Part 2 out of 8
'O that it could be proved
That some night-tripping fairy had exchanged
In cradle-cloths our children as they lay,--
Call'd yours Fitzjocelyn--mine, Frost Dynevor!'
'For shame, Louis! I shall have to call you Fitzjocelyn! You are
behaving very ill.'
'Insulting the English constitution in the person of seven squires.'
'Don't, my dear! It was the very thing to vex your father that you
should have put yourself in such a position.'
'Bearding the Northwold bench with a groundsel plume and a knitting-
'With a needle for a sword, and a thimble for a hat,
Wilt thou fight a traverse with the Castle cat?'
The proper champion in such a cause, since 'What cat's averse to
'No, Louis dear,' said his aunt, struggling like a girl to keep her
countenance; 'this is no time for nonsense. One would think you had
no feeling for your father.'
'My dear aunt, I can't go to gaol like Prince Hal. I do assure you,
I did not assault the bench with the knitting-pins. What am I to
'Not set at nought your father's displeasure.'
'I can't help it,' said he, almost sadly, though half smiling. 'What
would become of me if I tried to support the full weight?
Interfering with institutions, ruining reputation, blasting bulwarks,
patronizing poachers, vituperating venerated--'
'Quite true,' cried Aunt Catherine, with spirit. 'You know you had
no business there, lecturing a set of men old enough to be your
grandfathers, and talking them all to death, no doubt.'
'Well, Aunt Kitty, if oppression maddens the wise, what must it do to
'If you only allow that it was foolish--'
'No; I had rather know whether it was wrong. I believe I was too
eager, and not respectful enough to the old squire: and, on
reflection, it might have been a matter of obedience to my father,
not to interfere with the prejudices of true-born English
magistrates. Yes, I was wrong: I would have owned it sooner, but for
the shell he fired over my head. And for the rest, I don't know how
to repent of having protested against tyranny.'
There was something redeeming in the conclusion, and it was a
comfort, for it was impossible to retain anger with one so gently,
good-humouredly polite and attentive.
A practical answer to the champion was not long in coming. He
volunteered the next day to walk to Northwold with Mrs. Frost and
Mary, who wanted to spend the morning in selecting a house in Dynevor
Terrace, and to be fetched home by-and-by, when Mrs. Ponsonby took
her airing. Two miles seemed nothing to Aunt Catharine, who accepted
her nephew's arm for love, and not for need, as he discoursed of all
the animals that might be naturalized in England, obtained from Mary
an account of the llamas of the Andes, and rode off upon a scheme of
an importation to make the fortune of Marksedge by a manufacture of
Meantime, he must show the beautiful American ducks which he hoped to
naturalize on the pond near the keeper's lodge: but, whistle and call
as he would, nothing showed itself but screaming Canada geese. He
ran round, pulled out a boat half full of water, and, with a foot on
each side, paddled across to a bushy island in the centre,--but in
vain. The keeper's wife, who had the charge over them, came out:
'Oh, my Lord, I am so sorry! They pretty ducks!'
'Ha! the foxes?'
'I wish it was, my Lord; but it is they poachers out at Marksedge
that are so daring, they would come anywheres--and you see the ducks
would roost up in the trees, and you said I was not to shut 'em up at
night. My master was out up by Beech hollow; I heerd a gun, and
looked out; I seen a man and a boy--I'd take my oath it was young
Hodgekin. They do say Nanny Hodgekin, she as was one of the
Blacketts, whose husband was transported, took in two ducks next
morning to Northwold. Warren couldn't make nothing of it; but if
ever he meets that Hodgekin again, he says he _shall_ catch it!'
'Well, Mrs. Warren, it can't be helped--thank you for the good care
you took of the poor ducks,' said Louis, kindly; and as he walked on
through the gate, he gave a long sigh, and said, 'My dainty ducks!
So there's an end of them, and all their tameness!' But the smile
could not but return. 'It is lucky the case does not come before the
bench! but really that woman deserves a medal for coolness!'
'I suppose,' said Mary, 'she could have paid the fine with the price
of the ducks.'
'Ah! the beauties! I wish Mr. Hodgekin had fallen on the pheasants
instead! However, I am thankful he and Warren did not come to a
collision about them. I am always expecting that, having made those
Marksedge people thieves, murder will be the next consequence.'
A few seconds sufficed to bring the ludicrous back. 'How pat it
comes! Mary, did you prime Mrs. Warren, or did Frampton?'
'I believe you had rather laugh at yourself than at any one else,'
exclaimed his aunt, who felt baffled at having thrown away her
'Of course. One knows how much can be borne. Why, Mary, has that
set you studying,--do you dissent?'
'I was thinking whether it is the best thing to be always ready to
laugh at oneself,' said Mary. 'Does it always help in mending?'
''Don't care' came to a bad end,' said Louis; 'but on the other hand,
care killed a cat--so there are two sides to the question.'
While Mary was feeling disappointed at his light tone, he changed it
to one that was almost mournful. 'The worst of it is, that 'don't
care' is my refuge. Whatever I do care about is always thwarted by
Frampton or somebody, and being for ever thrown over, I have only to
fall as softly as I can.'
'You know, my dear,' said Mrs. Frost, 'that your father has no
command of means to gratify you.'
'There are means enough for ourselves,' said Louis; 'that is the
needful duty. What merely personal indulgence did I ever ask for
that was refused me?'
'If that is all you have to complain of, I can't pity you,' said
'Listen, Mary. Let me wish for a horse, there it is! Let me wish
for a painted window, we can't afford it, though, after all, it would
not eat; but horses are an adjunct of state and propriety. So again,
the parish feasted last 18th of January, because I came of age, and
it was _proper_; while if I ask that our people may be released from
work on Good Friday or Ascension Day, it is thought outrageous.'
'If I remember right, my dear,' interposed his aunt, 'you wanted no
work to be done on any saint's-day. Was there not a scheme that Mr.
Holdsworth called the cricket cure!'
'That may yet be. No one knows the good a few free days would do the
poor. But I developed my plan too rapidly! I'll try again for their
church-going on Good Friday.'
'I think you ought to succeed there.'
'I know how it will be. My father will ring, propound the matter to
Frampton; the answer will be, 'Quite impracticable, my Lord,' and
there will be an end of it.'
'Perhaps not. At least it will have been considered,' said Mary.
'True,' said Louis; 'but you little know what it is to have a
Frampton! If he be a fair sample of prime ministers, no wonder
Princes of Wales go into the opposition!'
'I thought Frampton was a very valuable superior servant.'
'Exactly so. That is the worst of it. He is supreme authority, and
well deserves it. When la Grande Mademoiselle stood before the gates
of Orleans calling to the sentinel to open them, he never stirred a
step, but replied merely with profound bows. That is my case. I
make a request, am answered, 'Yes, my Lord;' find no results, repeat
the process, and at the fourth time am silenced with, 'Quite
impracticable my Lord.''
'Surely Frampton is respectful?'
'It is his very essence. He is a thorough aristocrat, respecting
himself, and therefore respecting all others as they deserve. He
respects a Viscount Fitzjocelyn as an appendage nearly as needful as
the wyverns on each side of the shield; but as to the individual
holding that office, he regards him much as he would one of the
wyverns with a fool's-cap on.'
And with those words, Fitzjocelyn had sprung into the hedge to gather
the earliest willow-catkins, and came down dilating on their silvery,
downy buds and golden blossoms, and on the pleasure they would give
Miss Faithfull, till Mary, who had been beginning to compassionate
him, was almost vexed to think her pity wasted on grievances of mere
Warm and kindly was his greeting of his aunt's good old servant, Jane
Beckett, whom Mary was well pleased to meet as one of the kind
friends of her childhood. The refinement that was like an atmosphere
around Mrs. Frost, seemed to have extended even to her servants; for
Jane, though she could hardly read, and carried her accounts in her
head, had manners of a gentle warmth and propriety that had a grace
of their own, even in her racy, bad grammar; and there was no
withstanding the merry smile that twitched up one side of her mouth,
while her eyes twinkled in the varied moods prompted by an
inexhaustible fund of good temper, sympathy, and affection, but the
fulness of her love was for the distant 'Master Oliver,' whose young
nursery-maid she had been. Her eyes winked between tears and smiles
when she heard that Miss Mary had seen him but five months ago, and
she inquired after him, gloried in his prosperity, and talked of his
coming home, with far less reserve than his mother had done.
Mary was struck, also, with the pretty, modest looks of the little
underling, and remarked on them as they proceeded to the inspection
of the next house.
'Yes,' said Louis, 'Charlotte is something between a wood sorrel and
a five-plume moth. Tom Madison, as usual, shows exquisite taste.
She is a perfect Lady of Eschalott.'
'Now, Louis!' said his aunt, standing still, and really looking
annoyed, 'you know I cannot encourage any such thing. Poor little
Charlotte is an orphan, and I am all the more responsible for her.'
'There's a chivalry in poor Tom--'
'Nonsense!' said his aunt, as if resolved not to hear him out,
because afraid of herself. 'Don't say any more about it. I wish I
had never allowed of his bringing your messages.'
'Who set him down in the kitchen to drink a cup of beer?' said Louis,
'Ah! well! one comfort is, that girls never care for boys of the same
age,' replied Aunt Catharine, as she turned the key, and admitted
them into No. 7; when Fitzjocelyn confused Mary's judgment with his
recommendations, till Aunt Catharine pointing out the broken shutter,
and asking if he would not have been better employed in fetching the
carpenter, than in hectoring the magistrates, he promised to make up
for it, fetched a piece of wood and James's tools, and was quickly at
work, his Aunt only warning him, that if he lost Jem's tools she
would not say it was her fault.
By the time Mary's imagination had portrayed what paper, paint,
furniture, and habitation might make the house, and had discerned how
to arrange a pretty little study in case of her father's return; he
had completed the repair in a workmanlike manner, and putting two
fingers to his cap, asked, 'Any other little job for me, ma'am?'
Of course, he forgot the tools, till shamed by Mary's turning back
for them, and after a merry luncheon, served up in haste by Jane,
they betook themselves to Number 8, where the Miss Faithfulls were
seated at a dessert of hard biscuits and water, of neither of which
they ever partook: they only adhered to the hereditary institution of
sitting for twenty minutes after dinner with their red and purple
doileys before them.
Mary seemed to herself carried back fourteen years, and to understand
why her childish fancy had always believed Christiana's Mercy a
living character, when she found herself in the calm, happy little
household. The chief change was that she must now bend down, instead
of reaching up, to receive the kind embraces. Even the garments
seemed unchanged, the dark merino gowns, black silk aprons, white
cap-ribbons, the soft little Indian shawl worn by the elder sister,
the ribbon bow by the younger, distinctions that used to puzzle her
infant speculation, not aware that the coloured bow was Miss Mercy's
ensign of youth, and that its absence would have made Miss Salome
feel aged indeed. The two sisters were much alike--but the younger
was the more spare, shrivelled up into a cheery nonpareil, her bloom
changed into something quite as fresh and healthful, and her blithe
tripping step always active, except when her fingers were nimbly
taking their turn. Miss Salome had become more plump, her cheek was
smoother and paler, her eye more placid, her air that of a patient
invalid, and her countenance more intellectual than her sister's.
She said less about their extreme enjoyment of the yam, and while
Mrs. Frost and Mary held counsel with Miss Mercy on servants and
furniture, there was a talk on entomology going on between her and
It was very pretty to see him with the old ladies, so gently
attentive, without patronizing, and they, though evidently doting on
him, laughing at him, and treating him like a spoilt child. He
insisted on Mary's seeing their ordinary sitting room, which nature
had intended for a housekeeper's room, but which ladylike inhabitants
had rendered what he called the very 'kernel of the House Beautiful.'
There were the stands of flowers in the window; the bullfinch
scolding in his cage, the rare old shells and china on the old-
fashioned cabinets that Mary so well remembered; and the silk
patchwork sofa-cover, the old piano, and Miss Faithfull's arm chair
by the fire, her little table with her beautiful knitting, and often
a flower or insect that she was copying; for she still drew nicely;
and she smiled and consented, as Louis pulled out her portfolios,
life-long collections of portraits of birds, flowers, or insects.
Her knitting found a sale at the workshop, where the object was well
known, and the proceeds were diffused by her sister, and whether she
deserved her name might be guessed by the basket of poor people's
stores beside her chair.
Miss Mercy was well known in every dusky Northwold lane or alley,
where she always found or made a welcome for herself. The kindly
counsel and ready hand were more potent than far larger means without
Such neighbours were in themselves a host, and Mary and her mother
both felt as if they had attained a region of unwonted tranquillity
and repose, when they had agreed to rent No. 5, Dynevor Terrace, from
the ensuing Lady-day, and to take possession when carpenters and
upholsterers should have worked their will.
Louis was half-way home when he exclaimed, 'There! I have missed Tom
Madison a second time. When shall I ever remember him at the right
Little did Louis guess the effect his neglect was taking! Charlotte
Arnold might have told, for Mrs. Martha had brought in stories of his
unsteadiness and idle habits that confirmed her in her obedience to
Jane. She never went out alone in his leisure hours; never looked
for him in returning from church--alas! that was not the place to
look for him now. And yet she could not believe him such a very bad
boy as she was told he had become.
THE TWO MINISTERS.
'The creature's neither one nor t'other.
I caught the animal last night,
And viewed him o'er by candle-light;
I marked him well, 'twas black as jet.
You stare, but sirs, I've got him yet,
And can produce him.' 'Pray, sir, do;
I'll lay my life the thing is blue.'
'And I'll be sworn, that when you've seen
The reptile, you'll pronounce him green.'
'Well, then, at once to end the doubt,'
Replies the man, 'I'll turn him out;
And when before your eyes I've set him,
If you don't find him black, I'll eat him.'
He said--then, full before their sight
Produced the beast, and lo! 'twas white!
Mrs. Ponsonby had seen in the tropics birds of brilliant hues, that
even, whilst the gazer pronounced them all one beaming tint of
gorgeous purple, would give one flutter, and in another light would
flash with golden green or fiery scarlet. No less startling and
unexpected were the aspects of Lord Fitzjocelyn, 'Every thing by
starts, and nothing long;' sometimes absorbed in study, sometimes
equally ardent over a childish game; wild about philanthropic plans,
and apparently forgetting them the instant a cold word had fallen on
them; attempting everything, finishing nothing; dipping into every
kind of book, and forsaking it after a cursory glance; ever busy, yet
ever idle; full of desultory knowledge, ranging through all kinds of
reading and natural history, and still more full of talk. This last
was perhaps his most decided gift. To any one, of whatever degree,
he would talk, he could hardly have been silent ten minutes with any
human being, except Frampton or his father, and whether deep
reflections or arrant nonsense came out of his mouth, seemed an even
chance, though both alike were in the same soft low voice, and with
the same air of quaint pensive simplicity. He was exceedingly
provoking, and yet there was no being provoked with him!
He was so sincere, affectionate, and obliging, that not to love him
was impossible, yet that love only made his faults more annoying, and
Mrs. Ponsonby could well understand his father's perpetual restless
anxiety, for his foibles were exactly of the sort most likely to
tease such a man as the Earl, and the most positively unsatisfactory
part of his character was the insouciance that he displayed when his
trifling or his wild projects had given umbrage. Yet, even here, she
could not but feel a hope, such as it was, that the carelessness
might be the effect of want of sympathy and visible affection from
his father, whose very anxiety made him the more unbending; and that,
what a worse temper might have resented, rendered a good one gaily
reckless and unheeding.
She often wondered whether she should try to give a hint--but Lord
Ormersfield seemed to dread leading to the subject, although on all
else that interested him he came to her as in old times, and seemed
greatly refreshed and softened by her companionship.
An old friend and former fellow-minister had proposed spending a
night at Ormersfield. He was the person whom the Earl most highly
esteemed, and, in his own dignified way, he was solicitous that the
household should be in more than usually perfect order, holding a
long conference with the man of whom he was sure, Frampton. Would
that he could have been equally sure of his son! He looked at him
almost wistfully several times during breakfast, and at last, as they
rose, gave an exhortation 'that he would be punctual to dinner at
half-past seven, which would give him ample time, and he hoped he
would be--' He paused for a word, and his son supplied it. 'On my
good behaviour, I understand.' With that he walked off, leaving Lord
Ormersfield telling Mrs. Ponsonby that it was the first introduction,
as he had 'for various reasons' thought it undesirable to bring
Fitzjocelyn early to London, and betraying his own anxiety as to the
impression he might produce on Sir Miles Oakstead. His own
perplexity and despondency showed themselves in his desire to view
his son with the eyes of others, and he also thought the tenor of
Fitzjocelyn's future life might be coloured by his friend's opinion.
Evening brought the guest. Mrs. Ponsonby was not well enough to
appear at dinner, but Mary and Mrs. Frost, pleased to see an
historical character, were in the drawing-room, enjoying Sir Miles's
agreeable conversation, until they caught certain misgivings
reflected in each other's looks, as time wore on and nothing had been
seen or heard of Louis. The half-hour struck; the Earl waited five
minutes, then rang the bell. 'Is Lord Fitzjocelyn come in?'
'No, my Lord.'
'Bring in the dinner.'
Mary longed to fly in search of him, and spare further vexation. She
had assumed all an elder sister's feelings, and suffered for him as
she used to do, when he was in disgrace and would not heed it. She
heard no more of the conversation, and was insensible to the honour
of going in to dinner with the late Secretary of State, as she saw
the empty place at the table.
The soup was over, when she was aware of a step in the hall, and
beside her stood a grey figure, bespattered with mud, shading his
eyes with his hand, as if dazzled by the lights. 'I beg your
pardon,' were the words, 'but I was obliged to go to Northwold. I
have shot a rose-coloured pastor!'
'Shot him!' cried Mary. 'Was he much hurt?'
'Killed! I took him to Miss Faithfull, to be sketched before he is
A clearer view of the company, a wave of the hand from the Earl, and
the young gentleman was gone. Next he opened the library door,
saying, 'Here's my pretty behaviour!'
'Louis! what is the matter?' cried Mrs. Ponsonby.
'I entirely forgot the right honourable, and marched into the dining-
room to tell Aunt Catharine that I have killed a rose-coloured
'A bird, hardly ever seen in England. I spied him in the fir-wood,
went to Warren for a gun, brought him down, and walked on to the
House Beautiful, where Miss Faithfull was enchanted. She will copy
him, and send him to the bird-stuffer. I looked in to give
directions, and old Jenyns was amazed; he never knew one shot here
before, so early in the year too. He says we must send the account
to the Ornithological--'
'Do you know how wet you are? exclaimed Mrs. Ponsonby, seeing
rivulets dropping from his coat.
'I see. It rained all the way home, and was so dark, I could not see
the footpath; and when I came in, my eyes were blinded by the light,
and my head so full of the pastor, that the other minister never
occurred to me, and remains under the impression that I have
confessed a sacrilegious murder.'
'You really are incorrigible!' cried Mrs. Ponsonby. 'Why are you not
dressing for dinner?'
'Because you are going to give me a cup of your tea.'
'Certainly not. I shall begin to think you purposely mortified your
father, when you know he wanted you to be reasonable.'
'The lower species never show off well to strangers,' said
Fitzjocelyn, coolly; but, as he lighted his candle, he added, with
more candour, 'I beg your pardon--indeed I did not do this on
purpose, but don't say anything about appearances--there's something
in me that is sure to revolt.'
So noiselessly that the moment was unknown, the vacant chair was
filled by a gentleman irreproachably attired, his face glowing with
exercise, or with what made him very debonnaire and really silent,
dining rapidly and unobtrusively, and never raising his eyes even to
his aunt, probably intending thus to remain all the evening; but
presently Sir Miles turned to him and said, 'Pray satisfy my
curiosity. Who is the rose-coloured pastor?'
Louis raised his eyes, and meeting a pleasing, sensible face, out
beamed his arch look of suppressed fun as he answered, 'He is not at
all clerical. He is otherwise called the rose-coloured ouzel or
'Whence is that other startling name?'
'From his attending flocks of sheep, on the same mission as jackdaws
fulfil here--which likewise have an ecclesiastical reputation--
'A great frequenter of the church.''
Fearing alike nonsense and ornithology, Lord Ormersfield changed the
subject, and Louis subsided, but when the gentlemen came into the
drawing-room, Mrs. Ponsonby was surprised to see him taking a fair
share, and no more, of the conversation. Some information had been
wanted about the terms of labour in the mining districts, and Louis's
visit to Illershall enabled him to throw light on the subject, with
much clearness and accuracy. Sir Miles had more literature than Lord
Ormersfield, and was more used to young men; and he began to draw
Fitzjocelyn out, with complete success. Louis fully responded to the
touch, and without a notion that he was showing himself to the best
advantage, he yielded to the pleasure, and for once proved of what he
was capable--revealing unawares an unusual amount of intelligence and
observation, and great power of expression. Not even his aunt had
ever seen him appear so much like a superior man, and the only alloy
was his father's, ill-repressed dread lest he should fall on
dangerous ground, and commit himself either to his wildly
philanthropical or extravagantly monarchical views, whichever might
happen to be in the ascendant. However, such shoals were not
approached, nor did Louis ever plunge out of his depth. The whole of
his manner and demeanour were proofs that, in his case, much talk
sprang from exuberance of ideas, not from self-conceit.
He was equally good in the morning: he had risen early to hunt up
some information which Sir Miles wanted, and the clearness and
readiness with which he had found it were wonderful. The guest was
delighted with him; gave him a warm invitation to Oakstead, and on
being left alone with Mrs. Ponsonby, whom he had formerly known,
expressed his admiration of his friend's son--as a fine, promising
young man, of great ability and originality, and, what was still more
remarkable, of most simple, natural manners, perfectly free from
conceit. He seemed the more amazed, when he found, what he would
hardly believe, that Fitzjocelyn was twenty-one, and had nearly
finished his university education.
The liking was mutual. No sooner had Sir Miles departed, than Louis
came to the library in a rapture, declaring that here was the
refreshing sight of a man unspoilt by political life, which usually
ate out the hearts of people.
Mary smiled at this, and told him that he was talking 'like an old
statesman weary of the world.'
'One may be weary of the world beforehand as well as after,' said he.
'That does not seem worth while,' said Mary.
'No,' he said, 'but one's own immediate look-out may not be
flattering, whatever the next turn may bring;' and he took up the
newspaper, and began to turn it over. ''As butler--as single-handed
man--as clerk and accountant.' There, those are the lucky men, with
downright work, and some one to work for. Or, just listen to this!'
and he plunged into a story of some heroic conduct during a
shipwreck. While he was reading it aloud, with kindling eyes and
enthusiastic interest, his father opened the door. 'Louis,' he said,
'if you are doing nothing, I should be obliged if you would make two
copies of this letter.'
Louis glanced at the end of what he was reading, laid the paper down,
and opened a blotting-book.
'You had better come into the study, or you will not write
'I can write, whatever goes on.'
'I particularly wish this to be legible and accurate. You have begun
too low down.'
Louis took another sheet.
'That pen is not fit to write with.'
'The pens are delusions,' said Louis, trying them round, in an easy,
idle way: 'I never could mend a quill! How is this steel one?
Refuses to recognise the purpose of his existence. Aunt Catherine,
do you still forbid steel pens in your school? If so, it must be the
solitary instance. How geese must cackle blessings on the inventor!
He should have a testimonial--a silver inkstand representing the
goose that laid the golden eggs,--and all writing-masters should
subscribe. Ha! where did this pen come from? Mary, were you the
bounteous mender! A thousand thanks.'
If Louis fretted his father by loitering and nonsense, his father was
no less trying by standing over him with advice and criticisms which
would have driven most youths beyond patience, but which he bore with
constant good-humour, till his father returned to the study, when he
exclaimed, 'Now, Mary, if you like to finish the wreck, it will not
interrupt me. This is mere machine-work.'
'Thank you,' said Mary; 'I should like it better afterwards. Do you
think I might do one copy for you? Or would it not suit Lord
Louis made polite demurs, but she overruled them and began.
He stretched himself, took up his Times, and skimmed the remaining
incidents of the shipwreck, till he was shamed by seeing Mary half-
way down the first page, when he resumed his pen, overtook her, and
then relapsed into talk, till Mrs. Frost fairly left the room, to
As the two copies were completed, Lord Ormersfield returned; and
Mary, with many apologies, presented her copy, and received most
gracious thanks and compliments on her firm, clear writing, a
vexation to her rather than otherwise, since 'Fitzjocelyn' was called
to account for dubious scrawls, errors, and erasures.
He meekly took another sheet, consoling himself, however, by saying,
'I warn you that pains will only make it Miss Fanny.'
'What do you mean?'
As if glad to be instigated, he replied, 'Did you never hear of my
signature being mistaken by an ingenious person, who addressed his
answer to 'Miss Fanny Jocelyn? Why, Fanny has been one of Jem's
regular names for me ever since! I have the envelope somewhere as a
curiosity. I'll show it to you, Mary.'
'You seem to be proud of it!' exclaimed his father, nearly out of
patience. 'Pray tell me whether you intend to copy this creditably
'I will endeavour, but the Fates must decide. I can scrawl, or, with
pains, I can imitate Miss Fanny; but the other alternative only comes
in happy moments.'
'Do you mean that you cannot write well if you choose?'
'It is like other arts--an inspiration. Dogberry was deep when he
said it came by nature.'
'Then make no more attempts. No. That schoolgirl's niggle is worse
than the first.'
'Fanny, as I told you,' said Louis, looking vacantly up in resigned
despair, yet not without the lurking expression of amusement, 'I will
'No, I thank you. I will have no more time wasted.'
Louis passively moved to the window, where he exclaimed that he saw
Aunt Catharine sunning herself in the garden, and must go and help
'Did you ever see anything like that?' cried Lord Ormersfield,
thoroughly moved to displeasure.
'There was at least good-humour,' said Mrs. Ponsonby. 'Pardon me,
there was almost as much to try his temper as yours.'
'He is insensible!'
'I think not. A word from Aunt Catharine rules him.'
'Though you counselled it, Mary, I doubt whether her training has
answered. Henry Frost should have been a warning.'
Mary found herself blundering in her new copy, and retreated with it
to the study, while her mother made answer: 'I do not repent of my
advice. The affection between him and Aunt Catherine is the greatest
blessing to him.'
'Poor boy!' said his father, forgetting his letters as he stood
pondering. Mrs. Ponsonby seized the moment for reporting Sir Miles's
opinion, but the Earl did not betray his gratification. 'First
sight!' he said. 'Last night and this afternoon he is as unlike as
these are,' and he placed before her Louis's unlucky copies, together
with a letter written in a bold, manly hand. 'Three different men
might have written these! And he pretends he cannot write like this,
if he please!'
'I have no doubt it is to a certain extent true. Yes, absolutely
true. You do not conceive the influence that mood has on some
characters before they have learnt to master themselves. I do not
mean temper, but the mere frame of spirits. Even sense of restraint
will often take away the actual power from a child, or where there is
not a strong will.'
'You are right!' said he, becoming rigid as if with pain. 'He is a
child! You have not yet told me what you think of him. You need not
hesitate. No one sees the likeness more plainly than I do.'
'It is strong externally,' she said; 'but I think it is more external
than real, more temperament than character.'
'You are too metaphysical for me, Mary;' and he would fain have
'I want you to be hopeful. Half the object would be attained if you
were, and he really deserves that you should.'
'He will not let me. If I hope at one moment, I am disappointed the
'And how? By nothing worse than boyishness. You confirm what my
aunt tells me, that there has never been a serious complaint of him.'
'Never. His conduct has always been blameless; but every tutor has
said the same--that he has no application, and allows himself to be
surpassed by any one of moderate energy!'
'Blameless conduct! How many fathers would give worlds to be able to
give such a character of a son!'
'There are faults that are the very indications of a manly spirit,'
began the Earl, impatiently. 'Not that I mean that I wish--he has
never given me any trouble--but just look at James Frost, and you
would see what I mean! There's energy in him--fire--independence;
you feel there is substance in him, and like him the better for
having a will and way of his own.'
'So, I think, has Louis; but it is so often thwarted, that it sinks
away under the sense of duty and submission.'
'If there were any consistency or reason in his fancies, they would
not give way so easily; but it is all talk, all extravagant notions--
here one day, gone the next. Not a spark of ambition!'
'Ambition is not so safe a spark that we should wish to see it
'A man must wish to see his son hold his proper station, and aim
high! No one can be satisfied to see him a trifler.'
'I have been trying to find out why he trifles. As far as I can see,
he has no ambition, and I do not think his turn will be for a life
like yours. His bent is towards what is to do good to others. He
would make an admirable country gentleman.'
'A mere farmer, idling away his time in his fields.'
'No; doing infinite good by example and influence, and coming forward
whenever duty required it. Depend upon it, the benefit to others is
the impulse which can work on Louis, not personal ambition. Birth
has already given him more than he values.'
'You may be right,' said Lord Ormersfield, 'but it is hard to see so
many advantages thrown away, and what sometimes seems like so much
ability wasted. But who can tell? he is never the same for an hour
'May it not be for want of a sphere of wholesome action?'
'He is not fit for it, Mary. You know I resolved that the whole
burthen of our losses should fall on me; I made it my object that he
should not suffer, and should freely have whatever I had at the same
age. Everything is cleared at last. I could give him the same
income as I started in life with; but he is so reckless of money,
that I cannot feel justified in putting it into his hands. Say what
I will, not a vacation occurs but he comes to tell me of some paltry
debt of ten or fifteen pounds.'
'He comes to tell you! Nay, never say he has no resolution! Such
debts as those, what are they compared with other young men's, of
which they do not tell their fathers?'
'If he were like other youths, I should know how to deal with him.
But you agree with me, he is not fit to have a larger sum in his
'Perhaps not; he is too impulsive and inexperienced. If you were to
ask me how to make it conduce to his happiness, I should say, lay out
more on the estate, so as to employ more men, and make improvements
in which he would take interest.'
'I cannot make him care for the estate. Last winter, when he came of
age, I tried to explain the state of affairs; but he was utterly
indifferent--would not trouble himself to understand the papers he
was to sign, and made me quite ashamed of such an exhibition before
'I wish I could defend him! And yet--you will think me unreasonable,
but I do believe that if he had thought the welfare of others was
concerned, he would have attended more.'
'I am not sure that it is not his good qualities that make him so
hard to deal with. The want of selfishness and vanity seem to take
away two common springs of action, but I do believe that patience
will bring out something much higher when you have found the way to
'That I certainly have not, if it be there!'
'To cultivate his sympathies with you,' said Mrs. Ponsonby,
hesitating, and not venturing to look into his face.
'Enough, Mary,' he said, hastily. You said the like to me once
'But,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, firmly, '_here_ there is a foundation to
work on. There are affections that only need to be drawn out to make
you happy, and him--not, perhaps, what you now wish, but better than
His face had become hard as he answered, 'Thank you, Mary; you have
always meant the best. You have always been kind to me, and to all
belonging to me.'
Her heart ached for the father and son, understanding each other so
little, and paining each other so much, and she feared that the
Earl's mind had been too much cramped, and his feelings too much
chilled, for such softening on his part as could alone, as it seemed,
prevent Louis from being estranged, and left to his naturally fickle
and indolent disposition.
Mary had in the mean time completed her copies, and left them on the
Earl's table; and wishing neither to be thanked nor contrasted with
Louis, she put on her bonnet, to go in search of Aunt Catharine. Not
finding her in the garden, she decided on visiting old Gervas and his
wife, who had gladly caught at her offer of reading to them. The
visit over, she returned by the favourite path above Ferny dell,
gathering primroses, and meditating how to stir up Louis to finish
off his rocky steps, and make one piece of work complete. She paused
at the summit of them, and was much inclined to descend and examine
what was wanting, when she started at hearing a rustling beneath,
then a low moan and an attempt at a call. The bushes and a
projecting rock cut off her view; but, in some trepidation, she
called out, 'Is any one there?' Little did she expect the answer--
'It is I--Fitzjocelyn. Come!--I have had a fall.'
'I'm coming--are you hurt?' she cried, as with shaking limbs she
prepared to begin the descent.
'Not that way,' he called; 'it gave way--go to the left.'
She was almost disobeying; but, recalling herself to thought, she
hurried along the top till the bank became practicable, and tore her
way through brake and brier, till she could return along the side of
Horror-struck, she perceived that a heavy stone had given way and
rolled down, bearing Louis with it, to the bottom, where he lay,
ghastly and helpless. She called to him; and he tried to raise
himself, but sank back. 'Mary! is it you? I thought I should have
died here,' he said; as she knelt by him, exclaiming, 'Oh, Louis!
Louis! what a dreadful fall!'
'It is my fault,' he eagerly interrupted. 'I am glad it has happened
to no one else.'
'And you are terribly hurt! I must go for help! but what can I do for
you? Would you like some water?
'Water! Oh! I have heard it all this time gurgling there!'
She filled his cap, and bathed his face, apparently to his great
relief, and she ventured to ask if he had been long there.
'Very long!' he said. 'I must have fainted after I got the stone off
my foot, so I missed Gervas going by. I thought no one else would
come near. Thank God!'
Mary almost grew sick as she saw how dreadfully his left ankle had
been crushed by a heavy stone; and her very turning towards it made
him shudder, and say, 'Don't touch me! I am shattered all over.'
'I am afraid I should only hurt you,' she said, with difficulty
controlling herself. 'I had better fetch some one.'
He did not know how to be left again; but the damp chilliness of his
hands made her the more anxious to procure assistance, and, after
spreading her shawl over him, she made the utmost speed out of the
thicket. As she emerged, she saw Lord Ormersfield riding with his
groom, and her scream and sign arrested him; but, by the time they
met, she could utter nothing but 'Louis!'
'Another accident!' was the almost impatient answer.
'He is dreadfully hurt!' she said, sobbing and breathless. 'His foot
is crushed! He has been there this hour!'
The alarm was indeed given. The Earl seemed about to rush away
without knowing whither; and she had absolutely to withhold him,
while, summoning her faculties, she gave directions to Poynings.
Then she let him draw her on, too fast for speaking, until they
reached the spot where Louis lay, so spent with pain and cold, that
he barely opened his eyes at their voices, made no distinct answers
as to his hurts, and shrank and moaned when his father would have
Mary contrived to place his head on her lap, bathed his forehead and
chafed his hands, while Lord Ormersfield stood watching him with
looks of misery, or paced about, anxiously looking for the servants.
They came at last, all too soon for poor Louis, who suffered terribly
in the transport, and gave few tokens of consciousness, except a cry
now and then extorted by a rougher movement.
None of the household, scarcely even Mrs. Frost, seemed at first to
be able to believe that Lord Fitzjocelyn could really have hurt
himself seriously. 'Again!' was the first word of every one, for his
many slight accidents were treated like crying 'Wolf;' but Frampton
himself looked perfectly pale and shocked when he perceived how the
matter really stood; and neither he nor Lord Ormersfield was half so
helpful as Mrs. Frost. The shock only called out her energy in
behalf of her darling, and, tender as her nature was, she shrank from
nothing that could soothe and alleviate his suffering; and it did
infinitely comfort him, as he held her hand and looked with affection
into her face, even in the extremity of pain.
Fain would others have been the same support; but his father, though
not leaving him, was completely unnerved, and unable to do anything;
and Mrs. Ponsonby was suffering under one of the attacks that were
brought on by any sudden agitation. Mary, though giddy and throbbing
in every pulse, was forced to put a resolute check on herself--brace
her limbs, steady her voice, and keep her face composed, while every
faculty was absorbed in listening for sounds from her cousin's room,
and her heart was quivering with an anguish of prayer and suspense.
Could she but hide her burning cheeks for one moment, let out one of
the sobs that seemed to be rending her breast, throw herself on her
knees and burst into tears, what an infinite relief it would be! But
Mary had learnt to spend her life in having no self.
What yet is there that I should do,
Lingering in this darksome vale?
Proud and mighty, fair to view,
Are our schemes, and yet they fail,
Like the sand before the wind,
That no power of man can bind.
ARNDT, Lyra Germanica.
Dynevor Terrace was said to have dark, damp kitchens, but by none who
had ever been in No. 5, when the little compact fire was compressed
to one glowing red crater of cinders, their smile laughing ruddily
back from the bright array on the dresser, the drugget laid down, the
round oaken table brought forward, and Jane Beckett, in afternoon
trim, tending her geraniums, the offspring of the parting Cheveleigh
nosegay, or gauffreing her mistress's caps. No wonder that on raw
evenings, Master James, Miss Clara, or my young Lord, had often been
found gossiping with Jane, toasting their own cheeks as well as the
bread, or pinching their fingers in her gauffreing machine.
Yet, poor little Charlotte Arnold learnt that the kitchen could be
dreary, when Mrs. Beckett had been summoned to nurse Lord
Fitzjocelyn, and she remained in sole charge, under Mrs. Martha's
occasional supervision. She found herself, her household cares over
all too soon, on a cold light March afternoon, with the clock ticking
loud enough for midnight, the smoke-jack indulging in supernatural
groans, and the whole lonely house full of undefined terrors, with an
unlimited space of the like solitude before her. She would even have
been glad to be sure of an evening of Mrs. Martha's good advice, and
of darning stockings! She sat down by the round table to Mr. James's
wristbands; but every creak or crack of the furniture made her start,
and think of death-watches. She might have learnt to contemn
superstition, but that did not prevent it from affecting her nerves.
She spread her favourite study, The Old English Baron, on the table
before her; but the hero had some connexion in her mind with Tom
Madison, for whom she had always coveted a battle-field in France.
What would he feel when he heard how he had filled up his course of
evil, being well-nigh the death of his benefactor! If any one ought
to be haunted, it would assuredly be no other than Tom!
Chills running over her at the thought, she turned to the fire as the
thing nearest life, but at the moment started at a hollow call of her
own name. A face was looking in at her through the geraniums! She
shrieked aloud, and clasped her hands over her eyes.
'Don't make a row. Open the door!'
It was such a relief to hear something unghostly, that she sprang to
the door; but as she undid it, all her scruples seized her, and she
tried to hold it, saying, 'Don't come in! You unfortunate boy, do
you know what you have done?'
But Tom Madison was in a mood to which her female nature cowered. He
pushed the door open, saying authoritatively, 'Tell me how he is!'
'He is as ill as he can be to be alive,' said Charlotte, actuated at
once by the importance of being the repository of such tidings, and
by the excitement of communicating them to one so deeply concerned.
'Mr. Poynings came in to fetch Mrs. Beckett--he would have no one
else to nurse him--and he says the old Lord and Missus have never had
their clothes off these two nights.'
'Then, was it along of them stones?' asked the lad, hoarsely.
'Yourself should know best!' returned Charlotte. 'Mr. Poynings says
'twas a piece of rock as big as that warming-pan as crushed his
ankle! and you know--'
'I know nothing,' said Tom. 'Master kept me in all day yesterday,
and I only heard just now at Little Northwold, where I've been to
take home some knives of Squire Calcott's. Master may blow me up if
he likes, but I couldn't come till I'd heard the rights of it. Is he
so very bad?'
'They've sent up to London for a doctor,' pursued Charlotte. 'Mr.
Walby don't give but little hope of him. Poor young gentleman, I'm
sure he had a good word from high and low!'
'Well! I'm gone!' cried Tom, vehemently. 'Goodbye to you, Charlotte
Arnold! You'll never see me in these parts more!'
'Gone! Oh, Tom! what do you mean!'
'D'ye think I'll stay here to have this here cast in my face? Such a
one as won't never walk the earth again!' and he burst out into
passionate tears. 'I wish I was dead!'
'Oh, hush, Tom!--that is wicked!'
'May be so! I am all that's wicked, and you all turn against me!'
'I don't turn against you,' sobbed Charlotte, moved to the bottom of
her gentle heart.
'You! you turned against me long ago. You've been too proud to cast
one look at me these three months; and he forgot me; and that's what
drew me on, when who cared what became of me--nor I neither now.'
'Don't speak that way! Don't say 'twas pride. Oh no! but I had to
behave proper, and how should I keep up acquaintance when they said
you went on--unsteady--'
'Aye, aye! I know how it is,' said poor Tom, with broken-down
humility: 'I was not fit for you then, and I'm next thing to a
murderer now; and you're like a white dove that the very fingers of
me would grime. I'll take myself out of your way; but, let what will
come of me, I'll never forget you, Charlotte.'
'Oh, wait, Tom! If I could but say it right!--Oh! I know there's
something about biding patiently, and getting a blessing--if you'd
only stop while I recollect it.'
'I thought I heard voices!' exclaimed Mrs. Martha, suddenly
descending on them. 'I wonder you aren't ashamed of yourselves, and
the family in such trouble! Downright owdacious!'
'Be this your house?' said Tom, stepping before Charlotte, his
dejection giving way instantly to rude independence.
'Oh, very well,' said Martha, with dignity. 'I know what to expect
from such sort of people. The house and young woman is in my charge,
sir; and if you don't be off, I'll call the police.'
'Never trouble your old bones!' retorted Tom.
'Good-bye to you, Charlotte;' and, as in defiance of Martha, he took
her passive hand. 'You'll remember one as loved you true and
faithful, but was drove desperate! Good-bye! I'll not trouble no
one no more!'
The three concluding negatives with which he dashed out of the house
utterly overwhelmed Charlotte, and made her perfectly insensible to
Mrs. Martha's objurgations. She believed in the most horrible and
desperate intentions, and sobbed herself into such violent hysterics
that Miss Mercy came in to assist--imagined that the rude boy had
terrified her, misunderstood her shamefaced attempts at explanation,
and left her lying on her bed, crying quietly over her secret
terrors, and over that first, strangely-made declaration of love.
The white dove! she did not deserve it, but it was so poetical! and
poor Tom was so unhappy! She had not time even to think what was
become of her own character for wisdom and prudence.
The next morning, between monition and triumph, Martha announced that
the good-for-nothing chap was off with a valuable parcel of Mr.
Calcott's, and the police were after him; with much more about his
former idle habits,--frequenting of democratic oratory, public-
houses, and fondness for bad company and strolling actors. Meek and
easily cowed, Charlotte only opened her lips to say she knew that he
had taken home Mr. Calcott's parcel. But this brought down a storm
on her for being impertinent enough to defend him, and she sat
trembling till it had subsided; and Martha retreating, left her to
weep unrestrainedly over her wild fancies, and the world's cruelty
and injustice towards one whom, as she was now ready to declare, she
loved with her whole heart.
The bell rang sharply, knocks rattled at the front door! She was
sure that Tom had been just taken out of the river! But instinct to
answer the bell awoke at the second furious clattering and double
pealing, which allowed no time for her to compose her tear-streaked,
swollen face, especially as the hasty sounds suggested 'Mr. James.'
Mr. James it was, but the expected rebuke for keeping him waiting was
not spoken. As he saw her sorrowful looks, he only said, low and
softly, 'Is it so, Charlotte?' In his eyes, there could be but one
cause for grief, and Charlotte's heart smote her for hypocrisy, when
she could barely command her voice to reply, 'No, sir; my Lord has
had a little better night.'
He spoke with unusual gentleness, as he made more inquiries than she
could answer; and when, after a few minutes, he turned to walk on to
Ormersfield, he said, kindly, 'Good-bye, Charlotte; I'll send you
word if I find him better:' and the tears rose in his eyes at the
thought how every one loved the patient.
He was not wrong. There was everywhere great affection and sympathy
for the bright, fantastic being whom all laughed at and liked, and
Northwold and the neighbourhood felt that they could have better
spared something more valuable.
The danger was hardly exaggerated even by Charlotte. The chill of
the long exposure had brought on high fever; and besides the crushed
ankle, there had been severe contusions, which had resulted in an
acute pain in the side, hitherto untouched by remedies, and beyond
the comprehension of the old Northwold surgeon, Mr. Walby. As yet,
however, the idea of peril had not presented itself to Louis, though
he was perfectly sensible. Severe pain and illness were new to him;
and though not fretful nor impatient, he had not the stoicism either
of pride or of physical indifference, put little restraint on the
expression of suffering, and was to an almost childish degree
absorbed in the present. He was always considerate and grateful; and
his fond affection for his Aunt Catharine, and for good old Jane,
never failed to show itself whenever they did anything for his
relief; and they were the best of nurses.
Poor Lord Ormersfield longed to be equally effective; but be was
neither handy nor ready, and could only sit hour after hour beside
his son, never moving except to help the nurses, or to try to catch
the slightest accent of the sufferer. Look up when Louis would, he
always saw the same bowed head, and earnest eyes, which, as Mrs.
Ponsonby told her daughter, looked as they did when Louisa was dying.
The coming of the London surgeon was an era to which Louis evidently
looked anxiously, with the iteration of sickness, often reckoning the
hours till he could arrive; and when at last he came, there was an
evident effort to command attention.
When the visit was over, and the surgeon was taking leave after the
consultation, Fitzjocelyn calmly desired to know his opinion, and
kept his eyes steadily fixed on his face, weighing the import of each
word. All depended on the subduing the inflammatory action, in the
side; and there was every reason to hope that he would have strength
for the severe treatment necessary. There was no reason to despond.
'I understand--thank you,' said Louis.
He shut his eyes, and lay so still that Mrs. Frost trusted that he
slept; but when his father came in, they were open, and Lord
Ormersfield, bending over him, hoped he was in less pain.
'Thank you, there is not much difference.' But the plaintive sound
was gone, the suffering was not the sole thought.
'Walby is coming with the leeches at two o'clock,' said Lord
Ormersfield: 'I reckon much on them.'
'Thank you.' Silence again, but his face spoke a wish, and his aunt
Catharine said, 'What, my dear?'
'I should like to see Mr. Holdsworth,' said Louis, with eyes
appealing to his father.
'He has been here to inquire every day,' said the Earl, choosing
neither to refuse nor understand. 'Whenever it is not too much for
'It must be quickly, before I am weaker,' said Louis. 'Let it be
before Walby returns, father.'
'Whatever you wish, my dear--' and Lord Ormersfield, turning towards
the table, wrote a note, which Mrs. Frost offered to despatch,
thinking that her presence oppressed her elder nephew, who looked
bowed down by the intensity of grief, which, unexpressed, seemed to
pervade the whole man and weigh him to the earth: and perhaps this
also struck Louis for the first time, for, after having lain silent
for some minutes, he softly said, 'Father!'
The Earl was instantly beside him, but, instead of speaking, Louis
gazed in his face, and sighed, as he murmured, 'I was meant to have
been a comfort to you.'
'My dear boy--' began Lord Ormersfield, but he could not trust his
voice, as he saw Louis's eyes moist with tears.
'I wish I had!' he continued; 'but I have never been anything but a
care and vexation, and I see it all too late.'
'Nay, Louis,' said his father, trying to assume his usual tone of
authority, as if to prove his security, 'you must not give way to
feelings of illness. It is weak to despond.'
'It is best to face it,' said the young man, with slow and feeble
utterance, but with no quailing of eye or voice. 'But oh, father!
I did not think you would feel it so much. I am not worth it.'
For the Earl could neither speak nor breathe, as if smothered by one
mighty unuttered sob, and holding his son's hand between both his
own, pressed it convulsively.
'I am glad Mrs. Ponsonby is here,' said Louis; 'and you will soon
find what a nice fellow Edward Fitzjocelyn is, whom you may make just
'Louis, my own boy, hush! I cannot bear this,' cried his father, in
an accent wrung from him by excess of grief.
'I may recover,' said Louis, finding it his turn to comfort, 'and I
should like to be longer with you, to try to make up--'
'You will. The leeches must relieve you. Only keep up your spirits:
you have many years before you of happiness and success.'
The words brought a look of oppression over Louis's face, but it
cleared as he said, 'I am more willing to be spared those years!'
His father positively started. 'Louis, my poor boy,' he said, 'is it
really so? I know I have seemed a cold, severe father.'
'Oh, do not say so!' exclaimed Louis; 'I have deserved far less-
idle, ungrateful, careless of your wishes. I did not know I could
pain you so much, or I would not have done it. You have forgiven
often, say you forgive now.'
'You have far more to forgive than I,' said the Earl.
'If I could tell you the half-waywardness, discontent, neglect,
levity, wasted time--my treatment of you only three days back.
Everything purposed--nothing done! Oh! what a life to bring before
the Judge!' And he covered his face, but his father heard long-drawn
'Compose yourself, my dear boy,' he exclaimed, exceedingly grieved
and perplexed. 'You know there is no cause to despond; and even--
even if there were, you have no reason to distress yourself. I can
say, from the bottom of my heart, that you have never given me cause
for real anxiety, your conduct has been exemplary, and I never saw
such attention to religion in any young man. These are mere trifles-
'Oh, hush, father!' exclaimed Louis. 'You are only making it worse;
you little know what I am! If Mr. Holdsworth would come!'
'He could only tell you the same,' said his father. 'You may take
every comfort in thinking how blameless you have been, keeping so
clear of all the faults of your age. I may not have esteemed you as
you deserved, my poor Louis; but, be assured that very few can have
so little to reproach themselves with as you have.'
Louis almost smiled. 'Poor comfort that,' he said, 'even if it were
true; but oh, father!' and there was a light in his eye, 'I had
thought of 'He hath blotted out like a cloud thy transgressions.''
'That is right. One like you must find comfort in thinking.'
'There is comfort ineffable,' said Louis; 'but if I knew what I may
dare to take home to myself! It is all so dim and confused. This
pain will not let anything come connectedly. Would you give me that
little manuscript book!'
It was given; and as the many loose leaves fell under Louis's weak
hand, his father was amazed at the mass of copies of prayers, texts,
and meditations that he had brought together; the earlier pages
containing childish prayers written in Aunt Catharine's hand.
Louis's cheeks coloured at the revelation of his hidden life, as his
father put them together for him.
'It is of no use,' he said, sadly; 'I cannot read. Perhaps my aunt
would come and read this to me.'
'Let me,' said his father; and Louis looked pleased.
Lord Ormersfield read what was pointed out. To him it was a glimpse
of a very new world of contrition, faith, hope, and prayer; but he
saw the uneasy expression on Louis's face give place to serenity, as
one already at home in that sphere.
'Thank you,' he said. 'That was what I wanted. Mr. Holdsworth will
soon come, and then I don't want to say much more. Only don't take
this too much to heart--I am not worth it; and but for you and the
dear Terrace home, I can be very glad. If I may hope, the hope is so
bright! Here there are so many ways of going wrong, and all I do
always fails; and yet I always tried to do Him service. Oh, to have
all perfect!--no failure--no inconsistency--no self! Can it be?'
'I always tried to do Him service!' Sadly and dejectedly as the words
were spoken--mournful as was the contrast between the will and the
result, this was the true cause that there was peace with Louis.
Unstable, negligent, impetuous, and weak as he had been, the one
earnest purpose had been his, guarding the heart, though not yet
controlling the judgment. His soul was awake to the unseen, and thus
the sense of the reality of bliss ineffable, and power to take
comfort in the one great Sacrifice, came with no novelty nor
strangeness. It was a more solemn, more painful preparation, but
such as he had habitually made, only now it was for a more perfect
His father, as much awestruck by his hopes as distressed by his
penitence, still gave himself credit for having soothed him, and went
to meet and forewarn the Vicar that poor Fitzjocelyn was inclined to
despond, and was attaching such importance to the merest, foibles in
a most innocent life, that he required the most tender and careful
encouragement. He spoke in his usual tone of authoritative courtesy;
and then, finding that his son wished to be left alone with Mr.
Holdsworth, he went to the library to seek the only person to whom he
could bear to talk.
'Mary,' he said, 'you were right. I have done so little to make that
poor boy of mine happy, that he does not wish for life.'
Mrs. Ponsonby looked up surprised. 'Are you sure of what he meant?'
she said. 'Was it not that this life has nothing to compare with
that which is to come?'
'But what can be more unnatural?' said the Earl. 'At his age, with
everything before him, nothing but what he felt as my harshness could
so have checked hope and enjoyment. My poor Louis!' And, though eye
and voice were steady and tearless, no words could express the
anguish of his under-tone.
Mrs. Ponsonby adduced instances showing that, to early youth, with
heart still untainted by the world, the joys of the Life Everlasting
have often so beamed out as to efface all that earth could promise,
but he could not be argued out of self-reproach for his own want of
sympathy, and spoke mournfully of his cold manner, sternness to small
faults, and denial of gratifications.
Mary the younger could not help rising from her corner to say,
'Indeed, Louis said the other day that you never had denied him any
'My dear, he never asked for personal indulgences,' said the Earl.
His further speech was interrupted by a quick step, a slow opening of
the door, and the entrance of James Frost, who grasped his
outstretched hand with a breathless inquiry.
'He is very ill--' Lord Ormersfield paused, too much oppressed to say
'No better? What did the London surgeon say? what?'
'He says there is no time to be lost in attacking the inflammation.
If we can subdue that, he may recover; but the state of the ankle
weakens him severely. I believe myself that he is going fast,' said
the Earl, with the same despairing calmness; and James, after gazing
at him to collect his meaning, dropped into a chair, covered his face
with his hands, and sobbed aloud.
Lord Ormersfield looked on as if he almost envied the relief of the
outburst, but James's first movement was to turn on him, as if he
were neglecting his son, sharply demanding, 'Who is with him?'
'He wished to be left with Mr. Holdsworth.'
'Is it come to this!' cried James. 'Oh, why did I not come down with
him? I might have prevented all this!'
'You could not have acted otherwise,' said the Earl, kindly. 'Your
engagement was already formed.'
'I could!' said James. 'I would not. I thought it one of your
excuses for helping us.'
'It is vain to lament these things now,' said Lord Ormersfield. 'It
is very kind in you to have come down, and it will give him great
pleasure if he be able to see you.'
'If!' James stammered between consternation and anger at the doubt,
and treated the Earl with a kind of implied resentment as if for
injustice suffered by Louis, but it was affecting to see his
petulance received with patience, almost with gratitude, as a proof
of his affection for Louis. The Earl stood upright and motionless
before the fire, answering steadily, but in an almost inward voice,
all the detailed questions put by James, who, seated on one chair,
with his hands locked on the back of the other, looked keenly up to
him with his sharp black eyes, often overflowing with tears, and his
voice broken by grief. When he had elicited that Louis had been much
excited and distressed by the thought of his failings, he burst out,
'Whatever you may think, Lord Ormersfield, no one ever had less on
'I am sure of it.'
'I know of no one who would have given up his own way again and again
without a murmur, only to be called fickle.'
'Yes, it has often been so,' meekly said Lord Ormersfield.
'Fickle!' repeated James, warming with the topic, and pouring out
what had been boiling within for years. 'He was only fickle because
his standard was too high to be reached! You thought him weak!'
'There may be weakness by nature strengthened by principle,' said
'True,' cried Jem, who, having taken no previous notice of her, had
at first on her speaking bent his brows on her as if to extend to her
the storm he was inflicting on poor, defenceless Lord Ormersfield,
'he is thought soft because of his easy way; but come to the point
where harm displays itself, you can't move him a step farther--though
he hangs back in such a quiet, careless fashion, that it seems as if
he was only tired of the whole concern, and so it goes down again as
'You always did him justice,' said Lord Ormersfield, laying his hand
on his cousin's shoulder, but James retreated ungraciously.
'I suppose, where he saw evil, he actually took a dislike,' said Mrs.
'It is an absolute repugnance to anything bad. You,' turning again
on the Earl, 'had an idea of his being too ready to run into all
sorts of company; but I told you there was no danger.'
'You told me I might trust to his disgust to anything unrefined or
dissipated. You knew him best.'
'There is that about him which men, not otherwise particular, respect
as they might a woman or a child. They never show themselves in
their true colours, and I have known him uphold them because he has
never seen their worst side!'
'I have always thought he learnt that peculiar refinement from your
'I think,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, softly, 'that it is purity of heart
which makes him see heaven so bright.'
'Sydney Calcott walked part of the way with me,' continued Jem, 'and
showed more feeling than I thought was in him. He said just what I
do, that he never saw any one to whom evil seemed so unable to cling.
He spoke of him at school--said he was the friend of all the juniors,
but too dreamy and uncertain for fellows of his own standing. He
said, at first they did not know what to make of him, with his soft
looks and cool ways--they could not make him understand bullying, for
he could not be frightened nor put in a passion. Only once, one
great lout tried forcing bad language on him, and then Fitzjocelyn
struck him, fought him, and was thoroughly licked, to be sure: but
Calcott said it was a moral victory--no one tried the like again--'
James was interrupted by Mr. Holdsworth's entrance. He said a few
words apart to the Earl, who answered, with alarm, 'Not now; he has
gone through enough.'
'I told him so, but he is very anxious, and begged me to return in
'Thank you. You had better join us at dinner.'
The Vicar understood Lord Ormersfield better than did James, and
said, pressing his hand, 'My Lord, it is heart-breaking, but the
blessedness is more than we can feel.'
Mrs. Ponsonby and Mary were left to try to pacify James, who was half
mad at his exclusion from the sickroom, and very angry with every
hint of resignation--abusing the treatment of the doctors, calling
Mr. Walby an old woman, and vehemently bent on prophesying the well-
doing of the patient. Keenly sensitive, grief and suspense made him
unusually irritable; and he seemed to have no power of waiting
patiently, and trusting the event to wiser Hands.
Mrs. Ponsonby dared not entertain any such ardent wishes. Life had
not afforded her so much joy that she should deem it the greatest
good, and all that she had heard gave her the impression that Louis
was too soft and gentle for the world's hard encounter,--most pure
and innocent, sincere and loving at present, but rather with the
qualities of childhood than of manhood, with little strength or
perseverance, so that the very dread of taint or wear made it almost
a relief to think of his freshness and sweetness being secured for
ever. Even when she thought of his father, and shrank from such
grief for him, she could not but see a hope that this affliction
might soften the heart closed up by the first and far worse sorrow,
and detach it from the interests that had absorbed it too
exclusively. All this was her food for silent meditation. Mary sat
reading or working beside her, paler perhaps than her wont, and
betraying that her ear caught every sound on the stairs, but
venturing no word except the most matter-of-fact remark, quietly
giving force to the more favourable symptoms.
Not till after Mr. Walby's second visit, when there was a little
respite in the hard life-and-death contest between the remedies and
the inflammation, could Mrs. Frost spare a few moments for her
grandson. She met him on the stairs--threw her arms round his neck,
called him her poor Jemmy, and hastily told him that he must not make
her cry. He looked anxiously in her face, and told her that he must
take her place, for she was worn out.'
'No, thank you, my dear, I can rest by-and-by.'
It sounded very hopeless.
'Come, granny, you always take the bright side.'
'Who knows which is the bright side?' she said. 'Such as he are
always the first. But there, dear Jem, I told you not to make too
much of granny--' and hastily withdrawing her hand, she gave a
parting caress to his hair as he stood on the step below her, and
returned to her charge.
It would have been an inexpressible comfort to James to have had some
one to reproach. His own wretchedness was like a personal injury,
and an offence that he could resent would have been a positive
relief. He was forced to get out of the way of Frampton coming up
with a tray of lemonade, and glared at him, as if even a station on
the stairs were denied, then dashed out of doors, and paced the
garden, goaded by every association the scene recalled. It seemed a
mere barbarity to deprive him of what he now esteemed as the charm of
his life--the cousin who had been as a brother, ever seeking his
sympathy, never offended by his sharp, imperious temper, and though
often slighted or tyrannized over, meeting all in his own debonnaire
fashion, and never forsaking the poor, hard-working student, so that
he might well feel that the world could not offer him aught like
He stood in the midst of the botanical garden, and, with almost
triumphant satisfaction, prognosticated that now there would be
regret that Louis's schemes had been neglected or sneered at, and
when too late, his father might feel as much sorrow as he had time
for. It was the bitterness, not the softness of grief, in which he
looked forth into the dull blue east-windy haze deepening in the
twilight, and presently beheld something dark moving along under the
orchard bank beneath. 'Hollo! who's there?' he exclaimed, and the
form, rearing itself, disclosed young Madison, never a favourite with
him, and though, as a persecuted protege of Louis, having claims
which at another time might have softened him, coming forward at an
unlucky moment, when his irritation only wanted an object on which to
discharge itself. It was plain that one who came skulking in the
private grounds could intend no good, and James greeted him, harshly,
with 'You've no business here!'
'I'm doing no harm,' said the boy, doggedly, for his temper was as
stubborn as James's was excitable.
'No harm! lurking here in that fashion in the dark! You'll not make
me believe that! Let me hear what brings you here! The truth,
'I came to hear how Lord Fitzjocelyn is,' said Tom, with brief
bluntness and defiance.
'A likely story! What, you came to ask the apple-trees?' and James
scornfully laughed. 'There was no back-door, I suppose! I could
forgive you anything but such a barefaced falsehood, when you know it
was your own intolerable carelessness that was the only cause of the
'Better say 'twas yourself!' cried Tom, hoarse with passion and
shaking all over.
The provocation was intense enough to bring back James's real
principle and self-restraint, and he spoke with more dignity. 'You
seem to be beside yourself, Madison,' he said, 'you had better go at
once, before any one finds you here. Lord Fitzjocelyn cared for you
so much, that I should not wish for you to meet your deserts under
present circumstances. Go! I wish to have no more of your tongue!'
The boy was bounding off, while James walked slowly after to see him
beyond the grounds, and finding Warren the keeper, desired him to be
on the look-out. Warren replied with the tidings that Madison had
run away from his place, and that the police were looking out for him
on the suspicion of having stolen Mr. Calcott's parcel, moralizing
further on the depravity of such doings when my young Lord was so
ill, but accounting for the whole by pronouncing poaching to be bred
in the bone of the Marksedge people.
This little scene had done Jem a great deal of good, both by the
exhalation of bitterness and by the final exertion of forbearance.
He had, indeed, been under two great fallacies on this day,--soothing
Charlotte for the grief that was not caused by Fitzjocelyn's illness,
and driving to extremity the lad brimming over with sorrow not
inferior to his own. Little did he know what a gentle word might
have done for that poor, wild, tempestuous spirit!
Yet, James's heart smote him that evening, when, according to Louis's
earnest wish, Mr. Holdsworth came again, and they all were admitted
to the room, and he saw the feeble sign and summons to the Vicar to
bend down and listen. 'Tell poor Madison, it was wrong in me not to
go to see him. Give him one of my books, and tell him to go on
That day had been one of rapid change, and the remedies and suffering
had so exhausted Louis that he could scarcely speak, and seemed
hardly conscious who was present. All his faculties were absorbed in
the one wish, which late in the evening was granted. The scene was
like an epitome of his life--the large irregular room, cumbered with
the disorderly apparatus of all his multifarious pursuits, while
there he lay on his little narrow iron bed, his features so fair and
colourless as to be strangely like his mother's marble effigy--his
eyes closed, and his brows often contracted with pain, so that there
was a doubt how far his attention was free, but still with a calm,
pure sweetness, that settled down more and more, as if he were being
lulled into a sleep.
'He is asleep,' Mrs. Frost said, as they all rose up.
They felt what that sleep might become.
'We might as well wish to detain a snow-wreath,' thought Mr.
Chaos is come again.--Othello.
That sleep was not unto death. When James and Mary came
simultaneously creeping to the door in the grey twilight of the
morning, they heard that there had been less pain and more rest, and
gradually throughout the day, there was a diminution of the dangerous
symptoms, till the trembling hope revived that the patient might be
given back again to life.
James was still sadly aggrieved at being forbidden the sick-room, and
exceedingly envied Lord Ormersfield's seat there. He declared, so
that Mary doubted whether it were jest or earnest, that the Earl only
remained there because society expected it from their relative
positions, and that it must retard poor Fitzjocelyn's recovery to be
perpetually basilisked by those cold grey eyes. Mary stood up
gallantly for the Earl, who had always been so kind to her, and, on
her mother's authority, vouched for his strong though hidden,
feelings; to which Jem replied, 'Aye! he was hiding a strong fear of
being too late for the beginning of the Session.'
'I do not think it right to impute motives,' said Mary.
'I would not, Mary, if I could help it,' said James, 'but through the
whole course of my life I have never seen a token that his lordship
is worthy of his son. If he were an ordinary, practical, common-
place block, apt to support his dignity, he might value him, but all
the grace, peculiarity, and conventionality is a mere burthen and
vexation, utterly wasted.'
Mary knew that she was a common-place block, and did not wonder at
herself for not agreeing with James, but cherishing a strong
conviction that the father and son would now leave off rubbing
against each other; since no unprejudiced person could doubt of the
strong affection of the father, nor of the warm gratitude of the son.
In spite of the asperity with which James spoke of the Earl, she was
beginning to like him almost as much as she esteemed him. This had
not been the case in their childhood, when he used to be praised by
the elders for his obedience to his grandmother and his progress in
the Northwold Grammar School; but was terribly overbearing with his
juniors, and whether he cuffed Louis or led him into mischief,
equally distressed her. Grown up, he was peculiarly vif, quick and
ready, unselfish in all his ways, and warmly affectionate--very
agreeable companion where his sensitiveness was not wounded, and
meriting high honour by his deeper qualities. Young as he was, he
had already relieved his grandmother from his own maintenance: he had
turned to the utmost account his education at the endowed school at
Northwold; by sheer diligence, had obtained, first a scholarship and
then a fellowship at Oxford; and now, by practising rigid economy,
and spending his vacations in tuition, he was enabled to send his
sister to a boarding-school. He had stolen a few days from his
pupils on hearing of Fitzjocelyn's danger, but was forced to return
as soon as the improvement became confirmed. On the previous day, he
asked Mary to walk with him to the scene of the accident, and they
discussed the cause with more coolness than they really felt, as they
shuddered at the depth of the fall, and the size of the stones.
James declared it all the fault of that runaway scamp, young Madison,
in whom Louis had always been deceived, and who had never been seen
since the night of his apparition in the garden.
'Poor boy! I suppose that was the reason he ran away,' said Mary.
'A very good thing, too. He would never have been anything but a
torment to Louis. I remember telling him he was setting the stones
so as to break the neck of some one!'
'I think it would be of more use to build them up than to settle how
they broke down,' said Mary. 'Do you think we could manage it
'A capital thought!' cried James, eagerly, and no sooner said than
done. The two cousins set to work--procured some cement from the
bricklayer in the village, and toiled at their masonry with right
good-will as long as light and time served them, then made an
appointment to meet at half-past six next morning, and finish their
When the rendezvous took place, they were rejoicing over Mrs. Frost's
report of an excellent night, and over her own happy looks, from
which James prognosticated that all her fatigue and watching had done
no harm to her vigorous frame, for which gladness was always the best
cordial. It was a joyous beginning on that spring morning, and
seemed to add fresh sparkles to the dazzling dewdrops, and double
merriment to the blackbirds and thrushes answering each other far and
wide, around, as the sun drew up the grey veil of morning mist.
'They all seem holding a feast for his recovery!' exclaimed Mary,
warming for once into poetry, as she trudged along, leaving green
footmarks in the silver dew.
'Well they may,' said James; 'for who loves them better than he? I
grudge myself this lovely morning, when he is lying there, and my
poor Clara is caged up at that place--the two who would the most
'Your going to see her will be as good as the spring morning.'
'Poor child! I dread it!' sighed Jem.
It was his first voluntary mention of his sister. He had always
turned the conversation when Mrs. Ponsonby or Mary had tried to
inquire for her, and Mary was glad to lead him on to say more.
'I remember her last when you were teaching her to run alone, and
letting none of us touch her, because you said she was your child,
and belonged to no one else.'
'I should not be so ungrateful, now that I am come to the sense of my
responsibility in teaching her to go alone.'
'But she has Aunt Catherine,' said Mary, thinking that he was putting
the natural guardian out of the question as much now as in the days
'My grandmother never had to do with any girl before, and does not
profess to understand them. She let Clara be regularly a boy in
school, at first learning the same lessons, and then teaching; and
whatever I tried to impress in the feminine line, naturally, all went
for nothing. She is as wild as a hare, and has not a particle of a
girl about her!'
'But she is very young.'
'There it is again! She grows so outrageously. She is not sixteen,
and there she is taller than granny already. It is getting quite
'What advice do you want on that head?'
'Seriously, it is a disadvantage, especially to that sort of girl,
who can't afford to look like a woman before her time. Well, as she
must probably depend on herself, I looked out for as good a school as
could be had for the means, and thought I had succeeded, and that she
would be brought into some sort of shape. Granny was ready to break
her heart, but thought it quite right.'
'Then, does it not answer?'
'That is just what I can't tell. You have been used to schools: I
wish you could tell me whether it is a necessary evil, or Clara's own
idiosyncrasy, or peculiar to the place.'
'Whether what is?'
'Misery! Why, there is nothing of that in her letters to my aunt.
There is not a complaint.'
'She is a brave girl, who spares granny, when she knows it would be
of no use to distress her. Judge now, there's the sort of letter
that I get from her.'
'DEAREST JEMMY,--Write to me as quick as ever you can, and tell me
how Louis is; and let me come home, or I shall run mad. It is no
good telling me to command my feelings; I am sure I would if I could,
for the girls are more detestable than ever; but what can one do when
one cannot sleep nor eat? All the screaming and crying has got into
one bump in my throat, because I can't get it out in peace. If I
could only shy the inkstand at the English teacher's head! or get one
moment alone and out of sight! Let me come home. I could at least
run messages; and it is of no use for me to stay here, for I can't
learn, and all the girls are looking at me. If they were but boys,
they would have sense! or if I could but kick them! This will make
you angry, but do forgive me; I can't help it, for I am so very
unhappy. Louis is as much to me as you are, and no one ever was so
kind; but I know he will get well--I know he will; only if I knew the
pain was better, and could but hear every minute. You need not come
to fetch me; only send me a telegraph, and one to Miss Brigham. I
have money enough for a second-class ticket, and would come that
instant. If you saw the eyes and heard the whispers of these girls,
I am sure you would. I should laugh at such nonsense any other time,
but now I only ask to be wretched quietly in a corner.
'Your affectionate, nearly crazy, sister,
'CLARA FROST DYNEVOR.'
Mary might well say that there was nothing more expedient than going
to see Clara, and 'much,' said poor James, 'he should gain by that,'
especially on the head that made him most uneasy, and on which he
could only hint lightly--namely, whether the girls were 'putting
nonsense in her head.'
'If they had done her any harm, she would never have written such a
letter,' said Mary.
'True,' said Jem. 'She is a mere child, and never got that notion
into her head for a moment; but if they put it in, we are done for!
Or if the place were ever so bad, I can't remove her now, when granny
is thus occupied. One reason why I made a point of her going to
school was, that I thought doing everything that Fitzjocelyn did was
no preparation for being a governess.'
'Oh! I hope it will not come to that! Mr. Oliver Dynevor talks of
coming home in a very few years.'
'So few, that we shall be grey before he comes. No; Clara and I are
not going to be bound to him for the wealth heaped up while my
grandmother was left in poverty. We mean to be independent.'
Mary was glad to revert to Clara.
'I must do the best I can for her for the present,' said Jem,--'try
to harden her against the girls, and leave her to bear it. Poor
dear! it makes one's heart ache! And to have done it oneself, too!
Then, in the holidays, perhaps, you will help me to judge. You will
be her friend, Mary; there's nothing she needs so much. I thought
she would have found one at school but they are not the right stamp
of animal. She has been too much thrown on Louis; and though he has
made a noble thing of her, that must come to an end, and the sooner
Certainly, it was a perplexity for a young elder brother; but there
could not but remain some simple wonder in Mary's mind whether the
obvious person, Mrs. Frost, had not better have been left to decide
for her granddaughter.
The building operations gave full occupation to the powers of the two
cousins, and in good time before breakfast, all was successfully
completed,--a hand-rail affixed, and the passage cleared out, till it
looked so creditable, as well as solid, that there was no more to
wish for but that Louis should be able to see their handiwork.
James went away in the better spirits for having been allowed to
shake Louis by the hand and exchange a few words with him. Mary
augured that it would be the better for Clara and for the pupils.
All that further transpired from him was a cheerful letter to Mrs.
Frost, speaking of Clara as perfectly well, and beginning to
accommodate herself to her situation, and from this Mary gathered
that he was better satisfied.
The days brought gradual improvement to the patient, under Mrs.
Frost's tender nursing, and his father's constant assiduity; both of
which, as he revived, seemed to afford him the greatest pleasure, and
were requited with the utmost warmth and caressing sweetness towards
his aunt, and towards his father with ever-fresh gratitude and
delight. Lord Ormersfield was like another man, in the sick-room,
whence he never willingly absented himself for an hour.
One day, however, when he was forced to go to Northwold on business,
Louis put on a fit of coaxing importunity. Nothing would serve him
but some of Jane Beckett's choice dried pears, in the corner of the
oaken cupboard, the key of which was in Aunt Kitty's pocket, and no
one must fetch them for him but Aunt Kitty herself, he was so
absurdly earnest and grave about them, that Jane scolded him, and
Mrs. Frost saw recovery in his arch eyes; understanding all the time
that it was all an excuse for complimenting Jane, and sending her to
air herself, visit the Faithfull sisters, and inspect the Lady of
Eschalott. So she consented to accompany Lord Ormersfield, and leave
their charge to Mrs. Ponsonby, who found Louis quite elated at the
success of his manoeuvre--so much disposed to talk, and so solicitous
for the good of his nurses, that she ventured on a bold stroke.
His chamber was nearly as much like a lumber-room as ever; for any
attempt to clear away or disturb his possessions had seemed, in his
half-conscious condition, to excite and tease him so much, that it
had been at once relinquished. Although the room was large, it was
always too much crowded with his goods; and the tables and chairs
that had been brought in during his illness, had added to the
accumulation which was the despair of Mrs. Beckett and Mr. Frampton.
Mrs. Ponsonby thought it was time for Louis to make a sacrifice in
his turn, and ventured to suggest that he was well enough to say
where some of his things might be bestowed; and though he winced, she
persevered in representing how unpleasant it must be to his father to
live in the midst of so much confusion. The debonnaire expression
passed over his face, as he glanced around, saying, 'You are right.
I never reflected on the stretch of kindness it must have been. It
shall be done. If I lose everything, it will not be soon that I find
It evidently cost him a good deal, and Mrs. Ponsonby proposed that
Mary should come and deal with his treasures; a plan at which he
caught so eagerly, that it was decided that no time was like the
present, and Mary was called. He could move nothing but his hands;
but they were eagerly held out in welcome: and his eyes glittered
with the bright smile that once she had feared never to see again.
She felt a moisture in her own which made her glad to turn aside to
her task even while he complimented her with an allusion to the
labours of Hercules. It did not seem uncalled-for, when she began by
raising a huge sheet of paper that had been thrown in desperation to
veil the confusion upon the table, and which proved to be the
Ordnance map of the county, embellished with numerous streaks of
paint. 'The outlines of the old Saxon wappentakes,' said Louis: 'I
was trying to make them out in blue, and the Roman roads in red.
That mark is spontaneous; it has been against some paint.'
Which paint was found in dried swamps in saucers, while cakes of lake
and Prussian blue adhered to the drawing-board.
'The colour-box is probably in the walnut-press; but I advise you not
to irritate that yet. Let me see that drawing, the design for the
cottages that Frampton nipped in the bud--'
'How pretty and comfortable they do look!' exclaimed Mary, pleased to
come to something that was within her sphere of comprehension. 'If
they were but finished!'
'Ah! I thought of them when I was lying there in the dell! Had
they been allowed to stand where I wanted them, there would have been
no lack of people going home from work; but, 'Quite impracticable'
came in my way, and I had no heart to finish the drawing.'
'What a pity!' exclaimed Mary.
'This was Richardson's veto, two degrees worse than Frampton's; and I
shall never be able to abuse Frampton again. I have seen him in his
true light now, and never was any one more kind and considerate. Ha,
Mary, what's that?'
'It looks like a rainbow in convulsions.'
'Now, Mary, did not I tell you that I could not laugh? It is a
diagram to illustrate the theory of light for Clara.'
'Does she understand _that_?' cried Mary.
'Clara? She understands anything but going to school--poor child!
Yes, burn that map of the strata,--not that--it is to be a painted
window whenever I can afford one, but I never could make money stay
with me. I never could think why--'
The _why_ was evident enough in the heterogeneous mass--crumpled
prints, blank drawing-paper, and maps heaped ruinously over and under
books, stuffed birds, geological specimens, dislocated microscopes,
pieces of Roman pavement, curiosities innumerable and indescribable;
among which roamed blotting-books, memorandum-books, four pieces of
Indian rubber, three pair of compasses, seven paper-knives, ten
knives, thirteen odd gloves, fifteen pencils, pens beyond reckoning,
a purse, a key, half a poem on the Siege of Granada, three parts of
an essay upon Spade Husbandry, the dramatis personae of a tragedy on
Queen Brunehault, scores of old letters, and the dust of three years
and a half.
Louis owned that the arrangements conduced to finding rather than
losing, and rejoiced at the disinterment of his long-lost treasures;
but either he grew weary, or the many fragments, the ghosts of
departed fancies, made him thoughtful; for he became silent, and only
watched and smiled as Mary quietly and noiselessly completed her
reforms, and arranged table and chairs for the comfort of his father
and aunt. He thanked her warmly, and hoped that she would pursue her
kind task another day,--a permission which she justly esteemed a
great testimony to her having avoided annoying him. It was a great
amusement to him to watch the surprised and pleased looks of his
various nurses as each came in, and a real gratification to see his
father settle himself with an air of comfort, observing that 'they
were under great obligations to Mary.' Still, the sight of the
arrangements had left a dreary, dissatisfied feeling with Louis: it
might have been caught from Mary's involuntary look of disappointment
at each incomplete commencement that she encountered,--the multitude
of undertakings hastily begun, laid aside and neglected--nothing
properly carried out. It seemed a mere waste of life, and dwelt on
his spirits, with a weariness of himself and his own want of
steadfastness--a sense of having disappointed her and disappointed
himself, and he sighed so heavily several times, that his aunt
anxiously asked whether he were in pain. He was, however, so much
better, that no one was to sit up with him at night--only his father
would sleep on a bed on the floor. As he bade him good night, Louis,
for the first time, made the request that he might have his Bible
given to him, as well as his little book; and on his father advising
him not to attempt the effort of reading, he said, 'Thank you; I
think I can read my two verses: I want to take up my old habits.'
'Have you really kept up this habit constantly?' asked his father,
with wonder that Louis did not understand.
'Aunt Catharine taught it to us, he said. 'I neglected it one half-
year at school; but I grew so uncomfortable, that I began again.'
The Earl gave the little worn volume, saying, 'Yes, Louis, there has
been a thread running through your life.'
'Has there been one thread?' sadly mused Louis, as he found the
weight of the thick book too much for his weak hands, and his eyes
and head too dizzy and confused for more than one verse:--
'I am come that they might have life,
And that they might have it more abundantly.''
The Bible sank in his hands, and he fell into a slumber so sound and
refreshing, that when he opened his eyes in early morning, he did not
at first realize that he was not awakening to health and activity,
nor why he had an instinctive dread of moving. He turned his eyes
towards the window, uncurtained, so that he could see the breaking
dawn. The sky, deep blue above, faded and glowed towards the horizon
into gold, redder and more radiant below; and in the midst, fast
becoming merged in the increasing light, shone the planet Venus, in
her pale, calm brilliance.
There was repose and delight in dwelling on that fair morning sky,
and Louis lay dreamily gazing, while thoughts passed over his mind,
more defined and connected than pain and weakness had as yet