“That he will never be,” Laura answered, impetuously. “How can he ever know me better when he scrupulously avoids me? Sometimes whole days pass during which I do not see him.
Then I summon up courage and go to his dreary rooms. He receives me graciously enough, and treats me with politeness. With politeness! when I am yearning for his affection: and
I linger a little, perhaps, asking him about his health, and trying to get more at home in his presence. But there is always a nervous restlessness in his manner: which tells me
— oh, too plainly! — that my presence is unwelcome to him. So I go away at last, half heart-broken. I remember, now, how cold and brief his letters from India always seemed:
but then he need to excuse himself to me on account of the hurry of business: and he seldom finished his letter without saying that he looked joyfully forward to our meeting. It
was very cruel of him to deceive me!”
Arthur Lovell was a sorry comforter. From the first he had tried in vain to like Henry Dunbar. Since that strange scene in Portland Place, he had suspected the banker of a foul
and treacherous murder — that worst and darkest crime, which for ever separates a man from the sympathy of his fellow-men, and brands him as an accursed and abhorred creature,
beyond the pale of human compassion. Ah, how blessed is that Divine and illimitable compassion which can find pity for those whom sinful man rejects!
Jocelyn’s Rock was ten miles from Maudesley Abbey, and only one mile from the town of Shorncliffe. It was a noble place, and had been in the possession of the same family ever
since the days of the Plantagenets.
The house stood upon a rocky cliff, beneath which rushed a cascade that leapt from crag to crag, and fell into the bosom of a deep stream, that formed an arm of the river Avon.
This cascade was forty feet below the edge of the cliff upon which the mansion stood.
It was not a very large house, for most of the older part of it had fallen into ruin long ago, and the ruined towers and shattered walls had been cleared away; but it was a
noble mansion notwithstanding.
One octagonal tower, with a battlemented roof, still stood almost as firmly as it had stood in the days of the early Plantagenets, when rebel soldiers had tried the strength of
their battering-rams against the grim stone walls. The house was built entirely of stone; the Gothic porch was ponderous as the porch of a church. Within all was splendour; but
splendour that was very different from the modern elegance that was to be seen in the rooms of Maudesley Abbey.
At Jocelyn’s Rock the stamp of age was upon every decoration, on every ornament. Square-topped helmets that had been hacked by the scimitars of Saracen kings, spiked chamfronts
that had been worn by the fiery barbs of haughty English crusaders, fluted armour from Milan, hung against the blackened wainscoting in the shadowy hall; Scottish hackbuts,
primitive arquebuses that had done service on Bosworth field, Homeric bucklers and brazen greaves, javelins, crossbows, steel-pointed lances, and two-handed swords, were in
symmetrical design upon the dark and polished panels; while here and there hung the antlers of a giant red-deer, or the skin of a fox, in testimony to the triumphs of long-
departed sportsmen of the house of Jocelyn.