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“I am not bound to London. I would go anywhere else,- except to Clavering."

“ You never go to Ongar Park, I am told ? "
"I have been there."
“But they say you do not intend to go again ?"

“Not at present, certainly. Indeed, I do not suppose I shall ever go there. I do not like the place.”

“That's just what they have told me. It is about that-partly--that I want to speak to you. If you don't like the place, why shouldn't you sell your interest in it back to the family? They'd give you more than the value for it.”

" I do not know that I should care to sell it."

“Why not, if you don't mean to use the house? I might as well explain at once what it is that has been said to me. John Courton, you know, is acting as guardian for the young earl, and they don't want to keep up so large a place as the Castle. Ongar Park would just suit Mrs. Courton,”—Mrs. Courton was the widowed mother of the young earl, " and they would be very happy to buy your interest.”

“ Would not such a proposition come best through a lawyer ? ” said Lady Ongar.

“ The fact is this,—they think they have been a little hard on you." “ I have never accused them."

“But they feel it themselves, and they think that you might take it perhaps amiss if they were to send you a simple message through an attorney. Courton told me that he would not have allowed any such proposition to be made, if you had seemed disposed to use the place. They wish to be civil, and all that kind of thing.”

“ Their civility or incivility is indifferent to me,” said Julia.
“ But why shouldn't you take the money?”
“ The money is equally indifferent to me."

“ You mean then to say that you won't listen to it? Of course they can't make you part with the place if you wish to keep it.”

“ Not more than they can make you sell Clavering Park. I do not, however, wish to be uncivil, and I will let you know through my lawyer what I think about it. All such matters are best managed by lawyers."

After that Sir Hugh said nothing further about Ongar Park. He was well aware, from the tone in which Lady Ongar answered him, that she was averse to talk to him on that subject; but he was not conscious that his presence was otherwise disagreeable to her, or that she would resent any interference from him on any subject because he had been cruel to her. So after a little while he began again about Hermione. As the world had determined upon acquitting Lady Ongar, it would be convenient to him that the two sisters should be again intimate, especially as Julia was a rich woman. His wife did not like Clavering Park, and he certainly did not like Clavering Park himself. If he could once get the house shut up, he might manage to keep it shut for some years to come,

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His wife was now no more than a burden to him, and it would suit him well to put off the burden on to his sister-in-law's shoulders. It was not that he intended to have his wife altogether dependent on another person, but he thought that if they two were established together, in the first instance merely as a summer arrangement, such establishment might be made to assume some permanence. This would be very pleasant to him. Of course he would pay a portion of the expense,--as small a portion as might be possible,—but such a portion as might enable him to live with credit before the world.

“I wish I could think that you and Hermy might be together while I am absent,” he said.

“I shall be very happy to have her if she will come to me,” Julia replied.

“ What,-here, in London ? I am not quite sure that she wishes to come up to London at present.”

“I have never understood that she had any objection to being in town," said Lady Ongar.

"Not formerly, certainly ; but now since her boy's death"

“Why should his death make more difference to her than to you? To this question Sir Hugh made no reply. “If you are thinking of society, she could be nowhere safer from any such necessity than with me. I never go out anywhere. I have never dined out, or even spent an evening in company since Lord Ongar's death. And no one would come here to disturb her."

“I didn't mean that."
“I don't quite know what you did mean.

From different causes she and I are left pretty nearly equally without friends."

“Hermione is not left without friends,” said Sir Hugh with a tone of offence.

"Were she not, she would not want to come to me. Your society is in London, to which she does not come, or in other country-houses than your own, to which she is not taken. She lives altogether at Clavering, and there is no one there, except your uncle.”

“Whatever neighbourhood there is she has,-just like other women."

“Just like some other women, no doubt. I shall remain in town for another month, and after that I shall go somewhere ; I don't much care whero. If Hermy will come to me as my guest I shall be most happy to have her. And the longer she will stay with me the better. Your coming home need make no difference, I suppose."

There was a keenness of reproach in her tone as she spoke, which even he could not but feel and acknowledge. He was very thick-skinned to such reproaches, and would have left this unnoticed had it been possible. Had she continued speaking he would have done so. But she remained silent, and sat looking at him, saying with her eyes the same thing that she had already spoken with her words. Thus he was driven to speak. "I don't know," said he, "whether you intend that for a sneer.”

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She was perfectly indifferent whether or no she offended him. Only that she had believed that the maintenance of her own dignity forbade it, she would have openly rebuked him, and told him that he was not welcome in her house. No treatment from her could, as she thought, be worse than he had deserved from her. His first enmity had injured her, but she could afford to laugh at his present anger.

“ It is hard to talk to you about Hermy without what you are pleased to call a sneer.

You simply wish to rid yourself of her.”

" I wish no such thing, and you have no right to say so."

“At any rate you are ridding yourself of her society; and if under those circumstances she likes to come to me I shall be glad to receive her. Our life together will not be very cheerful, but neither she nor I ought to expect a cheerful life.”

He rose from his chair now with a cloud of anger upon his brow. “I can see how it is,” said he ; " because everything has not gone

smooth with yourself you choose to resent it upon me. I might have expected that

you would not have forgotten in whose house you met Lord Ongar.”

?" No, Hugh ; I forget nothing; neither when I met him, nor how I married him, nor any of the events that have happened since. My memory, unfortunately, is very good."

“I did all I could for you, and should have been safe from your insolence." " You should have continued to stay away from me, and you

would have been quite safe. But our quarrelling in this way is foolish. We can never be friends,-you and I; but we need not be open enemies. Your wife is my sister, and I say again that if she likes to come to me, I shall be delighted to have her."

My wife," said he, “ will go to the house of no person who is insolent to me.” Then he took his hat, and left the room without further word or sign of greeting. In spite of his calculations and caution as to money, in spite of his well-considered arrangements and the comfortable provision for his future ease which he had proposed to himself, he was a man who had not his temper so much under control as to enable him to postpone his anger to his prudence. That little scheme for getting rid of his wife was now at an end. He would never permit her to go to her sister's house after the manner in which Julia had just treated him!

When he was gone Lady Ongar walked about her own room smiling, and at first was well pleased with herself. She had received Archie's overture with decision, but at the same time with courtesy, for Archie was weak, and poor, and powerless. But she had treated Sir Hugh with scorn, and had been enabled to do so without the utterance of


actual reproach as to the wrongs which she herself had endured from him. He had put himself in her power, and she had not thrown away the opportunity. She had told him that she did not want his friendship, and would not be his friend; but she had done this without any loud abuse unbecoming to her either as a countess, a widow, or a lady. For

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Hermione she was sorry. Hermione now could hardly come to her. But even as to that she did not despair. As things were going on, it would become almost necessary that her sister and Sir Hugh should be parted. Both must wish it; and if this were arranged, then Hermione should come to her.

But from this she soon came to think again about Harry Clavering. How was that matter to be decided, and what steps would it become her to take as to its decision? Sir Hugh had proposed to her that she should sell her interest in Ongar Park, and she had promised that she would make known her decision on that matter through her lawyer. As she had been saying this she was well aware that she would never sell the property ; —but she had already resolved that she would at once give it back, without purchase-money, to the Ongar family, were it not kept that she might hand it over to Harry Clavering as a fitting residence for his lordship. If he might be there, looking after his cattle, going abont with the steward subservient at his heels, ministering justice to the Enoch Gubbys and others, she would care nothing for the wants of any of the Courton people. But if such were not to be the destiny of Ongar Park,if there were to be no such Adam in that Eden,--then the mother of the little lord might take herself thither, and revel among the rich blessings of the place without delay, and with no difficulty as to price. As to price, had she not already found the money-bag that had come to her to be too heavy for her hands?

But she could do nothing till that question was settled ; and how was she to settle it ? Every word that had passed between her and Cecilia Burton had been turned over and over in her mind, and she could only declare to herself as she had then declared to her visitor, that it must be as Harry should please. She would submit, if he required her submission; but she could not bring herself to take steps to secure her own misery.



At last came the day on which the two Claverings were to go down to Harwich, and put themselves on board Jack Stuart's yacht. The hall of the house in Berkeley Square was strewed with portmanteaus, gun-cases, and fishing-rods, whereas the wine and packets of preserved meat, and the bottled beer and fish in tins, and the large box of cigars, and the prepared soups, had been sent down by Boxall, and were by this time on board the boat. Hugh and Archie were to leave London this day by train at 5 P.J., and were to sleep on board. Jack Stuart was already there, having assisted in working the yacht round from Brightlingsea.

On that morning Archie had a farewell breakfast at his club with Doodles, and after that, having spent the intervening hours in the billiard

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room, a farewell luncheon. There had been something of melancholy in this last day between the friends, originating partly in the failure of Archio's hopes as to Lady Ongar, and partly perhaps in the bad character which seemed to belong to Jack Stuart and his craft. “ He has been at it for years, and always coming to grief,” said Doodles. “He is just like a man I know, who has been hunting for the last ten years, and can't sit a horse at a fence yet. He has broken every bone in his skin, and I don't suppose he ever saw a good thing to a finish. He never knows whether hounds are in cover, or where they are. His only idea is to follow another man's red coat till he comes to grief ;-and yet he will go on hunting. There are some people who never will understand what they can do, and what they can't." In answer to this, Archie reminded his friend that on this occasion Jack Stuart would have the advantage of an excellent drynurse, acknowledged to be very great on such occasions. Would not he, Archie Clavering, be there to pilot Jack Stuart and his boat ? But, nevertheless, Doodles was melancholy, and went on telling stories about that unfortunate man who would continue to break his bones, though he had no aptitude for out-of-door sports. “ He'll be carried home on a stretcher some day, you know,” said Doodles.

“What does it matter if he is,” said Archie, boldly, thinking of himself and of the danger predicted for him. A man can only die once."

"I call it quite a tempting of Providence," said Doodles.

But their conversation was chiefly about Lady Ongar and the Spy. It was only on this day that Doodles had learned that Archie had in truth offered his hand, and been rejected ; and Captain Clavering was surprised by the extent of his friend's sympathy. “It's a doosed disagreeable thing,a very disagreeable thing indeed,” said Doodles. Archie, who did not wish to be regarded as specially unfortunate, declined to look at the matter in this light; but Doodles insisted. “ It would cut me up like the very mischief," he said. “I know that; and the worst of it is, that perhaps you wouldn't have gone on, only for me. I meant it all for the best, old fellow. I did, indeed. There; that's the game to you. I'm playing uncommon badly this morning ; but the truth is, I'm thinking of those women,” Now as Doodles was playing for a little money, this was really civil on his part.

And he would persevere in talking about the Spy, as though there were something in his remembrance of the lady which attracted him irresistibly to the subject. He had always boasted that in his interview with her he had come off with the victory, nor did he now cease to make such boasts ; but still he spoke of her and her powers with an awe which would have completely opened the eyes of any one a little more sharp on such matters than Archie Clavering. He was so intent on this subject that he sent the marker out of the room so that he might discuss it with more freedom, and might plainly express his views as to her influence on his friend's fate.

"By George ! she's a wonderful woman, Do you know I can't help

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