Part 7 out of 7
O! would you hear of a Spanish lady,
How she woo'd an Englishman?
Garments gay, as rich as may be,
Decked with jewels she had on.
The white buildings of Callao looked out of the palm gardens, and,
with throbbing heart, Fitzjocelyn was set on shore, leaving Madison
on board until he should hear from him that evening or the next
Hiring a calesa, he drove at once to Lima, to the house of the late
Mr. Ponsonby. The heavy folding gates admitted him to the archway,
where various negroes were loitering; and as he inquired for the
ladies, one of them raised a curtain, and admitted him into the large
cool twilight hall, so dark that, with eyes dazzled by the full glare
of day, he could hardly discern at the opposite end of the hall,
where a little more light was admitted from one of the teatina
windows, two figures seated at a table covered with ledgers and
papers. As if dreaming, he followed his barefooted guide across the
soft India matting, and heard his Spanish announcement, that, might
it please her Grace, here was a Senor from England.
Both rose; the one a well-dressed man, the other--it was the well-
known action--'Mary!' it was all that he had the power to say; he
was hardly visible, but what tone was ever like that low, distinct,
Mary clasped her hands together as if in bewilderment.
'Xavier should not--I will speak,' whispered her companion to her,
and beginning, 'Address yourself to me, sir!'
But Mary sprang forward, signing him back with her hand. 'It is my
cousin, Lord Fitzjocelyn!' she said, as if breath and effort would
serve no more, and she laid her hand in that of Louis.
'Mr. Ward?' said Louis, barely able to frame the question, yet
striving for a manner that might leave no thorns behind.
'No; oh, no! Mr. Robson.'
The very sound of the 'No' made his heart bound up again, and his
hand closed fast on that which lay within it, while a bow passed
between him and Robson.
'And you are come?' as if it were too incredible.
'I told you I should,' he answered.
'I will leave you, Miss Ponsonby,' said Robson; 'we will continue our
little business when you are less agreeably engaged.'
He began to gather the papers together, an action which suddenly
recalled Louis to the recollection of Tom's cautions as to prudence
and alertness, and he forced himself to a prompt tone of business.
'I hope to be able to be of use,' he said, turning to Mary. 'Mr.
Dynevor has given me a commission to look into his affairs,' and he
put into Robson's hands the letter written by James, and signed by
'Thank you, Lord Fitzjocelyn, I shall be very happy to give any
explanations you may wish,' said Robson, measuring with his eye his
youthful figure and features, and piling up the books.
'I should prefer having these left with me,' said Louis; 'I have but
little time before me, and if I could look them over to-night, I
should be prepared for you to-morrow.'
'Allow me. You would find it impossible to understand these entries.
There is much to be set in order before they would be ready for the
honour of your lordship's inspection.'
'I particularly wish to have them at once. You give me authority to
act for you, Miss Ponsonby?' he added, looking at her, as she stood
holding by the table, as one half awake.
'Oh! yes, I put the whole into your hands,' she answered,
mechanically, obeying his eye.
'Allow me, my Lord,' said Robson, as Fitzjocelyn laid the firm hand
of detention on the heavy ledgers, and great leathern pocket-book.
'Yes; we had better know exactly what you leave in my charge, Mr.
Robson,' said Louis, beginning to suspect that the clerk fancied that
the weight and number of the books and bundles of bills might satisfy
his unpractised eye, and that the essential was to be found in the
pocket-book, on which he therefore retained a special hold; asking,
as Robson held out his hand for it, 'is this private property?'
'Why, yes; no, it is and it is not,' said Robson, looking at the
lady, as though to judge whether she were attending. 'I only
brought it here that Miss Ponsonby might have before her--always a
satisfaction to a lady, you know, sir--though Miss Ponsonby's
superior talents for business quite enable her to comprehend. But
our affairs are not what I could wish. The Equatorial bubble was
most unfortunate, and that unfortunate young man, who has absconded
after a long course of embezzlement, has carried off much valuable
property. I was laying the case before Miss Ponsonby, and showing
her what amount had been fortunately secured.'
'What is in the pocket-book?' asked Louis of Mary; and, though she
was apparently conscious of nothing around her, he obtained a direct
'The vouchers for the shares.'
'In the Equatorial. Unlucky speculation--so much waste paper,'
interrupted Robson. 'Your lordship had better let me clear away the
trash, which will only complicate the matter, and distract your
'Thank you; as you say there has been fraud, I should be better
satisfied to be able to tell Mr. Dynevor that the papers have never
been out of my hands. I will call on you early to-morrow.'
Mr. Robson waited to make many inquiries for Mr. Dynevor's health,
and to offer every attention to Lord Fitzjocelyn, to introduce him to
the Consul, to find apartments for him, &c.; but at last he took
leave, and Louis was free to turn to the motionless Mary, who had
done nothing all this time but follow him with her eyes.
All his doubts had returned, and, in the crisis of his fate, he stood
irresolute, daring neither to speak nor ask, lest feelings should be
betrayed which might poison her happiness.
'Is it you?' were her first words, as though slowly awakening.
'It is I, come to be whatever you will let me be,' he answered, as
best he could.
'Oh, Louis!' she said, 'this is too much!' And she hid her face in
'Tell me--one word, Mary, and I shall know what to do, and will not
harass nor grieve you.'
'Grieve me! You!' exclaimed Mary, in an inexpressibly incredulous
'Enough! It is as it was before!' and he drew her into his arms, as
unresistingly as five years ago, and his voice sank with intense
thankfulness, as he said, 'My Mary--my Mary! has He not brought it to
The tears came dropping from her eyes, and then she could speak.
'Louis, my dear father withdrew his anger. He gave full consent and
blessing, if you still--'
'Then nothing is wanting--all is peace!' said Louis. 'You know how
you are longed for at home--'
'That you should have come--come all this way! That Lord Ormersfield
should have spared you!' exclaimed Mary, breaking out into happy
little sentences, as her tears relieved her. 'Oh, how far off all my
distress and perplexity seem now! How foolish to have been so
unhappy when there you were close by! But you must see Dona Rosita,'
cried she, recollecting herself, after an interval, 'I must tell
Mary hurried into another room by a glass door, and Louis heard her
speaking Spanish, and a languid reply; then returning, she beckoned
to him to advance, whispering, 'Don't be surprised, these are the
usual habits. We can talk before her, she never follows English.'
He could at first see no one, but presently was aware of a grass
hammock swung from the richly-carved beams, and in it something
white; then of a large pair of black eyes gazing full at him with a
liquid soft stare. He made his bow, and summoned his best Spanish,
and she made an answer which he understood, by the help of Mary, to
be a welcome; then she smiled and signed with her head towards him
and Mary, and said what Mary only interpreted by colouring, as did
Louis, for such looks and smiles were of all languages. Then it was
explained that only as a relation did she admit his Excellency el
Visconde, before her evening toilette in her duelos was made--Mary
would take care of him. And dismissing them with a graceful bend of
her head, she returned to her doze and her cigarito.
Mary conducted Louis to the cool, shaded, arched doorway, opening
under the rich marble cloister of the court-yard, where a fountain
made a delicious bubbling in the centre. She clapped her hands--a
little negro girl appeared, to whom she gave an order, and presently
two more negroes came in, bringing magnificent oranges and
pomegranates, and iced wine and water, on a silver tray, covered with
a richly-embroidered napkin. He would have felt himself in the
Alhambra, if he could have felt anything but that he was beside Mary.
'Sit down, sit down, you have proved yourself Mary enough already by
waiting on me. I want to look at you, and to hear you. You are not
altered!' he cried joyfully, as he drew her into the full light.
'You have your own eyes, and that's your very smile! only grown
handsomer. That's all!'
She really was. She was a woman to be handsomer at twenty-seven than
at twenty-one; and with the glow of unexpected bliss over her fine
countenance, it did not need a lover's eye to behold her as something
better than beautiful.
And for her! who shall tell the marvel of scarcely-credited joy,
every time she heard the music of his softly-dropped distinct words,
and looked up at the beloved face, perhaps a little less fair, with
rather less of the boyish delicacy of feature, but more noble, more
defined--as soft and sweet as ever, but with all the indecision gone;
all that expression that had at times seemed like weakness. He was
not the mere lad she had loved with a guiding motherly love, but a
man to respect and rely on--ready, collected, dealing with easy
coolness with the person who had domineered over that house for
years. He was all, and more than all, her fondest fancy had framed;
and coming to her aid at the moment of her utmost difficulty, brought
to her by the love which she had not dared to confide in nor
encourage! No wonder that she feared to move, lest she should find
herself awakened from a dream too happy to last.
'But oh, Louis,' said she, as if it were almost a pledge of reality
to recollect a vexation, 'I must tell you first, for it will grieve
you, and we did not take pains enough to keep him out of temptation.
That unhappy runaway clerk--'
'Is safe at Callao,' said Louis, 'and is to help me to release you
from the meshes they have woven round you. Save for the warning he
sent home, I could never have shown cause for coming to you, Mary,
while you would not summon me. That was too bad, you know, since you
had the consent.'
'That was only just at last,' faltered Mary. 'It was so kind of him,
for I had disappointed him so much!'
'What? I know, Mary; his letters kept me in a perpetual fright for
the last year; and not one did you write to poor little Clara to
'It was not right in me,' said Mary; 'but I thought it might be so
much better for you if you were never put in mind of me. I beg your
'We should have trusted each other better, if people would have let
us alone,' said Louis. 'In fact, it was trust after all. It always
came back again, if it were scared away for a moment.'
'Till I began to doubt if I were doing what was kind by you,' said
Mary. 'Oh, that was the most distressing time of all; I thought if I
were out of the way, you might begin to be happy, and I tried to
leave off thinking about you.'
'Am I to thank you?'
'I _could_ not,--that is the truth of it,' said Mary. 'I was able to
keep you out of my mind enough, I hope, for it not to be wrong; but
as to putting any one else there--I was forced at last to tell poor
papa so, when he wanted to send for Mr. Ward; and then--he said that
if you had been as constant, he supposed it must be, and he hoped we
should be happy; and he said you had been a pet of my mother, and
that Lord Ormersfield had been a real friend to her. It was so kind
of him, for I know it would have been the greatest relief to his mind
to leave things in Mr. Ward's charge.'
Mary had been so much obliged to be continually mentioning her
father, that, though the loss was still very recent, she was
habituated to speak of him with firmness; and it was an extreme
satisfaction to tell all her sorrows, and all the little softening
incidents, to Louis. Mr. Ponsonby had shown much affection and
gratitude to her during the few closing days of his illness, and had
manifested some tokens of repentance for his past life; but there had
been so much pain and torpor, that there had been little space for
reflection, and the long previous decline had not been accepted as a
warning. Perhaps the intensity of Mary's prayers had been returned
into her bosom, in the strong blindness of filial love; for as she
dwelt fondly on the few signs of better things, the narration fell
mournfully on Louis's ears, as that of an unhopeful deathbed.
An exceeding unwillingness to contemplate death, had prevented Mr.
Ponsonby from making a new will. By one made many years back, he had
left the whole of his property, without exception, to his daughter,
his first wife having been provided for by her marriage settlements,
and now, with characteristic indolence and selfishness, he had
deferred till too late the securing any provision for his Limenian
wife; and only when he found himself dying, had he said to Mary, 'You
will take care to provide for poor Rosita!'
So Mary had found herself heiress to a share in the miserably-
involved affairs of Dynevor and Ponsonby; and as soon as she could
think of the future at all, had formed the design of settling Rosita
in a convent with a pension, and going herself to England.
But Rosita was not easily to be induced to give up her gaieties for a
convent life; and, moreover, there was absolutely such a want of
ready money, that Mary did not see how to get home, though Robson
assured her there was quite enough to live upon as they were at
present. Nor was it possible to dispose of the mines and other
property without Mr. Dynevor's consent, and he might not be in a
state to give it.
The next stroke was young Madison's sudden disappearance, and the
declaration by Robson that he had carried off a great deal of
property--a disappointment to her even greater than the loss. Robson
was profuse in compliments and attentions, but continually deferred
the statement of affairs that he had promised; and Mary could not
bear to accept the help of Mr. Ward, the only person at hand able and
willing to assist her. She had at last grown desperate, and,
resolved to have something positive to write to Mr. Dynevor, as well
as not to go on living without knowing her means, she had insisted on
Robson bringing his accounts. She knew just enough to be
dissatisfied with his vague statements; and the more he praised her
sagacity, the more she saw that he was taking advantage of her
ignorance, which he presumed to be far greater than it really was.
At the very moment when she was most persuaded of his treachery, and
felt the most lonely and desolate--when he was talking fluently, and
she was seeking to rally her spirits, and discover the path of right
judgment, where the welfare of so many was concerned--it was then
that Fitzjocelyn's voice was in her ear.
She had scarcely explained to Louis why his coming was, if possible,
doubly and trebly welcome, when the negro admitted another guest,
whom Rosita received much as she had done his predecessor, only with
less curiosity. Mary rose, blushing deeply, and crossing the room
held out her hand, and said simply, but with something of apology,
'Mr. Ward, this is Lord Fitzjocelyn.'
Mr. Ward raised his eyes to her face for one moment. 'I understand,'
he said, in a low, not quite steady voice. 'It is well. Will you
present me?' he added, as though collecting himself like a brave man
after a blow.
'Here is my kindest friend,' she said, as she conducted him to Louis,
and they shook hands in the very manner she wished to see, learning
mutual esteem from her tone and each other's aspect.
'I am sorry to have intruded,' said Mr. Ward. 'I came in the hope
that you might find some means of making me of use to you; and,
perhaps, I may yet be of some assistance to Lord Fitzjocelyn.'
He enforced the proposal with so much cordiality, and showed so
plainly that it would be his chief pleasure and consolation to do
anything for Miss Ponsonby, that they did not scruple to take him
into their counsels; and Mary looked on with exulting wonder at the
ability and readiness displayed by Louis in the discussion of
business details, even with a man whose profession they were. In
remote space, almost beyond memory, save to enhance the present joy
of full reliance, was the old uncomfortable sense of his leaning too
much upon her. To have him acting and thinking for her, and with one
touch carrying off her whole burthen of care, was comfort and
gladness beyond what she had even devised in imagination. The only
drawback, besides compassion for Mr. Ward, was the shock of hearing
of the extent of the treachery of Robson, in whom her father had
trusted so implicitly, and to whom he had shown so much favour.
They agreed that they would go to the Consul, and concert measures;
Mary only begging that Robson might not be hardly dealt with, and
they went away, leaving her to her overwhelming happiness, which
began to become incredible as soon as Louis was out of sight.
By-and-by, he came back to the evening meal, when Rosita appeared,
with her uncovered hair in two long, unadorned tresses, plaited, and
hanging down on each shoulder, and arrayed in black robes, which, by
their weight and coarseness, recalled Eastern fashions of mourning,
which Spain derived from the Moors. She attempted a little Spanish
talk with El Visconde, much to his inconvenience, though he was too
joyous not to be doubly good-natured, especially as he pitied her,
and regarded her as a very perplexing charge newly laid on him.
He had time to tell Mary that he was to sleep at the Consul's, whence
he had sent a note and a messenger to fetch Tom Madison, since it
appeared that the prosecution, the rumour of which had frightened the
poor fellow away, had not been actually set on foot before he
decamped; and even if it had been, there were many under worse
imputations at large in the Peruvian Republic.
Fitzjocelyn had appointed that Robson should call on him early in the
morning, and, if he failed to detect him, intended to confront him
with Madison before the Consul, when there could be little doubt that
his guilt would be brought home to him. He found that the Consul and
Mr. Ward had both conceived a bad opinion of Robson, and had wondered
at the amount of confidence reposed in him; whereas Madison had been
remarked as a young man of more than average intelligence and
steadiness, entirely free from that vice of gambling which was the
bane of all classes in Spanish South America. Mary sighed as she
heard Louis speak so innocently of 'all classes'--it was too true, as
he would find to his cost, when he came to look into their affairs,
and learn what Rosita had squandered. Next, he asked about the other
clerk, Ford, of whom Mary knew very little, except that she had heard
Robson mention to her father, when preparing to set out for
Guayaquil, that in the consequent press of business he had engaged a
new assistant, who had come from Rio as servant to a traveller. She
had sometimes heard Robson speak in praise of his acquisition, and
exalt him above Madison; and once or twice she had seen him, and
fancied him like some one whom she had known somewhere, but she had
for many months seldom left her father's room, and knew little of
what passed beyond it.
Louis took his leave early, as he had to examine his prize, the
pocket-book, and make up his case before confronting Robson; and he
told Mary that he should refrain from seeing her on the morrow until
the 'tug of war should be over.' 'Mr. Ward promises to come to help
me,' he added. 'Really, Mary, I never saw a more generous or
considerate person. I am constantly on the point of begging his
'I must thank him some way or other,' said Mary; 'his forbearance has
been beautiful. I only wish he would have believed me, for I always
told him the plain truth. It would have spared him something; but
nobody would trust my account of you.'
The morning came, and with it Madison; but patient as Fitzjocelyn
usually was, he was extremely annoyed at finding his precious time
wasted by Robson's delay in keeping his appointment. After allowing
for differing clocks, for tropical habits, and every other imaginable
excuse for unpunctuality, he decided that there must have been some
mistake, and set off to call at the counting-house.
A black porter opened the door, and he stepped forward into the inner
room, where, leaning lazily back before a desk, smoking a cigar over
his newspaper, arrayed in a loose white jacket, with open throat and
slippered feet, reposed a gentleman, much transformed from the spruce
butler, but not difficult of recognition. He started to his feet
with equal alacrity and consternation, and bowed, not committing
himself until he should see whether he were actually known to his
lordship. Fitzjocelyn was in too great haste to pause on this
matter, and quickly acknowledging the salutation, as if that of a
stranger, demanded where Mr. Robson was.
In genuine surprise and alarm, Ford exclaimed that he had not seen
him; he thought he was gone to meet his lordship at the Consular
residence. No! could he be at his own house? It was close by, and
the question was asked, but the Senor Robson had gone out in the very
early morning. Ford looked paler and paler, and while Louis said he
would go and inquire for him at Miss Ponsonby's, offered to go down
to the Consul's to see if he had arrived there in the meantime.
Mary came to meet Louis in the sala, saying that she was afraid that
they had not shown sufficient consideration for poor Dona Rosita, who
really had feeling; she had gone early to her convent, and had not
yet returned, though she had been absent two hours.
Louis had but just explained his perplexity and vexation, when the
old negro Xavier came in with looks of alarm, begging to know whether
La Senora were come in, and excusing himself for having lost sight of
her. She had not gone to the convent, but to the cathedral; and he,
kneeling in the crowded nave while she passed on to one of the side
chapels, had not seen her again, and, after waiting far beyond the
usual duration of her devotions, had supposed that she had gone home
As he finished his story, there was a summons to Lord Fitzjocelyn to
speak to Mr. Ford, and on Mary's desiring that he should be admitted,
he came forward, exclaiming, 'My Lord, he has not been at the
Consul's! I beg to state that he has the keys of all the valuables
at the office; nothing is in my charge.'
Louis turned to consult Mary; but, as if a horrible idea had come
over her, she was already speeding through the door of the quadra,
and appearing there again in a few seconds, she beckoned him, with a
countenance of intense dismay, and whispered under her breath,
'Louis! Louis! her jewels are gone! Poor thing! poor thing! what
will become of her?'
Mary had more reasons for her frightful suspicion than she would
detain him to hear. Robson, always polite, had been especially so to
the young Limenian; she had been much left to his society, and Mary
had more than once fancied that they were more at ease in her own
absence. She was certain that the saya y manto had been frequently
employed to enable Rosita to enjoy dissipation, when her husband's
condition would have rendered her public appearance impossible; and
at the Opera or on the Alameda, Robson might have had every
opportunity of paying her attention, and forwarding her amusements.
There could be no doubt that she had understood more of their plans
than had been supposed, had warned him, and shared his flight.
Pursuit, capture, and a nunnery would be far greater kindness to the
poor childish being, than leaving her to the mercy of a runaway
swindler; and all measures were promptly taken, Ford throwing himself
into the chase with greater ardour and indignation than even Madison;
for he had trusted to Robson's grand professions that he could easily
throw dust into the young Lord's inexperienced eyes, come off with
flying colours, and protect his subordinate. If he had changed his
mind since the Senora's warning, he had not thought it necessary to
inform his confederate; and Ford was not only furious at the
desertion, but anxious to make a merit of his zeal, and encouraged by
having as yet seen no sign that he was recognised.
Regardless of heat and fatigue, Fitzjocelyn, Mr. Ward, and the two
clerks, were indefatigable throughout the day, but it was not till
near sunset that a Spanish agent of Mr. Ward's brought back evidence
that a Limenian lady and English gentleman had been hastily married
by a village padre in the early morning, and Madison shortly after
came from Callao, having traced such a pair to an American vessel,
which was long since out of harbour. It was well that the pocket-
book had been saved, for it contained securities to a large amount,
which Robson, after showing to Mary to satisfy her, doubtless
intended to keep in hand for such a start as the present. Without
it, he had contrived, as Madison knew, to secure quite sufficient to
remove any anxieties as to the Senora Rosita owning a fair share of
her late husband's property.
The day of terrible anxiety made it a relief to Mary to have any
certainty, though she was infinitely shocked at the tidings, which
Louis conveyed to her at once. Mrs. Willis, whom Mr. Ward had sent
to be her companion, went to her brother in the outer room, and left
the lovers alone in the quadra, where Mary could freely express her
grief and disappointment, her sorrow for the insult to her father,
and her apprehensions for the poor fugitive herself, whom she loved
enough to lament for exceedingly, and to recall every excuse that
could be found in a wretched education, a miserable state of society,
a childish mind, and religion presented to her in a form that did
nothing to make it less childish.
Mary's first recovery from the blow was shown by her remembering how
fatigued and heated Louis must be, and when she had given orders for
refreshment for him, and had thus resumed something of her ordinary
frame, he sat looking at her anxiously, and presently said, 'And what
will you do next, Mary!'
'I cannot tell. Mrs. Willis and Mrs. --- have both been asking me
very kindly to come to them, but I cannot let Mrs. Willis stay with
me away from her children. Yet it seems hard on Mr. Ward that you
should be coming to me there. I suppose I must go to Mrs. ---; but I
waited to consult you. I had rather be at home, if it were right.'
'It may easily be made right,' quietly said Louis.
'How!' asked Mary.
'I find,' he continued, 'that the whole affair may be easily settled,
if you will give me authority.'
'I thought I had given you authority to act in my name.'
'It might be simplified.'
'Shall I sign my name!'
'Yes--once--to make mine yours. If your claims are mine, I can take
much better care of the Dynevor interest.'
Mary rested her cheek on her hand, and looked at him with her grave
steady face, not very much discomposed after the first glimpse of his
'Will you, Mary?'
'You know I will,' she said.
'Then there is no time to be lost. Let it be to-morrow. Yes'--going
on in the quiet deliberate tone that made it so difficult to
interrupt him--'then I could, in my own person, negotiate for the
sale of the mines. I find there is an offer that Robson kept secret.
I could wind up the accounts, see what can be saved for the Northwold
people, and take you safe home by the end of a fortnight.'
'Oh, Louis!' cried Mary, almost sobbing, 'this will not do. I cannot
entangle you in our ruinous affairs.'
'Insufficient objections are consent,' said Louis, smiling. 'Do you
trust me, Mary?'
'It is of no use to ask.'
'You think I am not to be trusted with affairs that have become my
own! I believe I am, Mary. You know I must do my utmost for the
Dynevors; and I assure you I see my way. I have no reasonable doubt
of clearing off all future liabilities. You mean to let me arrange?'
'Then why not obviate all awkward situations at once?'
'My father! You should not ask it, Louis.'
'I would not hasten you, but for the sake of my own father, Mary. He
is growing old, and I could not have left him for anything but the
hope of bringing him his own chosen daughter. I want you to help me
take care of him, and we must not leave him alone to the long
evenings and cold winds.'
Mary was yielding--'I must not keep you from him,' she said, 'but to-
morrow--a Sunday, too--'
'Ah! Mary, do you want gaiety! No, if we cannot have it in a holy
place, let it at least have the consecration of the day--let us have
fifty-two wedding days a year instead of one. Indeed, I would not
press you, but that I could take care of you so much better, and it
is not as if our acquaintance had not begun--how long ago--twenty-
seven years, I think?'
'Settle it as you like,' she managed to say, with a great flood of
tears-but what soft bright tears! 'I trust you.'
He saw she wanted solitude; he only stayed for a few words of earnest
thanks, and the assurance that secrecy and quietness would be best
assured by speed. 'I will come back,' he said, 'when I have seen to
the arrangement. And there is one thing I must do first, one poor
fellow who must not be left in suspense any longer.'
Tired as he ought to have been, he lightly crossed the sala to the
room appropriated to business, where he had desired the two clerks to
wait for him, and where Tom Madison stood against the wall, with
folded arms, while Ford lounged in a disengaged attitude on a chair,
but rose alert and respectful at his appearance.
Louis asked one or two necessary questions on the custody of the
office for the night and ensuing day, and Ford made repeated
assurances that nothing would be found missing that had been left in
his charge. 'I believe you, Mr. Delaford,' said Fitzjocelyn,
quietly. 'I do not think the lower species of fraud was ever in your
Delaford tried to open his lips, but visibly shook. Louis answered,
what he had not yet said, 'I do not intend to expose you. I think
you had what excuse neglect can give, and unless I should be called
on conscientiously to speak to your character, I shall leave you to
make a new one.'
Delaford began to stammer out thanks, and promises of explaining the
whole of Robson's peculations (little he knew the whole of them).
'There is one earnest of your return to sincerity that I require,'
said Louis. 'Explain at once the degree of your acquaintance with
Tom Madison still stood moody--affecting not to hear.
'Oh! my Lord, I did not know that you were interested in that young
'I am interested where innocence has been maligned,' said Louis,
'I am sure, my Lord, nothing has ever passed at which the most
particular need take umbrage,' exclaimed Delaford. 'If Mr. Madison
will recollect, I mentioned nothing as the most fastidious need--'
Mr. Madison would not hear.
'You only inferred that she had not been insensible to your
'Why, indeed, my Lord, I flatter myself that in my time I have had
the happiness of not being unpleasing to the sex,' said Delaford,
with a sigh and a simper.
'It is a mortifying question, but you owe it to the young woman to
answer, whether she gave you any encouragement.'
'No, my Lord. I must confess that she always spoke of a previous
attachment, and dashed my earlier hopes to the ground.'
'And the book of poems! How came that to be in your possession?
Delaford confessed that it had been a little tribute, returned upon
his hands by the young lady in question.
'One question more, Mr. Delaford: what was the fact as to her lending
you means for your voyage?'
Delaford was not easily brought to confession on this head; but he
did at length own that he had gone in great distress to Charlotte,
and had appealed to her bounty; but he distinctly acknowledged that
it was not in the capacity of suitor; in fact, as he ended by
declaring, he had the pleasure of saying that there was no young
person whom he esteemed more highly than Miss Arnold, and that she
had never given him the least encouragement, such as need distress
the happy man who had secured her affections.
The happy man did not move till Delaford had left the room, when
Louis walked up to him and said, 'I can further tell you, of my own
knowledge, that that good girl refused large wages, and a lady's-
maid's place, partly because she would not live in the same house
with that man; and she has worked on with a faithful affection and
constancy, beyond all praise, as the single servant to Mr. and Mrs.
Frost in their distress.'
'Don't talk to me, my Lord,' cried Tom, turning away; 'I'm the most
unhappy man in the world!'
'I did not ask you to shake hands with Delaford to-night. You will
another day. He is only a vain coxcomb, and treated you to a little
of his conceit, with, perhaps, a taste of spite at a successful
rival; but he has only shown you what a possession you have in her.'
'You don't know what I've done, my Lord. I have written her a letter
that she can never forgive!'
'You don't know what I've done, Tom. I posted a letter by the mail
just starting from Callao--a letter to Mr. Frost, with a hint to
Charlotte that you were labouring under a little delusion; I knew,
from your first narration, that Ford could be no other than my old
friend, shorn of his beams.'
'That letter--' still muttered Tom.
'She'll forgive, and like you all the better for having afforded her
a catastrophe, Tom. You may write by the next mail; unless, what is
better still, you come home with us by the same, and speak for
yourself. If I am your master then, I'll give you the holiday. Yes,
Tom, it was important to me to clear up your countenance, for I want
to bespeak your services to-morrow as my friend.'
'My Lord!' cried Tom, aghast. 'If you do require any such service,
though I should not have thought it, there are many nearer your own
rank, officers and gentlemen fitter for an affair of the kind. I
never knew anything about fire-arms, since I gave up poaching.'
'Indeed, Tom, I am very far from intending to dispense with your
services. I want you to guide me to procure the required weapon!'
'Surely,' said Tom, with a deep, reluctant sigh, 'you never crossed
the Isthmus without one?'
'Yes, indeed, I did; I never saw the party there whom I should have
liked to challenge in this way. Why, Tom, did you really think I had
come out to Peru to fight a duel on a Sunday morning?'
'That's what comes of living in this sort of place. Duels are meat
and drink to the people here,' said Tom, ashamed and relieved, 'and
there have been those who told me it was all that was wanting to make
me a gentleman. But in what capacity am I to serve you, my Lord!'
'In the first place, tell me where I may procure a wedding-ring!
Yes, Tom, that's the weapon! You've no objection to being my friend
in that capacity!'
Tom's astonished delight went beyond the bounds of expression, and
therefore was compressed into an almost grim 'Whatever you will, my
Lord;' but two hot tears were gushing from his eyes. He dashed them
away, and added, 'What a fool I am! You'll believe me, my Lord,
though I can't speak, that, though there may be many nearer and more
your equals, there's none on earth more glad and happy to see you so,
'I believe it, indeed, Tom; shake hands, to wish me joy; I am right
glad to have one here from Ormersfield, to make it more home-like.
For, though it is a hurry at last, you can guess what she has been to
me from the first. Knowing her thoroughly has been one of the many,
many benefits that Ferny dell conferred on me.'
There was no time for more than to enjoin silence. Louis had to
hurry to the Consul and the Chaplain, and to overcome their
On the other hand, Mary was, as usual, seeking and recovering the
balance of her startled spirits in her own chamber. She saw the
matter wisely and simply, and had full confidence in Louis, with such
a yearning for his protection that, it may be, the strange suddenness
of the proposal cost her the less. She came forth and announced her
intention to Mrs. Willis, who was inclined to resent it as derogatory
to the dignity of womanhood, and the privileges of a bride; but Mary
smiled and answered that, 'when he had taken so much trouble for her,
she could not give him any more by things of that sort. She must be
as little in his way as possible.'
And Mrs. Willis sighed, and pitied her, but was glad that she should
be off her poor brother's mind as soon as might be, and was glad to
resign her task of chaperoning her.
Only three persons beyond the Consul's family knew what was about to
happen, when Miss Ponsonby, in her deep mourning, attended the
morning service in the large hall at the Consul-house; and such eyes
as were directed towards the handsome stranger, only gazed at the
unwonted spectacle of an English nobleman, not with the more eager
curiosity that would have been attached to him had all been known.
Mr. Ward lingered a few moments, and begged for one word with Miss
Ponsonby. She could not but comply, and came to meet him, blushing,
but composed, in that simple, frank kindness which only wished to
soften the disappointment.
'Mary,' he said, 'I am not come to harass you. I have done so long
enough, and I would not have tormented you, but on that one head I
did not do justice to your judgment. I see now how vain my hope was.
I am glad to have met him--I am glad to know how worthy of you he is,
and to have seen you in such hands.'
'You are very kind to speak so,' said Mary.
'Yes, Mary, I could not have borne to part with you, if I were not
convinced that he is a good man as well as an able man. I might have
known that you would not choose otherwise. I shall see your name
among the great ladies of the land. I came to say something else. I
wished to thank you for the many happy hours I have spent with you,
though you never for a moment trifled with me. It was I who deceived
myself. Good-bye, Mary. Perhaps you will write to my sister, and
let her know of your arrival.'
'I will write to you, if you please,' said Mary.
'It will be a great pleasure,' he said, earnestly. 'And will you let
me be of any use in my power to you and Lord Fitzjocelyn?'
'Indeed, we shall be most grateful. You have been a most kind and
forbearing friend. I should like to know that you were happy,' said
Mary, lingering, and hardly knowing what to say.
'My little nieces are fond enough of their uncle. My sister wants
me. In short, you need not vex yourself about me. Some day, when I
am an old man, I may come and bring you news of Lima. Meanwhile, you
will sometimes wear this bracelet, and remember that you have an old
friend. I shall call on Lord Fitzjocelyn at the office to-morrow,
and see if we can find any clue to Robson's retreat. Good-bye, and
blessings on you, Mary.'
Mary rejoined Louis, to speak to him of the kind and noble man who so
generously and resolutely bore the wreck of his hopes. They walked
up and down together in the cool shade of the trees in the Consul's
garden, and they spoke of the unselfishness which seemed to take away
the smart from the wound of disappointment. They spoke sometimes,
but the day was for the most part spent in the sweetness of pensive,
happy silence, musing with full hearts over this crowning of their
long deferred hopes, and not without prayer that the same protecting
Hand might guide them, as they should walk together through life.
By-and-by Mary disappeared. She would perhaps have preferred her
ordinary dress--but the bridal white seemed to her to be due both to
Louis and to the solemn rite and mystery; and when the time came, she
met him, in her plain white muslin and long veil, confined by a few
sprays of real orange flowers, beneath which her calmly noble face
was seen, simple and collected as ever, forgetting in her earnestness
all adjuncts that might have been embarrassing or distressing.
The large hall was darkening with twilight, and the flowers and
branches that decked it showed gracefully in the subdued light.
Prayer and praise had lately echoed there, and Louis and Mary could
feel that He was with them who blessed the pair at Cana, far distant
as they were from their own church--their own home. Yes, the Church,
their mother, their home, was with them in her sacred ritual and her
choice blessings, and their consciences were free from self-will, or
self-pleasing, such as would have put far from them the precious
gifts promised in the name of their Lord.
When it was over, and they first raised their eyes to one another's
faces, each beheld in the other a look of entire thankful content,
not the less perfect because it was grave and peaceful.
'I think mamma would be quite happy,' said Mary.
THE MARVEL OF PERU.
Turn, Angelina, ever dear,
My charmer, turn to see
Thy own, thy long-lost Edwin here,
Restored to love and thee,
Lord Ormersfield sat alone in the library, where the fire burnt more
for the sake of cheerfulness than of warmth. His eyes were weary
with reading, and, taking off his spectacles, he turned his chair
away from the table, and sat gazing into the fire, giving audience to
He missed the sunny face ever prompt to watch his moods, and find or
make time for the cheerful word or desultory chat which often broke
and refreshed drier occupation. He remembered when he had hardly
tolerated the glass of flowers, the scraps of drawing, the
unbusinesslike books at his son's end of the table, but the room
looked dull without them now, and he was ready to own the value of
the grace and finish of life, hindering the daily task from absorbing
the whole man, as had been the case with himself in middle life.
Somewhat of the calm of old age had begun to fall on the Earl, and he
had latterly been wont to think more deeply. These trifles could not
have spoken to his heart save for their connexion with his son, and
even Louis's tastes would have worn out with habit, had it not been
for the radiance permanent in his own mind, namely, the thankful,
adoring love that finds the true brightness in "whatsoever things are
pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good
report." This spirit it was which had kept his heart fresh, his
spirit youthful, and changed constitutional versatility into a power
of hearty adaptation to the least congenial tastes.
Gentleness, affection, humility, and refinement were in his nature.
Mrs. Frost had trained these qualities into the beauty of Christian
graces; and Mrs. Ponsonby and her daughter had taught him to bring
his high principles to supply that which was wanting. Indolence of
will, facility of disposition, unsteadiness of purpose, inconsiderate
impulses without perseverance, had all betokened an inherent
weakness, which the Earl's cure, ambition, had been powerless to
remedy; but duty had been effectual in drawing strength out of what
had been feeble by nature. It was religion that had made a man of
Louis; and his father saw and owned it, no longer as merely the
woman's guide in life and the man's resource chiefly in death, to be
respected and moderately attended to, but never so as to interfere
unreasonably with the world. No; he had learnt that it was the only
sure and sound moving-spring: he knew it as his son's strengthening,
brightening thread of life; and began to perceive that his own course
might have been less gloomy and less harsh, devoid of such dark
strands, had he held the right clue. The contrast brought back some
lines which, without marking, he had heard Louis and his aunt reading
together, and, albeit little wont to look into his son's books, he
was so much haunted by the rhythm that he rose and searched them
Yea, mark him well, ye cold and proud,
Bewildered in a heartless crowd,
Starting and turning pale
At rumour's angry din:
No storm can now assail
The charm he bears within.
Rejoicing still, and doing good,
And with the thought of God imbued,
No glare of high estate,
No gloom of woe or want,
The radiance may abate,
Where Heaven delights to haunt.
The description went to his heart, so well did it agree with Louis.
Yet there was a sad feeling, for the South American mail had been
some days due, and he had not heard of his son since he was about to
land at Callao. Five months was a long absence; and as the chances
of failure, disappointment, climate, disease, and shipwreck arose
before him, he marvelled at himself for having consented to peril his
sole treasure, and even fancied that a solitary, childless old age
might be the penalty in store for having waited to be led heavenward
by his son.
It was seldom that the Earl gave way, and, reproaching himself for
his weakness, he roused himself and rang the bell for better light.
There was a movement in the house, and for some moments the bell was
not answered; but presently the door was opened.
'Bring the other lamp.'
'Yes, my Lord.'
The slow, soft voice did not belong to Frampton. He started up, and
there stood Louis!
'My dear father,' he said; and Lord Ormersfield sprang up, grasped
his son's hand, and laid the other hand on his shoulder, but durst
ask no questions, for the speedy return seemed to bespeak that he had
failed. He looked in Louis's face, and saw it full of emotion, with
dew on the eyelashes; but suddenly a sweet archness gleamed in the
eyes, and he steadied his trembling lip to say with a smile,
And that very moment Mary was in Lord Ormersfield's arms.
'My children! my dear children, happy at last! God bless you! This
is all I ever wished!'
He held a hand of each, and looked from one to the other till Mary
turned away to hide her tears of joy; and Louis, with his eyes still
moist, began talking, to give her time to recover.
'You will forgive our not writing? We landed this morning, found the
last mail was not come in, and could not help coming on. We knew you
would be anxious, and thought you would not mind the suddenness.'
'No, indeed,' said his father; 'if all surprises were like this one!
But you are the loser, Mary. I am afraid this is not the reception
for a bride!'
'Mary has dispensed with much that belongs to a bride,' said Louis.
'See here!' and, seizing her hand, he began pulling off her glove,
till she did it for him; 'did you ever see such a wedding-ring?--a
great, solid thing of Peruvian gold, with a Spanish posy inside!'
'I like it,' said Mary; 'it shows--'
'What you are worth, eh, Mary? Well! here we are! It seems real at
last! And you, father, have you been well?'
'Yes, well indeed, now I have you both! But how came you so quickly?
You never brought her across the Isthmus?'
'Indeed I did. She would come. It was her first act of rebellion;
for we were not going to let you meet the frosts alone--the October
frosts, I mean; I hope the Dynevor Frosts are all right?'
Frampton was here seen at the open door, doubtful whether to intrude;
yet, impelled by necessity, as he caught Fitzjocelyn's eye, he,
'My Lord, the Spanish gentleman!'
'The greatest triumph of my life!' cried Louis, actually clapping his
hands together with ecstacy, to the butler s extreme astonishment.
'Why, Frampton, don't you know him?'
'Let me introduce you, then, to--Mr. Thomas Madison!' and, as
Frampton still stood perplexed, looking at the fine, foreign-looking
man, who was keeping in the background, busied with the luggage,
Louis continued, 'You cannot credit such a marvel of Peru!'
'Young Madison, my Lord!' repeated Frampton, slowly coming to his
'No other. He has done Lady Fitzjocelyn and all of us infinite
service,' continued Louis, quickly, to prevent Madison's reception
from receiving a fall in proportion to the grandeur of the first
impression. 'He is to stay here for a short time before going to his
appointment at Bristol, in Mr. Ward's counting-house, with a salary
of 180 pounds. I shall be much obliged if you will make him welcome.'
And, returning in his glee to the library, Louis found Mary
explaining how 'a gentleman at Lima,' who had long professed to covet
so good a clerk as Madison, had, on the break-up of their firm,
offered him a confidential post, for which he was well fitted by his
knowledge of the Spanish language and the South American trade, to
receive the cargoes sent home. 'In truth,' said Louis, coming in,
'I had reason to be proud of my pupil. We could never have found our
way through the accounts without him; and the old Cornish man, whom
we sent for from the mines, gave testimony to him such as will do Mr.
Holdsworth's heart good. But nothing is equal to Frampton's taking
him for a Spanish Don!'
'And poor Delaford's witness was quite as much to his credit,' said
'Ay! if Delaford had not been equally willing to depose against him
when he was the apparent Catiline!' said Louis. 'Poor Delaford! he
was very useful to us, after all; and I should be glad to know he had
a better fate than going off to the diggings with a year's salary in
(Footnote. A recent writer relates that he found the near relation
of a nobleman gaining a scanty livelihood as shoe-black at the
diggings. Query. Might not this be Mr. Delaford?)
'Then everything is settled?' asked his father.
'Almost everything. The mines are off our hands, and the transfer
will be completed as soon as Oliver has sent his signature; and
there's quite enough saved to make them very comfortable. You have
told me nothing of them yet?'
'They are all very well. James has been coming here twice a-week
since I have been at home, and has been very attentive and pleasant;
but I have not been at the Terrace much. There never was such a
houseful of children. Oliver's room is the only place where one is
safe from falling over two or three. However, they seem to like it,
and to think, the more the better. James came over here the morning
after the boy was born, as much delighted as if he had had any
'A boy at last! Poor Mr. Dynevor! Does he take it as an insult to
'He seems as well pleased as they; and, in fact, I hope the boy may
not, after all, be unprovided for. Mr. Mansell wrote to offer to be
godfather, and I thought I could not do otherwise than ask him to
stay here. I am glad I did so, for he told me that now he has seen
for himself the noble way they are going on in, he has made up his
mind. He has no relation nearer than Isabel, and he means to make
his will in favour of her son. He asked whether I would be a
trustee, but I said I was growing old, and had little doubt you would
be glad enough. You will have plenty of such work, Louis. It is
very dangerous to be known as a good man-of-business, and good-
'Pray, how does Jem bear it?'
'With tolerable equanimity. It may be many years before the child is
affected by it, if Mrs. Mansell has it for her life. Besides, James
is a wiser man than he used to be.'
'He has been somewhat like Robinson Crusoe's old goat,' said Louis.
'Poor Jem! the fall and the scanty fare tamed him. I liked him so
well before, that I did not know how much better I was yet to like
him. Mary, you must see his workhouse. Giving up his time to it as
he does, he does infinite good there.'
'Yes, Mr. Calcott says that he lives in fear of some one offering him
a living,' said Lord Ormersfield.
'And the dear old Giraffe?' said Louis.
'Clara? She is looking almost handsome. I wish some good man would
marry her. She would make an excellent wife.'
'I am not ready to spare her yet,' said Mary; 'I must make
acquaintance with her before any excellent man carries her off.'
'But there is a marriage that will surprise you,' said the Earl;
'your eldest cousin, whose name I can never remember--'
'Virginia,' cried Louis. 'Captain Lonsdale, I hope!'
'What could have made you fix on him?'
'Because the barricades could not have been in vain, and he was an
excellent fellow, to whom I owe a great deal of gratitude. He kept
my aunt's terrors in abeyance most gallantly; and little Virginia
drank in his words, and built up a hero! But how was it?'
'You remember that Lady Conway would not take our advice, and stay
quietly at home. On the first steamer she fell in with this captain,
and it seems that she was helpless enough, without her former butler,
to be very grateful to him for managing her passports and conducting
her through Germany. And the conclusion was, that she herself had
encouraged him so far, that she really had not any justification in
refusing when he proposed for the young lady, as he is fairly
'My poor aunt! No one ever pities her when she is 'hoist with her
own petard!' I am glad poor Virginia is to be happy in her own way.'
'I shall send my congratulations to-morrow,' said the Earl, smiling
triumphantly, 'and a piece of intelligence of my own. At H. B. M.
Consul's, Lima--what day was it, Louis?'
Mary ran away to take off her bonnet, as much surprised by the Earl's
mirth as if she had seen primroses in December. Yet such blossoms
are sometimes tempted forth; and affection was breathing something
like a second spring on the life so long unnaturally chilled and
blighted. If his shoulders were bowed, his figure had lost much of
its rigidity; and though his locks were thinned and whitened, and his
countenance slightly aged, yet the softened look and the more
frequent smile had smoothed away the sternness, and given gentleness
to his dignity.
No sooner was she out of the room than Lord Ormersfield asked, 'And
what have you done with the Spanish woman?'
The answer excited a peal of laughter, which made Louis stand aghast,
both at such unprecedented merriment and at the cause; for hitherto
he had so entirely felt with Mary, as never to have seen the
ludicrous aspect of the elopement. Presently, however, he was amused
by perceiving that his father not merely regarded it as a relief from
an embarrassing charge, but as an entire acquittal for his own
conscience for any slanders he had formerly believed of Dona Rosita.
Louis briefly explained that, the poor lady being provided for by
Robson's investments in America, he had thought it right that the
Ponsonby share of the firm should bear the loss through these
embezzlements; and he had found that her extravagance had made such
inroads on the property, that while the Dynevor share (always the
largest) resulted in a fair competence, Louis had saved nothing out
of the wreck of the Ponsonby affairs but Mary herself. 'Can you
excuse it, father?' he said, with all the old debonnaire manner.
'You will never be a rich man, Louis. You and she will have some
cares, but--' and his voice grew thick--'you are rich in what makes
life happy. You have left me nothing more to ask or wish for!'
'Except that I may be worthy of her, father. You first taught me how
she ought to be loved. You have been very patient with me all this
time. I feel as if I must thank you for her--' and then, changing
his tone as she opened the door--'Look at her now she has her bonnet
off--does not she look natural?'
'I am sure I feel so,' said Mary. 'You know this always seemed more
like home than anything else.'
'Yes, and now I do feel sure that I have you at last, Mary. That
Moorish castle of yours used to make me afraid of wakening: it was so
much fitter for Isabel's fantastic Viscount. By-the-bye, has she
brought that book out?'
'Oh, yes, and James is nearly as proud of it as he is of his son. He
actually wanted me to read it! He tells me it is selling very well,
and I hope it may really bring them in something.'
'Now, then--there's the tea. Sit down, Mary, and look exactly as you
did the morning I came home and found you.'
'I'm afraid I cannot,' said Mary, looking up in his face with an
arch, deprecating expression.
'Don't you know that I am so much happier?'
Before breakfast next morning Fitzjocelyn must visit his farm, and
Mary must come with him.
How delicious was that English morning after their voyage; the slant
rays of the sun silvering the turf, and casting rainbows across the
gossamer threads from one brown bent to another; the harvest fields
on the slopes dotted with rich sheaves of wheat; the coppices, in
their summer glory, here and there touched with the gold of early
autumn, and the slopes and meadows bright with lively green, a
pleasant change for eyes fresh from the bare, rugged mountain-side
and the rank unwholesome vegetation of Panama. Shaggy little
Scottish oxen were feeding on the dewy grass, their black coats
looking sleek in the sun beyond the long shadows of the thorns; but
as Mary said, laughing, 'Only Farmer Fitjocelyn's cattle came here
now,' and she stopped more than once to be introduced to some notable
animal, or to hear the history of experiments in fatting beasts.
'There! they have found you out! That's for you,' said Louis, as a
merry peal of bells broke out from the church tower, and came
joyously up through the tranquil air. 'Yes, Ormersfield, you are
greeting a friend! You may be very glad, old place! I wish Mr.
Holdsworth would come up to breakfast! Is it too wet for you this
This way was into Fernydell, and Mary answered, 'Oh, no--no; it is
where I most wanted to go with you. We have never been there
'No, you never would walk with me after I could go alone!' said
Louis, with a playful tone of reproach, veiling deep feeling.
In silence he handed her down the rocky steps, plunging deeper among
the hazels and rowan-trees; then pausing, he turned aside the
luxuriant leaves of a tuft of hartstongue, and showed her, cut on a
stone, veiled both by the verdure and the form of the rock, the
L. F. 1847.
'I like that!' was all that Mary's full heart allowed her to say.
'Yes,' said Louis, 'I feel quite as thankful for the accident as for
'And that dear mamma was with us,' added Mary. 'Between her and you,
it was a blessing to us all. I see these letters are not new; you
must have cut them out long ago.'
'As soon as I could get here without help,' he answered. 'I thought
I should be able to find the very spot where I lay, by remembering
the cross which the bare mountain-ash boughs made against the sky;
but by that time they were all leaf and flower; and now, do you see,
there they are, with the fruit just formed and blushing.'
'Like other things,' said Mary, reaching after the spray, 'once all
'Fruit very unripe,' as he said, between a smile and a sigh; 'but
there is some encouragement in the world after all, and every project
of mine has not turned out like my two specimens of copper ore. You
remember them, Mary and our first encounter?'
'Remember it!' said Mary. 'I don't think I forgot a day of that
'What I brought you here for,' said Louis, 'was to ask you to let me
do what I have long wished--to let me put the letter M here?'
'I think you might have done it without leave,' said Mary.
'So I might at first, but by the time I came here again, Mary, you
had become in my estimation 'a little more than kin,' and less than-
no, I wont say that, but one could not treat you as comfortably as
Clara. I lost a cousin one August day, and never found her again!'
'Never--but the odd thing is, that I cannot believe that what I did
find has been away these seven years.'
'Yes, that is very strange,' said Mary; 'I have felt it so. Wo do
seem to understand and guess each other's thoughts as if we had been
going on together all this time. I believe it is because you gave me
the first impulse to think, and taught me the way.'
'And I know who first taught me to think to any purpose,' said Louis,
smiling. 'But who is this descending on us?'
It was the Spanish gentleman, reddening all over at such an
encounter, in mid-career towards her at the Terrace, and muttering
something, breathless and almost surly, about begging pardon.
'Look here, Tom,' said Louis, lifting the leaves to show the letters.
'That is all I ever could feel on that matter, and so should you.
There, no more about it,--you want to be on your way; and tell Mr.
Frost that we shall be at Northwold in the afternoon.'
About half an hour after, Clara was delicately blowing the dust out
of the wreath of forget-me-nots on the porcelain shepherdess's hat,
when a shriek resounded through the house, and, barely saving the
Arcadian in her start, she rushed downstairs. James, in his shirt-
sleeves, was already on his way to the kitchen. There Kitty was
found, too much frightened, to run away, making lunges with the
toasting-fork at a black-bearded figure, who held in his arms
Charlotte Arnold, in a fit of the almost forgotten hysterics. The
workhouse girl shrieked for the police; Jane was at Master Oliver's
door, prepared for flight or defence; Isabel stood on the stairs,
with her baby in her arms, and her little flock clinging to her
skirts, when Clara darted back, laughing too much to speak
distinctly, as she tried to explain who the ruffian really was.
'And Louis is coming, and Mary! Oh! Isabel, he has her at last! Oh!
Jem! Jem! did we ever want dear granny so much! I always knew it
would come right at last! Jane, Jane, do you hear, Lord Fitzjocelyn
is married! Let me in; I must go and tell Uncle Oliver!'
James looked at Isabel, and read in her smile Clara's final acquittal
from all suspicions beneath the dignity of both. Uncle Oliver would
have damped her joy, had it been in his power. He gave up his
affairs as hopeless, as soon as he found that young Fitzjocelyn had
only made them an excuse for getting married, and he was so
excessively angry with her for being happy, that she found she must
carry her joyous face out of his sight.
It was not easy to be a dignified steady governess that morning, and
when the lessons were finished, she could have danced home all the
way. She had scarcely reached the Terrace gate, when the well-known
sound of the wheels was heard, and in another moment she was between
the two dear cousins; Fitzjocelyn's eyes dancing with gladsomeness,
and Mary's broad tranquil brow and frank kindly smile, free from the
shadow of a single cloud! Clara's heart leapt up with joy, joy full
and unmixed, the guerdon of the spirit untouched by vanity or
selfishness, without one taint that could have mortified into
jealous, disappointed pain. It was bliss to one of those whom she
loved best, it was the winning of a brother and sister, and perhaps
Clara's life had never had a happier moment.
Lord Ormersfield could have thanked her for that joyous, innocent
welcome. He had paid her attentions for his son's sake, of which he
had become rather ashamed; and as Louis and Mary hastened on to meet
James and Isabel, he detained her for a moment, to say some special
words of kindness. Clara, perhaps, had an intuitive perception of
his meaning, and reference to her past heiress state, for she laughed
gaily, and said, 'Yes, I never was more glad of anything! He was so
patient that I was sure he deserved it! I always trusted to such a
time as this, when he used to talk to me for want of dear
Mary was led upstairs to be introduced to the five children, while
the gentlemen went over the accounts in Oliver's room. Enough had
been rescued from the ruin to secure, not wealth, but fair
competence; the mines were disposed of to a company which would pay
the value by instalments, and all the remainder of the business was
in train to be easily wound up by Mr. Ward. Mr. Dynevor's gratitude
was not overpowering: he was short and dry, privately convinced that
he could have managed matters much better himself, and charging all
the loss on Fitzjocelyn's folly in letting Robson escape. But,
though James was hurt at his unthankfulness, and Lord Ormersfield
could have been very angry, the party most concerned did not take it
much to heart; he believed he had done his best, but an experienced
eye might detect blunders, and he knew it was hard to trust affairs
out of one's own hands.
Even the Earl was glad to escape to the sitting-room, though every
one was talking at once, and Mercy the loudest; and Louis, as the
children would call him in spite of their mamma, was at once seized
on by Kitty to be introduced to 'our brother.'
'And what is his name, Kitty?'
'Woland!' shouted all the young ladies in chorus.
'Sir Woland is in the book that mamma did make,' said Kitty.
Louis looked at Isabel with laughing eyes.
'It was Uncle Oliver's great wish,' she said, 'and we did not wish to
remember the days of Sir Hubert.'
Before Lord Ormersfield was quite deafened, Louis recollected that
they must show Mary at the House Beautiful; and they took leave. The
Earl begged James to come back to dinner with them, and Louis asked
if Clara could not find room in the carriage too. It was the earnest
of what Ormersfield was to be to her henceforth, and she was all
delight, and earnestness to be allowed to walk home with James by
starlight. And the evening realized all she could wish. The
gentlemen had their conversation in the dining-room, and Mary and
Clara sat on the steps together in the warm twilight, and talked of
granny; and Clara poured out all that Mary did not yet know of Louis.
'I hear you have been in hysterics again,' had been Lord
Fitzjocelyn's greeting to Charlotte. 'You are prepared for the
Charlotte was prepared. The mutual pardon had not been very hard to
gain, and Tom had only to combat her declarations that it was
downright presumptuous for her to have more than master had a year,
and her protests that she could not leave her mistress and the dear
children in their poverty. The tidings that they were relieved from
their present straits answered this scruple, and Charlotte was a
pretty picture of shrinking exultation when she conducted her
betrothed to Mrs. Martha, who, however, declared that she would not
take his hundred and eighty pounds a year--no, nor twice that,--to
marry him in that there black beard.
Mrs. Beckett made him exceedingly welcome, and he spent the chief
part of his time at No. 5, where he was much more at ease than at
Ormersfield. He confessed that, though not given to bashfulness
before any man, there was something in Mr. Frampton's excessive
civility that quite overcame him, and made him always expect to be
kicked out of doors the next minute for sauciness.
Charlotte's whirlwinds of feeling had nearly expended themselves in
that one shock of meeting. The years of cheerful toil, and the weeks
of grief and suspense, had been good training for that silly little
heart, and the prospect of her new duties brought on her a sobering
sense of responsibility. She would always be tender and clinging,
but the fragrant woodbine would be trained round a sound, sturdy oak,
and her modesty, gentleness, and sincerity, gave every promise of her
being an excellent wife.
Tom had little time to spare before undertaking his new office, and
it was better that the parting should be speedy, for it was a
grievous one, both to the little bride and to Isabel and the
children. Friend rather than servant, her place could be ill
supplied by the two maids who were coming in her room, and Isabel
could have found it in her heart to sympathize with Mercy and Salome
in their detestation of the black man who was coming to take away
their dear Charlotte.
Clara's first outlay, on her restoration to comparative wealth, was
on Charlotte's wedding-dress. It was a commission given to Mary,
when with Fitzjocelyn, she went to London for one day, to put the
final stroke to the dissolution of the unfortunate firm, and to
rejoice Aunt Melicent with the sight of her happiness.
Good old Miss Ponsonby's heart was some degrees softer and less
narrow than formerly. She had a good many prejudices left, but she
did not venture on such sweeping censures as in old times, and she
would have welcomed Lord Ormersfield with real cordiality, for the
sake of his love to her Mary. Indeed, Louis's fascinations and
Mary's bright face had almost persuaded her into coming home with
them; but the confirmed Londoner prevailed, and she had a tyrant
maid-servant, who would not let her go, even to the festival at
Ormersfield in honour of her niece.
The Earl was bent on rejoicings for his son's marriage, and Louis
dexterously managed that the banquet should take place on the day
fixed for Tom's wedding, thus casting off all oppressive sense of
display, by regarding it as Madison's feast instead of his own.
Clara, who seemed to have been set free from governess tasks solely
to be the willing slave of all the world, worked as hard as Mary and
Louis at all the joyous arrangements; nor was the festival itself,
like many such events, less bright than the previous toils.
The wedding took place in Ormersfield Church, on a bright September
morning; James Frost performed the marriage, Lord Fitzjocelyn gave
the bride away, and little Kitty was the bridesmaid. The ring was of
Peruvian gold, and the brooch that clasped the bride's lace collar
was of silver from the San Benito mine. In her white bonnet and
dove-coloured silk, she looked as simple and ladylike as she was
pretty, and a very graceful contrast to her Spanish gentleman
The Ormersfield bowling-green, which was wont to be so still and
deserted, hemmed in by the dark ilex belt, beheld such a scene as had
not taken place there since its present master was a boy. There were
long tables spread for guests of all ranks and degrees. Louis had
his own way with the invitations, and had gathered a miscellaneous
host. Sir Miles Oakstead had come to see his old friend made happy,
and to smile as he was introduced to the rose-coloured pastor in his
glass case. Mr. Calcott was there, and Mrs. Calcott, all feuds with
Mrs. James Frost long since forgotten; and Sir Gilbert Brewster shone
in his colonel's uniform,--for Lady Fitzjocelyn had intimated a
special desire that all the members of the yeomanry should appear in
costume; and many a young farmer's wife and sister came all the more
proudly, in the fond belief that her own peculiar hero looked in his
blue and silver 'as well as Lord Fitzjocelyn himself.' And Miss
Mercy Faithful was there, watching over Oliver, to make up for the
want of her sister. And old Mr. Walby was bowing and gossiping with
many a patient; and James, with his little brown woman in his hand,
was looking after the party of paupers for whom he had obtained a
holiday; and Mr. Holdsworth was keeping guard over his village boys,
whose respectable parents remained in two separate throngs, male and
female; and Clara Frost was here, there, and everywhere--now setting
Mrs. Richardson at ease, now carrying little Mercy to look at the
band, now conveying away Salome when frightened, now finding a mother
for a village child taken with a sobbing fit of shyness, now
conducting a stray schoolboy to his companions, now running up for a
few gay words to her old uncle, to make sure that he was neither
chilly nor tired. How pleasant it was to her to mingle with group
after group of people, and hear from one and another how handsome and
how happy Lord Fitzjocelyn looked, and Lady Fitzjocelyn quite
beautiful; and, then, as they walked from party to party, setting all
at ease and leaving pleased looks wherever they went, to cross them
now and then, and exchange a blithe smile or merry remark.
No melancholy gaps here! thought she, as she helped her uncle to the
easy chair prepared for him at the dinner-table; no spiritless
curiosity, no forced attempts to display what no one felt!
There must needs be toasts, and such as thought themselves assembled
for the sake of the 'marriage in high life,' were taken by surprise
when Lord Fitzjocelyn rose, and began by thanking those assembled for
assisting in doing honour to the event of the day--the marriage of
two persons, for each of whom he himself as well as those most dear
to him felt the warmest respect and gratitude for essential services
and disinterested attachment, alike in adversity and in prosperity.
Unpleasant as he knew it was to have such truths spoken to one's
face, he could not deny himself the satisfaction of expressing a
portion of the esteem and reverence he felt for such noble conduct as
had been displayed by those whose health he had the pleasure to
propose--Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Madison.
'There,' was his aside, as he sat down, 'I only hope I have not made
him surly; poor fellow, I have put him in a predicament, but it could
not be otherwise!'
Clara had tears in her eyes, but not like those she had shed at
Cheveleigh; James gave Louis a look of heartfelt gratitude, bowed the
lowest to the happy pair, and held up little Kitty that her imitative
nod and sip might not be lost upon them.
Mrs. Beckett said, 'Well, I never! If ever a girl deserved it,'
choked, and flourished her white handkerchief; Frampton saluted like
my Lord and Louis XIV. rolled into one; and Warren and Gervas
privately agreed that they did not know what was coming of the world,
since Marksedge poachers had only to go to foreign parts to be coined
goold in the silver mines. Mrs. Madison's pretty face was all
blushes, smiles, and tears. Mr. Madison rose to reply with
unexpected alacrity, and Louis was soon relieved from anxiety, at
least, as far as regarded his eloquence, for he thought in the
majestic Spanish idiom, and translated as he went--
'My Lords,' he began, 'gentlemen and ladies and neighbours, my Lord
Fitzjocelyn has done my wife and myself an honour as unlooked-for as
undeserved; and the manner of the favour is such that we shall carry
the grateful remembrance to the end of our lives. He has been so
condescending as to speak of such services as it was in our power to
render; but he has passed over in silence that which gives him a
claim to the utmost that I could place at his feet. He will forgive
me for speaking openly, for I cannot refrain from disburthening my
mind, and letting you know, even more than you are at present aware
of, what your Senor--what your Lord truly is. Most of you have known
me but too well. It is not ten years since I was a rude, untaught
boy upon the heath, such as a large proportion of those present would
deem beneath their notice: Lord Fitzjocelyn did not think so. His
kindness of manner and encouraging words awakened in me new life and
energy. He gave me his time and his teaching, and, what was far
more, he gave me his sympathy and his example. It was these which
gave vitality to lessons dimly understood, or which had fallen dead
on my ears, when only heard in my irregular attendance at school.
But the work in me was tardy, and at first I requited his kindness
with presumption, insubordination, and carelessness. Then, when I
had been dismissed, and when my wilful neglect had occasioned the
accident of which the traces are still only too visible, then, did I
not merit to be exposed and cast off for ever? I knew it, and I
fled, as if I could leave behind me my grief and my shame. Little
did I dare to guess that he was dealing with me as though I had been
his own brother, and scrupulously concealing my share in the
misfortune. When I returned, sullen and overwhelmed, he alone--yes!
and while still suffering severely--spoke a kind word to me, and
exerted himself to rescue me from the utter ruin and degradation to
which despair would have led me. He placed me in the situation which
conducted me to my present position; he gave me the impulse to
improve myself; and, above all, he infused into me the principles
without which the rest would have been mere temptations. If I have
been blest beyond my deserts--if I have been prosperous beyond
reasonable expectation--if, among numerous failures, I have withstood
some evils--all, under the greatest and highest Benefactor, is owing
to the kindness, and, above all, to the generous forbearance of Lord
Fitzjocelyn. I wish I could testify my gratitude in any better
manner than by speaking of him to his face; but I am sure you will
all drink his health more heartily, if possible, for knowing one more
trait in addition to your own personal experience of his character!'
Alas! that all things hidden, and yet to be proclaimed on the house-
tops, would bear the light as well as Fitzjocelyn's secret! The
revelation of this unobtrusive act of patience and forbearance
excited a perfect tumult of enthusiasm among persons already worked
up to great ardour for one so beloved; and shouts, and even tears, on
every side strove in vain to express the response to Madison's words.
'Too bad, Tom!' was Louis's muttered comment.
'You are paid in your own coin,' retorted Mary, raising her
glistening eyes, full of archness.
'I perceive it is no surprise to you, Lady Fitzjocelyn!' said Sir
Miles Oakstead; 'and, I own, nothing from that quarter' (nodding at
Louis) 'surprises me greatly.'
'She practised eavesdropping,' said Louis, 'when the poor fellow was
relieving his mind by a confession to the present Mrs. Madison.'
'And I think Mrs. Madison and I deserve credit for having kept the
secret so long,' said Mary.
'It explains,' observed Mr. Holdsworth. 'I did not understand your
power over Madison.'
'It was the making of us both,' said Louis; 'and a very fine specimen
of the grandeur of that rough diamond. It elucidates what I have
always said, that if you can but find the one vulnerable place, there
is a wonderful fund of nobleness in some of these people.'
'Do you take this gentleman as an average specimen?'
'Every ploughboy is not an undeveloped Madison; but in every parish
there may be some one with either the _thinking_ or the rising
element in his composition; and if the right ingredient be not added,
the fermentation will turn sour, as my neglect had very nearly made
it do with him. He would have been a fine demagogue by this time, if
he had not had a generous temper and Sunday-school foundation.'
'Hush!' said Mary, smiling--'you must not moralize. I believe you
are doing it that poor Farmer Norris may not catch your eye.'
Louis gave a debonnaire glance of resignation; and the farmer, rising
in the full current of feeling caused by Madison's speech, said, with
thorough downright emotion, that he knew it was of no use to try to
enhance what had been already so well expressed, but he believed
there was scarcely a person present who did not feel, equally with
Mr. Madison, the right to claim Lord Fitzjocelyn as a personal
friend,--and an irrepressible hum of fervent assent proved how truly
the farmer spoke. 'Yes,--each had in turn experienced so much of his
friendly kindness, and, what was more, of his sympathy, that he could
confidently affirm that there was scarcely one in the neighbourhood
who had not learnt the news of his happiness as if some good thing
had happened to himself individually. They all as one man were
delighted to have him at home again, and to wish him joy of the lady,
whom many of them know already well enough to rejoice in welcoming
her for her own sake, as well as for that of Lord Fitzjocelyn.'
Again and again did the cheers break forth--hearty, homely, and
sincere; and such were the bright, tearful, loving eyes, which sought
those of Fitzjocelyn on every side, that his own filled so fast that
all seemed dazzled and misty, and he hastily strove to clear them as
he arose; but the swelling of his heart brought the happy dew again,
and would scarcely let him find voice. 'My friends, my dear, good
friends, you are all very kind to me. It is of no use to tell you
how little I deserve it, but you know how much I wish to do so, and
here is one who has helped me, and who will help me. We thank you
with all our hearts. You may well wish my father and me joy, and
yourselves too. Thank you; you should not look at me so kindly if
you wish me to say more.'
The Earl, who had studied popularity as a useful engine, but had
never prized love beyond his own family, was exceedingly touched by
the ardour of enthusiastic affection that his son had obtained,--not
by courting suffrages, not by gifts, not by promises, but simply by
real open-hearted love to every one. Lord Ormersfield himself came
in for demonstrations of warm feeling which he would certainly never
have sought nor obtained ten years ago, when he was respected and
looked up to as an upright representative of certain opinions; but
personally, either disliked or regarded with coldness.
He knew what these cheers were worth, and that even Fitzjocelyn might
not long be the popular hero; but he was not the less gratified and
triumphant, and felt that no success of his whole life had been worth
'After all, Clara,' said Oliver Dynevor, as his nephew and niece were
assisting him to the carriage, 'they have managed these things better
than we did, though they did not have Gunter.'
'Gunter can't bring heart's love down from town in a box,' said
Clara, in a flash of indignation. 'No, dear uncle, there are things
that can't be got unless by living for them.'
'Nor even by living for them, Clara,' said James; 'you must live for
Lord Ormersfield had heard these few last words, and there was deep
thought in his eye as he bade his cousins farewell at the hall door.
Clara was the last to take her place; and, as she turned round with a
merry smile to wish him goodbye, he said, 'You have been making
yourself very useful, Clara, I am afraid you have had no time to
'That's a contradiction,' said Clara, laughing; 'here's busy little
Kitty, who never is thoroughly happy but when she thinks she is
useful, and I am child enough to be of the same mind. I never was
unhappy but when I was set to enjoy myself. It has been the most
beautiful day of my life. Thank you for it. Goodbye!'
The Earl crossed the hall, and found Mary standing alone on the
terrace steps, looking out at the curling smoke from the cottage
chimneys, and on the coppices and hedge-rows.
'Are you tired, my dear?' he said.
'Oh no! I was only thinking of dear mamma's persuading Louis to go
on with the crumpled plans of those cottages. How happy she would
'I was thinking of her likewise,' said the Earl. 'She spoke truly
when she told me that he might not be what I then wished to make him,
but something far better.'
Mary looked up with a satisfied smile of approval, saying, 'I am so
glad you think so.'
'Yes,' said Lord Ormersfield, 'I have thought a good deal since. I
have been alone here, and I think I see why Louis has done better
than some of his elders. It seems to me that some of us have not
known the duties that lay by the way-side, so to speak, from the main
purpose of life. I wish I could talk it over with your mother, my
dear, what do you think she would say?'
Mary thought of Louis's vision of the threads. 'I think,' she said,
'that I have heard her say something like it. The real aim of life
is out of sight, and even good people are too apt to attach
themselves to what is tangible, like friendship or family affection,
or usefulness, or public spirit; but these are like the paths of
glory which lead but to the grave, and no farther. It is the single-
hearted, faithful aim towards the one thing needful, to which all
other things may be added as mere accessories. It brings down
strength and wisdom. It brings the life everlasting already to begin
in this life, and so makes the path shine more and more unto the