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The Guilty River

18. The Mistress Of Trimley Deen
Three weary months had passed, when a new idea was put into my head by an
Englishman whom I met at Trieste. He advised turning my back on Europe, and trying
the effect of scenes of life that would be new to me. I hired a vessel, and sailed out of the
civilized world. When I next stood on terra firma, my feet were on the lovely beach of
one of the Pacific Islands.
What I suffered I have not told yet, and do not design to tell. The bitterness of those days
hid itself from view at the time--and shall keep its concealment still. Even if I could dwell
on my sorrows with the eloquence of a practised writer, some obstinate inner reluctance
would persist in holding me dumb.
More than a year had passed before I returned to Trimley Deen, and alarmed my
stepmother by "looking like a foreign sailor."
The irregular nature of my later travels had made it impossible to forward the few letters
that had arrived for me. They were neatly laid out on the library table.
The second letter that I took up bore the postmark of Genoa. I opened it, and discovered
that the--
No! I cannot write of him by that mean name; and his own name is still unknown to me.
Let me call him--and, oh, don't think that I am deceived again!--let me call him the
The letter had been addressed to me from his deathbed, and had been written under
dictation. It contained an extraordinary enclosure--a small torn fragment of paper with
writing on it.
"Read the poor morsel that I send to you first" (the letter began). "My time on earth is
short; you will save me explanations which may be too much for my strength."
On one side of the fragment, I found these words:
". . . cruise to the Mediterranean for my wife's health. If Cristel isn't afraid of passing
some months at sea. . ."
On the other side, there was a fragment of conclusion:
". . . thoroughly understand. All ready. Write word what night, and what ... loving
brother, Stephen Toller."
I instantly remembered the miller's rich brother; thinking of him for the first time since he
had been in my mind for a moment, on the night of my meeting with Cristel. On the