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Page) raised on light poles, made expressly for the purpose, on
convenient trees, or trailed along fences. The wire and the instrument can be
easily carried in a cart, which as it proceeds unwinds the wire, and, when a
connection is made, becomes the telegraph-office. Where the cart can not go the
men carry the drum of wire by hand. In the picture the cart has come to a halt,
and the signal-men are hastening along—some with the drum, while others with
crow-bars make the holes for the poles, upon which it is rapidly raised.
"The machine is a simple one,
worked by a handle, which is passed around a dial-plate marked with numerals and
the alphabet. By stopping at the necessary letters a message is easily spelled
out upon the instrument at the other end of the line, which repeats by a pointer
every move on the dial-plate. The whole thing is so simple that any man able to
read and write can work it with facility."
Mr. Davis shows us, on
ARMY SIGNAL-STATION AT NIGHT.
The signal corps is one of the
most hard-worked and deserving bodies in the service. All day and all night
these signalmen are kept busy telegraphing news of movements and orders from one
end of the army to the other, by the aid of their inscrutable signals.
[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
WHITE," "DEAD SECRET,"
ILLUSTRATED BY JOHN M'LENAN.
Printed from the Manuscript and
early Proof- sheets purchased by the Proprietors of "Harper's Weekly."
MAGDALEN'S first glance round the
empty room showed her the letter on the table. The address, as the doctor had
predicted, broke the news the moment she looked at it.
Not a word escaped her. She sat
down by the table, pale and silent, with the letter in her lap. Twice she
attempted to open it, and twice she put it back again. The by-gone time was not
alone in her mind as she looked at her sister's handwriting—the fear of Kirke
was there with it. "My past life!" she thought. "What will he think of me when
he knows my past life?"
She made another effort and broke
the seal. A second letter dropped out of the inclosure, addressed to her in a
handwriting with which she was not familiar. She put the second letter aside,
and read the lines which Norah had written:
"VENTNOR, ISLE OF WIGHT, August
"MY DEAREST MAGDALEN,—When you
read this letter, try to think we have only been parted since yesterday, and
dismiss from your mind (as I have dismissed from mine) the past and all that
belongs to it.
"I am strictly forbidden not to
agitate you, or to weary you by writing a long letter. Is it wrong to tell you
that I am the happiest woman living? I hope not, for I can't keep the secret to
"My darling, prepare yourself for
the greatest surprise I have ever caused you. I am married. It is only a week
to-day since I parted with my old name—it is only a week since I have been the
happy wife of George Bartram, of St. Crux.
"There were difficulties, at
first, in the way of our marriage, some of them, I am afraid, of my making.
Happily for me, my husband knew, from the beginning, that I really loved him; he
gave me a second chance of telling him so after I had lost the first, and, as
you see, I was wise enough to take it. You ought to be especially interested, my
love, in this marriage, for you are the cause of it. If I had not gone to
Aldborough to search for the lost trace of you—if George had not been brought
there, at the same time, by circumstances in which you were concerned, my
husband and I might never have met. When we look back to our first impressions
of each other we look back to you.
"I must keep my promise not to
weary you; I must bring this letter (sorely against my will) to an end.
Patience! patience!—I shall see you soon. George and I are both coming to London
to take you back with us to Ventnor. This is my husband's invitation, mind, as
well as mine. Don't suppose I married him, Magdalen, until I had taught him to
think of you as I think—to wish with my wishes, and to hope with my hopes. I
could say so much more about this, so much more about George, if I might only
give my thoughts and my pen their own way. But I must leave Miss Garth (at her
own special request) a blank space to fill up on the last page of this letter;
and I must only add one word more before I say good-by—a word to warn you that I
have another surprise in store, which I am keeping in reserve until we meet.
Don't attempt to guess what it is. You might guess for ages, and be no nearer
than you are now to a discovery of the truth.
"Your affectionate sister,
[ADDED BY MISS GARTH.]
"MY DEAR CHILD,—If I had ever
lost my old loving recollection of you, I should feel it in my heart again now
when I know that it has pleased God to restore you to us from the brink of the
grave. I add these lines to your sister's letter because I am not sure that you
are quite so fit
yet, as she thinks you, to accept
her proposal. She has not said a word of her husband, or herself, which is not
true. But Mr. Bartram is a stranger to you—and if you think you can recover more
easily and more pleasantly to yourself, under the wing of your old governess,
than under the protection of your new brother-in-law, come to me first, and
trust to my reconciling Norah to the change of plans. I have secured the refusal
of a little cottage at Shanklin—near enough to your sister to allow of your
seeing each other whenever you like, and far enough away, at the same time, to
secure you the privilege, when you wish it, of being alone. Send me one line,
before we meet, to say Yes or No—and I will write to Shanklin by the next post.
"Always yours affectionately,
The letter dropped from
Magdalen's hand. Thoughts which had never risen in her mind yet, rose in it now.
Norah, whose courage under
undeserved calamity had been the courage of resignation—Norah, who had patiently
accepted her hard lot—who, from first to last, had meditated no vengeance, and
stooped to no deceit—Norah had reached the end which all her sister's ingenuity,
all her sister's resolution, and all her sister's daring, had failed to achieve.
Openly and honorably, with love on one side and love on the other, Norah had
married the man who possessed the Combe-Raven money—and Magdalen's own scheme to
recover it had opened the way to the event which had brought husband and wife
As the light of that overwhelming
discovery broke on her mind the old strife was renewed; and Good and Evil
struggled once more which should win her—but with added forces this time; with
the new spirit that had been breathed into her new life; with the nobler sense
that had grown with the growth of her gratitude to the man who had saved her,
fighting on the better side. All the higher impulses of her nature, which had
never, from first to last, let her err with impunity—which had tortured her,
before her marriage and after it, with the remorse that no woman inherently
heartless and inherently wicked can feel—all the nobler elements in her
character gathered their forces for the crowning struggle, and strengthened her
to meet, with no unworthy shrinking, the revelation that had opened on her view.
Clearer and clearer, in the light of its own immortal life, the truth rose
before her from the ashes of her dead passions, from the grave of her buried
hopes. When she looked at the letter again—when she read the words once more,
which told her that the recovery of the lost fortune was her sister's triumph,
not hers, she had victoriously trampled down all little jealousies and all mean
regrets; she could say in her heart of hearts, "Norah has deserved it!"
The day wore on. She sat absorbed
in her own thoughts, and heedless of the second letter, which she had not opened
yet until Kirke's return.
He stopped on the landing
outside, and, opening the door a little way only, asked, without entering the
room, if she wanted any thing that he could send her. She begged him to come in.
His face was worn and weary; he looked older than she had seen him look yet.
"Did you put my letter on the table for me?" she asked.
"Yes. I put it there at the
"I suppose the doctor told you it
was from my sister? She is coming to see me, and Miss Garth is coming to see me.
They will thank you for all your goodness to me better than I can."
"I have no claim on their
thanks," he answered, sternly. "What I have done was not done for them but for
you." He waited a little and looked at her. His face would have betrayed him in
that look; his voice would have betrayed him in the next words he spoke, if she
had not guessed the truth already. "When your friends come here," he resumed,
"they will take you away, I suppose, to some better place than this?"
"They can take me to no place,"
she said, gently, "which I shall think of as I think of the place where you
found me. They can take me to no dearer friend than the friend who has saved my
There was a moment's silence
"We have been very happy here,"
he went on, in lower and lower tones. "You won't forget me when we have said
She turned pale as the words
passed his lips; and, leaving her chair, knelt down at the table, so as to look
up into his face, and to force him to look into hers.
"Why do you talk of it?" she
asked. "We are not going to say good-by—at least not yet."
"I thought—" he began.
"I thought your friends were
She eagerly interrupted him. "Do
you think I would go away with any body," she said, "even with the dearest
relation I have in the world, and leave you here, not knowing and not caring
whether I ever saw you again? Oh, you don't think that of me!" she exclaimed,
with the passionate tears springing into her eyes—"I'm sure you don't think that
"No," he said; "I never have
thought, I never can think, unjustly or unworthily of you."
Before he could add another word
she left the table as suddenly as she had approached it, and returned to her
chair. He had unconsciously replied in terms that reminded her of the hard
necessity which still remained unfulfilled—the necessity of telling him the
story of the past. Not an idea of concealing that story from his knowledge
crossed her mind. "Will he love me, when he knows the truth, as he loves me
now?" That was her only thought
as she tried to approach the subject in his presence without shrinking from it.
"Let us put my own feelings out
of the question," she said. "There is a reason for my not going away, unless I
first have the assurance of seeing you again. You have a claim—the strongest
claim of any one—to know how I came here, unknown to my friends, and how it was
that you found me fallen so low."
"I make no claim," he said,
hastily. "I wish to know nothing which it distresses you to tell me."
"You have always done your duty,"
she rejoined, with a faint smile. "Let me take example from you, if I can, and
try to do mine."
"I am old enough to be your
father," he said, bitterly. "Duty is more easily done at my age than it is at
His age was so constantly in his
mind now that he fancied it must be in her mind too. She had never given it a
thought. The reference he had just made to it did not divert her for a moment
from the subject on which she was speaking to him.
"You don't know how I value your
good opinion of me," she said, struggling resolutely to sustain her sinking
courage. "How can I deserve your kindness, how can I feel that I am worthy of
your regard, until I have opened my heart to you? Oh, don't encourage me in my
own miserable weakness! Help me to tell the truth—force me to tell it, for my
own sake, if not for yours!"
He was deeply moved by the
fervent sincerity of that appeal.
"You shall tell it," he said.
"You are right —and I was wrong." He waited a little, and considered. "Would it
be easier to you," he asked, with delicate consideration for her, "to write it
than to tell it?"
She caught gratefully at the
suggestion. "Far easier," she replied. "I can be sure of myself—I can be sure of
hiding nothing from you, if I write it. Don't write to me, on your side!" she
added suddenly, seeing, with a woman's instinctive quickness of penetration, the
danger of totally renouncing her personal influence over him. "Wait till we
meet, and tell me with your own lips what you think."
"Where shall I tell it?"
"Here," she said, eagerly. "Here,
where you found me helpless—here, where you have brought me back to life, and
where I have first learned to know you. I can bear the hardest words you say to
me, if you will only say them in this room. It is impossible I can be away
longer than a month; a month will be enough, and more than enough. If I come
back—" She stopped confusedly. "I am thinking of myself," she said, "when I
ought to be thinking of you. You have your own occupations, and your own
friends. Will you decide for us? Will you say how it shall be?"
"It shall be as you wish. If you
come back in a month, you will find me here."
"Will it cause you no sacrifice
of your own comfort and your own plans?"
"It will cause me nothing," he
replied, "but a journey back to the City." He rose and took his hat. "I must go
there at once," he added, "or I shall not be in time."
"It is a promise between us?" she
said, and held out her hand.
"Yes," he answered, a little
sadly. "It is a promise."
Slight as it was, the shade of
melancholy in his manner pained her. Forgetting all other anxieties in the
anxiety to cheer him, she gently pressed the hand he gave her. "If that won't
tell him the truth," she thought, "nothing will."
It failed to tell him the
truth—but it forced a question on his mind which he had not ventured to ask
himself before. "Is it her gratitude or her love that is speaking to me?" he
wondered. "If I was only a younger man, I might almost hope it was her love."
That terrible sum in subtraction, which had first presented itself on the day
when she told him her age began to trouble him again as he left the house. He
took twenty from forty-one, at intervals, all the way back to the ship-owners'
office in Cornhill.
Left by herself, Magdalen
approached the table to write the line of answer which Miss Garth requested, and
gratefully to accept the proposal that had been made to her.
The second letter, which she had
laid aside and forgotten, was the first object that caught her eye on changing
her place. She opened it immediately, and not recognizing the handwriting,
looked at the signature. To her unutterable astonishment her correspondent
proved to be no less a person than old Mr. Clare!
The philosopher's letter
dispensed with all the ordinary forms of address, and entered on its subject
without prefatory phrases of any kind in these uncompromising terms:
"I have more news for you of that
contemptible cur, my son. Here it is in the fewest possible words.
"I always told you, if you
remember, that Frank was a Sneak. The very first trace recovered of him, after
his running away from his employers in China, presents him in that character.
Where do you think he turns up next? He turns up hidden behind a couple of flour
barrels, on board an English vessel bound homeward from Hong-Kong to London.
"The name of the ship was The
Deliverance, and the commander was one Captain Kirke. Instead of acting like a
sensible man, and throwing Frank overboard, Captain Kirke was fool. enough to
listen to his story. He made the most of his misfortunes, you may be sure—he was
half starved; he was an Englishman lost in a strange country, without a friend
to help him; his only chance of getting home was to
sneak into the hold of an English
vessel—and he had sneaked in, accordingly, at Hong-Kong, two days since. That
was his story. Any other lout in Frank's situation would have been rope's-ended
by any other captain. Deserving no pity from any body, Frank was, as a matter of
course, coddled and compassionated on the spot. The captain took him by the
hand, the crew pitied him, and the passengers patted him on the back. He was
fed, clothed, and presented with his passage home. Luck enough, so far, you will
say. Nothing of the sort; nothing like luck enough for my despicable son.
"The ship touched at the Cape of
Good Hope. Among his other acts of folly, Captain Kirke took a woman-passenger
on board at that place —not a young woman, by any means—the elderly widow of a
rich colonist. Is it necessary to say that she forthwith became deeply
interested in Frank and his misfortunes? Is it necessary to tell you what
followed? Look back at my son's career, and you will see that what followed was
all of a piece with what went before. He didn't deserve your poor father's
interest in him —and he got it. He didn't deserve your attachment—and he got it.
He didn't deserve the best place in one of the best offices in London; he didn't
deserve an equally good chance in one of the best mercantile houses in China; he
didn't deserve food, clothing, pity, and a free passage home—and he got them
all. Last, not least, he didn't even deserve to marry a woman old enough to be
his grandmother—and he has done it. Not five minutes since I sent his
wedding-cards out to the dust-hole, and tossed the letter that came with them
into the fire. The last piece of information which that letter, contains is,
that he and his wife are looking out for a house and estate to suit them. Mark
my words, Frank will get one of the best estates in England; a seat in the House
of Commons will follow as a matter of course; and one of the legislators of this
Ass-ridden country will be—MY LOUT!
"If you are the sensible girl I
have always taken you for, you have long since learned to rate Frank at his true
value, and the news I send you will only confirm your contempt for him. I wish
your poor father could have lived but to see this day. Often as I have missed my
old gossip, I don't know that I ever felt the loss of him so keenly as I felt it
when Frank's wedding-cards and Frank's letter came to this house.
"Your friend, if you ever want
"FRANCIS CLARE, SEN."
With one momentary disturbance of
her composure, produced by the appearance of Kirke's name in Mr. Clare's
singular narrative, Magdalen read the letter steadily through from beginning to
end. The time when it could have distressed her was gone by; the scales had
long, since fallen from her eyes. Mr. Clare himself would have been satisfied if
he had seen the quiet contempt on her face as she laid aside his letter. The
only serious thought it cost her was a thought in which Kirke was concerned. The
careless manner in which he had referred, in her presence, to the passengers on
board his ship, without mentioning any of them by their names, showed her that
Frank must have kept silence on the subject of the engagement once existing
between them. The confession of that vanished delusion was left for her to make,
as part of the story of the past which she had pledged herself unreservedly to
She wrote to Miss Garth, and sent
the letter to the post immediately.
The next morning brought a line
of rejoinder. Miss Garth had written to secure the cottage at Shanklin, and Mr.
Merrick had consented to Magdalen's removal on the following day. Norah would be
the first to arrive at the house; and Miss Garth would follow, with a
comfortable carriage, to take the invalid to the railway. Every needful
arrangement had been made for her: the effort of moving was the one effort she
would have to make.
Magdalen read the letter
thankfully—but her thoughts wandered from it, and followed Kirke on his return
to the City. What was the business which had once already taken him there in the
morning? And why had the promise exchanged between them obliged him to go to the
City again for the second time in one day?
Was it by any chance business
relating to the sea? Were his employers tempting him to go back to his ship?
THE first agitation of the
meeting between the sisters was over; the first vivid impressions, half
pleasurable, half painful, had softened a little—and Norah and Magdalen sat
together, hand in hand, each rapt in the silent fullness of her own joy.
Magdalen was the first to speak.
"You have something to tell me,
"I have a thousand things to tell
you, my love; and you have ten thousand things to tell me. Do you mean that
second surprise, which I told you of in my letter?"
"Yes. I suppose it must concern
me very nearly, or you would hardly have thought of mentioning it in your first
"It does concern you very nearly.
You have heard of George's house in Essex? You must be familiar at least with
the name of St. Crux? What is there to start at, my dear? I am afraid you are
hardly strong enough for any more surprises just yet?"
"Quite strong enough, Norah. I
have something to say to you about St. Crux—I have a surprise, on my side, for
"Will you tell it me now?"
"Not now. You shall know it when
we are at the sea-side—you shall know it before I accept the kindness which has
invited me to your husband's house."