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The Black Robe

After The Story
EXTRACTS FROM BERNARD WINTERFIELD'S DIARY.
I.
WINTERFIELD DEFENDS HIMSELF.
Beaupark House, June 17th, 18--.
You and I, Cousin Beeminster, seldom meet. But I occasionally hear of you,
from friends acquainted with both of us.
I have heard of you last at Sir Philip's rent-day dinner a week since. My name
happened to be mentioned by one of the gentlemen present, a guest like
yourself. You took up the subject of your own free will, and spoke of me in
these terms:
"I am sorry to say it of the existing head of the family--but Bernard is really
unfit for the position which he holds. He has, to say the least of it,
compromised himself and his relatives on more than one occasion. He began
as a young man by marrying a circus-rider. He got into some other scrape,
after that, which he has contrived to keep a secret from us. We only know
how disgraceful it must have been by the results--he was a voluntary exile
from England for more than a year. And now, to complete the list, he has
mixed himself up in that miserable and revolting business of Lewis Romayne
and his wife."
If any other person had spoken of me in this manner, I should have set him
down as a mischievous idiot--to be kicked perhaps, but not to be noticed in
any other way.
With you, the case is different. If I die without male offspring, the Beaupark
estate goes to you, as next heir.
I don't choose to let a man in this position slander me, and those dear to me,
without promptly contradicting him. The name I bear is precious to me, in
memory of my father. Your unanswered allusion to my relations with "Lewis
Romayne and his wife," coming from a member of the family, will be received
as truth. Rather than let this be, I reveal to you, without reserve, some of the
saddest passages of my life. I have nothing to be ashamed of--and, if I have
hitherto kept certain events in the dark, it has been for the sake of others,
not for my own sake. I know better now. A woman's reputation--if she is a
good woman--is not easily compromised by telling the truth. The person of
whom I am thinking, when I write this, knows what I am going to do--and
approves of it.
 
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