The Legacy of Cain
21. Helena's Diary
The day of my return marks an occasion which I am not likely to forget. Hours have
passed since I came home--and my agitation still forbids the thought of repose.
As I sit at my desk I see Eunice in bed, sleeping peacefully, except when she is
murmuring enjoyment in some happy dream. To what end has my sister been advancing
blindfold, and (who knows?) dragging me with her, since that disastrous visit to our
friends in London? Strange that there should be a leaven of superstition in my nature!
Strange that I should feel fear of something--I hardly know what!
I have met somewhere (perhaps in my historical reading) with the expression: "A chain
of events." Was I at the beginning of that chain, when I entered the railway carriage on
my journey home?
Among the other passengers there was a young gentleman, accompanied by a lady who
proved to be his sister. They were both well-bred people. The brother evidently admired
me, and did his best to make himself agreeable. Time passed quickly in pleasant talk, and
my vanity was flattered--and that was all.
My fellow-travelers were going on to London. When the train reached our station the
young lady sent her brother to buy some fruit, which she saw in the window of the
refreshment-room. The first man whom he encountered on the platform was one of his
friends; to whom he said something which I failed to hear. When I handed my traveling
bag and my wraps to the porter, and showed myself at the carriage door, I heard the
friend say: "What a charming creature!" Having nothing to conceal in a journal which I
protect by a lock, I may own that the stranger's personal appearance struck me, and that
what I felt this time was not flattered vanity, but gratified pride. He was young, he was
remarkably handsome, he was a distinguished-looking man.
All this happened in one moment. In the moment that followed, I found myself in
Eunice's arms. That odious person, Miss Jillgall, insisted on embracing me next. And
then I was conscious of an indescribable feeling of surprise. Eunice presented the
distinguished-looking gentleman to me as a friend of hers--Mr. Philip Dunboyne.
"I had the honor of meeting your sister," he said, "in London, at Mr. Staveley's house."
He went on to speak easily and gracefully of the journey I had taken, and of his friend
who had been my fellow-traveler; and he attended us to the railway omnibus before he
took his leave. I observed that Eunice had something to say to him confidentially, before
they parted. This was another example of my sister's childish character; she is instantly
familiar with new acquaintances, if she happens to like them. I anticipated some
amusement from hearing how she had contrived to establish confidential relations with a
highly-cultivated man like Mr. Dunboyne. But, while Miss Jillgall was with us, it was
just as well to keep within the limits of commonplace conversation.