Part 2 out of 7
discussion of the terms on which they were to stand. Greatly touched
by her consideration for him on the wedding-day, he would not torture
her with pleadings, and was only too grateful for every service that
he was allowed to render her without protest, as still her chief and
most natural dependence.
She did not scruple to allow him to assist her; she understood the
gratification to him, and it was only too sweet to her to be still
his object. She could trust him not to presume, his approval made
her almost happy; and yet it was hard that his very patience and
acquiescence should endear him so much as to render the parting so
much the more painful. The day was spent in business. He
facilitated much that would have been arduous for two solitary women,
and did little all day but go about for Mary, fulfilling the
commissions which her father had sent home; and though he did it with
a sore heart, it was still a privilege to be at work for Mary.
Rigid as Miss Ponsonby was, she began to be touched. There was a
doubt as to his admission when he came on Sunday morning--'Mistress
saw no one on Sunday,' but when his name was carried in, Miss
Ponsonby could not withstand Mary's face. She took care to tell him
her rule; but that, considering the circumstances, she had made an
exception in his favour, on the understanding that nothing was to
break in upon the observance of the Sabbath.
Louis bent his head, with the heartfelt answer that he was but too
glad to be permitted to go to church once more with Mary.
Aunt Melicent's Sunday was not quite their own Sunday, but all that
they could desire was to be quietly together, and restricted from all
those agitating topics and arrangements. It was a day of rest, and
they valued it accordingly. In fact, Miss Ponsonby found the young
Lord so good and inoffensive, that she broke her morning's
resolution, invited him to partake of the cold dinner, let him go to
church with them again in the evening, and remain to tea; and when he
took leave, she expressed such surprised admiration at his having
come and gone on his own feet, his church-going, and his conduct
generally, that Mary could not help suspecting that her good aunt had
supposed that he had never heard of the Fourth Commandment.
Miss Ponsonby was one of the many good women given to hard judgments
on slight grounds, and to sudden reactions still more violent; and
the sight of Lord Fitzjocelyn spending a quiet, respectable Sunday,
had such an effect on her, that she transgressed her own mandate, and
broached 'the distressing subject.'
'Mary, my dear, I suppose this young gentleman is an improved
'He is always improving,' said Mary.
'I mean, that an important change must have taken place since I
understood you to say you had refused him. I thought you acted most
properly then; and, as I see him now, I think you equally right in
'He was very much what he is now,' said Mary.
'Then it was from no doubt of his being a serious character?'
'None whatever,' said Mary, emphatically.
'Well, my dear, I must confess his appearance, his family, and your
refusal, misled me. I fear I did him great injustice.'
A silence, and then Miss Ponsonby said, 'After all, my dear, though I
thought quite otherwise at first, I do believe that, considering what
the youth is, and how much attached he seems, you might safely
continue the engagement.'
Mary's heart glowed to her aunt for having been thus conquered by
Louis--she who, three nights back, had been so severely incredulous,
so deeply disappointed in her niece for having been deluded into
endurance of him. But her resolution was fixed. 'It would not be
right,' she said; 'his father would not allow it. There is so little
chance of papa's relenting, or of my coming home, that it would be
wrong to keep him in suspense. He had better turn his thoughts
elsewhere while he is young enough to begin again.'
'It might save him from marrying some mere fine lady.'
'That will never be, whatever woman he chooses will--' She could not
go on, but presently cleared her voice--'No; I should like to leave
him quite free. I was less his choice than his father's; and, though
I thought we should have been very happy, it does not seem to be the
leading of Heaven. I am so far his inferior in cleverness, and
everything attractive, and have been made so like his elder sister,
that it might not have been best for him. I want him to feel that,
in beginning afresh, he is doing me no injury; and then in time,
whenever I come home, it may be such a friendship as there was
between our elders. That is what I try to look forward to,--no, I
don't think I look forward to anything. Good night, Aunt Melicent
--I am so glad you like him!'
In this mind Mary met Lord Ormersfield. The delay had been an
advantage, for he was less irritated, and she had regained self-
possession. Her passage had been taken, and this was an argument
that told on the Earl, though he refused to call it irrevocable. He
found that there was no staggering her on the score of the life that
awaited her; she knew more on that subject than he did, had
confidence in her father, and no dread of Rosita; and she was too
much ashamed and grieved at the former effect of his persuasions to
attend to any more of a like description. He found her sense of duty
more stubborn than he had anticipated, and soon had no more to say.
She might carry it too far; but the principle was sound, and a father
could not well controvert it. He had designed the rupture with Louis
as a penalty to drive her into his measures; but he could not so
propound it, and was wondering how to bring it in, when Mary relieved
him by beginning herself, and stating the grounds with such sensible,
unselfish, almost motherly care of Louis's happiness, that he was
more unwilling than ever to let him resign her, and was on the point
of begging her to re-consider, and let Louis wait for ever rather
than lose her. But he knew they ought not to be bound, under such
uncertainties, and his conviction was too strong to give way to
emotion. He thanked her, and praised her with unwonted agitation,
and regretted more than ever; and so they closed the conference by
deciding that, unless Mr. Ponsonby should be induced to relent by his
daughter's representations on her arrival, Mary and Louis must
consider themselves as mutually released.
That loophole--forlorn, most forlorn hope, as they knew it to be--was
an infinite solace to the young people, by sparing them a formal
parting, and permitting them still to feel that they belonged to each
other. If he began declaring that nothing would ever make him feel
disconnected with Mary, he was told that it was not time to think of
that, and they must not waste their time. And once Mary reminded him
how much worse it would be if they had been separated by a quarrel.
'Anger might give one spirits,' he said, smiling mournfully.
'At the time; but think what it would be not to be able to remember
happy times without remorse.'
'Then you do mean to recollect, Mary?'
'I trust to bring myself to remember rightly and wisely. I shall try
to set it for a reward for myself to cure me of repinings,' said
Mary, looking into his face, as if the remembrance of it must bring
cheerfulness and refreshment.
'And when shall I not think, Mary! When I leave off work, I shall
want you for a companion; when I go to work, the thought must stir me
up. Your judgment must try my own.'
'Oh, hush, Louis! this is not good. Be yourself, and be more than
yourself, and only think of the past as a time when we had a great
deal of pleasantness, and you did me much good.'
'Yes; I see it now I am with Aunt Melicent. You put so many more
thoughts in my head, and showed me that so much more was good and
wholesome than I used to fancy. Dear mamma once said you were
educating me; and I hope to go on, and not let your lessons waste
'Nay, Mary, you won good everywhere. If you had not been Mary, I
might have made you a great goose. But you taught me all the
perseverance I ever had. And oh! Mary, I don't wonder you do not
'There is the forbidden subject,' said Mary, firmly.
That was the sort of conversation into which they fell now and then
during those last days of busy sadness.
Truly it could have been worse. Suffering by their own fault would
have rent them asunder more harshly, and Louis's freedom from all
fierceness and violence softened all ineffably to Mary. James
Frost's letter of fiery indignation, almost of denunciation, made her
thankful that he was not the party concerned; and Louis made her
smile at Isabel's copy of all his sentiments in ladylike phrases.
The last day came. Louis would not be denied seeing Mary on board
the Valdivia; and, in spite of all Miss Ponsonby's horror of
railways, he persuaded her to trust herself under his care to
Liverpool. She augured great things from the letter which she had
entrusted to Mary, and in which she had spoken of Lord Fitzjocelyn in
the highest terms her vocabulary could furnish.
They parted bravely. Spectators hindered all display of feeling, and
no one cried, except Miss Ponsonby.
'Good-bye, Louis; I will not forget your messages to Tom Madison. My
love to your father and Aunt Catharine.'
'Good-bye, Mary; I shall see Tom and Chimborazo yet.'
THE NEW WORLD.
Still onward, as to southern skies,
We spread our sails, new stars arise,
New lights upon the glancing tide,
Fresh hues where pearl and coral hide:
What are they all but tokens true
Of grace for ever fresh and new!
Prayers for Emigrants.
There are some days in the early year, devoid indeed of spring
brilliance, but full of soft, heavy, steaming fragrance, pervading
the grey air with sweet odours, and fostering the growth of tender
bud and fragile stem with an unseen influence, more mild and kindly
than even the smiling sunbeam or the gushing shower. 'A growing
day,' as the country-people term such genial, gentle weather, might
not be without analogy to the brief betrothal of Louis and Mary.
Subdued and anxious, there had been little of the ordinary light of
joy, hope, or gaiety, and their pleasures had been less their own
than in preparing the happiness of their two friends. It was a time
such as to be more sweet in memory than it was in the present; and
the shade which had hung over it, the self-restraint and the
forbearance which it had elicited, had unconsciously conduced to the
development of the characters of both, preparing them to endure the
parting far more effectually than unmixed enjoyment could have done.
The check upon Louis's love of trifling, the restraint on his
spirits, the being thrown back on his own judgment when he wanted to
lean upon Mary, had given him a habit of controlling his boyish ways.
It was a call to train himself in manliness and self-reliance. It
changed him from the unstable reed he once had been, and helped him
to take one steady and consistent view of the trial required of him
and of Mary, and then to act upon it resolutely and submissively.
With Mary gone, he cared little what became of him until her letters
could arrive; and his father, with more attention to his supposed
benefit than to his wishes, carried him at once, without returning
home, to a round of visits among all his acquaintance most likely to
furnish a distracting amount of Christmas gaieties. In the midst of
these, there occurred a vacancy in the representation of a borough
chiefly under the influence of Sir Miles Oakstead; and, as it was
considered expedient that he should be brought into Parliament, his
father repaired with him at once to Oakstead, and involved him in all
the business of the election. On his success, he went with his
father to London for the session, and this was all that his friends
at Northwold knew of him. He wrote hurried notes to James or to Mr.
Holdsworth on necessary affairs connected with his farm and
improvements, mentioning facts instead of feelings, and promising to
write to Aunt Catharine when he should have time; but the time did
not seem to come, and it was easy to believe that his passiveness of
will, increased by the recent stroke, had caused him to be hurried
into a condition of involuntary practical activity.
Mary, meanwhile, was retracing her voyage, in the lull of spirits
which, after long straining, had nothing to do but to wait in
patience, bracing themselves for a fresh trial. Never suffering
herself, at sea, her first feelings, after the final wrench of
parting, were interrupted by the necessity of attending to her
friend, a young mother, with children enough to require all the
services that the indefatigable Mary could perform. If Mrs. Willis
always averred that she never could have gone through the voyage
without Miss Ponsonby, Mary felt, in return, that the little fretful
boy and girl, who would never let her sit and think, except when both
were asleep, had been no small blessing to her.
Yet Mary was not so much absorbed and satisfied with the visible and
practical as had once been the case. The growth had not been all on
Louis's side. If her steadfast spirit had strengthened his wavering
resolution, the intercourse and sympathy with him had opened and
unfolded many a perception and quality in her, which had been as
tightly and hardly cased up as leaf-buds in their gummy envelopes. A
wider range had been given to her thoughts; there was a swelling of
heart, a vividness of sensation, such as she had not known in earlier
times; she had been taught the mystery of creation, the strange
connexion with the Unseen, and even with her fellow-men. Beyond the
ordinary practical kind offices, for which she had been always ready,
there was now mingled something of Louis's more comprehensive spirit
of questioning what would do them good, and drawing food for
reflection from their diverse ways.
She was sensible of the change again and again, when sights recurred
which once had only spoken to her eye. That luminous sea, sparkling
like floods of stars, had been little more than 'How pretty! how
funny!' at her first voyage. Now, it was not only 'How Louis would
admire it!' but 'How profusely, how gloriously has the Creator spread
the globe with mysterious beauty! how marvellously has He caused His
creatures to hold forth this light, to attract others to their
needful food!' And the furrow of fire left by their vessel's wake
spoke to her of that path 'like a shining light, shining more and
more unto the perfect day.' If with it came the remembrance of his
vision of the threads of light, it was not a recollection which would
lead to repining.
And when at Cape Horn, a mighty ice mountain drifted within view,
spired, pinnacled, encrusted with whiteness, rivalled only by the
glory of the summer cloud, caverned here and there into hollows of
sapphire blue, too deeply dazzling to behold, or rising into peaks of
clear, hard, chill green; the wild fantastic points sometimes
glimmering with fragments of the rainbow arch; the rich variety,
endless beyond measure in form and colouring, and not only
magnificent and terrible in the whole maas, but lovely beyond
imagination in each crystal too minute for the eye. Mary had once,
on a like occasion, only said, 'it was very cold;' and looked to see
whether the captain expected the monster to bear down on the ship.
But the present iceberg put her in mind of the sublime aspirations
which gothic cathedrals seem as if they would fain embody. And then,
she thought of the marvellous interminable waste of beauty of those
untrodden regions, whence yonder enormous iceberg was but a small
fragment--a petty messenger--regions unseen by human eye--beauty
untouched by human hand-the glory, the sameness, yet the infinite
variety of perfect purity. Did it not seem, with all the
associations of cold, of peril, of dreariness, to be a visible token
that indeed He who fashioned it could prepare 'good things past man's
It was well for Mary that southern constellations, snowy, white-
winged albatross, leaping flying-fish, and white-capped mountain-
coast, had been joined in her mind with something higher, deeper, and
less personal, or their recurrence would have brought her nothing but
pain unmitigated in the contrast with the time when first she had
beheld them six years ago.
Then she was full of hope and eager ardour to arrive, longing for the
parental presence of which she had so long been deprived, hailing
every novel scene as a proof that she was nearer home, and without
the anticipation of one cloud, only expecting to be loved, to love,
and to be useful. And now, all fond illusions as to her father had
been snatched away, her very love for him rendering the perception
doubly cruel; her mother, her precious mother, far away in
Ormersfield churchyard--her life probably shortened by his harshness-
-her place occupied by a young girl, differing in language, in
Church, in everything--Mary's own pardon uncertain, after all her
aacrifices--A sense of having deeply offended, hung upon her; and
her heart was so entirely in England, that had her home been perfect,
her voyage must still have been a cruel effort. That one
anticipation of being set at rest by her father's forgiveness, and
the forlorn despairing hope of his relenting towards Louis, were all
she dared to dwell on; and when Mrs. Willis counted the days till she
could arrive and meet her husband, poor Mary felt as if, but for
these two chances of comfort, she could gladly have prolonged the
voyage for the rest of her life.
But one burning tropical noon, the Valdivia was entering Callao
harbour, and Mary, sick and faint at heart, was arraying herself in a
coloured dress, lest her mourning should seem to upbraid her father.
The voyage was over, the ship was anchored, boats were coming
offshore, the luggage was being hoisted out of the hold, the
passengers were congregated on deck, eager to land, some gazing with
curious and enterprising eyes on the new country, others scanning
every boat in hopes of meeting a familiar face. Mrs. Willis stood
trembling with hope, excitement, and the strange dread often rushing
in upon the last moment of expectation. She clung to Mary for
support, and once said--
'Oh, Miss Ponsonby, how composed you are!' Mary's feelings were too
deep--too much concentrated for trembling. She calmed and soothed
the wife's sudden fright, lest 'something should have happened to
George;' and she even smiled when the children's scream of ecstacy
infected their mother, when the papa and uncle they had been watching
for with straining eyes proved to be standing on deck close beside
Mary cast her eyes round, and saw nothing of her own. She stood
apart, while the Willis family were in all the rapture of the
meeting; she saw them moving off, too happy and sufficient for
themselves even to remember her. She had a dull, heavy sensation
that she must bear all, and this was the beginning; and she was about
to begin her arrangements for her dreary landing, when Mrs. Willis's
brother, Mr. Ward, turned back. He was a middle-aged merchant, whom
her mother had much liked and esteemed, and there was something
cheering in his frank, hearty greeting, and satisfaction in seeing
her. It was more like a welcome, and it brought the Willises back,
shocked at having forgotten her in the selfishness of their own joy;
but they had made sure that she had been met. Mr. Ward did not think
that she was expected by the Valdivia; Mr. Ponsonby had not mentioned
it as likely. So they were all seated in the boat, with the black
rowers; and while the Willises fondled their children, and exchanged
home-news, Mr. Ward sat by Mary, and spoke to her kindly, not openly
referring to the state of her home, but showing a warmth and
consideration which evinced much delicate sympathy.
They all drove together in the Willises' carriage up the sloping road
from Callao to Lima, and Mary heard astonishment, such as she had
once felt, breaking out in screams from the children at the sight of
omnibuses filled with gaily-dressed negroes, and brown horsewomen in
Panama hats and lace-edged trousers careering down the road. But
then, her father had come and fetched her from on board, and that
dear mamma was waiting in the carriage! They entered the old walled
town when twilight had already closed in, and Mrs. Willis was
anxious to take her tired little ones home at once. They were set
down at their own door; but Mr. Ward, with protecting anxious
kindness, insisted on seeing Miss Ponsonby safely home before he
would join them. As they drove through the dark streets, Mary heard
a little restless movement, betraying some embarrassment; and at
last, with an evident desire of reassuring her, he said, 'Senora
Rosita is thought very pleasing and engaging;' and then, as if
willing to change the subject, he hastily added, 'I suppose you did
not speak the Pizarro?'
'She has sailed about three weeks. She takes home your cousin, Mr.
Mary cried out with surprise.
'I thought him a complete fixture, but he is gone home for a year.
It seems his family property was in the market, and he was anxious to
'How glad his mother will be!' was all Mary could say, as there
rushed over her the thought of the wonderful changes this would make
in Dynevor Terrace. Her first feeling was that she must tell Louis;
her second, that two oceans were between them; and then she thought
of Aunt Catharine having lived, after all, to see her son.
She had forgotten to expect the turn when the carriage wheeled under
the arched entry of her father's house. All was gloom and stillness,
except where a little light shone in a sort of porter's lodge upon
the eager negro features of two blacks, with much gesticulation,
playing at dice. They came out hastily at the sound of the carriage;
and as Mr. Ward handed out Mary, and inquired for Mr. Ponsonby, she
recognised and addressed the white-woolled old Xavier, the mayor
domo. Poor old Xavier! Often had she hunted and teased him, and
tried to make him understand 'cosas de Inglalerra,' and to make him
cease from his beloved dice; but no sooner did he see her face than,
with a cry of joy, 'La Senorita Maria! la Seniorita Maria!' down he
went upon his knees, and began kissing the hem of her dress.
All the rest of the negro establishment came round, capering and
chattering Spanish; and, in the confusion, Mary could not get her
question heard--Where was her father? and Xavier's vehement threats
and commands to the others to be silent, did not produce a calm. At
last, bearing a light, there came forward a faded, sallow dame, with
a candle in her hand, who might have sat for the picture of the Duena
Rodriguez, and at her appearance the negroes subsided. She was an
addition to the establishment since Mary's departure; but in her
might be easily recognised the Tia, the individual who in Limenian
households holds a position between companion and housekeeper. She
introduced herself by the lugubrious appellation of Senora Dolores,
and, receiving Mary with obsequious courtesy, explained that the
Senor and Senora were at a tertulia, or evening party. She lighted
Mary and Mr. Ward into the quadra; and there Mr. Ward, shaking hands
with her as if he would thereby compensate for all that was wanting
in her welcome, promised to go and inform her father of her arrival.
Mary stood in the large dark room, with the soft matted floor, and
the windows high up near the carved timbered ceiling, the single
lamp, burning in rum, casting a dim gleam over the well-known
furniture, by which her mother had striven to give an English
appearance to the room. It was very dreary, and she would have given
the world to be alone with her throbbing head, her dull heartache,
and the weariness of spirits over-long wound up for the meeting; but
her own apartment could be no refuge until it had been cleansed and
made ready, and Dolores and Xavier were persecuting her every moment
with their hospitality and their inquiries. Then came a quick, manly
tread, and for a moment her heart almost seemed to stand still, in
the belief that it was her father; but it was only Robson, hurrying
in to offer his services and apologies. Perhaps he was the very last
person she could bear to see, feeling, as she did, that if he had
been more explicit all the offence would have been spared. He was so
much aware of all family matters, and was accustomed to so much
confidence from her father, that she could not believe him
unconscious; and there was something hateful to her in the plausible
frankness and deferential familiarity of his manners, as, brushing up
his sandy hair upon his forehead, he poured forth explanations that
Mr. Ponsonby would be delighted, but grieved that no one had met her-
-Valdivia not expected so soon--not anticipated the pleasure--if they
had imagined that Miss Ponsonby was a passenger--
'My father desired that I would come out by her,' said Mary.
'Ay, true--so he informed me; but since later intelligence'--and he
cast a glance at Mary, to judge how much further to go; but meeting
with nothing but severity, he covered the impertinence by saying, 'In
fact, though the Valdivia was mentioned, and Mrs. Willis, Mr.
Ponsonby had reason to suppose you would not receive his letters in
time to avail yourself of the escort.'
'I did so, however,' said Mary, coldly.
'Most gratifying. Mr. and Mrs. Ponsonby will be highly gratified.
In fact, Miss Ponsonby, I must confess that was a most unfortunate
blunder of mine last August. I should not have fallen into the error
had I not been so long absent at Guayaquil that I had had no
opportunity of judging of the amiable lady; and I will own to much
natural surprise and some indignation, before I had had the pleasure
of personal acquaintance with the charms and the graces--Hem! In
effect, it was a step that no one could have recommended; and when
your noble relative put it to me in so many words whether I would
counsel your continuing your journey, I could not take it on me to
urge a measure so painful to your feelings, unaware as I was then of
the amiable qualities of the lady who occupies the situation of the
highly beloved and esteemed--'
Mary could not bear to hear her mother's name in his mouth, so she
cut him short by saying, 'I suppose you thought you acted for the
best, Mr. Robson; it was very unfortunate, but it cannot be helped.
Pray can you tell me where the lad Madison is?' she added, resolved
to show him that she would not discuss these matters with him; 'I
have a parcel for him.'
'He is at the San Benito mine, Miss Ponsonby.'
'How does he go on?'
'Well--I may say very well, allowing for inexperience. He appears a
steady, intelligent lad, and I have no doubt will answer the purpose
There was one gratification for Mary, at least, in the pleasure this
would afford at home; but Robson continued making conversation about
Mr. Dynevor's visit to England, and the quantity of work this
temporary absence entailed on him; and then on the surprise it would
be to his patron to find her, and Senora Rosita's interest in her,
and the numerous gaieties of the bride, and the admiration she
excited, and his own desire to be useful. This afforded Mary an
opportunity for getting rid of him at last, by sending him to make
arrangements for her baggage to be sent from Callao the next morning.
Ten minutes more, half spent in conquering her disgust, half in sick
anticipation, and other feet were crossing the matted sala, the
curtain over the doorway was drawn aside, and there stood her father,
and a lady, all white and diamonds, by his side. He held out his
arms, Mary fell into them, and it was the same kind rough kiss which
had greeted her six years back. It seemed to be forgiveness,
consolation, strength, all at once; and their words mingled--'Papa,
you forgive me'--'Mary, my good girl, I did not think they would
have let you come back to me. This was but a dreary coming home for
you, my dear.' And then, instantly changing his language to Spanish,
he added, appealing to his wife, that had they guessed she was on
board, they would have come to meet her.
Rosita replied earnestly to that effect, and warmly embraced Mary,
pitying her for such an arrival, and hoping that Dolores had made her
comfortable. The rest of the conversation was carried on in the same
tongue. Rosita was much what Mary had expected--of a beautiful
figure, with fine eyes, and splendid raven hair, but without much
feature or expression. She looked almost like a dream to-night,
however, with her snowy robes, and the diamonds sparkling with their
dewdrop flashes in her hair and on her arms, with the fitful light
caught from the insufficient candles. All she ventured to say had a
timid gracefulness and simplicity that were very winning; and her
husband glanced more than once to see if she were not gaining upon
his daughter; and so in truth she was, personally, though it was
exceedingly painful to see her where Mary had been used to see that
dear suffering face; and it was impossible not to feel the contrast
with her father as painfully incongruous. Mr. Ponsonby was a large
man, with the jovial manner of one never accustomed to self-
restraint; good birth and breeding making him still a gentleman, in
spite of his loud voice and the traces of self-indulgence. He was
ruddy and bronzed, and his eyebrows and hair looked as if touched by
hoar frost; altogether as dissimilar a partner as could be devised
for the slender girlish being by his side.
After a little Spanish conversation, all kind on his aide, and thus
infinitely relieving Mary, they parted for the night. She laid
before him the packet of letters, which she had held all this time as
the last link to Louis, and sought his eye as she did so with a look
of appeal; but he carefully averted his glance, and she could read
Weary as she was, Mary heard again and again, through her unglazed
windows, the watchman's musical cry of 'Ave Maria purisima, las--es
temblado!' 'Viva Peru y sereno!' and chid herself for foolish
anticipations that Louis would hear and admire all the strange sounds
of the New World. The kindness of her welcome gave her a little
hope; and she went over and over again her own part of the discussion
which she expected, almost persuading herself, that Louis's own
conduct and her aunt's testimony must win the day.
She need not have spent so many hours in preparation for the morning.
She was np early, in hopes of seeing her father before he went to his
office, but he was gone for a ride. The English breakfast, which had
been established, much to his content, by her own exertions, had
quite vanished, each of the family had a cup of chocolate in private,
and there was no meeting till, late in the morning, Rosita sauntered
into her room, embraced her, made inquiries as to her rest, informed
her that she was going to the Opera that night, and begged her to
accompany her. To appear in public with Rosita was the tribute for
which Mary had come out, so she readily agreed; and thereupon the
Senora digressed into the subject of dress, and required of Mary a
display of all her robes, and an account of the newest fashions of
the English ladies. It was all with such innocent, earnest pleasure,
that Mary could not be annoyed, and good-naturedly made all her
The midday meal brought her father--still kind and affectionate, but
never dropping the Spanish, nor manifesting any consciousness of her
letters. She had hopes of the period allotted to the siesta, to
which custom, in old days, she had never acceded, but had always
spent the interval on any special occupation--above all, to writing
for him; but he went off without any notice of her, and she was in no
condition to dispense with the repose, for her frame was tired out,
though her hopes and fears could not even let her dreams rest.
Then came a drive with Rosita, resplendent in French millinery, then
supper; then the Opera, to which her father accompanied them, still
without a word. Another day was nearly the same, only that this time
she had to do her best to explain the newest fashions in behalf of a
dress of Rosita's, then being made, and in the evening to go to a
party at the Consul's, where she met Mr. Ward, and had some talk
which she might have enjoyed but for her suspense.
On the third, Rosita was made happy by unpacking an elegant little
black papier mache table, a present from Miss Ponsonby. Good
Melicent! were ever two sisters-in-law more unlike? But Lord
Ormersfield had done Rosita and her husband good service. If Aunt
Melicent had first learned the real facts, her wrath would have been
extreme--a mere child, a foreigner, a Roman Catholic, a nun! Her
horror would have known no bounds, and she would, perhaps, have
broken with her brother forever. But by making the newly-married
pair victims of injustice, the Earl had made the reality a relief,
and Melicent had written civilly to her brother, and a sisterly sort
of stiff letter to the bride--of which the Limenian could not
understand one word; so that Mary had to render it all into Spanish,
even to her good aunt's hopes that Rosita would be kind to her, and
use all her influence in favour of her happiness.
Whether Rosita would have comprehended this without Mary's blushes
might be questioned, but she did say, 'Ah! yes! you were to have
married the Visconde, were you not? El Senor was so angry! Did his
father forbid when your father refused your portion?'
'Oh no, he would receive me if I brought nothing.'
'And you wish to marry?' said Rosita.
'If my father would only consent.'
'But why did you come here then?' said Rosita, opening her large
'My father commanded me.'
'England is a long way off,' said Rosita, languidly, 'he could not
have reached you there. You would have been a great lady and noble!
How could you come away, if he would still have you?'
'Because it would have been wrong. We could not have been happy in
disobeying my father.'
'Ah! but you could have done penance. I had many penances to do for
quitting my convent; Padre Inigo was very severe, but they are over
at last, and I am free for giving alms twice a week, and the Sisters
have forgiven me, and send me so many silver flowers and dulces; I
will show them to you some day. Could you not have done penance?'
'I am afraid not.'
'Ah! I forgot you were a heretic, poor thing! How inconvenient! And
so you will not come with me to the bull-fight next Sunday?'
Such being Rosita's ideas on the point, Mary gave up much hope in her
influence, and tried what a good-humoured announcement of her re-
establishment of the English breakfast would effect towards bringing
her father to a tete-a-tete, but he never came near it. The waiting
in silence was miserable enough for herself, but she would have
continued to bear it except for the injustice to Louis, who must not
be kept in suspense. The departure of the next English mail should
be the limit of her endurance, and after a day of watching, she
finally went up to her father when he would have bidden her good
night, and said, in English, 'Papa, if you please, I must speak to
'So you shall, my dear, but we are all tired; we must have our
'No, papa, it must be to-night, if you please. It is necessary for
me to know before to-morrow how I am to write to Lord Fitzjocelyn.'
'Pshaw! Mary, I've settled that young fellow!'
'Papa, I don't think you know--'
'I've written him a civil answer, if that's what you mean, much
civiller than he or his father deserve,' he said, speaking loud, and
trying to fling away from her, but she stood her ground, and spoke
calmly and. steadily, though her heart beat violently.
'You do not understand the true state of the case, papa; and without
doing so, you cannot write such an answer aa they deserve.'
'I know this, that old Ormersfield has been the curse of my life!'
and out poured one of those torrents of fierce passion which had been
slowly but surely the death of his wife. Mary had never heard one in
the full tide before, but she stood firm; there were none of the
tears, auch as, in her mother, had been wont to exasperate him
further, but with pale cheeks, compressed lips, and hands locked
together, her heart was one silent entreaty that it might be forgiven
him above. Thus she stood while the storm of anger raged, and when
at last it had exhausted itself, he said, in a lower voice, 'And so
you are still taken with this fellow's son, this young puppy! I
thought you had more spirit and sense, Mary, or I never would have
trusted you among them.'
'There are very few people in this world half so good or so right-
minded as Fitzjocelyn,' said Mary, earnestly and deliberately. 'It
was he who bade me come to you, well knowing that we could never be
happy without your consent.'
'Oh! he did so, did he? He is deeper than I thought would not risk
your fortune. Why, Mary, I did not think a girl of your sense could
be so taken in! It is transparent, I tell you. They get you there,
flatter you up with their attentions, but when they find you too wise
for them the first time, off goes this youth to Miss Conway, finds
her a bad speculation, no heiress at all, and disposes of her to his
cousin. I wonder if he'll find old Dynevor grateful. Meanwhile the
old Lord must needs come out here, finds our gains a better prize
than he expected, trumps up this story at Valparaiso, takes you in,
and brings you home to this precious youth. And you, and your aunt
too, are ready to believe it all! I always knew that women were
fools whenever a title came in their way, I see it more than ever
now, since you and Melicent are both like the rest of 'em.'
'Papa,' said Mary, again rallying her firmness, 'we have found sadly
how easy it is to be deceived when one is not on the spot. Will you
listen to me, who saw it all?'
'No, Mary, I will not hear the nonsense they have put into your head,
my poor girl. No! I tell you it is of no use! It is my resolute
purpose that not one farthing of mine shall go to patch up the
broken-down Ormersfield property! The man is my enemy, and has sown
dissension in my family from the first moment I connected myself with
him. I'll never see my daughter his son's wife. I wonder he had the
impudence to propose it! I shall think you lost to all feeling for
your father, if you say another word about it.'
'Very well,' said Mary, with steady submission. 'Then I will only
write one more letter to Fitzjocelyn, and tell him that your
objections are insuperable, and that he must think of it no more.'
'That's right, Mary! you are a good girl, after all! You'll stand by
your father, in spite of all the House of Peers! I'm glad to see you
hold up your head so bravely. So you did fancy being a Viscountess,
did you! but it is not a heartbreaking matter either, my girl!'
This was too much for Mary, and when her father would have kissed
her, she laid her head on his shoulder and wept silently but
'Ha! what's all this? Why, you don't pretend to care for a young
mercenary scamp like that?'
'He is the noblest, most generous, most disinterested man I ever
knew!' said Mary, standing apart, and speaking clearly. 'I give him
up because--you command me, father, but I will not hear him spoken of
'Ha! ha! so long as you give him up, we won't quarrel. He shall be
all that, and more too, if you like; and we'll never fight over the
matter again, since I have you safe back, my child.'
'I do not mean to mention him again,' said Mary; 'I wish to obey
'Then there's an end of the matter. You'll get over it, my girl, and
we'll find some honest man worth two of your niggardly, proud-
spirited earls. There, I know you are a reasonable girl that can be
silent, and not go on teasing. So, Mary, you may have a cup of tea
for me to-morrow in the sala, like old times. Goodnight, my dear.'
Waiting upon himself! That was the reward that Mr. Ponsonby held out
to his daughter for crushing her first love!
But it was a reward. Anything that drew her father nearer to her was
received with gratitude by Mary, and the words of kindness in some
degree softened the blow. She had never had much hope, though now she
found it had been more than she had been willing to believe; and even
now she could not absolutely cease to entertain some hopes of the
results of Oliver's return, nor silence one lingering fancy that
Louis might yet wait unbound; although she told herself of his
vacillation between herself and Isabel, of his father's influence,
and of the certainty that he would see many more worthy of his love
than herself. Not any one who could love him so well--oh no! But
when Mary found her thoughts taking this turn, she rose up as she
lay, clasped her hands together, and repeated half aloud again and
again, 'Be Thou my all!'
And by the morning, though Mary's cheek was very white, and her eyes
sunken for want of sleep, she had a cheerful word for her father, and
a smile, the very sight of which would have gone to the heart of any
one of those from whom he had cut her off.
Then she wrote her letters. It was not so hard to make this final
severance as it had been to watch Louis's face, and think of the pain
she had to inflict. Many a time had she weighed each phrase she set
down, so that it might offend neither against sincerity nor
resignation, and yet be soothing and consoling. Some would have
thought her letter stiff and laboured, but she had learned to believe
that a grave and careful style befitted a serious occasion, and would
have thought incoherency childish or affected.
She released him entirely from his engagement, entreating him not to
rebel against the decision, but to join her in thankfulness that no
shade need be cast over the remembrance of the happy hours spent
together; and begging him not to grieve, since she had, after the
first pain, been able to acquiesce in the belief that the separation
might conduce to his happiness; and she should always regard him as
one of those most near and dear to her, and rejoice in whatever was
for his welfare, glad that his heart was still young enough to form
new ties. 'Forgive me for speaking thus,' she added; 'I know that it
may wound you now, but there may come a time when it may make you
feel more at ease and unfettered; and I could not endure to imagine
that the affection which you brought yourself to lavish on one so
unworthy, should stand in the way of your happiness for life.' She
desired him to make no answer, but to consider this as the final
dissolution: and she concluded by all that she thought would prove
most consoling, as to the present state of affairs with her; and with
a few affectionate words, to show that he was still a great deal to
her, though everything he might not be.
This done, Mary faced her life in the New World. She had to form her
habits for herself, for her importance in the house was gone; but she
went to work resolutely, and, lonely as she was, she had far more
resources than if she had never been at Ormersfield. She had many
hours to herself, and she unpacked her books, and set herself courses
of study, to which Louis had opened the door. She unveiled her eyes
to natural history, and did not find flower or butterfly unsoothing.
She undertook the not very hopeful task of teaching a tiny negro imp,
who answered the purpose of a bell, to read and work; and she was
persevering in her efforts to get Xavier and Dolores to make her
Her father was decidedly glad of her company. He liked conversation,
and enjoyed the morning meeting, to which Mr. Ward was often a
welcome addition, delighting in anything so English, and finding Miss
Ponsonby much improved by her introduction to English society.
Sometimes Mary wrote for her father, and now and then was consulted;
and she was always grateful for whatever made her feel herself of
use. She was on kind and friendly terms with Rosita, but they did
not become more intimate than at first. The Senora was swinging in a
hammock half-asleep, with a cigarette between her lips, all the
morning; and when she emerged from this torpid state, in a splendid
toilette, she had too many more congenial friends often to need her
step-daughter in her visits, her expeditions to lotteries, and her
calls on her old friends the nuns. On a fast-day, or any other
occasion that kept her at home, she either arranged her jewels,
discussed her dresses, or had some lively chatter, which she called
learning English. She coaxed, fondled, and domineered prettily over
Mr. Ponsonby; and he looked on amused, gratified her caprices,
caressed her, and seemed to regard her as a pretty pet and plaything.
THE TWO PENDRAGONS.
The red dragon and the white,
Hard together gan they smite,
With mouth, paw, and tail,
Between hem was full hard batail.
The History of Merlin.
SPRING was on the borders of summer, when one afternoon, as Clara sat
writing a note in the drawing-room, she heard a tap at the door of
the little sitting-room, and springing to open it, she beheld a
'Louis! How glad I am! Where do you come from?'
'Last from the station,' said Louis.
'What makes you knock at that door, now the drawing-room is alive?'
'I could not venture on an unceremonious invasion of Mrs. James
'You'll find no distinction of territory here,' laughed Clara. 'It
was a fiction that we were to live in separate rooms, like naughty
children. Does not the drawing-room look nice?'
'As much improved as the inhabitant. Where are the other natives?'
'Granny and Isabel are walking, and will end by picking up Jem coming
out of school. We used to wait for him so often, that at last he
said we should be laughed at, so there's a law against it which no
one dares to transgress but granny.'
'So I conclude that you are a happy family.'
'After all, it was worth spending two years at school to enjoy
properly the having it over.'
'I give Jem credit for having secured a first-rate governess for
'That she is! Why, with her I really do like reading and drawing all
the morning! I almost believe that some day I shall wake up and find
myself an accomplished young lady! And, Louis, have you read the
last Western Magazine?'
'I have read very little for sport lately.'
'Then I must tell you. Jem was bemoaning himself about having
nothing to give to the new Blind Asylum, and the next evening Isabel
brought out the prettiest little manuscript book, tied with blue
ribbon, and told him to do as he pleased with it. It was a charming
account of her expedition to the Hebrides, written out for her
sisters, without a notion of anything further; but Jem sent it to
this Magazine, and it is accepted, and the first part is out. She
will have quite a sum for it, and all is to go to the Blind Asylum!'
'Capital!--Let me take it home to night, Clara, and I will stand an
examination on it to-morrow.'
'We ask her whether she projects a sketch of the Paris Revolution,'
said Clara, laughing. 'She has a famous heap of manuscripts in her
desk, and one long story about a Sir Roland, who had his name before
she knew Jem, but it is all unfinished, she tore out a great many
pages, and has to make a new finish; and I am afraid the poor knight
is going to die of a mortal wound at his lady's feet. Isabel likes
sad things best;--but oh! here they come, and I'm talking dreadful
Three more joyous-looking people could hardly have been found than
those who entered the room, welcoming Louis with delight, and asking
what good wind had brought him.
'Partly that Inglewood is crying out for the master's eye,' said
Louis; 'and partly that my father fancied I looked fagged, and kindly
let me run down for a holiday.'
'I am of his mind,' said Mrs. Frost, tenderly; 'there is an M.P.
expression gathering on your brows, Louis.'
'For you to dispel, Aunt Kitty. I told him you were the best
dissipation, and Virginia was of the same mind. Isabel, she says
Dynevor Terrace is the only place she ever wishes to see again.'
'Do you often see Virginia?' asked Isabel.
'Not unless I go early, and beg for her; and then she generally has
some master. That last onset of accomplishments is serious!'
'Yes,' said Isabel, 'the sense of leisure and tranquillity here is
'Not leisure in the sense of idleness,' said James.
'No,' said Isabel; 'but formerly idle requirements thronged my time,
and for nothing worth doing could I find leisure.'
'There is nothing more exacting than idle requirements,' said James.
'Pray is Clara accepting that invitation? Come to dinner, Louis, and
give us an excuse.'
'No, he won't,' said Mrs. Frost, 'he will take my side. These young
people want to cast off all their neighbours.'
'Now, granny,' exclaimed James, 'have we not dutifully dined all
round? Did not Isabel conduct Clara to that ball? Is it not hard to
reproach us with sighing at an evening immolated at the shrine of the
'Well, my dears, you must judge.'
'I am ready to do whatever you think right; I leave you to settle
it,' said Isabel, moving out of the room, that Louis might be free
for a more intimate conversation.
'Now,' cried James, 'is it in the nature of things that she should
live in such society as Mrs. Walby's and Mrs. Richardson's? People
who call her Mrs. James!'
'Such a queen as she looks among them!' said Clara.
'One comfort is, they don't like that,' said James. 'Even Mrs.
Calcott is not flattered by her precedence. I hope we shall soon be
dropped out of their parties. As long as I do my duty by their sons,
what right have they to impose the penance of their society on my
wife? All the irksomeness of what she has left, and none of the
'Blissful solitude' said Louis, 'thereto I leave you.'
'You are not going yet! You mean to dine here?' was the cry.
'My dear friends,' he said, holding up his hands, 'if you only knew
how I long to have no one to speak to!'
'You crying out for silence!' exclaimed James.
'I am panting for what I have not had these five months--space for my
thoughts to turn round.'
'Surely you are at liberty to form your own habits!' said James.
'I am told so whenever my father sees me receive a note,' said Louis,
wearily; 'but I see that, habituated as he is to living alone, he is
never really at ease unless I am in the way; so I make our hours
agree as far as our respective treadmills permit; and though we do
not speak much, I can never think in company.'
'Don't you have your rides to yourself?'
'Why, no. My father will never ride enough to do him good, unless he
wants to do me good. People are all surprised to see him looking so
well; the country lanes make him quite blooming.'
'But not you, my poor boy,' said his aunt; 'I am afraid it is a sad
'There now, Aunt Kitty, I am gone. I must have the pleasure of
looking natural sometimes, without causing any vituperation of any
one beyond seas.'
'You shall look just as you please if you will only stay. We are
just going to dinner.'
'Thank you, let me come to-morrow. I shall be better company when I
have had my sulk out.'
His aunt followed him to the stairs, and he turned to her, saying,
anxiously, 'No letter?' She shook her head. 'It would be barely
possible,' he said, 'but if it would only come while I am at home in
'Ah! this is sadly trying!' said she, parting his hair on his brow as
he stood some steps below her, and winning a sweet smile from him.
'All for the best,' he said. 'One thing may mitigate another. That
political whirlpool might suck me in, if I had any heart or hopes for
it. And, on the other hand, it would be very unwholesome to be left
to my own inertness--to be as good for nothing as I feel.'
'My poor dear boy, you are very good about it. I wish you could have
'I did not come to make you sad, Aunt Kitty,' he replied, smiling;
'no; I get some energy back when I remember that this may be a
probation. Her mother would not have thought me man enough, and that
is what I have to work for. Whether this end well or not, she is the
leading star of my life.' And, with the renewal of spirit with which
he had spoken, he pressed his aunt's hand, and ran down stairs.
When he rode to Northwold, the following afternoon, having spent the
morning in walking over his fields, he overtook a most comfortable
couple--James and Isabel, returning from their holiday stroll, and
Louis, leaving his horse at the inn, and joining them, began to hear
all their school affairs. James had thrown his whole heart into his
work, had been making various reforms, introducing new studies,
making a point of religious instruction, and meditating on a course
of lectures on history, to be given in the evenings, the attendance
to be voluntary, but a prize held out for proficiency. Louis took up
the subject eagerly, and Isabel entered into the discussion with all
her soul, and the grammar-school did indeed seem to be in a way to
become something very superior in tone to anything Northwold had
formerly seen, engrossing as it did all the powers of a man of such
ability, in the full vigour of youth.
Talking earnestly, the trio had reached the Terrace, and James was
unlatching the iron gate, when he interrupted himself in the midst of
detailing his views on modern languages to say, 'No, I have nothing
'Sir, I beg your pardon!' was the quick reply from a withered, small,
but not ill-dressed old man, 'I only asked--'
'Let the lady pass,' said James, peremptorily, wishing to save his
wife from annoyance, 'it is of no use, I never look at petitions.'
'Surely he is not a beggar!' said Isabel, as he drew her on.
'You may be easy about him, my dear,' said James. 'He has laid hold
of Louis, who would swallow the whole Spanish legion of impostors.
He will be after us directly with a piteous story.'
Louis was after him, with a face more than half arch fun--'Jem, Jem,
it is your uncle!'
'Nonsense! How can you be so taken in! Don't go and disappoint
granny--I'll settle him.'
'Take care, Jem--it is Oliver, and no mistake! Why, he is as like
you as Pendragon blood can make him! Go and beg his pardon.'
James hastened down stairs, as Louis bounded up--sought Mrs. Frost in
the sitting-rooms, and, without ceremony, rushed up and knocked at
the bed-room door. Jane opened it.
'He is come!' cried Louis--'Oliver is come.'
Old Jane gave a shriek, and ran back wildly, clapping her hands. Her
mistress started forward--'Come!--where?'
'Here!--in the hall with Jem.'
He feared that he had been too precipitate, for she hid her face in
her hands; but it was the intensity of thanksgiving; and though her
whole frame was in a tremor, she flew rather than ran forward, never
even seeing Louis's proffered arm. He had only reached the landing-
place, when beneath he heard the greeting--'Mother, I can take you
home--Cheveleigh is yours.' But to her the words were drowned in her
own breathless cry--'My boy! my boy!' She saw, knew, heard nothing,
save that the son, missed and mourned for thirty-four years, was safe
within her arms, the longing void filled up. She saw not that the
stripling had become a worn and elderly man,--she recked not how he
came. He was Oliver, and she had him again! What was the rest to
Those words? They might be out of taste, but Fitzjocelyn guessed
that to speak them at the first meeting had been the vision of
Oliver's life--the object to which he had sacrificed everything.
And yet how chill and unheeded they fell!
Louis could have stood moralizing, but his heart had begun to throb
at the chance that Oliver brought tidings of Mary. He felt himself
an intrusive spectator, and hastened into the drawing-room, when
Clara nearly ran against him, but stood still. 'I beg your pardon,
but what is Isabel telling me? Is it really?'
'Really! Kindred blood signally failed to speak.'
Clara took a turn up and down the room. 'I say, Louis, ought I to go
'No; leave him and granny to their happiness,' said Louis; and James,
at the same moment running up, threw himself into a chair, with an
'Dear grandmamma!' said Isabel; 'I hope it is not too much for her.'
James made no answer.
'Are you disappointed in him, dear James?' she continued.
'I could not be disappointed,' he answered, shortly.
'Poor man--he has a poor welcome among you,' said Louis.
'Welcome is not to be bought,' said James. 'I could not stand
hearing him reply to poor granny's heartfelt rapture with his riches
and his Cheveleigh, as if that were all she could prize.'
Steps were mounting the stairs, and the alert, sharp tones of Oliver
were heard--'Married then? Should have waited--done it in style.'
James and Isabel glanced at each other in amused indignation; and
Mrs. Frost entered, tremulous with joy, and her bright hazel eyes
lustrous with tears, as she leant on the arm of her recovered son.
He was a little, spare, shrivelled man, drolly like his nephew, but
with all the youthfulness dried out of him, the freckles multiplied
by scores, and the keen black eyes sunken, sharpened, and surrounded
with innumerable shrewd puckers. The movements were even more brisk,
as if time were money; and in speech, the small change of particles
was omitted, and every word seemed bitten off short at the end; the
whole man, in gesture, manner, and voice, an almost grotesque
caricature of all James's peculiarities.
'Mrs. Roland Dynevor, I presume? said Oliver, as Isabel came forward
to meet him.
'Never so known hitherto,' returned her husband. 'My wife is Mrs.
James Frost, if you please.'
'That is over now,' said Oliver, consequentially; and as his mother
presented to him 'poor Henry's little Clara,' he kissed her
affectionately, saying, 'Well-grown young lady, upon my word! Like
her father--that's right.'
'Here is almost another grandchild,' said Mrs. Frost--'Louis
Fitzjocelyn--not much like the Fitzjocelyn you remember, but a new
M.P. as he was then.'
'Humph!' said Oliver, with a dry sound, apparently expressing, 'So
that is what our Parliament is made of. Father well?' he asked.
'Quite well, thank you, sir.'
Oliver levelled his keen eyes on him, as though noting down
observations, while he was burning for tidings of Mary, yet held back
by reserve and sense of the uncongeniality of the man. His aunt,
however, in the midst of her own joy, marked his restless eye, and
put the question, whether Mary Ponsonby had arrived?
'Ha! you let her go, did you?' said Oliver, turning on Louis. 'I
told her father you'd be no such fool. He was in a proper rage at
your letter, but it would have blown over if you had stuck by her,
and he is worth enough to set you all on your legs.'
Louis could not bring himself to make any answer, and his mother
interrupted by a question as to Dona Rosita.
'Like all the rest. Eyes and feet, that's all. Foolish business!
But what possessed Ormersfield to make such a blunder? I never saw
Ponsonby in such a tantrum, and his are no trifles.'
'It was all the fault of your clerk, Robson,' said James; 'he would
not refute the story.'
'Sharp fellow, Robson,' chuckled Oliver; 'couldn't refute it. No; as
he told me, he knew the way Ponsonby had gone on ever since his wife
went home, and of late he had sent him to Guayaquil, about the
Equatorial Navigation--so he had seen nothing;--and, says he to me,
he had no notion of bringing out poor Miss Ponsonby--did not know
whether her father would thank him; and yet the best of it is, that
he pacifies Ponsonby with talking of difficulty of dealing with
preconceived notions. Knows how to get hold of him. Marriage would
never have been if he had been there, but it was the less damage.
Mary would have had more reason to have turned about, if she had not
found him married.'
'But, Oliver,' said his mother, 'I thought this Robson was an honest
man, in whom you had entire confidence!'
'Ha! ha! D'ye think I'd put that in _any_ man? No, no; he knows how
far to go with me. I've plenty of checks on him. Can't get business
done but by a wide-awake chap like that.'
'Is Madison under him?' asked Louis, feeling as if he had been
apprenticing the boy to a chief of banditti.
'The lad you sent out? Ay. Left him up at the mines. Sharp fellow,
but too raw for the office yet.'
'Too scrupulous!' said James, in an undertone, while his uncle was
explaining to his mother that he could not have come away without
leaving Robson to manage his affairs, and Mr. Ponsonby, and telling
exultingly some stories of the favourite clerk's sharp practice.
The party went down together in a not very congenial state.
Next to Mrs. Frost's unalloyed gladness, the most pleasant spectacle
was old Jane, who volunteered her services in helping to wait, that
she might have the delight of hovering about Master Oliver, to whom
she attended exclusively, and would not let Charlotte so much as
offer him the potatoes. And Charlotte was in rather an excited state
at the presence of a Peruvian production, and the flutter of
expecting a letter which would make her repent of the smiles and
blushes she had expended over an elaborate Valentine, admired as an
original production, and valued the more, alas! because poor Marianne
had received none. Charlotte was just beginning to repent of her
ungenerous triumph, and agitation made her waiting less deft and
pretty than usual; but this mattered the less, since to Oliver any
attendance by women-servants was a shock, as were the small table and
plain fare; and he looked round uneasily.
'Here is an old friend, Oliver,' said his mother, taking up a curious
'I see. It will take some time to get up the stock of plate. I
shall give an order as I pass through London. To be engraved with
the Dynevor crest as before, or would you prefer the lozenge, ma'am?'
'Oh, my dear, don't talk of it now! I am only sorry this is nothing
but mutton-broth; but that's what comes of sudden arrivals, Oliver.'
'It shall be remedied at home,' said Oliver, as if he considered
mutton-broth as one degree from famine.
'I know you had it for me,' said Louis. 'If Jane excels in one art
before all others, it is in mutton-broth.'
Oliver darted a glance as if he imagined this compliment to be mere
derision of his mother and Jane.
Things went on in this style all the evening. Oliver had two ideas-
Cheveleigh, and the Equatorial Steam Navigation Company--and on these
he rang the changes.
There was something striking in his devotion of a lifetime to redeem
his mother's fortunes, but the grandeur was not easily visible in the
detail. He came down on Dynevor Terrace as a consequential, moneyed
man, contemptuous of the poverty which he might have alleviated, and
obtruding tardy and oppressive patronage. He rubbed against the new
generation in too many places for charity or gratitude to be easy.
He was utterly at variance with taste, and openly broached unworthy
sentiments and opinions, and his kindness and his displeasure were
equally irksome. If such repugnance to him were felt even by Louis,
the least personally affected, and the best able to sympathize with
his aunt; it was far stronger in James, abhorring patronage, sensible
that, happen what might, his present perfect felicity must be
disturbed, and devoid of any sentiment for Cheveleigh that could make
the restoration compensate for the obligation so unpleasantly
enforced; and Isabel's fastidious taste made her willing to hold
aloof as far as might be without vexing the old lady.
There was no amalgamation. Fitzjocelyn and Isabel were near the
window, talking over her former home and her sisters, and all the
particulars of the society which she had left, and he had entered;
highly interesting to themselves and to the listening Clara, but to
the uninitiated sounding rather like 'taste, Shakspeare, and the
Oliver and his mother, sitting close together, were living in an old
world; asking and answering many a melancholy question on friends,
dead or lost sight of, and yet these last they always made sure that
they should find when they went home to Cheveleigh--that home to
which the son reverted with unbroken allegiance; while the whole was
interspersed with accounts of his plans, and explanations of his vast
designs for the renovation of the old place.
James hovered on the outskirts of both parties, too little at ease to
attach himself to either; fretted by his wife's interest in a world
to which he was a stranger, impatient of his uncle's plans, and
trebly angered by observing the shrewd curious glances which the old
man cast from time to time towards the pair by the window.
Fortunately, Mrs. Frost was still too absolutely wrapt in maternal
transport to mark the clouds that were gathering over her peace. To
look at her son, wait on him, and hear his voice, so fully satisfied
her, that as yet it made little difference what that voice said, and
it never entered her mind to suppose that all her dear ones were not
sharing her bliss.
'You were the first to tell me,' she said, as she bade Louis good
night with fondness additional to her messenger of good news; but, as
he pressed her dear old trembling hand, his heart misgave him whether
her joy might not be turned to pain; and when he congratulated Jane,
and heard her call it a blessed day, he longed to be certain that it
would prove so.
And, before he could sleep that night, he wrote a letter to Tom
Madison, warning him to let no temptation nor bad example lead him
aside from strict justice and fair dealing; and advising him rather
to come home, and give up all prospects of rising, than not preserve
James and Isabel were not merciful to their uncle when they could
speak of him without restraint; and began to conjecture his
intentions with regard to them.
'You don't wish to become an appendage to Cheveleigh?' said James,
'I! who never knew happiness till I came here!'
'I do not know what my uncle may propose,' said James, 'but I know
you coincide in my determination that he shall never interfere with
the duties of my office.'
'You do not imagine that he wishes it?'
'I know he wishes I were not in Holy Orders. I knew he disliked it
at the time of my ordination; but if he wished me to act according to
his views, he should have given himself the right to dictate.'
'By not neglecting you all your youth.'
'Not that I regret or resent what concerns myself; but it was his
leaving me a burden on my grandmother that drove me to become a
clergyman, and a consistent one I will be, not an idle heir-apparent
to this estate, receiving it as his gift, not my own birthright.'
'An idle clergyman! Never! never!' cried Isabel. 'I should not
believe it was you! And the school--you could not leave it just as
your plans are working, and the boys improving?'
'Certainly not; it would be fatal to abandon it to that stick,
Powell. Ah! Isabel,' as he looked at her beautiful countenance, 'how
I pity the man who has not a high-minded wife! Suppose you came
begging and imploring me not to give any umbrage to the man, because
you so doted upon diamonds.'
'The less merit when one has learnt that they are very cold hard
stones,' said Isabel, smiling.
Isabel was a high-minded wife, but she would have been a still better
one if her loving admiration had allowed her to soften James, or to
question whether pride and rancour did not lurk unperceived in the
midst of the really high and sound motives that prompted him.
While their grandmother could only see Oliver on the best side, James
and Isabel could only see him on the worst, and lost the greatness of
the design in the mercenary habits that exclusive perseverance in it
had produced. It had been a false greatness, but they could not
grant the elevation of mind that had originally conceived it.
The following day was Sunday, and nothing worse took place than
little skirmishes, in which the uncle and nephew's retort and
rejoinder were so drolly similar, that Clara found herself thinking
of Miss Faithfull's two sandy cats over a mouse; but she kept her
simile to herself, finding that Isabel regarded the faintest,
gentlest comparison of the two gentlemen almost as an affront. All
actual debate was staved off by Mrs. Frost's entreaty that business
discussion should be deferred. 'Humph!' said Oliver, 'you reign
here, ma'am, but that's not the way we get on at Lima.'
'I dare say,' said James.
Mrs. Frost's joy was still undimmed. It was almost a trance of
gladness, trembling in her smile, and overflowing in her eye, at
every congratulation and squeeze of the hand from her friends.
'Dear Jemmy,' said she, taking his arm as they went home in the
evening, 'did not that psalm seem meant for us?--'If riches increase,
set not your heart upon them.''
James had been thinking it meant for some one; but, as he said,
'certainly not for you, dear granny.'
'Ah! snares of wealth were set far enough from me for a time! I
never felt so covetous as when there was a report that there was to
be an opposition school. But now your dear uncle is bringing
prosperity back, I must take care not to set my heart even on what he
has gained for me.'
'I defy riches to hurt you,' said James, smiling.
'Ah! Jemmy, you didn't know me as a county grandee,' she said, with
a bright sad look, 'when your poor grandpapa used to dress me up.
I'm an old woman now, past vanities, but I never could sit as loose
to them as your own dear wife does. I never tried. Well, it will be
changed enough; but I shall be glad to see poor old Cheveleigh. It
does me good to hear poor Oliver call it home. If only we had your
'To me Dynevor Terrace is home,' said James.
'A happy home it has been,' said the old lady.
''Goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life!' And
now, Oliver, whom I never thought to see again--oh! what can I do to
be thankful enough! I knew what he was doing! I knew he was not
what you all thought him! And roughing it has been no harm to you or
Clara, and it is all over now! And the dear old place comes back to
the old name. Oh, James, I can sometimes hardly contain myself--that
my poor boy has done it, and all for me, and his brother's children!'
James could scarcely find it in his heart to say a single word to
damp her joy, and all his resolution enabled him to do was to say
gently, 'You know, dear granny, we must not forget that I am a
'I know. I have been telling your uncle so; but we can do something.
You might take the curacy, and do a great deal of good. There used
to be wild places sadly neglected in my time. I hope that, since it
has been given back to us, we may feel it more as a stewardship than
I did when it was mine.'
James sighed, and looked softened and thoughtful.
'Your uncle means to purchase an annuity for Jane,' she added; 'and
if we could only think what to do for the Faithfulls! I wonder
whether they would come and stay with us. At least they can never
vex themselves again at not paying rent!'
After a pause--'Jem, my dear, could you manage to give your uncle the
true account of your marriage? He admires Isabel very much, I can
tell you, and is pleased at the connexion. But I fancy, though he
will not say so, that Mr. Ponsonby has desired him to find out all he
can about Louis; and unluckily they have persuaded themselves that
poor Louis courted Isabel, supposing that she was to have
Beauchastel, and, finding his error, betook himself to Mary.'
'Turning Isabel over to me! Extremely flattering.'
'Now, Jem, don't be angry. It is only foolish talk! But unluckily
I can't persuade your uncle not to think the real story all my
partiality; and you might do much more, if it be not too unpleasant
'Thank you, granny, it is out of the question. If it were as he does
us the honour to imagine, I should be the last person to confess it.
My evidence could be of no service to Fitzjocelyn, when my uncle's
maxim is to place confidence in no one. The sole refutation in my
power is the terms on which we meet.'
'Now, I have vexed you. I wish I had said nothing about it; but when
dear Louis's happiness may depend on his report--'
'If I were base enough to have acted as he supposes, I should be base
enough to deny it. There is not enough to be hoped to make me speak
with unreserve on such a subject.'
He saved himself from saying--to such a man; but the shrewd,
suspicious old bachelor was not an inviting confidant for the
vicissitudes of delicate and tender feelings of such recent date, and
Mrs. Frost reproached herself with asking too much of her proud,
The black gown and trencher cap by no means gratified Oliver, when
James set off to school on Monday morning; but he consoled himself
with observing, 'We shall soon put an end to that.'
'James is quite devoted to the school,' said Isabel, and she was
answered by the dry growl.
'It will be a hard thing to transplant our young people,' said Mrs.
Frost, 'they have managed to be very happy here.'
'So hard of transplantation that I doubt the possibility,' said
Isabel. 'You have made us take very deep root here.'
'Have you ever seen Cheveleigh, Mrs. Dynevor?'
'Poor Oliver! you and I think no place equal to our birthplace,' said
'I should think Mrs. Roland Dynevor would find it compensation. How
many beds did we make up, mother, the year my father was sheriff?'
'You must go to Jane for that,' said his mother, laughing. 'I'm sure
I never knew.'
'I believe it was twenty-seven,' said Oliver, gravely. 'I know there
were one hundred and eighty-five persons at the ball, and that the
room was hung with blue brocade, mother; and you opened the ball with
Lord Francis. I remember you had violet satin and white blonde.'
'My dear, how can you remember such things! You were a little bit of
'I was sixteen' said Oliver. 'It was the year '13. I will have the
drawing-room hung with blue brocade, and I think Mrs. Roland Dynevor
will own that nothing can exceed it.'
'Very likely,' said Isabel, indifferently; and she escaped, beckoning
with her Clara, who was rather entertained with the reminiscences
over which granny and Uncle Oliver seemed ready to linger for ever;
and yet she was rather ashamed of her own amusement and interest,
when she heard her sister-in-law say, 'If he did but know how weary I
am of that hateful thing, a great house!'
'I hope Cheveleigh is not grander than Ormersfield,' said Clara, in
an odd sort of voice.
The ladies, for the first time, did not sit together this morning.
Clara practised, and Isabel took the Chapel in the Valley out of her
desk, and began a process of turning the Sir Roland into Sir Hubert.
Oliver and his mother were in the sitting-room, and, on James's
return from school in the middle of the day, he was summoned thither.
Mrs. Frost was sitting by the fire, rather tearful and nervous, and
her son stood full in the front, as dignified and magnanimous as size
and features would permit, and the same demeanour was instantly and
unconsciously assumed by his nephew, who was beyond measure chafed by
the attempt at a grand coup,
'I have requested your presence,' began Oliver, 'as the eldest son of
my elder brother, and thus, after my mother, the head of our family.
You are aware that when unfortunate circumstances involved my
mother's property, it was my determination to restore the inheritance
to her, and to my dear brother Henry. For this object, I have worked
for the last thirty-four years, and a fortunate accident having
brought our family estate into the market, I have been enabled to
secure it. I am now ready to make it over to my mother, with entail
to yourself and your heirs, as representatives of my brother Henry,
and settling five thousand pounds on your sister, as the portion to
which the younger children of our family have always been entitled.
If you are willing to reside at our family seat with my mother, I
will assure you of a suitable allowance during her lifetime, and--'
Nothing was more intolerable to a man like James than a shower of
obligations; and his spirit, angered at the very length of the
address, caught at the first opening for avoiding gratitude, and
beheld in the last proposal an absolute bribe to make him sacrifice
his sacred ministry, and he burst forth, 'Sir, I am much obliged to
you, but no offers shall induce me to forsake the duties of my
'You mistake, if you think I want anything unclerical. No occasion
to hunt--Mr. Tresham used in my day--no one thought the worse of him
-unlucky your taking Orders.'
'There is no use in entering on that point,' said James. 'No other
course was left open to me, and my profession cannot be taken up nor
laid down as a matter of convenience.'
'Young men are taught to think more seriously than they were in our
day,' said Mrs. Frost. 'I told you that you must not try to make him
'Well! well! good living may be had perhaps. Move to Cheveleigh, and
look out for it at leisure, if nothing else will content him. But
we'll have this drudgery given up. I'll not go home and show my
nephew, heir of the Dynevors, keeping a third-rate grammar-school,'
said Oliver, with his one remaining Eton quality of contempt for
The Northwold scholar and master were both roused to arms in James.
'Sir,' he said, 'you should have thought of that when you left this
heir of the Dynevors to be educated by the charity of this third-rate
'Is this your gratitude, sir!' passionately exclaimed Oliver; 'I, who
have toiled my whole life for your benefit, might look for another
'It was not for me,' said James. 'It was for family pride. Had it
been from the affection that claims gratitude, you would not have
left your mother in her old age, to labour unaided for the support of
your brother's orphans. For ourselves, I thank you; the habits
nurtured by poverty are the best education; but I cannot let you
suppose that a grand theatrical restoration can atone to me for
thirty years' neglect of my grandmother, or that my gratitude can be
extorted by benefactions at the expense of her past suffering.'
'Jem! dear Jem! what are you saying!' cried Mrs. Frost. 'Don't you
know how kindly your uncle meant? Don't you know how happy we have
'You may forgive. You are his mother, and you were injured, but I
can never forget what I have seen you undergo.'
'You foolish boy, to forget all our happiness--'
'Nor,' proceeded James, 'can I consent to forego the career of
usefulness that has been opened to me.'
'But, Jem, you could be so useful in the parish! and your uncle could
not wish you to do anything unhandsome by the trustees--'
'I wish him to do nothing, ma'am,' said Oliver. 'If he is too high
and mighty to accept a favour, it is his own loss. We can do without
him, if he prefers the Fitzjocelyn patronage. Much good may it do
James deigned no answer, looked at his watch, and found it time to
return to the school.
Oliver broke out into angry exclamations, and his mother did her
utmost to soothe him. He had no turn for being a country-gentleman,
he was fit for nothing but his counting-house, and he intended to
return thither as soon as he had installed his mother at Cheveleigh;
and so entirely did all his plans hinge upon his nephew, that even
now he was persuaded to hold out his forgiveness, on condition that
James would apologize, resign the school, and call himself Dynevor.
Mrs. Frost hoped that Isabel would prevail on her husband to listen
favourably; but Isabel gloried in his impracticability, and would
have regarded any attempt at mediation as an unworthy effort to turn
him aside from the path of duty. She replied, that she would never
say a word to change his notions of right, and she treated poor
Oliver with all the lofty reserve that she had formerly practised
upon possible suitors.
When Fitzjocelyn came in the afternoon to take leave, before his
return to London, Mrs. Frost begged him to use his influence with
James. 'Who would have thought it would have so turned out?' she
said. 'My poor Oliver! to be so met after all his generous plans!
and yet Jem does want to do right!'
Unfortunately, Louis felt that, to own Oliver's generosity, it was
necessary to be out of sight of him; and finding that there was
silence and constraint in the drawing-room, he asked Isabel to walk
with him to meet James.
'One breathes freely!' said she, as they left the house. 'Was there
ever a more intolerable man?'
'Never was a man who made a more unlucky error in judgment.'
'And that is all you call it?'
'The spurious object warped the mind aside,' said Louis. 'The grand
idea was too exclusive, and now he suffers for the exclusiveness. It
is melancholy to see the cinder of a burnt-offering to Mammon,
especially when the offering was meant for better things.'
In this strain he chose to talk, without coming to particulars, till,
near the corner of the old square, they met the shouting throng of
boys, and presently James himself, descending the steps of the grim
old grey building.
'I thought you would forgive me for coming to meet you under such an
escort,' said Isabel, 'especially as it was to escape from our
'Poor man! it was a great pity he did not come last year!' said
'I am glad I have no temptation to bend to his will,' returned James.
'Ha! I like the true core of the quarrel to display itself.'
'Fitzjocelyn, you do not mean that you do not fully approve of the
course I have taken!'
'Extremely magnanimous, but not quite unprecedented. Witness St.
Ronan's Well, where the younger Scrogie abjures the name of Mowbray.'
'Pshaw! Louis, can't you understand? Frost is a glorious name to
me, recording my grandmother's noble exertions on our behalf, but I
can imagine it to be hateful to him, recalling the neglect that made
her slaving necessary.'
'For which amiable reason you insist on obtruding it. Pray, are the
houses henceforth to be Frost Terrace or Arctic Row?'
'Are you come to laugh or to remonstrate?' exclaimed James, stopping.
'Oh! you want to put on your armour! Certainly, I should never tell
if I were come to remonstrate, nor should I venture in such a case--'
'Then you are come to approve,' said Isabel. I knew it!'
'Little you two care--each of you sure of an admiring double.'
'I care for your opinion as much as ever I did,' said James.
'Exactly so,' said Louis, laughing.
'I desire to have your judgment in this matter.'
'If I could judge, I would,' said Louis. 'I see you right in
principle, but are you right in spirit? I own my heart bleeds for
Aunt Kitty, regaining her son to battle with her grandson.'
'I am very sorry for her,' said James; 'but it can't be helped. I
cannot resign my duties here for the sake of living dependent on a
'Ah! Jem! Jem! Oliver little knew the damage his neglect did you.'
'The fostering an ugly little imp of independence.'
'Aye! you grandees have naturally a distaste for independence, and
make common cause against it.'
'Especially when in a rabid state. Take care, Jem. Independence
never was a Christian duty yet--'
'Then, you want me to go and live on the hoards for the sake of which
my grandmother was left to toil. You would like to see me loitering
about, pensioned to swell the vanity of Cheveleigh, neglecting my
vows, forsaking my duties--'
'You unreasonable man! Is there no way in this whole world for you
to do your duty as a clergyman, but hearing Northwold boys the Latin
'Then, what do you want me to do?'
'I don't want you to do anything. You are the man to know what is
right; only, Isabel, don't help him to hate people more than can
possibly be avoided; and don't break dear Aunt Kitty's heart amongst
you. That's what I care most about!'
When Louis bade his aunt farewell, he threw his arm round her neck,
looked fondly at her, and said, 'Dear aunt, you won't let them tease
'No, my dear, I am getting past being teased,' she said. 'Vexations
don't hurt me as much as love does me good, and they'll not forget
their affection. It is all goodness in Jem, and poor Oliver will
understand it when I have got him into our home ways again; but he
has been so long away from home, poor fellow!'
'That's right. I won't be uneasy for you. Squabble as they will,
they won't hurt you. But, oh! Dynevor Terrace without you!'
'Ah! you must come to me at _home_!'
'Home! I'm like Jem, jealous for this old house.'
'It is odd how little I feel these things,' said his aunt. 'If any
one had told me, when I tore myself away from Cheveleigh, that I
should have it back, how little I should have thought that I could
take it so easily! I wonder at myself when I wake in the morning
that I am not more moved by it, nor by leaving this dear old place.
I suppose it is because I have not long to stay anywhere. I can keep
nothing in my head, but that I have got my Oliver!'
'I believe it is the peace that is not of this world!' said Louis.
ROLAND AND OLIVER
'Twas old ancestral pride,
'Twas hope to raise a fallen house
From penury's disgrace,
To purchase back from usurers
The birthright of his race.
The Lump of Gold--C. MACKAY.
Mary's letter arrived not long after Louis's return to London; and
her calm, serious, beautifully-expressed farewell came upon him at
last like a blow which had been long impending, but of which
preparation had failed to lessen the weight.
'Ah!' said the Earl, when the chief part had been read to him, 'she
is admirable and excellent as ever. It is a great disappointment
that she is unattainable, but I am glad she writes so sensibly, and
sees that it is right you should think no more about her. After all,
the connexion with that fellow Ponsonby might have been very
troublesome, and it is well, as she says, that it was all over while
you are so young.'
'Young or old, there is no other Mary in the world,' said Louis,
'We will say no more about it now. I understand you, but you will
think differently by-and-by.'
Louis did not answer. He knew that others might have been deceived
by the tardiness and uncertainty of his attachment, but that it had
taken such deep root, that he believed he could no more detach
himself from Mary than if she were his wife. His heart fainted as he
thought of years without the strength and soothing which her very
letter breathed forth; as he pictured to himself alternations between
his chill and stately home and the weary maze of London, foresaw
persuasions from his father to induce him to form some new
attachment, and dreaded to think of the facility with which, perhaps,
he might still be led out of his own convictions. Yet he still
believed that patience and perseverance would win the day, and tried
to derive encouragement and energy from the thought that this might
be a trial sent for the very purpose of training him in
A strong impulse drew him to Bryanston Square, where Miss Ponsonby
was very kind and warm, the more so because she had discovered how
much easier it had been to say than to unsay, and strongly regretted
the injustice she had done him. He had the satisfaction of talking
for a good hour about Mary, and of sending a message, that he did not
write because he wished to be guided by her in everything, and that
he was striving to work so as to please her. The conversation ended
with some good auguries as to the effect of Oliver's return to Peru;
and Louis went away cheered, bearing the final dismissal better than
his father had expected. Lord Ormersfield attributed his
tranquillity to having his mind settled; and so it was, though not
quite as his lordship imagined.
Meantime, there was a lull at Dynevor Terrace. Oliver was gone to
take possession and furnish the mansion, and Mrs. Frost's great
object was to keep the subject from irritating her grandson, so as to
save him from binding himself by any rash vows. Cheveleigh was
treated in the domestic circle with judicious silence, Oliver's
letters were read by his mother in private, and their contents
communicated to Jane alone, whose happiness was surpassing, and her
contempt for Dynevor Terrace quite provoking to poor Mrs. Martha.
'Really,' said Charlotte one day, 'I don't think a catastrophe is
half so pretty as it ought to be. Mr. Oliver is but a poor little
puny man, and I never knew Mr. James so hard to please.'
Charlotte and Marianne had begun to merge their rivalry in honest
friendship, cemented by Marianne's increasing weakness, and
difficulty in getting through even the light work her mistress
required. Jane petted her now still more than Charlotte, and was
always promising her the delightful air and the luxuries of
'See here, Charlotte,' said Marianne, one afternoon when they sat
down together to their sewing; Marianne's eyes were brighter, and her
cheeks pinker, than for many days--'See here; it is for your good I
show it you, that you mayn't build on no false expectations. It was
marked private; but I think it but fair you should see.'
'Mine was marked private too,' said Charlotte, slowly, as she fixed
her eyes on the envelope Marianne held out to her, and putting her
hand into her pocket, pulled out a similar one, directed to Miss
Marianne scarcely suppressed a shriek, gasped, and turned pale. Each
lady then proceeded to unfold a pink sheet of note-paper, containing
an original copy of verses, each labelled, 'On a hair of --.' Then
came a scented shining note, requesting to be informed whether the
right construction had been put on some words that had dropped from
the Miss Conways, and if it were true that the reverend and respected
Mr. F. Dynevor had come into a large fortune. In that case, Mr.
Delaford, mercenary considerations apart, would take the earliest
opportunity of resigning his present position, and entering the
family which contained his charmer.
The Merry Wives were parodied by the hysterical maids. Charlotte
might afford to laugh, but Marianne's heart was more in the matter,
and they struck up such a chorus that Jane broke upon them, declaring
that they would frighten Mrs. James Frost out of her senses. When
Charlotte told her what was the matter, her comment was, 'And a very
good thing, too, that you should find him out in time! A pair of
silly girls you! I always was thankful I never could write, to be
deluded with nonsense by the post; and I am more so than ever now!
Come, leave off crying, Marianne; he ain't worth it.'
'But how shall we answer him, Mrs. Beckett?' said Charlotte.
'Never demean yourself to answer him,' said Jane; 'let him never hear
nought about you--that's the best for the like of him. I can tell
him he need not be in no hurry about giving warning to Lady Conway.
At Cheveleigh we'll have a solemn, steady butler, with no nonsense,
nor verses, nor guitars--forty years old--and a married man.'
Charlotte took the advice, and acted with dignified contempt and
silence, relieved to imagine that Tom had never been in danger from
such a rival. Marianne did not divulge the tender and melancholy
letter of reproach that she posted privately; but she grew paler, and
coughed more, all that bright summer.
Mrs. Frost had refused to let any cause remove her from Northwold,
until after an event which it was hoped would render James less
disdainful of his inheritance. But--'Was there ever anything more
_contrary_?' exclaimed Jane, as she prepared to set out the table for
a grand tea. 'There's Master James as pleased and proud of that
there little brown girl, as if she was as fine a boy as Master Henry
himself. I do believe, upon my word, it is all to spite poor dear
Poor Jane, she was almost growing tart in her partizanship of Oliver.
The little brown girl was no dove of peace. Her father decidedly
triumphed in the mortification that her sex was to others of the
family; and though he averred that the birth of a son would not have
made him change his mind, he was well satisfied to be spared the
attack which would have ensued. Oliver, like Jane, appeared to
regard the poor child as a wilful offence, and revenged himself by a
letter announcing that Clara would be his heiress, information which
Mrs. Frost kindly withheld from her granddaughter, in the hope of a
Lord Ormersfield took James in hand, undertaking to make him hear
common sense; but the sense was unfortunately too common, and the
authoritative manner was irritating, above all when a stately warning
was given that no Church-preferment was to be expected from his
influence; whereupon James considered himself insulted, and they
parted very stiff and grand, the Earl afterwards pronouncing that
nothing was so wrongheaded as a conscientious man. But they were too
much accustomed to be on respectfully quarrelsome terms to alter
their regard for one retort more or less; and after all, there were
very few men whom Lord Ormersfield liked or esteemed half so much as
the fearless and uncompromising James Frost--James Frost--as he
curtly signed himself, in spite of all Louis's wit on Rolands and
Olivers--and yet those soft satirical speeches did more than all
direct attacks to shake his confidence in his own magnanimity; more
especially because Fitzjocelyn always declared himself incompetent to
judge, and never failed to uphold that he was so far right, that his
ministry must stand above all worldly considerations.
The breach had become so wide, that Oliver would not have accepted
the terms he had formerly offered. His object seemed to be to pique
his nephew and niece, by showing them what they had lost. He wrote
the most magnificent descriptions of Cheveleigh, and insisted that
his mother and Clara should come and take possession on the eightieth
birthday of the former, the 14th of September; and Isabel was
recovering so rapidly, that there was nothing to oppose to his
project, although the new Catharine would be scarcely three weeks old
by that time.
Thereupon came down, addressed to Clara, a case of Peruvian jewels,
newly set in London--intended doubtless to excite great jealousy in
her sister-in-law. Poor Oliver! could he but have known that Isabel
only glanced at them to tell Clara the names of the ornaments, and to
relieve her mind by assurances that the whole of a set need not be
worn at once! Next arrived an exceedingly smart French milliner,
who, by the help of Jane and Marianne, got Clara into her toils, and
pinned and measured her for a whole mortal morning; and even
grandmamma ordered a black velvet gown and accompaniments.
Lastly, there descended on Clara's devoted head a cheque for a sum
which terrified her imagination, and orders to equip herself suitably
as Miss Dynevor of Cheveleigh, who was to enjoy the same allowance
half-yearly. Her first idea was what delightful presents could be
made to every one; but as she was devising showers of gifts for her
niece, James cut her short,--'I am sorry to give you pain, Clara, but
it must be understood that neither directly nor indirectly can I nor
mine receive anything bought with my uncle's money.'
'That was the only thing to make me not hate it.'
'It is best you should hate it.'
'I do! Why did he come home to bother us? Oh, Jem, can't I still
live here, and only visit there?'
'No, Clara. The care of granny is your first duty; and during her
life, so long as you are single, her home must be yours.'
The edict was given in stern self-abnegation; but James was very kind
to her, treating her as a victim, and spending his leisure in walking
about with her, that she might take leave of every favourite haunt.
He was indulgent enough even to make no objection to going with her
to Ormersfield, where she wandered about the park, visited old scenes
with Louis, and went over all his improvements. His cottages had as
yet the sole fault of looking too new, and one of his tenants would
not shut up his pigs; but otherwise all was going on well, and
Inglewood was in the excitement of Louis's first harvest. He walked
about with ears of wheat in his hand, talked knowingly of loads and
acres, and had almost taught his father to watch the barometer. It
added to Clara's regrets that she should miss the harvest-supper, for
which he and Mr. Holdsworth had wonderful designs; but it was not to
take place until Fitzjocelyn's return from Cheveleigh. Oliver had
invited him and his father to conduct Mrs. Frost thither, and add
eclat to her reception; and this, as Clara said, 'was the only
comfort in the business.'
James had effectually destroyed all pleasure on her part, and had
made the change appear an unmitigated misfortune, even though she did
not know what she would have thought the worst. Congratulations were
dreadful to her, and it was all that Isabel could do to persuade her
to repress her dislike so as not to distress her grandmother.
To Mrs. Frost it was pain to leave what she owned, with thankful