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Chapter III.8
On the fourth day from the morning when she had died, I stood alone in the
churchyard by the grave of Margaret Sherwin.
It had been left for me to watch her dying moments; it was left for me to bestow
on her remains the last human charity which the living can extend to the dead. If I
could have looked into the future on our fatal marriage-day, and could have
known that the only home of my giving which she would ever inhabit, would be
the home of the grave!--
Her father had written me a letter, which I destroyed at the time; and which, if I
had it now, I should forbear from copying into these pages. Let it be enough for
me to relate here, that he never forgave the action by which she thwarted him in
his mercenary designs upon me and upon my family; that he diverted from
himself the suspicion and disgust of his wife's surviving relatives (whose hostility
he had some pecuniary reasons to fear), by accusing his daughter, as he had
declared he would accuse her, of having been the real cause of her mother's
death; and that he took care to give the appearance of sincerity to the indignation
which he professed to feel against her, by refusing to follow her remains to the
place of burial.
Ralph had returned to London, as soon as he received the letter from Mr.
Bernard which I had forwarded to him. He offered me his assistance in
performing the last duties left to my care, with an affectionate earnestness that I
had never seen him display towards me before. But Mr. Bernard had generously
undertaken to relieve me of every responsibility which could be assumed by
others; and on this occasion, therefore, I had no need to put my brother's ready
kindness in helping me to the test.
I stood alone by the grave. Mr. Bernard had taken leave of me; the workers and
the idlers in the churchyard had alike departed. There was no reason why I
should not follow them; and yet I remained, with my eyes fixed upon the freshly-
turned earth at my feet, thinking of the dead.
Some time had passed thus, when the sound of approaching footsteps attracted
my attention. I looked up, and saw a man, clothed in a long cloak drawn loosely
around his neck, and wearing a shade over his eyes, which hid the whole upper
part of his face, advancing slowly towards me, walking with the help of a stick. He
came on straight to the grave, and stopped at the foot of it--stopped opposite me,
as I stood at the head.
"Do you know me again?" he said. "Do you know me for Robert Mannion?" As he
pronounced his name, he raised the shade and looked at me.
The first sight of that appalling face, with its ghastly discolouration of sickness, its
hideous deformity of feature, its fierce and changeless malignity of expression
glaring full on me in the piercing noonday sunshine--glaring with the same
unearthly look of fury and triumph which I had seen flashing through the flashing
lightning, when I parted from him on the night of the storm--struck me speechless
where I stood, and has never left me since. I must not, I dare not, describe that