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think of Bertie, and of his joyous merriment two years ago, when there were fireworks let off in the playground part of the garden, and a splendid bonfire lighted. Every fresh shoat and report and flash of light against the blind renewed the impression, until she felt that she could not bear it with outward composure much longer, and she rose and went to her own room, lest her husband, poticing her tears, should be distressed himself by the same recollection.
But though Edward's grief for the loss of their boy was as permanent, as deep, and far more bitter, than that of his wife, Bertie was not, at this moment, in his thoughts. While the juvenile population of Kingsport were thus zealously commemorating, thongh probably with little remembrance, the "unnatural conspiracy” which set in such ghastly light the fierceness of the struggle, in those bygone days, between the old faith and the new, the minds of their elders were occupied with a coming struggle, insignificant, indeed, by comparison, but looming far larger on their thoughts, being near at hand, and to be fought out by themselves.
Two days before news had been received of the unexpected decease of the Member of Parliament for Kingsport. That there would be a keenly-contested election was a foregone conclusion. It was felt by both parties that any open preparation for the contest must be deferred until after the funeral; but informal consultations there had been among the leaders on each side. By politically-minded citizens the situation was being already eagerly discussed in all its bearings, while others talked more vaguely, yet all on the one engrossing topic.
Rather more than three years ago the late Member—a staunch Conservative-had been returned by a somewhat narrow majority. Conservatives boasted that this majority would now be, at the least, quadrupled ; while Liberals declared as confidently that the principles of sound reform and progress bad, during the last three years, made rapid advance in Kingsport, and that the Liberal candidate would triumphantly head the poll.
It was of this coming contest, of the conditions necessary to success, and the possible occasions of failure, that Weatherill thought, as he eat silently, his eyes fixed upon the fire. His cogitations were not only absorbing, they were also somewhat despondent and irritating. For he was not a man of sanguine temperament, who believed a result certain because he desired it; andholding, practically, if not avowedly, with Carlyle, that his coun trymen were “mostly fools," he credited his fellow-Liberals of Kingsport with an almost unlimited capacity of falling into blanders, and making shipwreck of the common cause. So en
grossed he was that Clarissa had been away some time before he noticed her absence, and perceived that their visitor was no longer reading but knitting, though occasionally glancing over a phototographic album--at that time somewhat of a novelty.
Mrs. Lumley had arrived in Kingsport the day before, and had expressed an intention of leaving on the morrow.
She had come, she said, on business, though she was very delighted to have this opportunity of spending a few hours with her valued friends, dear Alice being away was a great disappointment.
The business which brought her to Kingsport was not wholly a fiction. It was a fact that a resident in the town owed her husband a small sum, and that her personal application had resulted in its payment; but it was also true that the amount received was very little in excess of her travelling expenses, and that had there been no other motive for her coming than its collection, the journey would not have been undertaken.
The curiosity which had been excited in Mrs. Lumley's mind by her unexpected meeting with Mrs. Weatherill, and by the discovery she had made of the reason of her coming to Westhaven, and of her agitation, was far too strong and lively to subside very readily. The following day she had looked eagerly in the shopwindows for the bills advertising the missing child, and had been puzzled and disappointed by seeing them nowhere, but her husband on his return to dinner had remarked that the £20 reward appeared to have acted like a charm. When he went to business the bills were everywhere. They had now all disappeared ! “Strange," thought Mrs. Lumley, "very strange altogether!”
Nor.when days had passed, and even weeks, did the wondering cease to recur. Why should Mrs. Weatherill feel so very strongly about this orphan child; and why, quite unlike her usual way was she so disinclined to speak of any one who interested her thus deeply? Was Mr. Weatherill unaware of all this interest ? Was she spending his money on the child without his knowledge? She was just the sort of woman for quixotic benevolence and selfindulgent charities ; Mr. Weatherill had once said something to his wife, in her hearing, about indiscreet benefactions. Was that the cause of her reserve; or, could there be any other reason ?"
She was in a fine state of excitement when the child was lost, that was certain ; an excitable, emotional, weak-minded woman; so inferior to her husband! A pity it was he had not chosen some one who could have understood and appreciated him. Admired him, doted on him! Ob, yes, she did that; she would have doted on any husband; some wives had a gift that way ; some women would have found her Thomas adorable, no doubt-bat appreciate him! Ah, well! clever men were apt to like silly wives, and he
appeared quite satisfied. It was strange, though, about that child !
And near the end of October a circumstance occurred which re-awakened her cariosity in double force, and gave impulse and direction to her evil sarmisings.
During the spring, Mr. Lamley had been sufficiently indisposed to require medical advice, and, on making inquiries, Dr. Marston had been recommended to them as a kindly man, and a skilful practitioner. In September the bill for attendance was sent in, bat as money was seldom abundant with Thomas Lamley, the succeeding month was nearly ended, when his wife, one morning, mounted half-way up Cliff Street to the doctor's residence to settle the account.
Ushered into the dining-room, and left for a short time alone, she occupied herself by observing the furniture of the apartment and the pictures-chiefly portraits and engravings—hanging on the walls. Very soon her attention was concentrated on a painting which, she saw at a glance, was greatly superior in execution to any other in the room—the picture of a fair young girl, attired in a simple evening-dress. That it was a good painting, was her first impression; her second, that the countenance represented was well known to her. Who did it resemble ? or rather, who conld it be? for the impression was not of resemblance, but of identity. Who could it be? For a few moments memory refused any sugge stion then it flashed apon her, was it like Alice Weatherill grown older ? No! Now she knew : it was like Clarissa Weatherill-younger. Like ? it was herself ; sarely it must be !-the features, the expression of the eyes, the wavy brown hair, all exactly the same. And yet-how could it be? Mrs. Weatherill had never spoken of having any relatives or friends in Westhaven who would be at all likely to possess her portrait; indeed, she had not mentioned any near friend living there, excepting Mrs. Walton. Then Mrs. Lumley rose to examine the picture more closely. About eighteen that. young girl would be. Mrs. Weatherill must be—well, nearer forty than thirty--say thirty-seven. Yes; the dress would very well represent the fashion of some nineteen or twenty years ago. Strange if it were Clarissa Weatherill; very strange, the likeness, if it were not!
" That is a good painting,” she said to Mrs. Marston, when the bill had been duly paid and receipted, and a few minutes had been spent in general conversation. “Would it be a likeness of yourself in earlier days?” Mrs. Lumley had great faith in the virtue of a compliment in drawing forth desired information.
“Oh, no," said Mrs. Marston, smiling, “it was here when I came,” she was the doctor's second wife, and but recently married. “Do you think it like? The fact is, it does not belong to as at all ; it is only in Dr. Marston's keeping. It belongs to a young lady, an orphan, who is in a boarding-school and has, of conrse, no place to keep it. My husband thought it would be better preserved on the wall than in a lumber-room.”
“And who does it represent ? ” asked Mrs. Lumley; "the young lady's mother?”
“Yes, I suppose ; no, I don't think so either. Really, I forget," replied Mrs. Marston. "I am not sure if the Doctor ever told me. Bat I know it was painted by her father, who was an artist. He never made art pay-died quite poor. The daughter is somewhat eccentric, I believe."
“Indeed! In what way?"
“Oh, she ran away from school a few months ago, and was found in a garret, painting a picture of her father.”
“Very extraordinary,” remarked Mrs. Lamley; "hereditary genias, I suppose. Her father painted well; there can be no doubt of that. And you cannot at all recollect who this very pretty young lady is ?
“No, really. I know there was something about a lady who is very
kind to Miss Lawrence-I think that is the name—maintains her, in fact; and I have a dim idea that she was in some way con nected with that picture. Yet that could hardly be, either; she is not a Westhaven lady-resides, I think, in Kingsport. I wish that I could give you better information, as you are so struck with the picture; but, coming to a new home, there were so many things, you know, to inquire abont, that I really could not remember half the Doctor told me. There is a likeness of myself, as you are interested in portraits, if you would think it worth while to walk into the drawing-room," and Mrs. Marston led the way, and Mrs. Lumley followed, duly examined the painting, and expressed her admiration.
"A very agreeable woman," thought the Doctor's wife as they took leave.
Down the steep descent of Cliff Street she went, with quick, excited steps, and the shops in the Green, with all their tempting display, were passed anheeded. How strange! What did itwhat could it all mean? Did Mr. Weatherill know all this? If she were ever again in Kingsport, she would find that ont, at the least.
Before many hours had passed the thought of stirring in the matter at Kingsport, had grown into a restless wish, and the wish had settled into a resolve-to Kingsport she wonld go. If Mr. Weatherill did know all about it, she should be telling no tales ; if he did not, then he ought to know! “Not very clever; but, oh so good.” That was, no doubt, what he thought of his “ dear
Kitty." Sweet, loving, gaileless creature Ah! well; men were very blind ; wanted to be enlightened a little! She did not inform her husband of the discovery she had made, or of the real purpose of her desired visit to Kingsport; he would have told her to leave other people's business alone, and have reminded ber of previous mischief-making interferences, of which the result had been otherwise than pleasant. So to him she said that she had not enjoyed a single day's change since their visit to the Weatherills; she would undertake to recover that long-standing debt, and this would somewhat more than meet the expenses of the journey.
“Well; go,” replied her husband; “if yoa have made up your mind to it, go you will, of course. And you can take a lesson from pretty Mrs. Weatherill how to behave to a husband.” Mrs. Lumley laughed a short scornful laugh, but she said nothing. In the days which elapsed between her resolation to proceed to Westhaven and her going thither, her imagination was actively engaged in arranging the manner of the communication, and in picturing its effects. She would find or make an opportunity of being alone with Mr. Weatherill, and then in a casual manner, as if of something well known to him, she would speak of the pictare, and of related circumstances. If it should prove to be all known to him, well and good; it could be no reason for offence-taking that she had by accident become acquainted with the matter; but, if not, what then? And she paused in her rapid sewing, the more keenly to realise the situation. Would he be betrayed into any sign of excitement, or keep his accustomed calm ? Would any fiery anger light ap the gray eyes, in place of the prevailing expression of cold, disapproving criticism? Would there be any change in the low, clear voice? There was something irresistibly fascinating to her in the mere idea of possessing the means of agitating this strong-willed, immovable man.
And how would it end? Once aware of some mystery, some concealment, he would investigate, and would discover—what ? The charity which “ thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity," the parity of soul which holds aloof all needless thought of things nnholy, was not possessed by Mrs. Lumley; and with a malicious enjoyment she pondered sinister possibilities, as she repeated to herself—“discover what ? ”
Since her arrival in Kingsport, she had been watching eagerly for a suitable opportunity of making the intended revelation. On the previous day no such opportanity had presented itself, and this evening seemed passing equally unpropitiously. But when Clarissa rose and left the room, she felt the time was come. Yet, as she looked at Mr Weatherill's intent face and motionless figare, she hesitated, feeling that to interrapt his meditations would give to