+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error





BY the end of March Veronica arrived in
England. The news of Sir John's death
and of her marriage had, of course,
preceded her thither. Telegrams and letters
had been sent to Mr. Lane, the agent, in
the name of the self-styled Lady Tallis
Gale. But besides these, there had come
to Mr. Lane a letter from Paul. The agent
had lost no time in communicating with
the inheritor of the late baronet's estate
and title. This was an elderly bachelor
who had made a small competence in trade
and had retired from business, and was
living obscurely in a suburb of the large
manufacturing town in which his life had
been passed. Sir John had as much as
possible ignored his plebeian connexions;
and without ever having set eyes on him,
detested his presumptive successor. Mr.
Matthew Tallis, or, as he must henceforward be
styled, Sir Matthew Tallis Gale, had
hastened to London and had had a meeting
with Mr. Lane; and Mr. Lane had seen
Sir Matthew's lawyer; and they were all
three prepared to meet and discuss matters
with Veronica's legal adviser.

Mr. Frost had written to his partner,
stating that he should be in England on the
twenty-fifth of March. But the fact was,
that he arrived three days sooner than that
date. And one of his first proceedings was
to go to Mrs. Lockwood's house in Gower-
Street. The yellow window-blinds that had
been drawn closely down between the day of
Lady Tallis's death and that of her funeral,
were now again raised: and the front rooms
were pervious to as much daylight as
ever visited that side of Gower Street on a
March afternoon. The little parlour into
which Mr. Frost was shown, looked neat
as ever, but, he thought, very threadbare
and poor. The air in it was close, though
it was a chilly raw day. And there was a
heavy silence in the house.

Mrs. Lockwood entered the room with
her noiseless, light footfall, and touched Mr.
Frost's outstretched hand very coldly with
her fingers.

For a few moments neither spoke.

"Well, Zillah, I have got back you see,"
said Mr. Frost, with the slightest possible
over-assumption of being at his ease, and
in the superior position.

"Yes, you have got back, and I hope you
bring some good news for me."

"Your greeting will not turn my head
by its cordiality."

"I hope you bring some good news for
me," repeated Mrs. Lockwood. "I have
waited longer than the time you mentioned.
You said, ' Wait until the winter.' We are
now at the end of March. I have had no
word from you directly, all this time. And
now that I see you it is natural I should
recall our conversation last summer."

She spoke very dryly, and with more
than her ordinary deliberation of manner.
Mr. Frost seized on an unimportant twig
of her discourse, so to speak, hoping thereby
to divert her attention from the root of the

"You had no word from me!" he echoed,
knitting his anxious forehead. "Why, I
begged Georgina to come and give you my
news several times. I was busy, day and
night. My wife was the only person to
whom I wrote a line save on business."

"Your wife came here once or twice
not specially to see meand she said some