Mr. Crewe's Career
Victoria had not, of course, confided in Beatrice Chillingham what had
occurred in the garden, although that lady had exhibited the liveliest interest,
and had had her suspicions. After Mr. Crewe's departure Mr. Rangely, the tall
young Englishman, had renewed his attentions assiduously, although during the
interval in the garden he had found Miss Chillingham a person of discernment.
"She's not going to marry that chap, is she, Miss Chillingham?" he had asked.
"No," said Beatrice; "you have my word for it, she isn't."
As she was leaving, Mrs. Pomfret had taken Victoria's hand and drawn her
aside, and looked into her face with a meaning smile.
"My dear!" she exclaimed, "he particularly asked that you be invited."
"Who?" said Victoria.
"Humphrey. He stipulated that you should be here."
"Then I'm very much obliged to him," said Victoria, "for I've enjoyed myself
immensely. I like your Englishman so much."
"Do you?" said Mrs. Pomfret, searching Victoria's face, while her own
brightened. "He's heir to one of the really good titles, and he has an income of
his own. I couldn't put him up here, in this tiny box, because I have Mrs.
Fronde. We are going to take him to the convention—and if you'd care to go,
"It isn't as serious as that," she said. "And I'm afraid I can't go to the
convention—I have some things to do in the neighbourhood."
Mrs. Pomfret looked wise.
"He's a most attractive man, with the best prospects. It would be a splendid
match for you, Victoria."
"Mrs. Pomfret," replied Victoria, wavering between amusement and a desire to
be serious, "I haven't the slightest intention of making what you call a
'match.'" And there was in her words a ring of truth not to be mistaken.
Mrs. Pomfret kissed her.
"One never can tell what may happen," she said. "Think of him, Victoria. And
your dear mother—perhaps you will know some day what the responsibility is of
seeing a daughter well placed in life."
Victoria coloured, and withdrew her hand.
"I fear that time is a long way off, Mrs. Pomfret," she replied.
"I think so much of Victoria," Mrs. Pomfret declared a moment later to her
guest; "she's like my own daughter. But at times she's so hopelessly
unconventional. Why, I believe Rangely's actually going home with her."
"He asked her to drop him at the Inn," said Mrs. Fronde. "He's head over
heels in love already."
"It would be such a relief to dear Rose," sighed Mrs. Pomfret.
"I like the girl," replied Mrs. Fronde, dryly. "She has individuality, and
knows her own mind. Whoever she marries will have something to him."
"I devoutly hope so!" said Mrs. Pomfret.
It was quite true that Mr. Arthur Rangely had asked Victoria to drop him at
the Inn. But when they reached it he made another request.
"Do you mind if I go a bit farther, Miss Flint?" he suggested. "I'd rather
like the walk back."
"Do come," she said.
He admired the country, but he looked at Victoria, and asked a hundred
exceedingly frank questions about Leith, about Mrs. Pomfret, whom he had met at
his uncle's seat in Devonshire, and about Mr. Crewe and the railroads in
politics. Many of these Victoria parried, and she came rapidly to the conclusion
that Mr. Arthur Rangely was a more astute person than—to a casual observer he
He showed no inclination to fix the limits of his walk, and made no protest
as she drove under the stone archway at the entrance of Fairview. Victoria was
amused and interested, and she decided that she liked Mr. Rangely.
"Will you come up for tea?" she asked. "I'll send you home."
He accepted with alacrity. They had reached the first turn when their
attention was caught by the sight of a buggy ahead of them, and facing towards
them. The horse, with the reins hanging loosely over the shafts, had strayed to
the side of the driveway and was contentedly eating the shrubbery that lined it.
Inside the vehicle, hunched up in the corner of the seat, was a man who
presented an appearance of helplessness which struck them both with a sobering
"Is the fellow drunk?" said Mr. Rangely.
Victoria's answer was a little cry which startled him, and drew his look to
her. She had touched her horse with the whip, and her eyes had widened in real
"It's Hilary Vane!" she exclaimed. "I—I wonder what can have happened!"
She handed the reins to Mr. Rangely, and sprang out and flew to Hilary's
"Mr. Vane!" she cried. "What's the matter? Are you ill?"
She had never seen him look so. To her he had always been as one on whom pity
would be wasted, as one who long ago had established his credit with the
universe to his own satisfaction. But now, suddenly, intense pity welled up
within her, and even in that moment she wondered if it could be because he was
Austen's father. His hands were at his sides, his head was fallen forward a
little, and his face was white. But his eyes frightened her most; instead of the
old, semi-defiant expression which she remembered from childhood, they had in
them a dumb suffering that went to her heart. He looked at her, tried to
straighten up, and fell back again.
"N—nothing's the matter," he said, "nothing. A little spell. I'll be all
right in a moment."
Victoria did not lose an instant, but climbed into the buggy at his side and
gathered up the reins, and drew the fallen lap-robe over his knees.
"I'm going to take you back to Fairview," she said. "And we'll telephone for
But she had underrated the amount of will left in him. He did not move,
though indeed if he had seized the reins from her hands, he could have given her
no greater effect of surprise. Life came back into the eyes at the summons, and
dominance into the voice, although he breathed heavily.
"No, you're not," he said; "no, you're not. I'm going to Ripton—do you
understand? I'll be all right in a minute, and I'll take the lines."
Victoria, when she got over her astonishment at this, reflected quickly. She
glanced at him, and the light of his expression was already fading. There was
some reason why he did not wish to go back to Fairview, and common sense told
her that agitation was not good for him; besides, they would have to telephone
to Ripton for a physician, and it was quicker to drive there. Quicker to drive
in her own runabout, did she dare to try to move him into it. She made up her
"Please follow on behind with that trap," she called out to Rangely; "I'm
going to Ripton."
He nodded understandingly, admiringly, and Victoria started Hilary's horse
out of the bushes towards the entrance way. From time to time she let her eyes
rest upon him anxiously.
"Are you comfortable?" she asked.
"Yes," he said, "yes. I'm all right. I'll be able to drive in a minute."
But the minutes passed, and he made no attempt to take the reins. Victoria
had drawn the whalebone whip from its socket, and was urging on the horse as
fast as humanity would permit; and the while she was aware that Hilary's look
was fixed upon her—in fact, never left her. Once or twice, in spite of her
anxiety to get him home, Victoria blushed faintly, as she wondered what he was
And all the while she asked herself what it was that had brought him to this
condition. Victoria knew sufficient of life and had visited hospitals enough to
understand that mental causes were generally responsible for such
breakdowns—Hilary had had a shock. She remembered how in her childhood he had
been the object of her particular animosity; how she used to put out her tongue
at him, and imitate his manner, and how he had never made the slightest attempt
to conciliate her; most people of this sort are sensitive to the instincts of
children; but Hilary had not been. She remembered—how long ago it seemed
now!—the day she had given him, in deviltry, the clipping about Austen shooting
The Hilary Vane who sat beside her to-day was not the same man. It was
unaccountable, but he was not. Nor could this changed estimate of him be
attributed to her regard for Austen, for she recalled a day only a few months
since—in June—when he had come up to Fairview and she was standing on the lawn,
and she had looked at him without recognition; she had not, then, been able to
bring herself to bow to him; to her childhood distaste had been added the deeper
resentment of Austen's wrongs. Her early instincts about Hilary had been
vindicated, for he had treated his son abominably and driven Austen from his
mother's home. To misunderstand and maltreat Austen Vane, of all people Austen,
whose consideration for his father had been what it had! Could it be that Hilary
felt remorse? Could it be that he loved Austen in some peculiar manner all his
Victoria knew now—so strangely—that the man beside her was capable of love,
and she had never felt that way about Hilary Vane. And her mind was confused,
and her heart was troubled and wrung. Insight flashed upon her of the terrible
loneliness of a life surrounded by outstretched, loving arms to which one could
not fly; scenes from a famous classic she had read with a favourite teacher at
school came to her, and she knew that she was the witness of a retribution, of a
suffering beyond conception of a soul prepared for suffering,—not physical
suffering, but of that torture which is the meaning of hell.
However, there was physical suffering. It came and went, and at such moments
she saw the traces of it in the tightening of his lips, and longed with womanly
intuition to alleviate it. She had not spoken—although she could have cried
aloud; she knew not what to say. And then suddenly she reached out and touched
his hand. Nor could she have accounted for the action.
"Are you in much pain?" she asked.
She felt him tremble.
"No," he said; "it's only a spell—I've had 'em before. I—I can drive in a few
"And do you think," she asked, "that I would allow you to go the rest of the
"I guess I ought to thank you for comin' with me," he said.
Victoria looked at him and smiled. And it was an illuminating smile for her
as well as for Hilary. Suddenly, by that strange power of sympathy which the
unselfish possess, she understood the man, understood Austen's patience with him
and affection for him. Suddenly she had pierced the hard layers of the outer
shell, and had heard the imprisoned spirit crying with a small persistent
voice,—a spirit stifled for many years and starved—and yet it lived and
Yes, and that spirit itself must have felt her own reaching out to it—who
can, say? And how it must have striven again for utterance—
"It was good of you to come," he said.
"It was only common humanity," she answered, touching the horse.
"Common humanity," he repeated. "You'd have done it for anybody along the
road, would you?"
At this remark, so characteristic of Hilary, Victoria, hesitated. She
understood it now. And yet she hesitated to give him an answer that was
"I have known you all my life, Mr. Vane, and you are a very old friend of my
"Old," he repeated, "yes, that's it. I'm ready for the scrap-heap—better have
let me lie, Victoria."
Victoria started. A new surmise had occurred to her upon which she did not
like to dwell.
"You have worked too hard, Mr. Vane—you need a rest. And I have been telling
father that, too. You both need a rest."
He shook his head.
"I'll never get it," he said. "Stopping work won't give it to me."
She pondered on these words as she guided the horse over a crossing. And all
that Austen had said to her, all that she had been thinking of for a year past,
helped her to grasp their meaning. But she wondered still more at the communion
which, all at once, had been established between Hilary Vane and herself, and
why he was saying these things to her. It was all so unreal and inexplicable.
"I can imagine that people who have worked hard all their lives must feel
that way," she answered, though her voice was not as steady as she could have
wished. "You—you have so much to live for."
Her colour rose. She was thinking of Austen—and she knew that Hilary Vane
knew that she was thinking of Austen. Moreover, she had suddenly grasped the
fact that the gentle but persistently strong influence of the son's character
had brought about the change in the father. Hilary Vane's lips closed again, as
in pain, and she divined the reason.
Victoria knew the house in Hanover Street, with its classic porch, with its
certain air of distinction and stability, and long before she had known it as
the Austen residence she remembered wondering who lived in it. The house had
individuality, and (looked at from the front) almost perfect proportions;
consciously—it bespoke the gentility of its builders. Now she drew up before it
and called to Mr. Rangely, who was abreast, to tie his horse and ring the bell.
Hilary was already feeling with his foot for the step of the buggy.
"I'm all right," he insisted; "I can manage now," but Victoria seized his arm
with a firm, detaining hand.
"Please wait,—Mr. Vane," she pleaded.
But the feeling of shame at his helplessness was strong.
"It's over now. I—I can walk. I'm much obliged to you, Victoria—much
Fortunately Hilary's horse showed no inclination to go any farther—even to
the stable. And Victoria held on to his arm. He ceased to protest, and Mr.
Rangely quickly tied the other horse and came to Victoria's aid. Supported by
the young Englishman, Hilary climbed the stone steps and reached the porch,
declaring all the while that he needed no assistance, and could walk alone.
Victoria rang the bell, and after an interval the door was opened by Euphrasia
Euphrasia stood upright with her hand on the knob, and her eyes flashed over
the group and rested fixedly on the daughter of Mr. Flint.
"Mr. Vane was not very well," Victoria explained, "and we came home with
"I'm all right," said Hilary, once more, and to prove it he stepped—not very
steadily—across the threshold into the hall, and sat down on a chair which had
had its place at the foot of the stairs from time immemorial. Euphrasia stood
"I think," said Victoria, "that Mr. Vane had better see a doctor. Have you a
"No, we haven't," said Euphrasia.
Victoria turned to Mr. Rangely, who had been a deeply interested spectator to
"A little way down the street, on the other side, Dr. Tredway lives. You will
see his sign."
"And if he isn't in, go to the hospital. It's only a few doors farther on."
"I'll wait," said Victoria, simply, when he had gone; "my father will wish to
know about Mr. Vane."
"Hold on," said Hilary, "I haven't any use for a doctor—I won't see one. I
know what the trouble is, and I'm all right."
Victoria became aware—for the first time that Hilary Vane's housekeeper had
not moved; that Euphrasia Cotton was still staring at her in a most
disconcerting manner, and was paying no attention whatever to Hilary.
"Come in and set down," she said; and seeing Victoria glance at Hilary's
horse, she added, "Oh, he'll stand there till doomsday."
Victoria, thinking that the situation would be less awkward, accepted the
invitation, and Euphrasia shut the door. The hall, owing to the fact that the
shutters of the windows by the stairs were always closed, was in semidarkness.
Victoria longed to let in the light, to take this strange, dried-up housekeeper
and shake her into some semblance of natural feeling. And this was Austen's
home! It was to this house, made gloomy by these people, that he had returned
every night! Infinitely depressed, she felt that she must take some action, or
"Mr. Vane," she said, laying a hand upon his shoulder, "I think you ought, at
least, to lie down for a little while. Isn't there a sofa in—in the parlour?"
she asked Euphrasia.
"You can't get him to do anything," Euphrasia replied, with decision; "he'll
die some day for want of a little common sense. I shouldn't wonder if he was
took on soon."
"Oh!" cried Victoria. She could think of no words to answer this remark.
"It wouldn't surprise me," Euphrasia continued. "He fell down the stairs here
not long ago, and went right on about his business. He's never paid any
attention to anybody, and I guess it's a mite late to expect him to begin now.
Won't you set down?"
There was another chair against the low wainscoting, and Victoria drew it
over beside Hilary and sat down in it. He did not seem to notice the action, and
Euphrasia continued to stand. Standing seemed to be the natural posture of this
remarkable woman, Victoria thought—a posture of vigilance, of defiance. A clock
of one of the Austen grandfathers stood obscurely at the back of the hall, and
the measured swing of its pendulum was all that broke the silence. This was
Austen's home. It seemed impossible for her to realize that he could be the
product of this environment—until a portrait on the opposite wall, above the
stairs, came out of the gloom and caught her eye like the glow of light. At
first, becoming aware of it with a start, she thought it a likeness of Austen
himself. Then she saw that the hair was longer, and more wavy than his, and fell
down a little over the velvet collar of a coat with a wide lapel and brass
buttons, and that the original of this portrait had worn a stock. The face had
not quite the strength of Austen's, she thought, but a wondrous sweetness and
intellect shone from it, like an expression she had seen on his face. The chin
rested on the hand, an intellectual hand,—and the portrait brought to her mind
that of a young English statesman she had seen in the National Gallery in
"That's Channing Austen,—he was minister to Spain."
Victoria started. It was Euphrasia who was speaking, and unmistakable pride
was in her voice.
Fortunately for Victoria, who would not in the least have known what to
reply, steps were heard on the porch, and Euphrasia opened the door. Mr. Rangely
"Here's the doctor, Miss Flint," he said, "and I'll wait for you outside."
Victoria rose as young Dr. Tredway came forward. They were old friends, and
the doctor, it may be recalled, had been chiefly responsible for the
preservation of the life of Mr. Zebulun Meader.
"I have sent for you, Doctor," she said, "against instructions and on my own
responsibility. Mr. Vane is ill, although he refuses to admit it."
Dr. Tredway had a respect for Victoria and her opinions, and he knew Hilary.
He opened the door a little wider, and looked critically at Mr. Vane.
"It's nothing but a spell," Hilary insisted. "I've had 'em before. I suppose
it's natural that they should scare the women-folks some."
"What kind of a spell was it, Mr. Vane?" asked the doctor.
"It isn't worth talking about," said Hilary. "You might as well pick up that
case of yours and go home again. I'm going down to the square in a little
"You see," Euphrasia put in, "he's made up his mind to kill himself."
"Perhaps," said the doctor, smiling a little, "Mr. Vane wouldn't object to
Miss Flint telling me what happened."
Victoria glanced at the doctor and hesitated. Her sympathy for Hilary, her
new understanding of him, urged her on—and yet never in her life had she been
made to feel so distinctly an intruder. Here was the doctor, with his case; here
was this extraordinary housekeeper, apparently ready to let Hilary walk to the
square, if he wished, and to shut the door on their backs; and here was Hilary
himself, who threatened at any moment to make his word good and depart from
their midst. Only the fact that she was convinced that Hilary was in real danger
made her relate, in a few brief words, what had occurred, and when she had
finished Mr. Vane made no comment whatever.
Dr. Tredway turned to Hilary.
"I am going to take a mean advantage of you, Mr. Vane," he said, "and sit
here awhile and talk to you. Would you object to waiting a little while, Miss
Flint? I have something to say to you," he added significantly, "and this
meeting will save me a trip to Fairview."
"Certainly I'll wait," she said.
"You can come along with me," said Euphrasia, "if you've a notion to."
Victoria was of two minds whether to accept this invitation. She had an
intense desire to get outside, but this was counter-balanced by a sudden
curiosity to see more of this strange woman who loved but one person in the
world. Tom Gaylord had told Victoria that. She followed Euphrasia to the back of
"There's the parlour," said Euphrasia; "it's never be'n used since Mrs. Vane
died,—but there it is."
"Oh," said Victoria, with a glance into the shadowy depths of the room,
"please don't open it for me. Can't we go," she added, with an inspiration,
"can't we go into—the kitchen?" She knew it was Euphrasia's place.
"Well," said Euphrasia, "I shouldn't have thought you'd care much about
kitchens." And she led the way onward; through the little passage, to the room
where she had spent most of her days. It was flooded with level, yellow rays of
light that seemed to be searching the corners in vain for dust. Victoria paused
in the doorway.
"I'm afraid you do me an injustice," she said. "I like some kitchens."
"You don't look as if you knew much about 'em," was Euphrasia's answer. With
Victoria once again in the light, Euphrasia scrutinized her with appalling
frankness, taking in every detail of her costume and at length raising her eyes
to the girl's face. Victoria coloured. On her visits about the country-side she
had met women of Euphrasia's type before, and had long ago ceased to be dismayed
by their manner. But her instinct detected in Euphrasia a hostility for which
she could not account.
In that simple but exquisite gown which so subtly suited her, the creation of
which had aroused the artist in a celebrated Parisian dressmaker, Victoria was,
indeed, a strange visitant in that kitchen. She took a seat by the window, and
an involuntary exclamation of pleasure escaped her as her eyes fell upon the
little, old-fashioned flower garden beneath it. The act and the exclamation for
the moment disarmed Euphrasia.
"They were Sarah Austen's—Mrs. Vane's," she explained, "just as she planted
them the year she died. I've always kept 'em just so."
"Mrs. Vane must have loved flowers," said Victoria.
"Loved 'em! They were everything to her—and the wild flowers, too. She used
to wander off and spend whole days in the country, and come back after sunset
with her arms full."
"It was nature she loved," said Victoria, in a low voice.
"That was it—nature," said Euphrasia. "She loved all nature. There wasn't a
living, creeping thing that wasn't her friend. I've seen birds eat out of her
hand in that window where you're settin', and she'd say to me, 'Phrasie, keep
still! They'd love you, too, if they only knew you, but they're afraid you'll
scrub 'em if you get hold of them, the way you used to scrub me.'"
Victoria smiled—but it was a smile that had tears in it. Euphrasia Cotton was
standing in the shaft of sunlight at the other window, staring at the little
"Yes, she used to say funny things like that, to make you laugh when you were
all ready to cry. There wasn't many folks understood her. She knew every path
and hilltop within miles of here, and every brook and spring, and she used to
talk about that mountain just as if it was alive."
Victoria caught her breath.
"Yes," continued Euphrasia, "the mountain was alive for her. 'He's angry
to-day, Phrasie. That's because, you lost your temper and scolded Hilary.' It's
a queer thing, but there have been hundreds of times since when he needed
scoldin' bad, and I've looked at the mountain and held my tongue. It was just as
if I saw her with that half-whimsical, half-reproachful expression in her eyes,
holding up her finger at me. And there were other mornings when she'd say, 'The
mountain's lonesome today, he wants me.' And I vow, I'd look at the mountain and
it would seem lonesome. That sounds like nonsense, don't it?" Euphrasia
demanded, with a sudden sharpness.
"No," said Victoria, "it seems very real to me."
The simplicity, the very ring of truth, and above all the absolute lack of
self-consciousness in the girl's answer sustained the spell.
"She'd go when the mountain called her, it didn't make any difference whether
it was raining—rain never appeared to do her any hurt. Nothin' natural ever did
her any hurt. When she was a little child flittin' about like a wild creature,
and she'd come in drenched to the skin, it was all I could do to catch her and
change her clothes. She'd laugh at me. 'We're meant to be wet once in a while,
Phrasie,' she'd say; 'that's what the rain's for, to wet us. It washes some of
the wickedness out of us.' It was the unnatural things that hurt her—the unkind
words and makin' her act against her nature. 'Phrasie,' she said once, 'I can't
pray in the meeting-house with my eyes shut—I can't, I can't. I seem to know
what they're all wishing for when they pray,—for more riches, and more comfort,
and more security, and more importance. And God is such a long way off. I can't
feel Him, and the pew hurts my back.' She used to read me some, out of a book of
poetry, and one verse I got by heart—I guess her prayers were like that."
"Do you—remember the verse?" asked Victoria.
Euphrasia went to a little shelf in the corner of the kitchen and produced a
book, which, she opened and handed to Victoria.
"There's the verse!" she said; "read it aloud. I guess you're better at that
than I am."
And Victoria read:—
"Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest."
Victoria let fall the volume on her lap.
"There's another verse in that book she liked," said Euphrasia, "but it
always was sad to me."
Victoria took the book, and read again:—
"Weary wind, who wanderest
Like the world's rejected guest,
Hast thou still some secret nest
On the tree or billow?"
Euphrasia laid the volume tenderly on the shelf, and turned and faced
"She was unhappy like that before she died," she exclaimed, and added, with a
fling of her head towards the front of the house, "he killed her."
"Oh, no!" cried Victoria, involuntarily rising to her feet. "Oh, no! I'm sure
he didn't mean to. He didn't understand her!"
"He killed her," Euphrasia repeated. "Why didn't he understand her? She was
just as simple as a child, and just as trusting, and just as loving. He made her
unhappy, and now he's driven her son out of her house, and made him unhappy.
He's all of her I have left, and I won't see him unhappy."
Victoria summoned her courage.
"Don't you think," she asked bravely, "that Mr. Austen Vane ought to be told
that his father is—in this condition?"
"No," said Euphrasia, determinedly. "Hilary will have to send for him. This
time it'll be Austen's victory."
"But hasn't he had—a victory?" Victoria persisted earnestly. "Isn't
"What do you mean?" Euphrasia cried sharply.
"I mean," she answered, in a low voice, "I mean that Mr. Vane's son is
responsible for his condition to-day. Oh—not consciously so. But the cause of
this trouble is mental—can't you see it? The cause of this trouble is remorse.
Can't you see that it has eaten into his soul? Do you wish a greater victory
than this, or a sadder one? Hilary Vane will not ask for his son—because he
cannot. He has no more power to send that message than a man shipwrecked on an
island. He can only give signals of distress—that some may heed. Would She have
waited for such a victory as you demand? And does Austen Vane desire it? Don't
you think that he would come to his father if he knew? And have you any right to
keep the news from him? Have you any right to decide what their vengeance shall
Euphrasia had stood mute as she listened to these words which she had so
little expected, but her eyes flashed and her breath came quickly. Never had she
been so spoken to! Never had any living soul come between her and her cherished
object the breaking of the heart of Hilary Vane! Nor, indeed, had that object
ever been so plainly set forth as Victoria had set it forth. And this woman who
dared to do this had herself brought unhappiness to Austen. Euphrasia had almost
forgotten that, such had been the strange harmony of their communion.
"Have you the right to tell Austen?" she demanded.
"Have I?" Victoria repeated. And then, as the full meaning of the question
came to her; the colour flooded into her face, and she would have fled, if she
could, bud Euphrasia's words came in a torrent.
"You've made him unhappy, as well as Hilary. He loves you—but he wouldn't
speak of it to you. Oh, no, he didn't tell me who it was, but I never rested
till I found out. He never would have told me about it at all, or anybody else,
but that I guessed it. I saw he was unhappy, and I calculated it wasn't Hilary
alone made him so. One night he came in here, and I knew all at
once—somehow—there was a woman to blame, and I asked him, and he couldn't lie to
me. He said it wasn't anybody's fault but his own—he wouldn't say any more than
that, except that he hadn't spoken to her. I always expected the time was coming
when there would be—a woman. And I never thought the woman lived that he'd love
who wouldn't love him. I can't see how any woman could help lovin' him.
"And then I found out it was that railroad. It came between Sarah Austen and
her happiness, and now it's come between Austen and his. Perhaps you don't love
him!" cried Euphrasia. "Perhaps you're too rich and high and mighty. Perhaps
you're a-going to marry that fine young man who came with you in the buggy.
Since I heard who you was, I haven't had a happy hour. Let me tell you there's
no better blood in the land than the Austen blood. I won't mention the Vanes. If
you've led him on, if you've deceived him, I hope you may be unhappy as Sarah
"Don't!" pleaded Victoria; "don't! Please don't!" and she seized Euphrasia by
the arms, as though seeking by physical force to stop the intolerable flow of
words. "Oh, you don't know me; you can't understand me if you say that. How can
you be so cruel?"
In another moment she had gone, leaving Euphrasia standing in the middle of
the floor, staring after her through the doorway.