The Black Robe
On The Road To Rome
THERE was not a sound in the room. Romayne stood, looking at the priest
"Did you hear what I said?" Father Benwell asked.
"Do you understand that I really mean what I said?"
He made no reply--he waited, like a man expecting to hear more.
Father Benwell was alive to the vast importance, at such a moment, of not
shrinking from the responsibility which he had assumed. "I see how I distress
you," he said; "but, for your sake, I am bound to speak out. Romayne! the
woman whom you have married is the wife of another man. Don't ask me
how I know it--I do know it. You shall have positive proof, as soon as you
have recovered. Come! rest a little in the easy-chair."
He took Romayne's arm, and led him to the chair, and made him drink some
wine. They waited a while. Romayne lifted his head, with a heavy sigh.
"The woman whom I have married is the wife of another man." He slowly
repeated the words to himself--and then looked at Father Benwell.
"Who is the man?" he asked.
"I introduced you to him, when I was as ignorant of the circumstances as you
are," the priest answered. "The man is Mr. Bernard Winterfield."
Romayne half raised himself from the chair. A momentary anger glittered in
his eyes, and faded out again, extinguished by the nobler emotions of grief
and shame. He remembered Winterfield's introduction to Stella.
"Her husband!" he said, speaking again to himself. "And she let me introduce
him to her. And she received him like a stranger." He paused, and thought of
it. "The proofs, if you please, sir," he resumed, with sudden humility. "I don't
want to hear any particulars. It will be enough for me if I know beyond all
doubt that I have been deceived and disgraced."
Father Benwell unlocked his desk and placed two papers before Romayne. He
did his duty with a grave indifference to all minor considerations. The time
had not yet come for expressions of sympathy and regret.
"The first paper," he said, "is a certified copy of the register of the marriage
of Miss Eyrecourt to Mr. Winterfield, celebrated (as you will see) by the