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The Evil Genius

22. Retrospect
The autumn holiday-time had come to an end; and the tourists had left Scotland to the
Scots.
In the dull season, a solitary traveler from the North arrived at the nearest post-town to
Mount Morven. A sketchbook and a color-box formed part of his luggage, and declared
him to be an artist. Falling into talk over his dinner with the waiter at the hotel, he made
inquiries about a picturesque house in the neighborhood, which showed that Mount
Morven was well known to him by reputation. When he proposed paying a visit to the
old border fortress the next day, the waiter said: "You can't see the house." When the
traveler asked Why, this man of few words merely added: "Shut up."
The landlord made his appearance with a bottle of wine and proved to be a more
communicative person in his relations with strangers. Presented in an abridged form, and
in the English language, these (as he related them) were the circumstances under which
Mount Morven had been closed to the public.
A complete dispersion of the family had taken place not long since. For miles round
everybody was sorry for it. Rich and poor alike felt the same sympathy with the good
lady of the house. She had been most shamefully treated by her husband, and by a good-
for-nothing girl employed as governess. To put it plainly, the two had run away together;
one report said they had gone abroad, and another declared that they were living in
London. Mr. Linley's conduct was perfectly incomprehensible. He had always borne the
highest character--a good landlord, a kind father, a devoted husband. And yet, after more
than eight years of exemplary married life, he had disgraced himself. The minister of the
parish, preaching on the subject, had attributed this extraordinary outbreak of vice on the
part of an otherwise virtuous man, to a possession of the devil. Assuming "the devil," in
this case, to be only a discreet and clerical way of alluding from the pulpit to a woman,
the landlord was inclined to agree with the minister. After what had happened, it was, of
course, impossible that Mrs. Linley could remain in her husband's house. She and her
little girl, and her mother, were supposed to be living in retirement. They kept the place
of their retreat a secret from everybody but Mrs. Linley's legal adviser, who was
instructed to forward letters. But one other member of the family remained to be
accounted for. This was Mr. Linley's younger brother, known at present to be traveling on
the Continent. Two trustworthy old servants had been left in charge at Mount Morven--
and there was the whole story; and that was why the house was shut up.
 
 
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