“I wish,” said the curate one morning, as they sat at breakfast, “if only for Faber’s sake, that something definite was known about poor Juliet. There are rumors in the town, roving like poisonous fogs. Some profess to believe he has murdered her, getting rid of her body utterly, then spreading the report that she had run away. Others say she is mad, and he has her in the house, but stupefied with drugs to keep her quiet. Drew told me he had even heard it darkly hinted that he was making experiments upon her, to discover the nature of life. It is dreadful to think what a man is exposed to from evil imaginations groping after theory. I dare hardly think what might happen should these fancies get rooted among the people. Many of them are capable of brutality. For my part, I don’t believe the poor woman is dead yet.”
Helen replied she did not believe that, in her sound mind, Juliet would have had the resolution to kill herself; but who could tell what state of mind she was in at the time? There was always something mysterious about her—something that seemed to want explanation.
Between them it was concluded that, the next time Faber came, Wingfold should be plain with him. He therefore told him that if he could cast any light on his wife’s disappearance, it was most desirable he should do so; for reports were abroad greatly to his disadvantage. Faber answered, with a sickly smile of something like contempt, that they had had a quarrel the night before, for which he was to blame; that he had left her, and the next morning she was gone, leaving every thing, even to her wedding-ring, behind her, except the clothes she wore; that he had done all he could to find her, but had been utterly foiled. More he could not say.
The next afternoon, he sought an interview with the curate in his study, and told him every thing he had told Mr. Drake. The story seemed to explain a good deal more than it did, leaving the curate with the conviction that the disclosure of this former relation had caused the quarrel between him and his wife, and more doubtful than ever as to Juliet’s having committed suicide.
THE NEW OLD HOUSE.
It was a lovely moon-lighted midnight when they set out, the four of them, to walk from the gate across the park to the Old House. Like shadows they flitted over the green sward, all silent as shadows. Scarcely a word was spoken as they went, and the stray syllable now and then, was uttered softly as in the presence of the dead. Suddenly but gently opened in Juliet’s mind a sense of the wonder of life. The moon, having labored through a heap of cloud into a lake of blue, seemed to watch her with curious interest as she toiled over the level sward. The air now and then made a soundless sigh about her head, like a waft of wings invisible. The heavenly distances seemed to have come down and closed her softly in.