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CHAPTER VII.

she says. This letter is written by some

body who has nothing to do with Mrs. FerEVA'S RESOLUTION.

rier -- one, at least, who had nothing to do

with her.” So Eva's birth was now a secret no lon- Had nothing to do with her! No. ger. It was no secret to herself. It was no Somebody whom she has engaged bribed, secret to her friends. It was no secret to I sbouldn't wonder to support her in some her enemy. Whether it did or did not con- ridiculous made-up story.” tinue a secret from the world was a matter Oh, Mrs. Ballow, why will you mock too trivial to care for.

me with comfort which you know no rational Some minutes after she had come to the creature could receive ? I beg pardon, dear end of that letter she placed it, as if it had Mrs. Ballow; I forget what I'm saying. Of been a note of the most unmeaning charac- course you have not read this letter. Forter, on the taole which stood beside her. give me for saying what I did. But I'm But she continued sitting still. It can satisfied that this story is true, and that my scarcely be said that she thought. She parentage is even worse than Mrs. Ferrier could feel, but she could not think. She herself can ever bave thought it.” was just as one launched into a new and “Oh, ah, I dare say the writer of this strange world, in which all is too novel precious letter took the measure of this and unaccountable to be grasped by faculties wicked woman's foot, and wrote accordingly. accustomed to things of so different an My dear, don't give in to them in this hasty order.

way, at all events. Now just let me look at Eva was roused by the voice of Mrs. this ridiculous thing." Ballow outside her door. That lady rightly

It would have taken some time to read imagined that Miss March was now in full the letter through and through. But it possession of all which Mr. Dowlas had required but a minute or two to glance at written to Mrs. Ferrier, and she was deeply and seize hold of the great leading facts and affectionately anxious to administer the contained in it. comfort which her young friend must be Mrs. Ba low quickly found out what_pasorely needing.

rentage Mr. Dowlas had attributed to Eva. “Eva, my dear," she called to her, “now She put down the letter with anger. do pray let me in. I won't trouble you for “My dear, I don't believe one word of it more than a single minute. But I must just not one word of it. One has only to bid you good night. You'll make me so look at you, and see that it can't be true. uneasy if you keep me out, - indeed you You shall hear Mr. Ballow himself say the will."

You'll think something of what he It cost Miss March an effort; but the says, if you won't take comfort from me. effort was made, and she unbolted the door, We'll look at it all to-morrow morning. And and admitted her friend into the room. now, my dear, go to bed. Be this thing true

Mrs. Ballow bad concluded already, and or false, you must be tired and want rest.” with good reasons for the conclusion, that “ Yes, I want rest ; but you can hardly the discovery made by Mrs. Ferrier's means think, Mrs. Ballow, that I am likely to get was of a most unwelcome kind. But of its it. If Mr. Ballow cares to look at this letter, exact nature, and of its probable effect on perhaps he will read it to-night. The soonEva, Mrs. Ballow was, of course, in utter er you leave me to my fate the better.” ignorance. She was really terrified at the • My dear child, you really quite terrify look of settled dismay - despair almost - me by the desponding way in which you which she saw on the young girl's counte- speak. I've no doubt Mr. Ballow will read

the thing at once if you wish him. We'll "Good gracious, my dear! Why, what go into the parlour; really and truly, I can it be that has distracted you in this ter- don't like to leave you while you're so low as rible manner? My dear, don't be too basty you are just now." in believing it all, whatever it is ! Mrs. And they both went at once into the Ferrier is å wicked woman, - a wicked, parlour. And Mrs. Ballow put the paper selfish woman.

And she's capable of any into her husband's hand for him to read. falsehood, I do verily believe, that would He settled himself to peruse it from the separate you from her son; and the whole very beginning; neither Mrs. Ballow nor thing is her contriving, as you very well Eva interrupted him by a single word. The know. So we are not going to believe what former sat in eager expectancy, awaiting

the opinion which would come as soon as

the “ But, Mrs. Ballow, it is not at all what document was entirely read through. Eva

same.

nance.

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she says."

sat in the shadiest corner of the room; she “ Now, my dear,” said Mr. Ballow, -
looked as one who already knows the worst,“ now I can speak more freely upon this
and who entertains no hope that that worst painful matter - for painful it is, in which-
can by any means be bettered. Thus pass- ever way we come to view it. I could
ed away more than a quarter of an hour; scarcely discuss it in Eva's presence. You
for Mr. Ballow read slowly. He was evi- know she has never been made aware of Mr.
dently balancing in his thoughts the weight Ferrier's earliest adventure - I mean his
of each separate disclosure, and appraising rescuing the child (whether she were that
its credibility, before he went on. There child or no) out of Scarlington House.”
was perfect silence, except when the reader “ No. But does that letter profess to
turned over page after page of the letter, prove that she is the same child ?
and when Mrs. Ballow's impatience found “It does appear to do so, whether design-
relief in an audible gasp. At last the sur- edly or otherwise. And if I knew no more
geon bad finished. He folded the paper than was known to this poor woman — this
and laid it down, and his wife now felt that woman who claims to be Eva's own mother
the obligation to silence need oppress her - I should feel it very hard to doubt that
no longer.

she is the mother. You seem to have only “ Now, then, Frederick, do you not think just glanced at the principal facts in the as I do — that this story is just an abomin- paper. You may not have noticed that, if able falsehood from beginning to end?” there be any kind of truth in it, your uncle

Mr. Ballow hesitated before giving his Ferrier greatly mistook the real meaning of reply:

what he saw in Scarlington House that My dear, I am fully persuaded that the night. The man and woman who, as he writer of this letter himself believes in the supposed, were combining to make away truth of all he writes."

with the poor child, were really combining 6 Oh, do you think so? However, you to take it in, and, as it would seem, to impose don't believe that it really is all true ? " it

upon the world as Mrs. Campion's child. “ On that matter, my dear, I am not pre- Not, of course, that we are justified in pared to speak so positively. You see, if making any public use of Mrs. Campion's you have read this yourself

, that a great name.” part of what is told

the only part, indeed, “But everything combines to fix the which need be of any consequence to us matter, one way or other, upon those Camis given as being merely told Mr. Dowlas by pions.” somebody else."

“ Certainly; but it might be none the less “ Certainly. Come, now, I'm sure you difficult to obtain a confession from them. think as I do — that it's about the most im- We had better keep to such openings as we probable affair ever heard of, and that dear can avail ourselves of. As I was going to Eva would be insane to swallow the whole say, poor Mrs. Roberts appears to have had thing, and act accordingly, – as, foolish girl! no idea that her baby, instead of being at she seems half inclined to do.”

once received into Mrs. Campion's family, “ It is a most improbable story, Ellen; was really snatched away from destrucbut very improbable matters do sometimes tion, as he thought — by your excellent turn out very true. However, I certainly uncle. Mr. Campion must have known do see some things which require explaining, that the child he consented to place in Mrs.

which ought to be explained, before we Robert's bands was not his own, or can we consent to take it as a proved thing.” believe he would ever have cast her off ?

• There, my love ! - There, Eva! Now And it is very possible that Mrs. Beakham, you hear what Mr. Ballow says; and if you the nurse who took the baby to Scarlington think that I only think what I wish to think, House, might never have known how mysteyou won't say so of Frederick, I know. riously it was taken away. She might very Now you really had better go to bed at easily not notice it as she passed through once, my dear."

that parlour again. At all events, she was " Thank you, Mrs. Ballow; thank you for discreet, and said not a word to the child's your

kindness, both at this and at other real mother. But we, of course, know that times. In a very little while I shall be in if that same child really was brought up by no situation to tax your kindness; but I Mrs. Campion until she was just four years sball never forget it. Good night."

old, she must have been taken from that nurse She spoke with that quiet bitterness of in Hammersmith (where your uncle placed tone which may be called resignation, but her), and by some very ingenious deceit which can never be confounded with sub- indeed palmed off as Mrs. Čampion's own mission. And then she quitted the room. | child."

?

all

“ Yes; but do you really think that such “I scarcely think that. I put the advera deceit could possibly be managed ? It tisements the wording of them, that is appears to me that such a trick as that

very cautiously. But I do greatly doubt would be ten times more difficult than the if the poor woman ever had any cause for other."

being afraid. If she did give the child out of “ You are quite right, Ellen; and I shall her hands, she was guilty of a gross breach be very slow to believe in it. Only, you of trust. For such an act she must have see, there is really only a choice of difficulties had some inducement; and that inducement for us.

And it does appear, from what your must have at least included money. There uncle has left on record, that Mrs. Campion was the risk of your uncle's finding out her heard of the child whom Mr. Ferrier was treachery. She would feel certain that the supposed to bave rescued from some ditch people who wanted the child had some very between Fulham and Hammersmith ; - that peculiar motive for the wish. She must she showed so much interest in it as to make have been quite aware that what they wantparticular inquiries. And we do not know ed was not a child merely, but this particuhow far deceit, once entered upon, may be lar child of all others; for they might have carried forward. That nurse, Mrs Mark- possessed themselves of some other infant ley, may have been heavily bribed to give in a much easier and safer way. And Mrs. up the infant entrusted to her charge. She Markley could not know but that your unwould very easily, I should think, get hold cle was aware of much more than he chose of some other stray foundling, whom she to tell her, and was well aware, if anything might impose on your uncle as his own happened to the child, in what quarter to protégée ; or the story of the child's death direct his suspicions. So altogether, if Mrs. may bave been a fabrication altogether. Markley were indeed a woman to prefer Her sudden disappearance had, certainly, a her own interests before the claims of truth suspicious lcok. "It would be a great satis- and honesty, I do think she would have felt faction could we but get bold of this woman; it her interest to keep faith with your unele but I fear that satisfaction is now quite out Ferrier, and would have kept faith with him of the question. I greatly fear that she is accordingly. If she did, why, then we know dead."

that the child he gave into her keeping " Indeed! Then you have actually made died when but a few months old, and our some attempts to find her ? Wby, Frede- young friend's parentage is just as unacrick, I never heard you mention that.” counted for as ever.”

No, my dear; I thought it better not to “Of course. Well, Frederick, it is a tell you. Not that I doubted your discre- relief to me to know that you think so. tion, my dear; it would argue ill for my Then why not act upon this belief?” own good sense if I ever had. No, but I “ Because, my dear, there is really very thought it as well not to torment you with much to be said the other way. We, at all any half-finished plans. So- it was nearly events, must identify Eva with the little girl five years ago -- just about the time when aftarwards adopted by your uncle. And what we met the red-faced woman in the Exhibi- I read here, mysterious and unaccountable as tion - I put one or two advertisements in much of it is, tallies very well with one or two some London papers, and also sent several things, also very obscure and unaccountable, to be inserted in Australian journals - for which we have both read in Mr. Ferrier's to Australia, you know, the woman, at all manuscript. I certainly have heard that Mr. events, said she was going. I went so far as and Mrs. Campion have but one daughter, to make a few inquiries through one or two who (as her parents are separated) lives with of our friends who have relatives in Australia. her mother, and that they are not known ever The advertisements never brought me any to have had another child but ber. Only reply of any sort. I did get a letter from it is very difficult to get any definite tid Sydney, informing me that such a person as ings about them; they seem to have sunk Mrs. Markley was known to have come ont somehow out of the world's sight. I can there about the end of 1838; that she was imagine it possible that some audacious supposed, many years ago, to have gone impostor, who had a child of which he back to Europe; that she had, at all events, desired to be rid, employed Mr. Campion's disappeared from Sydney; and that, more- name, and sent that little girl for Mrs. Robover, she left the place a widow, as she came. crts to receive as her own. But you see This was all I could ever make out as to how conjectural is all this. I fear, if we Mrs. Markley."

consulted any one who had no bias in this " But perhaps, Frederick, she was afraid matter, he would tell us that we are but of coming forward.”

resisting an inevitable but unwelcome conclusion, and that Miss March can be no the actual one, poor Eva suffered much other than the child of that unhappy Mrs. more that night than in the whole previous Roberts."

course of her existence. “Oh, impossible, Mr. Ballow! I never Towards morning, however, she obtained a will believe it! What! the daughter of a little rest, and when she awoke she was able convict father, and, to say the least, a most to look at the matter before her, if not with incautious and imprudent mother? Why, more of pleasure, at least with greater only just look at Eva, before you assign her calmness. In one respect, at least, she such parents.”

thought her daty lay straight and clear “ Those parents, my dear, had no such ad- before her. vantages as hers. They had no such protec- She must go to her mother. She must tion as your excellent uncle's

. They had no now begin to be all, and (if possible) more such example as that of your excellent uncle's than all, that she could have been to her bad more excellent piece. When we would she grown up under her mother's eye. It praise people, we should take their circum- was not for her to evade a daughter's duties, stances into account.”

because estranged from her mother sinee Oh, ah, I see. You mean my uncle's her birth. That estrangement ought hardly niece would have had little excellence but to be attributed as a crime to her mother; for having, in her turn, so excellent a hus- at all events, it had secured to Eva a far band. I thank you, Mr. Ballow."

better education, a far better entrance into Well, my dear, it's a general rule. the world, than her mother could possibly Apply it as you like. Once again, I say have given her. that I do see great improbability in this Eva's clear, strong sense was asserting story of Mrs. Roberts, though I acquit her itself, even in the unforeseen and baffling of all untruth. But, setting one improba- contradictions of her present position. To bility against another, I fear we have at live with her mother would for a season present no good case against her claim. Let involve the detested presence of her aunt, us go to bed at once, my dear; I'm sure Mrs. Dowlas. But this need not be for ever, we're both heartily tired of this matter; and nor for long. Had this been all, the heaviI only fear it will tire us a great deal more ness which weighed upon Eva during the ere we have quite done with it."

night might have given way in the morning And to bed they accordingly went. to something like joy.

If the Ballows rested not well that night, But then it was not all. There was you may be very sure that it would not be a another great matter, and that was — Richvery tranquil night for poor Eva. The ard. To think any more of him would be discovery – for it never occurred to her at worse than breaking a promise of her own. this time to doubt its reality, - the discov- It would be asking him, or alluring him, to ery entailed upon her a worse embarrassment violate the promise given to herself. It than she could ever have expected. She would go nigh to justify all that even Mrs. bad thought, from time to time, that she Ferrier was likely to say against her.

That might find her parents among the poor and lady's immense efforts io keep Richard and lowly, and might thus be called to exercise Eva asunder ought by this time to be known humility. She had confessed to herself in every circulating library throughout the that she might find them amongst the faulty United Kingdom. But she herself nerer and degraded, and so might have to exer- knew how successful she was just at this cise a forbearance and forgiveness. Now, crisis. She did not know how greatly the however, she stood revealed, the child of a thought of Richard's mother supported Eva mother at once guilty and innocent, at once in the resolve to give up her hopes of Richa victim and a trangressor.

ard. Pride sustained the cause of duty Mrs. Robert's misfortunes had been too from its possible surrender to the claims of directly the fruits of her own folly to enti- love. And poor Eva made even a miserable tle her to unmixed compassion, and too pretence of thinking that there was some little of her own contriving to condemn her thing to be thaokful for in that she should to unqualified abhorrence. Her daughter never call Mrs. Ferrier her mother-in-law. must pity her, and she might find it hard to And when she joined her friends at breakdivert her pity from every admixture of fast they really wondered at her extraordicontempt.

nary calmness. With the universal propensity to think They had scarcely breakfasted when Mr. that every possible position of matters Dowlas presented himself. As in all affairs would have presented fewer difficulties than in which the Dowlas family intermingled, our own friends were very glad that the pity to your poor mother, to come to us for a reverend Welshman came unattended by time. I trust you would not find your stay his wife.

an entirely unpleasant one; and you and There were few, if any, who admired your mother could decide together as to Mr. Dowlas as he deserved. Suffering and your future course.” martyrdom are frequently more interesting “Does my mother then so much desire to and picturesque when they are contemplated see me ?” from a distance. If voluntary endurance “I do not exaggerate when I tell you makes a martyr, Mr. Dowlas was assuredly that I believe your refusal would almost be one, and many a saint to whom cathedrals her death. At least, it would be necessary have been reared, and before whose altars to break it very slowly to her. I have been candles are burning day and night, has en- told by very good medical authority that dured a great deal less than Mr. Dowlas had any sudden shock of surprise might proslong endured. Moreover, his patience rarely trate her reason at once. I had great fears received its merited praise. His acquaint- from the agitation through which she has ances, of both sexes, set him down for a gone during the past week or two." poor, craven-hearted man, who could not “Do you mean, then, that my poor mothventure to assert his domestic rights. In er has ever been affected in her mind ? ” this they very much wronged him. Mr. “ Not exactly so. Yet her escape from Dowlas submitted to his wife's temper, not such a misfortune has been really marvelbecause he lacked the courage to rule his lous. I am speaking the exact truth of household, but just because he possessed the poor Susanna when I say that she has been rarer faculty of ruling his own spirit. And all her lifetime subject to bondage. She that spirit was naturally high. As he would has fallen into evil hands through sheer say to a very few of his more intimate weakness of will and decision in herself. friends,“

My wife's unhappy temper will I declare to you, Miss March, that you may be curbed by no common authority. My believe her when she says that in parting unfortunate error in marrying her has left with you at your birth she meant, in her me with the alternative of being her tyrant weak way, to do the best she could for or her slave. I believe that my natural you; and she meant as well when she tried heart would incline me to tyranny; but I to reclaim you.” have thought it better for the honour of the " Mr. Dowlas — uncle Dowlas, if you gospel I preach — better for the welfare of will let me call you so, - I believe it is my my children, so doubly dependent upon me, duty to go to her, and I will go.” better for that future life to which I humbly But, my dear,” interposed Mrs. Ballow, look forward — that I should allow myself " will you not consider the matter a little to be a slave.” Thus the submission which more fully ? — Pray, Mr. Dowlas, when even many who esteemed Mr. Dowlas con- must you return home ? — to-day ?.” sidered as a guilty sacrifice of duty to ease,

Yes. I fear I cannot delay beyond was really and truly a daily mortification, this afternoon. My duties require mne to be undergone from a sincere endeavour to walk at home to-morrow evening, and I have as best became him.

left my eldest daughter with some friends Such was the Reverend Morgan Douglas, in Liverpool, and Mrs. Dowlas has a great - a man in whose speculative creed you desire to go from Liverpool to Bangor by might find abundant flaws; a man entertain- water. I fear I must set off by the train ing his full share of the mistakes and narrow- which leaves Leamington at three to-day.” ness which beset his order; a man the great “ Then,” Mrs. Ballow replied, before sacrifice of whose life it might not be diffi- Miss March could come out with any ancult to represent as a monstrous blunder; swer of her own " then, if Eva decides but still a man whom nothing could turn upon accompanying you, she will meet you out of the way which he deemed appointed at the station in good time for that train. for him.

That arrangement, I suppose, will not be In the conversation which ensued on bis objected to ?” arrival, Mr. Dowlas besought Eva, with as “ Certainly not, ma'am. Of course, I'm much earnestness as he felt justified in em- well aware that it's but a short time to deploying. not to turn away from her newly cide on so important a matter.” And Mr. found mother.

Dowlas got up from his chair, and was “I cannot promise, Miss March,” he said, about to say Good morning. Eva, by a " that in making your home at Llynbwllyn gesture, detained him. you would enjoy a very happy one. My “ May 1- may 1,” she said, “ ask you wife's temperament is – is of a somewhat just one question, Mr. Dowlas ?” impulsive character. But I do ask you, in i " I will do my best to answer any ques

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