• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Half Title
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 The blindness of Madge Tyndall
 It might have been
 Back Matter
 Back Cover
 Spine






Title: The blindness of Madge Tyndall, etc.
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00086592/00001
 Material Information
Title: The blindness of Madge Tyndall, etc.
Physical Description: vi, 247 p., 3 leaves of plates : ill. ; 19 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Hocking, Silas K ( Silas Kitto ), 1850-1935
Speed, Lancelot, 1860-1931 ( Illustrator )
Frederick Warne and Co ( Publisher )
Ballantyne, Hanson and Co ( Printer )
Publisher: Frederick Warne & Co.
Place of Publication: London ;
New York
Manufacturer: Ballantyne, Hanson and Co.
Publication Date: 1897
 Subjects
Subject: Deception -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Kidnapping -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Love -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Man-woman relationships -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Fathers and daughters -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Children's stories   ( lcsh )
Children's stories -- 1897   ( lcsh )
Prize books (Provenance) -- 1897   ( rbprov )
Bldn -- 1897
Genre: Children's stories
Prize books (Provenance)   ( rbprov )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
United States -- New York -- New York
Scotland -- Edinburgh
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by Silas K. Hocking.
General Note: Illustrations by Lancelot Speed.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00086592
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002231545
notis - ALH1924
oclc - 245528862

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Front Matter
    Half Title
        Page i
    Frontispiece
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
    The blindness of Madge Tyndall
        Page 1
        The clock strikes twelve
            Page 1
            Page 2
            Page 3
            Page 4
            Page 5
            Page 6
            Page 7
            Page 8
            Page 9
            Page 10
            Page 11
        Father and daughter
            Page 12
            Page 13
            Page 14
            Page 15
            Page 16
            Page 17
            Page 18
            Page 19
            Page 20
            Page 21
        Jacob Wherry's secret
            Page 22
            Page 23
            Page 24
            Page 25
            Page 26
            Page 27
            Page 28
            Page 29
            Page 30
            Page 31
            Page 32
        Mind and body
            Page 33
            Page 34
            Page 35
            Page 36
            Page 37
            Page 38
            Page 39
            Page 40
            Page 41
            Page 42
            Page 43
            Page 44
        Reviving hopes
            Page 45
            Page 46
            Page 47
            Page 48
            Page 49
            Page 50
            Page 51
            Page 52
            Page 53
            Page 54
            Page 55
        Reflections
            Page 56
            Page 57
            Page 58
            Page 59
            Page 60
            Page 61
            Page 62
            Page 63
            Page 64
            Page 65
            Page 66
            Page 67
        Treachery
            Page 68
            Page 69
            Page 70
            Page 71
            Page 72
            Page 73
            Page 74
            Page 75
            Page 76
            Page 77
            Page 78
            Page 79
        The mystery deepens
            Page 80
            Page 81
            Page 82
            Page 83
            Page 84
            Page 85
            Page 86
            Page 87
            Page 88
            Page 89
            Page 90
        A retrospect
            Page 91
            Page 92
            Page 92a
            Page 93
            Page 94
            Page 95
            Page 96
            Page 97
            Page 98
            Page 99
            Page 100
            Page 101
        Frank gets a clue
            Page 102
            Page 103
            Page 104
            Page 105
            Page 106
            Page 107
            Page 108
            Page 109
            Page 110
            Page 111
            Page 112
        An experiment
            Page 113
            Page 114
            Page 115
            Page 116
            Page 117
            Page 118
            Page 119
            Page 120
            Page 121
            Page 122
        The die cast
            Page 123
            Page 124
            Page 125
            Page 126
            Page 127
            Page 128
            Page 129
            Page 130
            Page 131
            Page 132
            Page 133
            Page 134
        Plans ripen
            Page 135
            Page 136
            Page 137
            Page 138
            Page 139
            Page 140
            Page 141
            Page 142
            Page 143
            Page 144
            Page 145
            Page 146
            Page 147
            Page 148
            Page 149
        The wanderer's return
            Page 150
            Page 151
            Page 152
            Page 153
            Page 154
            Page 154a
            Page 155
            Page 156
            Page 157
            Page 158
            Page 159
            Page 160
            Page 161
        Face to face
            Page 162
            Page 163
            Page 164
            Page 165
            Page 166
            Page 167
            Page 168
            Page 169
            Page 170
            Page 171
            Page 172
        Friend and foe
            Page 173
            Page 174
            Page 175
            Page 176
            Page 177
            Page 178
            Page 179
            Page 180
            Page 181
            Page 182
        Plotters
            Page 183
            Page 184
            Page 185
            Page 186
            Page 187
            Page 188
            Page 189
            Page 190
            Page 191
            Page 192
            Page 193
        A woman's wit
            Page 194
            Page 195
            Page 196
            Page 197
            Page 198
            Page 199
            Page 200
            Page 201
        The new home
            Page 202
            Page 203
            Page 204
            Page 205
            Page 206
            Page 207
            Page 208
            Page 209
            Page 210
            Page 211
            Page 212
            Page 213
            Page 214
    It might have been
        Page 215
        Page 216
        How it began
            Page 217
            Page 218
            Page 219
            Page 220
            Page 221
            Page 222
            Page 223
            Page 224
            Page 225
            Page 226
            Page 227
            Page 228
        How it continued
            Page 229
            Page 230
            Page 231
            Page 232
            Page 232a
            Page 233
            Page 234
            Page 235
        How it ended
            Page 236
            Page 237
            Page 238
            Page 239
            Page 240
            Page 241
            Page 242
            Page 243
            Page 244
            Page 245
            Page 246
            Page 247
    Back Matter
        Back Matter
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
    Spine
        Spine
Full Text







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Marks obtainable ,Marks obtained .... .. I '-:
4. *;. ; l' .. id .V - .













BY T'-HE OFFICERS AND TEACHERS OF THE .











,.. .1 -.





, .. ":* .



... ", ( '-"r..'. t. .i"Llbr a




















THE BLINDNESS OF

MADGE TYNDALL

ETC.













ze,A %i..




















































She had taken his hand to steady herself up a narrow path, and had
thanked him very sweetly.
Fron!. P. 56.









THE BLINDNESS OF


MADGE TYNDALL

ETC.



BY

SILAS K. HOCKING, F.R.H.S.
AUTHOR OF
FOR SUCH IS LIFE," "THE HEART OF MAN," ONE IN CHARITY"
"WHERE DUTY LIES," "FOR ABIGAIL," CROOKLEIGH," ETC.


London
Frederick Warne & Co.
And New York
1897




























































Printed by BALLANTVNE, HANSON & Co.
At the Ballantyne Press






















CONTENTS




THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL-
CHAP. PAGE
I. THE CLOCK STRIKES TWELVE I

II. FATHER AND DAUGHTER 12

III. JACOB WHERRY'S SECRET 22

IV. MIND AND BODY 33

V. REVIVING HOPES 45

VI. REFLECTIONS. 56

S VII. TREACHERY 68

VIII. THE MYSTERY DEEPENS 80

IX. A RETROSPECT 91
X. FRANK GETS A CLUE 102

XI. AN EXPERIMENT 113

XII..THE DIE CAST 123

XIII. PLANS RIPEN. 135
XIV. THE WANDERER'S RETURN 150

XV. FACE TO FACE 162

XVI. FRIEND AND FOE 173









CONTENTS


CHAP.
XVII. PLOTTERS
XVIII. A WOMAN'S WIT
XIX. THE NEW HOME



IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN-

I. HOW IT BEGAN
II. HOW IT CONTINUED
III. HOW IT ENDED


PAGE
. 183
194
202















THE BLINDNESS OF

MADE TYNDALL


CHAPTER I
THE CLOCK STRIKES TWELVE
"Those flattering bells have all
The sound at wedding, and at funeral."
-WEBSTER.
THE marriage was to take place at eleven o'clock,
and it now wanted but ten minutes to that hour.
The church was full of people, all on the tip-
S toe of expectation; for the bride was the belle
of the little town, and the bridegroom attached
to himself no ordinary share of interest. A sub-
dtied hum of voices filled the place, broken every
now and then when a fresh footstep sounded in
the aisle, or any fresh movement was observed.
The best man had already arrived, and stood
near the altar rails, trying his best to look com-
fortable and at ease, but failing most conspicu-
ously in the endeavour. Every now and then-















THE BLINDNESS OF

MADE TYNDALL


CHAPTER I
THE CLOCK STRIKES TWELVE
"Those flattering bells have all
The sound at wedding, and at funeral."
-WEBSTER.
THE marriage was to take place at eleven o'clock,
and it now wanted but ten minutes to that hour.
The church was full of people, all on the tip-
S toe of expectation; for the bride was the belle
of the little town, and the bridegroom attached
to himself no ordinary share of interest. A sub-
dtied hum of voices filled the place, broken every
now and then when a fresh footstep sounded in
the aisle, or any fresh movement was observed.
The best man had already arrived, and stood
near the altar rails, trying his best to look com-
fortable and at ease, but failing most conspicu-
ously in the endeavour. Every now and then-







2 THE BLINDNESS OF MADE TYNDALL

between his futile attempts to fasten the top
button of his right-hand glove-he glanced un-
easily at his watch, and then slowly returned it
to his pocket. As the minutes travelled on, his
uneasiness perceptibly increased, and his fore-
head began to shine in the slanting light.
In the body of the church the hum of voices
became more and more audible. The expec-
tancy had reached a higher point of tension.
All eyes were turned in the same direction. It
wanted now but three minutes to eleven, and the
bridegroom had not yet arrived.
Where was he ? What had kept him ? Per-
haps he had been called to see some patient at
the last minute. Perhaps he had been taken ill
himself. Fred Lorrimer gave over trying to
fasten his glove, and commenced to wipe his hot
forehead. The situation had become decidedly
painful. When he promised Dr. Studley to act
as his best man, he did not expect to be left
standing the best part of ten minutes alone.
Studley had promised him faithfully to be at the
church not later than ten minutes to eleven, and
now-good heavens the clock was striking !
Up in the old tower there was a sudden whirr
of wheels, and then clang went the first stroke
of eleven. Every one ceased whispering, and
in absolute silence the slow strokes of the hour







THE CLOCK STRIKES TWELVE


were counted. As the last stroke died away the
look of curiosity on many faces. gave place to
one of concern, and the hum of voices became
more audible than ever. What could have hap-
pened to Dr. Studley ? As a medical man he
was noted for his punctuality. It was one of his
mottoes always to be in time. Hence for him to
be late on his own wedding-day was all the more
unaccountable. Something out of the common
had most certainly happened, or he would have
put in an appearance ten minutes ago.
Fred Lorrimer was perspiring as though it
had been midsummer instead of late in October,
while sundry gossips in various parts of the
church began to recite illustrations of the old
adage, that "there's many a slip twixtt cup and
lip." Indeed, most people could remember
stories they had heard or read, of wedding
arrangements that had broken down at the last
minute; of brides who had been taken ill on
their way to church; and of bridegrooms who
had mysteriously disappeared never again to be
heard of.
S Such a case, it is true, had never been known
in the history of Bexmouth, but that was no
guarantee that such a circumstance would never
occur. Perhaps Madge Tyndall had been taken
ill, and her doctor lover had been summoned







4 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

to her side; or perhaps her father, the curate,
had collapsed under the excitement; or perhaps
the doctor had been taken ill himself, or-
But further speculation was instantly arrested
by the arrival of the bride and her father, fol-
lowed by the bridesmaids. Instantly every eye
was turned upon Madge Tyndall. How sweetly
pretty she looked How well white became
her I Her eyes were bent upon the ground, and
she did not notice that her lover had not arrived.
The Rector, who had come forty miles to per-
form the ceremony as a mark of special favour,
and who had been sitting impatiently in the
vestry with the door slightly ajar, now came
upon the scene and took up his position behind
the altar rails. A moment later, confusion
reigned. Hurried whispers ran from lip to lip.
Madge grew pale to the lips and looked as if
she would faint; her father, the curate, held a
hurried consultation with the Rector, and then
with Fred Lorrimer; people in the back of the
church stood upon tiptoe and craned their
necks, and the invited guests, who occupied the
front pews, looked visibly distressed.
Fred Lorrimer, as best man, was pelted with
questions on every side; but he was able to
throw no light on the subject.
"He had not seen the bridegroom since







THE CLOCK STRIKES TWELVE


Monday afternoon; it was now Wednesday
morning. He had not been to the Doctor's
house. He had agreed to meet him at the
church at ten minutes to eleven. He could not
understand what his absence meant. He was
afraid something serious had happened, for
Studley was such a punctual man. If they
desired it, he would go to his house and make
inquiries. He would have gone before, but
he had expected every moment that the Doctor
would appear upon the scene." With much
more to the same effect.
Ultimately Fred was seen to seize his hat and
rush hurriedly from the church, while the bride
and her maids followed the curate and Rector
into the vestry. Several of the back pews in-
stantly emptied. The occupants had become
tired of sitting. Moreover, they felt that they
would be able to breathe more freely out of
doors, as well as discuss with less restraint the
topic of the moment.
Scattered over the churchyard were little knots,
mostly of fishermen, in blue jerseys and rough
pilot coats. They had been out in their boats
all night, and were now forgoing their morn-
ing's nap that they might pay their respects to
Miss Madge Tyndall on her wedding-day. It
was a glorious day for October, with a pale blue







6 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

sky and a cool, steady breeze blowing in from
the sea. Below them, slanting up from the
near side of the river, the little town looked
wonderfully bright and picturesque, but so fore-
shortened that it did not appear half its size.
Beyond the town, and on the far side of the
river, the hills rose again dotted with woods and
farmsteads, and stretched seawards for two or
three miles, terminating in what was known as
Bexpoint. Landwards the vale of Bex soon lost
itself among the hills, which, looked at from this
distance, seemed tumbled together in delightful
confusion.
It was a familiar scene to the groups in the
churchyard, but long familiarity had rendered
them indifferent to its many beauties. More-
over, just at present they had something else to
talk about. It was not every day that one so
popular as Madge Tyndall got married, and still
more rare that a stranger from some distant
part of the country took one of the Bexmouth
maidens to be his wife.
A stranger listening to the conversation of
these honest fishermen would have come to the
conclusion that the wedding was not in every
respect a popular one. Like most of the people
along that storm-swept coast, they were intensely
clannish, with an unreasonable suspicion of all







THE CLOCK STRIKES TWELVE


strangers, and a deeply-rooted conviction that
honesty was a rare virtue outside their own
borders. A few of them had travelled beyond
the bounds of their native county, but very few,
and these at exceedingly rare intervals. The
most-travelled man in their little community was
Jacob Wherry, an exporter of garden produce,
who went to London every now and then, and
to places even more distant still. Jacob was
regarded, in consequence, as something of an
oracle, and his opinion of men and things treated
with profound respect.
Jacob entered the churchyard just as the bride
and her father drove up to the gate; he did not,
however, follow them into the church, but at
once joined a group of fishermen who were
chatting a dozen yards away.
"What, not goin' inside, Jacob ?" Dan'l Udy
questioned as he drew near.
"Well, no; I think I'd rather be excused,"
Jacob answered brightly. "It's very much
pleasanter outside; don't you think so ?"
"Ay, we think so," answered two or three
voices at once. "But you be such a ladies' man,
Jacob, and in sich high favour wi' the curate."
"Oh yes, we're friendly enough," said Jacob,
straightening his necktie; "but the performance
inside-the kissin' and cryin' and all that kind







8 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

of thing-is nothing' in my line. But I'm here to
give 'em a cheer when they come out."
"We'll give her a cheer, any road," said Dan'l
Udy.
"We'll give 'em both a cheer," said Jacob.
"The Doctor's a very decent sort, no doubt,
though he be a bit furren in his ways."
"But he ain't nawthin' to be compared to
Squire Sleeman," interposed Caleb Blight.
"That may be," said Jacob reflectively. "The
Squire's one in a thousand no doubt."
"Ay, he's a grand 'un, is the Squire," con-
tinued Caleb. Seemin' to me it's a great pity
the maid couldn't be got to see it."
"Women be mighty stubborn," Dan'l Udy
observed sagely. "The more you want 'em to
do a thing, the more they won't do it. Ef her
father hadn't shown sich a terrible liking for the
Squire, it's likely enough the maid would have
took him."
"Don't know 'bout that," said Jacob slowly.
"The Doctor's terrible good-looking."
But as poor as a rat," snorted Caleb.
"So they do say, Caleb, so they do say; but
laws, maidens, when they be in love, don't care
for money nor nawthin' else."
"It's a terrible disappointment to the passion,
I reckon," Dan'l observed.







THE CLOCK STRIKES TWELVE


They say he did use bad langwidge at fust,
an' vowed he never would consent," observed
Israel Beer, who had not before spoken.
"It's no use takin' notice of what 'they say,'"
Jack observed, with an air of superior wisdom.
"But, hullo what's the meaning' of this ? Why,
there goes Lawyer Lorrimer, the Doctor's best
man. Wonder what's happened ?"
The next moment the church door opened
and twenty or thirty people came pushing out;
and then the whisper ran from group to group
that the bridegroom had failed to put in an
appearance, and that Fred Lorrimer had gone
in search of him.
The consternation was now as great outside
the church as inside. The groups broke up and
formed new combinations, and everybody was
asking everybody else what it meant.
A few wise ones, of course, shook their heads
knowingly, and pretended that they were not in
the least bit surprised.
Others counselled patience. Because the
Doctor was twenty minutes late, that was no
reason for supposing he would not turn up at all.
Caleb Blight looked relieved, and hazarded
the opinion that it would be a good thing if he
were never heard of again-that then there might
be a chance for the Squire.







Io THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

Dan'1 opined that foreigners never could be
trusted, and if women were men they never
would trust them.
Jacob said nothing, but he looked very startled
and troubled. Indeed, he looked much more
troubled than the occasion seemed to warrant.
In twenty minutes Fred Lorrimer was back
again, panting and breathless. Directly he was
seen a rush was made for him.
"What news ?" asked fifty people simultan-
eously.
"Doctor's missing !" gasped Fred. "Hasn't
been seen since Monday;" and he rushed past
them and disappeared through the vestry door.
Madge Tyndall gave a piercing shriek when
Fred burst into the vestry with his message, and
fell prostrate upon the floor, and for ten minutes
she lay as one dead.
The Rector went out into the church and
explained the situation, and asked the people to
go quietly to their homes. Then he returned to
the vestry, and assisted in restoring Madge. She
came to after a while, and they lifted her into an
easy-chair, where she sat for several minutes
with a bewildered look in her eyes, as if unable
to comprehend what had happened.
Her father and the Rector tried to get her to
talk, but without avail. Once she put out her







THE CLOCK STRIKES TWELVE II

hand with a deprecating motion; but with that
exception she never spoke or moved till the clock
struck twelve. When the last note died slowly
away, she rose to her feet.
"The marriage cannot take place now?" she
said, turning to the Rector.
"No, my child, no; it is past the hour."
"Then let us go home," and she took her
father's arm, and they walked away together.
There were no cheers as they passed down the
churchyard. But tears fell fast instead. People
uncovered their heads as though it had been a
funeral procession, and waited in silence until
the carriages drove away from the gates, then filed
slowly and silently out of the sacred enclosure,
and made their way down into the town.















CHAPTER II


FATHER AND DAUGHTER
"Mine after-life I what is mine after-life?
My day is closed The gloom of night is come I
A hopeless darkness settles o'er my fate."
-BAILLIE.

FOR several days the excitement in Bexmouth
remained at an acute stage, and heated and angry
discussions cropped up in various directions when
people attempted to defend 4he character of the
recreant bridegroom. Madge Tyndall was such
a general favourite that sympathy for her found
expression in angry denunciation of her lover.
Caleb Blight declared, with many unnecessary
adjectives, that hanging was too good for him,"
and even the travelled Jacob Wherry, who was
not supposed to take narrow and parochial views
of things, observed that "such conduct was
beneath contempt." A few people still contended
that there might be some explanation of his
conduct perfectly honourable to the missing
doctor, and that the day might come when his
character would be cleared from every stain of
X2







FATHER AND DAUGHTER


reproach. But such people were in a hopeless
minority from the very beginning. At first they
suggested that he had fallen over the cliff, or into
the Bex, and that the proper thing to do was to
search along the coast for his body; but when a
week had passed, and every search had proved
futile, they wisely held their peace, and confessed
to themselves that the case against the Doctor
began to look exceedingly black. Indeed, by
the end of a month they had nothing to say in
his defence. It was clear enough, now, that he
had not fallen over the cliffs or into the sea,
while it was highly probable that he had gone
away from Bexmouth of deliberate purpose, and
for reasons dishonourable enough, no doubt, but
known only to himself.
The grounds on which these conclusions were
based appeared more and more conclusive as
time went on. Little by little the truth leaked
out that he had left quite a number of accounts un-
paid, a number that steadily increased as the days
passed on, while the amounts went up at a rate
that astonished not a few at the gullibility of the
Bexmouth tradesmen. Before a month was out,
it was demonstrated to nearly everybody's satis-
faction that he was hopelessly and irretrievably in
debt, and that he could not have remained in Bex-
mouth much longer without a painful exposure.







14 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL
It further transpired that the story he told
Fred Lorrimer, as well as Madge Tyndall, that
he was going to visit certain people in a distant
town the day before his marriage, was pure fab-
rication. Inquiries instituted among the people,
and in the town named, proved conclusively
enough that he had not been near the place.
While, if further proof of the man's perfidy
were needed, it was discovered that only three
days before his flight he had converted certain
scrip into cash, and had taken all available
money with him.
In face of evidence like this, his friends-
supposing he had any-were compelled to hold
their peace. Even Fred Lorrimer found it con-
venient to keep silence, but whether he remained
perfectly unconvinced was.not quite clear.
But upon poor Madge Tyndall the cruellest
burden was laid. If he had died, if he had
fallen into the river or over the cliffs, and so
perished, her loss would have been compara-
tively easy to bear. Then she would have known
the truth, and all doubt and speculation would
have been set at rest for ever. For days and
weeks she searched the cliffs, and wandered up
and down the coast for miles and miles, and
hoped and prayed that the "cruel, crawling
waves" would bring in her dead lover and lay








FATHER AND DAUGHTER


him at her feet. But her anguished prayer re-
mained unanswered, and out of the great silence
there came no voice of comfort.
In the evening, when the lamps were lighted,
she would often steal down the garden path
and, leaning upon the garden gate, would live
the past over again. It was there she had seen
him last. They had stood together under the
silent stars, and talked of that love-lit future
that lay before them bright and beautiful.
"The day after to-morrow, Madge," he had
said, "and you will be mine for ever and ever."
And she had leaned her head against his shoulder
with a sense of delicious peace. In her heart
there was no shadow of misgiving. She had
given him all her love and trusted him with
perfect confidence.
S "To-morrow I shall not see you, darling,"
he had said. "I am going to Kesbrook, and it
will be late when I get back; but on Wednesday
morning we shall meet in the dear old church,
and then, oh then- "
And his kiss was warm and pure upon her
brow, and his eyes were full of the light of love.
She had thought herself then the happiest
girl on earth. Her lover was so handsome, so
strong, so good. A little reserved he might
appear to others, with a manner that gave but







16 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

scant encouragement to those who were fond
of indulging in familiarities; yet with a counte-
nance so frank and open, and a smile all the
sweeter because of his general gravity, that to
her he seemed the perfection of all manly grace
and goodness.
It was a surprise and pain to her that people
were so ready to condemn him, so eager to
think the worst and say the worst. She could
excuse them on one ground only: they did not
know Frank Studley as she knew him. Surely
if they knew him, if they had looked into his
clear, fearless eyes as she had done, they would
be more generous in their thoughts of him, more
charitable in their speech.
So she cherished his image in her heart still,
and prayed for strength to bear her burden.
Leaning on the garden gate, with the friendly
stars looking down upon her, and the wash and
moan of the waves in her ears, she felt as though
her lover were still near her, and heard again the
deep thrilling tones of his voice. But in all this'
she got no sympathy from others. In her home
Dr. Studley's name was not mentioned now.
Anything that would even suggest his name
would make her father angry and irritable for
a whole day. At -first, of course, his name came
up constantly, and night after night her father







FATHER AND DAUGHTER 17

tried to reason her into a better frame of mind.
Unmindful of her tears and expostulations, he
would persist in presenting his view of the case,
and when she protested, he got angry and talked
her down.
"Your Dr. Studley is a scoundrel," he said,
with flaming eyes.
"No, father, no. Don't say that," she pleaded.
"But I do say it," he replied, and I can prove
it. I mistrusted the fellow from the first, and,
as you know, reluctantly gave my consent to the
engagement."
But that was because you had other designs
upon me, and Dr. Studley was poor."
Other designs, indeed, but not selfish designs.
SMadge, you are my first-born, and I have desired
only your well-being. Your happiness is more
to me than my own.",
"Then, father, why do you hurt me so ? Why
Sdo you say such cruel things-- ?"
"I say only what is truth," he interposed.
"That man has insulted us all. In wronging
you he has wronged me. In trifling with your
affections and openly jilting you, he has dis-
graced the whole family. The insult is too deep
ever to be effaced."
"But father, he may not have intended it. He
. may be the unwilling victim of some cruel fate,








18 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

or, what is more likely, he is sleeping out there
in the great sea, entangled among the seaweeds
and-"
"Oh, don't talk sentiment and nonsense to
me," he snapped. "Sleeping among the sea-
weeds, indeed! More likely he is making love
to some other girl in some other part of the
country."
She put out her hands to him appealingly.
"Please don't," she wailed. If you love me,
spare me such cruel words."
"I would not willingly pain you, Madge," he
said in milder tones. "And yet it is necessary
to give pain sometimes. You must know the
truth, however much it hurts you."
"I do know the truth," she said wearily;
"please let me be in peace."
"I cannot, I will not," he said, his eyes flashing
again. "There can be no peace for you or
recovery while you hug such a delusion. The
sooner you can be made to see that the man is a
villain the better for all concerned."
"But you cannot make me see it," she said
with energy. "Assertion is not proof."
"Proof ?" he demanded fiercely ; "what
proof would you have ? "
As yet, there has been no proof at all," she
said firmly.







FATHER AND DAUGHTER


He turned from her with a gesture of im-
patience. His temper was gaining the mastery
again, and he was anxious to appear cool and
collected. He had a difficult task to perform,
and getting angry would be fatal to its achieve-
ment. For several moments he did not speak.
Then turning round he said quietly, "You ask
for proof. Has he not gone away without
paying his debts ?"
"And what of that ?" she demanded. "Sup-
pose you were to fall into the sea and get
drowned, would you leave no bills unpaid ?"
"But he was hopelessly in debt, over head
and ears, in fact."
"Who says so ?"
"Everybody says so."
"That is mere gossip. What proof have
you ?"
"Madge, you are too provoking," he said, with
suppressed anger. "Did he not tell you and
Fred Lorrimer that he was going to see some
people at Kesbrook, and he never went near
the place ?"
"And pray what has that to do with it ?"
she asked defiantly. "If you were intending to
visit Kesbrook to-morrow, would you send word
to-day that you were going ? And if you got
drowned to-day could you go to-morrow ?"







20 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

"Drowned be-" then he checked himself
and clenched his fists.
"Do you know," he said at length, "that he
converted some scrip into money only a day or
two previously, and that he walked off with all
the ready cash he could lay hands on ?"
If you were going to be married and wanted
ready-money would you not have done the
same ?" she asked. In all this there is not one
shred of proof that he was dishonourable."
"You think so ?" he said, with bitter scorn.
I do," she answered, with flashing eyes.
"Then I may as well be silent. It is evident
you cannot reason. Arguments are thrown away
on you. Some day I hope you will come to
your senses;" and he turned and left the room.
After that day-the subject was allowed to drop,
and Madge was permitted to pursue her sunless
way unmolested. For several weeks she shunned
the town. She could not bear to meet people.
Their pitying eyes unnerved her. She knew she
had their sympathy, and that was a comfort to
her. But she wanted no expression of it. Be-
sides, while they sympathised with her, most of
them had only hard thoughts and cruel words
for him who had passed out of sight, who was
sleeping, perhaps, in some deep hollow not a
hundred yards from the shore; and she resented







FATHER AND DAUGHTER


every whisper that reflected on him. So she
shunned all society, and took long walks alone,
on the cliffs and on the beach. November came
with fogs and storms, but neither the one nor the
other deterred her. She knew she ran consider-
able risks, for the cliffs were always dangerous
in high winds, and more dangerous still when
fogs lay thick on sea and land. But she had no
fear. Life had become a joyless thing, and death
had lost its terror.
Now and then the shadow of a doubt would
flit swiftly across her mind, but it was only a
shadow at most, and would quickly disappear.
But a shadow implies substance, and when the
shadow flitted past, the doubt could not be far
away. If her lover were in reality drowned, it
was strange, almost beyond precedent, that the
sea should hide him so long. And if he were
not drowned, then what had become of him ?
What she longed to discover most was proof
of his death. If he were alive, then all that her
father had said was true. But no, he could not
be alive. Bitter as the thought of his death was
to her, it was infinitely better than the thought
of his dishonour. And so she searched for his
body as one searching for hidden treasure. Her
only consolation was in the thought that her
lover was no more.
















CHAPTER III


JACOB WHERRY'S SECRET
"One eye-witness weighs
More than ten hear-says. Seeing is believing
All the world over."
-PLAUTUS.

EARLY in January, Jacob Wherry returned from
London with a piece of news that created no
little stir. At first it was whispered to one person
only as a profound secret, but the person re-
ferred to found the burden of it too great to be
borne alone, and she took two of her neighbours
into her confidence, pledging them beforehand
to absolute secrecy. The same evening six
others were taken into confidence, and by nine
o'clock on the following morning twenty-three
people knew the secret, every one of them
pledged in the most solemn manner not to
divulge it. By noon the number had increased
to eighty-seven, and by sundown it had grown
to four hundred and fifty. Before bed-time
everybody in the town knew it, and it was dis-
cussed north, south, east, and west with much
22







JACOB WHERRY'S SECRET 23

animation, but always as a profound secret that
must not on any account be allowed to travel
any farther.
The Rev. Scott Tyndall, in visiting among his
flock, heard many versions of the secret, and
being anxious to know the exact truth, invited
Jacob Wherry to his house that he might hear
the story first-hand.
Jacob sidled into the minister's study with
much seeming reluctance, and intimated at once,
in the presence of Madge and her mother, "That
he would much rather say nothing about it, that
he was very sorry he had mentioned the matter
at all, and that he had intended it to be kept as
an absolute secret."
"Wait a moment, Jacob," said the curate, in
his severest pulpit tone. I am not quite ready
for you yet. Take a seat and make yourself
comfortable. And you, Madge, had better go
into the dining-room to the children. What Mr.
Wherry has to say might be somewhat painful to
you, and I have no wish- "
"If it is something I am interested in I would
rather stay," Madge interposed.
"But I prefer you did not," the curate said
sternly.
"Very good." And Madge took up her work
and quietly left the room. She did not close the







24 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

door after her, however, nor was it closed by
those who remained.
The hall was quite dark when she stepped
across it, so she came back a minute later with a
lighted taper and proceeded to light the lamp.
She had no intention of staying or listening, and
yet she did both, held by a spell which she could
not resist, and which rendered her for the
moment unconscious of what she was doing.
It was the mention of her lover's name that
attracted her attention. Jacob Wherry was
speaking in anything but modulated tones, and
in the hall his words could be heard as distinctly
as in the minister's study.
I ain't waun of them as has gone round sayin'
hard things agin Dr. Studley, I ain't;" and Jacob
coughed slightly and cleared his throat, while
Madge let the taper fall-which instantly went
out-and grasped the stair banister for support.
She felt that some revelation was about to be
made, and whatever the consequences might be,
she could but listen.
"Quite right, Jacob," the curate said encour-
agingly. "You are generally looked upon as a
very cautious man."
"No, 'tain't that," Jacob replied deprecat-
ingly; "I only speaks of people as I find 'em;
and I said to myself at the time, I did, that there







JACOB WHERRY'S SECRET 25

was a big 'if' in the case, and it weren't right to
be too hard on the Doctor till we was sartin;
and between ourselves, Mr. Tyndall, I rather
liked the young gent, I did. He were very
handsome and fair-spoken, and there ain't no
denyin' of it, there ain't."
"Yes, that is all right," the curate said, a little
impatiently; "but to your story, Jacob."
"That is what I'm a-doin' of, sir, or trying' to
do," Jacob replied; "but not bein' gifted with
speech, it don't come aisy like, as it does to you,
who'm in the perfession. But to get on, as the
snail said to the magpie. I was in London last
week on business."
"Yes, I quite understand."
"You know Covenant Gardens, sir, very likely
-a terrible busy place. There was some store
of vegetables there last week, sir, a terrible store.
It's wonderful where all them garden crops do
come from, it is for sure; and it's that as keeps
the prices down so; profits are terrible small
these times, sir, they be indeed."
"So I have-heard you say before, Jacob, but
never mind that now."
"Well, as I was a-sayin', I was at Covenant
Gardens on business, though why it's called
gardens I never could make out, for there ain't
nawthin' anything like gardens nowhere near








26 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

it. It's all paved like a street right round, and
a purty dirty street at that."
"Yes, yes, I quite understand; but what hap-
pened after you had transacted your business ?"
"That's the very thing I'm a-coming to, sir.
I'd left the gardens, as I was a-sayin,' and was
coming along Drury Lane-you've been in Drury
Lane most likely, sir ?"
"No, I don't think so; but never mind that
now."
"Well, believe me, it ain't waun bit like a lane,
not waun bit, sir. I never could understand the
foolishness of London people calling' places Lanes
and Gardens and Strands, and all them things,
when they're not no more like the things their-
selves than a wheelbarrow's like a furze rick."
"Just so, just so, Jacob," the curate said irri-
tably. "Please go on."
"That's what I'm a-doin', sir. Think of a lane
without no hedges, nor a blade of grass growing'
nowhere, nor yet so much as a blackberry bush.
Don't you think, sir, them Londoners be terrible
foolish 'bout some things ?"
"It's possible, Jacob; but that's neither here
nor there."
"Well, I was goin' along the street called
Drury Lane, an' a terrible dirty street 'tes, too,
in Janiwary. Folks may talk 'bout our Fore








JACOB WHERRY'S SECRET 27

Street as much as they like, but you believe me,
sir-"
Oh, never mind our Fore Street now, Jacob;
tell me what happened in Drury Lane."
"Yes, sir, that's what I'm a-doin'. To make
a long story short, I was walking' slow like-for
I don't believe in them London ways of always
a-hurryin' as if your house was on fire; it nearly
takes your breath away to look at 'em, sir. From
the biggest of 'em to the least they're in waun
everlastin' tear."
"Yes, yes, but that's their concern."
"So 'tes, sir, and so their hurryin' ways don't
make no difference to me. But let me see,
where was I ?"
"You said you were walking along Drury
Lane."
"Oh yes; well, so I was. And to make a long
story short, and to bring it to a hend, as the
cobbler said to the bristle, I comed face to face
with Dr. Studley."
Madge gave a little gasp and sat down on the
stairs.
"You are quite sure ?" the curate questioned
anxiously.
"Quite sure ? I'm as sure as I'm sitting' on this
here chair. I saw him afore he came up, and
knowed him in a instant. He was looking' very








28 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

well, too, with a smart and well-set-up young lady
by his side."
"You are prepared to swear to that fact ?"
"Well, sir, I'm not fond of swearing, but I'll
take my Bible oath on it any time."
"That will do. And did you speak to him ?"
"I did, sir-you trust me' for that. And I
gived him a piece of my mind, too."
Well ?"
"Well, he looked some astonished at first,
he did, for sure; and then he began to laugh.
And the young woman looked on and laughed
too."
"No, surely ?"
"It's the gospel truth, sir. He was as brazen
as anything, and asked me if I didn't think it
were a fine joke, and sent his respects to the
young lady and hoped she had sense enough to
keep the presents."
At this poor Madge gave a groan that might
have been heard all over the house. No one,
however, heeded her. The curate and his wife
were too intent on Jacob's story to pay attention
to anything else.
"The scoundrel!" muttered Mr. Tyndall, with
suppressed rage. But I knew it from the first.
Poor Madge, how she has been deceived !"
"I couldn't have believed it of him," Jacob







JACOB WHERRY'S SECRET 29

interposed, "if I hadn't seen and heard him with
my own personal senses, as it were."
"And have you repeated the conversation you
had with this Studley to others ?" the curate
asked.
"No, sir. I only told Mary Boundy as how
I had seen Dr. Studley. I didn't intend for
nobody to know 'b8ut it, but Mary let it out."
"Well, say nothing to anybody, Jacob. We
must keep the worst from Madge if possible.
Of course, she will get to hear that the fellow
is living in London, but that is all she need
know."
"Just so, sir. And I'm very glad you've given
me the chance of telling you the whole story.
It's been a great load on my mind, sir, a very great
load, and a great grief, for I were somewhat fond
of the young man, I confess I were. But how we
do get deceived in this world, sir !"
"Unfortunately, that is so, Jacob," the curate
said slowly and reflectively. "Yes, we do get
deceived. But I have detained you a long time,
Jacob. I really am much obliged to you."
"Oh, don't mention it," Jacob answered with
dignity. I'll be always glad to render you any
service;" and he rose slowly to his feet and made
for the door.
Madge, realising that the conference was at an








30 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

end, gathered up all her strength and dragged
herself upstairs to her bedroom, and shut and
bolted the door.
The worst had happened, and she was not
prepared for it. She had believed in her lover
in spite of everything. The memory of his
words had been her most precious heritage dur-
ing the past months of darkness and pain. To
dream of him, to recall his face and voice, had
been her greatest pleasure. She had slept with
his portrait under her pillow, and had anticipated
the time when they would meet again beyond the
shadows of earth, and the pain of separation be
at an end for ever.
But that was at an end now. Her idol was
shattered. Her hero and saint stood revealed
a traitor and villain. His memory was an offence
to her; his name had become the synonym of
treachery and lies. Her faith was dead-killed
at one sudden blow; her hope had gone out in
utter darkness; her joy had turned to ashes in
her mouth.
Oh, it was cruel beyond her furthest thought
that the man she had so loved and trusted, whose
eyes seemed to have such depths of honesty and
truth, whose words rang with so much apparent
sincerity, whose hands had held hers so often
and so long, whose lips had been as nectar to







JACOB WHERRY'S SECRET 31

her own ; that he of all others should be so
base, so cowardly, so wickedly cruel.
How stubbornly she had resisted her father's
contention, how bitterly she had resented the
gossip of her neighbours, how steadfastly she
had believed in him through all! now she must
hide herself in humility and shame, and confess
that she had given her love to a fiend in human
shape.
Throwing herself upon her bed she moaned
aloud in the anguish of her heart, and almost
wondered if her reason were not leaving her.
Then a knock came to the door, and she
roused herself in a moment.
"They shall not guess that I know," she said
to herself. "I have resisted so long that surely
now I shall be able to keep silence."
I am coming," she called in a voice strangely
unlike her own. And she went and plunged
her hands and face in cold water, and made
a desperate effort to put out of her mind the
conversation she had heard.
She did not know how much all this exhausted
her strength. She only felt that it would be
humiliating to capitulate at once. She had
borne her grief bravely, and she was resolved
to bear her humiliation with equal courage.
Her father and mother were too self-absorbed







32 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL
to notice how pale she was, and h'ow fiercely the
fire burned in her eyes. She went about her
household duties with the same quiet grace and
ease that always characterized her, but she paid
the penalty of her bravery in the days that
followed.
















CHAPTER IV


MIND AND BODY

"Faults in the life breed errors in the brain,
And these reciprocally those again;
The mind and conduct mutually imprint
And stamp their image in each other's mint."
-COWPER

MADGE managed to keep on her feet for nearly
a week, and then she suddenly collapsed. Her
mother found her in their little drawing-room
one morning in a dead faint; and when the
doctor arrived he insisted that she should be
taken to bed at once. He knew her story-had
noticed with alarm her gradually-wasting cheeks
and the growing brightness of her eyes-and so
was not at all surprised, or, if surprised, it was
that she had managed to keep on her feet so
long.
When Madge awoke to consciousness, and
found herself lying in her own bed helpless and
exhausted, she gave a little sigh and quietly
resigned herself to the inevitable. Her will had
broken down at last, her brave little heart had
33 C







34 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL
been conquered. "I shall die now," was the
thought that passed through her mind; "and I
am very glad. It will be easier to die, and be
at rest, than live and bear all this pain and
humiliation."
She was very patient, and took without com-
plaining all the medicine that was given her,
but nothing seemed to do her any good. Day
by day she grew weaker and more helpless, while
to make the case more difficult still, brain fever
threatened, and with the utmost difficulty was
kept at bay.
The doctor shook his head and looked dis-
tressed. His patient had no hope, no desire to
get better. In that lay his chief difficulty. The
medicine he gave could not touch the troubles
of the mind, or heal a broken heart. If she
could only be induced to rouse herself, to take
an interest in life or in the world, there would
still be a chance for her, but in her present state
she was simply "slipping through his fingers,"
and he had no power to hold her back.
Her father was in great distress, and blamed
himself very bitterly for speaking to her so
harshly as he had done. He was not a hopeful
man. Life had gone too hardly with him for
that. If there should be two sides to a picture
he generally managed to look on the dark side.







MIND AND BODY


In the pulpit he preached the gospel of hope,
because it was his duty to do so; but he never
managed to preach it in hopeful tones. He was
forty-six, and still a curate, with less prospect of
promotion now than there had been twenty years
before. He had six children, the youngest only
two years old, and the daily struggle to make
both ends meet had become more and more
trying as the years had lengthened and the family
had increased. He had seen his wife grow old
before her time, had watched with pain her hair
grow thin and her eyes lose their lustre. She
had been pretty enough when he married her.
He used to admire her from the pulpit, when
she sat demurely in her pew, and think what a
lovely creature she was. That was before the
wedding took place.
But twenty years had wrought many changes.
In some lives the changes had been good and
earnestly longed for. He had seen people grow
out of poverty into wealth, out of obscurity into
prominence, out of neglect into fame. But such
changes had not been for him. He had hoped
and striven as other men had done, but fortune's
favours had never come his way. Every change
had taken something out of his life and given
nothing in return. He was poorer now than he
was twenty years ago, poorer in spirit, poorer in







36 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL
hope, poorer in faith. There had been a time
when, in face of threatened disaster, he was able
at least to hope for the best; but even that
solace was denied him now. The power to
look on the bright side had departed. In his
deepening winter he saw no promise of the
spring.
So when Madge fell ill, and the doctor ad-
mitted that her case was serious, he gave up hope
at once. He had built so much upon Madge.
To a large extent he had leaned upon her, and
for some vague and undefined reason he had
always imagined that if ever better fortune
came to him it would come through her. But
with the first hint of danger his faith and
hope went by the board. The fates were against
him. Providence had singled him out for mis-
fortune.
He spent hours each day in her room, but he
rarely spoke. His heart was too full for speech,
his despair too deep. He saw his best-loved
child slipping away from him, but he made no
outward sign. What was the use of complain-
ing ? Nothing he could do or say would alter
anything. He would have to submit in any case,
and he could at least do that in silence.
Old Dr. Hendy got angry with him at length,
and protested that unless he bestirred himself,







MIND AND BODY


and tried to rouse his daughter, no power on
earth could save her.
But what can I say ?" said the curate, with a
surprised look in his eyes.
"Say anything that will awaken hope in her
heart or interest in life. I tell you she must be
aroused if she is to get better."
"I fear she won't get better," said the poor
man. "Every change that comes to me takes
something and gives nothing in return."
"Why, bless me, you are as hopeless as she
is," said the doctor, "and you a clergyman!"
"My being a clergyman has nothing to do
with it," was the quiet reply. Hope, like every-
thing else, must have something to feed upon if
it is to live."
"And you have nothing to say to her that will
cheer her up ?"
"I am sorry I have nothing. What is there
to cheer one in a life of struggle such as mine
has been ?"
"But doesn't religion meet such a case, and
all such cases ?" queried the doctor.
"It should do so, I grant. But Madge will
not get better, so why trouble her ? Better let
her die in peace."
"I don't believe in letting folks die if there is
a chance of saving them, especially young folks.







38 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL
Heavens! there ought to be no death except to
the old. Death ought to come by slow and
painless decay. When the young die there's
been a mistake made somewhere, and it will be
a mistake if your daughter dies."
"If Heaven has willed it, we cannot keep her,"
was the solemn reply.
"My dear fellow, believe me, Heaven has
willed nothing so stupid," snapped the old
doctor, and turning quickly round he hurried
back into the sick-room.
"Look here, Madge Tyndall," he said, in hard,
stern tones, "you've got to get better; and, what
is more, you've got to make haste about it."
Madge opened her eyes wearily, while a smile
spread itself over her face like a gleam of sun-
shine, but she made no reply.
"Did you hear what I said ?" the old doctor
asked, in the same tone of voice.
"Oh yes, doctor," came the quiet reply.
"But I shall not get better. I've felt it from
the first."
"Then you had no right to feel it," he said
bluntly. People have no business to feel such
things. Do you think you have a right to
commit suicide ?"
"What do you mean, doctor ?" she asked,
with a startled look in her eyes.







MIND AND BODY


"I mean that you are simply letting yourself
die because you won't make an effort to get
better. And I say it's wrong and sinful."
"Sinful, doctor?" she questioned, looking
still more startled.
"Yes, sinful. There's no reason why you
should not get well. There's no disease about
you now-not a bit. But because you've been
disappointed, you want to slip out of the world,
and it's selfish and wrong.
"Oh no, doctor," she said, the tears coming
into her eyes; "I have done everything you
have told me."
"And you've to go on doing it; and I tell
you, now, you have to get better, and make no
mistake about it."
But why should I get better ? I have nothing
to live for," she said wearily.
"Nothing to live for?" he said sternly. "That
is not true, and if you don't know it, it is quite
time some one told you. Think of your father.
He is breaking his heart about you, and if any-
thing happens to him, what is to become of your
mother and the children ?"
"But we are all in God's hands," she said
wearily.
"And God meant us to live our life, my dear,"
he answered more kindly.







40 THE BLINDNESS OF MADE TYNDALL

"But what can I do? I have taken the
medicine regularly, and tried to be patient."
"Yes, yes, that's so; fact is, you've been too
patient by half. I should like to see you getting
cross and vexing yourself about things. Now,
you must rouse yourself a bit. You can if you
try. Why, if you don't get better, folks'll say
you turned coward, and died because a worthless
fellow jilted you."
"No, they will not say that."
"They will, and what's more, I shall back
them up in it."
"But that would be very wrong," she said,
with more energy than she had yet shown.
Not a bit of it, my dear," he answered quickly.
"The wrong would be with you. You've been
in bed nearly three weeks, and it's time you
were getting better. And what's more, you've
got to! Now, good afternoon. I'll see you
again to-morrow." And picking up his gloves,
he hurried out of the room.
If Dr. Hendy's sole object was to arouse his
patient, there can be no doubt he succeeded
admirably. Madge found it impossible to sink
back into the old state of mental and physical
lethargy. Both brain and heart had been stirred.
It was no longer a matter of necessity that she
should lie still and quietly die. For weeks she







MIND AND BODY


had regarded it as a religious duty to prepare
for death; now she felt as though some one
had taken her by the shoulders and turned her
right about face, and told her to prepare for
life. Unconsciously, from that moment, her
thoughts began to run in another channel. She
began to think about her father, about her home
duties, about her Sunday-school class, about her
old people whom she had neglected so long
-about fifty other things all connected with
the present life. And some of the things she
thought about stirred her pulse to quicker
measure, and brought a tinge of colour to
her wasted cheek. The suggestion of the old
doctor that she was playing the coward and
dying because a man had "jilted her" made
her feel a little angry. She never had know-
ingly played the coward yet, and she was not
going to do so now.
When the doctor called next day, he found
a marked change in her condition. She had
gained no physical strength, but she had shaken
her mind free from the morbid thoughts that
had oppressed her so long. By the following
day she had come to the conclusion that she
was going to get better, and from that day her
strength began to come back.
March came in that year like a lamb, with







42 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL
blue skies and south winds and warm sunshine.
Madge stole quietly into the garden, looking
very wan and pale, but with a more hopeful
light in her eyes than had been seen there for a
long time past. She had had a long battle, but
it was over now, and she had gained the victory.
Each day she extended her walks a little farther
until she was able to get down to the beach and
listen to the waves singing the old songs, and
watch the sea-gulls across the bay wheeling
round the heights of Bex Point.
How beautiful everything looked in the bril-
liant sunshine how full of joy and hope was
every sound It was almost worth being ill for,
to feel the bliss of returning health and strength.
She began to realise, as she had never done
before, what a blessed thing mere existence was.
Simply to live and breathe was a delight. She
had lived in Bexmouth all her life, within sound
of the mighty sea; but she began to fancy she
had never appreciated the beauties of the place
until now; never heard till now the glorious
music of the deep. Sorrow and suffering had
awakened into life her deeper- nature. Four
months before she was merely a light-hearted,
inexperienced girl. Now she was a woman with
capabilities undreamed of then.
When the sunshine and the sea breezes began








MIND AND BODY


to bring the colour back to her cheeks, people
said that she looked bonnier than she had ever
done before.
This was the thought, too, of John Sleeman
as he watched her from a hollow under the
cliff, as she strolled leisurely up and down the
beach not a hundred yards away. He had come
down from London on the previous evening
for his usual month at Bexmouth. For the
last five years he had come every spring and
autumn, and during the last two years he had
taken a month or two in the summer as well.
Squire Sleeman, as he was called by the natives,
was always certain of a welcome at Bexmouth.
He was one of themselves. He had lived there
as a boy. He had gone to London and made
a tremendous fortune by his own exertions.
He had become a great man and they were
proud of him. And when he came in the spring
to escape the east winds, they showed in a
hundred ways how delighted they were to see
him. This year he arrived a fortnight later than
usual, and it was feared that he would not come
at all.
Perhaps the only one in Bexmouth who did
not want to see him was Madge Tyndall. A
year ago he had pressed her very hard to be
his wife, and she had refused him for Dr.







44 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL
Studley, and naturally she was not at all wish-
ful to see him just now.
She had no idea that his eyes were upon her
as she walked up and down the beach, and he
was careful not to reveal himself. If he were
ever to win her, it would not be by any pre-
cipitate action. He would have to "bide his
time" and let patience do its perfect work. So
he watched her complacently enough while she
kept in sight. And when she left the beach
he returned to his hotel with a smile upon his
lips.
















CHAPTER V


REVIVING HOPES
"True hope is swift, and flies with swallow's wings;
Kings it makes gods, and meaner creatures kings."
-SHAKESPEARE.

JOHN SLEEMAN waited a whole week before he
showed himself to Madge. She heard, of course,
that he was in Bexmouth. She heard the day
after his arrival when she came back from her
walk; she learned, too, that her father had invited
him up to dinner, and that he had excused him-
self for a few days. Madge was duly grateful
for these trifling considerations. John Sleeman
went up considerably in her estimation. He had
more refinement than she had credited him with.
She blamed herself for not thinking better of
him in days gone by. He was not so well edu-
cated, nor so clever, nor so handsome, nor so
young as Dr. Studley; but a good solid character
was worth a great deal. Indeed, it was worth
everything. Mere showy accomplishments might
be very attractive, but unless they were backed
45







46 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

up by moral qualities they were only so much
tinsel. In this light John Sleeman looked well.
Everybody had a good word to say of him. He
was steady, industrious, honest, persevering. By
dint of his own exertions he had earned wealth
and position. And when he came back to his
native town he did not put on airs and look
scorn on the humble folks he had known in the
years gone by. He was just as natural as when
he was a nobody.
"He ain't got not waun bit ov pride," said
Jacob Wherry one afternoon, as he leaned
against the wall of the jetty, enjoying the warm
sunshine. "Not waun bit. Why, when he met
me yesterday he just pulled off his glove to
shake hands with me as if I was the Dook of
Portugal."
"Ay, that's 'im to a T," observed Dan'l Udy.
"He ain't like none of they furreners an' up-
country chaps, which you never do knaw when
you've got 'em. As I do say, Squire Sleeman is
waun of our oan; we do knaw 'im."
." Iss, Dan'l, that's true," remarked Israel Beer.
"They up-country fellas be as slippery as eels-
if you catch 'em you caant howld 'em. Look at
that doctor chap as played fast an' loose with
the curate's maid."
"Look at 'im ?" said Dan'l, with quiet scorn.







REVIVING HOPES


"I'd like to have the chance-I'd like to duck
him this blessed minit."
"My friend, you're not likely to get the
chance," said Jacob patronisingly. "He's took
a berth as ship's doctor in one of they big ships
as sails to Austrailia."
"Are you sure ?" asked two or three voices.
"Sartin. A friend of mine saw him on board.
Oh, he's clever, though he be so mean."
"He'll come to some bad end, you mark
my words," said Dan'l solemnly. "But as I do
say, it was a lucky squeak for Miss Madge; an'
p'r'aps there'll be a chance for the Squire now."
"Well, I don't know," Jacob observed sagely.
"Maidens be terrible wilful things, terrible wilful;
and when they do take on they be terrible blind,
too. Now they do say that Miss Madge caant
see no good in Squire Sleeman no road."
"So I've heerd," Israel interposed. "She must
be terrible near-sighted."
"In matters of them sort she's as blind as a
bat," said Dan'l with energy. "But she's had
a eye-opener lately; perhaps she'll see different
now."
"The Squire es one as grows on you," re-
marked Caleb Blight, at this point. "The more
you do knaw 'im the more you do like 'im.
He ain't as smart set-up like as Dr. Studley- "







48 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

"No, but he's got the quality," thundered
Dan'l.
"That's what I was goin' to say," said Caleb,
"and when the curate's maid gets to know 'im
proper, she'll see they qualities which she's blind
to now."
It's to be hoped so, anyhow," Israel chimed
in, "for the Squire es very free wi' his money
when he do come down, but if he was to marry
a up-country wife, Bexmouth wouldn't see much
more of 'im."
This sentiment was generally approved, and
then the little group dispersed. But the blind-
ness of Madge Tyndall to the excellences of
Squire Sleeman came up again and again for
discussion, not only among the fishermen, but
among their wives and among the tradespeople
as well.
The little dinner which the curate gave passed
off very pleasantly. John Sleeman was just a
shade quieter than usual, but, on the whole,
reserve became him better than speech. He
was politely attentive to Madge, but no more.
Most of his conversation he addressed to his
host, with an occasional remark to Madge or
her mother. The curate looked a little dis-
tressed. He was afraid that the Squire's love
for his daughter had died out, in which case







REVIVING HOPES


the hope that had begun to revive again in
his heart of late was once more doomed to
disappointment. Madge, however, looked re-
lieved; she had anticipated the dinner with many
misgivings. To be compelled to talk to John
Sleeman was always an annoyance to her, and
so, naturally, she was grateful that he relieved
her of the necessity.
The gentlemen had a long conversation over
their cigars, and, to the curate, a deeply-interest-
ing one. John Sleeman talked much more freely
when the ladies were out of the way. He was
even led on to talk about himself-about his
prospects and enterprises during which he
dropped a few sentences in a casual way that
gave the curate's heart quite a flutter, and made
him doubly anxious to regard him in the light
of a son.
But a fresh difficulty now presented itself.
It really seemed-judging by the Squire's con-
duct that he had ceased to care for his
daughter. He had been in Bexmouth a week,
and to-night was the first time he had spoken
to her. Nor was his greeting remarkable for its
warmth. Indeed, he seemed quite indifferent.
He was just polite at dinner as any stranger
might be, and even now manifested no desire
to adjourn to the drawing-room.







50 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

The curate grew hot and cold by turns. He
felt that a great deal was at stake. For twenty
years he had struggled with constantly-increasing
poverty. For twenty years he had hoped for
preferment in vain. He was growing old and
grey in the service of the Church, and to be still
only a curate was very disappointing. In only
one way could he see deliverance-a union be-
tween John Sleeman and Madge would change
the whole complexion of his life. Sleeman was
rich beyond the dreams of avarice, and was as
influential as he was rich. But if Sleeman no
longer cared for Madge-why, then all his hopes
were at an end.
He ordered his last bottle of port to be brought
up from the small cellar. It cost him a pang,
for, as far as he could see, it would be long
before he could fill its place again. But he was
bound to get at the truth if possible, and the
Squire always talked more freely when under
the genial influence of wine.
Sleeman drained his glass at a gulp and laid
it down; the curate only sipped his. He was at
a loss how to begin a conversation that would
lead up to what he desired, and yet he could not
afford to let such a favourable opportunity pass.
Time, however, was passing, and after a pre-
liminary cough, and a vigorous poke at the







REVIVING HOPES


fire, he said, in a would-be careless way, "My
daughter Madge still looks pale. Don't you
think so, Mr. Sleeman ?"
"Well, really," was the reply, "I could not
help thinking at dinner how well she looks."
"Perhaps she was a little excited," the curate
said. "Your presence would naturally account
for that."
Do you think so? No, don't flatter me. I
believe she is quite indifferent."
"Oh, nonsense 1" was the half-joking reply,
"a stranger would say the indifference was on
your side."
"Really !"
"I am quite serious. You seem to have got
over your passion."
"Then let me assure you it is not so. I am
more deeply in love with your daughter than
ever; I thought to-night she looked perfectly
lovely."
"She's a very beautiful girl," the curate said,
with a distant look in his eyes, for visions of
ease and preferment loomed suddenly before
him, and the narrow and barely-furnished room
in which they sat melted for the moment into
thin air.
"Do you think there is any hope for me?"
Sleeman asked, at length in very humble tones.








52 THE BLINDNESS OF MADE TYNDALL

"I know I am not exactly young, nor have I the
style of those young fellows who have had early
advantages. I have only a true honest heart to
offer."
The curate's eyes grew moist. The man's
simple honesty and sincerity touched him. Apart
from his wealth, he liked Sleeman as a man.
There was something so transparent about him,
so.genuinely honest, so free from cant.
If you still love my daughter," the curate
answered, "I see no present reason why you
may not win her. I need not tell you what
pleasure it would give me to see her your wife."
"It is very good of you to say so," Sleeman
answered simply. "And yet I doubt if ever she
will get to care for me."
"Of course that remains to be proved," the
curate answered. "Anyhow, there is no one
else now to take her attention, and after her
recent experience she is not likely to be carried
away by mere appearances again."
"And that tells in my favour, you think ?"
"I mean no reflection," the curate answered
hastily. "I simply wanted to point out that
after such an experience, real excellences are
bound to tell."
"But you would not advise me to be in a
hurry ?"







REVIVING HOPES


"No I don't be precipitate. You have begun
exceedingly well. If she thinks at first that you
don't care, it may be the better for you. Now
let us join them in the drawing-room."
The rest of the evening proved somewhat tame.
Madge was not altogether at her ease. She did
her best to be agreeable, but only with indifferent
success. For several days she had been trying
to think well of Mr. Sleeman, and even now, she
could but admit to herself that he had behaved
exceedingly well. Neither by word nor look nor
tone had he obtruded himself upon her notice,
and yet, notwithstanding this, she could not help
feeling that the nearer he came the less she liked
him, and only when he was a long way off could
she see any excellences in him at all.
John Sleeman took his departure early, pro-
mising to drop in again in a few days. The
curate went with him to the door. Madge gave
a sigh of relief, and dropped into an easy-chair
with a book. Mr. Tyndall came back and sat
for a long time staring into the fire. He did not
see the fire, however; he saw through it and
beyond it. What his guest had told him during
the evening wove itself into a beautiful picture,
in which a large and ivied rectory occupied the
foreground, with a stately church behind.
He shifted his eyes at length, and turned to








54 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL
his wife. I think I haven't told you, my dear,"
he began-he called her "my dear" more from
force of habit than anything else-" that Mr.
Sleeman is negotiating for the purchase of a
large estate in Wiltshire."
"No, love," she answered meekly, looking up
at him with languid interest.
It is so. I forget how many thousand acres
it contains; but by all accounts it is a most
delightful place. And a curious thing about it
is, that if he gets it, he will have two very
valuable livings in his gift."
"Oh, how nice, Scott his wife answered,
while Madge pretended to go on with her
reading.
"He's a most remarkable man," Mr. Tyndall
continued, as though speaking to himself. His
grasp of detail is amazing. He's chairman now
of nine wealthy companies which he has pro-
moted, besides being a merchant and shipowner,
and I am told he stands a good chance of being
the Sheriff of London next year."
How remarkable, love 1" observed his wife.
"Yes, it is remarkable; and yet he's as humble
and simple-minded as if he were only the pos-
sessor of a hundred pounds."
Madge turned the leaves of her book with
unnecessary ostentation. She could not help







REVIVING HOPES 55

feeling that the information vouchsafed had
been more for her benefit than her mother's,
and she was pained that her father should so
openly betray his motive. She took no notice,
however, of anything that was said. Her down-
cast eyes betrayed nothing, and by and by,
when the conversation drifted into common-
place channels, she rose quietly and left the
room.
















CHAPTER VI


REFLECTIONS
When Time, who steals our years away
Shall steal our pleasures too,
The memory of the past will stay
And half our joys renew."
-MOORE.

DURING the next three weeks Mr. Sleeman called
to see the curate half-a-dozen times. Twice he
met Madge when she was out for her morning's
walk, and rambled with her along the beach and
over the cliffs; and once she had taken his hand
to steady herself up a narrow path, and had
thanked him very sweetly for his assistance. Mr.
Sleeman felt comforted and hopeful. Madge was
freer with him than she had ever been, and they
had discussed the weather and other interesting
matters without any embarrassment at all. He
found it very difficult to keep back the words
that were trembling on his lips, for had he not
loved Madge ever since she was a little girl, and
had he not made a vow that, sooner or later,
she should be his wife ? Yet he knew that if
56







REFLECTIONS


he were over-hasty he might spoil his chance.
Madge would not be in the humour yet for
any fresh love-making. He must wait until the
wound in her heart had fully healed. In another
three months he would come down to Bexmouth
again, by which time she would, perhaps, be in
the humour to listen to him.
It was hard to wait and keep silent. Not so
hard, perhaps, as for some men; for he was not
of the passionate sort. Moreover, he had trained
himself to patience and endurance. He had not
made his way in the world by precipitate action ;
he had known how to bide his time. He had
known many a man fail because he could not
play a waiting game. Chances were constantly
spoiled through too hasty action. And he was
not going to destroy his hope, if he knew it, by
being in too great a hurry. Still, in spite of
everything, it was trying to have to wait so long.
But his chance was better now than it ever had
been. Dr. Studley was out of the way, and out
of the way in a sense that made his course a
great deal more easy. She would not be cherish-
ing the memory of her lost lover, and weeping
over his photograph, and indulging in a lot of
foolish sentiment. That was a comfort. Her
idol had been shattered, not embalmed, and so
there was a chance for a new idol to be placed







58 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

on the old pedestal; and if that new idol was
not himself, it should not be for the want of
persevering effort. In the forty-one years of
his busy life he had overcome many greater
difficulties, and he was not going to be dis-
heartened, even if the way were not altogether
smooth at the first. He knew that his age was
against him, and that he had nothing to boast
of in the matter of looks; but his reputation
in Bexmouth was of the highest, while money
was not an unimportant factor even in the affairs
of love.
By the end of the month he was in excellent
spirits. In comparison with what she had been,
Madge was positively friendly, and he quite anti-
cipated that, when next he came down, every
difficulty would be removed out of the way. He
knew that the curate was enthusiastically on his
side, and he would have great influence with his
daughter. Once let the idea take root and it was
bound to grow.
Mr. Tyndall did not name the matter to Madge
till a fortnight later. He felt that it would be
wise to proceed cautiously. He might not have
spoken when he did, had not a favourable oppor-
tunity been furnished by the receipt of a news-
paper from Mr. Sleeman, containing a full report
of a speech he had made at a vestry meeting.







REFLECTIONS


Mr. Tyndall passed it to Madge and asked her
what she thought of it.
It reads very well," Madge replied, but, of
course, it is of no interest to us here."
"No, of course not, except in so far as Mr.
Sleeman being a Bexmouth man, we feel proud
of his influence and position."
"I suppose he has been very successful,"
Madge said indifferently.
"No doubt he has; and what is more, he de-
serves it. There is nothing showy about him,
but he's genuine gold. By the bye, has he been
paying you attention again ?"
No, father. He has been civil, that is all."
"You think, then, he has got over his old
passion for you ?"
"I hope so."
"Why hope so, Madge ? He could lift you
into a position of affluence at once. He could
give you a beautiful home; and I am sure he
would sacrifice anything to make you happy."
"Has he been talking to you again ?"
"Once only, Madge, when he came here to
dinner."
"And you told him his suit would be hope-
less ?"
"No, my child; how could I ? You had passed
through such an experience that I thought it







60 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

possible that genuine worth might now appeal
to you."
What do I know about worth ? she answered
petulantly. "All men are good till they are
proved otherwise."
"John Sleeman is not an adventurer, Madge,"
the curate said seriously. "He has established
his reputation."
"It may be so, father, but he is nothing to me,
and never can be."
"Why never can be ? Think better of it."
"I do not love him, father. Is not that
enough ?"
"No, my child. What young people call love
is often mere sentiment-a passing emotion that
ends with the decay of physical charms. The
love that lasts comes slowly, grows out of
kinship, is built on respect, and crowned with
reverence."
"For Mr. Sleeman I have neither rever-
ence nor respect," she answered, with averted
eyes.
"Ah, Madge, your blindness is pitiful," the
curate answered sadly. "You will not look,
and none are so blind as those who refuse to
see."
"I do not know," she answered. "Money
blinds some people very effectually."







REFLECTIONS


"Do not despise money, Madge. "It needs a
strong love to endure poverty. I have had my
share, and would fain save you from a similar
struggle."
She turned upon him a startled expression,
and then relapsed into silence. There was
something in his words and tones that puzzled
her. What did he mean? He had married
for love-did he regret it ? Then her thoughts
instantly flew to her mother, a poor, weak;
characterless woman; whose beauty faded early,
and whose intellectual resources gave out with
the honeymoon. She felt herself grow hot all
over. It was as though she had possessed
herself of a secret by unlawful means.
Her father did not speak again, and soon
after Madge retired, leaving him alone with his
thoughts. He pulled up his chair before the
fire as soon as she had gone, and stared for a
long time into its glowing depths. The past came
back to him very vividly. He had been fasci-
nated by a doll-like face, with dimpled cheeks,
and pink and white complexion. His friends
wanted him to marry Maud Rostrevor, a dashing,
quick-witted young lady of ancient family and
ample fortune. But he had preferred the lan-
guishing, mild-eyed Dora Lane, though she
had neither fortune nor influence. He was







62 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

desperately in love then, and full of romantic
notions. He believed that a cottage would be
as good as a mansion if it had love to glorify it,
that poverty would be sweet with love to sanctify
it, and labour and struggle only rest, with one
dear face always near. So he had married Dora,
and his friends had called him a fool. That
was twenty years ago, and he had kept to his
cottage and his poverty, and the one face had
been near him all the while; but his friends
observed that he had grown cynical with ad-
vancing years, and that all romance had departed
from him.
To-day, as he stared into the fire, he thought
not only of himself, but of Tom Graham, who
led Maud Rostrevor to the altar a year after
he married Dora. Tom was a young fellow of
no great abilities, and yet he was Dean of Gril-
chester now, while he, Scott Tyndall, who had
been considered at college one of the best men
of his year, was still a curate in the little fishing-
town of Bexmouth. A year before, he had been
in London, and one fine afternoon he had
strolled out into Hyde Park, and sat down on
one of the chairs to watch the wealth and rank
and nobility of the great city drive past. And
among the rest, behind a splendid pair of bays,
rolled his old friend Tom Graham and his hand-







REFLECTIONS


some wife. Yes, at forty she was no doubt a
handsome woman. When she was young she
was not nearly so pretty as Dora. But now-
well, she had had no care or worry. Life had
gone smoothly with her. She was well pre-
served, while Dora, poor Dora! had been
crushed by poverty, and anxiety, and hard
work. Tom was looking well, too. There was
a satisfied smile upon his face, and he car-
ried about him an air of prosperity, as well he
might. Tom had married for position, and he
for love. Well, well; life was a strange prob-
lem, and no one could forecast its success or
failure.
He did not stay for the carriage to pass him
a second time. He would not like Tom to see
him. He felt very shabby in presence of so
much wealth and display; he would be more at
ease away from it all. Yet the picture lingered
long in his memory. It came back to him again
to-day. No one had ever heard him hint that
he had made a mistake. Perhaps he was as
happy as Tom Graham. Still, it was hard to
be always poor; to see one's wife old and faded
before her time; to have no prospect of anything
better in the future.
He roused himself after a while, and stirred
the fire. "I wish Madge would look at things








64 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL


from a more rational standpoint," he mused.
Sleeman will do nothing for me unless he gets
Madge. Of course she does not care for him
now; but what of that? Tom Graham cared
nothing for Maud Rostrevor when he married
her, but he's fond enough of her now. Any
man could like such a handsome woman, espe-
cially with all that money at her back. And
Madge would get to like Sleeman in time;
there's nothing to hinder it. I must get her
to see it if possible."
But as a diplomatist Mr. Tyndall was a decided
failure. Madge would have thought more of Mr.
Sleeman if her father had said less about him;
cared more for him if he had not been so extra-
ordinarily good. She grew tired of hearing
about his virtues, and would have been more
drawn to him if he had been a little less of a
S saint and a little more of the other thing. Her
father was not observant enough to see that he
was helping to prevent the very object he had in
view. He fancied that he was exceedingly diplo-
matic, that he was acting with great discretion,
and did not know that he was so absolutely
transparent that Madge could read him like a
book.
At times she felt almost angry with him. Like
most other people she had an element of stub-







REFLECTIONS


bornness in her nature, and resented. .doing
the thing that was forced upon her, which,
had she been left alone, she might have done
readily enough; but there were other times
when her father's careworn face struck pity to
her heart, and she would debate with herself
whether or no she ought to sacrifice herself
for his gain. If she would, she could change
the whole complexion of his life; she could
lift him out of the region of want and care in
which he had dwelt so long; she could give
him such a home as all his life he had pined
for; she could make the education of the
younger children a matter of comparative ease;
she could give her brother Jack his heart's
desire, and send him to Cambridge when the
S time came. And why should she not do these
things ?
It was true she did not love Squire Sleeman,
but what of that ? She did not suppose she
would ever love again. If she ever married at
all, where could she find a more worthy man ?
Moreover, she knew very tell, that unless
she married soon, she would have to go out
into the world and earn her own living. Her
father could not keep her always. As the chil-
dren grew older, the pinch of poverty became
daily more keen, and it would be cruel of her







66 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

to depend upon him any longer than she could
help.
The outlook was not a pleasant one from any
standpoint. To go out as a governess, or as a
mother's help, to drag out weary, sunless years
as a dependant, to grow old and helpless, to be
left without friends, or means of earning a liveli-
hood-that was a prospect from which, very
naturally, she shrank with dismay. The other
alternative was to marry, and to marry without
love. Ah, if she had never known Frank Studley,
never felt the thrill of his kiss upon her brow,
never looked upon his handsome face, never
pictured that happy life by his side, a loveless
Marriage might not have seemed so terrible.
And yet, elderly people talked sometimes as
though love were not everything, or even the
most important thing. Her father had married
for love, and he did not seem particularly happy.
Care and poverty had crushed all the sentiment
out of his life, and left him cold and not a little
cynical.
Perhaps, after all, the best thing she could do
would be to marry Mr. Sleeman. He was a
good man, everybody said; and though she would
not be happy herself, she would help to make
other people happy, and that, in the abstract,
looked a more noble thing to do. Happiness







REFLECTIONS 67
was a question that would have to be left out of
the account, whatever choice she made. Whether
she married or remained single, it would be all
the same. Clearly, her duty was not to think
of herself, but to consider how best she could
help other people.
















CHAPTER VII


TREACHERY

"Cunning has only private selfish aims, and sticks at nothing
which may make them succeed."-ADDISON.

IT will now be necessary to retrace our steps to
the time when our story opens. Though a good
deal has been said about Frank Studley in the
foregoing pages, he has never been properly
introduced to the reader, and the time has
now come when such an introduction should be
given. We know not what opinion our readers
may have formed of him. Appearances certainly
have not been in his favour. If circumstantial
evidence is to be relied upon, as well as the
testimony of credible witnesses, then the sooner
we dismiss him from our pages the better, and it
is possible some of our readers may wonder we
do not do so.
Appearances, however, as we have all dis-
covered, are sometimes deceptive. And circum-
stantial evidence has done many an innocent
man to death. In order to arrive at a proper
68







TREACHERY


estimate of Frank Studley's character, we will
not say good-bye to him, as Madge did, at the
garden gate, but will follow him as he made his
way with light and swinging pace in the direction
of his home.
"Two days more," he kept saying to himself,
"and Madge will be mine for ever and ever."
And so completely did she fill his thoughts and
his heart, that he walked like one in a dream.
No thought of evil disturbed him, no fear that
anything might happen to prevent the con-
summation of his desire ever crossed his mind.
Life with him had gone well and pleasantly in
the main, and so he had never cultivated the
habit of reckoning upon possible contingencies.
Moreover, he was in perfect health, and though
he had not a relative, or even a very old friend,
in Bexmouth, on the other hand he had not, as
far as he was aware, a single enemy. Hence
there was nothing to disturb the serenity of his
mind or fling a single shadow across his path.
He had covered half the distance between
the vicarage and his own house when two men
met him and stopped suddenly in front of
him.
"If you please, sir, be you Dr. Studley ?"
one of the men asked, in apparently anxious
tones.








70 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL
Yes, that is my name," he answered. "Did
you wish to see me ?"
"Ay, we want you to come with us to Bex-
point if you will. Joseph Cobbledick have met
with a bad accident, and there ain't no time for
delays if he's to be pulled through."
"A bad accident ?" he questioned. "What is
the nature of it ?"
"Well, we hardly had time to inquire. He
tumbled off the roof and stove in a rib or two,
it's thought, and maybe broke his leg."
"But what was he doing on the roof in the
dark ?" Frank asked.
"Something had got wrong wi' the chimbley,
wasn't it, mate ? and he would go up to see
what 'twas."
"Ay," the other man answered. "He jist got
on to the ridge an' rowled over."
"And how did you get here ? Did you walk ?"
Frank asked.
No, sur, we rowed across the bay in a boat.
It would 'a took us more'n an hour to walk
round by Wintover bridge. The boat's down
agin the jetty, sir, if you'll go back with us.
We'll bring you safe home again when you've
mended up Joseph."
"All right, I will go with you. But I must go
to my house first for my instruments."







TREACHERY


"Yes, sur, and my mate and I will go on to
the boat and be a-waiting for you."
Ten minutes later the two men were sitting
idly in their boat, in the shadow of the stone
jetty, waiting for the doctor. No one was
about. The small quay was quite deserted.
All the fishing-boats had gone out some hours
previously, and would not be back again till
morning. Across the bay the lights from the
fishermen's cottages at Bexpoint shone fitfully,
while far out at sea a red light had flashed
more than once during the evening, though no
one had seemed to notice it. The younger
portion of Bexmouth was already in the land
of dreams, and the older portion was getting
ready to retire--the constant shifting of lights
from the lower windows to the upper very clearly
indicating this.
The boat in which the men sat, rocked
easily on the swell, and now and then grated
against the jetty wall; but neither wind nor
sea caused them any uneasiness. Indeed, the
night could not possibly have been more favour-
able for their enterprise; though they both
heartily wished that they had got safely to the
end of it.
For several minutes they smoked in silence;
then the elder of the two quietly remarked:







72 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

"This is about as rum a game, Bill, as thou and
I have ever had to play at."
"Ay, it's a cur'ous business," remarked the
other. But it ain't no consarn of ourn."
"No, likely not," reflectively. "An' yet if
it ain't all fair and square it might git us into
trouble."
"Oh, it's square eno', never you fear," Bill
replied. "The captain holds the doctor's cer-
tificate; he slowed it to me."
"Bogus, as like as not," was the reply.
"Now, Bob, what's put that into thy noddle ?"
Bill asked, taking the pipe out of his mouth,
and leaning forward so as to get nearer his
companion.
"Several things," Bob replied after a pause.
"The whole thing looks fishy to me. You re-
member what that bloke said about the weddin'
coming' off the day after to-morrow ?"
"Well, I don't see what that's got to do
wi' it."
"You don't? Do you think a gal could be
courted by a fellow an' not find out he were
off his chump? Why, man, the thing don't
stand to reason nohow."
"Oh, I don't know 'bout that," Bill answered.
" Folks as have got a slate off be amazin' cute
sometimes. Anyhow, his relations thinks as








TREACHERY


'ow he needs a long voyage to set him to
rights."
"Ay, that's so, Bill; but atween you and
me and the rudder, I don't lay no store upon
what a man's relations do. I don't care two
straws 'bout no bloomin' relation of mine.
Folks's parents and childer may be square
eno'; but when you gets beyond that, well,
it's every one on 'em for hisself. I never
knowed no relation yet that weren't a-snigglin'
for his own pocket, and would bury every
uncle and aunt and cousin he had for 'arf-a-
crown."
"Well, Bob, that may be so, or it mayn't be
so; any road, it ain't our business. We've got
to do what the captain tell'd us, and what we
are a-paid for doing. "
"That's so, mate, and I wish the chap 'ud
come and let us git it done. He seems loiterin'
a terrible long time."
"I hope he don't scent nothing, the other
replied, "for when one comes to think 'pon-if,
'twere a clumsy kind o' story we told 'im."
"That's so.. I wonder what's become o' the
chap as put us up to the rig. Blow me if I
didn't a'most forget the name of the bridge
an' the place across the bay there, an' the man
as nearly got killed a-rollin' off the house-roof.







74 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

But I wonder why that bloke as is a-managin'
the thing keeps out o' sight."
"Reasons of his own, you may depend," Bill
answered. "Being a native, he don't want to
be mixed up in it, in case the thing should miss
fire."
"Well, as far as I'm consarned I wouldn't
care two straws if the thing did miss fire," Bob
answered. "We've no orders to take him by
force."
"But if we don't bring him back wi' us we
gets no pay. There's that to be took into
account. And I don't believe in takin' all this
trouble for nothing Besides, Captain Bender '11
make it 'ot for us if we fail, for you may depend
he's set his mind on this job, and it's a-goin' to
be done."
"And I were keen eno' on the job till I spoke
to the young feller," Bob answered. "But blow
me if I ain't rather skeary on it now. There's
more at the bottom o' this, Bill, than thou or
I knows."
Bill took his pipe out of his mouth and spat
over the side of the boat. "Bob," he said,
"thou'rt a fool. We ain't a-goin' to hurt no-
body. We're a-goin' to give the young gent a
voyage for the benefit o' his health His relatives
be payin' the skipper handsomee for looking' arter







TREACHERY


him. The poor young man be off his chump
and needs bracin' up."
"I may be a fool, Bill, but thou'rt a bigger,"
Bob interposed. "Thou knows well eno' that
he's no more luny than thou art. The thing
is plain as dirt. He's goin' to marry a gal as
his relations don't approve, an' they're goin' to
stop it. That's the reason the skipper were so
eager to hug this-coast, and in sich a tearin'
hurry. If he'd been two days later-well, he'd
been too late."
"That's all thy guess," Bill said impatiently;
"an' guessin' is nothing' to go by. Our business
is to do what we're told. But hist; here he
comes. Now for the camphor-bottle and the
handkercher. The next move is a ticklish one."
A moment later a firm footstep sounded on
the hard granite, and came nearer and nearer
to the spot near which the boat lay. It was
clear from the quick, fearless way in which the
young doctor walked that he had no thought
of danger or treachery. To be summoned
suddenly to Bexpoint was only an ordinary
occurrence in the life of a Bexmouth doctor.
The little hamlet was too small and too poor
to make it worth the while of any medical man
to live there. Hence, when a doctor was re-
quired, one of the Bexmouth practitioners was








76 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL
always sent for, and the easiest way of getting
there was to pull across the bay in a boat.
There was nothing, therefore, in the present
case to awaken the ghost of a suspicion in his
mind. Cobbledick was a common name in
Bexpoint, and, though the accident was an un-
usual one, there was nothing in it to suggest any
thought of treachery. Did not most accidents
happen through people attempting more or less
foolish things ?
Frank Studley hurriedly entered his surgery
after he left the two men, and lost no time in
getting certain instruments together and putting
them in a case. Then it occurred to him that
as it might be several hours before he returned,
he had better take his usual supper, which
he had no doubt his deaf old housekeeper
had already laid out on the dining-room table
for him.
Perhaps he took a little longer over the meal
than he should have done under the circum-
stances. The house was quite still. His house-
keeper had evidently gone to bed, and naturally
he thought of the time, now so near, when he
would no longer sit alone in the silent house;
when Madge's dear presence would be with him,
and her sweet smile would change the homely
surroundings into a paradise.







TREACHERY


In thinking of Madge he forgot Joseph Cobble-
dick with his fractured ribs and broken leg.
Madge's kiss was still warm upon his lips, her
"Good-night, love," still rang in his ears. He
could see her even now leaning over the garden
gate. How loath he had been to tear himself
away; and he was not to see her again till they
met in the old church on the hillside, to be
made man and wife !
Why did no shadow of coming events fall
upon his heart ? Why was there no angel to
whisper in his ear a word of warning? Why
was he allowed to walk without hindrance into
the net that had been so cunningly spread for
him? Alas! we all of us walk blindly, not
knowing what a day or an hour may bring
forth.
Putting on an extra thick overcoat, and turn-
ing the lights low, he stole quietly out of the
house and snicked the door behind him. Above
him the stars burned dimly, giving little or nQ
light; the straggling street was quite deserted.
One solitary figure stole out of a dark corner,
and followed him as he made his way down to
the jetty, keeping well in the background, and
walking so silently that he might have been
in his stockinged feet. Frank heard no foot-
step and so did not turn. Moreover, he was







78 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL
anxious to make up for lost time, and so hurried
on with hasty strides. "Those men will think
I am never coming," was the thought that
passed through his mind as he neared the little
quay.
Ah, there is the boat," he said, as his foot-
steps echoed on the hard flags.
A few moments later he stood at the top of
the stone steps that ran down the jetty side.
"Are you tired waiting, my men ?" he said
cheerfully.
"No, not for ourselves, sur," came the reply;
"we was only thinking of poor Joseph."
"Oh well, we'll soon attend to him."
"Yes, sur; I hope so, sur. This way, sur."
"All right," and he commenced the descent.
A moment later and the boat was rocking be-
neath him.
"Sit right down, sur," said the man called
Bill, who was standing in the stern. "Now,
Bob, push off." In another moment the boat
was gliding seawards. The end of the jetty
was quickly passed, the wide swell of the open
sea lifted the boat's prow pleasantly, the lights
from Bexpoint could scarcely be seen, a red star
gleamed for a moment on the horizon, and then
Bill stole softly behind the doctor, and with a
handkerchief well sprinkled with chloroform tied







TREACHERY 79

it quickly over his mouth. There was scarcely
a struggle, and Frank Studley lay unconscious in
the bottom of the boat.
A solitary figure watched the boat from the
end of the jetty till it disappeared in the dark-
ness, then with an audible chuckle turned and
vanished in the direction of the town.
















CHAPTER VIII


THE MYSTERY DEEPENS
My fate cries out,
And makes each petty artery in this body
As hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve."
-SHAKESPEARE.

WHEN Frank Studley recovered consciousness,
he found himself lying in a very narrow berth
in a ship's cabin. This fact he did not realise
in a moment. For several minutes, in fact, he
stared round him in utter bewilderment, and
wondered if he could be possibly awake, or if
he were only dreaming. It hardly seemed pos-
sible that he could be awake and in such a
position, and yet a dream so vivid and real he
never remembered to have had before. He
tried to pinch himself, and discovered that he
was lying in his clothes. He lifted his feet, and
saw in the dim light of the lamp that he had
his boots on. He raised his head, and in a
moment lay back sick and faint.
"This is no dream," he said to himself at
length, "but I must be surely out of my mind.
So








THE MYSTERY DEEPENS


I have no recollection of any sleep. Let me
see, what do I remember last?" and he shut
his eyes and rubbed his hand across his fore-
head. But his brain refused to work. The
effects of the chloroform had not yet worn
away. It seemed as though the past months
and years of his life had been blotted out. Of
recent events he could remember nothing.
But as the minutes sped on, the present
became painfully real. He could hear dis-
tinctly the swish of the water outside; could
feel all too acutely the pitch and roll of the
vessel; could catch the voices of the sailors
on the deck; could mark all the details of
the little cabin in which he found himself.
But how he got there was a question that
still baffled him. His present seemed to have
no connection with the past. A portion of
his life had clearly faded into oblivion. He
raised his head again, but only for a moment.
He was too dazed, too sick and exhausted,
to sit up.
"I must have gone mad," he said to himself,
while the perspiration gathered in large beads
upon his forehead. I have had some illness,
or met with some accident which has turned my
brain. Good heavens! all this that I see and
feel may be but the phantom of a diseased brain.







82 THE BLINDNESS OF MADE TYNDALL

What a fate! What a fate !" And he shut his
eyes and groaned aloud.
But the mists that beclouded his memory kept
growing thinner all the while.
I have not always been like this," he began to
reflect. "When did this state of things begin ?
I have a feeling that I was all right yesterday,
and happy. Where was I ? Is there anything
in this cabin that I can connect with it ?"
And he opened his eyes again, and peered
eagerly and anxiously round the room, but there
was nothing to remind him of the past. Then
suddenly he sat up and pressed his hands to
his temples. He had caught a clue; and just
as the points of a landscape come one after
another into sight when the fog begins to roll
away, so the past came back to him, point after
point, till not a shadow remained anywhere.
"Now I see," he said, with a look of alarm
in his eyes. "That story about Joseph Cobble-
dick was simply a ruse. I have been kidnapped,
and in the most open fashion. I remember
passing the head of the jetty, and then I became
unconscious. That fellow stole up behind me,
and tied a handkerchief over my mouth. I
remember it now. And yet the mystery is almost
as great as ever. In all human conduct we
look for a motive, but I can see no motive in







THE MYSTERY DEEPENS


this. I have no enemies that I am aware of.
It is to no one's interest to remove me from
Bexmouth. No one can possibly be gainer.
Why should two strange men, sailors or fisher-
men, take the trouble to entice me from home,
and place me on board a strange ship? The
thing is inexplicable. But I must get to the
bottom of this-and at once."
And he staggered towards the cabin door and
tried to open it, but found it was securely
locked; and with a groan he returned again
to his berth and lay down.
A few minutes later he heard a key grate in
the lock; then the door was pushed slightly open,
and a strange face appeared at the aperture.
"Come in," Frank said, trying to speak
as unconcernedly as possible. And in answer
the door was thrown wide open, and a man
entered.
Frank took his measurement in a moment, and
was not particularly impressed in his favour.
He was a tall, broad-shouldered, muscular man,
carrying no flesh to speak of, with a clean-shaved
face, small eyes, low forehead, a heavy jaw, and
intensely black hair.
"You are awake, I see," he said, in a fairly
refined and well-modulated voice.
"Yes, I have been awake some time," Frank







84 THE BLINDNESS OF MADE TYNDALL

answered. "Would you mind telling me where
I am?"
"With pleasure. You are on board the
Australian clipper Beagle, bound for the port of
Sydney. Is there any other question you would
like to ask, or is there anything I can do for
you ?"
Frank gave a gasp, and his thoughts instantly
flew back to Madge. What would she think?
Would she get to know ? Or would she imagine
he had purposely deserted her ? A more trying
position he could not imagine, or one more
completely shrouded in mystery. Yet he was re-
solved, if possible, to betray nothing of what he
felt. He would keep cool, whatever happened.
"You are very kind," he said at length, "but
I don't think I require anything."
"I think a biscuit and a glass of wine would
do you good," said his visitor. "Let me fetch
them."
"No, thank you," was the quick reply. "I
am sufficiently dazed already, and wine would
only make me worse. But would you mind
telling me who you are ?"
"I will be glad to answer you any question I
am able," was the friendly reply. "My name
is Charles Spring. I have been engaged as your
companion for the voyage."








THE MYSTERY DEEPENS


"As my companion ?"
"Yes."
"And by whom, pray ?"
"By your parents."
"But I have no parents. So how can that
be ?"
"Oh, well, that is a mere detail. They told
me you would say that."
"Oh, I see, you are my keeper. You regard
me as insane ?"
"Not a bit of it," was the reply. "You are
sane enough. But you had a bad illness some
time ago, and it has affected your memory a
little. You need toning up. By the end of
the voyage, I expect you will be as well as ever
you were."
"Stuff and nonsense!" Frank replied im-
patiently. "I never had a bad illness in my
life."
"Oh, well, we will not argue the point," was
the quiet reply.
But you do not believe me, nevertheless ?"
Charles Spring smiled amiably, showing two
rows of exceedingly good teeth. "I think you
are mistaken on one or two points," he said;
"but that is neither here nor there."
Frank was about to protest that he was not
mistaken, but thought better of it. If his com-








86 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

panion honestly believed that he was off his
head, or had lost his memory through illness,
no mere protest would convince him to the
contrary. His best course would be to quietly
submit to the inevitable, and trust to the chapter
of accidents for a way of escape.
"And my parents engaged you to look after
me ?" he questioned, after a long pause.
"Through an agent. I did not see them my-
self. I answered an advertisement in the Times
and was engaged. You see, I wish to be perfectly
frank with you."
"Thank you. If we are to be companions on
a long voyage, it is best we should understand
each other. But I have been played a dastardly
trick, and one that will not only give great pain
to myself but to other people."
"I know nothing about that," was the reply.
"I was told we should call and pick you up some-
where along this coast."
"Then you do not know that I have been
kidnapped and drugged ?"
"I won't say that. As you did not come on
board at Southampton, I thought it possible
some ruse would be adopted."
"And you approve of such methods ?"
"No, I do not as a general rule. Still, there
may be exceptional cases when a little strategy








THE MYSTERY DEEPENS


is necessary. But in your case I have been no
party to it. When I boarded the Beagle I did
not know but that you would be there before
me."
"The situation is an interesting one, certainly,"
Frank said bitterly. "Here am I a prisoner,
without even a change of raiment, and supposed
to be a lunatic."
"No, sir, you do yourself and friends an in-
justice. No one regards you as a lunatic, and as
for your wardrobe, I am sure you will find that
it has been well supplied."
Frank bit his lip and was silent. The more
he probed the mystery the denser it got. It
seemed incredible that any one should go to all
this expense, and run a hundred risks into the
bargain, simply for the purpose of playing a
practical joke. Either he was mad or somebody
else was mad.
If you will not have anything to eat or drink,"
Spring said, breaking the awkward silence, "had
you not better get your clothes off, and try to
get a few hours' sleep ?"
"A very good suggestion," was the reply.
"The pitching of this vessel is getting to be
unpleasant."
"I will see that the steward brings you a cup
of hot coffee as soon as it is daylight," Spring







88 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

answered, and then quietly stole out of the cabin,
locking the door behind him.
It was a long time, however, before Frank got
a wink of sleep. He tried his best, but the shy
angel would not come. All the circumstances
were so painful and mysterious that his brain
was kept in a whirl. For himself he had no con-
cern. Since personal violence did not appear to
be a part of his captors' programme, he made his
mind easy on that question. But the thought of
Madge filled him with agony. What would she
think? What would she do ? Would she get
to know before Wednesday morning ? And if
not, what terrible pain and humiliation that day
would bring her !
And they had looked forward to that day with
so much eagerness, and with so many fond
anticipations. It was to be the day of all days,
the crown and glory of all the rest; and now,
through this inexplicable mystery, it would be
dark to both of them. The minutes and hours,
instead of bringing them nearer together, were
drifting them farther and farther apart, and he
could send her no message, could offer no ex-
planation; and even if fortune favoured him,
many months must elapse before he could look
upon her face again.
It was not at all surprising that he could not








THE MYSTERY DEEPENS


sleep. Sometimes he would start up in a fright,
feeling convinced that he was the subject of
some strange hallucination. At other times he
was half disposed to believe that he had lost his
reason. He had heard and read of people losing
all recollection of a portion of their lives through
some accident or serious illness. Could it be
possible that some such fate had befallen him ?
And he would painfully thread his way back,
step by step, through all the years of his life to
the days of his earliest childhood, till he had
satisfied himself that no link in the chain was
missing. Then his thoughts would take another
direction. Who was this enemy that had robbed
him of his love and his liberty, who had snatched
the cup of happiness from him when it was close
to his lips, and wickedly blighted his life when
all its fair promise was about to be fulfilled ?
Till now he did not know that he had an
enemy. He had quarrelled with no one, done
no man a wrong. There were some people he
was not on as friendly terms with as others, but
not one of them could he bring himself to
imagine would do him an injury. One thing,
however, was clear enough, whoever his captor
was, he had plenty of money at his disposal.
A voyage to Australia and back in charge of a
keeper would mean very considerable expense.








90 THE BLINDNESS OF MADGE TYNDALL

But though this view narrowed the question
considerably, it threw no light upon it. He
knew a number of rich men, some of them
intimately, but they were not given to playing
practical jokes of this kind. Indeed, he could
not imagine any sane person who would act in
such a way, while the plot was too carefully
laid to be the work of any man not in his right
mind. So hour after hour, like an imprisoned
bird, he beat himself against the bars of his
cage, but found no relief nor saw one glimmer
of light. So the night wore away till at length,
just as the dawn was stealing up into the sky,
he fell asleep from utter exhaustion.




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