Part 5 out of 5
that it was wrong of us to go, and she is very much afraid of her
Mr. Woodbourne made a sign of assent; and Elizabeth proceeded to give
a full account of the indiscreet expedition, taking the blame so
entirely upon herself, that although Katherine was on the watch to
contradict anything that might tell unfavourably for her, she could
not find a word to gainsay--speaking very highly of Helen, not
attempting to make the slightest excuse, or to plead her sorrow for
what had happened as a means of averting her father's displeasure,
and ending by asking permission to go to Mrs. Turner the instant the
Hazlebys had left Abbeychurch, to tell her that the excursion had
been entirely without Mr. Woodbourne's knowledge or consent. 'For,'
said she, 'that is the least I can do towards repairing what can
never be repaired.'
'I am not sure that that would be quite a wise measure, my dear
Lizzie,' said Mrs. Woodbourne.
'Certainly not,' said Mr. Woodbourne; 'it would put Lizzie in a very
unsuitable situation, and in great danger of being impertinent.'
'Yes,' said Elizabeth; 'I see that I do wrong whichever way I turn.'
'Come, Lizzie,' said her father, 'I see that I cannot be as much
displeased with you as you are with yourself. I believe you are
sincerely sorry for what has passed, and now we will do our best to
make it useful to you, and prevent it from having any of the bad
consequences to my character which distress you so much.'
Elizabeth was quite overcome by Mr. Woodbourne's kindness, she sprung
up, threw her arms round his neck, kissed him, and taking one more
look to see that his eyes no longer wore the expression which she
dreaded, she darted off to her own room, to give a free course to the
tears with which she had long been struggling.
Katherine, who had been studying the newspaper all this time, seeing
Elizabeth's case so easily dismissed, and not considering herself as
nearly so much to blame, now giggled out, 'Mamma, did you ever see
anyone so impertinent as this man? "Fair and accomplished
daughters," indeed! was there ever anything so impertinent?'
'Yes, Katherine,' said Mr. Woodbourne, 'there is something far more
impertinent in a young lady who thinks proper to defy my anger, and
to laugh at the consequences of her giddy disobedience.'
'Indeed, Papa,' said Katherine, 'I am very sorry, but I am sure it
was not disobedience. I did not know we were not to go.'
'Not when you had heard all that was said on the subject last year?'
said Mr. Woodbourne; 'I am ashamed to see you resort to such a
'I did not remember it,' said Katherine; 'I am sure I should never
have gone if I had, but Lizzie was so bent upon it.'
'Again throwing the blame upon others,' said Mr. Woodbourne; 'your
sister has set you a far better example. She forbore from saying
what I believe she might have said with perfect truth, that had you
not chosen to forget my commands when they interfered with your
fancies, she would not have thought of going; and this is the return
which you make to her kindness.'
'Well,' sobbed Katherine, 'I never heard you say we should not go, I
do not remember it. You know Mamma says I have a very bad memory.'
'Your memory is good enough for what pleases yourself,' said Mr.
Woodbourne; 'you have been for some time past filling your head with
vanity and gossipping, without making the slightest attempt to
improve yourself or strengthen your mind, and this is the
consequence. However, this you will remember if you please, that it
is my desire that you associate no more with that silly chattering
girl, Miss Turner, than your sisters do. You know that I never
approved of your making a friend of her, but you did not choose to
listen to any warnings.'
Katherine well knew that her father had often objected to her
frequently going to drink tea with the Turners, and had checked her
for talking continually of her friend; and anyone not bent on her own
way would have thought these hints enough, but as they were not given
with a stern countenance, or in a peremptory manner, she had paid no
attention to them. Now, she could not be brought to perceive what
her fault really had been, but only sobbed out something about its
being very hard that she should have all the scolding, when it was
Lizzie's scheme, not hers. Again forgetting that she had been the
original proposer of the expedition.
'Pray, my dear, do not go on defending yourself,' said Mrs.
Woodbourne, 'you see it does no good.'
'But, Mamma,' whined Katherine, in such a tone that Mr. Woodbourne
could bear it no longer, and ordered her instantly to leave the room,
and not to appear again till she could shew a little more submission.
She obeyed, after a little more sobbing and entreating; and as she
closed the door behind her, Harriet came out of the opposite room.
'What is the matter?' whispered she; 'has it all come out?'
'Yes, it is in the paper, and Papa is very angry,' sighed Katherine.
'Is there anything about me?' asked Harriet eagerly, paying no regard
to poor Katherine's woful appearance and streaming eyes.
'Oh no, nothing,' said Katherine, hastening away, as Mrs. Hazleby and
Lucy came into the passage.
'Hey-day! what is all this about?' exclaimed the former, encountering
Mr. Woodbourne, as he came out of his wife's dressing-room; 'what is
the matter now?'
'I believe your daughter can explain it better than I can,' answered
Mr. Woodbourne, giving her the paper, and walking away to his study
as soon as he came to the bottom of the stairs.
As soon as Mrs. Hazleby found herself in the drawing-room she called
upon her eldest daughter to explain to her the meaning of what she
saw in the newspaper.
'Why, Mamma,' Harriet began, 'you know Miss Merton and Lizzie
Woodbourne care for nothing but history and all that stuff, and do
not mind what they do, as long as they can talk, talk, talk of
nothing else all day long. So they were at it the day you dined out,
and they had some question or other, whether King Arthur's Round
Table were knights or not, till at last Kate said something about the
Institute, and they were all set upon going, though Helen told them
they had better not, so out we went, we walked all together to Mrs.
Turner's, and she took them. I suppose Fido must have fallen into
the river while they were at the Institute.'
'Poor dear little fellow, I dare say that was the way he was lost,'
said Mrs. Hazleby; 'when once young people take that kind of nonsense
into their head, there is an end of anything else. Well, and how was
it we never heard of it all this time?'
'I think no one would wish to tell of it,' said Harriet; 'you would
not have heard of it now, if it had not been in the paper.'
'Well, I hope Miss Lizzie will have enough of it,' said Mrs. Hazleby;
'it will open her papa's eyes to all her conceit, if anything will.'
'I am sure it is time,' said Harriet; 'she thinks herself wiser than
all the world, one cannot speak a word for her.'
'O Harriet!' said Lucy, looking up from her work with some
indignation in her eyes.
'I believe you think it all very grand, Lucy,' said her mother; 'you
care for nothing as long as you can dawdle about with Helen. Pray
did you go to this fine place?'
'No, Mamma,' said Lucy.
'H--m,' said Mrs. Hazleby, rather disappointed at losing an
opportunity of scolding her.
Anne had gone to write a letter in her mother's room, whilst
Elizabeth was busy. She had just finished it, and was thinking of
going to see whether anyone was ready to read in the school-room,
when Rupert came in, and making a low bow, addressed her thus: 'So,
Miss Nancy, I congratulate you.'
'What is the matter now?' said Anne.
'Pray, Anne,' said he, 'did you ever experience the satisfaction of
feeling how pleasant it is to see one's name in print?'
'You were very near having something like that pleasure yourself,'
said Anne; 'it was only your arrival on Friday that saved the expense
of an advertisement at the head of a column in the Times--
"R. M., return, return, return to your sorrowing friends."'
'Pray be more speedy next time,' said Rupert, 'for then I shall be
even with you.'
'I am sure you have some wickedness in your head, or all your
speeches would not begin with "Pray,"' said Anne; 'what do you mean?'
'What I say,' answered Rupert; 'I have just read Miss Merton's name
in the paper.'
'Some other Miss Merton, you foolish boy!' said Anne.
'No, no, yourself, Anne Katherine Merton, daughter of Sir Edward,'
'My dear Rupert, you do not mean it!' said Anne, somewhat alarmed.
'I saw it with my eyes,' said Rupert.
'In the Abbeychurch Reporter, or whatever you call it.'
'Oh!' said Anne, looking relieved, 'we are probably all there, as
having been at the Consecration.'
'The company there present, are, I believe, honoured with due mention
of Sir Edward Merton and family,' said Rupert; 'but I am speaking of
another part of the paper where Miss Merton is especially noted,
alone in her glory.'
'In what paper did you say, Rupert?' said Lady Merton.
'The Abbeychurch Reporter,' said he.
'Mr. Higgins's paper!' said Anne. 'O Mamma, I see it all--that
horrible Mechanics' Institute!'
'Why, Anne,' said her brother, 'I thought you would be charmed with
'But where have you seen it, Rupert?' said Anne; 'poor Lizzie, has
she heard it?'
'Mr. Walker came in just now in great dismay, to shew it to Mr.
Woodbourne,' said Rupert; 'and they had a very long discussion on the
best means of contradicting it, to which I listened with gravity,
quite heroic, I assure you, considering all things. Then my uncle
carried it off to shew it to his wife, and I came up to congratulate
'I am sure it is no subject of congratulation,' said Anne; 'where was
Papa all the time?'
'Gone to call on Mr. Somerville,' said Rupert.
'But I thought Lizzie had told her father,' said Lady Merton.
'She told Mrs. Woodbourne directly,' said Anne; 'but she could not
get at my uncle, and I suppose Mrs. Woodbourne had not told him.
What an annoyance for them all! I hope Mr. Woodbourne is not very
'He was more inclined to laugh than to be angry, said Rupert; 'and it
is indeed a choice morceau, worthy of Augustus Mills, Esquire,
himself. I hope Mr. Woodbourne will bring it down-stairs, that you
may explain to me the rare part which describes the decrepid old
Giant Chivalry, sitting in his den, unable to do any mischief, only
biting his nails at the passers by, like the Giant Pope in the
Anne could not help laughing. 'But, Rupert,' said she, 'pray do not
say too much about it in the evening. I am not at all sure that Papa
will not be very much displeased to see his name figuring in the
paper as if he was a supporter of this horrid place. I wish, as
Lizzie says, that I had cut my head off before I went, for it has
really come to be something serious. Papa's name will seem to
sanction their proceedings.'
'My dear,' said Lady Merton, 'you may comfort yourself by
remembering that your Papa's character is too well known to be
affected by such an assertion as this; most people will not believe
it, and those who do, can only think that his daughter is turning
radical, not himself.'
'Ay, this is the first public decisive act of Miss Merton's life,'
said Rupert; 'no wonder so much is made of it.'
'But, Rupert,' said Anne, 'I only beg of you not to say anything
about it to Lizzie.'
'You cut me off from everything diverting,' said Rupert; 'you are
growing quite impertinent, but I will punish you some day when you do
not expect it.'
'I do not care what you do when we are at home,' said Anne; 'I defy
you to do your worst then; only spare Lizzie and me while we are
'Spare Lizzie, indeed!' said Rupert; 'she does not want your
protection, she is able enough to take care of herself.'
'I believe Rupert's five wits generally go off halting, from the
sharp encounter of hers,' said Lady Merton.
'And therefore he wants to gain a shabby advantage over a wounded
enemy,' said Anne; 'I give you up, you recreant; your name should
have been Oliver, instead of Rupert.'
'There is an exemplification of the lecture,' said Rupert; 'impotent
chivalry biting its nails with disdain and despite.'
'Well, Mamma,' said Anne, 'since chivalry is impotent, I shall leave
you to tame that foul monster with something else; I will have no
more to do with him.'
She went to fetch her work out of her bed-room, but on seeing
Elizabeth there, her pocket-handkerchief in her hand, and traces of
tears on her face, was hastily retreating, when her cousin said,
'Come in,' and added, 'So, Anne, you have heard, the murder is out.'
'The Mechanics' Institute, you mean,' said Anne, 'not Fido.'
'Not Fido,' said Elizabeth; 'but the rest of the story is out; I
mean, it is not known who killed Cock Robin, and I do not suppose it
ever will be; but the Mechanics' Institute affair is in the
newspaper, and it is off my mind, for I have had it all out with
Papa. And, Anne, he was so very kind, that I do not know how to
think of it. He made light of the annoyance to himself on purpose to
console me, and--but,' added she, smiling, while the tears came into
her eyes again, 'I must not talk of him, or I shall go off into
another cry, and not be fit for the reading those unfortunate
children have been waiting for so long. Tell me, are my eyes very
unfit to be seen?'
'Not so very bad,' said Anne.
'Well, I cannot help it if they are,' said Elizabeth; 'come down and
let us read.'
They found Helen alone in the school-room, where she had been sitting
ever since breakfast-time, thinking that the penny club was occupying
Elizabeth most unusually long this morning.
'Helen,' said Elizabeth, as she came into the room, 'Papa knows the
whole story, and I can see that he is as much pleased with your
conduct as I am sure you deserve.'
All was explained in a few words. Helen was now by no means inclined
to triumph in her better judgement, for, while she had been waiting,
alone with her drawing, she had been thinking over all that had
passed since the unfortunate Friday evening, wondering that she could
ever have believed that Elizabeth was not overflowing with affection,
and feeling very sorry for the little expression of triumph which she
had allowed to escape her in her ill-temper on Saturday. 'Lizzie,'
said she, 'will you forgive me for that very unkind thing I said to
Elizabeth did not at first recollect what it was, and when she did,
she only said, 'Nonsense, Helen, I never consider what people say
when they are cross, any more than when they are drunk.'
Anne was very much diverted by the idea of Elizabeth's experience of
what drunken people said, or of drunkenness and ill-temper being
allied, and her merriment restored the spirits of her cousins, and
took off from what Elizabeth called the 'awfulness of a grand
pardoning scene.' Helen was then sent to summon the children to
their lessons, which were happily always supposed to begin later on a
Monday than on any other day of the week.
The study door was open, and as she passed by, her father called her
into the room. 'Helen,' said he, 'Elizabeth tells me that you acted
the part of a sensible and obedient girl the other evening, and I am
much pleased to hear it.'
Helen stood for a few moments, too much overcome with delight and
surprise to be able to speak. Mr. Woodbourne went on writing, and
she bounded upstairs with something more of a hop, skip, and jump,
than those steps had known from her foot since she had been an
inhabitant of the nursery herself, thinking 'What would he say if he
knew that I only refused to go, out of a spirit of opposition?' yet
feeling the truth of what Anne had said, that her father's praise,
rarely given, and only when well earned, was worth all the Stauntons'
admiration fifty times over.
When Mrs. Woodbourne came down, she advised Helen not to call
Katherine, saying that she thought it would be better for her to be
left to herself, so that she was seen no more till just before the
Hazlebys departed, when she came down to take leave of them, looking
very pale, her eyes very red, and her voice nearly choking, but still
there was no appearance of submission about her.
'Helen,' said Lucy, as they were standing in the window of the inner
drawing-room, 'I should like you to tell Aunt Mildred how very much I
have enjoyed this visit.'
'I wish you would tell her so yourself,' said Helen; 'I am sure you
cannot be afraid of her, Lucy.'
'Oh no, I am not afraid of her,' said Lucy, 'only I do not like to
say this to her. It is putting myself too forward almost, to say it
to you even, Helen; but I have been wishing all the time I have been
here, to thank her for having been so very kind as to mention me
especially, in her letter to Papa.'
'But have you really enjoyed your visit here?' said Helen, thinking
how much she had felt for Lucy on several occasions.
'Oh! indeed I have, Helen,' answered she; 'to say nothing of the
Consecration, such a sight as I may never see again in all my life,
and which must make everyone very happy who has anything to do with
your Papa, and Aunt Mildred; it has been a great treat to be with you
all again, and to see your uncle and aunt, and Miss Merton. I hardly
ever saw such a delightful person as Miss Merton, so clever and so
sensible, and now I shall like to hear all you have to say about her
in your letters.'
'Yes, I suppose Anne is clever and sensible,' said Helen musingly.
'Do not you think her so?' said Lucy, with some surprise.
'Why, yes, I do not know,' said Helen, hesitating; 'but then, she
does laugh so very much.'
Lucy could not make any answer, for at this moment her mother called
her to make some arrangement about the luggage; but she pondered a
little on the proverb which declares that it is well to be merry and
Mrs. Hazleby had been condoling with Mr. Woodbourne upon his
daughter's misbehaviour, and declaring that her dear girls would
never dream of taking a single step without her permission, but that
learning was the ruin of young ladies.
Mr. Woodbourne listened to all this discourse very quietly, without
attempting any remark, but as soon as the Hazlebys had gone up-stairs
to put on their bonnets, he said, 'Well, I wish Miss Harriet joy of
'I wish Barbara had been more gentle with those girls,' replied Mrs.
Woodbourne, with a sigh. And this was all that passed between the
elders on the subject of the behaviour of Miss Harriet Hazleby.
Mr. Woodbourne and Rupert accompanied Mrs. Hazleby and her daughters
to the railroad station, Rupert shewing himself remarkably polite to
Mrs. Hazleby's pet baskets, and saving Lucy from carrying the largest
and heaviest of them, which generally fell to her share.
'Well,' said Elizabeth, drawing a long breath, as she went out to
walk with Anne and Helen, 'there is the even-handed justice of this
world. Of the four delinquents of last Friday, there goes one with
flying colours, in all the glory of a successful deceit; you, Anne,
who, to say the best of you, acted like a very great goose, are
considered as wise as ever; I, who led you all into the scrape with
my eyes wilfully blinded, am only pitied and comforted; poor Kitty,
who had less idea of what she was doing than any of us, has had more
crying and scolding than anybody else; and Lucy, who behaved so well
--oh! I cannot bear to think of her.'
'It is a puzzle indeed,' said Helen; 'I mean as far as regards
Harriet and Lucy.'
'Not really, Helen,' said Elizabeth; 'it is only a failure in story
book justice. Lucy is too noble a creature to be rewarded in a
story-book fashion; and as for Harriet, impunity like hers is in
reality a greater punishment than all the reproof in the world.'
'How could she sit by and listen to all that Papa and Mrs. Hazleby
were saying?' said Helen.
'How could she bear the glance of Papa's eye?' said Elizabeth; 'did
you watch it? I thought I never saw it look so stern, and yet that
contemptible creature sat under it as contentedly as possible. Oh!
it made me quite sick to watch her.'
Are you quite sure that she knew whether my uncle was aware of her
share in the matter?' said Anne.
'She must have seen it in that glance, or have been the most
insensible creature upon earth,' said Elizabeth.
'Ah!' said Anne, 'I have some notion what that eye of your Papa's can
'You, Anne?' said Elizabeth; 'you do not mean that you could ever
have done anything to make him look at you in that way?'
'Indeed I have,' said Anne; 'do not you remember?'
'No, indeed,' said Elizabeth.
'However, it was not quite so bad as this,' said Anne.
'But do tell us what it was,' said Elizabeth, 'or I shall think it
something uncommonly shocking.'
'I never spoke of it since, because I was too much ashamed,' said
Anne; 'and it was very silly of me to do so now.'
'But when was it?' said Elizabeth.
'Two years ago,' said Anne, 'when you were all staying at Merton
Hall, just before that nice nursery-maid of yours, Susan, married our
'Yes, I remember,' said Elizabeth; 'but what has that to do with your
crime, whatever it may be?'
'A great deal,' said Anne; 'do not you recollect our hunting all over
the garden one day for Winifred and Dora, and at last our asking old
Ambrose whether he had seen them?'
'Oh yes, I think I do,' said Elizabeth; 'and he said that he had seen
Susan and the children go down the blind walk. Then I said Dora had
talked of seeing a blackbird's nest there, and he answered, with a
most comical look, 'Ah! ha! Miss Woodbourne, I fancy they be two-
legged blackbirds as Susan is gone to see.''
'Why, blackbirds have but two legs,' said Helen, looking mystified;
'what did he mean'?'
'That is exactly what Kate said,' said Elizabeth; 'but really I
thought you were sharper, Helen. Cannot you guess?'
'Not in the least,' said Helen.
'That Evans was clipping the hedges,' said Anne.
Elizabeth and Anne indulged in a good laugh at Helen, as much as at
Ambrose, and presently Elizabeth said, 'Well, but, Anne, where is
'Oh! I thought you had remembered, and would spare me,' said Anne.
'But we have not,' said Elizabeth; 'so now for it.'
'Then if I am to tell,' said Anne, 'do not you recollect that I began
to tell Rupert the story in the middle of dinner, when all the
servants were there?'
'O Anne, I never fancied you such a goose!' said Elizabeth.
'My delinquencies made very little impression on you, then,' said
Anne; 'I went on very fluently with the story till just as I had
pronounced the words, "two-legged blackbirds," I saw Uncle
Woodbourne's eye upon me, as he sat just opposite, with all its cold
heavy sternness of expression, and at the same moment I heard a
strange suppressed snort behind my chair.'
'Poor creature!' said Elizabeth; 'but you certainly deserved it.'
'I was ready to sink under the table,' said Anne; 'I did not dare to
look up to Papa or Mamma, and I have been very much obliged to Mamma
ever since for never alluding to that terrible dinner.'
'It is a regular proof that Fun is one of the most runaway horses in
existence,' said Elizabeth; 'very charming when well curbed, but if
you give him the rein--'
'Yes, I have been learning that by sad experience all my life,' said
Anne, with a sigh.
'You will never be silly enough to give him up, though,' said
'Silly, do you call it?' said Helen.
'People think so differently on those matters,' said Anne.
'Yes, but a "spirit full of glee" is what I think the most delightful
thing in the world,' said Elizabeth, 'and so do you.'
'Yes, in old age, when its blitheness has been proved to be something
beyond animal spirits,' said Anne.
'And it is right that people should have animal spirits in their
youth,' said Elizabeth, 'not grey heads on green shoulders, like some
people of my acquaintance.--Do not be affronted, Helen; I dare say
your head will grow greener all your life, it is better to-day than
it was on Saturday morning.'
'But the worst of it is,' said Anne, 'that I believe it is very silly
of me, but I am afraid Uncle Woodbourne has always thought me a most
foolish girl ever since, and I do not like the idea of it.'
'Who would?' said Elizabeth; 'I am afraid I cannot tell you what he
thinks of your sense, but of this I am sure, that he must think you
the choicest damsel of his acquaintance, and wish his daughters were
more like you.'
'And there could not have been the same meaning in his eye when he
looked at you, as when he looked at Harriet,' said Helen.
'Oh no, I hope not,' said Anne.
'And you understood it a little better than one who can only feel
personal inconvenience,' said Elizabeth; 'but how can I blame Harriet
when I was the occasion of her fault? it is a thing I can never bear
to think of.'
As Elizabeth said this, they came to a shop where Anne wished to buy
some little presents for some children in the village at home, who,
she said, would value them all the more for not being the production
of the town nearest them. They pursued their search for gay remnants
of coloured prints, little shawls, and pictured pocket-handkerchiefs,
into the new town, and passed by Mr. Higgins's shop, the window of
which was adorned with all the worst caricatures which had found
their way to Abbeychurch, the portraits of sundry radical leaders,
embossed within a halo of steel-pens, and a notice of a lecture on
'Personal Respectability,' to be given on the ensuing Friday at the
Mechanics' Institute, by the Rev. W. Pierce, the Dissenting preacher.
Mr. Higgins appeared at the shop door, for the express purpose, as it
seemed, of honouring Miss Merton and Miss Woodbourne each with a very
'There, Helen, is my punishment,' said Elizabeth; 'since you are
desirous of poetical justice upon me.'
'Not upon you,' said Helen, 'only upon Harriet.'
'Harriet has lost Fido,' said Elizabeth.
Here Rupert came to meet them, and no more was said on the subject.
Rupert obeyed his sister tolerably well during most of the day,
though he was sorely tempted to ask Elizabeth to send Anne an
abstract, in short-hand, of the lecture on Personal Respectability;
but he refrained, for he was really fond of his cousin, and very
good-natured, excepting when his vanity was offended.
Anne however was in a continual fright, for he delighted in
tormenting her by going as near the dangerous subject as he dared;
and often, when no one else thought there was any danger, she knew by
the expression of his eye that he had some spiteful allusion on his
lips. Besides, he thought some of the speeches he had made in the
morning too clever to be wasted on his mother and sister, when his
cousins were there to hear them, and Anne could not trust to his
forbearance to keep them to himself all day, so that she kept a
strict watch upon him.
In the evening, however, Mr. Woodbourne called her and Helen to play
some Psalm tunes from which he wanted to choose some for the Church.
He spoke to her in a way which made her hope that he did not think
her quite foolish, but she would have been glad to stay and keep
Rupert in order. However, she was rejoiced to hear Elizabeth propose
to him to play at chess, and she saw them sit down very amicably.
This proposal, however, proved rather unfortunate, for Elizabeth was
victorious in the first battle, the second was a drawn game, and
Rupert lost the third, just as he thought he was winning it, from
forgetting to move out the castle's pawn after castling his king. He
could not bear to be conquered, and pushed away the chess-board
'Good morning to you, Prince Rupert,' said Elizabeth triumphantly;
'do you wish for any more?'
Rupert made no answer, but pulled the inkstand across the table,
opened the paper-case, and took up a pen.
'Oh!' said Elizabeth, 'I suppose we may expect a treatise on the art
of fortification, salient angles, and covered ways, not forgetting
the surrender of Bristol.'
No reply, but Rupert scratched away very diligently with his pen, the
inkstand preventing Elizabeth from seeing what he was about.
'Anne,' said Elizabeth, leaning back, and turning round, 'I am
thinking of making a collection of the heroes who could not bear to
be beaten at chess, beginning with Charlemagne's Paladins, who
regularly beat out each other's brains with the silver chess-board,
then the Black Prince, and Philippe of Burgundy. Can you help me to
Anne did not hear, and Rupert remained silent as ever; and Elizabeth,
determining to let him make himself as silly as he pleased, took up
her work and sewed on her braid very composedly. Katherine had come
down again at dinner-time, and was working in silence. She had been
standing by the piano, but finding that no one asked her to play, or
took any notice of her, she had come back to the table.
'Dear me, Prince Rupert,' said she, looking over his shoulder, 'what
strange thing are you doing there?'
'A slight sketch,' said he, 'to be placed in Lizzie's album as a
companion to a certain paragraph which I believe she has studied.'
Rupert threw his pen-and-ink drawing down before Elizabeth. It was
really not badly done, and she saw in a moment, by the help of the
names which he had scribbled below in his worst of all bad writing,
that it represented the Giants, Pope and Pagan, as described in the
Pilgrim's Progress, while, close to Pope, was placed a delineation
very like Don Quixote, purporting to be the superannuated Giant
Chivalry, biting his nails at a dapper little personification of
'Civil and Religious Liberty.' A figure whose pointed head, lame
foot, and stout walking-stick, shewed him to be intended for Sir
Walter Scott, was throwing over him an embroidered surcoat, which a
most striking and ludicrous likeness of Mr. Augustus Mills was
pulling off at the other end; and the scene was embellished by a
ruined castle in the distance, and a quantity of skulls and cross-
bones in the fore-ground. Elizabeth could not but think it unkind of
him to jest on this matter, while her eye-lids were still burning and
heavy from the tears it had caused her to shed; but she knew Rupert
well enough to be certain that it was only a sign that he was out of
temper, and had not yet conquered his old boyish love of teazing.
She put the paper into her basket, saying, in a low tone, 'Thank you,
Rupert; I shall keep it as a memorial of several things, some of
which may do me good; but I fear it will always put me in mind that
cavaliers of the present day would have little objection to such
battles as I was speaking of, even with women, if this poor old
gentleman did not retain a small degree of vitality.'
Rupert was vexed, both at being set down in a way he did not expect,
and because he was really sorry that his wounded self-conceit bad led
him to do what he saw had mortified Elizabeth more than he had
'What is it? what is it?' asked Katherine.
'Never mind, Kate,' said Rupert.
'Well, but what fun is it?' persisted Katherine.
'Only downright nonsense,' said Rupert, looking down, and
unconsciously drawing very strange devices on the blotting paper,
'unworthy the attention of so wise a lady.'
'Only the dry bones of an ill-natured joke,' said Lady Merton, who
had seen all that passed, from the other end of the table. She spoke
so low as only to be heard by her son; but Elizabeth saw his colour
deepen, and, as he rose and went to the piano, she felt sorry for
him, and soon found an opportunity of reminding him that he had
promised to draw something for Edward's scrap-book, and asked him if
he would do so now.
'Willingly,' said Rupert, 'but only on one condition, Lizzie.'
'What?' said Elizabeth.
'That you give me back that foolish thing,' said Rupert, fixing his
eyes intently on the coach and horses which he was drawing.
'There it is,' said Elizabeth, restoring it to him. 'No, no, Rupert,
do not tear it up, it is the cleverest thing you ever drew, Sir
Walter is excellent.'
Yet, in spite of this commendation, Rupert had torn his performance
into the smallest scraps, before his sister came back to the table.
Anne had been in some anxiety ever since the conclusion of the games;
but Sir Edward and Mr. Woodbourne were standing between her and the
table, so that she could neither see nor hear, and when at length she
had finished playing, and was released, she found Rupert and
Elizabeth so quiet, and so busy with their several employments, that
she greatly dreaded that all had not gone right. She bethought
herself of the sketches Rupert had made in Scotland, asked him to
fetch them, and by their help, she contrived to restore the usual
tone of conversation between the cousins, so that the remainder of
the evening passed away very pleasantly.
When Anne and Elizabeth awoke the following morning, Anne said that
she had remembered, the evening before, just when it was too late to
do anything, that the last Sunday Rupert had left his Prayer-book
behind him at St. Austin's; and as they were to set off on their
journey homewards immediately after breakfast, she asked Elizabeth
whether there would be time to walk to the new church and fetch it
'I think it would be a very pleasant walk in the freshness of the
morning, if you like to go,' said she.
'Oh yes,' said Elizabeth, 'there is plenty of time, and I should like
the walk very much; but really, Anne, you spoil that idle boy in a
'Ah! Rupert is an only son,' said Anne; 'he has a right to be
'Then I hope that Horace and Edward will save each other from the
same fate,' said Elizabeth; 'I do not like to see a sister made such
a slave as you have been all your life.'
'Wait till Horace and Edward are at home in the holidays before you
talk of slavery,' said Anne; 'there will be five slaves and two
masters, that will be all the difference.'
'Well are the male kind called barons in heraldry,' said Elizabeth;
'there is no denying that they are a lordly race; but I think I would
have sent Mr. Rupert up the hill himself, rather than go before
breakfast, with a day's journey before me.'
'Suppose he would not go?' said Anne.
'Let him lose his Prayer-book, then,' said Elizabeth.
'But if I had rather fetch it for him?' said Anne.
'I can only answer that there are no slaves as willing as sisters,'
The two cousins had a pleasant morning walk up the hill, enjoying the
freshness of the morning air, and watching the various symptoms of
wakening in the town. They carried the keys of the church with them,
as no clerk had as yet been appointed, and they were still in Mr.
Woodbourne's possession, so that it was not necessary to call anyone
to open the doors for them.
Whilst Anne was searching for the Prayer-book, Elizabeth stood in the
aisle, her eyes fixed on the bright red cross in the centre window
over the Altar. The sun-beams were lighting it up gloriously, and
from it, her gaze fell upon the Table of Commandments, between it and
the Altar. Presently, Anne came and stood by her side in silence.
'Anne,' said Elizabeth, after a few minutes, 'I will tell you what I
have been thinking of. On the day when Horace laid the first stone
of this church, two years ago, something put me, I am sorry to say,
into one of my old fits of ill temper. It was the last violent
passion I ever was in; I either learnt to control them, or outgrew
them. And now, may this affair at the Consecration be the last of my
self-will and self-conceit; for indeed there is much that is
fearfully wrong in me to be corrected, before I can dare to think of
Perhaps we cannot take leave of Elizabeth Woodbourne at a better
moment, therefore we will say no more of her, or of the other
inhabitants of the Vicarage, but make a sudden transition to the
conversation, which Anne had hoped to enjoy on the journey back to
She had told her father of nearly all her adventures, had given
Fido's history more fully, informed Rupert of all that he had missed,
and was proceeding with an account of Helen. 'Really,' said she, 'I
have much more hope of her being happy at home, than I had at first.'
'I will answer for it that she will be happy enough,' said Rupert;
'she has been living on flummery for the last half-year, and you
cannot expect her to be contented with mutton-chops just at first.'
'Helen does not find so much fault with the mutton-chops as with the
pepper Lizzie adds to them,' said Anne.
'I should be sorry to live without pepper,' said Rupert.
'I am not so sure of that,' said Lady Merton.
'At least you do not wish to have enough to choke you,' said Anne;
'you must have it in moderation.'
'I think Lizzie is learning moderation,' said Lady Merton; 'she is
acquiring more command of impulse, and Helen more command of feeling,
so that I think there is little danger of their not agreeing.'
'Is it not curious, Mamma,' said Anne, 'that we should have been
talking of the necessity of self-control, just before we set out on
this visit, when I told you that line of Burns was your motto; and
now we find that the want of it is the reason of all that was wrong
between those two sisters. I wonder whether we could make out that
any more of the follies we saw in this visit were caused by the same
deficiency in anyone else.'
'Beginning at home?' said Sir Edward.
'Of course, Papa,' said Anne; 'I know that my failure in self-control
has done mischief, though I cannot tell how much. I laughed at the
Hazlebys continually, in spite of Mamma's warning, and encouraged
Lizzie to talk of them when I had better not have done so; and I
allowed myself to be led away by eagerness to hear that foolish
lecture. I suppose I want control of spirits.'
'And now having finished our own confession, how merrily we begin
upon our neighbours!' said Rupert; 'whom shall we dissect first?'
'Indeed, Rupert,' said Anne, 'I do not want to make the most of their
faults, I only wish to study their characters, because I think it is
a useful thing to do. Now I do not see that Kate's faults are
occasioned by want of self-control; do you think they are, Mamma?'
'Do you think that piece of thistle-down possesses any self-control?'
'You mean that Kate does not control her own conduct at all, but is
drifted about by every wind that blows,' said Anne; 'yes, it was Miss
Hazleby's influence that made her talk so much more of dress than
usual, and really seem sillier than I ever saw her before.'
'And what do you say of the fair Harriet herself?' said Rupert.
'Nothing,' said Anne.
'And Mrs. Hazleby is her daughter in a magnifying glass,' said
Rupert; 'a glorious specimen of what you all may come to. And Mrs.
'Oh! I have nothing to do with the elders,' said Anne; 'but if you
want me to find you a fault in her, I shall say that she ought to
control her unwillingness to correct people. And now we have
discussed almost everyone.'
'From which discussion,' said Rupert, 'it appears that of all the
company at Abbeychurch, the sole possessor of that most estimable
quality, the root of all other excellencies, is--your humble
On this unfortunate speech of poor Rupert's, father, mother, and
sister, all set up a shout of laughter, which lasted till Rupert
began to feel somewhat enraged.
'Oh! I did not say that I had done with everybody,' said Anne; 'but,
perhaps, whatever I might think, I might not have presumed--'
'O Rupert!' said Lady Merton,
'Could some fay the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us--'
'Mamma's beloved Burn's Justice again,' interrupted Rupert.
'No, no, we do not mean to let our mouths be stopped,' said Lady
Merton; 'such a challenge must be answered.'
'Shew him no mercy, Anne,' said Sir Edward; 'he likes pepper.'
'Pray, Rupert,' said Anne, 'what would you have been without self-
control, if, possessing such a quantity of it, you still allowed so
much spirit of mischief to domineer over you, that you frightened
Dora out of her wits about Winifred, and tormented Helen all the way
to Whistlefar, and worst of all, that you could not help writing that
wicked poem, and then pretending that it was mine; why, it was an
outrage upon us all, it would have been bad enough if the name had
belonged to no one, but when you knew that he was a real man--'
'And that Miss Hazleby wrote his name on purpose that something of
the kind might be done,' said Rupert; 'I gratified her beyond
measure, and then was so kind and disinterested as to give you the
credit of it, if you would have accepted it. You may be sure that
she will shew the poem to her hero, and tell him what a charming
fellow that young Rupert Merton is.'
'Now just listen, Mamma,' said Anne; 'I begged of Mr. Rupert not to
write anything about Fido in the Conglomeration on Saturday evening;
and because I did so, he would write nothing on his own account, but
pretending to read my verses, he brings out a horrible composition
about a certain Mr. Francis Hollis, who, Miss Hazelby had been
telling us, had been the means of her going to an officers' ball, at
Hull, and whom she had danced with--'
'Capital, capital!' cried Rupert; 'I never heard all this; I did not
know how good my poem was, I knew the truth by intuition.'
'But having heard this made it all the worse for me,' said Anne; 'and
Mamma, this dreadful doggerel--'
'Anne, I declare--' cried Rupert.
'And, Mamma, this dreadful doggerel,' proceeded Anne, 'proposed to
send Fido's heart to this Mr. Hollis, and so put him in raptures with
a gift from Miss Hazleby, and fill his mind with visions of a
surrogate, and a wedding tour to Harrogate. Now was it not the most
impertinent ungentlemanlike thing you ever heard of?'
'How can you talk such nonsense, Anne?' said Rupert; 'do you think I
should have written it, if I had not known it would please her?'
'I believe you would not have dared to behave in such a manner to
Lizzie, or to anyone else who knew what was due to her,' said Anne;
'if Miss Hazleby is vain and vulgar, she is still a woman, and ought
to be respected as such.'
Rupert laughed rather provokingly. 'It is just as I say,' said Anne;
'now is it not, Mamma?'
'Oh yes, Anne,' said Rupert, 'perfectly right, you have caught
Helen's sententious wisdom exactly; I have no doubt that such were
the thoughts which passed through her mind, while she sat like
propriety personified, wondering how you could have so little sense
of decorum as to laugh at anything so impudent.'
'I know I ought not to have laughed,' said Anne; 'that was one of the
occasions when I did not exert sufficient self-control. But there
was really very little to laugh at, it was quite an old joke. Rupert
had disposed of Fido's heart long before, but he is so fond of his
own wit, that he never knows when we have had enough of a joke.'
'I could tell you of something much worse, Anne,' said Lady Merton,
'which quite proves the truth of what you say.'
Rupert coloured, made an exclamation about something in the road, and
seemed so much discomposed by this hint, that Anne forbore to ask any
'Rupert fitted himself to a T, that we must say for him,' said Sir
'What do you mean, Papa?' said Anne.
'There is another word which begins with self-con--' said Lady
Merton,' which suits him remarkably well.'
'Ah! ha!' cried Anne.
'At any rate,' cried Rupert vigorously, 'do not make it appear as if
I were the only individual with a tolerable opinion of my own
advantages--when Helen looks like the picture of offended dignity if
you presume to say a syllable contrary to some of her opinions, or in
disparagement of dear Dykelands; and Kate thinks herself the most
lovely creature upon earth, and the only useful person in the house;
and Harriet believes no one her equal in the art of fascination; and
Mrs. Woodbourne thinks no children come within a mile of hers in
beauty and excellence; and Lizzie--'
'I am sure few people are more humble-minded than Lizzie,'
interrupted Anne indignantly.
'What, when she would take no one's advice but her own, if it were to
save her life?' said Rupert.
'But she thinks everyone better than herself, and makes no parade
either of her talents or of her usefulness,' said Anne.
'Still she has a pretty high opinion of her own judgement,' said
'Well she may,' said Anne.
'When it leads her to go to Mechanics' Institutes,' said Rupert;
'that is the reason Anne respects her so much.'
'I advise you to throw no stones at her, Sir,' said Sir Edward; 'it
would be well if some people of my acquaintance were as upright in
acknowledging deficiencies in themselves, as she is.'
'Besides, I cannot see that Helen is conceited,' said Anne; 'if she
was, she would not be made unhappy by other people's criticisms.'
'Helen wants a just estimate of herself,' said Lady Merton; 'she
cares more for what people say of what she does, than whether it is
good in itself.'
'But, Anne,' said Sir Edward, 'why do not you claim to be the only
person in the world devoid of conceit?'
'Because I am conceited in all the ways which Rupert has mentioned,'
said Anne; 'I believe myself witty, and wise, and amiable, and
useful, and agreeable, and I do not like taking advice, and I am very
angry when my friends are abused, and I do believe I think I have the
most exquisite brother in the world; and besides, if I said I was not
conceited it would be the best possible proof of the contrary.--But,
Mamma, there is a person whom we have not mentioned, who has no
conceit and plenty of self-control.'
'Do you mean little Dora?' said Lady Merton.
'No, not Dora, though I am pretty much of Mrs. Woodbourne's opinion
respecting her,' said Anne; 'I meant one who is always overlooked,
Miss Lucy Hazleby.'
'She may have every virtue upon earth for aught I know,' said Rupert;
'I can only testify that she has un grand talent pour le silence.'
'I only know her from what my cousins told me,' said Anne; 'they seem
to have a great respect for her, though Helen is the only person she
ever seems to talk to. I never could make her speak three words to
'She has a fine countenance and very sweet expression, certainly,'
said Lady Merton.
'Poor girl,' said Sir Edward; 'she blushes so much, that it was
almost painful to look at her.'
'You seem to be utterly deficient in proofs of her excellence,' said
Rupert; 'you will leave her a blank page at last.'
'Pages are not always blank when you see nothing on them,' said Lady
Merton; 'characters may be brought out by the fire.'
'Yes, Mamma, the fire of temptation,' said Anne; 'and I have heard
Lucy tried by her mother's violence, and she never concealed any part
of the truth as far as only regarded herself, even to avoid those
terrible unjust reproofs, and put herself forward to bear her
sister's share of blame; and she was firm in turning back from the
Mechanics' Institute when her sister scolded her.'
'Firmness, which, in so timid a person, proved that she had more
self-control than any of you,' said Sir Edward.
'Then let us wind up the history of our visit in a moral style,' said
Anne, 'and call it a lesson on Self-control and Self-conceit.'
'Nonsense,' said Rupert; 'do you think that if anyone read its
history, they would learn any such lesson unless you told them
'Perhaps not,' said Sir Edward, 'as you have not learnt it from your
'No,' said Lady Merton; 'that lesson is not to be learnt by anyone
who is not on the watch for it.'
'So we conclude with Mamma's wisdom,' said Rupert.
'And Rupert's folly,' said Anne.