Civil War Overview
Civil War 1861
Civil War 1862
Civil War 1863
Civil War 1864
Civil War 1865
Civil War Battles
Robert E. Lee
Civil War Medicine
Civil War Links
Civil War Art
Republic of Texas
Civil War Gifts
Robert E. Lee Portrait
[Entered according to Act of
Congress, in the Year 1862, by Harper & Brothers, in the Clerk's Office of the
District Court for the Southern District of New York.]
AUTHOR OF "THE WOMAN IN
SECRET," ETC., ETC.
Ox the next morning but one news
was received from Mr. Pendril. The place of Michael Vanstone's residence on the
Continent had been discovered. He was living at Zurich, and a letter had been
dispatched to him at that place on the day when the information was obtained. In
the course of the coming week an answer might be expected, and the purport of it
should be communicated forthwith to the ladies at Combe-Raven.
Short as it was the interval of
delay passed wearily. Ten days elapsed before the expected answer was received;
and when it came at last it proved to be, strictly speaking, no answer at all.
Mr. Pendril had been merely referred to an agent in London who was in possession
of Michael Vanstone's instructions. Certain difficulties had been discovered in
connection with those instructions, which had produced the necessity of once
more writing to Zurich. And there "the negotiations" rested again for the
A second paragraph in Mr.
Pendril's letter contained another piece of intelligence entirely new. Mr.
Michael Vanstone's son (and only child), Mr. Noel Vanstone, had recently arrived
in London, and was then staying in lodgings occupied by his cousin, Mr. George
Bartram. Professional considerations had induced Mr. Pendril to pay a visit to
the lodgings. He had been very kindly received by Mr. Bartram, but had been
informed by that gentleman that his cousin was not then in a condition to see
visitors. Mr. Noel Vanstone had been suffering for some years past from a
wearing and obstinate malady; he had come to England expressly to obtain the
best medical advice, and he still felt the fatigue of the journey so severely as
to be confined to his bed. Under these circumstances, Mr. Pendril had no
alternative but to take his leave. An interview with Mr. Noel Vanstone might
have cleared up some of the difficulties in connection with his father's
instructions. As events had turned out there was no help for it but to wait for
a few days more.
The days passed, the empty days
of solitude and suspense. At last a third letter from the lawyer announced the
long-delayed conclusion of the correspondence. The final answer had been
received from Zurich, and Mr.
Pendril would personally communicate it, at Combe-Raven, on the afternoon of the
That next day was Wednesday, the
twelfth of August. The weather had changed in the night, and the sun rose watery
through mist and cloud. By noon the sky was overcast at all points; the
temperature was sensibly colder; and the rain poured down, straight and soft and
steady, on the thirsty earth. Toward three o'clock Miss Garth and Norah entered
the morning-room to await Mr. Pendril's arrival. They were joined shortly
afterward by Magdalen. In half an hour more the familiar fall of the iron latch
the socket reached their ears
from the fence beyond the shrubbery. Mr. Pendril and Mr. Clare advanced into
view along the garden path, walking arm in arm through the rain, sheltered by
the same umbrella. The lawyer bowed as they passed the windows: Mr. Clare walked
straight on, deep in his own thoughts, noticing nothing.
After a delay which seemed
interminable; after a weary scraping of wet feet on the hall mat; after a
mysterious, muttered interchange of question and answer outside the door, the
two came in—Mr. Clare leading the way. The old man walked straight up to the
table without any preliminary greeting, and looked across it at the three women
with a stern pity for them in his rugged, wrinkled face.
"Bad news," he said. "I am an
enemy to all unnecessary suspense. Plainness is kindness in such a case as this.
I mean to be kind; and I tell you plainly—bad news."
Mr. Pendril followed him. He
shook hands, in silence, with Miss Garth and the two sisters, and took a seat
near them. Mr. Clare placed himself apart on a chair by the window. The gray
rainy light fell soft and sad on the faces of Norah and Magdalen, who sat
together opposite to him. Miss Garth had placed herself a little behind them, in
partial shadow; and the lawyer's quiet face was seen in profile, close beside
her. So the four occupants of the room appeared to Mr. Clare, as he sat apart in
his corner; his long claw-like fingers interlaced on his knee; his dark vigilant
eyes fixed searchingly now on one face, now on another. The dripping rustle of
the rain among the leaves, and the clear, ceaseless tick of the clock on the
mantle-piece, made the minute of silence which followed the settling of the
persons present in their places indescribably oppressive. It was a relief to
everyone when Mr. Pendril spoke.
"Mr. Clare has told you already,"
he began, "that I am the bearer of bad news. I am grieved to say, Miss Garth,
that your doubts, when I last saw you, were better founded than my hopes. What
that heartless elder brother was in his youth he is still in his old age. In all
my unhappy experience of the worst side of human nature, I have never met with a
man so utterly dead to every consideration of mercy as Michael Vanstone."
"Do you mean that he takes the
whole of his brother's fortune, and makes no provision whatever for his
brother's children?" asked Miss Garth.
"He offers a sum of money for
present emergencies," replied Mr. Pendril, "so meanly and disgracefully
insufficient that I am ashamed to mention it."
"And nothing for the future?"
As that answer was given the same
thought passed, at the same moment, through Miss Garth's mind and through
Norah's. The decision which deprived both the sisters alike of the resources of
fortune did not end there for the younger of the two. Michael Vanstone's
merciless resolution had virtually pronounced the sentence which dismissed Frank
to China, and which destroyed all present hope of Magdalen's marriage. As the
words passed the lawyer's lips Miss Garth and Norah looked at Magdelen
anxiously. Her face turned a
shade paler, but not a feature of it moved; not a word escaped her. Norah, who
held her sister's hand in her own, felt it tremble for a moment, and then turn
cold—and that was all. "Let me mention plainly what I have done," resumed Mr.
Pendril; "I am very desirous you should not think that I have left any effort
untried. When I wrote to Michael Vanstone, in the first instance, I did not
confine myself to the usual formal statement. I put before him, plainly and
earnestly, every one of the circumstances under which he has become possessed of
his brother's fortune. When I received the answer, referring me to his written
instructions to his lawyer in London—and when a copy of those instructions was
placed in my hands—I positively declined, on becoming acquainted with them, to
receive the writer's decision as final. I induced the solicitor on the other
side to accord us a further term of delay; I attempted to see Mr. Noel Vanstone
in London for the purpose of obtaining his intercession; and, failing in that, I
myself wrote to his father for the second time. The answer referred me, in
insolently curt terms, to the instructions already communicated; declared those
instructions to be final; and declined any further correspondence with me. There
is the beginning and the end of the negotiation. If I have overlooked any means
of touching this heartless man, tell me, and those means shall be tried." He
looked at Norah. She pressed her sister's hand encouragingly, and answered for
both of them. "I speak for my sister as well as for myself," she said, with her
color a little heightened, with her natural gentleness of manner just touched by
a quiet, uncomplaining sadness. "You have done all that could be done, Mr.
Pendril. We have tried to restrain ourselves from hoping too confidently; and we
are deeply grateful for your kindness, at a time when kindness is sorely needed
by both of us." Magdalen's hand returned the pressure of her sister's—withdrew
itself—trifled for a moment impatiently with the arrangement of her dress—then
suddenly moved the chair closer to the table. Leaning one arm on it (with the
hand fast clenched), she looked across at Mr. Pendril. Her face, always
remarkable for its want of color, was now startling to contemplate in its blank,
bloodless pallor. But the light in her large gray eyes was bright and steady as
ever; and her voice, though low in tone, was clear and resolute in accent as she
addressed the lawyer in these terms: "I understood you to say, Mr. Pendril, that
now father's brother had sent his written orders to London, and that you had a
copy. Have you preserved it?"
"Have you got it about you?"
"May I see it?"
Mr. Pendril hesitated and looked
uneasily from Magdalen to Miss Garth, and from Miss Garth back again to Magdalen.
"Pray oblige use by not pressing
your request," he said. "It is surely enough that you know the result of the
instructions. Why should you agitate yourself to no purpose by reading them?
They are expressed so cruelly; they show such abominable want of feeling, that I
MRS. MAJOR BELLE REYNOLDS.—PHOTOGRAPHED BY COLE, OF
PEORIA, ILLINOIS.—[SEE PAGE 306.]
"'READY?' HE ASKED, STOPPING SHORT
AFTER A WHILE."