A month later, Ronald himself returned. The war was virtually over when he received the letters from Mary Armstrong and Mr. Volkes, telling him that he was cleared at last, and he had no trouble in obtaining his discharge at once. He received the heartiest congratulations from his former officers, and a perfect ovation from the men, as he said good-bye to them. At Plymouth he received letters telling him where Mary and her father were staying in London, and on landing he at once proceeded to town by train, after telegraphing to his sisters to meet him there.
A fortnight later a quiet wedding took place, Ronald's sisters and Ruth Powlett acting as bridesmaids, an honour that, when Ruth returned home immediately after the ceremony, effectually silenced the tongues of the village gossips. Ronald Mervyn and his wife went for a month's tour on the Continent, Mr. Armstrong joining them in Paris a few days after the marriage; while the Miss Mervyns went down to Devonshire to prepare the Hall for the reception of its owner. Colonel Somerset had not forgotten his promise, and two or three days after Ronald's return, the letter stating how Captain Mervyn had distinguished himself during the Kaffir War under the name of Sergeant Blunt went the round of the papers.
The skeleton walls of Carne's Hold were at once pulled down, the garden was rooted up, and the whole site planted with trees, and this was by Ronald's orders carried out so expeditiously that when he returned with his bride all trace of The Hold had vanished.
Never in the memory of South Devonshire had there been such rejoicings as those that greeted Ronald Mervyn and his wife on their return home. The tenantry of his two estates, now joined, all assembled at the station, and scarce a man from Carnesford was absent. Triumphal arches had been erected, and the gentry for many miles round drove in to receive them, as an expression at once of their satisfaction that Ronald Mervyn had been cleared from the cloud that hung over him, and, to some extent, of their regret that they should ever for a moment have believed him guilty.
Reuben Claphurst's prediction was verified. With the destruction of Carne's Hold the curse of the Spanish lady ceased to work, and no trace of the family scourge has ever shown itself in the blood of the somewhat numerous family of Ronald Mervyn. The tragic story is now almost forgotten, and it is only among the inhabitants of the village at the foot of the hill that the story of the curse of Carne's Hold is sometimes related.
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