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dial-a few kind lines from Kenelm, written the night before, from the resting-place which was half-way towards his journey's end.

Having further stimulated my courage by re-perusing my friend's note, which told me of the favourable arrangements she hoped to make for the publication of my book, I set to work. The misery of my heroine was approaching its climax; I was one with her, shaken by her fears, torn by her passions, transported by her hope. Highly-wrought excitement kept me up. While Kenelm was away, I did not go beyond the garden; I could not eat, and I hardly slept.

One night, I had heard Ann go to bed long before, and there was no sound or stir in the silent house,-my self-possession, my sense of my own identity, altogether failed me.

I crouched upon the bare floor in the bare room. I struggled to separate myself from the woes into which I had plunged "the wife" of my imagination. I could not-intense emotion overpowered me. Sick with anguish, I cried out, Husband, husband! Good God! this is more than I can bear!"

I covered my face; that cry had startled me back to myself, and great terror came over me; I had always been timid of night and darkness.

As I continued to crouch there, covering my face, it seemed to me that something stirred in the room, that chill breath fanned my neck and arms. I raised my head, seeking light. My candle had burned out; I was alone in stirring darkness-the thick darkness of a close-shuttered room. I strained my eyes into it; I seemed chained to the spot.

Suddenly my excited fancy made my husband present to me, standing in the middle of the room, regarding me. He was pale; his expression was reproachful, his form spectral.

I spread out my arms towards him; my senses failed me, my last consciousness being of a blow and a flash of pain.

Daylight was streaming through all cracks and crevices when I recovered. I found myself lying with my face upon the floor. I sat up with difficulty, and turned sick and dizzy when I saw a pool of blood close to where my face had lain. By-and-by

I managed to get to my bedroom, and, after washing my stained brow, discovered a small but deep wound on my temple. I had fallen against a sharp iron-bound corner of the box which I had used as a desk.

I did not distinctly recall what had frightened me. I felt terribly weak, and lay on my bed quite still for several hours. Then I rang and ordered Ann to bring me some coffee into my room. My window was darkened, and she seemed to notice nothing particular in my appearance. I told her I was not very well, and did not wish to be disturbed.

The hot, strong coffee revived me wonderfully, and my thoughts returned to my all but finished work.

My book was not to be a Tragedy; it was to end quietly, peacefully, perfectly, as a beautiful summer-day. I laughed softly over the happiness of this summery ending, and the tears rained from my eyes. I sat close to the open window on that lovely day, in a deliciously subdued and sympathetic mood, and wrote my blissful concluding chapters.

With one brief interruption only I continued to write till late in the afternoon. I no longer wrote with haste and passion, but, as I remember, with a quiet sense of perfect power.

I had finished. I said "thank God."

My heroine was happy now, and my heart craved like happiness clamorously. "Make haste and come home, Kenelm !" I cried.

I went down stairs to hunt for string, wax, and stamps; my book must be immediately sent off.

On my work-table lay a letter from my husband. How long had it lain there unopened? I pressed it to my lips and to my bosom before I read it.

It said he would be home this evening! What happiness! This evening at seven, it said; what time could it be now?

Even as I wondered, our clock struck-seven.

There I stood in my loose, tumbled white dressing-gown, my hair wildly disordered, my hands stained with ink, and my cheeks with tears. I could not move; it was like a dreadful nightmare dream.

My head began to ache maddeningly. I thought how none of my

intended preparations for Kenelm's return were made; and I-was I fit to meet him? I pressed my hand upon my brow; unwittingly I displaced the plaster upon my wound, from which the blood began again to trickle.

I would have given years of life to recall one hour then.

I heard the garden gate. I saw Kenelm come up the path, and still I could not move.

The room door opened and admitted my husband.

He paused in sad amazement. His face was like the face I had seen in my vision, which now vividly returned to me. I tried to believe this was a vision too. His form seemed to waver and flicker, and a black gulf opened at my feet.

Both my husband and Ann were standing over me when I regained consciousness; when I raised myself on the couch, Ann disappeared.



"I am so sorry-so grieved," began, "I did not expect you yet. had only just read your letter, and " "Do not talk now-rest, love. Was this just done?"

"No; I struck my head last night, and"

"My poor wounded darling!" I had no need to make excuses. He cared for me to-night instead of I for him, yet he looked very travelworn and ill. He dressed my wound with tender fingers, and said many tender words. But he looked very sad, and I could not bear to meet his inquiring gaze. I closed my eyes and felt myself a wretched little hypocrite. I passionately vowed never again to have a secret from Kenelm.

My husband made me go to bed early. He read to me till he thought I was asleep; then I knew that he prayed by me before he went away. How I longed to clasp him round the neck and tell him all my secret, but I was afraid and ashamed.

When I had heard him go down stairs and shut the parlour-door behind him, I sprang up. My Bluebeard chamber was unlocked; all my papers lay about the floor!

I secured the key, but, as I got into bed again, it fell from my trembling fingers. I regained it. The noise had disturbed Kenelm. I heard him coming, and buried my face in

my pillow. As I clasped the key I renewed my fervent vows never again to have a secret.

Next day I noticed that my husband seemed very, very sad. His mediation had only availed to draw more of his father's anger upon himself-he had been of no service to his brother.

When we had talked over this and some other family matters, silence fell. I felt afraid of what might come next, for Kenelm's eyes watched me earnestly.

"Minnie, my wife, it is you who want change now," he said presently.

You look ill, and you must be very weak to have been so much disturbed as you were yesterday, merely by my sudden arrival. Would you like to go home for a little while?"

"Oh Kenelm! so much!" I know that my face kindled brightly; for indeed I longed after them all, and thought that it would be a delicious rest to be at home with him.”

"Poor child! I thought you would like it. So you have pined for home, Minnie?"

"You shall not say that. This is my home. I will not go to my father's if you say such things.'

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"Well! well! do not believe I reproach you, darling; we will part in peace.'

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"I think it will be as well that you should go soon; for a few weeks I must work very hard, and shall be even duller company than ever."

"Do you think I will go home alone? Oh Kenelm! what does this mean?"

"That is what I cannot tell," he said. "But I know that you are neither well nor happy; I know that our poverty has pressed its privations upon you; I know that you pine in your dull life here"

"What more do you know?" I asked defiantly.

He answered with mild, even-toned voice, but absolutely hurting me by the urgent pressure of his gaze, "I know that in some sad way--by my own fault, it may be--I have lost my wife's confidence; I also know that this is not one of the things I will learn to do without."

"What more, sir?" I demanded hotly.

"This is all. When you are at home, Minnie, and I am alone again for a little while, we may each be able to find out in what, and how far, we have erred, and then be able to begin our married life afresh.”

He spoke as if such serious danger impended, as if such utter ruin threatened our peace, that I shuddered; but he spoke, too, as if he forgot all the happy, happy months when I had been a devoted and contented wife, and only remembered the last few weeks this made me angry; it was unjust !—he was exaggerating everything!

"I will not go home unless you command me, and I am your wife, whom you have no right to send away; you are cruel and unjust!"

"Am I so? We were not talking of rights; I was planning for your happiness; but indeed I work in the dark. I do not see why you should call me cruel and unjust. Again I repeat, I do not stoop to suspect you of wrong; your having a secret from me and the obstinacy with which you keep it, is my only ground of displeasure. It may be that my own character is alone to blame; that I am too stern; but I have hoped that my wife loved me too well to fear me."

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· She does ! Oh Kenelm, she does!" I sprang after him as he turned sadly away. But then my looks belied my words; the key of the Blue-beard chamber fell from my dress, and I stopped the picture of guilty confusion.

He picked it up. "This is not the first time you have let it fall," he said, as he gave it me.

Then he knew that my last night's sleep had been feigned. "It hardened my heart to think how deceitful he must believe me to be, and to remember the innocent, holy motive of all this long concealment."

Kenelm went to his study, as I imagined, shutting himself in there for the morning.

I felt utterly reckless. Unknown to myself, a desire for revenge was beginning to mingle with the other motives that determined me to persevere to the end. I thought that the lower I now sank in my husband's esteem the higher should I rise by-and-by when he knew all, when my hour of triumph came.

Once more I locked myself into the empty room. I packed up my manuscript, addressed it to my friend, and wrote a note to accompany it, passionately entreating her to let me hear soon-to do everything quickly. Then I put on my bonnet and shawl, hid my precious roll under my arm, and set off for the post-office.

As I walked hurriedly along beneath the limes in our lane, and then through suburban streets, my thoughts were quite engrossed in planning for the disposal of the fairy fortune my book was to bring me. Suddenly I swerved aside and turned a sharp corner; in another moment I should have met my husband, whom I had believed to be safe at home. Had he seen me? I thought not. I had disappeared before the abstraction of his look had cleared to recognition.

I made a little circuit-accom

plished my purpose, and turned homewards.

My heart sank when I saw my husband pacing up and down beneath the limes. He had seen me, then, and was now waiting for me. The limes were in full blossom; their scent now always takes me back to that afternoon.

When I met Kenelm's eyes, and noted the pinched expression which repressed excitement had given to lip and nostril, I braced myself up for my last and worst ordeal.

He did not speak. He locked my hand under his arm, taking me into custody. He led me into the house, seated me in a chair in his study, then released my hand, and stood opposite to me. I noticed that the hand he leant upon the table quivered. I was sorry; I feared he would do himself harm; but when I raised my eyes to his, his air of judicial sternness had a strange effect upon my nerves. I laughed uncontrollably. Just think how that laugh must have broken upon his highly-wrought excitement and grievous distress!

I fancy that any man less noble than my husband would have struck me. There was intense pain and anger in his eyes-still I laughed my insulting, unnatural laugh. He left me. I chose to believe that he had locked the door: I would not go to ascertain. I ceased laughing, and

grew very indignant. I, Kenelm's wife, to be treated like a naughty child! Very bitterly would he repent his injustice! Then, as I loved him, my heart grew tender at the thought of the pain he would feel when my hour of triumph came. For the first time I doubted of the possibility of this triumph. I could not rejoice if he suffered. We were one.

but now. In your absence, I will earnestly strive to discover where I have been wrong in my conduct as a husband."

I hardly heeded his words; my foot was beating the floor restlessly. I answered:

"You will be sorry; my day will come; you will repent this harsh


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I threw myself on the ground, "Am I harsh, Minnie? then I shall rested my head on Kenelm's foot- indeed repent. I strive to be calm stool, and cried myself to sleep. I and just, only to act for your good." suppose I was thoroughly worn out. Oh, you are very calm; you will I must have slept many hours. It be happy without me, quite! But was dusk when the opening of the you are most unjust!" hall door and my husband's step in the passage roused me. I heard him enter every room in the house before he came into the study; this, and my not detecting the sound of the turning of a key, staggered me in my belief that I had been locked in; but I would not think that I had been a voluntary prisoner all this while.

My husband could not see me when he entered. He peered about, then hastened to the open window. "Good God! She has jumped out!" he cried.

"I am here, Kenelm!" I said, rising.

"You have been here all the time I have been away?"

"I believe I fell asleep." "Tea is waiting in the parlourwill you make it?"

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I followed him. I noticed upon how haggard a face the lamp shone; but his manner was cold and repressed tenderness. He broke a painful silence by saying:

"Mary! I have made arrangements for your going home to


An angry refusal to go rose to my lips. I repressed it, and said nothing. "Your eldest sister passes through London on her way home from Kent to-morrow. I shall take you to the station to meet her. I have written to her and to your father. Your health requires change of air."

"It is well you should let me know on what plea you send me away."

"The scene of this afternoon taught me that we cannot live together, feeling as we now do towards each other, I will not risk again feeling towards my wife as I did when you laughed

"I repeat again, Mary, that I suspect you of no wrong. Your want of confidence has irritated me. When I am alone I hope to see clearly how I lost your confidence, and how I can regain it. If you were reasonable, you would own that it is best for us to part for a little while."

"I am very reasonable! It is best!" I answered; and I know my eyes shone gleefully, for I had jumped over dismal weeks, and was thinking of our joyful meeting. He left me abruptly.

My heart was ready to break when next day I was whirled away from my husband, who stood on the platform gazing after us. Regardless of all lookers-on, I gave way to a great burst of weeping, hiding my face on my sister's shoulder.

My time at home was chiefly spent in wandering about the garden, orchard, and fields, recalling past courting-days, and dreaming over my coming triumph.

They were all very kind to me, petting me as they had been used to do; but I liked best to be much alone, to think uninterruptedly of Kenelm. Several times he came to spend an hour or two with us; he rejoiced at my improved looks, but neither of us said anything of my return.

My friend had written to me in most fervent praise of my book. She was working at it diligently-was to write a preface for it, and had made favourable arrangements for its publication.

Time slipped away rapidly. My husband's visits were the only events of my life, which passed in dull dreaminess. I suppose nature was

avenging herself for the excitement in which I had lived for so long. At last my book was ready, and I received, through my friend, what I considered a very large sum, as part payment for the work.

My family had reason to think me suddenly demented. Home, home, home! I cried. I insisted on departing the very morning on which I received my friend's letter, only promising to give them an explanation of my strange conduct before long.

Completely roused from my torpidity now, my longing for Kenelm and home was intense. I would travel alone, too; I had planned a meeting of which I could endure no witness.

Leaving my luggage at the station, I walked homewards across wellknown fields. But the nearer I approached, the more my courage failed me. It was bright early afternoon; but there seemed to me something eerie in the wind that swept the sunsteeped fields. If Kenelm should be


I paused at the garden gate; the parlour blind was down; I saw no sign of life about the house. I paused longer yet before I could bring myself to open the house door. My heart stood still when I knocked at the door of my husband's study; then it beat again so violently that I lost the sound of his listless come in." I waited. A slow heavy step crossed the room-the door opened my husband stood before me.

"Minnie! my darling! Come back to me of her own accord?" He opened his arms wide. I did not spring to him. I had lost all buoyancy of spirit now-all expectation of rapture. Triumph indeed! In what? In the sorrow-stricken weighed-down aspect of my husband?


Yes, Kenelm, I am come back," I answered soberly. I stood before him, feeling very guilty and ashamed. "You must hear all now," I continued. "It was for this." I put a bundle of bank-notes into his hand. "My child, I do not understand.” He turned them over with a perplex

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ing had planned that I should be clasped in his arms, and hear his exclamations of delight and gratitude, he still did not seem quite to understand. Presently he dropped the notes and hid his face.

I shivered. Where was my beautiful triumph? I had suffered and made him suffer so much-for what?

I sank down at his feet-I laid my cheek against him, and said, Kenelm, was I very wrong? Cannot you forgive me?"


"Minnie! I shall never forgive myself." He raised me up, and kissed me many times. "This is the pain of poverty indeed; that for these, or such as these, you should suffer as you have done. My darling! how could you do it? How could you endure so long? How could you let me treat you so sternly? Dearest ! these were not worth your pain!"

I saw it clearly now: I had burdened him with remorse, overwhelmed him with self-reproach! I, his wife, had irreparably injured him. And when I prayed for forgiveness, he only begged me to forgive him!

With those notes, for which I had worked and endured, lying at our feet, we made a new marriage-compact of mutual confidence and forbearance.

Ah! but I did earn a holiday for Kenelm! I was very ill after that evening of my "triumph." When I grew better, my husband took me to a beautiful little nook by the seaside; there we had a sweet long rest from all the weariness of our world.

I do not think that Kenelm understood his little wife's nature the less for having read her book; and, when he had grown accustomed to the marvellous fact of its existence, I even fancied that I sometimes detected just a little lurking pride in his eyes and about the corners of his mouth, when people, in our presence, spoke of "A Wife's Secret.' At such times I only cared to hide my confusion. Even now, after the lapse of so many many years, I felt a burning flush upon my face the other day, when I suddenly came upon a heap of newspapers and reviews which Kenelm had accumulated, and in them read the name of my book.

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