Part 3 out of 8
permitted. Since those hours in which he had roused his faculties to
meet with approaching death, he had been seldom awake to aught but
the sensations of the moment, and had only just become either strong
enough, or sufficiently at leisure for anything like reflection. As
he watched the eastern reddening, he could not but revert to the
feelings with which he had believed himself at the gate of the City
that needs neither sun nor moon to lighten it, and, for the first
time, he consciously realized that he was restored to this world of
The sensation was not unmixed. His youthful spirit bounded at the
prospect of returning vigour, his warm heart clung round those whom
he loved, and the perception of his numerous faults made him grateful
for a longer probation; but still he had a sense of having been at
the borders of the glorious Land, and thence turned back to a
tedious, doubtful pilgrimage.
There was much to occasion this state of mind. His life had been
without great troubles, but with many mortifications; he had never
been long satisfied with himself or his pursuits, his ardour had only
been the prelude to vexation and self-abasement, and in his station
in the world there was little incentive to exertion. He had a strong
sense of responsibility, with a temperament made up of tenderness,
refinement, and inertness, such as shrank from the career set before
him. He had seen just enough of political life to destroy any
romance of patriotism, and to make him regard it as little more than
party spirit, and dread the hardening and deadening process on the
mind. He had a dismal experience of his own philanthropy; and he had
a conscience that would not sit down satisfied with selfish ease,
pleasure, or intellectual pursuits. His smooth, bright, loving
temper had made him happy; but the past was all melancholy, neglect,
and futile enterprise; he had no attaching home--no future visions;
and, on the outskirts of manhood, he shrank back from the turmoil,
the temptations, and the roughness that awaited him--nay, from the
mere effort of perseverance, and could almost have sighed to think
how nearly the death-pang had been over, and the home of Love, Life,
and Light had been won for ever:--
'I am come that they might have life,
And that they might have it more abundantly.'
The words returned on him, and with them what his father had said,
'You have had a thread running through your life.' He was in a state
between sleeping and waking, when the confines of reflection and
dreaming came very near together, and when vague impressions, hardly
noticed at the time they were made, began to tell on him without his
own conscious volition. It was to him as if from that brightening
eastern heaven, multitudes of threads of light were floating hither
and thither, as he had often watched the gossamer undulating in the
sunshine. Some were firm, purely white, and glistening here and
there with rainbow tints as they tended straight upwards, shining
more and more into the perfect day; but for the most part they were
tangled together in inextricable confusion, intermingled with many a
broken end, like fleeces of cobweb driven together by the autumn
wind,--some sailing aimlessly, or with shattered tangled strands-
some white, some dark, some anchored to mere leaves or sprays, some
tending down to the abyss, but all in such a perplexed maze that the
eye could seldom trace which were directed up, which downwards, which
were of pure texture, which defiled and stained.
In the abortive, unsatisfactory attempt to follow out one fluctuating
clue, not without whiteness, and heaving often upwards, but frail,
wavering, ravelled, and tangled, so that scarcely could he find one
line that held together, Louis awoke to find his father wondering
that he could sleep with the sun shining full on his face.
'It was hardly quite a dream,' said Louis, as he related it to Mrs.
'It would make a very pretty allegory.'
'It is too real for that just now,' he said. 'It was the moral of
all my broken strands that Mary held up to me yesterday.'
'I hope you are going to do more than point your moral, my dear. You
always were good at that.'
'I mean it,' said Louis, earnestly. 'I do not believe such an
illness--ay, or such a dream--can come for nothing.'
So back went his thoughts to the flaws in his own course; and chiefly
he bewailed his want of sympathy for his father. Material obedience
and submission had been yielded, but, having little cause to believe
himself beloved, his heart had never been called into action so as to
soften the clashings of two essentially dissimilar characters.
Instead of rebelling, or even of murmuring, he had hid disappointment
in indifference, taken refuge in levity and versatility, and even
consoled himself by sporting with what he regarded as prejudice or
unjust displeasure. All this cost him much regret and self-reproach
at each proof of the affection so long veiled by reserve. Never
would he have given pain, had he guessed that his father could feel;
but he had grown up to imagine the whole man made up of politics and
conventionalities, and his new discoveries gave him at least as much
contrition as pleasure.
After long study of the debates, that morning, his father prepared to
write. Louis asked for the paper, saying his senses would just serve
for the advertisements, but presently he made an exclamation of
surprise at beholding, in full progress, the measure which had
brought Sir Miles Oakstead to Ormersfield, one of peculiar interest
to the Earl. His blank look of wonder amused Mrs. Ponsonby, but
seemed somewhat to hurt his father.
'You did not suppose I could attend to such matters now?' he said.
'But I am so much better!'
Fearing that the habit of reserve would check any exchange of
feeling, Mrs. Ponsonby said, 'Did you fancy your father could not
think of you except upon compulsion?'
'I beg your pardon, father,' said Louis, smiling, while a tear rose
to his eyes, 'I little thought I was obstructing the business of the
nation. What will Sir Miles do to me?'
'Sir Miles has written a most kind and gratifying letter,' said Lord
Ormersfield, 'expressing great anxiety for you, and a high opinion of
Louis had never heard of his own powers, except for mischief, and the
colour returned to his cheeks, as he listened to the kind and cordial
letter, written in the first shock of the tidings of the accident.
He enjoyed the pleasure it gave his father far more than the
commendation to himself; for he well knew, as he said, that 'there is
something embellishing in a catastrophe,' and he supposed 'that had
driven out the rose-coloured pastor.'
'There is always indulgence at your age,' said the Earl. 'You have
created an impression which may be of great importance to you by-and-
Louis recurred to politics. The measure was one which approved
itself to his mind, and he showed all the interest which was usually
stifled, by such subjects being forced on him. He was distressed at
detaining his father when his presence might be essential to the
success of his party, and the Earl could not bear to leave him while
still confined to his bed. The little scene, so calm, and apparently
so cold, seemed to cement the attachment of father and son, by
convincing Louis of the full extent of his father's love; and his
enthusiasm began to invest the Earl's grey head with a perfect halo
of wisdom slighted and affection injured; and the tenor of his thread
of life shone out bright and silvery before him, spun out of projects
of devoting heart and soul to his father's happiness, and meriting
The grave Earl was looking through a magnifying-glass no less
powerful. He had not been so happy since his marriage; the
consciousness of his own cold manner made him grateful for any
demonstration from his son, and the many little graces of look and
manner which Louis had inherited from his mother added to the charm.
The sense of previous injustice enhanced all his good qualities, and
it was easy to believe him perfect, while nothing was required of him
but to lie still. Day and night did Lord Ormersfield wait upon him,
grudging every moment spent away from him, and trying to forestall
each wish, till he became almost afraid to express a desire, on
account of the trouble it would cause. Mary found the Earl one day
wandering among the vines in the old hothouse, in search of a flower,
when, to her amusement, he selected a stiff pert double hyacinth, the
special aversion of his son, who nevertheless received it most
graciously, and would fain have concealed the headache caused by the
scent, until Mrs. Frost privately abstracted it. Another day, he
went, unasked, to hasten the birdstuffer in finishing the rose-
coloured pastor; and when it came, himself brought it up-stairs,
unpacked it, and set it up where Louis could best admire its black
nodding crest and pink wings; unaware that to his son it seemed a
memento of his own misdeeds--a perpetual lesson against wayward
'It is like a new love,' said Mrs. Ponsonby; 'but oh! how much
depends upon Louis after his recovery!'
'You don't mistrust his goodness now, mamma!'
'I could not bear to do so. I believe I was thinking of his father
more than of himself. After having been so much struck by his
religious feeling, I dread nothing so much as his father finding him
deficient in manliness or strength of character.'
A TRUANT DISPOSITION'
Gathering up each broken thread.
'Tom Madison is come back,' said the Vicar, as he sat beside
Fitzjocelyn's couch, a day or two after Lord Ormersfield had gone to
'Come back--where has he been?' exclaimed Louis.
'There!' said the Vicar, with a gesture of dismay; 'I forgot that you
were to hear nothing of it! However, I should think you were well
enough to support the communication.'
'What is it?' cried Louis, the blood rushing into his cheeks so
suddenly, that Mr. Holdsworth felt guilty of having disregarded the
precautions that he had fancied exaggerated by the fond aunt. 'Poor
fellow--he has not--' but, checking himself, he added, 'I am
particularly anxious to hear of him.'
'I wish there were anything more gratifying to tell you; but he took
the opportunity of the height of your illness to run away from his
place, and has just been passed home to his parish. After all your
pains, it is very mortifying, but--'
'Pains! Don't you know how I neglected him latterly!' said Louis.
'Poor fellow--then--' but he stopped himself again, and added, 'You
heard nothing of the grounds?'
'They were not difficult to find,' said Mr. Holdsworth. 'It is the
old story. He was, as Mrs. Smith told me, 'a great trial'--more and
more disposed to be saucy and disobedient, taking up with the most
good-for-nothing boys in the town, haunting those Chartist lectures,
and never coming home in proper time at night. The very last
evening, he had come in at eleven o'clock, and when his master
rebuked him, came out with something about the rights of man. He was
sent to Little Northwold, about the middle of the day, to carry home
some silver-handled knives of Mr. Calcott's, and returned no more.
Smith fancied, at first, that he had made off with the plate, and set
the police after him, but that proved to be an overhasty measure, for
the parcel had been safely left. However, Miss Faithfull's servant
found him frightening Mrs. Frost's poor little kitchen-maid into
fits, and the next day James Frost detected him lurking suspiciously
about the garden here, and set Warren to warn him off--'
Louis gave a kind of groan, and struck his hand against the couch in
despair, then said, anxiously, 'What then?'
'No more was heard of him, till yesterday the police passed him home
to the Union as a vagabond. He looks very ill and ragged; but he is
in one of those sullen moods, when no one can get a word out of him.
Smith declines prosecuting for running away, being only too glad of
the riddance on any terms; so there he is at his grandfather's, ready
for any sort of mischief.'
'Mr. Holdsworth,' said Louis, raising himself on his elbow, 'you are
judging, like every one else, from appearances. If I were at liberty
to tell the whole, you would see what a noble nature it was that I
trifled with; and they have been hounding--Poor Tom! would it have
been better for him that I had never seen him? It is a fearful
thing, this blind treading about among souls, not knowing whether one
does good or harm!'
'If you feel so,' said Mr. Holdsworth, hoping to lead him from the
unfortunate subject, 'what must _we_ do?'
'My position, if I live, seems to have as much power for evil,
without the supernatural power for good. Doing hastily, or leaving
undone, are equally fatal!'
'Nay, what hope can there be but in fear, and sense of
'I think not. I do more mischief than those who do not go out of
their way to think of the matter at all!'
'Do you!' said the Vicar, smiling. 'At least, I know, for my own
part, I prefer all the trouble and perplexity you give me, to a
squire who would let me and my parish jog on our own way.'
'I dare say young Brewster never spoilt a Tom Madison.'
'The sight of self indulgence spoils more than injudicious care does.
Besides, I look on these experiments as giving experience.'
'Nice experience of my best efforts!'
'Pardon me, Fitzjocelyn, have we seen your best?'
'I hope you will!' said Louis, vigorously. 'And to begin, will you
tell this poor boy to come to me?'
Mr. Holdsworth had an unmitigated sense of his own indiscretion, and
not such a high one of Fitzjocelyn's discretion as to make him think
the interview sufficiently desirable for the culprit, to justify the
possible mischief to the adviser, whose wisdom and folly were equally
perplexing, and who would surely be either disappointed or deceived.
Dissuasions and arguments, however, failed; and Mrs. Frost, who was
appealed to as a last resource, no sooner found that her patient's
heart was set on the meeting, than she consented, and persuaded Mr.
Holdsworth that no harm would ensue equal to the evil of her boy
lying there distressing himself.
Accordingly, in due time, Mr. Holdsworth admitted the lad, and, on a
sign from Louis, shut himself out, leaving the runaway standing
within the door, a monument of surly embarrassment. Raising himself,
Louis said, affectionately, 'Never mind, Tom, don't you see how fast
I am getting over it?'
The lad looked up, but apparently saw little such assurance in the
thin pale cheeks, and feeble, recumbent form; for his face twitched
all over, resumed the same sullen stolidity, and was bent down again.
'Come near, Tom,' continued Louis, with unabated kindness--'come and
sit down here. I am afraid you have suffered a great deal,' as the
boy shambled with an awkward footsore gait. 'It was a great pity you
'I couldn't stay!' burst out Tom, half crying.
'Not to have that there cast in my teeth!' he exclaimed, with blunt
'Did any one reproach you?' said Louis, anxiously. 'I thought no one
knew it but ourselves.'
'You knew it, then, my Lord?' asked Tom, staring.
'I found out directly that there was no cement,' said Louis. 'I had
suspected it before, and intended to examine whenever I had time.'
'Well! I thought, when I came back, no one did seem to guess as
'twas all along of me!' cried Tom. 'So sure I thought you hadn't
known it, my Lord. And you never said nothing, my Lord!'
'I trust not. I would not consciously have accused you of what was
quite as much my fault as yours. That would not have been fair
'If I won't give it to Bill Bettesworth!' cried Tom.
'What has he done?'
'Always telling me that gentlefolks hadn't got no notion of fair play
with the like of us, but held us like the dirt to be trampled on!
But there--I'll let him know--'
'Who is he?'
'A young man what works with Mr. Smith,' returned Tom, his sullenness
having given place to a frank, open manner, such as any one but Louis
would have deemed too free and ready.
'Was he your great friend at Northwold?'
'A chap must speak to some one,' was Tom's answer.
'And what kind of a some one was he?'
'Why, he comes down Illershall way. He knows a thing or two, and can
go on like an orator or a play-book--or like yourself, my Lord.'
'Thank you. I hope the thing or two were of the right sort.'
Tom looked sheepish.
'I heard something about bad companions. I hope he was not one. I
ought to have come and visited you, Tom; I have been very sorry I did
not. You'd better let me hear all about it, for I fear there must
have been worse scrapes than this of the stones.'
'Worse!' cried Tom--'sure nothing could be worserer!'
'I wish there were no evils worse than careless forgetfulness,' said
'I didn't forget!' said Tom. 'I meant to have told you whenever you
came to see me, but'--his eyes filled and his voice began to alter-
'you never came, and she at the Terrace wouldn't look at me! And
Bill and the rest of them was always at me, asking when I expected my
aristocrat, and jeering me 'cause I'd said you wasn't like the rest
of 'em. So then I thought I'd have my liberty too, and show I didn't
care no more than they, and spite you all.'
'How little one thinks of the grievous harm a little selfish
heedlessness may do!' sighed Louis, half aloud. 'If you had only
looked to something better than me, Tom! And so you ran into
Half confession, half vindication ensued, and the poor fellow's story
was manifest enough. His faults had been unsteadiness and misplaced
independence rather than any of the more degrading stamp of evils.
The public-house had not been sought for liquor's sake, but for that
of the orator who inflamed the crude imaginations and aspirations
that effervesced in the youth's mind; and the rudely-exercised
authority of master and foreman had only driven his fierce temper
further astray. With sense of right sufficient to be dissatisfied
with himself, and taste and principle just enough developed to loathe
the evils round him, hardened and soured by Louis's neglect, and
rendered discontented by Chartist preachers, he had come to long for
any sort of change or break; and the tidings of the accident, coupled
with the hard words which he knew himself to deserve but too well,
had put the finishing stroke.
Hearing that the police were in pursuit of him, he had fancied it was
on account of the harm done by his negligence. 'I hid about for a
day,' he said: 'somehow I felt as if I could not go far off, till I
heard how you were, my Lord, and I'd made up my mind that as soon as
ever I heard the first stroke of the bell, I'd go and find the
police, and his Lordship might hang me, and glad!'
Louis was nearer a tear than a smile.
'Then Mr. Frost finds me, and was mad at me. Nothing wasn't bad
enough for me, and he sets Mr. Warren to see me off, so I had nothing
for it but to cut.'
'What did you think of doing?' sighed Louis.
'I made for the sea. If I could have got to them places in the
Indies, such as that Philip went to, as you reads about in the verse-
book--he as killed his wife and lost his son, and made friends with
that there big rascal, and had the chest of gold--'
'Philip Mortham! Were you going in search of buccaneers?'
'I don't know, my Lord. Once you told me of some English Sir, as
kills the pirates, and is some sort of a king. I thought, may be,
now you'd tell me where they goes to dig for gold.'
'Oh, Tom, Tom, what a mess I have made of your notions!'
'Isn't there no such place?'
'It's a bad business, and what can you want of it?'
'I want to get shut of them as orders one about here and there, with
never a civil word. Besides,' looking down, 'there's one I'd like to
see live like a lady.'
'Would that make her happier?'
'I'll never see her put about, and slave and drudge, as poor mother
did!' exclaimed Tom.
'That's a better spirit than the mere dislike to a master,' said
Louis. 'What is life but obedience?'
'I'd obey fast enough, if folk would only speak like you do--not
drive one about like a dog, when one knows one is every bit as good
'I'm sure I never knew that!'
Tom stared broadly.
'I never saw the person who was not my superior,' repeated Louis,
quietly, and in full earnest. 'Not that this would make rough words
pleasanter, I suppose. The only cure I could ever see for the ills
of the world is, that each should heartily respect his neighbour.'
Paradoxes musingly uttered, and flying over his head, wore to Tom a
natural and comfortable atmosphere; and the conversation proceeded.
Louis found that geography had been as much at fault as chronology,
and that the runaway had found himself not at the sea, but at
Illershall, where he had applied for work, and had taken a great
fancy to Mr. Dobbs, but had been rejected for want of a character,
since the good superintendent made it his rule to keep up a high
standard among his men. Wandering had succeeded, in which,
moneyless, forlorn, and unable to find employment, he had been
obliged to part with portions of his clothing to procure food; his
strength began to give way, and he had been found by the police
sleeping under a hedge; he was questioned, and sent home,
crestfallen, sullen, and miserable, unwilling to stay at Marksedge,
yet not knowing where to go.
His hankering was for Illershall, and Louis, thinking of the
judicious care, the evening school, and the openings for promotion,
decided at once that the experiment should be tried without loss of
time. He desired Tom to bring him ink and paper, and hastily wrote:
'DEAR MR. DOBBS,--You would do me a great kindness by employing this
poor fellow, and bearing with him. I have managed him very ill, but
he would reward any care. Have an eye to him, and put him in
communication with the chaplain. If you can take him, I will write
more at length. If you have heard of my accident, you will excuse
more at present.
'Yours very truly,
Then arose the question, how Tom was to get to Illershall. He did
not know; and Louis directed his search into the places where the
loose money in his pocket might have been put. When it was found,
Tom scrupled at the proposed half-sovereign. Three-and-fourpence
would pay for his ticket. 'You will want a supper and a bed. Go
respectably, Tom, and keep so. It will be some consolation for the
mischief I have done you!'
'You done me harm!' cried Tom. 'Why, 'tis all along of you that I
ain't a regularly-built scamp!'
'Very irregularly built, whatever you are!' said Louis. But I'll
tell you what you shall do for me,' continued he, with anxious
earnestness. 'Do you know the hollow ash-tree that shades over
Inglewood stile? It has a stout sucker, with a honeysuckle grown
into it--coming up among the moss, where the great white vase-shaped
funguses grew up in the autumn.'
'I know him, my Lord,' said Tom, brightening at the detail, given
with all a sick man's vivid remembrance of the out-of-doors world.
'I have fixed my mind on that stick! I think it has a bend at the
root. Will you cut it for me, and trim it up for a walking-stick?'
'That I will, my Lord!'
'Thank you. Bring it up to me between seven and eight in the
morning, if you please; and so I shall see you again--'
Mr. Holdsworth was already entering to close the conversation, which
had been already over-long and exciting, for Louis, sinking back,
mournfully exclaimed, 'The medley of that poor boy's mind is the
worst of my pieces of work. I have made him too refined for one
class, and left him too rough for another--discontented with his
station, and too desultory and insubordinate to rise, nobleness of
nature turning to arrogance, fact and fiction all mixed up together.
It would be a study, if one was not so sorry!'
Nevertheless, Mr. Holdsworth could not understand how even
Fitzjocelyn could have given the lad a recommendation, and he would
have remonstrated, but that the long interview had already been
sufficiently trying; so he did his best to have faith in his
eccentric friend's good intentions.
In the early morning, Tom Madison made his appearance, in his best
clothes, erect and open-faced, a strong contrast to the jaded,
downcast being who had yesterday presented himself. The stick was
prepared to perfection, and Louis acknowledged it with gratitude
proportioned to the fancies that he had spent on it, poising it,
feeling the cool grey bark, and raising himself in bed to try how he
should lean on it. 'Hang it up there, Tom, within my reach. It
seems like a beginning of independence.'
'I wish, my Lord,' blurted out Tom, in agitation, 'you'd tell me if
you're to go lame for life, and then I should know the worst of it.'
'I suspect no one knows either the worst or the best,' said Louis,
kindly. 'Since the pain has gone off, I have been content, and asked
no questions. Mr. Walby says my ankle is going on so well, that it
is a real picture, and a pleasure to touch it; and though I can't say
the pleasure is mutual, I ought to be satisfied.'
'You'll only laugh at me!' half sobbed Tom, 'and if there was but
anything I could do! I've wished my own legs was cut off--and serve
me right--ever since I seen you lying there.'
'Thank you; I'm afraid they would have been no use to me! But,
seriously, if I had been moderately prudent, it would not have
happened. And as it is, I hope I shall be glad of that roll in Ferny
dell to the end of my life.'
'I did go to see after mending them stones!' cried Tom, as if injured
by losing this one compensation; 'but they are all done up, and there
ain't nothing to do to them.'
'Look here, Tom: if you want to do anything for me, it is easily
told, what would be the greatest boon to me. They tell me I've
spoilt you, and I partly believe it, for I put more of my own fancies
into you than of real good, and the way I treated you made you
impatient of control: and then, because I could not keep you on as I
should have wished,--as, unluckily, you and I were not made to live
together on a desert island,--I left you without the little help I
might have given. Now, Tom, if you go to the bad, I shall know it is
all my fault--'
'That it ain't,' the boy tried to say, eagerly, but Louis went on.
'Don't let my bad management be the ruin of you. Take a turn from
this moment. You know Who can help you, and Who, if you had thought
of Him, would have kept you straight when I forgot. Put all the
stuff out of your head about one man being equal to another. Equal
they are; but some have the trial of ruling, others of obeying, and
the last are the lucky ones. If we could only see their souls, we
should know it. You'll find evening schools and lectures at
Illershall; you'd better take to them, for you've more real liking
for that sort of thing than for mischief; and if you finished up your
education, you'd get into a line that would make you happier, and
where you might do much good. There--promise me that you'll think of
these things, and take heed to your Sundays.'
'I promise,' said Tom.
'And mind you write to me, Tom, and tell how you get on. I'll write,
and let you know about your grandfather, and Marksedge news and all--
The 'Thank you, my Lord,' came with great pleasure and alacrity.
'Some day, when you are a foreman, perhaps I may bring Miss Clara to
see copper-smelting. Only mind, that you'll never go on soundly, nor
even be fit to make your pretty tidy nest for any gentle bird, unless
you mind one thing most of all; and that is, that we have had a new
Life given us, and we have to begin now, and live it for ever and
As he raised himself, holding out his pale, slender hand from his
white sleeve, his clear blue eyes earnestly fixed on the sky, his
face all one onward look, something of that sense of the unseen
passed into the confused, turbulent spirit of the boy, very
susceptible of poetical impressions, and his young lord's countenance
connected itself with all the floating notions left in his mind by
parable or allegory. He did not speak, as Louis heartily shook his
hardy red hand, and bade him good speed, but his bow and pulled
forelock at the door had in them more of real reverence than of
Of tastes and perceptions above his breeding, the very sense of his
own deficiencies had made him still more rugged and clownish, and
removed him from the sympathies of his own class, while he almost
idolized the two most refined beings whom he knew, Lord Fitzjocelyn
and Charlotte Arnold. On an interview with her, his heart was set.
He had taken leave of his half-childish grandfather, made up his
bundle, and marched into Northwold, with three hours still to spare
ere the starting of the parliamentary train. Sympathy, hope,
resolution, and the sense of respectability had made another man of
him; and, above all, he dwelt on the prospect held out of repairing
the deficiencies of his learning. The consciousness of ignorance and
awkwardness was very painful, and he longed to rub it off, and take
the place for which he felt his powers. 'I will work!' thought he;
'I have a will to it, and, please God, when I come back next, it
won't be as a rough, ignorant lout that I'll stand before Charlotte!'
'Louis,' said Mary Ponsonby, as she sat at work beside him that
afternoon, after an expedition to the new house at Dynevor Terrace,
'I want to know, if you please, how you have been acting like a
'I did not know that I had been acting at all of late.'
'I could not help hearing something in Aunt Catharine's garden that
has made me very curious.'
'Ha!' cried Louis, eagerly.
'I was sowing some annuals in our back garden, and heard voices
through the trellis. Presently I heard, quite loud, 'My young Lord
has behaved like a real gentleman, as he is, and no mistake, or I'd
never have been here now.' And, presently, 'I've promised him, and I
promise you, Charlotte, to keep my Church, and have no more to do
with them things. I'll keep it as sacred as they keeps the
Temperance pledge; for sure I'm bound to him, as he forgave me, and
kept my secret as if I'd been his own brother: and when I've proved
it, won't that satisfy you, Charlotte?'
'And what did Charlotte say?'
'I think she was crying; but I thought listening any more would be
unfair, so I ran upstairs and threw up the drawing-room window to
'Oh, Mary, how unfeeling!'
'I thought it could be doing no good!'
'That is so like prudent people, who can allow no true love under
five hundred pounds a year! Did you see them? How did they look?'
'Charlotte was standing in an attitude, her hands clasped over her
broom. The gentleman was a country-looking boy--'
'Bearing himself like a sensible, pugnacious cock-robin? Poor
fellow, so you marred their parting.'
'Charlotte flew into the house, and the boy walked off up the garden.
Was he your Madison, Louis? for I thought my aunt did not think it
right to encourage him about her house.'
'And so he is to be thwarted in what would best raise and refine him.
That great, bright leading star of a well-placed affection is not to
be allowed to help him through all the storms and quicksands in his
Good Mary might well open her eyes, but, pondering a little, she
said, 'He need not leave off liking Charlotte, if that is to do him
good; but I suppose the question is, what is safest for her?'
'Well, he is safe enough. He is gone to Illershall to earn her.'
'Oh! then I don't care! But you have not answered me, and I think I
can guess the boy's secret that you have been keeping. Did you not
once tell me that you trusted those stones in Ferny dell to him?'
'Now, Mary, you must keep his secret!'
'But why was it made one? Did you think it unkind to say that it was
'Of course I did. When I thought it was all over with me, I could
not go and charge the poor fellow with it, so as to make him a marked
man. I was only afraid that thinking so often of stopping myself, I
should bring it out by mistake.'
Mary looked down, and thought; then raised her eyes suddenly, and
said, as if surprised, 'That was really very noble in you, Louis!'
Then, thinking on, she said, 'But how few people would think it worth
'Yes,' said Louis; 'but I had a real regard for this poor fellow, and
an instinct, perhaps perverse, of shielding him; so I could not
accuse him on my own account. Besides, I believe I am far more
guilty towards him. His neglect only hurt my ankle--my neglect left
him to fall into temptation.'
'Yet, by the way he talks of you--'
'Yes, he has the sort of generous disposition on which a little
delicacy makes a thousand times more impression than a whole pile of
benefits I hope and trust that he is going to repair all that is
past. I wish I could make out whether good intentions overrule
errors in detail, or only make them more fatal.'
Mary was glad to reason out the question. Abstract practical views
interested her, and she had much depth and observation, more original
than if she had read more and thought less. Of course, no conclusion
was arrived at; but the two cousins had an argument of much enjoyment
and some advantage to both.
Affairs glided on quietly till the Saturday, when Lord Ormersfield
returned. Never had he so truly known what it was to come home as
when he mounted the stairs, with steps unlike his usual measured
tread, and beheld his son's look of animated welcome, and eager,
'I was afraid,' said the Earl, presently, 'that you had not felt so
well,' and he touched his own upper lip to indicate that the same
feature in his son was covered with down like a young bird.
Louis blushed a little, but spoke indifferently. 'I thought it a
pity not to leave it for the regulation moustache for the Yeomanry.'
'I wish I could think you likely to be fit to go out with the
'Every effort must be made!' cried Louis. 'What do they say in
London about the invasion?'
It was the year 1847, when a French invasion was in every one's
mouth, and Sydney Calcott had been retailing all sorts of facts about
war-steamers and artillery, in a visit to Fitzjocelyn, whose
patriotism had forthwith run mad, so that he looked quite baffled
when his father coolly set the whole down as 'the regular ten years'
panic.' There was a fervid glow within him of awe, courage, and
enterprise, the outward symbol of which was that infant yellow
moustache. He was obliged, however, to allow the subject to be
dismissed, while his father told him of Sir Miles Oakstead's kind
inquiries, and gave a message of greeting from his aunt Lady Conway,
delivering himself of it as an unpleasant duty, and adding, as he
turned to Mrs. Ponsonby, 'She desired to be remembered to you, Mary.'
'I have not seen her for many years. Is Sir Walter alive?'
'No; he died about three years ago.'
'I suppose her daughters are not come out yet?'
'Her own are in the school-room; but there is a step-daughter who is
'Those cousins of mine,' exclaimed Louis, 'it is strange that I have
never seen them. I think I had better employ some of my spare time
this summer in making their acquaintance.'
Mrs. Ponsonby perceived that the Earl had become inspired with a
deadly terror of the handsome stepdaughter; for he turned aside and
began to unpack a parcel. It was M'Culloch's Natural Theology, into
which Louis had once dipped at Mr. Calcott's, and had expressed a
wish to read it. His father had taken some pains to procure this
too-scarce book for him, and he seized on it with delighted and
surprised gratitude, plunging at once into the middle, and reading
aloud a most eloquent passage upon electricity. No beauty, however,
could atone to Lord Ormersfield for the outrage upon method. 'If you
would oblige me, Louis,' he said, 'you would read that book
'To oblige you, certainly,' said Louis, smiling, and turning to the
first page, but his vivacious eagerness was extinguished.
M'Culloch is not an author to be thoroughly read without a strong
effort. His gems are of the purest ray, but they lie embedded in a
hard crust of reasoning and disquisition; and on the first morning,
Louis, barely strong enough yet for a battle with his own volatility,
looked, and owned himself, dead beat by the first chapter.
Mary took pity on him. She had been much interested by his account
of the work, and would be delighted if he would read it with her.
He brightened at once, and the regular habit began, greatly to their
mutual enjoyment. Mary liked the argument, Louis liked explaining
it; and the flood of allusions was delightful to both, with his
richness of illustration, and Mary's actual experience of ocean and
mountains. She brought him whatever books he wanted, and from the
benevolent view of entertaining him while a prisoner, came to be more
interested than her mother had ever expected to see her in anything
literary. It was amusing to see the two cousins unconsciously
educating each other--the one learning expansion, the other
concentration, of mind. Mary could now thoroughly trust Louis's
goodness, and therefore began by bearing with his vagaries, and
gradually tracing the grain of wisdom that was usually at their root;
and her eyes were opened to new worlds, where all was not evil or
uninteresting that Aunt Melicent distrusted. Louis made her teach
him Spanish; and his insight into grammar and keen delight in the
majestic language and rich literature infected her, while he was
amused by her positive distaste to anything incomplete, and
playfully, though half murmuringly, submitted to his 'good
governess,' and let her keep him in excellent order. She knew where
all his property was, and, in her quaint, straightforward way, would
refuse to give him whatever 'was not good for him.'
It was all to oblige Mary that, when he could sit up and use pen and
pencil, he set to work to finish his cottage plans, and soon drew and
talked himself into a vehement condition about Marksedge. Mary's
patronage drew on the work, even to hasty learning of perspective
enough for a pretty elevation intelligible to the unlearned, and a
hopeless calculation of the expense.
The plans lay on the table when next his father came home, and their
interest was explained.
'Did you draw all these yourself?' exclaimed the Earl. 'Where did
you learn architectural drawing? I should have thought them done by
a professional hand.'
'It is easy enough to get it up from books,' said Louis; 'and Mary
kept me to the point, in case you should be willing to consider the
matter. I would have written out the estimate; but this book allows
for bricks, and we could use the stone at Inglewood more cheaply, to
say nothing of beauty.'
'Well,' said Lord Ormersfield, considering, 'you have every right to
have a voice in the management of the property. I should like to
hear your views with regard to these cottages.'
Colouring deeply, and with earnest thanks, Fitzjocelyn stated the
injury both to labourers and employers, caused by their distance from
their work; he explained where he thought the buildings ought to
stand, and was even guarded enough to show that the rents would
justify the outlay. He had considered the matter so much, that he
could even have encountered Richardson; and his father was only
afraid that what was so plausible _must_ be insecure. Caution
contended with a real desire to gratify his son, and to find him in
the right. He must know the wishes of the farmer, be sure of the
cost, and be certain of the spot intended. His crippled means had
estranged him from duties that he could not fulfil according to his
wishes, and, though not a hard landlord, he had no intercourse with
his tenants, took little interest in his estate, and was such a
stranger to the localities, that Louis could not make him understand
the nook selected for the buildings. He had seen the arable field
called 'Great Courtiers,' and the farm called 'Small Profits,' on the
map, but did not know their ups and downs much better than the coast
'Mary knows them!' said Louis. 'She made all my measurements there,
before I planned the gardens.'
'Mary seems to be a good friend to your designs,' said the Earl,
looking kindly at her.
'The best!' said Louis. 'I begin to have some hope of my doings when
I see her take them in hand.'
Lord Ormersfield thanked Mary, and asked whether it would be
trespassing too much on her kindness to ask her to show him the place
in question. She was delighted, and they set out at once, the Earl
almost overpowering her by his exceeding graciousness, so that she
was nearly ready to laugh when he complimented her on knowing her way
through the bye-paths of his own park so much better than he did.
'It is a great pleasure to me that you can feel it something like
home,' he said.
'I was so happy here as a child,' said Mary, heartily, 'that it must
seem to me more of a home than any other place.'
'I hope it may always be so, my dear.'
He checked himself, as if he had been about to speak even more
warmly; and Mary did the honours of the proposed site for the
cottages, a waste strip fronting a parish lane, open to the south,
and looking full of capabilities, all of which she pointed out after
Louis's well-learned lesson, as eagerly as if it had been her own
Lord Ormersfield gave due force to all, but still was prudent. 'I
must find out,' he said, 'whether this place be in my hands, or
included in Morris's lease. You see, Mary, this is an encumbered
property, with every disadvantage, so that I cannot always act as you
and Louis would wish; but we so far see our way out of our
difficulties, that, if guided by good sense, he will be able to
effect far more than I have ever done.'
'I believe,' was Mary's answer, 'this green is in the farmer's hands,
but that he has no use for it.'
'I should like to be certain of his wishes. Farmers are so unwilling
to increase the rates, that I should not like to consent till I know
that it would be really a convenience to him.'
Mary suggested that there stood the farmhouse; and the Earl
apologetically asked if she would dislike their proceeding thither,
as he would not detain her long. She eagerly declared that Louis
would be 'so glad,' and Lord Ormersfield turned his steps to the
door, where he had only been once in his life, when he was a very
young man, trying to like shooting.
The round-eyed little maid would say nothing but 'Walk in, sir,' in
answer to inquiries if Mr. Norris were at home; and they walked into
a parlour, chill with closed windows, and as stiff and fine as the
lilac streamers of the cap that Mrs. Norris had just put on for their
reception. Nevertheless, she was a sensible, well-mannered woman,
and after explaining that her husband was close at hand, showed
genuine warmth and interest in inquiring for Lord Fitzjocelyn. As
the conversation began to flag, Mary had recourse to admiring a
handsome silver tankard on a side table. It was the prize of a
ploughing-match eight years ago, and brought out a story that
evidently always went with it, how Mrs. Norris had been unwell and
stayed at home, and had first heard of her husband's triumph by
seeing the young Lord galloping headlong up the homefield, hurraing,
and waving his cap. He had taken his pony the instant he heard the
decision, and rushed off to be the first to bring the news to Mrs.
Norris, wild with the honour of Small Profits. 'And,' said the
farmer's wife, 'I always say Norris was as pleased with what I told
him, as I was with the tankard!'
Norris here came in, an unpretending, quiet man, of the modern,
intelligent race of farmers. There was anxiety at first in his eye,
but it cleared off as he heard the cause of his landlord's visit, and
he was as propitious as any cautious farmer could be. He was strong
on the present inconveniences, and agreed that it would be a great
boon to have a _few_ families brought back, such as were steady, and
would not burden the rates; but the _few_ recurred so often as to
show that he was afraid of a general migration of Marksedge. Lord
Ormersfield thereupon promised that he should be consulted as to the
'Thank you, my Lord. There are some families at Marksedge that one
would not wish to see nearer here; and I'll not say but I should like
to have a voice in the matter, for they are apt to take advantage of
Lord Fitzjocelyn's kindness.'
'I quite understand you. Nothing can be more reasonable. I only
acted because my son was persuaded it was your wish.'
'It is so, my Lord. I am greatly obliged. He has often talked of it
with me, and I had mentioned the matter to Mr. Richardson, but he
thought your lordship would be averse to doing anything.'
'I have not been able to do all I could have wished,' said the Earl.
'My son will have it in his power to turn more attention to the
And he _is_ a thorough farmer's friend, as they all say,' earnestly
exclaimed Norris, with warmth breaking through the civil formal
'True,' said Lord Ormersfield, gratified; 'he is very much attached
to the place, and all connected with it.'
'I'm sure they're the same to him,' replied the farmer. 'As an
instance, my Lord, you'll excuse it--do you see that boy driving in
the cows? You would not look for much from him. Well, the morning
the doctor from London came down, that boy came to his work, crying
so that I thought he was ill. 'No, master,' said he, 'but what'll
ever become of us when we've lost my young Lord?' And he burst out
again, fit to break his heart. I told him I was sorry enough myself,
but to go to his work, for crying would do no good. 'I can't help
it, master,' says he, 'when I looks at the pigs. Didn't he find 'em
all in the park, and me nutting--and helped me his own self to drive
'em out before Mr. Warren see 'em, and lifted the little pigs over
the gap as tender as if they were Christians?'
'Yes, that's the way with them all,' interposed Mrs. Norris: 'he has
the good word of high and low.'
Lord Ormersfield smiled: he smiled better than he used to do, and
'Fitzjocelyn will be a popular man,' he said.
Mary could not help being diverted at this moral deduced from the
pig-story. 'Every one is fond of him,' was all she said.
'Talent and popularity,' continued the Earl. 'He will have great
influence. The free, prepossessing manner is a great advantage,
where it is so natural and devoid of effort.'
'It comes of his loving every one,' said Mary, almost indignantly.
'It is a decided advantage,' continued the Earl, complacently. 'I
have no doubt but that he has every endowment requisite for success.
You and your mother have done much in developing his character, my
dear; and I see every reason to hope that the same influence
continued will produce the most beneficial results.'
Mary thought this a magnificent compliment, even considering that no
one but her mamma had succeeded in teaching Louis to read when a
little boy, or in making him persevere in anything now: but then,
when Lord Ormersfield did pay a compliment, it was always in the
style of Louis XIV.
THE FAMILY COMPACT.
Who, nurst with tender care,
And to domestic bounds confined,
Was still a wild Jack-hare
'Mary,' said Mrs. Frost.
Mrs. Ponsonby was sitting by the open window of the library, inhaling
the pleasant scents of July. Raising her eyes, she saw her aunt
gazing at her with a look somewhat perplexed, but brim full of
mischievous frolic. However, the question was only--'Where is that
'He is gone down with Mary to his cottage-building.'
'Oh! if Mary is with him, I don't care,' said Aunt Catharine, sitting
down to her knitting; but her ball seemed restless, and while she
pursued it, she broke out into a little laugh, and exclaimed, 'I beg
your pardon, my dear, but I cannot help it. I never heard anything
'As this scheme,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, with a little hesitation.
'Then you have the other side of it in your letter,' cried Mrs.
Frost, giving way to her merriment. 'The Arabian Nights themselves,
the two viziers laying their heads together, and sending home orders
to us to make up the match!'
'My letter does not go so far,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, amused, but
'Yours is the lady's side. My orders are precise. Oliver has talked
it over with Mr. Ponsonby, and finds the connexion would be
agreeable; so he issues a decree that his nephew, Roland Dynevor--
(poor Jem--he would not know himself!)--should enter on no
profession, but forthwith pay his addresses to Miss Ponsonby, since
he will shortly be in a position befitting the heir of our family!'
'You leave Prince Roland in happy ignorance,' said Mrs. Ponsonby,
blushing a little.
'Certainly--or he would fly off like a sky-rocket at the first
symptom of the princess.'
'Then I think we need not alter our plans. All that Mary's father
tells me is, that he does not intend to return home as yet, though
his successor is appointed, since he is much occupied by this new
partnership with Oliver, and expects that the investment will be
successful. He quite approves of our living at the Terrace,
especially as he thinks I ought to be informed that Oliver has
declared his intentions with regard to his nephew, and so if anything
should arise between the young people, I am not to discourage it.'
'Mary is in request,' said Mrs. Frost, slyly, and as she met Mrs.
Ponsonby's eyes full of uneasy inquiry. 'You don't mean that you
have not observed at least his elder lordship's most decided
courtship? Don't be too innocent, my dear.'
'Pray don't say so, Aunt Kitty, or you will make me uncomfortable in
staying here. If the like ever crossed his mind, he must perceive
that the two are just what we were together ourselves.'
'That might make him wish it the more,' Aunt Catharine had almost
said, but she restrained it halfway, and said, 'Louis is hardly come
to the time of life for a grande passion.'
'True. He is wonderfully young, and Mary not only seems much older,
but is by no means the girl to attract a mere youth. I rather
suspect she will have no courtship but from the elders.'
'In spite of her opportunities. What would some mammas--Lord
Ormersfield's bugbear, for instance, Lady Conway--give for such a
chance! Three months of a lame young Lord, and such a lame young
Lord as my Louis!'
'I might have feared,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, 'if Mary were not so
perfectly simple. Aunt Melicent managed to abstract all romance, and
I never regretted it so little. She has looked after him merely
because it came in her way as a form of kindness, and is too much his
governess for anything of the other sort.'
'So you really do not wish for the other sort?' said Mrs. Frost, half
mortified, as if it were a slight to her boy.
'I don't know how her father might take it,' said Mrs. Ponsonby,
eager to disarm, her. 'With his grand expectations, and his view of
the state of this property, he might make difficulties. He is fond
of expressing his contempt for needy nobility, and I am afraid, after
all that has passed, that this would be the last case in which he
would make an exception.'
'Yet you say he is fond of Mary.'
'Very fond. If anything would triumph over his dislike, it would be
his affection for her, but I had rather my poor Mary had not to put
it to the proof. And, after all, I don't think it the safest way for
a marriage, that the man should be the most attractive, and the woman
'Sensible! Say it, Mary--that is the charm in my nephew's eyes.'
'Your great-nephew is the point! No, no, Aunt Kitty; you are under a
delusion. The kindness to Mary is no more than 'auld lang-syne,' and
because he thinks her too impossible. He cannot afford for his son
to marry anything but a grand unquestionable heiress. Mary's
fortune, besides, depending on speculations, would be nothing to what
Lady Fitzjocelyn ought to have.'
'For shame! I think better of him. I believe he would be unworldly
when Louis's happiness was concerned.'
'To return to James,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, decidedly: 'I am glad that
his uncle should have declared his intentions.'
'Oh, my dear, we are quite used to that. I am only glad that Jem
takes no heed. We have had enough of that!--for my own part,' and
the tears arose, 'I never expect that poor Oliver will think he has
done enough in my lifetime. These things do so grow on a man! If I
had but kept him at home!'
'It might have been the same.'
'There would have been something to divide his attention. His
brother used to be a sort of idol; he seemed to love him the more for
his quiet, easy ways, and to delight in waiting on him. I do believe
he delays, because he cannot bear to come home without Henry!'
Mrs. Ponsonby preferred most topics to that of Mrs. Frost's sons, and
was relieved by the sight of the young people returning across the
lawn--Fitzjocelyn with his ash stick, but owing a good deal of
support to Mary's firm, well-knit arm. They showed well together:
even lameness could not disfigure the grace of his leisurely
movements; and the bright changefulness and delicacy of his face
contrasted well with the placid nobleness of her composed expression,
while her complexion was heightened and her eyes lighted by exercise,
so that she was almost handsome. She certainly had been looking
uncommonly well lately. Was this the way they were to walk together
But Mrs. Ponsonby had known little of married life save the troubles,
and she was doubly anxious for her daughter's sake. She exceedingly
feared unformed characters, and natures that had no root in
themselves. Mary's husband must not lean on her for strength.
She was glad, as with new meaning, she watched their proceedings, to
see how easily, and as a matter of course, Louis let Mary bring his
footstool and his slipper, fetch his books, each at the proper time,
read Spanish with him, and make him look out the words in the
dictionary when he knew them by intuition, remind him of orders to be
written for his buildings, and manage him as her pupil. If she
ruled, it was with perfect calmness and simplicity, and the
playfulness was that of brother and sister, not even with the
coquettish intimacy of cousinhood.
The field was decidedly open to Roland Dynevor, alias James Frost.
Mrs. Ponsonby was loth to contemplate that contingency, though in all
obedience, she exposed her daughter to the infection. He was
expected on that afternoon, bringing his sister with him, for he had
not withstood the united voices that entreated him to become
Fitzjocelyn's tutor during the vacation, and the whole party had
promised to remain for the present as guests at Ormersfield.
Louis, in high spirits, offered to drive Mrs. Ponsonby to meet the
travellers at the station; and much did he inflict on her poor
shattered nerves by the way. He took no servant, that there might be
the more room, and perched aloft on the driving seat, he could only
use his indefatigable tongue by leaning back with his head turned
round to her. She kept a sharp lookout ahead; but all her warnings
of coming perils only caused him to give a moment's attention to the
horses and the reins, before he again turned backwards to resume his
discourse. In the town, his head was more in the right direction,
for he was nodding and returning greetings every moment; he seemed to
have a bowing acquaintance with all the world, and when he drew up at
the station, reached down several times to shake hands with figures
whom his father would barely have acknowledged; exchanging good-
humoured inquiries or congratulations with almost every third person.
Scarcely had the train dashed up before Mrs. Ponsonby was startled by
a shout of 'He's there himself! Louis! Louis!' and felt, as well as
saw, the springing ascent to the box of a tall apparition, in a
scanty lilac cotton dress, an outgrown black mantle, and a brown
straw bonnet, scarcely confining an overprofusion of fair hair.
Louis let go the reins to catch hold of both hands, and cry, 'Well,
old Giraffe! what have you done with Jem?'
'Seeing to the luggage! You won't let him turn me out! I must sit
'You must have manners,' said Louis; 'look round, and speak
rationally to Mrs. Ponsonby.'
'I never saw she was there!' and slightly colouring, the 'Giraffe'
erected her length, turned round a small insignificant face slightly
freckled, with hazel eyes, as light as if they had been grey; and
stretched down a hand to be shaken by her new relation, but she was
chiefly bent on retaining her elevation.
'There, Jem!' she cried exultingly, as he came forth, followed by the
trunks and portmanteaus.
'Madcap!' he said; 'but I suppose the first day of the holidays must
be privileged. Ha! Fitzjocelyn, you're the right man in the right
place, whatever Clara is.'
So they drove off, James sitting by Mrs. Ponsonby, and taking care to
inform her that, in spite of her preposterous height, Clara was only
sixteen, he began to ask anxious questions as to Fitzjocelyn's
recovery, while she looked up at the pair in front, and thought, from
the appearance of things, that even Louis's tongue was more than
rivalled, for the newcomer seemed to say a sentence in the time he
took in saying a word. Poor Mrs. Ponsonby! she would not have been
happier had she known in which pair of hands the reins were!
'And Louis! how are you?' cried Clara, as soon as this point had been
gained; 'are you able to walk?'
'After a fashion.'
'And does your ankle hurt you?'
'Only if I work it too hard. One would think that lounging had
become a virtue instead of a vice, to hear the way I am treated.'
'You look--' began Clara. 'But oh, Louis!' cried she, in a sort of
hesitating wonder, 'what! a moustache?'
'Don't say a word:' he lowered his voice. 'Riding is against orders,
but I cannot miss the Yeomanry, under the present aspect of affairs.'
'The invasion! A man in the train was talking of the war steamers,
but Jem laughed. Do you believe in it?'
'It is a time when a display of loyalty and national spirit may turn
the scale. I am resolved to let no trifle prevent me from doing my
part,' he said, colouring with enthusiasm.
'You are quite right,' cried Clara. 'You ought to take your vassals,
like a feudal chief! I am sure the defence of one's country ought
to outweigh everything.'
'Exactly so. Our volunteer forces are our strength and glory, and
are a happy meeting of all classes in the common cause. But say
nothing, Clara, or granny will take alarm, and get an edict from
Walby against me.'
'Dear granny! But I wish we were going home to the Terrace.'
'Thank you. How flattering!'
'You would be always in and out, and it would be so much more
comfortable. Is Lord Ormersfield at home?'
'No, he will not come till legislation can bear London no longer.'
'Oh!'--with a sound of great relief.
'You don't know how kind he has been,' said Louis, eagerly. 'You
will find it out when you are in the house with him.'
Clara laughed, but sighed. 'I think we should have had more fun at
'What! than with me for your host? Try what I can do. Besides, you
'But she has been at school!'
'I didn't bargain for school-girls at home!'
'I should not have classed Mary in that category.'
'Don't ask me to endure any one who has been at school! Oh, Louis!
if you could only guess--if you would only speak to Jem not to send
me back to that place--'
'Aunt Kitty will not consent, I am sure, if you are really unhappy
there, my poor Clara.'
'No! no! I am ordered not to tell granny. It would only vex her, and
Jem says it must be. I don't want her to be vexed, and if I tell
you, I may be able to keep it in!'
Out poured the whole flood of troubles, unequal in magnitude, but
most trying to the high-spirited girl. Formal walks, silent meals,
set manners, perpetual French, were a severe trial, but far worse was
the companionship. Petty vanities, small disputes, fretful
jealousies, insincere tricks, and sentimental secrets, seemed to
Clara a great deal more contemptible than the ignorance, indolence,
abrupt manners and boyish tastes which brought her into constant
disgrace--and there seemed to be one perpetual chafing and
contradiction, which made her miserable. And a further confidence
could not help following, though with a warning that Jem must not
hear it, for she did not mind, and he spent every farthing on her
that he could afford. She had been teased about her dress, told that
her friends were mean and shabby, and rejected as a walking
companion, because she had no parasol, and that was vulgar.
'I am sure I wanted to walk with none of them,' said Clara, 'and when
our English governess advised me to get one, I told her I would give
in to no such nonsense, for only vulgar people cared about them.
Such a scrape I got into! Well, then Miss Salter, whose father is a
knight, and who thinks herself the great lady of the school, always
bridled whenever she saw me, and, at last, Lucy Raynor came
whispering up, to beg that I would contradict that my grandmamma kept
a school, for Miss Salter was so very particular.'
'I should like to have heard your contradiction.'
'I never would whisper, least of all to Lucy Raynor, so I stood up in
the midst, and said, as clear as I could, that my grandmother had
always earned an honest livelihood by teaching little boys, and that
I meant to do the same, for nothing would ever make me have anything
to do with girls.'
'That spoilt it,' said Louis--'the first half was dignified.'
'What was the second?'
'Human nature,' said Louis.
'I see,' said Clara. 'Well, they were famously scandalized, and that
was all very nice, for they let me alone. But you brought far worse
on me, Louis.'
'Ay! 'Twas my own fault, though, but I couldn't help it. You must
know, they all are ready to bow down to the ninety-ninth part of a
Lord's little finger; and Miss Brown--that's the teacher--always
reads all the fashionable intelligence as if it were the Arabian
Nights, and imparts little bits to Miss Salter and her pets; and so
it was that I heard, whispered across the table, the dreadful
accident to Viscount Fitzjocelyn!'
'Did nobody write to you?'
'Yes--I had a letter from granny, and another from Jem by the next
morning's post, or I don't know what I should have done. Granny was
too busy to write at first; I didn't three parts believe it before,
but there was no keeping in at that first moment.'
'What did you do?'
'I gave one great scream, and flew at the newspaper. The worst was,
that I had to explain, and then--oh! it was enough to make one sick.
Why had I not said I was Lord Ormersfield's cousin? I turned into a
fine aristocratic-looking girl on the spot! Miss Salter came and
fondled, and wanted me to walk with her!'
'Of course; she had compassion on your distress--amiable feeling!'
'She only wanted to ask ridiculous questions, whether you were
'What did you reply?'
'I told them not a word, except that my brother was going to be your
tutor. When I saw Miss Salter setting off by this line, I made Jem
take second-class tickets, that she might be ashamed of me.'
'My dear Giraffe, bend down your neck, and don't take such a
commonplace, conventional view of your schoolfellows.'
'Conventional! ay, all agree because they know it by experience,'
said Clara--'I'm sure I do!'
'Then take the other side--see the best.'
'Jem says you go too far, and are unreasonable with your theory of
making the best of every one.'
'By no means. I always made the worst of Frampton, and now I know
what injustice I did him. I never saw greater kindness and
unselfishness than he has shown me.'
'I should like to know what best you would make of these girls!'
'You have to try that!'
'Can I get any possible good by staying?'
'A vast deal.'
'I'm sure Italian, and music, and drawing, are not a good compared
with truth, and honour, and kindness.'
'All those things only grow by staying wherever we may happen to be,
unless it is by our own fault.'
'Tell me what good you mean!'
'Learning not to hate, learning to mend your gloves. Don't jerk the
reins, Clara, or you'll get me into a scrape.'
Clara could extract no more, nor did she wish it, for having relieved
her mind by the overflow, she only wanted to forget her misfortunes.
Her cousin Louis was her chief companion, they had always felt
themselves on the same level of nonsense, and had unreservedly shared
each other's confidences and projects; and ten thousand bits of
intelligence were discussed with mutual ardour, while Clara's ecstasy
became uncontrollable as she felt herself coming nearer to her
grandmother. She finally descended with a bound almost as
distressing to her brother as her ascent had been, and leapt at once
to the embrace of Mrs. Frost, who stood there, petting, kissing her,
and playfully threatening all sorts of means to stop her growth.
Clara reared up her giraffe figure, boasting of having overtopped all
the world present, except Louis! She made but a cold, abrupt
response to her cousin Mary's greeting, and presently rushed upstairs
in search of dear old Jane, with an impetus that made Mrs. Frost
sigh, and say, 'Poor child! how happy she is;' and follow her,
smiling, while James looked annoyed.
'Never mind, Jem,' said Louis, who had thrown himself at full length
on the sofa, 'she deserves compensation. Let it fizz.'
'And undo everything! What do you say to that, Mary?'
'Mary is to say nothing,' said Louis, 'I mean that poor child to have
'I shall leave you and James to settle that,' said Mary, quitting
'I am very anxious that Clara should form a friendship with Mary,'
said James, gravely.
'Friendships can't be crammed down people's throats,' said Louis, in
a weary indifferent tone.
'You who have been three months with Mary--!'
'Mary and I did not meet with labels round our necks that here were a
pair of friends. Pray do you mean to send that victim of yours back
'Don't set her against it. I have been telling her of the necessity
all the way home.'
'Is it not to be taken into consideration that a bad--not to say a
base-style of girl seems to prevail there?'
'I can't help it, Fitzjocelyn,' cried Jem, ruffling up his hair, as
he always did when vexed. 'Girls fit to be her companions don't go
to school--or to no school within my means. This place has sound
superiors, and she _must_ be provided with a marketable stock of
accomplishments, so there's no choice. I can trust her not to forget
that she is a Dynevor.'
'Query as to the benefit of that recollection.'
'What do you mean?'
'That I never saw evils lessened by private self-exaltation.'
'Very philosophical! but as a matter of fact, what was it but the
sense of my birth that kept me out of all the mischief I was exposed
to at the Grammar School!'
'I always thought it had been something more respectable,' said
Louis, his voice growing more sleepy.
'Pshaw! Primary motives being understood, secondary stand common
wear the best.'
'As long as they don't eat into the primary.'
'The long and short of it is,' exclaimed James, impatiently, 'that we
must have no nonsense about Clara. It is pain enough to me to
inflict all this on her, but I would not do it, if I thought it were
more than mere discomfort. Her principles are fixed, she is above
these trumperies. But you have the sense to see that her whole
welfare may depend on whether she gets fitted to be a valuable
accomplished governess or a mere bonne, tossed about among nursery-
maids. There's where poverty galls! Don't go and set my grandmother
on! If she grew wretched and took Clara away, it would be mere
condemning of her to rudeness and struggling!'
'Very well,' said Louis, as James concluded the brief sentences,
uttered in the bitterness of his heart, 'one bargain I make. If I am
to hold my tongue about school, I will have my own way with her in
'I tell you, Louis, that it is time to have done with childishness.
Clara is growing up--I _won't_ have you encourage her in all that
wild flightiness--I didn't want to have had her here at all! If she
is ever to be a reasonable, conformable woman, it is high time to
begin. I can't have you undoing the work of six months! when Mary
might make some hand of her, too--'
James stopped. Louis's eyes were shut, and he appeared to be
completely asleep. If silence were acquiescence, it was at least
gained; and so he went away, and on returning, intended to impress
his lessons of reserve on Clara and her grandmother, but was
prevented by finding Mrs. Ponsonby and her daughter already in the
library, consulting over some letters, while Clara sat at her
grandmother's knee in the full felicity of hearing all the Northwold
The tea was brought in, and there was an inquiry for Louis. He came
slowly forward from the sofa at the dark end of the room, but
disclaimed, of course, the accusation of fatigue.
'A very bad sign,' said James, 'that you have been there all this
time without our finding it out. Decidedly, you have taken me in.
You don't look half as well as you promised. You are not the same
colour ten minutes together, just now white, and now--how you
'Don't, Jem!' cried Louis, as each observation renewed the tide of
burning crimson in his cheek. 'It is like whistling to a turkey-
cock. If I had but the blue variety, it might be more comfortable,
as well as more interesting.'
Clara went into a choking paroxysm of laughter, which her brother
tried to moderate by a look, and Louis rendered more convulsive by
'Marked you his cheek of heavenly blue,'
and looked with a mischievous amusement at James's ill-suppressed
displeasure at the merriment that knew no bounds, till even Mrs.
Frost, who had laughed at first as much at James's distress as at
Louis's travestie or Clara's fun, thought it time to check it by
saying, 'You are right, Jem, he is not half so strong as he thinks
himself. You must keep him in good order.'
'Take care, Aunt Kitty,' said Louis; 'you'll make me restive. A
tutor and governess both! I appeal! Shall we endure it, Clara?'
'Britons never shall be slaves!' was the eager response.
'Worthy of the daughter of the Pendragons,' said Louis; 'but it lost
half its effect from being stifled with laughing. You should command
yourself, Clara, when you utter a sentiment. I beg to repeat Miss
Frost Dynevor's novel and striking speech, and declare my adhesion,
'Britons never shall be slaves!' Liberty, fraternity, and equality!
'You ungrateful boy!' said Mrs. Frost; 'that's the way you use your
'Only the way the nineteenth century treats all its good
governesses,' said Louis.
'When it gets past them,' said Mary, smiling. 'I hope you did not
think I was not ready to give you up to your tutor?'
Mary found the renunciation more complete than perhaps she had
expected. The return of his cousins had made Fitzjocelyn a different
creature. He did indeed read with James for two hours every morning,
but this was his whole concession to discipline; otherwise he was
more wayward and desultory than ever, and seemed bent on teazing
James, and amusing himself by making Clara extravagantly wild and
idle. Tired of his long confinement, he threw off all prudence with
regard to health, as well as all struggle with his volatile habits;
and the more he was scolded, the more he seemed to delight in making
meekly ridiculous answers and going his own way. Sometimes he and
Clara would make an appointment, at some unearthly hour, to see Mrs.
Morris make cheese, or to find the sun-dew blossom open, or to sketch
some effect of morning sun. Louis would afterwards be tired and
unhinged the whole day, but never convinced, only capable of
promoting Clara's chatter; and ready the next day to stand about with
her in the sun at the cottages, to the increase of her freckles, and
the detriment of his ankle. Their frolics would have been more
comprehensible had she been more attractive; but her boisterous
spirits were not engaging to any one but Louis, who seemed to enjoy
them in proportion to her brother's annoyance, and to let himself
down into nearly equal folly.
He gave some slight explanation to Mary, one day when he had been
reminded of one of their former occupations--'Ah! I have no time for
that now. You see there's nobody else to protect that poor Giraffe
from being too rational.'
'Is that her great danger?' said Mary.
'Take my advice, Mary, let her alone. Follow your own judgment, and
not poor Jem's fidgets. He wants to be 'father, mother both, and
uncle, all in one,' and so he misses his natural vocation of elder
brother. He wants to make a woman of her before her time; and now he
has his way with her at school, he shall let her have a little
compensation at home.'
'Is this good for her? Is it the only way she can be happy?'
'It is her way, at least; and if you knew the penance she undergoes
at school, you would not grudge it to her. She is under his orders
not to disclose the secrets of her prison-house, lest they should
disquiet Aunt Catharine; and she will not turn to you, because--I beg
your pardon, Mary--she has imbibed a distrust of all school-girls;
and besides, Jem has gone and insisted on your being her friend more
than human nature can stand.'
'It is a great pity,' said Mary, smiling, but grieved; 'I should not
have been able to do her much good--but if I could only try!'
'I'll tell you,' said Louis, coming near, with a look between
confidence and embarrassment; 'is it in the power of woman to make
her dress look rather more like other people's without inflaming the
blood of the Dynevors--cautiously, you know? Even my father does not
dare to give her half-a-sovereign for pocket-money; but do ask your
mother if she could not be made such that those girls should not make
her their laughingstock.'
'You don't mean it!'
'Aye, I do; and she has not even told James, lest he should wish to
spend more upon her. She glories in it, but that is hardly
'Then she told you?'
'Oh, yes! We always were brothers! It is great fun to have her
here! I always wished it, and I'm glad it has come before they have
made her get out of the boy. He will be father to the woman some
day; and that will be soon enough, without teasing her.'
Mary wished to ask whether all this were for Clara's good, but she
could not very well put such a question to him; and, after all, it
was noticeable that, noisy and unguarded as Clara's chatter was,
there never was anything that in itself should not have been said:
though her manner with Louis was unceremonious, it was never
flirting; and refinement of mind was as evident in her rough-and-
ready manner as in his high-bred quietness. This seemed to account
for Mrs. Frost's non-interference, which at first amazed her niece;
but Aunt Catharine's element was chiefly with boys, and her love for
Clara, though very great, showed itself chiefly in still regarding
her as a mere child, petting her to atone for the privations of
school, and while she might assent to the propriety of James's
restrictions, always laughing or looking aside when they were eluded.
James argued and remonstrated. He said a great deal, always had the
advantage in vehemence, and appeared to reduce Louis to a condition
of quaint debonnaire indifference; and warfare seemed the normal
state of the cousins, the one fiery and sensitive, the other cool and
impassive, and yet as appropriate to each other as the pepper and the
cucumber, to borrow a bon mot from their neighbour, Sydney Calcott.
If Jem came to Mary brimful of annoyance with Louis's folly, a mild
word of assent was sufficient to make him turn round and do battle
with the imaginary enemy who was always depreciating Fitzjocelyn. To
make up for Clara's avoidance of Mary, he rendered her his prime
counsellor, and many an hour was spent in pacing up and down the
garden in the summer twilight; while she did her best to pacify him
by suggesting that thorough relaxation would give spirits and
patience for Clara's next half year, and that it might be wiser not
to overstrain his own undefined authority, while the lawful power,
Aunt Catharine, did not interfere. Surely she might safely be
trusted to watch over her own granddaughter; and while Clara was so
perfectly simple, and Louis such as he was, more evil than good might
result from inculcating reserve. At any rate, it was hard to meddle
with the poor child's few weeks of happiness, and to this James
always agreed; and then he came the next day to relieve himself by
fighting the battle over again. So constantly did this occur, that
Aunt Kitty, in her love of mischief, whispered to Mrs. Ponsonby that
she only hoped the two viziers would not quarrel about the three
thousand sequins, three landed estates, and three slaves.
Still, Louis's desertion had left unoccupied so many of the hours of
Mary's time that he had previously absorbed, that her mother watched
anxiously to see whether she would feel the blank. But she treated
it as a matter of course. She had attended to her cousin when he
needed her, and now that he had regained his former companion, Clara,
she resigned him without effort or mortification, as far as could be
seen. She was forced to fall back on other duties, furnishing the
house, working for every one, and reading some books that Louis had
brought before her. The impulse of self-improvement had not expired
with his attention, and without any shadow of pique she was always
ready to play the friend and elder sister whenever he needed her, and
to be grateful when he shared her interests or pursuits. So the
world went till Lord Ormersfield's return caused Clara's noise to
subside so entirely, that her brother was sufficiently at ease to be
exceedingly vivacious and entertaining, and Mrs. Ponsonby hoped for a
great improvement in the state of affairs.
THE BETTER PART OF VALOUR.
For who is he, whose chin is but enriched
With one appearing hair, that will not follow
These culled and choice-drawn cavaliers 'gainst France?
Work, work your thoughts, and therein see a siege.
King Henry V.
The next forenoon, Mary met James in the park, wandering in search of
his pupil, whom he had not seen since they had finished their
morning's work in the study. Some wild freak with Clara was
apprehended, but while they were conferring, Mary exclaimed, 'What's
that?' as a clatter and clank met her ear.
'Only the men going out to join old Brewster's ridiculous yeomanry,'
'Oh, I should like to see them,' cried Mary, running to the top of a
bank, whence she could see into the hollow road leading from the
stables to the lodge. Four horsemen, the sun glancing on their
helmets, were descending the road, and a fifth, at some distance
ahead, was nearly out of sight. 'Ah,' she said, 'Louis must have
been seeing them off. How disappointed he must be not to go!'
'I wish I was sure--' said James, with a start. 'I declare his folly
is capable of anything! Why did I not think of it sooner?'
Clara here rushed upon them with her cameleopard gallop, sending her
voice before her, 'Can you see them?'
'Scarcely,' said Mary, making room for her.
'Where's Louis'!' hastily demanded her brother.
'Gone to the yeomanry meeting,' said Clara, looking in their faces in
the exultation of producing a sensation.
James was setting off with a run to intercept him, but it was too
late; and Clara loudly laughed as she said, 'You can't catch him.'
'I've done with him!' cried James. 'Can madness go further?'
'James! I am ashamed of you,' cried the Giraffe, with great
stateliness. 'Here are the enemy threatening our coasts, and our
towns full of disaffection and sedition; and when our yeomanry are
lukewarm enough to go off grouse-shooting instead of attending to
their duty, what is to become of the whole country if somebody does
not make an exertion? The tranquillity of all England may depend on
the face our yeomanry show.'
'On Lieutenant Fitzjocelyn's yellow moustache! Pray how long have
you been in the secret of these heroic intentions?'
'Ever since I came home.'
'We all knew that he meant to go out if he could,' said Mary, in a
tone calculated to soothe Jem, and diminish Clara's glory in being
sole confidante, 'but we did not think him well enough. I hope it
will do him no harm.'
'Exertions in a good cause can do no harm!' boldly declared Clara;
then, with sudden loss of confidence, 'do you really think it will?'
'Just cripple him for life,' said James.
'Mr. Walby wished him not to attempt riding,' said Mary. 'He thinks
any strain on the ankle just now might hurt him very much; but it may
be over caution.'
'Mr. Walby is an old woman,' said Clara. 'Now, Jem, you said so
yourself. Besides, it is all for his duty! Of course, he would risk
anything for the good of his country.'
'Don't say another word, Clara,' exclaimed James, 'or you will drive
me distracted with your folly. One grain of sense, and even you
would have stopped it; but neither you nor he could miss a chance of
his figuring in that masquerade dress! Look at the sun, exactly like
a red-hot oven! We shall have him come home as ill as ever!'
Clara had another milder and more sorrowful version of the scolding
from her grandmother, but Lord Ormersfield escaped the day's anxiety
by being so busy with Richardson, that he never emerged from the
study, and did not miss his son.
It was an exceedingly sultry day, and the hopeful trusted that Louis
would be forced to give in, before much harm could be done; but it
was not till five o'clock that the hoofs were heard on the gravel;
and Jem went out to revenge himself with irony for his uneasiness.
'I hope you are satisfied,' he said, 'dulce est pro patria mori.'
Louis was slowly dismounting, and as he touched the ground gave a
slight cry of pain, and caught at the servant's arm for support.
'No more than I expected,' said James, coming to help him; and at the
same moment Lord Ormersfield was heard exclaiming--
'Fitzjocelyn--! what imprudence!'
'Take care,' hastily interrupted James, finding Louis leaning
helplessly against him, unable to speak or stand, and his flushed
cheek rapidly changing to deadly white.
They lifted him up the steps into the hall, where he signed to be
laid down on the seat of the cool north window, and trying to smile,
said 'it was only the hot sun, and his foot aching _rather_; it would
soon go off.' And when, with much pain and difficulty, Frampton had
released his swollen foot from the regulation-boot, into which he had
foolishly thrust it, he went on more fluently. 'He had thought it
his duty, especially when Mr. Shaw, the captain of his troop, had
chosen to go away--he had believed it could do no harm--he was sure
it was only a little present discomfort, and in the present crisis--'
He addressed his aunt, but his eyes were on his father; and when he
heard not a single word from him, he suddenly ceased, and presently,
laying his head down on the window-sill, he begged that no one would
stand and watch him, he should come into the library in a few
The few minutes lasted, however, till near dinnertime, when he called
to Mary, as she was coming downstairs, and asked her to help him into
the library; he could remain no longer exposed to Frampton's pity, as
dinner went in.
He dragged himself along with more difficulty than he had found for
weeks, and sank down on the sofa with a sigh of exhaustion; while
Clara, who was alone in the room, reared herself up from an easy-
chair, where she had been sitting in an attitude that would have been
despair to her mistress.
'Ha, Clara!' said Louis, presently; 'you look as if you had been the
object of invective?'
'I don't care,' exclaimed Clara, 'I know you were in the good old
'Conde at Jarnac, Charles XII. at Pultowa--which?' said Louis. 'I
thought of both myself--only, unluckily, I made such frightful
blunders. I was thankful to my men for bringing me off, like other
'Oh, Louis! but at least you were in your place--you set the
'Unluckily, these things descend from the sublime to the other thing,
when one is done up, and beginning to doubt whether self-will cannot
sometimes wear a mask.'
'I'm sure they are all quite cross enough to you already, without
your being cross to yourself.'
'An ingenious and elegant impersonal,' said Louis.
Clara rushed out into the garden to tell the stiff old rose-trees
that if Lord Ormersfield were savage now, he would be more horrid
Meanwhile, Louis drew a long sigh, murmuring, 'Have I gone and vexed
him again? Mary, have I been very silly?'
The half-piteous doubt and compunction had something childish, which
made her smile as she answered: 'You had better have done as you were
'The surest road to silliness,' said Louis, whose tendency was to
moralize the more, the more tired he was, 'is to think one is going
to do something fine! It is dismal work to come out at the other end
of an illusion.'
'With a foot aching as, I am afraid, yours does.'
'I should not mind that, but that I made such horrid mistakes!'
These weighed upon his mind so much, that he went on, half aloud,
rehearsing the manoeuvres and orders in which he had failed, from the
difficulty of taking the command of his troop for the first time,
when bewildered with pain and discomfort. The others came in, and
James looked rabid; Louis stole a glance now and then at his father,
who preserved a grave silence, while Clara stood aloof, comparing the
prostrate figure in blue and silver to all the wounded knights in
history or fiction.
He was past going in to dinner, and the party were 'civil and
melancholy,' Mrs. Frost casting beseeching looks at her grandson, who
sat visibly chafing at the gloom that rested on the Earl's brow, and
which increased at each message of refusal of everything but iced
water. At last Mrs. Frost carried off some grapes from the dessert
to tempt him, and as she passed through the open window--her readiest
way to the library--the Earl's thanks concluded with a disconsolate
murmur 'quite ill,' and 'abominable folly;' a mere soliloquy and
nearly inaudible, but sufficient spark to produce the explosion.
'Fitzjocelyn's motives deserve no such name as folly,' James cried,
with stammering eagerness.
'I know you did not encourage him,' said Lord Ormersfield.
'I did,' said a young, clear voice, raised in alarm at her own
boldness; 'Jem knew nothing of it, but I thought it right.'
Lord Ormersfield made a little courteous inclination with his head,
which annihilated Clara upon the spot.
'I doubt whether I should have done right in striving to prevent
him,' said James. 'Who can appreciate the moral effect of heroism?'
'Heroism in the cause of a silver jacket!'
'Now, that is the most unfair thing in the world!' cried James,
always most violent when he launched out with his majestic cousin.
'There is not a man living more careless of his appearance. You do
him justice, Mrs. Ponsonby?'
'Yes, I do not believe that vanity had anything to do with it. A man
who would bear what he has done to-day would do far more.'
'If it had been for any reasonable cause,' said the Earl.
'You may not understand it, Lord Ormersfield,' exclaimed James, 'but
I do. In these times of disaffection, a sound heart, and whole
spirit, in our volunteer corps may be the saving of the country; and
who can tell what may be the benefit of such an exhibition of self-
sacrificing zeal. The time demands every man's utmost, and neither
risk nor suffering can make him flinch from his duty.'
'My dear Jem,' said a voice behind him at the window, 'I never see my
follies so plainly as when you are defending them. Come and help me
up stairs; Granny is ordering me up; a night's rest will set all
It was not a night's rest, neither did it set things smooth. In vain
did Louis assume a sprightly countenance, and hold his head and
shoulders erect and stately; there was no concealing that he was very
pale, and winced at every step. His ankle had been much hurt by the
pressure of the stirrup, and he was not strong enough to bear with
impunity severe pain, exertion, and fatigue on a burning summer day.
It was evident that his recovery had been thrown back for weeks.
His father made no reproaches, but was grievously disappointed. His
exaggerated estimate of his son's discretion had given place to a no
less misplaced despondency, quite inaccessible to Mrs. Ponsonby's
consolations as to the spirit that had prompted the performance. He
could have better understood a youth being unable to forego the
exhibition of a handsome person and dress, than imagine that any one
of moderate sense could either expect the invasion, or use these
means of averting it. If imagination was to be allowed for, so much
the worse. A certain resemblance to the childish wilfulness with
which his wife had trifled with her health, occurred to him,
increasing his vexation by gloomy shadows of the past.
His silent mortification and kind anxiety went to his son's heart.
Louis was no less disappointed in himself, in finding his own
judgment as untrustworthy as ever, since the exploit that had been a
perpetual feast to his chivalrous fancy had turned out a mere piece
of self-willed imprudence, destroying all the newly-bestowed and
highly-valued good opinion of his father; and even in itself,
incompetently executed. 'He had made a fool of himself every way.'
That had been James's first dictum, and he adopted it from
In the course of the day, goodnatured, fat Sir Gilbert Brewster, the
colonel of the yeomanry, who had been seriously uneasy at his looks,
and had tried to send him home, rode over to inquire for him,
complimenting him on being 'thorough game to the last.' Louis
relieved his mind by apologies for his blunders, whereupon he learnt
that his good colonel had never discovered them, and now only laughed
at them, and declared that they were mere trifles to what the whole
corps, officers and men, committed whenever they met, and no one
cared except one old sergeant who had been in the Light Dragoons.
Louis's very repentance for them was another piece of absurdity. He
smiled, indeed, but seemed to give himself up as a hopeless subject.
His spirits flagged as they had not done throughout his illness, and,
unwell, languid, and depressed, he spent his days without an attempt
to rally. He was only too conscious of his own inconsistency, but he
had not energy enough to resume any of the habits that Mary had so
diligently nursed, neglected even his cottage-building, would not
trouble himself to consider the carpenter's questions, forgot
messages, put off engagements, and seemed to have only just vigour
enough to be desultory, tease James, and spoil Clara.
Lord Ormersfield became alarmed, and called in doctors, who
recommended sea air, and James suggested a secluded village on the
Yorkshire coast, where some friends had been reading in the last long
vacation. This was to be the break-up of the party; Mrs. Frost and
the two Marys would resort to Dynevor Terrace, Clara would return to
school, and James undertook the charge of Louis, who took such
exceedingly little heed to the arrangements, that Jem indignantly
told him that he cared neither for himself nor anybody else.