There was a passionate appeal in his tone, but it produced no answer.
“Marian!” he cried, still interposing himself between these two and the passage to the landing wharf. “Marian, I will have some answer!”
“You have had your answer, sir,” said Percival Nowell, trying to push him aside. “This lady does not know you. Do you want to make a scene, and render yourself ridiculous to every one here? There are plenty of lunatic asylums in New York that will accommodate you, if you are determined to make yourself eligible for them.”
“Marian!” repeated John Saltram, without vouchsafing the faintest notice of this speech. “Marian, speak to me!”
And then, as there came no answer from that shrinking clinging figure, with a sudden spring forward, that brought him quite close to her, John Saltram tore the veil away from the hidden face.
“This must be some impostor,” he said; “this is not my wife.”
He was right. The creature clinging to Percival Nowell’s arm was a pretty woman enough, with rather red hair, and a common face. She was about Marian’s height; and that was the only likeness between them.
The spectators of this brief fracas crowded round the actors in it, seeing nothing but the insult offered to a lady, and highly indignant with John Saltram; and amidst their murmurs Percival Nowell pushed his way to the shore, with the woman still clinging to his arm.
THE PLEASURES OF WYNCOMB.
That shrill anguish-stricken cry which Ellen Whitelaw had heard on the night of the stranger’s visit to Wyncomb Farm haunted her afterwards with a wearisome persistence. She could not forget that wild unearthly sound; she could not help continually trying to find some solution for the mystery, until her brain was tired with the perpetual effort.
Ponder upon this matter as she might, she could find no reasonable explanation of the enigma; and in spite of her common sense—a quality of which she possessed a very fair share—she was fain to believe at last that this grim bare-looking old house was haunted, and that the agonised shriek she and Mrs. Tadman had heard that night was only the ghostly sound of some cry wrung from a bleeding heart in days gone by, the echo of an anguish that had been in the far past.
She even went so far as to ask her husband one day if he had ever heard that the house was haunted, and whether there was any record of crime or wrong that had been done in it in the past. Mr. Whitelaw seemed scarcely to relish the question; but after one of his meditative pauses laughed his wife’s inquiry to scorn, and told her that there were no ghosts at Wyncomb except the ghosts of dead rats that had ravaged the granaries—and certainly they seemed to rise from their graves in spite of poison and traps, cats and ferrets—and that, as to anything that had been done in the house in days gone by, he had never heard tell that his ancestors had ever done anything but eat and drink and sleep, and save money from year’s end to year’s end; and a hard time they’d had of it to pay their way and put something by, in the face of all the difficulties that surround the path of a farmer.