‘I think he leads a very hand-to-mouth existence,’ said Madame, calmly; ’however rich he may become, he will always be poor, because he never was a provident man.’
‘He’s comin’ tae see ye, mem,’ said Archie, grimly, lighting his pipe.
Madame rose to her feet and walked to the window.
‘He’s done that before,’ she said, complacently; ’the result was not satisfactory.’
‘Continual dropping wears away a stone,’ said Selina, who was now clearing away.
‘But not iron,’ replied Madame, placidly; ’I don’t think his persistence will gain anything.’
Archie smiled grimly, and then went outside to smoke his pipe, while Madame sat down by the open window and looked out at the fast-fading landscape.
Her thoughts were not pleasant. She had hoped to cut herself off from all the bitterness and sorrow of her past life, but this husband of hers, like an unquiet spirit, came to trouble her and remind her of a time she would willingly have forgotten. She looked calm and quiet enough sitting there with her placid face and smooth brow; but this woman was like a slumbering volcano, and her passions were all the more dangerous from being kept in check.
A bat flew high up in the air across the clear glow of the sky, disappearing into the adjacent bush, and Madame, stretching out her hand, idly plucked a fresh, dewy rose off the tree which grew round the window.
‘If I could only get rid of him,’ she thought, toying with the flower; ’but it is impossible. I can’t do that without money, and money I never will have till I find that lead. I must bribe him, I suppose. Oh, why can’t he leave me alone now? Surely he has ruined my life sufficiently in the past to let me have a few years, if not of pleasure, at least of forgetfulness.’ And with a petulant gesture she hurled the rose out of the window, where it struck Archie a soft and fragrant blow on the cheek.
‘Yes,’ said Madame to herself, as she pulled down the window, ’I must get rid of him, and if bribery won’t do—there are other means.’
THE GOOD SAMARITAN
Is there anyone nowadays who reads Cowper—that charming, domestic poet who wrote ‘The Task’, and invested even furniture with the glamour of poesy? Alas! to many people Cowper is merely a name, or is known only as the author of the delightfully quaint ballad of John Gilpin. Yet he was undoubtedly the Poet Laureate of domesticity, and every householder should possess a bust or picture of him—placed, not amid the frigid splendours of the drawing room, but occupying the place of honour in his own particular den, where everything is old-fashioned, cheery, and sanctified by long usage. No one wrote so pleasantly about the pleasures of a comfortable room as Cowper. And was he not right to do so? After all, every hearth is the altar of the family, whereon the sacred