Part 1 out of 7
prepared by Sandra Laythorpe. A web page for Charlotte M Yonge
can be found at www.menorot.com/cmyonge.htm.
One single flash of glad surprise
Just glanced from Isabel's dark eyes,
Then vanished in the blush of shame
That as its penance instant came--
'O thought unworthy of my race!'
The Lord of the Isles.
As little recked Fitzjocelyn of the murmurs which he had provoked, as
he guessed the true secret of his victory. In his eyes, it was the
triumph of merit over prejudice, and Mrs. Frost espoused the same
gratifying view, though ascribing much to her nephew's activity, and
James himself, flushed with hope and success, was not likely to
Next they had to make their conquest available. Apart from Louis's
magnificent prognostications, at the lowest computation, the head
master's income amounted to a sum which to James appeared affluence;
and though there was no house provided, it mattered the less since
there were five to choose from in the Terrace, even if his
grandmother had not wished that their household should be still the
same. With Miss Conway's own fortune and the Terrace settled on
herself, where could be any risk?
Would Lady Conway think so? and how should the communication be made?
James at first proposed writing to her, enclosing a letter to Isabel;
but he changed his mind, unable to satisfy himself that, when absent
from restraint, she might not send a refusal without affording her
daughter the option. He begged his grandmother to write to Isabel;
but she thought her letter might carry too much weight, and, whatever
might be her hopes, it was not for her to tell the young lady that
such means were sufficient.
Louis begged to be the bearer of the letter. His aunt would
certainly keep terms with him, and he could insure that the case was
properly laid before Isabel; and, as there could be no doubt at
present of his persuasive powers, James caught at the offer. The
party were still at Beauchastel, and he devised going to his old
quarters at Ebbscreek, and making a descent upon them from thence.
When he came to take up his credentials, he found James and his
little black leathern bag, determined to come at least to Ebbscreek
with him, and declaring it made him frantic to stay at home and leave
his cause in other hands, and that he could not exist anywhere but
close to the scene of action.
Captain Hannaford was smoking in his demi-boat, and gave his former
lodgers a hearty welcome, but he twinkled knowingly with his eye, and
so significantly volunteered to inform them that the ladies were
still at Beauchastel, that James's wrath at the old skipper's
impudence began to revive, and he walked off to the remotest end of
The Captain, remaining with Louis, with whom he was always on far
more easy terms, looked after the other gentleman, winked again, and
confessed that he had suspected one or other of them might be coming
that way this summer, though he could not say he had expected to see
them both together.
'Mind, Captain,' said Louis,' it wasn't _I_ that made the boat late
this time last year.'
'Well! I might be wrong, I fancied you cast an eye that way. Then
maybe it ain't true what's all over the place here.'
Louis pressed to hear what. 'Why, that when the French were going on
like Robert Spear and them old times, he had convoyed the young lady
right through the midst of them, and they would both have been shot,
if my Lady's butler hadn't come down with a revolver, killed half-a-
dozen of the mob, and rescued them out of it, but that Lord
Fitzjocelyn had been desperately wounded in going back to fetch her
bracelet, and Mr. Delaford had carried him out in his arms.'
'Well!' said Louis, coolly, without altering a muscle of his face, as
the Captain looked for an angry negative.
'And when they got home,--so the story went,--Mr. Frost, the tutor,
was so mad with jealousy and rage, that my Lady declared those
moorings would not suit her no longer, but had let go, and laid her
head right for Beauchastel.'
'Pray what was the young lady supposed to think of the matter?'
'Stories appeared to vary. One version said that Mr. Delaford had
found him on his knees to her; and that my Lady had snatched her
cruelly away, because she would not have her married before her own
daughters, and looked over all the post, for fear there should be a
letter for her. Another declared that Miss Conway would not have him
at any price, and was set upon the poor tutor, and that he was lying
dangerously ill of a low fever. --The women will have it so,'
observed the Captain, 'the story's everywhere, except maybe in the
parlour at Beauchastel, and I wouldn't wonder if Mrs. Mansell knew it
all herself, for her maid has a tongue a yard long. I won't say but
I thought there might be some grain of truth at the bottom--'
'And you shall hear it by-and-by, when I know what it is myself.'
'I'd not say I would have believed it the more if that fine gentleman
had taken his oath of it--a fellow that ain't to be trusted,'
observed the Captain.
This might have led to a revelation, if Louis had had time to attend
to it; but he had pity on James's impatient misery, and proceeded to
ask the loan of the boat. The tide would not, however, serve; and as
waiting till it would was not to be endured, the two cousins set off
to walk together through the woods, Louis beguiling the way by
chaffing James, as far as he would bear, with the idea of Isabel's
name being trifled with by the profane crowd.
He left James at the gate of the park, prowling about like a panther
to try for a glimpse of Isabel's window, and feeding his despair and
jealousy that Louis should boldly walk up to the door, while he, with
so much better a right, was excluded by his unguarded promise to Lady
All the tumultuary emotions of his mind were endlessly repeated, and
many a slow and pealing note of the church-clock had added fuel to
his impatience, and spurred him to rush up to the door and claim his
rights, before Louis came bounding past the lodge-gates, flourishing
his cap, and crying, 'Hurrah, Jem! All right!'
'I'm going to her at once!' cried Jem, beginning to rush off; but
Louis caught and imprisoned his arm.
'Not so fast, sir! You are to see her. I promise you shall see her
if you wish it, but it must be in my aunt's way.'
'Let me go, I say!'
'When I have walked five miles in your service, you won't afford me
an arm to help me back. I am not a horse with wings, and I won't be
Cupid's post except on my own terms. Come back.'
'I don't stir till I have heard the state of the case.'
'Yes, you do; for all the sportsmen will be coming home, and my aunt
would not for all the world that Mr. Mansell caught you on the
'How can you give in to such shuffling nonsense! If I am to claim
Isabel openly, why am I not to visit her openly? You have yielded to
that woman's crooked policy. I don't trust you!'
'When you are her son, you may manage her as you please. Just now
she has us in her power, and can impose conditions. Come on; and if
you are good, you shall hear.'
Drawing James along with him through the beechwood glades, he began,
'You would have been more insane still if you had guessed at my luck.
I found Isabel alone. Mrs. Mansell had taken the girls to some
juvenile fete, and Delaford was discreet enough not to rouse my aunt
from her letters. I augured well from the happy conjunction.'
'Go on; don't waste time in stuff.'
'Barkis is willing, then. Is that enough to the point?'
'Fitzjocelyn, you never had any feelings yourself, and therefore you
trifle with those of others.'
'I beg your pardon. It was a shame! Jem, you may be proud. She
trusts you completely, and whatever you think sufficient, she regards
'Like her! Only too like her. Such confidence makes one feel a
'I thought I had found something at which you could not grumble.'
'How does she look? How do they treat her?'
'Apparently they have not yet fed her on bread and water. No;
seriously, I must confess that she looked uncommonly well and lovely!
Never mind, Jem; I verily believe that, in spite of absence and all
that, she had never been so happy in her life. If any description
could convey the sweetness of voice and manner when she spoke of you!
I could not look in her face. Those looks can only be for you. We
talked it over, but she heeded no ways and means; it was enough that
you were satisfied. She says the subject has never been broached
since the flight from Northwold, and that Lady Conway's kindness
never varies; and she told me she had little fear but that her dear
mamma would be prevailed on to give sanction enough to hinder her
from feeling as if she were doing wrong, or setting a bad example to
her sisters. They know nothing of it; but Walter, who learnt it no
one knows how, draws the exemplary moral, that it serves his mother
right for inflicting a tutor on him.'
'Has she had my letter? Does she know I am here?'
'Wait! All this settled, and luncheon being ready, down came my
Lady, and we played unconsciousness to our best ability. I must
confess my aunt beat us hollow! Isabel then left us to our
conference, which we conducted with the gravity of a tailor and an
old woman making a match in Brittany.'
'You came out with that valuable improvable freehold, the Terrace, I
'I told the mere facts! My aunt was rather grand about a grammar-
school; she said even a curacy would sound better, and she must talk
it over with Isabel. I gave your letter, conjuring her to let Isabel
have it, and though she declared that it was no kindness, and would
put the poor darling into needless perplexity, she was touched with
my forbearance, in not having given it before, when I had such an
opportunity. So she went away, and stayed a weary while: but when
she came, it was worth the waiting. She said Isabel was old enough
to know her own mind, and the attachment being so strong, and you so
unexceptionable, she did not think it possible to object: she had
great delight in seeing you made happy, and fulfilling the dictates
of her own heart, now that it could be done with moderate prudence.
They go to Scarborough in a fortnight, and you will be welcome there.
There's for you!'
'Louis, you are the best fellow living! But you said I was to see
her at once.'
'I asked, why wait for Scarborough?' and depicted you hovering
disconsolately round the precincts. Never mind, Jem, I did not make
you more ridiculous than human nature must needs paint a lover, and
it was all to melt her heart. I was starting off to fetch you, when
I found she was in great terror. She had never told the Mansells of
the matter, and they must be prepared. She cannot have it transpire
while she is in their house, and, in fact, is excessively afraid of
Mr. Mansell, and wants to tell her story by letter. Now, I think,
considering all things, she has a right to take her own way.'
'You said I was not to go without meeting her!'
'I had assented, and was devising how to march off my lunatic
quietly, when the feminine goodnatured heart that is in her began to
relent, and she looked up in my face with a smile, and said the poor
dears were really exemplary, and if Isabel should walk to the beach
and should meet any one there, she need know nothing about it.'
'What says Isabel?'
'She held up her stately head, and thought it would be a better
return for Mr. Mansell's kindness to tell him herself before leaving
Beauchastel; but Lady Conway entreated her not to be hasty, and
protested that her fears were of Mr. Mansell's displeasure with her
for not having taken better care of her--she dreaded a break, and so
on,--till the end of it was, that though we agree that prudence would
carry us off to-morrow morning, yet her ladyship will look the other
way, if you happen to be on the southern beach at eleven o'clock to-
morrow morning. I suppose you were very headlong and peremptory in
your note, for I could not imagine Isabel consenting to a secret
tryste even so authorized.'
'I never asked for any such thing! I would not for worlds see her
led to do anything underhand.'
'She will honour you! That's right, Jem!'
'Neither as a clergyman, nor as a Dynevor, can I consent to trick
even those who have no claim to her duty!'
'Neither as a gentleman, nor as a human creature,' added Louis, in
the same tone. 'Shall I go back and give your answer?'
'No; you are walking lame enough already.'
'No matter for that.'
'To tell you the truth, I can't stand your being with her again,
while I am made a fool of by that woman. If I'm not to see her, I'll
be off. I'll send her a note; we will cross to Bickleypool, and
start by the mail-train this very night.'
Louis made no objection, and James hurried him into the little
parlour, where in ten minutes the note was dashed off:--
My Own Most Precious One!--(as, thanks to my most unselfish of
cousins, I may dare to call you,)--I regret my fervency and urgency
for an interview, since it led you to think I could purchase even
such happiness by a subterfuge unworthy of my calling, and an ill
return of the hospitality to which we owed our first meeting. We
will meet when I claim you in the face of day, without the sense of
stolen felicity, which is a charm to common-place minds. My glory is
in the assurance that you understand my letter, approve, and are
relieved. With such sanction, and with ardour before you like mine,
I see that you could do no other than consent, and there is not a
shadow of censure in my mind; but if, without compromising your sense
of obedience, you could openly avow our engagement to Mr. Mansell, I
own that I should feel that we were not drawn into a compromise of
sincerity. What this costs me I will not say; it will be bare
existence till we meet at Scarborough.
'Your own, J. E. F. D.'
Having written this and deposited it in the Ebbscreek post-office,
James bethought himself that his submissive cousin had thrown himself
on the floor, with his bag for a pillow, trying to make the most of
the few moments of rest before the midnight journey. Seized with
compunction, James exclaimed, 'There, old fellow, we will stay to-
'Thank you--' He was too sleepy for more.
The delay was recompensed. James was trying to persuade Louis to
rouse himself to be revived by bread-and-cheese and beer, and could
extort nothing but a drowsy repetition of the rhyme, in old days the
war-cry of the Grammar-school against the present headmaster,--
'The Welshman had liked to be choked by a mouse,
But he pulled him out by the tail,'--
when an alarum came in the shape of a little grinning boy from
Beauchastel, with a note on which James had nearly laid hands, as he
saw the writing, though the address was to the Viscount Fitzjocelyn.
'You may have it,' said Louis. 'If anything were wanting, the
coincidence proves that you were cut out for one another. I rejoice
that the moon does not stoop from her sphere.'
'My Dear Cousin,--I trust to you to prevent Mr. F. Dynevor from being
hurt or disappointed; and, indeed, I scarcely think he will, though I
should not avail myself of the permission for meeting him so kindly
intended. I saw at once that you felt as I did, and as I know he
will. He would not like me to have cause to blush before my kind
friends--to know that I had acted a deceit, nor to set an example to
my sisters for which they might not understand the justification. I
know that you will obtain my pardon, if needed; and to be assured of
it, would be all that would be required to complete the grateful
The boy had orders not to wait; and these being seconded by fears of
something that 'walked' in Ebbscreek wood after dark, he was gone
before an answer could be thought of. It mattered the less, since
Isabel must receive James's note early in the morning; and so, in
fact, she did--and she was blushing over it, and feeling as if she
could never have borne to meet his eye but for the part she had
fortunately taken, when Louisa tapped at her door, with a message
that Mr. Mansell wished to speak with her, if she were ready.
She went down-stairs still in a glow; and her old friend's first
words were a compliment on her roses, so pointed, that she doubted
for a moment whether he did not think them suspicious, especially as
he put his hands behind his back, and paced up and down the room, for
some moments. He then came towards her, and said, in a very kind
tone, 'Isabel, my dear, I sent for you first, because I knew your own
mother very well, my dear; and though Lady Conway is very kind, and
has always done you justice,--that I will always say for her,--yet
there are times when it may make a difference to a young woman
whether she has her own mother or not.'
Isabel's heart was beating. She was certain that some discovery had
been made, and longed to explain; but she was wise enough not to
speak in haste, and waited to see how the old gentleman would finally
break it to her. He blundered on a little longer, becoming more
confused and distressed every minute, and at last came to the point
abruptly. 'In short, Isabel, my dear, what can you have done to set
people saying that you have been corresponding with the young men at
'I sent a note to my cousin Fitzjocelyn last night,' said Isabel,
with such calmness, that the old gentleman fairly stood with his
mouth open, looking at her aghast.
'Fitzjocelyn! Then it is Fitzjocelyn, is it?' he exclaimed. 'Then,
why could he not set about it openly and honourably? Does his father
object? I would not have thought it of you, Isabel, nor of the lad
'You need not think it, dear Mr. Mansell. There is nothing between
Lord Fitzjocelyn and myself but the warmest friendship.'
'Isabel! Isabel! why are you making mysteries? I do not wish to pry
into your affairs. I would have trusted you anywhere; but when it
comes round to me that you have been sending a private messenger to
one of the young gentlemen there, I don't know what to be at! I
would not believe Mrs. Mansell at first; but I saw the boy, and he
said you had sent him yourself. My dear, you may mean, very rightly
-I am sure you do, but you must not set people talking! It is not
acting rightly by me, Isabel; but I would not care for that, if it
were acting rightly by yourself.' And he gazed at her with a
piteous, perplexed expression.
'Let me call mamma,' said Isabel.
'As you will, my dear, but cannot you let the simple truth come out
between you and your own blood-relation, without all her words to
come between? Can't you, Isabel? I am sure you and I shall
understand each other.'
'That we shall,' replied Isabel, warmly. 'I have given her no
promise. Dear Mr. Mansell, I have wished all along that you should
know that I am engaged, with her full consent, to Mr. Frost Dynevor.'
'To the little black tutor!' cried Mr. Mansell, recoiling, but
recollecting himself. 'I beg your pardon, my dear, he may be a very
good man, but what becomes of all this scrambling over barricades
with the young Lord?'
Isabel described the true history of her engagement; and it was
received with a long, low whistle, by no means too complimentary.
'And what makes him come and hide in holes and corners, if this is
all with your mamma's good will?'
'Mamma thought you would be displeased; she insisted on taking her
own time for breaking it to you,' said Isabel.
'Was there ever a woman but must have her mystery? Well, I should
have liked him better if he had not given into it!'
'He never did!' said Isabel, indignant enough to disclose in full the
whole arrangement made by Lady Conway's manoeuvres and lax good-
nature. 'I knew it would never do,' she added, 'though I could not
say so before her and Fitzjocelyn. My note was to tell them so: and
look here, Mr. Mansell, this is what Mr. Dynevor had already written
before receiving mine.'
She held it out proudly; and Mr. Manaell, making an unwilling sound
between his teeth, took it from her; but, as he read, his countenance
changed, and he exclaimed, 'Ha! very well! This is something like!
So that's it, is it? You and he would not combine to cheat the old
man, like a pair of lovers in a trumpery novel!'
'No, indeed!' said Isabel, 'that would be a bad way of beginning.'
'Where is the young fellow?--at Ebbscreek, did you say? I'll tell
you what, Isabel,' with his hand on the bell, 'I'll have out the
dogcart this minute, and fetch him home to breakfast, to meet my Lady
when she comes down stairs, if it be only for the sake of showing
that I like plain dealing!'
'Isabel could only blush, smile, look doubtful, and yet so very happy
and grateful, that Mr. Mansell became cautious, lest his impulse
should have carried him too far, and, after having ordered the
vehicle to be prepared, he caught her by the hand, and detained her,
saying, 'Mind you, Miss, you are not to take this for over-much. I'm
afraid it is a silly business, and I did not want you to throw
yourself away on a schoolmaster. I must see and talk to the man
myself; but I won't have anything that's not open and above-board,
and that my Lady shall see for once in her life!'
'I'm not afraid,' said Isabel, smiling. 'James will make his own way
Isabel ran away to excuse and explain her confession to Lady Conway;
while Mr. Mansell indulged in another whistle, and then went to
inform his wife that he was afraid the girl had been making a fool of
herself; but it was not Lady Conway's fault that she was nothing
worse, and he was resolved, whatever he did, to show that honesty was
the only thing that would go down with him.
The boat was rocking on the green waves, and Louis was in the act of
waving an adieu to deaf Mrs. Hannaford, when a huntsman's halloo
caused James to look round and behold Mr. Mansell standing up in his
dogcart, making energetic signals with his whip.
He had meant to be very guarded, and wait to judge of James before
showing that he approved, but the excitement of the chase betrayed
him into a glow of cordiality, and he shook hands with vehemence.
'That's right!--just in time! Jump in, and come home to breakfast.
So you wouldn't be a party to my Lady's tricks!--just like her--just
as she wheedled poor Conway. I will let her see how I esteem plain
dealing! I don't say that I see my way through this business; but
we'll talk it over together, and settle matters without my Lady.'
James hardly knew where he was, between joy and surprise. The
invitation was extended to his companion; but Fitzjocelyn discerned
that both James and Mr. Mansell would prefer being left to
themselves; he had a repugnance to an immediate discussion with the
one aunt, and was in haste to carry the tidings to the other: and
besides, it was becoming possible that letters might arrive from the
travellers. Actuated by all these motives, he declined the offer of
hospitality, and rowed across to Bickleypool, enlightening the
Captain on the state of affairs as far as he desired.
THE THIRD TIME.
Tho' this was fair, and that was braw,
And you the toast of all the town,
I sighed and said, amang them a',
Ye are not Mary Morison.
Mrs. Frost and Louis were very merry over the result of Lady Conway's
stratagems, and sat up indulging in bright anticipations until so
late an hour, that Louis was compelled to relinquish his purpose of
going home that night, but he persisted in walking to Ormersfield
before breakfast, that he might satisfy himself whether there were
It was a brisk October morning, the sportsman's gun and whistle re-
echoing from the hill sides; where here and there appeared the dogs
careering along over green turnip-fields or across amber stubble.
The Little Northwold trees, in dark, sober tints of brown and purple,
hung over the grey wall, tinted by hoary lichen; and as Louis entered
the Ormersfield field paths, and plunged into his own Ferny dell, the
long grass and brackens hung over the path, weighed down with silvery
dew, and the large cavernous web of the autumnal spider was all one
thick flake of wet.
If he could not enter the ravine without thankfulness for his past
escape, neither could he forget gratitude to her who had come to his
relief from hopeless agony! He quickened his pace, in the earnest
longing for tidings, which had seized him, even to heart sickness.
It was the reaction of the ardour and excitement that had so long
possessed him. The victory had been gained--he had been obliged to
leave James to work in his own cause, and would be no longer wanted
in the same manner by his cousin. The sense of loneliness, and of
the want of an object, came strongly upon him as he walked through
the prim old solitary garden, and looked up at the dreary windows of
the house, almost reluctant to enter, as long as it was without
Mary's own serene atmosphere of sympathy and good sense, her precious
offices of love, her clear steady eyes, even in babyhood his
Was it a delusion of fancy, acting on reflections in the glass, that,
as he mounted the steps from the lawn, depicted Mary's figure through
the dining-room windows? Nay, the table was really laid for
breakfast--a female figure was actually standing over the tea-chest.
'A scene from the Vicar of Wakefield deluding me,' decided Louis,
advancing to the third window, which was open.
It was Mary Ponsonby.
'You here?--They said you were not at home!'
'He is not come down. He is as well as possible. We came at eleven
last night. I found I was not wanted,' added Mary, with a degree of
agitation, that made him conclude that she had lost her father.
One step he made to find the Earl, but too much excited to move away
or to atand still, he came towards her, wrung her hand in a more real
way than in his first bewildered surprise, and exclaimed in
transport, 'O Mary! Mary! to have you back again!' then, remembering
his inference, added, low and gravely, 'It makes me selfish--I was
not thinking of your grief.'
'Never mind,' said Mary, smiling, though her eyes overflowed, 'I must
be glad to be at home again, and such a welcome as this--'
'O Mary, Mary!' he cried, nearly beside himself, 'I have not known
what to do without you! You will believe it now, won't you?'--oh,
Mary would have been a wonderful person had she not instantly and
utterly forgotten all her conclusions from Frampton's having declared
him gone to Beauchastel for an unlimited time; but all she did was to
turn away her crimson tearful face, and reply, 'Your father would not
wish it now.'
'Then the speculations have failed? So much the better!'
'No, no! he must tell you--'
She was trying to withdraw her hand, when Lord Ormersfield opened the
door, and in the moment of his amazed 'Louis!' Mary had fled.
'What is it? oh! what is it, father? cried Louis for all greeting,
'why can she say you would not wish it now?'
'Wish it? wish what?' asked the Earl, without the intuitive
perception of the meaning of the pronoun.
'What you have always wished--Mary and me--What is the only happiness
that life can offer me!'
'If I wished it a year ago, I could only wish it the more now,' said
the Earl. 'But how is this?--I fully believed you committed to Miss
'Miss Conway! Miss Conway!' burst out Louis, in a frenzy. 'Because
Jem Frost was in love with her himself, he fancied every one else
must be the same, and now he will be married to her before Christmas,
so that's disposed of. As to my feeling for her a particle, a shred
of what I do for Mary, it was a mere fiction--a romance, an
'I do not understand you, Louis. Why did you not find this out
'Mrs. Ponsonby called it my duty to test my feelings, and I have
tested them. That one is a beautiful poet's dream. Mary is a woman,
the only woman I can ever love. Not an hour but I have felt it, and
now, father, what does she mean?'
'She means, poor girl, what only her own scrupulous delicacy could
regard as an objection, but what renders me still more desirous to
have a right to protect her. The cause of our return--'
'How? I thought her father was dead.'
'Far worse. At Valparaiso we met Robson, the confidential agent. I
learnt from him that Mr. Ponsonby had hardly waited for her mother's
death to marry a Limenian, a person whom everything pointed out as
unfit to associate with his daughter. Even Robson, cautious as he
was, said he could not undertake to recommend Miss Ponsonby to
continue her journey.'
'And this was all?' exclaimed Louis, too intent on his own views for
anything but relief.
'All? Is it not enough to set her free? She acquiesced in my
judgment that she could do no otherwise than return. She wrote to
her father, and I sent three lines to inform him that, under the
circumstances, I fulfilled my promise to her mother by taking her
home. I had nearly made her promise that, should we find you about
to form an establishment of your own, she would consider herself as
my child; but--'
'Oh, father! how shall we make her believe you care nothing for her
scruple? The wretched man! But--oh! where is she?'
'It does not amount to a scruple in her case,' deliberately resumed
the Earl. 'I always knew what Ponsonby was, and nothing from him
coldd surprise me--even such an outrage on feeling and decency.
Besides, he has effectually shut himself out of society, and degraded
himself beyond the power of interfering with you. For the rest, Mary
is already, in feeling, so entirely my child, that to have the right
to call her so has always been my fondest wish. And, Louis, the
months I have spent with her have not diminished my regard. My Mary!
she will have a happier lot than her mother!'
The end of the speech rewarded Louis for the conflict by which he had
kept himself still to listen to the beginning. Lord Ormersfield had
pity on him, and went in search of Mary; while he, remembering former
passages, felt that his father might be less startling and more
persuasive, but began to understand what James must have suffered in
committing his affairs to another.
The Earl found Mary in what had been her mother's sitting-room,
striving to brace her resolution by recalling the conversation that
had taken place there on a like occasion. But alas! how much more
the heart had now to say! How much it felt as if the only shelter or
rest in the desolate world was in the light of the blue eyes whose
tender sunshine had been on her for one instant!
Yet she began firmly--'If you please, would you be so kind as to let
me go to Aunt Melicent?'
'By-and-by, my dear, when you think fit.'
'Oh, then, at once, and without seeing any one, please!'
'Nay, Mary,' with redoubled gentleness, 'there is one who cannot let
you go without seeing him. Mary, you will not disappoint my poor boy
again. You will let him be an amendment in my scheme.'
'You have been always most kind to me, but you cannot really like
'You forget that it has been my most ardent wish from the moment I
saw you what only your mother's child could be.'
'That was before-- No, I ought not! Yours is not a family to bring
'I cannot allow you to speak thus. I knew your trials at home when
first I wished you to be my son's wife, and my opinion is unchanged,
except by my increased wish to have the first claim to you.'
'Lord Ormersfield,' said Mary, collecting herself 'only one thing.
Tell me, as if we were indifferent persons, is this a connexion such
as would do Louis any harm? I trust you to answer.'
He paced along the room, and she tried to control her trembling. He
came back and spoke: No, Mary. If he were a stranger, I should give
the same advice. Your father's own family is unexceptionable; and
those kind of things, so far off--few will ever hear of them, and no
one will attach consequence to them. If that be your only scruple,
it does you infinite credit; but I can entirely remove it. What
might be an injury to you, single, would be of comparatively little
importance to him.'
'Miss Conway,' faltered Mary, who could never remember her, when in
'A mere delusion, of our own. There was nothing in it. He calls you
the only woman who can make him happy, as I always knew you were. He
must explain all. You will come to him, my dear child.'
Mary resisted no more; he led her down stairs, and left her within
the dining-room door.
'Mary, you will now--' was all Louis said; but she let him draw her
into his arms, and she rested against his breast, as when he had come
to comfort her in the great thunderstorm in auld lang-syne. She felt
herself come at length to the shelter and repose for which her heart
had so long yearned, in spite of her efforts, and as if the world had
nothing more to offer of peace or joy.
'Oh, Mary, how I have wanted you! You believe in me now!'
'I am sure mamma would!' murmured Mary.
He could have poured forth a torrent of affection, but the suspicion
of a footstep made her start from him; and the next moment she was
herself, glowing, indeed, and half crying with happiness, but alarmed
at her own agitation, and struggling to resume her common-place
'There's your father not had a morsel of breakfast!' she exclaimed,
hurrying back to her teacups, whose ringing betrayed her trembling
hand. 'Call him, Louis.'
'Must I go?' said Louis, coming to assist in a manner that threatened
deluge and destruction.
'Oh yes, go! I shall be able to speak to you when you come back.'
He had only to go into the verandah. His father was watching at the
library window, and they wrung each other's hand in gladness beyond
Mary had seated herself in the solid stately chair, with the whole
entrenchment of tea equipage before her. They knew it signified that
she was to be unmolested; they took their places, and the Earl carved
ham, and Louis cut bread, and Mary poured out tea in the most matter-
of-fact manner, hazarding nothing beyond such questions as, 'May I
give you an egg?'
Then curiosity began to revive: Louis ventured, 'Where did you land?'
and his father made answer, 'At Liverpool, yesterday,' and how the
Custom-house had detained them, and he had, therefore, brought Mary
straight home, instead of stopping with her at Northwold, at eleven
o'clock, to disturb Mrs. Frost.
'You would have found us up,' said Louis.
'You were sleeping at the Terrace?'
'Yes, I walked here this morning.'
'Then your ankle must be pretty well,' was Mary's first contribution
to the conversation.
'Quite well for all useful purposes,' said Louis, availing himself of
the implied permission to turn towards her.
'But, Louis,' suddenly exclaimed the Earl, 'did you not tell me
something extraordinary about James Frost? Whom did you say he was
going to marry?'
Never was his love of electrifying more fully gratified! Lord
Ormersfield was surprised into an emphatic interjection, and inquiry
whether they were all gone mad.
'Not that I am aware of,' said Louis. 'Perhaps you have not heard
that Mr. Lester is going to retire, and Jem has the school?'
'Then, it must be Calcott and the trustees who are out of their
'Do you not consider it an excellent appointment?'
'It might be so some years hence,' said the Earl. 'I am afraid it
will tie him down to a aecond-rate affair, when he might be doing
better; and the choice is the last thing I should have expected from
'He opposed it. He wanted to bring in a very ordinary style of
person, from -- School, but Jem's superiority and the general esteem
for my aunt carried the day.'
'What did Ramsbotham and his set do?'
'They were better than could have been hoped; they gave us their
votes when they found their man could not get in.'
'Ha? As long as that fellow is against Calcott, he cares little whom
he supports. I am sorry that Calcott should be defeated, even for
James's sake. How did Richardson vote?'
'He was doubtful at first, but I brought him over.'
Lord Ormersfield gave a quick, searching glance as he said,' James
Frost did not make use of our interest in this matter.'
'Jem never did. He and my aunt held back, and were unwilling to
oppose the Squire. They would have given it up, but for me. Father,
I never supposed you could be averse to my doing my utmost for Jem,
when all his prospects were at stake.'
'I should have imagined that James was too well aware of my
sentiments to allow it.'
What a cloud on the happy morning!
Louis eagerly exclaimed: 'James is the last person to be blamed! He
and my aunt were always trying to stop me, but I would not listen to
their scruples. I knew his happiness depended on his success, and I
worked for him, in spite of himself. If I did wrong, I can only be
very sorry; but I cannot readily believe that I transgressed by
setting the question before people in a right light. Only, whose
fault soever it was, it was not Jem's.'
Lord Ormersfield had not the heart to see one error in his son on
such a day as this, more especially as Mary peeped out behind the urn
to judge of his countenance, and he met her pleading eyes, swimming
'No, I find no fault,' he kindly said. 'Young, ardent spirits may be
excused for outrunning the bounds that their elders might impose.
But you have not removed my amazement. James intending to marry on
the grammar-school!--it cannot be worth 300 pounds a year.'
'Isabel is satisfied. She never desired anything but a quiet,
simple, useful life.'
'Your Aunt Catharine delighted, of course? No doubt of that; but
what has come to Lady Conway?'
'She cannot help it, and makes the best of it. She gave us very
'Ah! her own daughter is growing up,' said the Earl, significantly.
'Isabel is very fond of Northwold,' said Mary, feeling that Louis was
wanting her sympathy. 'She used to wish she could settle there--with
how little consciousness!'
'If I had to judge in such a case,' said Lord Ormersfield,
thoughtfully, 'I should hesitate to risk a woman's happiness with a
temper such as that of James Frost.'
'Oh, father!' cried Louis, indignantly.
'I suspect,' said Lord Ormersfield, smiling, 'that of late years,
James's temper has been more often displayed towards me than towards
'A certain proof how safe his wife will be,' returned Louis.
His father shook his head, and looking from one to the other of the
young people, congratulated himself that here, at least, there were
no perils of that description. He asked how long the attachment had
'From the moment of first sight,' said Louis; 'the fine spark was
lighted on the Euston Square platform; and it was not much later
with her. He filled up her beau ideal of goodness--'
'And, in effect, all Lady Conway's pursuit of you threw them
together,' said Lord Ormersfield, much entertained.
'Lady Conway has been their very best friend, without intending it.
It would not have come to a crisis by this time, if she had not taken
me to Paris. It would have been a pity if the catastrophe of the
barricades had been all for nothing.'
Lord Ormersfield and Mary here broke out in amazement at themselves,
for having hitherto been oblivious of the intelligence that had
greeted them on their first arrival, when Frampton had informed them
of Lord Fitzjocelyn's wound and gallant conduct, and his father had
listened to the story like the fastening of a rivet in Miss Conway's
chains, and Mary with a flush of unselfish pride that Isabel had been
taught to value her hero. They both claimed the true and detailed
account, as if they had hitherto been defrauded of it, and insisted
on hearing what had happened to him.
'I dare say you know best,' said Louis, lazily. 'I have heard so
many different accounts of late, that I really am beginning to forget
which is the right one, and rather incline to the belief that
Delaford brought a rescue or two with his revolver, and carried us
into a fortress where my aunt had secured the windows with feather-
'You had better make haste and tell, that the true edition may be
preserved,' said Mary, rallying her spirits in her eagerness.
'I have begun to understand why there never yet has been an authentic
account of a great battle,' said Louis. 'Life would make me coincide
with Sir Robert Walpole's judgment on history. All I am clear about
is, that even a Red Republican is less red than he is painted; that
Isabel Conway is fit to visit the sentinels in a beleaguered castle--
a noble being-- But oh, Mary! did I not long sorely after you when.
it came to the wounded knight part of the affair! I am more sure of
that than of anything else!'
Mary blushed, but her tender heart was chiefly caring to know how
much he had been hurt, and so the whole story was unfolded by due
questioning; and the Earl had full and secret enjoyment of the signal
defeat of his dear sister-in-law, the one satisfaction on which every
one seemed agreed.
It was a melancholy certainty that Mary must go to Mrs. Frost, but
the Earl deferred the moment by sending the carriage with an entreaty
that she would come herself to fetch her guest. Mary talked of
writing a note; but the autumn sun shone cheerily on the steps, and
Louis wiled her into seating herself on the upper step, while he
reclined on the lower ones, as they had so often been placed when
this was his only way of enjoying the air. The sky was clear, the
air had the still calm of autumn, the evergreens and the yellow-
fringed elms did not stir a leaf--only a large heavy yellow plane
leaf now and then detached itself by its own weight and silently
floated downwards. Mary sat, without wishing to utter a word to
disturb the unwonted tranquillity, the rest so precious after her
months of sea-voyage, her journey, her agitations. But Louis wanted
her seal of approval to all his past doings, and soon began on their
inner and deeper story, ending with, 'Tell me whether you think I was
right, my own dear governess--'
'Oh no, you must never call me that any more.'
'It is a name belonging to my happiest days.'
'It was only in play. It reverses the order of things. I must look
up to you.'
'If you can!' aaid Louis, playfully, slipping down to a lower step.
A tear burst out as Mary said, 'Mamma said it must never be that
way.' Then recovering, she added, 'I beg your pardon, Louis; I was
treating it as earnest. I think I am not quite myself to-day, I will
go to my room!'
'No, no, don't,' he said; 'I will not harass you with my gladness,
dearest.' He stepped in-doors, brought out a book, and when Mrs.
Frost arrived to congratulate and be congratulated, she found Mary
still on the step, gazing on without seeing the trees and flowers,
listening without attending to the rich, soothing flow of Lope de
Vega's beautiful devotional sonnets, in majestic Spanish, in Louis's
low, sweet voice.
Therefore thine eye through mist of many days
Shines bright; and beauty, like a lingering rose,
Sits on thy cheek, and in thy laughter plays;
While wintry frosts have fallen on thy foes,
And, like a vale that breathes the western sky,
Thy heart is green, though summer is gone by.
Happy Aunt Kitty!--the centre, the confidante of so much love!
Perhaps her enjoyment was the most keen and pure of all, because the
most free from self--the most devoid of those cares for the morrow,
which, after besetting middle life, often so desert old age as to
render it as free and fresh as childhood. She had known the worst:
she had been borne through by heart-whole faith and love, she had
seen how often frettings for the future were vain, and experienced
that anticipation is worse than reality. Where there was true
affection and sound trust, she could not, would not, and did not fear
for those she loved.
James went backwards and forwards in stormy happiness. He had come
to a comfortable understanding with old Mr. Mansell, who had treated
him with respect and cordiality from the first, giving him to
understand that Isabel's further expectations only amounted to a
legacy of a couple of thousands on his own death, and that meantime
he had little or no hope of helping him in his profession. He spoke
of Isabel's expensive habits, and the danger of her finding it
difficult to adapt herself to a small income; and though, of course,
he might as well have talked to the wind as to either of the lovers,
his remonstrance was so evidently conscientious as not to be in the
least offensive, and Mr. Frost Dynevor was graciously pleased to
accept him as a worthy relation.
All was smooth likewise with Lady Conway. She and Mr. Mansell
outwardly appeared utterly unconscious of each other's proceedings,
remained on the most civil terms, and committed their comments and
explanations to Mrs. Mansell, who administered them according to her
own goodnatured, gossiping humour, and sided with whichever was
speaking to her. There was in Lady Conway much kindness and good-
humour, always ready to find satisfaction in what was inevitable, and
willing to see all at ease and happy around her--a quality which she
shared with Louis, and which rendered her as warm and even caressing
to 'our dear James' as if he had been the most welcome suitor in the
world; and she often sincerely congratulated herself on the
acquisition of a sensible gentleman to consult on business, and so
excellent a brother for Walter. It was not falsehood, it was real
amiability; and it was an infinite comfort in the courtship,
especially the courtship of a Pendragon. As to the two young
sisters, their ecstasy was beyond description, only alloyed by the
grief of losing Isabel, and this greatly mitigated by schemes of
visits to Northwold.
The marriage was fixed for the end of November, so as to give time
for a little tranquillity before the commencement of James's new
duties. As soon as this intelligence arrived, Mrs. Frost removed
herself, Mary, and her goods into the House Beautiful, that No. 5
might undergo the renovations which, poor thing! had been planned
twenty years since, when poor Henry's increasing family and growing
difficulties had decided her that she could 'do without them' one
'Even should Miss Conway not like to keep house with the old woman,'
said she, by way of persuading herself she had no such expectation,
'it was her duty to keep the place in repair.'
That question was soon at rest: Isabel would be but too happy to be
allowed to share her home, and truly James would hardly have attached
himself to a woman who could not regard it as a privilege to be with
the noble old lady. Clara was likewise to be taken home; Isabel
undertook to complete her education, and school and tuition were both
to be removed from the contemplation of the happy girl, whose letters
had become an unintelligible rhapsody of joy and affection.
Isabel had three thousand pounds of her own, which, with that
valuable freehold, Dynevor Terrace, James resolved should be settled
on herself, speaking of it with such solemn importance as to provoke
the gravity of those accustomed to deal with larger sums. With the
interest of her fortune he meant to insure his life, that, as he told
Louis, with gratified prudence, there might be no repetition of his
own case, and his family might never be a burden on any one.
The income of the school, with their former well-husbanded means, was
affluence for the style to which he aspired; and his grandmother,
though her menus plaisirs had once doubled her present revenue,
regarded it as the same magnificent advance, and was ready to launch
into the extravagance of an additional servant, and of fitting up the
long-disused drawing-room, and the dining-parlour, hitherto called
the school-room, and kicked and hacked by thirty years of boys. She
and Clara would betake themselves to their present little sitting-
room, and make the drawing-room pleasant and beautiful for the bride.
And in what a world of upholstery did not the dear old lady spend the
autumn months! How surpassingly happy was Jane, and how
communicative about Cheveleigh! and how pleased and delighted in
little Charlotte's promotion!
And Charlotte! She ought to have been happy, with her higher wages
and emancipation from the more unpleasant work, with the expectation
of one whom she admired so enthusiastically as Miss Conway, and,
above all, with the long, open-hearted, affectionate letter, which
Miss Ponsonby had put into her hand with so kind a smile. Somehow,
it made her do nothing but cry; she felt unwilling to sit down and
answer it; and, as if it were out of perverseness, when she was in
Mrs. Martha's very house, and when there was so much to be done, she
took the most violent fit of novel-reading that had ever been known;
and when engaged in working or cleaning alone, chanted dismal ballads
of the type of 'Alonzo the brave and the fair Imogens,' till Mrs.
Martha declared that she was just as bad as an old dumbledore, and
not worth half so much.
One day, however, Miss Ponsonby called her into her room, to tell her
that a parcel was going to Lima, in case she wished to send anything
by it. Miss Ponsonby spoke so kindly, and yet so delicately, and
Charlotte blushed and faltered, and felt that she must write now!
'I have been wishing to tell you, Charlotte,' added Mary, kindly,
'how much we like Mr. Madison. There were some very undesirable
people among the passengers, who might easily have led him astray;
but the captain and mate both spoke to Lord Ormersfield in the
highest terms of his behaviour. He never missed attending prayers on
the Sundays; and, from all I could see, I do fully believe that he is
a sincerely good, religions man; and, if he keeps on as he has begun,
I think you are very happy in belonging to him.'
Charlotte only curtsied and thanked; but it was wonderful how those
kind, sympathizing words blew off at once the whole mists of nonsense
and fancy. Tom was the sound, good, religious man to whom her heart
and her troth were given; the other was no such thing, a mere
flatterer, and she had known it all along. She would never think of
him again, and she was sure he would not think of her. Truth had
dispelled all the fancied sense of hypocrisy and double-dealing: she
sat down and wrote to Tom as if Delaford had never existed, and
forthwith returned to be herself again, at least for the present.
Poor Mary! she might speak cheerfully, but her despatches were made
up with a trembling heart. Louis and Mary missed the security and
felicity that seemed so perfect with James and Isabel. In the first
place, nothing could be fixed without further letters, although the
Earl had tried to persuade Mary that her father had virtually
forfeited all claim to her obedience, and that she ought to proceed
as if in fact an orphan, and secure herself from being harassed by
him, by hastening her marriage. Of this she would not hear, and she
was exceedingly grateful to Louis for abstaining from pressing her,
as well as for writing to Mr. Ponsonby in terms against which no
exception could be taken.
Till secure of his consent, she would not consider her engagement as
more than conditional, nor consent to its being mentioned to any one.
If Isabel knew it, that was James's fault. Even the Faithfull
sisters were kept in ignorance; and she trusted thus to diminish the
wrong that she felt her secrecy to be doing to Aunt Melicent, who was
so much vexed and annoyed at her return, that she dreaded exceedingly
the effect of the knowledge of her engagement. Miss Ponsonby was
convinced that the news had been exaggerated, and insisted that but
for Lord Ormersfield's dislike, it would have been further sifted;
and she wrote to Mary to urge her coming to her to await the full
tidings, instead of delaying among her father's avowed enemies.
Mary settled this point by mentioning her promise to Mrs. Frost to
remain with her until her grandchildren should be with her; and Miss
Ponsonby's correspondence ceased after a dry, though still kind
letter, which did not make Mary more willing to bestow her
confidence, but left her feeling in her honest heart as if she were
dealing insincerely by Aunt Melicent.
The discretion and reserve rendered requisite by the concealment were
such as to be very tormenting even to so gentle a temper as that of
Louis, since they took from him all the privileges openly granted to
the cousin, and scarcely left him those of the friend. She, on whose
arm he had leant all last summer, would not now walk with him without
an escort, and, even with Mrs. Frost beside her, shrank from
Ormersfield like forbidden ground. Her lively, frank tone of playful
command had passed away; nay, she almost shrank from his confidence,
withheld her counsel, and discouraged his constant visits. He could
not win from her one of her broad, fearless comments on his past
doings; and in his present business, the taking possession of
Inglewood, the choice of stock, and the appointment of a bailiff,
though she listened and sympathized, and answered questions, she
volunteered no opinions, ahe expressed no wishes, she would not come
Poor Louis was often mortified into doubts of his own ability to
interest or make her happy; but he was very patient. If disappointed
one day, he was equally eager the next; he submitted obediently to
her restrictions, and was remorseful when he forgot or transgressed;
and they had real, soothing, comforting talks just often enough to be
tantalizing, and yet to convince him that all the other
unsatisfactory meetings and partings were either his own fault, or
that of some untoward circumstance.
He saw, as did the rest, that Mary's spirits had received a shock not
easily to be recovered. The loss of her mother was weighing on her
more painfully than in the first excitement; and the step her father
had taken, insulting her mother, degrading himself, and rending away
her veil of filial honour, had exceedingly overwhelmed and depressed
her; while sorrow hung upon her with the greater permanence and
oppression from her strong self-control, and dislike to
All this he well understood; and, reverent to her feeling, he laid
aside all trifling, and waited on her mood with the tenderest
watchfulness. When she could bear it, they would dwell together on
the precious recollections of her mother; and sometimes she could
even speak of her father, and relate instances of his affection for
herself, and all his other redeeming traits of character; most
thankful to Louis for accepting him on her word, and never uttering
one word of him which she could wish unsaid.
What Louis did not see, was that the very force of her own affection
was what alarmed Mary, and caused her reserve. To a mind used to
balance and regulation, any sensation so mighty and engrossing
appeared wrong; and repressed as her attachment had been, it was the
more absorbing now that he was all that was left to her. Admiration,
honour, gratitude, old childish affection, and caressing elder-
sisterly protection, all flowed in one deep, strong current; but the
very depth made her diffident. She could imagine the whole
reciprocated, and she feared to be importunate. If the day was no
better than a weary turmoil, save when his voice was in her ear, his
eyes wistfully bent on her, the more carefully did she restrain all
expression of hope of seeing him to-morrow, lest she should be
exacting and detain him from projects of his own. If it was pride
and delight to her to watch his graceful, agile figure spring on
horseback, she would keep herself from the window, lest he should
feel oppressed by her pursuing him; and when she found her advice
sought after as his law, she did not venture to proffer it. She was
uncomfortable in finding the rule committed to her, and all the more
because Lord Ormersfield, who had learnt to talk to her so openly
that she sometimes thought he confounded her with her mother, used in
all his schemes to appear to take it for granted that she should
share with him in the managing, consulting headship of the house,
leaving Louis as something to be cared for and petted like a child,
without a voice in their decisions. These conversations used to make
her almost jealous on Louis's account, and painfully recall some of
her mother's apprehensions.
That was the real secret source of all her discomfort--namely, the
misgiving lest she had been too ready to follow the dictates of her
own heart. Would her mother have been satisfied? Had not her
fondness and her desolation prevailed, where, for Louis's own sake,
she should have held back! Every time she felt herself the elder in
heart, every time she feared to have disappointed him, every time she
saw that his liveliness was repressed by her mournfulness, she feared
that she was letting him sacrifice himself. And still more did she
question her conduct towards her father. She had only gradually
become aware of the extent of the mutual aversion between him and the
Earl; and Miss Ponsonby's reproaches awakened her to the fear that
she had too lightly given credence to hostile evidence. Her
affection would fain have justified him; and, forgetting the
difficulties of personal investigation in such a case, she blamed
herself for having omitted herself to question the confidential
clerk, and having left all to Lord Ormersfield, who, cool and wary as
he ordinarily was, would be less likely to palliate Mr. Ponsonby's
errors than those of any other person. Her heart grew sick as she
counted the weeks ere she could hear from Lima.
None of her troubles were allowed to interfere with Mrs. Frost's
peace. Outwardly, she was cheerful and helpful; equable, though less
lively. Those carpets and curtains, tables and chairs, which were
the grand topics at the House Beautiful, were neither neglected nor
treated with resigned impatience. Mary's taste, counsel, and needle
did good service; her hearty interest and consideration were given to
the often-turned volume of designs for bedsteads, sofas, and window-
curtains; and Miss Mercy herself had hardly so many resources for
making old furniture new. Many of her happiest half-hours with Louis
were spent as she sewed the stiff slippery chintz, and he held the
curtain rings, while Aunt Catharine went to inspect the workmen, and
many a time were her cares forgotten, and her active spirits resumed,
while Louis acted carpenter under her directions, and rectified
errors of the workmen. It might not be poetical, but the French sky-
blue paper, covered with silvery fern-leaves, that Louis took such
pains to procure, and the china door-handles that he brought over in
his pockets, and the great map which Mary pasted over the obstinate
spot of damp in the vestibule, were the occasions of the greatest
blitheness and merriment that they shared together. Much did they
enjoy the prediction that James would not know his own house; greatly
did they delight in sowing surprises, and in obtaining Aunt
Catharine's never-failing start of well-pleased astonishment. Each
wedding present was an event;--Mr. Mansell's piano, which
disconcerted all previous designs; Lord Ormersfield's handsome plate;
and many a minor gift from old scholars, delighted to find an
occasion when an offering would not be an offence. Even Mr. Calcott
gave a valuable inkstand, in which Mrs. Frost and Louis beheld
something of forgiveness.
Isabel had expressed a wish that Mary should be one of her
bridesmaids. A wedding was not the scene which poor Mary wished to
witness at present; but she saw Louis bent on having her with him,
and would not vex him by reluctance. He had also prevailed on his
father to be present, though the Earl was much afraid of establishing
a precedent, and being asked to act the part of father on future
contingencies. There was only one bride, as he told Louis, whom he
could ever wish to give away. However, that trouble was spared him
by Mr. Mansell; but still Louis would not let him off, on the plea
that James's side of the house should make as imposing a
demonstration as possible.
Mrs. Frost was less manageable. Though warmly invited by the
Conways, and fondly entreated by her grandson, she shook her head,
and said she was past those things, and that the old mother always
stayed at home to cook the wedding dinner. She should hear all when
Clara came home the next day, and should be ready for the happy pair
when they would return for Christmas, after a brief stay at Thornton
Conway, which Isabel wished James to see, that he might share in all
her old associations.
All the rest of the party journeyed to London on a November day; and,
in gaslight and gloom, they deposited Mary at her aunt's house in
Gaslight was the staple of Hymen's torch the next morning. London
was under one of the fogs, of which it is popularly said you may cut
them with a knife. The church was in dim twilight; the bride and
bridegroom loomed through the haze, and the indistinctness made
Clara's fine tall figure appear quite majestic above the heads of the
The breakfast was by lamp-light, and the mist looked lurid and grim
over the white cake, and no one talked of anything but the
comparative density of fogs; and Mr. Mansell's asthma had come on,
and his speech was devolved upon Lord Ormersfield, to whom Louis had
imprudently promised exemption.
What was worse, Lady Conway had paired them off in the order of
precedence; and Louis was a victim to two dowagers, between whom he
could neither see nor speak to Mary. He was the more concerned,
because he had thought her looking depressed and avoiding his eye.
He tried to believe this caution, but he thought she was also eluding
bis father, and her whole air gave him a vague uneasiness. The whole
party were to dine with Lady Conway; and, trusting in the meantime to
discover what was on her spirits, be tried to resign himself to the
order of the day, without a farther glimpse of her.
When the married pair took leave, Walter gave his sister a great hug,
but had no perception of his office of handing her downstairs; and it
was Fitzjocelyn who gave her his arm, and put her into the carriage,
with an augury that the weather would be beautiful when once they had
left the fog in London.
She smiled dreamily, and repeated, 'beautiful,' as though all were so
beautiful already to her that she did not so much as perceive the
James pressed his hand, saying, 'I am glad you are to be the one to
be happy next.'
'You do not look so,' said Clara, earnestly.
The two sisters had come partly downstairs, but their London habits
had restrained them from following to the street-door, as Clara had
done; and now they had rushed up again, while Clara, with one foot on
the staircase, looked in her cousin's face, as he tried to smile in
answer, and repeated, 'Louis, I hoped you were quite happy.'
'I am,' said Louis, quickly.
'Then why do you look so grave and uneasy?'
'Louis!' said an entreating voice above, and there stood Mary--'Pray
say nothing, but call a cab for me, please. No, I am not ill-
indeed, I am not--but I cannot stay!'
'You look ill! It has been too much for you! Clara, take her--let
her lie down quietly,' cried Louis, springing to her side.
'Oh no, thank you-no,' said Mary, decidedly, though very low; 'I told
Lady Conway that I could not stay. I settled it with Aunt Melicent.'
'That aunt of yours--'
'Hush! No, it is for my own sake--my own doing. I cannot bear it
any longer! Please let me go!'
'Then I will take you. I saw the brougham waiting. We will go
'No, that must not be.'
'I was thoughtless in urgtng you to come. The turmoil has been too
much. My poor Mary! That is what comes of doing what I like instead
of what you like. Why don't you always have your own way? Let me
come; nay, if you will not, at least let Clara go with you, and come
Mary roused herself at last to speak, as she moved downstairs--'You
need not think of me; there is nothing the matter with me. I
promised Aunt Melicent to come home. She is very kind--it is not
'You must not tell me not to think. I shall come to inquire. I
shall be with you the first thing tomorrow.'
'Yes, you must come to-morrow,' said Mary, in a tone he could not
interpret, and a tight lingering grasp on his hand, as he put her
into his father's carriage.
He stood hesitating for a moment as it drove off; then, instead of
entering the house, walked off quickly in the same direction.
Clara had stood all the time like a statue on the stairs, waiting to
see if she were wanted, and gazing intently, with her fingers
clasped. When both were gone she drew a long breath, and nodded with
her head, whispering to herself, in a grave and critical voice--'That
She did not see Fitzjocelyn again till nearly dinner-time; and, as he
caught her anxious interrogating eye, he came to her and said, very
low, 'I was not let in; Miss Ponsonby was engaged. Miss Mary lying
down--I believe they never told her I was there.'
'It is all that aunt--horrid woman!'
'Don't talk of it now. I _will_ see her to-morrow.'
Clara grieved for him whenever she saw him called on to exert himself
to talk; and she even guarded him from the sallies of his young
cousins. Once, when much music and talk was going on, he came and
sat by her, and made her tell him how fondly and affectionately she
had parted with her schoolfellows; and how some of her old foes had
become, as she hoped, friends for life; but she saw his eye fixed and
absent even while she spoke, and she left off suddenly. 'Go on,' he
said, 'I like to hear;' and with a manifest effort he bent his mind
'Oh!' thought Clara, as she went up that night--'why will the days
one most expects to be happy turn out so much otherwise? However, he
will manage to tell me all about it when he and his father take me
The voice which I did more esteem
Than music in her sweetest key--
Those eyes which unto me did seem
More comfortable than the day--
Those now by me, as they have been,
Shall never more be heard or seen.
In suspense and impatience, Fitzjocelyn awaited the end of his
father's breakfast, that he might hasten to learn what ailed Mary.
The post came in, vexing him at first merely as an additional delay,
but presently a sound of dissatisfaction attracted his notice to the
foreign air of two envelopes which had been forwarded from home.
'Hem!' said the Earl, gravely, 'I am afraid this fellow Ponsonby will
give us some trouble.'
'Then Mary had heard from him!' cried Louis. 'She was keeping it
from me, not to spoil the day. I must go to her this moment--'but
pausing again, 'What is it? He cannot have had my letter!'
'No, but he seems to have anticipated it. Puffed up as they are
about these speculations, he imagines me to have brought Mary home
for no purpose but to repair our fortunes; and informs me that, in
the event of your marriage, she will receive not a farthing beyond
her mother's settlements. I am much obliged! It is all I ever
thought you would receive; and but for me, it would have been in the
bottom of some mine long ago! Do you wish to see what he says?'
Louis caught up the missive. It was the letter of a very angry man,
too violent to retain the cold formality which he tried to assume.
'He was beholden to his lordship for his solicitude about his
daughter. It was of a piece with other assistance formerly rendered
to him in his domestic arrangements, for which he was equally
obliged. He was happy to inform his lordship that, in this instance,
his precautions had been uncalled for; and referred him to a letter
which he would receive from Mr. Dynevor by the same mail, for an
explanation of the circumstances to which he referred. He had been
informed, by undoubted authority, that Lord Fitzjocelyn had done his
daughter the honour of soliciting her hand. It might console his
lordship to learn that, should the union take place, the whole of his
property would be secured to Mrs. Ponsonby, and his daughter's sole
fortune would be that which she inherited by her mother's marriage
settlements. Possibly this intelligence might lead to a cessation of
these flattering attentions.'
'Mrs. Ponsonby! he can mention her in the same sentence with Mary's
mother!' said the Earl.
Louis turned pale as he read, and scarcely breathed as he looked up
at his father, dreading that he might so resent the studied affronts
as to wish to break off the connexion, and that he might have him
likewise to contend with; but on that score he was set at rest. The
Earl replied to his exclamation of angry dismay, 'It is little more
than I looked for. It is not the first letter I have had from him.
I find he has some just cause for offence. The marriage is less
disgraceful than I had been led to believe. Here is Oliver Dynevor's
Oliver Dynevor's was a succinct business-like letter, certifying his
cousin that he had been mistaken in his view of the marriage. Dona
Rosita de Guzman was an orphan of a very respectable family, who had
come to spend the year before her intended noviciate at the house of
an uncle. She was very young, and Mr. Dynevor believed that the
marriage had been hastened by her relations making her feel herself
unwelcome, and her own reluctance to return to her convent, and that
she might not be aware how very recently Mr. Ponsonby had become a
widower. For his own part, he was little used to ladies' society,
and could form no judgment of the bride; but he could assure Lord
Ormersfield that she had been guilty of no impropriety; she was
visited by every one; and that there was no reason against Mary
Ponsonby associating with her.
'What could the clerk be thinking of?' exclaimed Louis.
'My first impression was not taken from the clerk. What I heard
first, and in the strongest terms, was from the captain of a ship at
Valparaiso. In fact, it was in the mouth of all who had known the
family. Robson neither confirmed nor contradicted, and gave me the
notion of withholding much from regard for his employer. He lamented
the precipitation, but seemed willing to make excuses. He distinctly
said, he would not take it on himself to recommend Miss Ponsonby's
continuing her journey. He was right. If I had known all this, I
should still have brought her home. I must write an apology, as far
as her character is concerned; but, be that as it may, the marriage
is atrocious--an insult--a disgrace! He could not have waited six
'But I must go to Mary!' cried Louis, as though reproaching himself
for the delay. 'Oh! that she should have forced herself to that
wedding, and spared me!'
'I am coming with you,' said the Earl. 'She will require my personal
assurance that all this makes no difference to me.'
'I am more afraid of the difference it may make to her,' said Louis.
'You have never believed how fond she is of her father.'
On arriving, they were ushered into the room where Miss Ponsonby was
at breakfast, and a cup of tea and untasted roll showed where her
niece had been. She received them with stiff, upright chillness; and
to their hope that Mary was not unwell, replied--'Not very well. She
had been over-fatigued yesterday, and had followed her advice in
going to lie down.'
Louis began to imagine a determination to exclude him, and was
eagerly beginning to say that she had asked him to come that morning-
-could she not see him? when the lady continued, with the same
severity--'Until yesterday, I was not aware how much concern Lord
Fitzjocelyn had taken in what related to my niece.'
At that moment, when Louis's face was crimson with confusion and
impatience, the door was softly pushed ajar, and he heard himself
called in low, hoarse tones. Miss Ponsonby was rising with an air of
vexed surprise, but he never saw her, and, hastily crossing the room,
he shut the door behind him, and followed the form that flitted up
the stairs so fast, that he did not come up with her till she had
entered the drawing-room, and stood leaning against a chair to gather
breath. She was very pale, and her eyes looked as if she had cried
all night, but she controlled her voice to say, 'I could not bear
that you should hear it from Aunt Melicent.'
'We had letters this morning, dearest. Always thinking for me! But
I must think for you. You can hardly stand--'
He would have supported her to the sofa, but she shrank from him;
and, leaning more heavily on the chair, said--'Do you not know,
Louis, all that must be at an end?'
'I know no such thing. My father is here on purpose to assure you
that it makes not the slightest difference to him.'
'Yours! Yes! But oh, Louis!' with a voice that, in its faintness
and steadiness, had a sound of anguish--'only think what I allowed
him to make me do! To insult my father and his choice! It was a
mistake, I know,' she continued, fearing to be unjust and to grieve
Louis; 'but a most dreadful one!'
'He says he should have brought you home all the same--' began Louis.
'Mary, you must sit down!' he cried, interrupting himself to come
nearer; and she obeyed, sinking into the chair. 'What a state you
are in! How could you go through yesterday? How could you be
distressed, and not let me know?'
'I could not spoil their wedding-day, that we had wished for so
'Then you had the letter?'
'In the morning. Oh, that I had examined farther! Oh, that I had
never come home!'
'Mary! I cannot hear you say so.'
'You would have been spared all this. You were doing very well
without me--as you will--'
He cried out with deprecating horror.
'Louis!' she said, imploringly. 'Oh, Louis! do not make it harder
for me to do right.'
'Why--what? I don't understand! Your father has not so much as
heard how we stand together. He cannot be desiring you to give me
'He--he forbids me to enter on anything of the sort with you. I
don't know what made him think it possible, but he does. And--'
again Mary waited for the power of utterance, 'he orders me to come
out with Mrs. Willis, in the Valdivia, and it sails on the 12th of
'But Mary, Mary! you cannot be bound by this. It is only fair
towards him, towards all of us, to give him time to answer our
Mary shook her head. 'The only condition, he says, on which he could
allow me to remain, would be if I were engaged to James Frost.'
'Too late for that, certainly,' said Louis; and the smile was a
relief to both. 'At any rate, it shows that he can spare you. Only
give him time. When he has my father's explanation--and my father is
certain to be so concerned at having cast any imputation on a lady.
His first thought was to apologize--'
'That is not all! I remember now that dear mamma always said she did
not know whether he would consent. Oh! how weak I was ever to
'No, Mary, that must not be said. It was my presumptuous, inveterate
folly that prevented you from trusting my affection when she might
have helped us.'
'I don't know. It would have caused her anxiety and distress when
she was in no state for them. I don't think it did,' said Mary,
considering; 'I don't think she ever knew how much I cared.'
The admission could only do Louis's heart good, and he recurred to
his arguments that her father could be persuaded by such a letter as
he felt it in him to write.
'You do not know all,' said Mary. 'I could not show you his letter;
but, from it and from my aunt, I better understand what impressions
he has of you all, and how hopeless it is.'
She could not help giving herself the relief, when that most loving,
sympathizing face was pleading with her to let him comfort her. She
knew there was no fiery nor rancorous temper to take umbrage, and it
was best for him to know the completeness of the death-blow.
'Oh, Louis! he fancies that my dear mother's fondness for her own
family destroyed his domestic peace. He says their pride and narrow
notions poisoned--yes, that is the word--poisoned her mind against
him; and that was the reason he insisted on my being brought up here,
and kept from you all.'
'But I don't understand why he let you come straight home to us, and
live in Dynevor Terrace?'
'Then he was really sorry mamma was so ill; and--and for all that was
past; I am sure he felt it was the last parting, and only wished to
do anything that could make up to her. He freely gave her leave to
go wherever she pleased, and said not a word against Northwold. It
was one of her great comforts that he never seemed in the least vexed
at anything she had done since we went home. Besides, my aunt says
that he and Mr. Dynevor had some plans about James and me.'
'He will have that out of his head. He will come to reason. Fond of
you, and sorry for the past, he will listen. No wonder he was in a
passion; but just imagine what it would be to heed half Jem Frost
says when he is well worked up!'
'Papa is not like James,' said Mary; 'things go deeper with him. He
never forgets! I shall never forgive myself for not having spoken to
Robson! I know his manner, seeming to assent and never committing
himself, and I ought to have gone through anything rather than have
taken such an accusation for granted.'
To hinder his pleading against her self-conviction, she re-opened her
letter to prove the cruelty of the injustice. Mr. Ponsonby professed
to have been unwilling to enter so speedily on the new tie; but to
have been compelled, by the species of persecution which was
exercised on Rosita, in order to make her return to her nunnery. He
dwelt on her timid affection and simplicity, and her exceeding
mortification at the slur which Mary had been induced to cast upon
her; though, he said, her innocent mind could not comprehend the full
extent of the injury; since the step his daughter had taken would,
when known, seriously affect the lady's reception into society, in a
manner only to be repaired by Mary's immediately joining them at
Lima. He peremptorily indicated the ship and the escort--a
merchant's wife, well known to her and charged her, on her duty, as
the only proof of obedience or affection which could remedy the past,
to allow no influence nor consideration whatever to detain her. 'You
see?' said Mary.
'I see!' was the answer. 'Mary, you are right, you must go.'
The words restored her confiding look, and her face lost almost all
the restless wretchedness which had so transformed it. 'Thank you,'
she said, with a long breath; 'I knew you would see it so.'
'It will be a very pretty new style of wedding tour. Andes for Alps!
No, Mary, you need not suspect me of trifling now! I really mean it,
and, seriously, our going in that way would set this Rosita straight
with society much more handsomely and effectually. Don't doubt my
father--I will fetch him.'
'Stop, Louis! You forget! Did I not tell you that he expressly
warns me against you? He must have heard of what happened before: he
says I had prudence once to withstand, and he trusts to my spirit and
discretion to--' Mary stopped short of the phrase before her eyes--to
resist the interested solicitations of necessitous nobility, and the
allurements of a beggarly coronet. 'No,' she concluded; 'he says
that you are the last person whom he could think of allowing me to
accept.' She hid her face in her hands, and her voice died away.
'Happily that is done,' said Louis, not yet disconcerted; 'but if you
go, as I own you must, it shall be with a letter of mine, explaining
all. You will plead for me--I think you will, and when he is
satisfied that we are no rebels, then the first ship that sails for
Peru--Say that will do, Mary.'
'No, Louis, I know my father.' She roused herself and sat upright,
speaking resolutely, but not daring to look at him--'I made up my
mind last night. It was weak and selfish in me to enter into this
engagement, and it must be broken off. You must be left free--not
bound for years and years.'
'Oh, Mary! Mary! this is too much. I deserved distrust by my
wretched folly and fickleness last year, but I did not know what you
were to me then--my most precious one! Can you not trust me! Do you
not know how I would wait?'
'You would wait,' said poor Mary, striving with choking tears, 'and
be sorry you had waited.'
'Are you talking madness, Mary? I should live for the moment to
compensate for all.'
'You would waste your best years, and when the time came, you would
still be young, and I grown into an old careworn woman. You would
find you had waited for what was nothing worth!'
'How can you talk so!' cried Louis, wounded, 'when you know that to
cherish and make up to you would be my dearest, fondest wish! No,
don't shake your head! You know it is not a young rose and lily
beauty that I love,--it is the honest, earnest glance in my Mary's
eyes, the rest, and trust, and peace, whenever I do but come near
her. Time can't take that away!'
'Pray,' said Mary, feebly, 'don't let us discuss it now. I know it
is right. I was determined to say it to-day, that the worst might be
over, but I can't argue, nor bear your kindness now. Please let it
'Yes, let it wait. It is depression. You will see it in a true
light when you have recovered the shock, and don't fancy all must be
given up together. Lie down and rest; I am sure you have been awake
'I may rest now I have told you, and seen you not angry with poor
papa, nor with me. Oh! Louis--the gratitude to you, the weight off
'I don't think any one could help taking the same view,' said Louis.
'It seems to me one of the cases where the immediate duty is the more
clear because it is so very painful. Mary, I think that you are
committing your way unto the Lord, and you know 'He shall bring it to
As he spoke there was a tap at the door, and Miss Ponsonby, stiffly
entering, said, 'Excuse my interruption, but I hope Lord Fitzjocelyn
will be considerate enough not to harass you any longer with
solicitations to act against your conscience.'
'He is not persuading me,' said Mary, turning towards her aunt a face
which, through all her dejection, proved her peace in his support and
approval, 'he is helping me.'
'Yes,' said Louis to the astonished aunt; 'since I have heard the
true state of the case, I have been convinced that there is no choice
for her but to go out, to repair the injustice so unfortunately done
to this poor lady. It is a noble resolution, and I perfectly concur
'I am glad you think so properly, sir,' returned Miss Ponsonby.
'Lord Ormersfield seems quite of another opinion. He was desirous of
seeing you, Mary; but I have been telling him I could permit no more
'Oh no,' said Mary, putting her hand to her head, as if it could bear
no more; 'not to-day! Louis, tell him how it is. Make him forgive
me; but do not let me see him yet.'
'You shall see no one,' said Louis, tenderly; 'you shall rest.
There--' and, as if he had the sole right to her, he arranged the
cushions, placed her on the sofa, and hung over her to chafe her
hands, and bathe her forehead with eau de Cologne; while, as he
detected signs of hasty preparations about the room, he added, 'Don't
trouble yourself with your arrangements; I will see about all I can
to help you. Only rest, and cure your head.'
'Say that one thing to me again,' whispered Mary, ere letting his
Again he murmured the words, 'Commit thy way unto the Lord, and He
shall bring it to pass.'
Then Mary felt her hand pressed to his lips, but she would not
unclose her burning eyes; she would fain sleep beneath the impress of
that spell of patient confidence.
The gentle authority of his manner had deprived Miss Ponsonby of all
notion of interfering. This 'odious, frivolous young man of
fashion,' so entirely disconcerted her ideas of ardent lovers, or of
self-interested puppies, that she gazed at him, surprised and
softened; and when he looked at her anxiously, to judge whether Mary
would find in her a kind comforter, her eyes were full of tears, and
she said as they left the room, 'It must be a great relief to my poor
Mary that you see it so sensibly. She has been suffering much in
anticipation of this meeting.'
'Her unselfishness goes to one's heart!' said Louis, almost overcome.
'If she would but have spared herself yesterday!'
'Ah! she said she could not bear that you should be pained on your
friend's wedding-day. I am much comforted to find that you
appreciate the effort.'
This was not what Miss Ponsonby had intended to say, but there was
something about the young man that touched her exceedingly; even when
fresh from a very civil and decorous combat with his father, and a
ripping-up of all the ancient grievances of the married life of their
two relations, rendering wider than ever the breach between the
houses of Ponsonby and Fitzjocelyn.
Lord Ormersfield came forward to learn whether he might see Mary, and
was met by assurances that she must be kept as quiet as possible;
upon which he took leave, making a stately bend of the head, while
Louis shook Miss Ponsonby's hand, and said he should come to the door
to inquire before the day was over.
'I never saw her so broken down,' he said, in answer to his father's
compassionate but indignant exclamation as they walked home.
'Yesterday was a terrible strain on her.'
'I wish we had never brought her here,' said Lord Ormersfield. 'The
aunt is your enemy, as she always was that of Mary's mother. She
nearly avowed that she set her brother on making this premature
'I do not think she is unkind to Mary,' said Louis; 'I could be
almost glad that the dear Aunt Kitty is spared all this worry. It
would make her so very miserable.'
'Her influence would be in your favour, whereas this woman is
perfectly unreasonable. She justifies her brother in everything, and
is actually working on that poor girl's scruples of conscience to
send her out by this ship.'
'Nay,' said Louis, 'after hearing her father's letter, I do not see
that it is possible for her to do otherwise.'
Lord Ormersfield hastily turned to look at his son's countenance,--it
was flushed and melancholy, but fully in earnest; nevertheless the
Earl would not believe his ears, and made a sound as if he had missed
'I am grieved enough to say so,' repeated Louis; 'but, as he puts it,
I do not see how Mary can refuse to obey him.'
'I declare, Fitzjocelyn,' exclaimed his father, with some anger, 'any
one who takes the trouble, may talk you into anything imaginable!'
'Not into believing her wrong.'
'I did not think you so weak!' continued his father. 'It is the very
case where a woman's exaggerated notions of right may be wrought on
to do her infinite harm! They become quite ridiculous without some
one to show that such things may be carried too far! I must say, I
did expect strength of mind and common sense for your own interest.
I esteem it a mere matter of duty to put an end to such nonsense.'
'My dear father,' said Louis, 'it was Mary and her mother who first
taught me my own obligations. I should never dare to interfere with
any one's filial duty--above all, where my own happiness is so deeply
'Yours! I am not talking of yours. What is to become of Mary with
such a man as that? and this Spanish woman, who, if she does not
deserve all that has been said of her, no doubt soon will?--no
education, no principles, breaking out of her convent! And you let
yourself be drawn into calling it Mary's duty to run into such
company as that! You are not fit to protect her.'
'From all I have heard of Mr. Ponsonby, I am convinced he has too
much regard for his daughter to summon her into any improper society.
I do not hear that he has been to blame as a father. I wish I could
see it as you do; but not only do I know that Mary could not have an
instant's peace under the sense of his displeasure, but it seems to
me that this is one of the express commands which could not be
disobeyed without setting aside the law of Heaven. If I gave my
voice against it, I should fear to bring on us a curse, and not a
'Fitzjocelyn, I always knew how it would be if you took to being one
of those very good people. Nothing is so weak, and yet so
unmanageable. Any rational being would look on it as a duty to
rescue her from such a man as that; but that is too ordinary a virtue
for you. You must go higher.'
Louis made no answer. Never had his father pained him so much, and
he could ill brook additional suffering.
'However,' said the Earl, recovering, 'I shall see her. I shall put
the matter in a just light. She is a sensible girl, and will
understand me when she has recovered the shock. On one head I shall
give warning. She must choose between us and her father. If she
persist in going out to join this establishment, I will have your
engagement given up.'
'Father! father! you would not be so cruel!'
'I know what I am saying. Am I to allow you to be encumbered all the
time she is on the other side of the world, waiting Ponsonby's
pleasure, to come home at last, in ten or fifteen years' time,
worried and fretted to death, like her poor mother? No, Louis, it
must be now or never.'
'You are only saying what I would not hear from her. She has been
insisting on breaking off, and all my hope was in you.'
'She has? That is like her! The only reasonable thing I have heard
'Then you will not help me? You, who I thought loved her like your
own daughter, and wished for nothing so much!'
'So I might; but that is a different thing from allowing you to wear
out your life in a hopeless engagement. If she cast off her family,
nothing could be better, otherwise, I would never connect you with
It did not occur to his lordship that he was straining pretty hard
the filial duty of his own son, while he was arguing that Mary should
snap asunder the same towards her father.
The fresh discomfiture made poor Louis feel utterly dejected and
almost hopeless, but lest silence should seem to consent, he said,
'When you see Mary, you will be willing for me to do anything rather
than lose what is so dear and so noble.'
'Yes, I will see Mary. We will settle it between us, and have it
right yet; but we must give her to-day to think it over, and get over
the first shock. When she has had a little time for reflection, a
few cool arguments from me will bring her to reason.'
So it was all to be settled over Louis's passive head; and thus
satisfied, his father, who was exceedingly sorry for him, forgot his
anger, and offered to go home alone as Clara's escort, promising to
return on the Monday, to bring the full force of his remonstrances to
bear down Mary's scruples.
Lord Ormersfield believed Clara too much of a child to have any ideas
on what was passing; and had it depended on him, she must have gone
home in an agony of ignorance on the cause of her cousin's trouble,
but Louis came with them to the station, and contrived to say to her
while walking up and down the platform, 'Her father is bitter against
me. He has sent for her, and she is going!'
Clara looked mutely in his face, with a sort of inquiring dismay.
'You'll hear all about it when my father has told Aunt Kitty,' said
Louis. 'Clara,'--he paused, and spoke lower--'tell her I see what is
right now; tell her to--to pray for me, that I may not be talked into
tampering with my conscience or with hers. Don't let it dwell on you
or on my aunt,' he added, cheerfully. 'No, it won't; you will be
thinking of Jem and Isabel.' And as his father came up, his last
words were, in his own bright tone, 'Tell granny from me that
giraffes ought always to be seen by gaslight.'
Clara's countenance returned him a look of sorrowful reproach, for
thinking her capable of being amused when he was in distress; and
she sat in silent musings all the way home--pondering over his words,
speculating on his future, wondering what Mary felt, and becoming
blunt and almost angry, when her grave escort in the opposite corner
consulted civility by addressing some indifferent remark to her, as
if, she said to herself, 'she were no better than a stuffed giraffe,
and knew and cared nothing about anybody!'
He might have guessed that she understood something by the sudden way
in which she curtailed her grandmother's rapturous and affectionate
inquiries about the wedding, ran upstairs on the plea of taking off
her bonnet, and appeared no more till he had gone home; when, coming
down, she found granny, with tearful eyes, lamenting that Mr.
Ponsonby was so harsh and unkind, and fully possessed with the
rational view which her nephew had been impressing on her.
'Ha!' said Clara, 'that is what Louis meant. I'll tell you what,
granny, Lord Ormersfield never knew in his life what was right, half
as well as Louis does. I wish he would let him alone. If Mary is
good enough for him, she will go out and wait till her father comes
round. If she is not, she won't; and Lord Ormersfield has no
business to tease her.'
'Then you would like her to go out?' said Mrs. Frost.
'I like anything that makes Louis happy. I thought it would have
been delightful to have him married--one could be so much more at
Ormersfield, and Mary would be so nice; but as to their being over-
persuaded, and thinking themselves half wrong! why, they would never
be happy in their lives; and Louis would be always half-asleep or
half mad, to save himself the trouble of thinking. But he'll never
On the Saturday morning Mary's healthy and vigorous spirit had quite
resumed its tone. The worst was over when she had inflicted the
stroke on Louis, and seen him ready to support instead of adding to
her distress. He found her pale and sorrowful, but calm, collected,
and ready for exertion. By tacit consent, they avoided all