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MISS HALCOMBE had never left Blackwater

When I heard those words, all my thoughts
were startled back on the instant to my parting
with Lady Glyde. I can hardly say I
reproached myselfbut, at that moment, I think
I would have given many a year's hard savings
to have known four hours earlier what I knew

Mrs. Rubelle waited, quietly arranging her
nosegay, as if she expected me to say

I could say nothing. I thought of Lady
Glyde's worn-out energies and weakly health;
and I trembled for the time when the shock
of the discovery that I had made would fall on
her. For a minute, or more, my fears for the
poor lady silenced me. At the end of that
time, Mrs. Rubelle looked up sideways from her
flowers, and said, “Here is Sir Percival, ma'am,
returned from his ride.”

I saw him as soon as she did. He came
towards us, slashing viciously at the flowers
with his riding-whip. When he was near enough
to see my face, he stopped, struck at his boot
with the whip, and burst out laughing, so harshly
and so violently, that the birds flew away,
startled, from the tree by which he stood.

“Well, Mrs. Michelson,” he said; “you have
found it out at lasthave you?”

I made no reply. He turned to Mrs. Rubelle.

“When did you show yourself in the

“I showed myself about half an hour ago,
sir. You said I might take my liberty again,
as soon as Lady Glyde had gone away to

“Quite right. I don't blame youI only
asked the question.” He waited a moment, and
then addressed himself once more to me. “You
can't believe it, can you?” he said, mockingly.
“Here! come along and see for yourself.”

He led the way round to the front of the
house. I followed him; and Mrs. Rubelle
followed me. After passing through the iron gates,
he stopped, and pointed with his whip to the
disused middle wing of the building.

“There!” he said. “Look up at the first
floor. You know the old Elizabethan bedrooms?
Miss Halcombe is snug and safe in one of the
best of them, at this moment. Take her in,
Mrs. Rubelle (you have got your key?); take
Mrs. Michelson in, and let her own eyes satisfy
her that there is no deception, this time.”

The tone in which he spoke to me, and the
minute or two that had passed since we left the
garden, helped me to recover my spirits a little.
What I might have done, at this critical moment,
if all my life had been passed in service, I cannot
say. As it was, possessing the feelings, the
principles, and the bringing-up of a lady, I could
not hesitate about the right course to pursue.
My duty to myself, and my duty to Lady Glyde,
alike forbade me to remain in the employment
of a man who had shamefully deceived us both
by a series of atrocious falsehoods.

“I must beg permission, Sir Percival, to
speak a few words to you in private,” I said.
“Having done so, I shail be ready to proceed
with this person to Miss Halcombe's room.”

Mrs. Rubelle, whom I had indicated by a
slight turn of my head, insolently sniffed at her
nosegay, and walked away, with great deliberation,
towards the house door.

“Well,” said Sir Percival, sharply; “what is
it now?”

“I wish to mention, sir, that I am desirous of
resigning the situation I now hold at Blackwater
Park.” That was literally how I put it. I was
resolved that the first words spoken in his presence
should be words which expressed my
intention to leave his service.

He eyed me with one of his blackest looks,
and thrust his hands savagely into the pockets
of his riding-coat.

“Why?” he said; “why, I should like to

“It is not for me, Sir Percival, to express an
opinion on what has taken place in this house.
I desire to give no offence. I merely wish to
say that I do not feel it consistent with my duty
to Lady Glyde and to myself to remain any
longer in your service.”

“Is it consistent with your duty to me to
stand there, casting suspicion on me to my
face?” he broke out, in his most violent manner.
“I see what you're driving at. You have taken
your own mean, underhand view of an innocent
deception practised on Lady Glyde, for her own
good. It was essential to her health that she
should have a change of air immediatelyand,
you know as well as I do, she would never have