BE SURE THY SIN WILL FIND THEE OUT
Madame Midas was a remarkably plucky woman, but it needed all her pluck and philosophy to bear up against the terrible calamities which were befalling her. Her faith in human nature was completely destroyed, and she knew that all the pleasure of doing good had gone out of her life. The discovery of Kitty’s baseness had wounded her deeply, and she found it difficult to persuade herself that the girl had not been the victim of circumstances. If Kitty had only trusted her when she came to live with her all this misery and crime would have been avoided, for she would have known Madame Midas would never have married Vandeloup, and thus would have had no motive for committing the crime. Regarding Vandeloup’s pretensions to her hand, Mrs Villiers laughed bitterly to herself. After the misery of her early marriage it was not likely she was going to trust herself and her second fortune again to a man’s honour. She sighed as she thought what her future life must be. She was wealthy, it was true, but amid all her riches she would never be able to know the meaning of friendship, for all who came near her now would have some motive in doing so, and though Madame Midas was anxious to do good with her wealth, yet she knew she could never expect gratitude in return. The comedy of human life is admirable when one is a spectator; but ah! the actors know they are acting, and have to mask their faces with smiles, restrain the tears which they would fain let flow, and mouth witty sayings with breaking hearts. Surely the most bitter of all feelings is that cynical disbelief in human nature which is so characteristic of our latest civilization.
Madame Midas, however, now that Melbourne was so hateful to her, determined to leave it, and sent up to Mr Calton in order to confer with him on the subject. Calton came down to St Kilda, and was shown into the drawing-room where Mrs Villiers, calm and impenetrable looking as ever, sat writing letters. She arose as the barrister entered, and gave him her hand.
‘It was kind of you to come so quickly,’ she said, in her usual quiet, self-contained manner; ’I wish to consult you on some matters of importance.’
‘I am at your service, Madame,’ replied Calton, taking a seat, and looking keenly at the marble face before him; ’I am glad to see you looking so well, considering what you have gone through.’
Mrs Villiers let a shadowy smile flit across her face.
’They say the Red Indian becomes utterly indifferent to the torture of his enemies after a certain time,’ she answered, coldly; ’I think it is the same with me. I have been deceived and disillusionized so completely that I have grown utterly callous, and nothing now can move me either to sorrow or joy.’
‘A curious answer from a curious woman,’ thought Calton, glancing at her as she sat at the writing-table in her black dress with the knots of violet ribbons upon it; ’what queer creatures experience makes us.’