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vanced towards his future bride, a speech of love or congratulation on his lips, when Lucy, who was trembling as if she had the ague, fell forward in a fainting fit.
A strange tale went about the town. Of a man's covetous eyes cast upon a girl, and resolving to win her, though she was promised to another; of a mother's being inveigled into play until she had staked, and lost, all ; until shame and ruin stared her in the face; and of the child being offered up as the propitiatory sacrifice. But when names came to be mentioned, people laughed at the tale. A sacrifice to marry him! to share his riches, his jewels ! Lucy Chard was to be envied for the honour done her. And as to Mrs. Chard's having lost her fortune-why, she was still living at her chateau ; in the same style, at the same expense. Nonsense, nonsense! the tale was one of the usual fabricated scandals of an English-frequented continental town. But what would that town have said, could it have known that Mrs. Chard suppressed letters written to her daughter, from London, by Francis Ravensburg ?
Lucy's consent to the marriage being once wrung from her, Mrs. Chard took care that no time should be allowed her to retract it. She at once took her to Dover, where the ceremony was to be performed. The captain had strenuously urged that the wedding should take place in Paris, but Mrs. Chard as strenuously refused ; observing, that one never knew whether those foreign marriages would stand good. So the captain had to yield, and it was arranged that he should follow them to Dover in three weeks. The affair, meanwhile, was kept a secret.
In an elegantly-furnished drawing-room in Cavendish-square sat Isabel de Laca. A visitor was heard ascending the staircase, and the strange light of excitement, at the presence of a beloved one, sat in her eye. It was Francis Ravensburg who entered.
He advanced to her; not exactly as a lover, for no endearment was offered ; but the tender, earnest regard with which he looked at her, and the lingering retention of the hand held out to him, told that he was not many degrees removed from one.
“I have some news for you,” she said, in a quiet tone, but which, indifferent as it was, betrayed a cause for triumph, though Mr. Ravensburg detected it not. “ I had a letter this morning from Madame de Larme."
“Ah! some continental news," he answered, a faint colour rising to his cheek.
“ You remember that extraordinary-looking man, who played so high; he has gone over to Dover to be married.”
“The walking-jeweller," returned Frank. “And who, pray, has been dazzled by his perfections ?"
“ Absurd !” he exclaimed, starting from his seat, whilst the indignant blood rushed over his features. “My dear baroness, you ought not to give credit to the malicious fabrications of that Madame de Larme."
“She says,” continued Isabel, unheeding his interruption, “ that Mrs. Chard has lost frightfully to Monsieur le Capitaine, and dured not refuse him her daughter."
“Oh God, Isabel !” he exclaimed, his emotion taking away all his self-possession, “ there surely can be no truth in this ?”
She turned from him coldly.
She tossed it to him, and walked indifferently about the room while he perused it, humming a scrap of an old, translated Spanish ballad. The first words audible were the following:
“ ......... behold,
Arrived at fair Imogine's door.
Soon made her untrue to her vows ;
And carried her home“ By Heaven, I have found it !” exclaimed Ravensburg, dashing his hand with such force on the centre table, that the lady's song was cut short, in terror.
" That man—that demon," he continued, in answer to her gaze of inquiry. “You know, Isabel, I have often said how he puzzled me. And to think,” he pursued, in strange excitement, “ that Lucy Chard should have been insulted by a companionship with him! There is contamination in his touch-infection in his very presence !"
“Who or what is he ?” inquired the astonished girl. “Do you allude to Captain Carew ?”
“Captain Carew!" was the ironical answer. “The fellow's name is plain Charles Johns. He is an outcast from society—whose conduct drew upon him the eye of the police-whose success in a certain swindling transaction, in the spring, only became know to them coeval with his disappearance. But they shall not long remain in ignorance of his being in England. At Dover, eh!"
“ These are serious charges, Francis."
“ They are true ones. How could I be so long deceived by him! But I see it all now: false hair, false whiskers, false teeth, the paint on his face, and so altered a style of dress. Captain Carew, indeed! the impudent fellow !"
" But how came you acquainted with such a man?" was the next inquiry.
* Before he relapsed into worse crimes, he held a discreditable situation at a West-end gambling-house," was Mr. Ravensburg's answer, “and I have seen him there. That he should have been brought into contact with Lucy Chard!”
It was the morning subsequent to the above conversation that a breakfast party sat in a private room of the Ship Hotel at Dover. Mrs. Chard was next the fire, doing the honours of the table : opposite to her, in a flowery, gaudy, stiffened-out silk dressing-gown, with more baubles about him than ever, bloomed Captain Carew: and between them, pale, inanimate, as much like an automaton as a living being, drooped Lucy. She was plainly attired in a white morning robe, and, as if in contrast to the resplendent appearance of the captain, she wore no ornament. Not a precious stone, or a bit of gold was about her, except the wedding-ring. She had been a bride three daysdejected, suffering, heart-broken; but so silent, so uncomplaining, that the mother who had sacrificed her, looked on her with a bleeding, if not with a remorseful heart.
“ A delightful morning !” exclaimed the captain, helping himself to a third plateful of spiced beef. “We shall have a favourable trip, Lucy. With this wind, we shall be at Ostend in seven hours. I am sure you will like Brussels, and Baden-Baden's delightful.”
“ You look very cold, Lucy," said Mrs. Chard. “I fear I keep the fire from you.”
"I wish you would try an egg, my love,” gobbled the captain. “And a slice of this beef would do you an immense deal of good, if you would but eat it.”
A servant entered with a letter and two newspapers, all of which he placed before Mrs. Chard.
“No letter for me, waiter?" demanded Captain Carew. “ None, sir.” There never were any for him, but he regularly made the same inquiry. Mrs. Chard glanced at the address of the letter, and hastily thrust it into her apron pocket. “Will you look at the Times, captain,” she said, handing him the journal in question : "and there's the Morning Post for you, Lucy.”
The captain was busy with his breakfast, but his wretched wife mechanically opened the paper. At this moment there was a slight bustle and talking outside the room door, which suddenly opened, and the face of the head waiter was thrust in.
6 Captain Carew, if you please, can you step here for a moment ? Now don't,” he added, in an aside to somebody behind him, “don't come in sight of the ladies : they would be frightened out of their wits. He'll come out in a minute, fast enough, and then you can do the job without any bother."
“ What is it?" asked the captain. “ I am at breakfast.”
“Won't detain you a moment, sir," added the waiter, kicking out his feet at the legs of those behind, with the view of keeping them at a distance.
The captain rose, and walked out of the room, swinging his breakfastnapkin majestically in his hand. Ranged against the wall was an officer from Bow-street, backed by a couple of Dover policemen. The head waiter shut the door.
Lucy was engaged with the newspaper, and Mrs. Chard, turning away, opened her letter. A note was inside it, addressed “ Miss Chard." The lady stirred the fire into a blaze, popped it in, and read her own:
« MY DEAR MADAM, I have just beard that you are staying at Dover, and that the party, calling himself Captain Carew, is also there. It has been discovered who this man is. You may remember I said he puzzled me; but his disguise was so complete--false hair and whiskers, false teeth, a false complexion, and so altered a style of dress, would deceive the detectors themselves. His true name is Charles Johns: his career has, for long past, been most disreputable, and a successful swindling transaction, in which he was recently engaged, put him into funds, and sent him flying over the water, out of the reach of Bow-street. Ere you receive this, he will be in custody. I write in haste, and will give you further particulars when we meet. Deeply annoyed that this villain should ever have come into contact with you and Lucy, believe me, yours very faithfully,
aitare come into meet. Dorite in haste
With an exclamation of horror, Mrs. Chard threw down the letter. One fearful confirmation of its contents rushed to her mind : he had married in the name of Charles Johns Carew. She darted to the door; and there, handcuffed, supported by the officers, and gazed at by half the servants of the house, was her gallant son-in-law, his terror visible even through his carmined cheeks. Lucy took up the letter, and read it, every word.
“Not one mention of me," murmured the unhappy girl, “not one word of remembrance : yet, for all he knows, I am still free as air.”
AUTUMN, winter, spring rolled away, and the summer was quickly passing. Mrs. Chard had returned at once, with her daughter, to her residence on the French coast. Who can describe the care that had been bestowed upon Lucy : who shall imagine the soothing tenderness of her remorseful mother to win her back to health? But all in vain. Her star of happiness had set, and that of life was on the very verge of the horizon.
Occasionally they took her to the terrace at the bathing-establishment, hoping that the gay scene and groups of visitors might be productive of amusement, and draw her thoughts from herself. She was now growing almost too weak to go, but they, one warm, lovely morning, prevailed upon her, and she assented apathetically, observing that it would probably be for the last time. Mrs. Chard, dismissing the carriage, placed Lucy on one of the terrace benches, and went herself to the newspaper-room.
Not long had Lucy sat there when a party entered the large rooni, and approached the window nearest to Lucy: two ladies, and a tall, stately young man of extreme beauty. He was the husband of the younger lady. They were Madame de Larme, the Baroness de Laca, who did not resign her title with her second marriage, and Francis Ravensburg. He strolled from the room, and seated himself outside. A veiled, shrinking form was at the end of the bench, hidden from those within, and his face was turned towards his young wife and her companion, so that he observed her not.
“Do they play here as much as ever ?” asked Mr. Ravensburg of Madame de Larme.
“ Mon Dieu, non !" answered madame, shrugging her shoulders. “Such odd things were said last season, about people being ruined, and the like. I don't know whether they were true. However, cards have been interdicted.”
“ The place seems little changed,” remarked the baroness, looking round. "I remember well the first time I ever saw it : it was also the first time I saw you, Francis. And though I was what you English call 'taken' with you, I little thought I was looking on my future husband."
“I never believed you would be his wife,” said the Frenchwoman, bluntly, “for I took it for granted he was engaged to Lucy Chard. Quite a sad thing, was it not, for her husband to be called out so soon to his Indian possessions ?”
“ Indian possessions!" echoed Ravensburg. “Oh, ah, yes! I understand. He is on his Indian possessions now-or on some others. How did you hear that, madame ?"
« How did everybody else hear it?" retorted madame. “They had been married · but three days, when the captain received news which caused him to embark for India.”
“ And from whence he is not likely to return," added Mr. Ravensburg.
“His wife, poor young thing, has moped herself into something—it is not consumption, I believe; but she is dying.”.
“ She was an angel!” interrupted Ravensburg, passionately. His wife laughed a little affected laugh of irony, and the two ladies moved away. He was about to follow them, when a low, suffocating, ill-suppressed sob broke upon his ear. He took no notice of it ; it was nothing to him ; and at that moment the well-known equipage of Mrs. Chard bowled suddenly up to the terrace-entrance, turned, and waited. The lady on the bench arose, and tottered, rather than walked, towards it.
“Good God!” he articulated, clasping his hands. There-seated by him—that being of whom he had taken no notice, was Lucy Chard.
“Forgive me, Lucy,” he murmured, springing towards her; “ forgive me, but I recognised you not. You are so fearfully altered.”
She was indeed. A shrunken, wasted form, white attenuated features, on which coming death had set its shadow and its colouring, were all that remained of Lucy Chard. A powerful agitation impeded her utterance, but she motioned him towards the carriage. The servants touched their hats as they recognised him; the footman held the door open, and Francis helped her in.
“ Drive home quickly,” she gasped to the servants : "you can return for my mother.”
“ Lucy, are we thus to part ?”
She resigned to him the hands he would have taken, and he stood there, leaning towards her. The remembrance of former days came over him : memory leaped back to the time when he was last in that carriage, and she, his best-beloved, at his side. He recalled the vows he had then made her, so confident in the enduring faith of his own weak heart : he forgot their separation; he forgot his own marriage, or remembered it but with a passing execration, and unconsciously he addressed words of endearment to her as of old.
"I am dying, Francis,” she said, “ and you are shocked to see me. I can speak freely to you now, almost as I would to myself, because I know that in a few days, perhaps hours, time for me will be no more. You made me what I am.”
“ You know the wretched marriage I was forced into-you have heard its details ?”
6 Some of them."
“ That was your work. Had it not been for your conduct towards me, I never should have fallen into it. You professed to love me.”