Two occurrences had, however, precipitated matters. One was the stir that Clement had made about the school-boys’ festival, ending in the fine being imposed; the other, the discovery that the graceful, well-endowed young esquire was the child who had been left to probable beggary with a dying father twenty years previously.
Jellicoe, the principal owner of the circus, advanced the money for the fine, on condition of the girl and her mother becoming attached to the circus; and the object of O’Leary was to make as much profit as possible out of the mystery that hung over the young heir of Vale Leston. His refusal to attend to the claim on him, together with spite at his uncle, as having brought about the prosecution, and to Mr. Flight for hesitating to remunerate the girl for the performance that was to have been free; perhaps too certain debts and difficulties, all conspired to occasion the midnight flitting in such a manner as to prevent the circus from being pursued.
Thenceforth poor Lida’s life had been hopeless misery, with all her womanly and religious instincts outraged, and the probability of worse in future. Jellicoe, his wife, and O’Leary had no pity, and her mother very little, and no principle; and she had no hope, except that release might come by some crippling accident. Workhouse or hospital would be deliverance, since thence she could write to Mrs. Henderson.
She shook and trembled still lest she should be pursued, though Miss Hackett assured her that this was the last place to be suspected, and it was not easy to make her eat. Presently Gerald stood ready to take her to the cab.
Dolores came to the gate with them. There was only space for a fervent embrace and “God bless you!” and then she stood watching as they went away into the night.
CHAPTER XXVIII. ROCCA MARINA
There was of course in Adeline
A calm patrician polish in the address,
Which ne’er can pass the equinoctial line
Of anything which nature could express.-BYRON.
It was a late autumn or winter day, according to the calendar, when The Morning Star steamed up to the quay of Rocca Marina, but it was hard to believe it, for all the slope of one of the Maritime Alps lay stretched out basking in the noonday sunshine, green and lovely, wherever not broken by the houses below, or the rocks quarried out on the mountain side. Some snow lay on the further heights, enough to mark their forms, and contrast with the soft sweetness of the lap of the hills and the glorious Mediterranean blue.