Tom calculated that he made a clear five hundred a year by occasional journalism, besides possessing some profitable investments which he had inherited from his mother, so that there was no reason for delaying the marriage. It was fixed for May-day, and the honeymoon was to be spent in Italy.
THE DREAM AND THE AWAKENING
But Clara was not destined to happiness. From the moment she had promised herself to her first love’s friend old memories began to rise up and reproach her. Strange thoughts stirred in the depths of her soul, and in the silent watches of the night she seemed to hear Everard’s accents, charged with grief and upbraiding. Her uneasiness increased as her wedding-day drew near. One night, after a pleasant afternoon spent in being rowed by Tom among the upper reaches of the Thames, she retired to rest full of vague forebodings. And she dreamt a terrible dream. The dripping form of Everard stood by her bedside, staring at her with ghastly eyes. Had he been drowned on the passage to his land of exile? Frozen with horror, she put the question.
“I have never left England!” the vision answered.
Her tongue clove to the roof of her mouth.
“Never left England?” she repeated, in tones which did not seem to be hers.
The wraith’s stony eyes stared on, but there was silence.
“Where have you been then?” she asked in her dream.
“Very near you,” came the answer.
“There has been foul play then!” she shrieked.
The phantom shook its head in doleful assent.
“I knew it!” she shrieked. “Tom Peters—Tom Peters has done away with you. Is it not he? Speak!”
“Yes, it is he—Tom Peters—whom I loved more than all the world.”
Even in the terrible oppression of the dream she could not resist saying, woman-like:
“Did I not warn you against him?”
The phantom stared on silently and made no reply.
“But what was his motive?” she asked at length.
“Love of gold—and you. And you are giving yourself to him,” it said sternly.
“No, no, Everard! I will not! I will not! I swear it! Forgive me!”
The spirit shook its head sceptically.
“You love him. Women are false—as false as men.”
She strove to protest again, but her tongue refused its office.
“If you marry him, I shall always be with you! Beware!”
The dripping figure vanished as suddenly as it came, and Clara awoke in a cold perspiration. Oh, it was horrible! The man she had learnt to love, the murderer of the man she had learnt to forget! How her original prejudice had been justified! Distracted, shaken to her depths, she would not take counsel even of her father, but informed the police of her suspicions. A raid was made on Tom’s rooms, and lo! the stolen notes were discovered in