Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 4/The silver cord - Part 14

THE SILVER CORD.

BY SHIRLEY BROOKS.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

Do not spur a willing horse,” is a rule of masculine invention, and one which only the higher minds among the gentler sex are very apt to adopt and obey. It was scarcely to be expected that Mary Henderson, with her soul on fire for the attainment of a revenge of her own, should have sufficient self-command to follow the wise counsel of the saw. Chiefly in order to ensure the unhesitating obedience of her lover, but a little, it may be, with a view of atoning to herself for having somewhat compromised her hitherto unbending dignity by her display of interest and affection at the moment of alarm, Henderson, when alone with M. Silvain, hesitated not to let him perceive her comprehension of his signal defeat at the hand of Adair. Assured of Silvain’s safety, she relapsed into her ordinary cold manner, and infused some slight touch of the most irritating compassion for the man who had sought to avenge a woman’s wrongs without being able to do so effectively. She alluded to Adair as one who was so evidently Silvain’s superior, both in intellect and physical prowess, that the latter must avoid annoying him for the future, and must leave Mary (or Matilde, as she would still be to Silvain) to protect herself in the best way a helpless girl might.

All this was utterly needless, and the horse wanted no spur. The stream of insults he had received from Ernest, and the complete overthrow which the Frenchman had sustained, in the presence of his mistress, were quite enough to saturate his very being with the deadliest hatred of the scornful conqueror. There was something approaching to dignity in the silence with which he listened to Henderson’s galling talk, and in the almost mournful smile with which be repaid her. His compressed lip and dangerous eye might have given her full assurance that his vindictiveness was not to be increased by anything she could urge, and when Mary had uttered as many demi-sarcasms as occurred to her uncomfortable spirit, Silvain quietly took her hand, pressed it with affection, and intimated that she had said enough, unless she had any distinct course to propose, in which case it was his duty to postpone any plan he might have formed.

“You will do nothing whatever without asking my leave,” said Mary. “It is not for you to presume to take other people’s affairs into your hands.”

M. Silvain must be the guardian of his own honour, but was ready to obey to the letter any order of Mademoiselle.

“I have no order to give at present, but we never speak again if you see that man any more without my permission.”

M. Silvain signified his assent by a grave bow, and another touch of Mademoiselle’s hand.

“Don’t bow at me,” said she, impatiently. “Swear it.”

“My word is as binding as an oath, Mademoiselle. Is it an English custom to require oaths from those we trust?”

“I do not know that I trust you,” said Henderson. “Well, yes, I do,” she added, observing his reproachful look, “but it is a satisfaction to have a solemn promise.”

“In homage to an English feeling, then, Mademoiselle, I swear to what you demand, but my heart, already your slave, needs no new sacrament.”

“Don’t talk in that profane manner,” said Mary, totally ignorant of her lover’s meaning. “But you have sworn, and that is enough. Now, I suppose you’ll go back to your shop?”

“For the moment, yes, unless Mademoiselle has commands.”

“Stay there until I come, or send to you.”

“I am at your orders, Mademoiselle.”

She gave him her hand, kindly enough, as they parted, and his look of intense gratitude and admiration touched her heart.

“After all,” she said, on her way to the avenue, “he is a brave and a true fellow; and as for his not fighting so well as that wretch, who, I dare say, has often got his living by teaching the trade, that is nothing. If Silvain had time and money to be always practising, he would be a splendid fencer, and even without his sword, and with his eyes sparkling, he looked much more noble than the white-faced creature opposite to him. Silvain’s figure is perfection, and if he only dressed——

But we need not delay over the affectionate meditations of the femme de chambre.

At the farther end of the ground-floor of the house of Mr. Urquhart, and opening into the large room of miscellaneous scientific matter which has been described, was a small apartment, nearly empty, and with a ground-glass French window looking upon the garden. This room could be approached by a small narrow staircase, from the first floor, but this approach was never used, and the door above was constantly locked. It had been Henderson’s suggestion that a little furniture should be taken into the room, and that while Mrs. Lygon should be in the house, it should be her place of refuge, one not likely to be thought of, and one which afforded a ready escape to the garden. Scarcely waiting for the assent of either of the ladies, Henderson, with stealthy rapidity, had discovered, oiled, and used the key of the stair, and without the knowledge of the other domestics had conveyed into the apartment enough to render it tenantable.

“The other girls are very ignorant, Madame,” said Henderson to Mrs. Urquhart, as the latter descended into the room, “and they believe in ghosts. I shall tell them, by accident, a ghost-story before bed-time, that will make them afraid even to look at the door of the big room as they go out and in.”

The sisters were alone in the secluded chamber, when a letter was thrown down the stair by the vigilant Henderson.

It was for Mrs. Urquhart, and was in the bold i free hand of her husband. i

Bertha trembled too much to open and read it, but Laura did both, and found that it contained a few lines from Robert Urquhart, in which he congratulated himself on having met with Lygon, and scolded Bertha for not having kept him. “As a punishment for such a violation of all the sacred duties of hospitality,” the writer went on, “we two gay young dogs intend to disport ourselves in the pleasures of Paris for a while, but if our hearts should relent, or rich Countesses should make very desperate efforts to carry us off, we I shall just drop down to Versailles at any hour that may seem good unto us, and it may promote peace and forgiveness should there be au adequate I supply of creature-comforts at the shortest notice.” Bertha was also ordered to revolve in her mind what would be fittest for a united present for Laura, which her husband should take over in the hope of appeasing her wrath at being abandoned, of which he seemed to be in wonderful terror.

“They have met,” gasped Bertha.

“It is always so,” said Laura, wiping tears from her eyes, as she again read the playful letter, just one which might have been looked for from either Lygon or Urquhart, had circumstances been as the latter supposed them.

“Arthur has said nothing to him.”

“And what could you dream that Arthur would say?” asked Laura, indignantly, a wife’s pride flushing her fair brow at the shadow of a suspicion that Lygon would willingly say aught to compromise herself or her sister.

“He left me in a fever of rage,” said Bertha. “He spoke quietly enough, but I know that he was in a rage.”

“And had he not a right to be? A right! There is nothing that he could do that could not be justified, but Arthur will never do anything to need justification,” said Laura, proudly. “O, if I could say the same,” she added. “But I will trust that he will trust me yet.”

“They may come at any time,” said Bertha, feebly.

“Arthur will not return here,” replied Mrs. Lygon. “They have met by accident. He could not escape from your husband, but will shake him off at the first moment. Perhaps he is now on his way to London—to his home,” she said, burying her face in her hands.

“I hope so,” said Bertha, whose nature saw something less of danger in the absence of one of those whom she dreaded.

“Do you?” replied Laura, slowly and reproachfully. “There! I must not think of it, and I must not expect you to be stronger than you are. Robert will come here without Arthur,” she added in a calm voice, “and you have nothing to fear from what may pass between them. It is I only who am in danger—comfort yourself with that thought.”

“Do not speak so unkindly.”

“I did not mean unkindness, dear. I only mean to reassure you. Now, we have no time to lose.”

“If one of the servants should say that you have been here,” said Bertha, tremulously, “and Robert should know.”

“Angelique only has seen and knows me. We must trust to Henderson to silence her. That is a small risk among great ones.”

“But if Arthur should have told Robert?”

“My life and soul on Arthur’s silence where I am concerned,” replied Laura, almost fiercely. “Do not hint at such a thing again, Bertha, or I will leave you to yourself, and go off to England. It is only my intense confidence in Arthur, my deep conviction of his overmastering love for me, that sustains me in this trial. You do not understand me, but understand that you will ruin yourself if you shake the belief that holds me up. Not one more word about that.”

“What next are we to do?” said Bertha, humbly.

“We have done little or nothing, and yet I seem to see a way opening. Pardon me, Bertha dear, but it is useless to talk to you. I must see Henderson. It is shocking to be driven to such counsels, but things have gone too far for hesitation, and I must avail myself of every means in my power to help you and save you. Please to send Henderson to me.”

“I wish I was dead,” said Bertha, slowly departing.

“Would dying save your honour in the eyes of your husband?” asked Laura, laying a firm hand on her sister’s arm.

“I should be out of the way of all fear,” sobbed Bertha.

“Send Henderson to me,” replied Mrs. Lygon, calmly. And she gazed wistfully at the retreating form of her sister.

“If the saving her were all,” she murmured, “would I have incurred this peril? But I will go through with it now, to the very end. O, Arthur! my darling Arthur! My own, my noble, loving one.”

Henderson stood before her, ere the wife’s eyes could discern her through the mist that dimmed them.

Mrs. Lygon recovered herself with a strong effort.

“If I might speak, Madame, before you had anything to say to me?”

“Yes, Mary.”

“I did not think I should have any news so soon, Madame, but you may wish to hear of something which has happened.”

“Quick, tell me.”

“It does not concern anybody you know, Madame, except through me. But I told you that I believed I knew a person that I could trust to shed his life for me, if wanted.”

“Strong words, Mary.”

“They are that, Madame, but not too strong, if I may say so.”

And she briefly told the story of the duel at the inn, and did not fail to lay the utmost stress upon M. Silvain’s having become the deadliest and the most resolved enemy that Adair could have.

Mrs. Lygon listened with intense interest. If, when the story was done, she felt a pang of regret that the speaker had not to tell of a different ending to the fray, it need hardly be said that she gave utterance to no such vengeful thought.

“You should be a good girl, Mary, to have inspired such a love in a brave and honourable mna.”

And Henderson’s lips quivered proudly at the double praise.

“I did not think that anybody’s words could make me so happy, Madame,” said the girl, keeping down tears of pleasure. “You make me bold to ask one favour.”

“You will ask nothing improper, Mary, I am sure.”

“I would cut off my hand first, Madame. But if you would have the goodness only to see him.”

“Him?” said Mrs. Lygon, startled. “You mean——

“M. Sylvain, Madame. Only for one moment. If you would only let him see you. I would not think of your speaking to him, or condescending to talk to him about anything. That is my business. But to see him for a minute, and let him say one word.”

“The fewer persons I see the better.”

“Not another soul in the world, Madame. I shall take care of all that, and proud to be trusted. But if you would see poor Sylvain for just one minute.”

“If you desire it, then, I will.”

“Thank you, Madame, for him and for me. There is no one in the house just now, except Madame and yourself—Angelique and Suzanne are gone to mass—and if you would come into the next room, only for a moment as I say. O, not even Sylvain knows of this place, no soul but me.”

Mrs. Lygon ascended the stairs, and, conducted by Henderson, whose vigilance was tiger-like, came down into the chamber of science. Mary, with an apology, departed for a moment, and returned, bringing her lover.

M. Sylvain’s approach was most respectful, and his bow, without being servile, expressed the deep honour he felt. He either had not intended to speak, or hesitated for words, when Mrs. Lygon, addressing him in his own language, said,

“M. Sylvain, this young person has told me that you have been displaying your affection for her by an act of unusual bravery. I know her friends in England, and it will give me happiness to tell them that she has secured the regard of a man of honour.”

That speech, delivered in a gracious voice, and moreover in French, by a beautiful woman, vanquished M. Sylvain at once; and literally brought him to the ground. For, remembering what his mistress had said upon the subject of oaths, it flashed upon him that such a homage would be but a worthy reply to so much kindness. Dropping on one knee, and holding his arm aloft, M. Silvain called upon his Maker to listen to and attest the lover’s vow to perform, with the utmost fidelity of his soul, whatever wish Madame might honour him by signifying through Mademoiselle.

Greatly scandalized, Mary made all speed to remove her demonstrative admirer from the chamber.

CHAPTER XXIX.

The kind-hearted Scotsman had no idea of losing sight of Lygon, and they took up their quarters for the night at the same hotel. Arthur retired early, though not to sleep; and Urquhart, who had disposed of a few hours in the smoking pavilion in the rear of the house, by getting through about a couple of feet of tobacco, in company with a pleasant circle of English and Americans, who loved to congregate in that apartment and exchange experiences of travel, proceeded to bed about the time that his friend, outwearied with mental and physical fatigue, fell into a disturbed and feverish slumber. At an early hour in the morning they met again, Lygon pale and nervous, Urquhart cheery and vigorous, but with a dire grievance, at which he grumbled mightily, in being deprived of a huge shower bath, wherewith when at home he recruited his mighty limbs for the work of the day.

“These French will never be civilised Christians,” he said, “until they get the high service all over Paris, and they’ll not have that for many a day, for there is a whole army of rascally water-carriers who would get up a revolution if their monopoly were threatened. But perhaps our friend Looey” (it was so that he affectionately described the Elected of the Millions) “will have the pluck to cart them all off to Cayenne one of these days, and let his subjects wash themselves. It is as much a state necessity as was the massacre of the Janizaries out in Constantinople.”

Arthur Lygon did not seem much interested in the sanitary condition of the French metropolis, and Urquhart went on:

“You look as if you would be none the worse for a header into Loch Katrine, the which lake we have turned into every dressing-room in Glasgow, my man. You’ve nothing like that in London, which proves where the superior nation is to be found.”

Lygon smiled faintly, but was in no mood to give the good-natured battle with which in other days he had often met the Scot’s assertions in favour of his country.

“Well,” said Urquhart, “we’ll not be proud and vaunt over you too much, because that’s not the right thing, and if you’ll take off that cup of coffee, we’ll e’en go and sit on one of the benches in yon garden, and have our crack out.”

They went into the pleasant garden of the Tuileries, and Urquhart, with an engineer’s eye, selected a seat which he judged capable of sustaining his weight, and motioned to Arthur to take a place by his side.

“And now, my man, for confession and absolution, as yon dirty-looking priest that’s thumbing the little mass-book, and mumbling away there, would say. What’s on your mind?”

“More than I can tell you, Robert; but I will tell you a good deal, nevertheless.”

“But make a clean breast of it, Arthur. Even those doctors have the sense to tell you that you should hide nothing from your physician.”

“I will hide nothing that I ought to tell.”

“Well, well, we’ll take what we can get quietly, and then wrangle for the rest—that’s a bonny rule of life, my man.”

“I have come to France, Robert, upon an errand of the most singular kind,” said Arthur, who had been reduced by the prolonged struggle with himself to feel the necessity of making a confidence, and of receiving the support and counsel of a friend; but had resolved that, deeply tempted as he was to cast the whole burden of his sorrow before Urquhart, no word should convey to the latter a shadow of the gloomy doubts that were darkening his own existence, and menacing him with a future of loneliness and wretchedness.

“Political, perhaps, or official?” asked Urquhart. “That’s the way business is managed now, instead of leaving it to those diplomatic fellows who take an acre of foolscap to tell their Government that they have called on a man, and he was out of town.”

“Neither—I wish it were either. It is solely, painfully private,” replied Lygon.

Robert Urquhart addressed himself to listen intently.

“You took it for granted, yesterday, that Laura must be with me,” said Arthur, bringing out the name with an effort. “She is not with me, but I have followed her here.”

“Well,” returned Urquhart, cheerfully. “And what brought her?”

“I do not know—that is, I know in part.”

The Scotsman knitted his large brow, and his countenance assumed a sudden sternness, utterly foreign to its usual character, and far from pleasant to behold.

“I must hear more,” he said, “but I do not like the beginning.”

In a few words Arthur related to him the story of the sudden departure of Mrs. Lygon, suppressing mention of the note that had been left on the table of the bed-room, but proceeding to speak of his own journey to consult Mr. Berry.

“And why did Berry send you to France?” was the expected and inevitable question.

For this demand Arthur Lygon had prepared himself, and seizing Bertha’s hint of a political trouble in which Mr. Vernon had been involved, he transferred that suggestion to the counsel of the solicitor at Lipthwaite. Poor Bertha—could she but have known the care which the man whom she had deceived was taking to frame a reply that should exclude her name from question.

“I never heard of this plot, or whatever it was,” said Robert Urquhart.

“Nor I,” said Lygon, “but you are as well aware as I am that Mr. Vernon led a strange life before he settled at Lipthwaite, and there is nothing unlikely in the story.”

“Which, Arthur, you believe as much as I do. That is, you believe neither jot nor tittle of it.”

“I wish to believe it.”

“Wish to believe a lie. That is foolish talk, Arthur Lygon.”

“Believing it, I am here,” said Lygon.

“Cut this sort of thing short,” said Robert Urquhart, almost sternly. “We are not to play with words, when there is honour or shame in the matter before us. You are either meaning to tell me nothing, in which case the sooner we two part company the better; or, which is more likely, you are preparing the way to tell me what you ought. You will take your choice, of course, but you call me your friend.”

“You are impatient, Urquhart,” said Lygon, with a forced composure. “You have not heard me to the end.”

“I know that well,” said Urquhart, quickly.

“I have told you why I came over to France. Naturally, the first place I hastened to was your house.”

He expected an assent from his companion, but the latter preserved a dead silence.

“I saw Bertha,” he continued, “and learned that my wife had been with her, but had returned to Paris, and was on her way to England.”

“Which you believe to be as great a lie as the first story, or I could never have kept you in Paris last night. You believe my wife to have told you a deliberate falsehood.”

“I have said nothing of the kind, and I have given you no right to say anything of the kind,” said Arthur, firmly.

“We shall see,” said Urquhart. “I am waiting for the end that you have promised me.”

“Bertha told me what she supposed to be true.”

“And why do you suppose the contrary?”

“For reasons of my own, which in no way concern any one but myself and Laura.”

“The first thing that we will do,” said Urquhart, rising, “is to take the first train to Versailles, and hear from my wife’s own lips all that she has to say upon this business.”

“I have no intention of returning to Versailles. Robert, you profess yourself my friend, and, as I believe, most truly mean to serve me. If so, you will do it in my way, or you will cause irreparable injury.”

“You have mixed up my wife’s name and fame in the affair,” said Urquhart, “and therefore it becomes mine as much as yours. But you are quite right, Arthur, in believing that I would not move one hair’s breadth in a line that could injure you, and if I spoke hastily, you must remember that I am a man of action, and out of the habit of picking my words. And now, Arthur, tell me the rest.”

“The rest is that I do not believe Laura to be returning to England, and that I do believe her to be in—France,” he said, hesitating for a moment at the word.

“I said I never picked a word,” said Robert Urquhart, “but I do not know what word to use now. Yet if we are to understand one another, I must run all chances of hurting you to the soul. You will not say why you think Bertha has been deceived. If you will not, I must ask you a frightful question.”

“I foresee it,” said Lygon, with a terrible calmness. “You would ask me whether I have reason to think——my God!” he said, grinding his teeth, “that the thought should have to be put into language!—well,—whether I have reason to think that Laura is not worth a husband’s pursuing.”

“Answer that.”

“Reason? I thank God—I thank God from my very heart, No. But—”

“Nay, hold your tongue there,” said the Scot, more kindly and gravely than he had spoken since their first meeting. “Be silent there. We may do wicked wrong, the wickedest, if we go a step further in that direction, when you are able to say the words you have just uttered. They mean that you know nothing against your wife, and that if she stood before you now, and I would to Heaven she did, you would not dare to make any charge against her. She is innocent, but there is a mystery to be cleared up. For God’s sake let us do no injustice in our rash impatience that we cannot clear it.”

Gravely he laid his hand upon the shoulder of his friend, whose agitation visibly increased, and who did not reply.

“Do not think, Arthur,” continued Urquhart, “that I am saying this to delude you into false hopes, or to beguile you with a temporary comfort. I would not do so, if the speaking my own convictions were to be followed by your falling down dead upon this ground. If I believed that your wife had forgotten her duty, I would be the first to urge you to drive her from your home, and tear her from your heart,—the first to scorn you if you forgot your duty to yourself. But out of your heart came the words that assured me of her innocence, and I now say to you, in all the sincerity which man can shew to his fellow-man, hold your heart up, and keep the devil’s thoughts out of it until you look into her dear eyes and hear her tell you why you have been thus tried. In the name of the God who will judge us all, Arthur Lygon, I call on you to do justice to the woman you chose from the world.”

This appeal was made in a tone that was more than grave, it was solemn, and as is not uncommon with the educated Scotchman, when really and worthily excited, the language of Urquhart took somewhat of the manner of the preacher—a fact easily referable to the earlier life of the natives of a country where religious ordinances are so highly cherished as in Scotland. The effect upon Arthur Lygon was strong, but the habit of self-control, dear to the Englishman, prevented his giving way to any vehement demonstration of what he felt. He wrung Urquhart’s hand hard, and turned away to gain a more perfect victory over his emotions. Urquhart perceived this, and permitted Lygon to remain silent for some minutes. Then passing his arm through that of his friend, Robert Urquhart said, in the old pleasant voice,—

“We’ll just take a turn. It quickens the brain to quicken the circulation.”

And Arthur, yielding to the kindly impulse, walked by the side of Urquhart, and listened to his further counsel.

That is settled,” said Robert, and there was no need to explain the world of meaning in the simple word. “Now I am one of those who do nothing by halves. When I give my confidence, I give it wholly, and when I am deceived, I punish with my full power. If you will take my advice, Arthur, you will return to your home. In all likelihood you will find your wife there before you. But whether or not, it is upon your own hearthstone that you should be waiting her.”

“It may be so,” replied Lygon, sadly.

“It is so,” replied Urquhart. “You have not told me the reasons why you think poor Bertha was deceived, nor do I care a rush to hear them, now that you have declared the rest. But if Laura is doing what is right, it matters little where she is. If your presence were necessary to her she would not have left you without a clue. Trust the wife of your bosom, the mother of your children, and go home, and wait for her where she has so often waited for you.”

“I think,” said Arthur, after a pause, “that your judgment is a safer guide to me than my own, in my present state of mind.”

“That means that you will go.”

“Yes.”

“That is well. It is the first time I ever tried to send you away,” said Urquhart, his hospitable instinct refusing, even under such circumstances, to be entirely silenced. “But you’ll not misjudge me for that, my man.”

“My dear Robert.”

“Another word, though. I shall go home as soon as I have seen you off.”

“Yes,” said Arthur, anxiously.

“I see what you are thinking about. But don’t I tell you that I never do things by halves? I regard all that you have said to me as mere idle talk, and certainly I should not think it worthy to be repeated to anybody, least of all to my own wife.”

“But,” said Arthur, “you will of course mention that I told you of Laura’s visit to her sister?”

“If Laura has given Bertha her confidence, as I make no doubt she has,” said Urquhart, “Bertha will tell me whatever it is meet and right I should know. But I shall ask her no questions, and I shall wait patiently for your letter to inform me of your being satisfied on every point, and I know you’ll not let me wait for that any longer than is needful”

“Mot an hour.” “There is one thing, Robert,” said Arthur, who, gladly clinging to the resolute assurances of the Scot in regard to the innocence of Laura, had thoughts for the weak and terrified woman at Versailles, whom he had so recently beheld in her agony of fear. What if Urquhart should, by some mistaken or half understood words, drive her into a sudden revelation.

“What is that, my man?”

“Why,” said Arthur, resolved on preventing danger even to one who had given him but little cause to care for her welfare, “the fact is—and I ought to tell you—I was rather rude—at least I was abrupt in my manner to Bertha.”

“We will make all allowance—nay, Arthur, you don’t think so ill of her or of me as to think that when a man is half distracted about his wife, his looks and words are to be counted up against him by either of us as if he were a stage-player. For shame!”

“I own that expecting, hoping, to find Laura, and learning that she was gone, I allowed my feelings to manifest themselves—”

“If you say another word about it, I shall think that Bertha was less kind and considerate than it was her duty to be.”

“No, you must not think that, but I fear she was perhaps hurt at my impatience.”

“I will make her an ample apology for you, then.”

“Do so, then.”

“Or if you like to make it for yourself, though I am heartily angry with you for thinking it necessary, we’ll just step back to the hotel, and you may write her a bit of a note.”

“And I will,” said Arthur, catching at the proposal which he himself had been on the point of hazarding.

They returned to the house, and Arthur wrote as follows:

My dear Bertha,

“I am leaving for England, but feel that I ought to say half a dozen words to you in apology for my hasty manner on leaving you. I have explained, however, to Robert, that having traced Laura to your house, and receiving from you the rough shock given by your information that she had gone off to England, I expressed myself somewhat unkindly, but though he assures me that you will overlook it, I cannot help making my personal request to you to do so. He does not think that I can be of any use in aiding anybody in the matter with which Mr. Vernon was said to have been connected, and therefore my remaining in Paris would be idle. I trust to find that Laura has not been over-fatigued by her hurried journey. So with renewed apology, and adieux,

“Yours affectionately,

Arthur Lygon.

Paris.”

“This is what I have written,” said Lygon.

“You have written all that is right I dare swear,” said Urquhart. “I have too many letters of my own, and don’t want to hear anybody else’s. Seal it up, my man, and I will be your faithful postman.”

This will surely be hint enough to her, poor wretch, thought Lygon, as he enveloped the letter. If not, she must take her chance. I am in no mood for further precaution. “Here it ia, Robert.”

“It shall go, even if I do not return at once,” said Urquhart. “And see, there is a train in an hour, and I would have you depart by that. We have not met for many a day, my dear Arthur; and I little thought, when the time did come, that we would have had such a conversation; but who knows what will happen to any of us? But I hope that you will look back, many a happy day to come, upon our present trouble, and be thankful that we were brought out of it so completely. Go home, my man, and once more take the comfort with you that you have a good and loving wife, and that all this will pass away like a dream; and one day, when it’s nearly forgotten, and the story comes up again to your mind, you’ll just give Laura a kiss for her brother-in-law, and say that he upheld her in the hour when her good-for-nought husband permitted the devil, which is Satan, to get the upper hand of him. But you’ll drive away the devil’s thoughts now, Arthur, I’ve your promise for that ?"

“You have.”

“Your hand on it. And I’ll see you to the train, my man. We’ll have no discontented bodies like you upon this free and happy soil of France.”