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With this hideous, scornful prophecy, Iris, too crushed and aghast almost to be sensible of her deliverance, was at liberty to flee from her accuser.
THE ANGEL OF DEATH SMITES TWICE.
WHILE Sir William Thwaite was still under the constraining influence of Iris Compton's appeal, a thought struck him.
• Why should we not leave this place, my lass ?' he said, addressing Honor, while the two sat together, hot with excitement, yet shivering with momentary reaction, physically wretched and uncomfortable, shy, affronted, neither united nor disunited, on the evening of the day that Iris had been to Whitehills. “Why should we not get rid of Whitehills ?' He looked round him with more of loathing disgust than sad yearningthe last was for the woods and fields, the blue horizon which had grown familiar to him, the far-reaching yet often pale dim sky,
It's little good we've been and done here. We'll go to some new land, such as I've read of, as rude as its colonists; we'll break it and ourselves in together. We'll hold it against the wild beasts and the wild men, till we've tamed them and ourselveswhich is like to be the harder job,' he ended with a heavy sigh.
"Oh! shall we, Will ?' cried Honor, with the first cry of real joy and eagerness which she had uttered for many a day. “That will be grand—a life worth living. That will be a thousand times better than shooting and hooking harmless beasts and birds and fishes here. I had a notion of the kind when father and I were going to 'Merica-an outof-the-way bit I think they called Kansas. But father's nigh done, and young Abe and me, we didn't sort together over-well when he was at home. I doubted he would not care for the hills and plains and woods ; he would mind a deal more trying his luck at the diggings, or even at the cards which Eastham folk play in houses like this, and in hovels like ours at Hawley Scrub, you know, Will, from the time the players can hold the pasteboard. But I'll work and dig, and plant and build, as well as shoot with you, and be your fit mate. I can kindle a fire and boil a kettle, and bake and roast, and wash and dry, and rough-darn for you, and you'll want nought else out there. We'll leave books and fine manners behind us.'
So be it,' he said, after an instant's pause, while he looked a little drearily into the fire.
And you'll never more regret them, Will,' she pressed him with hungry eyes—' you'll never fret after them, or think it would have been better if you had knowed how to keep still an idle gentleman among fine gentlemen and ladies in England. You might have done it without crossing the seas, without setting your hand to work or going out with your gun to fill the pot and keep you and me from starving—instead of filling a bag with useless hares and birds to gift away, or sell in the shop, with nigh as much secrecy as father has been wont to sell his filched game-without risk, without hardship, which is fine for a change, without me.'
It will be for you to keep me from fretting, Honor,' he tried to say more lightly—to make me feel that what is, is best—to teach me, as I'm sure you will, that I could never do without you;' and she was satisfied for the moment.
So it soon came to be roughly understood that Sir William had pulled up sufficiently to decree that the saturnalia should come to an end, so far as the place was concerned, at least. Sir William would have sold Whitehills, had it been in his power; as it was, the house was to be let. He and Lady Thwaite were going away-not to the Continent to retrench, not to German baths to drink mineral waters, not to Monte Carlo to play—but to the wilds of America, in company with old Abe Smith, where the whole party would doubtless soon sink into the gulphs of oblivion provided for the lower class of sinners. And if the couple did not send home an heir in the course of years, Whitehills would pass into the Court of Chancery, to be stranded there till a fresh sprout, refined or rude, from the family tree of the Thwaites could spring up.
Sir William had severed himself from the squirearchy some time before, so that their interest in him had begun to die out, after the first burst of reprobation, though they still felt a concern for Whitehills, which he was not going to carry away with him. Besides, the attention of the neighbourhood was drawn