The Black Robe
MORE than six weeks had passed. The wedded lovers were still enjoying their
honeymoon at Vange Abbey.
Some offense had been given, not only to Mrs. Eyrecourt, but to friends of
her way of thinking, by the strictly private manner in which the marriage had
been celebrated. The event took everybody by surprise when the customary
advertisement appeared in the newspapers. Foreseeing the unfavorable
impression that might be produced in some quarters, Stella had pleaded for a
timely retreat to the seclusion of Romayne's country house. The will of the
bride being, as usual, the bridegroom's law, to Vange they retired
On one lovely moonlight night, early in July, Mrs. Romayne left her husband
on the Belvidere, described in Major Hynd's narrative, to give the
housekeeper certain instructions relating to the affairs of the household. Half
an hour later, as she was about to ascend again to the top of the house, one
of the servants informed her that "the master had just left the Belvidere, and
had gone into his study."
Crossing the inner hall, on her way to the study, Stella noticed an unopened
letter, addressed to Romayne, lying on a table in a corner. He had probably
laid it aside and forgotten it. She entered his room with the letter in her hand.
The only light was a reading lamp, with the shade so lowered that the corners
of the study were left in obscurity. In one of these corners Romayne was
dimly visible, sitting with his head sunk on his breast. He never moved when
Stella opened the door. At first she thought he might be asleep.
"Do I disturb you, Lewis?" she asked softly.
"No, my dear."
There was a change in the tone of his voice, which his wife's quick ear
detected. "I am afraid you are not well," she said anxiously.
"I am a little tired after our long ride to-day. Do you want to go back to the
"Not without you. Shall I leave you to rest here?"
He seemed not to hear the question. There he sat, with his head hanging
down, the shadowy counterfeit of an old man. In her anxiety, Stella
approached him, and put her hand caressingly on his head. It was burning
hot. "O!" she cried, "you are ill, and you are trying to hide it from me."