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better if they were blossoming on the bride's
grave!

Spite of the weather, many little
committees were held that afternoon in the
Milverston drawing-rooms to take the day's
event into consideration. We all talked over
Captain Wilton's coming to the town four
years previously, with his two young children,
and calculated that Lady Sinclair could not be
eighteen. The captain had held aloof from
society, and was avowedly poor; nobody
knew him intimately, or his daughter or son,
but their affairs had been much discussed.
We had expected a marriage the year before,
for Mary Wilton was often seen in the Manor
Gardens, with a handsome officer who came
down for frequent but short visits to her
father's house. His name was Captain
Moore. We chose to fancy they were
engaged, and to feel an interest in them; but
at last Miss Prior told us that we were all
wrong, for Mary Wilton was going to marry
Sir Bertram Sinclair of Winnington Castle,
and that Captain Moore was on his way to
India. And the event proved her information
correct.

In these cases there is always a train of
circumstances which no curiosity can
penetrate. Gossip exhausted itself, but nothing
more could we ascertain than we had actually
seen. Sir Bertram and Lady Sinclair went
abroad, and the castle was tilled with workmen
and upholsterers making preparations
for their return. Captain Wilton and his
son were often there superintending and
giving orders; since his daughter's great
marriage, the old man held his head higher
than ever. He was as proud a man to the
full as Sir Bertram.

St. Mary's bells welcomed them home in
August. Everything was done in order:
there was a procession of tenantry to meet
them, and great preparations for rejoicing,
but it was generally remarked that Sir
Bertram looked very illwhen people said a
Sinclair "looked ill," we all knew well
enough what was meant. There was insanity
in the family: he himself, when quite a young
man, had been for three years under medical
surveillance abroad. It was a thing only
whispered, but everybody was perfectly
aware of the fact. Of course, all the
neighbourhood called at Winnington Castle, but
no visits were either received or returned.
A confidential physician came from abroad
and took up his residence there, and by-and-
by it oozed out that Sir Bertram was so
unwell as to be confined to his apartments.
We met Lady Sinclair occasionally driving
about in a pony carriage with her father and
brother: she looked an icy, suffering, patient
creature tired with struggling against sorrow,
and passively enduring it. Her beauty was
faded and almost goneas well it might be
if half of what was said of Sir Bertram were
true, she must have had a terrible time with
him abroad. People said that he would never
recover, that his present attack was far worse
than the former one, and that the servants
were all leaving Wilmington; nobody could
support its dreariness; fine as it might be
within, it looked a great, dreary prison-house
outside.

The poor old captain had lost a good deal
of his haughty looks before Christmas came.
Nobody could help but pity him, he seemed
so downcast and miserable. The marriage
had been his doing, and now that he saw
what was come of it, and that his daughter
was sacrificed to a madman, his late remorse
must have been keen indeed.

"What else could anybody expect who was
so rash as to marry on a Friday in May?"
was Miss Wolsey's remark. She was
superstitious and romantic, being much given to
literature of that order, and attributed all
the Wilmington Castle troubles to the
unfortunate selection of the wedding-day. There
was a better reason than that. Pride and
mercenary feelings were what urged Captain
Wilton to force Mary into the union, when
he knew that Sir Bertram's peculiarities
were always verging on mental disease;
Mary herself knew it, and resisted steadfastly
until who can tell what motives were urged
to drive her into the sacrifice of her whole
life. Captain Moore gone,—her home poor,
lonely, uncheered by lovefor her father
was a surly, self-concentrated man, and her
brother a weak, simple ladeven a marriage
with Sir Bertram might look less terrible in
contemplation: how she regarded it when
close at hand, her strange behaviour at her
marriage betrayed but too clearly.

But to end this story quickly, for it is a
very melancholy one. In January Lady
Sinclair was confined of a still-born son,
whose birth she survived only a few hours.
She was buried with great funeral pomp in
the chapel vault at Winnington Castle, and
thus closed the last scene of a great match.

Sir Bertram has been removed abroad, it
is said to Paris, and Captain Wilton also has
left Milverston. The castle is shut up, and
everything about it is going to rack and
ruin.

Now ready, price Five Shillings and Sixpence, neatly
bound in cloth,
THE THIRTEENTH VOLUME
of
HOUSEHOLD WORDS.
Containing the Numbers issued between the Nineteenth
of January and the Twelfth of July, Eighteen Hundred
and Fifty-six.
Complete sets of Household Words may always be had.

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