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Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 3/The Herberts of Elfdale - Part 3


Author of “Susan Hopley,” “The Night-Side of Nature,” &c., &c.


I was married on the day that had been previously fixed for the wedding, and Clara believed that she had married the man who had for three months been winning her affections by the most assiduous attentions; but alas! she was mistaken. I was transformed. I was just as eager to make her my wife, or rather, I should say, I was just as unable to bear the thought of losing her, and I think I should have been capable of shooting any man who had attempted to rob me of her. But I that last look of my father’s had poisoned my cup of bliss; that indescribable look of horror had chilled the marrow in my bones; it had cast a pall over the present and the future; filled my soul with terrible forebodings of I know not what misfortune, and though I spurned the thought of being deterred from fulfilling my engagement, I was a coward acting a part. Everything was acting, even my tenderness for Clara was acting, for a new element had sprung up and mingled with my love—hatred born of suspicion. Suspicion of what? I did not know; I could fix upon nothing; but there it was, a cormorant keeping itself alive by feeding greedily on every word, look, and action of my affianced bride and her relatives. Day and night I asked myself why they had been so ready to receive me on a footing of intimacy at first,—why they had been so eager for the match, and why they had never insisted on my father’s being consulted even in regard to the settlements. I was now first struck by the extraordinary co-incidence of their taking up their abode under the same roof as myself. I had hitherto thought it a lucky chance; now I believed it to be deep design—a plot—a conspiracy to entrap me; but what could be their object? Young, beautiful, well-born, for although she was not the daughter of Sir Ralph, she was his niece, and not ill-dowered, what need was there of plots or conspiracies to get her married? I had no title, nor was my estate so large as to excite the cupidity of a family like the Wellwoods. But the more impossible it was to find any probable motive Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/514 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/515 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/516 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/517 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/518 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/519 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/520