Then, and then only, they knew what had happened.
Face to face, those three persons—with every tie that had once united them snapped asunder in an instant—looked at each other. The man owed a duty to the lost creature whose weakness had appealed to his mercy in vain. The man broke the silence.
With immeasurable contempt looking brightly out of her steady eyes, his wife stopped him.
“Not a word!”
He refused to be silent. “It is I,” he said; “I only who am to blame.”
“Spare yourself the trouble of making excuses,” she answered; “they are needless. Herbert Linley, the woman who was once your wife despises you.”
Her eyes turned from him and rested on Sydney Westerfield.
“I have a last word to say to you. Look at me, if you can.”
Sydney lifted her head. She looked vacantly at the outraged woman before her, as if she saw a woman in a dream.
With the same terrible self-possession which she had preserved from the first—standing between her husband and her governess—Mrs. Linley spoke.
“Miss Westerfield, you have saved my child’s life.” She paused—her eyes still resting on the girl’s face. Deadly pale, she pointed to her husband, and said to Sydney: “Take him!”
She passed out of the room—and left them together.
The autumn holiday-time had come to an end; and the tourists had left Scotland to the Scots.
In the dull season, a solitary traveler from the North arrived at the nearest post-town to Mount Morven. A sketchbook and a color-box formed part of his luggage, and declared him to be an artist. Falling into talk over his dinner with the waiter at the hotel, he made inquiries about a picturesque house in the neighborhood, which showed that Mount Morven was well known to him by reputation. When he proposed paying a visit to the old border fortress the next day, the waiter said: “You can’t see the house.” When the traveler asked Why, this man of few words merely added: “Shut up.”
The landlord made his appearance with a bottle of wine and proved to be a more communicative person in his relations with strangers. Presented in an abridged form, and in the English language, these (as he related them) were the circumstances under which Mount Morven had been closed to the public.
A complete dispersion of the family had taken place not long since. For miles round everybody was sorry for it. Rich and poor alike felt the same sympathy with the good lady of the house. She had been most shamefully treated by her husband, and by a good-for-nothing girl employed as governess. To put it plainly, the two had run away together; one report said they had gone abroad, and another declared that they were living in London. Mr.