“I will answer you nothing!”
murmured Isabel, still facing her husband as she moved
round into the garden driveway. “Arthur
Winslow, it is you who are on trial, not I!”
“I on trial! God, listen to that!”
He sprang after her, gripped her shoulders,
and hung over her, snarling, “You two-faced
runaway! what have I done but suffer?”
She kept the lantern hid. “What
have you done? Oh, my husband, will you hear
if I tell you? You have hung the fates of all
of us, living or yet to live, on one thread,-please,
dear, don’t bear so heavily on me,-on
one poor thread which the jar of another misstep will
surely break. Oh, let us not make it! Come,
Arthur,-my husband,-into the
house; maybe we can yet save ourselves and our dear
ones! Arthur, you’re hurting me dreadfully.
If you press me down that way, you’ll force me
to my knees.”
Still she spoke in undertone, and
still she muffled the light, while steadily the weight
of his arms increased. Suddenly he crowded her
to the earth. “Arthur,” she murmured,
“Arthur, what are you going to do? Don’t
kill me here and now, Arthur; wait till to-morrow.
I have that to pass through to-night which may end
my life peaceably in bed; and if it should, then there
will be no infamy on any of us,-on you or
our child, living, or on me, dead; and Godfrey, and
Ruth, and mother, and all can be”-
“Give me that lantern!”
He held her with one hand, snatched the light from
cover, and thrust it into her face. “So
this is what you signal him with, is it?”
“Oh no, no! Arthur, dear, no! Before
God’s throne, no!”
He lifted it as high as his arm would
go, and with all his force swung it down, crashing
and quenched, upon her head.
She gave a gentle sigh and rolled
at his feet. Groaning with horror and fright,
he lifted her in his arms and bore her to her room
There she presently opened her eyes
to find him laving her face and head, moaning, covering
them with kisses, and imploring her forgiveness in
a thousand hysterical repetitions.
“Hush, dear,” she whispered.
“I see how it all happened. Does anybody
know? Oh, God be thanked! don’t let any
one find out! It was all a misunderstanding.
So many things crowded together to mislead you!”
“Oh yes, so many, many things
at once, my treasure! Oh yes, yes!”
“Call Sarah, will you, dear?”
“Oh, beloved, why should I? You don’t
need Sarah for anything.”
“Yes, I need her. I must
send her for mother-and Ruth-I
promised Ruth; and you must send Giles for the doctor;
my hour is come.”
In the Byington house Ruth and her
brother met at the foot of the stairs.
“Leonard,” she whispered,
“what is it? Is father ill? Leonard!
Oh, what have you seen?”
“Let me pass! quick!”
He would have pressed her aside, but she laid hands
“What has Arthur done?” she asked.
“What is he doing?”
“Ruth! Ruth! he is putting
her out of his own gate!” The brother extended
both hands to turn the sister from his path, but she
twined her arms on his.
“Leonard! Leonard! for
the love of heaven, let him do it! She has only
to go to her mother; let her go! It’s the
last hope. But she’d better be dead, and
she’d a hundred times rather be dead, than that
Leonard Byington should be her rescuer! Come
in here a minute.”
Slipping both hands into his she drew
him into the lighted room, adding as they went, “In
a few minutes I can make some errand to her and find
how matters stand”-
They stumbled over a disordered rug.
She fell into a chair; he sank to his knees, and with
his face in her hands he moaned, “Oh, Ruth!
Oh, Ruth! it’s my fault after all! I should
have gone away at the beginning!”
Ruth and Arthur met face to face in
the Winslow garden. “I was just coming
for you,” he said, excitedly.
“Yes, her mother is with her,
and”-a sound of wheels-“here’s
Giles, now, off for the doctor.”
The servant passed. “Yes,
I got here by the sunset express. I couldn’t
stay away-with this impending.”
“I didn’t see you come.”
“No, of course you didn’t
see me, for I didn’t go to the station, and so
I didn’t pass anywhere near your house.
I got off at the tank and came up the hill path.”
“You must have got drenched; you are
“Oh no! I got in before
the rain began. Let myself in without seeing any
one, and found Isabel was over at her mother’s.
So I waited here.”
“Didn’t let her know you
were home?” asked Ruth, with a penetrating gaze.
“No, I haven’t been off
the place since I came, but I stepped out so many
times into the garden to see if she was coming that
I’m soaking wet.”
They entered the lighted house, and
he turned upon her a glance heavy and wavering with
falsehood. His tongue ran like a terrified horse.
“Oh-eh-before you go upstairs-Ruth-there’s
one thing I’m distressed about. I’ve
told Mrs. Morris, and she’s promised to see that
the doctor understands it perfectly,-though
I shall explain it to him myself the moment he comes.
And still I wish you’d see that he understands,
“What is it?”
“Why, at last, as I was waiting
for Isabel, and saw her coming, I went to meet her.
Unfortunately she took me for a stranger, turned to
run, and tripped and fell headlong! She somehow
got her lantern between the base of a tree and the
crown of her head, smashed the lantern, and cut and
bruised her head pitifully!”
To hide her start of distress Ruth
moved up the stair; but after a step or two she turned.
“Arthur, why say anything about it, if nothing
The husband stared at her and turned deadly pale.
tr-true!” he said, with an eager
gesture. “I’ll not mention it.
And-Ruth!”-she was leaving
him-“you might s-say the
same to Mrs. Morris!”
She nodded, but would not trust her
eyes to meet his. He was right; she had divined
He went loiteringly into the library
and gently closed the door. Then he turned the
light low, paced once up and down the room, and all
at once slammed himself full length upon a lounge,
and lay face up, face down, by turns, writhing and
tearing his hair.
Soon again he was pacing the floor,
and presently was prone once more, and then once more
Giles, his English man, brought the
doctor, and Arthur heard him discoursing as the vehicle
“Yes, sir, quite so; quite so,
sir. And yet I believe, sir, if h-all money and
lands was ’eld in common, the ’olé
’uman ryce would be as ’appy as the gentlemen
and lydies on Bylow ’Ill!”
The young husband met the physician
cheerily, sent him up, and went back to his solitude.
An hour passed, and then Sarah Stebbens
knocked and leaned in. “Mr. Arthur!”
“Oh! I didn’t see you. All’s
well, and it’s a daughter.”