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ON the question of submitting himself to medical advice (which I
now earnestly pressed upon him), Romayne was disposed to be equally
unreasonable. But in this case, events declared themselves in my favor.
Lady Berrick's last reserves of strength had given way. She had been
brought to London in a dying state while we were at Vange Abbey. Romayne
was summoned to his aunt's bedside on the third day of our residence at
the hotel, and was present at her death. The impression produced on his
mind roused the better part of his nature. He was more distrustful of
himself, more accessible to persuasion than usual. In this gentler frame
of mind he received a welcome visit from an old friend, to whom he was
sincerely attached. The visit--of no great importance in itself--led,
as I have since been informed, to very serious events in Romayne's later
life. For this reason, I briefly relate what took place within my own
Lord Loring--well known in society as the head of an old English
Catholic family, and the possessor of a magnificent gallery of
pictures--was distressed by the change for the worse which he perceived
in Romayne when he called at the hotel. I was present when they met, and
rose to leave the room, feeling that the two friends might perhaps be
embarrassed by the presence of a third person. Romayne called me back.
"Lord Loring ought to know what has happened to me," he said. "I have no
heart to speak of it myself. Tell him everything, and if he agrees with
you, I will submit to see the doctors." With those words he left us
It is almost needless to say that Lord Loring did agree with me. He
was himself disposed to think that the moral remedy, in Romayne's case,
might prove to be the best remedy.
"With submission to what the doctors may decide," his lordship said,
"the right thing to do, in my opinion, is to divert our friend's mind
from himself. I see a plain necessity for making a complete change in
the solitary life that he has been leading for years past. Why shouldn't
he marry? A woman's influence, by merely giving a new turn to his
thoughts, might charm away that horrible voice which haunts him.
Perhaps you think this a merely sentimental view of the case? Look at it
practically, if you like, and you come to the same conclusion. With that
fine estate--and with the fortune which he has now inherited from his
aunt--it is his duty to marry. Don't you agree with me?"
"I agree most cordially. But I see serious difficulties in your
lordship's way. Romayne dislikes society; and, as to marrying, his
coldness toward women seems (so far as I can judge) to be one of the
incurable defects of his character."
Lord Loring smiled. "My dear sir, nothing of that sort is incurable, if
we can only find the right woman."
The tone in which he spoke suggested to me that he had got "the right
woman"--and I took the liberty of saying so. He at once acknowledged
that I had guessed right.
"Romayne is, as you say, a difficult subject to deal with," he resumed.
"If I commit the slightest imprudence, I shall excite his suspicion--and
there will be an end of my hope of being of service to him. I shall
proceed carefully, I can tell you. Luckily, poor dear fellow, he is fond
of pictures! It's quite natural that I should ask him to see some recent
additions to my gallery--isn't it? There is the trap that I set! I have
a sweet girl to tempt him, staying at my house, who is a little out
of health and spirits herself. At the right moment, I shall send word
upstairs. She may well happen to look in at the gallery (by the merest
accident) just at the time when Romayne is looking at my new pictures.
The rest depends, of course, on, the effect she produces. If you knew
her, I believe you would agree with me that the experiment is worth
Not knowing the lady, I had little faith in the success of the
experiment. No one, however, could doubt Lord Loring's admirable
devotion to his friend--and with that I was fain to be content.
When Romayne returned to us, it was decided to submit his case to a
consultation of physicians at the earliest possible moment. When Lord
Loring took his departure, I accompanied him to the door of the hotel,
perceiving that he wished to say a word more to me in private. He had,
it seemed, decided on waiting for the result of the medical consultation
before he tried the effect of the young lady's attractions; and he
wished to caution me against speaking prematurely of visiting the
picture gallery to our friend.
Not feeling particularly interested in these details of the worthy
nobleman's little plot, I looked at his carriage, and privately admired
the two splendid horses that drew it. The footman opened the door for
his master, and I became aware, for the first time, that a gentleman
had accompanied Lord Loring to the hotel, and had waited for him in the
carriage. The gentleman bent forward, and looked up from a book that
he was reading. To my astonishment, I recognized the elderly, fat and
cheerful priest who had shown such a knowledge of localities, and such
an extraordinary interest in Vange Abbey!
It struck me as an odd coincidence that I should see the man again in
London, so soon after I had met with him in Yorkshire. This was all I
thought about it, at the time. If I had known then, what I know now, I
might have dreamed, let us say, of throwing that priest into the lake
at Vange, and might have reckoned the circumstance among the
wisely-improved opportunities of my life.
To return to the serious interests of the present narrative, I may now
announce that my evidence as an eye-witness of events has come to an
end. The day after Lord Loring's visit, domestic troubles separated me,
to my most sincere regret, from Romayne. I have only to add, that the
foregoing narrative of personal experience has been written with a due
sense of responsibility, and that it may be depended on throughout as an
exact statement of the truth.
JOHN PHILIP HYND, (late Major, 110th Regiment).
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