Part 4 out of 8
that the passing thought occurred to Elizabeth that Mr. Herrick was
not sorry that his visit had ended.
"We are not clever enough for him," she said to herself regretfully;
but Malcolm's next speech dispelled this idea.
Dinah had just expressed her regret at losing him.
"I have no wish to go, I assure you," was his reply; "I have never
spent a happier week in my life. But you know in another two or
three weeks I hope to be settled at the Crow's Nest. We shall be
near neighbours then." He looked at Elizabeth as he spoke. It struck
him that she was a little embarrassed. Her colour rose, and there
was a slight pucker in her brow, as though something perplexed her;
but the next minute it was gone.
"In that case we must fix the date for the Templeton Bean-feast,"
she remarked briskly. "Mr. Herrick," her voice changing to
earnestness, "will it be quite impossible for Miss Sheldon to come
to our garden-party. We could put her up easily--and it is really
rather a pretty sight. We had two hundred people last year, and the
"It was rattling good sport," chimed in Cedric. "There were fifteen
of our fellows sleeping at 'The Plough,' because we had a dance in
the evening; not only our house, but Hazel Beach, the Ross's house,
and Brentwood Place, where Colonel Brent lives, were crammed with
guests. People talked about it for a month afterwards."
"It cost a great deal of money," observed Dinah, in rather an
alarmed voice. "We could not do that sort of thing again. You see,
Mr. Herrick, it was really to make up to Cedric because he had no
party when he came of age. I was ill just then, and we had to go
"No, no, you are quite right, Die, we must keep our Bean-feast
within limits," returned Elizabeth soothingly. "We thought of fixing
the twentieth of August," she continued, addressing Malcolm. "That
is nearly a month later than last year, I expect most of our inner
circle friends will be away, but we shall have a good house-party;
and with some of Cedric's Oxford friends we shall be able to infuse
sufficient new life into our country clique. Well, Mr. Herrick, is
that likely to suit Miss Sheldon?"
"I am afraid not," he returned regretfully, for he was really quite
touched at this thoughtfulness on her part. And how Anna would have
loved it! "They will be at Whitby by that time. But I will tell her
of your kind thought for her." And then, as it was getting late, for
they had lingered pleasantly over the meal, he went off to make his
preparations, and half an hour afterwards the dog-cart was brought
to the door.
"Good-bye, we shall miss you so much," observed Dinah almost
affectionately; "but we shall see plenty of you when you are at the
"I hope so. Thank you, dear Miss Templeton, for all your kind
hospitality," and then it was Elizabeth's turn.
"Adieu--au revoir, Mr. Herrick," but she pressed his hand very
kindly as she spoke, and her eyes had a friendly beam in them.
"Au revoir, and thanks to you too," returned Malcolm; but the smile
on his face was a little forced.
As the dog-cart turned the corner he looked back. The sisters were
still standing side by side. Elizabeth waved her hand. She was no
longer the stately-looking woman in the Paris gown and picture hat,
who had moved with such a queenly step among her guests. This was a
far homelier Elizabeth, in the old striped blouse and battered
garden hat, only this morning Malcolm found no fault with it. He was
very silent for some time, but as he leant back in the dog-cart with
folded arms and closely compressed lips, there was a glow in his
dark eyes that somewhat contradicted his outward calmness.
"And you are going down to the Manor House on Thursday," observed
Cedric, as they came in sight of the station. "What a pity my Henley
visit is put off till the following week, or we might have had a
good old time together."
"Oh, I don't know," rather absently; "you will be too much taken up
with your new friends to want an old stager like me."
"You are wrong there," returned the lad eagerly. "I should be glad
to have your opinion of"--he hesitated, and then finished lamely,
"of the Jacobis, I mean. You are such a judge of character, and all
that sort of thing."
"Am I?" with a smile; but they had no time to say more, as the
London train was signalled.
An hour and a half later Malcolm was in his chambers in Lincoln's
Inn, opening his letters and dashing off replies, to be posted in
due time by the obsequious Malachi. Malcolm found so much to occupy
him that he decided not to go to Queen's Gate until the following
evening, and sent Anna a line to that effect. He felt a quiet
evening at Cheyne Walk would be more in harmony with his feelings.
As he crossed the broad space at the foot of the steps in Lincoln's
Inn, he overtook Caleb Martin wheeling the perambulator. Kit had her
new doll hugged in her thin little arms.
"Oh, dad, do stop," she exclaimed eagerly; "it is the gentleman what
gave me my baby;" and then Malcolm stepped up to the perambulator.
"Kit has been looking out for you the last week, sir," observed
Caleb in his humble, flurried way. "She won't even take notice of
the pigeons; her heart is so set on thanking you for the doll. It is
my belief that she thinks it is alive the way she goes on with it."
"My baby's asleep--should you like to see her open her eyes?" asked
Kit with maternal pride. "She has blue eyes, she has, like dad's and
mine--only prettier. She is just the beautifullest thing I ever saw,
ain't she, dad? and Ma'am says she must have cost a lot."
Malcolm smiled, but there was a pitiful look in his eyes. Even in
these few days Kit's face had grown thinner and more pinched, and
the shrill voice was weaker. There was no longer a stiff halo of
curls under the sun-bonnet; they hung in limp wisps about her face.
"Has the child been ill?" he asked, and then Caleb looked at him in
a dazed, nervous fashion.
"Not to call ill, sir, but just a bit piny and dwiny from the heat.
Our place is like the Black Hole of Calcutta for stuffiness. She is
that languid and fretty that we can't get her to eat, so my wife
made me take her out for an airing."
Malcolm pondered for a moment. Then a sudden inspiration came to
him. There was a fruiterer in the Strand, and he was just thinking
of carrying a basket of fruit to Verity. He bade Caleb follow him
slowly, and a few minutes later a great bunch of roses and a paper
bag of white-heart cherries and another of greengages were packed
into the perambulator; some sponge-cakes and a crisp little brown
loaf were also purchased for Kit's tea, and then they went rejoicing
on their way. As Malcolm walked on he made up his mind that his
first act when he arrived at the Crow's Nest would be to take
counsel with Elizabeth. "The child will die if something is not done
for her," he said to himself; "perhaps she will be able to suggest
something;" but it never occurred to him to confide in his mother.
"Individual cases do not appeal to her," he had once said to Anna.
"She prefers to work on a more extended scale," and though Anna
contradicted this with unusual warmth, Malcolm had some grounds for
his sweeping assertion.
Malcolm spent the evening very pleasantly discussing future
arrangements with his friends. To his satisfaction the room he
coveted was at once allotted to him, with the title of "The
Prophet's Chamber;" and, as he professed himself quite content with
the bedroom in the garden-house, matters were soon settled, and both
Verity and Amias looked pleased when Malcolm announced his intention
of spending most of his summer vacation at the Crow's Nest. They
talked a good deal about the Wood House. Malcolm gave graphic
descriptions of the house and the garden and the Pool, and he also
drew rather a charming picture of the elder Miss Templeton.
"She is lovely in my opinion," he said in his enthusiastic way. "I
quite long for you to see her, Verity. She is just a gray-haired
girl. She has the secret of perpetual youth. She is as guileless and
simple as a child--any one could deceive her, and yet she is wise
"And her sister?" asked Verity, as Malcolm paused.
"Oh, Miss Elizabeth Templeton is quite different," returned Malcolm
hurriedly, as he filled his pipe; "it is not easy to describe her--
you must judge of her yourself."
"Then she is not as nice as this wonderful Dinah?" observed Verity
in a disappointed tone.
"Oh, yes, she is quite as nice," he returned briefly; "but the
sisters are utterly dissimilar." And not another word could Verity,
with all her teasing, extract from Malcolm.
"I should like you to be perfectly unbiassed in your opinion," he
remarked sententiously. Verity made a naughty little face in the
"I wonder if it is the Crow's Nest, our society, or Miss Elizabeth
Templeton that is the attraction," she thought. But, being a loyal
little soul, she never hinted at a certain suspicion that had taken
possession of her mind, even to her husband.
Malcolm received a warm welcome from his mother and Anna the next
evening. He found them sitting by one of the open windows in the
large drawing-room. Mrs. Herrick was working, and Anna was reading
to her. The sun-blinds had just been raised, and the fresh evening
air blew refreshingly through the wide room. The tall green palms
behind them made a pleasant background to Anna's white dress. It
struck Malcolm that she looked paler and more tired, and her eyes
had a heavy, languid look. To his surprise Mrs. Herrick spoke of it
"Anna is not looking her best this evening, Malcolm," she said as he
sat down between them; "this great heat tries her. Dr. Armstrong
thinks we ought to leave town as soon as possible, so we are going
to Whitby a week earlier."
"Mother has cancelled a lot of her engagements," observed Anna,
looking at her affectionately. "I am so sorry to give her all this
trouble." But Mrs. Herrick would not allow her to finish.
"Mothers are only too glad to take trouble for their children," she
said kindly. "Anna has been behaving badly, Malcolm; she fainted at
church on Sunday, and had one of her worst sick headaches
There was unmistakable anxiety in Malcolm's eyes when he heard this,
but Anna only laughed it off. The church was hot, she said, any one
might have fainted. But the sea-breezes would soon set her up; they
had beautiful rooms quite close to the sea, with a wide balcony
where they could spend their evenings.
"I hope you will come down to us for a week or two," observed his
mother presently. Malcolm felt rather a twinge of conscience as he
replied that he feared this was impossible; he had some literary
work on hand, which he intended to do at Staplegrove. Mrs. Keston
was able to spare him a nice room, which he could use as a study;
and so he had made his arrangements. And then he added rather
regretfully that, as he was going to the Manor House the following
afternoon, he feared that he should not see them again. Mrs. Herrick
said no more, she was not a woman to waste words unnecessarily; but
she was undoubtedly much disappointed, and even a little hurt, and
for the moment Anna looked grave. At dinnertime she made an effort
to recover her spirits, and questioned Malcolm about his new
acquaintances at the Wood House; and on this occasion he was less
But it was not until his mother had left them alone together that he
told Anna of Elizabeth's kind invitation.
A surprised flush came to the girl's face.
"Do you think you could possibly manage it, dear?" he asked with
brotherly solicitude. But he was sorry to see how her lips trembled.
"Oh no--no, you must not tempt me," very hurriedly; "it is quite--
quite impossible. I must not think of it for a moment, Malcolm,"
trying to speak calmly. "I am so grateful to you for not speaking of
this before mother; it would trouble her so, and quite spoil her
pleasure; mother is so sharp, she always finds out things, and she
would know at once that I should like to go to the Wood House."
"Then I was right when I told Miss Elizabeth so," returned Malcolm.
"It is just the place you would like, Anna; I know you would be
happy with those kind women."
"I do not doubt it for a moment," and Anna's voice was rather
melancholy. "I should so love to know your friends, Malcolm; it all
sounds so lovely, and you would be near, and--and it was so dear of
Miss Elizabeth to think of it. Will you thank her for me, Malcolm,
and tell her that mother needs me so much, and that she has no one
"Did you mean that for a hit at me, Anna dear?" and Malcolm's voice
was rather reproachful.
"For you," looking at him tenderly, "oh no--no, Malcolm;" and then
to his dismay she suddenly burst into tears.
"Don't mind me, I am silly to-night," she said, struggling to regain
her composure. "Mother is right, and I am not quite well, and--and
things will go crooked in this world." But though Malcolm petted
her, and called her a foolish child, and his dear little sister,
Anna did not regain her former cheerfulness. And when Mrs. Herrick
joined them she said her head had begun aching again, and that she
would go to bed.
Malcolm wished her good-night at the foot of the staircase, and
watched her until she was out of sight. His mother looked at him a
little keenly when he rejoined her.
"What have you and Anna been talking about?" she asked rather
abruptly; "the child does not look quite happy."
"We were only talking about the ladies of the Wood House," he
returned quietly. "Anna thinks she would like to make their
acquaintance some day." But Mrs. Herrick made no reply to this; she
was regarding her son thoughtfully, and her strong, sensible face
wore an expression almost of sadness. But she gave him no clue to
her feelings, and when the time came for him to take his leave her
manner was more affectionate than usual.
She was still on the balcony as he passed out, and a cheery "Good-
night, my son," floated down to him. But as she stood listening to
his departing footsteps she said to herself, "He is changed somehow,
he is not quite himself, and Anna has noticed it. I wonder"--and
here she sighed rather heavily--"I wonder what sort of woman this
Miss Elizabeth Templeton can be."
"YES, SHE GAVE HIM UP"
Thou art so good,
So calm!--If thou shouldst wear a brow less light
For some wild thought which, but for me, were kept
From out thy soul as from a sacred star!
To every living soul that same He saith,
"Be faithful;" whatsoever else we be,
Let us be faithful, challenging His faith.
The Manor House where the Godfreys lived was a fine old red-brick
Elizabethan house, standing about a quarter of a mile from the
A delightful garden surrounded it, but the chief point of attraction
to visitors was a terrace walk, shaded by old chestnut trees, which
formed its extreme boundary, and which, on the hottest summer's day,
offered a cool and shady retreat.
The terrace was broad, and at one end was a sort of loggia or alcove
built of grayish-white stone, with a wide stone bench running round
it. From this point there was a charming view of the river between
the trees, and it was here that Malcolm found his hostess on his
arrival at the Manor House.
Mrs. Godfrey was reading in the loggia, with her husband's
magnificent deer-hounds lying at her feet. She laid aside her book
and welcomed her visitor with a warmth and cordiality that were
evidently sincere. Strangers who saw Mrs. Godfrey for the first time
were generally apt to remark that she was one of the plainest women
they had ever seen; and they would add in a parenthesis, "It is such
a pity, for the Colonel is so handsome." But even the most critical
agreed that no woman could be more charming. She had spent a great
deal of her life abroad, and her easy, well-bred manner, her savoir-
faire and broad, sagacious views on every subject, had been gained
in the world's academy. In spite of her goodness of heart and real
unselfishness, she was essentially a woman of the world. Little as
Malcolm guessed it at that time, she was Elizabeth Templeton's
greatest friend; indeed, both the sisters were devoted to her, and
some of Elizabeth's happiest and gayest hours had been spent in the
"I certainly never hoped to find you alone," were Malcolm's first
words. Mrs. Godfrey smiled.
"It is almost an unprecedented fact in the Manor House annals," she
returned gaily; "but we shall be absolutely alone until Tuesday, and
then every room will be filled. If you had consented to stay for a
week, I could have promised you a big affair on a steam-launch, a
picnic, and a tennis tournament; but now our solitary function will
be a garden-party on Monday."
"Please do not speak in such an apologetic tone," replied Malcolm.
"If you knew how my soul abhors picnics and water-parties! It is
really too delightful to know that I may enjoy your society in peace
for three whole days. By the bye, where is the Colonel?"
"Oh, Alick has gone to Henley to see an old chum of his, but he will
be back in good time for dinner. Is it not lovely down here, Mr.
Herrick? I thought it would be such a pity to go indoors that I told
Deacon that we would have tea here." Then, as Malcolm signified his
approval of this arrangement, they sauntered slowly down the
terrace, that Malcolm might take in all points of the extensive
view. When they retraced their steps to the loggia, the butler and
footman were setting out a rustic tea-table.
"And so you have been staying at the Wood House?" began Mrs. Godfrey
as she handed Malcolm his tea. "Elizabeth Templeton's letter this
morning almost took my breath away. What a small world it is after
all, Mr. Herrick!"
"Life treads on life," murmured Malcolm, "and heart on heart;"
"We press too close in church or mart
To keep a dream or grave apart."
"How true!" was the quiet rejoinder. "Mrs. Browning said that. Well,
do you know, I was quite childishly surprised when I heard you had
been a guest at the Wood House. 'Mr. Herrick has only just left us,'
were Elizabeth's words; 'Cedric is driving him to the station; we
have greatly enjoyed his visit,' etcetera, etcetera."
Then a slight flush came to Malcolm's dark face.
"I had a very pleasant time," he returned; "they were most kind and
hospitable. Miss Templeton is one of the most charming women I have
"Dear Dinah--yes, she is very sweet. I do not think I have ever seen
her ruffled. She is just lovely. But it is Elizabeth who is my
"Our friendship is a very real one," continued Mrs. Godfrey
thoughtfully; "and next to my husband there is no one whom I could
trust as I could Elizabeth Templeton. She is very strong."
"Oh yes, she is very strong," in a ruminative manner.
"Have you found that out already?" in a surprised tone. "But I
remember you are a student of human nature, Mr. Herrick, and rather
a keen observer. Most people would not be able to diagnose Elizabeth
Templeton's character correctly at the end of one short week. When I
was first introduced to her, thirteen or fourteen years ago, I told
Alick that I should never get on with any one who was so reserved
and so stand-offish, but I soon changed my opinion. I found out that
a great deal of her reserve was in reality shyness, and that her
frankness and openness of disposition were her chief charms."
"And then you became friends?"
"Yes; but not for a long time. We are neither of us at all gushing,
and I was an old married woman, you know. But there came a time when
she needed my help--when she was in anxiety--and a woman's counsel
and woman's sympathy were a comfort to her." Here Mrs. Godfrey
paused as she became aware of the concentrated keenness in Malcolm's
eyes, and added hastily, "The trouble was not her own; but it is
Elizabeth's nature to take the burdens of others on her own
shoulders. I never knew any one capable of such intense sympathy. It
is a rare gift, Mr. Herrick, but it brings its possessor great
"You are right," in a low tone.
"I knew then that she was a woman in a thousand, and we have been
close and dear friends ever since. Not that we often meet. She is a
busy woman and so am I, but we generally stay at the Wood House once
a year, and Elizabeth comes to me for a few days' rest and
refreshment whenever she can spare the time. Alick teases me
sometimes about my lady-love, but I assure you that he is very fond
of her, and is always delighted to hear she is coming to the Manor
Malcolm listened to this with deep interest. It seemed to him that
every one who spoke to him of Elizabeth Templeton praised her
without stint or limit; she was evidently much beloved, and the very
fact that a person like Mrs. Godfrey should choose her for her most
trusted friend was no mean title of honour; never was there a woman
more fastidious and discriminating in her ideas of female
Malcolm would willingly have heard more, but a curious sort of
embarrassment and a fear of betraying too deep an interest made him
speak of her sister.
"Miss Templeton seems to have a happy nature," he said a little
abruptly. "I never saw any one so perfectly peaceful and serene; it
makes one better only to look at her. Her hair is gray, and yet when
she smiles one is reminded of an innocent child, it is such a
perfectly radiant expression."
"Yes, I know. Dear Dinah, she has the secret of perpetual youth. She
is one of 'the little ones'--you know what I mean. When I talk to
her, as I tell Elizabeth sometimes, I feel such a worldly, frivolous
creature. Her sister perfectly realises this, for she has the
prettiest names for her. 'That angel-woman,' I have heard her say
that; very often she calls her 'das Engelkind;' and without
exaggeration she has a rare and beautiful nature."
Malcolm assented to this, then he said slowly, "Has it ever struck
you that there are no lines on Miss Templeton's face? I should think
her life-story must be a happy one. I mean, that she has not known
any very great trouble." Then rather a peculiar expression crossed
Mrs. Godfrey's face. "Ah, I see I have made a mistake," observed
"Yes, you have made a mistake," she replied a little sadly. "Did you
really think that even Dinah Templeton could have her forty years in
the wilderness without her share of pain and difficulty? Well, it is
ancient history, and there is no harm in telling you what every one
knows, that in the bloom of her fresh young womanhood she had a sore
trial and a great sorrow."
"You say every one knows about it?" returned Malcolm eagerly.
"Yes, every one in Staplegrove and Earlsfield. Oh, I can read your
face; you would like to hear about it. Well, there is no harm in my
telling you. When Dinah Templeton was about three-or four-and-twenty
she was engaged to Douglas Fraser, a doctor just beginning practice
"Mr. Templeton was living at that time, and approved of the
engagement. Dr. Eraser was devoted to his profession. He was a
rising man, and people predicted that before many years were over he
would make his mark."
"Douglas Fraser, the great authority on neurotic diseases in Harley
Street!" exclaimed Malcolm in a tone of intense surprise. Mrs.
"As a young man I have been told that he was perfectly irresistible.
Even now he is a grand-looking man of commanding presence, with a
fine intellectual head and face. And as for Dinah, she must have
been one of the sweetest-looking creatures on God's earth."
"Well, they were engaged, and if ever a young pair of human lovers
walked in the Garden of Eden, Dinah and Douglas Fraser were that
couple--until the cloud came that was to eclipse their happiness in
this world. There is no need for me to enter into the matter very
fully, though I know everything. One unhappy day Dinah discovered
that Dr. Fraser was an agnostic--that for some time he had had grave
doubts on the subject of revealed religion, which he had kept to
himself for fear of distressing her; but now a sense of honour
compelled him to tell her the truth. He had lost his faith, and he
no longer believed in anything but science."
"Good heavens, what a shock!" ejaculated Malcolm.
"You may well say so," returned Mrs. Godfrey sadly. "It was no light
cross that Dinah had to bear. Even in her youth she was intensely
religious. Religion was not a portion of her life, it was her life
itself. To such a nature the idea of marrying an agnostic was
practically impossible. 'If I marry Douglas I shall be committing a
great sin,' she said to her sister; 'I shall be denying my Lord and
Master;' and in the semi-delirium in the illness that ensued,
Elizabeth could hear her say over and over again, 'Whoso loveth
father and mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.'"
"And she actually gave him up."
"Yes, she gave him up, though it broke her heart and his to do so. I
believe that he suffered terribly, and that he used every argument
in his power to shake her resolution, but in vain."
"She had a long illness after that. Elizabeth took her abroad. It
was at Rome that I met them, and after a time we became intimate.
Poor Dinah had a relapse, and I assisted Elizabeth in nursing her.
Well, Mr. Herrick, I can read a question in your eyes."
"Yes, there is one thing I want to know--has not Dr. Fraser
"To be sure he has; but he did not marry for some years. He left
Earlsfield and took a London practice, and his career has been a
"I believe Mrs. Fraser is a lovely woman, and they have three
beautiful children. But the strangest part of my story is still to
be told--Douglas Fraser is no longer an agnostic."
Malcolm looked at her silently; but Mrs. Godfrey said no more, and
not for worlds would he have asked another question. He could see
that she was deeply moved, for her lip quivered a little. He rose
from the bench and paced up and down the terrace, listening to the
faint soughing of the dark chestnut leaves and looking at the cool,
silvery gleam of the river between the tree-boles.
Malcolm was a man of intensely imaginative and sympathetic nature.
His mother had once told him that he had something of the woman in
him. And certainly no one was more capable of filling up the
outlines of the story he had just heard and giving it life and
"I admired her before," he said to himself, "but I shall look upon
her as a saint now. She has had her martyrdom, if ever woman had,
and has fought her fight nobly;" and then, with that clear insight
that seemed natural to him, he added, "She knows that he has come
right, and this is the secret of her serenity," which was indeed the
truth, though not the whole truth; for Dinah Templeton had indeed
realised her Master's words, that through much tribulation we must
enter into the kingdom of heaven.
When Mrs. Godfrey rejoined Malcolm her husband was with her. Malcolm
always declared that Colonel Godfrey was his typical and ideal
Englishman. He was a well-built, soldierly-looking man of unusually
fine presence. As he was over fifty, his golden-brown moustache was
slightly grizzled, and the hair had worn off his forehead; but he
was still strikingly handsome. He and his wife were alone. Both
their sons were in the Indian army, and their only daughter was
married and lived in Yorkshire.
"We are just an old Darby and Joan," Mrs. Godfrey would say; but
though she was only a year or two younger than her husband, she wore
remarkably well, and still looked a comparatively young woman.
Colonel Godfrey and Malcolm were excellent friends, and in a few
minutes they were strolling through the fields towards the river-
bank, talking on various topics of social and political interest,
while Mrs. Godfrey returned to the house to write letters and dress
It was not until the following afternoon that Malcolm found an
opportunity of sounding Mrs. Godfrey on the subject of the Jacobis.
They were sitting in the loggia again, and the row of dark chestnut
trees looked almost black against the intense blue of the sky.
A faint breeze was just stirring the leaves, and every now and then
a sort of ripple of sunlight seemed to streak the sombre foliage
with gold. On the terrace there was a wealth of sunshine, and the
stones felt hot to the feet. Only under the chestnuts tiny
flickering shadows seemed to dance in and out among the tree-boles.
Colonel Godfrey had just been summoned to a business interview, and
for the first time that day Malcolm found himself alone with his
hostess. "Oh, by the bye," he observed rather abruptly, "there is
something I want to ask you. There are some people of the name of
Jacobi who have taken a house at Henley. I wonder if you have come
"To be sure I have," in rather a surprised tone. "Miss Jacobi called
here on Tuesday. Mrs. Sinclair drove her over."
"Well, I want you to tell me what you think of them," asked Malcolm.
An amused look came into Mrs. Godfrey's eyes, and she held up her
finger in chiding fashion.
"Oh, fie, for shame, Mr. Herrick! You are deep--deep. So the
handsome siren has attracted you too."
"Handsome siren," repeated Malcolm with unnecessary energy. "Why,
what nonsense you are talking, my dear lady. I never saw Miss Jacobi
in my life. It is Miss Templeton who desires information, and I
promised her that I would sound you on the subject." Then the
mischievous spark died out of Mrs. Godfrey's eyes.
"Miss Templeton! Do you mean Dinah? What on earth can be the
connection between her and the Jacobis. They were certainly not on
hers or Elizabeth's visiting-list when I was last at the Wood
"No, they are complete strangers to them," was Malcolm's reply; "but
Cedric has come across them and seems rather thick with them. He is
going to stay at Beechcroft--is that not the name of the place they
have taken for the season?"
"Yes, I believe so," returned Mrs. Godfrey in rather a perturbed
tone. "Cedric, that boy, going to stay with the Jacobis!" And then
she broke off and said abruptly, "I am sorry to hear it. I should
not care for one of my boys to be thrown much into the society of
Saul Jacobi and his sister."
"A TOUCH OF THE TARTAR"
Here comes the lady: O, so light a foot
Will ne'er wear out the everlasting flint.
Romeo and Juliet.
When you doubt, abstain.
Malcolm gave a slight start of dismay. Mrs. Godfrey's manner
conveyed more than her words; in spite of his secret prejudice, he
was not prepared for so strong an expression of disapproval. She was
a woman of sound judgment, and very charitable in her estimate of
people, and he knew that he could rely on her opinion. Her
intuitions were seldom at fault. Whether she blamed or praised it
was always with rare discrimination and perfect justice, and she was
never impulsive or rash in her verdicts.
There was a moment's silence. A blackbird, evidently attracted by
Mrs. Godfrey's clear, resonant voice, had perched on the stone
parapet beside them and watched them in bright-eyed curiosity. Then,
as Malcolm moved his arm, it flew off, with clucking notes of
warning, to rejoin its mate.
"I am rather troubled to hear you say this," began Malcolm. "Will
you tell me all you know about these people?"
"That is just the difficulty," returned Mrs. Godfrey slowly. "No one
seems to know much about them. Even Mrs. Sinclair, who has taken
them up so lately, knows scarcely anything of their antecedents. As
far as I remember, Mrs. Sinclair asked me one day if I were not
going to call on the Jacobis. 'They are perfectly charming,' were
her words. 'They are a brother and a sister who have taken
Beechcroft for the season. They seem wealthy people and live in good
style, and Miss Jacobi is one of the handsomest women I have ever
"And this was all?" as Mrs. Godfrey paused.
"It was all I could gather. Mr. Sinclair certainly told Alick that
he understood that Mr. Jacobi had made his money in business--
something connected with a mining company, he believed. But no one
seemed to know exactly, and the Jacobis are rather reticent about
their own concerns. They seem to have a large visiting-list, and to
know some big people."
"And Miss Jacobi called here?"
"Yes, Mrs. Sinclair brought her; but I confess I was somewhat
embarrassed by the visit--it has placed me in an awkward
predicament. I have no wish to make their acquaintance, but I cannot
well be unneighbourly; one meets them everywhere, so Alick tells me
that I must get rid of my insular prejudices and leave our cards at
"It must be an awful nuisance," replied Malcolm sympathetically.
"Oh, I don't know; Miss Jacobi is very civil and pleasant. She is
rather a reserved sort of woman, but remarkably good-looking, and
she dresses beautifully. I am afraid," with a laugh, "all you
gentlemen will lose your hearts to her. Even Alick raves about her.
He declares they must be Italian Jews, although they have lived in
England and America all their lives. Miss Jacobi has certainly
rather a Jewish type of face, and she has the clear olive complexion
of the Italian. Well, you will see them for yourself on Sunday, for
they are regular church-goers, though Mr. Jacobi's behaviour during
service is not always edifying. They have seats near us, and it
irritates me dreadfully to see him lounging and yawning while other
people are saying their prayers."
"Does Miss Jacobi lounge too?" in an amused tone.
"No, she behaves far better than her brother. I must confess to you,
Mr. Herrick, that I am rather prejudiced against Mr. Jacobi. I do
not like either his face or his manners; his eyes are too close
together, and this, in my opinion, gives him rather a crafty look;
and in manner he is self-assertive and ostentatious."
"I know what you mean," returned Malcolm with a laugh; "he spells me
and mine with a capital M." Mrs. Godfrey nodded.
"Mrs. Sinclair tells me that the brother and sister are devoted to
each other, but that Miss Jacobi seems to defer to her brother's
opinion in everything. But there, I have told you all I know, and
you must find out the rest for yourself."
"I shall keep my eyes open, I assure you," was Malcolm's reply. And
then he continued in a perplexed tone, "How on earth did Cedric get
hold of them?" But as Mrs. Godfrey could not answer this, Malcolm
allowed the subject to drop. In his case forewarned was forearmed,
and but for his promise to Dinah and his very real concern for
Cedric, he would have given the Jacobis a wide berth.
It was only natural, however, that his curiosity should be strongly
excited by this conversation, and when on the following morning they
took their seats in church, his attention wandered at the sound of
every footstep in the aisle.
The service had commenced before the vacant seats near them were
occupied. Malcolm had a momentary glimpse of a tall, graceful-
looking figure, in soft, diaphanous raiment, that seemed to pass
them very swiftly; he even caught a strange, subtle fragrance that
seemed to linger in the air; and then they all knelt down and Miss
Jacobi buried her face in her hands, and her brother removed his
lavender kid gloves with elaborate care as though Saul Jacobi had
nothing in common with the rest of the miserable sinners. During the
rest of the service Malcolm had plenty of opportunity for studying
his physiognomy, for he turned round more than once and encountered
He was certainly handsome in his way. His features were good, though
of the pronounced Jewish type; but his dark, brilliant eyes had a
shifty look in them--probably, as Mrs. Godfrey suggested, from their
being set a little closely together. In age he appeared to be
between thirty and forty.
He could see little of Miss Jacobi except the dark, glossy coil of
hair under her hat; for during the entire service she was as
motionless as a statue, and never once turned her face in Malcolm's
direction--even when her brother spoke to her she answered without
looking at him. Whether Miss Jacobi was a devout worshipper or a
mere automaton was not for him to judge; she might have her own
reasons for not joining in the singing.
Colonel Godfrey was always a little fussy about his hat in church,
and so it was that Malcolm and Mrs. Godfrey were still in their
places when the Jacobis passed their pew. Malcolm seized his
opportunity and looked well at Miss Jacobi, but she did not appear
to notice him.
She was certainly a most striking-looking woman. Indeed, Malcolm's
trained eye was obliged to confess that she was really beautiful.
The features were perfect, and the clear olive complexion, just
flushed with heat, was wonderfully effective, while the large,
melancholy eyes were full of a strange, flashing light.
"What a superb creature!" was Malcolm's first unuttered thought. His
second showed his keen insight--"But it is not a happy face, and
with all its beauty, there is no restfulness of expression."
Colonel Godfrey was still brushing his hat in the anxious manner
peculiar to the well-dressed Englishman when they reached the porch.
To Malcolm's surprise he saw Miss Jacobi and her brother in animated
conversation with a little group of ladies, made up of Etheridges
and Sinclairs. Malcolm, who knew them all, was at once greeted as an
old acquaintance, and, to Mrs. Godfrey's secret amusement, the
Jacobis were introduced to him. Miss Jacobi bowed to him in rather a
grave, reserved manner, but her brother shook hands with real or
"I am delighted to make your acquaintance, Mr. Herrick," he observed
volubly. "We have a mutual friend, I believe. What a capital fellow
Templeton is--charming--charming! We are going to put him up at our
diggings for a few days;" and then before Malcolm could answer, some
one tapped Mr. Jacobi on the shoulder and asked him a question, and
Malcolm found himself beside Miss Jacobi.
"Mr. Templeton is an intimate friend of yours, is he not?" she asked
carelessly. Her voice was very full and rich, but she spoke slowly,
as though she were accustomed to weigh each word. It struck Malcolm
that she listened with some intentness to his answer.
"Oh yes, we are very good friends," he returned with studied
"Mr. Templeton is more demonstrative," she said with a curiously
grave smile that seemed habitual to her. "He sings your praises, Mr.
Herrick; you would be amused to hear him. It is so refreshing to
find any one natural and unconventional in this world; but he is so
nice and frank--a nice boy," with a low laugh that showed her white
teeth. Mr. Jacobi turned round at the sound.
"Come, Leah," he said impatiently; "the horses are tired of
standing, and I want my luncheon." Miss Jacobi bowed in rather a
hurried fashion and at once rejoined her brother. Malcolm looked
after the mail phaeton as it dashed down the road, but he made no
response as Mr. Jacobi waved his whip to him in an airy fashion.
"Well, Mr. Herrick," said Mrs. Godfrey quietly, "I suppose I may ask
your opinion now?"
"I do not think I am anxious for a further acquaintance," returned
Malcolm grimly. "The big M's are too much in evidence for my taste.
I suppose I am a bit of a misanthrope, but I hate to be hail-fellow-
well-met with every one. Why, that fellow Jacobi actually patronised
me, patted me on the back, don't you know. He might have known me
for six months."
"I call that sort of thing bad form," observed Colonel Godfrey.
"Jacobi is too smooth and plausible. My wife will have it that he is
not a gentleman."
"Oh, Alick, you ought not to have repeated that."
"Why not, my dear lady?" observed Malcolm. "You are perfectly safe
with me. I expect we think alike there. Somehow Jacobi has not the
"But his sister is very ladylike," murmured Mrs. Godfrey, her kindly
heart accusing her of censoriousness and want of charity. Both the
gentlemen agreed to this. Then Malcolm, true to his character as a
lover of the picturesque, launched into unrestrained praise of Miss
"If my friend Keston were to see her," he remarked, "he would be
wild to paint her as Rebekah at the well--or Ruth in the harvest-
fields. One does not often see a face like Miss Jacobi's." And then
after a little more talk they reached the Manor House.
The following morning Malcolm spent on the river, and late in the
afternoon they drove to Glebelands--where the Etheridges lived.
The beautiful grounds sloping to the river presented a most animated
scene. A band was playing, and a gaily-dressed crowd streamed from
the house on to the lawn. Canoes, punts, and a tiny steam-launch
were ready for any guests who wished to enjoy the river; and the
croquet, archery, and tennis grounds were well filled.
Tea and refreshments were served in a huge marquee just below the
house. Malcolm, who met several people whom he knew, soon began to
enjoy himself, and he was deep in conversation with a young artist
when Miss Jacobi and her brother passed them; she bowed to Malcolm
with rather a pleased smile of recognition.
"What, do you know la belle Jacobi?" observed his friend enviously.
"What a lucky fellow you are! Look here, couldn't you do a good turn
for a chap and introduce me?"
"My dear Rodney, I have not spoken a dozen words to Miss Jacobi
myself. Get one of the Etheridge girls to do the job for you. You
had better look sharp," he continued, "for there is quite a small
crowd of men round her now;" and as Mr. Rodney speedily acted on
this hint, Malcolm joined some more of his friends.
Later in the afternoon, as he was listening to the band, he saw Miss
Jacobi opposite to him; she had still a little court round her, and
seemed talking with great animation. She looked far handsomer than
on the previous day, and her dress became her perfectly. She wore a
cream-coloured transparent stuff over yellow silk, her Gainsborough
hat was cream-colour and yellow too, and she carried a loosely-
dropping posy of tea-roses, and two or three rosebuds of the same
warm hue were nestled at her throat. The contrast of her dark eyes
and hair and warm olive complexion was simply superb, and Malcolm
secretly clapped his hands and murmured "bravo" under his breath.
"She has the soul of the coquette and the artist too," he said to
himself. "Oh, woman, woman, surely Solomon had you in his thoughts
when he declared 'All is vanity;'" and then he remembered Elizabeth
Templeton and felt ashamed of his cynicism. The next moment he
noticed the coast was clear, and obeying an involuntary impulse he
crossed the lawn.
Miss Jacobi welcomed him with a soft, flickering smile, but did not
"Your court has deserted you, Miss Jacobi?"
"Not entirely," she returned. "Captain Fawcett has gone to fetch me
an ice--it is so hot in the tent--and Mr. Dysart is looking for my
fan; they will be back presently." She spoke in rather a weary tone.
"Why do you stand here?" he remonstrated. "There is a vacant seat
under that acacia, and you will hear the music quite well. There,
let me take you to it; the afternoon is unusually warm, in spite of
the river breeze." Rather to his surprise, she bent her head in
assent, in her queenly way, and he guided her to the cool retreat.
"Will you not sit down too?" she asked in rather a hesitating
manner, but there was no coquetry in her glance. Malcolm shook his
"I must look out for Dysart and the other man," he observed, "or
they will think I have spirited you away. I am not the least tired.
What a pretty scene it is, Miss Jacobi! Look at those children
dancing under the elm trees."
"They seem very happy," was her reply; but there was a sad
expression in her eyes. "Certainly childhood is the happiest time in
one's life. If it could only last for ever!"
"Are you sure you mean what you say?" replied Malcolm in a grave,
argumentative tone. "Remember it is the age of ignorance as well as
innocence; with knowledge comes responsibility and the pains and
penalties of life, nevertheless few of us desire to remain
"I am one of the few," she returned curtly.
"I cannot believe that," and Malcolm smiled; "but I grant you that
the best and highest natures have some-thing of the child in them.
As Mencius says, 'The great man is he who does not lose his child's
Miss Jacobi looked impressed.
"That is well said," she replied softly. "Mr. Herrick, I think your
friend Mr. Templeton is rather like that: he is so young and fresh,
it is delightful to listen to him. He is two-and-twenty, is he not?
and he is such a boy." She laughed an odd, constrained little laugh
as she said this, and added in a curious undertone, "And I am only
nine-and-twenty, and I feel as though I were seventy. See what
responsibilities and the pains and penalties of life do for a
It was a strange speech, and a strange flash of the eye accompanied
it; then her tone and manner suddenly changed, as a footstep in
their vicinity reached her ear.
"Saul, were you looking for me?" she said, starting from her seat.
"I was tired, so Mr. Herrick found me this nice shady place. I
suppose it is time for us to go."
"Well, we have a dinner-party on to-night," returned her brother
blandly, "and it will hardly do for the hostess to be late. Wait a
moment, Leah," as she was about to take leave of Malcolm, "I found
Dysart hunting for your fan, so I told him I had it. It cost ten
guineas, you remember," in a meaning tone. Then Miss Jacobi flushed
a little as she took it from his hand.
"I must have dropped it in the tent-there was such a crush," she
murmured. "Good-bye, Mr. Herrick, I am much rested now."
"Good-bye, Herrick," observed Mr. Jacobi in a familiar tone that
grated on Malcolm; "we shall be very glad to see you at Beechcroft
when young Templeton is with us. It is Telemachus and Mentor over
again, is it not?" and here he broke into a little cackling laugh.
"Well, ta-ta. Come along, Leah;" and taking his sister by the arm,
Mr. Jacobi quickly crossed the lawn with her.
"He is a cad if ever a man was," mused Malcolm as he followed them
slowly; "and if I do not mistake there is a touch of the Tartar
about him. She may be a devoted sister, as Mrs. Sinclair observes,
but she is afraid of him all the same."
"What a strange girl she seems," he continued--"woman rather, I
should say; for there is little of the girl about her. Somehow she
interests me, and she puzzles me too. She is so beautiful--why is
she still Miss Jacobi?" He stood still for a minute to ponder over
this mystery; then he walked on very thoughtfully. "I am a bit
bothered about it all--I wish Cedric had never made their
acquaintance;" and Malcolm looked so grave when he rejoined his
friends that Mrs. Godfrey thought he was bored and hastened her
Malcolm did not undeceive her, neither did he speak of the Jacobis
again to her; but he made himself very pleasant all that evening,
and the next day he left the Manor House.
A WHITE SUN-BONNET
My soul its secret hath, my life too hath its mystery:
A love eternal in a moment's space conceived.
One lovely morning in August, about a fortnight after the garden-
party at Glebelands, Malcolm Herrick sauntered slowly down the
woodland path which the Templetons always called "the lady's mile."
His face was set towards Rotherwood, and in spite of his loitering
pace there was an intent and watchful look in his eyes; but what his
purpose or design might be was best known to himself; for wonderful
and devious are the ways of man, and who can fathom them? Presently
a tempting tangle of honeysuckle attracted him, and he clambered up
the bank in search of it. The bank was dry and slippery, and the
honeysuckle was difficult to reach, but Malcolm was not to be
conquered. He had just caught hold of the branch, when the far-off
click of a gate attracted his attention, and still holding the
branch he peeped cautiously through the brambles.
The next minute a tall, massive young woman in a white sun-bonnet
came into view-actually a white sun-bonnet, such as a milkmaid or
farming wench might have worn; but this was no rustic lass who
walked so briskly through the woodlands--none but Elizabeth
Templeton moved with that free, graceful step, or carried her head
in that queenly fashion.
In his hiding-place Malcolm had a good view of her face. Her eyes
were bright, and she had a soft smile on her lips, as though some
thought pleased her--some dream's dream that seemed fair to her
"Miss Templeton--" then Elizabeth gave a great start, and stood
still and looked up at him. "Wait a moment, please," he continued
hurriedly; "this branch is so tough and my knife is small. There, I
have secured it;" and then, waving the festoon of honeysuckle
triumphantly, he scrambled down the bank and stood beside her.
Elizabeth shook hands with him rather gravely.
"So you have taken up your quarters at the Crow's Nest," she
observed as they walked on together.
"Yes, I came down last evening, and settled in with all my goods and
chattels. I thought I was in the Garden of Eden when I woke this
morning and saw all those pink and white roses nid-nodding their
beautiful heads at me."
"Oh, I remember how the roses clambered into the room," returned
Elizabeth in an interested tone.
"Yes, and the birds seemed as though they wanted to get up a sort of
Handel Festival, only the prima donnas and the big guns were
missing. But there was plenty of twittering and bird chatter--I
think they were settling the solos."
Elizabeth laughed--she was always amused at Mr. Herrick's nonsense.
"I have begun by enjoying myself immensely," he went on. "I have
eaten a record breakfast and smoked two pipes, and now I have picked
all this honeysuckle and met you"--a slight emphasis on the last
word. "To tell you the truth, Miss Templeton"--and here he looked at
her with a pleasant smile--"the meeting was not purely accidental, I
knew it was your morning for the schools."
"And you came to meet me?" Elizabeth's manner stiffened; if Malcolm
had been thin-skinned he might have suspected that she was not quite
pleased at this avowal.
"Yes, I was anxious to meet you." Malcolm spoke with quiet
assurance. "There is something I wanted to tell you--if I had waited
to call at the Wood House this afternoon your sister would have been
"And it is something you do not wish her to hear?" and Elizabeth's
slight frown vanished.
"Well, I thought it would be better to talk it over with you first.
I have seen the Jacobis, Miss Templeton, and I must confess that I
am not favourably impressed by them."
"Cedric is with them now," exclaimed Elizabeth in rather a
distressed voice. "Dinah heard from him this morning; he is very
happy, having a good old time, as he expresses it. He saw the
Godfreys before they left for Scotland."
"They have gone then--what a pity!" observed Malcolm. Then Elizabeth
looked at him inquiringly.
"You mean on Cedric's account. Yes, I am sorry too. Will you tell me
all you can about the Jacobis?" And then Malcolm, with masculine
brevity and great distinctness, retailed his impressions of the
brother and sister. Elizabeth's face grew grave as she listened.
"Oh, I am sorry!" she exclaimed. "What will poor Dinah say when I
tell her; she is so anxious for Cedric to choose his friends well,
and by your account Mr. Jacobi is certainly not a gentleman."
"I thought perhaps you would keep this to yourself;" but Elizabeth
shook her head.
"I dare not; Cedric is her own boy, and I must hide nothing from
her. There was only one thing I kept to myself, but then Cedric told
it me in the strictest confidence. Mr. Herrick, it is an absurd
question, for Cedric is such a boy--but is not Miss Jacobi likely to
be the attraction? You say she is so handsome."
"I might go farther and say she is a beautiful woman," returned
Malcolm. "But tastes differ, you know; I admire Miss Jacobi as I
should a picture or a statue, but I could not imagine falling in
love with her."
"Indeed! I am rather surprised to hear you say that; I thought you
were a lover of the picturesque." Elizabeth's tone was a little
"I do not deny the soft impeachment," replied Malcolm somewhat
seriously; "but moral beauty and the loveliness of a well-balanced
character outweigh, in my estimation, mere outward beauty. Miss
Jacobi is a stranger to me certainly, but in my opinion there is
something complex and mysterious in her personality; there are hard
lines in her face, and her expression is at once cynical and
unhappy. One could pity such a woman," continued Malcolm to himself,
"but one would never, never yearn to take her to one's heart."
Elizabeth looked at him curiously, as though she understood this
unspoken speech; and when she spoke again it was with a new and
"You are a good judge of character, Mr. Herrick, and I feel I can
rely on your opinion. If only the Godfreys were at the Manor House!"
"You forget that Beechcroft is at Henley," he observed with a smile.
"Oh no, I have not forgotten, but I was thinking that I might have
gone down to spy out the land for myself. Of course it would have
vexed Cedric, but I should have done it all the same. Well, there is
nothing for it but patience. By the bye, Mr. Herrick, we have fixed
the date of the Templeton Bean-feast; Cedric will have to come back
"Do you think he would care to bring his friends?" he asked in
rather a meaning tone. Then at this daring suggestion Elizabeth's
eyes opened widely. "Do you think that would be wise, that it might
not complicate matters and increase the intimacy?" Elizabeth put
this question with manifest anxiety. "We have no desire to have the
Jacobis on our visiting-list."
"Of course not," was Malcolm's answer, "you know I never meant that;
but it would give you and Miss Templeton an opportunity of studying
them, and it could be managed without difficulty."
"I wish you would tell me how. I suppose we should have to send Miss
Jacobi a card of invitation?"
"No, I think not--at least not at first. Tell Cedric that he may
have carte blanche for his friends, and leave him to follow up the
hint. He will answer by return, and tell you that he has asked the
Jacobis, and then the card can be sent."
"Yes, I see; it is a good idea. I will talk to Dinah, but thank you
all the same for your suggestion. I am quite ashamed of bothering
you about our concerns; I fear we trespass on your good-nature."
"Not at all," returned Malcolm easily. "I was going to ask your
advice about a little protegee of my own;" and then Elizabeth lent a
willing ear while Malcolm, in his best style, told the story of
They had turned in at the gate of the Wood House by this time, and
the dark firs stretched on either side. Elizabeth had taken off her
sun-bonnet, and it dangled from her arm; her eyes were soft with
womanly sympathy; never had the charm of her personality appealed so
strongly to Malcolm, he scarcely dared to look at her for fear she
should discover the truth. "It is too soon, she would not believe
it," he said to himself. But as he talked his voice was strangely
vibrant and full of feeling; and when the sun-bonnet brushed lightly
against him he was conscious that his arm trembled.
But Elizabeth was too much occupied with little Kit to notice
Malcolm's slight discomposure.
"Oh, I am so glad you told me," she said in her eager way. "I really
think I shall be able to help you. There is the dearest old woman in
the village, Mrs. Sullivan. She lives in a pretty cottage quite
close to 'The Plough,' and she was only telling me the other day
that she wished that she had another child to mother. Sometimes my
sister and I have a little East-end waif and stray down for a few
weeks in the summer," continued Elizabeth modestly--"some sick
child, or occasionally some over-burdened worker, and we always
lodge them at Mrs. Sullivan's. It is not much of a place, but we
call it 'The Providence House;' the cottage is really our own
property, and Mrs. Sullivan has it rent-free."
"Do you think that she would take care of Kit?"
"I am sure of it. But, Mr. Herrick, Kit must be our guest, please
remember that. Hush," peremptorily, "I will not hear a word to the
contrary. And there is something else I want to say. Would not Caleb
Martin like to come too? Kit would be strange without him, and there
is plenty of room for them both. Think what a month of this sweet
country air would mean to him after Todmorden's Lane. You must write
to him at once, and tell him to hurry Kit down."
"I think it would be better to go up and speak to him myself to-
morrow morning," returned Malcolm. He spoke rather reluctantly, but
the beaming look of approval that followed this speech rewarded him
for the little sacrifice.
"Now I call that kind," returned Elizabeth warmly. "Very few people
would take so much trouble for a shabby little cobbler and an ailing
child," she thought. "How pleased Dinah will be when she hears about
"The kindness is on your part, Miss Templeton," returned Malcolm.
But he was much gratified by her manner. "If Kit and her father are
to be your guests there is little enough for me to do; when I spoke
to you just now I had quite decided to take lodgings for them at
"Kit is my guest," replied Elizabeth obstinately. "Now, will you
come in, Mr. Herrick, and have luncheon with us?" But Malcolm
declined this; he would look in later in the day and pay his
respects to Miss Templeton; and then he lifted his hat and turned
away. Elizabeth stood in the porch and watched him. "He is a good
man," she said softly, "and I like him--I like him very much;" but
she sighed a little heavily as she turned away.
Meanwhile Malcolm was saying to himself in his whimsical way, "It is
my destiny--is it not written in the book of fate? The Parcae
Sisters three have willed it so. Good heavens, what an enigma life
is! Some winged insect whirling in a cyclone would have as much
chance of escaping its doom as a human being under such
circumstances." Then he stopped, and looked with blank, unseeing
eyes down the slanting fir avenue. "It is a mystery," he went on--
"the very mystery of mysteries; the Sphinx is nothing to it. A month
ago we were strangers--I neither knew nor cared that such a person
as Elizabeth Templeton existed; and a week--a little cycle of seven
or eight nights and days--has wrought this wondrous change. Am I the
same man? Is this the solid earth on which I am walking?" And then
he gave an odd sort of laugh, which seemed to hurt him. "My God," he
muttered, "how I love this woman!" and his head was bowed as he
The following afternoon, when Malcolm returned from his charitable
errand to Todmorden's Lane, he saw the Keston family grouped on the
shady patch of lawn in the front garden. Verity, who had Babs in her
arms, flew to meet him; but Amias merely waved his pipe and grunted
in an amicable fashion.
"Oh, how tired and dusty you look!" exclaimed Verity, in the pretty,
maternal way that always sat so quaintly on her. "Look at him,
Amias; I do believe he has walked all those miles from Earlsfield."
"Yea-Verily, you are right, child," returned the giant placidly; and
then Verity put down Babs on the grass to sprawl among the daisies.
"Sit down," she said, pushing Malcolm with her tiny hands into a big
hammock chair; "I am going to make you some fresh tea--iced lemonade
is out of the question;" and then she flitted into the house on her
usual errand of "hunting the Snark."
Malcolm was certainly tired; he had been unable to get a fly at
Earlsfield, and the long climb in the heat had rather taken it out
of him, so he was well content to lie back in his lounge and let
Verity wait on him.
"We have had visitors," she observed presently; then Malcolm looked
"The ladies from the Wood House," she continued. "They were here for
quite an hour. You are right, Mr. Herrick, the eldest Miss Templeton
is a perfect darling. Amias was just saying as you turned the corner
that he would like to paint her as a Puritan lady; the dress would
exactly suit her."
"She has a very sweet face," endorsed Amias, "and her manners are
remarkably pleasing. Yea-Verily fell in love with her because she
admired Babs. 'Love me, love my Babs,' don't you know!"
"Don't be a goose, Amias! He was as much pleased as I was, Mr.
Herrick, when Miss Templeton kissed Baby and made much of her; she
said the sweetest things to her, and Babs was so charmed that she
actually put up her face and kissed her of her own accord."
"The other Miss Templeton is a striking-looking woman of rather
uncommon type," observed Amias, blowing away a cloud of smoke rather
lazily. "She made herself very pleasant too, and said all sorts of
"I thought her rather formidable at first," annotated Verity, "but I
soon discovered that she was interesting; she is very bright and
original, and we soon got on very nicely together."
"By the bye, Mr. Herrick, they want us all to dine at the Wood House
to-morrow; it is to be a comfortable, informal sort of meal. I told
Miss Templeton that I had no company manners, as I had lived all my
life in Bohemia; and then Miss Elizabeth laughed, and said she was
rather unconventional herself, and that she thought I should exactly
"I told you so," responded Malcolm in a low voice. "I suppose there
will be no other guests?"
"Only the Carlyons," returned Verity. "Mr. Carlyon is the curate at
Rotherwood, Miss Templeton told us, and just now his father is
staying with him."
"Oh, Carlyon junior seems always on the premises," replied Malcolm
carelessly; "he is a sort of tame cat. Well, I am off to the Garden
of Eden now." But as he stood by his window the nodding roses turned
their pink cheeks to him in vain, and wasted their sweetness on the
"He is always there," he muttered; "one is never free from him.
Perhaps it is her goodness of heart, she is so kind to every one,
and he is her clergyman. Of course it must be that." He frowned and
sighed impatiently; but as he turned away he saw the sprays of
honeysuckle that he had gathered the previous day lay on the window-
sill forgotten and neglected, with all the beautiful creamv blossoms
withered and dead.
"IF I WERE ONLY LIKE YOU!"
Who, seeking for himself alone, ever entered heaven?
In blessing we are blest.
There is no separation--no Past; Eternity, the Now is
continuous.... The continuity of Now is for ever.
The party from the Crow's Nest were somewhat late in arriving the
following evening. Verity made her excuses very prettily.
"It was all darling Babs's fault," she said to Miss Templeton; "she
would play instead of going to sleep. Mr. Herrick lost patience at
last, and declared he would go on alone."
"I must take my god-daughter in hand, or she will be ruined body and
soul," observed Malcolm severely. "Babs is already a domestic
tyrant, and screams the house down if any of her fads and fancies
are resisted. I am thinking of writing a series of essays on
degenerate and irresponsible parents, and the cruelty of modern
education in the nursery, which out-Herods Herod." Of course they
all laughed at this idea, and then David Carlyon crossed the room to
shake hands with Malcolm and to introduce his father.
The two men were curiously alike. The Rev. Rupert Carlyon was an
older, shabbier, and more careworn David; but there was the same
broad, intellectual brow, the same bright intelligence of
expression, and their voices were so strangely similar that if
Malcolm had closed his eyes he could not have distinguished between
them; they both spoke with the same quickness, and in the same
Malcolm noticed before the evening was over that David Carlyon
looked unusually pale and tired, though he seemed in excellent
spirits. Dinah made the same remark to his father.
"Oh, I have been giving that boy of mine a lecture," he said
quickly; "he is a perfect spendthrift and prodigal with regard to
the midnight oil, and burns both ends of his candle in the most
"I should not have thought a sleepy little place like Rotherwood
would have overtaxed his energies," observed Malcolm in rather a
The elder man shook his head.
"There is always work enough if one looks for it. My son is a sort
of medical missionary in his way, and concerns himself with the
bodies as well as the souls of his people. The last two nights he
has been up until nearly dawn with a stranger--a sort of commercial
traveller who has been taken ill at 'The Plough.' It is a sad case:
he is quite a young man, and our doctor fears that he will not pull
through." But Mr. Carlyon forbore to state the fact that each night
he had relieved his son, rising from his bed in the gray pearly
dawn, before the first bird-twitter was heard, to take his watch
beside the fever-stricken stranger. The Carlyons were men whose left
hand did not know what their right hand did, and the Rev. Rupert
Carlyon's ministry had been a record of humble, unobtrusive acts of
good-will and kindness to man, woman, and child; nay, the very dumb
animals knew their friend, and would come to him for protection.
The Carlyons took their leave soon after this. Elizabeth walked down
to the gate with them. Malcolm thought she looked rather grave when
she returned, as though something troubled her, but she would not
hear of the party breaking up, and promised Malcolm that she would
sing all his favourite songs to his friends, and she kept her word.
Malcolm sat in a trance of beatitude while the beautiful voice
floated out into the darkness, startling some night-bird in the
copse; and Verity's eyes were wet, and she stole closer to her
husband, for it seemed to her as though the shadows from the old
life were creeping round her; and unseen by any one but Dinah, she
leant her cheek against Amias's hand.
"Oh, how can you sing like that!" exclaimed Verity in her naive way,
when Elizabeth joined them on the terrace. "You sing right down into
people's hearts. Oh, I felt so sad, and then so happy, and the world
did not seem wide enough to contain me."
"You must not flatter me," returned Elizabeth, but she was evidently
gratified. Then she turned her head to Malcolm, who was behind her,
and said in an undertone, "You were quite right, the Jacobis are
coming to our party. I have sent them a card this afternoon."
"I hope Miss Templeton approved of my suggestion?"
"Yes, she thought with you that it would be an excellent opportunity
of taking stock of the enemy. And Cedric was so pleased. Mr.
Herrick," she continued, as they walked down the terrace, "I must
tell you that we are charmed with Mrs. Keston. She is a dear little
thing, and so fascinating and original, and she looks really pretty
"No, she is not pretty," returned Malcolm, "but her dress becomes
her. We call it Keston's chef d'oeuvre. He always designs her gowns.
He is very aesthetic in his tastes, and he knows exactly what suits
her. If Verity were left to her own devices, she would be very crude
"He is very proud of her," observed Elizabeth. "It is good to see
two such happy people. We like them immensely, and shall hope to see
a great deal of them;" and Malcolm was so elated by these encomiums
on his friends, and by Elizabeth's gracious friendliness, that he
actually suggested that she should walk down the drive with them;
but to his secret chagrin she made some excuse.
Half an hour later she entered her sister's room. Dinah was reading
as usual, with her little green lamp beside her; but she closed her
book and looked up at her inquiringly.
"What is it, Betty?" she said gently. "Something has been troubling
you to-night." Then Elizabeth turned aside her face for a moment,
but she was not regarding herself in the great mirror. "It concerns
David," continued Dinah calmly. Then Elizabeth gave vent to a heavy
"Yes, it concerns David," she returned. "I have been talking to him,
oh so seriously, and to his father too; but it is no use. They will
let me do nothing to help them. I wanted to send in a night nurse,
but they will have it that it is not necessary. Old Mrs. Roper takes
care of the patient by day, and it is only the night."
"But, Betty dear, surely David Carlyon is not going there again to-
"Indeed he is," very sadly. "I heard them arranging it this
afternoon. Mr. Carlyon is to relieve him at three. He was so tired
that he could scarcely eat his dinner, and he told me that he dared
not stay for the music, as I should certainly sing him to sleep.
Die," in rather a choked voice, "it is not right. He will kill
himself if he goes on like this."
It was evident that Elizabeth was in a depressed mood; perhaps she
was tired too. Dinah, who knew her well, quite understood her.
"Don't worry, Betty," she said kindly. "David Carlyon is young
enough and strong enough to bear the loss of a few nights' rest, and
the fever is not infectious. By all accounts the poor fellow cannot
last many days. Tomorrow I will go over to the White Cottage and
talk to them both. I shall tell David that he has no right to let
his father work so hard during his holiday."
"Tell him we know such a nice woman, Die," and Dinah promised that
she would do her very best. But Elizabeth had not wholly eased her
mind; she stood looking at her sister rather doubtfully, and then
she said abruptly--
"Die, there is something I want to ask you. You heard from Douglas
Fraser this morning, did you not?" Then a faint colour came to
Dinah's pale cheeks.
"Were you afraid to ask me that before, my dear?" she said with a
smile. "But it was my fault; I ought to have told you--this sort of
question is not easy even for a sister to ask. Yes, Douglas wrote
and Agnes too. Dear little Lettice is so much better. He thinks she
will pull through now, thank God! but they nearly lost her."
"Was it so bad as that, Die?" in an awed tone.
"Yes, it has been a terrible illness. They have nurses, of course,
but poor Agnes is almost worn out. She is their only girl, and
Douglas does so doat on her. He has suffered so--one can read it in
every word," and Dinah's voice shook a little.
Perhaps it needed only that to bring Elizabeth's emotion to a
culminating point, for to Dinah's surprise she suddenly knelt down
and put her arms round her and the tears were running down her face.
"Oh, Die, stop! I cannot bear to hear you--it pains me so--it pains
me all over!"
"My darling Bet! Oh, you foolish, foolish Betty!" But Elizabeth was
not to be soothed so easily.
"That is why I never mention his name. I try to pretend sometimes
that I do not see his handwriting. Oh, Die," caressing her, "how can
any woman be such an angel! It is not natural. In your place, under
your circumstances, I would never have seen him again."
"Dear Elizabeth," returned Dinah quietly, but her face had grown
very white, "you must surely remember that we never met--never
thought of meeting--until dear Agnes herself brought us together.
Don't you recollect how sweetly she wrote and begged me to be their
friend. She said that it would make him happier, and herself too--
that she never wished him to forget me; that it was through my
influence that he had been brought right and that they were no
longer divided in faith. Oh, Betty, I was a happy woman the day I
got that letter, and I have been a happy woman since. 'Through pain
to peace,'" she went on softly, "I should like those words to be
inscribed on my tombstone. To think of the terror and the struggle,
the buffeting of all those cruel waves and billows, and then to see
land at last! Dearest, how you cry! You will make me cry too, and I
have been singing a Te Deum in my heart all day for dear Lettice's
sake." Then Elizabeth tried to control her sobs.
"Die, I am quite ashamed of myself. I cannot think what has come to
me. Think of a woman of thirty blubbering like a little school-girl!
It is not like me, is it, dear? but my heart feels as heavy as lead
to-night. Things are going wrong somehow, or is it my fancy?" And
then she said a little wildly, "Oh, my darling, if I were only like
"Like me! Oh no, Elizabeth," for Dinah's humility could ill brook
"But it is no use--I could never reach you. I am so human--a
passionate, self-willed woman, who wants her own way in everything;
and you, oh, Die, you are miles above me. That is why I love you so-
-I love you so!"
"Not more than I love you," returned her sister tenderly. "Dear
Elizabeth, it is only your generosity that makes you say this, but
it is not true. I wish I knew what has upset you so to-night." But
Elizabeth made no reply to this; the friendship between the sisters
was so perfect that speech did not always seem necessary. When
Elizabeth remained silent, Dinah did not repeat her question.
Elizabeth had seated herself on the cushioned window-seat close to
Dinah's chair. The little green lamp had been extinguished, and the
room was bathed in moon-light. Down below were the dark woodlands.
"Let me stay for a little while," Elizabeth had whispered, and then
they had both remained silent.
Dinah felt perplexed and troubled by her sister's unusual emotion.
Elizabeth's strong, healthy nature was never morbid; her temperament
was even and sunshiny, and a depressed mood was a rare thing with
Dinah's sweet serenity was vaguely disturbed, and the quiet tears
gathered in her eyes. Silence was good for both of them, she
thought. When one has lived through a great pain, and by God's grace
has conquered, it is better to bury the dead past. Elizabeth's
passionate incredulity, the difficulty she felt in understanding her
sister's motives, her exaggerated praise, made Dinah wince in
positive pain. How could human love misjudge her so! Did not even
her nearest and dearest--her own sister-friend--know how often she
had striven and failed and fainted under that hard cross that had
been laid upon her?
And in truth few women had suffered as Dinah had in the sweet
blossom of her early womanhood, and more than once she had been very
near the gates of the dark valley whose shadow is the shadow of
How she had gloried in her lover--her "Douglas--Douglas, tender and
true," as she had called him to herself--in his great intellect and
his strong man's heart, in the plan and purpose of his life, with
its scientific research and its passionate love of truth!
And then that awful struggle between her affection and her sense of
right, the doubts and terrors, the wakeful nights and joyless days,
the vast blank of life that stretched before her poor eyes, half-
blind with their woman's weeping.
"O Galilaean, Thou hast conquered," were the words that came to her
when the crucial test had been passed, and she had parted with her
Those were sad days at the Wood House, and there were sadder days
still at Rome; but she lived through them, and Elizabeth helped her;
and so by and bye the light of a new dawn--a little gray and misty
perhaps, but still dawn--opened before Dinah's tired eyes.
"I loved much and I prayed much, and God answered my prayers," she
said long afterwards.
But the wound was wide and deep and healed slowly, and it was not
until Douglas Fraser had married a noble-hearted and beautiful
woman, whom he called his Lady of Consolation, that Dinah recovered
a measure of her former cheerfulness. But the day she heard that he
was no longer an agnostic was always kept by her as a festival. Then
indeed the cup of her pure joy seemed full to the very brim.
He had come right, and now all was well with him and with her too.
Pain and loss had been his teachers, and great indeed was her
"It was your renunciation and sacrifice that first opened my eyes,"
he wrote. "I know now how rightly you acted. If I had married you
then--if my entreaties had prevailed--I should never have made you
happy. My dear Agnes has taught me this." And this cherished letter
was Dinah's treasure.
She and Dr. Fraser seldom met--not more than once a year--but from
time to time he wrote to her, and his wife and children were very
dear to her.
"I cannot understand it," Elizabeth had more than once said. But
Dinah could furnish no explanation: she only knew that it was so--
that her life was a happy one, and that she asked for nothing more.
Douglas and his wife were her dearest friends, and Lettice, her
sweet god-daughter, ranked next to Cedric in her heart.
With so many to love, how could life fail to satisfy her! "And it so
short--so short," she would say to herself. "One sees so little of
one's friends here; but one will have plenty of time to enjoy them
Continuity of life--continuity of love, this was Dinah's simple
creed, but it kept her young and happy.
"Dinah has the secret of perpetual youth," Elizabeth would say to
her friend Mrs. Godfrey; but she generally ended with a sigh, "If
only I were like her!"
"TWO MAIDEN LADIES OF UNCERTAIN AGE"
How poor a thing is man! Alas, 'tis true;
I'd half forget it when I chanced on you!
Thy clothes are all the soul thou hast.
--BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER.
The day of the Templeton's garden fete was as bright and cloudless
as the heart of man or woman could desire. Verity, who had dressed
herself at an unconscionably early hour, sat at an upper window with
Babs in her arms, watching brakes and carriages drive past, filled
with gaily attired people. Malcolm had issued his sovereign mandate
that they must not be amongst the earliest arrivals, and Verity
panted with impatience long before she could induce her household
tyrants to lay aside pipe and cigarette.
Malcolm was not in a festive mood. He had spent his morning
restlessly, pacing up and down the woodlands, with an unread book
under his arm. He was secretly chafed and even a little hurt that
neither of the sisters had needed his help. He had dropped more than
one hint on the previous day, when some errand took him to the Wood
House, and he found Elizabeth looking heated and tired,
superintending the removal of some furniture.
"You might make use of an idle man," he had said half-jestingly. "I
assure you that I am a complete Jack-of-all-trades, and I don't mind
'a scrow,' as old Nurse Dawson calls it." But though Elizabeth
smiled, she did not avail herself of this friendly offer; but it was
Dinah who gave him the real explanation.
"Oh, thank you, Mr. Herrick," she had returned gratefully; "we
should have been so glad of your help, only David Carlyon and his
father are doing all we want. Mr. Carlyon is so useful, and David
spends all his spare time with us."
"David"--in a pondering voice. And Dinah blushed as if she had been
guilty of an indiscretion.
"Oh, we only call him that in order to distinguish him from his
father--the two Carlyons are so puzzling; but he is an old and a
very dear friend, and at my age it does not matter," finished Dinah
with her charming smile.
Malcolm had to content himself with this explanation. They were old
friends. Yes, of course, and he was a comparatively new one. He
expected too much; his demands were unreasonable. Nevertheless
Malcolm felt a pang of envy when he saw David Carlyon tearing
breathlessly through the woodlands with his arms full of greenery
from the vicarage garden, and whistling like a schoolboy.
When at last Malcolm and his friends turned in at the gates of the
Wood House that afternoon, they could hear the band playing in the
distance. A group of village children were gathered in the road;
empty carriages passed them; a smart dog-cart, with four young men,
rattled down the drive; and through the openings in the trees the
gleam of white dresses looked silvery in the sunlight.
Miss Templeton was standing in the porch to receive her guests.
Elizabeth had only just left her, she said, to arrange the tennis
tournament. And then, as more guests were arriving, Malcolm left
her. The next moment he came upon Cedric; he was looking rather
bored and disconsolate. He lighted up, however, at the sight of his
"Here you are at last," he grumbled. "I have been looking all over
the place for you. I came down with a lot of our fellows, but Betty
has paired them all off for tennis. There are the Kestons, I must go
and speak to them." But Malcolm had him by the arm.
"Wait a moment; '"no hurry!" said the Carpenter.' I suppose you
brought the Jacobis with you." Then Cedric's face clouded again.
"Oh, Jacobi came right enough--there he is, talking to David--but
Miss Jacobi had a bad sick headache, and he would not let her come."
"I am sorry to hear that," returned Malcolm; and he was sorry, for
his cleverly-devised plan had been frustrated.
"She was sorry too, poor girl," went on Cedric in a vexed voice.
"She had been so looking forward to the Bean-feast ever since
Betty's invitation arrived. It is my belief that Jacobi is to blame
for the whole thing, for he was rowing her in her room like anything
last night. I could hear them through the ceiling going it like
hammer and tongs."
"Do you mean to tell me that Miss Jacobi and her brother quarrel?"
asked Malcolm in a disgusted voice. Then Cedric looked as if he had
said more than he intended.
"No, not quarrel," rather hesitatingly. "It takes two to do that,
you know, and Leah--Miss Jacobi, I mean," biting his lip--"is much
too fond of her brother to quarrel with him; but Jacobi has a
temper, you see."
"Oh, he has a temper, has he?"
"Well, lots of people have, if you come to that," returned Cedric,
who evidently repented his frankness. "Jacobi is a decent fellow,
but he is hot and peppery, and when things go crooked he lashes out
a bit. Something must have vexed him last night, for he came into
the drawing-room looking very much put out. Miss Jacobi had just
gone upstairs, and he went after her at once."
"And then they quarrelled?"
"Well, not quarrelled exactly; but there was a good deal of talking,
don't you know. He kept her up late, and bothered her, and then she
got a headache. "But Cedric forbore to tell his friend that he had
been so perturbed by the sound of Saul Jacobi's angry voice that he
had stolen down the stairs to the passage below. How long he stood
there transfixed with fear and pity it was impossible to say. No
words reached him--only the harsh, vibrant tones of Saul Jacobi's
voice and Leah's low, piteous sobbing.
He might have stood there until morning, but the door suddenly
unlatched, and he had only just time to steal away; but before he
could enter his room a few words did reach him.
"Oh, Saul, please do not leave me like this. Don't I always do as
you wish; only--only I thought you approved; that--that--" but here
sobs choked her voice.
"What is the use of turning on the waterworks like this?" muttered
her brother angrily. "What fools you women are! A boy like that
"But, Saul, Saul--"
"Yes, I know," sulkily. "I have not changed my mind, but I mean to
have my way about to-morrow all the same. If you had been sensible I
would have told you my reasons; but you chose to aggravate me, and I
said a precious lot more than I meant. There, go to sleep and forget
it"--evidently a rough attempt to be conciliatory; but Leah's sad
and weary face told its own tale the next morning.
Malcolm did not ask any more questions, and after a few more casual
remarks Cedric went off in search of the Kestons, and Malcolm
sauntered across the lawn, looking at the various groups in the hope
of seeing Elizabeth's tall figure.
Presently he came upon Mr. Jacobi. He was standing by the sun-dial,
looking smart and well-groomed in his frock-coat, and a rare orchid
in his button-hole. He was contemplating the house with fixed
attention. A sudden impulse made Malcolm join him. Mr. Jacobi
greeted him with his usual affability, and then, as though by mutual
consent, they strolled together in the direction of the rustic
"Nice sleepy old place this," observed Mr. Jacobi condescendingly.
"Seems as though it had been in existence for a hundred years at
least. Do you know how long it has belonged to the Templetons?"
"No, I have no idea," returned Malcolm stiffly, for he resented the
question. "What a perfect day it is! I am sorry to hear from
Templeton that your sister is indisposed."
Mr. Jacobi's eyes narrowed a little; he looked rather sharply at
"Oh, Templeton told you that. Nice fellow--as good a specimen of a
young Briton as ever I wish to see; sensible too, and a good
companion. Yes, my sister is a bit seedy--a bad sick headache,
nothing more. It is in our family; my mother had them, and Leah
takes after her. It is hard lines, poor old girl," continued Mr.
Jacobi in a feeling tone, "for she was longing to make the Misses
Malcolm returned a civil answer, and Mr. Jacobi continued--
"Templeton is a lucky fellow, between you and me and the post," in a
jocular tone. "It must be a good thing for him that his sisters have
set their faces against matrimony. Nice-looking women, both of them,
but in my humble opinion Miss Elizabeth is the most attractive.
Templeton let out to Leah the other day that she could have married
a dozen times over if she had wished to do so, only she vowed she
was cut out for an old maid."
"I don't suppose he knows anything about it," returned Malcolm,
feeling this speech was in the worst possible form. It revolted him
to hear this man even mention Elizabeth's name--he would give him no
encouragement; but Saul Jacobi, who could be dense when he chose,
did not drop the subject.
"It is rather a big place for two maiden ladies of uncertain age,"
he remarked blandly; but this speech irritated Malcolm beyond
"There is nothing uncertain about the second Miss Templeton's age,"
he said impatiently; "she is still a young woman." Then it struck
him that Mr. Jacobi looked a trifle crestfallen.
"Young, do you call her? Oh no, very mature and sedate, like a
middle-aged woman. Gyp Campion told me as a fact--do you know Gyp?
he is in the Hussars, and a tiptop swell in the bargain--well, Gyp
let out that his brother Owen had proposed to Miss Elizabeth
Templeton years ago at Alassio."
"Oh, I daresay," indifferently. "I think I must go back to the house
now;" it cost Malcolm an effort to be civil.
"I will walk back with you. What was I saying? Oh, she refused the
poor chap, and told him that the holy estate of matrimony had no
attraction for her, or some such rubbish. That is why I call
Templeton a lucky fellow. There is not a creature belonging to them,
except a distant cousin or two in New Zealand, so of course he will
come in for everything;" a pause here, and a furtive glance of
inquiry; but Malcolm remained mute, and his face might have been a
blank wall as far as expression was concerned.
"They have got a pretty penny saved too," went on Mr. Jacobi, not in
the least silenced by Malcolm's lack of interest. "Gyp told me a
thing or two about that. It seems they had a farm in Cornwall"--here
he sniffed at his scentless orchid with an air of enjoyment, a habit
of his when his subject interested him. "It was a rotten concern--
farm buildings out of repair, and a few scrubby fields with more
stones than grass. Miss Templeton was just going to sell it for a
mere song when some one discovered tin. My word, those few acres
rose in value! Gyp declared they realised quite a small fortune on
it. That was only three or four years ago."
"Indeed," returned Malcolm drily; "if you will pardon my speaking
plainly, Mr. Jacobi, I do not think the Misses Templeton's business
affairs are any concern of ours, and I would prefer to talk on any
This was too manifest a hint to be disregarded even by the
irrepressible Jacobi; but the next minute Malcolm added, "Will you
excuse my leaving you, I see some old friends of mine on their way
to the Pool, and they will expect me to join them;" but if Malcolm
intended to do so, he chose a most circuitous route.
"Rum chap that," observed Saul Jacobi, turning on his heel--"not
easy to get any information out of him; looks as though he had
swallowed the poker first, and then the tongs as a sort of relish
afterwards, and neither of them agreed with him. I wonder what young
Templeton saw in him. He lays it on pretty thick too: it is Herrick
this and Herrick that, as though he were Solomon in all his glory.
Confound his airs and impudence! Let me tell you, my young
gentleman," with a sly smile, "that the Misses Templeton's private
business is a matter that concerns Saul Jacobi pretty closely."
Meanwhile Malcolm was in a white heat of righteous indignation.
"That wretched little cad, how dare he meddle and pry into the
Misses Templeton's family affairs! There is something I mistrust in
the man; he is smooth and plausible, but he is crafty too; he is
deep--deep--and if I do not mistake, he is clever too."
Then he added, "I must get hold of Cedric; I am not comfortable at
his associating with this man. Cedric is as weak as water; he is so
easily led, he would be the dupe of any designing person; but the
Jacobis will have to reckon with me;" and here Malcolm, who had
uttered the last words aloud, stopped and looked rather foolish, as
a merry laugh greeted his ear, and Elizabeth, in all the glory of
her Paris gown and picture hat, barred the way, and regarded him
with her beaming smile.
"Mr. Herrick, you are quite dramatic; Hamlet or the melancholy
Jacques could not have been more lost in gloomy meditation. If I may
presume to ask the question, why will the Jacobis have to reckon
"Did I say so?" returned Malcolm, with an uneasy laugh. "I suppose I
was thinking aloud. That fellow Jacobi has been rubbing me up the
wrong way; he stuck to me like a burr, and I could not get rid of
"I had some trouble in shaking him off myself," she owned. "You were
quite right, Mr. Herrick, he is not a gentleman, and I dislike his
manner excessively; it is too subservient, and he is too soft-
tongued. Poor dear Die, I wish you could have seen her face when he
paid her a compliment; she looked quite bewildered."
Elizabeth's eyes were dancing with amusement at the recollection,
but Malcolm did not respond to her merriment; he felt things were
"I am not at all easy in my mind," he said, and then Elizabeth
looked at him inquiringly. "Jacobi seems to have got a hold on
Cedric. He goes back with him to-night, does he not? Ah, I thought
so," as Elizabeth nodded. "I must have some talk with him; I shall
tell him that I disapprove of the Jacobis, and shall beg him to
break off the acquaintance."
"Oh, thank you--thank you!" returned Elizabeth earnestly, and there
was a beautiful colour in her face; she even held out her hand
impulsively to him, as though her gratitude carried her away. "How
good you are to us--a real friend to two lone, lorn women!" and here
something twinkled in Elizabeth's eyes; but perhaps she was a little
taken aback when Malcolm very quietly and reverently raised the hand
to his lips, as though he were vowing knightly service to his liege
"I should ask nothing better than to be your friend," he said in a
low voice; but perhaps something in her manner checked him, for he
added hastily, "and your sister's too."
It was rather a lame conclusion, but Elizabeth accepted it
graciously. "I shall rely on you to help us," she said very
seriously; "get him to break with the Jacobis, and Dinah and I will
owe you a debt of gratitude."
"Hush! please do not mention names," whispered Malcolm; "some one
might overhear us;" but he was too late, Elizabeth's incautious
speech had reached an unseen auditor.
Malcolm felt a little ashamed of himself when he remembered his
impulsive action. "She will think it so strange," he thought; "she
will not understand that it was only the outward and visible sign of
my inward reverence." But he was wrong, Elizabeth did understand,
and she did not misjudge him.
"He is a high-minded gentleman," she said to herself; and then she
sighed and her face grew troubled, "but I wish--I wish he had not
Malcolm found his work cut out for him; for the remainder of the
afternoon he was hunting his quarry. But Cedric was never alone. He
was either surrounded by a bevy of girls or else Jacobi was beside
him. Even Cedric seemed surprised at the tenacity with which his
friend and host stuck to him.
"Herrick wants me," he said once; "I will come back to you right
enough, old fellow;" but Jacobi still pinioned him.
"We will go together, my dear boy," he said pleasantly. "I have
taken a fancy to your Mentor. He seems a clever chap. He is a
barrister, isn't he, and literary, and all that sort of thing?"
"I have told you about him often enough," returned Cedric, in rather
a surly tone, as though the iron hand under the velvet glove made
itself evident. Cedric felt he was being managed and coerced, and he
waxed indignant; but Saul Jacobi was more than a match for him, and
in spite of all Malcolm's efforts, Cedric went back to Henley
without a word of warning.
Malcolm was quite troubled and crestfallen over his failure.
"I did my best," he said to Elizabeth; "I followed him about the
whole afternoon, but that fellow stuck to him like a leech."
"So I saw," she returned rather sadly; "it was no fault of yours,
Mr. Herrick, I am quite sure of that. Well, we must find some other
opportunity." And then Elizabeth smiled at him very kindly, and
Malcolm went back to the Crow's Nest feeling somewhat comforted.
Love lies deeper than all words;
And not the spoken but the speechless love
Waits answer, ere I rise and go my way.