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made much of, and Marian enjoyed it
thoroughly. Unquestionably, she had never
enjoyed anything so much in her previous
life, and her enjoyment had no alloy. For
although just before her husband's death,
and for some little time after, she had had
certain twinges of conscience as to the part
she had acted in leaving him ignorant of
all her relations with Walter Joyce when
she married him, that feeling had soon died
away. Before leaving home she had had
a keen experience of absolute enjoyment in
signing cheques with her own name, and
in being consulted by Mr. Teesdale as to
some business of her estate, and this feeling
increased very much during her stay at
Tunbridge Wells. Nevertheless, she did
not remain there very long; she was
pleased at being told that her duties
required her at home, and she was by no
means one to shirk such duties as the
management of an enormous property

So Marian Creswell went back to
Woolgreaves, and busied herself in learning the
details of her inheritance, in receiving from
Mr. Teesdale an account of his past
stewardship, and listening to his propositions
for the future. It was very pleasant at
first; there were so many figures, the
amounts involved were so enormous; there
were huge parchment deeds to look at, and
actual painted maps of her estates. She
had imagined that during that period just
prior to their marriage, when she made
herself useful to Mr. Creswell, she had
acquired some notion of his wealth, but she
now found she had not heard of a tenth
part of it. There was a slate quarry in
Wales, a brewery in Leamington, interest
in Australian ships, liens on Indian
railways, and house property in London.
There seemed no end to the wealth, and
for the first few weeks, looking at the
details of it with her own eyes, or listening
to the account of it in Mr. Teesdale's
sonorous voice, afforded her real pleasure.
Then gradually, and almost imperceptibly,
came back upon her that feeling which had
overwhelmed her in her husband's lifetime,
of which she had gotten rid for some little
space, but which now returned with fiftyfold
force, "What is the good of it all?"

What indeed? She sat in the midst of
her possessions more lonely than the poorest
cotter on any of her estates, less cared
for than the worn-out miner, for whom,
after his day's toil, his wife prepared the
evening meal, and his children huddled
at his knee. Formerly her husband had
been there, with his kindly face and his
soft voice, and she had known that,
notwithstanding all difference of age and
temperament between them, so long as he lived
there was one to love her with a devotion
which is the lot of few in this world. Now
he was gone, and she was alone. Alone!
It was a maddening thought to a woman
of Marian's condition, without the consolation
of religion, without the patience calmly
to accept her fate, without the power of
bowing to the inevitable. Where money
was concerned she could hardly bring
herself to recognise the inevitable, could
scarcely understand that people of her
wealth should, against their own will, be
left alone in this world, and that love,
friendship, and all their sweet associations,
could not be bought.

Love and friendship! Of the latter she
could scarcely be said to have had any
experience; for Marian Ashurst was not a
girl who made friends, and Mrs. Creswell
found no one equal to being admitted to
such a bond; and as to the former, though
she had enjoyed it once, she had almost
forgotten all about it. It came back to her,
however, as she thought over it; all the
sweet words, the soft endearing epithets,
and the loving looks came back to her; all
the fond memory of that time when, for a
period, the demon of avarice was stilled, the
gnawing desire for money, and what money
in her idea might bring, was quenched;
when she was honestly proud of her lover,
happy in the present, and expectant of the
future. She recollected the poor dresses
and the cheap trinkets which she had in
those days; the wretched little presents
which she and Walter had exchanged, and
the pleasure she experienced at receiving
them at his hands. She remembered the
locket, with her portrait, which she had
given him, and wondered what had become
of it. He had. it, doubtless, still, for he had
never returned it to her, not even in that
first wild access of rage which he may
have felt at the receipt of the letter
announcing her intended marriage, nor since,
when he had cooled down into comparative
carelessness. Surely that argued something
in her favour? Surely that showed that
he had yet some lingering regard for her?
In all that had been told her of him, and
specially during the election time she had
heard much, no mention had ever been
made of any woman to whom he was
paying attention. She had thought of that
before; she remembered it delightedly
now. Could it be that in the secret