Part 6 out of 7
laughing mood, that she would neither sleep herself nor let the rest
do so; and Kitty rose up out of her crib, and lectured us all. Now,
don't wake them--no, you must not even kiss the twin cherries; for if
they have one of papa's riots, they will hardly sleep all night.'
'Then you must take me away; it is like going into a flower-garden,
and being told not to gather.'
'Charlotte is almost ready to come to them, and in the meantime here
is something for you to criticise,' said she, taking from the recess
of her matronly workbasket a paper with a pencilled poem, on the
Martyrs of Carthage, far more terse and expressive than anything she
used to write when composition was the object of the day. James read
and commented, and was disappointed when they broke off short--
'Ah! there baby woke.'
'Some day I shall give you a subject. Do you know how Sta. Francesca
Romana found in letters of gold the verse of the Psalm she had been
reading, and from which she had been five times called away to attend
to her household duties?'
'I thought you were never to pity me again--'
'Do you call that pitying you?'
'Worse,' said Isabel, smiling.
'Well, then, what I came for was to ask if you can put on your
bonnet, and take a walk in the lanes this lovely evening.'
A walk was a rare treat to the busy mother, and, with a look of
delight, she consented to leave her mending and her children to
Charlotte. There seldom were two happier beings than that pair, as
they wandered slowly, arm-in-arm, in the deep green lanes, in the
summer twilight, talking sometimes of the present, sometimes of the
future, but with the desultory, vague speculation of those who feared
little because they knew how little there was to fear.
'It is well they are all girls,' said James, speaking of that
constant topic, the children; 'we can manage their education pretty
well, I flatter myself, by the help of poor Clara's finishing
governess, as Louis used to call you.'
'If the edge of my attainments be not quite rusted off. Meantime,
you teach Kitty, and I teach nothing.'
'You don't lose your singing. Your voice never used to be so sweet.'
'It keeps the children good. But you should have seen Kitty
chaunting 'Edwin and Angelina' to the twins this morning, and getting
up an imitation of crying at 'turn Angelina, ever dear,' because, she
said, Charlotte always did.'
'That is worth writing to tell Fitzjocelyn! It will be a great
disappointment if they have to stay abroad all this winter; but he
seems to think it the only chance of his father getting thoroughly
well, so I suppose there is little hope of him. I should like for
him to see Kitty as she is now, she is so excessively droll!'
'Yes; and it must be a great deprivation to have to leave all his
farm to itself, just as it is looking so well; only he makes himself
happy with whatever he is doing.'
'How he would enjoy this evening! I never saw more perfect rest!'
'Yes;--the sounds of the town come through the air in a hush! and the
very star seems to twinkle quietly!'
They stood still without speaking to enjoy that sense of stillness
and refreshment, looking up through the chestnut boughs that
overshadowed the deep dewy lane, where there was not air enough even
to waft down the detached petals of the wild rose.
'Such moments as these must be meant to help one on,' said James, 'to
hinder daily life from running into drudgery.'
'And it is so delightful to have a holiday given, now and then,
instead of having a life all holiday. Ah! there's a glow-worm--look
at the wonder of that green lamp!'
'I must show it to Kitty,' said James, taking it up on a cushion of
'Her acquaintance will begin earlier than mine. Do you remember
showing me my first glow-worm at Beauchastel? I used to think that
the gem of my walks, before I knew better. It is a great treat to
have poor Walter here in the holidays, so good and pleasant; but I
must say one charm is the pleasure of being alone together
'A pleasure it is well you do not get tired of, my dear, and I am
afraid it will soon be over for the present. I do believe that is
Richardson behind us! An attorney among the glow-worms is more than
'Good evening, sir,' said the attorney, coming up with them; 'is Mrs.
Frost braving the dew?' And then, after some moments, 'Have you
heard from your sister lately, Mr. Frost?'
'About three weeks ago.'
'She did not mention then,' said Mr. Richardson, hesitating, 'Mr.
'No! Have you heard anything?'
'I thought you might wish to be aware of what I learnt from, I fear,
too good authority. It appears that Mr. Dynevor paid only a part of
the purchase-money of the estate, giving security for the rest on his
property in Peru; and now, owing to the failure of the Equatorial
Steam Navigation Company, Mr. Dynevor is, I fear, actually
'Did you say he was ill?'
'I heard mentioned severe illness--paralytic affection; but as you
have not heard from Miss Clara, I hope it may be of no importance.'
After a few more inquiries, and additional information being
elicited, good-nights were exchanged, and Mr. Richardson passed on.
At first neither spoke, till Isabel said--
'And Clara never wrote!'
'She would identify herself too much with her uncle in his
misfortune. Poor dear child! what may she not be undergoing!'
'You will go to her?'
'I must. Whether my uncle will forgive me or not, to Clara I must
go. Shall I write first ?'
'Oh! no; it will only make a delay, and your uncle might say 'don't
'Right; delay would prolong her perplexities. I will go to-morrow,
and Mr. Holdsworth will see to the workhouse people.'
His alert air showed how grateful was any excuse that could take him
to Clara, the impulse of brotherly love coming uppermost of all his
sensations. Then came pity for the poor old man whose cherished
design had thus crumbled, and the anxious wonder whether he would
forgive, and deign to accept sympathy from his nephew.
'My dear,' said James, doubtfully; 'supposing, what I hardly dare to
imagine, that he should consent, what should you say to my bringing
'I believe it would make you happy,' said Isabel. 'Oh! yes, pray do-
-and then we should have Clara.'
'I should rejoice to offer anything like reparation, though I do not
dare to hope it will be granted; and I do not know how to ask you to
break up the home comfort we have prized so much.'
'It will be all the better comfort for your mind being fully at ease;
and I am sure we should deserve none at all, if we shut our door
against him now that he is in distress. You must bring him, poor old
man, and I will try with all my might to behave well to him.'
'It is a mere chance; but I am glad to take your consent with me.
As to our affording it, I suppose he may have, at the worst, an
allowance from the creditors, so you will not have to retrench
'Don't talk of that, dearest. We never knew how little we could live
on till we tried; and if No. 12 is taken, and you are paid for the
new edition of the lectures, and Walter's pay besides--'
'And Sir Hubert,' added James.
'Of course we shall get on,' said Isabel. 'I am not in the least
afraid that the little girls will suffer, if they do live a little
harder for the sake of their old uncle. I only wish you had had your
new black coat first, for I am afraid you won't now.'
'You need not reckon on that. I don't expect that I shall be allowed
the comfort of doing anything for him. But see about them I must.
Oh, may I not be too late!'
Early the next morning James was on his way, travelling through the
long bright summer day; and when, after the close, stifling railway
carriage, full of rough, loud-voiced passengers, he found himself in
the cool of the evening on the bare heath, where the slanting
sunbeams cast a red light, he was reminded by every object that met
his eye of the harsh and rebellious sensations that he had allowed to
reign over him at his last arrival there, which had made him wrangle
over the bier of one so loving and beloved, and exaggerate the right
till it wore the semblance of the wrong.
By the time he came to the village, the parting light was shining on
the lofty church tower, rising above the turmoil and whirl of the
darkening world below, almost as sacred old age had lifted his
grandmother into perpetual peace and joy, above the fret and vexation
of earthly cares and dissensions. The recollection of her confident
trust that reconciliation was in store, came to cheer him as he
crossed the park, and the aspect of the house assured him that at
least he was not again too late.
The servant who answered the bell said that Mr. Dynevor was very ill,
and Miss Dynevor could see no one. James sent in his card, and stood
in an agony of impatience, imagining all and more than all he
deserved, to have taken place--his uncle either dying, or else
forcibly withholding his sister from him.
At last there was a hurried step, and the brother and sister were
clasping each other in speechless joy.
'O Jem! dear Jem! this is so kind!' cried Clara, as with arms round
each other they crossed the hall. 'Now I don't care for anything!'
'Much better,' said Clara; 'he speaks quite well again, and his foot
is less numb.'
'Was it paralysis?'
'Yes; brought on by trouble and worry of mind. But how did you know,
'Richardson told me. Oh, Clara, had I offended too deeply for you to
'No, indeed,' said Clara, pressing his arm, 'I knew you would help us
as far as you could; but to throw ourselves on you would be robbing
the children, so I wanted to have something fixed before you heard.'
'My poor child, what could be fixed?'
'You gave me what is better than house and land,' said Clara. 'I
wrote to Miss Brigham; she will give me employment in the school till
I can find a place as daily governess, and she is to take lodgings
'And is this what it has come to, my poor Clara?'
'Oh, don't pity me! my heart has felt like an India-rubber ball ever
since the crash. Even poor Uncle Oliver being so ill could not keep
me from feeling as if the burthen were off my back, and I were little
Clara Frost again. It seemed to take away the bar between us; and so
it has! O Jem! this is happiness. Tell me of Isabel and the
'You will come home to them. Do you think my uncle would consent?'
She answered with an embrace, a look of rapture and of doubt, and
then a negative. 'Oh, no, we cannot be a burthen on you. You have
quite enough on your hands. And, oh! you have grown so spare and
thin. I mean to maintain my uncle, if--' and her spirited bearing
softened into thoughtfulness, as if the little word conveyed that she
meant not to be self-confident.
'But, Clara, is this actual ruin? I know only what Richardson could
'I do not fully understand,' said Clara. 'It had been plain for a
long time that something was on Uncle Oliver's mind; he was so
restless all the winter at Paris, and at last arranged our coming
home very suddenly. I think he was disappointed in London, for he
went out at once, and came back very much discomposed. He even
scolded me for not having married; and when I tried to coax him out
of it, he said it was for my good, and he wanted to see after his
business in Peru. I put him in mind how dear granny had begged him
to stay at home; but he told me I knew nothing about it, and that he
would have gone long ago if I had not been an obstinate girl, and had
known how to play my cards. I said something about going home, but
that made him more furious than ever. But, after all, it is not fair
to tell all about the last few months. Dr. Hastings says his attack
had been a long time coming on, and he must have been previously
'And you had to bear with it all?'
'He was never unkind. Oh, no; but it was sad to see him so
miserable, and not to know why--and so uncertain, too! Sometimes he
would insist on giving grand parties, and yet he was angry with the
expense of my poor little pony-carriage. I don't think he always
quite knew what he was about; and while he hoped to pull through, I
suppose he was afraid of any one guessing at his embarrassments. On
this day fortnight he was reading his letters at breakfast--I saw
there was something amiss, and said something stupid about the hot
rolls, because he could not bear me to notice. I think that roused
him, for he got up, but he tottered, and by the time I came to him he
seemed to slip down into my arms, quite insensible. The surgeon in
the village bled him, and he came to himself, but could not speak.
I had almost sent for you then, but Dr. Hastings came, and thought he
would recover, and I did not venture. Indeed, Jane forbade me; she
is a sort of lioness and her whelps. Well, the next day came Mr.
Morrison, who is the Mr. Richardson to this concern, and by-and-by he
asked to see me. He kept the doctor in the next room. I believe he
thought I should faint or make some such performance, for he began
about his painful duty, and frightened me lest my poor uncle should
be worse, only he was not the right man to tell me. So at last it
came out that we were ruined, and I was not an heiress at all, at
all! If it had not been for poor Uncle Oliver, I should have cried
'Hurrah!' I did nearly laugh to hear him complimenting my firmness.
I believe the history is this:--Hearing that this place was for sale,
brought Uncle Oliver home before his affairs could well do without
him. He paid half the price, and promised to pay the rest in three
years, giving security on the mines and the other property in Peru;
but somehow the remittances have never come properly, and he trusted
to some great success with the Equatorial Company to set things
straight, but it seems that it has totally failed, and that was the
news that overthrew him. Then the creditors, who had been put off
with hopes, all came down on him together, and there seems to be
nothing to be done but to give up everything to them. Poor Uncle
Oliver!--I sat watching him that evening, and thinking how Louis
would say the sea had swept away his whole sand castle with one
'Does he know it? Have any steps been taken?'
'Mr. Morrison showed me what my poor uncle had done. He had really
executed a deed giving me the whole estate; he would have borne all
the disgrace and persecution himself--for you know it would have been
a most horrible scrape, as he had given them security on property
that was not really secure. Mr. Morrison said the deed would hold,
and that he would bring me counsel's opinion if I liked. But, oh,
Jem! I was so thankful that my birthday was over, and I was my own
woman! I made him draw up a paper, and I signed it, undertaking that
they shall have quiet possession provided they will come to an
amicable settlement, and not torment my uncle.'
'I hope he is a man of sense, who will make the best terms?'
'You may see to that now. I'm sure he is a man of compliments. He
tells me grand things about my disinterestedness, and the creditors
and they have promised to let us stay unmolested as long as I please,
which will be only till my uncle can move, for I must get rid of all
these servants and paraphernalia, and in the meantime they are
concocting the amicable adjustment, and Mr. Morrison said he should
try to stipulate for a maintenance for my uncle, but he was not sure
of it, without giving up what may yet come from Peru. Jane's annuity
is safe--that is a comfort! What work I had to make her believe it!
and now she wants us all to live upon it.'
'That was a rare and beautiful power by which my grandmother infused
such faithful love into all her dependants. But now for the person
really to be pitied.'
'It was only three days ago that it was safe to speak of it, but then
he had grown so anxious that the doctors said I must begin. So I
begged and prayed him to forgive me, and then told what I had done,
and he was not so very angry. He only called me a silly child, and
said I did not know what I had done in those few days that I had been
left to myself. So I told him dear granny had had it, and that was
all that signified, and that I never had any right here. Then,' said
Clara, tearfully, 'he began to cry like a child, and said at least
she had died in her own home, and he called me Henry's child: and
then Jane came and turned me out, and wont let me go near him unless
I promise to be good and say nothing. But I must soon; for however
she pats him, and says, 'Don't, Master Oliver,' I see his mind runs
on nothing else, and the doctor says he may soon hear the plans, and
'Can you venture to tell him that I am here?'
Before Clara could answer, Jane opened the door--'Miss Clara, your
uncle;' and there she stopped, at the unexpected sight of the brother
and sister still hand in hand. 'Here, Jane, do you see him?' cried
Clara; and James came forward with outstretched hand, but he was not
'Now, Master James, you ain't coming here to worrit your poor uncle?'
'No, indeed, Jane. I am come in the hope of being of some use to
'I'd rather by half it had been Lord Fitzjocelyn,' muttered Jane, 'he
was always quieter.'
'Now, Jane, you should not be so cross,' cried Clara, 'when it is
your own Jemmy, come on purpose to help and comfort us all! You are
going to tell Uncle Oliver, and make him glad to see him, as you know
'I know,' said James, 'that last time I was here, I behaved ill
enough to make you dread my presence, Jane; but I have learnt and
suffered a good deal since that time, and I wish for nothing so much
as for my uncle's pardon.'
Mrs. Beckett would have been more impressed, had she ever ceased to
think of Master Jemmy otherwise than as a self-willed but candid boy;
and she answered as if he had been throwing himself on her mercy
after breaking a window, or knocking down Lord Fitzjocelyn--
'Well, sir, that is all you can say. I'm glad you are sorry. I'll
see if I can mention, it to your uncle.'
Off trotted Jane, while Clara's indignation and excited spirits
relieved themselves by a burst of merry laughter, as she hung about
her brother, and begged to hear of the dear old home.
The old servant, in her simplicity, went straight upstairs, and up to
her nursling, as he had again become. 'Master Oliver,' said she, 'he
is come. Master Jem is come back, and 'twould do your heart good to
see how happy the children are together--just like you and poor
'Did she ask him here?' said Mr. Dynevor, uneasily.
'No, sir, he came right out of his own head, because he thought she
would feel lost.'
Oliver vouchsafed no reply, and Jane pressed no farther. He never
alluded to his guest; but when Clara came into the room, his eye
dwelt on her countenance of bright content and animation, and the
smiles that played round her lips as she sat silent. Her voice was
hushed in the sick-room, but he heard it about the house with the
blithe, lively ring that had been absent from it since he carried her
away from Northwold; and her steps danced upstairs, and along the
galleries, with the light, bounding tread unknown to the constrained,
dignified Miss Dynevor. Ah the notice he took that night was to say,
petulantly, when Clara was sitting with him, 'Don't stay here; you
want to be down-stairs.'
'Oh, no, dear uncle, I am come to stay with you. I don't want, in
the least, to be anywhere but here.'
He seemed pleased, although he growled; and next morning Jane
reported that he had been asking for how long his nephew had come,
and saying he was glad that Miss Dynevor had someone to look after
her--a sufferance beyond expectation. In his helpless state, Jane
had resumed her nursery relations with him; and he talked matters
over with her so freely that it was well that the two young people
were scarcely less her children, and had almost an equal share of her
affection, so that Clara felt that matters might be safely trusted in
Clara's felicity could hardly be described, with her fond affections
satisfied by her brother's presence, and her fears of managing ill,
removed by reliance on him; and many as were the remaining cases, and
great as was the suspense lest her uncle should still nourish
resentment, nothing could overcome the sense of restored joy ever
bubbling up, not even the dread that James might not bear patiently
with continued rebuffs. But James was so much more gentle and
tolerant than she had ever known him, that at first she could not
understand missing the retort, the satire, the censure which had
seemed an essential part of her brother. She was always
instinctively guarding against what never happened, or if some slight
demonstration flashed out, he caught himself up, and asked pardon
before she had perceived anything, till she began to think marriage
had altered him wonderfully, and almost to owe Isabel a grudge for
having cowed his spirit. She could hardly believe that he was
waiting so patiently in the guise of a suppliant, when she thought
him in the right from the first; though she could perceive that the
task was easier now that the old man was in adversity, and she saw
that he regarded his exclusion from his uncle's room in the light of
a just punishment, to be endured with humility.
James, on his side, was highly pleased with his sister. Having only
seen her as the wild, untamed Giraffe, he was by no means prepared
for the dignity and decision with which Miss Dynevor reigned over the
establishment. Her tall figure, and the simple, straightforward ease
of her movements and manners, seemed made to grace those large, lofty
rooms; and as he watched her playing the part of mistress of the
house so naturally in the midst of the state, the servants, the
silver covers, and the trappings, he felt that heiress-ship became
her so well, that he could hardly believe that her tenure there was
over, and unregretted. 'Even Isabel could not do it better,' he
said, smiling; and she made a low curtsey for the compliment, and
laughed back, 'I'm glad you have come to see my performance. It has
been a very long, dull pageant, and here comes Mr. Morrison, I hope
with the last act.'
Morrison was evidently much relieved that Miss Dynevor should have
some relative to advise with, since he did not like the
responsibility of her renunciation, though owning that it was the
only thing that could save her uncle from disgraceful ruin, and
perhaps from prosecution; whereas now the gratitude and forbearance
of the creditors were secured, and he hoped that Mr. Dynevor might be
set free from the numerous English involvements, without sacrificing
his remaining property in Peru. The lawyer seemed to have no words
to express to James his sense of Miss Dynevor's conduct in the
matter, her promptitude and good sense having apparently struck him
as much as her generosity, and there was no getting him to believe,
as Clara wished, that the sacrifice was no sacrifice at all--nothing,
as she said, but 'common honesty and a great riddance.' He promised
to take steps in earnest for the final settlement with the creditors;
and though still far from the last act, Clara began to consider of
hastening her plans. It was exceedingly doubtful whether Oliver
would hear of living at Dynevor Terrace, and Clara could not be
separated from him; besides which, she was resolved that her brother
should not be burthened, and she would give James no promises,
conditional or otherwise.
Mr. Dynevor had discovered that Morrison had been in the house, and
was obviously restless to know what had taken place. By-and-by he
said to Jane, with an air of inquiry, 'Why does not the young man
come near me?'
Mrs. Beckett was too happy to report the invitation, telling 'Master
Jem' at the same time that 'he was not to rake up nothing gone and
past; there was quite troubles enough for one while.' Clara thought
the same, and besides was secretly sure that if he admitted that he
had been wrong in part, his uncle would imagine him to mean that he
had been wrong in the whole. Their instructions and precautions were
trying to James, whose chaplaincy had given him more experience of
the sick and the feeble than they gave him credit for; but he was
patient enough to amaze Clara and pacify Jane, who ushered him into
the sick-chamber. There, even in his worst days, he must have laid
aside ill-feeling at the aspect of the shrunken, broken figure in the
pillowed arm-chair, prematurely aged, his hair thin and white, his
face shrivelled, his eyelid drooping, and mouth contracted. He was
still some years under sixty; but this was the result of toil and
climate--of the labour generously designed, but how conducted, how
He had not learned to put out his left hand--he only made a sharp
nod, as James, with tender and humble respect, approached, feeling
that, how his grandmother was gone, this frail old man, his father's
brother, was the last who claimed by right his filial love and
gratitude. How different from the rancour and animosity with which
he had met his former advances!
He ventured gently on kindly hopes that his uncle was better, and
they were not ill taken, though not without fretfulness. Presently
Oliver said, 'Come to look after your sister? that's right--good
girl, good girl!'
'That she is!' exclaimed James, heartily.
'Too hasty! too great hurry,' resumed Oliver; 'she had better have
waited, saved the old place,--never mind what became of the old man,
one-half dead already.'
'She would not have been a Clara good for much, if she had treated
you after that fashion, sir,' said James, smiling.
He gave his accustomed snort. 'The mischief a girl let alone can do
in three days, when once she's of age, and one can't stop her! Women
ought never to come of age, ain't fit for it, undo all the work of my
lifetime with a stroke of her pen!'
'For your sake, sir!'
'Pshaw! Pity but she'd been safe married--tied it up well with
settlements then out of her power. Can't think what that young
Fitzjocelyn was after--it ain't the old affair. Ponsonby writes me
that things are to be settled as soon as Ward comes back.'
'Aye, good sort of fellow--no harm to have him in our concerns--I
hope he'll look into the accounts, and find what Robson is at. After
all, I shall soon be out there myself, and make Master Robson look
about him. Mad to allow myself to stay--but I'll wait no longer.
Morrison may put the fellows off'--I'll give him a hint; we'll save
the place, after all, when I once get out to Lima. If only I knew
what to do with that girl!'
James could not look at him without a conviction that he would never
recover the use of his hand and foot; but this was no time to
discourage his spirits, and the answer was--'My sister's natural home
would be with me.'
'Ha! the child would like it, I suppose. I'd make a handsome
allowance for her. I shall manage that when my affairs are in my own
hands; but I may as well write to the mountains as to Ponsonby. Aye,
aye! Clara might go to you. She'll have enough any way to be quite
worth young Fitzjocelyn's while, you may tell him. That mine in the
San Benito would retrieve all, and I'll not forget. Pray, how many
children have you by this time?'
'Four little girls, sir,' said James, restraining the feeling which
was rising in the contact with his uncle, revealing that both were
still the same men.
'Hm! No time lost, however! Well, we shall see! Any way, an
allowance for Clara's board won't hurt. What's your notion?'
James's notion was profound pity for the poor old man. 'Indeed,
sir,' he said, 'Clara is sure to be welcome. All we wish is, that
you would kindly bring her to us at once. Perhaps you would find the
baths of service; we would do our utmost to make you comfortable, and
we are not inhabiting half the house, so that there would be ample
space to keep the children from inconveniencing you.'
'Clara is set on it, I'll warrant.'
'Clara waits to be guided by your wishes; but my wife and I should
esteem it as the greatest favour you could do us.'
'Ha! we'll see what I can manage. I must see Morrison'--and he fell
into meditation, presently breaking from it to say fretfully, 'I say,
Roland, would you reach me that tumbler?'
Never had James thought to be grateful for that name! He would
gladly have been Roland Dynevor for the rest of his days, if he could
have left behind him the transgressions of James Frost! But the poor
man's shattered thoughts had been too long on the stretch; and,
without further ceremony, Jane came in and dismissed his nephew.
Clara hardly trusted her ears when she was told shortly after, by her
uncle, that they were to go to Northwold. Roland wished it; and,
poor fellow! the board and lodging were a great object to him. He
seemed to have come to his senses now it was too late; and if Clara
wished it, and did not think it dull, there she might stay while he
himself was gone to Lima.
'A great object the other way,' Clara had nearly cried, in her
indignation that James could not be supposed disinterested in an
invitation to an old man, who probably was destitute.
Brother and uncle appeared to have left her out of the consultation;
but she was resolved not to let him be a burthen on those who had so
little already, and she called her old friend Jane to take counsel
with her, whether it would not be doing them an injury to carry him
thither at all. So much of Jane's heart as was not at Cheveleigh was
at Dynevor Terrace, and her answer was decided.
'To be sure, Miss Clara, nothing couldn't be more natural.'
'Nothing, indeed, but I can't put them to trouble and expense.'
'I'll warrant,' said Jane, 'that I'll make whatever they have go
twice as far as Charlotte ever will. Why, you know I keeps myself;
and for the rest, it will be a mere saving to have me in the kitchen!
There's no air so good for Master Oliver.'
'I see you mean to go, Jane,' said Clara. 'Now, I have to look out
'Bless me, Miss Clara, don't you do nothing in a hurry. Go home
quiet and look about you.'
Jane had begun to call Northwold home; and, in spite of her mournings
over the old place, Clara thought she had never been so happy there
as in her present dominion over Master Oliver, and her prospects of
her saucepans and verbenas at No. 5.
Poor Oliver! what a scanty measure of happiness had his lifelong
exertions produced! Many a human sacrifice has been made to a grim
and hollow idol, failing his devotees in time of extremity. Had it
not been thus with Oliver Dynevor's self-devotion to the honour of
FAREWELL TO GREATNESS.
Soon from the halls my fathers reared
Their scutcheons must descend.
Mr. Holdsworth contrived to set James at liberty for a fortnight, and
he was thus enabled to watch over the negotiation, and expedite
matters for the removal. The result was, that the resignation of the
estate, furniture, and of Clara's jewels, honourably cleared off the
debts contracted in poor Mr. Dynevor's eagerness to reinstate the
family in all its pristine grandeur, and left him totally dependent
on whatever might be rescued in Peru. He believed this to be
considerable, but the brother and sister founded little hopes on the
chance; as, whatever there might be, had been entangled in the
Equatorial Company, and nothing could be less comprehensible than Mr.
Clara retained her own seventy pounds per annum, which, thrown into
the common stock, would, James assured her, satisfy him, in a
pecuniary point of view, that he was doing no wrong to his children;
though he added, that even if there had been nothing, he did not
believe they would ever be the worse for what might be spent on their
infirm old uncle.
Notice was sent to Isabel to prepare, and she made cordial reply that
the two rooms on the ground-floor were being made ready for Mr.
Dynevor, and Clara's own little room being set in order; Miss Mercy
Faithfull helping with all her might, and little Kitty stamping
about, thinking her services equally effectual.
Oliver was in haste to leave a place replete with disappointment and
failure, and was so helpless and dependent as to wish for his
nephew's assistance on the journey; and it was, therefore, fixed for
the end of James's second week. No one called to take leave, except
the Curate and good Mr. Henderson, who showed Clara much warm, kind
feeling, and praised her to her brother.
She begged James to walk with her for a farewell visit to her
grandmother's other old friend. Great was her enjoyment of this
expedition; she said she had not had a walk worth having since she
was at Aix-la-Chapelle, and liberty and companionship compensated for
all the heat and dust in the dreary tract, full of uncomfortable
shabby-genteel abodes, and an unpromising population.
'One cannot regret such a tenantry,' said Clara.
'Poor creatures!' said James. 'I wonder into whose hands they will
fall. Your heart may be free, Clara; you have followed the clear
path of duty; but it is a painful thought for me, that to strive to
amend these festering evils, caused very likely by my grandfather's
speculations, might have been my appointed task. I should not have
had far to seek for occupation. When I was talking to the Curate
yesterday, my heart smote me to think what I might have done to help
'It would all have been over now.'
'It ought not. Nay, perhaps, my presence might have left my uncle
free to attend to his own concerns.'
'I really believe you are going to regret the place!'
'After all, Clara, I was a Dynevor before my uncle came home. It
might have been my birthright. But, as Isabel says, what we are now
is far more likely to be safe for the children. I was bad enough as
I was, but what should I have been as a pampered heir! Let it go.'
'Yes, let it go,' said Clara; 'it has been little but pain to me. We
shall teach my poor uncle that home love is better than old family
estates. I almost wish he may recover nothing in Peru, that he may
learn that you receive him for his own sake.'
'That is more than I can wish,' said James. 'A hundred or two a-year
would come in handily. Besides, I am afraid that Mary Ponsonby may
be suffering in this crash.'
'She seems to have taken care of herself,' said Clara. 'She does not
write to me, and I am almost ready to believe her father at last. I
could not have thought it of her!'
'Isabel has always said it was the best thing that could happen to
'Isabel never had any notion of Louis. I don't mean any offence, but
if she had known what he was made of, she would never have had you.'
'Thank you, Clara! I always thought it an odd predilection, but no
one can now esteem Fitzjocelyn more highly than ahe does.'
'Very likely; but if she thinks Louis can stand Mary's deserting
'It will be great pain, no doubt; but once over, he will be free.'
'It never will be over.'
'That is young-ladyism.'
'I never was a young lady, and I know what I mean. Mary may not be
all he thinks her, and she may be dull enough to let her affection
wear out; but I do not believe he will ever look at any one again, as
he did after Mary on your wedding-day.'
'So you forbid him to be ever happy again!'
'Not at all, only in that one way. There are many others of being
'That one way meaning marriage.'
'I mean that sort of perfect marriage that, according to the saying,
is made in heaven. Whether that could have been with Mary, I do not
know her well enough to guess; but I am convinced that he will always
have the same kind of memory of her that a man has of a first love,
or first wife.'
'It may have been a mistake to drive him into the attachment, which
Isabel thinks has been favoured by absence, leaving scope for
imagination; but I cannot give up the hope that his days of happiness
are yet to come.'
'Nor do I give up Mary, yet,' said Clara. 'Till she announces her
defection I shall not believe it, for it would be common honesty to
inform poor Louis, and in that she never was deficient.'
'It is not a plant that seems to thrive on the Peruvian soil.'
'No; and I am dreadfully afraid for Tom Madison. There were hints
about him in Mr. Ponsonby's letters, which make me very anxious; and
from what my uncle says, it seems that there is such an atmosphere of
gambling and trickery about his office, that he thinks it a matter of
course that no one should be really true and honest.'
'That would be a terrible affair indeed! I don't know for which I
should be most concerned, Louis or our poor little Charlotte. But
after all, Clara, we have known too many falsehoods come across the
Atlantic, to concern ourselves about anything without good reason.'
So they talked, enjoying the leisure the walk gave them for
conversation, and then paying the painful visit, when Clara tried in
vain to make it understood by the poor old lady that she was going
away, and that James was her brother. They felt thankful that such
decay had been spared their grandmother, and Clara sighed to think
that her uncle might be on the brink of a like loss of faculties, and
then felt herself more than ever bound to him.
On the way home they went together to the church, and pondered over
the tombs of their ancestry,--ranging from the grim, defaced old
knight, through the polished brass, the kneeling courtier, and the
dishevelled Grief embracing an urn, down to the mural arch enshrining
the dear revered name of Catharine, daughter of Roland, and wife of
James Frost Dynevor, the last of her line whose bones would rest
there. Her grave had truly been the sole possestion that her son's
labours had secured for her; that grave was the only spot at
Cheveleigh that claimed a pang from Clara's heart. She stood beside
it with deep, fond, clinging love and reverence, but with no painful
recollections to come between her and that fair, bright vision of
happy old age. Alas! for the memories that her brother had sown to
spring up round him now!
Apart from all these vipers of his own creating, James after all felt
more in the cession of Cheveleigh than did his sister. These were
days of change and of feudal feeling wearing out; but James, long as
he had pretended to scorn 'being sentimental about his forefathers,'
was strongly susceptible of such impressions; and he was painfully
conscious of being disinherited. He might have felt thus, without
any restoration or loss, as the mere effect of visiting his
birthright as a stranger; but, as he received all humbly instead of
proudly, the feeling did him no harm. It softened him into sympathy
with his uncle, and tardy appreciation of his single-minded devotion
to the estate, which he had won not for himself, but for others, only
to see it first ungratefully rejected, and then snatched away. Then,
with a thrill of humiliation at his own unworthiness, came the
earnest prayer that it might yet be vouchsafed to him to tend the
exhausted body, and train the contracted mind to dwell on that
inheritance whence there could be no casting out.
Poor Oliver was fretful and restless, insisting on being brought down
to his study to watch over the packing of his papers, and miserable
at being unable to arrange them himself. Even the tenderest pity for
him could not prevent him from being an exceeding trial; and James
could hardly yet have endured it, but for pleasure and interest in
watching his sister's lively good-humour, saucy and determined when
the old man was unreasonable, and caressing and affectionate, when he
was violent in his impotence; never seeming to hear, see, or regard
anything unkind or unpleasant; and absolutely pleased and gratified
when her uncle, in his petulance, sometimes ungraciously rejected her
services in favour of those of 'Roland,' who, he took it for granted,
must, as a man, have more sense. It would sometimes cross James, how
would Isabel and the children fare with this ill-humour; but he had
much confidence in his wife's sweet calm temper, and more in the
obvious duty; and, on the whole, he believed it was better not to
think about it.
The suffering that the surrender cost Oliver was only shown in this
species of petty fractiousness, until the last morning, when his
nephew was helping him across the hall, and Clara close at his side,
he made them stand still beside one of the pillars, and groaned as he
said, 'Here I waited for the carriage last time! Here I promised to
get it back again!'
'I wish every one kept promises as you did,' said James, looking
about for something cheerful to say.
'I had hope then,' said Oliver; and well might he feel the contrast
between the youth, with such hopes, energies, and determination
mighty within him, and the broken and disappointed man.
'Hope yet, and better hope!' James could not help saying.
'Not while there's such a rascal in the office at Lima,' cried
'Oh! Uncle Oliver, he did not mean that!' exclaimed Clara.
Mr. Dynevor grumbled something about parsons, which neither of them
chose to hear; and Clara cut it short by saying, 'After all, Uncle
Oliver, you have done it all! Dear grandmamma came back and was
happy here, and that was all that signified. You never wanted it for
yourself, you know, and my dear father was not here to have it. And
for you, what could you have had more than your nephew and niece to--
to try to be like your children! And hadn't you rather have them
without purchase than with?' And as she saw him smile in answer to
her bright caress, she added merrily, 'There's nothing else to pity
but the fir trees and gold fish; and as they have done very happily
before without the Pendragon reign, I dare any they will again; so I
can't be very sorry for them!'
This was Clara's farewell to her greatness, and cheerily she
enlivened her uncle all the way to London, and tried to solace him
after the interviews that he insisted on with various men of
business, and which did not tend to make him stronger in health or
spirits through the next day's journey.
The engine whistled its arriving shriek at Northwold. Happy Clara!
What was the summer rain to her? Every house, every passenger, were
tokens of home; and the damp rain-mottled face of the Terrace,
looking like a child that had been crying, was more welcome to her
longing eyes than ever had been lake or mountain.
Isabel and little Catharine stood on the step; but as Mr. Dynevor was
lifted out, the little girl shrank out of sight with a childish awe
of infirmity. The dining-room had been made a very comfortable
sitting-room for him, and till he was settled there, nothing else
could be attended to; but he was so much fatigued, that it was found
best to leave him entirely to Jane; and Clara, after a few moments,
followed her brother from the room.
As she shut the door, she stood for some seconds unobserved, and
unwilling to interfere with the scene before her. Halfway upstairs,
James had been pulled down to sit on the steps, surrounded by his
delighted flock. The baby was in his arms, flourishing her hands as
he danced her; Kitty, from above, had clasped tightly round his neck,
chattering and kissing with breathless velocity; one twin in front
was drumming on his knee, and shrieking in accordance with every
shout of the baby; and below, leaning on the balusters, stood their
mother's graceful figure, looking up at them with a lovely smiling
face of perfect gladness. She was the first to perceive Clara; and,
with a pretty gesture to be silent, she pointed to the stand of the
Wedgewood jar, under which sat the other little maid, her two fat
arms clasped tight round her papa's umbrella, and the ivory handle
indenting her rosy cheek, as she fondled it in silent transport.
'My little Salome,' whispered Isabel, squeezing Clara's hand, 'our
quiet one. She could not sleep for expecting papa, and now she is in
a fit of shy delight; she can't shout with the others; she can only
nurse his umbrella.'
Just then James made a desperate demonstration, amid peals of
laughter from his daughters. 'We are stopping the way! Get out, you
unruly monsters! Let go, Kitty--Mercy; I shall kick! Mamma, catch
this ball;' making a feint of tossing the crowing Fanny at her.
Assuredly, thought Clara, pity was wasted; there was not one too
many. And then began the happy exulting introductions, and a laugh
at little Mercy, who stood blank and open-mouthed, gazing up and up
her tall aunt, as if there were no coming to the top of her. Clara
sat down on the stairs, to bring her face to a level, and struck up a
friendship with her on the spot, while James lilted up his little
Salome, her joy still too deep and reserved for manifestation; only
without a word she nestled close to him, laid her head on his
shoulder, and closed her eyes, as if languid with excess of rapture-
a pretty contrast to her sister's frantic delight, which presently
alarmed James lest it should disturb his uncle, and he called them
But Clara must first run to the House Beautiful, and little Mercy
must needs come to show her the way, and trotted up before her,
consequentially announcing, 'Aunt Cara.' Miss Faithfull alone was
present; and, without speaking, Clara dropped on the ground, laid her
head on her dear old friend's lap, and little Mercy exclaimed, in
wondering alarm, 'Aunt Cara naughty--Aunt Cara crying!'
'My darling,' said Miss Faithfull, as she kissed Clara's brow and
stroked her long flaxen hair, 'you have gone through a great deal.
We must try to make you happy in your poor old home.'
'Oh, no! oh, no! It is happiness! Oh! such happiness! but I don't
know what to do with it, and I want granny!'
She was almost like little Salome; the flood of bliss in returning
home, joined with the missing of the one dearest welcome, had come on
her so suddenly that she was almost stifled, till she had been calmed
and soothed by the brief interval of quiet with her dear old friend.
She returned to No. 5, there to find that her uncle was going to bed,
and Charlotte, pink and beautiful with delight, was running about in
attendance on Jane. She went up straight to her own little room,
which had been set out exactly as in former times, so that she could
feel as if she had been not a day absent; and she lost not a moment
in adding to it all the other little treasures which made it fully
like her own. She looked out at the Ormersfield trees, and smiled to
think how well Louis's advice had turned out; and then she sighed, in
the fear that it might yet be her duty to leave home. If her uncle
could live without her, she must tear herself away, and work for his
However, for the present, she might enjoy to the utmost, and she
proceeded to the little parlour, which, to her extreme surprise, she
found only occupied by the four children--Kitty holding the youngest
upon her feet, till, at the new apparition, Fanny suddenly seated
herself for the convenience of staring.
'Are you all alone here!' exclaimed Clara.
'I am taking care of the little ones,' replied Kitty, with dignity.
'She is gone down to get tea. Papa is gone to the Union; but we do
not mean to wait for him,' answered the little personage, with an air
capable, the more droll because she was on the smallest scale, of
much less substance than the round fat twins, and indeed chiefly
distinguishable from them by her slender neat shape; for the faces
were at first sight all alike, brown, small-featured, with large dark
eyes, and dark curly hair--Mercy, with the largest and most impetuous
eyes, and Salome with a dreamy look, more like her mother. Fanny was
in a different style, and much prettier; but her contemplation ended
in alarm and inclination to cry, whereupon Kitty embraced her, and
consoled her like a most efficient guardian; then seeing Mercy
becoming rather rude in her familiarities with her aunt, held up her
small forefinger, and called out gravely, 'Mercy, recollect
Wonders would never cease! Here was Isabel coming up with the tea-
tray in her own hands!
'My dear, do you always do that?'
'No, only when Charlotte is busy; and,' as she picked up the baby,
'now Kitty may bring the rest.'
So, in various little journeys, the miniature woman's curly head
arose above the loaf, and the butter-dish, and even the milk-jug,
held without spilling; while Isabel would have set out the tea-things
with one hand, if Clara had not done it for her; and the workhouse
girl finally appeared with the kettle.
Was this the same Isabel whom Clara last remembered with her baby in
her lap, beautiful and almost as inanimate as a statue? There was
scarcely more change from the long-frocked infant to the bustling
important sprite, than from that fair piece of still life to the
active house-mother. Unruffled grace was innate; every movement had
a lofty, placid deliberation and simplicity, that made her like a
disguised princess; and though her beauty was a little worn, what it
had lost in youth was far more than compensated by sweetness and
animation. The pensive cast remained, but the dreaminess had sobered
into thought and true hope. Her dress was an old handsome silk,
frayed and worn, but so becoming to her, that the fading was
unnoticed in the delicate neatness of the accompaniments. And the
dear old room! It looked like a cheerful habitation; but Clara's
almost instant inquiry was for the porcelain Arcadians, and could not
think it quite as tidy and orderly as it used to be in old times,
when she was the only fairy Disorder. 'However, I'll see to that,'
quoth she to herself. And she gave herself up to the happy tea-
drinking, when James was welcomed by another tumult, and was pinned
down by Kitty and Salome on either side--mamma making tea in spite of
Fanny on her lap--Mercy adhering to the new-comer--the eager
conversation--Kitty thrusting in her little oar, and being hushed by
mamma--the grand final game at romps, ending with Isabel carrying off
her little victims, one by one, to bed; and James taking the tea-tray
down stairs. Clara followed with other parts of the equipage, and
then both stood together warming themselves, and gossiped over the
dear old kitchen fire, till Isabel came down and found them there.
And then, before any of the grand news was discussed, all the infant
marvels of the last fortnight had to be detailed; and the young
parents required Clara's opinion whether they were spoiling Kitty.
Next, Clara found her way to the cupboard, brought the shepherd and
shepherdess to light, looked them well over, and satisfied herself
that there was not one scar or wound on either--nay, it is not
absolutely certain that she did not kiss the damsel's delicate pink
cheek--set them up on the mantelpiece, promised to keep them in
order, and stood gazing at them till James accused her of regarding
them as her penates!
'Why, Jem!' she said, turning on him, 'you are a mere recreant if you
can feel it like home without them!'
'I have other porcelain figures to depend on for a home!' said James.
'Take care, James!' said his wife, with the fond sadness of one whose
cup overflowed with happiness; 'Clara's shepherdess may look fragile,
but she has kept her youth and seen many a generation pass by of such
as you depend on!'
'She once was turned out of Cheveleigh, too, and has borne it as
easily aa Clara,' said James, smiling. 'I suspect her worst danger
is from Fanny. There's a lady who, I warn you, can never withstand
Isabel took up her own defence, and they laughed on. Poor Uncle
Oliver! could he but have known how little all this had to do with
O lady! worthy of earth's proudest throne!
Nor less, by excellence of nature, fit
Beside an unambitious hearth to sit
Domestic queen, where grandeur is unknown--
Queen and handmaid lowly.
A house in the Terrace was let, and the rent was welcome; and shortly
after, Clara had an affectionate letter from her old school-enemy,
Miss Salter, begging her to come as governess to her little brother,
promising that she should be treated like one of the family, and
offering a large salary.
Clara was much afraid that it was her duty to accept the proposal,
since her uncle seemed very fairly contented, and was growing very
fond of 'Roland,' and the payment would be so great an assistance,
but James and Isabel were strongly averse to it; and her conscience
waa satisfied by Miss Mercy Faithfull's discovery of a family at the
Baths in search of a daily governess.
Miss Frost was not a person to be rejected, and in another week she
found herself setting out to breakfast with a girl and three boys,
infusing Latin, French, and geography all the forenoon, dining with
them, sometimes walking with them, and then returning to the merry
evening of Dynevor Terrace.
Mr. Dynevor endured the step pretty well. She had ascendancy enough
over him always to take her own way, and he was still buoyed up by
the hope of recovering enough to rectify his affairs in Peru. He was
better, though his right side remained paralysed, and Mr. Walby saw
little chance of restoration. Rising late, and breakfasting slowly,
the newspaper and visits from James wiled away the morning. He
preferred taking his meals alone; and after dinner was wheeled out in
a chair on fine days. Clara came to him as soon as her day's work
was over; and, when he was well enough to bear it, the whole party
were with him from the children's bedtime till his own. Altogether,
the invalid-life passed off pretty well. He did not dislike the
children, and Kitty liked anything that needed to be waited on. He
took Clara's services as a right, but was a little afraid of 'Mrs.
Dynevor,' and highly flattered by any attention from her; and with
James his moods were exceedingly variable, and often very trying,
but, in general, very well endured.
Peruvian mails were anticipated in the family with a feeling most
akin to dread. The notice of a vessel coming in was the signal for
growlings at everything, from the post-office down to his dinner; and
the arrival of letters made things only worse. As Clara said, the
galleons were taken by the pirates; the Equatorial Company seemed to
be doing the work of Caleb Balderston's thunderstorm, and to be
bearing the blame of a deficit such as Oliver could not charge on it.
The whole statement was backed by Mr. Ponsonby, whose short notes
spoke of indisposition making him more indebted than ever to the
exertions of Robson. This last was gone to Guayaquil to attempt to
clear up the accounts of the Equatorial Company, leaving the office
at Lima in the charge of Madison and the new clerk, Ford; and Mr.
Dynevor was promised something decisive and satisfactory on his
return. Of Mary there was no mention, except what might be inferred
in a postscript:--'Ward is expected in a few weeks.'
Mr. Dynevor was obliged to resign himself; and so exceedingly
fractious was he, that Clara had been feeling quite dispirited, when
her brother called her to tell her joyously that Lord Ormersfield and
Louis were coming home, and would call in on their way the next
evening. Those wretched children must not take her for a walk.
Nevertheless, the wretched children did want to walk, and Clara could
not get home till half-an-hour after she knew the train must have
come in; and she found the visitors in her uncle's room. Louis came
forward to the door to meet her, and shook her hand with all his
heart, saying, under his breath,
'I congratulate you!'
'Thank you!' she said, in the same hearty tone.
'And now, look at him! look at my father! Have not we made a good
piece of work of keeping him abroad all the winter? Does not he look
as well as ever he did in his life?'
This was rather strong, for Lord Ormersfield was somewhat grey, and a
little bent; but he had resumed all his look of health and vigour,
and was a great contrast to his younger, but far older-looking
cousin. He welcomed Clara with his tone of courteous respect, and
smiled at his son's exultation, saying, Fitzjocelyn deserved all the
credit, for he himself had never thought to be so patched up again,
and poor Oliver was evidently deriving as much encouragement as if
rheumatism had been paralysis.
'I must look in at the House Beautiful,' said Louis, presently.
'Clara, I can't lose your company. Won't you come with me?'
Of course she came; and she divined why, instead of at once entering
the next house, he took a turn along the Terrace, and, after a pause,
asked, 'Clara, when did you last hear from Lima?'
'Not for a long time. I suppose she is taken up by her father's
He paused, collected himself, and asked again, 'Have you heard
nothing from your uncle?'
'Yes,' said Clara, sadly, 'but Louis,' she added, with a lively tone,
'what does not come from herself, I would not believe.'
'I do not.'
'That's right, don't be vexed when it may be nothing.'
'No; if she had found any one more worthy of her, she would not
hesitate in making me aware of it. I ought to be satisfied, if she
does what is best for her own happiness. Miss Ponsonby believes that
this is a man of sterling worth, probably suiting her better than I
might have done. She was a good deal driven on by circumstances
before, and, perhaps, it was all a mistake on her side.' And he
tried to smile.
Clara exclaimed that 'Mary could not have been all he had believed,
'No,' he said, 'she is all, and more than all. I comprehend her
better now, and could have shown her that I do. She has been the
blessing of my life so far, and her influence always will be so. I
shall always be grateful to her, be the rest as it may, and I mean to
live on hope to the last. Now for the good old ladies. Really,
Clara, the old Dynevor Terrace atmosphere has come back, and there
seems to be the same sort of rest and cheering in coming into these
old iron gates! After all, Isabel is growing almost worthy to be
called Mrs. Frost.' And in this manner he talked on, up to the very
door of the House Beautiful, as if to cheat himself out of
'That was a very pretty meeting,' said Isabel to her husband, when no
witness was present but little Fanny.
'What, between his lordship and my uncle?'
'You know better.'
'My dear, your mother once tried match-making for Fitzjocelyn. Be
warned by her example.'
'I am doing no such thing. I am only observing what every one sees.'
'Don't be so common-place.'
'That's all disdain--you must condescend. I have been hearing from
Mr. Dynevor of the excellent offers that Clara refused.'
'Do you think Uncle Oliver and Clara agree as to excellence?'
'Still,' continued Isabel, 'considering how uncomfortable she was, it
does not seem improbable that she would have married, unless some
attachment had steeled her heart and raised her standard. I know she
was unconscious, but it was Fitzjocelyn who formed her.'
'He has been a better brother to her than I have been; but look only
at their perfect ease.'
'Now it is my belief that they were made for each other, and can
venture to find it out, since she is no longer an heiress, and he is
free from his Peruvian entanglement.'
'Fanny, do you hear what a scheming mamma you have? I hope she will
have used it all upon Sir Hubert before you come out as the beauty of
'Well, I mean to sound Clara.'
'You had better leave it alone.'
'Do you forbid me?'
'Why, no, for I don't think you have the face to say anything that
would distress her, or disturb the friendship which has been her
'Thank you. All I intend is, that if it should be as I suppose, the
poor things should not miss coming to an understanding for want--'
'Of a Christmas-tree,' said James, laughing. 'You may have your own
way. I have too much confidence in your discretion and in theirs to
imagine that you will produce the least effect.'
Isabel's imagination was busily at work, and she was in haste to make
use of her husband's permission; but it was so difficult to see Clara
alone, that some days passed before the two sisters were left
together in the sitting-room, while James was writing a letter for
his uncle. Isabel's courage began to waver, but she ventured a
'Mr. Dynevor entertains me with fine stories of your conquests,
Clara laughed, blushed, and answered bluntly, 'What a bother it was!'
'You are very hard-hearted.'
'You ought to remember the troubles of young ladyhood enough not to
'I never let things run to that length; but then I had no fortune.
But seriously, Clara, were all these people objectionable?'
'Do you think one could marry any man, only because he was not
objectionable? There was no harm in one or two; but I was not going
to have anything to say to them.'
'Really, Clara, you make me curious. Had you made any resolution?'
'I know only two men whom I could have trusted to fulfil my
conditions,' said Clara.
'Of course! that if Cheveleigh was to belong to any of us, it should
be to the rightful heir.'
'My dear, noble Clara! was that what kept you from thinking of
'Wasn't it a fine thing to have such a test? Not that I ever came to
trying it. Simple no answered my purpose. I met no one who tempted
me to make the experiment.'
'Two men!' said Isabel, 'if you had said one, it would have been
'Jem and Louis, of course,' said Clara.
'Oh! that is as good as saying one.'
'As good as saying none,' said Clara, with emphasis.
'There may be different opinions on that point,' returned Isabel, not
daring to lift her eyes from her work, though longing to study
Clara's face, and feeling herself crimsoning.
'Extremely unfounded opinions, and rather--'
'Impertinent, I was going to say, begging your pardon, dear Isabel.'
'Nay, I think it is I who should beg yours, Clara.'
'No, no,' said Clara, laughing, but speaking gravely immediately
after, 'lookers-on do not always see most of the game. I have always
known his mind so well that I could never possibly have fallen into
any such nonsense. I respect him far too much.'
Isabel felt as if she must hazard a few words more--'Can you guess
what he will do if Mr. Ponsonby's reports prove true?'
'I do not mean to anticipate misfortunes,' said Clara.
Isabel could say no more; and when Clara next spoke, it was to ask
for another of James's wristbands to stitch. Then Isabel ventured to
peep at her face, and saw it quite calm, and not at all rosy; if it
had been, the colour was gone.
Thus it was, and there are happily many such friendships existing as
that between Louis and Clara. Many a woman has seen the man whom she
might have married, and yet has not been made miserable. If there be
neither vanity nor weak self-contemplation on her side, nor trifling
on his part, nor unwise suggestions forced on her by spectators, the
honest, genuine affection need never become passion. If intimacy is
sometimes dangerous, it is because vanity, folly, and mistakes are
too frequent; but in spite of all these, where women are truly
refined, and exalted into companions and friends, there has been much
more happy, frank intercourse and real friendship than either the
romantic or the sagacious would readily allow. The spark is never
lighted, there is no consciousness, no repining, and all is well.
Fresh despatches from Lima arrived; and after a day, when Oliver had
been so busy overlooking the statement from Guayaquil that he would
not even take his usual airing, he received Clara with orders to
write and secure his passage by the next packet for Callao.
'Dear uncle, you would never dream of it! You could not bear the
journey!' she cried, aghast.
'It would do me good. Do not try to cross me, Clara. No one else can
deal with this pack of rascals. Your brother has not been bred to
it, and is a parson besides, and there's not a soul that I can trust.
I'll go. What! d'ye think I can live on him and on you, when there
is a competence of my own out there, embezzled among those
'I am sure we had much rather--'
'No stuff and nonsense. Here is Roland with four children already--
very likely to have a dozen more. If you and he are fools, I'm not,
and I won't take the bread out of their mouths. I'll leave my will
behind, bequeathing whatever I may get out of the fire evenly between
you two, as the only way to content you; and if I never turn up
again, why you're rid of the old man.'
'Very well, uncle, I shall take my own passage at the same time.'
'You don't know what you are talking of. You are a silly child, and
your brother would be a worse if he let you go.'
'If Jem lets you go, he will let me. He shall let me. Don't you
know that you are never to have me off your hands, uncle? No, no, I
shall stick to you like a burr. You may go up to the tip-top of
Chimborazo if you please, but you'll not shake me off.'
It was her fixed purpose to accompany him, and she was not solicitous
to dissuade him from going, for she could be avaricious for James's
children, and had a decided wish for justice on the guilty party;
and, besides, Clara had a private vision of her own, which made her
dance in her little room. Mary had written in her father's stead-
there was not a word of Mr. Ward--indeed, Mr. Ponsonby was evidently
so ill that his daughter could think of nothing else. Might not
Clara come in time to clear up any misunderstanding--convince Mr.
Ponsonby--describe Louis's single-hearted constancy during all these
five years, and bring Mary home to him in triumph? She could have
laughed aloud with delight at the possibility; and when the other
alternative occurred to her, she knit her brows with childish
vehemence, as she promised Miss Mary that she would never be her
Presently she heard Fitzjocelyn's voice in the parlour, and, going
down, found him in consultation over a letter which Charlotte had
brought to her master. It was so well written and expressed, that
Louis turned to the signature before he could quite believe that it
was from his old pupil. Tom wrote to communicate his perplexity at
the detection of the frauds practised on his employers. He had
lately been employed in the office at Lima, where much had excited
his suspicion; and, finally, from having 'opened a letter addressed
by mistake to the firm, but destined for an individual, he had
discovered that large sums, supposed to be required by the works, or
lost in the Equatorial failure, had been, in fact, invested in
America in the name of that party.' The secret was a grievous
burthen. Mr. Ponsonby was far too ill to be informed; besides that,
he should only bring suspicion on himself; and Miss Ponsonby was so
much occupied as to be almost equally inaccessible. Tom had likewise
reason to believe that his own movements were watched, and that any
attempt to communicate with her or her father would be baffled; and,
above all, he could not endure himself to act the spy and informer.
He only wished that, if possible, without mentioning names, Charlotte
could give a hint that Mr. Dynevor must not implicitly trust to all
James was inclined to suppress such vague information, which he
thought would only render his uncle more restless and wretched in his
helplessness, and was only questioning whether secrecy would not
amount to deceit.
'The obvious thing is for me to go to Peru,' said Louis.
'My uncle and I were intending to go,' said Clara.
'How many more of you?' exclaimed James.
'I would not change my native land
For rich Peru and all her gold;'
chanted little Kitty from the corner, where she was building houses
for the 'little ones.'
'Extremely to the purpose,' said Louis, laughing. 'Follow her
example, Clara. Make your uncle appoint me his plenipotentiary, and
I will try what I can to find out what these rogues are about.'
'Are you in earnest?'
'Never more so in my life.'
James beckoned him to the window, and showed him a sentence where Tom
said that the best chance for the firm was in Miss Ponsonby's
marriage with Mr. Ward, but that engagement was not yet declared on
account of her father's illness.
'The very reason,' said Louis, 'I cannot go on in this way. I must
know the truth.'
'And your father?'
'It would be much better for him that the thing were settled. He
will miss me less during the session, when he is in London with all
his old friends about him. It would not take long, going by the
Isthmus. I'll ride back at once, and see how he bears the notion.
Say nothing to Mr. Dynevor till you hear from me; but I think he will
consent. He will not endure that she should be left unprotected; her
father perhaps dying, left to the mercy of these rascals.'
'And forgive me, Louis, if you found her not needing you!'
'If she be happy, I should honour the man who made her so. At least,
I might be of use to you. I should see after poor Madison. I have
sent him to the buccaneers indeed! Good-bye! I cannot rest till I
see how my father takes it!'
It was long since Louis had been under an excess of impetuosity; but
he rode home as fast as he had ridden to Northwold to canvass for
James, and had not long been at Ormersfield before his proposition
was laid before his father.
It was no small thing to ask of the Earl, necessary as his son had
become to him; and the project at first appeared to him senseless.
He thought Mary had not shown herself sufficiently sensible of his
son's merits to deserve so much trouble; and if she were engaged to
Mr. Ward, Fitzjocelyn would find himself in an unpleasant and
undignified position. Besides, there was the ensuing session of
Parliament! No! Oliver must send out some trustworthy man of
business, with full powers.
Louis only answered, that of course it depended entirely on his
father's consent; and by-and-by his submission began to work. Lord
Ormersfield could not refuse him anything, and took care, on parting
for the night, to observe that the point was not settled, only under
And consideration was more favourable than might have been expected.
The Earl was growing anxious to see his son married, and of that
there was no hope till his mind should be settled with regard to
Mary. It would be more for his peace to extinguish the hope, if it
were never to be fulfilled. Moreover, the image of Mary had awakened
the Earl's own fatherly fondness for her, and his desire to rescue
her from her wretched home. Even Mr. Ponsonby could hardly withstand
Louis in person, he thought, and must be touched by so many years of
constancy. The rest might be only a misunderstanding which would be
cleared up by a personal interview. Added to this, Lord Ormersfield
knew that Clara would not let her uncle go alone, and did not think
it fit to see her go out alone with an infirm paralytic; James could
not leave his wife or his chaplaincy, and the affair was unsuited to
his profession; a mere accountant would not carry sufficient
authority, nor gain Madison's confidence; in fact, Fitzjocelyn, and
no other, was the trustworthy man of business; and so his lordship
allowed when Louis ventured to recur to the subject the next morning,
and urge some of his arguments.
The bright clearing of Louis's face spoke his thanks, and he began at
once to detail his plans for his father's comfort, Lord Ormersfield
listening as if pleased by his solicitude, though caring for little
until the light of his eyes should return.
'The next point is that you should give me a testimonial that I _am_
a trustworthy man of business.'
'I will ride into Northwold with you, and talk it over with Oliver.'
Here lay the knotty point; but the last five years had considerably
cultivated Fitzjocelyn's natural aptitude for figures, by his
attention to statistics, his own farming-books, and the complicated
accounts of the Ormersfield estate,--so that both his father and
Richardson could testify to his being an excellent man of business;
and his coolness, and mildness of temper, made him better calculated
to deal with a rogue than a more hasty man would have been.
They found, on arriving, that James had been talking to Mr. Walby,
who pronounced that the expedition to Lima would be mere madness for
Mr. Dynevor, since application to business would assuredly cause
another attack, and even the calculations of the previous day had
made him very unwell, and so petulant and snappish, that he could be
pleased with nothing, and treated as mere insult the proposal that he
should entrust his affairs to 'such a lad.'
Even James hesitated to influence him to accept the offer. 'I
scruple,' he said, drawing the Earl aside, 'because I thought you had
a particular objection to Fitzjocelyn's being thrown in the way of
speculations. I thought you dreaded the fascination.'
'Thank you, James; I once did so,' said the Earl. 'I used to believe
it a family mania; I only kept it down in myself by strong
resolution, in the very sight of the consequences, but I can trust
Fitzjocelyn. He is too indifferent to everything apart from duty to
be caught by flattering projects, and you may fully confide in his
right judgment. I believe it is the absence of selfishness or
conceit that makes him so clear-sighted.'
'What a change! what a testimony!' triumphantly thought James. It
might be partial, but he was not the man to believe so.
That day was one of defeat; but on the following, a note from James
advised Fitzjocelyn to come and try his fortune again; Mr. Dynevor
would give no one any rest till he had seen him.
Thereupon Louis was closeted with the old merchant, who watched him
keenly, and noted every question or remark he made on the accounts;
then twinkled his eyes with satisfaction as he hit more than one of
the very blots over which Oliver had already perplexed himself. So
clear-headed and accurate did he show himself, that he soon perceived
that Mr. Dynevor looked at him as a good clerk thrown away; and he
finally obtained from him full powers to act, to bring the villain to
condign punishment, and even, if possible, to dispose of his share in
Miss Ponsonby was much relieved to learn that Lord Fitzjocelyn was
going out, though fearing that he might meet with disappointment;
but, at least, her brother would be undeceived as to the traitor in
whom he was confiding. No letters were to announce Louis's
intentions, lest the enemy should take warning; but he carried
several with him, to be given or not, according to the state of
affairs; and when, on his way through London, he went to receive Miss
Ponsonby's commissions, she gave him a large packet, addressed to
'Am I to give her this at all events!' he asked, faltering.
'It would serve her right.'
'Then I should not give it to her. Pray write another, for she does
not deserve to be wounded, however she may have decided.'
'I do not know how I shall ever forgive her,' sighed Aunt Melicent.
'People are never so unforgiving as when they have nothing to
'Ah! Lord Fitzjocelyn, that is not your case. This might have been
far otherwise, had I not misjudged you at first.'
'Do not believe so. It would have been hard to think me more foolish
than I was. This probation has been the best schooling for me; and,
let it end as it may, I shall be thankful for what has been.'
And in this spirit did he sail, and many an anxious thought followed
him, no heart beating higher than did that of little Charlotte, who
founded a great many hopes on the crisis that his coming would
produce. Seven years was a terrible time to have been engaged, and
the little workhouse girl thought her getting almost as old as Mrs.
Beckett. She wondered whether Tom thought so too! She did not want
to think about Martha's first cousin, who was engaged for thirty-two
years to a journeyman tailor, and when they married at last, they
were both so cross that she went out to service again at the end of a
month. Charlotte set up all her caps with Tom's favourite colour,
and 'turned Angelina' twenty times a-day.
Then came the well-known Peruvian letters, and a thin one for
Charlotte. Without recollecting that it must have crossed Lord
Fitzjocelyn on the road, she tore it open the instant she had carried
in the parlour letters. Alas! poor Charlotte!
'I write to you for the last time, lest you should consider yourself
any longer bound by the engagements which must long have been
distasteful. When I say that Mr. Ford has for some months been my
colleague, you will know to what I allude, without my expressing any
further. I am already embarked for the U. S. My enemies have
succeeded in destroying my character and blighting my hopes. I am at
present a fugitive from the hands of so-called justice; but I could
have borne all with a cheerful heart if you had not played me false.
You will never hear more of one who loved you faithfully.
Poor Charlotte! The wound was a great deal too deep for her usual
childish tears, or even for a single word. She stood still, cold,
and almost unconscious till she heard a step, then she put the cruel
letter away in her bosom, and went about her work as usual.
They thought her looking very pale, and Jane now and then reproached
her with eating no more than a sparrow, and told her she was getting
into a dwining way; but she made no answer, except that she 'could do
her work.' At last, one Sunday evening, when she had been left alone
with the children, her mistress found her sitting at the foot of her
bed, among the sleeping little ones, weeping bitterly but silently.
Isabel's kindness at length opened her heart, and she put the letter
into her hand. Poor little thing, it was very meekly borne: 'Please
don't tell no one, ma'am,' she said; 'I couldn't hear him blamed!'
'But what does he mean? He must be under some terrible error. Who
is this Ford?'
'It is Delaford, ma'am, I make no doubt, though however he could have
got there! And, oh dear me! if I had only told poor Tom the whole,
that I was a silly girl, and liked his flatteries now and then, but
constant in my heart I always was!'
Isabel could not but suppose that Delaford, if it were he, might have
exaggerated poor Charlotte's little flirtation; but there was small
comfort here, since contradiction was impossible. The U. S., over
which the poor child had puzzled in vain, was no field in which to
follow him up--he had not even dated his letter; and it was a very,
very faint hope that Lord Fitzjocelyn might trace him out, especially
as he had evidently fled in disgrace; and poor Charlotte sobbed
bitterly over his troubles, as well as her own.
She was better after she had told her mistress, though still she
shrank from any other sympathy. Even Jane's pity would have been too
much for her, and her tender nature was afraid of the tongues that
would have discussed her grief. Perhaps the high-toned nature of
Isabel was the very best to be brought into contact with the poor
girl's spirit, which was of the same order, and many an evening did
Isabel sit in the twilight, beside the children's beds, talking to
her, or sometimes reading a few lines to show her how others had
suffered in the same way. 'It is my own fault,' said poor Charlotte;
'it all came of my liking to be treated like one above the common,
and it serves me right. Yes, ma'am, that was a beautiful text you
showed me last night, I thought of it all day, and I'll try to
believe that good will come out of it. I am sure you are very good
to let me love the children! I'm certain sure Miss Salome knows that
I'm in trouble, for she never fails to run and kiss me the minute she
comes in sight; and she'll sit so quiet in my lap, the little dear,
and look at me as much as to say, 'Charlotte, I wish I could comfort
you.' But it was all my own fault, ma'am, and I think I could feel
as if I was punished right, so I knew poor Tom was happy.'
'Alas!' thought Isabel, after hearing Charlotte's reminiscences; 'how
close I have lived to a world of which I was in utter ignorance! How
little did we guess that, by the careless ease and inattention of our
household, we were carrying about a firebrand, endangering not only
poor Walter, but doing fearful harm wherever we went!'
On Darien's sands and deadly dew.
Enterprise and speed both alike directed Fitzjocelyn's course across
the Isthmus of Panama, which in 1853 had newly become practicable for
adventurous travellers. A canal conducted him as far as Cruces,
after which he had to push on through wild forest and swamp, under
the escort of the muleteers who took charge of the various travellers
who had arrived by the same packet.
It was a very novel and amusing journey, even in the very discomforts
and the strange characters with whom he was thrown, and more
discontented travellers used to declare that Don Luis, as he told the
muleteers to call him, always seemed to have the best success with
the surly hotel-keepers, though when he resigned his acquisitions to
any resolute grumbler, it used to be discovered that he had been
putting up with the worst share.
A place called Guallaval seemed to be the most squalid and forlorn of
all the stations--outside, an atmosphere of mosquitoes; inside, an
atmosphere of brandy and smoke, the master an ague-stricken Yankee,
who sat with his bare feet high against the wall, and only deigned to
jerk with his head to show in what quarter was the drink and food,
and to 'guess that strangers must sleep on the ground, for first-
comers had all the beds'--hammocks slung up in a barn, or unwholesome
cupboards in the wall.
At the dirty board sat several of the party first arrived, washing
down tough, stringy beef with brandy. Louis was about to take his
place near a very black-bearded young man, who appeared more
civilized than the rest, and who surprised him by at once making room
for him, leaving the table with an air of courtesy; and when, in his
halting Spanish, he begged 'his Grace' not to disturb himself, he was
answered, in the same tongue, 'I have finished.'
After the meal, such as it was, he wandered out of the hut, to escape
the fumes and the company within; but he was presently accosted by
the same stranger, who, touching his slouched Panama hat, made him a
speech in Spanish, too long and fluent for his comprehension, at the
same time offering him a cigar. He was civilly refusing, when, to
his surprise, the man interrupted him in good English. 'These swamps
breed fever, to a certainty. A cigar is the only protection; and
even then there is nothing more dangerous than to be out at sunset.'
'Thank you, I am much obliged,' said Louis, turning towards the hut.
'Have you been long out here?'
'The first time on the Isthmus; but I know these sort of places.
Pray go in, my Lord.'
The title and the accent startled Louis, and he exclaimed, 'You must
be from the Northwold country?'
He drew back, and said bluntly, 'Never mind me, only keep out of this
But the abrupt surliness completed the recognition, and, seizing his
hand, Louis cried, 'Tom! how are you?' You have turned into a
thorough Spaniard, and taken me in entirely.'
'Only come in, my Lord; I would never have spoken to you, but that I
could not see you catching your death.'
'I am coming: but what's the matter? Why avoid me, when you are the
very man I most wished to see?'
'I'm done for,' said Tom. 'The fellows up there have saddled their
rogueries on me, and I'm off to the States. I--'
'What do you say? There, I am coming in. Be satisfied, Tom; I am
come out with a commission from Mr. Dynevor, to see what can be
'That's right,' cried Tom, 'now poor Miss Ponsonby will have one
'Your letter to Charlotte brought me out--' began Louis; but Madison
broke in with an expression of dismay and self-reproach at seeing him
walking somewhat lame.
'It is only when I am tired, and not thinking of it,' said Louis; 'do
you know that old ash stick, Tom, my constant friend? See, here are
the names of all the places I have seen cut out on it.'
'I knew it, and you, the moment you sat down by the table,' said Tom,
in a tone of the utmost feeling, as Louis took his arm. 'You are not
one to forget.'
'And yet you were going to pass me without making yourself known.'
'A disgraced man has no business to be known,' said Tom, low and
hoarsely. 'No, I wish none of them ever to hear my name again; and
but for the slip of the tongue that came so naturally, you should
not, but I was drawn to you, and could not help it. I am glad I have
seen you once more, my Lord--'
He would have left him at the entrance, but Louis held him fast.
'You are the very man I depend on for unravelling the business. A
man cannot be disgraced by any one but himself, and that is not the
case with you, Tom.'
'No, thank Heaven,' said Tom, fervently; 'I've kept my honesty, if I
have lost all the rest.'
Little more was needed to bring Madison to a seat on a wooden bench
beside Fitzjocelyn, answering his anxious inquiries. The first
tidings were a shock--Mr. Ponsonby was dead. He had long been
declining, and the last thing Tom had heard from Lima was, that he
was dead; but of the daughter there was no intelligence; Tom had been
too much occupied with his own affairs to know anything of her.
Robson had returned from Guayaquil some weeks previously, and in the
settlement of accounts consequent on Mr. Ponsonby's death, Tom had
demurred giving up all the valuable property at the mines under his
charge, until he should have direct orders from Mr. Dynevor or Miss
Ponsonby. A hot dispute ensued, and Robson became aware that Tom was
informed of his nefarious practices, and had threatened him
violently; but a few hours after he had returned, affecting to have
learnt from the new clerk, Ford, that Madison's peculations required
to be winked at with equal forbearance, and giving him the
alternative of sharing the spoil, or of being denounced to the
authorities. He took a night to consider; and, as Louis started at
hearing of any deliberation, he said, sadly, 'You would not believe
me, my Lord, but I had almost a mind. They would take away my
character, any way; and what advantage was my honesty without that?
And as to hurting my employers, they would only take what I did not;
and such as that is thought nothing of by very many. I'd got no
faith in man nor woman left, and I'd got nothing but suspicion by my
honesty; so why should I not give in to the way of the world, and try
if it would serve me. But then, my Lord, it struck me that if I had
nothing else, I had still my God left.'
Louis grasped his hand.
'Yes, I'm thankful that Miss Ponsonby asked me to read to the Cornish
miners,' said Madison. 'One gets soon heathenish in a heathenish
place; and but for that I don't believe I should ever have stood it
out. But Joseph's words, 'How can I do this great wickedness, and
sin against God,' kept ringing in my ears like a peal of bells, all
night, and by morning I sent in a note to Mr. Robson, to say No to
what he proposed.'
Every other principle would have cracked in such a conflict, and
Louis looked up at Tom with intense admiration, while the young man
spoke on, not conscious that it had been noble, but ashamed of owning
himself to have been brought to a pass where mere integrity had been
He had gone back at once to his mines, in some hopes that the threats
might yet prove nothing but blustering; but he had scarcely arrived
there when an Indian muleteer, to whom he had shown some kindness,
brought him intelligence that la justida was in quest of him, but in
difficulties how to get up the mountains. The poor Indians guided
his escape, conducting him down wonderful paths only known to
themselves, hiding him in strange sequestered huts, and finally
guiding him safely to Callao, where he had secretly embarked on board
an American vessel bound for Panama. Louis asked why he had fled,
instead of taking his trial, and confuting Robson; but he smiled, and
said, my Lord knew little of foreign justice; besides, Ford was ready
to bear any witness that Robson might put into his mouth;--and his
face grew dark. Who was this Ford? He could not tell; Mr. Robson
had picked him up a few months back, when there was a want of a
clerk; like loved like, he supposed, but it was no concern of his.
Would it be safe for him to venture back to Peru, under Fitzjocelyn's
protection, and assist him in unmasking the treacherous Robson! To
this he readily agreed, catching at the hope of establishing his
innocence; but declaring that he should then go at once to the
States.--'What, not even go home to see Charlotte? I've got a letter
for you, when I can get at it.'
Tom made no answer, and Fitzjocelyn feared that, in spite of all his
good qualities, his fidelity in love had not equalled his fidelity to
his employers. He could not understand his protege during the few
days of their journey. He was a great acquisition to his comfort,
with his knowledge of the language and people, and his affectionate
deference. At home, where all were courtly, he had been almost rude;
but here, in the land of ill manners, his attentions were so
assiduous that Louis was obliged to beg him to moderate them lest
they should both be ridiculous. He had become a fine-looking young
man, with a foreign air and dress agreeing well with his dark
complexion; and he had acquired much practical ability and
information. Mountains, authority, and a good selection of books had
been excellent educators; he was a very superior and intelligent
person, and, without much polish, had laid aside his peasant
rusticities, and developed some of the best qualities of a gentleman.
But though open and warm-hearted on many points with his early
friend, there was a gloom and moodiness about him, which Louis could
only explain by thinking that his unmerited disgrace preyed on him
more than was quite manly. To this cause, likewise, Louis at first
attributed his never choosing to hear a word about Charlotte; but as
the distaste--nay almost sullenness, evoked by any allusion to her,
became more apparent, Louis began unwillingly to balance his
suspicions between some fresh attachment, or unworthy shame at an
engagement to a maidservant.
The poor little damsel's sweet blushing face and shy courtesy, and
all her long and steady faithfulness, made him feel indignant at such
a suspicion, and he resolved to bring Madison to some explanation;
but he did not find the opportunity till after they had embarked at
the beautiful little islet of Toboga for Callao. On board, he had
time to find in his portmanteau the letter with which she had
entrusted him, and, seeking Madison on deck, gave it to him. He held
it in his hand without opening it; but the sparkle in his dark eye
did not betoken the bashfulness of fondness, and Louis, taking a turn
along the deck to watch him unperceived, saw him raise his hand as if
to throw the poor letter overboard at once. A few long steps, and
Louis was beside him, exclaiming, 'What now, Tom--is that the way you
treat your letters?'
'The little hypocrite! I don't want no more of her false words,'
muttered Tom, returning, in his emotion, to his peasant's emphatic
'Hypocrite! Do you know how nobly and generously she has been
helping Mr. and Mrs. Frost through their straits? how faithfully--'
'I know better,' said Tom, hoarsely; 'don't excuse her, my Lord; you
know little of what passes in your own kitchens.'
'Too true, I fear, in many cases,' said Louis; 'but I have seen this
poor child in circumstances that make me feel sure that she is an
admirable creature. What misunderstanding can have arisen?'
'No misunderstanding, my Lord. I saw, as plain as I see you, her
name and her writing in the book that she gave to Ford--her copying
out of his love-poems, my Lord, in the blank pages,--if I had wanted
any proof of what he alleged.'
And he had nearly thrown the letter into the Pacific; but Louis
caught his arm.
'Did you ever read Cymbeline, Tom?'
'Yes, to be sure I have,' growled Tom, in surprise.
'Then remember Iachimo, and spare that letter. What did he tell
With some difficulty Fitzjocelyn drew from Madison that he had for
some time been surprised at Ford's knowledge of Northwold and the
neighbourhood; but had indulged in no suspicions till about the epoch
of Robson's return from Guayaquil. Chancing to be waiting in his
fellow-clerk's room, he had looked at his books, and, always
attracted by poetry as the rough fellow was, had lighted on a crimson
watered-silk volume, in the first page of which he had, to his
horror, found the name of Charlotte Arnold borne aloft by the two
doves, and in the blank leaves several extremely flowery poems in her
With ill-suppressed rage he had demanded an explanation, and had been
met with provokingly indifferent inuendoes. The book was the gift of
a young lady with whom Ford had the pleasure to be acquainted; the
little effusions were trifles of his own, inscribed by her own fair
hands. Oh, yes! he knew Miss Arnold very well--very pretty, very
complaisant! Ah! he was afraid there were some broken hearts at
home! Poor little thing! he should never forget how she took leave
of him, after forcing upon him her little savings! He was sorry for
her, too; but a man cannot have compassion on all the pretty girls he
'And you could be deceived by such shallow coxcombry as this!' said
'I tell you there was the book,' returned Tom.
'Well, Tom, if Mr. Ford prove to be the Ford I take him to be, I'll
undertake that you shall see through him, and be heartily ashamed of
yourself. Give me back the letter,--you do not deserve to have it.'
'I don't want it,' said Tom, moodily; 'she has not been as true to me
as I've been to her, and if she isn't what I took her for, I do not
care to hear of her again. I used to look at the mountain-tops, and
think she was as pure as they; and that she should have been making
herself the talk of a fellow like that, and writing so sweet to me
all the time!--No, my Lord, there's no excusing it; and 'twas her
being gone after the rest that made it so bitter hard to me! If she
had been true, I would have gone through fire and water to be an
honest man worthy of her; but when I found how she had deceived me,
it went hard with me to cut myself off from the wild mountain life
that I'd got to love, and my poor niggers, that will hardly have so
kind a master set over them.'
'You have stood the fiery ordeal well,' said Louis; 'and I verily
believe that you will soon find that it was only an ordeal.'
The care of Tom was a wholesome distraction to the suspense that
became almost agony as Louis approached Peru, and beheld the gigantic
summits of the more northern Andes, which sunset revealed shining out
white and fitfully, like the Pilgrim's vision of the Celestial City,
although, owing to their extreme distance, even on a bright noonday,
nothing was visible but clear deep-blue sky. They seemed to make him
realize that the decisive moment was near, when he should tread the
same soil with Mary, and yet, as he stood silently watching those
glorious heights, human hopes and cares seemed to shrink into nothing
before the eternity and Infinite Greatness of which the depth and the
height spoke. Yet He remembereth the hairs of our heads, Who
weigheth the mountains in the balance, and counteth the isles as a
very little thing. Louis took comfort, but nerved himself for
resignation; his prayer was more, that he might bear rightly whatever
might be in store, than that he should succeed. He could hardly have
made the latter petition with that submissiveness and reserve
befitting all entreaty for blessings of this passing world.