• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Half Title
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Prologue
 In coreggio flats
 An old, old secret
 The abbey cloisters
 The old moated house
 Among deep shadows
 A snow story
 Epilogue
 Advertising
 Back Cover
 Spine






Group Title: forgotten link
Title: A forgotten link
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00087550/00001
 Material Information
Title: A forgotten link
Physical Description: 128, 8 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 19 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Hoyer, M. A ( Maria A )
Robinson, Hilda K ( Illustrator )
Nister, Ernest ( Publisher )
E.P. Dutton (Firm) ( Publisher )
Publisher: Ernest Nister
E.P. Dutton & C?
Place of Publication: London
New York
Publication Date: 1899
Copyright Date: 1899
 Subjects
Subject: Youth -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Christian life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Fathers and daughters -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Interpersonal relations -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Sisters -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Orphans -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Determination (Personality trait) -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Courage -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Friendship -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Empathy -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Love -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Painters -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Musicians -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Voyages and travels -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Country life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1899   ( rbgenr )
Juvenile literature -- 1899   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1899
Genre: novel   ( marcgt )
Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Publishers' catalogues   ( rbgenr )
Juvenile literature   ( rbgenr )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
United States -- New York -- New York
Germany -- Bavaria
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by M.A. Hoyer ; with pen-and-ink illustrations by Hilda K. Robinson.
General Note: Frontispiece printed in colors.
General Note: Pictorial front cover and spine.
General Note: Date of publication fron inscription.
General Note: Publisher's catalogue follows text.
General Note: "506"-- t.p.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00087550
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002231915
notis - ALH2303
oclc - 263148609

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Page 1
    Half Title
        Page 2
    Frontispiece
        Page 3
    Title Page
        Page 4
    Prologue
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
    In coreggio flats
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
    An old, old secret
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
    The abbey cloisters
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
    The old moated house
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
    Among deep shadows
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
    A snow story
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
    Epilogue
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
    Advertising
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
    Spine
        Spine
Full Text



















c FOR7GOTT8'9 LR5iY.




































Freda kissing Sphinx under the Mistletoe.

























Outhor of

r 'he Missin3 Messen3er," etc. etc.


GQith Pen-and -Ink Illustrations
by

/Ailda K.Robinson.


London;
Ernest Nlster


N'ew York:
e.R Duttoor&C?


Fe50d A B6.
506.


BY

M .A. mayerp












A FORGOTTEN LINK.




PROLOGUE.

"AND THE SNOW FELL AND FELL
AND HID ALL!"


A LARGE square hall with panelled walls; a
great fireplace where a huge fire had sunk
away to a hollow core of red heat, into which
now and again a cinder would fall and flash
a sudden brilliant light on to the carved oaken
gallery above, only to die away the moment
after to the dull red glow. On the fur rug be-
fore the hearth stood a girl, slight, tall, whose
auburn hair caught the gleam of the firelight
even below the large black velvet hat she wore:
her face was deadly white and her eyes gazed
with an expression of intense apprehension at
a door which stood ajar, and from beyond
which the sound of angry voices was audible
enough to the listener. There were two voices,
men's voices; one, loud, rough, harsh, insistent:







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


the other, lower, softer, but not less firm. Then
followed a slight pause, a heavy step came
across the room, the door was flung open, and
a man strode into the hall. He was tall and
rather stout for his age, which did not appear
to be much over forty; his wig, which he wore
powdered, though that was old-fashioned now,
was pushed somewhat awry; his face, handsome
in the features, was red and distorted with anger;
he wore a blue coat and riding breeches and
boots, which last were stained with mud as if
he had lately dismounted from his horse. Behind
him followed a younger man, tall, dark and
slim, whose deep eyes shone with suppressed
indignation and whose face was as white as
the lace cravat which fell over his brown
waistcoat.
"So," said the elder man, as his eye caught
the shrinking figure of the girl, "so you are
here, listening, I suppose, to what this insolent
scoundrel has been saying. He does you the
honour to demand your hand in marriage: you,
the daughter of one of the foremost London
merchants, and he a beggarly, foreign adven-
turer!"
The girl's eyes flashed indignantly; she drew
herself up proudly. To hear her lover so termed
roused her, and she cast away her fear.






PROLOGUE.


"He is not that!" she cried. "Father,
how can you insult him so? He is a gentleman
of high rank, and his ancestors were nobles and
seigneurs when ours were but ploughmen!"
"Nobles, seigneurs," exclaimed her father,
"a set of robbers and villains who stole the
poor man's bread and lived by oppression and
shameless injustice! Ah! by Heaven, they have
deserved all they have got, and I, for my part,
honour Robespierre for clearing out the lazy
horde of wasps. But see now, my girl. Promise
me never to speak to this-this nobleman-again:
never to write to him or hold any communi-
cation with him whatever!"
Here he strode across the hall, and, unbarring
the heavy door, flung it wide open.
"Promise me that," he reiterated, "or go
-and never see my face again!"
A wild blast of wind rushed in at the open
door scattering a whirl of the snowflakes which
were falling thickly outside, on the polished
floor of the hall.
The girl gazed at her father with dilating
eyes. What did he mean, or rather, did he
mean what he said?
"Go!" she said, glancing from him to the
younger man who had drawn near to her and
watched her- face intently, "go! Where?"






A FORGOTTEN LINK.


"Where you will!" he answered sternly.
"Promise, and keep your promise-or go! I
will have no peevish, deceitful, lovesick damsels
here. Choose between me and this scoundrel-
here at once!"
"Yes, yes," the young man cried suddenly.
"It is well. Choose, dear mademoiselle! Will
you trust me? I have friends to whom we can
go; friends who will protect, honour, love you,
till we can be made man and wife. Monsieur
votre fEre speaks well. Choose between him
and me!"
The girl looked from one to the other; from
the heavy stern face to the young, quivering,
eager visage; from the sombre eyes, fierce
and hard, to those others brilliant with hope
and love. A shiver passed over her slight
frame.
"Father," she said slowly, "father, you
have never loved me-never! You have never
spoken a loving word to me, nor given me a
loving look. You have just endured me!"
The elder man's face darkened more and
more.
"I have done my duty by you," he said
harshly. "You have never wanted for aught!"
"Yes, I have," she cried passionately. "I
have wanted what was more to me than bread.









































"They went out together in the wild winter darkness."






A FORGOTTEN LINK.


I have wanted a kind look, a kind word. Oh!
how I would have loved you if you would have
let me, but you never did. You drove me from
you with cold, hard words, you-you--Oh!
sometimes I think you have hated me. And I
had no one else-my mother-- !"
Silence! cried her father, his face working
strangely, "I will have no more of this. Choose!
Go with this scoundrel-or stay and be silent.
Mind! I do not turn you out-you shall never
say that. Choose which you will!"
"Then I will go!" she answered steadily,
drawing the long fur cloak which hung from
her shoulders more closely round her. "I will
go with the one being who has shown me love,
tenderness, compassion: that is-if he will take
me?"
She went slowly to the young man with
her hand outstretched, and he, taking it, bowed
deeply and kissed it with almost reverence.
Then he drew her arm through his, and silently,
with one last look at the hall and its angry
master, they went out together into the wild
winter darkness and the whirling snow, and the
heavy door was shut behind them!
Ninety years ago those two went away into
the darkness and were lost, or so it seemed;
for as the snowflakes fell and fell, and long







PROLOGUE. II

ere morning all trace of their footsteps .was
hidden and lost, so the very memory of their
lives grew dim and more dim as one by one
the years, like the snowflakes of Time, buried
all in the mystery of that past-that great and
terrible past, which is so silent to those who
pass it by, and yet so full of voices to those
who can spare time to listen to its low and
melancholy speech.

















CHAPTER I.


IN COREGGIO FLATS.


" OH, here you are at last!" cried two
voices.
"Yes," said the girl who had just entered,
"here I am! Did you think that I was lost?"
She went across the room as she spoke
and knelt down on the hearthrug, and, rapidly
dragging off a pair of wet woollen gloves, spread
pink, trembling fingers to the blaze. She had
thrown off her waterproof outside, but her face
was wet with raindrops, which were also sprinkled
plentifully over her auburn hair.
"Oh! it is such a horrid evening," she
went on, sitting down on the rug and clasping
her hands round her knees as she looked up
at her sisters, one busy at the tea-table and the
other stooping over her lesson books; "the
wind is enough to cut you in two, and it rains,







IN COREGGIO FLATS.


and it snows, and it fogs, and the mud is atro-
cious! I suppose Milly Farren never came for
her lesson?"
"No," cried Freda, the younger girl; "just
fancy, Estelle had to go to her!"
The girl sprang to her feet.
"Estelle," she cried, "you don't mean to
say you were mad enough to go out on such
a day as this, and you with a cold too!"
"What could I do?" Estelle spoke depre-
catingly. "They sent round and asked me parti-
cularly to go. Milly wasn't well, and they were
afraid for her to go out; but she is to play at
that concert affair to-morrow, and she wanted
a final practice. I dare not offend them, Mirry.
they pay so well and have recommended me
again and again; they have so many friends.
And I took the omnibus both ways. It will
not have hurt me! But where have you been?
You cannot have been at the National till now."
The girl she called Mirry had sat down
again with a gloomy look in her bright, soft,
hazel eyes, and a straight little wrinkle between
her brows. She began to unlace her wet
boots.
"Well," she said, after a moment, "I've
had an adventure!"
"An adventure?" cried Freda, looking up







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


again from her studies; "what sort of an ad-
venture ?"
"Perhaps not exactly an adventure," went
on Mirry meditatively. "Ah! I see you have
put my slippers to warm, Estelle-you are an
angel, my dear. No, not an adventure, but a-
a sort of coincidence. Give me the bread to
toast; that will serve two turns-it will make
me delightfully warm and give me time to re-
late my experiences. But there is Sphinx
asking to be let in. I suppose he has been
asleep on my bed all the afternoon, the
wretch!"
Estelle opened the door, at which there had
been some mysterious taps, and a tabby cat
came walking in with much dignity. He sat
down on the hearthrug beside Mirry and looked
at his humble admirers with a lordly air. Then
he glanced slightly at the milk jug.
"Cats are your true aristocrats," murmured
Mirella. "It never occurs to them to knuckle
under to anyone, and they are never vulgarly
excited. They think the world and the lower
species-mankind-were created for their benefit
alone. I wonder if they will be able to main-
tain the tradition when we are all Socialists
on twopence a day, and a co-operative dinner."
"Oh, don't talk nonsense, Mirry," inter-







IN COREGGIO FLATS.


rupted Estelle; "but tell us what your adven-
ture was."
"I think I corrected that statement," re-


marked Mirry, critically examining her toast.
"Not an adventure, but a coincidence! Well,
I was working away at my picture. Oh, Estelle,
Heaven bless the good man who gave me the


I ; t2







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


commission to copy it: I have learnt such heaps
from it-art-religion-faith! "
"Oh, yes, that is all right," interrupted
Freda, "we know, Mirry-but your adventure!"
"All right indeed," grumbled Mirry. "Why
don't you tell me out and out not to go on
talking. However, to my story! I was working
away with my usual enthusiastic industry, when
I became aware-that is the proper phrase, isn't
it ?"
"Yes, yes! Get on!"
"I became aware of the presence of a tall
lady in black who was standing watching me."
"An old lady?"
No, not exactly old, and not exactly young,
and not exactly middle-aged! Middle-aged
means generally pepper-and-salt hair and juve-
nile wrinkles, but this lady was too young to be
middle-aged, and too middle-aged to be young.
She was handsome, and she was agreeable, and
she was evidently rich: that last was her only
drawback!"
"A drawback, you call it!"
"Yes, to herself. She was really too nice
to be rich. Rich people are generally so in-
sufferable-except when they order copies of the
old Italian pictures. But this lady wasn't a bit
of a snob!"











































C-




















"A tall lady in black was standing watching me."
2







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


"I know some poor people who are worse
snobs than rich ones," ejaculated Freda.
Your tUe noir, Lily Middleton, for instance,"
laughed Mirry; "but then she poses as a saint
without being one, which is extremely vulgar.
Well, my lady wasn't vulgar, nor a pinchbeck
saint: she had travelled, and told me a lot about
the pictures in Florence and Siena. Ah! she
knew things, she did. We talked a long time,
and then when she went away she asked me
if I painted portraits. I said, Yes, whenever I
had the chance: in fact, I intimated that I did
anything from Christmas cards to Coreggios,
by which I could earn an honest penny!"
"Did she ask your name?"
"No, for a red-bearded man came hurrying
up and bustled her away. But she smiled and
nodded and said she should come again and
see how my picture progressed!"
"But-the coincidence ?"
"Oh, I haven't got to that part yet. But
see, the toast is made, and I am dying for a
cup of tea. Then I'll go on; it shall be con-
tinued in the next number!"
The three sisters sat down to their cosy
little meal while Sphinx had his saucer of milk
on the hearthrug.
The three girls were not much alike. Estelle,







IN COREGGIO FLATS.


the eldest, was tall and slight, with brown velvet
eyes and a quantity of chestnut hair; her com-
plexion was delicately fair, but the slight hollow
of the cheek and an air of lassitude, a drooping
look about the whole personality, betokened
weak health. Mirella was much smaller, petzte
in every way, but with a look of energy and
strength about her slender form suggesting a
great reserve fund of vitality. She had hazel
eyes, which sometimes looked grey and some-
times brown, and sometimes shone with a strange
inspiring brilliancy, and a crop of unruly au-
burn hair; her complexion was of a warmer tint
than Estelle's. Though younger by two years
(she was but twenty-two), she was acknowledged
the leader, and in great measure the bread-winner,
of the little establishment. The three were father-
less and motherless, left with the merest pittance,
and it was her versatile art-talent which added
far more to the family funds than Estelle, with
her delicate health, was able to do by teaching
music. Freda, the youngest, was only fifteen
and still at school. She was thin and lanky,
with a mane of fair hair, and grave grey eyes
which looked out on the world with a meditative
gravity which often amused her sisters. The
three lived in a tiny flat at Brompton.;- just a
studio which was also their sitting-room, an
2 *







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


infinitesimal kitchen, and two cupboards for
bed-rooms. Here they lived and worked and
sometimes half starved, with the most cheerful
hearts in the world. Some day they would all
make their fortunes!
"My dears," said Mirella at last, gazing
into the teapot with deep interest, "there is
still a cup left. What, won't you or Freda
have it? Then I will! Sphinx, there are two
teaspoonfuls of milk; you shall have one and I
the other. No! it is no use turning a great
green eye on me! No more can you have till
the milkman comes to-morrow morning-and
he isn't here yet. 'The Spanish fleet you
cannot see, because it is not yet in sight,' my
cat!"
"As you have begun to chatter again,"
remarked Estelle, beginning to clear away the
tea-things, "you may as well chatter about the
coincidence!"
"Wait till we are tidy and all rid-up, and
I have got the d'oyly that I am inventing for
the Ladies' Paper," said Mirry, who was not
above turning her pencil to anything. "I can
do that with my feet on the fender and talk
as well, though I pity the person who will
carry out my conception with hook and cotton.
Of all the many ways of wasting time the







IN COREGGIO FLATS.


construction of d'oylys, which are of no use to
any mortal creature, seems to me the most
tedious, but fortunately tastes differ, and so the
dear things employ me to design them. There!
now we are all in order I will go on with my
thrilling tale. Let me see, where did I leave
off?"
"Where the lady who floated between
middle-age and youth went away with the red-
bearded man," said Freda.
"It sounds like a penny dreadful," remarked
Mirella. "But to continue; it soon became
so dark that I had to go away also, and as it
was early, I thought I would look up the Comp-
tons and see how the flower business went on.
Poor old Colonel Compton! If he knew that
his daughters kept a shop in London he would
turn in his grave, I am
S1 sure! However, it was a
good thing I did, for I
found them
': both down
S / with influenza;
S.M ^ ]Emily in bed
,.- and Charlotte
Only just able
to keep about.
-They were in a







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


dreadful state too, because they had undertaken
to decorate a very swell dinner-table for this
evening. Charlotte was absolutely going out
to do it, though she could hardly crawl: so I
just whipped up all the flowers I could lay hands
on and went off instead, for you know that I
can always twist a few flowers about."
"And make them look six times as well
as other people!" Estelle threw in.
"Thank you, sweetheart!" cried Mirry. "I
would get up and make you a curtsey for that
compliment, only it would delay the d'oyly!
However, I arrived at the house, which was in
Queen's Gate, and was shown to the dining-
room by a very affable young footman: and
when I opened the box and saw the lovely
flowers, I quite warmed to my work and was
perfectly absorbed in it, when I heard an ex-
clamation of astonishment, and looking round,
there was my young-old lady!"
"Well, that was a curious coincidence!
Was she the lady of the house?"
"She was."
"And the red-bearded man was the master,
I suppose ?" said Freda, who had left her lesson
books, and was sitting on the rug nursing
Sphinx.
"I don't know; he wasn't there! She had







IN COREGGIO FLATS.


a girl about eleven with her-such a lovely
child; just like Carpaccio's angel; the one with
the big lute, you know."
"That is the one Tom says you are like,"
remarked Estelle.
"Oh! that is just Tom's nonsense. How-
ever, we-the lady and I-stared at each other
considerable, as the American girl says, both
of us struck all of a heap. Then she broke
into a little laugh.
"'I had no idea that you were Miss Comp-
ton,' she said.
"'But I am not Miss Compton,' I cried;
'they are friends of ours, and they are both so
ill with influenza they were not fit to come out.
I hope you will not mind,' I went on; 'I have
helped them before."
"She glanced at the table and smiled.
"'I do not mind at all,' she said. 'It
seems coming very well. But do not let me
interrupt you.'
"So I went on and she stood and watched
me."
"Didn't that make you nervous?" asked
Freda.
"Nervous! Ah, the National is the place
to get rid of your nerves, my love. You grow
as hard as a door-nail. Besides, I had a plan:







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


if you have a plan in your head it doesn't
matter if twenty people look on. It is only when
I am undecided that I am nervous. It is the
same as a picture; if you see it clear in your
mind's eye before you begin, it is really the
same as copying. So I went on calmly and
she watched till I had finished.
"'Will it do?' I said; I was a bit anxious,
for the Comptons' sake, you know.
"'It will do admirably. It is artistic-and
uncommon. Is it your idea or Miss Compton's?'
"'It was partly theirs, partly mine. I
swept up all the flowers in the shop I thought
would do when they told me that your room
wanted warm tints.'
"'They are right. Well, thank you, Miss--'
She hesitated, and then added, 'Will you tell
me your name?'
"'My name is Courtfield,' I said, 'Mirella
Courtfield.'
"At that she gave quite a start. 'Mirella!'
she said quickly. 'Is your name Mirella? That
is very uncommon.'
"'It was my Mother's name,' I answered.
'Yes, I suppose it is uncommon.'
"'Was she--' she began, and then she
stopped. 'I beg your pardon,' she said; "of
course I must seem rude to question you, but







IN COREGGIO FLATS.


do you mind telling
me if you are of for-
eign birth-French or
Italian?'
"'Oh, dear, no,'
I answered. 'My
father was an English
clergyman; he had a
living down in Berk-
shire.'
"I think she
would have asked me
some more questions, but just then the girl--"
"The angel girl ?" said Freda.
"Yes, the angel girl who had slipped away
came running back to her mother and said
father wanted to speak to her.
"'And it is time I went to dress, also,' she
said. 'Good evening, Miss Courtfield.' And she
actually came and shook hands with me-fancy,
what condescension, my dears-and looked at
me very intently. 'Good-bye,' she went on;
'I shall soon go to the Gallery to see your
picture. And I thank you very much for your
beautiful decorations.'
"Then she went away, and so did I, and
took the penny 'bus as far as it came. Now,
wasn't that a curious coincidence ?"







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


"Yes, it was," said Estelle. "But who is
the lady? You must have heard her name from
the Comptons."
"Yes, she is a Mrs. Ford. They are very
rich-tremendously rich. My dear, the cost of
the flowers and fruit on the table alone would
have furnished us royally for three months with
all the delicacies of the season, and paid the
rent too. And the house! Oh, it was splendid!
They had pictures-real pictures. A 'Clara
MVontalba' in the dining-room; one of her golden-
white visions of Venice; and there was one in
the hall must have been a Burne-Jones: a great
solemn figure with folded wings and heavy
draperies and a face which almost makes your
heart stop beating, so wonderful and mysterious
and burdened with thought it is. Yes, they
must be rich-but they have ideas as well as
wealth."
"I wonder why she asked you about being
foreign," said Estelle musingly; "and, Mirry, I
think we are partly so. I am sure Mother was
French: only she died when we were too young
to take any interest in the matter or talk to
her about it."
"I thought if anything she was Spanish,"
answered Mirry. "Father met her when he
was Chaplain at Lima, didn't he?"







IN COREGGIO FLATS.


"Yes, but they came to England almost
directly they were married. I can't remember
her much," went on Estelle, "though I was
nine years old when she died. She was always
so delicate and we were kept in the nursery.
We used to be taken to see her every day and
told to be very quiet. She used to lie on a
couch and look so whitened and sad. We must
look over the old papers some day and see if
we can learn anything about her family."
"There is that old desk," said Mirella, "the
one that belonged to her father, and papa said
once had a secret drawer in it. I have often
meant to ask Tom if he could find where it
was. Oh, who is that at the door? Wasn't
there a knock?"
"I should not wonder if it was Tom him-
self," said Freda, getting up with Sphinx
in her arms and going to open the door. And
then came the sound of a cheery voice and a
tall young man followed her back into the
room.















CHAPTER II.


AN OLD, OLD SECRET.


TOM DENTON was an artist of course. Nearly
everyone who lived in that particular block
of buildings was connected with art, save a few
ladies who went in for journalism or type-
writing. They were all very poor, those dwellers
in Coreggio Flats, but generally very happy,
and helped one another at a pinch in true
fraternal fashion. Had they not all subscribed
out of their penury to pay Charlie Thorpe's
rent while he lay so long ill at the hospital,
so as to keep a home for his little sister? And
when any festivities were going forward, did
not everybody lend the giver of the feast
spoons and cups and plates and chairs, and the
girls make cakes and jellies for the men, and
the men do carpentering and mending jobs for
the girls? And when they met together of an
evening what concerts they had, what carica-
tures they drew, and what a flow of wit and







AN OLD, OLD SECRET.


fun and careless good-humour, though perhaps
some hardly knew where the next dinner was
to come from, or felt sure that that ceremony
would be omitted altogether from the day's en-
gagements. Of course they were all going to
be famous some time, and meanwhile they
fleeted the time carelessly as in the golden days.
Tom Denton was quite one of the leaders
among those bright spirits in Coreggio Flats.
All acknowledged his genius and respected his
character. Some of his comrades called him
Sir Galahad because of his upright life and his
noble ideal. He was a distant cousin of the
girls, and from the day they had come to London
they had found in him a true friend and helper.
In his own mind he had two great objects before
him: first, to become a really great artist-and
specially a painter of religious subjects; to move
men and women's hearts to noble thoughts of
faith and love and purity and goodness: secondly,
to marry Mirella Courtfield. Of this last, hither-
to, he had said nothing. He found it hard
enough to earn his own living and to help a
widowed step-mother, and to do it he had to
give much time to black-and-white work-to
illustrations of books and magazines.
He was a tall, slender, graceful man of
about six-and-twenty, with a shock of dark







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


hair and large, luminous, greenish-grey eyes
which fastened on anything that interested him
with a peculiarly intent gaze. But this evening
there was an unusual air about him as of some-
thing of change and anxiety.
"Good evening," said Mirella, looking up
from where she sat with her drawing-board on
her knee and her feet on the fender; "excuse
my getting up, please; I am deep in row
number i6."
What," he said, smiling and coming behind
so he could see her work, "are you wasting
your time over that rubbish ?"
"Nothing is waste or rubbish which brings
in twopence halfpenny," she said, sagely nodding
her auburn head. "You do not consider that
there are a great many people whose object in
life is to kill Time. They sit smiling surrounded
by murdered Hours-strewn round them like
the Babes of Bethlehem, and if you can supply
these good people with innocent instruments
for the purpose, they are grateful. They are
generally harmless middle-aged ladies who live
in remote country villages: they also find out
puzzles as supplied by the various magazines.
Those exercises are very good for them, for
they sharpen their wits, which are liable to
grow a little rusty from the damp-country







AN OLD, OLD SECRET.


villages are generally damp, you know-and it
is a thousand times better than scandal, to
which there are great temptations in such
neighborhoodss"
"I daresay you are right," he said, with a
laugh, sitting down by the fire. He sat silent
for a few moments and then said somewhat
abruptly, "I have come to tell you some news."
"News," they cried simultaneously, while
Mirella's board went down on the hearthrug
with a bang. "What news? Have you sold
your picture?"
"No, not such luck as that, but-I am
going to Italy."
"To Italy! How
splendid!" But even i I
as they spoke, and
genuinely glad as they
were for him, a faint
shadow crept over the
girlish faces. Tom i
going away! What
should they do with-
out him ?
"But how has it
come about?"
It was Mirella who
asked the question.







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


She had picked up her board and laid it aside;
then she put her elbows on her knees, her chin
on her hands, and stared at the fire.
"Hilsden is going to write a book on some
of the old cities, Brescia, Bergamo, Siena, Perugia,
and he has asked me to go with him and do
the illustrations. The publishers have offered
me very handsome terms, and it will be a
splendid opportunity of studying the great Italian
painters-a thing I have long wanted to do."
"And how long will you be away?"
"Six months at least. Ah, if you could
all come as well!" he added, with a sigh.
"If we only could-oh, if we only could!"
said Mirry, half under her breath; "or if even
Estelle could go and get away from the fog
and the cold. Fancy, Tom, she had to go out
to-day-to-day, in this bitter wind and rain, to
give that Farren girl her lesson. It was too
bad weather for that great, fat, strong creature
to come here, though she could have come in
a carriage, but not too bad for Essie, and I
can hear her chest is worse to-night!"
"Oh, no, it isn't," Estelle interrupted; "what
nonsense you talk, Mirry. And when do you
start, Tom ?"
"Next week."
"I am so glad for you," went on Estelle,






,ItA I
Jcy 1.
4r


i/~'i.~W/IIi/I/It//I"1 -


"Mirella opened the desk."


( IN-







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


" so glad; it will be delightful, but-but we
shall miss you very much. I don't really know
what we shall do without you."
"Don't forget me," he said half playfully,
half anxiously.
"We will try not," said Mirry, suddenly
recovering herself. "We will make your portrait.
Item, two grey eyes. Item, one nose-aquiline,
do you call it? Item, one moustache, &c., &c.
Then we will say it over every day so as not
to let your features escape our memory. You
see you have never condescended to give us
your photo."
"I will give it you if you care to have it,"
he said humbly.
A mischievous little smile curled for a
moment Mirella's lips. She thought of a certain
sketch which she had once made from memory,
and which she had never shown even to Estelle,
and which was more truly like him than any
photo could be.
"Thank you," she said demurely, after a
moment; "thank you; we shall value your photo
very much."
"Mirry," exclaimed Estelle indignantly,
"how can you talk to Tom in that way!"
"Oh, Tom," said Mirella, changing her tone
and taking no notice of Estelle's reproof, "do







AN OLD, OLD SECRET.


you know we were talking about you when you
came in, and saying we would ask you to do
something for us. Estelle, where is that old
desk? Oh, I remember! I will fetch it, and
then Tom can look at it now, because when he
comes back he may be so celebrated--"
She was out of the room before she had
completed her sentence, and in a minute re-
turned, carrying a large old-fashioned writing-
desk, which she put on the table.
"There!" she said, "there it is."
"What about it?" asked Tom.
"That is our grandfather's or great-grand-
father's desk," she replied, "our mother's father,
you know; and it is supposed to contain a secret
drawer wherein are papers of incalculable value.
But the secret is lost and nobody knows how
to open this said drawer. Nobody knows either
what the papers are: but something happened
to-day which made us think of it. We do re-
collect the mystery every five years or so and
then forget it again. So do look and see if
you can find it out."
"Have you the key? I see it is locked."
"Yes, here it is." She opened the desk
as she spoke. It was worn and shabby, the
velvet thread-bare and ink-stained. It was also
full of papers.







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


"Those are father and mother's love letters,"
she said softly, touching a bundle of yellow,
faded papers, "also some early epistles of Estelle's,
and a poem she wrote when she was twelve,
of which poor father was immensely proud.
And there are some notes of Father's sermon
which mother made when they were engaged,
and a lot of treasures which people foolishly
keep to make them cry later on in life. But
the secret drawer we have never found."
"May I take the papers out?" he said.
They put them all on the table and Tom
began to examine the desk.
Oh, yes," he exclaimed after a few minutes,
during which they all stood watching him with
profound interest, "it is here." He touched
the part beneath the division for pens and ink
at the top of the desk. "Do you not see that
there is greater depth there than is accounted
for by the open spaces? Oh, yes, it isn't a very
secret drawer; any carpenter could have shown
you at once. There will be a spring here
somewhere."
He took out his pen-knife and with the
point tried along one little compartment which
was divided by a sloping piece of wood. In
a moment he found that this went in a tiny
groove, and slipping it out, a small brass spring







AN OLD, OLD SECRET.


was revealed. He pressed it, and immediately
a thin veneer of wood the whole breadth of the
desk sprang out and showed the knobs of three
small drawers.
The girls gave a cry of astonishment.
"How clever you are," said Mirella; "really,
I begin to think that the masculine mind has
advantages over the feminine. No, never shake













your lengthy locks at me, Freda, I do really!
Now, Estelle, you are the eldest. Pull open the
drawer, my dear."
But Estelle hesitated. She was pale and
almost trembling. "Shall I?" she said. "I am
half frightened. What old, old secret shall we
not find?"
"But that is just what we want to find!"
cried Mirry. "My dear, it is lucky you have a







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


practical, hard-as-nails sister without any senti-
mental nonsense about her. Pull, Estelle, pull!"
So urged, Estelle pulled, and the little
drawer came out with a jerk. There was
nothing in it but a bit of faded ribbon, a dried-
up stalk as of a flower, and a little dust.
They all laughed a little, but their laughter
had a nervous ring in it.
"Try the next," said Freda, leaning for-
ward with her elbows on the table.
The drawer came out slowly, unwillingly.
Something seemed to catch in the edge. Estelle
had to shake and pull several times before they
could see that in it lay a folded paper, a letter.
It was yellow with age, written on the large
letter paper and folded and sealed after the
fashion of a hundred years ago, before the idea
of envelopes had dawned on men's minds.
Estelle took it up and turned it over and
over.
"I don't understand," she said hesitat-
ingly; "it seems never to have been opened!"
"Not opened!" The others bent to look.
"See," she went on, "the seal has not
been broken-and the address has been altered.
Can you read it, Freda? You have such sharp
eyes. The ink is so faded I can hardly see it
at all."







AN OLD, OLD SECRET.


Freda took it in her thin, girlish fingers.
"It was addressed to Mr. Peter Causland,"
she said, reading it slowly, "No. 26-no, 27, I
think, Austinfriars; but that has been crossed
out, and written over is, M. Raubaincourt,
Cadiz, Spain."
"It has been returned unopened," remarked
Tom; "that is curious. Mr. Peter Causland
was dead, I suppose. Will you open it and
see what it says?"
The three girls looked at each other.
"Yes," said Mirry, "but let us search the
other drawer first; there may be something
more. Now, Freda,
you try your luck!"
Freda gave a
good hard pull and
the drawer came out
in a hurry. Yes, in .'
it was another letter
addressed to the same
person and also re-
turned unopened.
They put the two
letters on the table
side by side and
glanced at each in
silence. A feeling of







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


depression, a strange sadness possessed them,
a sense of mystery, as if the griefs and anguish
of a hundred years ago had risen up ghost-like
and weird to haunt them.
"I almost wish, Estelle, that we had not
looked," murmured Mirella, shivering and look-
ing apprehensively over her shoulder. "I feel
as if a dozen spooks had suddenly glided into
the room and were gibbering at me from the
corners."
"Nonsense," said Freda, who was too young
to be sentimental, "I call it most interesting-
awfully interesting. And do you see that those
letters are not addressed by the same person?
Look, Tom!"
"I see. One is by a man, and the other
by a woman, I should say," he answered.
Then a little silence fell, a hesitation. No
one seemed to like to suggest anything.
"Shall we put it back, and shut it all up
again?" said Estelle at last, almost in a whisper.
"No," said Mirry; "no, it really would be
too foolish. Let us open it-that one first," she
pointed to the letter which they had discovered
in the first drawer. "Where are the scissors,
for we won't break the seal. Ah," she went
on, as she looked closer at it, "it is the same
as that ring father used to wear which mother







AN OLD, OLD SECRET.


gave him, with a castle and a knight's helmet
on the stone; that, then, will be the family
crest. Let us cut it round."
The scissors were produced and Mirella
cut carefully round the seal and slowly unfolded
the large, old sheet of paper.
"Read it aloud, Mirry," said Estelle.
"It is dated 'Cadiz, Nov. 21, 1816," read
Mirella, slowly deciphering the faded writing,
"and then it goes on:-

"'MY HONOURED FATHER-
"'When we parted on that terrible night,
the memory of which will never be effaced
from my recollection, you
bade me never address you
again, and knowing the firm-
ness of your character, I have
not dared for these
three years even to
think of disobeying
/ your commands. But
it has pleased Al-
mighty God in His
S/ infinite goodness to
'/i give to us that great
gift--a child of our
own, and since my







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


little daughter has come to my arms, there has
awakened in my heart a great and overwhelm-
ing sense of the wicked undutifulness ot my
conduct to you, and an ever present and burn-
ing desire for your fatherly forgiveness. In
this desire my dear husband, who has been to
me the kindest and tenderest of friends, joins
with the most solicitous wishes, and implores
you with me for some sign or word of pardon
which will indeed give us the only thing we
need for perfect happiness, and remove the one
thorn from our pillow. Though not daring to
apply to you before, it has been my most
anxious wish to hear of your welfare from mutual
friends, and a great satisfaction to know that
new ties and interests have softened the lone-
liness of your life. Honoured sir, once more
I implore you to pardon your erring and un-
dutiful daughter, and so lift from her heart the
burden which is never absent from it.
"'Your most humble and unworthy daughter,
"'MIRELLA DE RAUBAINCOURT.'

"Mirella!" exclaimed Freda, "Mirella!
That is where you get your name from, then."
"I suppose so. She must be an ancestress
of ours. A great-grandmother of ours. But
what does it all mean?"








AN OLD, OLD SECRET.


"It means that her father was dead, or
obdurate," said Tom, "and someone sent back
the letter unopened. Had you not better read
the other?"
"It is the same seal," said Freda, scrutin-
ising it, "a knight's helmet and a castle."
Again Mirella opened the letter. It was
also from Cadiz, and was dated "June 16, 1817,"
and ran thus:-

"SIR-
"It is my melancholy duty to acquaint you
with the sad news of the death of your daughter
and my dearest wife, which took place a fort-
night ago after a few days' illness, from fever.
The return of her letter in which she so urgently
prayed for your forgiveness for what she deemed
her undutiful conduct-her conscience being of
the tenderest-greatly afflicted her, and I can-
not but think that the recollection of your harsh-
ness towards so tender and loving a creature
will make some impression even on your un-
yielding nature. But now it is too late-too
late-and words of pardon or of reproach
are the same to her.
"I beg to subscribe myself, sir,
"Your humble servant,
"HENRI DE RAUBAINCOURT."







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


"Poor great-grandmother!" said Estelle
softly, "poor great-grandmother! I wonder what
she did that made her father so unrelenting.
What a strange peep into the dead and gone
past! Let us put the letters away again. They
are of no use to anybody, and certainly of no
value, save for their pathetic story. I wonder
if the old father ever heard of her death in any
other way-and was sorry?"
"But there is something more here," cried
Freda suddenly. She had pulled the drawer
quite out, and at the back was a little packet.
"It is a picture-a miniature," she went on,
as she slowly unfolded the thin paper. "Why,"
she stared aghast and round-eyed at the tiny
portrait, "it is-Mirella!"
"What are you talking about ?" they all
cried. "Have you gone off your head, Freda?
How can Mirry's portrait be there?"
"But it is," persisted Freda. "Look, Essie;
look, Tom-is it not the very image of her?"
They stared at the miniature and then they
glanced at one another almost consternated.
"How extraordinary!" gasped Estelle.
"Is it really like me ?" asked Mirella, taking
the tiny piece of ivory in her hand. "Am I
really like'that?" A little colour flushed into
her cheeks as she spoke.







AN OLD, OLD SECRET.


"If you were dressed in that costume, you
might have sat for the portrait," answered Tom.
"Is there any name upon it, Freda?"
But no. There was no name, not even an
initial, neither on the ivory itself nor on the
paper that had enveloped it.
"But it will be this poor girl," said Essie,
"this poor Mirella who wrote the letter. Oh!
I wish we could know her history, and what
she had done to offend her father so terribly."
"I expect she ran away," said Freda, in
a matter-of-fact tone; "and I don't blame her.
He must have been a horrid old man not even
to open her letters and read what she had
to say!"
The letters and the portrait were put again
in the drawer, which now was no longer secret;
the desk locked and put away. Then Tom rose
to go.
"Mirry," he said, "can you spare time for
the service at Westminster Abbey to-morrow
morning? I should so like to go with you once
before I leave, and I know you will be going
to the National to-morrow, as it is Friday."
"Yes," she answered, "I will go, Tom. I
will meet you at the north transept door if
you like."















CHAPTER III.


THE ABBEY CLOISTERS.

T was almost as dark as night in the Abbey
when Mirella and Tom entered it the next
morning, for there was a fog, and the great build-
ing was wrapped in deepest gloom. The light
at the stalls for the clergy and choristers
glimmered faintly on the white surplices, and
touched the great columns which rose up lofty
and mysterious, to lose themselves in the sombre
shade of the arching roof. As the voice of the
priest rose in the darkness and the chanting
of the choir, it seemed to Mirella as if it might
be some midnight service of long ago, when
the old monks came in from the cloister and
the dormitory to sing Prime in the winter dawn.
Mirella was feeling unusually sad, unusually
depressed for her. Her buoyant, sunny tempera-
ment carried her cheerfully through so much;
her warm, affectionate, loving nature, her eager,






THE ABBEY CLOISTERS.


vivid interest in life, and beyond all, a deep
strain of sincere faith which only her most inti-
mate friends suspected in her, had sustained
her through the anxieties and sorrows and
privations they had had to encounter since
their father's death had left the three to battle,
almost friendless and penniless, with the world.
Mirella very seldom spoke on religious matters;
she made very little outward profession. She
had so deep a horror of unreality in such mat-
ters, that she erred perhaps too much on the
other side, but nevertheless she had a profound
realisation of the truth of the spiritual life. But
this morning a great depression had fallen upon
her; life looked very dark-dark as the great
Abbey filled with the November fog. Tom,
their best friend-she would not acknowledge
even to herself yet that he was more than that
to her-was going away. Then there were
other causes for much anxiety. When her
picture was finished-and it was very nearly
complete-she might have to wait a long time
for her money, and she had no other commission
of importance to look forward to. Their funds
were getting low, just as expenses of light and
firing were increasing, and the worst of all,
a great fear, a great uneasiness, had sprung
up in her mind concerning Estelle's health.







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


But the service soothed and comforted her.
Even to be in the great Abbey-and surely for
profound interest it has hardly its peer in
Europe-helped her. The thought came into her
head of all the passionate prayers that had
risen from devout and sorrowing souls beneath
those mighty arches, that grand and lofty roof.
For nigh upon a thousand years no day had
passed when the praise of God had not risen
there morning and evening, till the very stones
seemed instinct with the spiritual life. And of
those who had prayed and wept and worshipped,
how many had come to rest there also. All
that was greatest and most noble in the na-
tional life, King and Prelate, and Monk, States-
man, Poet, and Warrior, hapless Princess and
lonely Queen-all slept their last sleep beneath
those shadowing columns. All that had most
stirred the national heart and the nation's life
rested here under their sculptured stones, till
the last trumpet shall sound and the Great
White Throne shall be set, and the dead, small
and great, shall stand before God to give
account of the deeds done in the flesh! Can any
English man or English woman pass along
these aisles, and read the mighty roll, that
Procession of the Dead, without feeling the
heart swell and the eyes fill at the thoughts







THE ABBEY CLOISTERS.


that pour into the mind; -without making the
resolve that as these have lived and died nobly,
and done their work for England, so it behoves
all her sons and daughters to live [purely, to
bear their share in the national duty nobly;
to raise and maintain the national Ideal!








., -. -.--.-





---




It was the fifteenth day of the month, on
which the 77th Psalm is sung, and the words
went home as the sweet voices of the choristers
rose and fell: "When I am in heaviness I will
think upon God: when my heart is vexed, I
will complain. Hath God forgotten to be gra-
4







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


cious; and will He shut up His loving-kindness
in displeasure? And I said, It is mine own in-
firmity, but I will remember the years of the
right hand of the Most Highest."
As the service drew to an end the fog had
lifted and a pale light began to filter in, reveal-
ing the spring of the groined roof, the tracery
of the windows, and all the interlacing of co-
lumn and arch beyond the Confessor's shrine.
The clergy and choir streamed away, a white
sinuous line amid the faint brown tints; the
congregation passed out of the choir.
"Let us go into the cloisters," said Tom,
in a low voice; "if it is not too cold we can
sit there a minute. I want to have a word or
two with you, Mirry, about the future. You
will write to me," he said, as they sat down
under the grey old arches, "and tell me how
all goes on."
"Yes, of course we will-and Tom, I
wanted to ask you something so much."
"Yes, what is it, Mirry?"
"If, when you are there, you saw or heard
of any cheap place where Estelle could go,
will you tell me? Oh, I am so unhappy about
her." Mirry's voice broke almost into a sob.
"Unhappy! Why, do you think she is
really ill ?"







THE ABBEY CLOISTERS.


"Yes, I do-or she will be. It is this dread-
ful London life, this fog and damp, this going
out in all weathers, the drag and the toil and
the weariness. Last year, when she had the
influenza, the Doctor said she ought not to
live here; that she wanted purer air. But what
can we do? My work is here, her work is
here, and Freda's school, and we cannot throw
away her scholarship; and if we went else-
where we might starve. And yet to think
how little might save her! I lie awake at night
and think and think how I can earn more,
and there seems no way. A hundred pounds
and she could go away comfortably for the
winter. Only a hundred pounds-and yet I
might as well cry for the moon. When I see
the rich people in their carriages and think
that the price of one dress or a brooch would
perhaps save Estelle's life, I feel like an
anarchist or a socialist or any other kind of 'ist'!
I feel as if I must rush and say, 'Give it me, it is
Estelle's life; give it me! You have no busi-
ness to have so much-you who never do a
stroke of honest work, and we who toil so hard
to have so little."'
"And yet," said Tom, slowly, "you would
be much too proud to take it if they did offer
it to you."







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


Mirella looked quickly at him, and then
laughed a little, sad, bitter laugh.
"Yes, I suppose I should," she said, "and
yet for Estelle I would even trample my pride
under foot. Ah, Tom, take my advice and get
rich-it is so very horrid to be so poor."
Tom shook his head.
"I am afraid I am no good for that," he
said; "the only thing I can do is to do the
best work I can, and see what comes-and the
first hundred pounds--" Then he stopped.
"Mirry," he went on after a moment, "you
will write to me and tell me how things go?"
"Of course we will."
"But I want you to write," he persisted.
"Mirry, I didn't think to say what I am going
to say yet, but I cannot leave without a word.
I should always think--"
"Think what, Tom?" she said, as he
paused.
"It is like this," he said. "Till I earn
more money I cannot marry, because of my
old step-mother, you know."
"Yes, I know."
"And I feel that I ought not to ask a girl
to bind herself to me, for perhaps years, without
any prospect; that would hardly be fair, do
you think it would ?"







THE ABBEY CLOISTERS.


"It depends-on circumstances-I should
say," answered Mirella, staring hard at a half-
worn-out "Hic jacet" on the cloister floor. "Per-
haps the girl might prefer to be sure that you
-that he-cared about her."
"Do you really think that?" he said, edging
a little nearer and looking eagerly in her face.
"But then she might see somebody else whom
she could like, and could marry at once."
"Oh, if she was that sort, perhaps so,"
said Mirry, with a fine scorn in her tone; "but
you might be sure she would throw you over
without much compunction then. I thought
you meant a-a nice-girl."
I do mean a nice girl," he went on quickly.
"I mean a very nice girl-your own self, Mirry.
I could not go away without having some
little hope that you care for me-that you will
wait for me, and be my wife when I can make
a home for you."
He had taken her hand as he spoke and
held it firmly in his, and she made no effort
to draw it away.
"Tom," she said, after a moment, in a low
voice, "do you really, really mean it?"
"Mean it," he said, "mean what, Mirry?"
"What you say. Do you really mean it?
You, the great artist that all say you must be-"







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


"You are laughing at me," he interrupted,
in a pained voice.
"I'm not laughing!" she whispered, "I'm
-crying!"
And to prove her words true, a great
tear splashed down on her jacket sleeve as
she spoke.
"But why are you crying?" he said, mys-
tified. "Have I offended you, Mirry?"
"I'm crying," she said, with a little choke,
"because I am so happy. Oh, Tom, if you had
gone away-and-and said nothing, I should
have been-well, nevermind what. Bound? Of
course I'll be bound-and I'll wait. Oh, Tom,
how stupid you men are, dear!"
It was perhaps half an hour after this last
speech that Mirella 'heard the clock strike
twelve.
"Oh, I must go," she said; "I *ought to
have been at work for hours, and see, the sun
is shining 'quite brightly. [Good-bye, Tom.
You will go to church with us on Sunday,
won't you? You don't go till Wednesday you
say?"
"Stay one minute," he answered. He put
his hand in his pocket and pulled out an old-
fashioned diamond ring. "It belonged to my
grannie," he went on, "and she gave it me the






















S-- -
















"He ptu the ring on and touched her lizs with his."







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


night before she died, and said it was for my
sweetheart. She was a dear old lady and used
dear old words. So now-sweetheart!"
G He put the ring on and touched her lips
with his. They thought they were alone; they
did not see that one of the Canons had just
come out of his door and witnessed the cere-
mony.
But the old gentleman only smiled and
nodded benevolently.
"God bless them," he murmured to himself.
"God bless them! How happy they look!"
That evening as Mirry sat down to tea on
her return from the National, Estelle caught
a glimpse of something flashing on her finger.
"Why, Mirry," she cried, "you have a new
ring!"
"Ah, yes, so I have," remarked Mirry,
looking at her hand as if she had not noticed
the fact before.
"Where did you get it?"
"I-I didn't steal it."
"I don't suppose you did. But who gave
it you? I am sure you did not buy it."
"I know," said Freda, looking up from her
book which she had put by the side of her
plate, so as not to lose any time. "Tom has
given it to her-and I suppose she is engaged







THE ABBEY CLOISTERS.


to him." Freda spoke with the matter-of-
fact tone and absence of enthusiasm which often
amused her sisters.
"How did you guess that, you monkey?"
cried Mirella.
"Oh, I've known it a long time. Tom
told me-years ago!" remarked Freda, sinking
back into her Horace again. She was learning
an ode to recite at a prize-giving function the
following week.
"But, Mirry," said Fstelle, coming to her
side, "is it true?"
"Yes, I suppose so."
"Mirry, my darling Mirry!"
"Estelle! "
The girls looked at one another a moment,
and then Estelle's arms were round Mirella's
neck and to Freda's great astonishment, Mirella
began to cry!
"Are you sorry? Aren't you happy?" the
girl cried. "I think you are very lucky, for
Tom is awfully clever! "
"There are moments, my child," said
Mirella, recovering herself "when you cry be-
cause you are happy. Extremes meet, you
know. But I do not think that it is Tom's
cleverness that is altogether his highest quality."
"No, not his highest quality," Freda







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


replied; "but still it is awfully nice to be clever,
especially if you are poor. If you are rich it
doesn't matter about being stupid-at least, not
so much; but to be stupid and poor means
living in a hole all your life. I hate the idea
of living in a hole; and I'm so afraid I am
not clever enough to get out of it."
"On to the mountain top?" said Mirry.
"Yes, on to the mountain top," went on
Freda, poising her grave young face on her
hands as her elbows rested on the table. "Of
course one can work terrifically hard-but it
wants more. Now, there are half a dozen of
the assistant mistresses at our school who will
never be Heads."
"And your mountain top means a Head-
mistress-ship ?"
"Yes, if I am not a Head by the time I
am thirty-five -that is twenty years from now
-I shall write myself down a failure!"
"But perhaps you will do what Mirry is
going to do-get married and emerge from
your hole that way?"
"No, I shan't do that, though I am glad
Mirry will be married, because it is so con-
venient to have a man in the family to ask
about business, you know. Ellen Middleton
says her brother-in-law is very useful: he's







THE ABBEY CLOISTERS.


a stockbroker, and
always knows what to
invest their money in."
"I am afraid Tom
will not be any good
in that way," remarked
Mirella gravely; but
then it matters less,
as we have no money
to invest. But you
might do something
Sin that line! A rich
Sbanker-though I ex-
pect a very learned
professor would per-
haps have more chance."
"No, that would be somebody else's moun-
tain top," answered Freda. "I would rather
have one of my own. To be Head at Chelten-
ham or Holloway! I might be, you know."
"Of course you might. Any curate may
be Archbishop of Canterbury, and any school-
girl may be a Head. It's splendid to have a
great, clear, far-off goal before you to work
up to. But, Freda, isn't it time you went to
your Confirmation class? Are you going to call
for Ellen Middleton?"
"Yes." The girl rose as she spoke. "I







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


shall have plenty of time, and the Canon
generally keeps us waiting a few minutes."
"Are your questions all done?" asked
Estelle.
"Rather!" Freda's grave face broke into
a grim smile. "I wonder what the Canon
would say if they were not. Besides, I love
doing them. Ellen and I always agree to put
in something, some question or other which
makes him keep us in and talk when the others
are gone. He's splendid then."
The girl went away with a light in her
clear, young, steadfast eyes which looked out
so gravely and thoughtfully at the world. The
two sisters gazed after her a moment, almost
wistfully.
"What a splendid woman she will make,"
said Mirella. "Tom ought to have waited for
her."
"You will suit him much better," answered
Estelle, laughing a little. "Freda is too self-
contained, too self-reliant. But I am so thank-
ful that she has come under Canon Lifford's
influence: she was growing hard, and in a
way, worldly, but now she is being transformed.
The love of Christ, the passion for humanity.
Don't you notice how much more unselfish she
is, how thoughtful for others, how affectionate







THE ABBEY CLOISTERS.


and tender to us? It is beginning even to affect
her manners; she is far less abrupt, much more
courteous and gentle."
"Yes, I have seen. Don't you remember
how she used to flop herself down right in
front of the fire and never care if others were
tired or cold, or if there was a place for them?
Now she keeps away unless we insist, and she
gets up early in the morning and helps a great
deal before school time, and has been mending
up her old things to give away, though she
does not like needle-work. That is what I call
real religion-not rushing off to church and
leaving others to do all the work, or making
yourself a perfect nuisance by insisting on
having fish specially bought and cooked for
you on Fridays, while your family have to re-
gale themselves on the coldest of mutton scraps.
If Freda had taken that sort of religion, I should
have whipped her!"
"There was not much fear; Freda is too
clear-sighted, too sincere. That sort of cere-
monial religion suits stupid, conceited people:
it makes them feel superior to others. I met
Lily Middleton to-day; what you have said
made me think of her. She had been to St.
Catherine's, and was coming past just as I came
out of St. Olave's; I had time to go in there







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


for the quarter-past eleven o'clock service be-
tween my two lessons, and she said in her little
dictatorial way, that she didn't approve of the
'teaching' at St. Olave's! She wasn't sure that
Canon Lifford was 'sound.' Just fancy an igno-
rant little person, who never reads any theology
or anything else but a feeble novel, setting up
to judge a man like the Canon-one of the
best scholars and theologians of the day!"
"Yes, it is that which drives her sister Ellen
so wild-Ellen is clever and sees through it
all. But there is a ring. It is the postman."
Mirella flew out and returned with a letter.
"It is for me," she said, "but I don't
know the handwriting. Who can it be from?"
"Open it, my dear, and you will know."
Mirella obeyed. She looked at the address
heading the page, and then at the signature
over-leaf; her face flushed, and then went
quite white.
"Estelle," she gasped.
"What is it? Is anything the matter?"
Estelle started to her feet with that look of
fear in her face which comes so readily to those
who have had many misfortunes, and anything
sudden seems as if it must always be some
fresh trouble.
"No, no, don't be frightened. It is only







THE ABBEY CLOISTERS.


a great surprise. It is from that lady, that
Mrs. Ford-where I went to decorate the dinner-
table, and who saw my picture at the National.
She wants to know if I will go down to their
country house and paint two children's por-
traits. She wants to know my terms! Oh,
Estelle, what shall I do?"
"Do? Why, go, of course!" cried Estelle.
"It will be splendid for you!"
"But you?" said Mirella; "I cannot bear
to leave you alone-and all the cold winter
weather coming on and you not well!"
"Nonsense! I have only a little cold: it is
nothing, and I promise you to be very careful.
You must go. It may mean any number of
commissions: the first step on the road to
Fame!"
"I wonder where she got my address?"
"From the Comptons, no doubt."














CHAPTER IV.


THE OLD MOATED HOUSE.


M IRELLA sat alone in her third-class carriage
feeling rather nervous and with her heart
beating more quickly than was its wont. She
was nearing her destination; the next station
would be Wellesford, and she peered out with
anxious eyes at the fast darkening landscape.
Long lines of wooded hills lay on either side, and
now she caught a gleam of the river, and could
see a few cottages clustering round an old church
with a broach spire. Then they ran into the
station and she alighted, pulling out her bag
and easel and wondering where her box was.
"Beg your pardon, miss," said a voice be-
hind her. "Are you for Moteham Manor?"
Mirella turned round quickly and found her-
self addressed by a tall footman who was respect-
fully touching his hat.
"Yes," she said. "Have they sent to meet
me?"







THE OLD MOATED HOUSE.


"Yes, miss," he answered, taking up her
parcels; "the carriage is outside. Have you
any luggage, miss?"
"Yes, a portmanteau. Ah! the guard is
putting it out."
A carriage and pair stood outside the little
country station, and Mirella was soon bowling
away along a smooth road between two hedges;
then came the village with its twinkling lights,
and beyond the descent of a long hill. It was
almost night
when theyturned
in at some lodge .
gates, and in a I
few moments
more drew up
before a dark
mass of building \
from whose win-
dows glimmered
lights which to i
her astonish- I
ment were reflec- i
ted inanexpanse I
of water from
which apparent-
ly the house' .
rose. Then she







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


recollected that she had been told that it was
a moated house. She followed the footman
across a bridge and then under an arched door-
way into a courtyard.
This they crossed, and, passing in at a lighted
entrance and up a wide staircase, she was soon
shown into a room where she found Mrs. Ford
awaiting her.
"I am so glad you have come," she said
kindly. "Are you tired? I am sure you must
be cold. Will you have some tea now with
me before you go to your room? See, this is
Lucy," she went on, as two children came for-
ward to greet her. "I think you saw her be-
fore, and this," she indicated a child of about
seven who had been playing with a doll in the
corner of an old-fashioned sofa, "this is a little
namesake of yours: Mirella, or Myrrh, as we
often call her. It is curious about the name,
for it is an old family name of ours, and I have
never met with it elsewhere before."
"Are these my sitters that are to be?"
asked Mirry, who soon felt very much at home.
"Yes, these are our two girls. I have a
fancy to have them painted in somewhat of
medieval fashion. I think they will suit the
style and the style will suit them. But I do
not want to impose my ideas too much upon























A IIIi
-SW


"This is a little namesake of yours."







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


you. I am not enough of an artist for that.
You will have a free hand."
"Thank you," answered Mirella, gazing in-
tently at the children as they had resumed their
play. "I will think. But the setting," she
glanced round as she spoke at the quaint old
panelled room where they sat, "is inspiring.
This must be a very old house. I suppose it
has belonged to your family for many genera-
tions!"
"For not much more than one," replied
Mrs. Ford, with a smile. "My husband's great-
grandfather bought it of the poor people to
whom it had belonged for hundreds of years.
Poor things, I have always felt so sorry for
them; it must have been bitter to part with it.
The old man bought it not many years before
he died-he lived to be very old, close upon
a hundred. He made his fortune in the City.
We have always been City people-my husband
is still in business. But it is a most interesting
old place. Quite the show place of the neigh-
bourhood, which fact makes Fridays days of
penance to us."
"Ah! it is open to the public on Fridays?"
"Yes; however, it is better in the winter
when the roads are too muddy for any but the
most enthusiastic cyclists. But won't you have







THE OLD MOATED HOUSE.


any more tea? Then I will show you your
room, and also the studio I have arranged.
You must tell me what changes you would like
made in it."
She led the girl along corridors and up
and down short staircases, and at last paused
at a door.
"This is the studio," she said. "It is near
the nursery and school-room, so you can go in
and capture your sitters when you want them.
They are having a holiday just now, as their
governess is away; her father is very ill. The
room has a north light, though you cannot
appreciate that fact now."
She turned on the electric light as she spoke,
and Mirella saw a fair-sized room with a large
window. It was furnished as a sitting-room,
but an easel stood at one end and there were
some good prints and a few busts arranged on
the walls. From this room a door opened into
Mirella's bed-room, where a cheerful fire was
burning.
"I hope you will feel quite at home with
us," said Mrs. Ford very kindly. "You must
do just as you like, only I would like to claim
a little of your society if you can spare it, in
the gloaming, when you cannot paint; the girls
must take you walks and show you our pretty







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


country. We have one. or two people coming
to dinner to-night, but not a party. Can my
maid help you to dress?"
"Oh! no, thank you," said Mirella, laugh-
ing a little. "To tell you the truth she would
frighten me dreadfully; I have never had a
maid," she went on simply, "not in all my life.
You know we are quite poor: we do everything
for ourselves, we three sisters!"
"I think I envy you your sisters," said
Mrs. Ford a little sadly. "I was always alone,
a solitary child and girl till I married. I used
to envy girls so who had sisters and brothers.
I almost think I envy you your being poor!"
"Ah! but you would not like that," said
Mirella, making a little wry face. "It is not
nice, I assure you; besides, it takes up so much
time."
"So much time? How is that?"
"Yes, it is dreadful. When you want to
be painting and earning money-or at least
studying, so as to be able to do so-you have
housework and mending, or you have to think
how you can make the coals last, or if there
is any way of converting a scrap into a pass-
able dinner. It is a horrid waste of time. I
would like to live on bread and butter, but Estelle
says it is not good for Freda, who is growing







THE OLD MOATED HOUSE.


so tall. But Mrs. Ford, there is one thing.
May somebody come and show me the way
downstairs; because I am afraid I shall never
find it!"
"Of course," she laughed; "indeed I was
going to suggest that I should send Dale for
that. She shall come for you a few minutes
before eight. So au revoir."













Mirella soon completed her toilet. It did
not take her long to put on her one evening
dress of soft peacock blue silk and tie her
string of pale amber beads round her throat.
There was a small bookcase well filled with
books in her room, and taking out a volume
of old ballads she sat down to wait till she
should be fetched.
It was very quiet. Now and then she







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


heard a step go along the corridor, and once
the children's voices came ringing out as a door
opened and shut. Outside her window there
was a continual ripple of water, and the soft
sighing of wind among trees. A curious feeling
came over her as if she had been there before
and had so sat waiting for somebody-for some-
thing to happen. She put down her book and
sat musing by the fire, thinking of Tom, think-
ing of Estelle, and then-she knew not why-
thinking of the old desk, the hidden letters, and
the miniature that they all said was like herself.
She was glad when at last a knock came, and
Dale, a pleasant middle-aged woman, entered.
"My mistress has sent you some flowers,
miss," she said, showing a bunch of beautiful
creamy roses. "Ah! they will go well with
your dress. May I fasten them in for you?"
"Thank you ever so much," said Mirella.
She stood while the deft hands of the maid
arranged them.
"To-morrow, miss," said the maid, glancing
her over, "will you let me dress your
hair for you? I am very fond of dressing hair,"
she said half apologetically, "and yours would
be interesting to do."
"But will you have time?" hesitated
Mirella.







THE OLD MOATED HOUSE.


If you did not mind my doing yours first,"
she answered, "I could come a little early be-
fore my mistress would want me. But I mustn't
keep you now, miss. The bell will ring in a
minute."
She led the way along the corridor and
down various devious ways to the drawing-room.
Mrs. Ford was already there, and several guests.
She introduced the red-bearded man Mirella had
seen at the National Gallery as her husband,
and then a tall, middle-aged, clean-shaven
gentleman was brought across who she found
was to take her down to dinner. She did not
quite catch his name, but
thought it was Thorne.
Beside him there was
the Vicar of the parish
and his daughter, a rather
stylish young lady, who
regarded Mirella
critically, not quite
sure whether a girl
who painted por-
traits professionally
was worthy of her
Notice; two elderly
sisters who lived
in a pretty little







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


cottage near, and one or two stray men, country
squires or their sons.
Dinner was served, to Mirella's immense
delight, in a great hall with a lofty raftered
roof and a huge fireplace whereon smouldered
and crackled a wood fire. Some old tapestry
hung on the wall, varied with trophies of Indian
and Japanese weapons, and two or three por-
traits; one of these latter especially attracted
Mirella's attention.
"Whose portrait is it?" she enquired of
her neighbour, Mr. Thorne; "it is splendidly
painted."
"Yes, it is by Holl. It represents the
great-grandfather of our host in his eighty-
eighth year, ten years before he died."
"His eyes are fixed on me," said Mirella.
"I feel as if he was watching me with a cold,
cautious, considering gaze. He is saying to
himself, 'How far-no-how little is she to be
trusted."
"You have guessed his character with much
correctness," answered her companion, with an
amused smile. "He was a very cautious
person."
"You knew him?"
"Oh, yes; though not so well as my father,
who often spoke of him to me. But I had one







THE OLD MOATED HOUSE.


very singular interview with him in this very
house which I shall never forget."
"You are speaking of that portrait of my
respected ancestor," said Mr. Ford, with a laugh.
"I have seen your eyes fixed on him, Miss
Courtfield. He was the founder of the family,
so we give him the place of honour. Not so
distinguished a character as if he had been
born a few centuries earlier and had won his
spurs on some battlefield, but probably more
useful to his generation, seeing that he dealt
in coffee and spices, and seems to have treated
his customers well."
"What a delightfully aromatic business!"
said Mirella. "I love the smell of coffee, and
cloves are delicious!"
"Ah! you should have lived in the old
house in Austinfriars."
"Austinfriars!" Mirella looked up with a
start. "Did he live in Austinfriars?"
"Yes. Do you know it? But the old place
has been rebuilt now. It was a fine old place.
I have heard my mother say that one of the
rooms was panelled with cedar wood which
had never quite lost its fragrance."
"No, I have never been there: only I heard
of-someone who lived there once: someone
who we think was an ancestor of ours."







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


Mr. Thorne looked at her sharply, but just
then Mrs. Ford made the signal for the ladies
to rise, and they went upstairs again to the
drawing-room. When the gentlemen came up
Mr. Thorne was not among them. "He is
awfully sorry," she heard Mr. Ford say to his
wife, "but he has had a telegram and was
obliged to go at once. There was only just
time to catch the 10.13. He begged me to
make his apologies and excuses to you."
Then came a little music. Mrs. Ford played,
and one of the elderly ladies. Then Miss
Renshaw, the Vicar's daughter, was asked to
sing.
"No," she said, rather abruptly, "I can't
sing: I have a cold, and I am out of practice."
She was cross: Mr. Thorne's attentions
to Mirella and also his sudden departure had
put her out.
Mr. Ford looked a little vexed; something
must be done to make the evening "go"; he
had a rather heavy lot on his hands.
"Miss Courtfield," he said a little entreat-
ingly, "will you?"
"I too am a little out of practice," said
Mirella, who saw his difficulty, "but I will try,
if you will promise to be lenient in your judg-
ment. May I have that guitar?"-there was






' I '



e s g l










IJ


"Mirella sang a gay litle canzone."







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


one hanging on the wall--"I am more used to
singing to that than to the piano."
It was brought, while a little murmur of
interest passed through the room. Mirella
arranged herself and then sang a gay little
canzone which an Italian lady, who lived at
the Flats and gained a precarious existence by
teaching music and her own language, had
taught her in return for many kindnesses the
girls had shown her.
"I am sure I have heard that at Venice,"
said Mrs. Ford, as quite a little storm of applause
died away after Mirella had finished.
"I daresay. It was a Venetian who taught
it me."
"Do go on, Miss Courtfield," cried Mr. Ford.
"It is delightful. I can imagine myself out on
the dark mystery of the Canal listening to the
serenata."
Mirella sang once or twice more. Then she
stopped, saying she could not remember any-
thing else. By this time Miss Renshaw was
very cross indeed. She repented her refusal to
sing, and especially disliked being eclipsed by
this little girl who worked for her living. Just
a professional person!
"Do you teach music?" she said loftily to
Mirella later on in the evening.








THE OLD MOATED HOUSE.


-r d -,


"No. In music I am only an amateur."
"But you are a drawing-mistress, I under-
stand," she went on.
"I am so when I can get pupils," replied


-3(G
~=-
~




'r
?
P

f
R_--S







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


Mirella, with a laugh. "And what do you do ?"
she turned, with question for question. "Do
you teach anything?"
"I-I teach!" Miss Renshaw stared at
her aghast. "I think you misunderstand," she
began.
"Ah! we are all apt to do that," quietly
remarked Mirella, and walked away.
"You met your match there, Louise," said her
father, who had overheard the little passage of
arms-they were going home when he spoke.
"A good lesson, my child, not to be rude."
"I call her insufferably insolent," she cried.
"Just a little professional to talk to me so!"
"And is it not fifty times better to be a
professional, and do something really well," the
good clergyman replied, "than to be nothing-
a cumberer of the earth? My dear, I am
ashamed of you."
The next few days were very pleasant to
Mirella. She charmed the children into being
good sitters by telling them fairy stories, as
long as they sat quietly. In the afternoon they
took her long walks through the country, where
the woods still wore their golden livery of autumn,
though single and detached trees were bare of
leaves. In the dusk Mrs. Ford and she would
chat over the teacups, and in the evening there







THE OLD MOATED HOUSE.


was mostly some pleasant guest to dinner, and
music and chess afterwards. It was a thorough
holiday for Mirella-the pleasant wealthy life,
the quaint old house, the bright children, and
the interest of her work all charmed her.
Moreover, she had one curious talk with Dale,
the lady's maid, which puzzled and occupied her
thoughts a good deal.
Dale had persisted in coming to dress her
hair, which she made much more of than
Mirry herself had ever done. And while she
dressed it she would talk. One evening she
asked Mirella if she had seen the case of
miniatures in the library.
Mirella answered that she had not.
"There is one of them that is wonderful
like you, miss," went on the
woman. "You see, I know them
well because my
mistress put them
in my charge to .
keep dusted and .
in order, and one ,
is as like you as
if you had been '
painted for it! Will 7
you come down to- "
morrow morning






A FORGOTTEN LINK.


and let me show it you, miss? I am sure if I
was to dress your hair in that style, and put
you on a lace fichu my mistress had once for
some charades, everyone would say it was you."
"I must be a very common-looking person,"
said Mirry, laughing. "We have a miniature at
home which they say is like me. But whose
likeness is it?"
"Ah! that is the odd thing. Nobody knows.
Though my mother says she believes it is the
poor, lost young lady."
"The poor lost young lady!" echoed Mirry.
"Who in the world was she? Did your mother
live here?"
"Well, you see, miss, it is like this. My
grandmother was in the service of Mr. Ford's
great-grandfather when she was a girl and she
heard the story and told it to mother, and
mother told it to me. The old gentleman was
very stiff and stern, and his daughter-his eldest
daughter-married against his will a gentleman
who came to paint her portrait-or so they think
-and he turned her out of house and home
and nobody knew what became of her. But
after his death, Mr. Ford found this miniature
stuffed away in a drawer, and had it framed,
because he says it is beautiful work-and he
knows about pictures, miss, as no doubt you,







THE OLD MOATED HOUSE.


being an artist, have noticed. And I spoke to
mother about it when I came to be maid to
Mrs. Ford, and she told me the story about
the poor young lady."
But next morning Mirry found an oppor-
tunity of going to see the miniatures. When
she did, she was not altogether surprised to see
that the one of which Dale had spoken was a
replica of the one in the old desk. She looked
at it some time and then went away thought-
fully. It was very curious! Should she say
anything to Mrs. Ford about it, or not? She
was thinking over this as she went along the
corridor to the studio, when she met Mrs. Ford
coming also in that direction with a telegram
in her hand.
"It is for you," she said; "I hope it is no
bad news!"
Mirella tore it open and read it. Then she
looked up with a white face.
"Estelle, my sister," she gasped, "is very
ill, and Freda begs me to go home at once!
Can I-can I get to the station?"
"To be sure, my dear," said the lady, very
kindly. "I am very, very sorry." She glanced
up at the clock as she spoke. "You can catch
the 11.40 if you have the dogcart. How soon
can you be ready?"







84 A FORGOTTEN LINK.

"In ten minutes-any time."
It was a hurried journey, yet it seemed end-
less to Mirella. The train was the slowest she
thought she had ever travelled by; surely she
could have walked as fast. But at last she
was running up the stairs at Coreggio Flats
and Freda was waiting at the door.
"Oh, Mirry! I am thankful you have come!"
"What is it? What is wrong?" gasped
Mirella.
"Influenza! They are afraid of pneumonia.
I wanted to send for you yesterday, but she
would not let me: she said it was just a cold.
But she was so much worse this morning, and
when the doctor came he said it was serious!"















CHAPTER V.


AMONG DEEP SHADOWS.

N after years, when Mirella looked back on
the few weeks which followed this return,
she always felt as if she had lived in some
strange darkness struggling with a giant,
shadowy -form that had laid an icy hand upon
them. For more than three weeks Estelle lay
apparently at the point of death, and Mirella
and Freda tended her with that desperate love
and fear-that fierce grasp which will not let
the dear one go. Estelle to die! Estelle, "the
sweetest soul that ever looked with human eyes."
It could not be! It must not be! Surely God
could not mean to take that beautiful soul
away yet? They could not live without her.
So the two girls, their hearts all one passionate
prayer that this dear life might be spared,
watched atthat bedside with an indescribable
anxiety, and yet with that constant, minute







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


attention which never lost one faintest symp-
tom, one moment of hope, of improvement,
nursing that feeble flame of life which so nearly
had flickered down into darkness.
And their prayer was granted! When the
Christmas bells had rung and the first January
snow beat against the window pane, the doctor
ceased to shake his head; he took a more
cheerful tone.
"Yes, I think she will fight through now,"
he said at last; "with immense care, of course;
but then she will have that. The fact is, young
ladies, that you have nursed your sister back
to life. I didn't think there was a chance for
her."
Slowly she mended, and at last was able
to leave her room of an evening and lie on the
sofa in the studio and enjoy so much of the
family life.
But then a pause came. She did not
get on.
"The truth is," said the doctor one morn-
ing when Mirella had asked him about this-
"the fact is, she wants fresh air and sunshine;
and she cannot get them here, especially with
this severe winter. If you could get her away
to the south--to Nice, or Mentone, or San Remo
-it would give her new life. Really, I feel it






AMONG DEEP SHADOWS.


right to tell you that it is most important-I
had almost said imperatively necessary, she
should go."
It was after this that Freda came in from
school, which had begun that day. She found
Mirella on her knees before her portfolio, turn-
ing out all her drawings and paintings. Freda
saw by Mirella's face that something fresh had
happened.
"What is it?" she said. Freda seemed to
have suddenly grown older in these terrible weeks;
she was no longer the child to be acted for
and to obey; she was a woman to be consulted.
Mirella told her.
"He thinks Estelle won't get really better
if she stays here?" said Freda.
"Yes, in fact he hints that-that she will
get worse if she doesn't go. I believe he thinks
she will go into a decline!"
"Then she must go!" said Freda senten-
tiously.
"Oh! but Freda," said Mirry, in an almost
despairing tone, "how can she go? Where is
the money to come from? It will cost a lot, and
she cannot go alone-you must go with her.
And we have hardly any money left-I mean
just to pay for things here-and there will be
the doctor's bill; and you know how heavy the







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


expenses are. I was just turning out any draw-
ings I have, and I must try and sell some
to-morrow for what I can get; but that won't
go any way towards a journey abroad."
"You ought to get a good deal for this,"
said Freda, catching up one; "it is the sketch
you made of me kissing Sphinx under the
mistletoe. Tom said it was awfully good!"
"They may give me ten pounds for it,"
said Mirella, "but what is ten pounds? I haven't
been able to do any work to speak of now for
a month. When I pay the rent-and I must
pay it next week-there will be hardly anything
left in the Savings Bank, and what I get for
these will have to go for coals and food. If I
could have finished those children's portraits-
but I cannot leave you alone with Estelle yet.
Besides, I daresay the place is full of visitors,
and they could not have me even if I could go."
There was a little silence. Freda sat
staring into the fire.
"Mirry," she said at last, "she must go!
Haven't we got a house somewhere? Don't
we get fifty pounds a year for it?"
"Yes, that is all we have except what we
earn!"
"Then we must sell it and use some of
the money."















































" Mirella was on her knees before the portfolio."


'15- .11o



-411lIli~\~







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


Mirella was silent a minute.
"I had thought of that," she said, "only I
am very loth to touch it; and I do not know
if Estelle would agree, and it cannot be done
without her consent. You see, I have always
thought of that as a provision for her; she is
not strong, and can never work as you and I
can, and if I were to die before you were old
enough to do much, I have always felt it a
comfort to think she would not be destitute."
"But if she cannot get strong without going
away--and perhaps-perhaps-" Freda paused
without completing her sentence. "It would
be better to use it for her good. Besides, Mirry,
we need not perhaps sell it out and out. One
can mortgage land, I know, and get money
that way. Ellen Middleton's brother-in-law has
just been advising them to get a mortgage;
she told me so. Oh! Mirry, Mirry, we must
save Estelle!"
The girl broke off with a half-sob; the two
were so worn out with the fatigue and want
of sleep, and the privation they had endured-
for they had just snatched enough food to keep
themselves alive--that the tears came very
easily.
But Mirry sprang to her feet.
"Freda," she cried, "you are a genius.







AMONG DEEP SHADOWS.


It is an inspiration. Of course, we will get a
mortgage. And then when we get rich we can
pay it off. And you will have to go with her
and take care of her. The south of France,
the doctor said. Why, you will learn to speak
French, and that will be killing two birds with
one stone."
"And leave you alone! Oh! Mirry, that
will never do!"
"My dear, I must stay and paint. I tell
you what I will do. I am going into the City
to-morrow to sell some of these things. I'll
take you and Sphinx, dear! I will go to an
old man I know who is always very nice to
me, and I will ask him if he knows an honest
lawyer. I am sure lawyers have to do with
mortgages, and then I will go to whoever he
says and put this in hand."
Mirella was true to her word. She went
off the next morning so early that she found
her friend the picture-dealer only just arrived
in his little office, and about to open the
Times.
"Ah!" he said, laying down his paper on
the table, "how do you do, Miss Courtfield?
Why," he went on, staring at the girl's thin
white face, "what is the matter? Have you
been ill ?"







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


"No," she answered. "No, I haven't been
ill. But my sister has. We-we thought we
should have lost her. But she is better now,
and oh! Mr. Graves, I want you to help me!"
"You have some pictures for me, eh?"
"Yes, I have two or three little things.
But it is not only that-I want some advice."
"Well, let us see the pictures first," said
the old gentleman; "one thing at a time is my
rule." He put down his paper as he spoke.
Mirella began to untie her parcel, placing
it on the table for greater convenience. As
she did so her eye fell upon the Timzes, the
outside sheet of which lay open to view. She
gave a sudden cry.
"What is the matter?" asked the old man.
"Anybody you know in the 'Hatched, Matched,
or Despatched' ?"
"No, no," said Mirella breathlessly. She
put her finger on the "Agony" column. "It is
this. Why, it is the name on our letters!"
"Where, what?" said old Graves; "whose
letters? Oh! I see! Somebody advertising for
relations!"
The advertisement was headed with the
name of Causland and de Raubaincourt, and
was addressed to any descendant of one Mirella
Causland, eldest daughter of Peter Causland,






AMONG DEEP SHADOWS.


of 28, Austinfriars, who was believed to have
married Henri de Raubaincourt about the year
1812 and gone abroad. If such descendants
remained they were to apply to Messrs. Hors-
man and Denthorne, 6A, Lincoln's Inn Square,
and they would hear of something to their ad-
vantage.
"Ah," said old Mr. Graves, when she had
explained matters to him a little, "so you think
it has to do with you! Well, I hope it may be
to your good, my dear. Only don't leave off
your painting. You have a touch of the true
spirit, my child, and you ought not to waste
it. But go and see! Horsman and Denthorne
are a very good firm. Quite a reputation for







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


honesty as lawyers go-as lawyers go! It is a
trying trade, no doubt, and searches out the
weak places. But then so do all trades, picture-
buying as well as others."
"It is odd," said Mirella, "but I was going
to ask you if you could tell me of an honest
lawyer. We want to borrow a little money."
"Borrow money," he cried. "Heaven's sake,
my dear, don't do it! It is ruin-sheer blank
ruin! "
"Oh! but we must," said Mirella, rather
dismayed by this outburst; "we must take Estelle
to the South; her life depends on it, and it
is on a mortgage-we have a house, you
know."
"Oh! a mortgage-a mortgage," grumbled
the old man. "I thought you were thinking of
those dreadful money-dealers. Well, go to
Horsman and Denthorne. They won't cheat
you more than every lawyer is obliged to do
to save his reputation for 'cuteness.' But I'll
take those three pictures-I like that one with
the cat-shouldn't wonder if one of the illus-
trateds would take it for reproduction-but at
present I can't give you more than thirty
pounds for them; times are bad in the Art
world."
"No, I don't think you can! cried Mirella.






AMONG DEEP SHADOWS.


"It is generous-it is too much. They are
nothing but studies."
"Shouldn't depreciate your own wares,"
answered the old man, with a smile, as he
scribbled out a cheque. "There-there it is--"
he pushed it into her hands-"and I hope you
will find a fortune awaiting you at Horsman
and Denthorne."
Mirella thanked him as well as she was
able, for her tears were very near the surface
just now, and were only too apt to flow at the
touch of kindness. Then she went off to find
her way to the lawyers' office.
Her courage almost failed her as she turned
into the Square, and she felt a strong incli-
nation to go home. Perhaps it would be better
to write and enclose copies of the letters. But
then the thought of Estelle nerved her. She
would go and see and know at once if there
was anything in it. She forced herself to enter
the office.
"Could she see Mr. Horsman?"
"Mr. Horsman was not in London," the
clerk said. He stared rather hard at this pretty
girl; they did not often have such visitants
in Lincoln's Inn Square.
"Was Mr. Denthorne there?"
"He was out just now, but would be in







A FORGOTTEN LINK.


in half an hour. Would she wait, or leave her
name?"
She would wait.
She was shown into a long and rather
dark room. A fire burned on the hearth and
there was a large writing-table littered with
papers and an armchair half pushed back as
though someone had lately risen from it. The
clerk brought her the Times to read. Mirella
thought it very kind of him; but in truth he
wanted to have another look at her.
"Awfully pretty girl," he said to his fellow
clerk; "wonder what she wants. Name of
Courtfield," he went on, reading from her card,
"Miss M. Courtfield, 25, Coreggio Flats. Suppose
M. stands for Mary. Prettiest name a woman
can have, after all."
As for Mirella she sat and stared at the
advertisement; she did not seem able to read
anything else. It was very quiet; a clock ticked
loudly somewhere; the fire crackled and stirred,
and now and then a cinder fell out with a
sharp click on the hearth. She heard the
murmur of the voices of the clerks in the next
room, and a dull rumble underlay all; the roar
of the London streets deadened by the tall
buildings surrounding the Square. Then came
a quick footstep-a voice which she seemed to






AMONG DEEP SHADOWS.


recognize, and then a tall, clean-shaven man
entered the room.
"Good morning," he began briefly. "What
can I-" then he stopped and stared.
"Miss Courtfield!" he exclaimed. "Why, I
saw you at Moteham Manor!"
"And you are Mr.-Mr.-I thought your
name was Thorne!"
They spoke almost simultaneously; then
broke into a laugh, and shook hands.
"I always tell Ford he mumbles people's
names most atrociously," he laughed. "But
I am very glad to see you. I hope your sister
is better. Mrs. Ford told me you had been
summoned away because of her illness."
"Yes, she is much
better. But I came this /
morning, not expecting to
see you, but because of this
advertisement";
she laid her finger
on the Times. "I
saw it by the V
smallest accident
this morning."
"Ah!" he said,
with quick interest.
"Have you come






A FORGOTTEN LINK.


about that? That advertisement has been put
in many times and we have had no answer.
But are you a descendant? Why did you not
tell me so at Moteham Manor?"
"Moteham Manor?" She stared at him.
"Yes, you saw old Causland's portrait there.
I remember you noticing it."
"Whose portrait?" she said, bewildered.
"Old Peter Causland's-this very Peter
mentioned here!"
"But you said it was Mr. Ford's grand-
father!"
"Yes, so he is."
"But I thought his name would be Ford!"
"Oh! I see. No, his son had only one
daughter, and she married a Mr. Ford, this
man's father. But you-what connection are
you?"
"That is what I hardly know. In fact I
know nothing, save that two or three months
ago we found some letters in an old desk
directed to a Mr. Peter Causland, which had
never been opened, but returned to the people
who sent them."
"And who were they?"
"His daughter Mirella, who had apparently
married someone of the name of de Raubain-
court."




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