The Two Destinies
12. The Disasters Of Mrs. Van Brandt
A MAN who passes his evening as I had passed mine, may go to bed afterward if he has
nothing better to do. But he must not rank among the number of his reasonable
anticipations the expectation of getting a night's rest. The morning was well advanced,
and the hotel was astir, before I at last closed my eyes in slumber. When I awoke, my
watch informed me that it was close on noon.
I rang the bell. My servant appeared with a letter in his hand. It had been left for me,
three hours since, by a lady who had driven to the hotel door in a carriage, and had then
driven away again. The man had found me sleeping when he entered my bed-chamber,
and, having received no orders to wake me overnight, had left the letter on the sitting-
room table until he heard my bell.
Easily guessing who my correspondent was, I opened the letter. An inclosure fell out of
it--to which, for the moment, I paid no attention. I turned eagerly to the first lines. They
announced that the writer had escaped me for the second time: early that morning she had
left Edinburgh. The paper inclosed proved to be my letter of introduction to the
dressmaker returned to me.
I was more than angry with her--I felt her second flight from me as a downright outrage.
In five minutes I had hurried on my clothes and was on my way to the inn in the
Canongate as fast as a horse could draw me.
The servants could give me no information. Her escape had been effected without their
The landlady, to whom I next addressed myself, deliberately declined to assist me in any
"I have given the lady my promise," said this obstinate person, "to answer not one word
to any question that you may ask me about her. In my belief, she is acting as becomes an
honest woman in removing herself from any further communication with you. I saw you
through the keyhole last night, sir. I wish you good-morning."
Returning to my hotel, I left no attempt to discover her untried. I traced the coachman
who had driven her. He had set her down at a shop, and had then been dismissed. I
questioned the shop-keeper. He remembered that he had sold some articles of linen to a
lady with her veil down and a traveling-bag in her hand, and he remembered no more. I
circulated a description of her in the different coach offices. Three "elegant young ladies,
with their veils down, and with traveling-bags in their hands," answered to the
description; and which of the three was the fugitive of whom I was in search, it was
impossible to discover. In the days of railways and electric telegraphs I might have