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felt they could not afford to linger longer in Geneva. They now only waited for the repayment of the 201. from Mr. Hardcastle, and, strange to say, that gentleman's money did not arrive : he could not account for it, and gave vent to a few lordly oaths each morning that the post came in and brought him no advice of it.
“I'll tell you what it is!” he suddenly observed one morning—" I'll lay a thousand to a shilling they have misunderstood instructions, and have sent the money on to Genoa, whither we are bound after leaving here!” “ What a disaster!" uttered Mr. Dundyke. “Will the money be
. lost, sir?"
“ No fear of that: nobody can touch it but myself. But look at the inconvenience it is causing, keeping me here! And you
also !" “ I cannot remain longer,” said Mr. Dundyke ; " my time is up,
and I may not exceed it.
You can give me an order to receive the 201. in London, sir: it will be all the same."
But, my good fellow, how will you provide for the expenses of your journey to London ?”
“ I have managed that, sir,” said the common-councilman. “I wrote home for a thirty-pound note.” “And is it come?” asked Mr. Hardcastle, turning his eye
upon the common-councilman, with the startling rapidity of a flash of lightning. Mrs. Dundyke noticed, with astonishment, the look and the eager gesture: neither will ever fade from her recollection.
“ The last half came this morning,” added the common-councilman. “ I have got 'em both safe here,” touching the breast-pocket of his coat. They were the letters you saw me receive.”
On rising from breakfast, Mr. Dundyke strolled out of the hotel, down to the borders of the lake. The day was fearfully hot, and he began to think a row on it might be pleasant. A boat and two men were at hand, waiting to be hired, and he proceeded to haggle about the price, for one of the boatmen spoke English.
" I have spent a deal of money since I have been here, one way or another,” he soliloquised, " and the bill I expect will be awful. But it won't be much addition, this row—as good be hung for a sheep as a lamb so here goes.”
He stepped into the boat, anticipating an hour's enjoyment. You saw him in it, reader, at the commencement of this history, and
you remember how hot he found it; so now we have got round again to the startingpoint. The two ladies looking after him from Rousseau's Island, were his wife and Mrs. Hardcastle. They were soon joined by the husband of the latter.
“What are you looking at? Why, who's that in a boat there ? Surely not Dundyke! Give me the glass."
“Yes it is,” said Mrs. Dundyke.
“Where in the name of wonder is he off to, this melting day? To drown himself?”
The ladies laughed.
“Ah! I see; he can't stand it. The men are bearing off to the side : going to land him, then. They had better put back.”
Mrs. Dundyke sat down underneath the poplar trees, spreading a
large umbrella over her head, and took out her work. Mrs. Hardcastle was never seen to do any, but she seated herself under shade of the umbrella, and the gentleman, leaving them to themselves, walked back again over the suspension bridge.
Poor Mr. Dundyke had “stood it” as long as he could, but he began to fear the effects of the intense heat, blazing down full upon his head, and had suddenly told the men to row him to the shore. They looked out for a shady landing-place, and did so.
“Ah! this is pleasant?” he exclaimed, throwing himself at full length on the grass, and tearing off his coat and hat, while the two poor men who had rowed him thither, laid on their oars and rested.
“ It's quite heaven, this is, after that horrid, burning lake.”
“How thirsty it has made me !" resumed his soliloquy, after a pause ; “ I could drink the lake dry. What a luxury some iced wine would be now! and ice is so cheap and plentiful up at the hotel yonder! Suppose I send back the boat for Mr. Hardcastle and the two women and tell 'em it's paradise sitting here, in comparison with the hot hotel, and drop in a hint about the iced wine? He will be sure to take it, and glad of the excuse. The women would find it rather of the ratherest for heat, coming across the lake, but pleasant and refreshing when they get here. 'Taint far, and their complexions are not of the spoiling sort : Mrs. D.'s ain't of no particular colour at all, except red, and t'other's is like chalk. Oh, let 'em risk it.”
Taking out his silver pencil-case (as the men deposed to, afterwards), he tore a leaf from his pocket-book, and scribbled a few lines on it, folding and directing it to - Hardcastle, Esquire: and it had never struck Mr. Dundyke till that moment that he was ignorant of Hardcastle, Esquire's, Christian name. The men received the note and their orders, and prepared to push off.
“We are to com back, when we have giv dis, tout de suite ?” asked the one—“com back for de jontilmans ?”
“Come back? of course you are to come back," responded the commoncouncilman, “how am I to get home, else? But you are to bring two ladies and a gentleman, and some ice and some wine; and to look sharp about it. Take care the bottles don't get broke in the boat.”
So the men rowed away, leaving Mr. Dundyke lying there. Reader! he was never more seen by his wife again : never more seen, alive or dead, so far as could with certainty be ascertained, by any one in this world.
The boatmen, making good speed, conveyed the pencilled note to the Hotel des Bergues, but neither Mr. nor Mrs. Hardcastle were in. This caused a delay of nearly two hours, when one of the waiters bethought him of looking in Rousseau's Island. There he found Mrs. Hardcastle, and
her the note. “What do you say?" she asked, tossing it to Mrs. Dundyke. “Shall we go ?”
6 But where's Mr. Hardcastle ?”
husband : he saw the probable spot the boat was making for. Oh, let us go! perhaps they are waiting for us. Waiter,” continued Mrs. Hardcastle, imperiously, “let some wine be placed in the boat, and plenty of ice.”
The two ladies, under cover of the umbrella, and a parasol each besides, were rowed across the hot lake, and landed on the spot where the men had left Mr. Dundyke. But no trace of that gentleman could now be seen, and they sat down in the shade to cool their heated faces, glad of a respite. Mrs. Dundyke said afterwards, that a strange feeling stole over her as she sat there; an overpowering dread she knew not of what; a sickening sensation of awe and terror. She took out her work, but her fingers trembled so she had to put it up again, and, with every moment, the feeling, whatever it might be, grew stronger.
Now, can any metaphysician account for these moments of superstitious dread? Instances, and many of them, are known where the results have given to them a terrible signification. Mrs. Dundyke said then, says still
, that the simple fact of not finding her husband on the landingplace gave her no fear, no concern whatever: she did not give a second thought to it, fancying he had strolled away in search of any points of interest or curiosity: and before she had the slightest anxiety about his non-appearance, before she at all cared to see him back ("for truth was,". she often says, “ I was thinking only about the dreadful heat I was in, and how I could get myself cool”), this sickening, undefined fear came creeping over her. So she sat on, and Mr. Dundyke did not come.
Then arose the thought, and at first it was but a thought, not a fear, where was her husband—would he ever come? and they continued still to sit on, and he never came.
They shouted his name in various directions, and one of the boatmen went away to explore, Mrs. Dundyke following him. They came back unsuccessful, she pale, agitated, and trembling.
Why, you don't mean to say you are alarmed !” exclaimed Mrs. Hardcastle, looking at her in surprise. .
“No, no, ma'am, not alarmed”—for she felt an unconquerable reluctance to confess to fears she could not define. “I certainly do think it strange he should go away for so long, leaving us here like this, after sending for us. There's--there's no danger, I suppose-that he-that any one, I mean, could fall into the water from this spot ?”
There certainly was no danger of that, and the boatmen could not help laughing at the notion, for the bank and the water were at that place nearly level. “ A man might walk in if he felt so inclined," observed Mrs. Hardcastle, jokingly, “but he could scarcely enter it in any other way. And your husband is not one to cut short his life wilfully.
Not he, indeed; none less likely to make his own quietus than plain, practical David Dundyke, with his future aspirations and his harmless ambition. His wife knew that the Lord Mayor's chair, which shone in his distant vista, would alone have kept him from plunging head foremost into the best stream that ever ran.
“ He became tired of waiting here, that's all,” said Mrs. Hardcastle. “Two or three hours' solitude in this spot would tire out the patience of Job. And he naturally thought the boatmen had misunderstood him, and were not coming back."
“ Then where is he?" cried Mrs. Dundyke—“what has he done with himself?"
“He has gone back by land, of course—as any one else would do."
“But he does not know his way back, ma'am,” urged Mrs. Dundyke.
“Know it! He has only to keep the lake on the right, and follow his nose. He would soon be in Geneva.”
It was the most probable solution of the mystery ; indeed, a very probable one; and the ladies got into the boat and were rowed back.
It was nearly five o'clock when they reached the hotel. Mr. Dundyke had not returned. “ But that's nothing,” reasoned Mrs. Hardcastle to her friend ; "the day is so hot, he would take his time walking. My husband has not been in either, it seems : they are sure to be together.”
Mrs. Dundyke went up-stairs and into her room, the nameless agony of some undefined dread weighing down her spirits. She could not rest, and stood peeping out at the door, thinking to see her husband come up the long corridor. While thus looking, there came, creeping up the stairs, Mr. Hardcastle, stealing along, as it seemed to Mrs. Dundyke, to shun observation, his boots white, as if he had walked much in the dusty roads, his face scratched, and one of his fingers sprained (as she learnt afterwards) and bound up with a handkerchief.
"Oh, sir!" she cried, darting forward in high excitement, " where is he? where is Mr. Dundyke? What has happened to him ?”
Mr. Hardcastle stood for a moment transfixed, and, unless Mrs. Dundyke was strangely mistaken, his features turned as white as ashes. She associated no suspicion with that pallor then, she but thought of her own ill-manners in accosting him so abruptly.
“What of your husband ?” he asked, rallying himself. “ I don't know anything of him."
Mrs. Dundyke explained. Mrs. Hardcastle, hearing their voices, came out of her room and helped her.
“ Is that all ?” he exclaimed: "oh, he will soon be back. If he is not in in time for dinner, Mrs. Dundyke, you can go down with us. Don't alarm yourself.”
“ But have you not seen him ?—not been with him?" urged poor Mrs. Dundyke.
“ I have never seen him since breakfast.”
“We thought you might have walked round by the shore to join him, as you saw this morning where the boat was making for,” remarked Mrs. Hardcastle.
He turned savagely upon her, his eyes glaring like a tiger. “No, madam,” he said, with concentrated passion, “none save a fool would undertake such a walk to-day. I have been in the town, executing various commissions," he added, changing his tone, and addressing Mrs. Dundyke, “ and a pretty accident I had nearly met with : in avoiding a restive horse on the dusty quays, I slipped down, with my
face on some flint stones.”
Mrs. Dundyke would not go down to dinner, but Mrs. Hardcastle fetched her into her own room to tea afterwards, and they were both very kind to her, buoying up her spirits, and laughing at her fears. Her husband had only lost his way, they urged, and would be home fast enough by morning-a rare joke they would have with him about running away, when he did come.
It was eleven o'clock when Mrs. Dundyke wished them goodnight and retired to her chamber, feeling like one more dead than alive. It is
probable that few, if any, can form an adequate idea of her sensations, and always in vain, since, has she attempted to describe them. It was not the actual absence of her husband that seemed to affect her, but that horrible, mysterious dread, which had come over her without cause or warning, and still clung to her. She knew now, she felt, that it had reference to him; she felt a conviction, deep and certain, that some untoward fate had overtaken him. Can the reader understand this? Perhaps not; but it is truth. Mrs. Dundyke stood at the open window of her room, leaning far out, and looking down into the street, hopingstay, not so much hoping as wishing—to see him come round the corner, footsore and travel-worn, having lost his way and found it again. He had never been to her a fond, loving partner; still he was her husband; was associated with her every-day hopes and pleasures, with the past and with the future, and in that dread hour of suspense and agony, she would have given up her own life to see him return. She began wondering whether any one was still up, to let him in-if he did come; if not, she would steal down stairs herself, and work at the door-fastenings till she undid them. While thus thinking, she became aware that strange sounds were proceeding from the next room, though not at first had she paid attention to them, and drawing back and closing the window, she found that a fearful quarrel was taking place between Mr. and Mrs. Hardcastle. Its substance she could not hear, and did not wish to hear, but wild sobs and wailings, as if caused by deep grief, mingled with bursts of reproach, seemed to come from the lady, and were met by fury and oaths from him. Mrs. Dundyke twice heard her husband's name mentioned (or her own, “Dundyke”), and one sentence of Mr. Hardcastle's came quite distinctly upon her ear. It appeared to be uttered in reply to some threat or remonstrance of Mrs. Hardcastle's, and was to the effect that she might leave him as soon as she liked, and welcome, might start off then, in the midnight hour, for that no lawful tie bound her to him. After a while the quarrel appeared to subside, silence supervened, and Mrs. Dundyke watched through the livelong night.
The morning brought its events with it. Mrs. Hardcastle, between whom and her husband there now appeared to be perfect peace, came to Mrs. Dundyke's room, and said they had received letters which would oblige them to leave that day on their route to Genoa. The money they had waited for was forwarded to that city, as they had suspected-how the mistake came to be made Mr. Hardcastle could not comprehend yet ---and some relatives of theirs were posting on, expecting to meet them there.
“But—but,” shivered poor Mrs. Dundyke, “will Mr. Hardcastle leave me in this dreadful suspense ?-will he not stay and endeavour to find out what has become of my husband? I know I have no claim on his kindness, ma'am, and that the attentions you have already shown us were more than we could expect; but think of my position! Alone in this strange place-in debt to the hotel—without money in my pocketnot speaking the language--without a single friend near me! What am I to do?"
“ Had it not been for this, we should have left this morning," said Mrs. Hardcastle, “ but my husband says he will remain with you till the evening, ill as he can afford the delay. Mr. Dandyke must appear by that time; safe and well we hope ; never fear!"