If Maurice loved Vera, why was it that he was in Manchester whilst she was still in Meadowshire? that was what Helen could not understand. A sure instinct told her that Maurice must know better than any one why his brother’s marriage had been broken off. But, if so, then why were he and Vera apart? It did not strike her that his honour to his brother and his promises to herself were what kept him away. Helen said to herself, scornfully, that they were both of them timid and cowardly, and did not half know how to play out life’s game.
“In her place, with her cards in my hand, I would have married him by this,” she said to herself, as she sat alone in her grandfather’s drawing-room, while her busy fingers ran swiftly through the meshes of her knitting, and the doctor and the hired nurse paced about the room overhead. “But she has not the pluck for it; his heart may be hers, but, for all that, I shall win him; and how bitterly she will repent that she ever interfered with him when she sees him daily there—my husband! And in time he will forget her and learn to love me; Maurice will never be false to a woman when once she is his wife; I am not afraid of that. How dared she meddle with him?—my Maurice!”
The door softly opened, and one of the doctors stepped in on tip-toe. Helen rose and composed her face into a decorous expression of mournful anxiety.
“I am happy to tell you, Mrs. Romer,” began the doctor. Helen’s heart sank down chill and cold within her.
“Is he better?” she faltered, striving to conceal the dismay which she felt.
“He has rallied. Consciousness has returned, and partial use of the limbs. We may be able to pull your grandfather through this time, I trust.”
Put off again! How wretched and how guilty she felt herself to be! It was almost a crime to wish for any one’s death so much.
She sank down again pale and spiritless upon her chair as the doctor left the room.
“Never mind,” she said to herself, presently; “it can’t last for ever. It must be soon now, and I shall be Maurice’s wife in the end.”
But all this time she had forgotten Monsieur Le Vicomte D’Arblet, whom she had not seen again since the night she had driven him home from Walpole Lodge.
He had left England, she knew. Helen privately hoped he had left this earth. Any way, he had not troubled her, and she had forgotten him.
WHAT SHE WAITED FOR.
Go, forget me; why should sorrow
O’er that brow a shadow fling?
Go, forget me, and to-morrow
Brightly smile and sweetly sing.
Smile—though I shall not be near thee;
Sing—though I shall never hear thee.
All this time what of Vera? Would any one of them at the vicarage ever forget that morning when she had come in after her walk with Sir John Kynaston, and had stood before them all and, pale as a ghost, had said to them,