**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


The Marchioness Of Stonehenge
by [?]

In the course of her parish-visiting she lighted on the young girl without much difficulty, and found her looking pale and sad, and wearing a simple black gown, which she had put on out of respect for the young man’s memory, whom she had tenderly loved, though he had not loved her.

‘Ah, you have lost your lover, Milly,’ said Lady Caroline.

The young woman could not repress her tears. ‘My lady, he was not quite my lover,’ she said. ‘But I was his–and now he is dead I don’t care to live any more!’

‘Can you keep a secret about him?’ asks the lady; ‘one in which his honour is involved–which is known to me alone, but should be known to you?’

The girl readily promised, and, indeed, could be safely trusted on such a subject, so deep was her affection for the youth she mourned.

‘Then meet me at his grave to-night, half-an-hour after sunset, and I will tell it to you,’ says the other.

In the dusk of that spring evening the two shadowy figures of the young women converged upon the assistant-steward’s newly-turfed mound; and at that solemn place and hour, the one of birth and beauty unfolded her tale: how she had loved him and married him secretly; how he had died in her chamber; and how, to keep her secret, she had dragged him to his own door.

‘Married him, my lady!’ said the rustic maiden, starting back.

‘I have said so,’ replied Lady Caroline. ‘But it was a mad thing, and a mistaken course. He ought to have married you. You, Milly, were peculiarly his. But you lost him.’

‘Yes,’ said the poor girl; ‘and for that they laughed at me. “Ha–ha, you mid love him, Milly,” they said; “but he will not love you!”‘

‘Victory over such unkind jeerers would be sweet,’ said Lady Caroline. ‘You lost him in life; but you may have him in death as if you had had him in life; and so turn the tables upon them.’

‘How?’ said the breathless girl.

The young lady then unfolded her plan, which was that Milly should go forward and declare that the young man had contracted a secret marriage (as he truly had done); that it was with her, Milly, his sweetheart; that he had been visiting her in her cottage on the evening of his death; when, on finding he was a corpse, she had carried him to his house to prevent discovery by her parents, and that she had meant to keep the whole matter a secret till the rumours afloat had forced it from her.

‘And how shall I prove this?’ said the woodman’s daughter, amazed at the boldness of the proposal.

‘Quite sufficiently. You can say, if necessary, that you were married to him at the church of St. Michael, in Bath City, in my name, as the first that occurred to you, to escape detection. That was where he married me. I will support you in this.’

‘Oh–I don’t quite like–‘

‘If you will do so,’ said the lady peremptorily, ‘I will always be your father’s friend and yours; if not, it will be otherwise. And I will give you my wedding-ring, which you shall wear as yours.’

‘Have you worn it, my lady?’

‘Only at night.’

There was not much choice in the matter, and Milly consented. Then this noble lady took from her bosom the ring she had never been able openly to exhibit, and, grasping the young girl’s hand, slipped it upon her finger as she stood upon her lover’s grave.

Milly shivered, and bowed her head, saying, ‘I feel as if I had become a corpse’s bride!’

But from that moment the maiden was heart and soul in the substitution. A blissful repose came over her spirit. It seemed to her that she had secured in death him whom in life she had vainly idolized; and she was almost content. After that the lady handed over to the young man’s new wife all the little mementoes and trinkets he had given herself; even to a locket containing his hair.