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her jhampannies in the smartest suits in the station, and excited quite a sensation as she was carried triumphantly along the Mall. But alas! She had only the clothes now, and no men to wear them; and without jhampannies a lady is comparatively a prisoner. As a class, these sturdy, jovial, brown hill men are most independent; give them wood tickets, their mornings to themselves, and no late hours, and no heavy passengers-give them smart suits and caps, and warm blankets, and they will take you out once or-peradventure at a pinch-twice a day without grumbling. But when a lady, be she ever so light, is always calling for them and harrying them, when she takes them long and steep paths to pay needless visits, and beats them with her parasol, why they figuratively snap their fingers at her and go-and what is worse, they boycott her in the bazaars. Belle was in a bad plight; she could only join the giddy throng below at the Assembly Rooms, or round the lake, and polo ground, when she could obtain coolies at double fare!
On these days, smartly dressed in what she called second mourning, she descended and paraded the Mall with Betty, went out in a wherry with George, had tea and ices at Morison's shop and enjoyed herself considerably, forgetting for the time her woes, her hateful servants, and her dismal murky house.
At the opposite end of the lake, in a good situation, you come upon a fine two-storeyed abode, with Mr. Redmond's name on the gate board and Miss Redmond's box full of cards. He was popular, despite his eccentricities; everyone knew that if his bark was loud, his bite was nil; and Betty was much admired as she rode along the Mall and walked on the "Berm" between rows of discriminating British subalterns, sitting on the rails arrayed in boating flannels and gorgeous "blazers." She was in constant request, as Belle had complained, but gave up many a pleasant engagement (to boat, to ride, to play tennis) to climb that weary hill, and to sit with that querulous, discontented little creature; who imperatively demanded her visits, and yet when she came, never ceased to scold her for her dress, her friends, and her airs!
The monsoon broke with a violence peculiar to the Himalayas, the rains descended, and the floods came foaming down the mountains, the same mountains and the lake being swallowed
up in mist, and all but the most stout-hearted (and booted) were prisoners in the house. Belle was alone. She was laid up with fever, and she wrote such a piteous scrawl, that Betty, in spite of her uncle's angry expostulation, consented to go to her, and cheer her up and stay a week! She evolved some order in that cheerless home, tidied up the drawing-room, put away Belle's old "chits" and papers, and scraps, and Mossoo's "
bones, coaxed some servants into the empty godowns, for there was not one on the premises, but a deaf old ayah and a waterman. Belle enjoyed the transformation and the company of a bright companion, and was better, and out, and gay. At the end of the week, George returned from a signalling class at Ranikhet, rode in quite unexpectedly, and his arrival was an excuse for Betty's immediate departure, but Belle, in vehement language that almost bordered on violent words, insisted that her cousin must remain one day longer, in order to be present at a little dinner party that included Captain La Touche and a neighbouring married couple. Her popular cousin was her social trump card; moreover, she looked to her to make the sweets, and decorate the table.
But when the hour came, although dressed, Belle felt too ill to appear. She had got her feet wet. She had a cold, and sore throat, and she was forced to stay in her own room by the fire, and dine in company with "Mossoo."
She felt excessively irritable and ill-used, as the sounds of merry laughing and talking came from the adjoining diningroom; they were having a very good time, and she-how dull she felt! She had no amusement, not even a book; she rose and searched about for something to read. She went, as a last resource, into George's dressing-room, but there she could find no food for her mind, save sundry Manuals of Infantry Drill and of Field Exercises, and half-a-dozen red bound "Royal Warrants." She was turning disconsolately away, when her eyes fell upon his keys. Of these he was always so careful-so suspiciously careful and never left them about. Happy thought! She could amuse herself unusually well, in having a good rummage through his dispatch box. Perhaps she would discover some of his secrets. A husband had no business to have secrets from his wife; perhaps she would discover something about what she mentally called "the other girl."
She carried the box into her own room, placed it on a table near the fire, and sat herself deliberately down before it. The key was easily found, and as easily turned in the lock; the lid was thrown open, and the upper tray scrutinised. Nothing but a cheque book, a banker's book, some papers and envelopes, and a Manual on Musketry. In a lower compartment were some of his mother's letters, a packet of paid bills, some recipes for dogs and horses, and at the bottom of all a sealed parcel. She felt it carefully. Yes-it contained a cabinet photograph-the photograph; she must, and would, see what the creature was like.
In a second the cover was torn off. But-but, who was this? holding it to the lamp with a shaking hand.
At first, she could not realise the full extent of her discovery she simply stared, and panted, and trembled. It meant nothing! then her eye caught sight of the other contents of the packeta little well-remembered brooch, a withered flower, and a letter in her mother's handwriting.
As she read this, her breast heaved convulsively, the veins in her forehead stood out like cords, her fingers twitched, so that the paper between them rattled and was torn.
When she had come to the very end of it, she sat with her eyes fixed, her hands to her head, as if she had received a galvanic shock. "To think that all along it was Betty, the hypocrite, the viper, the wretch, that robbed me of my husband's love. Oh, how I hate her! How I loathe her! How I wish she was dead! I see it all-all now. She stole him from me that time she went to the Moores', and oh, how false she has been ever since. How well they have kept their secret. I shall never believe in any one again, not in a saint from heaven. And I, poor fool, asking if she ever had a love affair! Oh, I could tear her to pieces. I could, I could," and she gnashed her teeth and clenched her hands, and "Mossoo" fled into hiding under a chest of drawers.
Not a thought of remorse for two lives sacrificed for her, not a thought of any one but herself and her wrongs.
Now, she saw why George avoided Betty, at least, in public; now by the light of her discovery she saw everything; many puzzling circumstances were as plain as A, B, C, and here, at this present moment, that abominable girl was under her roof, sitting
in her place, and entertaining her guests! Oh! Oh! was past all endurance, and she began to pace the room almost at a run; her fury rising like a gale at sundown. She must wait (if she could) till those people had gone; it was after eleven; they must leave soon, and then――
It was a fearful night. Thunder rolled and crashed among the mountains, the rain came down on the zinc roof with a deafening roar, the paths were foaming water-courses, the watercourses boiling rivers, and now and then a furious blast shook the house to its foundation.
At last the laughing and talking ceased, the merry company had departed. She saw their lanterns dimly through the mist, and instantly rushed into the drawing-room. Betty was there, busily putting away cards and counters, and George, who had been speeding his guests, stood in the doorway.
In her furious precipitation, Belle knocked over a chair, and they both turned and saw her-saw her livid, distorted face, compressed lips and glittering eyes-that looked as if they were illuminated by some inward flame-and knew but too well what these signs portended.
"So," she screamed, her piercing voice distinct above the thundering rain. "So I have found you both out at last! Oh! you false wretch," shaking her own photograph at Betty, "how I would like to strangle you! You, that we all thought so quiet, so modest, and that was engaged all the time on the sly. You artful, bad girl, you robbed me-me-of his affections," pointing to George. "He liked me first, he liked me best. He dares not deny it! I must say this for him, that whatever he is, he is no liar."
All the time she was speaking-screaming, it might be called -she was tearing the photograph into atoms, with feverish, frenzied fingers, and with the word liar, she dashed them into Betty's face.
Belle," said her husband sternly, "what are you about? Have you taken leave of your senses? What do you mean by treating your cousin in this way?" "There," she shrieked, "there, you take her part. You try and blind me still! Have I gone out of my senses? No, but I am going out of them! I have opened your box, I have read my mother's letter. I know all. How dared you marry me?"
After this question, there was a pause for ten seconds, the rain and wind alone broke the silence, whilst the raging woman, from whom every restraint had fallen away, awaited his answer.
"I married you," speaking with painful slowness, “because I thought it was the only thing to be done under the circumstances. I did my best to make you happy, I hoped-”
"Hoped! Thought!" she interrupted, shaking from head to foot. "Who cares what you hoped or thought?" And then she broke into a torrent of passion, in which scathing, scorching words seemed to pour from her lips one over the other, like a stream of lava. This, to the couple who had been mercilessly sacrificed for her advantage.
"Betty," said George abruptly, "this is no scene for you; go to your own room.”
"To her room! go out of the house, go now!" cried Belle, stamping her foot; "now, this second, do you hear me?"
"To-morrow," interrupted her husband, "not to-night, you could not turn a dog out in such weather."
"No, but I would turn out a snake, a viper, a cobra."
"You may be certain that Betty is not anxious to trespass on your hospitality, but she will stay as a favour, she shall not go out on such a night, I will not allow it," he returned firmly.
"Very well then, I'll go! The Burns will take me in. I refuse to remain under the same roof with that girl for another five minutes."
Betty, who had
"I will go this
"Do not be afraid, Belle, I will go," said been hitherto too stunned to move or speak. moment. You are a cruel woman, you have wronged both George and me, and you will be sorry for all you have said tomorrow."
Belle's voice drowned hers in furious protestations to the contrary, and she hastened away, threw on a waterproof, and twisted a scarf round her head, whilst George called for a syce and a lantern.
"Belle," he said, as he re-entered, putting on his top-coat, and his face looked white and set. "This is about the last straw! God knows that I have done my best, or tried to do my best for you. After this we will live apart-apart for ever."
Before she had time to reply, he was gone, he had quitted the room, and she saw him and Betty go forth into the sheets of