pass distantly
through the dim veil of the forest leaves.

Night after night she went home from the woods empty-handed, and musing
as if in a dream. Her grandame chided her sharply at times, for hunger
made her stern. The gipsy girl bore this with surprising meekness,
weeping gently, but never urging a word in her own defence, save that
she did not know why, but it was impossible to dance as she had done;
the strength left her limbs whenever she attempted it.

A week—more than one—went by, and the gipsy girl remained in this
inactive, dreamy state. Then a sudden change came over her. She grew
animated, the wild passions of her nature kindled up again. You could
see that her heart slept no longer. The dove that had brooded there so
sweetly had taken wing. She went to the Alhambra early. She left it
sometimes after dark, often bringing a little money which she gave the
old woman with trembling hands and downcast eyes, that were frequently
full of tears.

At this season you could not have looked upon her face without
admiration. The bloom upon the sunniest peach suffered in comparison
with the rich hues of her cheek. Her eyes were starry in their
brightness. You could not speak to her without bringing a smile to her
mouth, that brightened it as the sunshine glows upon ripe strawberries.
If tears sometimes started beneath these thick lashes, they only served
to light up the eyes they could not dim, for every bright drop seemed to
leap from a blissful source.

She was quiet though, and said little. You only knew how exquisite was
her happiness by the glorious beauty of her face.

Then, all this exquisite joy went gradually out, as you see a lamp fade
when the perfume oil burns low. She wept no more blissful tears. Her
smile grew constrained, and took a marble paleness. It was singular that
no one observed this; that the keen-eyed people of her tribe never
suspected what was going on in that young heart—but so it was.

One person of the tribe would not have been thus blinded; for he loved
the gipsy girl as only the wild, strong nature of the pure blood can
love; but he had gone to attend the annual fair at Seville, and my
mother was left to the tempter and her own heart. Much that passed
during this time remains a mystery even to me, her child, for in the
manuscript that she left, there is hesitation, embarrassment—many
erasures and whole sentences blotted out, as if no language could
satisfy her—or, as if there existed much that she could not force
herself to write. Still, she seemed to linger about this period as if
afraid to go on. It was her first love-dream; how could she describe it?
Her first step in the crooked way which no human being can possibly make
straight. How could she describe that to her own child? Still, much was
written, much revealed, that I shall put into form. For my mother was a
child of the Alhambra, and there her destiny commenced shaping itself
into a fate.

                              CHAPTER II.
                           THE SIBYL’S CAVE.

I have spoken of the grandame who was my mother’s only relative. I have
a sort of fierce pride in this old woman, and love to trace the Rommany
blood that burns in my own heart, back to that weird source; for in her
withered veins it grew, like old wine, strong with age and bitter with
the hate which our people bore to the Gentiles.

Learned men still cavil about our origin. They gather up scraps of our
language, they ferret out our habits, and torture our tradition to
establish the various theories, which, after all, must remain theories;
for ours is a poverty-stricken people. We have no possession, not even
a history. They call us a nation of thieves, and say that even our
traditions are stolen. Be it so! at least we are faithful to each other,
a boast which the brotherhood of civilization cannot honestly make.

But though wise men have traced us back to Judea, and made us
worshippers of idols, we who worship nothing in heaven or on earth, know
by the secret sympathies that link us together—sympathies which no
Gentile can comprehend—that the blood within our hearts is of another
source than the idolaters of Judea.

They say that our traditions are stolen from your Bible; that from the
solemn prophecies written there, we have gathered up a belief in our
Egyptian origin. But my great grandmother never looked into your Bible.
She would have trampled the falsehood under her feet and spit upon it,
had any one hinted that in the Gentile language, lay the great secret of
her race.

But her faith in the Egyptian descent of our people was like a religion.
How it came to her, whether from tradition, fable, fact, or those
sorcerers’ arts that made her famous among all our nation, I do not
know. Save in those wild sympathies that knit our tribe together, as
with bonds of iron, all over the earth, our people have no history. They
came like a cloud of locusts sweeping down from the East. It may be one
of the curses sent forth to infest the earth after ravaging Egypt. It
may be a fragment of the lost tribes. It may be even, as some of our
traditions say, that we were sent forth as a punishment for
inhospitality to the mother of God and her holy child. There is a wide
field for conjecture. Let your wise men guess on. With us, our Egyptian
descent is a faith—all the religion that we have!

I know many languages, am learned in historic lore—learned in the great
foundation of all history, the Bible. Of that which pertains to my
people I have studied long and deeply; yet as my great grandmother, the
Gitana, believed, so do I. To her occult wisdom, her subtle sympathies,
I have brought all the knowledge to be gathered from the literature of
other races.

I have searched your sacred book till my soul has been stirred to its
depths with the dark prophecies that foreshadow the scattering of our
tribes over the face of the earth. I find the destiny that is now upon
us written out in that great book, certain, unmistakable as the
thunder-cloud that heralds in a tempest. There is wisdom in that book.
Our people should know it better, for much of its grandeur came from
Egypt, as we did—Egypt the great mother of learning—the land which gave
its wisdom to Moses, and taught the irresolute how to think, act, and

And we too are of Egypt. Does the Gentile want proof? Let him search for
it in the prophecies that he holds sacred. Let him read it in the
voluptuous character of our dances, in the unwritten poetry, unwritten
because it grows tame and mean in any language but the Rommany. The
Gitanos speak their poetry as it swells warm from the heart, for it
would grow cold in the writing. Let him search for it where he pleases.
We require no proof, better than the mysterious spirit within us. Our
hearts turn back to the old land, and we know that it once belonged to

My great grandame was no common Gitana. Her husband had been a chief, or
count, among the gipsies, during his entire manhood. This was no common
dignity, for our people choose their own leaders, and it is seldom that
one man’s popularity lasts during a life-time. The Gitano chooses his
wife for her talent, her art, her powers of deception; in short, for
what you would call her keen wickedness. These are the endowments that
recommend the Gitana bride to her lord. It was for these qualities,
joined to talents that would have given her a position in any nation,
that my ancestor married his wife.

This great grandame of mine was bravely descended, and richly endowed.
Talent descends most frequently from the mother, and through the female
line she could trace her blood back to that arch sorceress, who wound
herself around Maria de Padilla, during her heroic life, and in the end
betrayed that noble woman to death, when she fled from Toledo with her

Maria de Padilla had offended our ancestress, and she was true to her
hate. My great grand-dame wore a pair of ear-rings, massive gold
circlets set with great rubies. In her poverty—for in the end she became
very poor—these antique ornaments were always about her person. No
amount of suffering, no temptation could win them from her, even for a
moment. These antique rings had been wrested from the heroine of Toledo,
on the night when she _disappeared_ with her Gitana attendant. There was
a tradition, that the precious stones with which they were beset, had
once been white, but that after the murder, had changed to the blood-red
hue which they ever after maintained. I know not how this superstition
took birth; but the craft of our Gitana ancestress seemed to descend
with the rings, as they came down from that wonderful creature, always
through the females, to the old Sibyl who was the grandame of my mother.

I know that the Gitanos are considered as impostors; that they are
supposed to practise their arts for coarse gain, and for that only; but
this is not always true. No devotee ever put more faith in her saint
than the gipsy, who has long exercised her powers of divination, places
in the truth of her mysterious art.

It was late in the evening, and old Papita—for thus my ancestress was
named—sat in her cave-home waiting the return of her grand-daughter from
the Alhambra. Perhaps upon the whole earth there is nothing more
repulsive than a very old woman in any portion of southern Europe. The
voluptuous atmosphere, the warm sunshine that matures female life so
early, seems to mock its own precocious work, by proving how hideous
time can render it. But if age makes itself so repulsive among the
luxurious women of Spain, those who scarcely draw a breath of that
delicious atmosphere which is not heavy with fragrance, how much more
hideous must be the old age of a Gitana hid away in the dark hollows of
the earth, with rude and insufficient food, clothed in rags, uncared
for, held in no higher repute than the foxes who burrow in the earth
like themselves, and are scarcely held apart from civilization more than
they are?

There was something witch-like in the appearance of my great grandame as
she sat alone in her cave that night. A meagre candle shed its light in
sickly flickers around a rude niche scooped in the rock, from whence the
entire dwelling was cut. The body of this light fell upon the old
woman’s head, kindling up a scarlet kerchief that she wore, somewhat in
the fashion of a Moorish turban, into vivid brilliancy; but casting the
rough features into blacker shadow, till they seemed meagre, dark, and
almost as withered as those of an Egyptian mummy. Her claw-like hands
were folded over her bosom, and a ring set with some deep green stone
cut with Egyptian characters, caught the light like a star; for the
setting was of rough massive gold, that seemed heavy enough to break the
withered finger, that it covered from joint to joint. A few embers lay
upon the stone floor at her feet, the remnants of a fire that had burned
low, leaving a thin cloud of smoke still floating in the vaulted roof of
the cave.

A low chair of heavy carved wood, the antique plunder of some religious
house, served the old woman for a seat; and before her, upon the embers,
stood a small bronze vessel, which gave forth a soft odor as its
contents simmered sleepily in the dying heat.

Besides these objects, there was little of interest in the dwelling. The
cave was scooped from the soft sandstone cliff that forms one side of a
ravine, through which the Darro passes before making its graceful sweep
around the Alhambra. The walls and ceiling were blended together in a
thousand irregular curves and angles, roughly chiselled, and blackened
over with smoke. It had no particular form; but sunk into recesses; was
cut up into hollows; bulged out in places that should have been corners,
and had a dozen angles that promised some definite form, but failed in
the performance.

In size it might have covered eighteen or twenty square feet. The floors
were of stone, like the walls, for all was cut from one rock; but smoke
and long use had so disguised the native material, that it could hardly
be guessed at. A few dried herbs were hung in one hollow of the wall; an
earthen pot, full of fresh flowers, stood in another; some specimens of
coarse pottery occupied a shelf opposite the door, and cooking utensils
of heavy iron were huddled in a corner, making the shadows in that
portion of the cave still more dense.

The old Sibyl arose, took down the candle, and holding it over the
bronze vessel peered into it, muttering to herself. Now the dark
mummy-like aspect of her features changed; the eyes, black, firm and
large, for age had no power to quench their lightning, illuminated those
withered features and gave expression to every wrinkle. Her thin lips
parted, and through a weird smile, that made them writhe like disturbed
serpents, shot the gleam of her sharp, long teeth, white as ivory, and
strong as those of a tiger.

My great grandame in her youth was of middle size; but age had
contracted her muscles and warped her sinews, leaving her limbs spare
and lean till she was scarcely larger than a child of twelve years. Her
head was singularly large, the forehead heavy, the eyes under it burning
like coals of living fire; and this disproportion was exaggerated by the
heavy red kerchief that I have already spoken of.

As the old woman lifted her person from its stooping position and rose
upright, you wondered that she had power in those withered limbs to
stand so erect, or carry the weight of that heavy blue saya, with its
succession of crimson flounces all edged with golden lace, from which
the brightness had departed years ago. You wondered, too, at the
picturesque and singular arrangement of colors in her dress. It is true
the old velvet jacket had lost all traces of its original lustre. The
colors of the saya were dimmed and worn away; but the vestige of former
dignity was there, and no age could injure that mystic seal, or the
massive ruby rings that bent her thin ears with their weight, and
flashed like great drops of blood falling from beneath her kerchief.

Two or three times the grandame waved her light over the bronze vessel,
then thrusting the candle back into its niche, with an air of discontent
she walked to the door of her cave, flung it open and looked out.

At first she held one hand over her eyes as we do when the sun strikes
us suddenly, and no wonder, for what a contrast was that beautiful night
with the black hole she had left!

I have seen the Alhambra by moonlight, from the very point of view which
the old Sibyl commanded, and it is one of the memories which one would
give up years of life rather than surrender. Down from the soft purple
of that glorious sky fell the moonlight, pouring its rich luminous
floods over the snows that lie forever upon the noble mountain ranges of
the Alpujarras. It cast a silvery halo around each snowy peak, making
the whiteness lustrous as noonday, then came quivering down their sides,
and fell in a silvery torrent among the groves that girdle the Alhambra.
There, subdued and softened by the masses of foliage, it divided a sweet
empire with the night, leaving half those dim old towers to the shadows,
and pouring its whole refulgence upon the rest, throwing a glory over
some broken arch, and abandoning its neighbor to obscurity.

Ah me, there is nothing on earth so beautiful as the moonlight shining
amid a grim old ruin like that. It is the present smiling away the gloom
of the past.

Broken up, as it were, by those naked old towers, the light fell among
the groves, throwing the trees out in masses that took a greenish hue
almost as if it had been day; then the foliage became dense, and long
shadows cast themselves like a dewy vapor down the hill, admitting soft
gleams to flicker in here and there, like a network of pearls
embroidering the darkness. Then, as if some undercurrent of light had
been all the while flowing on beneath the trees, out rushed the
moonbeams breaking away from the shadows, and pouring down upon the
bosom of the Darro, smiling, sparkling, kindling up every drop of water
as it flowed by, till you would have thought some hidden vein in the
mountains had broken free, and a torrent of diamonds were sweeping
between Granada and its Moorish fortress.

It is possible that the old gipsy saw nothing of this. I am inclined to
think that she did not, for the scene had become familiar to her, and
that night she was ill at ease. Instead of turning her gaze as you would
have done upon the Alhambra and the snow ridges beyond, she threw her
head back, and began peering among the stars, muttering to herself in
some strange tongue, and holding up her mystic ring as if to catch
direct fire from the particular star to which her eyes were uplifted.

“Not now,” she said fiercely; for the least untoward thing awoke the old
woman’s wrath; and even then she longed to gather all that beautiful
moonlight up, and cast it into some dark void, because its refulgence
dimmed the stars which she wished to read. “Not now,” she muttered,
locking her sharp teeth together, and turning her fierce eyes upon the
sky with a gleam of hate—“not while the moon is wading through the snows
up yonder, and putting out the bright, beautiful stars till the heavens
all run together like the printed pages of a book which one has not the
art to read. Not yet, not yet. I must wait till the skies are purple
again, and the stars come out with fire in them. The moon, the moon, it
is the friend of the Busne, never of the Gitana. Accursed be its path in
the sky. May the stars, that have a language for the Egyptian, grow
powerful, and smite it down from its high place.”

After uttering this weird curse, the Sibyl closed the door and slunk
back into her cave, pacing to and fro, and crooning over a wild snatch
of song that seemed to excite rather than soothe the fierce mood she was

                              CHAPTER III.
                        CHALECO AND HIS PLUNDER.

All at once the old woman drew in her breath with a hiss, and bent her
eyes on the door. She heard a footstep approach. The wooden lock moved,
and a man perhaps of twenty-three or four years old presented himself.

It was many years since the old Sibyl had been known to change
countenance, or the unpleasant surprise that seized her at the sight of
this man must have been visible. Yet of all his tribe he might have been
deemed a welcome guest in any cave in the settlement, for he was a count
or chief among the gipsies of Granada, and added to this, was the
betrothed husband of Aurora, the grandchild of Papita.

Why then should the old woman shrink within herself and receive Chaleco,
the chief of her tribe, with so much inward trepidation? I only know
that, dazzled as her eyes had been by the moonlight, she had read enough
in the stars to make her afraid of meeting Chaleco.

The young count had all those strongly marked characteristics that
distinguish his race: a clear olive complexion; heavy voluptuous lips,
revealing teeth that shamed the whitest ivory; hair black and coarse,
but, in his case, with a purple lustre upon it; eyes of vivid blackness,
and cheek bones slightly; in him, very slightly prominent, all lighted
up by an expression of great strength, sharpness, cunning and
perseverance—that is, these passions must have been visible in his
countenance had he ever allowed one true feeling to speak in his face.
His dress alone would have bespoken his position in the tribe to one
accustomed to the habits of our people, still it did not entirely
appertain to the portion of the country to which he belonged.

Chaleco had travelled much in Catalonia, and having a rich fancy in
costume, adopted many of their picturesque habits of dress. On this
evening, he seemed to have arrayed himself with peculiar care, which is
easily accounted for when we remember that he had been more than six
weeks absent from Granada, and in that time had not seen his betrothed.

With the deep cunning of her race, blended perhaps with a little of the
irritation that had preceded his coming, Papita was the first to speak;
and taking exception to the Catalonian fashion of his dress, fortified
her own position by commencing hostilities before the young man had time
to ask questions, which she felt herself unable to answer

“So, Chaleco, you have come back at last, and more like a stranger than
ever. What Busne has bewitched you in the fair at Seville, that you
return to Granada in a dress like that?”

“Why, mother, this is all folly. I have but added this cap to the
garments that I wore when we went from hence. Surely this is not a thing
to provoke your wrath,” cried the young man, taking a scarlet cap from
his head with that half-shy, half-defying look with which some men
receive female criticism on their dress, and grasping it with the heavy
tassel of blue silk in his hand—“Aurora will not condemn it so sharply,
I dare say.”

The mention of this name seemed to embitter the old woman’s reply.

“It is a Moorish cap, no true Gitano would wear it,” she said, eyeing
the unfortunate cap with a contemptuous glance, “and your dress of dark
blue velvet embroidered at the neck—pockets with gold upon the
seams—silver buttons and tags rattling from their rings—and chains over
your bosom like the bells around a mule’s neck.”

“Nay, you can find no fault with the buttons; they are from the best
silver workers of Barcelona,” cried the count, flinging open the short
dark velvet jacket with sleeves, which he wore hussar fashion over this
beautiful dress, and revealing his whole person with an air of bravado,
which the more swarthy color on his temples belied.

The old woman glanced with an expression that she intended to be one of
unmingled scorn, upon the embroidered strips of cloth, blue and yellow,
that enriched the neck and elbows of the young Gitano’s jacket, and
allowing her eyes to glance down to his well-turned limbs, terminated
her gaze at the sandals laced up to the knee by many-colored ribbons.

The young man followed her glance with a half-shy, half-provoked look.

“At any rate, you cannot find fault with this, or this,” he said,
drawing her attention to a rich scarf of crimson silk around his waist,
and a handkerchief in which many gorgeous colors were blended, that was
knotted loosely around his well-formed neck. “I can only remember seeing
the gipsy count, your husband, once when I was a boy, but I know well
that he wore a dress not unlike this that you revile so, with a scarf
and kerchief that might have come from the same loom.”

The old Sibyl kindled up like an aged war-horse at the sound of a
trumpet—her withered features worked, her sharp eyes dilated, a grim
smile crept over her lips.

“Yes, yes, I remember, and it is this that fills my heart with
bitterness. He wrested these things from our foes, the Busne. They were
his portion of the spoil. He laid many an ambush, and reddened his knife
more than once for the frippery which you get in easier ways; for every
button that he wore, his people had some gain of their own to show. How
is it with you, Chaleco?—how many of our people have been fortunate,
that you are tricked out so bravely? How many mules did you shear in
Seville, to earn what is upon your back?”

“Aurora would not taunt me so,” said the gipsy, with a fierce gesture,
“if she did”——

“Well, what then?” rejoined the old woman, sharply, though her fierce
eye quailed a little, and a quick ear might have detected something like
terror in her voice.

“Why, then,” said the young man, “I would send word that the ton of
sweetmeats in which we shall dance knee deep at our marriage festival,
should be kept back; and I would fling this chain of gold, which shall
lace up her wedding bodice, into the Darro. It is because you are old
and learned—the widow of a great count, that I have borne all these
gibes so tamely; no one else in the tribe should revile me thus. _She_
least of all.”

Either the stern tone which the young man assumed, or his praise of her
dead husband, softened the austere temper of the old woman. Perhaps it
might be the unwonted sight of that gold ornament, or what is most
probable, her attack upon the young man had been an artful scheme to
gain time, till her grand-daughter should appear. Certain it is, her
face took an expression less in character than the wrath had been with
her weird features. A crafty, sly expression stole into her eyes; her
mouth stirred with a slow smile, moving sluggishly as the worm creeps.
She reached out her hand for the chain, and letting it drop to a heap in
her palm, bent over it with a look of gloating avarice that would have
been hideous to any one but the Gitano, who had witnessed these scenes
from his birth.

The old woman looked suddenly up. A fierce light was in her eyes.

“The rings in my ears are red hot; the chain burns in my palm; I know
the sign; the Busne has been forced to give up his gold once more. Our
people have not altogether sunk down to be mere trimmers of mules and
donkeys. You did not work for this, my Chaleco!”

“Hush!” said the gipsy, lifting his finger with a smile, in which terror
and triumph was blended, “the Busne may be hanging about our caves. The
chain is for Aurora. She shall wear it upon her bosom on our wedding
day. But where is she? Your sharp words have driven her from my mind!”

“No, no, my son, it is well that we are alone; you have accomplished a
great deed—a deed worthy of Aurora’s grandfather, he who has stained
many a rood of soil with Busne blood—but times have changed since he
roamed the hills with our people. If there was blood—and the gold burns
my palm as if it had been baptized—they will be on our track, hunting
you into our holes as they do the foxes. Tell me how it all happened; my
heart burns to hear; the tidings have filled these old veins as with
wine; I had begun to be ashamed of my people. Sit down, Chaleco, here,
on the old chair which he took from the choir of their proudest
cathedral while the priests were chanting mass. You never sat in it
before; but now that you have reddened your finger nails—warmed my palm
with gold that is not worked for, the seat is yours. Sit down, my son,
while I draw close, that we may talk!”

The young gipsy sat down, but evidently with some impatience; and the
Sibyl creeping close to his side, placed herself on a low bench, and,
bending forward, fixed her glittering eyes on his face.

“Now,” she said, rubbing her thin hands together, and chafing the chain
between them, “tell me, is this all? The chief takes one third of the
whole, that is the law of the Cales.”

“No, there was gold, a thousand pieces, packed away upon a mule.”

“A thousand pieces! Oh, my son, I saw great luck in the stars for
you—but a thousand pieces!—this is wonderful!”

“Besides, there was a watch with double case, all fine gold, and some
rings which were too large for Aurora’s finger, so we buried them in the
ground, with the gold and other treasures. Here is something. I am not
sure about giving this to her, these glittering things on the back may
be of value. I found it hung to the Busne’s neck by the chain; here is
his own face, it may yet bring us into trouble. Look”——

The chief drew a locket from his bosom shaped like a cockle shell. The
whole outside was paved with pearls swelling into the several
compartments. The scalloped edges were bright with diamonds of great
value. He touched a spring, and within this exquisite trinket two
miniatures were revealed. One was that of a young man, fair, with a
bright, clear complexion, fine eyes of greyish blue, a delicate
forehead, pure as snow in color, and teeming with thought; a mouth
somewhat full, and of deep coral red, with a fair curling beard of rich
brown, kindled up by a tinge of gold; hair a little deeper in tint, but
with the same metallic lustre breaking through its heavy waves. This was
the face, fair, animated, and lighted up with a beautiful smile, that
first presented itself to the old Sibyl’s gaze. She arose, took down the
candle, and peered over it in silence. The contrast was striking, that
tawny, witch-like countenance, and the beautiful shadows smiling out
from its bed of jewels.

There was a female portrait on the other side; but it was that of a
woman somewhat older than the youth could have been; but, though of
different complexion, there was one of those indefinite resemblances
between the two faces which exist independent of features, running
through families, and connecting them in the eyes of the beholder with a
subtle influence, as one feels that a rose is near, by the perfume which
is itself impalpable.

The Sibyl only glanced at the female face, and turned to that of the
young man again with keener interest. You could see by the workings of
her face that she was beginning to hate that beautiful shadow; for there
was a terrible gleam in her eye when she closed the shell with a snap,
and clutched it in her hand.

“No,” she said, sharply, “my grand-daughter shall not wear this thing.
The bright sparks are diamonds; the white ridges are of oriental pearls.
But the face is that of the Busne; it does not belong to Spain either;
hair and eyes of that color come from beyond sea. It is worth more than
all your gold or the other trinkets; but she shall not wear it. I saw a
face like this between me and the stars to-night. Was the man you
plundered like it?”

“It was himself; two faces were never more alike!”

“And your knife, is it red? Did you leave him in the hills?”

“No, mother,” replied the chief, blushing, as if ashamed that he had no
crime of blood to confess, “he made no resistance; we were many, he
nearly alone, for the guards fled as we rushed upon them. We did not
kill him, there was no reason in it.”

“How long was this ago?”

“It was three days after we left Granada!”

“That is almost six weeks—but where?”

“About half way between this and Seville!”

“And did you take the plunder along?”

“We buried it on the spot; went to the fair as if nothing had happened,
and dug it up as we came home.”

“And which way went the traveller?”

“We did not wait to see; his face was toward Granada when we met him;
that is all I can say.”

“Go from my sight—you should have killed this viper—he was crawling this


“Go—go, but first let me grind this thing to powder with my foot; help
me to spoil his face; you can pick up the diamonds from the dirt when I
have done stamping on them!”

“No, mother, it is worth money—give it to me!”

The old woman unclutched her hand and flung the trinket against the wall
of her cave, where it fell back with a rebound to her feet.

“Leave it,” she said, with a fierce laugh, “the thing is accursed—leave
it and go.”

“Not till I have seen Aurora,” said the young man, looking wistfully at
the jewel. “It is late, very late, she must be yonder in her nest,
ashamed to come forth without a bidding from her betrothed. Step aside,
mother, I have waited too long.”

The young chief strode forward as he spoke, and touching a door which
was half concealed behind the old woman’s chair, flung it open,
revealing, by the light that stood in its niche close by, an inner room,
in which the outline of a low bed and some furniture was visible.

“Aurora,” said the young man, “come, come, I have waited long.”

“She is not there,” said the old woman, in a low voice, while her head
drooped downward.

“Not there? Nay, nay, I know better, she is only shy, hiding away like a
young fox. See if I do not find her.”

He snatched the light and went into the little sleeping cell. The bed
was there, covered with fine old chintz. A little table and two chairs
stood in their several places. The scent of fresh flowers filled the
cell, which, by its cleanliness, its little ornaments, and the fragrance
that floated on the close air proved that its occupant was no ordinary
woman of her tribe. But everything was silent. No sparkling eyes full of
mischief, no wild laugh met the young gipsy as he expected. He stood a
moment with the candle held up, gazing around the room; then a painful
thought seemed to strike him. He turned and fixed his eyes on the old

“Where is she?”

It was all he said, but there was something fierce in the question.

“She went to the Alhambra this morning, and has not come back yet.”

The old woman did not lift her eyes as she spoke; why, she herself could
not have explained; but every time that night, when word or thought had
turned to her grandchild, this strange cowardice seized her.

“I will go seek Aurora,” said the young gipsy, striding towards the

“_You!_” cried the old woman, springing like a tigress between him and
the entrance. “Would you break the betrothal? Would you cast shame on my
blood? Would you have the whole tribe hooting at you both?”

The chief hesitated. He knew well that the gipsy law prohibited the act
he meditated. That for a betrothed pair to wander alone, or arrange a
meeting beyond the confines of the settlement, would sunder them
forever. He thought of this and hesitated. But the hot blood of a
jealous nature was on his forehead; he could hardly restrain himself.

“With what man of our tribe does she wander at this time of night?” he
demanded, fiercely.

“With none; she has scarcely spoken to man or woman of our people since
you left for Seville,” replied the old woman, with a look of earnest
truth that could not but appease his suspicions in that quarter.

“But she is not alone?”

“I do not know; travellers are plenty in the Alhambra just now!”

“Travellers!” repeated the chief, with a scornful laugh, and the hot
blood left his forehead—“the Busne, ha! ha! why not say this before—the
little fox, she is at her work there. Aurora is a wife worthy of your
count, old mother; hers are the eyes that draw gold from the Busne. But
now that I have come back, she must not stay out so late; I would look
in her eyes myself, the sly one. Tell here so, mother—at daylight I will
be here again.”

Relieved from the sharp feeling of jealousy that had at first possessed
him, the gipsy count strode away content and happy—a little disappointed
at not seeing his betrothed that night, but rather proud than otherwise,
that she was employed in wiling gold by her sweet arts from the people
whom it was his duty to hate. The idea that there could be danger or
wrong to him, in her adventures with the white travellers it was her
duty to delude, never entered his mind. To him, in common with the whole
tribe, the idea of an attachment between a gipsy maiden and one of
another race was an impossibility. Had my old grandame said that Aurora
was out gathering flowers, he might have been less proud, but not better
satisfied. The idea of being jealous of a Gentile, a Busne, was

But my grandmother was of a different nature. She possessed that rare
organization which is called genius in civilized life, and magic with
us; that exquisite sensitiveness of nerve and thought, which took the
shadow of coming events long before they become a reality. This, with
her acute wit, her sharp observation, her strange habits of solitary
thought, rendered her a wonderful being. It is impossible for me to
describe this. I can no more tell you why my grandame possessed the
power of _feeling_ what was about to happen, than I could divide the
elements that sparkle in a cup of water, but the truth was there. She
fancied that her knowledge came through the stars. But in natures
endowed like hers, there is something more wonderful than all the stars
of heaven can reveal.

What was it that induced her that night to fill that bronze vessel with
those strange poisonous herbs? Why did she watch them distill so sadly,
and yet with such stern patience? What would the juice of these herbs
become? I will tell you another time. Now let us follow my grandmother.
She was old, feeble—for years she had not been known to walk half a
mile. But that night she went forth alone, creeping down the hill-side,
through the hollows along the river’s bank—up, up, like some hungry
animal that dared to prowl through those ravines only at night-time. She
was almost bent double at times, and looked in truth like a wild animal,
but her purpose was strong, and that carried her forward.

                              CHAPTER IV.
                          THE MIDNIGHT RAMBLE.

A forest of lilies seemed to have poured both whiteness and fragrance
upon the moonbeams as they fell, softly as the flower breathes, on the
grim towers and fairy-like courts of the Alhambra. It was not very late,
but all about the ruins lay still as midnight. The nightingales had
nestled down to sleep among the roses, leaving the air which they had
thrilled with music to the mysterious chime of hidden brooklets, the
bell-like tinkle of water-drops falling into unseen fountains, and the
faint ripple of leaves and roses, as they yielded their voluptuous
breath to the night winds.

The sounds that came from the distant city but served to render this
solitude more complete. The baying of dogs, the low tinkle of guitars,
the faint, hive-like hum that rose up from the dim mass of buildings,
seemed all of another world. A spirit looking down upon earth from
beyond the stars, could not have felt more completely isolated than a
person wandering in the Alhambra after the nightingales were asleep.

Whatever of human life had been hanging about the ruins that day should
have disappeared long ago, for travelling was not so common as it is
now, and few persons chose to seek the Alhambra after dark. But on this
night there was a sound now and then breaking the stillness—the tread of
footsteps wandering about the ruins. You heard them at intervals with
long pauses, and from various points, as if some one were roaming about
within the very walls of the palace.

This sound had continued some time. It issued first from that beautiful
double corridor which was once the grand entrance to those enchanting
scenes, that even in ruins have more than the fascinations of romance.
Time, that has dimmed their first loveliness, but leaves broader scope
for the imagination, which, starting from these vestiges of beauty,
rebuilds, creates, becomes luxurious. Contrast, too, has its share; the
bleak, almost rude severity of those grim towers, the weeds, the broken
stonework, the walls tracing the uneven slopes of the hill, the ruined
defences, all give a force, and brighten the exquisite grace of that
little Paradise, which takes one by surprise.

Well, the footsteps, I have said, came from this corridor, once the
thoroughfare of kings. Then they were heard from the gorgeous saloon on
the right, composing a portion of those apartments in which the Moorish
Sultanas spent their isolated lives. Then these footsteps moved towards
the great tower of Comares, and two shadowy forms appeared moving
slowly, almost languidly, between the slender columns and azulejo
pillars of a gallery that leads that way.

These persons—for two were walking close together, and with footsteps so
light that those of the female seemed but an echo of the harder and
firmer tread of the man—these persons were not wandering in that
heavenly place, you may be certain, from a desire to examine the
wonderful beauty that surrounded them. They had looked a thousand times
on those singular remnants of art. Besides, the gallery was almost
wrapped in shadow, and the rich colours, the lace-like stucco, the dim
gilding, were all flowing together unveiling the darkness, but nothing

They hurried on, for the dome of heavy wood that overhung them seemed
gloomy and portentous as a thunder-cloud. The shadows within those noble
carvings were black as ebony. The beautiful design, the long, graceful
stalactites, honeycombed and dashed with gold, all breaking out as from
the midnight of ages, had a sombre effect. It seemed, as I have said
before, like a storm-cloud condensed over them, full of gloom and
prophetic wrath. My parents had come forth in search of joy, light,
beauty—things that would harmonize with the ineffable happiness that
overflowed their own young hearts—and they hastened from beneath this
frowning roof, with its marvel of art, its grim antiquity, as we flee
from the chill of a vault to the warm sunshine.

Other persons might have lost themselves in this labyrinth of beauty,
but my mother had trod those ruined halls before she could remember, and
the darkness was nothing against her entire knowledge of the place. Now
she stood in that miracle of beauty, the Hall of the Ambassadors, the
grand Moorish state chamber which occupies the entire Comares Tower.
They were no longer in darkness, for through the deep embrasures of its
windows came the moonlight, falling upon the pavement in long gleams of
radiance, and flowing over the rich colors like the unfolding of a
silver banner.

It fell upon the walls with their exquisite tracery heavy in themselves,
but so refined by art that the golden filagree work of Genoa is scarcely
more delicate, and snow itself less pure. It gilded the azulejos. By
this I mean those exquisite little tiles, brilliant as the richest
enamel, of various tints—blue, red, and yellow predominating—which
inlaid a gorgeous recess in the wall, and glittered around that raised
platform which had been the foundation of a lost throne, now glowing in
gorgeous masses, as if precious stones had been imbedded in the
snow-work. All this was so richly revealed, so mistily hidden, that with
a full knowledge of all which the shadows kept from view, the
imagination would take flight, and you felt as if the gates of Paradise
must have been flung open, before even a glimpse of so much beauty could
be given to mortal eyes.

For a moment even those two lovers, in the first sublime egotism of
passion which was destiny to them, stood hushed and dumb as they found
themselves beneath the dome of that wonderful chamber. It was before the
present ribs of wood and masses of intricate carving were introduced,
with all their elaborated gloom, to brood over the most graceful
specimen of art that human genius ever devised. The original dome arched
above them seventy feet in the air, pure, majestic, gorgeous, as if the
gold and crimson of a sunset sky were striving to break through the
masses of summer clouds centred there. Then they became accustomed to
the light, and things grew more distinct. The glorious moonlight of
southern Europe is so luminous—the darkness that it casts so deep—it
leaves no beauty unrevealed—it gathers all deformity under its shadows.

Every beautiful line of art that surrounded them was not only revealed,
but idealized. The noble stucco work within the dome, moulded into
exquisite designs two feet deep, pure as if cut from the snow ridges of
Alpujarras—the ground-work of gorgeous colors, red, blue, gold glowing
out from those depths of woven whiteness—the long, delicate stalactites
dripping with moonlight, and peering downward from the compartments of
each deep interstice, as if the snow-work, beginning to melt, had frozen
again into great icicles—the pure whiteness all around, the colors
burning underneath, or breaking out in rich masses like belts of jewels
near the pavement—all this, as I have said, made even the lovers tread
across the chamber cautiously and in silence. The stillness, the glow,
the moonlight, made even the stealthy tread of their footsteps a
sacrilegious intrusion.

They stole into one of the deep recesses of a window, where the
moonlight fell upon them full and broad. The walls were so deep that it
gave them a sort of seclusion. They began to breathe more freely, and
the deep spell that had rapt their hearts for an instant, gave way to
the rich flood of happiness that no power on earth could long hold in

They stood together in the recess, but with a touch of art—for entire
love has always a shyness in it, a sort of holy reserve, which is the
modesty of passion—Aurora’s eyes were turned aside, not exactly to the
floor, but she seemed gazing upon the beautiful plain of Granada, which
lay like a stretch of Paradise far below them. He was looking in her
face, for there was something of wild beauty, of the shy grace which one
sees in a half-tamed bird, which would have drawn the eyes of a less
interested person upon the gipsy girl, as she stood there with the
radiant moonlight falling upon her like a veil. As she looked forth a
shade of sadness fell upon her face, singular as it was beautiful, for
in her wild life the passions seldom found repose enough for that gentle
twilight of the soul, sadness. But it was both strange and lovely, that
unwonted softness, the first sweet hush of civilization upon her
meteor-like spirit. Still he could see her eyes glitter through those
curling lashes, thick, long, inky as night, but nothing could entirely
shut out the wonderful radiance of those eyes.

“What are you looking at so earnestly, my bird?” said the young man,
reaching forth his hand as if to draw her closer to his side.

But she hung back, and for the first time seemed to shrink from him.

“Will you not speak? Are you afraid of me, Aurora?” he added with a tone
of feeling that changed her face in an instant.

“Afraid! no, no—that is not the word—but this moment, something came
over me as I looked upon our fires up the ravine yonder. It seems as if
every cave were full of light this evening, and our people—my
people—were rejoicing over something.”

“Well, child, and what then? Why should this make you shrink away from
me thus?” questioned the young man, smiling gently upon her as he spoke.

“It may be over _his_ return.”

She spoke the word with a sort of gasp, and of her own accord crept
close to his side, drawing a deep breath as he folded her with his arm.

“_His_ return! Of whom do you speak, little one?”

“Of—of Chaleco,” faltered the gipsy child.

“And who is Chaleco?”

“Our chief—the Gipsy Count of our people—the husband they have given to

“The husband they have given to you!” cried the young Englishman,
flinging aside his arm, and drawing back—“the husband, Aurora!”

Aurora started back, even as he did, for she was not a woman to be
spurned, child and gipsy though she was. She did not speak, but her eyes
flashed, and her lips began to curl. She was a proud wild thing, that
young Gitana; and the fire of her race began to kindle up beneath the
love that had smothered it so long.

“Aurora, why did you not tell me of this earlier? How could I think
it—you, who in my own country would yet be so mere a child—how could I
dream that you were already married?”

“I did not say that,” cried the young girl, and her eyes became dazzling
in the moonlight, so eager was she to make herself understood. “It is
not yet—he, Chaleco, my grandmother, all the tribe say that, it must
be—and I know that he is to hurry home the sweetmeats and presents from

“The sweetmeats? What have sweetmeats to do with us?”

“Nothing, I dare say; perhaps you do not use them; but with us there is
no marriage without sweetmeats, a ton or more. I heard Chaleco say once
that he would dance knee deep in them when I become his—his”——

She broke off, and her face became dusky with the hot blood that rushed
over it, for the Englishman, spite of his anger and of his sharp
interest in the subject, burst into a fit of merry laughter.

“Why do you laugh?” she said, with trembling lips—“does it please you
that they will marry me to Chaleco—that my life must end then?”

“What do you mean, Aurora? I never saw you weep, but your voice seems
choked with tears. Tell me what is this trouble that threatens us? What
is it makes you weep, for I see now that your eyes are full, that your
cheeks are wet? Come close to me, darling, say, what is it? Not my
foolish laughter, I could not help it, child, the idea of dancing one’s
self into married life through an ocean of sweetmeats was too

“It may be,” said Aurora, gently, for the tears she was shedding had
quenched all her anger. “It does not seem so to us, but then a poor
child who cannot help fearing death a little, when she knows that the
grave lies beyond all this, it may well trouble her.”

“The grave, Aurora!—what has driven you mad? The grave for you, my
pretty wild bird? Nay, nay, leave this sort of nervousness to our fine
ladies at home. Here it is pure nonsense.”

“Hush!” exclaimed my mother, and her eyes flashed like lightning as she
turned them around the vast chamber. “That was a sound; surely I heard
some one move.”

“I hear nothing,” said the young man, listening and speaking low. “It
was a bat probably, flitting across the dome—these things are common,
you know”——

“Yes, yes! but yonder the shadows are moving.”

“I see nothing!”

“But I did,” whispered the young girl, wildly, “I did!”

“It might have been something sweeping between the moonlight and the
window,” suggested her companion, who, quite ignorant of any great
danger in being watched, felt little anxiety about the matter.

“This was no cypress bough, no bat trying its wings in the night. Such
movements are common here, but they do not chill one to the soul like

The gipsy placed her little hands in those of the young man, and though
she clasped her fingers hard together both her hands and arms trembled
till they shook his.

“What does all this mean, Aurora?” he questioned, earnestly. “I thought
nerves were only for fine ladies.”

There was a slight sarcasm in his voice, but the girl did not seem to
heed it. Her great wild eyes continued to roam over the ambassador’s
chamber, and she listened, not to him, but for something that seemed
lurking in a distant corner of the room. At length she drew a deep
breath as if inexpressibly relieved, and lifted her eyes to his again.

“It is gone,” she said, smiling uneasily—“it is gone!”

“What is gone?”

“I don’t know, but something has just left this room: I can breathe

“Did you see any one depart?”


“Did you hear it?”


“Then how could you be certain?”

“I _felt_ it.”


“Did you never feel certain of a presence which you neither saw nor

“I do not know; perhaps yes,” replied the young man, thoughtfully; “the
atmosphere of a particular person sometimes does seem to enwrap us, but
this is visionary speculation. I did not think these vagaries could
haunt a wild, fresh, untaxed brain like yours. They have hitherto seemed
to me purely the result of an over-refined intellect.”

“It seemed to me as if my grandmother were close by,” said the gipsy.

“Your grandmother! I thought she never left her cave—her home!”

“I know that—she could not reach this place—you must be right. But why
should the bare thought have made me tremble if she was not here—I who
never tremble, at least from dread?”

“And if not from dread, what is the power that can make you tremble?”
inquired the youth, bending his mischievous eyes smilingly upon her.

She did not speak, but the little hands, still clasped in his, began to
quiver like newly-caught ring-doves. Those wonderful eyes were lifted to
his, luminous still, for all the dews of her young soul could not have
quenched their brilliancy—but so flooded with love-light, so eloquent of
the one great life passion, that the smile died on his lip. There was
something almost startling in the thought that his hand had stricken the
crystal rock from which such floods of brightness gushed forth. He felt
like one who had, half in sport, aroused some sleeping spirit, which
must henceforth be a destiny to him—an angel or a demon in his path

“You almost make _me_ tremble,” he whispered, bending forward and
kissing her upturned forehead softly, and with a sort of awe. “Come,
love, come, let us walk; this still moonlight lies upon us both like a

“Yes, yes, let us go,” cried the gipsy eagerly, and gliding down the
spacious hall, the two moved on, seeking that exquisite colonnade from
which the Moors commanded a view of the whole valley and plain in which
Granada stands. Now all was darkness. The slender marble shafts blended
and bedded in with coarse mortar, were scarcely visible. The moonbeams
broke against the rude walls, and fell powerless from the beautiful
arches which they had once flooded with silvery light; but the lovers
walked on through all this gloom reassured, and with their thoughts all
centred in each other once more. Aurora forgot her fears, and he was not
of an age or temperament to yield himself long to gloomy fancies.

At length they entered a small chamber, still in good repair, and
flooded with a moonlight which swept through the delicate columns of a
small balcony or temple that jutted from the outer wall. The pavement
seemed flagged with solid silver, the moonbeams lay so hard and
unbrokenly upon it, and received these exquisite shadows as virgin ivory
takes the soft traces of an artist’s pencil. The glow of rich fresco
paintings broke out from the walls, brilliant as when the colors were
first laid on by order of that Vandal Charles. In the soft scenic
obscurity, the deformity or mutilations of time were unseen. You missed
the frost-like Moorish tracery from over that bed of colors, but
scarcely felt the loss amid the misty gorgeousness that replaced it.

They passed through this room and went out upon the marble colonnade.
Nothing but the delicate Moorish shafts I have mentioned stood between
them and the beautiful plain of Granada. Lights still sparkled in all
directions over the old city, as if heaven had sent down a portion of
its stars to illuminate a spot that so nearly resembled itself. The
gentle undulations of the plain were broken into hills and ridges of the
richest green. The soft haze blended with the moonlight where it lay
upon the horizon. The mountains that overlooked all this, on the left,
were cut up with ravines full of black shadows, green as emerald at the
base, glittering with snow at the top.

Close by was that belt of huge dark trees, sweeping around the old
fortress, with glimpses of the Darro breaking up through the dusky
foliage—on the right, a dim convent nestled among the hills, and nearer
yet, the vine-draped ascent of Sierra del Sol, with its mountain villa,
its Darro waters, its orange terrace, and rose hedges, all filling the
sweet night with melody and fragrance! Do you wonder that they forgot
themselves?—that they looked on a scene like this filled only with a
delicious sense of its beauty?

The air was balmy with fragrance, yet cool from the mountain snows,
invigorating, and still voluptuous. The entire stillness, too—nothing
was astir but the sweet, low sounds of nature, the rustle of myrtle
thickets, the mournful shiver of a cypress tree as the wind sighed
through it, the movement of a bird in its nest.

Is it strange, I say, that all this beauty became food to the love that
filled their young lives with its first tumultuous emotions? That while
they forgot that love, and thought only of the scene before them, it
grew the stronger from neglect? When they did speak, it was in low
tones, and as if a loud word might disturb the entire happiness that
reigned in each full heart.

“Aurora, you have been here many times before, and at this hour,
perhaps—say, have your eyes ever fallen upon the scene when it was
beautiful as now?” murmured the young man, dreamily.

“I do not know; I have seen it a thousand times, but never, never felt
that it was really beautiful. To-night it seems as if I had just been
aroused from sleep—that all my life has been one dull stupor. I shudder
at the remembrance of what I was. I pant for new scenes of beauty—new
emotions, these are so full of joy. Tell me, Busne, my own, own Busne,
does happiness like this never kill? I grow faint with it as one does
when the orange trees are thick overhead, and burdened with blossoms. My
breath comes heavily as if laden with their fragrance. I long to creep
away into the shadows, yonder, and cry myself to sleep.”

“Why do you wish to weep, my bird? Tears are for the unhappy.”

“Yet you see that I am weeping; my eyes are blinded; the lights down
yonder seem floating in a mist. I cannot see, and yet I know that you
are smiling there in the moonlight. It is happiness, oh, such happiness
that floods my eyes.”

He was not smiling, or if he had been for one moment, the impulse died
of itself the next. Educated as he had been, hemmed in by
conventionalities, it was impossible not to be startled by the wildness,
the depth of feeling revealed by this strange child. The very reckless
innocence with which she exposed every sensation as it arose in her
heart—the intensity of feeling thus betrayed made him thoughtful, nay,
anxious. It was only for a brief time, however. Before Aurora could
notice his abstraction it had disappeared.

“Is it, indeed, love for me, Aurora, that makes you so happy?” he
questioned with fond egotism.

“I do not know; to-night I scarcely know myself. Love! it has a soft,
sweet sound—but does not mean enough. Oh, if you could speak Rommany
now, in our language are such words; oh, how insipid your word love is
when compared to them.”

In a deep, passionate voice, the very tones of which seemed to thrill
and burn into the heart, she uttered some words in pure Rommany, that
language which has yet been traced to no given origin. Like ourselves,
it is an outcast, vagabond dialect, which baffles investigation.

He understood nothing of what she said. But her eyes so dazzlingly
brilliant; her lips kindled to a vivid red, as it were, by the burning
words that passed through them; the exquisite modulations of each tone,
all had a powerful effect upon the young man—powerful, but not that
which might have been expected, for it filled his mind with distrust.

She did not heed the change in his countenance. Juliet herself was never
more thoroughly inspired or more trusting. Crafty in all things else,
our women are single-hearted as children in their love. Truth itself is
not more constant. Religion does not give you a trust more
perfect—religion—love is a religion to them, they have no better, poor,
wandering creatures, bereft of all things, home, name, nationality,
faith. But all people must have something that they deem holy, something
upon which the soul can lean for strength and comfort. Happier nations
put faith in a God, we poor outcasts have only our household affections,
and we keep them sacred as your altars.

Though the gipsy adopts the faith of any nation that gives him
protection, becomes Catholic, Protestant, Mohammedan, Idolater, as the
case may be, it is all a pretence. In his soul he loathes the object
that he craftily seems to worship.

But the Englishman knew nothing of this. He had no idea of the rigid
bonds with which antique custom hedges in the domestic affections in a
gipsy household. These affections are the most sacred thing known to us.
I have said that as a people we have no other religion.

With all this ignorance of our customs, how could he comprehend a
creature like that, with her unreserve, her passion so vivid, that it
struggled constantly for some new medium of expression, and grew
impatient of the stately Spanish, and the few English words that seemed
to chill every impulse as she strove to frame it into utterance. He
could not believe that a woman trained to deception, wild, unchecked,
nay, taught to believe the right wrong, was in everything that related
to her own womanly tenderness true as gold—honest as infancy.

He shrunk from this poor child then, as her own language gushed up and
swept the cold Spanish from her lips. It seemed to him that she must
have uttered those words before; perhaps to some traveller-dupe like
himself; perhaps to Chaleco—Chaleco. He began to dwell upon that name
with jealous eagerness, and coupled it with the words of Rommany that
still trembled on Aurora’s lips. For the first time he began to doubt
the poor gipsy girl; yet I, who know the women of his own people to the
soul, say to you most solemnly, that among the best of his fair
compatriots he might have searched a life-time, and in vain, for a young
heart so pure in every loving impulse, so thoroughly virtuous as that
which beat within the velvet bodice of the little Gitana.

“Aurora, look in my face,” he said, seizing both her hands as she ceased

She did look in his face with a glance that ought to have shamed him—a
glance, smiling, fond, and yet so void of evil. He might have searched
in those eyes till doomsday, and found nothing there but a beautiful
reflection of himself.

“Aurora, you have repeated these heathenish words before!”

He made the assertion somewhat faintly, for something in her look
half-smothered the suspicion as it arose to his lips.

“Before! when?” she answered, in smiling surprise.

“To Chaleco, perhaps.”

“To Chaleco—oh, never; I could not speak thus to Chaleco,” and the poor
girl shuddered at the sound of that name, as an apostate would when
reminded of his old faith.

“But—your chief, this Chaleco, he has uttered them to you.”

“He—where—at what time?”

“Here, perhaps, by moonlight, as you are now standing by me.”

She looked at him with a troubled and questioning eye. He was a mystery
to her then, and the child was striving to fathom the new feeling that
she saw in his countenance.

“No! Chaleco never came here with me at night—never at all since we were
little children! Have I not told you that he is my betrothed?”

She spoke sadly, almost in tears.

“Well, is not that a good reason why he of all others should overwhelm
you with this sweet Rommany, here by moonlight, as you now stand with

“Oh, that could never happen,” she exclaimed eagerly, “they would take
the countship from him—they would drive us both ignominiously from the
tribe; you do not know our ways, our laws. Of all the men in our tribe,
Chaleco would not dare to seek me here.”


“It is not permitted; we are betrothed, and so never must be alone; it
would be infamy!”

“And to be here with me, is that nothing?”

“There is no law that keeps us from seeking the Busne. It is our duty.
From them we win most gold!”

The young man recoiled.

“Gold, is it for that you come?” he said bitterly. “No, no, I have
offered tenfold what she has ever taken. It was not for that you came,
Aurora, I had rather die than think it. Speak, child, tell me it was not
for gold that you sought me!”

“I dared not go home empty-handed, for the grandame would have given me
blows,” answered the poor girl, while tears began to run down her
cheeks. “I could not dance to others as in former times; yet I never
touched a piece of your coin without feeling all the strength leave
me—without longing to hide myself from every one. Of late you have never
offered money when I came.”

“I know—I know,” said the young man, quickly, “it seemed like a
desecration; I could not do it.”

“Oh, how happy I was to feel this, it made me so grateful, but I was
afraid of her. Sometimes I would be for hours getting home, in hopes
that she would be asleep?”

“My poor child, I never thought of this. Is the old Sibyl cruel to you,

“Every one is cruel to me now—every one but you; and to-night, it seems
sometimes, as if you were joining them. What have I done that you should
make me weep like the rest?”

“Nothing, my poor Aurora, nothing. The fault is mine; I was annoyed by
what you told me of this Chaleco; it made me unreasonable.”

“Was that all?” cried the poor little gipsy, brightening up, and
pressing her lips softly down into the palm of his offered hand.

He made no answer, but drew her gently toward him, and for a time they
stood together in thoughtful silence. Their eyes were bent on the same
object, one that they had usually avoided; for there was little promise
of tranquillity in that direction.

Amid the luxuriance of the scene before them, so full of all that might
reasonably win the attention, their eyes were fascinated by one object
alone, and that so dreary, so uninviting, that it aroused nothing but
ideas of sin and wretchedness, unhappy subjects for hearts laden as
theirs were with the first sweet impulses of affection.

They were looking towards the Barranco, that bleak ravine, cut like a
huge wound in the beautiful hills, on whose barren sides the gipsy
dwellings were burrowed. Even with the soft moonlight sleeping over its
sterility, the ravine had a miserable aspect, choked up with great,
spectre-like aloes and coarse prickly pears—with a few dusty fig trees,
and stunted vines trailing themselves along the meagre soil that just
served to cover them with a sparse growth of leaves.

These unseemly objects were now blended into one mass of blackness in
the depth of the ravine, giving lurid force to some dozen forges in full
blast, that shot their weird fires from the open caves above.

This was no unusual thing. The gipsies all over the world have been
workers of iron from the beginning, and those of Granada were ever most
busy at their craft after sunset. But this evening the fires seemed to
glow with unusual brilliancy. Long lines of light shot across the
ravine. Men and women moved to and fro before the open caves. It was a
scene that Dante would have loved.

“It is strange,” said the Englishman, musingly, “it is strange that any
human being could select that miserable place to live in. There is
something unearthly—fiendish in the choice.”

“Choice,” answered Aurora, sadly, “whoever allows choice to the Zincali?
No, no, if there is one spot on earth more dreary than another, it is
set aside for them.”

“And you, Aurora, so delicate, so full of imagination, how can you live
there, burrowed up in the earth like some beautiful wild animal? Surely,
surely any fate must be better than that!”

The young man looked at her earnestly. His words had not been addressed
to her, but were an argument against his own conscience—a reply to some
undercurrent of thought all the time going on in his mind. He was about
to say something more, to utter the thought that was taking form in his
own bosom, but she looked at him so earnestly—her large, fond eyes so
full of innocent love-light sought his with so sweet a trust—he could
not go on. The holy influence of true affections clung to his soul like
fetters of gold. The evil spirit tempting him so powerfully was not
strong enough to fling them off.

Her ignorance, her helplessness, what a defence it proved against all
his knowledge—for young as he appeared, the stranger was an old man in
experience! He had begun to live early. Youth had been swept from his
path as if by a tornado. The wrong that he might do then could have none
of the excuses which inexperience gives. He was no ordinary person, but
had lived more in those brief years than many an old man.

She saw no second meaning in his words, but turning her eyes once more
upon the Barranco, answered according to her own innocent interpretation
of their import.

“It does seem dark to me now. I never felt it till lately, but the caves
are very dismal, close, smoky; the air seems to smother me at night.
Besides, I am afraid it is only in the old woods yonder, or up here,
lifted half way into the sky, that I can breathe freely. You are looking
at the ravine,” she added, “and I—now I can feel how coarse, how dark,
how like a den for wild animals it seems to you—for within the last few
weeks I have felt a strange love of beautiful things—for with them I can
think of you.”

“Then you never think of me in connection with that infernal hollow
yonder?” questioned the young man.

“What, yonder? Oh, no, within the darkness that was once my home,
surrounded by those strong, fierce men, grimed with iron dust, and
smelling of the mules they have been tending—I fold you deep in my
heart, afraid to turn my thoughts that way—I bury you in my sleep, and
strive not to exist till I can escape hither. It seems like two worlds,
this, where you sometimes come, and yonder where I cannot even think of

“But here you are happy even though I am not present.”

“Ah, yes, here I am free—here I have such dreams—oh, a thousand times
brighter than any that ever come to my sleep. Sometimes I think these
soft, sweet dreams are better than being with you.”

“And in these dreams are we ever separated?” questioned the youth,
pursuing the same undercurrent of thought that had swept through his
bosom all that evening. But she did not take his meaning; the time for
reflection had not arrived; she was too busy with her own sensations for
anything but dreams.

“Separated! oh, no. What would the brightest of these dreams be worth if
you were not in the midst? I love to come up here just before nightfall,
when the snowy top of Sierra Nevada seems sprinkled with roses, and a
soft floating haze, now purple, now golden, settles upon the plain, the
hills, and the beautiful old city—when the insects are nestling
themselves down to sleep, and the nightingales send gushes of music
through the woods. How I love to sit here, perfectly alone, while the
colors float together in soft masses on the walls around, and all this
vast heap of ruin shapes itself into beauty again.

“Then all that is ruinous, all that is gloomy disappears; the marble
pillars glitter with gold again, a network of snow breaks over these
paintings. From that marble slab in the corner, perforated in a hundred
places, floats up a cloud of perfume. I feel it in my garments, and
penetrating the folds of my hair. I go forth. _We_ go forth, for you are
always by my side. The long colonnade yonder glitters in the twilight;
the filagree arches are tipped with a rosy hue. The shadows are all of a
faint purple; the pavements gleam beneath our feet like beds of precious
stones. The nightingales are heard more faintly as we penetrate deep
into the building, overpowered by the silvery rush of fountains at play
in the courts.

“The myrtle hedges rustle softly as we pass into the Court of Lions.
There in my dreams I replace all that has been torn away; the hundred
slender columns that support those filagree arches are once more
burnished with gold. The old tints break out afresh from the capitals,
wreathing their endless variety with radiant colors. The azulejo pillars
glowing like twisted rainbows, all come back softened by a mental haze
that creeps over me at such times.

“We leave the court—pass on through those wonderful arches, and enter
the saloons which people say were once the most private retreat of the
Moorish kings. But they are never in my mind—those dead monarchs. It is
for another—only one—that I heap those alcoves in which sultanas have
slept with silken cushions, and mingle cool drinks from the snows of
Alpujarras; those decorations upon the wall, so like the rare antique
lace with which queens adorn themselves—that saloon, with its great
pillars of marble gleaming in the light like solid masses of pearl, and
crowned with ornaments so rich, that when broken to pieces each fragment
is a marvel of itself. Even these are not beautiful enough for one whom
my soul makes lord of all!

“For him I bring back the past. Rare colors start up, fresh and vivid,
from under that exquisite lace-work, where you can just see that they
have existed. Stalactites starred with gold penetrate downward like a
rich conglomeration of pearls escaping through a thousand rainbows
embedded in the ceiling. It is a luxury to breathe the air in these
rooms, so rich with perfumes, yet kept so pure and cool by the
innumerable fountains that penetrate every corner with their dreamy

                               CHAPTER V.

My mother paused. She had talked herself out of breath; but her eyes,
her mouth, the very position of her person were eloquent still. She had
spoken rapidly and in broken sentences. Her language was graphic, and
more like an inspiration than I can give it in cold English. Her very
ignorance gave picturesque effect to her fancies. I have done her
injustice, because my set phrases have tamed her vigorous wildness with
conventionalisms. The pictures that she placed before the wondering
Englishman in her own wild fashion were vivid as stars.

She was silent awhile, and he could see the bright inspiration fading
from her features. Her eyes drooped; the reserve, half shame, half
exhaustion which follows the inspired moments of genius, crept over her.
She dared not turn her eyes upon the young man, he was so still, and she
thought that he must be smiling derisively—strange sensitiveness for one
of her class—but genius is of no class. And though my mother was wild
and untamed, leaving neither poem, painting, or statue behind, her
entire life was a poem unwritten save in her gentleness and her agony.

“Ah, if these dreams did not fade so soon,” she said, at last, in a
timid voice, apologizing for her late abandonment, “but they last
scarcely longer than the sunset which brings them. Do these sweet
thoughts ever haunt you?” she continued, still with downcast eyes.

“They have!—yes, they have!” replied the young man, in a voice so
stirred with feeling that the gipsy started, and the blood left her

“And did they die thus?” she questioned.

“Briefer, shorter—my dreams—but why talk of them? We are in Spain,
alone—here in the Alhambra—the Alhambra! the very realm of fancies! Why
talk of dreams that I may have had in other times, other lands? Indulge
in yours, poor child, this is the place, the time. Oh, if you could only
dream on forever; I have lost the power!”

“Dream on forever!” cried the gipsy girl, lifting her eyes and her
voice. “What, here, and with that in view?—my dreams here! my life
there. Here all is life, grace, beauty, love! There, burrowed in the
earth, stifled, struggling, the miserable Gitanilla—there is no waking
from that!”

Her lithe form was drawn to its height. She pointed with one hand toward
the gloomy Barranco, and with the other dashed away the tears that
sprang, like great diamonds, to her eyes; then flinging both hands into
the air, she sunk upon the floor, buried her face in the crimson folds
of her saya, and broke into a passion of sobs.

The young man looked down upon her, almost calmly, quite in silence.
Those who have suffered much naturally shrink from any exhibition of
strong passions; besides, it was the first evidence of the fierce spirit
of her race that he had witnessed. This new phase in her character
astonished and repulsed him. It was the first time that she had seemed
to him absolutely a Gitana. So, as she wept out her bitter passion, he
stood over her, if not irritated, at least painfully thoughtful.

“Aurora,” he said at last, stooping toward her with gentle coldness,
“get up; cease weeping thus. It annoys me; I do not love you so well!”

She started up, choked back the sobs that were swelling in her throat,
and stood before him with downcast eyes, like a culprit.

This self-power, the gentle submission that followed, reassured her
lover. He smiled cordially again, took her hand, and drew her gently
from the colonnade, moving downward partially in darkness, till they
reached the Court of Lions.

The Gitanilla and her companion entered the Court of Lions through one
of those incomparable pavilions that enrich each end of that marvellous
spot. No dream could be more heavenly than the beauty that surrounded
them. The gorgeousness, that time and siege had swept away, was more
than replaced by the luminous grace shed over what remained by the

On either hand stood a line of shaft-like columns, delicate beyond all
our ideas of usefulness, yet with a superb filagree peristyle resting
lightly, as so much snow upon their exquisite capitals—these capitals,
so full of varied art, each fragment of marble a marvel of itself—each
faded leaf the richest fancy of an artist. The arches rising between
these graceful pillars were half choked up with shadows, leaving all the
gorgeous apartments to which they led in misty doubt. It seemed as if
with a single wave of the hand you might sweep away those curtain-like
shadows, with a step enter the saloons, and find the moon sleeping upon
their silken cushions.

It chanced that the Englishman had never visited the Court of Lions
before, when the moon was at its full. He stood within the portico
spell-bound, those noble masses of filagree work, rising up from the
supporting pillars, seemed a marvel of fairy work, like ocean foam
frozen into shapes of beauty—the pavement glittering with azulejos,
broad golden tints, rich blue and red prevailing—the noble Fountain of
Lions, rushing in floods of crystal over its great alabaster basin,
which gleamed through the falling torrent like a solid mass of ice
raining itself away, but never diminishing, all filled him with wonder
and delight. How those shining water-drops idealized the twelve marble
lions, upon whose backs the alabaster basin rested, flooding them with
sheets of crystal, wreathing their huge legs with pearly froth, sending
a shower of bubbles into their scaly manes, eddying, leaping, whirling
around them, a fantastic storm of light, through which no deformity
could be discovered!

Nothing but the rush of these falling waters could be heard in the
Alhambra. Everything else was still as death. Oh, it was happiness to
breathe in this wilderness of beauty! After all, there is such a thing
as being intoxicated with mere physical harmony. With me great joy
always rains itself away in tears. To my fancy, no person ever
experienced perfect happiness, who has not felt the blissful dew leave
his heart in tears.

But to know this, the bitter feelings of our nature must not have been
recently disturbed. Neither the Gitanilla nor her lover were
sufficiently tranquil for a thorough appreciation of the scene. Their
thoughts were too much occupied with each other. Still, it was
impossible to look upon this wonderful spot and not yield themselves up
to it for a time, and this had a softening influence upon him. She, poor
thing, required nothing to subdue her, for there is not a being on earth
so gentle as a high-spirited woman when her strong passion is once
surrendered—I will not say subdued—to the influence of the man she

                              CHAPTER VI.
                       THE SIBYL AND THE LOVERS.

There had been no absolute disagreement between Aurora and her lover;
yet with that keen intuition which belongs to love, and which becomes
almost superhuman when love blends with genius in a woman’s heart, she
felt that he was disturbed, that she had done something to arouse
painful thoughts, which led him, for the time, away from her. She did
not weep—he had told her that grief annoyed him—but in the shadow of
that beautiful portico her little heart might heave, unnoticed, beneath
its velvet bodice, and, spite of herself, tears would swell up into her
great, mournful eyes.

“You seem weary, little one,” he said at length, taking heed of her
drooping attitude. “Let us find a place to sit down. I also begin to
feel tired; we have been wandering in the ruins these three hours!”

He moved on, and she kept by his side, with her face averted, that he
might not see her tears. They crossed an angle of the court, and
entering one of the arches, passed through an open door into the _Sala
de los Abencerrages_. The marble basin of a fountain, now dry, occupied
the centre of this room, and upon its rounded edge the two seated

Here the moonbeams came more faintly, penetrating the open work
cloister, and throwing fantastic shadows on the pavement. Beautiful
stalactites hung over them, peering downward, as it were, from a bed of
shadows. Portions of the walls were dim. The rest gleamed out, with all
their delicate tracery revealed, like luminous frost-work, such as you,
of a colder climate, find upon your window-panes, when the mornings are
unusually cold.

They had been sitting there some minutes, yet I do not think they had
spoken. His arm was around her, and it is impossible that he should not
have felt the swelling of her heart, for, as I have said, it was flooded
with a tender grief, brought on by that hard, hard thing to bear, the
first reproof from beloved lips. He was a man of strong feelings, but
not one to utter those feelings much in words. A degree of proud reserve
followed him even in his moments of deepest tenderness.

No man ever guessed half that was going on in his heart, and what is
stranger still, no woman ever knew the whole. There might have been
something of pride in his sensations when he saw the entire control that
he had gained over that poor, wild heart. For what human being is above
pride in that conquest which sweeps the entire life of another into his
bosom? But he was touched also with a feeling of sadness, of regret for
having moodily reproved her for what was, after all, the spirit of her
race. Still he did not speak these regrets, but drew her closer to him,
and taking her little brown hand in his, pressed it to his lips.

He felt her heart leap against his arm, but she only crept a little
closer to him, trembling all over, and smiling through her tears.

“And do you indeed love me so much?” he said, with a tone of sadness in
his voice, for he was asking himself where must all this end; and the
answer that presented itself made his better nature recoil.

She drew his hand toward her, and pressed her lips upon the palm. There
was something peculiar and child-like in this act. With all her
unreserve, it was the only outward proof that she had ever given him of
the passion that was transfiguring her whole nature.

While her lips were still upon his palm, he felt her start, listen, and
shudder all over. Then clinging to his arm with one hand, she turned her
head and looked backward over her shoulder. It was in this chamber that
the Abencerrages were supposed to have been beheaded, and a deep, broad
stain, which tradition marks out as their blood, discolors half the
marble fountain on which the lovers sat. Feeling her shudder, and
remarking that her head was turned that way, he supposed that it must be
this blood shadow which suddenly occupied her thoughts.

“Nay, how childish,” he was beginning to say; but she broke from his
arm, rushed by the fountain, and seizing hold of a slender pillar at the
opening of an alcove, all in shadow, as if stricken by some sudden fear,
stood peering into the recess.

He arose and was going toward her, when a little object, scarcely larger
than a child of ten years old, and so thin that it seemed but the shadow
of something else, passed slowly by him. He would not have believed it
human, but for the snake-like glitter of two eyes that gleamed their
rage upon him, and gave vitality to the shadow as it passed.

Aurora still clung to the column, waving to and fro as if she must have
fallen but for that support. She turned her face to his as he came up,
but the pallor that lay upon it, the fear that quivered over limb and
feature, had utterly changed her. He would not have known the face

“Aurora, what is this? What terrible thing has happened?” he exclaimed,
reaching forth his arm to support her. But she shrank away, shuddering,
and still clinging to the pillar, she writhed herself behind it,
whispering hoarsely,

“It is my grandmother; she has heard us!”

The Englishman was enough affected by this to hasten into the court, and
satisfy himself that the person who had passed him was indeed Aurora’s
grandmother. He saw her gliding away through the shadowy side of the
cloisters, and it seemed to him that muttered wrath and shrill curses
were blended with the silvery rush of the fountain.

The sound struck him with strange terror. Still ignorant of the exact
danger that might threaten him or the poor Gitanilla, he could not
account for the cold thrill that passed through his frame as the curses
pierced to his ear through the sweet fall of those waters.

He went back into the _Sala de los Abencerrages_, and found my mother
crouching down by the marble basin, with her wild eyes turned toward the

“Was it she? Did she speak?” whispered the poor child, rising with
difficulty and moving toward him.

The young man was shocked by this wild terror, so disproportioned, as he
thought, to the cause. He took both her hands in his and shook them
gently, hoping thus to arouse her from the trance of fear that seemed to
have benumbed the very life in her veins.

“Sit down by me, Aurora—sit down, child, here in your old place, and
tell me what all this means.”

He spoke with gentle authority, and without a shadow of the terror that
shook every limb of her body. The sound of his clear, bold voice seemed
to reassure her. She crept forward with timid hesitation, and allowed
him to place her by his side.

“Now tell me, child, what troubles you thus? If that vicious shadow was
indeed your grandmother, she has gone away quietly enough, no harm has
come of it.”

“You little know,” said the Gitanilla, still keeping her eyes upon the
entrance—“you little know our people, or her.”

“But what is there for me to learn? Tell me what this fear means?”

“It means,” answered the poor thing, locking her hands hard and pressing
them down upon her trembling knees—“it means that they will poison me.”

“Poison you! this is the madness of fear,” exclaimed the young man,

“Or perhaps stone me to death in some dark hollow of the mountains, the
whole tribe hunting down one poor creature for her love of the Busne,
Chaleco among the first.”

“Aurora, are you mad? Has this miserable little witch crazed you?”

“You will not believe me—you have not seen the poison drao scattered
into the wholesome food which an enemy is to eat—or a poor girl
strangled in her bed, and buried in some rude pass of the mountains, on
the very day when she was to have danced at her own wedding festival.”

“But this is murder!” cried the young man. “The laws of Spain will not
permit men to kill their females in cold blood.”

“Our laws are older than those of Spain,” answered the Gitanilla, with a
certain degree of pride in her tone, as if she gloried in the antiquity
of the very custom that was to crush her. “Our laws are older and better
kept than those of the Busne; traditions do not run so far back as their
origin. They are fixed and unchangeable—he who breaks them dies!”

“But what have you done, innocent child, that these laws, however
strengthened by antiquity, should fall on you?”

“I love you, a Busne—one of the race we hold accursed—our enemies—our
oppressors. I am alone with you, and have been for hours, here in these
vast ruins. But that is nothing; that they approve so long as it brings
gold; but I love you! I have said it in words, in my looks, every way in
which love can speak when it burdens the heart with its sweet joy. She,
my weird grandame, has seen this. Did I not feel that she was close by
in the ambassador’s hall?”

“But they dare not kill you for that—for the innocent affection which
you could not help—affection that has dreamed of no wrong.”

“She has seen us here, sitting together; she has heard me, heard you.
They will believe me an outcast of the tribe, and kill me as they would
a viper!”

The young man arose, walked out into the court, and began to pace up and
down the glittering pavement, hurriedly, as one seeks rapid motion when
some great mental or moral struggle is going on in the mind. Gradually
his steps became more rapid; his brow flushed, and with an impetuous
movement of one hand, as if thus dashing aside all further consideration
of a harassing subject, he sought the Gitanilla again.

“Aurora,” he said, in a hurried manner, “you shall never go back into
that nest of fiends—look up, child—you are mine now. They shall not
touch a hair of your head, or even look upon your face again! Come, what
have you to fear? I am powerful—I am rich, and I love you. I struggle
against it no longer—it is a duty now, I love you! Go with me to my own
country—I cannot give you this sky or these fairy ruins, but you shall
be surrounded with beautiful things nevertheless. You shall study,
learn; forget that miserable ravine burrowed with human fox-holes, and
swarming with murderers. Come, Aurora, look up, I long to see that cold,
dead color swept away. Smile, smile my bird, we will not part again.”

When a nation has but one virtue, how powerful that one must be. There
is much good in every human heart that God has created, and when all
that good pours itself into a single channel, it has a power and
vitality which men of more diffuse cultivation little dream of.

Aurora knew nothing of her lover’s rank, of his wealth, or the thousand
barriers that lay between his condition and hers. She was aware that
sometimes, when a Gitano becomes wealthy—a rare case—he had been known
to wed a Busne wife, but that such unions invariably made the Gitano an
object of suspicion and dislike to his own people. If this privilege
were permitted to the men, it might be—she could not tell, no case had
ever come beneath her observation—extended to the females also. But then
a betrothed female like herself—the promised wife of a count—how was
this to be hoped? All these thoughts, full of doubt and trouble, came
upon my poor mother while the Englishman stood impatiently—for his
restrained manner had entirely disappeared—waiting her reply.

“They would not let me go—I am betrothed. No one of our females have
ever married with the Busne,” she said, at last, in a voice that
betrayed the utter despondency that possessed her.

The young man started, and a flush swept over his forehead. At first he
found it difficult to speak. How very, very hard it is for a man, whose
impulses are all honorable, to express a wrong wish in words! But after
a brief struggle he became cold and grave. She must understand his full
meaning. He would not deceive—would not even persuade her. If she went
with him it must be with a full knowledge of her position, of the
impossibility that any marriage could ever exist between them.

Some men would have glossed this over, covered it with transcendental
poetry, smothered the sin with rose-leaves. He did nothing of the kind.
Knowing the wrong, he would neither conceal this conviction from himself
nor her. Therefore it was that, with a cold, almost severe conciseness,
he explained himself. True, there was little merit in this; it was
rather a peace offering to his own pride than a homage to truth. From
all that he had heard of the gipsies, he did not believe that anything
he was saying could make much difference to the Gitanilla. But it was
due to himself, and so he spoke plainly.

She understood him at last. It was with great difficulty, for the idea
entered her mind as a proposition of murder would have done. It dawned
upon her by degrees, arousing and kindling the wild Gitana blood in her
veins with every new thought. She heard him through, not without
attempting to speak, but the effort seemed strangling her. He saw that
she writhed faintly, once or twice, but heeded it not and went on.

At length she sprang up, her cheeks in a dusky blaze, her eyes full of
lightning. Her little tawny hand was clenched like a vice and stamping
her foot upon the pavement, she struggled for voice. It broke out at
last, loud and ringing, like the cry of an angry bird.

“I am a Gitana—a Gitana. Did you take me for a Busne?”

Before he could answer, or had half recovered from the surprise into
which this storm of passion threw him, she had gone. He saw her dart
into the cloister, and caught one glimpse of a shadow that seemed to
leap across the court, but even that had disappeared before he could
reach the broad moonlight.

                              CHAPTER VII.
                         WAITING FOR VENGEANCE.

Clare stood in the Court of Lions, absolutely bewildered by the
suddenness of what had happened. As he listened the sound of a footstep,
heavier than the one he sought—but of this he did not think at the
time—reached him from the lower end of the court. He moved hurriedly in
that direction, and just as he reached the azulejo pillars, that still
retain their first beauty in that portion of the ruin, a man came toward
him, but keeping behind the columns with a sort of cowardly ferocity,
like one who was seeking an opportunity to strike in the dark.

The Englishman paused. There was something in the appearance of this
man, closely as he kept to the shadows, which reminded him of an
unpleasant adventure that he had met on his route to Granada. The idea
was enough. He darted forward and stood face to face with the leader of
a prowling band of gipsies who had robbed him, not two months before, on
his way from Seville.

The man seemed to recognize him also. At first he slunk away as if with
a hope of concealment, but a slight jingle of the numerous silver tags
on his jacket, and a stealthy movement of the right arm downward, while
his eyes followed the Englishman like a basilisk, were significant of
some more vicious intent.

Slowly, and as a weary man might change his position, the gipsy drew up
his figure, and a gleam of moonlight shooting through the network of an
arch close by, fell upon the blade of a Manchegan knife which he held
with a backward thrust of the arm, slowly raising the point to a level
with the heart he wished to reach.

Few strangers are mad enough to go unarmed in Spain. The Englishman was
bold as a lion too, but with all this he could not have drawn the pistol
from his bosom before that knife had done its work. Still he made the
effort, keeping his eyes steadily on the man, and with something of the
effect which such looks have upon fierce animals. But the point of that
murderous blade rose higher and higher. In another moment it would have
been sped; but on the instant a sharp clutch was laid on the assassin’s
arm, and the gipsy Sibyl thrust herself between the combatants.

“Back, Chaleco—begone, I say. How dare you step in between me and my
right? Think you Papita wants your knife to help her?” cried the fierce
old witch, grinding her sharp teeth together at each pause of her

“But the wrong is mine,” answered Chaleco fiercely. “Aurora was my
betrothed: let her die—let her die; but he, I will send him before!”

He struggled with the old woman who had clutched the knife with her
tawny fingers and clung to him, hissing out her wrath in his face like a
wild cat.

“Die! who says Aurora shall die? Is she not mine, the grand-daughter of
a count? Who shall condemn her but myself? When I have said she is
guilty, then you may talk of wrong—not before. Go home. How dare you
follow my grand-daughter when she goes about her work!”

But the gipsy shook her off, wrenching the knife from her clutch with a
violence that flung her to the ground.

She started fiercely up. The red turban had fallen from her grey hairs,
and they streamed around her like a torn banner that has once been
white. Her eyes gleamed and flashed with lurid fire. She flung up her
long, flail-like arms, and shrieked forth curses that seemed absolutely
to blast the air around like a simoon. She spoke in Rommany, but the
curses that came seething from her heart were more horrible to the
Englishman, than if he had understood the words. They cowed even the
gipsy chief. He gave up his knife abjectly, and casting a fierce, sullen
look on the Englishman, slunk away.

This sullen submission appeased the Sibyl’s fury. She followed him into
the darkest portion of the cloister, and seemed to drop suddenly down
from threats to expostulations, which ended at last in low, wheedling
tones, which gradually died away in the melody of the fountain.

The Englishman looked around like one in a dream. Not fifteen minutes
had elapsed since he sat in the _Sala de los Abencerrages_, with the
Gitanilla so close to him that he could hear every full throb of her
heart. Had she gone forever? That storm of fiendish passion which he had
just witnessed, was it real? How still, how deliciously tranquil was the
Alhambra! Had that soft moonlight looked but a moment since on the
assassin’s knife close to his own heart? It seemed an impossibility. He
could not realize the terrible danger which even yet threatened him.

It was long before he could, by all the efforts of his strong will,
bring his thoughts under any degree of control. But he did not leave the
place, for the first reasonable reflection aroused the keenest anxiety
for the Gitanilla. Her fears of death were not all fancies then. He
remembered the old Sibyl’s words; she had only claimed the right of
vengeance as her own. The proof which he held in his own person, was
enough to convince him that no laws could prevent crime in a people to
whom most crimes are held as virtues. Had he not been plundered of
property, and saved from death almost by a miracle, in spite of the
Spanish laws?

His anxiety regarding the poor gipsy girl became tormenting. Where could
he seek her? Not at the ravine; surely she would not go there, knowing
the fiendish inhabitants so well, and fearing all that she feared. The
storm of her passion had been so violent it could not last. The poor
child to save her own life must come back again. He would wait.

He did wait, hour after hour, till the moon went down, and nothing but
the bright, holy stars kept watch over the Alhambra. He traversed the
saloons, explored the cloisters, and leaving all that was beautiful
behind him, wandered off among those dark red towers that harmonized
better with the gloomy fears that possessed him.

Still he continued the search, clambering up those broken walls,
tramping his way over wild flowers and weeds alike—called to a distance,
sometimes, by the rustle of a bird, and mocked every instant by shadows
that proved unreal as his hopes. But he would not believe that Aurora
had left the ruins. Besides, rest was impossible. Alone in the little
fonda he must have gone mad with anxiety.

Twenty times that night did he pass hurriedly through the Gate of
Justice, hoping to find her returning from the woods. He searched the
whole uneven sweep of those walls, clambering up the declivities, and
finding relief in the physical exertion which covered his forehead and
saturated his hair with moisture.

When the first rosy light of morning quivered on the snows of
Alpujarras, he returned to the little fonda so weary, so hopelessly
dejected that he could hardly stand. His fate day had come round again.

                             CHAPTER VIII.
                            THE BROKEN IDOL.

Any person who had seen that old gipsy Sibyl tearing her way up the
steep ascent of the Barranca that night, must have fancied some evil
spirit had broken loose, and was searching for prey among the gaunt
aloes and ragged prickly pears. The sharp hiss with which she rent her
garments from the harrowing thorns—the fiendish energy with which she
broke away from each fresh grasp, betrayed a state of tormenting wrath
which Dante alone could describe. There was a force in this bitterness,
a concentration of gall that imbued her withered frame through and
through with frightful power. Her aged limbs quivered with new life—she
walked upright, flung aside her stick, and, grasping the thorny plants
firmly with her hands, drew herself up the hill. The sharp leaves cut
her like a knife, tore her hands and drew long purple lines down her
lean arms; but no blood followed. Her veins seemed withered up, or
barely moistened by the gall that fed them with bitter vitality.

The ravine was choked up with darkness; the fires were all out, and the
caves closed. Not a sparkle of the Darro could be seen through the black
mist that lay below; and the soft winds that scattered fragrance from a
wilderness of blossoms on the _Sierra del Sol_, whose palace was crowned
by a few rays of light from the dusky moon, only served to stir the
stifling dust, through which the fierce old Sibyl waded ankle deep.

With all her toil, the old woman held fast to her crimson skirt, which
she gathered up in front and hugged to her bosom attempting thus to keep
a firm grasp on a mass of freshly gathered herbs, which protruded from
its folds, scattering a fragrant odor upon the dusty air, as she crushed
them tighter and tighter in her ascent up the hill.

At length she reached the door of her own cave and entered. The lamp
which she had left burning in its niche was pouring forth a volume of
mingled flame and smoke, and a few embers glowed still among the white
ashes that lay in heaps under the brasier. A rustle of garments, a
faint, shuddering shriek came from a dark angle of the cave as the door
was flung open. The old Sibyl did not seem to heed it; but turned her
eyes that way with a look of blank ferocity, and moved on without
appearing to regard my poor mother who sat cowering on the ground, her
limbs gathered up beneath the gorgeous masses of her dress, and her
great gleaming eyes following each movement of the crone with a scared
and shrinking gaze, like those of an animal which feels itself bound for
the slaughter.

As if unconscious that any living thing occupied the miserable dwelling
with herself, the old woman shook the herbs from her garments, crouched
down by the brasier, and, bending her crooked fingers like the claws of
a bird, began to rake the scattered embers in a heap from the ashes,
blowing them fiercely with her lips till her face was lighted up by the
glow like that of a fiend. Half stifled with the smoke, she began to
strangle, and her cough sounded through the cave like the bark of a dog.
Still she would not leave her work, but sat down on the floor,
straightened a fold of her dusty saya between her hands, and commenced
blowing up the embers, till her breath came back again.

As the liquid in the bronze vase began to simmer, she gathered up the
loose herbs, and after twisting them into fragments with a ferocity that
sent their juice trickling through her fingers, she cast them into the
vase. Sometimes, when the stems were tough, she employed her sharp
teeth, wrangling with the poisonous fibres like a wild cat over its

This was a fearful proof of the insane wrath that possessed her, for she
knew well the deadly nature of those herbs, yet remained insensible of
the danger, even after her thin lips were swollen and turgid with the

My poor mother, who had cowered in her corner watching all this, could
endure the sight no longer; but rising slowly up, crept to her little
bed-room and softly closed the door. The old woman eyed her with a
sidelong glance as she crept by, but preserved silence and occupied
herself with her fire.

Thus an hour passed. Huge drops of perspiration stood on the forehead of
my great grandame, for the cave was becoming insufferably warm, and she
still bent over her work, imbibing the steam and heat with the endurance
of a salamander. At last she lifted the vase from its supporter, and
placing a broken bowl upon the floor, drained off perhaps half a pint of
dark liquid. This she held up to the lamp and examined closely. A gleam
of horrid satisfaction was visible on her face, and she muttered, “They
think of distilling the drao—who gave them the secret? Let them
boast—let them fancy that the old woman is of no further use. They must
come to her for their poison yet. Who else of all the tribe knows the
secret, or could distil death into one sweet drop like this?”

She bent over the bowl; her head drooped. For the first time she
appeared to think steadily, and mingle her thoughts with something of
human feeling.

The fire went out. Heavy smoke, for which there was no outlet, gathered
in a cloud of palpable darkness over her head. The poison stood cooling
by her side, imbued by a thick, inky blackness, taken, as it were, from
her thought; yet, for the first time that night, there was something of
human feeling mingled with the bitterness of her nature. It might have
been the pale, frightened face of my mother, as she glided by, that
awoke a gleam of womanly regret in her fierce bosom. It might have been
the memory of some foregone event which this poor child had shared with
her; or the sobs that began to issue from the little bed-room, like the
stifled moan of an infant, might have softened the iron of her nature.

It is impossible for me to say which of the thousand strings in that
sered heart thrilled to the touch of the guardian angel that always,
while there is life, finds some tone of music in a woman’s soul. But one
thing is certain, the lurid fire in those wicked eyes grew dull, and was
smothered as they watched the poison drao curdle and cool beneath them.

And there was my wretched mother, all this time shut up in the little
stifled hole that she called a bed-room. Up to this time, a sort of wild
excitement had kept her up. Indignation, terror, a conflict of feelings,
which in her return from the Alhambra had given her the speed and
strength of a reindeer, still burned in her heart like fire. But the
stillness of the cave—the slow, silent preparations which that old woman
was making for her death—all had a power to chill even her burning
excitement. The heart in her bosom seemed turning to stone. Her limbs
began to shrink and quiver with physical dread. She was but a woman,
poor thing, nay, a child almost, and death was terrible to her, for the
Spanish Gipsy has no bright dream of an after life. They who suffer so
much in this world have no hope in death, but that of black oblivion.
Why should they wish to prolong misery so griping? Would they not be
proscribed, crushed, trampled on through all eternity? Would the Busne
grant them a place in heaven, they who have hunted our whole race up and
down, till it has been glad to find shelter like serpents in the very
bosom of the earth?

My mother was afraid to die. The torture that she then endured seemed
preferable to that black, stony, eternal sleep, which the end of life
was to her.

In her bed-room was a mutilated fragment of black marble. It was, or had
been, the body of a beast joined to a human head. Though worn with time,
hacked and broken, the grave, thoughtful beauty of that countenance, the
solemn thought that seemed frozen into the stone, imbuing every
fragment, must have won attention even from a person who looked upon it
only as an antique of wonderful beauty.

This fragment of Egyptian art stood upon the base of a Roman pedestal,
which the old Sibyl had found years before among the broken rubbish of
the Alhambra. It was of a time coeval with the Roman altar, which you
may yet find embedded in the Torre del Homenage, and had a value to the
antiquarian of which my great grandame was fully aware. Though she would
have sold anything for money, this had been an offering to her idol; and
she, almost alone among our people, still kept a traditionary hold upon
the faith of Egypt. How she became possessed of this antique I never
knew; but it was the only thing on earth which she held sacred, and to
that she rendered idolatrous devotion.

As my mother sat upon her pallet bed, feeling the unnatural strength ebb
from her frame, her eyes fell upon this marble face, turned with its
grand serenity of expression toward her. All at once it seemed as if she
had found a friend. She remembered the old Sibyl’s faith in this block
of stone, and gazed upon it with strange interest. The tumult of her
feelings was hushed. The natural yearning, which exists in every female
heart, for something to adore, something strong and high, from which she
can claim protection, possessed her. She folded her hands in her lap and
leaned forward, gazing on the marble face till her eyes were full of
tears. Directly she began to sob like a child, and this was the sound
that reached the old woman as she bent over her drao.

But that hard old heart soon shook off its human emotions. Brutus was
not more stern in his sense of justice, nor did he show less of
relenting; the laws of her people must be carried out. She would yield
the power of life or death over her grandchild to no inferior member of
her tribe; she alone would be judge and executioner. Perhaps there was
something of mercy in this; the death she gave with her drao was easy,
almost delightful; a sleepy, voluptuous languor seized upon the victim,
grew sweeter, deeper, and eternal.

Such was the fate meditated for the poor girl who was sobbing in the
next room. The tribe would have stoned her to death. That old Sibyl had
a touch of compassion in her murderous designs, but she was not the less
determined to kill. She took up the drao and set it in the same niche
with the swaling lamp. Then she passed into the bed-room softly as a
cat, closing the door after her with, great caution, as if they two had
not been quite alone.

The poor Gitanilla sat, upon her miserable pallet, looking wistfully
toward that antique relic of old Egypt; but she cowered down with a
faint cry, as the old woman crept between her and the marble, lifting up
one hand as if denouncing her for looking upon a thing that she held in
reverence. What passed in that miserable little room I cannot say. My
mother never spoke of it; and in her manuscript there was nothing when
it came to this part of her story, but great inky scrawls that no one on
earth could read.

When the old Sibyl came forth Aurora was upon the ground, her forehead
resting against the idol, and murmuring some wild words through a
passion of tears.

“Repeat,” said the Sibyl, standing over her, and holding up the heavy
iron lamp that flared lividly over the mutilated features of the marble
and the wild face of the Gitanilla. “Say it again, thus with your face
where it is. If there is a lie on your lips that stone will sear them as
with a red hot iron.”

“Oh, grandame, I have spoken truth, nothing but truth. See!” and with a
sort of insane awe she pressed her lips upon the broken mouth of the
idol two or three times.

The old woman was silent. The lamp shook in her hand; her eyes were
fixed upon the idol and the poor creature that clung to it, as if she
really expected to see that healthy form fall crisped and withered away
from the stone.

The girl turned, clasped her grandame around the knees, and lifting up
her eyes, in which was a gleam of wild confidence, exclaimed:

“I am unhurt—I am unhurt—grandame, will you believe me now?”

Still the old woman was silent.

“Grandame, mother of my mother, you will not let me die!”

Terror and doubt again took possession of the poor thing. She clung
closer to the old woman, her eyes dusky with fear; her lips growing pale

“Chaleco must have your life—he will not believe you; no, nor will the
women of our tribe!”

“But you believe me, grandame!”

“And if I do, what then?”

“You have great power, grandame; our people acknowledge it; the stars
make you their mistress. You will save me from Chaleco—from our fierce

“How, little one, how? I am old, they would wrest you from my arms. They
treat me like an infant already.”

“Let us leave them and seek the mountains, you and I, grandame. They
will not follow us up into the snow peaks!”

“To-night I have clambered up to the Alhambra. It is the first time in
ten years; to-morrow my bones will be as stiff as rusted iron. How am I
to drag myself up to the mountains? How am I, a count’s wife, to leave
his people?”

“I am a count’s daughter, but they wish to kill me!” answered the poor
girl, sadly. “You will not let them—say, grandame, that you will save me
from the Valley of Stones!”

“They are many and strong—I an old woman, feeble with years!”

“They will stone me—oh, they will stone me! and I am innocent of all
they think against me!” still pleaded the Gitanilla.

The old woman was evidently troubled. She shook her head, and cast
wistful glances on her broken idol, as if interrogating the stone.

“Let me go by myself, then,” cried the girl, eagerly. “I am told that
countries stretch far away beyond the mountains. There they will not
know that I am an outcast, and my dancing will get bread enough to eat.”

The old woman did not heed her; she was still interrogating the Egyptian
stone. Quick flashes of intelligence shot across her face; some project
was evidently taking form in her brain.

“He will not believe me—Chaleco will be first among them with his story.
I have no power to brave the laws, but I can baffle them. Leave old
Papita alone for that.”

Now she seemed all alive with eager cunning, turning from the force of
her bitter wrath into a crafty old crone, anxious to save the life of
her grandchild, it is true, but exulting as much in the thoughts of
baffling all the keen hate and power of her tribe.

“Get up, little one: come sit down here on the bed by my side, and let
us talk,” she said, passing her hand over the head of my mother, and
caressing her with a grim smile.

“You believe me innocent—you will not let them murder me.”

“Yes, yes, my star, I _know_ you are innocent—else, you see the drao
yonder—by this time it had been curdling in your blood.”

“Then you will save me! Who is so powerful? Oh, grandame, your little
girl will yet live. Who shall dare to contradict the will of Papita?”

“He, Chaleco! ha! ha! he almost braved me to-night: but he shall be
brought round”——

The girl turned faint, and grew paler than she had been before that

“No, not that!—oh, not that! Let me die, grandmother—let me die. I would
rather a thousand times than marry Chaleco.”

The Sibyl laughed till her teeth shone again.

“Marry Chaleco now!—why, child, he would strangle me if I but hinted it!
Oh, our people are wise in this generation, wiser than old Papita. We
shall see—we shall see!”

“What shall I do, grandame? What can you think of to save me? They will
tear me to pieces.”

“What shall I do?—why, take my right as a count’s widow—murder you
myself—bury you myself!”

“Grandame!” exclaimed the child, with a cry of horror.

“And when they think your body deep in the Darro,” continued the old
crone, without noticing the cry, “Papita will be sitting here with gold
in her lap, and her pretty little Aurora shall be married to the Busne,
and far beyond the mountains!”

Another cry, in which the love of that young heart leaped forth in an
agony of joy, made the Sibyl pause; but it was only for a moment.

“Then my little one shall think of the poor old gipsy in her cave, and
send more gold—more and more, till power shall indeed return to Papita.”

But my mother sat upon the pallet wringing her hands, and utterly
abandoned to her grief once more. That one gleam of joy had turned upon
her heart sharper than a sword. She remembered why she had fled from the
Alhambra that night.

“What is this?” said the old woman, sharply. “Tears again? Bah, I am
tired of them—speak!”

“Grandame,” sobbed the wretched girl, gasping for breath, for she felt
that her last hold on life was going, “the Busne cannot save me—he will
not marry a gipsy girl.”

“He shall!” snarled the old woman. “By that he shall!” and she pointed
toward her idol.

“Grandame!” exclaimed the girl, astonished.

“Get up,” replied the Sibyl—“smooth that hair—put on the bodice of blue
velvet, and the saya edged with gold, that was to have been the
wedding-dress with Chaleco. Quick, or the daylight will be upon us.”

                              CHAPTER IX.

Aurora obeyed her grandmother almost hopefully; for her faith in the
Sibyl was unbounded. In a little time she appeared in the outer cave,
arranged in the picturesque costume which should have been her
wedding-garments. The old woman had been pouring a quantity of the
poison drao into a vial, which she thrust into her bosom as the girl
came in.

“Why do you take that?” she faltered out, struck with new dread.

“It is for him—the Busne, if he falters in doing what I shall ask.”

“Be it so,” said my mother, sadly, pointing toward the bowl. “There will
be enough left—I will go with him”——

“You must,” answered the Sibyl, sharply. “Now come.”

They left the cave, closing the door after them.

“Stay,” exclaimed the old woman, going back, “you will want food and

She was gone a little time, and returned with a bottle of water and some
bread. These she handed to Aurora and walked on, moving down the ravine
toward the Alhambra.

It was wonderful how much strength excitement had given to that old
crone; she scarcely seemed to feel the great fatigue of the night, but
with a quick, scrambling walk led the way in silence, only calling back
now and then for Aurora to move faster, or the day would be upon them.

They entered the enclosure of the Alhambra by _La Torre del Pico_, and
kept within the shadows, for, though the moon was down, it leaves a
transparent atmosphere behind it in Granada; and once or twice the Sibyl
fancied that she heard footsteps amid the ruins.

Near _La Torre del Pico_ stood, at that time, the grand mosque of the
Alhambra, the most exquisite remnant of Moorish art in the world. An
entrance to this mosque was easy, for sacred as it had been, all its
rich beauty lay exposed to ruin like the rest.

Papita led the way, holding my mother by the hand. A dim light fell amid
the delicate pillars innumerable as the young trees in a forest, but
guided by far-off memories, the Sibyl threaded them confidently as if
she had been walking through her own barranca. She paused before that
portion of the mosque formerly the seat occupied by the Moorish Kings in
their worship. Here, by the gleam of azulejos, richer and far more
brilliant than any to be found elsewhere in Spain, and which even the
darkness could not subdue, she found the _Mih-rab_ or recess in which
the Alcoran had been kept.

It was a deep vaulted recess set thick with azulejos, that burned like
gems on a bed of gold. The floor was a single slab of agate; and a belt
of precious stones had spanned the arch like a petrified rainbow. It was
broken and partly defaced now, but the very fragments were a marvel of

Another might have looked with reverence on a spot so enriched, that it
might be worthy to hold the treasure kept most sacred by a fallen
nation. But to the old gipsy woman such feelings and such things were a

“Hide yourself in there,” she said, thrusting Aurora toward the niche.
“You will be driven out by no Moors coming to worship; sit still if any
one enters the mosque, or if steps turn this way, stand up close to one
of the porphyry pillars yonder, moving so that it will be placed between
you and the intruder whichever way he comes.”

“But where do you go? How long must I wait?” said Aurora, placing her
foot on the glittering pavement of the _Mih-rab_.

“I go to find him,” was the terse answer. “Wait till _he_ comes, or till
_I_ come. You have food: be patient, and on your life, let none of the
tribe find you!”

Aurora shrunk back into the recesses at this command, and stood there
motionless as stone till daylight glittered upon the azulejos around
her, and she was shrined, as it were, in a mass of living gems.

At length the terror that had kept her so motionless gave way. She
changed her position; sat down, began counting the exquisite fragments
that jewelled the wall, tracing the delicate lines of gold and silver
that crept like glittering moss around them, with the tip of her
fingers. At last, emboldened by the silence, she stepped down from the
recess, and wandered restlessly around the body of the mosque.

Notwithstanding the great causes for anxiety that beset her, and though
she had been in that spot before, she wandered through its gorgeous
mazes with a strange and delicious swell of the heart. Love, the great
magician, had unsealed her eyes to the beautiful. Never before had she
distinguished the grand and varied richness of those columns. The deep,
many-tinted greens engrained in the verd-antique, jasper of that rare
kind which seems clouded with blood, grew beautiful in her eyes. She saw
pillars of oriental alabaster rising among the forest of columns, like
snow mellowed to golden richness by a meridian sun; and others with
sweeping clouds of the deepest ruby tint, stained into a ground of dusky
yellow. These mingled with columns of glittering black, or sheeted from
floor to arch with gold, contrasted gorgeously with the snow-white
shafts that rose on every hand; some with capitals, dashed lightly with
gold; others cut, as it were, from solid pearl, and all made precious
with the most perfect sculpture.

Filled, as I have said, with a new-born sense of the Beautiful, my
mother wandered through all this Byzantine gorgeousness, amazed that she
had never seen it before. With no knowledge of architecture, she _felt_
without understanding the beautiful proportions of the building, while
her eyes were fixed upon its pillars supporting arches graceful as the
bend of a rainbow, and enriched with a beauty hitherto unknown even to
Moorish art.

Her heart was numb for the time, and she wandered on like one in a
dream—now looking upon the pavement, then lifting her eyes upward where
traceries of snow, delicate as a spider’s web, but yet of a pearly
richness, linked with blossoms of silver, ran through the arches,
chaining the pillars together with a gleaming network. The doors, the
royal seat, everything around was one blaze of rich mosaic—the pavement
of white marble, starred with gorgeous tiles, spread away beneath her
feet. Broken, soiled by neglect, in ruins, as all this was, perhaps it
seemed but the more enchanting for that! for to a keen imagination these
fragments of beauty were suggestive of an ideal perfection, which no art
ever reached. But my mother could not long be won from the great causes
of anxiety that surrounded her. Her heart began to ache again, and with
a weary step she sought the _Mih-rab_, and seating herself on the agate
floor, sat pondering over her own miserable thoughts till the sun went

With strained eyes and a weary heart, she saw the rich light fade away
from the pillars till the arches were choked up with blackness, and all
the slender columns seemed like spectres crowding toward her
hiding-place. She grew feverish with anxiety; her lips were parched; a
faintness crept through her frame. It was not hunger, but she was
exhausted, and remembering the food her grandame had left, felt for it
in the darkness.

She drank of the water, and tasted a mouthful of bread; but it was
suspense, not want of food, that had taken away her strength. She could
not endure to look out from her hiding-place, for now that crowd of
pillars seemed like men of her tribe, all greedy and athirst for her
young life.

Thus she remained; it might be hours or minutes; it seemed an eternity
to her, and then she heard footsteps and a voice.

                               CHAPTER X.

At a back door of the little Fonde, which stands within the enclosures
of the Alhambra, sat a little old man, or if not absolutely old, so
withered and shrunk up that it was impossible, at a little distance, not
to think him aged. But at a close view you saw, by the sharp black eyes,
the thin, but unwrinkled lips, and a certain elasticity of movement,
that he had scarcely passed the middle age of life. A coat of drab
cloth, with short-clothes of the same material, a plush waistcoat, knee
and shoe-buckles of gold, and silk stockings, at once swept away all
idea of his being a native of Granada, and to an experienced eye
proclaimed him the retainer of some old English family. Besides all
this, there was an air of rather peculiar nicety in his apparel. His
cravat was richly ruffled with lace, and flowed down ostentatiously over
the waistcoat. His wristbands were of the same costly material, with
here and there a slight fray or break, which gave suspicion of some
previous and more exalted ownership.

He sat upon a little wooden bench, with the branches of a fine mulberry
tree bending over and protecting him from the rising sun. Brushes and
blacking lay near one end of the bench, and on a drooping branch of the
mulberry tree hung a gentleman’s coat nicely brushed and left to the

From the spotless purity of his dress, you would have believed it
impossible that this dainty-looking servant could have been performing
the menial services which these objects would indicate; but at the very
instant we present him to our readers, Turner had his left hand thrust
up to the sole of a delicately shaped boot, and with the lightest and
most graceful touch imaginable, was polishing it. Now and then he
paused, looked at himself in the glittering surface, and fell to work
again, not quite satisfied that the beloved image was thrown back with
sufficient distinctness. He did not sing at his work. Turner took
everything quite too seriously for that; still he kept up a faint,
broken hum to the sound of his brush when in motion; but sometimes
paused all at once, and fell into a reverie, holding the brush and boot
in his hands, as if not entirely pleased with his ruminations.

At length the boot that he had been polishing seemed to be susceptible
of no further brilliancy, and after holding it up to the sun and eyeing
it with great satisfaction, he set it down, muttering, “Now for the
other!” He drew out from beneath his bench the tattered and soiled mate,
and held it up with a disgustful shake of the head. “Alhambra dust—I’ll
swear to it—one, two, three—bah, it’s no use counting. Every night up
there——” Here he began to scatter the dust from his master’s boots with
angry vehemence.

“In search of the picturesque—fond of ruins—who believes it, I should
like to know? One man don’t, I’m sure of that, and his name is Turner,
Thomas Turner, of Greenhurst, but perhaps his opinion don’t amount to
much; we shall see!”

Here Turner worked on, pressing his thin lips hard, and dashing away at
the boot as if it had offended him mortally.

“Out all night—the whole entire night—comes home at break of day, and
steals through old Turner’s room like a thief. Thought the old man
asleep, as if Turner ever slept when things are going wrong with the

Here the old man grew languid in his movements; his eyes took a sadder
expression, and his touch upon the boot was like a caress.

“Fear, why who knows what won’t come over him with these doings? His
coat soaked with dew and stuck full of briars; his hair dripping with
perspiration—everything at sixes and sevens; and instead of sleeping
when he does get home, rolling about on his bed and trying to cheat the
old man; lets him take away his clothes without saying a word; makes
believe he’s asleep, as if I didn’t see that forehead working as it
always does when things go wrong with him. He thinks to cheat old

As the old man ceased, more and more earnest, his application to the
boot became exciting enough; his elbow went to and fro like the play of
a crank; his thin lips were gathered up into a knot, and he looked
sternly around upon the coat and mulberry tree, as if challenging them
to mortal combat.

That moment the little impish figure of an old woman, with a red
kerchief twisted over her mummy-like forehead, and a faded dress of the
same color, came suddenly round a corner of the Fonde, and stood eyeing
him with a glance sharp and vigilant, like that of a rattlesnake at

Turner gave her a sidelong look over the instep of his boot as he held
it up for inspection, but the weird sharpness of her glance was too
much, even for his immovable _sang froid_. His eyes sunk, and he began
to gather up the brushes as if in preparation for a retreat.

The old woman came close up and addressed him in Spanish. He understood
the language well enough, but either from cunning, or that inveterate
hatred of everything French or Spanish which we often find among English
travelling servants, continued gathering up his property as if he did
not comprehend a word.

After uttering a few sentences, half cajoling, half imperative, the
woman turned away, muttering discontentedly between her teeth, and was
about entering the back door.

“Halloo, where are you going now?” cried old Turner, satisfied that
silence would no longer answer his purpose. “Where are you going, old
witch? not into my lord’s room, surely!”

This was spoken in very respectable Spanish, though with a sort of rude
snappishness that mingled his hatred of the language with every

“So you _can_ speak,” answered the woman, with an oath, that springs to
a gipsy’s lips naturally as flame leaps from burning wood.

“Yes, I can speak your lingo when I choose to demean myself
particularly, and that isn’t often,” replied Turner, with considerable
vexation, that he had unwarily been drawn into speaking the hated
language. “But what do you want, old beauty? Nothing of my lord, or old
Turner, I hope?”

“I want the Busne.”

“The what?” cried Turner, looking toward the door, and kicking the
brushes on one side.

“The Busne.”

“And who on earth is that, my precious old nettle?”

The old woman answered by a gesture of sharp impatience, and moved
toward the door.

“Stop that,” cried Turner, placing himself on the narrow threshold, and
brandishing the glossy boot with one hand. “No one passes in here till I
know what his business is. Speak up now, my precious old beauty. What’s
your name? Who do you want? What on earth do you mean by coming here at

The old woman stood on the threshold alone, eyeing him keenly, and
glancing now and then with the cunning of her race on each side of his
person, to measure the possibility of passing him. But Turner was
equally vigilant, and manfully kept his post, boot in hand.

“Better come to terms at once: no one gets through here without giving a
passport, I can tell you that,” said Turner. “Is it me you come after?”

“You!” sneered the old woman, and her thin lip curled upward, revealing
the sharp, hound-like teeth beneath. “You!”

“And why not, she-wolf? It wouldn’t be the first of woman-kind that has
run after the gentleman before you.”

“I want the young gentlemen—the Busne who lodges here. Let me go by, for
I will see him!”

“Easy, easy,” persisted Turner, giving a semi-circular sweep with his
boot. “There is but one lodger here, and that is my lord. You can’t see
him, because he is in bed.”

“No matter: he must get up then!”

“Must get up!—now I like that—my master will like it—do him good to hear
the word _must_; hasn’t known the sound since he was a creeping baby;
still, and nevertheless, my sweet witch of Endor, not having a fancy to
get my head broken for teaching forgotten lessons, I shan’t step from
this spot till you go back to the master who sent you, and just have the
goodness to say from old Turner, that we have given up all dealings with
him or his imps long ago.”

“I _will_ see the Busne,” answered the Sibyl, clenching her hand till it
looked like a gnarled oak knot. “Curses rest upon you—I will see him.”

“And just add by way of private information,” said Turner, as if her
last speech had escaped him entirely, “that if he has a fancy to get us
into mischief, there would be wisdom in sending a younger face. It is
astonishing how strong a man’s principles become, what a deal of energy
is given to his conscience when temptation takes a shape like yours. The
amount of morality that lies in the contemplation of a face like a
withered prune, and a form like a good English faggot, is wonderful!”

My great grandame was very, very aged. You will believe it when I tell
you that these jeers on her person had no effect whatever. She did not
even feel that they were intended for her, but determined in her resolve
to penetrate to the young Englishman, she interrupted Turner’s
philosophical soliloquy with an impatient dash of her person toward the
space left open at his right hand. A slight scuffle ensued, in which the
gipsy buried her claw-like nails deep into the flesh of her antagonist’s
right arm, while he dropped the boot and grasped her lean throat with a
force that made the breath gurgle from her lips.

That instant the sound of a voice from within the Fonde arrested the
combatants, and after giving a farewell twist to the old woman’s neck,
and wrenching his arm from the grapple of her fingers, which fell away
with a blood tinge on the nails, Turner flung her off and disappeared
through a side door that opened near the entrance.

                              CHAPTER XI.
                         A TRAVELLER’S TOILET.

In a little sleeping room, whitewashed till the walls looked like a snow
drift, and carpeted with thick rush matting, he found Lord Clare sitting
upon the side of a low camp bed, and looking hopelessly around for the
garments which we have seen fluttering upon the mulberry boughs, and in
the possession of Turner. A beautiful dressing-case, with its rich
apparatus of gold, lay open on a little table. Above it hung a very
small and very uncertain mirror, which gave to the beholder’s face the
effect of a slight paralytic shock, sending one corner of the mouth
shooting up toward the eyes, and another wandering off in search of the
left shoulder. Lord Clare had evidently attempted to commence his own
toilet, but one glance at the mirror, which appalled him with the
apparition of a maniac leering over a razor, which he was brandishing as
if to cut his own throat, terminated his labors at the first stage.

“Turner, take that glass away,” said the young lord, as his servant
entered, “and bring me something that will throw back the features of a
Christian. This makes me look like a fiend.”

“I shouldn’t wonder,” muttered the servant, “everything is going crooked
with us; and perhaps the looking-glass gives back the truth nearer than
we calculate.”

“What are you saying, Turner?” questioned the young lord, in that quiet,
gentle tone with which very proud men are apt to address inferiors.

“A little private conversation between me and the looking-glass, my
lord; nothing else.”

“It must be a very distorted argument,” said the master, smiling; “but,
Turner, I heard voices at the door—what was it? You seemed disputing
with some one.”

“Nothing of the sort my lord. I don’t know any one in this pestilential
country worth disputing with.”

“But surely there was more than your voice; I heard another distinctly,
and it seemed like that of a woman.”

“Of a fiend, my lord—an imp of darkness—an old she-wolf. Look, here are
the marks of her claws on my arm; they bit through to the bone.”

“A gipsy woman?” asked Lord Clare, turning pale; “an old weird creature
that looks like a child withered to the bone. Was that the person who
assailed you?”

“Exactly, my lord, I couldn’t have drawn her portrait better. You may
hear her prowling about the door yet; but no fear, two bolts are drawn
between us!”

“And what does she want?” asked Lord Clare, in a low and agitated voice.

“Your lordship, nothing less,” replied Turner.

“Is she alone?”

“Visibly, yes; but heaven only knows how many of her infernal sisterhood
may swarm around her in the air.”

“Does she seem excited—unusually so?”

“Here is an endorsement for that,” replied Turner, stretching forth his
arm, and touching the sleeve of his coat, through which a drop or two of
blood had oozed.

“Bring my clothes here, and when I am dressed let her come in,” said
Lord Clare, abruptly; “I must see her—I must know what has been done,”
he added, in an under tone. “Thank heaven! the terrible suspense will be

Turner hesitated, he evidently had some dislike of encountering the
Sibyl again, valiant as he was.

“If I open the door she will rush in—the old hyena.”

“No, no, address her mildly,” answered Clare; “say that I will receive
her the moment my toilet is made. If she is restive, pacify her with a
piece of gold; but go at once, I am impatient for this scene to be

Turner looked at his coat-sleeve, shook his head, and cautiously undid
the bolt. As he had expected, the Sibyl stood outside in the passage,
her eyes blazing with fury, her whole frame quivering with impatient

“Not yet, my diamond of Golconda,” said Turner, putting her back with
his left hand, while he locked the door and drew forth the key.
“Cultivate patience, darling, it is a Christian virtue, very respectable
and worth having; anybody’s servant in England can tell you that.”

“Your master, the Busne. Have you told him I am here?” inquired the
Sibyl, subduing her evil nature into a vicious wheedle more repulsive
than open malice.

“Yes, I have told him the honor intended.”

“What did he say?”

“That you are to take this piece of gold to gloat over while he is

“And then he will see me?” cried the old woman tossing the gold away as
if in contempt of a bribe. “Tell him I am the widow of a count!”

“He feels the honor, no doubt—I have had touching proofs.”

Turner glanced at his arm, and then at the old woman’s throat. The dusky
red which circled it like a collar satisfied him. He turned away
chuckling, and went forth to collect his master’s garments.

The moment he was gone the old gipsy turned her eyes upon the guinea
that she had cast aside. Her fingers began to work; a cold gloating
light came into her eyes, and creeping toward the gold as if it had been
a serpent fascinating her, she clutched it eagerly, and buried it deep
in her bosom.

When Turner came back he saw that the gold had disappeared, and, smiling
grimly, entered his lord’s chamber, satisfied that the Sibyl was quieted
for a time at least.

A less keen observer than his old valet might have seen that Lord Clare
was greatly agitated while his toilet was in progress. He moved
restlessly; his cheeks blazed and faded by turns; his voice grew sharp
and imperative, a thing which Turner scarcely ever remembered to have
witnessed before. He seemed particularly annoyed by the valet’s rather
stubborn desire to elaborate his dress, and finally ordered Turner to
bring in the Sibyl and leave him.

This injunction was anything but satisfactory to the old man. Both in
manner and substance it was annoying. He felt that the key to all the
mysterious movements of his master, during the last month, lay in the
Sibyl, who so peremptorily claimed audience of his master. Turner was
greatly puzzled and highly displeased. He felt as if his master and the
gipsy were depriving him of his just rights and natural perquisites in
thus securing a private interview. He went forth muttering his
discontent. The old woman’s inflamed throat gave him a gleam of comfort,
and satisfying himself more and more that she was a dangerous person to
be left alone with his master, he stationed himself very close to the
door after she entered, so close that a suspicious person might have
supposed him listening, especially as he had left the door very slightly

But my great grandame outmatched him over and over again in this sort of
cunning. Before advancing into the room where the Englishman sat waiting
for her, she closed the door and drew a bolt inside, at which Turner
flung indignantly away, and took his seat on a bench beneath his lord’s
window, which was open, and the muslin curtain flowing softly over it.

But scarcely had he seated himself when the window was shut down with a
crash, and the curtains drawn close. Then Turner fell back against the
side of the house, and struggled with the Sibyl no longer, satisfied, as
most men are who essay the experiment, that in a fair struggle of wit,
tact, or management, few men ever come out successfully against a woman,
young or old, fair or otherwise.

                              CHAPTER XII.
                      TEMPTATIONS AND RESOLUTIONS.

Meantime the old gipsy stood face to face with the Englishman, who
regarded her with an appearance of ease which an anxious gleam of the
eyes contradicted.

“One word,” he said, breaking through all restraints as she was about to
address him—“one word before you speak of other things. Is Aurora safe?
Is it to tell me this, or ask her at my hands that you come?”

The Sibyl was pleased with his agitation and his eagerness. It promised
well for her mission.

“Aurora is safe!” she answered, and it was wonderful how the usual
fierce tones of her voice were modulated. Nothing could be more
respectful, nay, winning, than her every look and tone. “Aurora is safe
as yet—but our people have arisen; they will not be satisfied till her
blood reddens the Valley of Stones.”

“But you—you—oh, heavens—you cannot see this done. Poor child, she is
innocent as a flower.”

“They do not believe it!”

“But you believe it—her grandame—you will be his friend.”

“There is but one way—only one in the world, I have come to say this.
You alone can save her from the fury of our tribe!”

“How can I save her? Point out the way, and if it is to purchase her
life with my own, speak, and I will do it.”

“You must leave Granada to-night, and take my grandchild with you!”

The young man’s eyes fell, and the rich color burned, like fire, in his
cheeks; but he remembered the scene that had passed that night in the
Alhambra, and shook his head.

“She will not go! I could not persuade her to be saved on these terms,”
he said.

“No, not on the terms you are thinking of. I would see her torn limb
from limb before my eyes; yea, help to rend her to death, rather than
see her live the shame of her people; but there is another way.
Sometimes the rich men of our people have married among the Gentiles. If
men take that privilege, it belongs to our women also. Make Aurora your
wife according to the marriage rites of the tribe; go with her privately
to your own country—leave the old woman gold enough to keep her from
starving, and she will be content.”

“But would this appease your tribe? Would they again receive Aurora?”
questioned the young man.

“No; they believe her a castaway; marriage would be no atonement. I know
that she is not the thing they suspect; but it would be of no use
attempting to convince them. Do what I wish, and they will believe her
dead. They cannot take from me the right of a count’s widow to punish
those of her own blood with her own hands, privately or not as she
wills. They will think that I have given her of the drao, and that she
lies in the bottom of the Darro.”

The young man was greatly agitated. He paced the room to and fro; then
he sat down, veiling his eyes with his hand, and fell into labored
thought. At length he lifted his eyes to the old woman, who had been
regarding him all the time in anxious and vigilant silence.

“Will Aurora consent to this?”

“Will the ring-dove fly to her covert when she sees the fowler’s gun
pointed to her breast?”

“Last night she left me in anger!”

“Since last night she has felt what would have withered common hearts to
a cinder,” replied the Sibyl. “At sunset she was a child! The morning
light found her a woman. Like an earthquake, terror and suffering have
turned all the fresh soil of her nature uppermost. She is of the pure
blood, and that is old and strong as wine that has been forgotten
centuries in a vault.”

“But if I consent to your plan—which certainly promises safety to the
poor child—it will be but the very thing in fact that I myself proposed
last night. No marriage ceremony which you recognize would be held
binding among my people.”

“What have we to do with your people? What do we care if they recognize
our marriage rites or not?” answered the Sibyl, haughtily. “It is not
their opinion that we regard, but our own. If _I_ am content—I, her
nearest relative—who shall dare to cast scorn upon my child, because she
defies all laws but those of her own people?”

For a moment the young man’s eyes flashed; but the excitement was
momentary. His face became grave and stern; his heart grew heavy, and he
shrunk within himself as a proud nature always must, when it comes in
possession of a wrong wish.

“Understand me perfectly,” he said. “If I submit to this ceremony,
whatever it may be, it will not be considered a marriage among my
countrymen. Aurora will never be received as my wife—have no claim on my
property save that which I may, of my own free consent, bestow, and in
all things her position must depend on my will, my sense of honor. She
will not even be looked on with respect; I can give her home, shelter,
gold, affection, care, but my wife she cannot be.”

“What Gitana ever was respected by the Busne? We are not fools enough to
demand it,” said the old woman bitterly. “As for your laws, we despise
them—your gold, surely no woman of our people desires more than her
husband chooses to give; your whole nation—what is it to us but a curse
and a thing to be abhorred? Could my poor Aurora go back to her tribe in
safety, you should not have her for a ton’s weight of the yellowest gold
ever sifted from the Darro. No, I ask that ceremony which we hold
binding, nothing more, save that I may not be left to starve, and Aurora
is yours.”

“But I shall be free by the law to marry another,” said the young man,
forcing himself to lay all the painful points of the case before the
Sibyl, thus relieving the clamors of his conscience.

“You _dare_ not marry another, law or no law. Aurora is of my blood,”
answered the Sibyl, and the blaze of her fiery heart broke over her
face. “A strong will makes its own laws and defends its own rights. You
dare not marry another, she will not permit it. I will not.”

“Heaven forbid that my sweet Gitanilla should ever inherit the fierce
nature of her grandame, or my chances of happiness were small, indeed,”
said the Englishman, inly. Then addressing the Sibyl, he added, almost
solemnly, “no man should promise for himself in the future. I am
powerless to answer for my conduct to your grandchild beyond the present
feelings of my heart, the immediate promptings of my conscience. It
seems to me now impossible that I should ever wrong the trust you both
place in me—impossible that any other should ever step between her heart
and mine. God only knows what is in the future,” he continued, with
mournful sadness, “or how the past may break in and color it.”

He seemed about sinking into a reverie, one of those to which he had
been accustomed, and which gave a serious cast to a character naturally
ardent and impulsive. But the old gipsy grew impatient, and broke in
with something of her native asperity, which had been kept in abeyance
during the entire conversation.

“It is getting late—have you decided, Busne?” she said, without once
removing her eyes, which had been reading him to the soul. Doubts,
struggles, hesitations, all that went to make up the flood of contending
feelings that raged beneath his calm, almost sad exterior, she had been
keenly regarding.

“I _have_ decided,” answered the young man, in a firm, but very sad
voice, “God knows I would have saved her otherwise, if possible! When
and where must this ceremony take place? Not in presence of the tribe;
that I cannot submit to.”

The gipsy uttered one of her sharp, bitter laughs.

“They would kill her and you. No, no, they will think her dead. Before
dawn we went out together; I shall go home _alone_—they will understand.
It is not the first time that old Papita has done that, and always
after, those who sought, have found traces of her work—I shall leave
them now. Fragments of Aurora’s dress are clinging to the brambles where
the Darro runs deepest. They will find footsteps also ground into the
soil, and tangles of black hair. They know Aurora’s hair by the purple

“But she, Aurora, tell me what you have done with her?” inquired the
young man, half terrified by these details.

“She is safe. When the night comes, be ready, and I will take you where
she is.”

“At what hour?”

“Close to midnight, when you see the fires go out along the Barranco,
expect me.”

“I will.”

“Have mules in readiness, and a disguise for the Gitanilla; something
that our people may not fathom readily.”

“It will be easy,” said Clare, after a moment’s thought; “my page died
on the coast—Turner must have his garments somewhere among my luggage—I
will speak with him.”

“Gold will be wanted,” said the gipsy, fixing her hungry glance on the
young man with a meaning he could not possibly misunderstand. He stepped
to a desk that lay in its leather case in a corner of the room, and took
out several rolls of English guineas, enough to fill one hand.

“When you want more, here is an address; ask freely. Would to God all
else were as easy as this,” he said, muttering the latter words in his
own language, and placing a strip of paper, on which he had hastily
written, in her hand.

The Sibyl’s eyes gleamed, and for the first time he saw a smile of
genuine satisfaction flash over her face.

“Oh! this is something like: the Busne is magnificent,” she exclaimed,
eagerly concealing the gold in her dress. “Now they cannot starve old
Papita like a sick hound in its kennel—this is power, and she can defy
them. Let them question her if they dare—let them revile her if they
have the courage, and say her grandchild had the death of shame. What
does Papita care while she has gold and the drao secret.”

The young man smiled faintly. He could not comprehend this fierce
passion for gain in a creature left tottering upon the brink of her
grave so long, with all her bad passions still retaining their keen
edge. He, to whom wealth came freely as the air, could little understand
how want and penury, from which in this world gold alone can save us,
grinds down the most generous nature. He despised the old gipsy woman in
his soul; but had he suffered as she had done, in what might he have
been superior? It is easy to scorn the sin to which we have no

Eager to count over her gold—more than satisfied with her morning’s
success, my great grandame left the Fonde chuckling to herself, and
hugging her treasure with both arms fondly as a mother caresses her
child. On her way down the hill she met Turner, who eyed her like an
angry mastiff, and muttered to himself in English something that she did
not understand. He stood looking after her as she disappeared among the
trees, but she was busy with her gold, and cared nothing for his

“Turner,” said Lord Clare, as that functionary entered the Fonde.

“My lord!” was the terse reply, and by the very tone in which it was
uttered Clare saw that the moment was unpropitious for his orders, and
he gave them, with a faint blush and some hesitation.

“Turner, you will settle with the people here; pack up, and be ready to
start at a moment’s notice.”

“Which way, my lord?”

When Turner was out of sorts his words were very few, and those few came
forth with jerks, as if he plucked them up one by one from the depths of
his bosom.

“I—I have not quite determined. Across to Malija, perhaps.”


“This does not seem to please you, Turner.”

“What right has a servant to be pleased, I should like to know?” was the
gruff rejoinder.

“When an old servant is a faithful friend too, we like to see him
satisfied,” said Clare, in a voice that no woman could have resisted.
But Turner felt his advantage. He saw that his master kept something
back which he hesitated to speak out, and so resolved not to soften his
embarrassment in the least.

“We shall require three saddle mules, the best that can be found in
Granada,” said the master, at length.

“Three! humph!” ejaculated Turner again.

“And others for the luggage,” persisted the young man, more decidedly.

Turner bowed stiffly. He understood this change in his master’s tone,
and did not like to brave him beyond a certain point. After a moment
Clare spoke again.

“You have the clothes that the boy William left, I suppose?” he said,
but without looking his old serving man in the face as usual.

“Yes, I have them, my lord.”

“Very well—leave them out—they will be wanted. I take a new page with me
from hence.”

Turner did not speak now, but his features fell, and with a grave air,
perfectly respectful, but full of rebuke, he stood looking at his young

“Have you a wish to discharge old Turner?” said the servant, at length,
choking back the emotions that seemed forcing the words from his throat.

“Discharge you, Turner; why, you wouldn’t go if I did,” cried the young
lord, forcing a laugh.

“Humph!” groaned the old man; “perhaps it will be vice versa—who knows?”

The blood rushed into Lord Clare’s face, but before he could speak,
Turner left the room.

                             CHAPTER XIII.
                           THE WEIRD WEDDING.


“My lord!”

“Have you prepared the dress I spoke of?”

“It is ready: what shall I do with it, my master?”

“Leave it in my room. The preparations, are they all made?”


“And you will be ready to start at a moment’s warning, night or day?”

“The mules are saddled now; every thing packed!”

“It is well; I shall not want you again for some hours. As we leave
Granada so soon, you may have friends to part with, something to
purchase. Go into the city if you desire.”

“Thank you, my lord!” replied Turner, with more than ordinary meekness;
“I am much obliged by the permission.” The young earl looked up
suddenly. There was a dryness in Turner’s voice that he did not like,
but the immovable face of the old man revealed nothing. He touched his
hat with military brevity and moved away, measuring his long strides
down the avenue with a slow regularity that marked all his movements.

Lord Clare looked after him anxiously, and muttering to himself, “Well,
well, we must manage him some way,” entered the Fonde, and spent some
hours alone in his room walking to and fro, and tortured with those
thousand wild dreams that haunt an imaginative person so like demons
when the great epochs of life are close at hand. The sunset paled around
him, and night came more darkly than is usual in that climate. Still he
ordered no lights, but placing the bundle of page’s garments on the
table near his elbow, sat down and waited in sombre silence.

To reveal all the thoughts that flowed through his mind, one must have
known his previous life, and of that even to this day I am not informed.
Nay, who is ever informed of those acts which give the well-springs of
thought in any human being? Men and women live together under the same
roof, sit at the same board, and talk of knowing each other’s hearts,
feelings, lives. At the Day of Judgment when all hearts will be read,
fold by fold, like the leaves of a book, how will these persons be
astonished at the unspoken feelings, the unimagined acts that have
marked the lives, and burned themselves upon the hearts with which they
believed themselves so familiar.

Lord Clare sat motionless now, for he was waiting with that intense
anxiety which makes one’s own breath a torment, because it disturbs the
stillness with which we desire to envelop ourselves when listening. At
length he heard a step, soft and cat-like, stealing through the passage.
Then the door of his room opened, and in the darkness he saw two eyes
glowing upon him like those of a tiger, when the rest of its body is
concealed among the dusky limbs of a forest tree.

“Come,” said the voice of old Papita, “it is time.”

Lord Clare started up and moved toward the door.

“The clothes, give me the disguise,” whispered the Sibyl; “where is it?”

Without waiting for a reply, she put forth her claw-like hands, felt her
way to the table, and grasped the bundle.

“Come, come,” she whispered, seizing Lord Clare by the hand.

It seemed to him as if his hand were grasped by the claw of a demon, so
hard, dry and hot were those fingers as they clutched his; and as he
stooped that she might whisper in his ear, the hot breath that passed
over his cheek made him shudder. She led him out back of the Fonde amid
broken timbers, loose rocks and rubbish of every description: she
scrambled on, dragging him after her, till they stood by a wooden door
opening, as it seemed, into the embankment behind the Fonde.

Papita pushed at this door, and it gave way, revealing the mouth of a
subterranean passage choked up with darkness.

“Come quickly, or some one may be on the watch,” whispered the Sibyl,
for Lord Clare had hesitated at this forbidding entrance.

He was a brave man, but at this instant many stories of gipsy vengeance
flashed through his mind, and his companion was not one to reconcile
these doubts. There was something too impish and unearthly in her for

“Do you fear? the Busne is brave,” said the Sibyl scornfully—for even
interest could not always keep down her malice—“like a gipsy baby,
afraid of the dark!”

“Peace, woman. It is not fear; but I go into this place only when I am
certain what it contains, and where it ends,” replied the earl, firmly.

“It contains Aurora, and it ends in the palace of the Alhambra,”
answered the Sibyl, promptly. “It was through this passage that the last
Moorish king, Boabdil, left the Alhambra forever. You stand upon the
very earth where he came forth to the day which he had learned to

A deeper gloom fell upon Lord Clare. He looked upward. The black, rugged
towers of the Alhambra loomed between him and the sky. Clouds hung low
upon them, and the dim trees were thick and pall like, blacking the
night below him.

The unfortunate Moorish king seemed near by. Never, perhaps, had history
pressed so close upon a human heart. Lord Clare for a moment forgot his
own position, the Sibyl, Aurora, everything in his intense realization
of the past.

“In, in,” exclaimed the Sibyl. “I see a man creeping round yon corner of
the Fonde; we have no time. If you fear, stay behind: the men of our
people know how to avenge themselves in the day time as well as in the

“Have done—have done,” exclaimed the earl, sharply, “how can you judge
of my thoughts? I trust you in nothing, but am sure of myself. If you
play me false I will shoot you like a dog, woman or no woman; so move on
and only speak when you have something to say.”

He entered the passage speaking, and the next moment was engulphed with
his weird companion in thick darkness.

“Truly, Thomas Turner, my estimable friend, you have got a sad fool for
a master, that is a dead certainty!” muttered old Turner, for it was his
figure the sharp eye of the Sibyl had discovered—“to trust himself now
with this old vagrant—to plunge headforemost into that black pit with
the imp of Satan for a guide. It’s enough to make one’s heart leap into
his mouth and freeze there. But of course it’s the bounden duty of a
good servant to follow his master. Thomas Turner, you are a good
servant, everybody admits that. Therefore, Thomas, my friend,
follow—follow like a brave fellow as you are!”

With these words, Turner, who was in truth a brave fellow, drew his
travelling pistol, settled the lock, and holding it in his right hand,
stole cautiously into the passage.

Nothing could have been better calculated to daunt even a brave man than
the profound stillness, the palpable blackness of this subterranean
passage. Turner had proceeded only a few paces when he felt that like a
cavern it had its compartments and its intricate windings—steps to
ascend and descend. Then to his dismay he found that it branched off
into vaults, and what appeared to be dungeons or secret chambers for
concealment. He paused and listened. Nothing was heard, not even the
sweet gush of waters that in Granada are ever present like the sunshine
or the breeze. All was profound stillness. No footstep, no voice. Deep
midnight and those solid stone walls surrounded him alone. He groped
about, advancing he knew not whither, tempted every moment to call
aloud, though certain that this rash act must defeat his own object.

At last, completely bewildered, he held forth his pistol, and with a
finger on the trigger was about to fire, that at least he might have the
benefit of a flash to guide his course. But that moment a faint sound
reached his ear. He dropped his hand, listened, and moved on. Yes, it
was a light, the faintest possible gleam breaking over the rugged corner
of a wall, but it burned steadily enough to guide him onward.

He moved cautiously, for now the faint hum of voices came stealing
through the vaulted passage, and he knew that the slightest mistake
might expose his presence. Reaching an angle of the wall, he crept into
its shadow and held his breath. Before him was a small chamber, or it
might be merely an enlargement of the passage. An antique house lamp,
rust eaten and moist with mould, hung from the ceiling, evidently
trimmed for the first time in years, for the flame was half buried in
clouds of smoke; and drops of the olive oil, with which it had just been
filled, rolled down the chased sides, leaving a green path in the rust.

In this strange, murky light a group of persons were standing around a
fragment of black marble, in which Turner, with difficulty, traced the
outlines of some very ancient sculpture, like that which in his travels
he had seen on Egyptian idols. Two other persons besides the Sibyl were
present, both in strange garments, and unlike the class of persons he
had yet seen in any province of Spain. But Turner scarcely gave them a
thought. His attention was too eagerly fixed on Lord Clare, who stood
before the platform on which the idol had been lifted, holding a young
girl, undoubtedly of gipsy blood, by the hand.

From their attitude they must have just risen from a kneeling posture,
and some ceremony seemed just concluded. What the ceremony could be
which had brought his master, the withered Sibyl, those strange men and
that wildly beautiful girl around that mutilated form of black marble,
Turner could not even imagine. But the whole scene was weird and strange
enough for the wildest conjecture. The Sibyl stood forward directly
under the lamp. The smoke wreathed in clouds around the fiery red folds
of her turban. Her saya was edged knee deep with the richest gold lace,
bright in broad flashes, then tarnished to a green hue, but still of
unique splendor; her ear-rings glowed over those mummy-like shoulders
like drops of congealed blood. The exulting brightness of her eyes was
terrific. She looked so like an evil spirit that poor Turner absolutely
believed her to be one, who had cast some infernal charm upon his

He shrunk away crowding himself hard against the wall, but still with
his eyes fixed on the group. Lord Clare was very pale, and the grim
light made this pallor and the excitement in his eyes almost unearthly.
A look of painful disgust was on his features, like that of a man who
loathes the thing he has forced himself to do. Once he dropped the
Gitanilla’s hand, looking wearily around as if for something to sit down

                              CHAPTER XIV.
                         THE GITANILLA’S OATH.

Then for the first time Turner saw the eyes of my mother, those
wonderful, glorious eyes, fiery as a star, soft as the dew in a flower
They were lifted to Clare’s face, fondly, wonderingly, as if she
marvelled that he could thus break the delicious joy that thrilled her
heart and soul. There was something of lingering terror yet in her face,
but so blended with the wild, deep passion of her love, that it kindled
up her features like lightning. The old woman was regarding her not with
tenderness, that was impossible. If she had any, it lay so deep in that
rocky old heart that no ripple of it ever disturbed the hardness of her

The Gitanilla drew toward her, took her rigid fingers, and pressed them
to her lips and forehead. She uttered a few words in a tongue unknown to
Turner, and tears crowded one after another into her great bright eyes.
They must have been full of passionate feeling, for the hard, keen eyes
of the Sibyl grew strangely dim, and with her hand she put back the
jetty waves from my mother’s forehead, making the sign of some strange
writing upon its bloodless surface.

They stood together thus, the bright red flounces of their sayas
mingling in waves of gold lace and heavy crimson. The blue bodice of the
girl pressed to the jet black velvet that clung to the form of the Sibyl
like the fragment of some funeral pall. There was something terrible in
their appearance. The old woman’s arms clung around that lithe form with
serpentlike folds. Her turban blended, like waves of fire, with those
raven tresses. It seemed like the embrace of a demon. For the lamp
whirled and flared overhead, swinging to some concealed current of wind,
and the smoke flung around them a dusky veil, now of heavy grey, now
threaded with fire by the unsteady flame. Besides this, was the contrast
of her rich youth with that terrible thing, a wicked old age.

No wonder Turner shrunk against the wall, and grew chilly without
knowing why. No wonder Lord Clare was aroused from all the feelings that
had enchained him till now! He started forward, and would have taken my
mother from the embrace of her last and only relative. But the old woman
thrust him aside, and spoke eagerly with the grand-daughter in the
Rommany tongue; and in this tongue my mother answered her.

Shall I tell you what she was saying? My mother left me a record in the
fragments of her journal. The Sibyl first urged her to win the Busne to
the sending of more and more gold; then she extorted a promise, a
fearful promise, which the poor girl kept but too faithfully.

When the Sibyl relinquished my mother from her embrace, the poor child
staggered and fell away from her arms like a crushed lily. Her lips were
violet color; her face more than bloodless. She seemed to be dying.

Lord Clare took her in his arms and laid her face upon his bosom. It was
beautiful to see the warm flood of life come back to the mysterious
influence of his touch. Her lips grew bright as strawberries; and tears
rolled from her half-closed eyes, dropping like dew upon the peachy
bloom of her cheek. You could see her tremble from head to foot, so
deep, so passionate were the feelings that flooded her young being with
their delicious joy.

The Sibyl looked on with grim satisfaction, but the two strange men
seemed to expostulate with her, or to ask some directions. She answered
them haughtily, and touching the ruby ear-rings with her finger, pointed
down the passage.

They obeyed at once, each bending his head submissively as he passed the
old woman. I do not know how far those ruby ear-rings were symbols of
authority, but my great grandame had some mysterious claim of obedience
from the descendants of those few of her people who aided her ancestress
in the betrayal of Maria de Padilla, and the two men were all of our
tribe who could boast of the treacherous blood that had persuaded that
heroic woman to her terrible death. They believed that obedience unto
death was due the last descendant of the arch-sorceress, who had most
effectually worked out their national hate against the whites. To them
the ruby ear-rings were a symbol of absolute power. Had my great
grandame commanded them to leap into the Darro without a struggle for
life, they would have done it. She only imposed secrecy, craft, and
unscrupulous falsehood, and those things came so naturally that it
required little authority to enforce them.

These men passed Turner without seeing him. He did not heed them, but
still watched the persons who remained standing near the Egyptian idol.

The Sibyl stood directly before Lord Clare, who still half supported her
grand-daughter. Now her manner was imposing, her energy sublime; the
sorceress blood seemed to glow and burn in her veins as she spoke. It
was to Lord Clare she addressed herself, not to the girl. The whispered
words that had withered her cheek and lip, were all the farewell
admonition she had to give her: but that which she said to Clare had the
same effect. Aurora shook with terror as her relative uttered her
last—it might almost be called malediction.

“Go,” she said—“go, and with you take the last drop of my blood that
burns in a human heart. Take her—keep faith with her, nor dream that
this marriage is less binding than if all the high priests of Spain and
of your land, wherever it may be, had celebrated it in the great
cathedral down yonder, with the high altar in a blaze of light, and the
tomb of Queen Isabella giving sanctity to the spot. Look at your wife,
how her eyes dwell upon you—how full of hope and trust they are—how
wildly she wishes to be free from this dim vault, alone with you, and
away from her last of kin. The blossoms that live half in sunshine, half
in snow, on the Sierra Nevada, are not more stainless than this child.
The hot sun that ripens the orange on the Guadalquivir is not more
fervent than her passionate nature—more burning than her pride. Be just
to the child, or beware of the woman. She is in your hands; make of her
what you will, a gazelle or a tiger, the thing you call an angel, or the
thing you fear as a fiend. That which you make her she will be, a
blessing or a curse, which will cling to you for ever and ever. Free to
act, free to marry, these were your words twelve hours ago. This you
believed, and I, the old gipsy, mocked at your folly.

“In England, you say, and here with us, marriages are alike binding unto
death—death, and nothing but death, can separate you from this child.
You have sworn it before my god; she has sworn it before her god; and I
have sworn by all the eternal powers that exist, high or low. Hope not
to shake off Papita’s oath, or your own. Your laws—all the laws of this
nation or yours are but shadows against the stern will of a woman whom
nature has made strong, and treason has left desperate.

“I looked for the stars to-night. They were troubled, buried in clouds,
pale and half extinguished in vapor, as the Darro flings them back when
it is turbid and muddy. So it always is when I would read her fate and
yours. That bespeaks”——

“Stay!” said the earl, sternly, “you are killing her—see how white she
is—how she trembles. Why torture her in this way, it can do no good?”

“I declare to you again I feel it in my soul, and read it in the stars,
nothing but death shall separate you from this, my grand-daughter. Swear
it again!”

She spoke to Aurora, who either from weakness, or obeying the Sibyl’s
gesture, laid her hand on the forehead of the Egyptian idol, and her
white lips moved as if uttering some inward vow. Turner saw this, but
Lord Clare mistook the sudden recoil as an evidence of exhaustion, and
with a flushed cheek sought to protect her from further persecution.

“This has gone too far,” he said; “I will submit no longer. Make what
preparations you will, but in haste, for the night is wearing on.”

“It is enough,” answered the Sibyl. “I have said my say, and the oath is

“Be in haste,” answered the earl impatiently, drawing forth his watch.
“It is now past midnight.”

The old woman drew aside, and by the smoky light Turner saw that she was
searching for something in the folds of her dress.

“Here,” she said, coming forth, “this trinket may be worth something to
you. Our people would have crushed it up for the gold, but I would not
let them.”

She held it in her hand, so that the light fell directly upon an
exquisite little miniature formed like a shell, which the reader will
remember as a portion of the plunder which Chaleco brought from his
expedition to Seville. That side of the case was open which held the
female portrait, and the light fell with peculiar brightness upon the

As Lord Clare saw it he recoiled, drew a sharp breath, and the sudden
paleness that crept over his face was terrible.

“This, and in your hands?” he said, in a husky voice, fixing his
enlarged eyes on the Sibyl. “How dare you, fiend—how dare you?”

The old woman gave a low hiss with her tongue, and looking hard at
Aurora, said, in a clear, sharp tone, “Remember the oath; you will have
need; remember this face too.”

Lord Clare snatched the miniature from her hand with a violence that
made the case shut with a snap, that seemed like the click of a pistol
before it goes off. But my mother had seen the face, and though it made
little impression at the time, when everything seemed like a dream, she
remembered it in after years.

“Now,” said the earl, more fiercely than he had spoken before that
night, “prepare her at once, I will remain here no longer.”

The old woman withdrew, leading my mother with her. They went into some
side passage, and Turner lost sight of them, for he was too deeply
interested in the movements of Lord Clare to leave his position.

The earl watched till they were out of sight, then sat down with his
back against the idol, opened the miniature, gave one glance, shut it
again, and bent his forehead upon the hand in which it was clenched.
Thus he remained motionless till a sound of footsteps aroused him, when
he sprang up, thrust the miniature in his bosom, and stood calm and
immovable as a statue, ready to receive his wife. I call her his wife,
and never, never while there is breath in my bosom, will I, her child,
his child, admit that she was not. Are not our laws as sacred as those
of England?

My mother came forward clad in the pretty attire of an English page, and
so disguised, so full of that beautiful, shrinking modesty which true
women always feel when presented in a doubtful position before a beloved
object, that it could not fail to arouse Lord Clare from the stupor that
had fallen upon him. He smiled faintly as she came forward, and drawing
her arm through his, followed the Sibyl down the subterranean passage,
guided by a small lamp that had stood before the Egyptian idol. They
came out into the fresh night, on the very spot where the Moorish King
gave up the splendor of his life. Lord Clare thought of this, and his
heart grew heavy again.

Turner followed with long, noiseless strides, and gliding behind the
Fonde like a shadow, stood by the mules which had been drawn up beneath
the thick trees ready to receive the party.

An hour after, my poor mother was looking back to obtain one more last
glimpse of Granada, and the gipsy Sibyl sat alone in her cave with a
heap of gold in her lap, counting it over and over by the dim light that
struggled down from a niche in the smoky wall.

                              CHAPTER XV.
                      THE MANSION AND THE COTTAGE.

The first bright picture upon my memory was of Greenhurst, Lord Clare’s
ancestral home. It rests in my mind a background of gorgeous and hazy
confusion, indistinct and mellow as a sunset cloud. Then comes a misty
outline of distant mountains melting into the more clearly defined
middle distance, and in the foreground a beautiful stream sleeping
beneath old trees, sparkling through the hollows, and spreading out like
a lake in the green meadows. A lawn rose softly upward from the banks of
this river, broad and green as emerald. If you parted the soft grass, an
undergrowth of the finest moss met your view like velvet beneath a
wealth of embroidery. Clumps of trees shaded the lawn here and there,
and on either hand, so far as the eye could reach, a park of magnificent
old chestnuts, with a fine variety of oaks, filled the eye with the vast
wealth of their foliage.

A dozen avenues led through this park, some of them miles in length, and
almost all commanded some view of the old mansion. One revealed a gable
cutting picturesquely against the sky; another commanded the back
entrance, with its massive stonework, burdened with heavy armorial
bearings, and heaped with quarterings till the herald office itself
would have been puzzled to unravel them. A third opened upon the east
wing, with its broad bay windows curving into old stone balconies
covered with ponderous sculpture, its antique casements filled with
single sheets of plate glass which shone through the ivy like flashes of
a river between the trees that fringe it—thus was blended all that is
gay and cheerful in our times with the sombre magnificence of the long
ago, beautifully as we find the sunshine pouring its glory into the dark
bosom of a forest.

This view I remember best, for it was the first object that ever
fastened itself upon my memory. A waste of flower-beds, clumps of rich
trees, and the wilderness, as we called a tract of land in which all the
wildness of nature was carefully preserved, lay between the little
antique cottage that I was born in and Greenhurst.

Lord Clare had his own rooms in that wing of the building, and a
footpath bordered with wild blossoms, rich ferns, and creeping ivy,
wound from a flight of stone steps that descended from his apartments,
around the circular flower-beds, and through the wilderness to the
jessamine porch of our dwelling. It was a well-trodden path when I first
remember it; and no foot ever passed down its entire length but that of
Lord Clare. Even the gardeners felt that to be in that portion of the
grounds, after the master left his apartments, was an intrusion. Turner,
dear, good old Turner, visited us every day, but he always came down the
chestnut avenue. No other servant from the mansion ever came near us.

A Spanish woman who had learned but little English, was all the domestic
we had. Lord Clare had brought her from Malaga, and had she spoken his
language well, the most prying curiosity could have gained no
information regarding my parents from her.

Our cottage was the loveliest little dwelling on earth. White roses,
rich golden multifloras, and the most fragrant of honeysuckles covered
it to the roof. You were forced to put back a sheet of blossoms with
each hand like drapery every time you opened a casement. The stone porch
was sheeted over and fringed down with white jessamine: and the garden
that surrounded it was a perfect labyrinth of blossoms. Crimson fuchias,
purple and white petunias, verbenas of every tint, roses of every clime,
heliotrope and carnations made the earth gorgeous, and the air soft with

The peaked roof shot up among the branches of a noble elm tree, and when
there was a high wind I loved to watch the old rook’s nest sway to and
fro above the chimney tops, while the birds wheeled and cowered among
the branches like widowers at a funeral.

The interior of the house was like a cabinet. Pictures collected from
abroad, each a gem that might have been piled an inch deep with gold and
its value not yet obtained, hung upon the walls. Antique cabinets of
tortoise-shell and gold, lighted up with precious stones, stood in the
principal room; soft, easy chairs glowing with crimson velvet; tables of
Sèvres china, in which beds of flowers and masses of fruit glowed, as if
just heaped together by some child that had overburdened its little arms
in the garden; others of that fine mosaic only to be found in Italy;
carpets from Persia, from Turkey, and one Gobelin, rendered that cottage
one nest of elegance. Everything was in proportion, and selected with
the most discriminating taste. Small as the building was compared to
Greenhurst, it did not seem crowded, yet there was garnered up
everything that Lord Clare held most precious.

It was well for us, for he could not have lived away from the beautiful.
His taste, his sensuous enjoyment of material things might gain new zest
by brief contrasts of the hard and the coarse, but he would not have
endured them altogether. Thus it was often said that no man sustained
himself under privation or the toil of travel better than he did. He not
only endured but enjoyed it. The effort sharpened his appetite for the
luxurious and the beautiful. In his whole life, heart and soul, he was
an epicure.

Perhaps he had some motive beyond his own convenience in thus
surrounding my mother with objects a queen might have envied. He might
have wished to overwhelm her remembrance of the miserable gipsy cave in
the ravine at Granada by this superb contrast, or possibly it was only a
caprice, a natural desire to surround her and himself with things that
enrich the intellect and charm the sense. My mother thought it a proof
of affection, but she was a child. We often heap material benefits on
the being who has a right to our devotion as an atonement for the deeper
feeling which the heart cannot render. The man who truly loves requires
no stimulant from without. He is always surrounded by the beautiful.

Another might have feared that this sudden change of condition would
have set awkwardly on a creature so untutored as my mother—for remember
she was a mere child, not more than sixteen when I was born—but genius
adapts itself to everything; and if ever a woman of genius lived, that
woman was the gipsy wife of Lord Clare. His wife, I say—his wife!—his
wife! I will repeat it while I have breath; she was his wife. What had
the laws of England to do with a contract made in Spain? What—but I will
not go on. My blood burns—the wild Rommany blood of my mother—it has
turned his blood into fire that smoulders, but will not consume. There
are times when I hate myself for the English half of life that he gave
me. Yet I cannot think of him, so kind, so gentle, so full of
intellectual refinement, without a glow of admiration. It is his
people—his nation—his laws that I hate, not him—not his memory. Indeed,
at times, I feel the tears crowd into my eyes when I think of him. My
hate is a bitter abstraction after all. When I reflect, it glides from
him like rain from the plumage of an eagle.

You should have seen my mother in that beautiful home back of the
wilderness at Greenhurst. The moist climate of England refreshed her
beauty like dew; her lithe figure had become rounded into that graceful
fullness which we find in the antique statues of Greece, still the
elasticity, the wild freedom remained. She was more gentle, more quiet,
almost sleepily tranquil, because the fullness of her content arose from
perfect love and perfect trust. She had left nothing in Spain to regret;
and every hope that she held in existence was centred at Greenhurst.
Never did there exist a creature so isolated. She had no being, no
thought, save in her husband. In the wide, wide world he was her only
friend, her sole acquaintance even.

I do not think that she left the park once during her whole stay in
England. The noble little Arabian that she rode knew every avenue and
footpath in the enclosure, but never went beyond it. She did not seem to
feel that there was a world outside the shadow of those old trees. She
felt not the thralls of society, nor cared for its mandates more than
she had done in the barranco at Granada; but a delicious and broad sense
of freedom—an outgushing of her better nature made this, her new
existence, perfect heaven compared to that.

With time her intellect had started into vigorous life. A teacher so
beloved, with perceptions quick as lightning, had kindled up the rich
ore of her nature, and you could see the flash of awakened genius in
every change of her countenance. Still the world remained a dream to
her; she never thought of human beings except as they were presented to
her in books—and Lord Clare selected every volume that she read. He was
not likely to present knowledge of conventional life to a person
situated as she was, with a mind so acute and imaginative. No, it was
the lore of past ages that she studied. Those noble old authors of
Greece and Rome whom Clare understood so well, became familiar to her as
his own voice. Without having the least idea of it, she was deeply
imbued not only with classical knowledge, but with the lofty feelings
that inspired those ancient authors, who seldom find themselves echoed
with full tone in the mind of woman.

Think what a character hers must have been, with all this grand poetry
grafted into the wild gipsy nature.

Still my mother was not perfectly happy; a vague want haunted even her
tranquil and luxurious existence. It was a feeling, not a thought, the
shadowy longing of a heart loving to the centre, which finds half the
soul that should have answered it clothed in mystery. She could not
account for this hungry feeling. It was not suspicion—it was not a
doubt, but something deeper and intangible. The love which fills a bosom
like hers always flings its own shadow, for love is the sunshine of
genius, and shadows ever follow the pathway of the sun.

Still, her life was very happy, not the less so, perhaps, for these
wandering heart-mists. My birth had its effect also, for it seems to me
that no woman thoroughly sounds the depths of her soul till she becomes
a mother. I have read her journal at this period, and every sentence is
a rich, wild gush of poetry; you can almost feel a torrent of blissful
sighs warming the paper on which she wrote, such as a mother feels when
the first-born sleeps upon her bosom for the first time.

                              CHAPTER XVI.
                      CONCEALMENTS AND SUSPICIONS.

And now I have an existence, I am a human soul growing like a flower in
the warmth of that young bosom, flitting through the house and haunting
my mother’s lap like a bird. The first memory that I have is like a
starbeam, as quick and vivid. My mother sat in a little room somewhere
in an angle of the building just at sunset. Her hair was down; the
Spanish woman had unbraided the long tresses, and shaken them apart in
dark wavy masses. They fell over the crimson cushions of her chair to
the ground. The sash doors were open into a stone balcony choked up with
clematis. The sunset came through in golden flashes, kindling up those
black waves till they shone with a purple bloom. Her dress was crimson,
of camel’s hair, I think, with a violet tinge, and flowing down her
person in soft folds, that glowed in the light like pomegranates on the
bough. Half over her shoulders and half upon the chair, was a cashmere
shawl of that superb palmleaf pattern which looks so quiet, but is so
richly gorgeous; a profusion of black lace fell around her arms and
neck, contrasting the golden brown of her complexion. Her eyes—I never
saw such eyes in my life—so large, so radiant, yet so soft; the lashes
were black as jet, and curled upward.

It is useless. I can remember, but not describe her, that peach-like
bloom, those soft lips so full, so richly red. I have no idea where I
was at the time, only that I saw her sitting in that room so much like a
picture, and felt that she was my mother.

She was looking into the garden with an expression of tranquil
expectation on her face. I remember watching the shadows from her
eyelashes as they lay so dreamily on her cheeks, for though she
evidently expected some one, it was not with doubt; she was quiet as the
sunbeams that fell around her, now and then turning her head a little as
the Spanish woman gathered up a fresh handful of her hair, but still
with her half-shut eyes fixed upon the footpath that led through the

I sat down upon some cushions that had been left in the balcony, and
watched her through the open sash till the heavy folds of hair were
braided like a coronet over her head, and her look became a little
anxious. Then I too began to gaze across the intervening flower-beds
upon the footpath, as if a share in the watchfulness belonged to me.

At last, as the golden sunset was turning to violet, and one felt the
unseen dew as it fell, I saw, through the purple mist, a man walking
slowly along the footpath. My heart leaped, I uttered a little shout,
and clasping my hands, looked up to my mother. Her lips were parted, and
her eyes flashed like diamonds.

“It is the Busne—the Busne,” I said.

She took me in her arms, and smothering me with glad kisses, murmured,
“My Busne, mine, mine!”

I answered back. “No, no, mine,” holding my hand to her mouth, and still
shouting “mine!”

Her beautiful face grew cloudy. My words made her restive: she would not
have her entire right questioned even in sport by her own child. She
placed me upon the cushions, and turning away entered the room again.

My father came across the flower garden with a quicker pace. He held a
light basket in his hand which I saw with a shout, making a desperate
effort to clamber over the old stone balustrade, which was at least ten
feet from the ground. He held up his hand reprovingly, called for me to
go back, and turning a corner of the house, was in the room with my
mother before I could disentangle my hands and clothes from the
multiflora and clematis vines into which I had plunged.

This too was the first time that the person of my father fixed itself
definitely on my remembrance. He stood leaning over my mother’s chair,
holding her head back with a soft pressure of the hand upon her
forehead, and gazing down into her upturned eyes with a smile that might
have been playful, but for a certain undercurrent of sadness that could
not escape the sharp perception of a child like me. Yet even this added
to the singular beauty of his face, a strange type of beauty that
combined the most delicate physical organization with a high order of
mental strength. His forehead, square and high, without being absolutely
massive, was white as an infant’s, and in moments of rest as smooth. But
a painful thought or a disturbing event would ripple over its delicate
surface like the wind over a snow-drift. The brows grew heavy; two faint
lines marked themselves lengthwise upon the forehead just between the
eyes; a peculiarity that I have never seen save in persons of high
talent. The contrast between him and my mother was almost startling, he,
so fair, so refined, so slender, with a reservation as if he concealed
half; she, dark, vivid, resplendent, with every impulse sparkling in her
eye before it reached the lip; wild as a bird—uncalculating as a child,
but with passion and energy that matched his. When two such spirits move
on harmoniously it is heaven, for the great elements of character are
alike in each; but when they clash, alas! when they clash!

I cannot tell what feelings actuated my parents, or if anything had
happened to disturb them, but they grew sad, gazing into each other’s
eyes, till with a faint smile he dropped his hand from her head, saying,
“am I late, Aurora!”

She answered him, and rising with a bright smile, drew the shawl around
her. He sat down in her chair, and she sunk noiselessly as a woman of
the Orient down to the cushions.

I was completely overlooked, but if they were forgetful, I was not. The
little basket stood upon the floor, where my father had placed it. I
crept that way softly, took up a layer of fragrant blossoms, and there,
interspersed with vine leaves, I discovered some of the most delicious
hothouse grapes, purple and amber-hued, with peaches that seemed to have
been bathed in the sunset.

In my delight, I uttered an exclamation. My father looked round.

“Come hither, mischief,” he said, threatening me with his finger! “Come
hither with the fruit. It is for your mother.”

She half started from her cushion, and held out both hands, as I came
tottering across the carpet, with the basket in my arms. It was for her,
and he brought it. That was enough to render anything precious; besides
the fruit was very fine, and the hothouses at Greenhurst had produced
none that season. Her eyes sparkled as she received the basket in her

“There,” she said, filling my greedy hands with a peach and a bunch of
grapes; “go away, little ungrateful, to forget papa’s kiss in searching
after plunder—sit down and be quiet.”

I sat down, and while devouring my fruit, watched and listened as
children will.

“How beautifully they are arranged!” said my mother, placing and
replacing the peaches with her hand, for she had the eye and taste of an
artist; “how rich, all the exquisite delicacy of spring blossoms with a
fruity ripeness! One can almost taste the fragrance in a peach; at
least, I fancy so.”

“Your fancy would almost create a reality!” said my father, smiling.

“How beautiful, how kind in you to devote so much time and so much taste
all for us!” continued my mother, lifting her radiant eyes to his; “for
I know who did all this, not the old gardener, nor dear good Turner,
they could never have blended these leaves.”

“Nay, nay,” answered Lord Clare, over whose lips a mischievous smile had
been playing, “do not fling away so much thankfulness; neither the
gardener, Turner, or myself had anything to do with it. The fruit came
from some kind neighbor, I fancy, who wishes to break my gardener’s
heart, for not a peach or grape has ripened as yet under his
supervision. I found the basket on a table in my room, and as it was
prettily arranged, and looked deliciously ripe, I saved it for you and
the child.”

A shade came over the superb eyes of my mother, but she smiled and
murmured, “Very well, you brought them, that is real at least.”

“Yes, yes, I brought them sure enough,” he answered, laughing, as he
watched me crowding one grape after another into my mouth, while I
devoured the rest with my eyes. “See, it is one of Murillo’s children
eating grapes. You remember the picture in Munich?”

“Yes, oh, it is very like! What eyes the creature has! How greedily she
eats, she is the picture itself!” and my mother laughed also, the last
thoroughly gleeful laugh that I ever heard from her lips.

I did not trouble myself about the Murillo, but the fruit was delicious,
that was quite enough for me, so I shook my head and would have laughed
too had that been possible with so many grapes in my mouth.

“Ah, what is this?” exclaimed my mother, holding up a rose-colored note
which she had found among the cape jessamines that lay in a wreath
between the basket and the fruit.

“This will explain who has sent the gift, I fancy,” answered my father,
taking the note; “I searched for something of the kind at first, but
could find nothing.”

He unfolded the paper carelessly as he spoke. She was looking up, and I
had stopped eating, curious to know all about it. I shall never forget
the change that came over my father as the writing struck his eye. His
face, even to the lips, whitened. He felt her gaze upon him, and crushed
the note in his hand, while flashes of red came and went across his

She turned pale as death, and without asking a question stood up,
swaying as if a current of air swept over her. Some magnetic influence
must have linked us three together. Surely the pulses in my father’s
heart reached some string in ours by those subtle affinities that no
wisdom has yet explained. I felt a chill creeping over me; the fruit lay
neglected in my lap, I cast it aside upon the carpet, and creeping to my
mother, clung to her hand, hiding myself in the folds of her robe.

My father still held the note, gazing upon it in silence, buried in
thought. His face had regained its pallid composure; he seemed to have
forgotten our presence. At length he looked up, but not at us, and with
a forced smile broke the seal. He glanced at the contents, then held it
toward my mother with the same constrained air and smile; but his hand
shook, and even I could see that something very painful had come over

“From Marston Court.”

This, with a date, was all the note contained. She read it over and over
again. It explained nothing. It was but a single sentence, the name of a
place of which she had never heard, but she looked in his face and
remained pale as before. The intuition of a heart like hers is stronger
than reason.

A constraint fell upon us. I crept away among my cushions, and felt the
twilight darken around us. Then I sunk into a heavy-hearted sleep, for
my parents were both silent, and I was soon forgotten.

When I awoke the windows were still open, and the room seemed empty. The
moonbeams lay white and full upon the clematis vines, and their blossoms
stirred beneath them like masses of snow. Children always turn to the
light. Darkness seems unnatural to them. I crept out into the balcony,
and clambering up the old balustrade, looked out on the garden. Close by
the wilderness where the shadows lay deepest, I saw a man walking to and
fro like a ghost. Once he came out into the moonlight, and I knew that
it was my father.

A narrow flight of steps, choked up with creeping vines, ran down from
the balcony. I scrambled over them on my hands and knees, tearing my way
through the clematis like a wild animal, and leaving great fragments of
my dress behind. I ran through the flower-beds, trampling down their
sweet growth, and pausing on the verge of the shadow—for I was afraid of
the dark—called out.

My father came up hurriedly with an exclamation of surprise, and
evidently alarmed. His hat was off—his beautiful brown hair, damp and
heavy with night dew—but his hands were hot as he lifted me up, and when
I clung to his neck and laid my cheek to his, it was like fire.
Moonlight gives almost supernatural brilliancy to the human eye. His
glittered like stars.

“My child, my poor child,” he said, “what is the matter? How came you
abroad? Your little feet are wet with dew, wet, clothes and all; what
has come over us, my pet, my darling?”

He took out his watch and looked at it in the moonlight. It was twelve
o’clock. Holding me close to his bosom, he strode across the garden and
up the steps, crushing the vines beneath his feet. There was no light in
the chamber, but upon the cushion which she had occupied at his feet sat
my mother. The moon had mounted higher, and its light fell like a great
silver flag through the casement. She sat in the centre motionless and
drooping like a Magdalene, with light streaming over her from the
background, as we sometimes, but rarely, see in a picture.

At the noise of my father’s footstep, she started up, and came forth
with a wild, wondering look.

“How is this, Aurora?” he said, in a voice of mild reproof, “I left you
with the child hours ago, and now when I thought you both at rest, she
is wandering away in the night, wet through and shivering with cold.”

“I did not know it. When you went out a strange numbness fell upon me.
It seemed as if I were in the caves at Granada again, and that all our
people were preparing to take me to the Valley of Stones, I was so
passive, so still!”

“Aurora!” said my father, in a tone of bitter reproof, “you know how I
loathe that subject—never mention it again—never think of it!”

“I never have thought of it till to-night,” she answered, abstractedly,
“why should I?”

“And why to-night?”

“I do not know. My life has two sides, one all blackness,” here she
shuddered—“the other all light; the barranca at Granada, and this house,
my grandmother and you.”

Her face became radiant with affection, as she lifted it to his in the

“Why should she come between us even in my thought? You are here, you,
my child, my home. What has cast this heavy burden on my soul? It is the
gipsy blood beginning to burn again: surely nothing has happened.”

She questioned him closely with her eyes, thus pleading with him to
silence the vague doubts that haunted her; he answered faintly,
“Nothing, child, nothing has happened.”

She drew a deep breath, and gave forth a faint laugh.

“Ah, how strangely I have felt. It must have been the cold night air.
This England is so chilly, and you, how damp your clothes seem. Your
hair is saturated! Come in, beloved, come in, my poor child, my bird of
Paradise, she will perish!”

Lord Clare bore me into the chamber. Lights were obtained, and my wet
garments were exchanged for a night robe of delicate linen.

“See if I do not take care of her,” said my mother, folding the cashmere
shawl around me, while great tears crowded to her eyes, and she looked
timidly into his face.

“I do not doubt it,” he answered, kindly, “she is warm now and getting
drowsy upon your bosom. Go to rest; both need it. Do you know it is
after midnight?”

He touched her forehead with his lips, and kissing me, prepared to go.
She looked after him, and her great eyes said a thousand times more than
she would have dared to speak.

He hesitated, said something about the necessity of being early at
Greenhurst, and then, as if restraint had become irksome beyond
endurance, laid his hand on the stone balustrade, and leaped over.

My mother drew me closer and closer to her bosom, as his footsteps died
on the still air. I remember no more, only that in the morning I awoke
in her arms with the shawl folded around me. She had not been in bed all

                             CHAPTER XVII.
                           THE OLD ESCRITOIR.

After this night I never remember to have seen that rich, fruity smile
upon my mother’s lips again. Bear in mind, there had been no quarrel
between her and Lord Clare; not even a hard word; but she loved him so
deeply, so fatally. She who had no world, no thought, no existence that
did not partake of him, and her trust in him had been like the faith of
a devotee. All at once she _felt_ that he had secrets, thoughts,
memories, many things long buried in his heart, of which she had no
knowledge. She had gathered it only from a look; but if all the angels
of heaven had written it out in fire before her eyes, the revelation
could not have been more perfect.

And now the proud tranquillity of her life, the rich contentment of her
love departed forever. The gipsy blood fired up again; she was restless
as a wild bird. Her care of me relaxed. I ran about the park recklessly,
like the deer that inhabited it. She rode out sometimes alone, and
always at full speed. I saw her often talking with old Turner, and
observed that he looked anxious and distressed after their

She was a proud creature, that young gipsy mother, but it was a pride of
the soul, that which blends with genius as platina strengthens and
beautifies gold. All the sweet trusting fondness of manner which had
made her love so luxurious and dreamy, changed to gentle sadness. She
met Lord Clare meekly and with a certain degree of grateful submission,
but without warmth. It was the humility which springs from excess of
pride. In the whole range of human feelings there is not a sensation
that approaches so near to meekness, as the pride of a woman who feels a
wrong but gives it no utterance.

Lord Clare saw and understood this. You could see it in his air; in his
slow step as he approached the house; in the anxious look with which he
always regarded my mother on their first meetings. He grew more tender,
more solicitous to divine her wishes, but never asked an explanation of
the change that had come over her. What was the reason of this? Why did
Lord Clare remain silent on a subject that filled both their thoughts?
Those who know the human heart well can best answer.

Lord Clare had reached that point in life when we shrink from new
sources of excitement. I have said that he was young only in years. The
romance of suffering had long since passed away. He was capable of
feeling the pain, nothing more.

Close by Lord Clare’s estate, and visible through the trees in winter,
when no foliage intervened, was an old mansion that had once been
castellated, but modern art had transformed it into a noble dwelling,
leaving the old keep and some prominent towers merely for their
picturesque effect. A large estate surrounded it, sweeping down, on the
north, to that of Lord Clare’s, and extending as far as the eye could
reach toward the mountain ridges that terminated the view.

The estate had belonged to a wealthy banker of London, one of those city
men who sometimes, by their energies, sweep the possessions of the
peerage into their coffers with a sort of ruthless magic. This man had
married a distant relative of Lord Clare—a lady who at one time had been
an inmate of his father’s family. She had married the banker suddenly,
most people supposed for his wealth, for she carried nothing but high
birth and connections to her city bridegroom.

The dwelling, of which I speak, had been purchased before the marriage,
as a surprise for the lady. Close to the estate of her young relative,
almost regal in its splendor, what gift could be more acceptable to the
bride? It was purchased, renovated, furnished, and settled upon her. On
her bridal morning only she became aware of the fact. Those who
witnessed the ceremony saw that the bride turned pale, and that a
strange look came into her face as she acknowledged the magnificent
kindness of her bridegroom; but one brief visit was all that she made to
the estate, and it became a matter of comment that Lord Clare should
have started on his foreign travels the day before the bridal party
arrived in the neighborhood.

Now Mr. Morton was dead, and about this time his widow, Lady Jane, came
down to live at the castle. Turner informed us of this, but there was
something in his manner that did not please me. His precise language,
and that sort of solemn drollery that made him so unique, and to us so
lovable, abandoned him as he told this news. His dear, honest, eyes
wavered, and there was something wrong in his whole appearance that I
shall never forget.

Another piece of news he brought us after this. Lord Clare’s sister, a
lady some years older than himself, had arrived at Greenhurst, and more
company was expected. This lady was a widow, and heiress at law to the
title and entailed estates, for both descended alike to male or female
heir. My poor mother knew nothing of all this; how should she? The laws,
and even customs of England were a sealed book to her. She only felt
that strangers were intruding into her paradise, and the shadows around
her home grew deeper and deeper.

I fancy all this gossip was brought to us by Lord Clare’s direction, for
he never mentioned the subject himself, and poor old Turner certainly
did not seem to find much pleasure in imparting unpleasant information.
With all his eccentricities, he was a discreet and feeling man.

I have said that I ran wild about the grounds, like a little witch or
fairy. This made me bold and reckless. I put no limits to my rambles,
but trampled through flower-beds, waded rivulets, and made myself
acquainted with everything I met without fear. Up to this time I had
never entered the mansion nor met any of the servants without avoiding
them. Perhaps I had been directed to do this. I cannot remember if it
was the command of my mother or an intuition. But now I ventured into
the garden, the graperies, and at length into the house itself.

I had not seen Lord Clare in several days, and possibly it was a longing
for his presence that gave me courage to steal up the broad, oaken
staircase, and along the sumptuous rooms that lay beyond.

The magnificence did not astonish me, for it was only on a broader scale
than the exquisite arrangement of my own pretty home; but the stillness,
the vast breadth and depth of the apartments filled me with a sort of
awe, and I crept on, half afraid, half curious, to see what would come

At length I found myself in a little cabinet. The walls were hung with
small pictures; the carpet was like wood-moss gleaming through flowers;
two or three crimson easy chairs stood around. On a table lay some
curious books in bindings of discolored vellum, others glowing with
purple and gold, the ancient and modern in strong contrast. An escritoir
of ebony, sculptured an inch deep, and set with precious stones, stood
near it; some papers lay upon the open leaf, and a small drawer was half
out, in which were other papers, folded and emitting a faint perfume.

Child-like, I clambered up the chair that stood before this desk and
began tossing the papers about. Something flashed up from the drawer
like a ray of light. I plunged my hand in again and drew forth a golden
shell, frosted over with ridges of orient pearls and edged with
diamonds. I clasped the gem between my hands and sprang down with a glad
little shout, resolved to examine it at my leisure. Either the leap or
the pressure of my hands opened the spring, and when I sat down on the
carpet and unclosed my fingers, the shell flew open, and I saw the face
of Lord Clare. I had not seen my father in some days, and as if the
portrait had been himself, I fell to kissing it, murmuring over the
endearing names that his presence always prompted.

After a little, my eyes fell on the opposite half of the shell, and the
face that met my gaze checked my joy; it was not beautiful, but a
singular fascination hung about the broad forehead and the clear,
greyish blue eyes. The power embodied there enthralled me more than
beauty could have done. My murmurs ceased; my heart stopped its gleeful
beating; I looked on the pair with a sort of terror, yet could not
remove my eyes.

All at once I heard steps in the next room. Huddling the miniature up
with the folds of my scarlet dress, I sat upon the floor, breathless and
full of wild curiosity, but not afraid. The door opened and Lord Clare
came in. He did not observe me, for a cloud of lace from one of the
windows fell between us, and he sat down by the desk wearily leaning his
forehead in the palm of one hand. I heard him sigh and observed that he
moved his hand rapidly across his forehead two or three times, as if to
assuage the pain of some harassing thought.

Still with the miniature and some folds of my dress huddled together, I
got up, and moving toward the desk clambered softly up the chair on
which he sat. Putting one arm around his neck, I laid my head close to
his cheek and murmured, after the fashion of my gipsy mother, “Oh, my
Busne, my Busne!”

He started violently; my weight drew back the chair, and I fell heavily
to the carpet.

“Child, child, how came you here?” cried my father, looking down upon
me, pale as death, and excited beyond anything I had ever witnessed,
“surely, surely, your mother cannot have brought you—tell me, was it
Turner—was it”——

“No, no,” I answered, forcing back the tears of pain that sprung to my
eyes, “it was myself, not Turner, not mamma, only myself—my own self; I
came alone; I will go alone—I and the pretty Busne in my dress. That
will not throw me down—that will not strike my head, and fill my eyes
with sparks of fire. It is the good Busne, mamma and I loved—it will
make her glad again. Let me go out—me and the good Busne.”

I still lay upon the floor, for the blow against my head made it reel
when I attempted to move; but my hand clung to the miniature, and a
fierce spirit of rage, hitherto unknown, possessed me. He stooped over
me with his old, gentle manner, and attempted to lift me in his arms,
but in my rage I shrunk away.

“You don’t love me—you don’t love mamma,” I cried, fighting him back
with one hand. “She knows it—I know it, and so does good Turner. You go
away one, two, four days, and all that time she sits this way, looking
on the floor.”

I struggled to a sitting posture and sunk into the abstracted manner
that had become habitual to my mother. I do not know what chord of
feelings was struck by this position, but tears crowded into his eyes,
and dropping on one knee by my side, he laid a hand on my head. I sprang
up so violently that the miniature fell to my feet, glittering and open.

“Child, gipsy, where did you get this?” he cried, white with agitation,
and seizing my arm. “There!” I answered, stamping my foot, and pointing
with my clenched hand to the desk.

“Who told you—how dare you?”

“No one told me—dare, what is that?” I answered, meeting his pale anger
with fire in my heart and eyes.

“Contaminated again by this gipsy gang,” he muttered, gazing upon the
female face. “Jane, Jane, to what degradation you have driven me.”

I listened greedily. The name of that woman was Jane; how from that hour
I hated the sound.

“Go!” he said to me, sternly, “go and never enter this room again. Tell
your mother that this mad life must have an end. You shall not run
through the estate like a gip—like a wild animal.”

Every word sunk like a drop of gall into my heart—the bitterness—the
scorn—the angry mention of my mother’s name. I left the miniature in his
hand, and, with my infant teeth scarcely larger than pearls clenched
hard, turned away, burning with futile wrath. He called me back, but I
kept on. Again he called, and his voice trembled. It only filled my
little heart with scorn that a man should not hold his anger more
firmly. In order to avoid him, I fled like a deer through the spacious
apartments, ignorant what direction I ought to take, but determined to
run anywhere rather than speak to him again.

                             CHAPTER XVIII.
                       THE LADY OF MARSTON COURT.

I sprang forward like a hunted animal, through ante-rooms, chambers,
halls, and galleries. At last I stood panting and wild as an uncaged
bird, in what seemed a little summer parlor, opening upon the most
blooming nook of a flower garden. Broad sash windows led to the ground,
flooding the room with cheerful light. If I remember correctly, for
nothing but a dizzy sense of luxurious elegance reached me at the time,
the apartment was filled with rich, old-fashioned furniture, which
required the graceful relief of embroidered cushions, and a lavish
supply of flowers to make it so cheerful as it seemed.

All the doors in that house opened without noise, and, though I rushed
in madly enough, the carpets were too thick for any sound of my
tumultuous approach to precede me. A lady sat in one of the low windows
reading. I started and held my breath—not from fear, that from infancy
had been a sentiment unknown to me—but a terrible sensation, which even
now I can neither explain nor describe, seized upon me. The face of that
woman was the one I had seen, in the miniature. The same grandeur of
forehead, the same eyes—not beautiful in repose, but full of all the
latent elements of beauty. The same blended strength and sweetness in
the mouth and chin was there.

She was in deep mourning. A crape bonnet and veil lay on the sofa by her
side, and her golden hair contrasted with the sweeping sable of her
bombazine dress. She was neither handsome nor young, yet the strange
mesmeric influence that surrounded that woman had a thousand times more
power over those who could feel it, than youth or the most perfect
loveliness of form and features could have secured. Her influence over
me was a sort of enchantment. I held my breath, and remember feeling a
deep sentiment of pity for my mother. I had no reason for this, and was
a mere child in all things, but the moment my eyes fell on that woman
they filled with tears of compassion for my mother.

She was reading and did not know of my presence; but after a moment Lord
Clare came hastily forward in pursuit of me, and though his footsteps
gave forth no sound, and his movements were less rapid than mine, I
could see that she _felt_ his approach; for her pale cheek grew scarlet,
and I saw the book tremble like a leaf in her hand. He passed me, for I
stood close to the wall, and entered the room before she looked up. Then
their eyes met, and hers, oh, how warmly they sparkled beneath the
drooping lids after that first glance!

Lord Clare checked his footsteps, stood a moment irresolute, then
advanced toward her. She rose, and I saw that both trembled, and their
voices were so broken that some murmured words passed between them which
escaped me. The first sentence that I understood was from the lady.

“I thought that your sister had arrived, and drove over, notwithstanding
your uncousinly neglect of my note.”

“She is expected every moment,” answered Lord Clare, in a gentle but
firm voice, for his self-possession had returned.

He sat down as if forced to do the honors of his house, and made some
cold inquiries after the lady’s health, but without looking at her. The
lady was greatly agitated, I could see that plainly enough. Her color
came and went, and if she attempted to speak, her lips trembled and
uttered no sound. Her eyes were fixed upon Lord Clare, and, in my whole
life, I have never seen anything so full of the soul’s grandeur as those
eyes while they slowly filled with tears. They had not uttered a word
for some moments, then with a quiver not only of the lips, but of all
her features, she uttered his name.


He looked up shivering like a leaf to the sound, and well he might, for
never did a proud woman’s soul go more eloquently forth in a single

“What would you with me, Lady Jane Morton?” he said, with that measured
firmness which often precedes the breaking down of a man’s stern will.

“I would say,” answered Lady Jane, and the tears rolled one by one down
her burning cheeks as she spoke, “I would say that my pride, my
stubbornness has wronged you.”

“It has indeed,” was the still cold reply.

“I would—I would speak of my regret.”

“What can regret avail? Lady, tell me if you have the power—what can
atone for years of wasted youth—affections trampled to the dust, a life

“Ah, Clarence.”

How strangely the name sounded. I had never heard it in my life before,
and I am sure my poor mother was ignorant that he was called Clarence.
This among the rest he had hoarded from her.

“Oh, Clarence, I feel—I have long felt how cruel, how ungrateful, how
miserably proud I was—but I, I, do you think _I_ have not suffered?”

Lord Clare looked at her suddenly. An expression of painful surprise
came over his pale features.

“Why should you have suffered?” he questioned, almost sternly, “because
you pitied the man you had scorned?”

“Because I loved him!” The words seemed wrung from the very depths of
her heart. Her face fell forward, and she buried its shame in her hands.

Lord Clare sprang to his feet. A glow of such joy as I have never seen
on a human face before or since, transfigured him. His eyes absolutely
blazed; and a smile, oh, the glory of that smile poured its sunshine
over his features. It lasted but a moment, the next that beautiful joy
went out. Some sharp memory convulsed his features, and he dropped back
in his seat again. His eyes had fallen upon me.

She looked up and only saw the last miserable expression of his face. A
faint groan burst from her lips, and you could see her noble form shrink
with a sense of humiliation.

“I know—I know,” she cried, clasping her hands, and making a strong
effort to subdue the anguish of disappointment that seized upon her—“my
cruelty has done its work—even the poor privileges of friendship cannot
be ours.”

“It is too late—too late,” said Lord Clare, turning his eyes almost
fiercely upon my little form where it crouched by the wall.

“Still,” said Lady Jane, with more firmness, “I must not be condemned as
heartless and unprincipled where my motives were all good, and my
judgment only in fault. That which was self-sacrifice must not rest in
your heart as perfidy. I was proud, unreasonable, but as I live all this
was from a solemn conviction of right. I believed that the love you
expressed for me”——

“Expressed!” said Lord Clare, in a tone of bitter reproach.

“_Felt_ for me then—for I am satisfied that you did love me once.”

Here Lady Jane’s assumed strength gave way. When we speak of love as a
thing that has been, what woman’s heart is there which does not swell
with regret?

“I did love you,” said Lord Clare, turning his eyes away from the sight
of her tears.

“And do so no longer?” was the earnest, almost supplicating reply. How
full of soul that woman was—what strange fascination lay about her!

“It is too late—I cannot.” He met the expression of her eyes, those
pleading, wonderful eyes, and added, “I dare not!”

She understood him. She felt that her empire in that heart was there
still, though it might be in ruins. Still she struggled hard to suppress
the exhibition of this wild delight, but it broke through her tears like
lightning among rain-drops. It dimpled her mouth—oh, she _was_ beautiful
then! She strove to conceal this heart-tumult, and kept her eyes upon
the floor, but the lids glowed like rose-leaves, and flashes as if from
great diamonds came through her dark lashes. Yes—yes, she was beautiful
then! One moment of expression like that is worth a life-time of the
symmetrical prettiness which ordinary men admire in common-place women.
With the conviction of his continued affection Lady Jane recovered much
of her composure. Her manner, unconsciously perhaps to herself, became
gentle, pleading, almost tender. If she wept, smiles brightened through
her tears. Now and then her voice was almost playful, and once as she
lifted her eyes to his, there was a faint reflection of her mood upon
Lord Clare’s face. Alas! my poor mother!

“We may never mention this subject again,” she said, with sweet
meekness, “and now let me say one word in my own exculpation. We were
inmates of the same family—you full of youth in its first bright vigor—I
your elder by some years. It was a safe companionship—our families never
dreamed of danger. I full of worldly wisdom, strong in the untaxed
strength of a heart that had never truly loved, but fancied itself tried
to the utmost, would have smiled in scorn had any one predicted that
which followed. You loved me notwithstanding my years, my want of
beauty, my poverty, you loved me—and I loved you—God only knows how
completely, how fatally!”

“Go on,” said Lord Clare, who listened breathlessly.

“You,” continued Lady Jane, “brave, noble, generous, had no dread, no
false shame. You would have made me lady of this mansion, the partaker
of your bright young life. You gloried in the passion that won
forgetfulness of all disparity between us, believing that it would
secure happiness to us both. You offered me a hand which the proudest
lady of England would have gloried in accepting. Listen to me, Clarence,
I would at that moment have given up all my after existence, could I
have been your wife one year, certain that the love you expressed would
have endured—that you would never regret the sacrifice so readily made
for me. Still, I refused you—nay, turned from professions of affection
that were the sweetest, dearest sounds that ever filled my ear. You were
young—I no longer so. You were rich—I a poor dependent on your father’s
bounty. I was a coward, I had no courage to brave the whispers which
would say that, treacherous to the hospitality of my relative,
mercenary, grasping, I had used my experience to entrap the young heir
of a rich earldom into an unsuitable marriage. I could not endure that
the disparity of our years and my poverty should become subjects of
common gossip.”

“How little I cared for that!” said Lord Clare, with a constrained

“I know it—but this very generosity, this self-abnegation frightened me,
I could not believe in its permanency. It seemed to me more the
thanklessness of youth than a stern, settled purpose. You had
forbearance for my maturity, but I, ungrateful that I was, had no faith
in your youth.”

“Did you deem love a thing of years?”

“Not now, but then I did! My own feelings shocked and terrified me; they
seemed unnatural, I could not forgive my heart that they had found
lodgment there. So much more absorbing than anything I had ever known,
they seemed like a hallucination. I distrusted the sweet madness that
possessed me, and by one rash, wicked act, sought to wrench our souls
apart, thinking all the time that your happiness required the effort. I
left your father’s house—I—I placed an unloved man between you and me. I
was mad, wicked. In one month after, when your father died, and I had
not his scorn to dread, I would have given the world—but no matter what
or how I have suffered—you are avenged—I am punished.”

“Why should we revert to this?” said Lord Clare, gently. “The past is
the past.”

“I have wounded your pride to save mine,” exclaimed Lady Jane, and her
eyes sparkled with tears again. “It is your turn now, but if you knew—if
you knew all, this bitter humiliation would be some atonement.”

“I would not soothe my wounded pride at your expense, Lady Jane, still I
thank you. It is something to know that a passion which cost me so much
was not altogether scorned.”

She was about to answer with some eagerness, but the sound of a carriage
sweeping round the broad gravel walk to the front entrance, interrupted
her. They both listened, looking earnestly at each other. Then she
reached forth her hand, and said, smiling through her tears, “Cousin
Clarence, we cannot be enemies, that is too unnatural”——

He wrung her hand with a sort of passion, dropped it, and rushed from
the room. She stood a moment weeping, then her mouth brightened and
curved into a smile, and with a proud air she swept by me, darkening the
sunshine with her long, black garments. I followed her with my eyes,
creeping on my hands and knees across the threshold that I might see her
again, and be sure it was no fairy play I had witnessed. Then I sat down
on the carpet, buried my face in the embroidery of my scarlet frock, and
began to cry.

After a time, I could not tell how long, for my little soul was
overflowing with emotions, I felt a hand laid gently on my head. I
started, shook the long curls back from my face, and there was my father
bending over me. His face was so pale and stern that I shrunk away, but
he lifted me up by the arm, and grasping my hand till it pained me, led
me forth.

As we approached the hall, I saw servants passing to and fro, removing
packages, lap-dogs, and cushions from a travelling carriage at the door.
A waiting-maid stood in the entrance, chatting directions in French and
broken English, with a pretty King Charles held close to her bosom,
which was amusing himself with the pink ribbons of her cap.

“Where is Tip? Will no one bring up Tip?” cried a voice from the
staircase, and directly I saw a tall, spare woman, with the faintest
pink in her cheeks, and the faintest blue in her eyes, coming down the
steps. She had drawn off her gloves and untied her travelling bonnet. A
few long, flaxen curls streamed down her shoulders with the purple
ribbons, and one sickly white hand glided down the ebony balustrades.

“Bring up Tip, I cannot do anything without Tip,” she continued to say,
leaning forward and reaching out her arms for the dog, which the maid
obediently brought to her.

I had a full view of this woman as she mounted the staircase fondling
her dog, and from that moment loathed her from my soul. It was Lord
Clare’s sister.

My father paused and drew me suddenly back as his sister appeared on the
stairs. The moment she was gone we moved rapidly through the hall, took
a back entrance, and entered the grounds. He walked on with long, stern
strides, clasping my hand, but unconscious that I was almost leaping to
hold my pace even with his. We entered the wilderness, and then, for the
first time, my father spoke.

“Zana,” he said, “look at me here, in my eyes.”

I lifted my gaze to his steadily. His eyes were inflamed and full of
trouble; they fell before mine, and left my little heart burning with
strange triumph.

“Zana, you saw the lady?”


“And heard all that she was saying?”


“What was she talking about? Can you tell me?”

“I can tell you what she said, and what you answered.”

“Word for word?” questioned my father, anxiously.

“Yes, sir, word for word.”

“And you will repeat this to—to your mother?”

“No, I will not.”

“Indeed,” said Lord Clare, and I saw that his eye brightened with a look
of relief, “and why not?”

“Because I will not. She would hate that dark lady as I do—she would cry
more and more—she would know all about it!”

“About what?”

“About”—I hesitated, no words came to express the ideas that were fixed
upon my mind so firmly. I knew as well as he did that he loved that
lady, and that my mother was a burden, but how could the infant words at
my command express all this? My father seemed relieved by my hesitation,
and said more gently,

“Well, well, go home, tell your mother that I have company—my sister,
you will remember—and that I may not be able to see her this evening.”

“She can wait!” I answered, swelling with indignation.

He led me to the verge of our garden, pointed along the path I should
take, and turned back without kissing me. I was glad of this, though he
had never done it before. My little soul was up in arms against him.

I did not go home, but wandered about the wilderness searching for
birds’ nests, not because I enjoyed it, but a dread of seeing my mother
for the first time kept me in the woods.

Her life was more quiet than ever after this, but you would not have
known her for the same being. Her eyes grew larger and _so_ wild; her
figure became lithe and tall again; all the luxuriance of her beauty
fled. She suffered greatly, even a child could see that.

Greenhurst was filled with company, and we seldom saw Lord Clare. Turner
came to us every day, but he too seemed changed. The rich, dry humor so
long a part of his nature forsook him. His visits were short, and he
said little. Thus the season wore on, and I suffered with the rest. How
many hours did I remain at the foot of some great oak or chestnut,
thinking of that proud lady and her interview with my father. I kept my
secret; not once had I alluded to that strange visit to the hall. It
weighed upon me—at times almost choked me, but I felt that it must
remain my own burden.

                              CHAPTER XIX.
                        MY FIRST HEART TEMPEST.

I had never seen a hunt in my life, for though Lord Clare kept horses
and hounds, they had never been called out since our residence at
Greenhurst. But now, we often heard the sweep of horses and the baying
of dogs from the distant hills.

One day, I wandered off lured by this novel sound, and lost myself in a
pretty valley. I am not sure if it was not beyond the verge of our park,
for I exhausted myself with the fatigue of running after the sound, and
fell breathless upon the moss beneath a clump of trees. While I lay
bewildered and panting with fatigue, a group of horsemen rushed down the
valley in full chase. Their red coats flashed between the leaves, and I
saw hound after hound leaping through the brushwood. They disappeared
like a flash of lightning. Then came the swift leap of other horses, and
a lady appeared among the trees. Her hunter was on the full run,
shooting like a thunderbolt through thickets, and over the broken ground
with foam flashing from his nostrils, and blood dropping from his mouth
where the curb had been ground into it. The lady had lost all control of
her hunter. She reeled in the saddle, and nothing but her desperate hold
upon the rein kept her from falling.

I knew her, notwithstanding the masculine hat and cravat, the black
skirt sweeping behind her like a thunder-cloud, and the deathly paleness
of her face. I knew her the first moment, and shrunk back into the
undergrowth, not with fear but loathing. Oh, how I did hate that woman.
Some persons think children cannot hate. They never studied a child like
me. She came on, pale as marble, reeling with exhaustion, but with a
strong will firing her eyes till they gleamed like stars beneath her
hat. On she came. The horse veered. A ravine lay before him. He
stretched out his limbs and plunged forward. She saw death in the next
instant, shrieked, flung up her arms, and the horse leaped from under
her, lost his foothold on the opposite bank, reeled backward and fell
with a fearful neigh into the depths of the ravine.

I did not move but looked on waiting to see if she would stir. I had no
idea of death, but as I saw her pale face turned to the sky, her black
garments sweeping like a pall down the bank, and her lifeless hand lying
so still in the grass, a fierce interest seized me. It was not joy, nor
pity, nor hate, but I thought of my mother, and hoped that the stillness
would last forever.

A second horse came tearing his way down the valley. A scarlet coat
flashed before my eyes and made me dizzy. Some one dismounted, a horse
stood panting beneath his empty saddle. The fiery glow of crimson
mingled confusedly with those black garments on the grass—then my sight
cleared, and there was my father holding that woman in his arms—pressing
her frantically to his bosom—raining kisses upon her marble forehead and
her white eyelids. He held her back with his arms, looked into her face,
uttered wild, sweet words that made my heart burn. Tears flashed down
his cheeks, and fell like great diamonds in the blackness of her dress.
His grief made him more of a child than I was.

He strained her to his heart, pressed his lips to hers, as if his own
soul were pouring itself into her bosom.

“Jane, Jane, my love, my angel, my wife, listen to me, open your eyes!
you are not dead—not gone—lost without knowing how much I love you. Oh,
open those eyes—draw one breath, and I am your slave forever.”

She did not move, but lay cold and still in his arms. I was glad of it!

He laid her upon the grass with a groan that made even me start, and
looked despairingly around.

“Will no one come?—must she die?—oh, my God, what can I do?”

He stood a moment, mute and still, looking, oh, how steadily, how
mournfully down upon her. Then speaking aloud, and with a solemnity that
made me tremble, he said,

“I have avoided her—struggled, suffered, tried to crush the great love
that is within me, and this is the end! What is left to me?”

I saw a shudder pass over him, and knew that he was thinking of us—me
and my mother.

Again his voice reached me, not loud, but deep and solemnly impressive.
His mournful eyes were bent upon her, and he slowly sunk to her side.

“Let her live—only live,” he said, “and so help me heaven, her own will
shall dispose of me! Let all else perish, so she but breathe again!”

I rose from the ground and stood before him. My little hand was
clenched, and my frame shook with passion seldom known to one of my
tender years.

He started, as if a serpent had sprung up from the bosom of that beloved
one, gazed in my eyes an instant, and then put me sternly back with his

“Go,” he said, with a sharp breath, as if every word were a pain—“go,
weird child, I ask not what evil thing brings you to search my soul with
those unnatural eyes—but go and tell your mother all that you can
understand of this. Tell her that if this lady lives, she will be my
wife—if not, I leave England forever. Tell her all!”

“I will tell her!” I said, looking fiercely into his eyes. “You shall
never see her again, never, never, never!”

Such passion must have been fearful in a little child. He looked on me
with a sort of terror.

“Tell your mother I will write, and send Turner to her,” he said, more

“I will say that you hate her and love this one!” was my fierce reply,
“That is enough!—she will drop down like stone, as this one has!”

My eyes fell upon Lady Jane as I spoke. Her broad eyelids quivered, and
a faint motion disturbed the deathly white of her lips. These signs of
life filled me with rage. I saw the breath struggling to free itself,
and, lifting my tiny foot, dashed it down upon her bosom, looking into
her face like an infant fiend to see if I had trampled the coming life
away. Her eyes slowly opened, as if it were to the pressure of my foot,
and then I flew reeling back against the bank—_my father had struck me_.

I rose and went away, but without shedding a tear—without looking back.
I have been told that my face was very pale when I reached home, but
that I was smiling steadily till the teeth gleamed between my lips.

When I reached home, my mother was in the little room that I have
described, lying upon a couch, with her large, sleepless eyes wide open,
and gazing upon the window.

“Get up, mother,” I said, seizing the cashmere shawl that lay over her,
and casting it in a gorgeous heap on the floor—“get up; I want to tell
you something.”

She rose with a wild look, for my voice was sharp, and my face so
strangely unnatural that it had the force of command.

“Come out into the garden—into the woods, mother.”

She followed me passively. I led her down the balcony steps, across the
flower-beds, and into the wilderness. It was gloomy there. Shadows lay
thick among the trees, and a leaden sky bent overhead. I liked it. In
the broad sunshine I could not have told her. The anguish in her face
frightened me even as it was.

She heard me through without uttering a word, but the gleam of her eyes
and the whiteness of her face was more heart-rending than the wildest
complaints. She held my hand all the time, and as I told her of the
scene I had just witnessed, of his caresses, of the blow, her grip on my
fingers became like a vice. But I did not wince, her own gipsy blood was
burning hot in my veins.

I did not sleep that night, but lay upon the carpet in my mother’s room,
resolved not to be taken away till she was in bed.

Turner was there in the evening, and they conversed together alone, for
more than an hour. The old man left us, with tears in his eyes. I heard
my mother say to him in her low, sad voice, for she was always sad now,

“Do not fail me, my good friend; I shall never ask another favor of you,
so grant me this.”

“Poh, poh!” was his answer, “you will ask five thousand; and I shall
perform every one, trust old Turner for that!”

But there were tears in the old man’s voice, I was sure of that. After
his departure my mother was greatly disturbed, walking the room,
wringing her hands, and convulsed with the tearless grief that rends
one’s heart-strings so silently.

                              CHAPTER XX.
                        MY MOTHER’S LAST APPEAL.

When it drew toward midnight, and she saw me, to all appearance,
sleeping tranquilly on the floor, I heard a movement in the room as if
my mother were preparing to go out. I opened my eyes and watched.

She took up the cashmere shawl and folded it over her head and person,
leaving only the face exposed, after the fashion of a Spanish mantilla.
Her face looked thin, but very beautiful, surrounded by those gorgeous
colors, for her cheeks were of a burning scarlet; and her eyes—in my
life I have never seen an expression like theirs. It was like the
reflection of a star in deep waters. She stole out through the balcony.
I heard her descend to the garden, and followed, actuated, I think, by a
vague dread that she was about to leave me forever.

She threaded the wilderness with a quick step, and kept her way through
the grounds cut up into thickets and flower-beds that lay around
Greenhurst. I do not think that she had ever been there before in her
life, but she seemed to find the way by intuition. I followed close, but
unseen, and to my surprise saw her pass into the hall by the back
entrance, through which Lord Clare had led me. The door was not entirely
closed after her, and I crept through. The hall was dark, but she moved
noiselessly on, gliding like a shadow up the broad staircase.

Now I was guided only by the faint ripple of her garments, for the upper
halls lay in perfect darkness, and she was more in advance.

I saw by the glow of light that came into the darkness, that a door had
been softly opened, in which a lamp was burning, and moved along the
wall till I stood in view of a bed-chamber lighted as with moonbeams,
for a lamp had been placed within an alabaster vase, evidently for this
subduing purpose. I saw nothing distinctly in the room, but have a vague
remembrance of a cloud of azure silk and rich lace brooding in one
corner of the chamber—a couch underneath, white as mountain snow, and on
it _that woman_, asleep, and my mother gazing upon her.

The sleeper scarcely seemed to breathe. A narcotic influence was
evidently upon her, which had been used to still some previous pain; but
all traces of anguish had departed from her forehead, from which the
bright hair was swept back, giving its broad, massive grandeur to the
light. A halo of happiness lay upon her face that made your breath come
quick; the wealth of a great soul seemed breaking over her noble
features as she slept. The eyes underneath those broad lids were
swimming in joy, that broke through like perfume from the white leaves
of a rose. The atmosphere which hung about her seemed warm and fragrant,
like that of an Indian summer in North America.

There stood her contrast, my gipsy mother, with the hot blood of her
race burning in her eyes, her forehead, and that now firm mouth. I
looked in her face, and thought she was about to spring upon her prey,
for the passions burning there grew fierce as death. She bent down and
scrutinized the sleeper, then felt in her hair, and looked sharply
around the room, I thought for some weapon.

“My oath, my oath!” she muttered, casting her great eyes around,
“nothing but death can separate us; why not _her_ death?”

I sprang forward, wild with terror, and caught hold of her dress.

“Mamma, oh, mamma, come away, come away,” I pleaded, in a whisper.

She yielded to me, and walked slowly from the chamber, like one moving
in a dream.

“Hush!” she said, as we stood in the hall, “I thought it had been _his_
room. Where is it, child, you know?”

“Come away—come away!” I whispered, still keeping a firm grasp on her
dress. “It is dark—I’m afraid.”

She broke from me, and I lost her. The faint sound of a foot reached me
once, but I had no courage to follow, and cowered down in the hall,
shivering and noiseless. It seemed to me that I remained a year in that
black stillness. I could endure it no longer, but groped my way to the
staircase out into the open air.

The moon was up, but overwhelmed by an ocean of clouds. Now and then a
leaden gleam broke out, and this gave me courage to wait and watch.

She came forth at last, and when I sprang toward her, caught me firmly
by the hand.

“Come,” she said, “the oath falls back here—the gipsy blood will not
fail me when it is only us.”

“What do you mean, mamma? Have you seen him, the Busne?”


“Was he awake, mamma?”

“Awake!” and her laugh was fearful. “Child, do you think he could
sleep?—can ever sleep again?”

“Did he say anything? Was he sorry for striking me?”

“Hush!” said my mother, sharply, “he has struck us both, the body for my
child—the heart for me!”

“Did you strike him back, mother?”

“No, but I will. The stone that crushes me shall fall on his soul.”

Now I recognized my gipsy mother. She turned to me, and a straggling
moonbeam touched her face.

“Zana, do you know what an oath is?”

“Yes, mamma, I heard you mention the word in your sleep, and so asked

“I have sworn an oath, Zana. Will you help me keep it?”

“I will help you, mamma.”

“Let me make you strong with my kisses, Zana, you are no child.”

I clung to her, answering back that wild caress, for my heart was
burning with a sense of her wrongs.

“I was a child once, mother, but that has all gone by. I am something
else now; not a woman like you, but sharper, like a little dagger with
bright stones on the hilt, that you sometimes fasten up your hair with.
The handle is so pretty; but the point, isn’t that sharp?”

“It was well I left it behind, to-night, Zana.”

“You could not leave _me_ behind, I _would_ go!”

“Are you tired, Zana?”


“Walk fast then, for we must be a long way from this before morning.”

“Where are you going, mother?”

“To keep my oath!”

We entered the cottage for the last time. My mother must have
anticipated what was to happen, for she took me into her room, tore off
my pretty scarlet frock, and replaced it with the garments of a little
boy. Her own dress she changed also, and we left the house together,
both clad in male garments, and each carrying a little bundle in our

Where we went first, I do not know. The events of that day and night
were burned upon my memory, but after that I had only a vague idea of
travelling day after day—of broad, stormy seas, a river that ran with
waves of dull gold, orange groves, wild hills, and at last a city in the
midst of beautiful plains, filled with antique houses, and beyond with
snow-capped mountains looming against the sky. The grim towers of a ruin
fixed itself on my memory, frowning between the city and those
mountain-tops, and when I asked my mother of the name of this city and
ruin, she answered briefly, “Granada, the Alhambra,” nothing more.

I was not surprised at this, for since we left Greenhurst, she had
scarcely uttered a longer sentence.

It was sunset when we came in sight of Granada. She paused in a recess
of the hills, and opening our bundles, changed her dress and mine,
casting away the male attire. I remember gazing at her with wonder as
she stood before me in her strange dress. The blue bodice, the short
crimson skirt, flowered and heavy with tarnished gold, the gorgeous
kerchief knotted under her chin, this dress had been the contents of her
bundle. Mine was more simple, a frock of maize-colored stuff broidered
with purple. My feet and ankles were bare to the knees.

My mother bent down and kissed me.

“Are you a child now, Zana?”

“No, I am what you are.”


We descended into the Vega and passed through Granada long after dark. I
was very tired and faint, but kept up with my mother, determined to hold
firm to my promise. During our whole journey I had not once complained.
We left the city and entered a deep, gloomy ravine, lighted up by a host
of internal fires, that seemed to burn in the bosom of the hill. Wending
along the dusty road, I saw that all the embankment was cut up into
holes, from which the lights came, and that these were swarming with
human beings.

We walked on, speaking to no one, till my mother stopped before one of
these caves of which the door was shut. She paused, and for one instant
I felt her tremble, but the emotion was gone in a breath, and pushing
the door open, she went in.

A little old woman sat in one end of the cave, rocking to and fro on a
wooden stool, beneath the beams of a smoky lamp that stood in a niche
over her head. The creature arose as we entered, passed one skeleton
hand over her eyes, and muttered “who comes—who dares open my door, when
I once shut it for the night?”

“One who fears nothing now, not even you, grandame,” said my mother,
advancing firmly up the cave.

The old woman kept her hand above those gleaming eyes, and pored keenly
over the haggard face before her.

“Why have you come back?” she said, fiercely.

“To keep my oath, grandame!”

“Your oath. Is he dead, then? Is it his blood that makes your face so

“No, he is safe—it may be, happy,” answered my mother, and for the first
time since we left England, I heard her voice falter. “He repudiates the
caloe marriage. He loves another. I saw her under his roof. He will make
her his wife. Grandame, I have come back to die. It is all of my oath
that I can redeem.”

“Under his roof? he will marry her. Girl, where was Papita’s poniard,
that you did not strike?”

“She looked innocent in her sleep. I could not do it. She knew nothing
of me, of my wrongs, or the vengeance that threatened her. A word would
have stabbed her deeper than your poniard, grandame, but I could not
speak it.”

“You came away, and left her alive?” shrieked the old woman fiercely.

“I could _not_ kill the thing he loved,” answered my mother, with pale

“You came away, leaving these two traitors to marry and scoff at the

“The lady knows nothing, and cannot scoff at us. He will never revile
one who could have driven her from his path by pointing to his child,
and saying only, ‘_he has been mine!_’ but chose rather to come here and

“It is useless, grandame—these frowns, the locking of those sharp teeth.
The desperate have no fear. I have disgraced my people, and am ready to
redeem my oath.”

“And what is this?” said Papita, touching me with a loathing scowl.

“My child, and his,” answered my mother, and I felt her fingers close
tight on my hand.

“Oh, you did well to bring her. There is yet a drop of the old blood
left; I see it in her face.”

The weird creature drew nearer and kissed me. I bore it without a

“Can it be to-morrow?” said my mother, calmly, as if she had been
speaking of a June festival.

“Yes,” was the savage reply. “The people will not wait, Chaleco, most of

“Let him be sent for.”

“No,” said the Sibyl with a touch of feeling, “he shall not gloat over
your shame more than the rest. Go in yonder—you have broken one half the
oath, for the rest”——

“I am ready—I am ready, only let it be soon,” said my mother—“at

“In yonder! daylight will soon come,” answered the Sibyl, pointing to
the inner room. “I will go and prepare the people. They thought you
dead. How they will stare when Papita tells them of her trick. They
think her old, worn out, dull—she who can throw sand in the eyes of a
whole tribe.”

                              CHAPTER XXI.
                           THE OATH REDEEMED.

Papita went out muttering hoarsely to herself, as we cowered together in
that close hole. A great tumult arose from without. The tramp of feet,
the hooting of voices, and wild murmurs drew near and nearer. My mother
did not tremble, but when the door flew open, she stood out in the cave,
holding me in her arms. The light from a dozen torches fell redly over
us, a hundred fierce eyes glared in, and the door was blocked with grim,
shaggy human heads, all waving and shaking in ferocious astonishment.

She stood before them, like a dusky statue, her heavy, raven hair
falling in masses down her temples, and her pale hands locked around me
so tightly that I breathed with pain. As the torchlight fell upon her
dress, some one in the crowd recognized it as the wedding array that had
been purchased for her marriage with Chaleco, and a low howl ran through
the crowd.

“She mocks us, she mocks us with her shame—take her forth at once. It is
a long way to the mountains, and by daylight the authorities may be upon
us,” cried a stern voice.

“To the mountains—to the mountains!” ran through the throng, and then
one or two from the crowd rushed in and would have seized my mother. But
the old Sibyl placed herself in their way, confronting them with fierce

“Her father was a count, and her father’s father. It is of her own free
will she comes. Let her walk forth alone. Think you that the grandchild
of Papita is not strong enough to die?”

The crowd fell back, forming a wall from each side the door up the
ravine. Through this lane of fierce, human bloodhounds my mother walked
firmly, holding me still in her arms. By her side went the old Sibyl,
regarding the tribe with a look of keen triumph, exulting in the
desperate strength that nerved their victim. She gazed on the unearthly
brilliancy of her countenance, as the torchlight fell upon it, and cried
out with fierce ecstasy, “see, it is my soul in her eyes—my blood in her
cheeks. Thus would old Papita go forth had she tarnished the honor of
her people.”

On we went, crowding upward through the mountain passes till the snow
became thick beneath our feet, and Granada lay diminished and indistinct
in the distance. The dawn found us in a hollow of the mountains, with
snow peaks all around, and half choking up the little valley. Nothing
was seen but rocks protruding through the virgin snow, and a group of
stone cairns peering through the drifts in the bottom of the valley. The
rosy sunrise broke over the peaks as we entered this gloomy pass, but it
did not penetrate to us. My mother lifted her eyes to the illuminated
snow, a faint quiver ran through her form, and I felt the arms that
supported me tremble. I threw myself upon her neck, and clung there,
weeping. She shivered in my embrace. I felt her limbs giving way, and
shrieked aloud. She answered me with a long, long kiss, that froze
itself into my heart, for I knew that it was the last. Then she lifted
up her face and said, in a clear, sad voice, “who will take my child?”

“Give her to me, Aurora!”

The voice was full of compassion, and a wild, haggard man, in the
remnants of what had been a picturesque costume, came forward with his
arms extended. His fierce heart had yielded at last. There was relenting
in his gesture and voice.

My mother turned her eyes mournfully upon him.

“I have wronged you, Chaleco, but now”—she turned her eyes steadily
toward the cairns, and added, “_all_ will be atoned for.”

“I want no atonement—I am sick of revenge,” was the impetuous answer.
“Give me your child.”

“Chaleco, one promise—take her back to England. You will find plenty of
gold sewed up in her dress. I was out of my mind—mad to bring her here.
Take her back; she is bright beyond her years, and will tell him all
better than any one else. Will you promise this, Chaleco, for the sake
of old times?”

She smiled a pale, miserable smile, as she made the request.

“Give me your child; I will take her to England!” answered Chaleco, in a
hoarse voice.

“That is all,” answered my mother, gently, “I am ready now.”

She turned away her face, and forcing my arms from her neck, held me
toward the gipsy chief.

I shrieked, and struggled to get back, but he folded my face to his
bosom, and thus smothering my cries, walked rapidly away.

Notwithstanding the close pressure of his arms, I heard a shriek, then
the sound of dull, heavy blows, as if stone or iron were falling against
some yielding substance. A groan burst from Chaleco. He shuddered from
head to foot, and throwing himself forward, forced my face down into the
snow, and buried his own there also, moaning and trembling.

The blows grew duller, heavier, and a soft, smothered noise mingled with
them. No other sound was in the glen, not a hum, not a footfall, nothing
but these muffled sounds, and the groans of Chaleco. Then a hush, like
that of midnight, fell over us. Chaleco held his breath, and I struggled
no longer; it seemed as if the cold snow had struck to my heart.

At last Chaleco arose, trembling with weakness, and taking me in his
arms again, staggered through the snow down the glen. The tribe stood in
a great circle round a cairn that had not existed when we entered the
“Valley of Stones.” The stillness appalled me. I broke from Chaleco’s
feeble hold, and rushed forward, calling for my mother.

The old Sibyl seized me by the arm, pointed to the cairn, and answered,
“She is there!” I looked fearfully upon the stony pyramid, but saw
nothing, till my eyes fell downward to the snow at its base—it was
crimson with blood. Then I knew what death was, and what her oath meant.
I grew sick, turned, and staggering toward the gipsy chief, fell at his

I remember, dimly, being in the cave once more, and seeing the old Sibyl
counting gold into her lap. I remember, also, that Chaleco was there,
and she said to him, pointing to me:

“No, she will not die, half the oath only is accomplished, she must do
the rest.”

Then the cairn, with its reddened base, came before me, and I fell away

Months must have been oblivion to me, for my next clear idea was in
England. I lay in a canvas tent pitched by the wayside, half way between
Greenhurst and the neighboring village. Chaleco and the Sibyl were with
me, dressed after the vagrant fashion of those broken tribes of our
people who infest England. I was in rags, and seated on the ground,
wondering how this change had been made. Chaleco stood by the entrance
of the tent watching; the old woman kept in a remote corner, and while I
pondered over the meaning of it all, a merry chime of bells swept across
the fields, that made my heart leap. I broke into a laugh, and crept
toward the entrance of the tent, enticed by the sunlight that sparkled
on the sward.

I had placed myself at Chaleco’s feet, when the sound of an advancing
cavalcade came from toward the village. Chaleco shaded his eyes, and I
saw them glow like coals beneath his hand. First came a troop of
children with baskets and aprons full of blossoms, scattering them thick
in the highway. Then followed a carriage, with four black horses,
streaming with rosettes and white ribbon, followed by others decorated
after the same fashion, and filled with richly dressed people. The
children halted, and gathered around the first carriage, tossing showers
of roses over its occupants. In the midst of this blooming storm, I saw
my father and _that woman_. The gleam of her silver brocade, the snowy
softness of the bridal veil made me faint again. The snow drifts in the
mountains of Spain, encrimsoned and trampled, swept before my dizzy
senses. As I saw my father half enveloped by the waves of those
glittering bridal garments, but still pale and looking so anxious, it
seemed to me as if those soft drifts had been shovelled over him in
mockery of my mother’s death.

I asked no question, but gathered from my companions, who conversed in
cautious tones, that Lord Clare and his bride would rest some days at
Greenhurst before entering upon their wedding tour. I had no strength,
no spirit then. Instead of becoming angry, I was faint, and lay down in
the tent, weeping feebly as another child of my years might have done in
its illness.

I remember hearing shouts, and seeing flashes of fireworks that went off
in the village that night, and I saw old Papita and Chaleco hold up a
small vial between them and the lamp, filled with a purple liquid—then,
as in a dream, they passed away from the tent.

It was deep in the night, when I started from my sleep. Papita was
shaking me by the shoulder, her face was close to mine, and it looked
like a death’s head.

“Awake!” she said, reeling on her feet, as if intoxicated. “It is
over—Papita has kept her oath—the work is done. Get up, last of my race,
and see how a woman of Egypt can die.”

The terrible light of her eyes fired me with strength. I stood up, and
asked what she had done—why she talked of dying.

“I have left the bride stiff and stark on her silken couch up yonder. A
drop of this—only one drop—in the water which sparkled on her toilet was
enough. I stood by her bed when the bridegroom came—_she_ was smiling on
her pillow. The drao that I distill, always leaves smiles behind it. He
saw me, old Papita, whose blood he has shamed, whose wrath he has
braved, and while he stood frozen into a statue, I glided away, away,
away forever! forever more.”

She crooned over these last words in a low mutter, and sunk slowly down
to the earth.

Chaleco bent over her.

“Mother Papita,” he said, “how is this? you have not drank of the drao!”

The old woman gave a cough that rattled in her throat.

“There was no need, my count. Did you think the old frame would not give
out when its work was done? I knew it—I knew it. Come hither child, and
take ‘the gipsy’s legacy,’ hate, hate, hate to the Busne, the enemies of
our people.”

She struggled to a sitting posture, and tore the great ruby rings from
her ears.

“Your dagger, Chaleco. Quick, quick,” she said.

Chaleco took a poniard from his bosom. The Sibyl seized it, and thrust
the sharp point through each of my ears, then she locked the rubies into
the wounds, while the blood trickled down their antique settings.

“It is your mother’s blood that baptizes them, remember.”

As the Sibyl spoke she staggered to her feet and pressed her cold hands
upon my forehead, passing them down my face again and again. At first
the touch made me shudder; then a feeling of dull calm came over me. The
excitement left my nerves, and I lay like one in a trance. The past was
all gone, only a vivid consciousness of the present remained; my eyes
were closed, my limbs still as death, but my senses seized upon every
motion, every whisper, and locked them up in my memory, creating each
instant a new past for that which had left me.

“Now leave her to the destiny that she must surely work out, Papita’s
vow is redeemed.”

When the old woman said these words, her voice seemed far off and unreal
as the echoes of some forgotten horror. I heard her gasp for breath;
moans broke from her lips—a sharp cry, and her limbs fell together in a
heap, like a skeleton when its wires give way.

For a moment all was deathly stillness, Chaleco held his breath—some
brooding evil seemed to fall upon the tent.

Still I lay bound in that mesmeric trance, conscious, but utterly
helpless. I heard Chaleco steal forth, and for a long time the grating
of a spade reached me from the depths of a neighboring hollow. Then came
the fall of earth, spadeful after spadeful, followed by stealthy
footsteps coming toward the tent again.

Chaleco came close to me, stooped down and took the antique rings from
my ears. I was numb and could not feel the pain; but consciousness
utterly left me after that. The iron thread of my mother’s life was
woven into mine that terrible, terrible night.

                             CHAPTER XXII.
                             LOST MEMORIES.

I found myself lying in a gipsy’s tent perfectly alone, dizzy, feverish,
and so parched with thirst that it seemed to me one drop of water would
satisfy every want I could ever have again. An earthen pitcher stood
near the fresh hay on which I was lying. I reached forth my feeble hand
and slanted it down, till the bottom glistened on my sight. Then I fell
back weeping. It was empty, not a drop—not a drop! How terrible was that
thirst. I felt the tears rushing down my cheek, and strove to gather
them in my hand, thinking, poor thing, to moisten my burning lips with
the drops of my own sorrow. The wind blew aside the fall of canvas that
concealed the entrance to my tent, and I saw through it a glimpse of the
bright morning; clover fields bathed in fragrant mist; soft, green
meadow grasses sparkling with dew. Then the whole strength of my being
centered in one great wish—water! My wild eyes were turned in every
direction where the soft drops seemed flashing, dancing, leaping around
me like a whirlwind of diamonds. I closed my eyes and strove to shake
the hallucination from my brain. A moment’s rest, and there was another
calm glimpse of the dewy morning. I wonder if Paradise ever looks half
so beautiful to the angels.

Dizzy and fascinated, I crept across the tent on my hands and knees,
dragging the loose hay after me, and moaning softly with each strain
upon my shrinking muscles, till I crept into the deep verdure. How
softly the cool dew-drops rained over me as I lay down at length in the
soft meadow grass. My face, my arms, and my little, burning feet were
bathed as with new life. I lay still, and laughed with a glee that
frightened up a lark from her nest close by. The young ones began to
flutter, and piped forth their tiny music as if to comfort the lone
child that had stolen to their home, still more helpless than

I swept my hand across the grass, gathering up the dew, which I drank
greedily. Then I rolled over and over, bathing my feet and my garments
till my face came on a level with the young larks. They uttered a cry,
and opened their little golden throats as if for food. This brought the
mother-bird back again, who circled over and over us, uttering her
discontent in wild gushes of song. The flutter of her plumage between my
eyes and the sun—the softened notes as she grew comforted by my
stillness—the flutter that seemed half smothered in thistle-down still
going on in the nest—the balmy air, the bath of dew—some, perhaps all of
these things slaked the fire in my veins, and I fell asleep.

Did I dream? Had I wandered off again into delirium, or was the thing
real? To this day I cannot tell; but as I lay in that meadow which
bounded the wayside, a long funeral procession crept by me, fringing the
meadow with blackness, and gliding away sadly, dreamily, toward a
village church, whose spire cut between me and the sky.

Time went by like thistle-down upon the wind. The sky was purple above
me. Thousands and thousands of great stars twinkled dreamily through the
deep stillness. The dew lay upon me like a shower. I turned softly, and
as I moved, the lark stirred above her young. My sleep had been so like
death that the bird feared me no longer.

If I had a connected thought it was this—the lark had come back to her
young; with her soft bosom she kept them from the damp and cold night
air. I was young: it was night: the dew fell like rain: I had no
strength to move. _Where was my mother?_

I could not answer the question; my brain was too feeble, and ached
beneath the confused images that crowded upon it. The funeral train,
ridges of snow, heaped-up stones, flashes of crimson, as if a red mantle
were floating over me, disjointed fragments like these were all the
answer that came back to my heart, as it drearily asked where am I?
where is my mother?

Probably another day went by; I do not know, for a heavenly sleep
settled on me. But at last—it must have been sometime near noon—I saw
the lark settle down by her nest with some crumbs of bread in her bill.
I watched the young ones as they greedily devoured it, and a craving
desire for nourishment stole over me. I envied the little ragged
birdlings, and wondered how they could be so greedy and so selfish.

The mother flew away again, and I watched her with longing eyes. She
might take compassion on my hunger. Surely those greedy young ones had
eaten enough. She would think of me now that they were satisfied. How
eagerly I watched for some dark speck in the sky, some noise that should
tell me of her return! She came at last, shooting through the atmosphere
like an arrow. After whirling playfully over, and again above our heads,
she settled down by her nest, and I saw that her bill was distended by a
fine blackberry. The largest and sauciest young one, who always crowded
his brethren down into the nest when food appeared, rose upward with a
hungry flutter and held his open bill quivering just beneath the
delicious berry.

My heart swelled. I uttered an eager cry, and flung out my hand. The
lark, startled in affright, dropped the fruit, and it fell into my palm.
What did I care for the angry cry of the old bird, or the commotion
among her nestlings? The fruit was melting away—oh, how
deliciously!—between my parched lips! When that was gone, I lifted my
hands imploringly to the angry bird, and asked for more. She was all the
friend I had, and it seemed as if she must understand my terrible want.
She went away and returned; but oh, how my poor heart ached when she
lighted, and with her eye turned saucily on me, dropped a grain or two
of wheat for her young!

Tears crowded to my eyes. Who would aid me—so hungry, so miserable, such
a little creature, more helpless than the birds of heaven, and they so
pitiless? I turned my face away; the young larks had become detestable
to me. I was tempted to hurt them, to dash my hand down into the nest
and exterminate the whole brood; but the very thought exhausted me, and
I began to weep again with faint sighs that would have been sobs of
anguish but for my prostration.

I lifted my head and strove to sit upright, looking wearily around with
a vague expectation of help. At a little distance was a stone wall, and
climbing over it a blackberry bush in full fruit, clusters on clusters
glittering in the sunshine. The tears rained down my cheeks. I turned my
eyes upon the young larks and feebly laughed out my triumph. I crept
forward on my hands and knees, pulled myself along by clenching handsful
of the meadow grass, and, at length, found myself prostrate and panting
by the wall. Most of the fruit was above my reach, but some clusters
fell low, and while my breast was heaving and my poor hands trembled
with exhaustion, I began to gather and eat. Fortunately, it was
impossible for me to pluck enough of the fruit to injure myself, and
with the grateful taste in my mouth, I lay contemplating the clusters
overhead with dreamy longing, wondering when I should be able to climb
up the stones and gather them.

It is strange that while my senses were so acute in all things that
pertained to my animal wants, all remembrance of the past had forsaken
me. I could neither remember who I was, nor how I came to be alone in
the meadow. My whole range of sympathy and existence went back no
farther than the lark’s nest and its inmates, that had seemed to mock at
my hunger in the midst of their own abundance. Was it from this that I
drew my first lesson of sympathy for the destitute, and hate for the
heartless rich?

Some vague remembrance of a tent that had sheltered me did seem to haunt
by brain; but when I lifted myself up by the wall it had disappeared,
and that, with the rest, floated away into indistinctness. It was not
that all memory of the past had left me. I knew what the relations of
life were—knew well that I ought to have a mother to care for me—some
one to bring me food and arrange my garments; and, through the
cloudiness of my ideas, one beautiful face always looked down upon me,
like the rich, dark-eyed women whom we find repeated, and yet varied
over and over again in Murillo’s pictures. I knew that this face should
have been my mother’s, but all around it was confused, like the clouds
in which the great artist sometimes buries his most ideal heads.

But even this beautiful remembrance was floating and visionary. I had no
strength to grasp a continued thought. Even the aspect of nature, the
meadows, the distant woods, and the gables of a building that shot up
from their midst, had a novel aspect. The feeble impression thus left
was like that of bright colors to an infant. I felt happier, more
elastic. The world seemed very beautiful, and a keen desire for action
came upon me. I tried to walk, but fell down like an infant making its
first attempt. I made another effort, tottered on a few paces, and lay
quietly down overcome with a desire to sleep. Then I started again,
creeping, staggering a little on my feet, resting every few minutes, but
all the while making progress toward the building whose gables I had
seen in the distance. I had no definite object; the instincts of
humanity alone no doubt induced me to seek a human habitation.

I must have passed over the spot where the tent had stood, for some
loose hay littered the grass in one place, and among it I found a crust
of dry bread. I uttered a low shout, and seizing it with both hands, sat
down in the hay and began to eat voraciously. Never, never have I tasted
food so delicious. I cannot think of it yet without a sensation of

As I sat devouring the precious morsel, there came a sweet noise to my
ear—a soft gurgle, that made me pause in my exquisite banquet and
listen. Old associations were not altogether lost. I knew by the sound
that a spring or brook was near, and my joy broke forth in a laugh which
overpowered the flow of the waters. I crept on toward the sound,
hoarding the fragments of my crust. It was a beautiful little spring
gushing up from the cleft in a rock which lay cradled in a hollow close
by. The rock was covered with moss and the most delicate lichen, thick
with tiny, red drops, more beautiful than coral. The water rushed down
in a single stream, slender and graceful as the flight of a silver
arrow, and spread away with soft murmurs, through the peppermint and
cowslips that lined the hollow. I drank of the water slowly, like a
little epicure, enjoying the cool taste on my lips with exquisite
relish. Then, enticed by the fragrance, I gathered a stem or two of the
mint, and laying the moist leaves on my bread, made a meal, such as one
never takes twice in a life-time.

The waters gathered in a pretty pool beneath the rock, as bright and
scarcely larger than a good sized mirror. I turned, after my bread was
exhausted, and saw myself reflected in the pool—not myself at the time,
for I supposed it another child—a poor, little, miserable thing, in an
old dress of torn and soiled embroidery, whose original richness gave
force to its poverty-stricken raggedness. Her little feet were bare and
white, and great, black eyes, illuminating a miserable pale face, like
lamps that could never burn out, were staring at me so wildly, that I
flung out my arms to repulse her. She also flung up her bare arms, and
looked more like a weird thing than ever. The action terrified me. I
burst into tears, and clambered up the hollow, looking back in terror
lest the starved creature should follow me.

                             CHAPTER XXIII.

I arose and moved forward, still keeping the gables in view, now lying
down on a bank for rest, now pausing to gather a wild berry, but always
diminishing the distance between myself and the dwelling.

The night came on, but excitement kept me wakeful. I had no lonesome
feelings. The skies above were crowded with stars, that seemed like
smiling play-fellows glad to have me in sight. The moonbeams fell
through the branches—for I was beneath trees now—and played around me
like a cloud of silver butterflies. Then came the delicious scent of
blossoms, the trees grew thin, and velvet turf yielded luxuriously to my
naked feet. Beautiful flowers were budding around me, enameling the turf
in circles, mounds, and all sort’s of intricate figures. These, like the
stars, seemed old playmates. Fuchias, heliotrope, moss roses—I
recognized them with a gush of joy, and talked to them softly as I stole

A hard, gravel walk glistened before me, sweeping around the proud old
mansion whose gables I had seen. I entered it, but the gravel hurt my
feet, and leaving their little prints in dew upon it, I turned an angle
of the building. Now something of terror, a vague, dark, impassable
memory seemed floating between me and the stars. A shadow from the
building fell over me like a pall. I grew cold and began to shiver, but
still moved on toward the moonlight.

It was reached. I looked up, and before me was a great stone doorway,
surmounted with masses of dark marble, chiselled so deeply that hollows
seemed choked up with shadows which contrasted densely with the
moonbeams on the surface. Half a dozen broad, granite steps led to the
doorway. I stood upon these steps and looked upward. A strange sensation
crept over me. I grew colder, weaker, and sunk upon the stones with my
head resting upon the door sill. A rush of confused thoughts crowded
upon my brain and stunned it. I lay motionless, but with a vague idea of

The first thing that I remember was confused noises in the dwelling,
that sort of bee-like hum which accompanies the uprising of a large
household. Sometimes the sound of a door jarred through my whole frame,
and then I would drop away into some stage of unconsciousness; it might
be the sleep of pure exhaustion, or insensibility, I cannot tell.

At last there was a rustle and rush in the hall, the sound of feet and
brooms set in motion, with confused voices and the ponderous movement of
a door close to my head, that jarred through and through me. A
tumultuous sound of voices followed, a hastily-dropped floor-brush fell
across me—laughing, exclamations, bustling and noise; then I heard a
woman’s voice say distinctly above the rest, “Ah! here comes one who
knows something—he can tell us what it is!”

Then a voice followed that sharpened my faculties like a draught of
wine, “Well, what are you chattering about the door-stead for, like so
many magpies around a church steeple? Can the housekeeper find you no
better business?”

“Oh, come and see for yourself,” answered a peevish voice, “is it a
witch, an imp—a—a—do tell us, Mr. Turner, you who have been in
foreign parts and know all sorts of outlandish creatures by
heart?—look!—look!—its great black eyes are wide open now; you can
see them glistening through the hair that lies all sorts of ways
over its face. Gracious me, they burn into one like a live coal!”

“Stand back,” said the male voice, “stand back, and let me have room.
The creature is human! It may be—it may be—no, no, poor, wild thing—no,
no, God forbid!”

The voice was broken, eager and full of anxiety. I felt the long hair
parted back from my forehead, and opening my eyes, saw a little, old
face, wrinkled and contracted, but oh, how comforting!

“Those great, wild eyes—those lips pinched, blue!—this skeleton
frame—no, no, not hers, thank God for that, I could not have borne it!”

“What is the creature?—what shall we do with it?” inquired the female

“What is it?” said the old man, looking up from my face, “what is it? a
human soul almost leaving the body—a child’s soul! What is it?—don’t you
see, woman?”

“Is it dying? can it speak?” was the rejoinder.

The old man lifted me in his arms without answering, and laid my head on
his shoulder. A strange gush of pleasure came over me, and my soul
seemed melting away in tears—silent, quiet tears, for I was too feeble
for noisy emotions. I stole one arm around his neck, and nestled my
cheek close to his. Was the action familiar to the old man? With me it
was natural as the infant’s habit of lifting its hands to the mother’s
mouth, that it may gather her kisses.

He did not return the caress, but almost dropped me from his arms. His
bosom heaved, some exclamation that he seemed about to utter broke into
a groan, and directly I felt tears running down the cheek that touched

“Why, what are you about, Mr. Turner? What on earth are you thinking of?
Don’t you see how forlorn and ragged the creature is, and holding it
against your new mourning, what has come over you?” exclaimed the
housemaid, horrified and astonished.

The old man made no reply, but looked searchingly down on my old frock,
as if it had some deep interest to him.

“Very well, every one to his own business,” cried the housemaid,
resenting his silence, “you hug that little witch as if it was your
own—ha, ha, who knows!—who knows! oh, if my lord could but see you!”

The old man had been holding up a fold of my frock during this speech,
and was still intently examining the soiled embroidery. His thin face
writhed and twitched in all its features; but when he dropped the fold,
it settled into an expression of distressing certainty.

The old man looked on her with mournful sternness.

“Before heaven, I wish he could see us—his old servant, and—and—tush!
woman, go about your work—go all!”

“I wonder how she come here, at any rate,” persisted the housemaid,
saucily. “Gracious goodness! but the thing does seem to take to you, Mr.
Turner, so natural. Isn’t it a sight to behold?”

“Peace, woman!” cried the old man, stamping his foot till it rang on the
tessellated floor. “Have you no decency?”

“Decency, indeed!”

As the housemaid tossed her head, with this pert rejoinder, a tall,
haughty woman came through a side door and moved toward us. Her morning
dress swept the marble as she walked, and long silken tassels swayed the
cord slowly to and fro, which bound the sumptuous garment to her waist.
She held a tiny dog in her arms, which began to bark furiously as he saw

“What is all this?” she said, addressing Turner. “Something found on the
door-step?—where is it? what is it like?”

“Very like a hungry, sick, dying little girl,” replied Turner, pressing
me closer to him, “nothing more!”

“Who can it be? have you the least idea, Turner?” cried the lady.

“I, madam—I, how can that be?”

“Don’t hide its face, Turner. Is it pretty? Hush, Tip. Jealous
already—there, there!”

While the lady was soothing her dog, Turner, with much reluctance and
many distortions, turned my head upon his bosom, and the lady saw my
face. She started.

“Heavens!—why, it is a perfect little animal!” she exclaimed, drawing
back. “What eyes!—how frightfully large! Mr. Turner, Mr. Turner, how
very imprudent in you! It may be contagious fever or small-pox. Do take
the creature away!”

She drew slowly back while giving this command, with a look of absolute

“Take her away—quite away!” she kept repeating.

“Shall I leave her on the door-steps, madam?” said he, with a sort of
rebuking humor.

There was something so familiar about his curt, dry way of putting the
question, that I felt more at home with him than ever.

“Turner—Turner, this is trifling, inexcusable! but that you are a
favorite servant of my poor brother’s, I would not endure it an

“I am a man! At least I was, till this poor, poor—there I am at it
again—till she made me cry like a baby for the first time in my life;
but I will obey you—I will carry her off, not that her disease is
contagious—souls are not catching, at any rate, in this neighborhood.”

The old man muttered over these last words to himself; then lifting his
voice said in a more respectful tone, “Madam, your orders—where am I to
place the child?”

“Anywhere. It is not of the least consequence—take it down to the
village. I fancy some of the tenants would like it of all things. I have
no right to receive incumbrances in Lord Clare’s house during his

“Lord Clare never sent a starving fellow-creature from his door yet,”
answered Turner, stoutly. “It is not in him.”

“Starving?—what horrible words! Why, no one starves on this estate.”

Turner did not listen. He was looking down into my face, his countenance
stirring as one who ponders over a painful subject. I lay feebly in his
arms, contented as a lamb, my little heart beating tenderly against his
bosom. At last he carried me out into the open air.

                             CHAPTER XXIV.
                          A PARADISE OF REST.

Turner walked fast, without speaking, till the shadow of some tall trees
fell over us, then his step grew heavier, and he looked in my face from
time to time, with an expression of strange tenderness.

“Do you remember me?” he said at last, but in a hesitating whisper.

I struggled hard with my weakness, and tried to think. “Speak, little
one, we are all alone, don’t be afraid of me, old Turner you know.”

“Yes, yes,” I murmured faintly enough, “she called you Turner.”

“She! what she are you talking of, little one?”

“The tall lady up yonder with the dog,” I answered; for struggle as I
would, my mind refused to go farther back.

He looked at me with a strange expression.

“Then it was not your—your mother?”

Instantly that face half buried in clouds came before me.

“She—my mother never speaks,” I said, “she looks at me through the
clouds, but does not say a word.”

He stopped, gazed at me wistfully a moment, and then bending his head
closer to mine, whispered, “Tell me, tell old Turner, where is she?”

“She—who?” I whispered back.

“Your mother, Aurora—your mother, child.”

“I don’t know, she was here just now.”

“Here!” he said, looking around, “here?”

“Did you not see her face among the clouds, close down here, a minute
ago? I did.”

He felt my cheek with his palm, took hold of my hands and feet—“She has
no fever,” he muttered, “what does all this mean?”

“Tell me,” he said, after a little, “where did you go—you and your


“What, was she in the neighborhood?”

“I don’t know.”

“Not—speak, child! not within a few weeks, not since Lady Clare died?”

“I think she is always with me, but the lark fed her young ones when
they wanted something to eat, but she never fed me, and I was very, very
hungry. Why did she look upon me from the clouds, but never give me one
morsel to eat or a drop to drink?”

“Poor child—poor, poor child,” said the old man, kissing me, oh, how
tenderly—“try and think—make one effort—I do so want to know the
truth—where have you been these many months?”

I tried to think, but it confused me, and at last I answered, with
starting tears,

“Indeed, I do not know.”

He bent his face close to mine, and kissed away the tears that stood on
my cheeks—then he questioned me again.

“Is your mother dead?”

Dead! the word struck like cold iron upon my heart. I shuddered on the
old man’s bosom. My brain ached with the weight of some painful memory,
but it gave back no distinct answer. It seemed as if his question had
heaped mountains of snow around me, but I could only reply,

“Dead, what is that?”

He heaved a deep groan and walked on, muttering strangely to himself.

I knew that he was carrying me over innumerable flower beds, for the air
was rich with the scent of heliotrope and flowering daphnas, the breath
of my old playmates. Then he mounted up some steps, tearing his way
through a quantity of vines, and forcing open a sash window with his
foot, carried me in.

It was a luxurious apartment, but very gloomy, and silent as a catacomb.
The shutters were closed, the air unwholesome and heavy with the odor of
dead flowers. I saw nothing distinctly, though my eyes roved with a sort
of fascination from object to object. Something deeper than memory
stirred in my soul. A chillness seized me, and I longed to go away.

Turner passed on, evidently glad to leave the chamber, and did not pause
again till we reached a room that was smaller and more cheerful. He held
me with one arm, and with his right hand threw open the shutters.

The sash was a single piece of plate glass, transparent as water.
Curtains of gossamer lace and rose-colored silk fell over it, through
which the morning sunshine glowed like the dawning of a rainbow.

The old man made me sit up in his arms and look around while he
curiously regarded my face. I have said the room was flooded with soft
light. The walls were covered with hangings of a delicate tint,
sprinkled with rose buds. A carpet of snowy ground, with bouquets of
gorgeous flowers scattered over it, as if in veritable bloom, covered
the floor. A diminutive easy-chair and sofa, cushioned with rose-colored
silk stood opposite to a small bed of gilded ivory, gleaming through a
cloud of gossamer lace, which fell in soft, snowy waves from a small
hoop of white and gold, like the bedstead, swung to the ceiling by a
cord and tassel of silk, twisted with golden threads.

Turner looked at me anxiously, as my eyes wandered around this beautiful
room, fitted up evidently for a child—for the bedstead was scarcely
larger than a crib, and everything bore evidence of a very youthful

A pleasant sensation crept over me, as I gazed languidly around. The
atmosphere seemed familiar, and I felt a smile stealing to my mouth.

Turner saw it, and almost laughed through the tears that were clouding
his eyes.

“Do you like this?” he whispered, softly.

“Oh, yes, so much!”

“Shall I put you into that pretty bed?”

“No, no!” I shrieked, with a sudden pang, “it is white like a
snow-drift; I would rather go back to the meadow and sleep with the

The old man looked sad again. He carried me close to the bed, and put
some folds of the curtain in my hand; but I shrank back appalled by
their unmixed whiteness. He could not comprehend this shuddering recoil,
but sought to remove the cause. Curtains of silk, like those at the
window, were looped through the ivory hoop. These he shook loose till
they mingled in bright blossom colored waves with the lace. Then I began
to smile again, and a sweet home feeling stole over me.

Turner carried me in his arms to the door and called aloud. A woman
answered, and came into the room. When her eyes fell upon me they
dilated, grew larger, and she uttered a few rapid words in some language
that I did not understand. Turner answered her in the same tongue, then
all at once she fell upon her knees, and raising her clasped hands began
to weep.

Turner addressed her again, and with eager haste she prepared a bath,
brought forth night clothes of the finest linen, and laid me in the bed
exhausted, but tranquil and sleepy.

I heard Turner and the woman moving softly around my bed. I knew that
tears and kisses were left upon my face, and then I slept, oh, how

Ah, what heavenly dreams possessed me during the days and weeks which I
spent in that delightful little chamber! The delirium which accompanied
my relapse into fever was like an experience in fairy land. Fantastic as
the visions that haunted me were, the most glowing changes of beauty
broke through them all. Music floated by me on each breath of air that
gushed through the windows. Every sunbeam that stole through the
gossamer curtains arched over me like a rainbow. It seemed to me that
whole clouds of humming-birds floated through the room, filling it with
the faint music of their wings. Then the pretty myths were chased away
by fantastic little creatures in human form; smiling, fluttering, and
full of the most exquisite fun, they trampled over my bed, and nestled,
mischievously, among the blossom colored hangings. I became wild with
admiration of their rosy bloom, of their comical ways. I laughed at
their pranks by the hour, and strove with insane glee to catch them with
my hand, or imprison them under the bed-clothes. But they always evaded
me, making the most grotesque faces at my baffled efforts. I could see
them waltzing in dozens upon the counterpane, and sitting upon my pillow
tangling their tiny hands and feet in my hair, shouting, laughing, and
turning summersets like little mad-caps whenever I made a dart at them
with my hands. So we kept it up, these exquisite little imps, night and
day, for we never slept—not we! the fun was too good for that!

There were only two of these creatures that did not seem to enjoy
themselves, and they were so odd, such droll, tearful, melancholy
things, that somehow their faces always made us stop laughing, though we
could not suppress a giggle now and then at their solemn and sentimental
way of doing things.

One was a queer little sprite, that looked so exquisitely droll with
that tiny hat set upon his powdered hair, and the face underneath so
comically anxious, that it quite broke my heart to look at the little
fellow standing there with the tears in his eyes.

I remember puzzling myself a long time regarding the materials which
composed his vest and small clothes, and of satisfying myself that they
must have been made from the leaves of a tiger lily, peony, or some
other great crimson blossom. The grave, drab coat, with its red facings,
the golden buckles and hat, defied my imagination altogether; but the
face, that anxious face, was dear old Turner’s, withered up to the size
of a crab-apple. It seemed so sad, so mournful, I quite pitied him, but
somehow couldn’t keep from laughing at the priggish little figure he
cut. Then there was a funny little woman, just the least bit shorter, in
a blue dress and large cap, held up by the queerest high-backed comb
that spread out the crown like a fan. Her face was older and darker than
the rest, a Spanish face, with something kind in it that sometimes kept
me quiet minutes together. These two figures really saddened us—the rosy
troop of sprites and myself—with their grave faces and muttered
consultations with each other, as if life and death depended on what
they were talking about.

Then the scene would change. These elfin revellers disappeared. Flashes
of lightning and clouds of cold white snow came slowly over me,
drifting, drifting, drifting; and in their midst that beautiful face, so
icy, so white, with its great, mournful eyes looking down into mine,
hour after hour—it haunted me then, it has haunted me ever since. Yet no
fear ever came upon me; no superstitious dread crept through my frame;
but a chillness, as if mountain snow were around me, nothing more.

At last this strange phantasmagoria cleared away; the elves gave up
their gambols and disappeared, all but the old man and the woman. They
gradually grew larger, and I knew that they were the good Spanish woman
and Turner.

How tenderly these two persons nursed me during the slow convalescence
that followed! How ardent was the love I gave back for this care, for
mine was an impassioned nature! Every sensation that I knew, love, hate,
grief, fear—nay, not fear, I think that was unknown to my nature from
the first!—but all other sensations were passions in me. Generous
sentiments predominated with me always. I say this when my life lies
before me like a map, and every impulse of my soul has been analyzed
with impartiality, and knowledge more searching than any man or woman
ever gathered from the actions of his fellow man.

I saw Turner at stated periods, when he could escape from Greenhurst to
inquire after my comforts, and caress me in his quaint, tender fashion.
I had learned to watch for the hour of his coming with the most ardent
impatience. He always brought me some pretty gift, if it were only a
branch of hawthorn in flower, an early crocus, or a hatful of violets.
He was an old, kind-hearted bachelor, and the poor child who had crept
to his feet from the wayside, became the very pet and darling of a heart
that had but one other idol on earth, and that was Lord Clare, his

Maria and I were alone in the house. The language in which she addressed
me was not that which I spoke with Turner, but her caresses, her eager
love were even more demonstrative than his. There was a pathos and power
in her expressions of tenderness that he doubtless felt, but could not
manifest in his own rougher language. She carried me in her arms while I
was unable to walk, and sat by me as I played wearily with the rich
toys, of which she found an endless variety in the closets and hidden
places about the cottage.

I spoke her language well and without effort, for it seemed more native
to my tongue than the English; and sometimes I would address Turner in
some of its rich terms of endearment, but he always checked me with a
grimace, as if the sound were hateful.

There was another language, too, of which I had learned the sounds, but
whether it was of human origin, or something that I had gathered from
the wild birds, I could not tell. It had a meaning to me, but no one
else understood it, and so, like the feelings to which this strange gift
alone gave utterance, it was locked up in my heart to be hoarded and
pondered over in secret.

                              CHAPTER XXV.
                         MYSELF AND MY SHADOW.

I do not know how Turner managed to establish me in this luxurious home,
but Lord Clare had left him with power to act, and I suppose he
exercised it in my behalf, without consulting Lady Catherine. In fact,
the cottage had for years been considered as his residence.

I grew stronger and more contented as time went on. The stillness, the
bright atmosphere, and the love with which I was surrounded, hushed my
soul back into childhood again, for up to this time I can remember but
few thoughts or sensations that partook of my infant years.

In truth, there was something fairy-like in my position, well calculated
to excite an imagination vivid as mine to most unhealthy action.
Sometimes it seemed to me as if I had been a child of the air, for my
first memory went back to the lark’s nest in the meadow; and my earliest
idea of enjoyment was rich with bird music. Good as Turner and Maria
were, it never entered my mind to consider myself as absolutely
belonging to them, more subtle and refined affinities existed within me.

Everything that surrounded me was calculated to excite these feelings.
The utmost prodigality of wealth could have supplied nothing of the
beautiful or refined which was not mysteriously bestowed on me. The
clothes I wore, my toys and books were of the most exquisite richness.
The texture of everything I touched was of peculiar delicacy; thus a
natural worship of the beautiful, inherent in my nature, was fed and
pampered as if by magic. The house contained a library of richly bound
books, in many languages, mostly classical, or on subjects of foreign
interest. Few romances were among the collection, but the poets of all
countries were well represented. The best poetry of Italy, Germany and
Spain, the ancient classics, and mythological subjects predominated.
Many of these volumes were in the original language, but there was no
lack of English translations. The most remarkable thing about this
collection was an entire deficiency in the works of native authors. A
few of the poets were to be found, Milton and two or three others, but
everything calculated to give an insight into the social life or history
of England, seemed to have been excluded with vigilance.

The small hexagonal room which contained these books was connected with
my sleeping-chamber by a small gallery lined with pictures. Two or three
statuettes, copies from the great masters, occupied pedestals in this
gallery, and the lights were so arranged that every inspiration of the
genius that had given life to the canvas or the marble, was thrown
forward as by a kindred mind. This room and its gallery, unlike most of
the other apartments, were left unlocked, and, with my imagination on
fire with the legends in which Maria was constantly indulging, I loved
to wander along the gallery, and ponder over the pictures, filling each
landscape with some scene of active life, and reading a destiny in the
strange faces that looked down upon me from the wall.

But more especially did the statuettes become objects of admiration,
probably because they touched some latent talent of my own, and awoke a
desire of emulation. Even at this early period of my life, I felt an
appreciation of the beauty in form and proportion so exquisitely
maintained in these objects, keen as the desire of a hungry person for
food. An awkward position, an ill arranged article of furniture, cross
lights upon a picture, anything which outraged that exquisite sense of
the perfect, which has been both my happiness and my bane, was as vivid
with me before I knew a rule of art as it is now.

So with this inherent sense of the beautiful guiding me like a sunbeam,
I made play-fellows of the breathing marble and of pictures so rare, as
I have since learned, that a monarch might have coveted them. I grew
ambitious to emulate the marble in my own person, and amused myself,
hour after hour, in practising the graceful position which each
maintained on its pedestal. This grew tiresome at length, and impelled
by the genius within me, I began to invent and arrange new combinations
for myself, before the large mirror that reflected back the gallery and
all it contained, when my chamber door was open.

Was I struck by the vision of childish beauty that broke upon me from
the mirror during these efforts? Yes! as I was pleased with the
paintings upon the wall, or the statues that gleamed in their chaste
beauty around me. I loved the wild, little creature that stood mocking
my gestures in the mirror, because she was more brilliant than the
paintings, and more life-like than the marble—because her arch eyes were
so full of the life that glowed in my own bosom. Ah, yes, I loved the
child. Why not? She alone seemed my equal. I did not reflect that she
was the shadow of myself, or in truth identify her with my own existence
at all. She seemed to me like a new picture going through another
progression toward life. They were so changeless; but she was variable
as a hummingbird. She smiled, moved, looked a thousand things from those
great flashing eyes. Oh, if she could have spoken, I was sure in my
heart that she might have uttered that strange, hidden language of mine.

So I met the wild, little beauty each day in the mirror. Every graceful
curve and line of the statues had become familiar, and almost wearisome
to me, but here was infinite variety changing at my will. She was my
slave, my subject, a being over whom I had absolute control; and this
was the first idea that I ever had of companionship.

In the library I found some books still done up in brown paper packages,
as if ordered for some purpose and forgotten. These, of course, became
objects of especial curiosity to a child always on the alert for
discoveries. They were juvenile volumes, richly illustrated, containing
all the fairy tales, I do believe, ever invented or translated into the
English language.

I seized upon these books with eagerness, studied the pictures, and made
toilsome efforts to spell out their meaning. So between Maria’s reading,
and my own spelling out of words, we gathered up all the glowing
romance; and this opened new visions to me, and gave a vivid impulse to
my day dreamings among the pictures. It was only my wild spirit that
wandered. At first the debility that followed my illness, and afterward
Turner’s earnest prohibition, confined me to the house, or, as a great
indulgence, to the little flower nook directly under the windows.

A winter and spring went by, and then my fairy-like imprisonment ceased.
Old Turner grew cheerful and indulgent; he gave me long walks among the
trees; he brought a pretty black pony upon which I rode, while he walked
by my saddle.

My frame grew vigorous, and my spirits bird-like, under this wholesome
indulgence. Sometimes I caught glimpses of Greenhurst, and a vivid
remembrance of the morning Turner had found me upon its door-steps, came
back upon my brain. I wondered if the lady, with her dog, and that long,
silver-grey morning-robe, was there yet, and if I should ever see her
again. As my courage and curiosity grew strong, I inquired about these
things of Turner. “No, the lady was not there,” he said, “she had gone
up to London, to be near her son, who was at Eton.”

Where was London? Who was her son? What was Eton?

How eagerly I crowded all these questions together, when, for the first
time, I found the dear old man disposed to indulge my curiosity. London,
Eton were soon explained, but they still seemed like the cities I had
read of in my fairy books. But when he told me of this son, that he was
Lord Clare’s nephew, and might one day become owner of Greenhurst, our
own pretty home, and the broad fields and parks around us to the horizon
almost, my heart fell, my thoughts grew dark, and for a moment the
beautiful landscape disappeared. A cold mist surrounded me. It was but
for a moment, but why was it? How came this bleak vision to encompass me
thus with its dreary indistinctness? Had some name jarred on my memory
which refused to receive it, and yet felt the shock? Was that name Lord
Clare’s? Why had neither Turner nor Maria ever mentioned him before? Who
was he? What was Turner to him?

I asked these questions at once. Turner answered in a low voice, and I
fancied with reluctance. Certain I am, his voice was more husky than

He explained that Lord Clare was his master—that he had gone into
foreign lands, and might not come back for years. The lady whom I had
seen was his sister, unlike him in everything, but still his sister; and
during his absence her home was to be at Greenhurst whenever it might be
her pleasure to reside there.

We had ridden to the brow of an eminence on the verge of the park while
Turner was giving me this intelligence. The spot commanded a fine view
of the country far and near. In a sweeping curve of the distant uplands
stood a dark stone dwelling, partially castellated and partaking of a
style which admits of towers and balconies, so ornamented that it was
impossible to guess to what age they belonged. It was an imposing
building, and made both a grand and picturesque object, lapped as it was
among the most verdant and lovely hills in the world. I looked toward
this building with interest. It seemed like something I had seen before,
pictured perhaps in a book.

“And that,” said I, pointing toward the distance, “that house yonder
among the purple hills, is that Lord Clare’s also?”

“That,” said Turner, with a sigh, and shading his eyes with his withered
hand, “that is Marston Court.”

He paused, shook his head mournfully, and then, remembering that the
name was not a full answer to my question, continued, “Yes, yes, that is
Lord Clare’s also. It came to him through—through his—his—through Lady

“And who lives yonder, dear Turner?”

“No one; it is shut up.”

“I think,” said I, leaning down toward the old man, who stood with one
arm thrown over the neck of my pony, “I think this world must have very
few people in it for all that you tell me. No one at Greenhurst—no one
out yonder—only you and Maria and me among these woods and fields.”

“And is not that enough, child?”

I shook my head.

“Are you not happy with us, Zana? What more do you want?”

“I want,” said I, kindling with the idea, “I want to see a child; you
tell me the world is full of little girls and boys like me—where are

“I have thought of this before,” muttered Turner, uneasily, “it’s
natural—it’s what I should have expected. What company are the Spanish
woman and such a dry old chip as I am for a creature like this?”

His look of annoyance disturbed me. I could not bear to see his old face
so wrinkled with anxiety.

“We should have to take a long journey to find the children, I suppose,”
said I, hoping to relieve his perplexity; “but Jupiter here is so
strong, and so swift, if you could but keep up with him now, we might
search for them, you know.”

The old man still looked anxious, and bore down heavily on the neck of
my beautiful steed with his arm.

“Don’t,” said I, “you will hurt Jupiter; see how his head droops.”

“Poor thing, I would not hurt him for the world, if it were only for her
sake,” said the old man, smoothing the arched neck of Jupiter with his
palm; “next to you, Zana, I think she loved this pretty animal.”

“Who—who was it that loved Jupiter so?” I inquired, with eager

“Your mother,” replied the old man, and the words dropped like tears
from his lips.

“My mother,” I repeated, looking upward, and solemnly expecting to see
that sweet face gazing down upon me from the clouds. “Let us go home,
dear Turner, I am growing cold; do not say that again, the sound drifts
over me here like a snow-heap, it hurts me.”

Turner seemed to struggle with himself. Then lifting his eyes to my
face, as if he had nerved his resolution to say something very painful,
he answered,

“One minute, Zana! Tell me, child, what is it that makes you turn white
and shiver so, when I speak as I did now of your mother?”

“I do not know!” I replied, looking upward, with anxiety. “The cold is
here at my heart, I do not know why.”

“Do you remember your mother? Now that you are well, something of the
past should come back to you. Child, make an effort—that mother—what has
become of her?”

I only shuddered—but had no reply to give; I could feel, but all was
blank and blackness to my thoughts.

Turner saw my distress, and his own become more and more visible. He
looked upon the ground and began muttering to himself, a habit that he
had when very much perplexed. His thoughts reached me in disjointed
snatches, but I dwelt upon them long after.

“How can I send him word? What can I say? Even proof of her own identity
is wanting—proof that would satisfy him. Besides, his anxiety was for
her—poor thing—even more than the child. If she could but be made to
remember. Zana, Zana!” he burst forth, grasping my arm, and looking
imploringly into my face, “struggle with this apathy of mind—strive,
think—tell me, child, tell me something that I can get for a clue! Tell
me if you can—try, try, my pretty Zana, and you shall have troops of
children to play with. Tell me, where was it that you parted with your

I did make an effort to remember. My veins chilled; my cheeks grew cold
as ice; I lifted my finger upward and pointed to a bank of clouds
rolling in fleecy whiteness over us.

“Is that all?” exclaimed Turner, despairingly.

I could not speak, my lips seemed frozen. I sat like a marble child upon
the back of my pony; everything around me had turned to snow once more.

Tears rolled down Turner’s cheeks, great, cold tears, that looked like
hail-stones—they made me shiver afresh.

It was the last time that Turner ever tortured me with questions
regarding my mother—questions that I had no power to answer, yet which
brought with them such mysterious, such indescribable pain. Later, when
my soul was called back from the past—but of this hereafter.

                             CHAPTER XXVI.
                         THE FAIRY AT THE POOL.

One day I had wandered through the garden and out among the brave old
chestnuts quite alone, for now that the family were absent, Turner
allowed me to wander almost at will anywhere between the old mansion and
our more humble, but not less lovely home.

This time I took one of the great chestnut avenues hitherto unexplored,
which led me, by a curving sweep, to the lodge, which I just remembered
having passed in my progress from the meadows, on the memorable night
when Turner found me upon the door-steps. Then it had seemed like a
cliff, adown which great festoons of ivy were sweeping to the ground.
Now I saw the thick foliage turned and forced back here and there, to
admit light into the doors and windows of a rustic cottage, which had a
stir of life within, though I saw no person.

I passed this lodge with a stealthy tread, for a sense of disobedience
troubled me, I knew, without having been directly told, that both Turner
and Maria would disapprove my passing beyond the limits of the park; but
childish curiosity, with some vague remembrance of the place, were too
strong for my sense of right, and I passed on quite charmed with the
broad slope of meadow land that lay before me, all golden, crimson and
white with mid-summer blossoms. A village with a church tower in the
distance rose upon my view like a glimpse of fairy land. I felt then
that the world, as Turner asserted, was full of people, and longed to
know more about them.

I walked along the carriage track which wound toward the village through
thick hedges just out of blossom, holding my breath as I recognized here
a moss-covered stone, there a hillock, upon which I had set down to rest
on that wearisome night. The grass was green and fresh where the tent
had been, to which my first remembrance went back, but I recollected the
place well. As I stood gazing on it, the soft gurgle of waters fell upon
my ear as it had then, and induced, half by a feeling that seemed like
terror, half by curiosity, I moved toward the hollow, wondering if I
should find that impish little figure waiting for me again.

I reached the slope, looked half timidly down, and remained breathless
and lost in delight.

Upon the rock which I have mentioned covered with lichen and mossy
grasses, sat a little girl, about my own age, I should think, busy with
a quantity of meadow blossoms that filled the crown of a straw bonnet
that stood by her side. All around her lay the gathered blossoms; her
tiny feet were buried in them; they gleamed through the skirt of her
muslin dress, and brightened the rock all around. She coquetted with
them like a bird—bending her head on one side as she held a cluster of
violets in the sun, flinging it back with a graceful curve of the neck,
when they dropped into shadow, and eyeing them coyly all the time, as a
robin regards the cherry he intends to appropriate at leisure.

What eyes the creature had! large and of a purplish blue, like the
violets she held, and so full of smiling brightness. Never before or
since have I seen a creature so beautiful, so full of graceful bloom.
Her profuse hair was in disorder, falling in golden waves and curls all
over her white shoulders, from which the transparent sleeve was drawn
with knots of blue ribbon, leaving the prettiest dimples in the world
exposed. Her mouth was soft, red, and smiling like ripe cherries in the
sunshine, and that rosy smile, so innocent in its tenderness, so radiant
with glee! Talk of women not feeling the glow of each other’s beauty;
why, there is no feeling on earth so unselfish, so full of lofty, tender
admiration as the love which one high-souled woman feels for the sister
woman to whom her soul goes forth in sympathy. This appreciation, these
attachments are not frequent in society, but when they do exist, the
loves of the angels are almost realized. Sometimes the same feeling
extends to children, but not often.

I looked down upon this child, thus busy with her graceful flowers, and
my heart filled with the sunshine of her presence. As she trifled with
her garlands, the smile broke into music on her red lips, and a few soft
chirping notes, wild and untaught as a bird’s, blended richly with the
flowing waters.

At last she lifted a half-twined garland high over her head, that the
sunshine might kindle up its blossoms, and as her eyes were turned
upward they fell upon me. The garland hung motionless in her hand; the
song died on her lips, leaving them like an opening rose-bud; and her
blue eyes filled with a look of pleasant wonder. Thus, for the moment,
we gazed upon each other, we who were to be a destiny each to the other.

“Come,” she said at last, pushing her straw hat toward me so eagerly
that a quantity of flowers rolled over the brim, through which the broad
strings rippled in azure waves—“come, there is enough for us both, let
us pelt the brook and hear the water laugh as it runs away with them.
Here, jump to the rock, I will make room. Now for it!”

She gathered up her skirt, crushing the blossoms with her little dimpled
arms, pushed back the bonnet, and left a space upon the stone for me to

I sprang down the bank breathing quickly, and with my whole frame in a
joyful glow, I placed myself among the blossoms, wove my arms about the
charming infant’s, and kissed her shoulders till she laughed aloud, as a
bird breaks into music at the first sight of a kindred songster.

“Come,” said the child, her voice still rich with glee—“come, let us go
to work; which will you have, violets, primroses, or some of these
pretty white stars that I found by the brook?”

“All, all,” I answered, with animation, “give them to me, and mind what
a pretty crown I shall make for your hair.”

She turned her great wondering eyes on me as I wove the blossoms
together—the violets with golden primroses, intermingling them with
leaves and spears of long grass, a white star gleaming out here and
there in silvery relief.

When she saw my garland, so different from her own, in which the flowers
were grouped without method, the child seemed lost in admiration. After
gazing on it a moment, and then upon me, she took her own half-formed
wreath and cast it upon the brooklet with a charming little pout of the
lips, that was lovely almost as her smiles had been.

I went on with my coronal, enjoying the task as an author does his poem,
or a painter his picture. The buds harmonized under my fingers; their
symmetrical grace filled my soul with the delight which springs from a
natural love of the beautiful. Even at that age I had all the feelings
of an artist, all that love of praise which holds a place in those

“Ah,” said I, weaving my wreath among her golden curls, “if you could
see how beautiful you are together, you and the flowers.”

“I can see,” cried the child, springing up and scattering a shower of
blossoms from the folds of her frock which fell into the water,
disturbing it till it looked like a shattered mirror. “No, not now,
naughty thing that I am, to make the poor brook so angry with my
flowers—but wait a minute, and you shall see!”

“No, no, not there!” cried I, seizing her in breathless fear, for I
remembered the hideous thing that had frightened me from the depths of
those very waters; “don’t look in the water; let us go away. It may be
lurking here yet.”

“What?” questioned the child, anxiously.

“Something that I saw here once, a wild, wicked creature, with such eyes
and hair”——

“What, in the water?” she asked, her blue eyes growing wider and larger.

“Yes, here in the pool, just by this rock.”

We both stood up clinging to one another. In our upright position the
pool lay clear and tranquil beneath us, and impelled by that sort of
fascination which in moments of affright often turns the gaze upon that
which it dreads to see, our eyes fell at the same moment upon two
objects reflected back as from a mirror—my little friend, so like one of
those cherubs which Raphael half buries amid the transparent clouds in
his pictures—and that other little friend, with whom I had become
acquainted in the mirror at home.

“Ah, how came she here? Is she your friend also?” I said, pointing
toward the dark brilliant child that pointed back to me, with a
questioning smile as I spoke.

“Who, that?” asked my companion, waving her hand—a gesture that was sent
back, as it seemed, with new grace from the water.

“Why, don’t you know it again?”

“Yes, but do you? Does it ever speak to you, or only stand looking like

She gazed at me with her wondering eyes, and then at the images beneath

“Why, don’t you know me, there with the wreath on?—and you? it is so
droll that any one should not know herself.”

I caught my breath.

“What?” I exclaimed, “does that child look like me? is it me?”

“Why, yes, who else, please?” cried my companion gaily, “see, it is your
hair, so black, and your pretty frock too; and the eyes, they look like
stars in the water.”

I looked upon the two figures, the fair, blooming little beauty—the
dark, earnest, haughty but sparkling face that bent over her. After a
moment, I said slowly, as if speaking of a picture, “yes, it is me, and
I am beautiful!”

“Indeed you are,” exclaimed the child, with a gaiety that disturbed me,
for this conviction of my own loveliness gave a serious, almost sad
impression to my thoughts; “papa calls me his blossom, you shall be his
star. Shall she not, my own darling papa?”

I looked up and saw a gentleman standing upon the bank looking calmly,
and with a gentle smile upon us as we stood. He was dressed in black,
somewhat worn, and had a subdued meekness in his deportment, which won
my childish heart in an instant.

“Well, Cora, are you ready to return home?” he said, with a quiet smile.

“Oh, yes, papa,” she cried, unwinding her arms from mine, and leaping
from the rock. “Good-bye, come to-morrow,” she cried, clambering up the
bank, and pausing at the top to shower back kisses with both hands; “do
you hear? Come to-morrow, my star”——

The gentleman took her hand and led her away. I watched them till they
disappeared, and then sunk upon the rock crying disconsolately. It
seemed as if my life had again just begun, and was swept away into

                             CHAPTER XXVII.
                         FUNERALS AND ORPHANS.

All that night I lay awake, thinking of the morrow, longing for
daylight, and so impatient of the darkness around me, that I left my bed
again and again to fling aside the curtains and search for a glow in the
east. I had told my adventure, and described the beautiful child to
Maria, my kind bonne. She heard it all with pleasant curiosity, but
strove to subdue the wild impatience with which I panted for another
interview with this heavenly creature of my own sex and age.

The next day I started for the spring, and reached it in a glow of
expectation, panting with the eager affection that burned like a fire in
my bosom. Nothing was there. The grey rock, with its trampled lichen,
the pool sleeping softly beneath it, and the sweet current rippling
through clusters of fragrant mint, alone met my ear and gaze. A few dead
blossoms lay upon the rock, tormenting me with a withered memento of the
joy I had known the day before. I sat down among these blossoms and
cried with bitter disappointment. After waiting hours in the hot sun, I
returned home weary and disheartened. Why had she broken her promise?
How could I ever trust her again if she did come to the spring? Who was
she, a real being, or a fairy, who, for one moment had taken pity on my
loneliness, to leave me more desolate than before?

My hopes of seeing her again began to falter greatly after the third
day, but still I persisted on going to the rock every morning for a
week. The dead flowers among the lichen went to my heart every time I
saw them, but I had no courage to brush them into the water; they were,
at least, a proof that I had seen her.

One morning, after brooding over my disappointment, wondering and
watching as a child, with a heart in its wish, only can wait and watch,
I shook away the tears from my eyes and sprang up, nerved with a sort of
inspiration. I would search for the child—wander right and left till she
was found. I would mourn no more, but go to work, nor yield again to
tears while an effort could be made to find her for whose presence I

I clambered up the bank, crossed into the highroad, and wandered on
toward the village that lay in lovely quietude before me, half veiled in
a silvery mist. This village was the world to me, and an eager wish to
see what it was like, mingled with a conviction that there I should find
the child.

I drew near the village, looking eagerly on each side for the object of
my wanderings. The church which, afar off, seemed in the very heart of
the place, stood some distance from the large cluster of houses, and I
reached this first. It was one of those low stone buildings so common in
England, with deep gothic windows, and a single tower draped and overrun
with ivy. Behind it was a grave-yard, crowded thick with yew and cypress
trees, under whose shadows the curious old grave-stones gleamed dimly,
as if through the mournful mistiness of a funeral veil.

Near this church, and like it, built of grey stone, to which the ivy
clung like a garment, stood a dwelling. White jessamines and creeping
roses brightened up the ivy, garlanding the very eaves with blossoms;
and a porch which was one mass of honeysuckles, was approached by a
narrow gravel path bordered with flowers, and sheltered the front door.

The contrast of life and death was strong between this dwelling and the
grave-yard. One was bright with foliage and gay with blossoms, around
which the golden bees kept up a constant hum, and birds flitted in and
out, too busy for singing, but blending their low, pleasant chirps with
the sleepy bee music. The sunshine fell softly on bee, bird, and
blossom—the dew here and there fringed the ivy leaves with diamonds, and
one high elm tree sweeping over all. Opposed to this was the grave-yard,
lying within the shadow of the church—the yews and cypress crowding
together among the graves like giant mourners at a funeral, and tall
trees looming above, laden down and black with rooks’ nests, around
which the sable birds wheeled and circled in gloomy silence, broken only
by an abrupt caw, now and then, which fell upon your ear like a cry of
pain from one of the graves. Thus it was that these two buildings, the
church and parsonage house, struck me at the time. It is strange—I have
no idea what possessed me—but I turned from the cheerful dwelling and
entered the grave-yard.

The long grass was heavy with dew, and my tiny boots were soon wet to
the ankles; but I wandered on among the ancient stones, wondering what
they were, and why the joy had all left my heart so suddenly. I bent
down and attempted to read the inscriptions on these stones; but most of
the letters were choked up with moss, and of the rest I could make
nothing. The great mystery of death had never been made known to me, and
this was the first time I had ever seen a grave.

I sat down on a horizontal stone of white marble, cut with deep, black
letters, and folding my hands on my lap, looked around saddened to the
heart, and in this new impression forgetting the child I had come forth
to seek. All at once, a strain of music swept over me from the church,
slow, sad, and with a depth of solemnity that made every string in my
heart vibrate. As if a choir of angels had summoned me, I arose and
walked slowly toward the church. The door was open, and through it swept
the music in deep, thrilling gushes, that seemed to bathe me in a solemn
torrent of sound.

In the dim light which filled the church I saw a group of persons. Some
had handkerchiefs to their eyes, and others bent forward as if in

Directly in front of what I afterwards learned to be the altar, stood an
object that filled me with inexpressible awe. A quantity of black velvet
fell over it in deep, gloomy folds, and those nearest it wept bitterly,
and with heavy sobs that made my heart swell.

At last the music was hushed. A man stepped down from the altar in long,
sweeping robes, whose heavy blackness was relieved by a wave of white,
sweeping over one shoulder and across his bosom. Some one lifted the
mass of velvet, and I saw the flash of silver nails with the gleam of
white satin as a lid was flung back.

Then all faded from my sight. I saw nothing but a tall man, also in
robes that swept the floor, holding a child by the hand.

I uttered a low cry and moved forward. It was the child I had seen at
the spring, but oh, how changed! Her lovely face was bathed in tears;
that poor little mouth quivered with the sobs that she was striving to
keep back. One dimpled hand was pressed to her eyes and dripping with
tears—the blue ribbons, the pretty white frock, all were laid away; and,
in their place, I saw the black sleeve of her mourning dress looped from
the white shoulders with knots of crape.

I could not understand the meaning of all this, but my heart was full of
her grief. Intent on her alone, I walked up the aisle, and, flinging my
arms around her, began to weep aloud.

The child felt my embrace, gave me a wild look through her tears, and,
seeing who it was, forced away the hand her father clasped, and flung
herself upon my bosom.

I was about to speak.

“Hush, hush!” whispered the child, in a voice that reminded me of the
waters stealing through the violet hollow, it was so liquid with tears,

Cora drew me closer to the object buried beneath those folds of velvet,
and I saw, lying upon a satin pillow fast asleep, as I thought, the
sweetest and palest face my young eyes had ever beheld. Waves of soft,
golden hair lay upon the temples, and gleamed through the cold
transparency of her cap; the waxen hands lay folded over her still
heart, pressing down a white rose into the motionless plaits of fine
linen that lay upon her bosom.

“Has she been long asleep?” I whispered.

“She is dead!” replied the child, with a fresh burst of tears.

Dead—dead! How the word fell upon my heart, uttered thus, with tears and
shuddering, its meaning visible before me in that marble stillness. My
very ignorance gave it force and poignancy. Its mysteriousness was
terrible. I had no power to question further, but clung to the child no
longer weeping, but hushed with awe.

It must have had a singular effect, my scarlet dress and rose colored
bonnet, glowing like fire among the funeral vestments around me. But no
one attempted to separate me from the child; and when the coffin was
lifted, and the music once more swelled through the sacred edifice, we
went forth clinging to each other. Though one of her hands was clasped
in that of her father, I felt quite sure he was unconscious of my
presence, for as they closed the coffin I could feel the shudder that
ran through his frame, even though I touched the child only. He walked
from the church like a blind man, capable of observing nothing but the
black cloud that passed on before, sweeping his heart away with it.

We entered the church-yard, and there, beneath one of the tall trees,
was a newly dug grave. I had seen it before, but it had no significance
then; now my heart stood still as we gathered around it.

The trembling, that had shaken the child’s frame ceased. We both stood
breathless and still as marble while the service was read; but when they
lowered the coffin into the grave, I felt the pang that shot through her
in every nerve of my own frame. She uttered no sound, but my arm was
chilled by the coldness that crept over her neck and shoulders. I do not
know how the crowd left us, but we stood alone by the grave with its
fresh disjointed sods, and the brown earth gleaming desolately through
the crevices.

All efforts at self-restraint gave way now that the widower found
himself alone, for in our grief children are looked upon like flowers.
Their sympathy is like a perfume; their innocence soothes the anguish
they witness. Their little souls are brimful of beautiful charity, and
their presence a foretaste of the heaven to which the Saviour likens

He stood in his silent grief, every nerve relaxed, every breath a sigh;
his figure drooped, and the child’s hand fell loosely from his clasp. He
leaned against the tree that was to overshadow the beloved one forever,
and gazed down upon the grave as if his own soul were buried among the
sods, and he were waiting patiently for the angels to come and help him
search for it.

I felt that Cora was growing colder and colder. Her face was white as
newly fallen snow. She ceased to weep, and allowed me to lead her away
to the marble slab I had occupied when the funereal music led me to her.

We sat down together, and she leaned against my shoulder in profound
silence. Her eyelids closed languidly, and the violet of her eyes tinged
their whiteness like a shadow. For some minutes we sat thus, when a
hoarse caw from the rooks circling above the tree, at whose foot lay the
grave, made her start. She gave a single glance toward the tree, saw her
father and the green sods, and, bursting into a fresh agony of tears,
cried out,

“She is there—she is there—mother, mother—I have no mother!”

This cry awoke a strange pang in my bosom. For the first time there was
entire sisterhood in our grief. Mother, mother, that was the thing for
which I had pined, that was my own great want—I had felt it in the
meadow when the lark fed its young—I had felt it in my convalescence—in
the picture gallery—everywhere, and now this harassing want was hers
also. As she cried aloud for her mother, so did my soul echo it; and, as
if her own lips had uttered the sound, I wailed forth,

“Mother, mother—_I_ have no mother!”

With that we flung our arms around each other, as flowers sometimes
twine their stems in the dark, and were silent again.

But this intense excitement could not last with children so impulsive
and so ardent. After a while Cora began to be impatient of her father’s
immovability; it frightened her.

“Let us go to him,” she whispered; “he seems dropping to sleep as she
did. How white and still his hands look, falling so loosely against the
black robe.”

We crept toward the stricken man, and stood beside him in breathless
awe. He did not observe us; his eyes riveted themselves upon the sods;
the drooping of his limbs increased. He seemed about to seat himself on
the earth.

Cora took his nerveless hand between hers, and raised her great blue
eyes, now full of a light more touching than tears, to his face.

“Papa, papa, come home; you told me that she would never wake up again.”

He turned his heavy eyes upon the child with a look of questioning
weariness, as if he had not comprehended her, and remained gazing in her
face, with a mournful smile parting his lips.

“Come!” said the child, pulling gently at his hand—“come!”

He yielded to her infant force as if he were himself a child to be thus
guided, and walked with a feeble step toward the house. But its
cheerfulness mocked him. Bees that had been gathering stores from the
honeysuckle porch—birds lodged in the great elm, and a thousand summer
insects that love the sunshine, all set up a clamor of melody that made
him shrink as if some violence had been offered. He said nothing, but I
could see the color fade like mist from his lips. We had brought him too
suddenly from the shadows of the grave; the soul requires time before it
can leave the vale of tears to stand uncovered in the sunshine. We
entered a little parlor, very simple in its adornments, but neat and
cheerful as a room could be. The casements were draped with foliage, and
this gave a soft twilight to the apartment, that soothed us all.

He sat down in a large, easy-chair, draped with white dimity, that gave
a strong contrast to his black robe. Cora climbed to his knee, and put
up her quivering lips for a kiss; but he did not heed the action, and I
saw her pretty eyes fill with tears—she, poor thing, who had shed so
many that day.

I could not bear that look of sorrow, and pressed close up to his other

“Sir, papa,” for she had called him this; and why should not any other
child? “Papa, Cora wants to kiss you; she has been trying and trying,
but you don’t mind in the least.”

He looked at me with a bewildered stare, glancing down from my face to
the brilliant garments that contrasted like flame against his black

“It is Cora, poor little Cora, you should speak to—not me,” I said.
“Look, her eyes are full again, and she has cried herself almost to
death before.”

He looked at the child. The hard gloom melted from his eyes, and drawing
her to his bosom he dissolved into tears.

I took his hand and kissed it. I pressed my lips down on the child’s
feet, and smoothed her mourning frock with my hands. Tears were flashing
like hail-stones down my own cheeks, and yet there was joy in my heart.
Though a child, I knew that the worst part of his grief had passed away.
Poor little Cora, how she clung and wept, and nestled in his bosom! His
strange coldness had seemed like a second death to the child. I felt
that both were happier, and looked on with a glow of the heart.

“My child—my poor, poor orphan,” he murmured, kissing her forehead,
while one little pale cheek was pressed to his bosom—“my orphan, my

“What is an orphan, papa?” questioned the child, lifting up her face,
and gazing at him through her tears. “What is an orphan?”

“It is a child who has no mother, Cora,” was the low and mournful reply.

My heart listened, and I felt to its innermost fold that there was a
mysterious sisterhood between the child and myself.

Cora had withdrawn from her father’s bosom, and sat upright on his knee
listening to him. There was a moment’s silence, and then, for the first
time, he seemed perfectly conscious of my presence.

“And who is this?” he inquired, laying his hand on my head with mournful

“I am an orphan like her,” was my answer.

“Poor child!” he murmured, gently smoothing my hair again. “But how came
you here? You have been crying too—what has grieved you?”

“They were crying, all except you,” I answered. “I was looking for her,
down at the brook spring; something told me to walk on—on—on till I came
here. I saw Cora and that beautiful lady on the satin pillow, with all
the black velvet lying so heavily over her. Cora was very unhappy; so
was I; that is all.”

“But who are you? What is your name?” he asked, looking tenderly in my

“Zana is my name?”

“Zana, what more? You have another name!”

“No—Zana, that is all.”

“But who is your father?”

The question puzzled me; I did not know its meaning; no one had ever
asked after my father before.

“My father!” I said, doubtfully.

“Yes, your father; is he living?”

“I don’t know!”

“But his name, what was that?”

“I don’t know!”

“Then you are indeed an orphan, poor thing.”

“I have no mother; isn’t that an orphan?”

“Truly it is, poor infant—but where do you live?”

“On the Rock, by the little spring pond; don’t you remember, papa?” said
Cora, beginning to brighten up.

“Yes, I remember,” he replied, sinking back into the sorrowful gloom,
from which my strange appearance had aroused him; “and this was the
child then who made your pretty violet wreath?”

“Mamma smiled, don’t you remember, when she saw me with it on, and said
it was so lovely!” answered the child, with animation.

“She never looked on you, my poor darling, without a smile,” answered
the father, so sadly that my heart swelled once more.

He seemed to forget me again, and sat gazing wistfully on the floor.
Cora, too, was exhausted by excess of weeping, and I saw that her
beautiful eyelids were drooping like the overripe leaves of a white
rose. With a feeling that it was kind and right, I stole from the room
and made my way home. It was a long walk, and I reached the cottage in a
terrible state of exhaustion. My kind-hearted bonne took me in her arms
without annoying questions, and I sighed myself to sleep on her bosom.

                            CHAPTER XXVIII.

The next morning Turner called, and I told him my mournful adventure. He
seemed greatly interested, and, after listening very attentively, sunk
into a train of thought, still holding me on his knee. At last he
addressed Maria,

“This may prove a good thing for the child,” he said. “It is strange we
never thought of it before. The curate’s daughter is just the companion
for Zana, and as they teach her at home it is possible—but we will think
more of it.”

Turner placed me on the floor as he spoke, and, taking Maria on one
side, conversed with her for some time. Meanwhile I was eager to reach
the parsonage once more—I felt that Cora would be expecting me—that I
might even be wanted by the broken-hearted man, whose grief had filled
my whole being with sympathy.

I ran up stairs, put on my bonnet and little black silk mantilla with
its rich garniture of lace, and pulling Turner by the coat, gave him and
Maria a hasty good morning.

“Wait,” said the kind old fellow, seizing my hand—“wait a bit, and I
will go with you. All that I dread,” he continued, turning to Maria, “is
the questions that he will naturally ask.”

“Oh, but you can evade them,” answered Maria.

“Yes, by telling all that I absolutely know, nothing more nor less, and
that every servant at Greenhurst can confirm; I must stick to simple
facts, no conjectures nor convictions without proof; no man has a right
to ask them.”

I had gathered a basket of fruit that morning before the dew was off,
and buried the glowing treasure beneath a quantity of jessamine and
daphna blossoms, for some intuition told me that pure white flowers were
most fitted for the house of mourning. With this precious little basket
on my arm, I waited impatiently for Turner to start, if he was indeed
going with me. But there were hesitation and reluctance in his manner,
though at last he yielded to my importunity, and we set out.

It was a pleasant walk, and my enjoyment of its beauty was perfect. I
had an object, something to fix my heart upon; the dreamy portion of my
life was over; I began to know myself as a thinking, acting being.

We entered the parsonage. Mr. Clarke was in the parlor, sitting in the
easy-chair exactly as I had left him the day before, with his silk robe
on—and his eyes, heavy with grief, were bent upon the floor. Emboldened
by the affection which had sprung up in my heart for this lone man, I
went up to him as his own child might have done, and kissed the hand
which fell languidly by his side.

He did not lift his eyes, but resting his hand on my head, whispered

“Bless thee—bless thee, my poor orphan.”

He evidently mistook me for his own child.

“It is not little Cora, only me,” I said—“me and Mr. Turner.”

He looked up, saw Turner standing near the door, shook his head sadly,
and dropped into the old position.

I swept the white blossoms, to one end of my basket and exposed the
cherries underneath, red and glowing as if the sunshine that had ripened
them were breaking back to the surface again.

“I picked them for you my ownself,” I said, holding up the basket—“for
you and Cora.”

Poor man, his lips were white and parched; it is probable he had not
tasted food all the previous day! With a patient, thoughtful smile he
took a cluster of the cherries, and my heart rose as I saw how much the
grateful fruit refreshed him.

“This is a strange little creature,” he said at last, addressing Turner.
“She was with us yesterday; it seemed as if God had sent one of his
cherubs. Truly of such is the kingdom of heaven!”

Dear old Turner, how his face began to work.

“She is a good girl—a very good girl. We’ve done all we could to spoil
her like two old fools, her bonne and I; but somehow she’s too much for
us; as for the spoiling, it isn’t to be done.”

I saw Cora through an open door, and laying a double handful of the
cherries on her father’s robe, ran toward her. She looked pale, poor
thing, and her sweet eyes were dull and heavy. She was in a little room
that opened to the parlor, and, still in her long linen night-gown, and
with her golden curls breaking from a tiny muslin cap, lay upon the
cushions of a chintz sofa; for, it seems, she had refused to be taken
entirely from her father, and he had spent his night in the easy-chair.

“Her head was aching terribly,” she said; “she had been awake some time,
but papa was so still that it frightened her. She was afraid that he had
gone to sleep like her mother, and never would wake up again.”

The quick sympathies of girlhood soon rendered us both more cheerful.
She began to smile when her father’s voice reached us, and refreshed her
sweet lips with my cherries, in childish forgetfulness of the sorrow
that had rendered them so pale.

“I’m so glad you have come,” she said, leaving the sofa; and gathering
up her night-gown till both rosy little feet were exposed upon the
matting, she ran to a side door and looked out, calling, “Sarah
Blake—Sarah Blake!”

A servant girl, plump and hearty, with little grey eyes, and cheeks red
as the cherries in my basket, answered the summons. She looked upon me
with apparent curiosity and evident kindness, and taking Cora in her
arms, said, “so this is the strange little lady.”

“Isn’t she nice?” whispered Cora. “Isn’t she like a star?”

“Yes, she is a nice playmate; I’m glad you’ve found her, Miss Cora, only
one would like to know just who she is.”

I sat down on the matting, as the door closed after them, and taking up
the white flowers, began to weave them into a crown. It was an
irresistible habit, that of sorting and combining any flowers that came
within my reach. I often did this unconsciously, and with a sort of
affectionate carefulness, for the rude handling of a blossom gave me
pain. It seemed to me impossible that they did not suffer as a child
might; so, with a light touch, I wove my garland thick and heavy with
leaves and blossoms. I never felt lonely when flowers were my
companions. They seemed to me like a beautiful alphabet which God had
given, that I might fashion out with them the mystic language of my own

The voices of Turner and the curate reached me from the next room. They
were conversing in a low tone, but I could hear that the stricken man
was shaking off the apathy of his grief. There was interest and depth in
his tone. As they talked, the door, which had been but half on the
latch, swung open a little, and I heard him say,

“It is a strange and touching history. Have you made any effort to learn
how she came in this forlorn condition?”

“Every effort that a human being could make.”

“And you have literally no information beyond the morning when you took
her from the door-step?”

“None whatever.”

“Cannot she herself remember enough to give some clue?”

“Illness must have driven everything from her memory. The mere effort to
recollect seems to shake her very existence. I will never attempt it

“She _must_ be of good birth,” said the curate, thoughtfully, “never did
human face give more beautiful evidence of gentle blood.”

“I never doubted that,” answered Turner, quickly.

“Strange, very strange,” murmured the curate.

“Is there any hope that you will aid us, sir?” said Turner, who used few
words at any time, and evidently found the prolonged deliberations of
the curate annoying.

“How can you ask?” replied the curate, gently. “I thought that was
settled long ago. Were she the poorest vagrant that ever craved alms, I
would do my best to aid her. As it is, can I ever forget yesterday? Mr.
Turner, we sometimes _do_ find angels in our path. This one we shall not
entertain unawares, I know that she will prove a blessing to this
desolated house.”

I dropped the flowers in my lap, and began to listen breathlessly. His
beautiful faith in my future—his solemn trust in the good that was in
me, fell like an inspiration upon my soul. From that hour my devotion to
that good man and his daughter was a religious obligation—yes, a
religious obligation before I knew what religion meant.

“Ah! if _she_ had only been near to help us,” said the curate, and his
eyes filled with those quiet, dewy tears with which God first waters a
grief-stricken heart before he lets in the sunshine to which it has
become unused—tears and sunshine that sometimes freshen the soul again
with more than the brightness of childhood.

A strange thought came over me. I laid down the wreath and glided softly
to the curate’s chair.

“They told us yesterday that she had gone to God,” I whispered, looking
in his face with a sort of holy courage. “Is God so far off that she
cannot help us?”

The curate gazed at me with a strange expression at first, then a
beautiful smile parted his lips, and laying both hands on my head, he
looked in my face still smiling, while his eyes slowly filled.

That moment little Cora came in. Her father reached forth his hand and
drew her arm around my neck.

“Little children, love one another,” he said, and falling back in his
chair, with the smile still upon his lips, he closed his eyes, but great
tears forced themselves from under the lids and rolled slowly downward.

I drew back with the child, and with our arms interlinked we glided into
the next room. I took up my crown of white blossoms, and, as if she read
the thought in my bosom, Cora whispered, “Mamma, is it for her?” We
stole through the parlor again, and went out. The curate sat with his
eyes closed, and Turner had an elbow on each knee, with both hands
supporting his forehead.

Without speaking a word, Cora and I turned an angle of the church and
entered the grave-yard. It looked more cheerful than it had appeared the
day before. Long glances of sunshine shot across it, and some stray
birds had lost themselves in the cypress trees, and seemed trying to
sing their way out.

We laid our garland down upon the bleak, new grave of Cora’s mother,
just over the spot where we knew her cold heart was sleeping. Its faint
perfume spread like an angel’s breath all over the grave, and we went
softly away, feeling that she knew what we had done.

From that day my life was divided between the parsonage and the only
home I had ever known. Turner had proved a more efficient consoler of
the curate than a thousand sermons could have been. In the hour of his
deepest grief, he had opened a new channel for his affections as new
means of usefulness. The overpowering anguish, that had almost swept him
from the earth in twenty-four hours, never returned again. He would
often say, looking upon us children with a peaceful smile,

“She is with God, and He is everywhere.”

None but a good man could have been so easily won from such a grief by
the simple power to aid others, for his wife had been the most devoted
and loving creature that the sun ever shone upon, and her death was
sudden as the flash of lightning that darts from a summer cloud. A
disease of the heart, insidious and unsuspected till the moment of her
death, left her lifeless, in the morning, upon the pillow to which she
had retired at night with trusting prayers and innocent smiles.

Thus I became the pupil of Mr. Clarke—the sister, nay, more than the
sister of his child; and now, heart and mind, my whole nature began to
expand. My profound ignorance of life was slowly enlightened. The
history of my native land was no longer a sealed book. I began to
comprehend the distinctions that existed in society—the principles of
government, the glorious advantages which follow each step that nations
take toward freedom. I confess it took me a long time to comprehend why
one man should, without effort of his own, possess lands which stretched
from horizon to horizon, like Lord Clare, while others, who toiled from
sun to sun, could scarce secure the necessaries of existence; nor have I
yet solved the question satisfactorily to my sense of right.

No life can be really monotonous in which taste is gratified and
knowledge acquired; certainly not where the heart is allowed to put
forth its natural affections and weave them around worthy objects.

Cora and I took our lessons together, but she had little of that eager
thirst for knowledge which possessed me. Gentle, caressing and indolent,
to escape her lessons was a relief, while I devoured mine, and found
time for the gratification of a thousand fancies that she was ready to
praise, but unwilling to share.

It is said that women of opposite natures are most likely to find
sympathy with each other. I do not believe this, either in men or women.
In order to perfect companionship, tastes, habits, intellectual
aspirations, nay, even physical health must assimilate.

I believe no human being ever loved another more thoroughly than I loved
Cora Clarke. To say that I would have given my life to save hers would
be little, for life is not always the greatest sacrifice one human soul
can make to another. But I would have yielded up any one of the great
hopes of my existence, could the sacrifice have secured her happiness.
But in less than three years I had outgrown Cora’s companionship. My
love, though unbounded, had a sense of protection in it. It was the
caressing attachment of a mother for her child, or an elder sister for
her orphan charge.

Strange as it may seem, the companionship so essential to my character
was found more thoroughly in the father than the child. He never wearied
of teaching, and I never remember to have become tired of learning. My
appreciation of all his arguments—and they were vast—was perfect. My
love for him was more than that of a daughter for her parent.

From the time I first entered his house, I felt a conviction that, in
some way, the love that I bore for these two persons would be brought
into powerful action—that I should be called upon to support them in
great troubles, and that my own destiny was in some mystical way bound
up in them. Thus time passed happily enough, till I reached my eleventh
year. Lord Clare was still abroad in the far east, it was said, and I
had begun to think of him as one dwells upon the characters in a
history. The name had become familiar now, and I ceased to feel any
extraordinary interest in it such as had first impressed me.

Certainly I knew something of his history. Mr. Clarke had told me of the
sudden and singular death which had overtaken Lady Clare on the night of
her marriage, and of the great probability that the earl would never
marry again, in which case his sister, and through her his nephew, the
Etonian, would come in possession of the title and several large estates
entailed with it.

One thing, I remember, interested me a good deal, for I was at the time
informing myself regarding the hereditary privileges of the British
nobility, and it was fixed upon my memory that this particular title,
and its estates, descended alike to male or female heirs, as they
happened to fall in succession, while a large property, acquired by Lord
Clare’s marriage, might be disposed of by deed or will.

                             CHAPTER XXIX.
                        MY STRANGE ACQUAINTANCE.

I still possessed Jupiter, my beautiful black pony, and frequently rode
him to the parsonage, taking a canter over the park before returning
home. Greenhurst remained unoccupied, except by a servant or two, and my
freedom in this respect was unchecked, because Turner supposed it to be
without danger of any kind.

One day—I think this was a month after I entered upon my twelfth year—I
took a fine free gallop toward a portion of the park which has been
mentioned as commanding a view of Marston Court.

I checked my pony on a ridge of upland, and was looking toward this
house which, from the first, had contained a mysterious interest to me,
when a man came suddenly from behind a clump of trees at my right, and
walking up to Jupiter, threw his arm over the animal’s neck.

I was not terrified, but this abrupt movement filled me with surprise,
and, without speaking a word, I bent my gaze searchingly on his face and

He was a man of middle age, spare and muscular, of swarthy complexion,
and with eyes so black and burning in their glance, that mine sunk under
them as if they had come in sudden contact with fire.

“What is your name?” he said, still keeping those fierce eyes on my

“Take your arm off Jupiter’s neck,” I answered, “he is not used to

He laughed, revealing a row of firm, white teeth, that gave a ferocious
expression to his whole countenance.

“I am almost answered,” he said, with a low chuckle, “the blood spoke
out there!”

His language was broken, and his appearance strange. I was sure that he
came from foreign parts, and looked at him with curiosity unmixed with

“Take your arm away,” I repeated, angrily, “you shall not hurt my

He removed his arm with another laugh, and then said, in a tone that
gave me a sensation nearer affright than I had yet known—

“Well, my little queen, I have taken my arm away; now tell me your

“Why do you wish to know it?” I demanded.

“Perhaps I have a reason—perhaps not—only tell me, if it is no secret.”

“My name is Zana,” I answered, reddening, for somehow the subject had
become painful to me.

“In England, people have two names,” he replied.

“But I have only one.”

“And that is Zana—nothing more, ha?”

“I have told you.”

“That should be enough,” he muttered, “but it is well to be certain.
Where do you live?” he added.

“Down yonder,” I replied, pointing with my whip in the direction of my

“In a stone house, cut up with galleries, notched with balconies, buried
in trees and smothered in flowers?” he demanded.

“That is my home,” I replied, astonished at the accuracy of his

“And how long have you lived there?”

“I do not know why you ask, but it is no secret. I have lived there six

“That is, since about the time that Lady Clare died,” he observed, as if
making a calculation.

“I believe it is,” was my answer.

He hesitated a moment, and then said, in a courteous voice,

“Who is your father?”

I had learned to blush at my incapacity to answer this question, and
when it was thus abruptly put, the temper burned in my cheek. Rising up
haughtily in my stirrup, I gave the bridle an abrupt pull, and poor
Jupiter a lash that set him off like an arrow. He almost knocked the man
down. I looked back to learn if he was harmed. He called after me in a
language that I had never heard spoken before, at least that I could
remember, but I understood it. The man was showering curses upon me or
my horse.

After the appearance of this singular man, the monotony of my life broke
up. I became restless and self-centred, speaking of his presence in the
park to no one, but thinking of it with continued wonder. Some
mysterious sympathy, wild and painful, but oh, how intense, drew me
toward this strange being. I feared, yet longed for his presence—longed
to hear again that language at once so strange and so familiar, that had
fallen as yet only in curses on my ear, but still carrying a fierce sort
of fascination with it.

I rode to the portion of the park where I had seen him, again and again,
and sitting on my pony, searched every dingle and group of trees,
expecting each moment to see him start, brigand-like, from the leafy
gloom. But he did not come, and, filled with restless disappointment, I
at length sunk into the ordinary occupations of life, but with an
unsettled feeling that had never possessed me before.

By this time I knew that some mystery was attached to my life—that I was
nameless, motherless, fatherless. In short, that like a wild hare or a
wounded bird, I had been picked up in charity by the wayside, and in
charity nurtured by that unique Spanish woman and old Turner. I felt
this keenly. As ignorance was swept from my mind, the painful mystery
that clung around me darkened my soul with a feeling of unspeakable
desolation. I had learned what shame was, and felt it to my heart’s core
every time my want of name or connections was alluded to. Still the
entire force of this isolation, the effect it might have upon my after
life and character, could not be felt in all its poignancy, as it was in
later times. But its mistiness, the indefinite form which every thing
regarding my past history took, made myself a subject of perpetual
thought. Upon my memory there was a constant, but unavailing strain.
There seemed to be a dark curtain in my mind, hiding all that my soul
panted to know, but which I had lost all power to lift or disturb. Thus
time wore heavily—heavily months and months—still I saw no more of the
man whose memory hung about me like a superstition, which I had neither
power nor wish to throw off.

                              CHAPTER XXX.

At last an event arose that completely destroyed the beautiful, but dull
quietude of our lives. Lord Clare’s sister arrived unexpectedly at
Greenhurst, and a large party were to follow her and her son down from
London, to spend the shooting season.

This sudden invasion of the woods and grounds that had been exclusively
ours for so many years, was a source of great annoyance to old Turner.
His usual quaint good-humor was sadly disturbed. He seemed quite beside
himself with anxiety, and nervously besought me to give up my usual
rides, and remain confined to the house if possible during the time Lady
Catherine and her son might remain at Greenhurst.

This was asking much of a young creature just verging into girlhood, and
full of a strong, fresh curiosity for seeing and feeling the life of
which she began to know herself a vital part. Besides, I was a creature
of the open air. No bird ever felt a keener necessity for the bright
atmosphere, and all the rich beauty of out-door life. Shut up in the
house, I was like a wild lark in its cage, moaning, moping, and with no
hearty relish of existence left in me. I wished to obey good old Turner.
He was so anxious on the point, and seemed so grieved at the idea of
depriving me of a single pleasure, that had the thing been possible, I
would have kept myself a prisoner for weeks rather than increase his
unaccountable perturbation.

But he was seldom with us now, that kind, strange man, and my
confinement became terrible—when would it end? How long was I, who had
never been confined in-doors a whole day in my life, unless in that one
fever—how was I to endure weeks and weeks of this dull imprisonment?

It was too much. Not even to please Turner could I submit to this

One day, I think it was the fourth, my restless spirit broke bounds. I
took an opportunity when Maria was occupied, to steal out into the open
air. Jupiter’s stable, a pretty building that might have passed for a
summer-house, stood a little back from the kitchen garden, and I heard
him neighing sharply, as if he, like his mistress, were beginning to

For some reason, I never knew what, except that Turner disliked to have
servants about our place, the old man had always taken care of Jupiter
with his own hands. With so few objects of love, I naturally often
followed him to the pretty building where Jupiter was stalled, more like
a fairy courser than the matchless pony he was.

The pleasant neigh which the animal set up as I approached, awoke all
the wild-wood spirit that Turner’s interdict had kept down in my bosom
so long. I ran to the stable, dragged the side-saddle with its pretty
embroidered trappings from its closet, and girded it breathlessly upon
Jupiter’s back. The creature seemed eager as myself to be upon the
hill-side. His ears quivered with delight; he rubbed his head against my
shoulder with a mellow whimper, and opened his mouth for the bit the
moment he saw the embossed bridle in my hand.

Patting him on the back with a promise of speedy return, I entered the
house, ran up to my room, and hurried on my habit, of soft green cloth,
and the beaver hat with a long black ostrich plume that floated from one

The blood was hot in my cheek as I tied the hat on. Without staying to
twist up the curls that floated away with the feather in picturesque
confusion, I ran off to the stables, huddling up the skirt of my
riding-dress with both hands.

I knew that it was wrong—that I should be sorry enough for it before
night, but in my willfulness this only gave a keener zest to the
enjoyment I proposed to myself.

Away we went, Jupiter and I, dashing through the trees, over the velvet
sward, and across the broad avenues, along which the morning sunshine
lay in rivers of light. The branches rained down their ripe brown and
golden leaves on me as I passed; and a crisp white frost that lay like
quicksilver among the grass, gave forth a rasping sound more
exhilarating than music, as Jupiter’s feet flew over it. The air was
clear and bright, with mingled frost and sunshine as it fell upon my
face and swept my garments. The blood kindled like wine in my veins. I
was wild with the joyousness of free motion, ready for leaping a ditch,
flying through the air—any thing wild or daring that had life and quick
motion in it.

Away we went toward the uplands, from which a view of Marston Court
could be obtained. I thought of the strange man who had surprised me on
that spot as we rushed along—laughed aloud as I remembered how Jupiter
and I had baffled him once, how ready we were to do it again. I longed
to see him, not for any specified purpose. Nothing then was important
enough to have kept me motionless a moment. But abroad as I was, with a
wild thirst for adventure of any kind, it would have been something like
the excitement I wanted, could the mysterious language with which he
cursed me have threatened us with danger once more.

But though I searched for this being, riding around and over the
eminence on which he had appeared but once, nothing but the cool,
beautiful solitude rewarded me. The luxurious stretch of country between
me and Marston Court, brown, hazy, and many-tinted, with the picturesque
old building looming up through the rich shadows—all its clear outlines
drowned in soft autumnal colors—all its hoariness and age mellowed down
and lost in the dreamy distance—this rare view, with the upland on which
we stood, was wrapped in quiet. Not a human being was in sight.

A strange desire seized me to visit this building, which had so often
charmed me with its loneliness and beauty. It was some miles distant. I
knew that, but Jupiter had merely tried his strength as yet, simply
breathed himself in our progress to the uplands. He had been shut up in
the stable for days, and seemed as wild for action as his mistress.

“Shall we try it, Jupiter?” I said, smoothing his mane with my whip.
“There is a glorious run for us, Jupiter, as we have determined to be
disobedient and naughty. Ju! suppose we do something worth while?”

At the sound of my voice, the pony began to quiver his ears, and snuffed
the air saucily, as if he knew some mischief was afloat, and was eager
for his share.

“Come, then,” and I gathered up the bridle, shaking it gleefully.
Jupiter gave his head a toss, and away we went toward Marston Court.

The eminence lay behind, and we were in a thickly wooded little valley,
moving rather slowly, for I was charmed by broken glimpses of a small
stream that flashed up from the shadows, when the having of hounds, the
tramp of horses, and a wild confusion of sounds swept down the hollow.
Before I could tighten my reins, a stag shot by me, so close that
Jupiter reared with a wild snort, almost flinging me backward from the

The stag, a noble animal, cleared the stream with one desperate bound,
and for an instant I saw him turn his great, wild eyes, glowing with
pain and terror through the shadows. Blood-specked foam dropped from his
jaws; and his strained limbs quivered with an agony of terror, that made
me tremble upon my saddle with sympathy.

As I looked, the poor animal, whose head was beginning to droop, gave a
sudden start, flung up his antlers, and with a desperate staggering leap
disappeared up the valley. I had not caught my breath again, when down
through the opposite gorge came a train of hounds, leaping forward with
cruel ferocity, some breast to breast, others in single file, but all
with great, savage eyes and open jaws, howling and baying out their
blood-thirsty eagerness. They rushed by me, some on one side of Jupiter,
some on the other, spotting his black coat with flakes of foam, and
making him start with the fury of their noise.

For myself, I struck at the dogs with my whip, and madly flung it after
them. My sympathy for the poor stag was a pang of such agony that it
made me wild. But they swept away like the wind, howling back, as it
seemed to me, their brutal defiance and derision of my helplessness.

Then like the rush of a tempest, heavy with thunder and red with
lightning, came the hunt. The flaming uniforms; those dark horses; the
long riding shirts, streaming back like dusky banners; ostrich plumes
flashing blackly upon the strong current of wind created by the quick
motion of their owners. All this rushed by me, as I have said, like a
sudden storm.

Directly over the spot where we stood bore down the hunt, sweeping us
away with it as a swollen stream tosses onward the straws which it

The stag was nearly run down; the hunters were becoming tired; but
Jupiter was fresh as a lark, and held his own bravely with the most
noble-blooded hunter of them all.

The hounds were yelling, like fiends, ahead. Some one called out that
the stag was at bay. A huntsman, all in scarlet, shot out from the rest
onward like an arrow. Jupiter made a sudden bound. It may be in the
fierce excitement that I urged him; but he gave a great leap, and kept
neck and neck with the huntsman.

Beneath a pile of rocks that choked up one end of the valley, the poor
stag was run down. With his delicate fore hoofs lifted up with a
desperate effort at another spring, he stood one instant with his head
turned back, and his great, agonized eyes fixed upon the dogs. The rocks
were too high. His poor limbs exhausted, he could not make the leap, but
wheeled back and desperately tossed the first hound, who fell with a
yelp upon the stones.

But the whole pack was upon him, scrambling up the rocks, and making
fiercely for his throat from all points.

“Save him—save him!” I shouted, striking Jupiter with my clenched hand.
“Save him—save him!”

I rushed by the huntsman. Hitherto we had kept, as I have said, neck and
neck; but Jupiter felt the sting of my blow, and gave a mad bound that
brought us in the midst of the dogs. I still urged him on, striving to
trample down the fierce brutes beneath his hoofs. The stag knew it, I do
believe. The poor animal felt that I was his friend. No human eyes ever
had a deeper agony of appeal in them. I sprang from Jupiter’s back down
among the dogs, and cast myself before their victim.

I saw the huntsman leap from his horse and plunge among the dogs.

“Move—come away, the hounds will tear you to pieces,” he shouted,
beating fiercely about with his whip.

“They shall not kill him; call them off, I say, these beasts shall _not_
kill him,” I shrieked, in reply.

“That moment a hound sprang upon me, tearing my riding-skirt, and almost
bringing me to the earth.”

I cried aloud, but not with fear. The excitement was terrible, but there
was no cowardice in it.

“Great heavens! she will be devoured,” I heard him say; then he leaped
like a flame upon the dog, and grappling him by the throat, bore him
backward to the earth.

“Now run, run!” he cried, panting with the hound in his power.

“No!” I answered stoutly, “they will tear him to pieces if I do. Keep
them off—keep them off.”

He made no answer, but wrestled more fiercely with the hound.

That moment the whole hunt came up, men, keepers, and women surrounding
us in their gorgeous dresses like a battalion of cavalry.

I heard a clamor of voices, the shrieks of women, the excited shouts of
huntsmen giving orders. Keepers rushed in among the hounds with their
clubs. In a few moments the dogs were driven back crouching and snarling
among their masters. I stood alone by the poor stag, with a host of eyes
upon me; then, for the first time, I began to tremble.

“Here,” said a stout old squire, whose white hair fell like snow from
under the close hunting cap, “here, George Irving, you have won the
right to cut his throat. Thomas, where is the knife?”

A keeper came forward, presenting a sharp hunting-knife.

“You will not—you will _not_,” I said, clasping my hands, and standing
face to face with the youth who had saved me. I felt that my lips were
quivering, and that great tears were dropping like hail-stones down my
burning cheeks—“you will not.”

“No,” answered the youth, taking the knife and holding it toward me. “It
is not mine, this brave child was in first. I found her, like the stag,
at bay, braving the hounds. Tell me, shall not the life of this animal
be hers?”

A loud hallo answered him, echoed by a chorus of musical female voices.

The youth reached forth his knife again, but I rejected it. The stag was
safe, and my heart so full of joy, that I felt it breaking all over me.
The noble face before me brightened as if from the reflection of mine,
and for the first time I saw that it was a very young man who had saved
me. Young and—but I will not describe him—for upon his features at that
moment there was something of which no language can give the least idea.

I felt the blood rushing up to my face, for now all things became clear,
and I knew that a score of strange eyes were wondering at me. The
feather in my hat was broken, and fell prone upon my shoulder; my skirt
had been badly wrenched and mangled by the dogs; their muddy foot-prints
were trampled all over it; a morbid sense of the beautiful made me
shrink with shame, as I saw all those eyes fixed upon my dilapidated

“Where is Jupiter?” I said, turning to my young friend.

“Will you search for him, I should like to go away?”

But my pony had retreated beyond the crowd, and could not be seen. This
increased my distress. I sat down upon a stone, and looking at the
exhausted stag, began to think myself the most miserable object of the

I heard a buzz of voices around me, and could distinguish the words,
“Who is it? She is strange to every one here. Where can the picturesque
creature have sprung from?”

That moment a pang shot through my heart. Who indeed was I? How came I
there? By a gross act of disobedience to my best friend? I felt that my
face was bathed with blushes and with tears; for the first time in my
life I was ashamed of myself.

A lady rode close up to me, so close that her skirts swept my shoulder.

“Whose little girl are you?” she said. “You are by far too young for a
scene like this.”

I looked up and knew the face. It was Lady Catherine Irving, a little
more spare, and with a host of fine wrinkles accumulated on her haughty
face, but with the same cold, white complexion; the same self-satisfied

“Ah, you seem to know me,” she said, settling her beaver hat with one
hand. “Now tell me your name; don’t be afraid.”

“I am not afraid, not in the least,” I answered. “Why should I be?”

“True enough; what a bright little wood-nymph it is,” she continued,
smiling back upon two scarlet clad gentlemen behind her. “I suppose
there really is nothing superlatively frightful about me—ha!”

“Something superlatively the reverse,” answered the gentleman thus

“You hear, little wood-nymph,” she said, after appropriating this
compliment with a bend of the head, “there is nothing to fear, so speak
out. Where do you live? How came you among all these gentlemen and

“I live in the park, near Greenhurst, madam, with Mr. Turner”——

“Ha!” exclaimed Lady Catherine, with a sharp glance at my face. “Go
home, child—how came you here?”

“I came on my pony, madam.”

“But the hunt, what on earth brought you there?” cried the lady, seeming
to become more and more displeased.

“The hunt—if all this company means that—came across me, and carried
Jupiter and I along.”

“But how came you dismounted and among the hounds?”

“They were all upon the poor stag, and I could not bear it,” I replied,

“Mother,” said the young man walking close to the lady and speaking in a
low voice, “let us take some other time for questioning her. Lead off
the party, so many persons terrify the poor child.”

“Mount your horse then,” she replied, sharply, “I will see you again
child. I must have some explanation of all this. You are right, George,
this is no place. Mount—mount!”

The youth hesitated, looked at me, at the stag, and then rather
wistfully at his mother.

“We are waiting,” she said, with an impatient wave of her whip, and a
glance at me that brought a flash of red to my cheeks. I, in my
innocence, thought that she was displeased with the torn state of my
poor dress.

The youth mounted, and the hunt dispersed, breaking up into groups and
pairs, and scattering a red gleam through the woods.

                             CHAPTER XXXI.
                         MY UNEXPECTED ESCORT.

I was left alone, I and the poor trembling, exhausted stag, who lay
partly upon his knees, gazing at me through his filmy and half shut

I looked around for Jupiter, but he was not to be seen—no living thing
but the worried stag and myself in all that dim solitude.

A sense of exhaustion and of loneliness fell upon me. My heart grew
mournful, and the poor stag with his stiffened limbs and the foam dried
on his lips, filled me with compassion. I went down to the brook,
brought up water in my hands, and bathed his mouth with it. When this
was done, the animal struggled to his feet and staggered away down
toward the water, leaving me alone. I felt this total desertion keenly,
and burying my face in my lap, began to cry like the child I was.

I sat full ten minutes sobbing forth the desolation of my heart, when
the quick tramp of a horse made me look up. I thought it must be Jupiter
returning to his duty, but instead of him I saw the young huntsman
riding gently through the trees, and now close by me.

I started up, ashamed of my tears, and looked resolutely another way,
hoping to escape his notice, but he sprang off his horse and was at my
side before I could dash the drops from my burning cheek.

“So you have been crying, poor child?” he said, with a sort of
patronizing manliness that would have amused an older person. “No
wonder, we were a set of savages to leave you here alone, and with no
means of getting home.”

“It was savage!” I said, realizing for the first time how badly I had
been used; “but the animals were just as cruel, the stag and Jupiter; I
would not have believed it of Jupiter, he used to love me; and the very
first trouble, off he goes with the rest!”

Tears came into my eyes again at this thought, but I quenched and
crushed them between my eyelashes, too proud for an exposure of my keen
distress at the desertion of Jupiter.

“Nay,” said the youth, smiling, “but I have come back to see after you.”

“Did you?” I replied, with a gush of gratitude; “to see after me, and
for nothing else?”

“What else should bring me back?” he replied, looking around as if in
search of something. “So the stag has gone too, ungrateful beast. I had
a fancy to fasten some badge on his horns that he might be safe
hereafter. He was a noble old fellow after all, no wonder he was glad to
get away from this spot!”

“But Jupiter,” I said, with growing confidence in the youth, “what can
have become of my pony? How am I to get home? Oh, if I only had been
good—if I had but stayed in-doors as they told me!”

“As who told you, lady bird?”

“Mr. Turner. He knew that I had no business abroad when the country was
full of strangers!”

“And is Turner a relative? What control can he possess over you?”

“He,” I replied, kindling with wonder that any one should doubt Turner’s
right to control me. “Mr. Turner, I belong to him! No one else owns me.
Scarcely any one else cares for me. Why, in the wide, wide world, he is
the only person who ever shall control me—dear, blessed Mr. Turner!”

“He is a whole-hearted, queer old soul, sure enough,” was the reply;
“but certainly you are not his child; I never knew that he was married.”

“His child!” I cried, breathless with the thought. “I—I don’t know—how
should I? I his child—his own? What put the idea into any one’s head? It
sounds so strange. Do you mean that Mr. Turner is my father that people
ask after so often?”

“Nay, I mean nothing—only is Mr. Turner, as you call him, married?”

“No, I think not. Maria, I am sure, isn’t married; but I never asked,
never thought of it.”

He was about to answer, but that instant a low, timid neigh from behind
the spur of a rock close by, made me start.

“That is Jupiter—that is Jupiter!” I exclaimed, and with this joyful
shout away I bounded, gathering up my torn skirt in both arms, and full
of spirit once more.

Sure enough there stood my pony, sheltered and hidden by the rock, to
which the pretty creature had fled from the crowd of huntsmen. The sound
of my voice called forth his neigh, and never did a dumb creature
express more satisfaction at the presence of its mistress.

“There you see—you see it was not Jupiter’s fault, the dear, dear old
rogue. He was so wise to creep away and wait till those hateful people
were all gone!” I exclaimed triumphantly, laying my hot cheek against
the glossy neck of my horse.

“And did all those people really seem so hateful?” replied the youth,
caressing Jupiter.

“All! I don’t know. That lady was the only one I saw distinctly. The
rest floated around me, surging up and down like a red cloud. But I
shall never forget her!”

“And did she fill you with repulsion?—was she the hateful one?”

“I had seen her before; I knew her!”

“Indeed—where?” said the youth, in a displeased manner.

“I would rather not say—it is unpleasant to talk about,” I answered,
greatly annoyed.

“But it is years since my—that is Lady Catherine, has been at
Greenhurst,” he answered, thoughtfully. “Never, I think, since the very
sudden death of Lady Clare. You must have mistaken her for some other

I was greatly excited. The remembrance of that heartless voice, when I
was taken into Greenhurst, so helpless, stung me.

“No—no,” I answered, “there are some things one never forgets, never
mistakes. I have seen that face in my dreams, and hated it in my
thoughts too long for any hope of that!”

The youth drew himself back, and ceased to caress my horse. There was a
quiet dignity in his manner that made me ashamed of my own vehemence.

“That lady is my mother!” he said calmly, but with a tone of cold
reproof in his voice.

I scanned his face with a keen wish to disbelieve him. But now that he
was angry, there was a resemblance between his features and those I did
in truth hate.

“I am sorry for it,” I said, with a nervous sob—“very, very!”

“Sorry for what, that she is my mother—or that you have spoken
disrespectfully of her?” he questioned, more gently than before.

“I am sorry for everything that has happened to-day, and for my own part
in it most of all. It began in wicked disobedience, and will end—oh, how
will it end? What will Mr. Turner think of me when he knows this?”

“Why, what great sin are you crying for?” he said, smiling once more.
“Certainly you are a very free-spoken little person; but we must not let
Turner quite kill you; so don’t be afraid!”

“He kill me? What, Turner? No—no, not that. Afraid, afraid? Yes, yes, I
am afraid, for I have done wrong. Oh, what will become of me? I never
was afraid before—never, never.”

“But what have you done?” he asked, still more kindly.

“Mr. Turner forbade me leaving the house. He told me how wrong it was
when Lady Catherine’s company might come across me at any time; he
tried—oh, so much—to keep me happy in-doors; but it was of no use, I
could not endure it. It was as if I were a bird beating my wings against
a cage. The wickedness was in me all the time. I thought it was nonsense
staying in the house, because other people might be abroad. Then it was
so tempting, Mr. Turner at Greenhurst—my bonne occupied—the pony
neighing for me to come and take him out. Really, after all, it seemed
as if I could _not_ help it”——

George Irving laughed so gleefully that I could not go on, but began to
laugh too.

“And so you just broke loose and ran away?” he said, patting Jupiter
again and again.

“Yes, I stole the horse, saddled him myself, and was off like a bird,” I
replied, reassured by his laughter, and feeling the consciousness of my
disobedience borne away on his merry tones.

“And here you are, full seven miles from home, all alone but for me,
after braving a pack of hounds in full cry, afraid of old Turner’s
frown, as if he were the Grand Mogul.”

He laughed again, but this light way of naming my benefactor awoke the
conscience again in my bosom.

“It was very wrong—oh, that I had stayed at home!” I exclaimed, with a
fresh pang.

“Well, well, don’t fret about it any more,” he said, with a little
impatient playfulness that made me smile again. “Let me lift you to
Jupiter’s back—a pretty pony he is, my little lady—and scamper home like
a good child. Ten chances to one old Turner will know nothing about it.”

I allowed him to lift me to the saddle, and felt myself blushing as he
arranged my torn skirts with evident anxiety to give them a decent

“Now,” he said, springing on his hunter, “I must put your pony to his
metal again. Unless I overtake Lady Catherine before she reaches home,
my position will very much resemble yours! Come, let us start as we
came, neck and neck!”

“No,” said I, brightening with new spirit, “I came in ahead—your hunter
fell a little behind Jupiter.”

“But try him now—his speed will be of use to us both,” was the laughing
reply. “My mother will be impatient, and her anger may prove worse to
bear than old Turner’s, let me tell you.”

He put his horse into a quick canter, and my pony stretched himself
vigorously to keep up.

“But please leave us to ourselves!” I pleaded, breathless, with a new
dread; “I do not wish to go with you to Lady Catherine!”

“Well—no, I am afraid her ladyship might prove formidable, were she to
be surprised after that fashion a second time,” he replied, slightly
checking his hunter, “I only propose to see you and Jupiter safe on some
avenue of the park, where you can scamper home in safety. I must be
in-doors before Lady Catherine, or this escapade will be difficult to
account for.”

My cheek grew hot with mortified pride; I felt that he was afraid of
some annoyance, perhaps ashamed of having returned for me. Without a
word I drew in Jupiter with a suddenness that made him leap—wheeled him
on one side, and plunged into the woods, leaving the gentleman, for a
moment, unconscious of my desertion.

He followed directly, urging his hunter to a run, and calling after me
as he dashed through the trees. I took no heed, and gave back no answer;
the blood was burning in my temples; I felt my lips curve and quiver
with insulted pride. No man or boy living should speak to me, or look at
me, who was ashamed to do it before all the world. Then my heart began
to ache even in its wrath. I had thought so well of him, his interest in
my loneliness, his brave fight with the hounds—why, why did he exert all
this tender strength in my behalf to wound me so cruelly afterward? He
was by my side, but I kept my head averted with girlish willfulness,
expressing my displeasure rudely like any other spoiled child.

“Will you not tell me why you ran away?” he said, attempting to rest one
hand upon my saddle as he cantered by me.

Oh, how I longed to lift my pretty riding-whip and strike him hard
across the face! I think the act would have appeased me.

“Say, child, will you explain this bit of very bad manners?” he urged,
evidently determined to provoke me to some reply.

“Child!” This was too much; the whole taunt stung me into speech. I
checked Jupiter, and felt the fire leap into my face as it was turned
toward my persecutor. He looked grave—offended.

“Because I wish to ride alone: I’m not used to company, and don’t want
any, especially of persons who are afraid or ashamed of being kind to
me,” I said, half crying amid my fiery vexation.

“I am not afraid, and am not ashamed,” he answered gravely; “yet you
cannot understand, child, for with all that fierce temper you are but a

“I am more than twelve—thirteen, fifteen, for what any one knows,” I
said, half blinding myself with tears. “I understand what it is just as
well as you can tell me; you are afraid of that haughty person, your
mother. You are not quite satisfied with having braved the hounds before
a whole crowd of people, for a little girl who has only Mr. Turner to
care for her. Oh, yes, I know—I could feel that without knowing!”

“Strange child,” he said, with a grave smile. “Who taught you all this,
so young, and without the faith becoming this girlish beauty?”

The anger was burning out in my heart. There was something manly and
reproving in his calm seriousness that subdued me. He reached out his
hand, while the smile brightened all over his face.

“Come, let us be friends—you cannot keep angry with me, because I have
not deserved it!”

I gave him my hand. He stooped in his saddle as if to press his lips
upon it, but checked the impulse; and, holding it tight an instant, let
it drop, saying very earnestly,

“I would not have wounded you for the world.”

That instant the undergrowth close by us was sharply parted, and Turner
broke into the path on which we had paused.

I felt the blood leave my face, and, for the first time, trembled at the
sight of my benefactor. The old man looked sternly across me to George
Irving, whom he neither saluted nor addressed; but, taking Jupiter by
the bit, said in a deep, husky voice, that made the heart die in my

“Zana, come away!”

I dropped the bridle, and covering my face with both gauntleted hands,
cowered down upon my saddle with a keen sense of the humiliation which
he was witnessing.

I listened breathlessly.

“Turner, if you will let the pony move on, I will dismount and lead my
hunter while we have a little talk.”

It was Irving’s voice, and I listened breathlessly for the reply. Some
seconds passed before it came; Turner’s throat seemed husky.

“To-morrow, Mr. George, I’ll be at the Hurst,” he said, “and then as
much talk as pleases you; but now I must take this child home.”

“But she seems terrified; you will not—surely you will not be harsh with

“Harsh with her! with Zana—was I ever harsh to you in my life, little
one?” urged the old man, and the husky voice was broken up with

I uncovered my face, and holding out both hands to the old man, turned
toward young Irving.

“You know how wrong I have been—see how forgiving, how kind, how good
_he_ is!”

The old man’s face began to work. The fine wrinkles quivered over his
cheek and around his mouth, a sure sign of emotion in him. He lifted my
two gloved hands and kissed them fondly. All at once he dropped my hands
and went up to Irving.

“Mr. Irving—my dear Master George, forget that you have seen her—forget
all about it—promise me that you will.”

“That would be difficult,” answered the youth, glancing at me with a

“It would indeed,” said the old man, looking fondly in my face. “God
help us—this is a bad business! At any rate, leave us now!”

The young man turned, bent his head, and wheeling his hunter,

                             CHAPTER XXXII.
                         THE UNWELCOME VISITOR.

I spent a wakeful night, disturbed by a host of new feelings and strange
thoughts, that crowded upon me like a rush of waters. All night long a
review of the day’s hunt went forward in my fancy. The brilliant dresses
and those strange faces circled me with a sort of fascination. Sometimes
they smiled warningly, then they gibed at my torn garments—and foremost
of all was the proud face of Lady Catherine. Oh, how I began to hate
that woman! It was the bitter antagonism of a life-time striking root
deep in my heart.

Toward morning I thought of Turner, with a pang that was punishment
enough for the sin of my first disobedience. I knew that he was not only
grieved but plunged into difficulties on my account—that all the evils
he had been so anxious to guard against were already brought on by my
obstinate self-indulgence.

This reflection made me heart-sick, and I turned away from the soft
daylight as it broke through my room, ashamed to receive it on my
ungrateful face. With faltering steps I went down stairs and seated
myself in the little breakfast-room. Turner was in the garden, but
though I had not the cowardice to shrink from encountering him in the
house, I could not summon courage to seek him.

He saw me at the window looking sad enough, I dare say, and, coming up,
gave me a handful of tiny white roses, which were the glory of a plant
that he had never allowed to be touched before. I felt the tears rushing
to my eyes, and creeping toward the old man, murmured in the deepest

“Oh, Mr. Turner, why don’t you scold me? Why not punish my wickedness?”

“Because,” he answered, with a miserable shake of the head, “because you
will be punished enough, poor thing, before night, or I am mistaken.”

“I hope so—I’m sure it would be a satisfaction to be soundly
reprimanded. You break my heart with all this kindness.”

“Here comes one,” said Turner, growing red in the face, “who will not
sin in that way, I can answer.”

I followed his look, and saw Lady Catherine Irving coming through the
garden, walking rather quickly, and brushing down the autumn flowers
with the sweep of her garments. On seeing us she resumed the stateliness
usual to her movements, and stooped now and then to gather the snowy
flowers of a chrysanthemum, which she seemed to examine curiously while
approaching the house.

“Ah, Turner,” she said, drawing toward the window, “what a pretty little
nest you have here; and what flowers! I have never seen any thing to
compare with these,” and forming a ring with the thumb and fore finger
of her left hand, she drew the white tufts softly through it, as Nero
might have trifled on the day of his mother’s murder. “Why, you live
here with your little family quite like fairies. No wonder you are so
often absent from Greenhurst.”

“I hope that none of the duties my lord left for me to perform are
neglected, madam,” answered Turner, with a degree of dignity that
charmed me.

“No, no—I do not complain—far from it, good Turner—that I am here is a
proof of it. Your child—I hope she was neither frightened nor hurt by
the hounds.”

“No, madam,” I answered, leaning through the sash. “It was rather
lonesome being left by myself with the poor stag; but the young

“Hush!” said Turner, sternly, glancing toward Lady Catherine, whose
cheek flushed with sudden color.

I saw the color and the glitter in her eyes, more expressive still, and
even Turner’s caution could not control me. I was determined to let her
know that her son had returned to protect me. The remembrance that he
had seemed to fear her knowledge of it only urged me on.

“The young gentleman came back and put Jupiter and me into the right
path: but for that I don’t know what would have become of us.”

“Your daughter seems a bright, and—forgive me, good Turner—rather
forward little thing,” said the lady, lifting the flowers softly to her
lips, as she gave him a searching glance. “I am very glad though, that
she is unharmed.”

Turner looked at her, and then with a restless movement at me. The color
came up among his wrinkles, and his features began to work as if some
unfinished resolution had set them in motion. Before he could speak,
however, Lady Catherine’s voice broke in again,

“And your wife—my good Turner—really I must have a sight of her and this
pretty home of yours—quite a _bijou_ in the grounds, truly!”

Placing a richly enamelled glass to her eyes, the lady took a quiet
survey of the building before Turner could find words to answer her.

Never had I seen the old man so agitated. The color came and went
beneath his wrinkles; his thin lips grew pale and purple by turns; his
state of irresolution was painful.

“I will step in and see your wife!” said Lady Catherine, dropping her
glass to the full length of its Venetian chain, and looking around for
the door.

Now Turner became calm; every muscle and nerve settled down. He stood
more firmly on the ground, and looking his tormentor steadily in the
face, answered,

“Some one must have been joking at my expense, my lady. I have no wife!”

“No wife!” exclaimed Lady Catherine, with a start that even I could see
was premeditated. “No wife—and this child?”

“You are mistaken,” said Turner, “this is not my child. Yourself saw me
when I took her up from your own door-stone, or rather the door-stone of
Greenhurst, eight years ago.”

A cold smile curled Lady Catherine’s lip. She lifted her glass again and
eyed me through it. “I remember the circumstance,” she said, and the
hateful smile deepened—“I remember, too, that a child disappeared very
mysteriously but a short time before from this nest—two children in
fact—if my people told me aright.”

“They did tell you aright, lady,” said Turner, sternly—but she
interrupted him.

“One, the elder, went out to service, I fancy. This one dropped,
miraculously, on my door-step. Well, well, my good Turner, no one thinks
of quarrelling with this fanciful way of adopting your own children; but
her mother—unless you are really married to this woman, she must go. I
cannot answer it to society—to Lord Clare, the most particular man on
earth—if she is allowed to remain on the estate a day longer.”

“Madam,” said Turner, “I have said but the truth; Zana, there, is no
more my daughter than her Spanish bonne is my wife!”

“Who is her—her father?—who is her mother then?” asked Lady Catherine.

I remarked that her voice faltered in putting this question, and she
could not look in Turner’s face.

Turner regarded her firmly, and a faint smile stirred his lip. Lady
Catherine saw it, and once more there arose a shade of color in her

“Lady, I can answer these questions no more than yourself, for you were
present when I found the poor child.”

“And had you never seen her before?” questioned the lady.

Turner hesitated and seemed to reflect; but at last he answered firmly

“It is impossible for me to say yes or no.”

The lady played with her flowers awhile, and then spoke again very
softly, and with a degree of persuasion in her voice.

“Well, Turner, we will not press you too hard. I cannot forget that you
were my brother’s favorite and oldest servant, and now his agent—that he
trusted you.”

“He did indeed,” cried the old man, casting a glance full of affection
at me.

“I am sure you would do nothing that could cast reproach on him,”
continued the lady, placing a strong emphasis on the pronoun.

“Not for the universe,” ejaculated Turner.

“Yet, while you live thus—while there is a doubt left regarding this
child, cannot you see that even my noble brother may be condemned as—as
sanctioning—you understand—this species of immorality—on his estates?”

“But how am I to prevent this?” exclaimed Turner, after a moment of
perplexed thought, during which he gazed on Lady Catherine, as if
searching for some meaning in her words which they did not wholly

“Let me tell you—for I have been thinking on this subject a good
deal—she is a fine-spirited girl that, a little wild and gipsyish; but
many of our guests were struck with her.”

“No wonder!” exclaimed Turner, with his face all in a glow. “Who could
help it?”

“So they inquired a good deal about her, and when it came out that she
lived here under your protection, of course, it led to questions and old
things—nonsensical gossip about by-gone times that quite made me
nervous—you understand, good Turner. So I told them what I am sure is
the truth even yet—that the Spanish woman here is her mother, that she
is your own child—that you are married.”

Turner shook his head.

“Then it will be so,” persisted the lady, “or as I said before, both
woman and child must leave the estate.”

“You cannot be in earnest!” said Turner.

“Does it seem like earnest when you find me here at this hour of the
morning?” replied the lady.

“But it was Lord Clare’s desire—his command—that I hold authority in
this house until his return,” persisted Turner.

“He mentions nothing of this in his letters to us. Besides, you cannot
mean to say that he has made such provisions for these females.”

“No, Zana was not here at the time; but I know, I am sure”——

“Be sure of nothing!” exclaimed Lady Catherine, with more energy than
she had yet exhibited—“be sure of nothing, if you love your master, but
that you can _serve_ him best by silencing this subject of public gossip
at once. Marry the woman with whom you have been so long domesticated!”

“_Marry!_” exclaimed Turner, with a terrible twist of the face, as if
the word had not really come home to his heart till then, “marry at this
time of life, and a Spanish woman. Wouldn’t it do as well, my lady, if
they set me in the pillory for an hour or so!”

“It might not do so well for the girl, perhaps,” was the stern reply.

“For her sake I would do anything!”

“It is a great pity to keep the poor thing caged up here: and what is to
become of her in the end? As your daughter she can come up to the house
and see something of society.”

“What, a servant, madam?” cried Turner, reddening fiercely.

“Nothing of the kind; you are no common man, Turner; and certainly that
child, with her wild, arch, nay, haughty style, might pass anywhere. She
shall come to the Hurst and obtain some accomplishments. I should fancy
her greatly about the house. She might pick up a little education from
my son’s tutor, who will be down in a week or two, and become quite an
ornament to the establishment.”

“She would be an ornament to any place,” said Turner, proudly.

“Yes,” replied the lady, smiling upon me, “any man might be proud of her
for a daughter. I dare say we shall be excellent friends soon—meantime
think of what I have said. This is a charming place, it would be a pity
for the child to leave it. To-morrow let me have your answer.”

She moved proudly away, holding up her dress, and winding carefully
through the flower-beds, as if her errand had been the commonest thing
in the world.

                            CHAPTER XXXIII.

I could not realize the importance of Lady Catherine’s visit all at
once. It had been carried on so quietly, so like the ordinary
common-place of her patrician life, that its meaning seemed lost in
sound. I could even amuse myself with the excitement of poor Turner,
who, folding his arms behind him, went furiously pacing up and down the
garden, treading everything down in his path, and wading knee deep
through the tall autumn blossoms, jerking his feet among them now and
then, as if it were a relief to destroy anything that came in his way.

I had never seen the old man in this mood before, and almost thought him
mad, for he muttered to himself, and seemed quite unconscious that I was
a witness to the scene.

At last he came by the window with a long pendant of honeysuckle
trailing from his boot.

“Mr. Turner,” I said, laughing softly as he came up.

“Oh, you can be amused—easily amused—children always are!” he exclaimed
savagely. “Now can you see what mischief that ride has done? Sit and
laugh, truly—but what am I to do?”

“Lady Catherine says you must get married,” I answered, mischievously,
for rage, instead of appalling, was invariably sure to amuse me.

“Married!” almost shrieked the old man, “and so you have brought me to
_that_, you—you!”

The contortions of his face were too droll. I could not keep from
laughing again.

“Zana,” said the old man, and tears absolutely stood in his eyes, “I was
good to you—I loved you—what right had you to bring this misfortune on
me? I knew that evil would come of it when I found Jupiter’s stall
empty; but marriage, oh, I did not dream of that calamity.”

“And is marriage always a calamity?” I inquired, sobered by his evident


He hissed forth the monosyllable as if it had been a drop of poison that
burned his tongue.

“And you dislike it very much?”

“Dislike it!”

There is no describing the bitterness that he crowded into these two

“Then do not—for my sake do not be married. Why should you? I’m sure it
will do me no good. I don’t care in the least for it!”

His sharp eyes brightened for an instant, and he looked at me eagerly,
like a convict on whom sudden hopes of escape had dawned.

“Then you wouldn’t much mind leaving this place, Zana?” he said.

My heart sunk, but I strove to answer cheerfully.

“No, no, I—I don’t think it would seem so hard after a little!”

“And Jupiter, and Cora?”

I burst into tears.

“There now, that is it—I’m answered—I was sure it would break her little
heart,” cried the old man, desperately—“I’ll do it. I’ll bind myself,
hand and foot—I’ll make an eternal old fool of myself. I’ll—I’ll. It’s
no use struggling, I’m sold, lost—tied up—married!”

He uttered the last word ferociously, casting it down as if it had been
a rock.

“Not for me, Turner—not for me,” I said, losing all sense of the
ludicrous in his genuine repugnance to the measure Lady Catherine had
proposed. “I do not understand this—what on earth is the reason they
cannot let us live in peace?”

“Because you must be cutting loose from my authority—cantering about
like a little Nimrod in long skirts—fighting hounds—getting acquainted
with young men whom you ought to hate—to hate, I say Miss Zana! Because
you are a little fool, and I am an old one. Because, because—but it’s no
use talking.”

I began to see my disobedience in its true light. Certainly it was
impossible to comprehend why it had led to the necessity which my old
benefactor so much deplored, but I felt to the bottom of my heart that
this evil, whatever it was, had been brought on by myself.

“Mr. Turner,” I said, “if I stay in-doors a month, nay, a whole year,
will it do any good?”

“No—not the least!”

“What can I do? Indeed, indeed, Turner, I am very sorry,” I persisted;
“but let us go away; it will be far better to leave Cora and Jupiter,
the house and everything.”

Why did I lose my voice so suddenly? Why did the thought that George
Irving was at Greenhurst depress my heart and speech? I felt myself
growing pale, and looking despairingly around the lovely garden, for the
first time realizing how dear every flower had become.

Turner looked at me wistfully, and at length went away. I saw him an
hour after wandering to and fro in the wilderness. I did not leave the
window, though breakfast had been long waiting. The whole conversation
had bewildered me. Why should Turner dread this marriage so much—was it
not right? It seemed to me a very easy thing when so much depended on
it. I had never thought seriously of marriage in my whole life, and its
very mysteriousness made me look upon Turner as the victim of some
hidden evil. I was resolved that he should not be sacrificed. What was
my bonne, friends, Jupiter, to the comfort of an old friend like him?

I went forth into the wilderness, and found him sitting at the root of a
huge chestnut, with his clasped hands drooping idly down between his
knees, and gazing steadfastly on the earth.

“Zana,” he said, reaching forth his hand, “sit down here, and tell me
all about it. What have I been saying? Have I been very cross, darling?”

His kindness went to my heart. I sat down upon a curved root of the
tree, and leaned softly against him.

“Yes, a little cross, but not half so much as I deserved,” I said,
meekly. “But tell me now, Mr. Turner, what is this marriage, what is
there so dreadful about it?”

“Nothing, child—nothing,” he answered, with forced cheerfulness. “I dare
say it is very pleasant—very pleasant indeed to some people. I know of
persons who are very fond of weddings, quite charmed with them; but for
my part a funeral seems more the thing—there is some certainty about
that. It settles a man, leaves him alone, provides for him.”

“I never saw a wedding,” said I, thoughtfully, “and but one funeral.
That was very sad, Mr. Turner; if a wedding is like that, don’t be
married—it is dreadful! Are weddings like that funeral ever?”

“I have seen weddings a great deal more solemn,” he answered, still
gazing on the ground. “One that seemed but the mockery of a funeral, and
ended in one!”

“What one was that?” I questioned, while a cold chill crept mysteriously
through my veins.

“It was Lord Clare’s wedding that I was thinking of,” he answered,
looking up, “and that happened three days before I found you on his

I looked fearfully around. It seemed as if a funeral train were creeping
through the woods—the ghost of some procession that lived in my memory,
yet would not give itself forth.

“And do they wish your wedding to be like that?” I whispered, creeping
close to him.

“Like that!” said Turner, lifting up his eyes, “God forbid! Mine, if it
must be, is but the expiation of that!”

“And would Lord Clare desire it?—would he insist like Lady Catherine?” I
questioned. “Would he turn me out of doors unless you married Maria, do
you think?”

“He turn you out of doors—he, child? I only wish we had some way of
reaching him!”

“Where is he now?”

“In Africa, the last we heard, searching for what he will never find.”

“And what is that, Mr. Turner?”

“Peace, child, peace—a thing that he will never know again on this side
the grave!”

“Is he a bad man then?” I persisted, strangely enthralled by the

“Millions of worse men will live and revel after he has pined himself
into the grave.”

“Let us leave this place and seek for him,” I said, filled with a
sympathy so deep that my very heart trembled. “If he is unhappy, you and
I may do him some good.”

“Oh, child, if you could but remember. If I had but some little proof,”
he answered, gazing at me impressively.

“Proof of what, Turner?—what can you wish to prove?”

“That in which nothing but God can help me!” was the desponding reply.

“It seemed to me,” said I, pressing each hand upon my temples, for they
were hot with unavailing thought—“it seemed to me as if the thing that
you wish to know was beating in my brain all the time. Something there
is, blank and dark in my memory—how shall I bring it forth that you may
read it?”

“Wait God’s own time, my child,” answered the old man, gently taking the
hands from my temples, “sooner or later that which we wish to learn will
be made clear. Come now, let us go home!”

“But they will not let us stay there, and I am ready to go,” I

“Yes, they will let us stay now,” he answered, with a grim smile.


“Because I shall marry the _Spanish woman_ to-morrow.”

There was a lingering bitterness in the emphasis placed on the words
Spanish woman, that lengthened the phrase for a moment. It was the last
I ever witnessed. Turner did not sacrifice himself by halves.

“Zana,” said the noble old man, as we moved slowly toward the house,
“you must not tell Maria of Lady Catherine’s visit, or of—of my shameful
passion after it. Women have strange ideas about love, and so on, and
she might take it into her head to ask awkward questions if she knew
all. Do you understand?”

Yes, I understood perfectly. He was anxious to save the poor Spanish
woman from a knowledge of his repugnance to the marriage. I promised the
secrecy that he desired.

We entered the breakfast-room together. Maria had been waiting for us
more than an hour, but she ran cheerfully for the coffee urn and muffins
without a word of comment.

I saw Turner look at her with some appearance of interest once or twice
during the meal. The queer old philosopher was evidently reconciling
himself to the fate that an hour ago had half driven him mad. Maria
certainly looked younger and more interesting than usual that morning.
Unlike the Spanish women in general, she wore her years becomingly, the
moist climate of England, and the quiet of her life conspiring to keep
from her the haggard look of old age that marks even mid-life in her
native land. The picturesque costume which she had never been induced to
change, was also peculiarly becoming; the dark blue skirt and bodice of
black cloth; the long braids of her hair, slightly tinged with snow, but
gay with knots of scarlet ribbon; the healthy stoutness of her person
united in rendering my faithful bonne anything but a repulsive person. I
began to have less compassion for Turner, and with the mobility of youth
amused myself with fancying Maria’s astonishment when she should learn
what the fates had in store for her.

                             CHAPTER XXXIV.
                        THE RELUCTANT PROPOSAL.

“Zana, child, will you see to the chrysanthemums that were trailing
across the walk this morning?—they will be trodden down.”

I looked in Turner’s face as he said this, and felt a mischievous smile
quivering on my lips. The dear old fellow grew red as a winter apple,
then a grave, reproving look followed, and I was glad to escape into the

It was very wrong, I admit, but a curiosity to see how Turner would make
love overpowered all sense of honor. I confess to lingering in sight of
the windows, cautiously keeping myself out of view all the time. Turner
and Maria still kept their seats by the breakfast-table. His face was
toward me, but I could discern that one elbow was pressed on the table,
and he sat sideways, looking hard at the opposite wall while speaking.
But Maria was in full view, and a very picturesque portrait she made
framed in by the open window. I watched her face as it changed from
perplexity to wonder, from wonder to a strange sort of bashful pleasure.
Her cheeks grew red; her great, black, Spanish eyes lighted up like
those of a deer; yet she seemed ashamed of the feelings speaking there,
as if they were unbecoming to her years.

All at once she arose, and, coming round the table, leaned against the
window-frame. This movement brought me within hearing, but I could not
escape without being discovered; so after taking one wrong step, I was
forced into another still more dishonorable. At first Maria spoke in her
usual broken English, which I cannot attempt to give, as its peculiarity
lay rather in the tone than the words.

“This is very strange, Mr. Turner. Why do you speak of this thing now
after so many years? What has happened that you talk to me of marriage?
You say it is better for the child—better for us all. But why?”

“I will make a good husband to you—at any rate do the best I can!”
pleaded poor Turner, sadly out of place in his love-making.

“Perhaps you have fallen in love with me all of a sudden,” said my
bonne, half bitterly, half in a questioning manner, as if she faintly
hoped he would assent to the idea.

“I—what, I fall in love!” cried Turner, and his face writhed into a
miserable smile; “it isn’t in me to make a fool of myself at this age. I
hope you have a better opinion of me than that.”

She answered rapidly, and partly in Spanish. There was a good deal of
womanly bitterness in her voice, but I could only gather a few hasty

“You joke, Mr. Turner—you mock—you have found a way of amusing yourself
with the lone stranger. I know that you always hated us Spaniards, but
you never mocked me in this way till now.”

“There it is again,” exclaimed the poor suitor. “I guessed how it would
all turn out; never did know how to manage one of the sex—never shall!
Look here, Maria, I’m in earnest—very much in earnest; ask Lady
Catherine—ask Zana if I’m not determined on it.”

Turner gathered himself up, moved awkwardly enough toward Maria, and
taking her hand looked at it wistfully, as if quite uncertain what to do

“I never kissed a woman’s hand in my life,” he said, desperately, “but
I’ll kiss yours, on my soul I will, if you’ll just marry me without more

She leaned heavily against the window, and said more temperately,

“Say, why have you asked this of me?”

I do not know what Turner would have replied, for, obeying the impulse
of the moment, I came forward, and before either of them were aware of
my approach, stood in the room.

“Tell her the whole, dear Mr. Turner,” I said, going up to Maria with a
degree of reverence I had never felt for her before. “She ought to know
it—she must know that you are asking her to marry you that Lady
Catherine may not turn us all adrift on the world; that the people may
stop pointing at me because I have no father.”

Maria flung her arms around me.

“There—there!” exclaimed Turner, moving toward the door, “you see I’ve
done my best, Zana, and have got everybody crying. Tell her yourself,
child; just arrange it between you; call for me when all’s ready; what I
say I stand to.”

The old man writhed himself out of the room, leaving Maria and I

My good, bonne was greatly agitated, and besought me to explain the
scene I had interrupted, but I could not well understand it myself. All
I knew was, that this marriage had been demanded by Lady Catherine as a
condition of our remaining in the house. I repeated, word for word, what
I had gathered of the conversation between her and Turner, omitting only
those expressions of reluctance that had escaped my benefactor. She
listened attentively, but being almost a child, like myself, in English
custom, could not comprehend why this necessity had arisen for any
change in our condition.

“And do you hate Mr. Turner so much?” I said, breaking a fit of
thoughtfulness into which she had fallen. “I thought you liked each
other till now; don’t, oh, my bonne, don’t marry him if it troubles you
so! You and I can get a living somehow without taking him from his

“Yes—two children—why, Zana, you know more of the world than I do. Where
could we go?”

“I don’t know, without Mr. Turner, what we should do,” I answered,

“Without him, why, Zana—without him we should both die!”

“Oh, Maria, my bonne, if you could but like Mr. Turner, only a little,
just enough to marry him, you know!” I exclaimed, amid my tears.

“Like him, Zana? I have had nothing but him and you in the world for
years,” she said, weeping.

“Then you do like him—you will marry him!” I exclaimed, full of joy.

She strained me to her bosom and kissed me in her old passionate way. I
sprang from her arms the moment they were loosened, and ran off in
search of Mr. Turner.

He was working in the garden, stamping the earth around a young laburnum
tree, which he had just planted, with a sort of ferocious vehemence, as
if striving to work away some lingering irritation.

“Go in and speak with her now,” I said, pulling his arm.

“No, I’ve made a fool of myself once, and that is enough!” he answered,
shaking me off. “I didn’t think any woman living could have driven me to

Still he moved toward the house.

That evening Mr. Turner was absent both from our cottage and the Hurst.
He came back the next day with a portentous-looking paper, which he and
Maria scanned over with great interest. When I asked regarding it, they
told me, with a good deal of awkwardness, that it was a marriage

                             CHAPTER XXXV.

Two or three mornings after this, I was sent over to the parsonage to
spend the day with Cora. Maria took more than usual care in dressing me.
I went forth in a white muslin dress, fluttering with rose-colored
ribbons, quite too fairy-like for my usual morning visits to this my
second home. But Cora was also floating about in clouds of white muslin,
with glimpses of azure here and there about her arms and bosom, as if
arrayed for some festival. How flowerlike was the style of her
loveliness! Those ringlets of glossy gold; the violet eyes full of
softness, downcast, and yet so brilliant when she smiled; the rounded
arms, the neck and shoulders, white and satiny as when I first saw them
by the spring; the little foot and hand, slender and rosy: all these
points of beauty are before me this instant, vividly as if painted on
canvas. There is a reason why they should have sunk deep into my heart—a
cruel reason which the hereafter will disclose.

Her father was in his clerical robes, walking up and down the little
parlor gently, as he always moved, and with a soft smile on his lips, as
if amusing himself with some odd fancy.

“Come in, my child,” he said, with a change of expression, brought on, I
felt, by a more serious current of thought which my appearance
suggested. “Come in—you will find Cora in her room.”

I paused, as was my habit, to kiss his hand in passing, but he detained
me a moment, pressing his lips upon my forehead.

“God bless you,” he said, “and make you worthy of all that your friends
are so willing to suffer in your behalf.”

I went away to Cora’s room. I have told you how very lovely she appeared
in her pretty dress, but it is impossible to describe the graceful
undulations of each movement, the bewitching softness of her smile! My
own olive complexion and deep bloom seemed coarse and rude beside her.

“And so you have come to the wedding,” she said, wreathing her arm
around my waist, and drawing me before the little mirror at which she
had been dressing. “Isn’t it a droll affair altogether?”

“They are very kind, very good to me,” I replied, a little hurt by her
air of ridicule.

“And to me!” was her laughing reply; “this is the very first wedding I
shall have seen. Isn’t it charming. The people will be here from
Greenhurst; the young heir, perhaps.”

Why did that spasm shoot through my heart so suddenly? I was looking
upon the reflection of Cora’s beauty. It was a lovely vision, but the
color went from my own cheek as I gazed on hers, and that made the
contrast between us strange and darker. I remembered that George Irving
would look on that lovely vision also; and the first sharp pang of
jealousy known to my life tore its way through my bosom. I did not know
what it was, but sickened under it as the grass withers beneath an Upas

I struggled against myself, conscious that the feeling was wrong, though
ignorant of its nature, but other thoughts mingled with these selfish
ones. I was astonished and hurt that strangers should force themselves
upon a ceremony which the parties desired to be private. It seemed rude
and cruel to the last degree.

But I was called into the parlor. Turner and Maria were in sight quietly
crossing the fields together without the least pretention. Maria looked
nice and matronly in her dress of soft grey silk and cap of snowy lace;
Turner wore his ordinary suit of black, for he had long since flung off
livery, and bore his usual business-like appearance. It was impossible
to find anything to condemn in persons so free from affectation of any
kind. For my part I was proud of my benefactors; there was a
respectability about them that no ridicule could reach.

We entered a little church, and found it already occupied by a large
party of strangers, guests from Greenhurst. I saw Turner start and
change color as he went in, but pressing his thin lips together till
they were almost lost among his wrinkles, he walked firmly on, holding
Maria by the hand.

I saw it all, I knew that he was suffering tortures from those
impertinent people, and all for my sake. It seemed as if my presence
would be some support to them; and when Cora would have turned into a
pew close to that occupied by Lady Catherine, I resisted and led her up
to the altar.

There, on the very spot where Cora’s mother had rested in her death
sleep, Turner and Maria were married. I thought of all this, and it made
my heart swell with unshed tears; but Cora seemed to have forgotten it
entirely. Her downcast eyes wandered sideways toward the intruders all
the time. The two great mysteries of life, death and marriage, which we
had witnessed, and were witnessing together by that altar stone, were
driven from her mind.

The ceremony was over. Turner and his wife moved away, passing through
the crowd with a serious dignity that would make itself respected. I
would have followed close, but Cora held back, keeping on a range with
the intruders. Lady Catherine was directly before us, leaning upon the
arm of an old gentleman I had seen in the hunt.

“Ah, Lady Catherine, your benign goodness is felt everywhere,” he was
saying. “It must have had an angel’s power in reforming this old stoic!”

“Hush,” said the lady, touching his arm with her gloved finger, “his
daughter is just behind us!”

“What, the little Diana!” exclaimed the gentleman, looking over his
shoulder. “I would give fifty pounds to see her again.”

“She will hear you!” whispered the lady, impatiently.

“And who is the other little elf?” cried the old squire, whose
admiration was not to be subdued. “Why, dear lady, you have a new race
of fairies and goddesses springing up about Greenhurst. Take heed that
my friend George is not made captive.”

“I followed the old squire’s look, and saw George Irving, with another
young man, fairer and taller than himself, with their eyes riveted on

I remained with Cora all night. She was full of gleeful gossip about the
wedding, and more than once spoke of the young gentleman who had looked
at her so often. She did not say so admiringly, but I knew well the glow
of vanity that led her thoughts that way, and the subject caused me
unaccountable pain. I listened to her, therefore, with impatience, and
while her beauty seemed more fascinating than ever, its brilliancy
wounded me. It was a precocious and wrong feeling, I confess, but there
were many passionate sensations in my heart even then, which some women
live from youth to age and never know.

I was reluctant to go home—to meet Turner and Maria after the sacrifice
and insult of the previous day. It seemed as if they must hate me for
being the cause of it all. But deep in the morning, I put on my bonnet
and prepared to return home. Cora proposed to go part way with me, and
though I preferred to be alone, she persisted with laughing obstinacy,
and flinging a scarf over her head, ran after me down the garden.

I was very willing to loiter on the way, and we turned into the fields
enjoying the soft autumn air, and searching for hazelnuts along the
stone fences.

We came to a thicket where the fruit was abundant, and so ripe that we
had but to shake the golden husks, and the nuts came rattling in showers
around us. I clambered up the wall, and seizing a heavy branch from the
thicket, showered the nuts into the pretty silk apron which Cora held up
with both white hands.

I think in my whole life I never saw anything so lovely as she was at
that moment. The blue scarf floated back upon the wind, circling her
head as you see the drapery around one of Guido’s angels; her eyes
sparkled with merriment: and she shook back the curls from her face with
a laugh, gleeful and mellow, as if she had fed on ripe peaches all her

“Stop, stop, you will smother me!” she shouted, gathering the apron in a
heap, and holding up both hands to protect her curls from the shower of
nuts that I was impetuously beating over her.

I paused, instantly, ashamed of the action, which had been unconscious
as it was violent.

“Did the nuts hurt you?” I said, bending forward to address her.

“No, no; just a little when they struck my forehead: nothing more!” she
said, still laughing, but with the rosy palm of her hand pressed to one
temple that was slightly flushed.

That instant I heard the report of a fowling-piece close by, and a
thrush fell, with a death shriek, down to the hazel thicket. It beat its
wings about among the green leaves an instant, then fell heavily
through, lodging at Cora’s feet. Her laugh died away in a sob; the poor
thing grew pale as death, and I saw with a shudder that two great drops
of blood had fallen upon her neck.

She dropped the nuts from her apron, and sank down to the earth. I
sprang upright on the wall and looked around, excited and angry, for the
shot had rattled against the very stones upon which I was seated.

“Great heavens! what is this? Are you hurt?” cried a voice, and I saw
George Irving, with his young companion of the previous day, running
toward us; while a fine pointer cleared the wall in search of the dead

“I do not know; there is blood on Cora’s neck, it may be only from the
bird,” I answered, leaping to the ground. “Cora, Cora, look up—are you

I trembled from head to foot, and strove to lift her from the ground,
for she made no answer. Some one cleared the wall with the leap of a
deer and pushed me aside. I saw Cora lifted in the arms of a young man,
and heard her begin to sob with hysterical violence.

“She is not hurt; it is not her blood!” he said, in a voice so calm,
that though full of music, it grated on my ear, and with his cambric
handkerchief he wiped the blood spots from her neck. “She is frightened
a little, nothing more.”

“Nothing more!” exclaimed Irving, passionately, “why, is not that
enough, brigands that we are, to terrify the sweet child into this

I felt myself growing cold from head to foot, for Irving had taken the
weeping girl from her supporter, and held her gently in his own arms.
She opened her eyes—those beautiful violet eyes—and a smile broke
through the tears that filled them.

I grew faint, a mist crept around me, and I leaned against the wall for
support. No one seemed to observe it, for I made no noise, and they were
busy with her.

“I am glad, that it is no worse; the leaves were so thick, and I looked
only at the bird: Can you stand now? The blood is all away, nothing but
a rosy glow on your neck is left to reproach us.”

It was Irving’s voice, and I could see dimly as through a mist that Cora
still clung to him, and that he was looking into her eyes. Then I heard
another voice, calm and caustic as if feelings like my own lay at the
bottom, suppressed but observant.

“In all this you overlook the real evil,” it said, “don’t you see,
Irving, that while this child does not require so much care, the other
is really suffering—nay, wounded?”

I felt a sharp pain in my arm, just above the elbow, as he spoke,
forgotten till then in the more bitter pang at my heart; and through the
mistiness that still crept over my eyes, I saw a slender stream of
crimson trickling down and dropping from my fingers.

“She is hurt indeed—a shot has gone through her arm,” exclaimed Irving,
and I felt through every nerve that he had put Cora away from his
support almost forcibly, and was close by me. Young as I was, the master
feeling of my nature awoke then, and I started from the wall, dizzy and
confused, but determined that he should not touch me.

“It is nothing,” I said, winding my handkerchief around the arm, and
turning haughtily away. “Come, Cora, shall we go?”

“Let me rest, Zana, I am so tired and frightened!” she said, and her
beautiful eyes filled again.

Irving’s face flushed crimson as I repulsed his offered support, and
though the look with which he regarded me was regretful, it was proud
too. When Cora spoke in her sweet pleading way, he bent his eyes upon
her with an expression of relief, but turned to me again.

“It is an accident; you cannot suppose I wounded you on purpose,” he
said, pleadingly. “Why are you so unforgiving?”

“There is nothing to forgive,” was my cold answer.

“You are wounded! Is that nothing?”

“It is nothing; and if it were, the wound was not intended for me.”

He looked at me earnestly, as if pained and embarrassed by the manner
with which I received his apologies; then he turned toward Cora.

“I hope my friend is not mistaken—that I have not injured you also.”

“No,” replied Cora, casting her eyes to the ground and blushing. “I was
terrified; the feeling of blood: fear for Zana made me tremble, but I am
not hurt.”

“Thank heaven!” exclaimed young Irving, and gathering up her azure
scarf, he dropped it lightly over the shining gold of her hair. I
watched him with burning indignation. His gentle interest in Cora, who
was all unharmed, seemed a mockery to the stinging pain of my arm. I
forgot how coldly I had received his sympathy, and like all impulsive
but proud natures, fancied that he must read my feelings, not my
actions, and judged him by the fancy.

“I must go home now, the morning is almost gone!” I said to Cora. “Are
you well enough to move on?”

“No, I tremble yet,” she said sweetly; “your wound pains me more than it
does yourself, Zana, it has taken away all my strength.”

“Then I will go alone,” was my curt rejoinder. “My arm bleeds.”

I started suddenly, and almost ran toward home.

Directly I heard a light step following me.

“This is unkind, cruel!” said Irving, pleading; “let me help you?”

The pride of my heart was subdued; I relaxed the speed with which I had
moved, and listened with a thrill of grateful pleasure.

“You smile—your color comes back, thanks!” he said, gaily.

I could not answer. The sweet sensations that overwhelmed me were too
exquisite for words.

“You will not speak to me,” said Irving, stooping forward to look in my

My eyes met his, I felt the lids drooping over them, and, spite of
myself, began to tremble with delicious joy. Like a cup full of honey,
my heart overflowed with sighs, but I could neither speak nor look him
in the face. Did he understand it all? Did he read in my face all that
was making a heaven in my heart? All I know is, that he grew silent like
myself, and we moved on together through the soft atmosphere like two
young creatures in a dream. At length some obstacle arose in our path. I
know not how it was, but we paused and looked at each other. My eyes did
not droop then, but were fascinated by the deep, earnest tenderness that
filled his. I met that gaze, and kept it forever in my soul, the most
solemn and beautiful memory ever known to it.

“Zana, do you love me?”

The question fell upon my ear like a whisper of expected music. I had
listened for it with hushed breath, for with the soft atmosphere of love
all around me, it came naturally as lightning in a summer cloud. I think
he repeated the question twice before the joy at my heart sprang with a
deep, delicious breath to my lips.

“Zana, do you love me?”

“Do I love you? Yes, oh, yes!”

As the words left my soul, a calm, solemn contentment brooded down like
a dove upon it. The feeling was too holy and sweet for blushes. It
seemed to me as if I had partaken of an angel’s nature while uttering
it. Up to that moment I had never dwelt upon the thought of love, save
as a pleasant household feeling. The passion of love I did not even then
comprehend, notwithstanding it beat in every pulse of my warm southern

He took my hand, holding it with a firm, gentle pressure, and thus we
walked on softly and still as the summer air moves among the daisies. I
can imagine Adam and Eve walking thus in Paradise, when the temptation
first crept across their path. I can imagine them starting at the evil
thing, as we did when Irving’s tutor came suddenly upon us. He was a
sweet-voiced, quiet man some ten years older than Irving, and a great
favorite with Lady Catherine. I did not like his manners, they were
fawning and yet cold—his very humility was oppressive.

“You walk slowly,” he said, in his calm, silky way; “no wonder, it is a
delightful morning.”

Irving tightened his grasp on my hand.

“You can find the way home now,” he said, dropping it and turning away
with his tutor.

“Nay, this is ungallant, Irving,” said that person, moving toward me;
“you forget her arm seems hurt.”

“Yes, I had forgotten it,” was the reply, and he came back.

“Can you forgive me!”

I, too, had forgotten it.

“There is no pain left,” was my answer. “Go away with him, he troubles

“And me!” was the murmured reply.

They went away together, leaving me alone with my great happiness.

It is said that love gives beauty to all material things. It may be so
with others, but to me nature looked faded and insignificant that day. I
longed for a rainbow in the skies; for a carpet of blossoms under my
feet; for the breath of roses in every gush of air. Nothing but heaven
could have matched the beautiful joy of my soul.

For three days my rich contentment lasted. During that time I scarcely
seemed to have a mortal feeling. When fancy could sustain itself no
longer, came the material want of his presence. My heart had fed upon
its one memory over and over again. Now it grew hungry for fresh
certainties. I began to think of the future, to speculate and doubt. Why
had he kept away? Where was he now? Had I been dreaming—only dreaming?

I did not observe Turner and Maria in their new relations. At another
time their awkward tenderness and shy love-making would have amused me,
but now I scarcely remarked it, and in their embarrassment they forgot
to notice me.

Perhaps they would have detected nothing remarkable had they been ever
so vigilant, for I was self-centred in my own happiness, and joy like
mine was too deep and dreamy for easy detection.

                             CHAPTER XXXVI.

On the third day, Lady Catherine sent for me to come up to the Hurst. It
seems she was resolved to carry out her plan of giving me such
accomplishments as I could pick up, without expense, from her son’s
tutor, and her own waiting-maid.

I went, not without a pang of wounded pride, but too happy in the hope
of seeing him again, for thought of much else. Lady Catherine was in her
dressing-room, and several ladies, whom I afterward learned were guests
from London, had joined her, it seems, curious to see the wild
wood-nymph who had made a sensation at the hunt.

Lady Catherine half rose from her silken lounge as I entered, and
motioned me to sit down on an embroidered ottoman, first lifting from it
a little tan-colored spaniel, which she settled beside her on the couch.
I sat down, with a burning forehead, for it was easy to see that she
placed me and the dog on an equal level, if indeed the animal did not
meet with higher estimation than the human pet.

“Isn’t she a spirited, wild little beauty?” she said, addressing a young
girl some two years older than myself, perhaps, who was busy working
seed-pearls into a bit of embroidery.

The young lady looked coldly up, and, after scanning me from head to
foot, dropped her eyes again, murmuring something about my being older
than she had supposed. Lady Catherine drew her hand down the folds of my
hair, exclaiming at its thickness and lustre, just as she had handled
the silky ears of her King Charles a moment before.

“Did you ever see anything so long and so raven black,” she said,
uncoiling a heavy braid from around my head, and holding it up at full

“That sort of hair is often seen in persons of mixed blood,” answered
the young lady, without lifting her eyes, “long, but of a coarser
texture. I must confess black is not my favorite color.”

“You must take an interest in this poor child—indeed you must, Estelle;
I have quite depended on it—she will be quick to learn: won’t you,
child? Let her look over some of your drawings, Estelle. I dare say she
never saw anything like them in her life!”

The young lady kept at her work, not seeming to relish the idea of
amusing a creature so disagreeable as she evidently found me. Lady
Catherine arose; she spoke to the young girl in a subdued voice, but not
a syllable escaped me.

“Nay, love, you must. It will please George more than anything; besides,
I promised as much to her father in order to induce him to abandon that
horrid way of life. It is quite a moral duty to civilize the child, now
that the parents are married; George looks upon it in this light, I
assure you.”

“I would do anything to please him, you know,” said the girl, half
sullenly, “but he never sees my efforts; never cares for them.”

“Who should know, dearest, but the mother who is his confidant?” was the
caressing reply. “How can you doubt what I tell you?”

“Well,” replied the girl, rising, “let the child come to my

“No, love,” interposed Lady Catherine; “bring them here—I never weary of
them myself.”

The young lady withdrew, and returned with a richly embroidered
portfolio crowded full of drawings. She spread them out upon a table,
and haughtily motioned me to approach.

The drawings were evidently copies highly finished, but variable as if
more than one pencil had performed its part there. My quick intuition
told me this at a glance, and I looked into the girl’s face with a
feeling of scorn which doubtless spoke in my features. She probably held
me in so much contempt that my look was unnoticed, for she continued to
turn over the drawings with haughty self-possession, as if quite
careless of any opinion I might form.

At last we came to a head sketched with care, and evidently an attempt
at some likeness.

“Do you know that?” said Estelle, “probably you have never seen Mr.

“I have seen Mr. Irving,” was my answer, “but this is not in the least
like him.”

“Perhaps you could draw a better one!” she said, casting a sneering
smile toward Lady Catherine, but with rising color, as if she were a
good deal vexed.

“Perhaps,” I answered very quietly.

“Try,” said the haughty girl, taking a pencil and some paper from a
pocket of the portfolio.

I took the pencil, dropped on one knee by the table, and, excited by her
sneers into an attempt that I should have held almost sacrilegious at
another time, transferred a shadow of the image that filled my soul to
the paper. I felt the look of haughty astonishment with which the young
patrician bent over me as I worked out the quick inspiration.

“What is she doing?” inquired Lady Catherine, gliding toward the table.
“Why, Estelle, you seem entranced.”

Estelle drew proudly back, and pointed toward me with a sneering lift of
the upper lip, absolutely hateful.

“You have found a prodigy here, madam, nothing less,” she said; “what a
memory the creature must have to draw like that with only one sight of
your son’s face!”

Lady Catherine bent over me, and I felt that she breathed unequally,
like one conquering an unpleasant surprise.

“What an impression that one interview must have made,” persisted the
young lady.

“I have seen Mr. Irving more than once or twice,” I answered, without
pausing in the rapid touches of my pencil, though my heart beat loud and
fast as I spoke.

“Indeed,” sneered the girl with a glance at Lady Catherine.

“Indeed!” repeated that lady, with forced unconcern; “the child wanders
among the trees like a bird, Estelle, you have no idea what a wild gipsy
it is; we must civilize her between us.”

“Is Mr. Irving to help? It looks like that,” answered Estelle,

“Is there anything in which I can be of service?” said a voice that made
the heart leap in my bosom; but so perfect was my self-control that I
finished the shadow upon which I was at work mechanically, as if every
nerve in my system were not thrilling like the strings of an instrument.

“We were speaking about humanizing this strange child a little,” said
Lady Catherine; “she really has a good deal of originality, as we were
saying, and Estelle is quite charmed with the idea of bringing it out.”

My soul was full of scornful ridicule. I felt it breaking up through my
eyes, and curving my lip as I looked from Estelle to George Irving. His
own face caught the spirit, and he met my glance with a bright smile of
intelligence, that others read as well as myself.

“Did you ever try to teach music to a woodlark, dear mother?” he said,
stooping down to look at the head I had sketched.

My heart stood still, but I would not permit myself to blush; on the
contrary, there was a dry, cold feeling about my lips as if the blood
were leaving them; but my gaze was fascinated. I could not turn it from
his face, and when the warm crimson rushed up over his brow and temples,
as the likeness struck him, my breath was absolutely stopped. I would
have given the universe for the power of obliterating my own work from
the paper and from his brain. There was anger, reproach, and a dash of
scorn in the glance which he turned from the likeness to my face. I
trembled from head to foot. The lids drooped like lead over the shame
that burned in my eyes; a feeling that he thought my act indelicate
scorched me like a fire.

“The likeness does not seem to please you, Mr. Irving,” said Estelle,
and her face brightened. “In my humility I had supposed it better than
my poor attempt.”

“Oh, it was only a copy, then!” he cried, laughing, and the cloud left
his face; “this is your first lesson, and my poor features the subject.
You honor them too much; pray whose selection was it?”

“I believe my sketch gave rise to the other,” answered Estelle, casting
down her fine eyes, and certainly mistaking the feelings she had

“I am glad of it,” answered Irving, and the glow of his countenance bore
proof of his sincerity.

“Now,” said Lady Catherine, in her usual way, which with all its
softness had authority in it, “let us settle things for the morning. We
visit Marston Court; Estelle has never been thoroughly over the house;
of course you go, George.”

He did not seem embarrassed, but thoughtful, and, after a moment’s
consideration, replied, “Yes, I will escort you on horseback. Who are

The guests were enumerated. Most of the names I had never heard before.
My own was not in the list.

“And Zana!” said Irving, with a slight rise of color when his mother

“Oh, Zana, she will find amusement for herself. She has never seen the
house yet—besides, as your tutor remains behind, he can take the
opportunity to give her a lesson or two.”

Lady Catherine looked furtively at her son as she made the proposition.
His brow clouded, and his lips were set together very resolutely; but
his voice was low and respectful as he replied,

“Not so, madam! Unless in your presence, that gentleman is not a proper
person to teach a girl like Zana!”

“Hear me, you are really making the thing a burden. How can you expect
all these formalities, George, in a case like this—and me with nerves
worn down to a thread?”

“I will teach her myself,” was the firm reply, though rays of crimson
shot across his forehead as he spoke.

“You, George?—preposterous!”

“Why preposterous, madam?”

“Your youth!”

“Is my tutor old?”

“Your position—your prospects!”

He laughed in a gay, light fashion.

“Well, should my Uncle Clare marry again, a thing not unlikely, exercise
of this kind will be a useful experience, for then I shall have little
but my brains to depend on.”

“But he will never marry!—who thinks it?” cried the mother impatiently.

“Men of a little more than forty do not often consider themselves out of
the matrimonial market, mother.”

“You talk wildly, George. Clare will never marry again—never, never!”

“And if he does not, am I his next heir?—or my hopes of advancement and
fortune rest on you, lady mother?—you who certainly will not own
yourself too old for a second marriage!”

“This is nonsense, George!”

“No, sober truth; my uncle—whom heaven preserve, for he is a good
man—could aid me nothing in his death. _You_ would inherit, not your
son; the ladies of our line are a privileged race.”

“But are you not my only son and heir?”

“True again; and your favorite while I do not offend.”

“That you will never do,” answered the mother, with a glow of feeling in
her voice.

“I hope not, mother,” he said, lifting her hand to his lips with an
expression of earnest affection. “But do not talk to me of expectations
that may be dreams; and rank that may find me, when it comes, a
broken-hearted old man!”

“This is strange talk, George, and in this presence. Estelle will learn
to look upon your prospects with distrust.”

“She, with all my friends, will do well to think of me only as I am, the
dependent of a good uncle, certain of nothing but a firm will, good
health, and an honest purpose!” he answered, glancing, not at the
haughty patrician, but at me.

“And that is enough for any man,” I exclaimed, filled with enthusiasm by
his proud frankness. “What inheritance does he require but that honest,
firm will, which cleaves its own way in the world? Oh, how the soul must
enjoy the blessings which its own strength has had the power to win. If
I were a man, neither gold nor rank should detract from my native
strength. I would go into the world and wrestle my way through, not for
the wealth or the power that might come of it—but for the strength it
would give to my own nature—the development—the refining process of
exertion—the sense of personal power. In that must lie all the true
relish of greatness!”

The guests had one by one glided from Lady Catherine’s room before her
son came in, and no one listened to our conversation but her ladyship
and the girl Estelle. When I ceased speaking, Lady Catherine sunk among
the cushions of her couch, lifting the dog to her bosom as if she feared
my rash words would poison the creature; while her young friend stood
close by with both arms folded scornfully over her bosom, gazing at me
from her open eyes, as if there had been something wicked in my
expression. For myself, the moment my rash enthusiasm gave way, all
courage went with it; and before the fire had left my eyes they were
full of tears.

“Is the creature mad, or a sibyl?” said Lady Catherine, in a voice that
went through and through me.

“Mother,” said her son, pale as death, but with a strange glory of
expression in his face—“need you ask again whose blood spoke there?”

He addressed her in a whisper, but she turned white, and lifted her
finger to check his further speech, glancing at Estelle.

“Strange language this for the daughter of a servant!” exclaimed
Estelle, her bosom heaving with scornful astonishment.

“I am not the daughter of a servant,” was the reply that sprang to my
lips; “the story is a falsehood. Turner is my benefactor, my more than
father: _not_ my father; but if he were, why should my words, if right,
not spring from the lips of _his_ child? Are all gifts reserved for the
patrician? Does not the great oak and the valley lily spring from
exactly the same soil? Thank heaven there is no monopoly in thought!”

“In heaven’s name, who taught you these things?” cried Lady Catherine,

“Who teaches the flowers to grow, and the fruit to ripen?” I answered,
almost weeping, for my words sprang from an impulse, subtle and
evanescent as the perfume of a flower; and like all sensitive persons I
shrunk from the remembrance of my own mental impetuosity.

“Really, your ladyship, you must excuse me, this is getting tiresome,”
said Estelle, sweeping from the room; “I fear with all your goodness the
child will prove a troublesome pet.”

Lady Catherine sat among her cushions very white, and with a glitter in
her eyes that I had learned to shrink from.

“Irving,” she said, speaking to him in a low but firm voice, “plead with
me no more—she must and shall leave the estate.”

“Madam, she is but a child!”

“A mischievous one, full of peril to us all, and therefore, to be
disposed of at once. Out of my own income I will provide for her wants,
but away from this place—in another land, perhaps.”

I felt myself growing pale, and saw that Irving was also
greatly agitated. He looked at me reproachfully, and muttered,
“imprudent—imprudent.” I went to a window, and leaning against the
frame, stood patiently, and still as marble, waiting for my sentence.
Again my rashness had perilled all that I loved; the thought froze me
through and through; I hated myself. Irving was talking to his mother;
she had forgotten dignity, her elegance, everything in her indignation
against me. At last I caught some of his words. They were deep and

“No, mother, I will not consent. If our suspicions are true, and I must
confess every day confirms them in my estimation—the course you propose
would be impolitic as cruel. You cannot keep her existence from Lord
Clare; all that we guess he will soon learn. He is just, noble—think if
he would forgive this persecution of—of an orphan—for she is that if
nothing more!”

“But am I to be annoyed—braved, talked down by a child, and before my
own guests?” said the mother. “Who knows the mischief she has already
done with Estelle?”

“Mother, I beseech you, let that subject drop. It is a dream.”

“One of the best matches in England, my son; a golden dream worth
turning to reality.”

“No, mother, in this I must be free.”

“Perhaps you are not free! That child!”

They were looking in each other’s eyes, the mother and son reading
thoughts there that each would gladly have concealed from the other. I
came forward.

“Madam, let me go home, I am not fit for this place. Let me return, and
I will trouble you no more.”

“I wish to heaven it were possible for you to keep this promise, girl.”

“Let me go home; send for me no more; I will never willingly cross your
path again.”

“Nor his?” said the mother, fixing her cold eyes on my face, and
pointing to her son.

“Madam, I beseech you, let me go.”

“But I have promised Turner to educate you.”

“Lady, you cannot. Mr. Clarke has taken great care of me, and in some
shape I have educated myself.”

“You are a strange girl.”

“I feel strange here. May I go?”

She fell into thought with her eyes on my face, as if it had been a work
of marble.

“Yes,” she said, at length, “go, but I feel that we have not done with
each other. Now, George, equip at once; we have kept our guests

“No, mother, I cannot go to Marston Court; make my excuses!”

He went out, leaving no time for a rejoinder; and Lady Catherine
followed. I was alone in the room.

All at once a strange sensation came over me. I looked around with a
vague feeling of dread. Things that I had not before noticed were
strangely familiar. It seemed as if I were in a dream, and without
volition, and without object, I crossed the room toward a small antique
cabinet that stood in one corner. The lids were deeply carved and set
heavily with jewels. It is a solemn truth, I was unconscious of the act,
but unclosing the cabinet reached forth my hand, and opened a small,
secret drawer that was locked with a curious spring.

Among other trinkets, two lockets of gold lay within the drawer; one
shaped like a shell, and paved thickly with pearls; the other plain, and
without ornament of any kind. I took up the shell, and it sprung open in
my hand, revealing two faces that seemed like something that had floated
in my dreams years ago. One was that of a man in the first proud bloom
of youth, with a brow full of lofty thought, but fair and of a delicate
whiteness that we seldom see beyond infancy. The lips and the deep blue
eyes seemed smiling upon me, and with a pang of love, for it was half
pain, I kissed it. The female face I _could not look upon_. It seemed to
me like the head of an evil spirit that was to haunt my destiny, and yet
it possessed a wonderful fascination to me.

I laid the shell down, and with a sort of mysterious awe took up the
other locket. It opened with difficulty, and when I wrenched the spring
apart, it seemed as if my very soul had received a strain. It was a
miniature also. I looked upon it and the claw of some fierce bird seemed
clutched upon my bosom and throat. It appeared to me as if I struggled
minutes and minutes in its gripe; then the pressure gave way, and with a
burst of tears I cried out, “the face!—the face!”

A thin hand was thrust over my shoulder and snatched the locket away. I
turned and saw it in the grasp of Lady Catherine. With a choking cry my
hands were flung out, and I leaped madly upward striving to snatch it.

“Would you steal? Are you a thief?” she cried, grasping the locket
tight, and holding it on high. “Would you steal? Are you a thief?”

The words went hissing through my ear. A hot flush of indignant shame
clouded my sight, and I saw George Irving, as it were, through waves of
crimson gauze, looking sternly upon me.

Then all grew black and still as death.

                            CHAPTER XXXVII.

The cold dash of water on my face aroused me, and I awoke gasping for
breath as if my very soul had felt the icy deluge. Only one person
remained in the room, and he was so white that it seemed like waking
among the dead. A heavy weight still rested on my brain, and after a
struggle or two I felt myself sinking as one falls from some precipice
in a dream. All at once it appeared to me that I had been pulled back
with violence. My lips burned as if a handful of thorns had been drawn
across them, and again my heavy eyelids were lifted. Lady Catherine had
entered the room. It was the antipathy of our natures that dragged me
violently back from unconsciousness. Instantly the pang of remembrance
returned, and its agony gave me strength to hear but not to move.

“Is she conscious yet?” said Lady Catherine, touching me with the point
of her satin slipper.

“She has moved a little,” answered a voice, so deep and sorrowful that
my heart stood still to listen.

“Let something be done; I am sick of her! Burn feathers, bring aromatic
vinegar—why, is no servant at hand?”

“You would not expose the poor child thus to our servants, mother?” was
the reply.

“The poor child, indeed! George, George, this is too much! Yes, I would
expose her to the lowest scullion about the place—poor child! The


My heart leaped at the stern rebuke conveyed in this single word. I
broke through the leaden feeling that held me motionless and rose to my
feet, reeling and half blind, but stung into life by the epithet that
unwomanly lady had applied to me.

“Madam,” I said, striving to sweep the mist from my eyes with one
hand—“madam, you are false, body and soul. You know that I could not
steal the picture of my own mother. God gives to every child a mother.
Who shall say that the shadow of mine can belong to any one else; or, if
it did, that I might not look at it?”

She interrupted me with a bitter laugh, in sickening contrast with her
usual hollow-hearted loftiness.

“The picture of _your_ mother, and in Lord Clare’s escritoir!” she
exclaimed; “upon my word, George, this impudence is sublime.”

“It _was_ my mother!” I answered firmly, but with a swelling heart. “Mr.
Irving, you believe me.”

I reached forth my hand to the young man, and he took it—held it—pressed
his cold lips upon it, and thus proclaimed the noble trust that was in
him, while she looked on.

“Mother!” and the words burst like fire through his white lips—“mother,
I do believe the child innocent as God’s angels!”

These words bereft me of all strength. My limbs gave way as if they had
been moulded from snow. I fell at his feet, and winding my arms about
his knees, gave myself up to a passion of tears.

“George Irving, undo the coil of that serpent, spurn her away, or
henceforth you are no child of mine!” burst on my ears.

I saw that wicked glare of her eyes, the white rage that shook her from
head to foot. There was something horrid in this fiendish rage in a
mother, and addressed to her only child. I took away my arms and arose.

“Madam, calm yourself,” I said gently, for his faith had filled my soul
with solemn peace, “I shall touch him no more—see him, probably, never
again. You can separate us, but I know that he believes me—it is

I left the room without another word or look, and went home.

Two days after, Greenhurst was deserted. Lady Catherine and her son,
with some of their guests, had departed for the Continent. He went
without a word, but had I not given him up proudly, there in the
presence of his mother?

Days, weeks, months rolled on, and after this terrible excitement my
outer life became a dead calm; my intellect, for once, seemed to have
lost its spring, and gave itself up to dreams. For a long time my faith
in Irving remained firm; and though we never received a syllable from
him, it seemed every day as if I had obtained some confirmation of his
love; and I solemnly believe that no doubt would ever have arisen in my
mind, but that the poison was sown there by another.

Those who know how sensibly a proud heart shrinks from the idea that
even a suspicion of crime can attach to it, will not think it strange
that I never mentioned the scene at Greenhurst to Turner or Maria; nor
the fact that I had found and recognized a picture of my mother.

When the family left Greenhurst, young Moreton, his college mate and
friend, remained at the old mansion with Mr. Upham, who had up to this
time been the tutor of both. The intimacy that existed between these
young men arose from the peculiar relations that Moreton held toward the
family. But for the will which left Marston Court, with other property,
to Lady Jane, who afterward became the wife of Lord Clare, this young
man would have inherited everything that the old London banker
possessed, for he was his nephew and sole relative. Thus he was in truth
the natural heir of Marston Court and all the wealth that had devolved
on the earl by the sudden death of his bride. Lord Clare left the
country too much afflicted for any thought of the wrong that had been
done this young man, but he had written to make liberal provision for
his support and education, placing him in all respects on a level with
his own nephew; and there was no just doubt that on Lord Clare’s return
to England, a portion at least of the inheritance that had been swept
from his hands by the fondness of an old man for his wife, would be
restored to him.

With this just expectation, Henry Moreton remained at Greenhurst, with
the tutor, who had always been a greater favorite with Lady Catherine
than with the young men them selves. Indeed, it was by her arrangement
that these two persons, so unequal in character, were left at the Hurst.

Cora and I sometimes met young Moreton and his tutor in our rambles, and
occasionally they came for an hour to the parsonage; but my
preoccupation and a certain consciousness of the shame that had been put
upon me by his benefactress, forbade that degree of intimacy with
Moreton that might naturally have sprung up between young persons thrown
so much together. But I hardly gave Moreton thought enough to comprehend
the very noble and beautiful traits of character which, with one
drawback, were in every way estimable. He was very unlike Irving, with
his prompt courage, his impetuous feelings, and generous forgetfulness
of self. Sensitive, and at times almost timid, Moreton possessed few of
those qualities that inspire enthusiasm in a proud young heart like
mine. The extreme refinement and delicacy of his person and features
sometimes aroused my admiration; but in everything he was so unlike my
own idol, that I gave him nothing more than a kindly place in my regard.
As for Cora, she seldom spoke to him. Though cheerful with every one
else in his presence, she became demure and thoughtful, like a bird with
its wings folded.

But Mr. Upham was not a man to awake measured feelings of this kind.

There certainly do exist persons endowed with intuitions so keen that
they seem gifts of prophecy, and guard the soul, which but for them
would be bruised and trampled under foot by the rude multitude. Are
these feelings the thoughts of our guardian angels, the golden spears
with which they hedge us in from harm? I know not, but it is certain no
evil-minded being ever came near me that I did not feel a thrill of
repulsion, certainly as light springs from flame.

True to this inward monitor, I never really liked this mild,
self-possessed tutor. In spite of his silky manners, my heart always
rose against him. It certainly seemed like a prejudice, and I often
tried to reason it away. No human being could be kinder than this man;
there was nothing noisy or unpleasant about him; indeed, there existed
persons who found his humility, and deferential silence more attractive
than the warm-hearted sincerity of young Irving; but I was not among

Nothing but the sensitive dislike that I felt for this man, would have
enabled me to understand the stealthy and subtle advances which he made
to obtain my regard. But though I could not read his motive for wishing
to interest a creature isolated like myself, there was no mistaking his
pertinacious endeavors. Still he never spoke out; never, to use a
worldly term, committed himself in words, thus keeping my frank nature
at a disadvantage. There was no discouraging a man who expressed himself
only in tones, sighs and glances. But to a heart wholly given up to
another, there is nothing so repulsive as the covert attentions that
hint at love, which you never have the opportunity of receiving or
crushing with a word.

At another time I might not have noticed Mr. Upham so closely, but in
the listless state which follows the reaction of strong excitement, I
was fit only for observation and thoughtfulness; besides, the fact that
this man had been so long intimate with Irving, gave him a sort of
painful fascination for me. Heart and brain I was a precocious girl, and
the vigilance of my observation might have befitted an older and wiser
person. Still I could not read him. Why did he wish to interest me? Why
was he constantly talking of me to Turner, and putting Maria under
cross-questions like a lawyer? Why, above all, was he so cold toward
Cora, she, so strangely beautiful, so full of rustic coquetry, that a
stoic must have yielded to her graceful beauty?

I had the discernment to see all that suggested these questions, but
lacked the power to answer them.

It seemed to me, at times, that Cora felt and shared my dislike; but
after the events that followed Turner’s wedding, the entire confidence
that existed between us was, to a degree, broken off. I never made her a
confidant in those feelings that filled my whole nature, and really
regarded her as too much of a child, notwithstanding our years were
nearly the same, for any curiosity regarding her girlish fancies or

Still, after a time, I could not fail to see that a change of some kind
had fallen upon her. More than once I observed that her eyes were heavy
as with crushed tears, and that shadows lay under them sometimes for
days together; but she always burst into such passions of mocking gaiety
when I grew anxious about the cause, that I was overwhelmed by it.

As the second year of Irving’s absence crept on, my heart grew heavy
with anxiety; I became suspicious of his faith, restless, unhappy beyond
my powers of explaining. I can now trace back these feelings to looks,
hints, and disjointed questions, dropped, from time to time, by Upham,
with a point that stung like drops of venom, and yet with a seeming
carelessness that had all the force of truth. But then I suffered
greatly without knowing from what source the distrust and anguish came.

One thing is very certain, the forced presence of this man, his
incessant attentions, accompanied with so much perseverance, served to
keep my sweet Cora at a distance from me that was painful; but I could
not force my pride to ask an explanation. No sister ever more truly
loved another than I loved her. There was but one thing on earth I would
not have sacrificed to her, and that was so much dearer than my own
soul, I could have parted with one easily as the other.

Thus, as I have said, two years went by. Then news came that Lady
Catherine and her son would soon be at Greenhurst. Mr. Upham gave me
this intelligence one night when I was returning from the parsonage,
where I had left Cora in a state of sadness that pained me, but of which
she would give no explanation. “He was going that way in order to meet
me,” he said, and turned back in his usual quiet fashion as if to escort
me home. His eyes were fixed searchingly on my face as he proclaimed his
errand, and I felt that he was keenly reading my countenance.

But I had a strong will, and though the blood leaped in my heart at the
thought of seeing Irving again, it did not reach my cheek or disturb a
tone of my voice.

“They will be welcome,” I said; “the place is but little changed.”

“You are forgiving as an angel,” he answered. “That last scene with Lady
Catherine would have left any other heart full of bitterness.”

“And who told you of that scene?” I questioned sharply, and with a
burning sense of shame.

“Who? George Irving, of course. It sent him abroad a whole year before
the time allotted to him.”

“And he told you this?”

“Certainly, why not? Did you suppose me merely Irving’s tutor?” he
answered, with a strange smile.

“Why, what else are you?” I demanded.

“His friend—his confidant.”

Something in his manner put me upon my guard that evening;, and I was
disinclined to continue the conversation; but he was not a man to be
evaded in anything. He followed up the subject with pertinacity, and
every time Irving’s name was mentioned I felt his eyes penetrating to my
very thoughts. As we entered the park, I was about to turn down an
avenue that led to my home, but he laid one hand on my arm and gently
detained me.

“Zana,” he said, “listen to me—for one moment throw off this haughty
reserve. It chills me—it is cruel, for you know that I love you—love
you, Zana, as man never loved woman. Now before our little Eden is
broken up by these haughty Clares—now, while I have you all to myself,
let me say it!”

I looked at him in amazement. The words he had spoken seemed like
sacrilege; for, to a heart that really loves, there is a sort of
profanity in expressions of passion from other than the true lips.

“Zana—Zana, you are ice—you are marble—my words freeze you—this is no
answer to love like mine.”

“You have said truly,” I answered. “Ice, marble, anything hard and cold
is all the reply that I can give—and it is fitting, for you love me no
more than I love you.”

The man turned white and stammered forth,

“You—you wrong me. Without love why should any man seek to make you his

“True,” I answered stung by his words—“true, there is something here
quite incomprehensible, but it is not love.”

He broke into a passionate torrent of protestations, wrung my hand in
his, and even attempted to throw his arms around me; but I retreated
from him in dismay.

“You will not believe me,” he said, standing in my path pale and
breathless. “You will not even believe that I love you?”

“No, I do not believe it!”

“Who—who has poisoned your ear against me? Not that canting priest;

“No one has ever uttered a word against you in my presence,” I replied.

“Perhaps not, but you are so positive—you may have been impressed with
some evil belief against me.”

“No, I have never thought of the matter.”

“Then you are truly indifferent?”

“I am, indeed!”

“You have no regard for my feeling—no gratitude for the love that I have
lavished upon you so long. There is a cause for this, and that cause is
your love for George Irving.”

He looked at me with malicious scrutiny, but I had expected this, and my
cheek remained cool as if he had passed an ordinary compliment.

“Inscrutable child,” he muttered, “will nothing reach you?”

“You are right,” I answered, without heeding his muttered comment. “It
is my love for George Irving that makes me look upon all that you
express as a wrong done to him, a mockery of the true feeling that lives
in my heart, as rich wine fills a cup to the brim, leaving no space for
a drop less pure than itself.”

Oh, how my soul shrunk from the smile which he turned upon me.

“Can you, vain girl—can you, for a moment, think that he loves you?—you
whom his uncle abandons and his mother denounces?”

The blood burned in my cheeks and temples hotly enough now, but I
answered proudly,

“My thoughts like my affections are my own, I refuse to share them.”

He smiled again, derisively.

“It is this wild dream that makes you so haughty. Dream on—I can
wait!—when you awake, my homage may not seem so paltry.”

He left me abruptly, and for many minutes I stood watching his dusky
form as it wound slowly in and out among the chestnuts. There was
something serpentlike about his progress that made me thoughtful.

Why had this man sought me? Not from love, of that I was assured. Was
there anything in my last scene with Lady Catherine, with which he had
become acquainted, to arouse feelings of ambition or interest in a
nature like his? If not, where was I to seek an explanation of his
strange love-making? Now, for the first time, for hitherto my pride had
kept on the outskirts of the question, I asked myself plainly why the
picture of that haunting face—the face, which, without proof, I knew to
be that of my mother—why it should have been found in Lord Clare’s desk?

With this question came others that made my heart quail and my cheek
burn. Memories thronged upon me—Lady Catherine’s words as she urged
Turner’s marriage—the half uttered sentences of George Irving—the bitter
dislike which his mother evidently felt for me; all these thing crowded
upon my brain so close that conviction came like lightning flashes. I
was Lord Clare’s illegitimate child. My mother—great heavens, how the
thought of that face in all its heavenly beauty burned in my brain! Amid
sobs and tears, and a bitter, bitter sense of degradation, my soul drew
a black veil over it, and turned away from a remembrance of its

I could not follow up the subject. Indeed, Mr. Upham was overwhelmed in
the feelings that rushed upon me. I forgot to question his
motives—forgot him—everything in the desolation of my shame.

I went home, but asked no questions either of Turner or his wife. They
could have explained nothing that I did not fully comprehend, and my
soul shrunk from the idea of speaking out its shame in words.

Now all rest forsook me. I had a craving wish to know everything—to
penetrate into the centre of my parents’ secret, but felt all the time
that it was useless, as painful to inquire. The whole history was locked
up in my own soul. I felt its weight there, but the struggle to drag it
forth strained my whole being to no avail.

Then my conjectures began, as at first, to wander over that which was
probable. Could George Irving continue to love a creature so disgraced—a
wretched offshoot from his own proud ancestral tree? And if he did,
where was the end, marriage? No, no, my own pride rose up in defence of
his! Where, then? Oh, how dead my heart lay as I asked the question.

                            CHAPTER XXXVIII.
                          THE HAZELNUT HEDGE.

In a week Lady Catherine and her son arrived, but I had lost all desire
to see them. Turner found no difficulty now in persuading me to keep
in-doors. But George never sought me. I knew that Greenhurst rang with
gaiety; that Estelle Canfield, with many other fair patricians, was
filling its stately rooms with mirth and beauty, but I was forgotten. It
seemed to me at times, that my heart would break. The roundness melted
from my limbs; the bloom was slowly quenching itself on my cheeks; my
orphanage had never been complete till then.

But Cora was left to me—the pet and darling of my life. I was still the
same to her, and she was more gentle and more lovely than ever. To my
surprise, the return of company to Greenhurst made little impression
upon her. The girlish curiosity and excitement which had formerly
annoyed me seemed extinguished in her nature. Indeed she became rather
more sad than usual; and I often found her sitting alone, and so still,
under the cypress tree, where her father had leaned on that funeral day.

It did not seem strange to me, this quiet sadness, thus harmonizing with
the sorrow that dashed all joy from my own life. At another time I
should have remarked it, but now it appeared natural as night tears do
to the violet.

To Mr. Clarke I sometimes opened a leaf of my heart; but only to reveal
the shadows that lay there, in abstract musings and mournful questions.
At such times he soothed me with his sweet, Christian counsel, that left
tears like dew upon every blossom of my nature. Thus I became day by
day, more closely knitted to this good man and his child; and the
girlish love that had been so strong merged itself into the still deeper
affections of my opening womanhood. I loved them—how I loved them the
reader will hereafter know!

One day, I was returning home about sunset, and alone. There was a
footpath that shortened the distance across the meadows which lay
between the village and Greenhurst, and I threaded it wearily, as one
walks who has no object. The path led through the hazel thicket where my
arm had been wounded. After clambering the wall I sat down among the
bushes, weary, and so depressed that I longed to hide myself in their
shelter even from the daylight.

I put back the lace that flowed from the short sleeves of my dress, and
looked, through rushing tears, at the tiny white spot which the wound
had left upon my arm. It was scarcely larger than a pearl, and to me
infinitely more precious, for it came from him. It marked the reality of
those love words that lay, even then, glowing in the bottom of my heart.

It was all over. He had gone his way in the world. I—yes, I must go
mine; for to remain there in my dear old home with him so near, and yet
so far away, was killing me.

I sobbed aloud; it was not often that weeping did me much good, but
everything was so still—and I grew so miserably childish that the tears
fell from my eyes like rain. A thrush lighted on a branch close by, and
with his pretty head turned on one side, seemed regarding me with
compassion. I thought of the lark’s nest, where, a child, I had slept so
close to death, and wished, oh, how truly, that God had taken me then.

While I sat thus lost in sorrow, a gush of wind swept through the
thicket, and I heard some one wading through the tall, red clover tops,
shaking off their sweetness upon the air I breathed.

I shrunk back, ashamed of my tears, ashamed to be seen. But the steps
approached steadily towards the wall, and I sat by the path, breathless,
still hoping that the hazel branches would conceal me.

But the steps diverged a little, and the thicket was parted just before
me. My breath came back in a sob. I concealed my eyes with both hands,
and cowered back among the bushes.

He paused. I heard a faint exclamation, and then—then I began to sob and
tremble. He was at my side half-stooping, half-kneeling; his arm was
around me. With one hand he drew down mine and looked into my face.


I looked up and smiled.

“My poor Zana,” he said, “you have suffered—you look ill—how is this?
They told me that you were happy.”

“Yes, _so_ happy,” I replied, yielding myself for one moment to the
clasp of his arm—“so happy that it is killing me.”

“Killing you,” he said, laying one hand softly upon my head, and putting
it back that he might see the face so changed since we met last. “In
solemn truth, I believe it is; how strangely you look, Zana, how much
older—how full of soul—how worn with feeling!”

I remembered why this change had been—who and where I was. What right
had he, George Irving, of Greenhurst, with his arm around the
illegitimate child of his uncle? No wonder his proud mother despised
me—her insults were natural—but this tenderness, these looks of
love—this caressing arm—what insult could she offer so burning as that?

The fire of this thought flashed through my veins. I sprang up and cast
his arm away.

“You have no right—I do not belong to you—never can—never, never!” I
exclaimed. “You know it, and yet do this!”

“I did not believe it before, not wholly, not entirely—the suspicion was
too dreadful,” he answered, turning white. “I will not believe it even
yet, till your lips utter it in words.”

“Why should I? You know that it is true—that a barrier of iron rests
between your love and mine.”

“It is enough!” he answered, turning still more deathly pale. “Zana, it
is enough—you have stung me to the soul.”

“I have not imparted to you any portion of my shame,” I answered with
bitter tears.

He started as if a viper had stung him.

“Your shame, Zana!—your shame! Speak out, girl—if another had said that

We both started. He broke off sharply. Upham had crept, unseen, close to
his elbow.

“Ha, Irving—so you have found the truant in her nest! Hasn’t she grown
to be a bird of Paradise, but sly as ever; aint you, Zana?”

I stood in astonishment gazing at him, without uttering a word. This
audacity took away my breath.

“I have just come from the parsonage,” he continued, with a quiet smile,
addressing George. “My bird of birds had flown, but I left the beautiful
Cora waiting with great impatience.”

Irving gave me a look that made me almost cry out—turned, leaped the
wall with a single bound, and left me alone with that reptile.

He looked after George with a smile that died coldly on his lips beneath
my searching glance.

“What is this?” I questioned, “your manner has changed, sir. It
insults—it offends me!”

“What, you are angry because I have driven away that boyish profligate,”
he answered; “the lover of Cora, the betrothed of Estelle.”

“It is false,” I cried, full of indignation.

“Ask Lady Catherine!” he replied.

“I will ask himself,” I answered.

“Then you have promised another meeting; it will be a good excuse. But
let me warn you, a second private appointment of this kind may reach
Lady Catherine. I have but to drop a hint even now, and you are driven
ignominiously from the estate; while he—perhaps you have forgotten that
but for the bounty of his uncle and Lady Catherine Irving—he is a

Oh, how the wretch tortured me! I felt every word he spoke like the
touch of cold iron.

“Let me pass, I would go home,” I said, faint with anger and disgust.

He stepped aside, smiling coldly.

“But first,” I said, pausing, “you spoke of Cora, my friend, my sister,
and of him—this must be explained.”

“I have said my say,” was his cold answer.

“Then I will ask him!”

“Of course he will confess all. It is so natural to urge a suit with one
lady, while you make her the confidant of your love for another. Really
your village beauties know how to deal with men who have learned
morality in Paris, and love-making at Vienna.”

“But I will tell Cora of this slander.”

He smiled.

“Is it slander to say that a pretty angel like Cora Clark has captivated
a roving young fellow of Irving’s taste?”

“But it is untrue—I will question her.”

“I have a great idea of unsophisticated innocence, village simplicity,
and all that, Miss Zana, but really permit me to doubt if Miss Cora
Clark makes you the confidant of her little love affairs.”

“She has none, she never had,” I exclaimed, with jealous anger.

He laughed again. The sound stung me like an arrow. I turned away,
sprang over the wall, and walked along the footpath back to the
parsonage. My progress grew slower and slower as I fell into thought,
for a remembrance of the change in Cora’s manner oppressed me. I came in
sight of the parlor window. The glow of Cora’s golden hair shone through
the dusky green of the ivy leaves as she leaned out, shading her eyes
with one hand as if to be certain that she saw aright. She drew back,
and directly after I caught a glimpse of some male figure gliding around
a corner of the church rapidly, as if to avoid observation. The figure
was too slight for Mr. Clark, and at first I strove to convince myself
that it might be Upham himself, who had outwalked me, concealed by a
hedge that ran near and parallel with the footpath; but I cast the
suspicion from me. The coldness which had uniformly marked his
acquaintance with my beautiful girl forbade it.

I entered the little parlor, panting, but resolute. Cora rose to receive
me, a good deal flushed, and with a look about the eyes as if she had
been agitated and weeping. She did not ask the reason of my sudden
return, but fixed her blue eyes with a look of affright on my face, as
if prepared for, and dreading what I was about to say.

At the time, this did not strike me, but in after days I remembered it

“Cora,” I said, disarmed by the look of trouble on her sweet face—“Cora,
my sister, tell me, who was it that just left you?”

“Why do you ask?—No one—no one has left the cottage. You—you found me

“And have you been alone all the time since I went away?” I inquired.

“I—I—not quite, my father was here. But why do you ask such questions?”

Her eyes filled, and her sweet lips began to tremble, as they always did
when grieved, since she was a little child.

“Tell me one thing, Cora, was it any one from Greenhurst that I just saw
going round the church.”

“You saw him then,” she said, turning pale, and sinking to her chair.
“Oh, Zana!”

I too sunk upon a chair, and we sat gazing into each other’s pale face
till both burst into tears.

                             CHAPTER XXXIX.
                          MY FATHER’S RETURN.

No human being can comprehend the desolation, the heart sickness, that
seized upon me after this interview with Cora. Nothing had been
explained between us. I had looked in her face, and saw it bathed with
tears and guilty blushes, from which my very soul shrunk back. My love
for that girl was so true, so deep—my love for him—it was like uprooting
the life within me, the agony of bitter conviction that he was trifling
with me—with her perhaps. But the very intensity of my sorrow made me
calm, nay, even kind to her. I think at that moment she would have
confided in me entirely, had I urged it, for she was deeply moved—but I
could not do it! For worlds I would not have heard the details of his
miserable perfidy; they would have driven me mad.

My faith in human goodness, which had hitherto been to me like a
religion, was from this time broken up. I was adrift on the world, full
of doubt, terror, and contempt. Cora, George—where could I look for
truth? The wickedness of Lady Catherine seemed noble compared to theirs.

I had no other friends, save the two kind hearts in my own home, and
there I fled for shelter as a wounded bird to his nest.

It is said that there is no real love unless respect for its object
composes the greater share; but is it a truth? Is it the worthy and good
on whom our affections are most lavishly bestowed? The history of
every-day life tells us no—the history of my own heart answers no. Amid
all the bitter feelings that tortured me, love for the two beings that
had wronged me most was still strong in my soul, a pang and curse, but
vital as ever.

With all my apparent and real frankness, there was a power of
suppression in my nature that no one would have believed. With regard to
my own feelings I was always reserved and silent, they were too sacred
for every-day handling, and nothing but the inspiration of some generous
impulse, or the idea that I could have sensations to be ashamed of, ever
won me to confess anything of that inner life which was both my heaven
and my torment. Oh, what torment it proved then!

But I was of a nature “to suffer and be strong.” Self-centred in my
desperate anguish I went on in life, giving out no visible sign by which
those two beings who loved me, Turner and Maria, could guess that I had
been so deceived.

It was well that I had this strength, that the springs of life within me
were both elastic and powerful, for the great battle of existence had
but just commenced. I had been aroused to a knowledge of the feebleness
and falsehood of others; soon I was to learn how much of evil lay
sleeping in my own nature.

One night Turner came home earlier than usual, and in a tumult of
excitement that we had seldom witnessed in him before.

He came to my little room, where I now spent all the day.

“Zana, Zana,” he said, drawing me toward him, “come hither, I have
something to tell you—I have news.”

“What news?” I inquired, with a pang, for it seemed to me that Cora and
Irving must have something to do with a subject that could so interest
the old man. “I—I am not fond of news, Turner. Nothing good ever comes
to me now.”

“God only knows, child, whether it is for good or for evil, but Lord
Clare is in England! On his way even now to Greenhurst.”

My heart swelled. I felt the blood leaving my lips; my hands grew cold
as ice.

“Turner,” I said, wringing his withered hand in mine—“Turner, is Lord
Clare my father?”

His small eyes opened large and wide. The wrinkles deepened on his face
like lines upon a map. My question took him by surprise.

“I would give ten years of my life, Zana, to say yes or no with

“Then you cannot tell me,” I cried, cruelly disappointed.

“Oh, if I could—if I only could, all might yet end well with you, poor
child. But there is no proof—I am not certain myself. How then will it
be in my power to convince him? If you could but remember. You were six
or seven years old when we found you, Zana, and at that age, a child has
many memories—but you had none.”

“Yes, one—I remember _her_ face.”

“But nothing more?”

“No, nothing. To attempt anything more wrenches all my faculties, and
brings forth shadows only.”

“This is always the answer. What can I do?” muttered the old man,
“resemblances are no proof, and I am not sure of that. Zana, have you
the least idea how Lord Clare looks?”

“Yes,” I answered, “for I have seen his portrait.”

“There again,” muttered the old man—“there again, at every turn I am
blocked out. But that other face, what is it like?”

“Dark, sad; great flashing eyes full of fire, but black as midnight;
hair like the folds of a storm-cloud; a mouth—but how can I describe it,
so full of tender sorrow, so tremulous? Tell me, is this like my mother?
Was she thus, or not?”

“It is too vague, I cannot tell.”

“But I have seen it, not flashing thus, but real, every feature still;
it was only one glimpse, but I knew that it was her.”

“Where did you see this? Long since and living?”

“No, it was a picture, at Greenhurst; I took it from an old cabinet of
black wood carved all over and rough with jewels.”

“Where is it now—that picture?”

“Lady Catherine has it—she snatched it from me.”

“But you knew the face?”

“Yes, I knew the face.”

“This is something, but not enough,” said Turner, thoughtfully. “Still
if his heart speaks for us”——

I laid one hand on my bosom, for it swelled with painful force.

“My heart is speaking now,” I said. “If he is my father, God will send
an answer.”

As I spoke, the sound of distant bells came sweeping through the trees,
and we heard the faint murmurs of a shout, as if people at a great
distance were rejoicing together.

“He has come. It is from the village,” said Turner, and tears rolled
down his cheeks. “My boy—my boy, God bless him. Will you not say God
bless him, Zana?”

I could not answer; every clash of the bells seemed to strike against my
heart. I knew it was my father that was coming; but when Turner asked me
to bless him, that face came before me, and _I could not do it_.

Turner left me, for the state of excitement in which those bells had
thrown him allowed of nothing but action. He followed no path, but I saw
him running at full speed across the park, as if the weight of twenty,
not sixty-five years, went with him. Directly, and while the sunset was
yet red in the west, I heard the sound of carriage wheels and the swell
of dying shouts, as if the villagers had followed their lord up to the
lodge-gate. Then all grew still, save the faint sound of wheels, the
rustle of a thousand trees, that seemed to carry off the shout amid the
sighing of their leaves.

I could not rest, for thought was pain. I wandered about the house, and
at length went down stairs in search of Maria. She sat in the little
breakfast-room, surrounded by the twilight; and as I entered softly, the
sound of her weeping filled the room.

I stole to her side, and sitting down at her feet, laid my head on her
lap, excited beyond endurance, but with no power to weep.

She passed her hand softly down my hair, and sobbed more passionately
than before.

“What are you crying for? Everybody else seems happy. Only you and
Turner receive the Lord of Greenhurst with tears,” I said.

“We parted from him with tears,” she answered, sobbing afresh.

“You knew him well then, ma bonne?” I said, plunging into the subject
recklessly now that it was commenced.

“Knew him well?” she answered; then breaking into Spanish, she murmured
among her tears, “too well—too well for him or for us.”

She took my face between her hands, and gazed down upon it with mournful

“My bird,” she murmured, “ask me no questions about the earl—my heart is
full to-night. It is not you that sits at my feet, but another—another.
Oh, what became of her?—what became of her? More than ten years, and we
have no answer to give him.”

“That person—she who sits in my place overshadows me in your heart—is it
my mother?” I questioned, in a whisper.

“The God of heaven only knows!” she answered passionately. “Do not
question me, child, for the sound of those bells has unlocked sad
memories—I have no control over myself—I shall say forbidden things.
Hush, hush, let me listen.”

I kept my head upon her lap, brooding in silence over her words. I could
wait, but a stern determination to know all, to solve the mysteriousness
that surrounded me, filled my being. I thirsted for entire knowledge
regarding myself, and resolved to wrench it from its keepers, whatever
pain it might bring or give.

But after Maria had wept awhile, she grew calm and circumspect. I could
feed my craving with no more of her passionate outbreaks. We sat
together till deep in the night, conversing in abrupt snatches, but I
gathered nothing from what she said to confirm my suspicion that at
least a portion of my history was in her keeping.

Turner did not come back that night, nor till deep in the next morning.
When he did appear it was with a step of lead, and with trouble in his
heavy eyes. Maria met him at the door, and a few hasty words passed
between them before he entered.

As they came in I heard her say, as if repeating the word after him,
“dying! not that—oh, not that!”

“It has killed him at last—I knew it—I foresaw it from the first,”
answered Turner, bitterly. “The fiends—would to heaven they had all been
smothered in their holes before he”——

“Hush, hush,” said Maria, “not a word against her. If he is dying—what
may her fate have been?”

“God forgive me, I was wrong—but there is a sight up yonder, Maria, that
would draw tears from marble. But, Zana, where is she?”

“Has he spoken of it? Has he inquired?” asked Maria, quickly.

“He asked only one question—if she was found, nothing more.”

“And you spoke of Zana?”

“No, of what use would it be? I have no right to torture him with bare
suspicions; but the girl—let him see her—if his heart does not speak
then, we never must.”

“She will not refuse—you always judge rightly,” was Maria’s mild
rejoinder. “Must I go with her?”

“No, let her come alone. Go, tell her.”

I came forward and put my arm through that of the old man. He drew back,
held me at a distance with both hands, and pondered over every feature
of my face, as if his life had depended on perusing them correctly. At
last he drew me gently toward him, and smoothed my hair with his palms.

“Zana,” he said, “you are a woman now—be firm and still; whatever you
see, do not give way.”

“I will not; guide, and I shall follow steadily.”

“Lady Catherine is at Greenhurst,” he said.

“I know it.”

“She forbids you to come; she threatens me if I attempt to bring you to
Lord Clare. Have you courage to follow me against her orders?”


“And her son’s, should he urge them on me?”

My words came like lead, but I answered, “yes,” to that also.

“But will you do more than that for my sake, Zana? Will you steal in
privately and avoid them all?”

I could not answer at first. The mere thought of entering that stately
dwelling was hateful; but to enter it stealthily like the thief that
woman had called me, was too much. Unconsciously I recoiled.

“Zana, Lord Clare cannot live many days. If he dies without seeing you,
all is lost—will you come? Will you be guided once—only this once by old

I remembered all that he had done for me, all his beautiful integrity of
character, and blushed for the hesitation which seemed like distrust.

“I am ready to follow you now, and always,” I said. “Tell me what to do,
and I will obey.”

“Thank you, child,” said the old man. “Come at once, in the dress you
have on. Lady Catherine has gone out to drive—if she returns before we
leave, have no fear, I shall be with you.”

I threw a mantle over my dress, and went out, keeping up with Turner,
who walked on rapidly, and absorbed in thought. We entered the back door
over the very steps upon which the old man had found me ten years ago.
He seemed to remember it, for as I crossed the threshold he turned and
reached forth his hand as if to help me along. His heart was busy with
the past. One could see that very plainly, for he gave a little start as
I took his hand, and turned a sort of apologizing smile upon me, and I
saw tears steal one by one into his eyes, as he pressed my hand and drew
me forward. We threaded the hall, and mounted the massive oak staircase
without encountering even a servant. Then Turner clasped my hand
tighter, as if to give me courage, and led me rapidly through several
vast chambers, till we came to a closed door at which he paused.

“Step into that window and hide yourself behind the curtains,” he

I went at once, and when he saw the heavy crimson silk sweep over me,
Turner knocked lightly at the door.

It was opened by young Morton, who stepped out and spoke in a whisper.

“He has been inquiring for you.”

“That is well,” answered Turner, “you can leave him entirely now and get
some rest—I will take your place.”

“Thank you. I have just ordered some fruit—you will find it on the tray
yonder,” said Morton, evidently glad to be relieved.

“Yes, yes, I will attend to it.”

As he spoke, Turner followed the young man into the next room, watching
him as he walked down the long perspective of a neighboring gallery.

When certain that he was quite alone, the old man came to the window and
stepped behind the drapery. He was very pale, and I saw by the nervous
motion of his hands that he was subduing his agitation with difficulty.

“Zana,” he whispered, huskily, “I am going in; after a little, follow me
with the fruit you will find yonder. Bring it in, quietly, as if you
were one of the people. Then obey my directions as they would? Do you

“Perfectly,” I whispered, trembling from head to foot, but resolute to

“Now God be with us!” he ejaculated, wringing my hand.

“Amen!” trembled on my lip, but I could not speak.

He left me and entered the chamber. I waited a moment, holding one hand
over my heart, which frightened me with its strange beating. Then I
stepped forth and looked around the room. It was a sort of ante-chamber,
large and richly furnished, but somewhat in disorder, as if lately used.
Upon a marble table in one corner stood some crystal flasks ruby with
wine, and with them a small silver basket full of fruit, with a vase of
flowers crowded close to it.

Even then the rude way in which these exquisite objects were huddled
together wounded my sense of the beautiful; and with my trembling hands
I hastily arranged the fruit, mingled snowy and golden flowers with the
rich glow of the cherries, and shaded the strawberries with cool green
leaves. As I gathered a handful of creamy white raspberries in the
centre of the basket with trembling haste, Turner opened the door and
looked out. His face, so pale and anxious, startled me, and I almost let
the basket fall.

He closed the door, and nerving myself I lifted the fruit again and
carried it forward. One moment’s pause and I went in.

                              CHAPTER XL.
                        ONCE MORE AT GREENHURST.

It was a large chamber, full of rich, massive furniture. The windows
were all muffled with waves of crimson silk, and I found myself in the
hazy twilight they created, dizzy and blinded by a rush of emotions that
it seemed impossible for me to control. After a little, the haze cleared
from my vision, and I saw before me a tall man, attenuated almost to a
shadow, sitting in a great easy-chair with his eyes closed, as if

I looked at him with a strained and eager gaze. His head rested on a
cushion of purple silk, and a quantity of soft, fair locks, so lightly
threaded with silver, that, in the rich twilight of the room, all traces
of it were lost, lay scattered over it, with the purple glowing through.
The face was like marble, pure and as white, but with dusky shadows all
around the eyes, and a burning red in the cheeks that made me shudder. A
Turkish dressing-gown of Damascus silk, spotted with gold and lined with
emerald green, lay wrapped around his wasted figure. His hands were
folded in the long Oriental sleeves, and I could see the crimson waves
over his chest rise and fall rapidly with his sharp and frequent

I stood beside him unnoticed, for my footsteps had fallen upon the
richly piled carpet lightly as an autumn leaf. The basket shook in my
hands, for my limbs knocked together, and the perspiration started upon
my arms and forehead. But I made no sound, forced back the tears that
struggled in my heart, and stood waiting for what might befall.

Lord Clare turned feebly on his cushion, and let one pale hand fall down
from his bosom.

“Turner,” he said, in a faint, low voice, “did I not ask for something?”

“Yes, my lord—some fruit. It is here.”

I approached. Lord Clare opened his eyes—those wild, blue eyes, and
turned them full upon me.

I could no longer bear my weight, my limbs gave way, and I fell upon one
knee, holding up the basket between my shaking hands.

Turner drew close to my side, holding his breath and trembling.

Lord Clare did not touch the fruit, but fell slowly back on the cushion
with his great burning eyes upon my face.

“Turner,” he said at last, sitting upright and speaking in quick
gasps—“Turner, what is this? Who is she?”

“I do not know,” answered the old man, “we found her on the door-step
years ago. Be tranquil, Master Clarence. If she is the one we have
sought for, there is no proof but those eyes—that face.”

Lord Clare reached out his arms, and tears smothered the painful gaze of
his eyes.

“Aurora,” he said, in a voice of such tenderness that my tears followed
it, “forgive me before I die.”

Turner clasped his hands and held them up toward heaven, trembling like
withered leaves, while tears rolled silently down his cheeks.

“You know, Master Clarence, it cannot be herself.”

Lord Clare turned his eyes from me to Turner, then lifting one pale hand
up to his forehead, he settled it over his eyes, and directly great
drops came starting from between the fingers. A feeble shudder passed
over his frame, and he murmured plaintively, “No, it is her child, our
child. But where is she?”

“I never learned,” answered Turner, sadly.

“Ask her, I cannot.”

“It is useless, my lord, she knows nothing!”

“She must—she must—my child was six years old. At that age children know
everything,” he answered eagerly, “and Zana was very forward, my bright

He looked at me, till I shrunk from the feverish glow of his eyes. At
last he spoke, and my very heart trembled beneath the sweet pathos of
his voice.

“Zana, where is your mother? Tell me, child; I cannot die till she has
spoken to me again.”

I bowed down my face, and answered only with bitter sobs.

“Is she dead? Is Aurora dead that you weep, but cannot speak?” he
questioned, faintly.

“Alas! I do not know!” was my agonized reply.

“My child—Zana—and not know of her mother’s fate! what unnatural thing
is this?” he cried, burying his face in the long sleeves of his gown.
“This child is not my daughter, Turner; Aurora’s child could not have
forgotten her mother thus.”

I struggled with myself—from my innermost soul I called on God to help
me—to give me back the six years of life that had been wrested from my
brain. My temples throbbed; my limbs shook with the effort; it seemed as
if I were going mad.

Lord Clare lifted his face; his eyes swam in tears; his pale lips
trembled. Laying both hands on my head, he spoke to me again—spoke so
tenderly I thought my heart must break before he had done.

“Zana—my daughter—my poor, lost child, what has come over you? Do not be
frightened—do not tremble so. Look up in my face—let me see your eyes
fully. Turner, they are _her_ eyes, my heart answers to them, oh, how
mournfully. Zana, I am your father—you should know that, altered as I
am, for men do not change like children. There, love, there, stop
crying; calm yourself. I have but one wish on earth now, and that
depends on you.”

“On me?” I gasped.

“On you, my darling. Listen, I call you darling, does not the old word
bring back some memory?”

He looked beseechingly in my face, waiting for a reply that I could not
give. My head drooped forward, bowed down with the anguish of my

“It is sweet—it thrills my heart to the centre,” I said, mournfully.

“And awakes some memory? You remember it as something heard and loved,
far, far back in the past. Is it not so?”

I shook my head.

He bent forward, wound his arms lovingly around me, and, drawing me
upward to his bosom, kissed my forehead.

“And this,” he said, folding me to his heart so close that I could feel
every sharp pulsation. “Is there nothing familiar now?—nothing that
reminds you of an old stone balcony, full of flowers, and a bright
little thing leaping to her father’s bosom; and she, that wronged woman,
so darkly beautiful, looking on? Child, my Aurora’s child, is there no
memory like this in your soul now?”

“This tenderness has filled my heart with tears, I can find nothing else
there,” I answered, sadly.

He unfolded his arms, and they dropped down, loose and helpless, like
broken willow-branches, and the quick panting of his bosom made me
shudder with a thought that he was dying I arose, and then he started
upright in his chair, and fixed his flashing eyes upon me.

“Is this creature mine or not?” he said—“Aurora’s daughter or a mockery?
Am I accursed among the children of the earth for one wrong act? Will
this mystery walk with me to the grave? Am I a father, or childless?
Girl, answer me—wring the truth from that brain! Before God I must know
it, or death will not be rest. Your mother, Zana—where is your mother?”

His voice rang sharp and clear through the chamber, filling it like the
scream of a wounded bird. His eyes were wild; his cheeks hueless. I
cowered back, chilled to the soul by his last words. The room
disappeared—everything grew white, and shuddering with cold I felt, as
it were, snow drifts rushing over me, and through their paralyzing
whiteness came the cry,

“Your mother, Zana, where is your mother?”

How long this lasted I do not know, but my next remembrance was of
sitting upon the carpet, faint, and with a stunned feeling, as if some
one had given me a heavy blow. A silver basket lay upturned by my side,
and a mass of crimson fruit, matted with flowers, lay half among the
frosted silver, half upon the carpet.

The room was still as death, save the short, painful sound of some one
breathing near me. I struggled to my feet, and sat down in a great
easy-chair which stood close by me. Then, as my sight cleared, I saw
that a window had been opened, that the drapery was flung back from a
massive ebony bedstead, and upon the white counterpane I saw Lord Clare
lying among the folds of his gorgeous dressing-gown, pale and motionless
as marble.

Turner stood over him, bathing his forehead, white almost as the sick

I arose and would have approached the bed, but Turner waved me back, and
I left the room, sick to the very heart’s core.

I met some persons in the galleries, but passed on without noticing
them. As I reached the lower hall, Lady Catherine Irving came in at the
front entrance, apparently just from her carriage.

“How is this?” she said, turning pale with rage. “Who permitted this?
How came the girl here?”

Her words had no effect upon me; the miserable preoccupation of my soul
rendered them harmless. I went by her without answering, and left the

“See that the creature is never admitted again; I will discharge the
servant who lets her in,” she continued, following me to the door.

I took no heed, but remembered her words afterward.

I wandered off in the woods, for the very thought of the close air of a
house maddened me. Reflect I did not; a chaos of wild thoughts and
wilder feelings possessed me.

At last I found myself on the eminence which I have described more than
once, from which a view of Marston Court could be obtained. The strange
man whom I had met there, years ago, came to my mind; and, singular as
it may seem, I thought of him with a sort of hope which grew into a
desire for his presence.

I thought of my father, for not a doubt arose within me that Lord Clare
was my father—of the agonizing darkness which hung over his death-bed—of
the inability which prevented me sweeping that darkness aside. What was
the mysterious thread which lay upon my faculties? What human power
could ever unloose it?

I looked around in anguish of heart. Was there no help? I would pray to
God, humble myself like a little child at his feet, that he might
mercifully enlighten me. There was hope here, and I knelt down upon the
turf, bowing my face in silence before God. The effort composed me; it
hastened the natural reaction which must follow any intense excitement,
and in my motionless position I became calmer.

                              CHAPTER XLI.
                          MY STRANGE VISITOR.

All at once, I felt a hand laid on my shoulder, and, starting up, saw
the strange man by my side.

He was little changed. The same picturesque combination of rich colors
soiled and rudely flung together, composed his garments; the same sharp
glitter made me shrink from a full glance of his eyes. When he smiled, I
saw that his teeth were even and white as ever.

“Zana, get up; you need me, and I am here.”

“I do need some one; but who can help me?” I said despondingly.

“I can!”

“No, God alone can give me what I want!”

“And what is that, Zana?” he said, smiling.

“Light, memory. I would know who and what I am!”

“Well, child, that is easy!”

“To God, truly—but to him alone.”

“But why do you want this knowledge now more than formerly?” he asked.

“My father is dying in anguish from this want!”

“Your father—and who is he?” was the abrupt question with which he
answered this.

“I know, but have not the right to tell!”

“But how came you by the knowledge?”

“My heart lay, for a little time, against his, and they understood each
other. I knew that the same blood beat in both, certainly as if an angel
had told me, I want no other evidence,” was my prompt answer.

“And you crave this knowledge in proof, that it may render his death


“And for no other reason?”

“That I may know myself and those who gave me life, that is all!”

“But Lord Clare is rich!” said the man, fixing his keen eyes upon me.
“Did you think of that?”

“I did not mention Lord Clare,” was my answer, given in astonishment at
the reckless way in which he handled my secret.

“But you were thinking of him, and that he would have money to give a
child proven to be his!”

“No, I never thought of it—never shall think of it!”

“There is no Rommany in that,” he muttered, “the blood does not speak

Then speaking louder, he addressed me, pointing toward Marston Court.

“Look,” he said, fastening his wild eyes on my face, “that is a fine
estate, and not tied up like Greenhurst to legal heirs; Lord Clare’s
daughter might get that if she had proof of her birth before the earl
dies. Had this nothing to do with your anxiety just now?”

“Nothing,” I replied, with a touch of scorn. “I do not want that estate,
or any other.”

“Fool!” sneered the man; “if I believed you, the secret were not worth

“What secret?” I inquired, breathlessly; “can _you_ tell me anything of
my mother?”

“And if I did, what then?”

“I would worship you!”

“Yes, as she did,” he answered, with a sort of mournful fierceness in
his eyes and voice.

“As who did?” I demanded.

“Your mother, Aurora.”

“That was what he called her.”


“It was the name my father used!”

“Ha! the murderer! how dare he?”

“But you know something of my mother!” I said eagerly; “tell it me!”

“That you may give Lord Clare the knowledge he thirsts for?”


“You shall have this knowledge—he shall have it—and may it crush him
down, down”——

“Stay!” I cried out, seizing his uplifted arm, “I will not listen—it is
my father you curse.”

“_Your_ father—I know it; but what was he to her?—to Aurora?—what was he
to her? What was she to him?”

A flood of burning shame rushed over my face, and my eyes fell beneath
the lurid scorn of his.

“Can you know this and not hate the traitorous gentile?” he said.

I covered my burning face, but could not answer.

“Look up! the fire of your Caloe blood is burning to waste; it should
hurl vengeance on those who have heaped shame on it.”

“What, on my father?” I cried, struck with horror—“he is dying!”

“And without proof that you are his child?”

“Alas! yes.”

“He shall have it.”

“Give it me now, now,” I cried, in eager joy.

“No; let him writhe a little longer—revenge should be eaten slowly—you
must learn this—the blow that kills at once makes a gourmand of the
avenger—he swallows all at a mouthful.”

There was something fiendish in the man’s look as he said this, that
made me shudder as I faltered out, “You terrify me—I do not understand.
Will you tell me of my mother?”

“I will give you the knowledge soon.”

“Oh, now, that it may bless his last moments,” I pleaded; “he may not
live another hour.”

“That it may curse him,” shouted the man. “But that I am sure of it, he
might die like a dog, in his ignorance. Not for all those lands which
the secret shall bring you, child, would I speak, only I know how sweet
my words will be to him,” he cried, pointing toward Greenhurst. “Choke
back those tears, little one; it is time you were among us, full time.”

“But my mother—speak of her—you terrify me.”

“Yes, I forget,” he said, with a sudden change of manner, “there is
gentile blood in your cheeks, and that is cowardly; but what I have to
say will fire it up by and by, Zana,” he continued, with a touch of
feeling, “you are like your mother!”

“I know it.”

“How? I thought—nay, nay, you cannot remember her!”

“Yes, I do.”

“How and where?”

“The face, only the face, I remember that, nothing more!”

“It was a beautiful face, Zana.”

“I know it—very beautiful!”

His forehead grew heavy and dark. A look of wild horror came into his
eyes that were dwelling upon me in apparent wrath.

Just then a gun was fired near us, and through the trees I saw George
Irving and Morton coming toward us.

“Hush, no outcry,” whispered the man, drawing me back into a thicket.
“Come, or do you wish them to see you?”

“No, no—heaven forbid!” I cried, shrinking under cover.

The man smiled grimly.

“It is well,” he said; “there is no contamination here—the blood is true
to itself yet—I will leave you now!”

“No, no, not till you tell me of my mother,” I cried, wild with the
dread of losing this clue to my history.

“Not here, it is impossible,” was his answer. “You have that black pony


“And are no coward? not afraid of the dark?”


“After nightfall come to yonder old house.”

“What, Marston Court?”

“Yes, I will be there!”

“And will you tell me all?”


He darted from me while speaking, and the next instant all trace of him
was lost.

I must have remained a long time buried in the woods, but I have no
remembrance even of my own sensations. So much was crowded on my brain
that it seemed stolid to all subjects but the one great wish to learn
more. Up to the time I met that strange being, who seemed so familiar
and yet so frightful, I had been overwhelmed with tender grief. My
father, suffering, perhaps dying—my father so lately found, filled every
thought. No doubt entered my mind that he was my father; for months the
conviction had gradually settled upon me; but when I remembered the
distrust which tortured him, a painful wish to conquer it—to sweep it
away, possessed me, not for my own sake—never for a moment did I think
of any advantage it might prove to myself—but that he might be
satisfied; that the cruel check that made his tenderness for me a
torture might be removed.

But now came other feelings, such as I had never known or dreamed of
before. I have repeated that man’s conversation word for word, but its
effect no power of mine can reveal. Instead of that tender, holy thirst
for knowledge that might give my father peace, a fierce curiosity took
possession of my soul. I felt not like a child, but an avenger. I would
know myself that night; mysteries should henceforth cease to surround
me. The blackness would be swept from my brain, and by that man—that
man. Was he man or demon? Could anything human, with so little effort,
have filled my bosom with bitterness? I was to meet him that night, meet
him in secrecy and darkness, in a strange place—I, a young girl, not
more than seventeen. It did not frighten me; I panted for the hour to
come, though the very thought thrilled me through and through with the
idea of a sacrilege performed with a demon. My heart would now and then
recoil from the thought, not in fear, but as from something unholy that
I had resolved to do.

This thought could not deter me; on the contrary, it imparted ferocious
strength to my resolution. I was determined to pluck and eat the fruit
of knowledge, though it poisoned me. Toward evening, when I saw the
first beams of sunset shooting like golden lances through the chestnut
boughs and broken against their stately boles, I awoke from this chaos
of thought and went home.

As I mounted the stairs to my room, Maria called after me, begging that
I would come down and eat something; but I hurried on, closed the door
of my chamber, and bolted it without answering a word. The very idea of
seeing any one that night was hateful. She came softly up the stairs and
knocked a long time, telling me that Turner had not been at home all
day, and that she was _so_ anxious about us both. I took no heed, but
sat down by a window, looking with fierce impatience on the west.

A great embankment of clouds, black as chaos, rolled up from where the
sun had been, sweeping all its glowing gold and crimson up through their
ebon outskirts, where it burned and quivered in folds and fringes of
fiery brightness. It was a beautiful sight, but lurid and wild, covering
the earth with uncouth shadows, and filling the woods with a pale glare
that to me seemed demoniac.

It answered well to the fierce impatience gnawing at my heart! Tented by
that dark cloud, I should go forth on my errand with firmness. The more
dreary my road became, the better I should like it.

When the cloud had spread and blackened over the whole horizon, I
started up and put on my dress of dark cloth and a broad-leaved beaver
hat, which I tied firmly on my head with a scarlet silk handkerchief,
passed over the crown. I searched for no gloves, but went out, darting
like a shadow through the hall, that Maria might not detect me.

I stopped by a laburnum tree and broke off a shoot, stripping the leaves
away with my hand, for I had no time to search for my little gold and
agate-headed whip then. Jupiter was in his stall. I girded on his
saddle, and buckled the throat-latch of his bridle so tightly, that he
rose back, shaking off my hold. At another time I might have regretted
this impetuous haste, but now I gave Jupiter a blow over the head with
my whip, that made him whimper like a child.

I took no notice, but led him out, and from the door sill, which was
somewhat lifted from the ground, sprang to the saddle. He hung back when
I attempted to move, but I struck him smartly over the ears and he
walked on, but sideling and plunging with great discontent. I suppose
the dense clouds and the close atmosphere terrified him; but to me their
sluggish grandeur was full of excitement.

After we had cleared the woods, my old pony became more tractable. Very
soon his speed answered to my sharp impatience, and we dashed on through
the lurid twilight with spectre-like velocity. As we neared Marston
Court, the darkness settled thick and heavy over everything. We could
hardly distinguish the turrets and pointed towers from the black sky
that they seemed to loom against. The road became ascending and broken.
More than once Jupiter stumbled over the loose boulders that had rolled
down the banks into the road.

As we drew near the building the trees closed in upon us. Their gnarled
branches hung low, and vines now and then trailed down, almost sweeping
me from the saddle. The atmosphere was heavy and still as death; not a
leaf stirred; no sound but the tramp of Jupiter reached us from any
quarter. My heart grew heavy. I would have given the world for a gush of
air or a gleam of starlight, everything around was so terribly black.

Still, I urged Jupiter on, following the deviations of a carriage-road
half choked up. We passed by a pile of something that seemed denser and
closer than the great trees, which slowly assumed the outline of a
building overrun with foliage, and this I took for a ruined lodge.

After passing it, we found ourselves tangled up in the luxurious growth
of some pleasure-ground run to waste; for long trailing branches swept
across my face, and from the perfume, which rose heavy and sickening on
the close air, I knew that Jupiter was treading flowers to death every
moment with his hoofs.

At last, we came close to the building. All around the base was matted
and overrun with ivy, and the straggling branches of ornamental trees. I
checked Jupiter, hoping to detect some light or signal to guide me on.

The outline of a vast building alone met my search. It might have been a
heap of rocks or the spur of a mountain, for any idea that I could
obtain of its architecture; but its blackness and size disheartened me.
How was I to search, in a pile like that, for the man I had come to
meet? As I sat upon Jupiter looking wistfully upward, the clouds broke
above and began to quiver, and from the depths rushed out a flash,
followed by a broad, lurid sheet of lightning.

There, for the first time, and a single moment, I saw Marston Court, its
gables, its stone balconies, heavy with sculpture, its facade flanked
with towers that loomed grimly over the broad steps and massive granite
balustrades that wound up from where we stood to the front door.

In my whole life I never witnessed a scene more imposing. A glimpse, and
all was black again. The flash had given me one view of the mansion,
nothing more. I was impressed painfully by its vastness. How could I
force an entrance?—how make way through the vast interior when that was

It seemed a hopeless effort, but my determination was strong as ever; so
springing to the ground, I felt my way to the stone balustrade and tied
Jupiter. Then guiding myself by the carved stone, I mounted one flight
of the steps that curved like the two horns of a crescent from the great
oaken doors that divided them upon the arch.

I started, and a shriek burst from me. Upon my hand, which lay upon the
balustrade, another fell. When I shrieked it grasped my fingers like
iron, and a voice that I knew, said in that language—the language I had
never spoken, but could understand—“hush. Who taught you to fear?”

“You came upon me so abruptly, so still!” I whispered, shuddering as his
breath floated across my lips.

“Speak in your own language—speak Rommany,” he said, in the same tongue.

“I cannot,” was my half timid answer.


The command was imperative. I made an effort to answer in his own
mysterious tongue. To my surprise the words syllabled themselves rudely
on my trembling lips; he comprehended me.

“Where are you taking me?” I had said.

He grasped my hand till the pain made me cry out.

“It is there—the true fire—old Papita kindled it in the soul of her
great-grandchild—the mystery is not broken—the sorcery still works—queen
of our people, speak again,” he cried, with an outburst of fiery
enthusiasm, more impressive from the hushed tones in which he spoke.

I felt like one possessed. By what power did my tongue form that
language?—what was it? All at once, while he waited for me to speak, I
began to shiver and burst into tears. He tossed my hand away with a
gesture of contempt.

“Bah! you are only a half-blood after all, the Caloe is poisoned on your

I checked the tears that so offended him, and moved breathlessly
forward, relieved by the gesture which had freed me from his hand.

When we reached the broad, stone platform that clasped the two
staircases in one, he took hold of my hand again. That moment another
flash of lightning leaped from the clouds, sheeting us, the building and
all its neglected grounds in a glare of bluish light.

It blinded me for an instant, then I saw the man’s face clearly, bending
over me as I cowered to the stones. The lightning had no effect upon me
like the unearthly glow of those eyes. Since then I have seen birds
fascinated by the undulating movements of a serpent, and they always
brought back a shuddering remembrance of that hour.

“Up,” he said, grasping my arm, and lifting me to his side, “half the
true blood is stagnant still. We will set it on fire.”

He placed one heavy foot against a leaf of the oaken door, and it fell
open with a clang that resounded frightfully from the deep, empty hall.
Again the lightning blazed upon the floor, tessellated with blocks of
black and white marble, and suits of antique armor, with shields and
firearms, that hung upon the wall.

“It is a fearful night,” I said, looking wildly at my companion.

“Gitanilla!” he said, turning upon me with folded arms, and a fierce
gathering of the brow, “I have seen a morning when the sunlight lay rosy
among the snow peaks—when the earth seemed covered with sifted
pearls—when every breath poured health and vigor into the frame; I have
seen such a morning more fearful a thousand times than this! Come with

“What for?—where?” I demanded, thrilled and astonished by the glowing
words, which I must ever fail to give in English.

“That you may hate the sunshine and love the storm as I do—that
whiteness may make you shudder—and nothing but black midnight seem
beautiful. Come with me!”

“Are you possessed? Would you possess me with some evil thing?” I said,
terribly excited. “Would you fill my veins with gall, my soul with

“Yes,” he answered, through his shut teeth, leading me along the marble

I shuddered, remembering what I had been only that morning, and the
fearful sensations that possessed me then. Was it a fiend that I was

“Oh, I feel the bitterness, the soul-blight even now. Unclasp my hand,”
I shrieked.

“Are you afraid?” he retorted, with a sneer.

“Yes, I am afraid.”

He dropped my hand.

“Go, you are not worthy to learn anything of your mother—go, such
knowledge is not for cowards.”

“My mother,” I cried, “oh, I had forgotten. Yes, tell me of her—I will
follow anywhere, only tell me.”

“Nay, I will tell you everything—come!”

He drew me rapidly forward, threading the darkness like a night bird. We
mounted steps winding upward till I was sick and dizzy. At last he
passed into what seemed to me a small circular room, high in one of the

“Sit down,” he said, pressing a hand upon my shoulder till I sunk into a
seat that yielded to my weight. “Sit down and keep still, we are alone,
high above the earth; the stars, which those of your blood should read
like a parchment, are all hidden. It has a bad look for the future, but
this is the appointed hour.”

He paused a moment, and seemed to be leaning from a narrow window
interrogating the darkness. He turned abruptly and said,

“You saw Lord Clare, this morning?”


“And he is dying?”

“Alas! I fear so.”

“How many days first?”

“What!” I exclaimed, shocked by the coldness with which he questioned

“How many days at the most will he live?”

“I cannot tell; God forbid that I should even guess.”

“Would you save his life?”

“Would I?—would I keep the breath in my own bosom?”

“Then you wish him to live?”

“Wish it, yes—heaven only knows how much!”



“Nay,” he said, with a sudden change from ferocity to the most
child-like tenderness, “let her know all—how can she judge?”

                             CHAPTER XLII.
                      VISIONS AND RETROSPECTIONS.

Chaleco came close to me and laid one hand softly on my head.

“Be tranquil—be tranquil,” he murmured, smoothing my hair from time to

A soft languor stole over me. I sunk slowly down upon what seemed to be
a couch, and like two rose-leaves heavy with fragrance, my eyelids
closed so softly that I felt a thrill as the lashes fell upon my cheek.

He kept one hand upon my head awhile, then moved it gently across my
forehead and over my eyes. I felt a delicious and almost imperceptible
current of air flowing coolly over my bosom and down my arms. Then the
air was agitated, as if a group of angels were fanning me with their
wings; the lids fell heavier still over my slumberous eyes; my limbs
grew rigid, but with a sensation of exquisite repose. It began to
lighten. I knew that fiery gleams were breaking and sparkling all around
me. Then followed peal after peal of thunder making the tower rock, and
upheaving, as it seemed, the very foundations of the building.

I was conscious of all this, but it did not disturb the languid repose
into which I had fallen. The dawning consciousness of two lives—two
entire beings came sweetly upon my soul. I saw my old self fading away;
I was alone in the universe with that man; the whole past or present,
for the time, held nothing but him and me. Then followed a blank like
that which fills the first year of infancy, dreamy and quiet.

Pang after pang went through me after that, each sweeping the shadows
from my brain; and I saw a young girl, mature in her dark bright beauty,
but almost a child still, holding an infant in her lap. The little one
was like its mother, the same eyes, the same rich complexion. I knew the
mother well, and the child. My own soul, full of innocent love, lay in
the bosom of that child.

I looked around. The two were in an old farm-house, among hills covered
with purple heath; sheep grazed along the upland slopes; and cattle
ranged the valleys. Men in short, plaid garments and flat bonnets
watched the sheep; and the young mother carried her child to the window,
that it might see the lambs play as the shepherds drove them to the

While the mother stood there with her child, a stout farmer came to the
window, and taking the little one from her arms began to dance it up and
down in the bright air, till the silken curls blew all over its face.
The mother laughed, and so did the child, gleefully, like a little bird.
Then came a woman round an angle of the house; her sleeves were rolled
up, leaving her round, well-shaped arms bare to the elbow. She took the
child from her good man, and smoothing its curls with her plump fingers,
covered it with kisses.

A shot from the hill-side made the whole group start joyfully forward.
The old man shaded his eyes and looked eagerly toward the mountain. The
young mother seized her child and ran forward, her eyes sparkling, and
her cheeks in a glow.

Along the shore of a little lake that lay in the lap of those hills,
came a young man in hunter’s dress. A gun, which he had just discharged,
was thrown back upon his shoulders, and as he saw the young mother
coming toward him, he flung out a white handkerchief, smiling a happy

I knew the young man’s face well, and my soul, which was in the child’s
bosom, sang for joy as he came up.

A moment of obscurity, of mistiness and shadows—then appeared before me
the cottage in Greenhurst, its gardens, its dim old wilderness of trees;
and now my soul leaped from event to event, scaling over all that might
have been repose, and seizing upon the rugged points of that human
history like a vampire.

Again and again I saw that young mother, so beautiful, so sad, that
every fibre of my being ached with sympathy. It was not her face or her
form alone that I saw, but all the doubt, the anguish, the humiliation
of her wild, proud nature tortured my own being. I not only saw her, but
felt all the changes of her soul writing themselves on my own

Why was it that in that wonderful sleep or trance—I know not to this day
what it was—but how did it happen that I could read every thought and
feeling in my mother’s heart, but only the actions of my father? Did
that weird being so will it, that all my burning nature should pour
itself forth in sympathy for the wronged woman, and harden into iron
toward the man? I saw him too, pale, struggling with indecisions, that
ended in more than mental torture, but this awoke no sympathy in my
bosom, none, none. Then came another upon my vision, a proud, noble
woman, always clad in black, that hovered around the old dwelling where
my father rested, like a raven. She was my mother’s rival; I felt it the
moment her black shadow fell upon my memory. I saw her in a dim old
room, and he was with her. Both were pale and in trouble; she sat
watching him through her tears, and those tears shook his manhood till
he trembled from head to foot. A child, dark-eyed, and with a look of
intelligence beyond her years, sat crouching in a corner, with her great
black eyes following every movement—I knew that child well. It was the
infant who had shouted its joyous greeting to the young huntsman. Its
blood was beating then in my own veins.

Again I saw the woman, beneath a clump of gnarled old oaks. She lay
prone upon the earth, white as death, stiffened like a corpse; a horse
dripping with sweat stood cowering on the other side of a chasm that
yawned between him and the lady. There was that child again, peering out
from a thicket, with her wild eyes gleaming with ferocious joy, as if
she gloried in the stillness that lay like death upon the woman.

Then a huntsman rode up, and I saw the white face of the woman on his
bosom. He kissed the face—he wept over it—he laid her on the grass, and
looked piteously around for help.

Then the child sprang up like a tiger-cub from the thicket; with a bound
she stood beside the two; her little form dilating, her whole attitude
full of wrath. Words were spoken, between the man and the child, bitter,
harsh words. Then the woman moved faintly; the child saw it; her tiny
hands were clenched; her teeth locked together, and lifting her foot,
she struck it fiercely down upon the lady’s bosom.

A blow from the man dashed her to the ground; confusion followed,
flashes as of fire filled my vision. Then I saw the child wandering
through the tall trees alone, her little features locked, her arms
tightly folded.

It grew dark, so dark that under the trees the young mother, who stood
by her child, could not see the fierce paleness of her face. Then I saw
them both wandering like thieves along the vast mansion house. They were
separated. The mother went into numberless chambers searching for some
one, and holding her breath. At one moment she stood over a bed, on
which the strange woman slept; then I was sure that the child was hers
by the deadly blackness of her eyes as they fell on the noble sleeper.
She passed out with one hand firmly clenched, though it held nothing,
and wandered into the darkness again.

Once more she stood in the light, dim and faint, for the lamp that gave
it was hidden under an alabaster shade, and sent forth only a few pale
rays like moonbeams. I saw little that surrounded her, for my soul was
searching the great agony of heart with which she stood beside that man.
He was not in bed, but wrapped in a dressing-gown of some rich Oriental
silk, lay upon a couch with his eyes closed and smiling.

She held her breath, and the last tender love that ever beat in her
heart swelled up from its depths as she bent down and gathered the smile
with her lips.

He started. She fell upon her knees; she locked his hand in hers; her
black tresses drooped over him; oh, with what agony pleaded for a return
of the love that had been the pulse of her life, the breath on her lips.

He arose and shook her off—with a mighty effort he steeled his heart and
shook her off, the mother of his child, the wife of his bosom. She stood
upright, pale and transfigured. For one whole minute she remained gazing
on him speechless, and so still that the beating of his heart sounded
clear and distinct in the room. She turned and glided into the darkness
again, and she disappeared with her child, who waited for her there.

Then followed a panorama of scenery, rivers, mountains, and seas, over
which the mother wandered, holding her child by the hand. At last she
stood in sight of an ancient city, rich with Moorish relics, but as I
turned to gaze on them a crowd of fierce human beings surrounded her,
filling the air with hoarse noises, glaring at her and the child with
their fierce eyes. An old woman, tiny as a child, and thin as a mummy,
stood by, shouting back their reviling with defiance. Thus with whoop,
and taunt, and sacrilegious gibes, they drove the poor creature onward
to the mountains. Up and up she clambered with the little one still
clinging to her neck, till the snow became heavy around her, and she
waded knee deep through it, tottering and faint. At last the crowd
surged together around a mountain peak, and pointed with hoarse shouts
to a valley half choked up with stone cairns and shimmering with untrod

Down into the virgin whiteness of this valley the black masses poured,
treading down the snow with all their squalid ferocity doubled by
contrast with its whiteness. They took the child from her mother and
carried her shrieking to the outskirts of the crowd. I knew the man that
held her, and read all the fierce agony of his grief as he strove to
blind the child to the horrible deed that crowd was perpetrating.

I saw it all—the first unsteady whirl of stones, the fiendish eagerness
that followed; I heard the shrieks—I felt her death agony.

Oh, how I struggled! how I pleaded with the strong will that enslaved my
faculties! how I prayed that he would redeem me from the horrors of that
mountain pass! But no, the curse of memory must be complete; I was
compelled to live over the agony of my mother’s death.

I knew well all the time that the child and myself were one being; but
as in ordinary life a person often looks upon his own sufferings with
self-pity, as if he were a stranger; so I followed wearily after the
little creature as they bore her, an orphan, from the Valley of Stones.
I saw her growing thin, pining, pining always for the mother who was
dead, till she grew into a miserable shadow, with all the life of her
being burning in those large eyes. The old woman and the man kept her to
themselves, but she seemed pining to death while they wandered from
mountain to mountain, and at last across the seas.

Again Greenhurst arose on my vision, the old building among distant
trees, the village just in sight. A gipsy’s tent stood in a hollow, back
from the wayside, and in it lay the shadowy child.

The gipsy man and that weird little woman were in the tent, and from
without I heard the ringing of bells and the tramp of horses, smothered
and soft, as if each hoof-fall were broken with flowers.

Then I forgot the sick child and stood within the village church. _He_
was there standing before the altar, his hand clasped that of the proud
lady who had so often wandered through the drama which I was forced to
witness. The bridegroom was pale as death, and she looked strangely
pallid in the silvery cloud of her brocaded robe. Still she was firm,
and I saw that nothing had been confided to her—that the history of my
poor mother had never reached the bosom of that proud woman. _He_ was
resolute, resolute to trample down every right of another in search of
his own happiness. Fool! fool! happiness will not be thus wickedly
wrenched from the hands of the Creator. Even then, before God’s altar,
he had begun to reap the whirlwind. Coming events cast their shadows all
around. No wonder he grew white. No wonder the marriage vows died like
snow upon his lips. No wonder that all the bridal blossoms with which
the greensward glowed when they went in, had withered beneath the hot
sun! Their dying fragrance fell over the noble pair as they came forth
wedded man and wife. Man and wife! had he forgotten the subterranean
vaults beneath the Alhambra, where my mother stood by his side with
firmer faith and more devoted constancy than that woman ever knew? Was
that oath forgotten? No, as he came forth into the sunshine treading
down the pale blossoms as he had trampled my mother out of life, a
bronzed hand, long and lean as a vulture’s claw, was thrust over his
path; and night-shade fell thick among the dead blossoms. He did not see
it, for the weird gipsy woman moved like a shadow among the village
children; but he shrunk as if with some hidden pain, and grew paler than

The will that controlled mine forced me onward with the newly married
pair. I saw him struggle against the leaden memories that would not be
swept away. His mournful smile, as he looked on her, was full of
saddened love. I could have pitied them but for my mother. I saw what
they did not, her grave, that cairn of reddened stones looming before
them at every step. They shuddered beneath the invisible shadow, but I
knew from whence it fell.

Their route to Greenhurst was trampled over a carpet of flowers; silver
and gold fell like rain among the village children; the carriage
streaming with favors swept by that gipsy tent where the sick child was
lying, his child, all unconscious of its double orphanage.

In the thralldom of my intellect I was forced to look on, though my
strength was giving way. With shrinking terror I watched the movements
of that weird murderess as she crept into Greenhurst, and with the
accuracy of a bloodhound stole through the very apartments my mother had
penetrated, crawling like a reptile close to the walls, till she stood
upright in the bridal chamber. She concealed herself behind the snowy
masses of drapery that fell around the bed.

While her form was shrouded in the heavy waves of silk, her dark face
peered, ever and anon, through the transparent lace of the inner
curtains like that of a watching fiend.

As one whose senses were locked in a single channel, I too waited and
watched. People came in and out of the room, little dreaming of the
fiend hidden in the snow of the curtains.

Even in its slavery my spirit sickened as I watched and saw the withered
veins of that unearthly wretch swelling with murderous venom, while her
victims were moving unconsciously in the next room.

The curtains rustled, that claw-like hand was thrust out, and I saw half
a dozen drops flash down like diamonds into a goblet of water that had
just been placed on the toilet.

Then a door opened, and the bride entered from her dressing-room alone.
In the simple white of her robe she looked touching and lovely, like one
subdued and humbled by the depth of her own feelings. The delicate lace
of her night coif left a shadow on her temples less deep than that which
lay beneath her eyes. Her bosom rose slowly and with suppressed
respiration beneath the rich embroidery that embossed her night robe,
and her uncovered feet fell almost timidly on the carpet; not with
girlish bashfulness, but with a sort of religious awe as one visits a
place of prayer afraid to enter.

She knelt down by the bed, and clasping her hands, remained still, as if
some prayer lay at the bottom of her heart, which she had not the
courage to breathe aloud. The broad, white eyelids were closed, and
twice I saw that fiendish face glaring at her through the curtains.

She arose at length, and heaving a deep sigh, stepped into bed. As she
sunk to the pillow her eye fell upon the goblet, and resting on one
elbow, she reached forth her hand and drank off its contents.

As she fell softly back to the pillows, a hoarse chuckle came through
the curtains. She started, turned her face that way, and out came that
black head, peering at her with its terrible eyes. A broken sigh, a
shudder that made the white drapery rustle as if in a current of wind,
and the bride lay with her eyes wide open staring upon the Sibyl.

The dead face grew more and more pallid; the dark one above glowed and
gloated over it like a ghoul. Then the soft light was darkened, and the
bridegroom leaned over his bride listening for her breath. As he
stooped, the curtains opposite were flung back, the lace torn away, and
like an exulting demon the old woman laughed over the living and the

The scene changed, the old woman, the gipsy man and the child were in a
tent at midnight. The poor little one, aroused from her torpid rest,
looked wildly up as the Sibyl told of her murderous act—told of it and
perished in the midst of her triumph—her old age, exhausted by the
excitement of her crime, ended in death.

As the life left her body, I felt a shock run through my whole being;
the past was linked with the present. Back to that gipsy tent my memory
ran strong and connectedly.

I struggled in the mesmeric hands which guided my energies like steel.

“Peace,” said the man who had enthralled me, “peace, and remember.”

There was a stir in the air as if some unseen bird were fanning it with
his wings, a cool and delicious feeling of rest crept over me, and as a
child wakes I opened my eyes. The Spanish gipsy stood over me revealed
by the quick flashes of lightning that blazed through the room. I knew
that he had been my mother’s friend, that the blood in his veins was of
her nation and mine. I reached forth my hand. He took it in his, and I
sat up.

“You remember all now?” he said—“all that I have revealed to you—all
that old Papita bade you forget?”

“Yes, I remember—I know much, but not all; that which happened before I
lived, tell me of that.”

“Not yet, you are tired!”

“Yes, but”——

A faintness came over me, my strength had received too great a shock;
for a time I had no power to think or feel.

                             CHAPTER XLIII.
                     THE DESOLATE BRIDAL CHAMBERS.

After a while, during which I had been stupefied with the very weight of
my new existence, the man came close to me and took my hand.

“Child,” he said, bending over me till I could see the glitter of his
eyes. “Child, are your eyes open? Is the knowledge complete?”

“Complete!” I answered, with a shudder.

“Look at me—who am I? What part have I taken in the past?”

“You are Chaleco—you loved my mother who fled with _him_. You bore me
from the snow mountains, and warmed me in your arms when thoughts of her
chilled me to the soul.”

“And is that all?”

“No, the tent. I saw you there when that fierce woman fell dead upon the

“It is complete,” he said, drawing himself up and lifting one hand to
heaven, while the lightning glared upon him, “the Egyptian mysteries
have lost nothing of their power,—that which was eternal in Papita lives
still in Chaleco. Who shall prevail against one who holds a being like
this in his grasp? The soul which she put to sleep I awake. Girl of the
Caloe, stand up, let me see if the blood of our people is strong in your

I stood upright, planting my feet upon the floor firm as a rock. His
words seemed to inspire me with wild vitality. As I looked him in the
face quick gleams of lightning shot around us; my soul grew fierce and
strong beneath the lurid flashes of his eyes; my own scintillated as
with sparks of fire. He spoke.

“Speak—are you Caloe, or of the gentile? Base or brave? Speak the
thought that is burning within you. Are you Aurora’s child or his?”

My form dilated, my bosom heaved, I felt the hot blood flashing up to my

“I am Zana, Aurora’s child,” I answered, with ineffable haughtiness.
“The snow that drank her blood quenched the pale drops in my veins.”

“Come,” cried Chaleco, seizing my hand—“come and see the desolation
which her rival left behind. You saw the wedding—your father’s
wedding—come, now, and look at the home that was to receive the bride.”

He went to a fire-place that yawned in the chamber, and fell upon his
knees. Directly I heard the clash as of flint and steel driven furiously
against each other, and the empty fire-place was revealed by the storm
of sparks that broke upon the sculptured stones. His wild impetuosity
defeated itself; five or six times he crashed the metal in one hand
against the flint which was clenched in the other. At last the fierce
sparks centred in a volume, and with a flaming torch in one hand Chaleco
stood up.

“You are pale,” he said, gazing sternly upon me. “Is this fear?”

“No,” I answered, subduing a thrill of awe, as the darkness which had so
long enveloped me was driven back in shadows, that hung like funereal
drapery in the angles and corners of the chamber—“no, I am not afraid.
But that which has been revealed to me may well leave my face white.”

He looked at me keenly, holding up the torch till its blaze flamed
across my eyes. This scrutiny of my features seemed to satisfy him, for
his lip curved till the white teeth gleamed through, and he muttered to
himself, “It is right—the blood that has left her face burns in the
heart—she is one of us.”

Muttering thus, he led the way from the chamber, sending a lurid glare
backward from his torch along the damp walls of the circular staircase.
Thus breaking through the shadows that gathered thick and close in the
old building, he led me on. The tread of his heavy boots resounded
through the vast apartments with a defiant clamor. He took no precaution
to conceal his torch, which glared back from the closed windows as if
the dull glass had been on fire.

We threaded galleries hung with grim old pictures, and peopled with
statues, some antiques, some of bronze, and others simply of armor, the
iron shells from which warriors had perished. A thrill of awe crept over
me as I passed these stern counterfeits of humanity, with their grim
hollows choked up with shadows. As the torchlight fell now upon the limb
of a statue, now across the fierce visage of a picture, now upon the
dull carvings of oak, my imagination increased the desolate grandeur,
till marble, iron, and canvas seemed instinct with vitality.

This effect was not diminished by the wild look which Chaleco sent back
from time to time, as I followed him.

At last we reached a door, inlaid and empanelled with precious woods.
Chaleco attempted to turn the lock. It resisted, and after shaking it
fiercely, he dashed one foot against it, which forced the bolt that had
rusted in its socket.

“Come in,” he said, “you shall see how the widow had prepared for her
young bridegroom.”

I entered, but the dull atmosphere, the damp, mouldly smell was like
that of a tomb. Chaleco held up his torch, throwing its strong light in
glaring flashes through the darkness. It had been a superb suit of
apartments, hangings of azure silk, stained and black with mildew;
Parisian carpets, from which clouds of dust rose at every foot-tread;
gildings that time had blackened into bronze, filled my gaze with a
picture of silent desolation, that made my already worn heart sink
heavier and heavier in my bosom.

I shrank back. Chaleco saw it, and urged me on with a grim smile. I
remembered the scene of death he had revealed to me in my unnatural
sleep, and feared to look upon the place of its actual perpetration.

The chamber we entered had once been all white and superb in its
adornments. The walls were yet hung with fluted satin, once rich in
snowy gloss but now striped with black, for accumulations of dust had
filled all the flutings. Masses of dusky lace flowed down the windows,
and were entangled over the bed with many a dim cobweb, that the spiders
had been years weaving among their delicate meshes. Dust and mildew had
crept over the bridal whiteness of everything. The couch seemed heaped
with shadows; cobwebs hung low from the gilded cornices that gleamed
through them here and there with ghastly splendor.

As Chaleco lifted his torch above the couch, a bat rent its way through
the lace, scattering a cloud of dust over us, and remained overhead
drearily flapping his impish wings among the cobwebs, till they swayed
over us like a thunder-cloud.

“Was it here the old woman killed her?” I whispered.

“No, she never reached this. It was at Greenhurst.”

“Why do you bring me here?” I said, shuddering.

“That you may see how much power there was in an old woman’s curse.”

“It is terrible,” I whispered, looking around. “My mother, has she not
been fearfully avenged?”

“Avenged!” answered the gipsy; “do you call this vengeance? Not till
every member of that proud house is in the dust—not till Aurora’s child
triumphs over them, body and soul, shall Papita’s curse be fulfilled!”

His words fell upon me like blows; they were crushing me to the earth. I
thought of George Irving. His treachery was forgotten; my heart only
remembered his kindness—his love.

“What, all?” I questioned.

“All! Poverty, disgrace, death, these are the curses which Papita has
left for you to accomplish.”

“For me?” I questioned, aghast.

“You—yes, it is your inheritance. She left it—I enforce—you accomplish

As he spoke, the bat made a faint noise that struck upon my ear like the
amen of a demon, and, sweeping down from his cloud of cobwebs, he made a
dash at Chaleco’s torch which was extinguished by his wings.

“Give me your hand!” The gipsy seized my arm as he spoke, and led me
onward in the darkness. I followed in silence, rendered desperate by all
I had suffered and seen.

At length we reached the open air, and stood together upon the entrance
steps. The rain had ceased, the clouds were drifting together in broken
masses, leaving fissures and gleams where the cold blue was visible,
winding like half frozen rivers between the dull clouds. The dense
vegetation, the vines and huge elms were dripping with rain, and every
leaf shone like silver when the moon, for a moment, struggled out from
the clouds that overwhelmed it.

My horse stood cowering by the steps. The whole force of the storm had
beat cruelly upon the poor old fellow.

Chaleco lifted me to his back, and commanding me to wait, went away.
Directly he came back, mounted on what appeared to be a spirited horse,
which he rode without saddle.

“Come on!” he said, striking Jupiter with his whip, “let’s be moving.”

“Where?” I questioned, sick at heart with a fear that he would not allow
me to return home.

“To your inheritance—to Greenhurst.”

“But that is not my inheritance!”

“You are the child of its lord, and he is dying.”

“But I am not his heiress.”

“Before morning you will have proof that you are his child. You know
surely how to work on the repentance of a dying man. Go to him, Zana;
this estate and others are his—no claim, no drawback—nothing that the
English call an entail on it. One dash of his hand, and it is yours.”

“But it was hers, not his—Marston Court belonged to Lord Clare’s wife,”
I said, recoiling from the idea of possessing wealth that had once
belonged to my mother’s rival.

“It must be wrested from the Clares—it must be an inheritance for you
and your people, Zana,” he said, riding close to me, as Jupiter picked
his way along the broken road, which was left almost impassable by the
storm. And he added,

“If that man dies without enriching you and your tribe by the spoils of
his marriage, the curse of Papita will fall on you.”

“It is here already,” I answered, shuddering; “with nothing to
trust—nothing to love—deceived, cheated, outraged. What curse can equal

“Have you not deserved it?” he questioned, sternly.


“Where was your heart? Had not the blood of our people grown pale in it?
Did you give it to a Clare, and hope to go uncursed? The cry of your
mother’s blood, is it nothing?”

“I did not know it—oh, would to heaven I had never known,” was my wild
answer. “What am I to do?—how act?”

“Go home—be passive—let the curse work itself out. You know all—tell it
to your father.”

“It will murder him!” I cried.


The word fell upon my ear like a blow, it was uttered so fiercely.

“Oh, don’t!—this conflict—this hardness—it kills me.”

“No, there must be death, but not for you, till the work is done.”

“Oh, what is this fearful work?”

“Nothing, only wait. Men who know how to wait for vengeance need only be
patient and look on. Death is here—I this night give you proofs that
will sweep all the wealth Lord Clare controls into his daughter’s lap.
Poh! child, revenge is nothing when forced, the soul that knows how to
wait need not work.”

I did not comprehend the cold-blooded philosophy of his words—what young
heart could? But one thing I did understand; George Irving might be
independent of his mother. The property that Chaleco was grasping for me
must be wrested from him. A fierce joy possessed me with the thought. If
this wealth were offered to me it would place his destiny in my hands. I
could withhold or restore independence to the man who had trifled with
my orphanage—stolen the friend from my bosom, and uprooted my faith in
human goodness. Not for one moment did I dream of taking his
inheritance, but there was joy in the thought of humbling him to the
dust, by restoring it with my own hands. Too young to comprehend the
refined selfishness of this idea, it really seemed that there was
magnanimity in this desire to humiliate a man I had loved.

As we rode on toward Greenhurst, my frame began to sink beneath the
excitement that nothing human could have supported. My head reeled; the
damp branches that swept across my path almost tore me from the saddle.
Jupiter too was tired and worn out with the drenching storm. He
staggered along the road with his head bent to the ground, ready to drop
beneath my insignificant weight. Chaleco saw this, and rode closer to my
side just in time to receive me on his arm as I was falling.

Without a word he lifted me to his own horse, and cast Jupiter’s bridle

“Poor old fellow, let him go home,” he said with a laugh; “but as for
you and I, Zana, we have more to accomplish yet.”

He held me close with his left arm, grasping the bridle with the same
hand. With his right palm upon my forehead, he rode slowly for a while,
till the strength came back to my limbs, and a certain vividness of
intelligence possessed me again. Then he spoke.

“Hold tight to me, and be strong. We have lost much time that may be

Without waiting for a reply, he put his horse into a sharp canter and
sped on, I hardly knew or cared in what direction. At last, he
dismounted and placed me upon the ground, asking abruptly if I knew the
objects around me. The moon was out just then, and I looked earnestly
about. It was the spot where the gipsy tent had been pitched. The spring
where I had found Cora, when an infant, flowed softly on in the hollow
at a little distance, and before me, where the moonbeams lay like silver
upon the wet grass, I saw the meadow which had once been my sole place
of refuge.

“You know the place?” said Chaleco; “it was here _she_ died. Wait a

He searched among the ferns that overhung the bank, which I have
described as rising abruptly from the spring, and drew forth a pick-axe
and spade covered with rust. A fragment of rock lay imbedded in the bank
around which mosses and gorse of many years’ growth had crept.

With two or three blows of the pick-axe, he sent this stone crashing
down into the water, which rose up in a wild shower all around as it
recoiled from the rude mass.

Chaleco shook off the drops like a water-dog, and continued to turn up
the earth. Directly he lifted a slab of slate rock, broad, and some
inches thick, which certainly could not originally have belonged to the
soil in which it lay.

Throwing this slab back, the gipsy fell upon his knees, and, groping
downward, brought up a bronze box or coffer, from which he brushed the
soil with reverential slowness.

“Loose the key hung around your neck by that chain of hair,” he said,
holding the box up in the moonlight and searching for the lock.

I started. This was proof undoubted that the gipsy had never lost a clue
to my identity, for no human being, except Maria, was aware that a key
of antique gold and platina had always hung around my neck.

I drew it forth with a feeling of awe, and watched in silence while
Chaleco fitted it in the lock. It turned with difficulty, grating in the
rust, and when the lid gave way, it was with a noise that sounded upon
my ear like a moan of suppressed pain.

“What is it?” I said, looking into the open box as one gazes into a
coffin after it has been long closed, curious, but yet afraid.

“It is all that you will ever know of her—of your mother!” he answered
with a touch of bitter sadness in his voice.

I received the box reverentially in both my hands.

“Take it,” said Chaleco, closing the lid; “read them before you sleep!”

“It seems to me that I should never sleep again.”

I said this to Chaleco, but he answered me sharply, and thrusting the
spade and pick-axe aside with his foot, strode away telling me to
follow. The sight of the box I held seemed to irritate him, as the scent
of blood excites a wild animal. I folded it to my bosom with both arms,
and though it sent a chill through every vein of my body, and made me
stagger beneath its weight, I tightened my hold each moment with a
painful feeling that I held the very soul of my mother close to mine.

Chaleco strode on in silence. The shadow from his broad leafed hat
deepened the sombre gloom of his countenance; the moonlight which struck
across the lower part of his face, revealed the ferocious compression of
his mouth.

With all my fatigue, I scarcely felt the distance as we walked rapidly
through the park. Chaleco did not speak till we came in sight of my
home, then he paused and turned.

“Zana,” he said, speaking low and huskily—“Zana, remember you have a
stern task for this night—your mother’s death to revenge—your people’s
interest to secure. Read and act.”

He spoke with an effort, and sprang away as if the presence of any human
thing were a torture.

I was in the edge of our garden when he left me. A noise among the
shrubs drew me onward, and I found Jupiter lying close to his stable,
still saddled, and with the bridle dangling around his head.

I had no room in my heart for compassion, even for the poor old fellow.
To have saved his life, I would not have set down my box for a moment;
so I left him and entered the house.

                             CHAPTER XLIV.

A night lamp burned in the lower entrance, for Turner was still absent,
and Maria supposed us both at Greenhurst. I took the lamp and went to my

No sense of fatigue—not even the awe that crept over me, could restrain
the desire that I felt to examine the box. I placed it on the floor,
fell upon my knees, and, with the lamp standing near, lifted the lid.

A quantity of folded papers, and the gleam of antique gold, floated
mistily beneath my gaze. My fingers trembled as they touched the papers,
yellow with age, and blackened with the written misery of my mother. I
took them up, one by one, reverently, and holding my breath. It was long
before I could see to distinguish one letter from another. But at last
the paper ceased to rattle in my hand—the delicate letters grew
distinct, and with eager eyes I devoured them.

At first, the writing was broken in its language and stiff in
chirography, like the earnest attempts of a school-girl to write. The
sentiments too were imperfectly expressed, and full of wild fancies that
so appealed to my own nature that my heart answered them like an echo.

There was something child-like and exceedingly beautiful in the
expressions of happiness, which broke out through all the imperfections
of language and style. The poetry of a rich nature, just beginning to
yield itself to the influences of civilization, spoke in every word.
Never did the records of a human life seem so full of sunshine—never
have I seen a register of affection so deep, and of a faith so perfect.

I read eagerly, turning over page after page, and gathering their
contents at a glance. The dates changed frequently. At first, they were
in Seville, then in various continental cities, where, it seems, Lord
Clare had taken her after their flight from Granada, upon whose snow
mountains she had at last perished.

Still, the record continued one of unbroken happiness. She invariably
mentioned Lord Clare as her husband; but now and then came an expression
of anxiety for the thoughtfulness that would, at times, resist all her
efforts to amuse him. As the manuscript progressed, it was easy to trace
the development of a vigorous mind under the influence of an intellect
more powerful than itself. There was a break in the manuscript. The next
date was indefinite. No town, no county, but simply the hills of

Oh, how beautiful was the gush of affection with which she spoke of her
infant! How thoroughly maternal joy expanded and deepened every feeling
of her womanhood! Still it was here that I found the first trace of that
sorrow which soon darkened every page. Her warm heart was dissatisfied
with the measured affection with which Lord Clare received his child.
She questioned the cause, finding it only in herself—her want of power
to interest wholly a mind like his. She wrote of two old people who were
kind to her and her little one, while Lord Clare was abroad on the
hills, or absent on some of those long journeys which he occasionally
made into England.

Again the scene changed, and she was at Greenhurst, so happy, so more
than pleased with the beauty and comforts of the home which promised to
be permanent at last. She described the dwelling, the rooms, with their
exquisite adornments, the statuettes and pictures, with the glow of a
vivid mind and warm heart. She spoke of her child—the pretty room that
was prepared for it—the devotion of a woman whom Lord Clare had procured
from Spain. How fearfully strange it seemed that I was the child so
loved and cared for; that even then I was acting my part in the mournful
drama that had left me worse than an orphan! How often did I find myself
described, my eyes, the flowing wealth of my curls, the precocious vigor
of my mind!

On a sudden the whole character of the manuscript changed; the delicate
writing grew abrupt and broken; wild dashes appeared where sentences
should have been, and a spirit of sadness pervaded every written word.
She no longer spoke of Lord Clare with the exulting love that had, at
first, marked her record; and every time her child was mentioned, the
name seemed written in tears. Still it was but the shadow of unhappiness
that appeared. No broad mention of discontent was written, but a
foreboding of evil, a dread of impending bereavement fell upon the heart
with every sentence.

At last it came. Lord Clare, her husband, loved another—had loved
another long before he found her, a poor Gitanilla, in the ruins of the

With what a burst of anguish the truth was written! How terrible it must
have looked, glaring on her in words formed by her own hand! Poor
thing—she had attempted to dash the sentence out, but the quivering hand
had only scattered it with blots; soiling the records as with mourning,
but not obliterating a single word.

After this, there was no connection between the wild snatches of
anguish—the pathetic despair—the pleadings for a return of love which
were written in all the eloquence of desperation, and blistered with
tears that stained its surface yet.

Trouble blinded my eyes as I read. My hands trembled as they grasped the
paper on which her tears had fallen. My soul was full of my
mother—tortured by her grief—swelling fiercely with a bitter sense of
her wrongs.

I read on to the end. All my mother’s history was before me—I saw her as
she described herself, a wild dancing girl of Granada, thrown upon the
notice of a romantic and imaginative young man—that gipsy marriage in
the caverns of the Alhambra was before me in all its dismal terrors. Was
it a marriage, or a deception by which my mother was betrayed? Whatever
it was, _she_ believed it to be real. No doubt that she was Lord Clare’s
wife ever appeared, but, in the last page, the cry of her wronged love
broke out in one fierce burst of sorrow. The certainty that he loved
another—had never entirely loved her—uprooted the very fibres of life.
She never wrote rationally after that.

“I will go,” she wrote, and great drops as of rain blotted out half the
words—“I will go to him once more, and tell him of my oath. Surely,
surely he will not let me die—me, his wife, his poor Gitanilla, whose
beauty is not all gone yet. This woman, does she love him as I do? Will
she give up?—oh, Heaven forgive me, I gave up nothing! What had I to
yield, a poor, dancing gipsy, with nothing on earth that was her own,
but the beauty of which he is tired, and the heart he is breaking? But
she, this woman with one husband in the grave—what can she offer that
Aurora did not give? Still, oh, misery, misery, he loves her—I can see
it. He thinks me blind, unconscious, content with the sparse hours that
he deals out grudgingly to me and my child. Content! well, well, it may
not be. I have read of jealous hearts that create by wayward suspicions
the evil they dread. What if I were one of them? Oh, heavens, what
happiness if it rested thus with me! Let me hope—let me hope! * * * *

“It is over, he has struck my child—the blow has reached my heart. _She_
is at his dwelling—I too will enter it—I too will strike. Have I not
sworn an oath that must be redeemed? _His_ oath is forgotten. The
gipsies remember better. * * *

“She sleeps in his house to-night; I will be there! How wakeful the
child is! How wild and fiery are the eyes with which she has been
watching me from that heap of cushions! They are closed, and I will
steal away. But how come back? Will it be the last time? * * * *

“I have seen them both—he has told me all. He never loved me as he loved
her, not even then, among those ruins. Never loved me! O, my God! am I
mad to repeat these words over and over, as the suicide, frantic with
the first blow, plunges the dagger again and again in his bosom? Why
cannot words kill like daggers? They pierce deeper—they torture worse;
but we live. Yes, if this pang could not wrench life away, nothing can
reach this stubborn hold on existence. He has said it with his own
lips—I am not loved—through all his life that woman has ever stood
between me and him. I rose from my knees then and stood up. Did I
entreat? No, no! Perhaps he expected it—perhaps he thought the abject
gipsy blood would creep to his feet yet. * * * *

“Why was Zana waiting in the darkness of that house? How much her eyes
looked like those of my grandame. Ha! my oath. It is well I kept silent
there. Have I not sworn that nothing but death shall separate us two?
Let them live, the despised gipsy has the courage to die. Zana, my
child, gather up your strength, many dreary miles stretch between us and
the caves of Granada, but death is there. Without his love, my poor
little one, what can we do but die?” * * *

Here the manuscript ended. But upon one of its blank pages was written,
in another hand, words that froze the tears in my heart.

It was a stern command to forsake the people of my father’s blood; and
after avenging my mother’s death, return to my own tribe for ever. The
words were strong with bitter hate, that seemed to burn into the paper
on which they were written. The fearful document was signed PAPITA.

The papers dropped from my hand. I remember sitting, like one stupefied,
gazing down upon a pile of gold that nearly filled the coffer,
fascinated by the glitter of two antique ear-rings, set with great
rubies, that glowed out from the mass like huge drops of blood that had
petrified there. I took them up and clasped them in my ears; their
history was written out in the manuscript I had just read; and I locked
them with a sort of awe. They seemed a fearful link that was to drag me
back to my people.

While I searched among the gold for some other token, a strange stupor
crept over me, and I fell exhausted on the floor, folding my arms over
the bronze box and its contents.

I slept heavily for hours, so heavily that all the sweet noises of
morning failed to arouse me. This suspension of consciousness probably
saved me from a brain fever, or perhaps utter frenzy. It seems that I
had locked myself in, and all day Maria, unconscious of my return, had
not thought of looking for me till Turner came home, for a moment, to
inquire after us. He found Jupiter still saddled, wandering around the
wilderness, hungry and forlorn enough. This excited his fears, and,
directly, the faithful old man was knocking at my chamber door. The
noise was not enough to arouse me, and receiving no answer he grew
desperate, and forcing an entrance, found me prone upon the carpet with
my arms around the bronze coffer, my soiled garments lying in torn
masses around me, and my pale features gleaming out from beneath the
scarlet kerchief, with which I had confined the riding-hat to my head.

The stillness of death itself was not more profound than the sleep into
which I had fallen; but at last the gushes of fresh air they let in upon
me, aromatic vinegars, and the desperate shake that Turner gave me in
his terror, had their effect. I stood up, stiffened in every limb and in
a sort of trance; for all consciousness was locked like ice in my bosom.

Slowly, and with many pangs, the remembrance of what had happened came
back to me. The bronze coffer at my feet—the sight of my garments,
brought back a consciousness of all that I had learned and suffered
during the night. I took up the coffer and placed it, reverently, on a
table. Turner and Maria watched me, with anxious curiosity. The box was
a singular one, and covered with Egyptian hieroglyphics, into which the
red soil of the bank had introduced itself. I took no heed of Turner’s
astonishment; but, self-centred and stern, asked him if Lord Clare—I did
not call him father—still lived.

“Yes,” answered the old man, and all his features commenced to quiver,
“he lives—he has asked for you again and again. Where have you been,

I did not reply. The stern duty that lay upon me hardened all my senses;
the old man’s right to question me passed for nothing. I asked what time
it was, as if he had not spoken.

It was four in the afternoon. Lord Clare had inquired for me so often,
that Turner determined, spite of Lady Catherine’s prohibition, to bring
me to his presence.

“Go,” said the old man, gently—“go change that dress, and drive, if it
is possible, that deathly white from your cheek; there is no resemblance
now between you and _her_; that icy face will disappoint him. Look like
yourself, Zana—like _her_!”

I went at his bidding and changed my dress, and braided my hair with
fingers as stiff and, it seemed to me, as nerveless as iron. The pallor
did not leave my cheek; the blood flowed still and icily in my veins;
all the sweet impulses of humanity seemed dead within me. I remembered a
scarlet ribbon which lay in the box, with a piece of gold attached. The
journal had given me its history. The gold was my father’s first gift to
his gipsy wife. I remembered well finding the ribbon in his vest, and
carrying it away with a sharp infantile struggle, full of glee and baby
triumph. He allowed me to keep it. Yet it was her dearest maiden
ornament—the earliest sacrifice that she had made to him. The event was
impressed on my mind, because it brought forth the first angry word that
I ever remember from my mother. On seeing me come forward, holding up
the ribbon, and shouting as it floated behind me, I remember well the
quick flash of her eyes, the eager bound which she made toward me, and
the clutch of her hand as she wrested away my treasure.

My father laughed lightly at the struggle, but she bore the ribbon away,
and did not appear again for hours.

As this memory pressed upon my mind, I entered the room where Turner
awaited me, took out the ribbon, and hung it with the gold around my

“Do I look like _her_ now?” I said, turning upon the old man with steady

He did not reply. His distended eyes were fixed on the antique rings in
my ears—a sort of terror possessed him at the sight.

“Zana, where did you get those accursed things?” he said.

I did not answer, but took my mother’s journal from the coffer and
closed the lid over the gold.

Turner followed me from the room, evidently filled with awe by the cold
stateliness of my demeanor.

With a heart harder than the nether millstone, I entered the house which
held my dying father. No misgivings of humanity possessed me—my soul was
cruel in its purpose, and my footsteps fell like iron upon the
tessellated vestibule.

Upon the staircase we met Lady Catherine Irving. She confronted me with
her impatient wrath and ordered me back, denouncing Turner for having
introduced me a second time against her commands. I listened till she
had done, and then sternly pursued my way, leaving Turner behind.

I opened the door of Lord Clare’s chamber. A voice from the bed, feeble
and sharp as that of an old man, called out:

“Turner, Turner, is it you? Have you found the child?”

I strode up to the bed and bent over the dying man. My hair almost
touched his forehead. The glow of his great, feverish eyes spread, like
fire, over my face.

When he saw me that sharp face began to quiver, and over each cheek
there darted a burning spot, as if a red rose leaf had unfurled upon it.
He lifted his long arms, and would have clasped them over my neck, but
they fell back, quivering, upon the bed. With his lips drawn apart, and
the glitter of his eyes growing fearful, he lay gazing at the ruby rings
that weighed down my ears.

“Those, those!—the rubies! How came they here?—what demon has locked
them into those ears? Out with them, Zana—out with them, they are

He held up those pale hands and grasped eagerly at the ear-rings; but I
drew back, standing upright by his bed.

“They are my inheritance,” I said; “touch them not.”

“They are accursed,” he faltered, struggling to his elbow, “the symbols
of treachery and blood—they were in _her_ ears—the sorceress—the
poisoner—they were in her ears that night.”

“I know it. They belonged to old Papita, the grandame of my mother, the
Gitanilla whom you married in the vaults of the Alhambra. I am her

“And mine!” he cried, casting up his arms as he fell backward upon the

I drew back, repulsing those quivering arms with a motion of my hand.
They fell heavily upon the bed-clothes. A groan burst from his lips,
and, from beneath his closed eyelids, I saw two great tears roll slowly

For one moment the heart within me was stirred with an impulse of
compassion. I removed the red ribbon from my neck and flung it over his,
the pure offering of my soul. He grasped the gold with both hands and
held it against his heart, muttering faint prayers to himself. I took
one of the pale hands in mine; the touch softened me still more. The
word father trembled on my lips—another moment and I must have fallen on
my knees by his side. But that instant Lady Catherine Irving laid her
hand on my arm.

“Go!” she said, in a hoarse whisper. “Insolent, begone!”

I shook off her detested touch and drew myself sternly up.

“Hence, woman!” I exclaimed, pointing to the door with my hand—“hence;
and leave me alone with my father!”

She turned livid with rage, but kept her ground, attempting to force me
from the bed; but she might as well have tried her puny strength on a

“Catherine, go, it is my child,” said a faint voice from the bed; “leave
us together.”

“It is against the physician’s orders—his mind wanders—it is madness!”
exclaimed the woman, addressing Turner, who followed her; “you will bear
witness, good Turner, that at the last his mind wandered.”

Lord Clare’s eyes opened, and were bent, with a look of ineffable love,
upon my face.

“My child—my child!” he murmured, repeating the name as if the sound
were sweet to him. Then looking at Turner, he whispered, “There must be
some new proof. Those rings, take them from her—for, before the God of
heaven, she is my own child.”

“He raves—he is insane!” cried Lady Catherine, attempting to push me

I have said that my heart was hard as a rock when I entered that
chamber. A moment of tenderness had softened it, but the presence of
this woman petrified it again. Still I could not share in this unholy
strife around my father’s death-bed without a shudder. My very soul
revolted from the contest which might ensue if I persisted in remaining.
I took the hand which had been feebly extended toward me, and pressed
the journal of my mother into its clasp. He lifted up the papers, held
them waving before his eyes, and muttering, “It is hers—it is hers!”
cowered down into the bed and began to moan.

“What papers are those?” almost shrieked Lady Catherine, attempting to
possess them, but the dying man dragged them beneath the bed-clothes.
“It is forbidden him to read—he shall not attempt it!”

Lord Clare started up in bed, and pointed his long, shadowy finger
toward the door.

“Woman,” he cried, in a voice that made her creep slowly
backward—“woman, intermeddle no more—leave me with these papers and my

The astonished and terrified woman crept abjectly from the room, with
her pallid face averted.

Lord Clare sat upright, unfolding the yellow and time-stained journal of
my mother with his shaking hands.

“Fling back the curtains,” he cried. “Nay, nay, my eyes are dim—bring
lights—bring lights. Ha, yes, that is the sunset, let me read it by the
last sun I shall ever see!”

Turner had drawn back the bed curtains, twisting them in masses around
the heavy ebony posts. But this was not enough, with a sweep of his arms
he sent all the glowing silk away from the nearest window, letting in a
burst of the golden sunset.

And by this light my dying father began to read the records of the heart
he had broken. It was terrible to witness the eagerness with which his
glittering eyes ran over the paper. New vitality had seized upon him: he
sat upright and firm as an oak in the bed, which had quivered to his
nervous trembling a few minutes before.

I had entered the room determined to spare no pang to the dying man—to
shrink from nothing that might send back an avenging torture for all
that he had dealt to my mother, but I was young and I was human. The
blood that beat in his almost pulseless heart flowed in my veins also. I
could not look upon him there—so pale, so full of deathly beauty—and be
his executioner. I turned away resolved to spare him the details of my
mother’s death. I met Lady Catherine again upon the stairs, and she
shrunk back from me as if I had been a viper. It gave me no pain—I was
scarcely conscious of her presence.

                              CHAPTER XLV.
                       THE SHADOWY DEATH-CHAMBER.

I awoke in the night from a broken and unhealthy sleep. Turner’s voice,
and the tramp of Jupiter outside my window had aroused me. I raised the
sash, and looked out in time to see the old man throw himself on
Jupiter’s back and ride swiftly away. Just then the clock chimed three.

I could not sleep again. A remembrance of the scene by my father’s
death-bed—the knowledge that now he had full proof that I was indeed his
child, came with startling acuteness to my mind. I reflected that in
that house my mother had lived her brief period of happiness, and known
the anguish that at last drove her to death. Never had I felt her memory
so keenly, or her presence so near. A craving desire to draw my soul
closer to hers by material things seized upon me. The room which I could
remember her to have occupied, and that had been so often alluded to in
her journal, had never been opened since she left it. Turner and Maria
avoided the very passage which led to it, and I had shared somewhat in
this spirit of avoidance. Now a desire possessed me to visit that room.
The key was lost, Turner had often told me that, but bolts were of
little consequence to me then. I dressed hurriedly and let myself into
the garden. Around the old stone balcony the vines had run riot for
years, weaving themselves around the heavy balustrades in fantastic and
leafy masses.

I tore these vines asunder, laying the old steps bare and scattering
them with dead leaves, as I made my way to the balcony, which was
literally choked up with the silky tufts of the clematis vines, run to
seed, and passion flowers out of blossom. The nails, grown rusty in the
hinges, gave way as I pulled at the shutters closed for years and years.
Then the sash-door yielded before me, and I stood in the room my mother
had inhabited; and for the first time trod its floor since she left it
on that bitter, bitter night. How well I remembered it! Then I had stood
by her side a little child; now I was a woman alone in its desolation. I
sat down in the darkness till the first tints of dawn revealed all its
dreary outlines. A pile of cushions lay at my feet, and gleams of the
original crimson came up through the dust. On those cushions I had
crouched, watching her through my half-shut lashes as she sat in the
easy-chair, meditating her last appeal to the merciless heart of her

A cashmere shawl, moth-eaten, and, with its gorgeous tints almost
obliterated, hung over the chair, sweeping the dim carpet with its dusty
fringes. Pictures gleamed around me through a veil of dust; and vases
full of dead flowers stood on the mosaic tables. When I touched the
leaves they crumbled to powder beneath my fingers. I beat the cushions
free from their defacement, and reverently shook out the folds of my
mother’s shawl. These were the objects she had touched last, and to me
they were sacred. The rest I left in its dreariness, glad that time and
creeping insects had spread a pall over them.

Seated in her chair, I watched the dawn break slowly over the garden. It
seemed as if I were waiting for something—as if some object, sacred to
her memory, had called me to that room, and placed me in that chair. It
was a dull morning. Tints that should have been rosy took a pale violet
hue in the east. The birds were beginning to wake up, but as yet they
only moved dreamily in the leaves. No wind was astir, and the shadows of
night still lay beneath the trees of the wilderness. The stillness
around was funereal.

Unconsciously I listened. Yet whom could I expect? What human being ever
entered that room sacred to the memory of one unhappy woman?

At length there came upon this stillness a sound that would have
startled another, but I sat motionless and waited. It was like the
struggling of some animal through the flower thickets—the unequal tread
of footsteps—short pauses and quick gasps of breath. Then a feeble sound
of some one clambering up the steps, and there, upon the balcony, stood
my father.

My heart ceased to beat; for the universe I could not have moved or
spoken. He was dressed so strangely, his under garments all white as
snow, with that gorgeous gown of Damascus silk flowing over. His head
was bare, and the locks curled over the pallid forehead, crisped with a
dampness that I afterwards knew was the death sweat.

He stood within the window, with those great, burning eyes bent on me.
Their look was unearthly—their brightness terrible; but there was no
shrinking in my heart. I hardened under it as steel answers to the

After shaking the dust from my mother’s shawl, I had laid it back upon
the chair as it was at first; but when I sat down the folds were
disturbed, and fell around my shoulders, till, unconsciously, I had been
draped with them much as was my mother’s custom. Thus I appeared before
her husband and my father, ignorant of the appalling likeness that
struck his dying heart to the centre.

He stood for a whole minute in the sheltered window, never turning his
eyes a moment from my face. Then with a feeble stillness, taking each
step as a child begins to walk, he glided toward me, and, sinking on his
knees at my feet, took my two hands softly in his, and laid his damp
forehead upon them.

“Aurora—Aurora, forgive me, forgive her—I am dying—I am dying!—she
wronged you unconsciously.”

It sounds in the depths of my soul yet—the pathetic anguish of those
words! I could not move: my lips clung together: a stillness like that
of the grave fell over us both. He had taken me, the implacable child,
for the wronged mother; his cold lips lay passive upon my hands, and I
had no power to fling them off.

He meekly lifted his head. Those burning eyes were filled with tears, in
which they seemed to float like stars reflected in water.

“You will not speak it, Aurora, and I am dying?” he murmured, clasping
his arms over my neck, and drawing his head upward to my bosom, till I
could feel the sharp, quick pants of his heart close to mine. “I have
been years and years searching for the thing forgiveness; and now when
your lips alone can speak it, they will not! I am waiting, Aurora—but
you will not let me die! To wait is torture—but you will not speak!”

O my God, forgive me! but the black blood of Egypt rose like gall in the
bottom of my heart, when he spoke of torture in that prayerful,
broken-hearted manner. I forgot him, though he lay heavy as death upon
my bosom, and thought only of the real torture under which she, for whom
I was mistaken, had perished. My heart rose hard and strong, repelling
the feeble flutter of his with the heave of an iron shaft.

“It is not Aurora—I am not your gipsy wife, Lord Clare, but her
child—the foundling of your servant—the scoff of your whole race. I am

“Zana!” he repeated, lifting his eyes with a bewildered and mournful
look, “that was our child; but Aurora, how many times shall I ask where
is she? Have I not come all this weary way to find her? Where is she,

“I gave you her journal,” I said.

“Yes, yes, I have it here under my vest: you will find it by and by, but
let it be a little while. She, Aurora, herself, this writing is not
forgiveness; and I say again, child, I am dying!”

“I have nothing but what she has written,” I answered, shrinking from his
questions as if they had been poniards.

“But she does not tell all—not a word since that night. She was going
somewhere—she talked about dying, but that is not easy, Zana—see how
long I have been about it, and not dead yet. Tell me what she has been
doing since that miserable, miserable night.”

“Ask her in Eternity!” I said, attempting to free myself from his
embrace. “If the dead forgive, ask forgiveness of her there.”

He drew back upon his knees, supporting himself by the marble pressure
of his hands upon my arms.

“Dead. Is Aurora dead?” fell in a whisper from his white lips. “Is she
waiting for me there?”

“She is dead!” I answered.

“When, how, where did she die?” he questioned, with sudden energy, and a
glitter of the eye that burned away all the tears.

I hesitated one minute—an evasion was on my lips. I could not tell him
how his victim had died; it was striking a poniard into the last
struggles of waning life. Suffering from the agony of his look I turned
my head away; the fringe of my mother’s shawl caught in the ruby
ear-rings that were swayed by the motion. A fiery pain shot through my
temple; the gipsy blood ran hot and bitterly in my veins. His voice was
in my ear again, feeble, but commanding.

“Speak—how did Aurora die?”

The answer sprung like burning lava to my lips. I forgot that it was a
dying man to whom I spoke. My words have rung back to my own soul ever
since, clear and sharp as steel.

“_Your wife—my mother—was stoned to death by her tribe in the snow
mountains back of Granada!_”

My father sprang to his feet. For a moment he stood up, stiff and stark,
like a marble shaft: then he reeled forward and fell prone upon the
cushions, with a cry that made every nerve in my body quake.

That cry, that prostrate form, O God forgive me! barbarian that I was—my
voice had smitten him to the soul. I, his only child, had fiendishly
hurled him down to die! I looked upon him where he lay, ghastly and
quivering, like a shot eagle, among the cushions. All the sweet memories
of my infancy came back: a remembrance of the first tender kisses those
lips had pressed on my forehead, seemed burning there in curses of my
cruelty. I knelt down beside him, humbled to the dust, racked with an
anguish so scathing, that while I longed to perish by his side, it
seemed as if I were doomed to live on forever and ever.

I felt a shudder creep over his limbs as I bent over and touched him.

“Father, O my father!” I cried, in terrible anguish, “speak! say that I
have not killed you!”

He did not speak; he did not move; his eyes were closed; his pale hand
lay nerveless upon the carpet. An awful chill crept over me. I felt like
a murderess stricken with the first curse of my crime.

Noises came from the balcony, people were scrambling up the steps,
probably aroused by that fearful cry. I heard Turner’s voice—other
persons were with him. One a professional-looking man, who held a roll
of paper in his hand; another followed, carrying an inkstand bristling
with pens. The first man sat down by a table, upon which some vases
stood, and, unrolling a parchment, looked keenly at Turner.

“Awake him gently, there is no time to lose; this terrible effort must
soon terminate all.”

Turner knelt down by his master, and I drew back, waiting breathlessly
for him to speak; my very salvation seemed hanging on his first word.
How white he grew; how those old hands shook as they touched the pale
fingers that had fallen over the cushion! It was a long time before that
good old man could master the tears that swelled to his throat. The
stillness was profound. No one stirred; the barrister sat with one hand
pressed on the will he had come to execute; the other held the pen
suspended motionless.

“Will he sign now?” questioned the man, in a low voice; “it is all that
is wanting.”

Turner stood up, and his white face was revealed to the barrister, who
began to roll up the parchment.

“Good heavens, is it so?” he exclaimed, in a suppressed voice, “and in
this strange place.”

“My master, O my master!” cried Turner, falling upon his knees, and
crying aloud in his anguish as he lifted the pale hand of the dead, and
laid it reverently on the still bosom, “oh, would to God I had died for

I looked on the old man with wonder and envy. He could weep, but I was
frozen into stone—he could touch the beloved hand; I was afraid even to
look that way. The curse of my gipsy inheritance was upon me; the first
act in the great drama of vengeance was performed, and it had left me
branded, heart and soul. I sat cowering in the shadows like a criminal,
not like the avenger of a great wrong. I had built up walls of granite
between myself and the dead, I, his only child.

The rush of all these thoughts on my brain stifled me. I could no longer
endure the presence of the living nor the dead, but arose and descended
into the garden. Turner followed me, weeping, and evidently with a
desire to comfort me. I, wishing to avoid him, was still held by a sort
of fascination under the windows of the death-chamber. A litter stood
beneath the balcony, on which a mattress had been placed; I knew what it
was for, and lingered near it with my eyes uplifted to the room above.
There was a faint conversation, smothered whispers, and a muffled tread
of feet upon the carpet.

I know not how or whence she came, but Maria stood by me, with her hands
clasped in the shock of a first terrible surprise, tearless and hushed,
a picture of mute sorrow. We were both looking upward. We saw them as
they lifted him from the cushions, and bore him forward over the
trampled vines to the broken steps. The faces of these men wore a look
of stern sorrow. They descended, very slowly, while Turner stood below
with arms uplifted, prepared to receive the dead.

The men paused, half way down the steps, to free a portion of the
Oriental gown which had entangled itself in the balustrade. Just then, a
first beam of the sunrise fell across that marble face. Oh, how
beautiful it was! how mournfully beautiful! Dim blue shadows lay around
the closed eyelids. The deathly white of the forehead gleamed out from
the golden auburn of his hair and beard, which the sunshine struck
aslant, and the wind softly stirred in terrible contrast with the
stillness of the face and limbs. A look of holy quiet, more heavenly
than a smile, hovered around his mouth; the very winds of morning seemed
unholy for disturbing the solemn stillness that lay upon him.

Once more I passed the threshold of my father’s house—the threshold upon
which I had slept a child-beggar and an infant outcast; for the first
time I trod over the spot not only without bitterness, but in humility
of soul. I followed the dead body of my father, whose love I had
repulsed, whose repentance I had rejected. That one idea drove all the
evil blood from my heart. I would have crept after him on my knees
before every proud remnant of his race, could the act have appeased this
thought within me.

It was early in the morning, so early that not even a servant was astir.
The men trod lightly over the marble vestibule and up the broad
staircase; after that thick carpets muffled their steps; and thus our
mournful group entered Lord Clare’s chamber without disturbing a soul in
the house.

Even young Morton, that had been left to watch with him when old Turner
went away, was not aroused from the deep slumber which had overtaken
him, in an easy-chair wheeled to a remote corner of the room.

Life had passed out, and death entered the room, while that man slept on
his post.

They laid my father on his bed, and then gathered in a group near the
window, pallid and anxious, conversing together. At times whispers are
more distinct than words. I heard all. The lawyer had a parchment roll
still in his hand. Turner looked wistfully at it, then at me.

“No, it is of no more value than blank paper,” said the lawyer,
answering the look; “and worse, the old will, which would have given
Marston Court to young Morton, its rightful owner, was destroyed in
anticipation of this. Lady Catherine sweeps every thing!”

“It was not that,” said Turner, “but his memory; let it be saved from
idle gossip. It is only known to us that my lord left this room last
night. Why make the manner or place of his death a wonder for people
that have no right to inquire about it?”

“We can be silent,” answered the lawyer, looking at his clerk.

“Do, for the sake of all who loved him; and this parchment, it is
useless; let us forget it. We know that his last wish was to provide for
her poor, poor child.”

Turner beckoned that I should advance, as he spoke.

“Zana,” he said, taking the parchment, “_he_ would have made you rich.
In this will, he left a large property to you; had he lived only a few
minutes longer, all would have been well. But God, who has made you an
orphan, leaves you still with old Turner. In this will, and to me also,
Lord Clare admits you to be his child. Shall it be so proclaimed? So far
the secret rests with us. Shall we darken his memory with it?”

Oh, how thankful I was for this power to atone in a little for the
cruelty of my acts! For the first time that day tears came to my eyes.

“Save his memory,” I said; “let me remain an outcast. No word or look of
mine shall darken his name.”

This resolution reconciled me somewhat to myself. I stole toward the
bed, and through my tears gazed upon that marble face.

“Oh, my father, can you hear me?” I murmured. “It is your child—not the
demon who refused to forgive—but you _are_ forgiven. In eternity you
have seen the wronged one, and instead of curses she has filled your
immortality with blessings. I see them upon this face, that in its
ineffable calm forgives even me, who was implacable.”

The broken sobs and murmurs in which I uttered these words of grief
awoke young Morton, who arose and came toward the window. Turner

“Let some one arouse the family, the Earl of Clare is dead.”

Morton turned deathly pale, and almost staggered as he went out to
perform this mournful duty.

                             CHAPTER XLVI.
                       A VISIT TO MY ARCH ENEMY.

Directly the chamber was filled. Weeping domestics crowded the
ante-room. Lady Catherine and her son stood by the death couch; the
mother lost in noisy grief; the young man white and tearless as the dead
face upon which he gazed.

As Lady Catherine removed the embroidered handkerchief from her face,
her eyes fell upon me where I stood by the window near the strange
lawyer. Her face flushed, and she came toward us.

“How long has this girl been in Lord Clare’s chamber? How dare she
insult our grief by intruding here?”

She spoke hurriedly, casting eager glances at the parchment which the
lawyer still held.

“She came with me—she saw him when he died,” answered the old man.

“And were you here also?” questioned Lady Catherine, sharply, of the

He bowed.

The lady forgot her tears and the grief, which, at first, had disturbed
the sacred quiet of that death-chamber.

“Did he send for you?” she continued.

“He did, my lady.”

“And for her?” she cried, with a disdainful wave of the hand toward me.

“His last wish was to see her.”

This evasive, but lawyer-like reply, irritated her afresh.

“What is that in your hand?” she cried; and taking even this wary man by
surprise, she reached forth her hand, secured the parchment, and eagerly
unrolled it. She began to read; her thin lips grew almost imperceptible;
and her light blue eyes, the most cruel color on earth, when filled with
malice, became repulsive as those of a venomous reptile. They darted
from line to line, growing fiercer and more hideous each instant, till
her face became perfectly colorless.

At last her eyes dropped to the bottom of the document, a glare of
delight shot from them, and striking the parchment with her open hands,
she looked round upon us, with a smile of triumphant malice, horrible in
that place and presence.

“It is not signed—it was not his work, but yours!” she cried, forgetting
all respect for the dead in her fiendish exultation. “Go forth, one and
all, your presence here is an insult!”

She waved her hand haughtily. But the lawyer and his clerk alone
answered it. She still pointed her finger toward the door. Turner
withstood the gesture firmly, but still with that respect which men of
his class habitually render to those of superior station.

“Madam,” he said, “you have seen it written by his own order that this
young girl was Lord Clare’s Child. Surely it cannot be that you wish her
sent altogether from his dwelling while he is lying there?”

“I deny it; there is no proof that she is his child,” she retorted, pale
with anger, and casting a furtive look at the bed, as if she feared
those marble lips might move and contradict her. “What proof is there in
an unsigned paper drawn up at a distance, and without his knowledge?”

“Before God and before the dead!” answered Turner, looking upward, and
then bowing his forehead solemnly toward the death couch, “Clarence,
Lord Clare, told me with his own lips, not twelve hours ago, that this
child, Zana, was his daughter, proven so entirely to his satisfaction.
By his orders, and at his dictation, I took down all that is in that
unsigned will, and myself carried it to the lawyer, who hastened to put
it in form.”

“It is false; had this been true Lord Clare would have signed it.”

“He was dead when we came back,” answered Turner.

I saw her lips move, those thin, pale lips made a movement, as if they
would have said, “Thank God!” But in the awful presence of death she
dared not force them to utter the blasphemy in words.

All this time George Irving had been so overwhelmed by the sudden shock
of his uncle’s death, that he seemed entirely unconscious of what was
passing. But at last the sharp tones of his mother’s voice aroused him,
and he came forward with one hand slightly uplifted. “Hush!” he said,
“this is no place for words.”

His mother looked at him with a half sneer.

“Do you know that this creature and her miserable old father have been
plotting to disgrace our name, to steal away your birthright, George?”

“I only know that we are in the presence of death,” answered the young
man, solemnly. “Madam, let me lead you away, this agitation will make
you ill.”

“No—not while these vipers remain,” she answered.

This scene had, from the first, wounded me as if every word had been a
blow; but my heart received as a blessing every fresh pang, for it
seemed as if by pain I could make atonement for all I had inflicted on
the dead. But I could now no longer endure it. Without a word, and with
one mournful glance at the beautiful marble that had been my father, I
went forth alone. Turner resisted; not all the malice of that bad woman
could move him from the side of that death couch—command and insult were
alike futile. Until the day of the funeral the old man remained by his
master, still as a shadow, faithful as truth.

It was a miserable time with me after this. I wandered around that
dwelling like a haunting and haunted spirit. They had laid my father out
in state, and the meanest villager could pass in and look upon him; but
I, his only child, driven away like a dog, could only look upon the
walls that held him afar off, and through blinding tears. Still I said
to myself it is right. Let me have patience with this cruelty—I who
would not be merciful, who refused forgiveness, as if I were a god to
judge and avenge, should learn to suffer. With the memory of his death
green in my heart, I thought that the bitterness of my nature was all
gone, and gloried like a martyr in the persecutions that threatened me.

At last I grew weary with watching. Maria strove to comfort me, but her
own kind heart was full of grief, and we could only weep together and
wish for old Turner.

But we had friends who did not quite forsake us, though it was known
that even sympathy in our sorrow would be held as a cause of offence
with Lady Catherine, who was now a peeress in her own right, and lady of

The curate and my precious Cora came to us at once. They had seen Turner
at his post, and knowing the danger, came without concealment to comfort
us. Cora did not seem well. Her sweet mouth was unsteady, as if with
more than sudden grief. Those pale blue shadows lay beneath her
beautiful eyes, that I could never see without a feeling that an
overflow of tears had left them there.

She was very gentle, and affectionate as a child, striving with her
pretty ways and sweet words to win me from the sternness of my grief. I
felt this gratefully, but had no power to express the sense that I
really felt of her kindness. As one answers and feels the pity of a
child, I received the sympathy that she came to give. Would that it had
been otherwise, would that I had treated her as a woman full of rich,
shy, womanly feelings; in that time of confidence and tears she might
have been won to trust in me entirely. But there was the old feeling of
suspicion in my heart. We shared our tears together, but nothing else.
The sweet, motherless girl had no encouragement to open her heart, even
if it had been her wish. In the selfishness of my grief I forgot
everything else.

With Mr. Clark it was otherwise. His counsels, his gentleness and
patience were so true, so beautifully sincere, that I could not but
yield to them. I told him all—my night at Marston Court, the papers
which Chaleco had unearthed, and my last, cruel interview with Lord
Clare. But the good man could give me no counsel here. His life had been
too isolate, too tranquil for power to cope with, or even understand
these wild events. He was shocked by the revengeful character of
Chaleco, and urged me with tears never to see this man again.

“Come to us,” said the good man—“come and learn to love God peacefully
with Cora and your old friend. The little parsonage is large enough; it
held three once, you know,” he added, with tender mournfulness; “and I
sometimes think Cora still pines for her mother, as I do. Our home is
very sad of late years, and you seldom come now, Zana.”

“I will come to you more than ever if they will let me,” I answered,
touched by his sadness, and filled with remorse, for having, in a great
degree, forsaken his dwelling the moment a jealous doubt of Cora entered
my mind.

“Drive all this wild man’s advice from your mind,” continued he; “see
how it embittered the last moments of your father’s life—those precious
moments which God had bestowed that they might be filled with paternal
blessings. Flee from this evil man, Zana.”

There was something in the simplicity and gentleness with which this
advice was given that touched my heart; while a haughty faith in my own
more daring character made me receive it with forbearance rather than
respect. But just then all opposition was passive in my bosom. I was
silent, and he thought me convinced.

In some things this strangely good man was full of resolution, strong in
courage. When I expressed a wish to see my father again, before the tomb
was closed on him forever, he offered at once to lead me to his side. I
did not dream that this act of Christian courage would harm him, though
_he_ knew it well enough. It was a fatal step, but how could I
comprehend that the hatred sure to follow me would be felt by all who
regarded my forlorn state with kindness?

I saw my father once more in the dead of night, when no one watched
beside him save old Turner. Mr. Clark went with me, and the two men, my
sole supporters on earth, left me alone in the funeral chamber.

I will not attempt to describe the anguish, the sting of conscience
which held me chained to that death couch. I knelt beneath the dim rays
of light that gleamed like starbeams among the black draperies, and made
an effort to pray. Was it my imagination, or did those fearful rubies
burn in my ears? I _could not pray_.

As I rose from my knees with an oppression on my chest and brain, that
held me as in fetters of iron, the masses of black velvet that fell from
the tall ebony couch on which the lord of Greenhurst was laid, shook
heavily, parted, and in the dusky opening I saw the head of Chaleco. The
face was half in shadow, but those eyes and the gleaming teeth were full
of sinister triumph.

He reached forth one hand, removed the linen from Lord Clare’s face, and
whispered in his native Rommany.

“Look on your mother’s murderer, woman of the Caloes—look for the last
time. He has covered your face with shame, driven you forth from his
people. Come to us, it is time. The tribes of Granada know that the true
blood has avenged itself here. They will recognize those symbols of
Papita, their prophetess—they will forgive the base blood in your heart,
and you shall be a queen to them. Chaleco promises.”

With an effort that seemed like a wrench on every nerve in my body, I
turned away my eyes from the dark head of the gipsy count, and they
rested on the holy stillness of my father’s death-sleep. The light
gleamed over him; the sublime repose of his features had deepened till
he almost smiled. Contrasted with that heavenly face, Chaleco seemed a
demon tempting me.

I fell upon my knees once more. The weight left my brain and chest.
Tears are sometimes sweeter and more holy than prayer. I wept freely.

When I arose, Chaleco stood beside me, but the power of his fierce eyes
was gone. The unnatural influence that he had obtained over me was lost
in the more sublime impressions left by that tranquil face.

“Go,” I said, gently; “I am not prepared to follow yet.”

“Wait till these gentiles spurn you away then!” he answered, in a fierce
whisper; “they will do it. No fear, I can wait.”

“God only knows what they will do,” I said; “but I was not made for an
avenger. Children do not turn and rend those who gave them life. Look
there, how he smiles, and yet I killed him. You call this vengeance—it
is murder!”

“Fool!” he exclaimed, “fool! but wait, wait!”

He waved his hand toward me as if to forbid any movement; and going to
an antique cabinet which I remembered well, began to search in its
drawers. I saw him take out two or three articles which he thrust in his
bosom, then with a dark look toward the bed he disappeared. I know not
how, for when I would have stopped his progress the velvet drapery
swayed between me and him, as if dashed down with a sweep of his arm.
When I searched behind that, he was gone.

On the next day my father was buried. I did not attempt to join the
procession, or force myself on the notice of those who had assembled to
render the last honors to his memory. Strangers could walk close by his
bier; I looked on like a wild animal through the thick trees that
concealed me. It was a bitter thought, and something of old resentments
kept me dumb as the funeral train swept by.

I think it was three or four days after Lord Clare’s funeral, when
Turner received a message from the Hurst. He seemed troubled, but made
an evident effort to appear unconcerned. I saw him go with misgivings,
for late events had left me in a state of nervousness that detected
evils in every shadow. My presentiments were right. Lady Clare, the new
countess, before leaving for her London house, among some other old and
favorite servants, coldly ordered the old man away, unless he would send
me, her brother’s orphan, from beneath his roof. Other changes were
about to be made. The Marston Court living, which had been vacant more
than a year, and which controlled that of Greenhurst, was given to Mr.
Upham, who had taken orders and would assume it at once. This man now
held Cora’s father in his power.

Everywhere was I hedged in and surrounded by foes; an Ishmaelitish
feeling took possession of me amid my grief. The only friends that clung
to me on earth were driven forth like dogs, because they gave me
shelter. I knew well that Turner would not hesitate; that he would beg
by the wayside rather than forsake the poor foundling he had cherished
so long.

But he was now an old man, united to a woman scarcely more capable of
working her way through ordinary life than a child. Should I permit him
to be thus unhoused and thrust into new phases of life that I might
share his little means of comfort? He loved our beautiful old dwelling.
To send him from among the trees of that park would end like uprooting
the oldest oak there. Not for me—not for me should this be done!

But Cora and her father, they had offered me a share in that pretty home
by the church. This thought, for an instant, gave me pleasure; but was
not the good man also dependent on a friend of Lady Catherine’s? I had
almost said menial—for the soul renders baser services, sometimes, than
the bare hands can give. Was not he also indirectly at the mercy of this
new countess?

All night long I thought over these bitter reflections, and, spite of
myself, an indignant sense of oppression—cruel, undeserved oppression,
filled my soul. The iron of my nature broke up through the soil that had
covered it for a time. The sibyl’s ear-rings grew precious to me. If
cast out from one race, they were burning links which drew me to the
darker and fiercer people, to whom persecution was an inheritance.

I arose in the morning and went to Greenhurst. The countess would have
had me driven from her steps had I desired admission; but, well aware of
this, I entered alone, unannounced, and made my way to her

The contrasts in that woman’s character were most repulsive. While her
aims were all deep and cruel as the grave, their exhibition was always
toned down by conventionalisms. While planning the ruin of a fellow
creature, she would sit quietly curling the hair of her lapdog, as if
that only occupied her mind.

When I entered her presence, she rose hastily from the depths of an
easy-chair, in which she had been buried, and arranged the folds of a
violet silk dressing-gown, with what seemed fastidious regard to the
effect her delicate attempt at mourning would have upon the young gipsy.
I was surprised at this. It seemed impossible that a woman so relentless
could occupy herself with trivial attempts at display like this. Now, it
seems the most natural thing on earth. Inordinate vanity and a savage
want of feeling have linked themselves together through all history. The
bad man or woman is almost invariably a vain one.

I think the woman took a mean pleasure in making her dog bark at me, for
her hand was playing about his ears, and a hateful smile warped her lips
as his snarling yelp died into a howl.

I took no heed, but walked up to her chair and rested one hand upon it.
She shrunk back.

“Madam,” I said, “you have made it a condition with Mr. Turner that he
shall thrust me from his door. Because he rejects this you wish to drive
him from the estate. He refuses no longer; I have come to inform you of
this. To-morrow you will have rendered your brother’s child homeless.”

“I am glad,” said the woman, haughtily—“very glad that Turner has come
to his senses. No one wishes, of course, to send him away; he is a good
servant enough; but we cannot make that pretty cottage a nest for
impostors. So long as he lives there quietly and alone with his old
wife, it does not signify, though I had a fancy for tearing the place
down. But he must not harbor objectionable people; give him to
understand this before you go. Above all things, strolling gipsies and
their children must be kept from the estate. He will understand!”

“Madam, have I your promise that Mr. Turner shall remain in his old
place so long as I keep from his house?” I questioned.

“Why, yes,” she answered, smoothing the dog’s ear over her finger; “he
is a good old man enough. No one will disturb him, unless my son’s bride
should take a distaste to his ugliness when she comes down.”

I received the sidelong glance of her eyes as she said this without
flinching, and she went on.

“Estelle has fastidious fancies in such things. Now, I think of it, she
may be in want of a clever maid. Did she not approve of your talent in
that way, once? If the situation would keep you from want, I have no
earthly objection.”

“Madam!” said I, standing upright and speaking, as it were a prophecy,
for the words were not formed by a moment’s thought—“madam, when I come
back to Greenhurst, I shall be its mistress, not a servant.”

She turned white with rage, and clenched her fingers fiercely among the
thick curls of her spaniel, which lay crouched in her lap, eyeing me
like a rattlesnake.

As I spoke, a low laugh reached my ear from a window; and, for an
instant, I saw the face of Chaleco looking in through the curtains. Lady
Clare cowered back in her seat, frightened by the glance that I fixed
upon her, by my words and the fiendish glee of that laugh.

“Go,” she said, at last, “leave the estate, you and your old supporter;
root and branch you shall all be exterminated.”

A noise at the window, a flutter of silk, and Chaleco stood by me.

“No, madam,” he said, “_she_ shall go because it is the will of her
people; but as for that old man, touch but the dog he loves at your

“What are you?” faltered the lady, gathering up her spaniel in an agony
of terror. “How came you in this place?”

“I have been here before,” said Chaleco.


“On the night Lord Clare’s wife died.” He stooped down whispering the
words in her ear. “If a hair of that old man’s head suffers for his
kindness to this child, _I will come again_.”

“I promise,” she faltered.

“Bah, I want no promise; your white face is truer than a false tongue.
You dare not touch him—we of the Caloes have soft steps and potent
drinks. We know how to wait, but in the end those who tread on us are

“You need not tell me that,” she answered bitterly, struggling with her

“Be cautious then; you who owe this vast property to us should be

“To you?—to you?”

“Yes, to us. Had not Lady Clare drank too freely of harmless cold
water—had not Lord Clare known it, and so tortured himself to death,
where would your chances of property have been?”

“And you did this?” cried the woman, aghast.

“Who else? The gentiles have no relish for vengeance, they swallow it at
a mouthful—we take a life-time for one meal—don’t make us hungry again!”

Chaleco turned away with a scornful smile, and, stooping to my ear,

“At Marston Court to-night, I shall wait!”

He glided toward the window, lifted the curtain, and was gone before
Lady Clare knew that he had moved; for, overcome with cowardly terror,
she had buried her face in the cushions of her easy-chair.

I did not wait for her to look up, but left the room, satisfied that my
poor old benefactor was saved from all attempts at persecution.

I went to the parsonage after this, where I might be another day—what
course of life would be mine was uncertain, all that I knew was that my
life at Greenhurst had ended.

Thus tortured in its affections, my poor heart turned with longing
tenderness toward Cora, the only child companion I had ever known. I
would see her, and with my secret kept close, have the joy of one mere
loving interview. My heart grew gentle with tenderness as I approached
the house. She was not at the window. An air of strange gloom pervaded
the place. I entered the parlor; it had not been swept that day; books,
drawings, and Cora’s guitar lay huddled together on the table; all the
blinds were closed but one, and that was kept in constant motion by the
wind, now letting in gushes of light, again filling the room with

In a dim corner stood Mr. Clark’s easy-chair with the back toward me. I
approached it and leaned over. There sat the curate exactly as he had
the morning of his wife’s death, pale, tearless, the most touching
picture of grief that I ever saw.

I looked around for the cause. Where was Cora, and her father in this
state? I ran to her room; it was empty. Into the kitchen; the servant
sat moping by a dresser. She did not know what had come over her master,
or where Miss Cora was. He had not spoken a word or eaten a mouthful
since she went out.

Sick at heart, I went back to the parlor, and, kneeling by the good man,
took his hand in mine.

“Speak to me!” I said; “oh, speak—what has happened? Why are you thus?”

He looked on me as he had done that first day in his grief, laid his
hand on my head, and burst into tears. He did not speak, but put one
hand into his bosom, took out a letter and attempted to unfold it. But
his poor hands shook so nervously that the paper only rattled in his

With painful forebodings I took it from his hand. I did not read it all,
for a sickness of heart came over and blinded me; but enough was plain;
Cora Clark, my little Cora had left her father’s house to be married—so
she wrote—and her companion—who was he?

George Irving left Clare Hall on the very night that letter was written.
She mentioned no names, but this was a part that all might read.

Mr. Clark looked wearily at me as I read the letter. His lips moved, and
he said in a meek, broken-hearted voice,

“What can we do, Zana?”

“We will find her—love her—take her home again,” I said. “Cora shall not
remain with this villain, even as his wife!”

“I fear,” said Mr. Clark, looking meekly in my face, “God has taken away
my strength—I cannot follow them.”

He arose to his feet, but staggered feebly and fell back again, helpless
as a child.

“I will find her. Get well and wait patiently, father, I will not rest
till Cora is at home again.”

“God bless you my child!”

He kissed me on the forehead, and with this holy seal upon my brow, I
went forth from among my father’s people an outcast, an Ishmael among
women, but strong to act and to endure.

                             CHAPTER XLVII.
                    MY LOST FRIEND AND MY LOST HOME.

I had made all my preparations, packed up a few clothes, such as I could
carry upon the horn of my saddle, and carefully sealed up the bronze
coffer, which was half full of gold. Turner had been absent most of the
day, and Maria, luckily, was at the village, for some household purpose.
All this was fortunate. Knowing that a few hours would separate us,
perhaps forever, I could not have sustained my part in their presence.

When they came home my eyes were red with weeping, and I sat down
helplessly between them, so sick at heart that it seemed to me like
death. They had heard of Cora’s elopement, and did not wonder at my

We parted for the night about ten. Oh, how I yearned to throw myself
once more into those kind arms and ask a last blessing! But it could not
be. A suspicion that I was about to leave them would have defeated my
plans. I knew well that they would go forth into the highway homeless
beggars rather than see me so depart.

With calm sadness, though my heart swelled painfully in my bosom, I went
to my room. Oh, that dull, mournful hour of solitude while I waited for
those two friends, all I had on earth, to sleep, that I might escape
like a thief from beneath their roof. I shall never forget that hour. A
life-time of dreary pain was crowded into it. Remember I was very young,
and could only recall as a dream the time when that park had not been my

True, I had a purpose that gave me strength. Cora must be brought back
to her father; then what was to be my fate? The gipsy caves of
Granada—those caves at whose bare remembrance my poor mother had
shuddered even in the zenith of her happiness? But where else should I
go? Ishmael was not more thoroughly cast out by his father’s people than
I had been—while more fortunate than me, his mother went with him into
the desert. I was alone. In the broad world there was no human being
from whom I could claim the draught of cold water which poor Hagar gave
to him.

I went forth, braving all the woes that were divided by the outcast
mother and her child. The rival that I had loved better than a sister
had taken the soul that was mine, and cruelly left me to perish or to
suffer; it mattered as little which to her as it did to Sarah, that her
handmaid died in the wilderness, or passed heartbroken into the desert.
Driven forth from my last shelter by my father’s sister, hunted down
like an evil thing, I felt like the poor stag which I had once saved
from the very foes that seemed chasing me to death. As I sat there alone
in my pretty chamber, with the coffer in my lap, and the bundle at my
feet, I thought of the stone cairn beneath which my mother lay, deep in
the snow mountains, and wished that I too were under it.

Everything was still. Nothing but the faint flutter of autumn leaves as
they fell to the earth reached my ear. Yes, one thing more, the beatings
of my poor heart sounded loud and quick in the stillness, like the laugh
of winter winds when they rustle through masses of dead foliage.

I got up at last—oh, with what heaviness of heart and limb. With the
coffer in one hand, and the bundle in the other, I passed like a ghost
from my beautiful chamber, leaving it bathed in the autumn moonbeams,
all the more quiet that a weary heart had gone out of it.

I went through the little picture gallery. The moonlight threw my black
shadow on the lovely pictures and statuettes, veiling them, as it were,
in mourning at my approach. As I looked back through my tears, they were
poised gracefully as ever, and smiling in the pale light heartless as my
human friends. It was only in my path that the darkness fell.

One moment I paused at the door of Turner’s room. I held my breath,
listening at the key-hole for the faintest noise. A sigh from those
loved sleepers would have fallen upon my heart like a blessing. Nothing
reached me—nothing but the sound of the wind, which was beginning to sob
among the leaves out of doors.

As I listened, something rubbed against my ankle, and the soft purr of a
house cat, whose instinct had recognized me in the dark, made me utter a
faint exclamation. I stooped down and caressed the kind animal a moment,
then hurried away, fearful that my sobs would arouse Turner. The cat
followed me to the stable, and looked on while I saddled Jupiter with a
sort of grave wonder, which seemed to me like regret. She watched me as
I fastened my bundle and mounted the poor old pony. When I rode away,
looking wistfully back at the house, she kept her place till I could no
longer distinguish her.

I believe it was a beautiful night; certainly the moon was at its full,
and the sky crowded with stars, luminous with that deep glow which
precedes an early frost. Without being boisterous, the wind filled the
leaves with their mournful whispers, and the fragrance of broken leaves
and forest flowers, that always breathe sweetest as the frost kills
them, floated silently on the air, saddening the atmosphere with the
perfume of their decay.

I received all these impressions passively, for my heart was too heavy
for anything but that dull consciousness which is blunted by pain. All
the way I was comparing myself with the boy Ishmael, and thinking of
Hagar with yearning sympathy, such as a woman only who has been wronged
and cast forth into that great desert the world can feel.

I reached Marston Court, but the imposing beauty of those walls, the
picturesque effect which the broad moonlight produced among its carved
balconies, broad eaves, and great entrance doors, made only a dream-like
impression on me. My heart was full of one thought. Here and now I must
part with old Jupiter for ever, my last friend. I reached the steps, let
myself down from the saddle, and unknotted my bundle with cold,
trembling fingers, that blundered painfully in their task. Then—it was
because I wanted to prolong the moment of parting—I knotted up the
bridle short upon his neck, that he might not tread on it. When this was
done, I stood a long time with my arm over his neck, crying like a
child. Poor old fellow! when I stood up and shook his bridle, telling
him as well as I could for my sobs, to go home again, he turned his head
and fell to whimpering, as if he understood my desolation better than
any human creature had done.

“Go,” I said, for all the strength was leaving me. “Go home,

He went tramping heavily over the tangled ground homeward as I had
commanded. I stood till he disappeared among the thickets, listening
breathlessly for his last footfall. When that came, I felt, for the
first time, how utterly, utterly I was alone in the world. I sat upon
the steps of that old house a long time, without thinking or caring what
was next to be done. Perhaps I fell asleep; but at last a hand was laid
on my shoulder, and Chaleco stood beside me.

“Come,” he said, “this is no place for you; the night is cold.”

“Is it?” I said, rising languidly, “I did not know it!”

“Not know it? Why you are trembling like a willow branch now.”

I was indeed shivering from head to foot. My garments rustled as I stood
up, for the dew upon them had turned into frost.

Chaleco had kindled a fire in the huge chimney of his tower room, and
the flames sent a thousand shadows dancing among the grotesque marble
carvings that overhung them. He had evidently made some preparations for
my coming. A huge easy-chair, cushioned with tarnished velvet, stood on
the hearth; and on a little work-table, with curiously twisted legs, was
a plate of biscuit, and one of those old-fashioned goblets of Venetian
glass which have since become so rare.

I was about to sit down, somewhat cheered by the warmth; but Chaleco
prevented this, while he shook the frost from my garments and carefully
removed my bonnet.

“There, now, you may warm yourself without being wet through,” he said,
kindly; and taking a silver cup from the hearth, he filled the goblet
with Bordeaux wine, spiced and warm.

“There,” he said, “eat and drink; then we will have some talk together.”

I obeyed him, cheered and comforted, spite of my grief.

“There, now that you have got a dash of color, and have ceased
trembling, tell me how you got away. Did any one attempt to stop you?”
said Chaleco, at length.

“No one knew—I ran away!”

He laughed.

“That was right—the old blood there. But Papita’s money—you did not
leave that behind?”

“No, I have it here. Do you want it?”

“I? by the Sphinxs! no, it would burn my soul. The gold is
yours—everything in the coffer is yours. Papita’s curse would consume
any other who touched it.”

“But what can I do with it?”

Chaleco laughed till his white teeth shone again.

“What can you do with it?” he said. “Anything, anything. It will take
you to Granada—make a queen of you.”

I shook my head.

“So you reject it; you still despise the Caloes who would adore
you—still cling to the Gentiles who have spurned you forth like a dog.”

“Not so—I scorn no one—I cling to no one—God help me! I have nothing on
earth to which I can cling!”

“Your mother’s people—are they nothing?”

“They murdered her!” I said with a shudder.

Chaleco turned white; his eyes fell, and he muttered,

“I—I did not do it!”

“No, but they did,” I answered.

“It was the law—an old law, made among the people of Egypt centuries
ago; no man among us dares withstand the law.”

“But you would have me acknowledge these laws—enforce them?”

“Our people are ready; go to them with those blood-red rubies in your
ears; give them of Papita’s gold, and they will make you greater than
Chaleco—greater than Papita ever was.”

Again I recoiled from the thought.

“Where else will you go?” asked the gipsy; “who else will receive you?
What other friend have you on earth but me—me, the man whom your mother
betrayed? Yet who has spent his life in guarding her child. If not with
your own people, where will you go, Zana?”

Where could I go? Deserted by the whole world, who would receive me save
the gipsy hordes of my mother’s race, or those to whom friendship for me
would bring ruin on themselves?

I did not attempt to answer. On the broad earth that strange gipsy man
was the only human being that would not turn away in scorn, or become
imperilled by defending me.

“You will go to Granada, Zana?” he continued, bending over me with
paternal interest. “Had Lord Clare but lived to sign that will, then,
indeed, you might have remained here to triumph over your mother’s foes.
Many of her tribe could have crossed the sea to render homage to
Papita’s great-grandchild—the inheritance of her gold, and the symbols
of her power. In these old walls, Zana, should your court have been;
these great oaks clothing the uplands should have sheltered a thousand
tents. Oh, Zana, we would have built up a little kingdom here in the
midst of our enemies. Why did you not have that will signed, Zana? It
was for this we brought you back to England—for this you have been left
among her destroyers so long.”

“Hush!” I said, shuddering—“hush! I dare not think of it. Great heavens,
were all his estates mine at this moment, I would give them to forget
that death-scene. Thank God, he did not sign that will!”

“Bah! it was a bad move—but let that drop. Granada is still open, and
Papita’s gold will do wonders among our people there!”

“But they are ignorant, rude, untaught. My poor mother pined among them,
even before Lord Clare came to turn her discontent into aversion.”

“But they are capable of learning—they will follow Papita’s child in all
things. She has but to will it, and the young ones of her tribe can be
wise and deeply read as their queen.”

This idea filled me with a new life. Yes, I might be the means of
improving this wild race. Perhaps God had permitted me to be spurned and
cast forth like a rabid dog from among the gentiles, that I might become
a benefactor to the Caloes. Surely they could not deal more
treacherously by me than my father’s people had done. These thoughts
were succeeded by a remembrance of Cora, and they gave way before the
great duty that I had imposed on myself.

“Chaleco,” I said, with energy and decision, “there is yet something for
me to do here. I had a friend”——

He interrupted me.

“I know the parson’s daughter, a little golden-haired, blue-eyed thing,
that will always be a child. You would find her—for what?”

“That she may return to her father—that she may be saved,” I answered.

“Nay, nay, let her go. What has Papita’s child in common with this
traitress? What is there worth loving in one who could become the victim
of a wily boy like that?”

I felt the blood rush to my forehead at this scornful mention of the man
I had loved with all the fervor of my mother’s race, and all the pride
of his. But was he not a traitor? How could I resent it, though the
swart gipsy did revile him? But the anger I dared not form in words
broke out in decision of purpose.

“Stay with me—help me till I find Cora—till I send an assurance of her
marriage back to that broken-hearted man, and I will then go with you to

“Heart and soul?” questioned the gipsy.

“Heart and soul!” I replied.

“You will abandon these people?”

“If you insist, I will.”

“Then let us linger.”

“But where—how?” I questioned. “What course can we take?”

“That which they took—the way to Scotland.”

“Let us start at once,” I cried, fired with a thousand conflicting
feelings, in which there was jealousy, doubt, and a generous desire to
rescue my friend; but my limbs gave way beneath all this eagerness, and
I fell back gasping for breath.

“Not now—you must have rest, poor child,” said the gipsy, smoothing my
hair with his palms.

I drew back, recoiling from a repetition of the mysterious influence
which had possessed me the last time I was in that room.

“Do you fear me—me, Chaleco?” he said, with saddened eyes.

“No; but let me act independently—let my brain be clear, my limbs
free—let my own will control me—none other shall!”

He smiled quietly, and kept his softened eyes fixed on mine. I began to
struggle against the drowsiness that possessed me; my eyelashes fell
together, and I could muster neither strength nor wish to open them. A
languid repose stole over my limbs—I did not awake till morning, and
then Chaleco stood before me, holding an antique china cup and saucer in
his hand full of smoking chocolate.

“Drink!” he said, raking open the embers; “here are roasted eggs and
bread—they will give you strength.”

I took the cup. “When shall we start?” I asked, eager to commence my
search for Cora.

“Not till after nightfall,” was the reply; “one day of entire rest you
must have. Besides, it will not do for us to travel so near Greenhurst
by daylight.”

My heart fell at the thought that no one would trouble themselves about
us—no one except old Turner, and secrecy was the only kindness I could
render him.

After I had breakfasted, Chaleco left me, and all day long I wandered
through the vast desolation of that old building, as a ghost might haunt
the vaulted passages of a catacomb.

The reaction of all the exciting scenes I had passed through was upon
me, and with dull apathy I strolled through those desolated chambers,
regardless of all that would, in another state of mind, have filled my
brain with the keenest emotions. Everything was so still in the old
house—the sunbeams that came through the windows were so dulled with
accumulated dust upon the glass, that I seemed gliding through a cloudy
twilight quietly as a shadow, and almost as lifeless. I literally cared
for nothing; my heart beat so sluggishly that I could hardly feel the
life within me. Now I remembered every object in the old house with
perfect distinctness. Then everything ran together like an incoherent

Night came, and then I began to wonder about Chaleco, who had been
absent all day. I had no apprehension, and but little anxiety; nothing
just then seemed important enough for me to care about. I thought even
of my father’s death-bed with a sort of stolid gloom.

Lifted high up among the old trees, and opening both to the east and
west, the turret in which I sat took the last sunbeams in a perfect
deluge, as they broke against the tall windows and shed their golden
warmth all around me. I knew that these bright flashes came from behind
Greenhurst, and that I might never see it more. This saddened me a
little, and a throb of pain was gathering in my bosom when Chaleco came
in. I did not know him at first, so completely was he changed. The broad
sombrero, the tarnished gold and embroidery of his gipsy habiliments
were all gone. A suit of quiet brown, with knee-buckles of gold and
leggins of drab cloth, such as the better classes of England wore on
their journeys at that time, had quite transfigured him. His coal-black
beard was neatly trimmed, and though his flashing eyes and peculiar
features bespoke foreign blood, no one would have suspected him of being
the picturesque vagrant he had appeared in the morning.

“Well,” he said, cheerfully, “are you rested and quite ready to start? I
have been making inquiries.”

“Do you still intend going to Scotland?” I asked. “What have you found

“That they went north—so must we. Here, I have brought some food—the
dusk is gathering—eat and let us be off. Old Turner tracked your pony
across the park in this direction; he may be for searching the old
house, and then all chance of coming again will be over. I would not
have this eagle’s nest discovered for the world.”

“But Lady Catherine will discover it,” I said. “She will not leave the
noble building to fall away thus.”

“I have taken care of that. The door leading to the rooms below was
walled up when I first came to England. You have not noticed, but the
staircase winds down within the walls, and has a passage outward through
the wine vaults. We entered through a great oak panel which opens from
the picture gallery; close that and no passage can be found to the
turret. I have formed a snug bower here, off and on, ever since you were
left in the tent, Zana.”

“And were you here then?” I asked, remembering the suffering of that

“No, I fled. Old Papita’s death and her work at the Hurst drove me off.
I went into Spain for a little time—and then farther still.”

“And since then have you been always here?”

He laughed in derision at my ignorance.

“What, a Caloe count of our tribe, and always in one place? What a child
it is! No, no, I only found a roost up in this tower now and then, long
enough to see how it fared with you and the enemy. I have been a great
traveller, Zana, sometimes on your father’s track for months and
months—sometimes hovering over your pretty nest—sometimes with our
people in Granada.”

“Why did you follow Lord Clare?” I inquired, filled with wonder and
respect for energies so indomitable.

“That my rights of vengeance should not be lost. I had received nothing
but pangs and shame. The tribe had _her_. Papita swooped up Lady
Clare—but the greater criminal, the most hated thing of all, was left to
me. No dog ever scented his prey as I tracked Clarence, Earl of Clare.”

“What for?” I cried, thrilled with a horrible suspicion. “Why did you so
hound out my father?”

“Why?” he repeated with shut teeth and gleaming eyes. “What do we follow
the trail of a snake when it has bitten us for, but to kill it?”

My heart was seized as with the talons of a vulture, as he said this. I
remembered the subtle poisons so often mentioned in my mother’s journal,
and rapidly connected them with my father’s terrible appearance when he
returned home to die. Some of these poisons I knew to be of slow action,
eating up vitality from the human system like the sluggish influence of
miasma. Had my noble father been thus poisoned, and by the man who stood
before me?

I could not speak—the horrible thought paralyzed me; my throat was
parched; the breath panted and swelled in my lungs, but I could not draw
a deep respiration. Was it indeed so?—had I sought shelter with my
father’s murderer? He read my thoughts and smiled fiercely.

“You are wrong,” he said; “I did not do that, it needed not the drao,
his own thoughts were enough to poison a dozen lives stronger than his.
I watched him night and day—night and day, Zana; at a distance
sometimes, but oftener close as a brother might, in those safe disguises
that our people study so well. Month after month I was alone with him in
the desert—on the hot sands of Africa—on the sluggish waters of the
Nile. I was his dragoman, his confidential companion; for in the desert,
Zana, even that haughty being, an English nobleman, learns something of
that equality which he is sure to find in the grave. Ten thousand times
I could have killed him like a dog, left him in the hot sands for the
jackals, and no one have been the wiser; but that would have been like a
gentile, who, in the greed of his revenge, ends all with a blow. It was
sweeter to see the flesh waste from his bones; the light from his eyes;
and to watch the death-fires kindle in his cheeks, set to blazing and
fed by the venom of his own thoughts. I tell you, girl, not for the
universe would I have shortened his misery for a moment. To watch it was
all the joy I have tasted since your mother’s last death-wail.”

While he spoke, I struggled with the breath driven back upon my chest as
one wrestles with a nightmare. It seemed as if I was given up to the
power of a demon. At last my voice broke out so sharp and unnatural that
it seemed like another person’s.

“Stop, stop, I will not endure this; he was my father—he was not
deserving of this cruel malice, this murderous revenge. He was my
father, man, remember that, and spare me.”

“It is because he was your father that I hated him—that I gloated over
the pangs that ate away his life with a keener anguish than I could have
dealt him,” answered the gipsy, hissing the words forth as a serpent
shoots venom through its jaws.

“My God! my God! is the murderous blood of this man’s race in my veins?”
was the wild response that broke from me as I writhed in the torture of
his words—“must I become a fiend like this?”

Instantly Chaleco seemed transformed; the evil light went out from his
face, leaving that look of subtle cunning almost universal among Caloes.
With sinister gentleness he strove to soothe me into forgetfulness of
all the tiger so late rampant in his nature.

“Come, little one, look up and weep, if you can; this hot and fiery look
never was your mother’s.”

“She had only her own wrongs to suffer and forgive; while I—oh, Father
of mercies, how great is the load of evil that I inherit and must
endure! Am I doomed like Ishmael? Must my hand be raised against all
races and all people? Is there no brotherhood—no sisterhood—no humanity
left for me on earth?”

“Hush!” said Chaleco, softly, and gliding to the back of my chair—“hush,
little one, this is madness!”

As he spoke, I felt the soft touch of his hands upon my head. What
unearthly power was it that possessed this man? Scarcely had his palm
smoothed down my hair twice, when the oppression upon my chest was gone.
A feeling of ineffable calm stole over me; the hate which a moment
before had burned in my heart against him, sunk quietly down, as a tiger
falls asleep. I remembered all that had been said of my father, it is
true, but vaguely as one thinks of a dream; the sting and anguish, the
sense of reality was gone. I slept a little, probably ten minutes, for
it was not wholly dark when I awoke, but it seemed as if that sweet
slumber had refreshed me for hours.

“Come now,” said the gipsy, bringing my bonnet, and a habit of dark
green cloth that I usually wore in cold weather when on horseback, “get
ready and let us ride. We must make a good night’s work of it!”

“My poor Cora,” I muttered, gathering up the riding-habit, “when you are
found, what will there be for me to accomplish? What is before me after

“Hush, Zana—have you no belief in the God you talk about? We of the
Caloes, who expect nothing beyond this earth, fear nothing while here;
but you, this hereafter makes cowards of you all; you are forever and
ever flinging the present—all a man ever is sure of—after the past, or
filling it with fears that blacken the future. Bah! what is your faith
to be counted for, if it gives no better courage than this?”

I felt the rebuke, and without another complaint equipped myself to

I saw no more of the old house that night, for we passed the secret
panel in the winding staircase which led to the main building, and
penetrating downward through cellars and vaulted passages, came to the
open air through the floor of a dilapidated summer-house.

“Look,” said Chaleco, holding his lantern down that I might examine the
tessellated pattern worked in with colored marbles. “Should the old
house be inhabited at any time, and you wish to seek the tower yonder,
press your hand upon this little flag of verd-antique, the only block of
that noble stone that you will find here. See how easily it works!”

He touched the diagonal fragment, and instantly the centre of the floor
sunk an inch or two and wheeled inward, leaving a circular entrance and
a glimpse of the winding stairs we had just mounted, where a large
mosaic star had a moment before formed a centre to the radiating pattern
of the pavement.

“You understand,” he said, wheeling the star back to its place, “this
passage may yet be of use, who knows? At any rate, it is our secret. I
found the passage and blocked up the turret door. No one remembers much
about the old house now, and the change will never be noticed. No human
soul that ever breathed here, save you and I, are alive; and my lady
countess must take the old pile as she finds it. Twenty years of ruin
will make changes; the birds and I have held possession a long time,” he
added, lifting his eyes to the rooks’ nests that blackened the topmost
boughs of a group of elms just above us.

                            CHAPTER XLVIII.
                     OUR FLIGHT FROM MARSTON COURT.

In the shadow of these elm trees two horses were standing, one equipped
for a lady. They tossed their heads as we came up and backed restively
from the light.

“They are fresh as larks, you see,” said Chaleco, patting the near horse
with his hand. “So, so, Jerald, is this the way you stand fire?” and he
swung the lantern full in the creature’s face, which made him rear and
plunge backward. “Come, Zana.”

I stepped forward, and with a laugh Chaleco lifted me to the saddle.

“There is the true blood again,” he muttered, smoothing down my skirt,
while I gathered up the bridle.

A pair of leathern saddle-bags, such as were often used by travellers in
those times, were swung across Chaleco’s saddle. They contained, he told
me, the clothes I had brought in one end, and the bronze coffer in the

While he arranged these saddle-bags, I sat upon my horse looking
gloomily around. It was a dull, cloudy night. The dense masses of
foliage seemed like embankments of ebony. All around was still and dark
as chaos, save the elm-tree boughs overhead, that began to bend and
quake beneath the disturbed rooks that swept back and forth among them,
sending out their unearthly caws. They seemed like dark spirits calling
out from the blackness, “go, go, go!”

Chaleco took the candle from his lantern, extinguished it beneath his
foot, and flinging the lantern away, mounted. Thus, amid darkness and
silence, broken only by the hoarse rooks that seemed hooting us away, I
the only child of Clarence, Earl of Clare, left his domain and went
forth into the wide, wide world.

We rode fast and steadily on during the whole night, only pausing once
at a field of oats, from which Chaleco gathered food for our horses. The
day revealed a level and very beautiful country, embowered with
hop-fields, and rich with the most exuberant cultivation. With the
bright October air, the sunlight, and all the strange features of
scenery that presented themselves before me, my spirits began to revive.
The warmth and ardor of youthful curiosity, heightened, doubtless, by
the gipsy fire in my veins, a fire which finds its natural fuel in
adventures, rendered me almost happy. The strange world on which I
gazed, looking so broad, so brave in its morning beauty, the air at once
balmy and bracing, awoke all the exhilaration of my nature; and nothing
but pity for my tired horse kept me from breaking into a canter along
the highway.

We stopped at no public house, but ate the cold capon and bread which
Chaleco took from his saddle-bag, at the foot of an old oak growing out
alone on a broad heath or common which we were crossing at the time.
Close by our seat, upon the little mound of turf lifted up from the
level by the gnarled roots of the oak, a spring of the purest water
gushed over a shelf of rock nearly overlapped by rich moss, and with the
appetites a long ride had given, our breakfast was full of fresh

Chaleco’s wandering habits had fitted him well for this out-door life.
When I asked for drink, he ran down to a thicket below the spring,
gathered some huge leaves, and, while walking leisurely back, converted
them into a drinking-cup with two or three dexterous turns of the hand.
I must have smiled as the leafy cup was presented, swelling out with the
most delicious water that sparkled in drops all over the outside.

“Oh, you smile,” said Chaleco; “this is our free-life, Zana. In Spain,
my girl, your drinking-cups shall be made of orange leaves, your sherbet
cooled with the snows of Sierra Nevada.”

I uttered a faint cry—the leafy cup fell from my hands—the snow
mountains seemed looming all around me. My mother—my poor mother—how
could that man bring you thus to my mind? Was it hatred of the gentile
blood in my veins? Did he wish to kill me also?

We mounted again, and rode on in silence. By his inadvertent mention of
the snow mountains, Chaleco had filled his own soul with gloom. I began
to pity him, for his face grew haggard with much thought.

We rested at noon and slept some hours; then on again all night, and
till dark the second day.

Not doubting Chaleco’s ability or sources of intelligence, I followed
him with hope and animation. Perhaps this search after my friend served
to keep my mind from dwelling upon the future—a future which my soul
ever refused to contemplate steadily; the refinements of life, all the
sweet blessings of civilization are not to be flung aside so readily.
Notwithstanding all the wrongs heaped upon me in that land, I could not
think of the barrancos of Granada without repugnance. There was
something of disgust in this remembrance. A purely savage people might
have aroused my enthusiasm, but this blending of savage and civilized
life found among the Spanish gipsies destroyed the dignity of both; they
had neither the vigor of savages, nor the refinements of civilization—no
religion, no hereafter. If I went among them, it must be to adopt their
habits, and abide by their laws. But I dared not reflect on this, and
our rapid journeying served to keep such thoughts in the background.

                             CHAPTER XLIX.

We entered Scotland, travelling rapidly till we reached the mountains. I
do not speak of the scenes through which we passed, because this memoir
is already too long, and my hands are getting weary of the task. At a
little town in the highlands we found two gipsies that I had seen twice
on the way, evidently waiting for us. After an earnest conversation with
these men, Chaleco came to me, apparently somewhat elated.

“Well, child, we have found them out at last! Our people are used to
this kind of work, and a few gold-pieces from Papita’s box kept them on
the track.”

“And have you found them?” I inquired, rejoiced, and yet with a strange
aching pain at the heart, for Cora once found my promise of joining the
Spanish tribes must be redeemed.

“Behold,” he said, drawing me to a window of the public house, which
overlooked one of those pretty sheets of water that lie like mirrors in
the rugged frame-work of the Scottish mountains. “Look yonder on the
opposite hill.”

I saw a small dwelling perched above the lake, and sheltered by a vast
cedar tree.

“Well,” I said, “I see nothing but a farm-house, and some sheep in a
hollow of the mountains.”

“You will find the Gitanilla up yonder, I think,” he answered.

“What, Cora—my Cora? Come—come, it is but a walk, and we are with her.”

“Better than that,” he answered. “The distance is more than it looks; we
will be rowed across the lake by our people. Get your plaid and let us
be off.”

I went for the Tartan shawl which Chaleco had bought as we approached
the chilly north, and we descended to the lake.

It was early in the morning, and long shadows from the mountain fell
sheer across the little loch, letting in gleams of light only in one or
two places where the hills were cleft into fissures and valleys, their
sides rich with heath, through which the sunshine poured upon the waters
in purple and golden splendor.

Through these cool shadows and glowing ripples of light our boat passed
to the opposite shore. A footpath led from the public beach along the
side of a valley winding upward with gradual ascent, to the house we had
seen. It was a stone building, evidently the abode of a sheep-farmer,
whose flocks were scattered over the hill-side, cropping the short grass
from among the heath.

It was strange, but this scene seemed familiar to me; the old stone
house, the lake, the opposite mountains, bold and rugged, the very sheep
whitening the hollows, like masses of snow, reminded me of some foregone
impression vivid as the reality. I bethought myself, with a start, and
stood breathless, gazing upon the house. It was that house, those
mountains, and the quiet lake below that I had seen in my sleep that
night at Marston Court, where, amid storm and lightning, the history of
my parents was pictured in fragments like that before me.

I looked at Chaleco, but he was gazing indifferently around; evidently
the scene had no such associations for him. The power which he possessed
had been sufficient to awaken memory, not create belief in a thing that
had never existed.

A mountain vine, whose leaves were red with their autumnal death sap,
clambered up the front of the old house, hanging around the windows and
eaves, like fragments of hostile banners, in wild keeping with the
rugged scenery. Two or three narrow windows were almost choked up by its
red foliage; but from one, overlooking the lake, it had been forced back
in gorgeous festoons, revealing a lattice full of diamond-shaped glass,
upon which the sunbeams were shining.

As I stood looking at this window, it was gently opened. A face peered
out, and the lattice closed again, before the cry of surprise and joy
had left my lips.

“What is it?” said Chaleco, turning sharply at my exclamation.

“It is _she_! It is Cora!”

“Oh, is that all? I expected to find her here.”

“But she saw me, and shrunk away.”

“Very likely; but you shall see her, little one, nevertheless.”

“Oh, why should she avoid me?” I said, twinkling my tears away with the
lashes that could not keep them back.

“Come—come—don’t be a baby, Zana; weep when you can do nothing better,”
said the gipsy, out of patience with my childishness, “wait a moment,
and I will send the girl out to meet you.”

“No, no, only ask if I may come in—that is all,” I cried, breathless
with fear that he might be rough with the poor girl, “tell her that we
come from Mr. Clark; tell her anything that is kind.”

He did not hear half I said, but entered the house. Directly he
returned, and beckoned with his hand. I advanced into a large kitchen,
furnished comfortably, but rudely, after the Scottish fashion, in houses
of the kind.

“Go in yonder,” said Chaleco, pointing to an inner door, through which I
heard the faint rustle of a dress.

I entered a small room, fitted up with some attempt at elegance. A faded
carpet was on the floor, and some old-fashioned oak furniture stood
around. Two or three good cabinet pictures were on the walls, and some
dainty ornaments of antique and foreign manufacture stood upon a table
near the lattice. By this table stood Cora, stooping wearily forward,
and supporting herself by the window-frame, with her great, wild eyes,
black with excitement, bent upon the entrance. The long golden waves
which ended in ringlets on her shoulders, seemed to light up the pallor
of her cheeks, and I saw that she shrunk and trembled at my approach.

“Cora!” I said, with a gush of loving joy, “dear, dear Cora!”

She shrunk back, folding her arms, and eyeing me with a look of

“Cora, I came from your father; speak to me, I am so glad to see _you_.”

“But why have you come here? I did not ask it—I did not want it,” she
answered, her eyes filling, and her sweet lips quivering.

“I came to ask—to entreat—oh, Cora, come back, come back to your poor
father, or he will die.”

“I know it—I know that he will die without me; but how can I go? what
can I do?”

“Go home,” I answered imperatively; “why, oh, Cora Clark, why did you
leave us?”

“Don’t ask me—don’t speak to me on this subject; I will not be
questioned,” with a gleam of temper in her blue eyes, and a willful pout
of the lips, the remnants of her wayward infancy, “you have no right to
come here, Zana—none in the world. Oh, Zana, _he_ will be so angry.”

Something of the old love was in her voice. Encouraged by it, I went and
softly encircled her shrinking form in my arms, leaning my wet cheeks
against the golden thickness of her hair.

“Cora, dear, is it your husband that you speak of?” I said, with a heart
that trembled more than my voice.

She threw herself on my bosom, clasping me close in her shaking arms.

“Oh, Zana! Zana!”

I understood it all, and the heart, but an instant before trembling with
hope, lay heavy and still in my bosom.

“Cora,” I said, in a whisper, parting the hair from her forehead, and
kissing it with affection deeper than I had ever known before, and yet
with a shudder, for I knew that _his_ lips had touched that white brow
last, and spite of the knowledge, felt in my soul that he was dear to me
even then, traitor and villain as he was, “Cora, love, come home, the
little house is desolate without you; your father”——

“Don’t, oh, don’t; why will you speak that name so cruelly? I cannot
bear it,” she cried, struggling in my arms; “but—but tell me how he is,”
she added, clinging closer and closer, that I might not look in her

“Ill, Cora, ill, and pining to death for the sight of his child.”

Her head fell heavily on my shoulder, and she gasped out, “No, no, he is
_not_ ill.”

I would not spare her one pang, she must feel all the desolation that
had fallen on her good parent, or my errand would fail.

“Yes, ill, Cora, helpless—stricken down like a child. I left him in the
old chair—that by which you and I stood to comfort him on the day of
your mother’s funeral; that was a mournful time, Cora, but the day when
you left him, think what it must have been—think of that noble man,
calling in anguish for his living child, and she silent as the dead—gone
not into the sweet peace of the grave, but”——

“Hold! oh, Zana, Zana! you are killing me—killing me, I say!”

She broke from my arms, and pushed back the hair from her face with both
hands as she spoke; then, as her eyes met mine, full of sorrowful
reproach and moist with compassion, she let the hair sweep down, and
clasping those two dimpled hands over her eyes, wept till her sobs
filled the room.

“Will you leave this bad man and go back to your father, Cora?” I said,
circling her waist with my arms again.

“He is not bad—I cannot—I _cannot_ leave him. It is of no use asking me.
It would kill him; oh, Zana, Zana! don’t call him bad—he is so kind, he
loves me so much!”

“And yet brings you here—steals you away from your innocent home,

I could not go on, grief and indignation stifled me.

“He does not deserve this—I will not hear it!” she cried, breaking from
me. Her sweet face flushed red and warm through the tears that streamed
over it, and her eyes flashed a defiant glance into mine. “Say what you
will of me, I am wicked, cruel, worse—worse, if it pleases you to say
it; but as for him, did I not tell you, Zana, that I loved him? I do—I
do better than life, better than my own soul, better than ten thousand
friends like you, than ten thousand fath——oh, my God, I did not say
that—no, no, I dare _not_ say that.”

I sat down by the table, shocked and almost in despair. She crept toward
me, and sinking down to the floor, laid her head upon my lap, exhausted
by this outbreak of passion.

“Hush, Cora, hush, and let us talk quietly a little,” I said, after a
pause, during which we both cried bitterly together, as we had often
done over our petty sorrows in childhood. “Tell me, darling—don’t, don’t
cry so—tell me why it is that this man does not make you his wife?”

“Don’t ask me about that—don’t, don’t—he is afraid of Lady Clare, he
expects everything from her.”

“I know it—I know it well; but”——

She interrupted the bitter speech on my lips.

“Oh, she is a terrible woman, Zana, and he fears her so much; she has
got everything that ought to be his, and would quite crush him if she
suspected anything before all is settled between them.”

How beautiful she looked with her pleading eyes, soft with love and dim
with tears—so unconscious, too, of her terrible position, so
confiding—my heart ached for her.

“You will go back and tell this to father,” she said, kissing my hands
and folding them to her bosom; “tell him only to have patience for a
little time; cheer him up, Zana, he loves you so much, almost as much,
you know, as he did poor me. Tell him I am quite comfortable here among
the hills; that I read some, and think of him more than is good for me.
Will you say all this, Zana?”

“Don’t ask me now, darling—take time, I shall stay here by the lake a
week yet; we will consult and think what is best to be done. Stop
crying, dear, it will do no good”——

She interrupted me, with a faint smile.

“I know it—if tears would help one, I should be very happy, for I do
think no human being ever shed so many. It is lonesome here sometimes,

“But you are not alone,” I said, with a gleam of hope; “he cannot find
much amusement here to take him away from you.”

“Oh, _he_ is scarcely ever here. They keep him so constantly occupied.”

“Who?” I inquired, surprised.

“Oh, the countess and the young lady they call Estelle. Do you think her
handsome, that Estelle? some people do, but”——

I interrupted her, sharply.

“Lady Clare—is she in the highlands, then?”

“Yes, they came up to a hunting-lodge, some miles back in the mountains,
that Lord Clare used to live in years ago; his death made them all too
gloomy for society, and they came quietly up here.”

“And does Lady Clare know—that is, does she consent that you reside so

“I never asked; he thought it best, and I could not endure to stay in
London alone; but after a little, no one will care if she does know.
When all is settled, you see, papa can come and live with us at Marston

I shuddered; how cruelly each word went to my heart—they would live at
Marston Court then. A jealous pang shot through me at the bare idea; and
yet if her dream should prove unreal, how terrible must her fate be. The
interview was becoming painful beyond endurance. I arose, she clung to
me caressingly.

“You will come again, Zana; I have some things on my mind that trouble
me besides my poor father.”

“But shall I find you alone?”

“I am almost always alone,” she replied, sadly.

“To-morrow,” I said, “be ready and we will go out on the lake together,
and talk over everything. Would you like that, Cora?”

She smiled, and her soft eyes sparkled through their mistiness; poor,
young thing, she was half unconscious yet of the misery that lay before
her. She kissed me over and over again as I left, and when our boat was
upon the lake, I looked back and saw her standing in the little
casement, framed in, like a sorrowing cherub, by the crimsoned vines.

                               CHAPTER L.
                           THE ANTIQUE BIBLE.

I spent a most anxious night, my heart racked by a thousand wild
emotions. Need I describe them? Has any human being the power of
conveying to another in words the storm of jealousy, compassion, rage,
and love that filled my bosom? I know that there is a great want of
dignity in acknowledging that I still loved this man, that I could for
an instant think of him without virtuous detestation; but I am writing
of a human heart as it was, not, perhaps, as it should have been. To me
George Irving seemed two beings. The man I had known, generous, wise,
impetuous, all that my heart acknowledged to be grand in humanity; and
the man I had heard of, treacherous, full of hypocrisy, and vile in
every aspiration. I could not reconcile these clashing qualities in my
mind. To my reason, George Irving was a depraved, bad man; but my heart
rejected the character, and always turned leniently toward the first
idea it had formed. While I pitied Cora from the bottom of my soul, and
loved her so dearly that no sacrifice would have been too costly a proof
of this devotion, there was jealousy in my heart that embittered it all.
Alas, it is often much easier to act right than to feel right.

When I went for Cora, the next day, she took me to an oaken cabinet in
her room, and with a sad smile—for all her pretty smiles had a shade of
sadness in them now—asked me to examine some old books that lay huddled
together on the shelf.

“It is singular,” she said, “but your name is written in some of these
books, and Zana is a very uncommon name. Would you like to see how it is

She took up a small, antique Bible, and after unclasping the cover of
sandal-wood, on which some sacred story was deeply engraved, placed it
open in my hands. On the fly-leaf was written, in a clear and very
beautiful hand,

“Clarence, Earl of Clare, to his wife Aurora.”

A date followed this, and lower down on the page was a register, in the
same bold writing, dated at the hamlet, some months after the
presentation lines were written. This was the register:

“Born, June ——, Zana, daughter of Clarence, Earl of Clare, and Aurora,
his wife.”

The book fell from my hands; I did not know its entire importance, or
what bearing it might have on my destiny, but my heart swelled with a
flood of gratitude that almost overwhelmed me. I had no idea of its
legal value, but the book seemed to me of inestimable worth. In it were
blended, in terms of honor, the names of my parents; how it came there I
did not ask.

Cora stooped down to recover the book, but I seized it first,
exclaiming, amid my sobs,

“It is mine—it is mine, Cora! Cora, I bless you—God will bless you for
giving me this great happiness.”

We went down to the lake, where Chaleco waited with the little boat. He
looked hard at me, as I came round the tiny cove, where he lay as if in
a cradle, rocking upon the bright waters as they flowed in and out,
forming ripples and ridges of diamonds among the white pebbles of the

“What is it, Zana?” he said, springing ashore, as Cora seated herself in
the boat, and interrogating me in a whisper on the bank. “You look sharp
set, like a hawk when it first sees its prey. What has happened up

I took the antique little Bible from under my shawl, and opening it at
the blank leaf, pointed out the writing.

He read it two or three times over, and then thrust the book into his
bosom. His face was thoughtful at first, but as he pondered over the
writing, muscle by muscle relaxed in his dark features, and at last they
broke forth in a blaze of the most eloquent triumph; his questions came
quick upon each other, like waves in a cataract.

“Where did you get that? Is it all? Who has had possession so long?
Speak, Zana, I must know more.”

“Why, is it so important?” I inquired, excited by his look and manner.

“Important! why, child”——but he checked himself, inquiring more
composedly how I came in possession of the book.

I told him how it had been pointed out by Cora. Without more
questioning, he stepped into the boat, and bade me follow him.

When we were all seated, and the boat was shooting pleasantly across the
lake, Chaleco began, in a quiet, indifferent manner, to converse with
Cora. At first she was shy and reluctant to answer him, but his manner
was so persuasive, his voice so winning, that it was impossible to
resist their charm. After awhile he glided into the subject of the book,
speaking of its antique binding, of the rare perfume which she might
have noticed in the precious wood, and he went on to explain that it was
used of old in the building of the Tabernacle. All this interested Cora
greatly, and when he began to wonder how this singular volume could have
found its way into the farmer’s dwelling, she commenced to conjecture
and question about the probabilities with more apparent earnestness than

“The old people might perhaps know,” she said. “Now I think of it, they
did tell me of some persons, a gentleman, lady and little child that
lived with them long ago—probably they left the book; but then, how came
Lord Clare’s name in it?”

“Yes, sure enough,” murmured Chaleco, cautious not to interrupt her.

“Besides, Lady Clare’s name was not Aurora, and he never would have
lived here with that beautiful hunting-seat only five miles off, you

“That is quite true,” acquiesced Chaleco, while I sat still, listening
keenly to every word.

“You see,” continued the young girl, quite animated on the subject, “you
see how impossible it is that the writing means anything; but it is in
other books—that is, names are written in them, Clarence sometimes,
sometimes Aurora, now and then, both names; but, Zana, I have never
found that but once.”

Chaleco fell into thought, and the oars hung listlessly in his hands for
some minutes. At last he spoke again, but on indifferent subjects, about
the lightness of the air, and the beautiful, silvery glow that shimmered
over the waters. But once in a while he would quietly revert to the book
again, till I became impressed with its importance to a degree that made
me restless for more information.

After sailing around and across the lake for several hours, we drew up
at a little island scarcely half a mile across, that lay near the centre
of the lake, green as a heap of emeralds, notwithstanding the season was
advanced, and embowered by cedar and larch trees, with the richest and
most mossy turf I ever trod on, carpeting it from shore to shore.

Chaleco brought forth a basket of provisions from his boat, and bade us
wander about while he prepared our dinner. We waited to see him strike
fire from two flint stones that he gathered from the bank, and kindle a
quantity of dry sticks that lay scattered beneath the trees. When he had
spitted a fowl, which, gipsy like, he preferred to cook himself after
the sylvan fashion, we went away, and sat down under a clump of larch
trees, sadly and in silence, as was natural to persons whose thoughts
turned on a common and most painful subject.

I had resolved, there and then, to make my last appeal to the infatuated
child. She must have guessed this from my silence and the gravity of my
face, for she became wordless as myself, and as I glanced anxiously in
her eyes they took the sullen, obstinate expression of one prepared to
resist, and, if driven to it, defy.

We sat down together upon the grass. The delicate green foliage of the
larches quivered softly over us, and the brown leaves of some trees that
had felt the frost, rustled through the air and spotted the turf as with
the patterns in a carpet. We remained a long time gazing on these
leaves, in sad silence, but holding each other by the hand, as was our
habit when little children. My heart was full of those dear old times;
it killed me to think that they were gone forever—that again on this
earth Cora and I could never be entire friends, friends between whom no
subject is forbidden, no respect lost. When I thought of this, and knew
that, the impediment lay in my heart as much as it could in her conduct,
the future for us both seemed very hopeless. I can hardly describe the
feelings that actuated me. Perhaps they arose from the evil felt in my
own person, the result of a step like that which Cora had taken,
entailed by my mother. True, the cases were not alike; my poor gipsy
mother had not sinned consciously; no high moral culture had prepared
her to resist temptation; no fond parent graced her with his love; but
her act had plunged me, her innocent child, into fatal troubles that
must haunt me though life.

It is possible, I say, that these thoughts prevented me feeling all the
charity that would have been kind for the poor girl at my side; perhaps,
and this is most probable, I could not forgive the companionship of her
error, for it is a terrible trial to feel that one you cannot entirely
respect is preferred to yourself. In striving thus to analyze the
feelings that made me drop Cora’s hand for a time as we sat silently
together, one thing was certain, I did not cordially love her with the
affection of former years. Still, feelings swelled in my heart stronger
and more faithful than love—gratitude, and my solemn promise to the good
father; compassion for her, not unmixed, but powerful enough to have
commanded any sacrifice; a firm desire to wrest her from the man who had
wronged us both; all these motives influenced and urged me on to rescue
that poor girl, if human eloquence and human will could accomplish it.

I attempted to speak, but my throat was parched and my faculties all lay
dead for the moment; but struggling courageously with myself, I took her
hand, pressing it between my own cold palms; “Cora,” I said, still in a
whisper, for my voice would not come, “have you thought all this over?
will you go with me to your father? Remember, love, he is ill and may
not live.”

The hand began to tremble in mine, but she turned her face away.

“Let the subject drop,” she said, in a voice low and full of pain, like
mine; “it is of no use talking, I will not leave him. It would kill us
both; I should perish on the way.”

Now my voice returned—my heart swelled—words of persuasion, of reason,
rose eloquently to my lips. I reasoned, I entreated, I portrayed the
disgrace of her present position, prophesied the deeper shame and
anguish sure to follow. I described the condition of her father in words
that melted my own heart and flooded my face with tears. I prostrated
myself before her, covering her dimpled and trembling hands with my
tears, but all in vain. My passion was answered with silence or
smothered monosyllables. She suffered greatly; even in the excitement of
my own feelings I was sure of that. At length she broke from me, and
rushed off toward the beach, evidently determined to protect herself
from my importunity by the presence of Chaleco.

I had no heart to follow her, but went away in another direction,
walking rapidly toward the opposite extremity of the island.

                              CHAPTER LI.
                            THE ISLAND COVE.

As I neared a tiny cove that shot up like a silver arrow into the green
turf, I was surprised to find the gay streamers of a pleasure boat
floating over the rushes that edged the cove. With my tearful eyes and
flushed countenance, I was in no condition to meet strangers, and turned
to retrace my steps, heart-sick, and at the moment recoiling from the
sight of anything human. Scarcely had I walked twenty paces, when
footsteps followed me, and some one called me by name. I looked around
and saw Mr. Upham coming up from the boat. I would not appear to fly
from this man, though my heart rose against him in detestation.

“Zana,” he said, approaching me more slowly after I paused, and speaking
with forced cheerfulness, “how came you here, of all places in the
world; are you the goddess of this little island—a fairy? In the name of
everything beautiful, explain this meeting?”

I did not at first reply; indeed it was difficult to account for my
presence thus alone on a remote spot never visited perhaps once a year.
Important, as I felt secrecy to be, I could not speak of Chaleco or
explain anything regarding Cora, whose position, above all things, must
be kept from a man so intimate with the Clares. I attempted to answer in
his own light way.

“The spirits of air and water do not offer themselves so readily, sir; I
came from the little public house yonder, in a very common-place boat.”

“Then you are alone?” he questioned, with a quick sparkle of the eye,
that filled me with courage rather than terror.

“At present, yes.”

“And how long have you been in Scotland, may I presume to inquire?”

“A very short time.”

“But you are not all this distance from home alone?”

“No, I have friends with me.”

“Oh, yes, old Turner, I suppose. And now, sweet Zana, let me say how
happy, how very happy I am to meet you again; it seems like a dream.”

It was impossible that I should not feel the deprecating humility of his
manner; besides, what had I ever received from this man but kindness?
His only fault was that of having offered love, protection, honorable
marriage, when all others of his race shrunk from me as if I had been a
leper. Still there was aversion in my heart; and I walked on, but not in
the direction of our boat. He followed me.

“Can you forgive it, Zana, that I am still true;—that I cannot cease to
love you?”

“It is not a crime to love any one,” I answered, touched by his
earnestness. “I do not scorn, but am grateful for all kindness!”

“Then you will listen to me?—you will yet be mine? I will protect you,
Zana, in the face of all these haughty Clares. I am now independent.”

“It cannot be,” I said, firmly, but not with the austere repulsion of
former days. “I shall never love—never marry—my destiny is fixed.”

“Oh, Zana,” he said, “why do you repulse me thus? What have I done to
deserve it? Have not all others forsaken you?”

“Alas! yes!” I said, weeping.

“Have they not treated you worse than a Russian serf or negro slave,
while I have always been firm in my devotion, true as heaven itself in
my love? Is this love at such times nothing, that you cast it so
scornfully away?”

“I do not cast it away scornfully, but am grateful, very grateful; still
it is impossible that I should ever love you, or become your wife.”

“Tell me why, Zana!”

“Because I have no power over the affections of my own heart; they are
the only tyrants I cannot overcome,” I said.

“But give me time; only endure my presence,” he persisted, seating
himself by me so gently that I was almost unconscious of the act; “these
tyrant affections must yield to the power of love like mine.”

I shook my head and made a motion to rise, but he held me down with a
gentle pressure of his hand on my arm.

“Can you—can you know, my Zana, for _I will_ call you mine this once—can
you know how much love you are trampling to death?”

“I only know that no one feeling in my heart answers to it.”

“And yet, oh, heavens, how I have lavished the first fruits of my life
away upon this one hope! all other women were as nothing—to me. The
proud Estelle, before whom Irving bends like a slave, and Morton in
infatuation, could not win a thought from a heart too full of you for
anything else. And little Cora, whose beauty and childish grace divided
Irving’s heart with Estelle, was to me vapid and uninteresting, because
my soul had room for but one idol, and that idol Zana!”

I grew heart-sick and felt myself turning pale. Was it true?—could the
heart of man be so vile? George Irving the slave of Estelle, and Cora,
my poor Cora!—

“You speak of Irving,” I said, in a voice that shook, though I made
great efforts to compose it; “and of Estelle—tell me—tell—where is that

“What! are you ignorant that she is in Scotland, she and her mother,
consoling the countess, and only waiting for the decencies of mourning
to be over, for the wedding?”

A faintness seized me. Poor, poor Cora, this would kill her, it was
killing me. Estelle Irving, _her_ husband, the thought was a pang such
as I had never felt before; to Cora I could have given him up, but
Estelle, from my soul I abhorred her.

“You are silent, Zana,” said my companion. “You will reflect on what I
have said. Remember it is not the penniless tutor who would have divided
his crust with you before, who asks your hand now; I possess
expectations—certainties that even the haughty Estelle would not reject.
The Marston Court living is one of the best in that part of England; I
have already taken orders.”

“But I thought the Marston Court living was promised to Mr. Clark, poor
Cora’s father,” I exclaimed.

“By Lord Clare, yes; but his sister, you know, has her own ideas, and
since that unpleasant affair of the daughter, she refuses to think of

“Oh, Cora! Cora! what have you done!” I cried, weeping bitterly; then
struck with sharp indignation, I looked up, dashing the tears aside.
“And that lady—that vile, unwomanly countess—she dares to punish a good
old man for the sins of his child, while she urged _him_, the traitor,
who tempted her to ruin, into a position which compels him to abandon

“Of whom do you speak?” he asked, almost in a whisper, so deeply had my
desperate words excited him.

“You know—you know!” I said, breaking forth afresh;

“why force me to utter that detested name?”

He took my hand. I did not withdraw it, for, at the moment, even his
sympathy was welcome. Sighing deeply, he lifted it to his lips. I arose,
determined to leave.

“You will not leave me thus without answer, without hope?” he said.

“I have but one answer to give, and no hope,” was my firm reply.

He looked at me an instant, growing pale as he gazed.

“You love another still, and believe he loves you,” he said, with a slow
curve of the lip.

“Hold!” I cried, stung with shame at the remembrance that I had once
confessed this love and gloried in it; “I do not love another. It is not
in my nature to give anything but detestation to treachery and vice like

“Then spite of your words I _will_ hope,” he cried, seizing my hand and
kissing it.

Before I could remonstrate he was gone, disappearing down a grassy
hollow that sloped to the little cave where his boat was lying. As he
sprang into the boat, I saw, out upon the lake, lying sleepily on the
water, another shallop in which a single fisherman sat with a rod in his
hand. His face was toward me, and it seemed that he was gazing upon the
spot where I stood. How long this solitary individual had been upon the
lake I could not conjecture, but my heart told me who it was; the
nearness of his presence held me in a sort of fascination, and, like one
in a dream, I saw the boat glide toward the shore, and Irving spring
out—a moment, and we stood face to face.

We gazed at each other breathlessly. He was much excited, and looked
upon me with an air of impetuous reproach.

“It is you, then, and here, Zana—I did not believe it—I would not
believe it even now, the whole thing seems false!”

“You did not expect to find me in this place, I can well believe,” was
the sarcastic reply that sprang to my lips.

“No,” he said passionately, “I did not; they told me you had fled from
home in the night; but that you would come here, and that I should find
you thus, the thought would have seemed sacrilege. Great heavens, is
there nothing trustworthy on earth?”

His passion confounded me. By his words one would have thought me an
offender, not him. I did not know how to reply, his air and speech were
so full of accusation. He saw this and came close to me.

“Zana,” he said, in a voice rich with wounded tenderness, “leave this
place; go back to Greenhurst, Turner will receive you as if this
miserable escapade had never been. This is no shelter for you; these
honest old people up yonder are too good for the cheat practised upon

“Cheat—I—explain, sir! your language is incomprehensible,” I cried,
breathless with indignation. “If there is imposition, let him that
practises it answer; this air of reproof ill becomes you, sir!”

“I may have been too rude, Zana, but the shock, the pain of finding you
here—for I saw all that passed on the island, and hoping still that
distance had deceived me, came to convince myself.”

“Convince yourself of what?” I questioned.

“Of your unworthiness, Zana.”

His voice sunk as he said this, and tears came into his eyes.

“Of my unworthiness?” I said, burning with outraged pride. “In what one
thing have I been proven unworthy?”

“Are you not here?—have you not fled from your natural protectors?”

“And your mother has allowed a doubt on this question to rest on me,
even with you!” I said, calmed by the very force of my indignation.
“Listen; I left home because it was the only way to save my benefactors
from being turned helpless upon the world by your countess mother. I
left secretly, well knowing that if those good people knew the price I
paid for their tranquillity, they would have begged on the highway
rather than consent to my departure. I had one other friend in the
world, an elderly man of my mother’s people. He is a safe and wise
person, and with him I go to the tribe from whence my mother fled when
the curse of your uncle’s love fell upon her.”

“But this is not the way to Spain. The man who has just left you cannot
be that friend,” he answered; “how came you here with him in the hills
of Scotland?”

“I came to save”——

I broke off suddenly, struck with the imprudence of informing him that
my object was to rescue Cora from his power.

“To save whom? oh, speak, Zana! let me believe your object here a worthy

This was strange language. Had he not guessed already that my love for
poor Cora Clark had brought me to the highlands? Such hypocrisy was
sublime; I almost found admiration for it rising in my heart.

“See,” I cried, pointing out Chaleco, who stood at some distance on the
shore, “yonder is the man with whom I left Greenhurst, and with whom I
leave these hills in less than twenty-four hours.”

He stepped a pace forward, searching Chaleco with his eyes. The cloud
went softly out from his face, and when he turned a look of confidence
had supplanted it.

“Zana, is this the truth?”

“Why should I tell you aught but the truth?” I answered.

He looked eagerly into my eyes; his own flashed; his face took the
expression of one who forms a sudden decision.

“And you leave to-morrow?”


“And for Granada?”

“For Granada, I suppose.”

“With that man, and no other?”

“With no other _man_,” I answered, laying an emphasis on the word man;
but he did not seem to heed it as I expected.

“Zana, one word more—answer from your soul—do you love me yet?”

Outraged and insulted, I drew myself up. “How dare you, the promised
husband of Estelle, the lover of—of”——Passion stifled me, I could not
utter Cora’s name.

He seemed surprised.

“I am not the promised husband of Estelle; I love no woman living but
yourself, Zana.”

“Me?—can you say that here—here, and not shudder at the treason?”

“I can say it anywhere, Zana.”

He looked sincere, his voice was sweet as truth, and so like it that a
thrill of exquisite joy stirred my whole system as I listened.

“You believe me, Zana?”

I thought of Cora, and could not answer. Had he in truth ceased to love
her? Could villany so deep appear so honest? He mistook my silence and
went on.

“Forgive me, Zana, if I read my answer in that bright face. You love me
as I love you.”

I made an effort to contradict him, but the words died in my throat, and
he went on.

“It is true, Lady Catherine desires me to marry another; but while you
love me I never will. True she would cast me off and leave me adrift on
the world for seeking you as I have this day; but I love you, Zana;
speak but the word, and I will take you by the hand, lead you to her
presence, and proclaim you my wife.”

“Not me—not me; there is another whom you must so proclaim.”

He did not heed me, but went on impetuously as at first.

“My mother may disown me; thank God, she cannot forever disinherit; we
may have struggles; but what then? we have youth, strength, ability and
love to conquer all. Come with me now, and in ten minutes all the laws
under heaven cannot separate us.”

“In ten minutes?” I questioned, thinking of poor Cora with painful
self-abnegation, for never was a heart tortured like mine; “ah, if ten
little minutes can redeem your obligations to her, why wait? make this
other your wife to-day.”

“Can you counsel this, Zana? Even you desire me to wed a woman whom I
neither love nor respect?”

The blood began to burn in my veins. How dare he speak thus of the poor
girl whose sole fault was her fatal affection for himself? These
indignant thoughts sprung to my lips, but as I was about to utter them,
Chaleco came up. Irving saw him, and addressed me hurriedly once more.

“Speak, Zana, before your strange guardian comes. I give up all—I offer
all; speak, and you are my wife.”

“Never!” I exclaimed, almost fiercely, “never, so help me heaven, will I
marry a man whose honor binds him to another, and that other”——

“Enough!” he exclaimed, wringing my hand hard, and dropping it; “you
never loved me; farewell!”

He turned away and darted around a neighboring rock. When Chaleco came
up his boat was far out on the lake, and I sat watching it with the
heaviest heart that ever cumbered a human bosom.

“What does this mean? Who was the young man who left you just now?” said
Chaleco, looking after the boat suspiciously, as he entered.

“It was George Irving; he wished to make me his wife”——

I could not go on, my voice was choked by sobs.

“His wife?” said the gipsy, with a scornful laugh; “so he has found out
the old books, has seen the register, knows the road to save
himself—cunning young fellow!”

I looked at Chaleco in astonishment; his hateful laugh annoyed me

“What is the meaning of this, these old books? how could they affect him
or his offer? he knew before that I was Lord Clare’s child?”

“But he did not know before that you are Lord Clare’s heiress, a
countess in your own right—one of the richest women in England?”

“Are you mad, Chaleco, raving mad?”

“Almost—but with joy, my Gitanilla. Listen! your mother was married to
Lord Clare. I do not speak of the Alhambra ceremony, but here, legally
by the laws of Scotland, under which you were born. In this country, a
man has but to live with a woman, acknowledge her as his wife, before
witnesses, and she _is_ a legal wife, her children legal heirs before
any court in Great Britain. We have this proof here, in Lord Clare’s own
writing, in the old people with whom he left your mother.”

“And how did you know of this law, Chaleco?”

“Zana, there is not a thing that could affect you which I have not
studied to the centre. Half my life has been given up that you might
prosper; and now, my beautiful countess, comes our triumph.”

With these triumphant words Chaleco went back to his fire again.

                              CHAPTER LII.
                     THE SHEEP-FARMER AND HIS WIFE.

I left the rock which had sheltered me, and went in search of Cora,
resolved at once to expose the perfidy so cruelly enforced upon me. I
found her sitting drearily beneath the larches. At my approach she
lifted her head with a look of sullen apprehension, as if she dreaded
further importunity. I was terribly excited, and breathless, and
doubtless pale. It was impossible for me to begin my painful subject
with delicacy or caution.

“Cora,” I said, “Cora, I have seen him—he is a wretch—he is infamous!”

“Seen him!—seen him! when? where?” she cried, looking wildly around.

“Yonder,” said I, almost lifting her from the earth and dragging her
forward to a point from whence the boat could be seen close by the
opposite shore; “yonder he goes; I have been pleading with him in your
behalf. I besought him not to leave you with this terrible reproach on
your name.”

“Well, well,” she gasped.

“He refused—he spoke of you as a person whom he could not respect.”

“No—no! not that! not that!” she almost shrieked, clenching her hands

“Worse, Cora, worse—he dared to offer his love to me—his vile,
traitorous love. Before this he has done the same thing; but now it was
more direct, more passionate. He offered to brave Lady Catherine, and
break all ties for my sake, this very day.”

I paused in this headlong speech; my words had turned her to marble. She
stood thus white and rigid for a moment, then, like a statue hurled from
its support fell prone upon the earth; her face downward and clutching
the turf with both hands.

I shrieked and fell back from her in dismay, startled by the suddenness
of her fall.

She remained still, and but for a faint quivering of her fingers in the
grass, I should have believed that she had dropped down dead.

“Cora!” I cried, “Cora, my poor Cora, are you hurt?”

I bent down and attempted to lift her from the earth, but she shrunk
from me moaning and shuddering. This repulse was not enough, I wound my
arm around her and covered her golden hair with my kisses.

“Don’t—don’t, your kisses sting me! I would rather have vipers creeping
through my hair!”

Wounded by her words, I desisted and drew back. After a little she
moved, and I saw her face. It was pallid and stony; her eyes were heavy,
and a violet tinge lay beneath them. A look of touching grief impressed
that child-like mouth, which began to quiver as her eyes met mine.

“What?—what have I done, Cora?” was my tearful question, for the anguish
in those sweet eyes filled me with unutterable dismay.

“I heard all that you said—all, every word!” she answered, laying her
head helplessly down on the grass again. “Every word, Zana! You never
told me a falsehood in your life, but I must not believe this; it would
kill me here, at your feet.”

My heart sunk. She knew how worthless he was now, when knowledge was
despair. We had been rivals before she became a victim, that she knew
also. No wonder she shuddered when I touched her—no wonder those sweet
features were pallid, and those white fingers sought to work off the
agony of her soul by tearing the senseless turf.

“Cora,” I said, full of the most tender compassion, “I have done you no
wrong, and never will. Since the day I was sure that you loved him, I
have never willingly been in his presence. Is this no sacrifice, Cora?”

“Then you did love him once?” she said, looking up, as if surprised. “No
wonder, who could help it. But he, Zana, Zana, it kills me to think of
that—he _loves you_; and I—I, O my God—my God, what have I done?”

She began to cry, and for a time her form was convulsed with tears. I,
too, wept, for the same hand had stricken us both. When this storm of
sorrow had passed, she lay quite passive and inert upon the grass, a
single tear now and then forcing itself through her thick lashes, and a
quiver stirring her lips as we witness in a grieved child.

During some minutes we remained thus, when she arose and began to
arrange her hair, sitting on the ground, but her hands trembled, and the
tresses fell away from them. I sat down by her and smoothed the heavy
masses with my hand. She leaned toward me, sobbing.

“It does not feel like a viper, now, Cora!” I whispered.

She threw herself into my arms.

“Oh, Zana, Zana, what shall I do? What will become of me?”

I folded her in my arms, and kissed the quivering whiteness of her
forehead, till it became smooth again.

“Come with me, love—come to the good father who is pining to death for a
sight of his darling.”

“Yes, I will go, Zana. I will never see _him_ again—never, never. Oh,
God help me—never!”

I could not avoid a throb of selfish joy as she said this; but grateful
and relieved folded her closer in my arms.

“Come now,” she said, struggling to her feet; “take me away. Let him go
to the house and find the room empty, perhaps—perhaps that will make him

She began to weep afresh, and fearing that she would sink to the earth
again, I cast my arm around her. “Let me help support you, Cora.”

“Yes, yes, for I am a feeble creature, Zana, but stronger in some points
than you think!”

We moved on through the larch groves, uttering broken sentences like
these, half tears, half exclamations, till a sudden curve brought us
close to Chaleco. His sylvan meal was ready, but neither of us could
partake a morsel of it. With natural tact he did not urge us, but
observed everything, doubtless making his own comments. We entered the
boat, and without asking a question the gipsy rowed us toward the
opposite shore.

We ascended to the house, and conducted Cora at once to her room. All
she asked was darkness and solitude. I had seen her on the bed, passive
and worn out with the storm of sorrow that had swept over her. Chaleco
joined me in the next room.

“Let her sleep if she can,” he said; “you and I must go in yonder; we
have some questions to ask of the old people.”

Chaleco took me to the kitchen. An old woman was on the hearth, spinning
flax; and at a back door where the sun lay warmly, sat a stout old man
smoking. I had not seen, or more probably not observed this couple
before, but now they struck me as familiar, like persons lost sight of
from childhood. Chaleco went out and sat down by the old man, while I
drew toward the woman, and asked some questions regarding her work. She
gave a little start, looked up, and evidently disappointed, began
fumbling in her pocket for a pair of horn spectacles, which were eagerly
placed across her nose.

Never did I undergo a perusal of the face like that. It seemed to me
that the grey eyes under those glasses grew keen and large as they
gazed. At length she started up, breaking the thread from her distaff,
and hurried toward the back door with every appearance of affright.

“Guidman—guidman, coom here,” she said, “coom and see the young gipsy
leddy! As God is above all, she is here, body and soul!”

“Gang awa, woman, these new fangled barnacles are deceiving things. Ye
dinna see as ye did,” answered the old man, deliberately knocking the
ashes from his pipe, by tapping the bowl on his thumb nail.

“Well, then, look for yoursel, guidman,” said the dame, taking me by the
shoulders, and half pushing me toward the door.

When the old man’s eyes fell on my person he stood up and dropped his

“A weel, a weel!” he exclaimed, “wonders will never cease; na dout it’s
the leddy hersel with hardly a year on her heed sin she went, years
sine, with the bairn in her arms.” Then turning to Chaleco, he said, “Ye
wer speerin about the stranger leddy; there she stans.”

“But the lady you speak of would have been older than this,” said

“It’s just the truth,” answered the Scotchman, sinking on his bench,
“seventeen years wad na ha left her sa bonny, whil mysel an the guid
wife ha sunk fra hale, middle-aged folk inta owld grey carlins—but then
wha may the lassie be?”

“You spoke of a child!”

“Aye, gude faith, it’s the bairn grown to be what the mither was. Weel,
weel, time maun ha it’s ain—but wha may be the ladie hersel? A-whow is
it sae, an she sa bonny?”

“You remember her well then?” persisted Chaleco.

“Mind her, wherefore no what sud gin me forget her, or her gowden haired
guidman, a bonnier pair n’er staid in shoon. It wad be na easy matter to
forget them, I tell ye!”

“Then they were married?”

“Wha iver cud doubt it, and their bairn born here?” cried the staunch
old man, proudly; “d’ye think we harbor lemans? There was guid reason
why it sud na be clash’d about; na doot the Earl of Clare was na ane to
put shame on an honest man’s name.”

“Then he told you that he was married to the lady?”

“Tell me, yes; wha but himself sud tell me?”

“And you will swear to this?” questioned Chaleco, allowing none of the
eagerness that burned in his eyes to affect his voice.

“Swear, d’ye think I wad say at any time in my life what I wad na swear

“And the lady—what did you call her name?”

“Aurora; it’s a strange name, but my lard said it had a fine meanin,
something about the dawn o’ the day.”

“Yes—yes, it was a pretty name—but when together how did they seem? Was
he in the habit of calling her his wife? Did she call him husband?”

“Aye—aye, baith him an her; she, puir thing, took great delight i’ the

“Then you knew this man to be Lord Clare? Had you seen him often

“Seen him? wha else learned him to shoot o’ the hills and fish i’ the
loch yonder?”

“And you would know this girl by your memory of her mother?”

“Sud I ken the lassie by mother’s look, d’ye speer?—sud I ken my ain
bairn, think ye? The twa are as like as twa pease—the same blink o’ the
ee—hair like the wing o’ the raven—a step like the mountain deer.
Aye—aye, I ken her weel.”

I drew near to the old man, impatient to learn more of my parents, and
was about to interrupt him with questions; but Chaleco promptly repelled
me with a motion of the hand, giving a warning look which I dared not

Too much excited for a passive listener, I left them and entered Cora’s
sitting room. This little chamber had a double interest to me now. It
was doubtless the place of my birth. The furniture and ornaments so
superior to the dwelling itself had been my mother’s. I stood by the
window looking upon the lake which had filled her vision so many times.
Sad thoughts crowded upon me as I walked to and fro in the room,
determined not to interrupt Chaleco with my impatience, and yet panting
to hear all those old people had to say of my parents. Directly Chaleco
and the old people came in, and once more the closet containing those
precious books was searched. A few letters from Lord Clare to my mother,
were found; Chaleco seized them eagerly, and sat down to compare them
with my mother’s journal, which he had never restored to me.

                             CHAPTER LIII.
                           CHALECO’S TRIUMPH.

We were in London, Chaleco, Cora and myself. The gipsy chief sat at a
small table reading some pages of manuscript that had been a little
before brought to him. Cora lay upon the sofa, with one white hand under
her still whiter cheek, gazing with her great mournful eyes upon the dim
wall opposite.

I was watching Chaleco; the burning fire in his eyes, the savage curl of
triumph that now and then revealed his teeth, as we sometimes see in a
noble-blooded dog, when his temper is up. This expression deepened and
burned as he read on, leaf after leaf, to the end. He did not then
relinquish the paper, but turned back, referring to passages and
comparing them with others, sometimes remaining whole minutes pondering
over a single line.

At last he laid the manuscript down, dashed his hand upon it with a
violence that made the table shake, and turned his flashing eyes on me.

“It is so, Zana; it is so!”

“What is it you have been reading to yourself?” I inquired.

“Wait a minute—let me think it all over. Well, this paper is from the
best solicitor known in the London courts. I laid your case before him,
the Bible, some letters that I found among other books at the old sheep
farmer’s, and my own knowledge.”

“Well,” I said, “what does it all amount to?”

“Nothing but this, my little Zana, Aurora’s child, the scouted,
insulted, outraged gipsy girl is, beyond all peradventure, Countess of

“And Lady Catherine?”

“Is Lady Catherine still, nothing more.”

“But her son?”

“Oh,” replied Chaleco, with a hoarse laugh, “he is the pitiful dangler
to a woman’s apron strings that he ever was.”

My blood rose, I could not endure to hear the man I had loved so deeply
thus spoken of.

“Hush!” I said, looking at Cora, anxious to save her feelings rather
than my own, “Irving does not deserve this; he is no idler, whatever you
may think.”

I had expected to see Cora angry, as I had been, by this scornful
mention of her lover, but she lay perfectly still, unimpressed and
listless, without a flush or a glance to prove the wounded feelings that
were torture to me. This indifference, so unlike her usual
impulsiveness, surprised us both. But for her paleness and the blue
shadows under her great eyes, we could not have guessed how much she had
suffered since our departure from Scotland. No sick child ever resigned
itself more passively to a mother’s arms than she had yielded herself to
us, and no child ever pined and wasted away as she did. All her bloom
was gone. Cold and delicate as wax was the hue of her countenance. The
azure shadows I have spoken of, and the veins threading her temples,
gave the only tinge of color visible in a face rosy as the dawn only a
few weeks before.

She did not seem to hear us, though this was the first time we had
mentioned her lover’s name when she was by. Even Chaleco seemed to feel
compassion for the poor child, and dropped his voice, drawing closer to

“She does not heed,” he said, “but still it seems like hurting her when
we speak of that young villain.”

“Then do not speak of him,” I rejoined, sharply; “where is the

“But we must speak of them—they have possession of your rights.”

“What are those rights?”

“A title—an immense property—power in this proud country—power to help
the poor Caloes,” he answered with enthusiasm—“the power to redeem your
mother’s name among the haughty souls that reviled her—to give back her
memory to the gipsies of Granada pure as the purest among their women.”

“But they murdered her—innocent as she was, they murdered her!” I cried,
shuddering and cold with memories that always froze me to the heart.

A gloomy look stole over Chaleco’s face; his hand fell loosely down, and
he whispered huskily, as if to convince himself:

“I could not help it; she gave herself up. They all thought the stain of
his unmarried lips was on her forehead. She would die—it was _he_ that
killed her, not the gipsies—never say it again while you live, Zana,

I could not answer, but felt myself turning white and cold. He saw it,
and grasped my hand, crying out with fierce exultation:

“But she is avenged, and now that we have the power, this proud woman
and vile boy shall bite the dust, Zana. We will strip them, humble them,
trample them beneath our gipsy feet. Aurora shall be twice avenged.”

“Let me think,” I said, drearily pressing my forehead to still the pain
there; “I have tasted this revenge once, and it was terrible; when such
fruit falls, dare we shake the vine again?”

“Again and again,” was the fierce cry, “till power itself fails. Are you
thinking of mercy, child?”

“I am thinking of many things,” was my vague answer; “but God will help

Chaleco sneered.

“He has helped us, if you choose to fancy it,” he said; “are not her
enemies in the dust—have you not revenge in your grasp?”

“No,” I said, filled with the holy spirit my soul had invoked, “no,
Chaleco, God gives revenge to no human being; it belongs to him. The
memory of my dead father is before me—never again will I wrestle with
these weak, human hands for power which belongs to omnipotence alone.”

Chaleco looked at me sternly; a dark frown was in his eyes.

“If I thought this,” he exclaimed, grasping the paper as if about to
rend it.

He stopped, and held the paper motionless between his hands. Cora had
risen from the sofa, and was leaning forward, looking at us.

“You learned that of my father, Zana,” she said, while a tender smile
stole over her lips; “if anything troubles you, go back to him; I will.”

I was touched to the heart by the pathos and sweetness of these words.
My soul yearned towards the suffering child, and that instant the
resolve which had been floating mistily through my brain took form and
shape. If the disputed estates proved to be mine, I would so endow that
gentle girl, that Irving would rejoice in the chance of redeeming his
prosperity by a marriage with her. Her fame at least I might partially

“You are right, my Cora; I did learn all that is good in me from that
noble-hearted man. You and I should never have left his side.”

“I know it,” she answered, sighing heavily, and sinking back to the sofa
again; “you can go back, as for me”——

Cora broke off and began to weep. I was glad of that, poor thing. Since
the first day she had not wept in my presence after our adventure in the
Highlands. I left her unmolested, and went on talking with Chaleco more
connectedly than we had yet conversed. In a little time he convinced me
that my birth was legitimate, and my claims as heiress to Lord Clare
would scarcely admit of dispute. The chain of evidence was complete.
Though driven away for a little time, Chaleco had hovered around
Greenhurst, till assured that I had found a protector, then he lingered
in England under various disguises, till I was safe under the roof from
which my mother had fled. More than once he had penetrated to my sick
chamber, where I lay delirious with fever, when I was by chance left
alone, or when the nurse slept at night. Again and again he had visited
England after that, assuring himself still of my welfare and identity.
In short, from the time of my mother’s death he had never lost sight of
me, and up to that period the evidence of old Turner, his wife, and the
Scotch farmer, left no thread wanting in the tissue of my claim.

“And if this is so, what steps must be taken?” I inquired.

“They are taken,” answered the gipsy, “Lady Catherine has been notified,
so has her son.”

“Well, have they returned any reply?”

“The lady is here.”

“In London?”

“Yes, in London.”

“Did the mother come alone?” I inquired, observing that Cora had risen
to her elbow, and was eagerly regarding us.

Feeling that, like myself, she was anxious to know if Irving was in town
and was with the family, I asked the question, half in kindness to her,
half to still my own craving desire for knowledge on this point.

“Lady Catherine, her son, and Mr. Morton came together.”

Cora uttered a faint cry, and starting up began to pace the room, as if
the mention of that name had stung her energies into painful activity.

Still I was not fully answered.

“And is no other lady with them?” I persisted.

“And what if there is, how should you care?” was the answer he gave,
accompanied by a look so penetrating that I shrunk from it.

Cora also turned and gazed at me with her great, tearful eyes, as a
gazelle might look at the hunter that had chased him down. I felt the
whole force of that appealing look, but went on asking questions,
determined to comprehend everything, and then act as my own soul should

“And did they decide on anything?” I inquired.

“The mother wishes to contest—the son advises her to yield; their
friends, as usual, are on both sides.”

“And so nothing is settled?”


“I will go to them myself; rest of good cheer, Cora, you shall not
always be so miserable.”

She gave me a wild glance.

“Be tranquil, and trust me, Cora,” I said, full of my project for her
happiness; “it is for you this good fortune has come.”

“There is no good fortune for me on earth,” cried the poor girl,
clasping her hands, “don’t, Zana, don’t smile so; it will set me to
hoping impossible things.”

“Nothing is impossible,” I said, smothering the selfish regrets that
would, spite of my efforts, rise against the sacrifice I meditated. “To
the strong heart there can be no impossibility—here there _shall_ be

Cora came close to me, smiling so mournfully and shaking her head, as I
can fancy Ophelia to have done, with a world of sorrow and one little
glow of hope in her poor face.

“Perhaps he thought that I was within hearing, and so did all that to
tease me.”

As this soft whisper dropped from her lips, the determination of
self-sacrifice grew strong within me. Had we stood at the altar, I
think, at the moment, I should have given Irving up to her; she was so
trustful and helpless. I seized upon the idea; better far was it that
she should fancy anything rather than believe in his faithlessness after
all that I intended for her.

“It was all unfeeling pleasantry, I dare say; careless flirtations, that
meant nothing.”

“Do you really think so?” she inquired, stealing closer and closer to my

“I do indeed think that he has no real love for any one but you, Cora.”

“In truth?—in solemn truth, Zana?—oh, Zana, Zana, say that _you_ cannot
believe it again.”

“I do not believe in his love for—for that other person,” I said,
shrinking from the utterance of Estelle’s name.

“Solemnly, you think this, Zana?”


She drew a deep breath, looked at me so long that I could watch the joy
as it broke and deepened in her violet eyes, and then, satisfied that I
was sincere, sunk back to the sofa, with the most heavenly smile I ever
saw beaming over her face. I sat down by her; she wove her arms around
me and pressed her cheek to mine, trembling softly with that exquisite
happiness which follows a crushed suspicion against those we love. I
could not resist a pang of jealous envy, for it is much easier to make
sacrifices to one that suffers, than to witness the joy which our
self-bereavement gives. The contrast between the rich swell of happiness
that broke in sighs from her lips, and the heavy sense of desolation
that lay upon my poor heart, made me long to put her away.

But soon I felt her kisses wandering amid my hair and over my forehead,
mingled with whispers of gratitude and smiles of hope. After all, Cora
loved me, and I was making her happy. Most solemnly did I believe all
that I had said of Irving. That he did not love Estelle I was certain;
that self-interest had induced his professions to me I was equally
convinced, for Chaleco’s words had fastened upon me when he said that
Irving had sought me because he knew of the evidence I had obtained
regarding my own legitimacy; and Cora, when I asked if she had mentioned
the register which she found to any one beside myself, answered, “only
to him;” but the tutor, Mr. Upham, had read them long ago, when he
lodged a season at the hill-side cottage.

Cora had told me this on the day we left the Highlands, and from that
time I looked upon Irving’s pursuit of myself as a mercenary effort to
retrieve his own desperate fortunes by a marriage with his uncle’s
heiress. Mr. Upham, too; his interested pursuit was now fully explained;
but for him I had scarcely time for a contemptuous thought, so resolute
had my heart become on the sacrifice of its last hope. With these
impressions, I could not believe that Cora had any rival in his heart,
whatever his interests might dictate. So I soothed her, and strengthened
the confidence that was bringing the roses back to her cheek, even then.
Poor thing, she trusted me so implicitly, and her weary heart was so
glad of rest after its anguish, that she believed like a child.

That night, I wrote to Mr. Clark, saying that his child was found, and
that she trusted very soon to tell him her love in the dear parsonage.

With regard to him, also, I had my benevolent dreams. There was the
Marston Court living. If Lady Catherine had no right to the estate, her
power to appoint an incumbent to the living did not exist, but was mine;
and dear Mr. Clark, God bless him, how my heart swelled at the thought
of rescuing him from his present dependence, by appointing him rector
instead of the man whose character had degraded the holy office! I went
into no details, but wrote a cheerful letter, full of hope, determined
to wait for the unfolding of events before I explained everything.

                              CHAPTER LIV.
                         IRVING AND HIS MOTHER.

I knew that the Clares had a town house in Picadilly, and quietly
stealing out in the morning, when Chaleco was out, I called a hackney
coach and drove there at once. A ponderous man, in mourning livery,
opened the door, and looked well disposed to order me down the steps
when he saw my humble equipage. But there was a native haughtiness in me
that men of his class are sure to recognize, and though new to the
world, I was neither timid nor awkward; besides assumption of any kind
was certain to arouse all the contempt and resistance of my fiery

I inquired for Lady Clare.

“She was in, and at breakfast; would I call again?”

“No; I must see the lady then.”

“An appointment?”

“No; but still my interview with this lady must be at once.”

“He did not think she would admit me, her ladyship and Mr. Irving had
been closeted with their solicitors all the morning.”

“You will send up my name and inquire,” I said weary with his
objections, and conscious that this was my time to speak with Lady
Catherine when fresh from her consultation with the lawyers.

My imperious manner impressed him; he inquired my name.


His round eyes opened with astonishment. “Miss Zana, is it?” he said,
after a moment of puzzled thought.

“Zana, that is all.”

He beckoned a footman, and whispered with him. The man disappeared up
some mysterious staircase in the back part of the hall. The porter
returned, and seated himself in his great gothic chair, took a position,
and began to eye me as stage kings sometimes survey the suppliants that
come before them.

The footman came back, walking quickly, and with noiseless step, as
well-bred servants usually do in England. Her ladyship would be happy to
receive the young person.

I followed him in silence. Would her son be there? This thought made my
limbs tremble, but I think no visible agitation marked my demeanor or my

Lady Catherine was in her dressing-room, with a small breakfast-table
before her, covered with Sèvres china and glittering silver. The
delicate breakfast seemed yet untasted, save that one of the cups was
stained with a little chocolate.

Lady Catherine arose, and though she did not come forward, stood up to
receive me. It might have been the light which fell through curtains of
pale, blue silk, but she certainly looked unusually white and haggard. I
saw her thin hand clutch itself among the folds of her mourning gown,
and her eyes wavered as they met mine.

There was an awkward silence as I advanced toward the table. I think she
was struggling to speak calmly, for her voice was unnatural when she did
address me.

“Be seated,” she said falling back to her lounge, not with her usual
languid ease, but abruptly, as if in need of support, “be seated, I—I am
happy to receive you.”

I sat down, firm and composed. He was absent, and as for that woman,
there was nothing in her to discompose me. We seldom tremble where we do
not respect.

“Your ladyship probably knows upon what subject I came,” were my first
quiet words.

I saw by the motion of her whole body that she could with difficulty
restrain her rage.

“Yes, and I thank you for saving me another interview with your very
singular friend,” she said, with a smile that was intended to be
playful, but faded to a sneer.

“What, madam, has Count Chaleco been with you?”

“If you mean that dark browed man who calls himself your protector, he
has given us the honor of his company more than once.”

“I do mean him, and he is my protector!” I answered, stung by her look
and tone rather than by a comprehension of her words.

“Of course. No one would think otherwise. After eloping with him in the
night from Greenhurst, visiting the Highlands, and domesticating
yourselves together in London, there can be, I fancy, little doubt left
on that point!”

I began to comprehend her meaning. Isolated as I had been from the
world, and independent of its usages, I could not mistake the sneering
expression of that evil face, had the words failed to enlighten me. But
I was not angry. Scorn of the very thought that she applied these vile
imaginings to me curved my lips with a smile. I could not have forced
myself into a word of explanation or defence. The woman seemed to me
only a little more repulsive than before.

“Then, madam, if my friend has preceded me I shall have little to
explain, and our interview will be more brief. You comprehend,
doubtless, that evidence of Lord Clare’s residence with my mother in
Scotland, which constitutes a legal marriage, is in our possession; that
the best counsel consider me, and not your ladyship, the inheritor of
his title and estates. Indeed, the record of my birth, in his own
handwriting, where my mother is mentioned as his wife, is by the laws of
Scotland a marriage in itself.”

“Yes, all these things have been repeated to me; but the opinion of
lawyers, fortunately, is not exactly the decision of legal tribunals.”

“Then you are determined to contest my claims?”

“I am not disposed to yield mine without contest, certainly.”

“Madam,” I commenced; and now every nerve in my body began to tremble,
for the great moment of my fate had arrived—“madam, in this contest, if
it becomes one in an English court of law, the life and reputation of
your only brother must be cruelly brought before the world; would you
make no sacrifice to avoid that?”

“But if this same brother was your father also, it is for you, not me,
to save his name from the scandal of a public court,” she rejoined,
sharply. “The fact that he married Lady Jane while your mother was
alive, I would willingly conceal.”

“No, madam, that you mistake. My mother died months before Lord Clare’s

“How and when did she die?”

“The how does not concern your ladyship. As for the when, I was present
when she died near the City of Granada, and though a child at the time,
can never forget it; would to God it were possible. After that—months
after it must have been, for we had travelled from Spain between the two
events—I saw the cortége pass the tent where I lay, returning from my
father’s marriage with his last wife. In this he committed no legal
fault—and let us hope intended no moral wrong—though a deep wrong it
was, from beginning to end; but he doubtless was unmindful of the
singular law which made his first marriage binding.”

“Then what is there to conceal? Why should we shrink from
investigation?” she cried.

“The wrong done to my poor mother, alas! that remains, and I would do
anything, give up anything rather than have it heaped upon my father’s

“And what were these mighty wrongs, if—as you are trying to prove—he
ever acknowledged her, a dancing gipsy beggar, a”——

“Hush!” said I, with a power that must have been imperative, “you shall
not malign my mother.”

“Well,” she answered, waving her hand scornfully, “you are right. Her
history cannot be publicly coupled with that of our house without
leaving infamy upon a noble name.”

“Not _her_ infamy, madam!”

“This is useless and impertinent, miss,” she cried, starting up
fiercely; “you came for some purpose. What is it?”

“I came, if possible, to save the scandal of a law suit regarding the
Clare earldom and estates. I would shield my father’s memory, and
redress the wrongs of one whose fate is dearer than my own, at any

“And how is this to be done unless you yield at once these preposterous

“Madam, your son!”

“Well, what of him?” she cried sharply, and with gleaming eyes.

“The succession will be his when, when”——

“When I am gone, you wish to say, but that is a frail hope. I married
when a child, and the difference between Irving and myself is so

This vanity would have seemed out of character to one so full of haughty
malice as the woman before me; but extreme vanity is more frequently
found connected with bad qualities that with good ones, so it did not
surprise me.

“But with your son some compromise may be effected. You would doubtless
rather surrender the unentailed estates to him, than to one so hateful
to your ladyship as I am?”

“That may be readily supposed?”

“Well, madam, to one or the other you must resign them; to me if you
persist in useless and wicked resistance; to him, if—if”——

“Well, if what?”

“If by marriage with the person whom I shall select, he secures the
rights which I claim to himself.”

“That is, if my son, like his uncle, will degrade himself with a gipsy
stroller,” she replied, with insulting bitterness.

“Madam, this is base; that which I propose saves your son from
degradation, does not impose it. It was not of myself I spoke!”

“Of whom, then? Is there another claimant?”

“No. As the legitimate and only daughter of Lord Clare, who died without
will, I have the sole right to all that was his. You know that the
courts will confirm this right, or I had never been thus admitted to
your presence. Your eye wavers; your lips curve in terror rather than
scorn. In your soul you feel that to hold possession of this house for a
day is rank usurpation; your lawyers have told you all this before.”

“How did you learn that?”

“From your face, madam—from the fact that you do not spurn me from your
presence as of old.”

She smiled, not scornfully, her blue lips seemed to have lost all
strength for so strong an expression, but with a sort of baffled spite.

“And so you would take the estates and attach my son as an
appendage—this is kind!”

“Madam, I will resign all right to these estates and title on the
marriage day of your son—not with me, the hated gipsy, but with Cora
Clark, whom he loves, and who loves him. Greenhurst and the title to
rest with you as if I had never existed—all the unentailed property to
be divided between your son and Mr. Morton, whose rights we cannot
honestly waive.”

Her eyes opened wide with astonishment. She fell back on her sofa, and
folded a hand over them, as if ashamed of appearing startled by what I
had said. At last she sat upright again and looked at me searchingly.

“You will do this?”

“I will!”

“Why?—your motives?”

The tears started. I felt them crowding to my eyes.

“I wish to see them happy.”

My voice faltered; but for her presence the agony at my heart would have
burst forth in a wail.

“And that will make you happy?” she said, with an icy sneer. “You will
remain and witness the joy your abnegation gives.”

“Never!” I cried, yielding to the anguish that was oppressing me. “I
will go among my mother’s people—go”—I thought in my innermost heart—“go
to the barrancas of Granada, to die of anguish as she did by violence.”

“And you will leave this country forever?”

“Madam, I will.”

“But this girl, this Cora Clark, where is she now? Mr. Upham, the new
rector, sent down orders that her father should be removed from the
parsonage—where has he gone? How are you sure that Irving cares for her,
or would take her at any price?”

I shrank from exposing my poor friend’s weakness to the knowledge of
that heartless woman; she seemed ignorant of her son’s perfidy, and its
results in giving Cora to my protection. I rejoiced at this, and guarded
the secret of their mutual fault as if it had been my own life.

“I am certain of it.”

“But you are not of age to make a resignation of these fancied claims
legal, even should I consent to unite my son to this nameless girl.”

“I am of age to resist all action, and have a will strong as any law. If
I am silent regarding my claims, who will or can urge them?”

“But we have only your word!” she said, softening in her tone, and
interrupting her questions with intervals of thought.

“But in your heart you know that to be enough. Strive as you will, my
truth will make itself believed.”

She waved her hand, rising.

“Stay here, I will speak with my son. Perhaps you have not breakfasted;
ring and the man will provide fresh chocolate. After all, this is a
strange offer.”

                              CHAPTER LV.

Lady Catherine went out, and I was alone, trembling, helpless, filled
with desolation—the poor, poor gipsy girl. What had Cora done that she
should be made so happy, and I so miserable? I sat down stupefied with
the blank darkness that had fallen around my existence. The estate, the
pomp, the rank that I had given up were nothing; but Irving—oh, how my
poor heart quivered and shrunk from the thought that he was another’s
forever and ever. In all the wide world, that desolate barranca in
Granada seemed the only spot gloomy enough to conceal misery like mine!

A full hour I remained with my elbow upon the little breakfast-table
seated among the cushions, unmindful of their luxurious softness as if
they had been so many rocks heaped near me. I could only feel dumbly
that with my own hand I had cast all hope from me. This thought revolved
itself over and over in my mind, I could neither change nor shake it

At last the door opened and Lady Catherine came in, followed by her son.
He was greatly changed. All the bloom of boyhood had settled into a look
of thoughtful manliness; his eyes, almost sad, were deeper and more
piercing; his manner, grave; traces of anxiety lingered about his eyes
and mouth, making one firm and leaving shadows beneath the other. He
came close to me and rested one hand on the table. I did not rise, but
sat trembling and helpless beneath the reproachful pride in his glance.
The apathy had left me; my heart swelled with the painful joy of his
presence, and every nerve thrilled back its sympathy.

“My mother has told me of your proposal, Zana,” he said, in a clear, but
not untroubled voice; “your wish is a generous one. The rights you would
surrender are great, but I will not accede to this proposal.”

I started so violently that one of the Sèvres cups fell to the ground. A
cry almost broke from my lips. This reprieve from my own wishes filled
me with joy.

“Why, why?” I could not ask these questions aloud; they fell from my
lips in broken whispers.

“Because I will not despoil you of your birthright—because I do not love
the lady whom you propose for my wife.”

“Not love her, Mr. Irving; forbear!”

I could not go on; his mother’s presence checked me; but once more my
heart was filled with indignation at his audacity.

“Then you refuse?” I said, rising—“you refuse to render this poor
justice to one who loves, who has”——

Again I checked myself. Lady Catherine was close to the table. Irving
listened patiently, and kept his eyes fastened on my face, as if asking
some further explanation.

“It is possible,” I said, “that you think lightly of my claims, and thus
reject the sacrifice I would make.”

“No,” he said, “I am satisfied that your claims to the estate are valid;
only this morning I joined my mother’s legal counsel in advising her to
yield possession at once.”

“And this inheritance? Cora, too? Will you cast them both aside because
it is Zana who offers them?”

He shook his head with a grave smile.

“The inheritance I can easily relinquish; it is not large enough to
purchase a heart like mine, Zana.”

“George, George, reflect,” said Lady Catherine, who had been listening
with keen anxiety; “the girl is beautiful; her mother’s family had noble
blood in it.”

“Mother, hush; I will work, but not sell myself for your benefit.”

I arose, shocked by the deep hypocrisy of the man. His look, his voice,
his words, how noble they were! His actions—the household traitor—how
could he compel that face to look so firm and noble in its sin?

“Madam,” I said, turning to the mother, “persuade your son, for on no
other terms can my father’s estate remain with you or yours.”

She bent her head, but did not speak. The woman seemed subdued; all her
sarcastic spirit had left her. At last she laid her hand on Irving’s

“George, George, remember there is no other way.”

He turned upon her, smiling.

“Mother, we lived honorably and well before my uncle’s death; the same
means are still left to us.”

“But the title, the estates, I cannot give them up. Will you make no
sacrifice to save me from this degradation?”

“Anything, mother, that an honorable man should; but to barter myself,

I saw that Lady Catherine was becoming angry, and spoke,

“Madam, when I resign the inheritance, your son knows the terms. Take
counsel—take time for thought. To-morrow, at this hour, I will come
again, alone as now; that will be our last interview.”

My words struck home. Lady Catherine turned white as death, and by the
glitter in her eyes I saw a storm of rage mustering; I did not remain to
witness it. Irving held open the door for me. Our eyes met as I passed
out, and his seemed full of reproachful sorrow. Why could I not hate
that man?—why not hurl back scorn for treachery?

Cora was asleep when I entered the little room which we occupied
together. It was the sweetest slumber I ever witnessed—so calm, so full
of infinite quietude. Worn out by the harassing sorrows of her
situation, she had, up to the evening previous, been wakeful night and
day, but the few words I had so rashly uttered fell like dew upon her
eyelids, and all night long she had slept by my side tranquil as a bird
in its nest; in her hopeful serenity she had dropped away in dreams.
Thus I found her with a smile upon her lips, and a soft bloom warming
the cheeks that twelve hours before had been so pale.

My own words had done all this, and they were all a deception. I had
deceived myself, and worse, worse a thousand times, had misled her also.
How could I tell her this?—how break up the exquisite calm of that
repose with my evil tidings, for evil I now felt them to be?

The sunlight fell through a half-closed shutter, kindling up the golden
tresses of her hair, as they fell over the arm folded under her cheek,
and lay in masses on the crimson cushion of the sofa. I sat down by her,
watching those sun gleams as they rose brighter and brighter toward her
forehead. They fell at last upon her eyelids, which began to quiver; the
dark brown lashes separated, and with a sleepy murmur the girl awoke.

“Oh, you have come,” she said, flinging her arms around my neck; “dear,
dear Zana, I have been dreaming.”

“Dream on!” I answered, sadly; “if I only had the power to dream also!”

“Why, what is the matter, Zana, your eyes are full of tears?” she cried,
looking eagerly in my face, and kissing it with passionate devotion.
“Where have you been?”

“I have been to see him, Cora.”

She held her breath, and looked at me—oh, how pleadingly—as if I could
change the color of her fate, poor child.

“Well, Zana.”

I could not endure that voice, those eyes, but flung my arms around her,
and held her close to my bosom as I answered—

“Forget him, Cora. Let us both forget him. He is an ingrate, a”——

I could not go on, for her cold lips were pressed wildly to mine, and
she called out—

“Don’t, don’t, Zana—don’t speak such words of him!”

“He does not deserve this interposition, Cora; you cannot guess how much
I was ready to sacrifice that you and he might be happy.”

“And he would not listen?” she asked, falling sadly back from my arms.
“Still you thought he loved me, and were so certain of it only last

“But I think it no longer. God help you, my poor Cora—with all this
inheritance—and I offered it—I have no power to make him feel.”

“And you tried to bribe him into loving me; that was unkind, Zana.”

“No, Cora; other reasons which you do not comprehend influenced what I
did, as well as a wish to make you happy. His mother, I think, would
have yielded, but he”——

“His mother, Zana—he has no mother.”

“In one sense, perhaps not; but Lady Catherine”——

“Lady Catherine.”

“Yes, Lady Catherine, is she not George Irving’s mother?” I cried,
surprised by her bewildered look and words.

“Yes, surely; but then what is George Irving to me, or Lady Catherine
either, save that she in some sort controls his fortunes?”

“Cora!” I almost shrieked, seizing her hands, “what is this? Who, who is
the man? Tell me it is not George Irving that you love, and I will fall
down and worship you.”

“Why, Zana, are you wild? How should I ever think of another, and he in
my heart always?”

“He—who? Speak, girl, or I shall indeed be wild!”

“You act very strangely, Zana. Only now you told me that you had seen
Mr. Morton, and talked with him; you gave so many painful hints about

I seized her hands again, and forced down the tremulous hope in my

“Cora, darling Cora,” I said, interrupting my words with quick gasps of
breath, that I had no power to stifle, “tell me clearly, use few words,
or my heart will break with this suspense. Was the man with whom you
left Greenhurst Henry Morton?”

My emotion terrified her. She grew pale, and struggled to free her

“You know it was; are you going crazy? My fingers—my fingers, you crush

“And it was Morton?”


“And you have no love for Irving? He never said, never hinted that he
wished you to love him?”

“He—no. Who ever put the idea into your head?”

I seized her in my embrace, and covered her forehead, her eyes, her
hair, with rapturous kisses. I knelt at her feet, and wrung her little
hand in my ecstasy till she cried out with the anguish.

“Kiss me, Cora, again, again; kneel down here, Cora, at my side, and
thank God as I do. We shall be happy, darling, so happy—my head reels
with the very thought of it—my heart is so full. Let me weep myself
still here—here on my knees, with my forehead in your lap. Cora, Cora,
it seems to me that I am dying!”

And now the tears came rushing up from the depths of my heart, and I lay
upon Cora’s lap, sobbing the agony of my old grief away, as a
half-drowned man lies upon the beach where the storm has tossed him. Oh,
how great was the wealth of my existence that moment. Irving did not
love another; he was mine, mine, all mine!

Chaleco came in and interrupted us. He inquired the cause of my emotion,
and I told him. The tiger that my first words brought to his eyes,
crouched and cowered beneath the energy of my entreaties to be freed
from the pledge I had given to bury myself with his tribe in Granada. In
passion like mine there is almost irresistible eloquence, and my soul
was burning with it. Perhaps I looked more like my mother, thus
enkindled and aroused.

“Zana,” he said, and the first tears I ever saw in his fierce eyes,
burned there like a diamond. “Zana, you ask a terrible thing. Like your
mother, I swore a vow to Papita. You love my enemy and hers; you cling
to him and cast the gipsy aside. But even better than that, I loved her
and her child. I give up my oath of vengeance. What is death, if
Aurora’s child may live and love?” Chaleco went out; afterwards I
remembered all the force of his words, but then my soul panted for
solitude and thought. I spent the night alone, sleepless and happy as
few mortals have the capacity of being on this earth.

I knew little, and cared nothing for the propriety of conventional life.
On the day before, I had promised to return for Lady Catherine’s final
answer to the proposal I had in my ignorance made. I went and inquired,
not for her, but for Irving.

He came down to receive me, looking pale and depressed. His reception
was cold, his look constrained.

To this day I cannot tell what passed between us during that interview.
All that was in my heart I poured forth. I remember his astonishment and
his rapture. But of what was said I have no distinct idea; all was a
whirl, a vortex of emotion.

A silence that seemed like heaven followed, and then we began to talk
more rationally. Oh, the exquisite happiness of that entire
confidence—the beautiful, beautiful joy of knowing that I was his
affianced wife, the only person he had ever loved! In the first sweet
outgush of confidence, I told him everything. He seemed shocked and
greatly surprised at Morton’s perfidy; but when I told him of Upham, and
the power he had exercised over our lives, by the cruel suspicions
instilled into my belief, his indignation was so mingled with sovereign
contempt of the man’s pretensions, that he laughed while denouncing him.

“Poor fool,” he said, “doubtless by some means he had obtained a
knowledge of your heirship during our residence at my uncle’s hunting
lodge, where we spent several seasons. He is a shrewd man, our new
rector. But Morton, I cannot think so badly of him. Believe me, Zana,
there is some explanation behind all this. Morton is a reserved, perhaps
irresolute man in some things, but I cannot think him base, though there
was a time when I thought otherwise.”

“And when was that?” I asked.

“It was rumored, Zana, that he had brought a companion with him to
Scotland. I heard of your disappearance from Greenhurst at the same
time, and believed you to be the inmate of that little farm-house. My
mother joined in that belief.”

“Poor Cora,” I said, “the odium of her fault seems all to rest on me,
her best friend.”

“Let us wait before we condemn my friend,” said Irving, generously. “In
his situation of unjust dependence may be found, perhaps, some excuse
for all this. Believe me, dear one, Morton is not a dishonorable man.”

“He is at any rate the rightful owner of Marston Court,” I answered;
“but with your leave, he shall only take possession of it as Cora’s
marriage portion.”

Irving smiled, and then we began to talk of ourselves again. He drew me
close to his side, bent his flushed face to mine, and whispered a
thousand sweet words that have little meaning, except to the one heart,
which receives them like drops of honey-dew. In our great happiness we
did not notice that the door had opened, and Lady Catherine stood in the
entrance coolly regarding us.

We arose together, his arm still around me, his flushed face becoming
serious and calm. “Mother,” he said, “receive Zana kindly, for this
morning she has promised to be my wife.”

“Your wife! and is there no other way?” faltered the haughty woman;
“must this sacrifice be made?”

“Sacrifice!” exclaimed Irving, looking down upon me with a glance of
proud affection; “why, mother, I have loved the child from the first
moment I saw her protecting that deer so bravely. It was this love which
rendered it impossible for me to marry another.”

The great love in my heart brought with it a gentle humility unknown to
my nature before. I withdrew myself from Irving’s arm, and went up to
his mother, blushing and with tears in my eyes.

“O, Lady Catherine, do not look so coldly on your son. Love me a little
for his sake.”

She reached forth her hand, drew me toward her, and with a regal bend of
the head, kissed my cheek.

“My son,” she said, resigning herself gracefully to the inevitable, “my
son, you see that a mother can make sacrifices, even though her child
may refuse them.”

Before Irving could express the gratitude that broke from his eyes at
this unexpected concession, Lady Catherine had withdrawn from the room.
Then I remembered how long my own stay had been, and hastened with
breathless shame to the hackney coach that still waited for me at the

The day was beautiful, and I dismissed the carriage, resolved to walk
awhile before entering our lodgings. As I turned a corner a gentleman
passed me hurriedly, turned back, and spoke,

“Zana,” he cried—“Zana, I have met you at last; let me hope you are
disposed to recognize me as a friend, at least.”

I was too happy for indignation, otherwise his audacity would have met
with a sharp rebuke. Emboldened by this gentleness, he moved on at my
side, pouring forth a torrent of low-voiced protestations. A spirit of
mischief seized upon me, and I answered him with playful evasions. He
evidently was quite ignorant that the secret of my legitimacy, doubtless
so long known to himself, was in my possession.

“In a few days,” he said, impressively, “I shall be enabled to claim you
before the whole world. I have already taken orders, and am now going to
render Lady Clare my thanks for the Marston Court living.”

I felt a smile quivering on my lips; for the first time the
consciousness that my inheritance had endowed me with power, came with
force to my heart.

“It will be a useless visit,” I said, very quietly. “Lady Clare
withdraws the promise she has made. A man who has so long practised
deceit and falsehood, is no proper person to lead others on their way to
heaven. Let me answer you, Mr. Upham, the Marston Court Rectory will
receive another incumbent than yourself.”

He stood aghast, looking at me. “But the living is as good as mine
already. I have even notified the curate at Greenhurst to leave the

“No doubt; but if he leaves Greenhurst it will most certainly be to take
possession of the Marston Court Rectory.”

Upham forced a laugh.

“You speak positively for Lady Clare!” he said.

“I speak simply for myself, Mr. Upham.”

That instant I reached the door of our lodgings and went in, leaving my
clerical friend in a bewildered state on the sidewalk.

I entered the little parlor, expecting to find Cora there alone, but to
my astonishment young Morton arose from the sofa where she was seated,
and came toward me, a little pale and anxious, but with more dignity
than I had ever witnessed in him before.

“Zana,” he said, “I have just come down from Scotland in search of this
dear runaway!”

I drew back, annoyed. Both his manner and words offended me.

“Oh, tell her, tell her at once!” cried Cora, springing up, with a face
like an April day, all flush, tears and smiles. “Tell her it was your
wife who ran away from you, like a naughty, wicked, jealous little
wretch, as she was. Zana, dear Zana, we were married all the time, but I
had promised him, and could not tell, you know, because he was quite
sure that Lady Catherine never would have given up any of the property,
if she found out that he had fallen in love with such a poor,
foolish-hearted little good-for-nothing as I was. There, Mr. Morton, do
sit down and tell her all about it. Remember she is Lady Clare now, the
best, most generous, the—the—well, well; no matter if I am wild, that
awful secret is off my heart; I feel like a bird. Oh, if I had but wings
to fly away and tell my blessed, blessed papa.”

Morton sat down upon the sofa, gathering that beautiful young wife to
his bosom, and hushing her into quiet with his silent caresses.

“It was wrong and cowardly, I know,” he said, “but we were both madly in
love, with no one to heed us. Lady Catherine was determined that I
should follow her to Scotland, where she promised to have papers
prepared, returning a portion of my old uncle Morton’s estate to me.
Separation seemed dreadful to us both. It was a wild, rash act; but I
persuaded Cora to come with me, forgetting all the evil that might
spring from concealment, and afraid of Lady Catherine’s displeasure, for
she seemed anxious for some excuse to delay the transfer. I persuaded
Cora to conceal our marriage, and stay quietly in the old farm-house,
till Lady Catherine’s caprices could no longer affect us; but my visits
were necessarily few, for some vague rumor of her presence in Scotland
reached Lady Catherine, and I was compelled to be cautious. The poor
child grew restless, sad, and at last doubtful of my integrity. She was
pining herself to death when you found her, and innocently completed her
belief in my faithlessness.”

“I had made up my mind to brave everything, and avow that she was my
wife, on the very day that Cora left Scotland. It was a desolate
reception that the old people gave me. Cora, I could feel for the
loneliness of your father, then.”

“Let us go—let us go to him!” cried Cora, starting up, “it will never be
quite heaven till we get home.”

“Not yet, wait a little, and we will all go together,” I said, turning
to leave the room, and without waiting for a reply, I stole away,
leaving those two young hearts with each other, too full of my own
exquisite happiness for anything but the selfishness of
solitude. * * * * *

We entered Greenhurst quietly, and after nightfall, Lady Catherine,
Cora, Moreton and myself. Irving was to follow us in a few days, but
Chaleco, to whom I had given all Papita’s gold for the use of his tribe,
remained behind. We drew up at the parsonage. The curtains of the parlor
were drawn apart, and sitting in the twilight within, was the shadowy
presence of a man stooping downward, in sorrow or thoughtfulness, as if
the position had become habitual.

Cora drew close to her husband, and by the faint light I could see her
eyes dilate and darken with excitement. She saw that shadowy presence
and struggled forward, pushing impotently at the carriage door with both
hands, and crying out—

“My father! my father!”

The shadow gathered itself suddenly up, and opening the window, called
out in a low, wild voice:—

“Who calls? who calls? did some one say father?”

The carriage door sprang open, Cora leaped to the ground, sped like a
bird up the walk, and disappeared in the porch. Directly, there came a
strange sound through the open window—mingled sobs, caresses, and holy
fragments of prayer, broken up with gushes of thanksgiving. Morton fell
back in the carriage. I saw him cover his face with both hands, and felt
that he trembled.

“Heaven forgive me!” he muttered “heaven forgive me the misery I have
caused this good man!”

I was looking toward the parlor. Mr. Clark had fallen back in his chair,
and Cora was bending over him. His face was like that of a glorified
saint. His lips moved, but gave forth nothing but broken smiles. Cora
fell forward, embracing his knees. Her beautiful face was uplifted like
Guido’s Hope, but with a shadow of penitent sorrow upon it.

“Father! father!”

He stooped forward and folded the sweet, tearful face to his bosom,
tenderly as the mother hushes her grieved infant.

“Bless thee, oh, my child! The God of heaven bless thee!”

Faithful to the holy type of Christianity, the good man was ready to
forgive with the first breath of concession, even without knowing the
extent of her fault.

“Father, you forgive us; see, it is my husband; I am very, very happy,

Weary with our long journey, and overcome with emotion, Cora flung her
arms around that honored neck; and just as her husband came up, fainted
quite away on her father’s bosom.

“Give her to me, sir,” said Morton, approaching the group, pale and
agitated; “I am her husband, and with her pray your forgiveness.”

The young husband faltered; the good man looked up, with every feature
of his face in commotion.

“Take her, then,” he said, placing his child in Morton’s arms; “I have
only blessings to give—tears and blessings for you both.”

Morton carried his wife to the dear old couch of white dimity, which
made my heart throb as I looked that way. A few moments restored her to

“It is Zana who brings us back—bless Zana, father!” she said, faintly.

“Zana,” he exclaimed, bending over me with touching solemnity, and
pressing both palms on my head, as in the olden times; “God bless thee,
forever and ever, Zana!”

The very touch of those hands, quivering with joy, was a benediction.
His tears fell upon my forehead, the holy tears of a Christian heart
broken up with tenderness. I could not speak, but with this new baptism
on my brow, entered upon my inheritance.

My inheritance! yes. We drove to Greenhurst, for such was Lady
Catherine’s wish, but I would not enter. While the servants were busy
receiving her, unconscious of a new mistress, I stole off and flew like
a bird to my old home. The moon was up, and I could see my way through
the wilderness and across the garden, but here I paused with checked
breath, for in the midst, still sheltered by trees and shadowed with
vines, stood the cottage, darkened and solitary, as if every living
thing had deserted it.

With a heavier tread, I went round the house to our old sitting room.
Here a gleam of light stole out upon the vines, and through the window I
saw Turner and his wife sitting drearily together. She was looking in
his face. His eyes were turned on the blank wall, as if he did not care
to receive even her sympathy.

I opened the door and stood within it attempting to speak, but with no
power. Maria started up.

“Zana! Zana!”

I flung myself on her bosom. She smothered me with her kisses, while
blessed old Turner stood pleading for one look at my face, that he might
be sure it was his child.

We sat up all night. Not once alone, but twenty times, I was forced to
repeat the romance I had been living. Over and over again they told me
how heartbroken they were when old Jupiter came back with his empty
saddle, and bridle trailing in the dust. For weeks old Turner had
searched for me. For months he had done nothing but mourn. Jupiter had
pined like the rest. My absence had flung everything into shadow.

But I was home again—home again—not for a time, but for all the days of
my life—the mistress of Greenhurst and the betrothed wife of Irving.
Turner kept repeating this over and over, as he walked up and down the
room. He could not realize it. In truth, I think he did not quite admit
all the facts to his belief, till he saw me cantering off on Jupiter’s
back the next morning. Dear old Ju, what a glorious ride we had over the
uplands that day!

                              CHAPTER LVI.
                         THE OLD TOWER CHAMBER.

It was my bridal morning. I sat within my own pretty chamber, for from
the cottage that had been my first shelter, not from the mansion which
was only my inheritance, I resolved that Irving should take his bride.
For the first time in my life I was clad in pure white. No summer cloud
was ever more soft and vapory than the flow of my robe. The bridal veil,
crowned by a garland of pale blush roses, fell like a web of exquisite
frost-work around me. Pearls gleamed like hail-stones amid the snow of
this dress, and a single white rose-bud, hidden in moss, gathered its
cloudiness over my bosom.

Cora and my blessed old bonne had done this fairy work, and I was not to
see myself till the toilet was complete. At last they led me up to the
mirror. As I looked in, a faint pang seized me, for the whiteness of my
dress struck inward, and drifts of snow seemed crowding against my
heart. A vague dread of some unseen presence brought the old shudder
upon me. I looked around in chill apprehension for my mother’s face. As
I turned, a gush of sunshine come through the pink and white
window-curtains, flooding me from head to foot with its rosy glow. I
felt the brightness and the warmth. For one instant it seemed to me that
my mother’s soft eyes looked upon me through the floating haze. My heart
swelled again. A smile sprang to my lips. The coldness had forever
departed from my bosom. The chill of my mother’s death was quenched in
the glory of my new life.

The sound of bells sweeping up through the beautiful morning came to my
chamber, filling my soul with a sweet tranquillity. On this day began
the calm of my life. I went forth garlanded with bridal roses, on which
the dew still rested, and with old Turner by my side rode to the church
along the road where the wedding of my father and the funeral of his
bride had passed by me, a poor gipsy beggar, lying sick and dizzy, with
returning life in the open field. I thought of all this with gentle
sadness, but it could not reach the heaven in my heart. The iron thread
had melted away from the gold of my destiny. The altar was graced with
roses that made the air fragrant with their breath, as we knelt before
it. Mr. Clark, that day appointed rector of Marston Court, clasped our
hands together before it, and sent us forth into the beautiful eternity
of our love.

Marston and Cora, the new lord and lady of Marston Court, stood by,
regarding us with gentle affection, while lady Catherine, yielding to
her own interests, but half reconciled at heart, looked down in
sovereign pride on Mr. Turner, from whose hands her high-born son was
willing to receive his bride, for who else had the right to give me

As we turned from the altar, I saw, at the lower end of the church, the
dark face of Chaleco. He was looking at me with a wild, mournful
expression, that seemed more sombre from the shadows in which he stood.
He answered my smile, which invited him to approach, with a moody wave
of the head; but as we went down the aisle, he came toward us.

“Zana,” he said, in a hoarse whisper, “if these people wrong you, if in
all things they do not regard Aurora’s child as a queen, send the ruby
ear-rings to Chaleco. During a few months he will be with his people,
and even after he is gone the man or woman who offends you shall feel
their vengeance.”

“Oh, there will be no need,” I answered, regarding my husband with a
heart swell; “but for yourself, Chaleco, my more than friend, for your
people—yours and mine, count—remember that a portion of all the wealth
you have won for us must each year go to them.”

The gipsy count grasped my hand hard, his eyes sparkled, he uttered a
wild blessing in Rommany, and left the church before we could urge him
to join us at Greenhurst.

Amid the mellow chime of bells that filled the air with rejoicings—along
a path littered with flowers, rained over it by the village
children—with the morning lighting up the earth into a paradise, I
entered Greenhurst, its mistress, yet scarcely wishing to be that. It
was enough and too much happiness for me that I was the wife of its

Three months after my wedding-day, I was taken with a sudden desire to
visit Marston Court. None of my old habits had been laid aside. I still
gloried in a gallop over the uplands on Jupiter who grew young as he
undertook these wild rides. My husband was absent, and Lady Catherine
now lived entirely at Paris. It was not often that my old restless
habits came on, but this day I was haunted with a feeling that some one
wanted me at Marston Court. I had been thinking of Chaleco all day, with
a degree of anxiety which no reasoning could explain or dispel. These
haunting thoughts grew so powerful at last, that I ordered Jupiter to be
saddled. Just as I was mounting him, a bit of paper was placed in my
hand by a boy. It contained a single sentence:

               “Zana, Aurora’s child, come to me.

This message was a relief. It gave a reason for the depressing thoughts
that had driven me forth. I put my horse to his speed, never pausing to
ask what direction we should take. By this time Marston Court was no
longer a picturesque wilderness; the gardens were almost in order; the
noble trees were free from undergrowth; the house itself princely.
Leaving my horse in the grounds, I walked across the garden to the
summer-house, through which the gipsy chief had conducted me from the
tower chamber. The mosaic star remained, with its secret undiscovered,
in the pavement. I remembered its mechanism, and with a little force
wheeled it from the opening it concealed. The passage was dark, but a
little time brought me to a door which opened into the tower.

The chamber was desolate and empty. Ashes lay on the hearth as when we
left it that night. The same drapery of cobwebs fell in dusty festoons
over the narrow windows, rendering the room at first so dim that I could
see no object distinctly. But in an instant I caught the light of two
large eyes glaring at me from a corner; then a pale face, distorted with
pain, with the dusky outlines of a human form, reposing on what had once
been a magnificent couch. The glow of an old velvet cushion, which still
retained gleams of original crimson, was insufficient to give a tinge of
color to that pallid face, which seemed the more deathly from contrast
with the beard of iron-grey which fell from it, like moss from a blasted

“Zana! Zana!” said a sharp voice from the couch.

“Chaleco, my friend, my poor friend,” I cried, throwing myself on my
knees by his couch, and taking his hand, which lay so wet and cold in my
clasp, that a sudden fear came upon me that he was dying. “Your hand
freezes mine—your whole frame quivers; what is the matter—what does this
terrible prostration mean?”

“It means,” said Chaleco, pointing his finger to a vial that had rolled
from his hand half across the floor, where it lay uncorked, with its
purple contents oozing drop by drop from the neck—“it means that, like
Aurora, Chaleco has fulfilled his oath. That night, Zana, when you lay
in Paplta’s tent, while the rubies burned in her ears with the color of
Lady Clare’s blood—that night, while the death throes were at her heart,
she made me swear an oath that our revenge for Aurora’s death should be
completed by the overthrow of every living Clare; that by craft or
violence I would wrest away their wealth for our people, and make
you—her last of race—a queen at Granada; or failing, die like a poisoned
dog by this hand. As the last death-rattle left her throat she pressed
the drao into my palm. Look, you see it yonder dripping like gouts of
black blood drop by drop from the vial. From that day I have carried it
in my bosom. Zana, Zana! I have bought your happiness with my vengeance
and my life; now tell me, on your soul—if human beings have souls—are
you happy?”

“But for this knowledge—but for your danger—oh, heavens! that it should
have been done for me—I am happy, Chaleco.”

A smile trembled over his white mouth, he reached forth his quivering
hands and, seizing my garments, drew me down to his embrace.

“Live in peace,” he said; “her fate is atoned for. It was vengeance on
them, or death to myself. I have parted with my people. A new count
reigns in my place. I had the choice and wandered back to die with you,

“Oh, Chaleco, it was a wicked oath; sinful in the taking, doubly sinful
in the keeping.”

“Hush, Zana, is was that you might live free from Papita’s curse.”

I looked at him in dismay, the death shadows were gathering on his

“You are in great pain. Oh, my friend, is it death?” I questioned.

“Pain! yes, I might have made it the work of an instant, but gave myself
time; every moment of your presence I have bought with a pang; but I
could not die without you, Zana.”

“And must you die—die in this desolate place?” I said, shuddering as his
arms loosened and fell from around me.

“I like this best,” said Chaleco, rising to one elbow, and casting his
glittering eyes around the room. “A Caloe count should not die in the
sun’s light, while his people grovel in the dark earth. I am but a
shadow now, Zana, fast melting away into dark nothingness; this place is

“Not so, not so, my friend!” I cried, sobbing out the grief I most truly
felt; “cast aside these terrible ideas of death—pray to God—let me pray
for you. She will help us—Aurora, whom you loved, whom you shall surely
see again.”

The gipsy began to revive again. The glances of his eyes burned into
mine. His frame shook like a dead branch in winter.

“Zana, do you believe this?—do you believe that Aurora lives

“I do not believe—I _know_ it, certainly as I know that the stars burn
in heaven, or that the earth is solid under my feet.”

His eyes grew brighter and more eager. He turned over, grasping my hands
between both his.

“Zana, how am I to reach her? What can I do? Tell me—tell me, before
this coldness reaches my heart—tell me, Zana!”

“Pray—pray to God.”

“I do not know how,” he pleaded; “it is like grasping at mist. What
shall I repeat?—which way must I turn?”

The sight of that poor, helpless man would have inspired marble with a
spirit of prayer. I was upon my knees; his quivering hands were clasped
in mine. I uplifted them to heaven with broken sobs—with tears and a
burning eloquence with which no prayer for my own soul had ever yet
ascended to heaven.

As I prayed, his hands were softly withdrawn from mine. I paused, and
through the agony of my tears saw those poor fingers tremblingly clasp
around each other, and uplift themselves. Broken words wavered on his
lips. He seemed looking at something afar off in the dim shadows of the

“Chaleco!” I cried, in affright.

His hands fell apart and dropped slowly down, touching mine, like ice;
his eyes, glazed and fireless, turned upon my face.

“Aurora! Aurora!”

Was it a prayer that Chaleco uttered when he gasped forth my mother’s
name? I hope so. I believe so.

                                THE END.


YEAR, and the favorable impression with which it was at first received
has not only been retained, but deepened. It is felt even to have
exceeded the promises then made, and to have sensibly advanced in
interest, beauty, and excellence.

It has now assumed a permanent position among American periodicals.

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In the Number for July, 1857, the first issue of the Third Volume, will
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                           THE ROYAL SISTERS,

                        BY MRS. ANN S. STEPHENS.

The price is only 12½ cents, or $1 50 per annum. If you desire a good
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of this Magazine.

  Office of Publication, 126 Nassau street.

                     Mrs. Ann S. Stephens’ Novels.

 _New Editions, uniform with “The Heiress of Greenhurst,” 12mo., cloth.
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                          Fashion and Famine.

                There is no sorrow for the earnest soul
                That looketh up to God in perfect faith.

“As a work of art, irrespective of its pure morality, its high-toned
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fictions we have read for years. The characters are contrasted with true
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overdrawn. The plot is eminently original, and yet probable.”—_New York


                           The Old Homestead.

            There are some human souls serenely bright,
              Born, like lost cherubim, so close to heaven,
            That all their lives are radiant with its light,
              And unto such are holy missions given.

“Seldom have we had a more truthful, a more charming glimpse of rural
life. In parts it is highly dramatic; and all its aim is pure and lofty.
Mary Fuller is a creation of which any living author might well be
proud.”—_New York Daily Times._

           ☞ _Mailed, free of Postage, on receipt of Price._

               EDWARD STEPHENS, Publisher,
                   126 Nassau street, New York


                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES

 1. Silently corrected obvious typographical errors and variations in
 2. Retained archaic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings as printed.
 3. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.


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