Sir Tristram did as he was asked. As he read the letter, his face changed. He laid down
the letter and looked at her gravely.
'God knows how you knew, my dear; but it is true. Tyrone's steward writes that he died
in Dublin on Tuesday, at four in the afternoon.'
'I knew it! I knew it!' she cried, and burst into tempestuous weeping. As Sir Tristram
tried to console her, his mind was busy. Strange things had been known in this fairy-haunted land
of Ireland, and strange prophecies had been made in dreams.. It was not for him to deride his
wife's premonition. Young Tyrone and she had been brought up together, and had had for each
other the deepest affection-as deep as though they had been sister and brother. The fact that their
guardian had reared them in the principles of Deism, and not in the Christian faith, had only
bound them closer together, making them allies in a world that condemned them. There must, Sir
Tristram reflected, be a strong soul-tie between them, and it was quite possible that in a vivid
dream the news of Tyrone's death had been conveyed to the woman who had been his 'sister
Lady Beresford had become calmer. Drying her tears, she assured her husband that she
felt relieved now that she knew the worst. 'And I have something else to tell you,' she added
with a rainbow smile, 'something that will please you.'
'What's that, my dear?'
'I am with child,' she replied. 'And it will be a boy.'
Her husband was almost speechless with delight and amazement. If her premonition of
death had been true, why should not this happier premonition of birth? At last perhaps he would
have the son he longed for. He rang the bell for the servants.
'The horses may go back to the stables,' he said. 'My lady will not ride today.'
Soon afterwards they left Gill Hall for their own home in Derry. In the following July,
true to her prophecy, Lady Beresford bore a son, Marcus. Six years later Sir Tristram died.
Only thirty-four years old, and still beautiful, Lady Beresford might have been expected to
make an early second marriage. But it seemed to her friends that she wished to avoid even the
possibility of it. Even when the period of mourning was over she refused invitations to social
gatherings, dressed in black, and lived as quietly as possible in the company of her three children.
Close friends found that she did not relish their society any longer; and her only intimates were
now a Mr. And Mrs. Jackson, of Coleraine. Mr. Jackson, a clergyman, was one of the town's
leading citizens, and was related to Sir Tristram on his mother's side. His wife had a brother,
Colonel Richard Gorges, a young man who had risen rapidly in his Army career. He was
handsome, charming, slightly dissolute, and a good many years younger than the pretty widow;
but it soon became obvious that he was paying court to her. One day Mrs. Jackson and Lady
Beresford were sitting together at tea when Lady Beresford, who had been very silent for some
minutes, rose from her chair and seated herself on the sofa by her friend.
'Jane,' she said, 'I have some news for you. I think you will not find it hard to guess.'
Mrs. Jackson looked at her apprehensively.
'Nicola, it is not-Richard?'
'Yes. We are to be married.'
'But, my dear, have you thought? He is so much younger-and so-though he is my own
relative, I cannot think he will make you a good husband. Pray do consider this carefully!'
'I have considered it,' said Lady Beresford. 'I have given it earnest thought and prayer.'
(For some years now she had been a devout member of the Church.) 'It is my conviction that
Richard and I are destined to be husband and wife, and that our mutual love will compensate for
the difference in our ages.'
'Will you not at least wait another year-six months?' urged Mrs. Jackson. Lady
Beresford shook her head.
'The marriage is to be in six weeks. I have quite made up my mind.'
Mrs. Jackson sighed. She knew her brother only too well.
Her fears, and those of Lady Beresford's other friends, were justified. For a short time
after their marriage in 1704 the ill-assorted couple seemed happy enough; it was apparent that the
former Lady Beresford was infatuated with her young husband, and in order to get control of her
money and possessions it suited him to please her for a time. But soon, in spite of the birth of two
daughters, they began to drift apart. Colonel Gorges treated her cruelly and contemptuously,
laughing at her tears and reproaches when some fresh evidence of his infidelity came to her ears.
The children were brought into contact with his roistering companions, who came to stay at the
house and behaved shamefully there. At last, goaded into action, Nicola Gorges insisted on a
Their parting lasted for several years, during which Mrs. Gorges reverted to her former
quite life. But her infatuation for the unworthy man she had married never quite died. He had
now risen to the rank of General, and his way of life seemed to have steadied somewhat. When
he came to her and fell on his knees, begging her to forgive his past faults and take him back, and
promising most solemnly to be a reformed character and model husband in the future, she at first
wavered and then relented. In 1715 they once more lived together as man and wife; and a year
later Nicola Gorges, by now middle age, became the mother of a second son. All was joy.
General Gorges appeared pleased, and treated his wife with particular affection. The Jacksons
said to each other that perhaps they had been wrong, after all, since this apparently ill-fated
marriage had been blessed so late and so unexpectedly.
Mrs. Gorges was happy beyond expression, and particularly so because her fiftieth birthday,
that milestone in a woman's life, was past, and here she was restored to youth by the gift of a
baby son to her arms. She kept to her bed for three weeks, as was the custom of ladies in that age,
nut a month to the day after her son's birth she felt so well that she decided to hold a small
celebration. A party was planned, to include her son Sir Marcus Beresford-now twenty-two-and
her married daughter, Lady Riverston. Also invited was Dr. King, the Archbishop of Dublin, who
had become a great friend of Mrs. Gorges since her conversion to the church; and of course the
Jacksons could not be left out.
About noon on the day of the party Mr. Jackson called to inquire after the hostess's health.
He found her up and dressed, blooming and youthful in a white satin dress laced with pink, the
only somber note in her costume the black ribbon which still bound her wrist. Mrs. Gorges rang
for Madeira and biscuits to be served, and a nurse was summoned to exhibit the baby for Mr.