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THE widow's reflections as she thought
over her interview with Mr. Frost were
bitter enough.

Her situation was that of one who, in
endeavouring to reach a wished-for goal,
has chosen the speciously green path over a
morass, rather than the tedious stony way,
which, although painful, would have been
safe. Now, the treacherous bog quaked
beneath her faltering feet. But it was vain
to look back. She must proceed. To go
forward with a step at once firm and light
was, she felt, her only chance of safety.
And it was but a chance.

Years ago, when Zillah Lockwood was a
young woman and a newly-married wife,
Sidney Frost hadthrough the knowledge
of certain passages in her life which he had
gained accidentallycome to have a secret
power and influence over her.

He had used his knowledge at first to
protect her against the persecutions of a
ruffian, and in so doing he had acted

Afterwards he was tempted by
circumstances, to avail himself of the power he
held over Zillah Lockwood, in order to help
himself forward in the world.

The case stood thus:

Robert Lockwood and Sidney Frost were
early and intimate friends. When the former
married Miss Zillah Fentona governess
in the family of a rich merchant, named
Blythe, who liked pictures, and sought the
society of the painters of picturesFrost
had still been cordially welcomed at his
friend's house.

Miss Fenton was an orphan, without a
relation in the world. Her early life had
been passed in Paris; and Mrs. Blythe
said she had reason to believe that her
father, Captain Fenton, had been a needy
adventurer of disreputable character. But
against the young lady, no one had a word
to say.

At first the young couple were entirely
happy. To the day of his death, Robert
Lockwood adored his wife. He believed
in her with the most absolute trust. He
admired her talents. He was guided by
her advice.

But when, within a few months of their
marriage, Zillah became melancholy,
nervous, and silent, Robert was painfully
puzzled to account for the change in her.

She declared herself to be quite well;
but her husband insisted on her seeing
doctor after doctor, in the hope of
discovering some cure for the unaccountable
depression of spirits under which she was

It was all in vain, however. Robert was in
despair; and seriously contemplated
sacrificing his connexion and daily-rising
reputation as an artist, in order to take his wife
abroad, for total change of air and scene.

A mere chance, connected with his
professional business, gave Sidney Frost a clue
to the cause of the mysterious malady under
which his friend's wife was pining. The clue
was furnished by a few words dropped by
a man of very vile character, a professional
blackleg, who had come to London for a
time to escape the too vigilant attention
of the Parisian police, and from whose
clutches Mr. Frost was endeavouring to
extricate a foolish young scapegrace, the
son of one of his clients.