Part 2 out of 2
In fact they were not intimate, for there must have been a repulsion
between Mrs. Deerhurst and such a woman as Mary Cradock.
The Deerhursts owned a villa on the outskirts of Shinglebay; indeed,
I believe it was the difficulty in letting it that had unwillingly
forced Mrs. Deerhurst home, after having married her second daughter,
but not Emily. She was only a mile and a half from Spinney Lawn, and
speedily became familiar there, being as entirely Hester's counsellor
in etiquette as was Perrault on business. People saw a marked
improvement in elegance from the time she became adviser.
That next winter poor Joel Lea died. I suppose it was merely the
dulness and want of exercise that killed him, for he had lost flesh
and grown languid in manner for months before a low fever set in, and
he had no power to struggle with it.
He had been ill a long time, when he sent a message to beg Mr.
Torwood to come and see him. Jaquetta and I persuaded ourselves that
he had discovered that Perrault had suborned witnesses, or done
something that would falsify the whole trial.
Jaquetta said she should be very glad for Fulk, and if it happened
now little Alured would never feel it; but for her own part, she
should hate to go back to be my lady again. She had never known
before what happiness was.
I could not help laughing. Nobody had ever detected anything amiss
with Lady Jaquetta Trevor's spirits, but that they were too high at
"Of course I don't mean that I was miserable!" she said; "but there's
something now that does make everything so delicious."
"Could you not take that something to the park?" I asked, laughing.
"I don't know! It would not be so bad if I could run in and out at
the parsonage as I do now."
And as I smiled, it smote me as I recollected that Arthur Cradock was
always at the parsonage in the vacations. Jaquetta had been sketched
many a time as nymph of the orchard, and many a nymph besides. And
if he was yielding to his brother's wisdom in making medicine his
study and art his pleasure, was not our unconscious maiden the sugar
that sweetened the cup of prudence? Might not elevation be as sore a
trial to her as depression had been to us?
However, our troubling ourselves was all nonsense. Good Joel Lea
would never have connived at any evil doings. All he had wanted of
Fulk was to be certain of his forgiveness for the injury he had
suffered through his wife, and to entreat him to keep a watch over
her and the boy.
"You are her brother, when all is come and gone," he said; "and I do
not trust that Perrault. If ever he fails her, or turns against her,
you'll stand her friend, and look to the boy?"
Fulk heartily promised, and Joel further begged him to write to her
eldest brother, Francis Dayman (who was prospering immensely in the
timber trade), and let him know the state of things--though he had
been so angered at Hester's sacrifice of his mother's good name and
his own birth, that he had broken with her entirely.
"But if anyone can get her out of Perrault's hands, it is Francis,"
poor Joel said; and he went on to talk of his poor boy, about whom he
was very anxious, having no trust in any of Hester's intimates, and
begging Fulk to throw a good word to him now and then.
"He thinks much of you," he said. "I heard him tell Miss Deerhurst
that it was no use for anyone to try to be such an out-and-out
gentleman as his uncle, for they couldn't do it, and he had rather be
like you than anyone else. I don't care for gentlemen, and all that
foolery, as you know. I wish I could leave him to my old mate, Eli
Potter; but you are true and honest, Fulk Torwood, and I think not so
far from the kingdom--"
Then he asked Fulk to read a chapter to him. No one else would do
so, except little Trevor, when now and then left alone with him; but
Hester would not believe him seriously ill, and thought the Bible
wearied him and made him low spirited; and as to his friend the
Dissenter, she would never admit him.
Fulk was so indignant that he wanted to drive to Shinglebay and fetch
Mr. Ball, but Lea thanked him and half smiled at his superstition of
thinking that a minister was needed to speed his soul; but he was
pleased that Fulk came to him on each of the four or five remaining
days of his life, and read to him whatever he wished.
He sank suddenly at last, while Hester was at church on Sunday
morning, and died when alone with Fulk.
Somehow the intense reality of that man and the true comfort his
faith was to him made an immense impression on my brother, and
seemed, as it were, to give the communication between his religious
belief and his feelings, which had somehow not been in force before.
He thought and borrowed books from Mr. Cradock, and there came a
deepening and softening over him, which one saw in many ways, that
made him dearer than ever. He looked more at peace, even though one
felt that each passing sight of Emily was a sting.
Hester was dreadfully stricken down at first, and her anguish of
lamentation and self-reproach was terrible to witness; but she would
not hear of Fulk's fetching either of us--indeed, I fancy that was
the fault of my dry, cold looks--nor would she allow him to do
anything for her.
Mrs. Deerhurst came to be with her, and Perrault managed everything.
They had a magnificent funeral--much grander than my father's--and
laid him in the family vault.
Perrault took the opportunity of insulting Fulk by pairing him with
old Hall, the ex-agent; but Hall found it out in time, and refused to
go, and when the moment came everybody fell back, and Fulk found
himself close to poor little Trevor, who tried to get his hand out of
Perrault's and cling to him; but Perrault held him tight till, at the
moment when they moved to the mouth of the vault and were to go down
the steps, terror completely seized the poor child, and he began to
shriek so fearfully that Fulk had to snatch him up and carry him out
of the church, trembling from head to foot.
It was very cruel to send a sensitive child of six years old in that
way; but Hester was too much exhausted with her violent grief to go
herself, and, devoted mother as she was in all else, she never
perceived that poor child's instinctive shrinking from Perrault.
We tried to be kind to her, and hoped she would soften towards us;
but she did not. I could see her eyes glitter with their keen,
searching glance under her crape veil, as if she were measuring
Alured all over when the child walked into church with me; and,
indeed, when he went to the Zoological Gardens some time later, and
saw the cobra di capello, he said--
"Ursa, why does that snake look at me just like Lady Hester?"
There must have been fascination in the eager mystery of the gaze,
for, strangely enough, he was not afraid of her. She always made
much of him if he came in her way, and he was so fond of Trevor Lea
that nothing made him so eager or happy as the thought of seeing him.
The one idea that her boy was ousted by Alured, and the longing to
see him the heir, seemed to drive out everything else from Hester--
almost feeling for her husband.
Fulk had written to Francis Dayman, and he intended to come and see
after his sister as soon as he could leave his business; but this
rather precipitated matters. Hester was persuaded that Alured could
not live through that eighth year of his life at the utmost, and
Perrault somehow persuaded her, that only as her husband could he
protect her interests and Trevor's, though what machinations she
could have expected from us, I cannot guess; or how, in the case of a
minor, we could have interfered with her rights. But the man had
gained such an ascendancy over her, that she did not even perceive
that the connection was not good for that great object of hers, her
son's position in society. In fact, he persuaded her that he was of
a noble old French family, and ought to be a count. How we laughed
when we heard of it! She did preserve wisdom enough to insist upon
having her fortune conveyed to trustees for her son, so that Perrault
could only touch the income, and not the principal; and as she told
everyone that he had been determined upon this being done, I suppose
he saw that any demur would excite her suspicion.
They went to London, and were married there, while we were still
scouting poor Miss Prior's rumours. We were very sorry when we
thought of poor Joel's charge; and, besides, "the count" had an
uncomfortable slippery look about him. I can't describe it
otherwise. He was a slim, trim, well-dressed man, only given to
elaborate jewellery and waistcoats, with polished black hair and
boots, and keen French-looking eyes, well-mannered, and so versatile
and polite, that he soon overcame people's prejudices; and he was
thought to make a much better master of the house than poor Joel had
CHAPTER VI. THE WHITE DOE'S WARNING.
Here was Alured's eighth birthday, and he had never been ill at all,
but was as fine-looking healthy a boy as could be seen.
We took him to London, and showed him to Dr. Hart, and he said that
the old tendency was entirely outgrown, and that Lord Trevorsham was
as likely to live and thrive as any child of his age in England.
It really seemed the beginning of a new life, not to have that
dreadful fear hanging over us any longer! We felt settled, that was
one thing; not as if we should do as Bertram expected, have to come
off to New Zealand.
The farm had just began to pay. Fulk's sales of cattle had been, for
the first time, more than enough to clear his rent. He had a great
ox in the Smithfield Cattle Show, and met our Lupton uncles there not
as an unsuccessful man.
And I? I had a dim feeling that Alured would soon cease to need me,
and Jaquetta would not be claimed for a long time; and if--
But in the midst of that I saw a haggard face driving in the park by
the side of a little, over-dressed, faded woman.
And Aunt Amelia told me how (in the rebound from my harshness, no
doubt) Mr. Decies had, as it were, dropped into the hands of a weak,
extravagant girl, who had long been using all the intellect she had
to attract him, and now led him a dreary life of perpetual
I don't know how much I had been to blame. I am sure he was meant
for better things. Mine could never have been real love for him, and
the refusal could not have been wrong. It must have been the pride
and harshness that stung him!
I was very sorry for him, though I could not think about it, of
course, still less speak; but that was the beginning of my hating
myself, and I have hated myself more and more ever since I have taken
to write all this down, and seen how hard and foolish I was, how very
much the worst of the three.
Even my care for Alured sprang out of exclusive passion, and so,
though I do think that by Heaven's mercy I had a great share in
cherishing him into strength and health, I had managed him badly,
I had indulged him over much, and was improperly resentful of any
attempt of Jaquetta, or even of Fulk, to interfere with him or
Thus, when the anxiety was over, and he was a strong boy, full of
health and activity, his will was entirely unrestrained, he had no
notion of minding any of us, still less of learning. Trevor Lea
could read, write, talk French, say a few Latin declensions, when
Alured could not read a word of three letters, and would not try to
Oh! the antics he played when I tried to teach him! Then Fulk tried,
and he was tame for three days, but then came idleness, wilfulness,
anger, punishment, but he laughed to scorn all that we could find in
our hearts to do to him.
As to getting other help we were ashamed till he should be a little
less shamefully backward. The Cradocks offered to teach him, but
then, unless he was elaborately put on honour, he played truant.
He had plenty of honour, plenty of affection, but not the smallest
conscience as to obedience; and Fulk would not have the other two
motives worked too hard, saying the one might break, the other give
We had not taught obedience, so we had to take the consequences, and
we were the less able to enforce it that he had come to a knowledge
of our mutual relations much sooner than we intended, and in the
worst manner possible.
Of course he knew himself to be Lord Trevorsham, and owner of the
property; but one day, when Fulk found him galloping his pony in the
field laid up for hay, and ordered him out, he retorted that "You
ain't my proper brother, and you haven't any rights over me! It is
my field; and I shall do as I like."
Fulk got hold of the pony's bridle, and took Alured by the shoulder
without one word, then took him into the little study, and had it out
It was Hester who had told him. He had been at Spinney Lawn with
Trevor all one afternoon, when we had thought him out with old
Sisson. He had told no falsehood indeed, but Hester and her husband
had made him understand, so far as such a child could do, that there
was some disgrace connected with us; that Fulk had once been in his
place, and only wanted to get it back, and now had it all his own way
with his young lordship's property, and that he owed us neither duty
nor affection, only to his true relative, Lady Hester Perrault.
The dear boy had maintained stoutly that he did love Ursula and
Jacquey, and that Hester wasn't half so nice, and that he had rather
they bullied him than that she coaxed him! But there was the poison
sown--to rankle and grow and burst out when he was opposed. He had
full faith and trust in Fulk, and accepted his history, owning,
indeed, from a boy, that he had been a horrid little wretch for
saying what he did, and asking whether it had not been a great bore;
indeed, he behaved all the better instead of the worse for some
little time, dear fellow.
But he was too big and strong to tie to one's apron-string, and his
greatest pleasure was in being with Trevor. I think Trevor's own
influence never did any harm. Poor Joel Lea had trained him well,
and he was a conscientious, good boy, who often hindered Alured from
insubordination; but the attraction to Spinney Lawn was a mischievous
thing--for there was no doubt that the heads of the family would set
him against us if they could.
So Fulk thought it wiser to send him to school, since he was learning
nothing properly at home, and only getting more disobedient and
Immediately Trevor Lea was sent to the same school, to the boys'
great delight. They cared little that Trevor was placed nearly at
the top and Trevorsham at the bottom of the little preparatory
school. They held together just as much, and Alured came home
wonderfully improved and delightfully good, but more than ever
inseparable from Trevor.
In the meantime Francis Dayman had come to pay his sister a visit.
He had made some fortunate speculations, and had come on to be a
merchant of considerable wealth and weight in the Hudson's Bay
A handsome man of a good deal of strength and force he seemed to be,
and Perrault had certainly been wise in securing his prize before
Hester had such a guardian.
He was an open, straight-forward man, with a fresh breath of the
forest about him; successful beyond all his hopes, and full of
activity. He took to Fulk, and seemed to have a strong fellow-
feeling for us.
But little had Fulk expected to be made the confidant of his vehement
admiration for Emily Deerhurst. The gentle lady-like girl impressed
the backwoodsman in a wondrous manner. It seemed to him, as if his
wealth would have real value, if he could pour it all out on her.
And her mother encouraged him. Emily was six years older than when
she had cast off Fulk, and there was a pale changed look about her;
and the rich Canadian, who could buy a baronetcy, and do anything she
asked, tempted Mrs. Deerhurst.
Though, as Fulk said bitterly, if the stain on his birth was all the
cause of the utter withdrawal, was it not the same with Francis
Dayman? Only in his case it was gilded!
Dayman knew nothing of this former affair. The world was forgetting
it, and if Hester knew it, she kept it from his knowledge, so he used
to consult Fulk as to what was to be done to please an English lady,
and whether he was too rough for her; and Fulk stood it all. He even
knew when the young lady herself was brought forward--and refused,
gently, sadly, courteously, but unmistakably; and then, when driven
hard by the eager wooing, owned to an old attachment, that never
would permit her to marry!
What a light there was in Fulk's eyes when he whispered that into my
ears! And yet he had kept his counsel, even though Mr. Dayman told
him that the mother declared it to be a foolish romantic affair of
very early girlhood, that no doubt his perseverance would overthrow.
"And her persecution!" muttered poor Fulk. But he did enjoy the
confidences in a bitter-sweet fashion. It was justifiable to be a
dog in the manger under the circumstances.
Mr. Dayman went to London, and Hester was negotiating about a house
where Mrs. Deerhurst and her daughters were to stay with her for a
few weeks. I fancy Mrs. Deerhurst thought that the chance of seeing
Farmer Torwood ride by to market had a bad effect. It was the Easter
holidays, and both boys were at home; always trying to be together,
and we not finding it easy to keep Alured from Spinney Lawn, without
such flat refusals as would have given his sister legitimate cause of
complaint and offence.
One beautiful spring afternoon, when Alured, to my vexation and vague
uneasiness, had gone over there, I was sowing annuals in the garden
and watching for him at the same time, when, to my surprise, I saw,
coming over the fields from the park, a lady with a quick, timid, yet
wearied step. Had she lost her way, I thought? There was something
of the tame fawn in her movement; and then I remembered the white
doe. Yes! it was Emily!
The one haunting anxiety of my life broke out-- "You haven't come to
say there's anything amiss with my boy?" I cried out.
"No; oh no! I think he is safe now; but I wanted to tell you, I
think you ought to be warned."
She was trembling so much that I wanted to bring her in and make her
rest; but she would only sit down on the step of the stile, and there
she whispered it, in this way.
"You know there's a dreadful scarlet fever at old Brown's."
"The old man that sells curiosities? No, I did not know it; I'll
keep Trevorsham away," I said, wondering she had come all this way;
and then asking in a fright, "Surely he has not been there?"
"No; I met him on the road with Lady Hester Perrault, and I told
them. I walked back to Spinney Lawn with them. But," as I began to
thank her, and her voice went lower still, "but--oh, Ursula, Lady
Hester knew it!"
"Yes, knew it quite well."
"She was doing it on purpose!"
"Oh," Emily hid her face in her hands, "I pray God to forgive me if
I am doing a very cruel wicked wrong; but I can't help thinking it.
I had told her only yesterday how bad the fever was in that street.
She said she had forgotten it, and thanked me; but she had not her
own boy, Trevor, with her.
I was too much frozen with the horror of the thing to speak at first,
and perhaps Emily thought I did not quite believe her, for she said,
under her breath, "And I've heard her talk--talk to mamma--about her
being so certain that Lord Trevorsham could not live, even when he
was past seven years old. They always have said that the first
illness would go to his head and carry him off. And when people do
wish things very much--" And then she grew frightened at herself, and
began blaming herself for the horrible fancy, but saying it haunted
her every time she saw Lord Trevorsham in Lady Hester's sight. That
old ballad, "The wee grovelling doo," would come into her head, and
she had felt as if any harm happened to the child it would be her
fault for not having spoken a word of warning, and this had
By this time I had taken it in, and then the first thing I did was to
spring up and ask how she could leave the boy still in the woman's
power, to which she answered that she had walked them back to Spinney
Lawn--a whole mile--and that Lady Hester could not set forth again,
now that Alured had heard the conversation.
He had been bent on going to buy a tame sea-gull there, as a birthday
present for Trevor; and Emily had lured him off from that, by a
promise of getting one from an old fisherman whom she knew. So there
was not much fear of his running back into the danger, though I
should not have a happy moment till he was in my sight again.
Then Emily sprang up, saying, she must go. She had walked four
miles, and she must get back as fast as she could. Most likely mamma
would think her at Spinney Lawn.
But what must not it have cost that timid thing to venture here with
It gave me a double sense of the reality of my boy's, peril, that she
had been excited to it, and she would not hear of coming in to rest;
and when I entreated her to wait till I could get the gig to drive
her part of the way, she held me fast, and insisted, with all the
terror of womanly shamefacedness, that, "he--that Tor--that Mr.
Torwood--should not know." And she sprang up to go home instantly,
before he could guess.
"Oh, Emily, that is too bad, when nothing would make him so glad."
"Oh! no, no! he has been used too ill; he can't care for me now, and
as if I should--"
I don't think poor Emily uttered anything half so coherent as this,
at any rate I understood that she disclaimed the least possibility of
his affection continuing, and felt it an outrage on herself to be
where she could even suppose herself to have voluntarily put herself
in his way.
I thought there was nothing for it but to let her start, hurry after
her with some vehicle, and then call and bring home my boy; but in
the midst of my perplexity and her struggle with her tears, who
should appear on the scene but Fulk himself, driving home the spring
cart wherein, everybody being busy, he had conveyed a pig to a new
I don't know how it was all done or said. My first notion was that
he should be warned of our dear boy's danger, and rescue him before
anything else. I could not get into my head that there was no
present reason for dread, and yet when I had gasped out "Oh, Fulk--
Alured--Fetch him home! Emily came to warn us!" the accusation began
to seem so monstrous and horrible that I could not go on with it
before Emily. She too, perhaps, found it harder to utter to a man
than to a woman, and between the strangeness of speaking to one
another again, and her shyness and his wonder and delight, it seemed
to me unreasonable that poor little Alured's danger was counting for
nothing between them, and I turned from the former reticence to the
bereaved tigress style, and burst out, "And are we to stand talking
here while our boy is in these people's power?"
Then Fulk did listen to what it was all about; but even then it
seemed to me he would not think half so much of the peril as of what
Emily had done. In truth, I believe all they both wanted was to get
out of my way; but they pacified me by Fulk's undertaking, if Emily
did not object to the cart, to drive her across the park where no one
would meet her, and she could get out only a mile from home, and to
call at Spinney Lawn in returning by the road and take up Alured.
What a drive that must have been! Fulk had the advantage over Emily
in knowing what poor Mr. Dayman had told him, whereas she, poor
child, only knew that he had been so vilely served that she thought
his affection and esteem had been entirely killed.
They had it all out in that tax cart, a vehicle Fulk now regards as a
heavenly chariot, and I heard it all afterwards.
Poor Emily! she had grown a great deal older in those six years. At
eighteen she had implicitly believed in her mother. Mrs. Deerhurst
had been so good all those years of striving not to frighten my
father, that she had been perfection in her daughter's eyes. Emily
had believed with all her heart in her apparent disinterestedness,
and her hopes and sympathy for us were real; and so, when the crash
really came, and she told the poor girl with floods of tears that it
was impossible, and a thing not to be thought of, for a right-minded
woman to unite herself to a man of such birth. And poor Emily, with
the conscious ignorance of eighteen, believed, and was the sort of
gentle creature who could easily be daunted by the terror that her
generous impulses to share the shame and namelessness were unfeminine
and wrong. The utter silence had been the consequence of her mother
assuring her, with authority, that the true kindness was to betray no
token of feeling that could cherish hope where all was hopeless, and
that he would regret her less if she commanded herself and gave him
It had been terrible, calm self-command, and obedience to abused
filial confidence in her mother's infallibility.
And then Mrs. Deerhurst had been sinking ever since in her daughter's
esteem, as Emily could not but rise higher from the conscientious
struggle and self-denying submission, and besides grew older and had
more experience; while Mrs. Deerhurst, no doubt, deteriorated in the
foreign wandering life, and all her motives made themselves evident
when she married the younger daughter.
Emily had thought for herself, and seen that advantage had been taken
of her innocence, and that her betrothed had rights, which, if she
had been older, she would not have been persuaded to ignore. But
coming home, two years later, and meeting my cold eyes and Fulk's
ceremonious bow, and hearing on all parts that he had accepted his
position and had a hard struggle to maintain his two sisters; she,
knowing herself to be portionless, could but suffer, and be still.
Of course every attempt of her mother's to get her to marry
advantageously, and, even more, Mrs. Deerhurst's devotion to Lady
Hester, tore away more and more of the veil she had tried to keep
over her eyes; and as her youngest sister grew up into bloom, and
into the wish for society, Emily had been allowed more and more to go
her own quiet way in the religious and charitable life of Shinglebay,
where she had peace, if not joy.
And then came the Dayman affair, when all the old persecution revived
again, and Emily's foremost defence against him, her blushing
objection to his birth, was set aside as a mere prudish fancy of a
The gentle Emily had been irate then, and all the more when her
mother tried to cover her inconsistency by alleging that everybody
knew of Lord Torwood's fall, whereas no one knew or cared who Francis
Dayman was, or where he came from. Henceforth Emily's shame at the
usage of Fulk had been double--or rather it turned into indignation.
Reports that he was to marry a rich grazier's daughter had no effect
in turning her in pique to Dayman. She had firmly told her mother
that if it were wrong for her to take the one, it must be equally so
to take the other.
This Mrs. Deerhurst had concealed from poor Mr. Dayman; nor would
Emily's modesty allow her to utter the objection to the man's own
face. So Mrs. Deerhurst encouraged him, and trusted to London
reports of the grazier's daughter, and persevering appeals to that
filial sense of duty which had been strained so much too far.
And now, how did it stand?
When I, secure in knowing that Alured was safe at home, thinking it
abominable nonsense in Miss Deerhurst to have bothered about scarlet
fever, Hester herself had said so. When I could hear Fulk's
happiness, and try to analyse it, what did it amount to?
Why, that they knew they loved one another still, and never meant to
cease. And with what hopes? Alas! the hopes were all for some time
or other. Emily would do nothing in flat disobedience, and there was
little or no hope of her mother's consent to her marrying Farmer
Torwood. She meant to tell her mother thus much, that she had seen
him, and that they loved each other as much as ever; and as Mrs.
Deerhurst had waived the objection to Dayman, it could not hold in
the other case. It would be, in fact, a tacit compact--scarcely an
engagement--with what amount of meeting or correspondence must be
left for duty and principle to decide, but the love that had existed
without aliment for six years might trust now. And "hap what hap,"
there never was a happier man than my Fulk that evening.
He was too joyous not to be universally charitable. Nay, he called
it a blessed fancy of Emily's that brought her here, as it was
Emily's, and had brought him such bliss he could not quite scorn it,
but he did not, _could_ not believe in it as we did. It was culpable
carelessness in Hester, but colonial people had been used to such
health that they did not care about infection. But it was a glorious
act of Emily's! In fact the manly mind could believe nothing so
horrible of any woman.
CHAPTER VII. HUNTING.
Emily told Mr. Dayman the whole truth. Poor fellow! he could not
face Fulk again, and went back to Canada.
No doubt Emily went through a great deal, but we never exactly knew
Fulk wrote to Mrs. Deerhurst, stating that he hoped in four years'
time to be able to purchase the farm, of which he had the lease, and
without going into the past, asking her sanction to the engagement.
She sent a cold letter in answer, to desire that the impertinence
should not be repeated.
And Emily wrote that her mother would not hear of the engagement, and
she knew Fulk would not wish her to deceive or disobey, "And so we
must trust one another still; but how sweet to do that!"
And when any of us met her there were precious little words and
looks, and Fulk meant to try again after the four years. In the
meantime he was much respected, and had made himself a place of his
own. It chafed Hester to perceive that though she had pulled us down
she could not depress us after the first. She had lowered her
position, too, by her marriage. At first Perrault was on his good
behaviour, and made a favourable impression among the second-rate
Shinglebay society Hester got round her; but as the hopes of the
title coming to her diminished, he kept less within bounds, did not
treat her well at home, and took to racing and gambling.
I never could get Fulk to share my alarms about Alured, but he did
not think Perrault's society fit for the boy, told Alured so, and
forbade him to go to Spinney Lawn. But though Alured was much
improved as to obedience, it was almost impossible to enforce this
command. Hester had some strange fascination for him. She would
fiercely caress him at times, and he knew she was his sister, and
could not see why, when she was often alone, he should not be with
her. The passion for Trevor was in full force, too, and the boys
could not be content only to meet at the farm. We tried sending
Alured to make visits from home in the holidays, but he did not like
it, and he was not happy; his heart was with his home, and with
Trevor. We tried having a tutor for the spring holidays before he
went to Eton, but it did not answer. He was not a sensible man, did
not like dining in the keeping-room with the household, and though he
did it, he showed that he thought it a condescension.
Moreover, instead of attending to Alured, he was always trying to
flirt with Jaquetta, infinitely disturbing Arthur Cradock's peace;
and the end of it was, that Alured was a great deal more left to his
own devices than ever he had been before, and exasperated besides.
He was in that mood, when one day, as he was riding along the lanes,
he met Perrault and Trevor coming in from hunting.
Alured had a very pretty pony, but he was growing rather large for
it, and Fulk had promised that, if he worked well at Eton, he should
have a lovely little Arab, that was being trained by a dealer he
knew; and that another year, Fulk himself would go out hunting with
Perrault began to pity him for having missed the run. Why did not
his brother take him out? Fulk's old mare was a sort of elephant,
and it was not convenient to get another horse just then. That
Alured knew and explained, but he was pitied the more for being kept
back, and Perrault ended by saying that if on the next hunting day he
could meet them at the corner of the park, a capital mount should be
there for him.
The hour was attainable if Alured made haste with his studies, and he
accepted gladly, and without compunction. Fulk had never in so many
words forbidden him, and besides, Fulk had delegated his authority to
the hateful tutor.
But the next morning, before Alured was up Trevor was in his bedroom.
"You won't go, Trevorsham?"
"Yes, I shall; I'm not such a muff as to stay for that fellow."
But I need not try to tell what passed, as of course I did not hear
it; I never so much as knew of it till long after, only Trevorsham
was determined, and Trevor tried all round the due arguments of
principle, honour, and duty; but Alured had worked up a schoolboy
self-justification on all points, and besides had the stronghold of
"I will," and "I don't care."
Then Trevor told him, under his breath, he was sure it was not a safe
horse. But my high-spirited boy laughed this to scorn. "And perhaps
he'll play you some trick," added Trevor. But Trevorsham was still
undaunted in his self-will, till Trevor resolutely announced his
determination, if nothing else would stop it, of going at once to
Fulk, and informing him.
The boy endured all the rage and scorn that a threat so contrary to
all schoolboy codes of honour and friendship might deserve. I
believe Alured struck him, but at any rate Trevor Lea gained his
point, though at the cost of a desperate quarrel.
Alured held aloof and sulked at him for the remaining fortnight at
home, and only vouchsafed the explanation to us that "Lea was a
horrid little sneak, and he had done with him."
They did not make it up till they met in the same house at Eton, and
then, though Trevor was placed far above Alured, they became as
friendly as ever. In fact, I believe, Alured, having imprudently
denominated himself by his full title, was having it kicked out of
him, when the fortunate possessor of the monosyllabic name came and
stood by him and made common cause, to the entire renewing of love.
Poor Trevor! his was a dreary home. His mother loved him
passionately, but she was an anxious, worn, disappointed woman,
always craving, restless and expectant of something, and Perrault was
always tormenting her for money. He was deeply in debt, and though
he could not touch the bulk of her fortune--neither, indeed, could
she, as it was conveyed to trustees--he was always demanding money of
her, and bullying her; while matters grew worse and worse, and they
were in danger of having to let Spinney Lawn and go to live abroad.
As to keeping Trevor at Eton that was becoming impossible. At
Christmas the tutor consulted Fulk about how he should get Lea's
bills paid, and intimated that he must not return unless this were
And poor Trevor himself had little comfort except with us. We
encouraged him to come to us, for we had all come to have a very real
love for the dear lad himself, and we saw he was unhappy at home;
besides that, it was the only way of keeping Alured contented.
Trevor had entirely left off inviting Alured to Spinney Lawn.
Partly, he was too gentlemanly and good a boy not to be ashamed of
the men who hung about the stables; and besides, we now perceive that
the same awful impression that was on Emily Deerhurst was upon him,
and that he had a sense that Trevorsham was regarded in a manner that
made his presence there a peril.
He was but a boy, and it was an undefined horror, and he never
breathed a word of it; but oh, there was a weight on that young brow,
an anxious look about the face, and though now and then he would be
all joy and fun, still there was the older, more sorrowful look about
We thought he was grieving at not going back to Eton, and Fulk was
living in hopes of an answer to the letter he had written to Francis
Dayman about it, but that was not all. One day--Christmas Eve it
was--Mr. Cradock, on coming into the church to look at the holly
wreaths, found Trevor kneeling on his father's gravestone in the
pavement, sobbing as if his heart was breaking, and heard between the
sobs a broken prayer about "Forgive"--"don't let them do it"--"turn
Then Mr. Cradock went out of hearing, but he waited for the boy
outside, and asked if he could do anything for him.
"No." Trevor shook his head, thanked him, and grew reserved.
CHAPTER VIII. DUCK SHOOTING.
Alured's thirteenth birthday was on the 10th of January, and he had
extracted a promise from Fulk, to take him duck-shooting to the mouth
of our little river.
Nothing can be prettier than our tide river by day, with the
retreating banks overhung with trees, the long-legged herons standing
in the firs, looking like toys in a German box; while the breadth of
blue water reflects the trees that bend down to it.
But, on a winter's night, to creep in perfect silence and lie still
under an overhanging bank, not daring to make a sound, till you could
get a shot at the ducks disporting themselves in the moonlight, on
the frozen mud on the banks! Such an occupation could only be
endurable under the name of sport.
However, Fulk and Bertram had had their time, and now Alured was
having the infection in his turn; but Trevor was driven over to spend
the day, much mortified that he had a bad broken chilblain, which
made his boots unwearable, and it was the more disappointing, that it
was a very hard frost, and there was a report that some wild swans
had been seen on the river.
But in the course of the day Jaquetta routed out a pair of India
rubber boots which, with worsted stockings beneath, did not press the
chilblains at all, and after having spent all the day in snow-balling
and building forts, Trevor declared himself far from lame, and
resolved not to lose the fun. He had not come equipped, so Alured
put him into an old grey coat and cap of his own, and merrily they
started in the frosty moonlight, with dashes of snow lying under the
hedges, and everything intensely light. Fulk grumbling in fun at
being dragged away from his warm fire, and pretending to be grown
old, the boys shouting to one another full of glee, all the dogs in
the yard clamouring because only the wise old retriever, Captain, was
allowed to be of the party; Arthur Cradock making ridiculous mistakes
on purpose between the uncle and nephew, Trevorsham and Sham Trevor,
as he called them.
Alas! Nay, shall I say alas, or only be thankful?
They had been gone some time when we heard a rapid tread coming
towards the porch. Something in the very sound thrilled Jaquetta and
me at once with dismay. We darted out, and saw Brand, the head
gamekeeper in the park.
"Never fear, my lady; thank God," he said, "my lord is quite safe.
It is poor Master Lea who is hurt; and Mr. Torwood sent me up for
some brandy, and a mattress, and a lantern, and some cloths."
That assured us that he was alive, and we ran to fulfil the request
in the utmost haste, without asking further questions, and sending
off Sisson to ride for the poor mother, and to go on to Shinglebay
for the doctor, though, to our comfort, we knew that Arthur had
almost finished his surgical education, and was sure to know what was
to be done.
"A stray shot," we said again and again to each other; and we called
Nurse Rowe, and made up a bed in Alured's old nursery, and lighted a
fire, and were all ready, with hearts beating heavy with suspense
before the steps came back--my poor Alured first, as we held the door
open. How pale his face looked! and his brows were drawn with
horror, and his steps dragging, saying not a word, but trembling, as
he came and held by me, with one hand on my waist, while Fulk and
Sisson carried in the mattress, Arthur Cradock at the side, and
Perrault, who had joined them, walking behind with the flask.
Dear Trevor lay white with sobbing breath and closed eyes, the cloths
and mattress soaked through and through with blood. They put him
down on the keeping-room table, and Arthur poured more brandy into
I said something of the room being ready but Arthur said very low "He
is dying--internal bleeding;" and when Jaquetta asked "Can nothing be
done?" he answered, "Nothing but to leave him still."
"Trevorsham," murmured the feeble voice, and Alured was close to him;
"Ally! you are all right!" and then again, as Alured assured him he
would be better-- "No, I shan't; I'm so glad it wasn't you. I always
thought he'd do it some day, and now you're quite safe, I want to
We did not understand those words then; we did soon.
The weak voice rambled on, "to thank God; but oh, it hurts so--I
can't--I will when I get there." Then presently "Mother!"
"She'll come very soon," said Alured.
"Mother! oh, mother! Trevorsham, don't let them know. O Trev,
"Promise what? I promise, whatever it is! Only tell me," entreated
"Take care of her--of mother. Don't let--" and then his eyes met
Perrault's, and a shudder came all over him, which brought the end
nearer; and all another spoonful of brandy could do was to enable him
to say something in Alured's ear, and then a broken word or two--
"forgive--glad--pray;" and when we all knelt and Fulk did say the
Lord's Prayer, and a verse or two more, there was a peaceful loving
look at Fulk and Jaquetta and me, and then the whisper of the Name
that is above every name, as a glad brightness came over the face,
and the eyes looked upwards, and so grew set in their gaze, and there
was the sound one never can forget.
Nurse Rowe laid her hand on Alured's neck, as he knelt with his head
close to Trevor's. Fulk and I looked at each other, and we knew that
all was over.
They had tried in vain to check the bleeding. No one could have done
more than Arthur had done, but a main artery had been injured, and
nothing could have saved him. He had said nothing after the first
cry, except when he saw Alured's grief. "Never mind; I'm glad it was
not you." And once or twice, as they carried him home, he had begged
to be put down, though they durst not attend to the entreaty, and
Arthur did not think he had suffered much pain.
It jarred that just as we would have knelt for one silent prayer,
Perrault's voice broke on us. "Ah! poor boy, it is better than if it
lasted longer! I saw that half-witted fellow, Billy Blake about.
So I don't wonder at anything; but of course it was a mere accident,
and I shall not press it."
Scarcely hearing him, I had joined Mrs. Rowe in the endeavour to
detach Alured from his dear companion, when there was poor Hester
among us, with open horror-stricken eyes, and a wild, frightful
shriek as she leapt forward; and no words can describe the misery of
her voice as she called on her boy to look at her, and speak to her--
gathering him into her bosom with a passionate, desperate clasp, that
seemed almost an outrage on the calm awful stillness of the innocent
child; and Alured involuntarily cried, "Oh, don't," while Fulk spoke
to her kindly; but just then she saw her husband, and sprang on her
feet, her eyes flashing, her hands stretched out, while she screamed
out, "You here? You dare to come here? You, who killed him!" Fulk
caught her arm, saying, "Hush! Hester; come away. It was a
lamentable accident, but--"
"Oh!" the laugh she gave was the most horrible thing I ever heard.
"Accident! I tell you it has been his one thought to make accidents
for Trevorsham! And he hated my child--my dear, noble, beautiful,
only one! He made him miserable, and murdered him at last!"
She gave another passionate kiss to the cheeks, and then just as I
hoped she was going to let us lead her away, she darted from us,
rushed past Mr. Cradock who was entering the porch, and in another
moment, he hurrying after her, saw her rush down the steep grassy
slope, and fling herself into the swollen rapid stream.
His shout brought them all out, and Fulk found him too in the river,
holding her, and struggling with the stream, which winter had made
full and violent, and the black darkness of the shadows made it hard
to find any landing place, and he was nearly swept away before it was
possible to get them out of the river; and Fulk was as completely
drenched as he was when they brought poor Hester, quite unconscious,
up to the house, and brought her to the room that had been prepared
for her son; and there Dr. Brown and Arthur gave us plenty to do in
filling hot-water baths and warming flannels, or rubbing the icy
hands and feet. Only that constant need of exertion could have borne
us through the horror of it all. But it was not over yet. There was
a call of "Ursula," and as I ran down, I found Fulk standing at the
bottom of the stairs with Alured in his arms looking like death!
"I found him on the parlour sofa, the little window and the
escritoire open!" Fulk said breathlessly, "the villain!"
"I'm not hurt," said dear Alured's voice, faintly, but reassuringly,
"Oh! put me down, Fulk."
We did put him down on the floor--there was no other place--with his
head on my lap, and I found strange voices asking him what Perrault
had done to him. "Oh! nothing! 'twasn't that. Yes, he's gone, out
by the window."
He swallowed some wine and then sat up, leaning against me as I sat
at the bottom of the stairs, quite himself again, and assuring us
that he was not hurt; Perrault never touched him--"Threatened you,
then," said Fulk.
"No," said Alured, as if he hadn't spirit to be indignant; "I meant
him to get off."
"Lord Trevorsham!" cried a voice in great displeasure, and I saw that
Mr. Halsted, the nearest magistrate, was standing over us.
"He told me--Trevor did"--said Alured.
"Told you to assist the murderer to escape!" exclaimed Mr. Halsted.
Alured let his head fall back, and would not answer, and Fulk said,
"There is no need for him to speak at present, is there? The
constable and the rest are gone after Perrault, but I do not yet know
what has directed the suspicion against him."
And then at the stair foot, for there was no other place to go to, we
came to an understanding, the two gentlemen and Brand the keeper
standing, and I seated on the step with my boy lying against me. I
could not trust him out of my sight, nor, indeed, was he fit to be
It seems that Brand had been uneasy about the number of shooters whom
the report of the swans had attracted; and though the bank of the
river was not Trevorsham ground, he had kept along on the border of
the covers higher up the hill, to guard his hares and pheasants.
Thus he had seen everything distinctly in the moonlight against the
snowy bank below; and he had observed one figure in particular,
moving stealthily along, in a parallel line with that which he knew
our party would take, though they were in shadow, and he could not
Suddenly, a chance shot fired somewhere made all the ducks fly up.
A head and shoulders that Brand took for his young lord's, appeared
beyond the shadow, beside Fulk's; and, at the same moment, he saw the
man whom he had been watching level his gun from behind, and fire.
Then came the cry, and Brand running down in horror himself, was
amazed to see this person doing the same, and when they came up with
the group, he recognised Perrault; and found, at the same time, that
Trevor was the sufferer, and that Lord Trevorsham was safe. He then
would have thought it an accident, but for Perrault's own needless
wonder, whence the shot came, and that same remark, that Billy Blake,
the half-witted son of a farmer, was about that night.
Brand, a shrewd fellow, restrained his reply, that Mr. Perrault knew
most about it himself. He saw that the most pressing need was to
obey Fulk in fetching necessaries from our house, and that Perrault
meant to disarm suspicion by treating it as an accident, so he
thought it best to go off to a magistrate with his story, before
giving any alarm; feeling certain, as he said, that the shot had been
meant for the Earl; as indeed, Perrault's first exclamation on coming
up showed that he too had expected to find Trevorsham the wounded
Mr. Halsted had sent for the constable and came at once, though even
then inclined to doubt whether Brand had not imputed accident to
malice. But Perrault's flight had settled that question. During the
confusion, while Hester was being carried upstairs, the miscreant had
the opportunity of speaking to the child.
"Drowned! No, she is not drowned; but she may be the other thing if
you don't get me off! What, don't you understand? Let the law lay a
finger on me, and what is to hinder me from telling how your sweet
sister has been plotting to get you--yes, you, out of the way of her
darling. No, you needn't fear, there's nothing to get by it now.
Lucky for you you brought the poor boy out, when I thought him safe
by the fire nursing his chilblain. But mind this, if I am arrested,
all the story shall come out. I'll not swing alone. If I fired, she
pointed the gun! And you may judge if that was what poor Trevor
meant by his mutterings to you about 'mother.'"
"But what do you want?" Alured asked. He had backed up against the
wall; he was past being frightened, but he felt numb and sick with
horror, and ready to do anything to get the wretch out of his sight.
"I want a clear way out of the house and all the cash you can get
together. What! no more than that? I'd not be a lord to be kept so
short. Find me some more."
Alured knew I should forgive him, and he took my key from my basket,
unlocked the escritoire, and gave him my purse of household money,
undid the shutters, and helped Perrault to squeeze himself through
the little parlour window; and then, as he said, something came over
him, and he just reached the sofa, and knew no more.
He did not tell all this about Hester before Mr. Halsted; only when
Fulk, finding how shaken he was, had carried him upstairs, and we had
taken him to his room, he asked anxiously whether anyone had heard
Hester say that dreadful thing, and added, "Then if Mr. Perrault gets
away no one will know--about her."
"Was that why you helped him?" we asked.
"Trevor told me to take care of her," he said; and then he told us of
Perrault's arguments, but we ought not to have let him talk of them
that night, for it brought back the shuddering and sobbing, and the
horror seemed to come upon him, so that there was no soothing him or
getting him calm till the doctor mixed an anodyne draught; and let it
go as it would with Hester, I never left my boy till I had crooned
him to sleep, as in the old times.
CHAPTER 9. TREVOR'S LEGACY.
Jaquetta bore the brunt of that night, and showed the stuff she was
made of, for poor Hester had only revived to fall into a most
frightful state of delirium, raving and struggling so that the doctor
and Arthur could hardly hold her.
So it went on for hours, Alured the only creature asleep in the
house, and we not daring to send for any help from without, poor
Hester's exclamations were so dreadful.
Poor Alured! his waking was sad enough! He had loved Trevor with all
his heart, and the wonder that anyone could be so wicked oppressed
him almost as much as the grief. The remnants of the opiate hung
upon him, too, and he lay about all day, hardly rousing himself to
speak or look, but giddily and drowsy.
Not till the inquest was it perceived how cleverly Perrault had taken
his measures, so that had he not made the mistake between the two
boys, he would scarcely have been suspected: certainly not but for
Brand's having watched him.
The report of the wild swans was traced to him. No doubt it was as
an excuse for a heavier charge, for poor Trevor was wounded with shot
that would not have been used merely for ducks, and besides, the
other shooters it attracted would be likely to make detection less
easy. Indeed, Fulk had seen that there were enough men about to
spoil their sport, and but for the boys' eagerness, would have turned
Moreover it was proved that Perrault had in the course of the morning
met Billy Blake, and asked him if he meant to bag the swan--if he
followed the young lord's party and fired when they did, he would be
sure to bring something down. He did not know that the Blakes never
let the poor fellow load his old gun with anything but powder.
Then his joining the horrified group, as if he had been merely after
the ducks, and had been attracted by the cry, had entirely deceived
us; and but for Hester's accusation, Brand's evidence, and his own
flight, together with all the past, might have continued to do so.
He had gone to his own house, as it afterwards turned out, entered so
quietly that the listening, watching servants never heard him,
collected all the valuables he could easily carry away, changed his
dress, and gone off before the search had followed him thither.
A verdict of wilful murder was returned against him at the inquest,
but it is very doubtful whether he could have been convicted of
anything but manslaughter; for even if the intention could have been
proved, without his wife, whose evidence was inadmissible, the malice
was not directed against his victim, but against Trevorsham. We
could not but feel it a relief day by day, that nothing was heard of
him; for who could tell what disclosures there might be about the
poor thing who lay, delirious, needing perpetual watchfulness.
Arthur devoted himself to the care of her, and never left us, or I do
not see how we could have gone through it all.
Alured was well again, but inert and crushed, and heartless about
doing anything, except that he walked over to Spinney Lawn, and
brought home Trevor's dog, to which he gave himself up all day, and
insisted on having it in his room at night.
The burial was in the vault--nobody attended but Fulk and Alured, not
even Arthur, for though the poor mother was not aware of what was
going on, it was such a dreadful day with her, that he durst not
leave us alone to the watch. It was enough to break one's heart to
stand by the window and hear her wandering on about her Trevor coming
to his place, and not being kept from his position; while we watched
the little coffin carried across the field by the labouring men, with
those two walking after it. Our boy's first funeral was that of the
friend who had died in his stead.
We were glad to send him back to Eton, out of the sound of his poor
sister's voice; though he went off very mournfully, declaring that he
should be even more wretched there without Trevor than he was at
home; and that he never should do any good without him. But there he
was wrong, I am thankful to say. Dear Trevor was more a guide to him
dead than living. Trevor's chief Eton friend, young Maitland, a
good, high-principled, clever boy, a little older, who had valued him
for what he was, while passing Alured by as a foolish, idle little
swell, took pity upon him in the grief and dejection of his loss--did
for him all and more than Trevor could do, and has been the friend
and blessing of his life, aiding the depth and earnestness that
seemed to pass into our dear child as he hung over the dying lad.
Yes, Trevor Lea and John Maitland did for our Trevorsham what all our
love and care had never been able to do.
Meantime Hester's illness took its course. The chill of that icy
water had done great harm, and there was much inflammation at first,
leaving such oppression of breath that permanent injury to the lungs
was expected, and therefore it was all the sadder to see the dumb
despair with which she returned to understanding, I can hardly say to
memory, for I believe she had never lost it for a moment.
Hopeless, heedless, reckless, speechless, she was a passive weight,
lying or sitting, eating or drinking as she was bidden, but not
making any manifestation of preference or dislike, save that she
turned rigidly and sullenly away from any attempt to read prayers to
She asked no questions, attempted no employment, but seemed to care
for nothing, and for weeks uttering nothing but a "yes," "no," or a
mechanical "thank you." Jaquetta tried to caress her, by force of
nursing and pity. Jaquetta really had come to a warm tender love for
her, but she sullenly pushed away the sweet face, and turned aside.
We never ventured to leave her alone, and this, after a time, began
to vex her. She bade us go down once or twice, and tried to send
away Mrs. Rowe; and at last, when she found it was never permitted,
she broke out angrily one day, "You are very absurd to take so much
trouble to hinder what cannot make any difference."
It made one's blood run cold, and yet it was a relief that the
silence was broken. I can't tell what I said, only I implored her
not to think so, and told her that her having been rescued was a sign
that Heaven would have her repent and come back, but she laughed that
horrible laugh. "Do you think I repent?" she said; "No, only that I
left it to that fool! I should have made no mistakes."
I was too much horrified to do anything but hide my eyes and pray. I
thought I did not do so obviously, but Hester saw or guessed, stamped
at me, and said, "Don't; I will not have it done. It is mockery!"
"Happily you cannot prevent our doing that, my poor Lady Hester," I
"All I wish you to do is, what you would do if you had a spark of
"What?" I asked, bewildered at this apparent accusation of
"Leave me to myself. Send me from your door. Not oppress me with
this ridiculous burthensome care and attention, all out of the family
pride you still keep up in the Trevors!" she sneered.
"No, Hester. Sister Hester, will you not believe it is love?" I
said, thinking that if she would believe that we loved her and
forgave her, it might help her to believe that her Father above did.
I had never called her by her name alone before; but I thought it
might draw her nearer; but it made her only fiercer.
"Nonsense," she said, "I know better."
And then she fell into the same deadly gloom; but I think she had
almost a wild animal's longing for solitude; for she made a solemn
promise not to attempt her life if we would only leave her alone!
And we did, though we took care someone was within hearing; for she
was still very weak, and we had not a bell in the house, except a
little hand one on the table.
So the Easter holidays drew on, and she was still far too weak and
unwell for any thought of moving her; so that we were in trouble
about Alured's holidays, not liking him to come home to a house of
illness that would renew his sorrow, and advising him to accept some
invitations from his schoolfellows; but he wrote that he particularly
wished to come home--he could not bear to be away, and Maitland
wanted to see the place and know all about dear Lea, so might he
bring him home?
We were only too glad to consent, and I had gone to sleep with
Jaquetta, so as to make room--feeling very happy over the best school
report of our boy we had ever had, though not the best we were to
He spent two or three days at Mr. Maitland's in London, and then he
and his friend, John, came on here.
The railway did not come within twenty miles then, and they had to
post from it in flies. How delightful it was to see the tall hat and
wide white collar, as he stood up in the open fly, signalling to us,
and pointing us out to his friend. Only, what must it have been to
the poor sufferer in the room above?
Oh! did not one's heart go out in prayer for her!
Out jumped Alured among all of us, and all the dogs at the garden
gate; and the first thing, after his kiss to us all, was to turn to
the fly and take out a flower-pot with a beautiful delicate forced
rose in it.
"Where's Hester?" he said.
"My dear child, she has not left her room yet."
"She is well enough for me to take this to her, I suppose?" he said.
"He always did get some flower like this to bring home to her, you
know, she liked them so much."
It was just his one idea that Trevor had told him to take his place
to her. We looked doubtfully at each other, but Fulk quietly said,
"Yes, you may go." And added, as the boy went off, "It can do no
harm to her in the end, poor thing!"
"To her, no; that was not my fear."
There was Alured, almost exactly what Trevor had been when last she
saw him, with his bright sweet honest face over the rose, running up
the stairs, knocking, and coming in with his boyish, "Good morning,
Hester, I do hope you are better;" and bending down with his fresh
brotherly kiss on her poor hot forehead, "I've got this rose for you,
the bud will be out in a day or two."
If ever there was a modern version of St. Dorothy's roses it was
That boy's kiss and his gift touched the place in her heart. She
caught him passionately in her arms, and held him till he almost lost
breath, and then she held him off from her as vehemently.
"Boy--Trevorsham--what do you come to me for?"
"He told me," said Alured, half dismayed. "Besides, you are my
"Sister, indeed! Don't you know we would have killed you ?"
"Never mind that," said Alured, with an odd sort of readiness. "You
are my sister all the same, and oh--if you would let me try to be a
little bit of Trevor to you, though I know I can't--"
"You--who must hate me?"
"No," said he, "I always did like you, Hester; and I've been thinking
about you all the half--whenever I thought of him."
And as the tears came into the boy's eyes, the blessed weeping came
at last to Hester.
He thought he had done her harm, for she cried till she was
absolutely spent, sick, faint and weak as a child.
But she was like a child, and when her head was on the pillow she
begged for Trevorsham to wish her good-night. I think she tried to
fancy his kiss was Trevor's.
Any way the bitter black despair was gone from that time. She
believed in and accepted his kindness like a sort of after glow from
Trevor's love. Perhaps it did her the more good that after all he
was only a boy, sometimes forgot her, and sometimes hurried after his
own concerns, so that there was more excitement in it than if it had
been the steady certain tenderness of an older person on which she
She certainly cared for no one like Trevorsham. She even came
downstairs that she might see him more constantly, and while he was
at home, she seemed to think of no one else. But she had softened to
us all, and accepted us as her belongings, in a matter-of-course kind
of way. Only when he was gone did she one day say in a heavy dreary
tone, that she must soon be leaving us.
But I told her, as we had agreed, that she was very far from well
enough to go away alone; for indeed, it was true that disease of the
lungs had set in, and to send her away to languish and die alone was
not to be thought of.
My answer made her look up to me, and say, "I don't see why you
should all be so good to me! Do you know how I have hated you?"
I could not help smiling a little at that, it had so little to do
with the matter; but I bent down and kissed her, the first time I had
ever done so.
"I don't understand it," she said, and then pushing me away suddenly.
"No! you cannot know, that I--I--I was the first to devise mischief
against that boy. Perrault would never have thought of it, but for
me! Now, you see whom you are harbouring! Perhaps, you thought it
all Perrault's doing."
"No, we did not," I said.
"And you still cherish me! I--who drove you from your home and rank,
and came from wishing the death of your darling, to contriving it!"
I told her we knew it. And at last, after a long, long silence, she
looked up from her joined hands, and said, "If I may only see my
child again, even from the other side of the great gulf, I would be
ready for any torment! It would be no torment to me, so I saw him!
Do you think I shall be allowed, Ursula?"
How I longed for more power, more words to tell her how infinitely
more mercy there was than she thought of! I don't think she took it
in then, but the beginning was made, and she turned away no more from
what she looked on at first as a means of bringing her to her boy,
but by-and-by became even more to her.
Gradually she told how the whole history had come about. She had
thought nothing of the discovery of her birth till her boy was born,
but from that time the one thought of seeing him in the rank she
thought his due had eaten into her heart. She had loved her husband
before, but his resistance had chafed her, and gradually she felt it
an injustice and cruelty, and her love and respect withered away,
till she regarded him as an obstacle. And when she had spent her
labour on the voyage, and obtained recognition from her father--
behold! Alured's existence deprived her of the prize almost within
A settled desire for the poor baby's death was the consequence, kept
up by the continued reports of his danger. Till that time she had
prayed. Then a sense that Heaven was unjust to her and her boy
filled her with grim rebellion, and she prayed no more; and Perrault,
by his constant return to the subject and speculations on it, kept
her mind on it far more.
But Alured lived, and every time she saw him she half hated him, half
loved him; hated him as standing in her son's light, loved him
because she could not help loving Trevor's shadow.
That day, when Emily met them--it had been a sudden impulse--Alured
had been talking to her about his plans for Trevor's birthday; and,
as he spoke of that street, the wild thought came over her how easily
a fever might yet sweep him away. And yet she says, all down the
street, she was trying to persuade herself to forget Emily's warning,
and to disbelieve in the infection. After all, she thought, even if
she had not met Emily, she should have made some excuse for turning
back, such a pitiful thought came of the fair, fresh face flushing
But it was prevented, only it left fruits; for Perrault had heard
what passed between her and Trevorsham. "Did you take him to the
shop?" he asked. And when she mentioned Miss Deerhurst's reminder,
he said, "Ah! that game wants skill and coolness to carry it out."
She says that was almost all that passed in so many words; but from
that time she never doubted that Perrault would take any opportunity
of occasioning danger to Trevorsham; and, strange to say, she lived
in a continued agony, half of hope, half of terror and grief and
pity, her longing for Trevor's promotion, balanced by the thought of
the grief he would suffer for his friend. Any time those five years
she told me she thought that had she seen Perrault hurting him, she
should have rushed between to save him; and yet in other moods, when
she planned for her son, she would herself have done anything to
sweep Alured from his path.
And the frequent discussion with Perrault of plans depending on the
possession of the Trevorsham property, kept the consciousness of his
purpose before her, and as debt and desperation grew, she was more
and more sure of it.
That last day, when Trevor had been driven away, lamenting his
inability to go out duck shooting, Perrault had quietly said in the
late evening, "I shall take a turn in the salt marshes to-night--
opportunities may offer."
The wretch! Fulk thinks he said so to implicate her.
At any rate it left her shuddering with dread and remorse, yet half
triumphant at the notion of putting an end to Fulk's power over the
estate, and of installing her son as heir of Trevorsham.
She had no fears for him, she trusted to his lame foot to detain him,
and said to herself that if it was to be, he would be spared the
sight. She was growing jealous of his love for Alured and of us, and
had a fierce glad hope of getting him more to herself.
And then! oh! poor Hester!
No wonder her desire was to be
Out of the world.
But out of all the anguish, the remorse, the despair, repentance grew
at last. Love seemed to open the heart to it. The sense of infinite
redeeming love penetrated at last, and trust in pardon, and with
pardon came peace. Peace grew on her, through increasing self-
condemnation, and bearing her up as the bodily powers failed more and
There is little more to say. She was a dear and precious charge to
us, and as she grew weaker, she also became more cheerful! and even
that terrible, broken-hearted sense of bereavement calmed.
She found out about Jaquetta and Arthur, and took great interest in
his arrangements for getting a partnership at Shinglebay.
"And Hester," said Jaquetta, "it is so lucky for me that I came down
from being a fine lady. I might never have known Arthur; and if I
had, what an absurd creature I should have been as a poor man's
As to the Deerhursts, the mother sent a servant once or twice to
inquire, but never came herself to see her dear friend; and Miss
Prior took care to tell us that there were horrid whispers about,
that Hester had known, and if not, Mrs. Deerhurst could not have on
her visiting list the wife of a man with a warrant out against him!
She thought it very unfeeling in us to harbour her.
But Emily came. Hester had a great longing to thank her for checking
her on that walk to the scarlet-fever place, and asked Jaquetta one
day to write to her and beg her to come to see a dying woman.
Emily showed the note to her mother, and did not ask leave. The
white doe had become a much more valiant animal.
Hester had liked Emily even while Emily shrank from her, and she now
realized what she had inflicted upon her and Fulk.
She asked Emily's pardon for it, as she had asked Fulk's, and said
that when she was gone she hoped all would come right. Of course the
old position could not be restored, but she knew now why Joel Lea had
such an instinct against it.
"I feel," she once said, "as if Satan had offered me all this for my
soul, and I had taken the bargain. Aye, and if God's providence had
allowed our wicked purpose, he would have had it too. My husband! he
prayed for me! and my boy did too."
She always called Joel Lea "my husband" now, and thought and talked
much of their early love and his warnings. I think the way she had
saddened his later years grieved her as much as anything, and all her
affection seemed revived.
She lingered on, never leaving the house indeed, but not much worse,
till the year had come round again, and we loved her more each day we
nursed her. And when the end came suddenly at last, we mourned as
for a dear sister.
Perrault wrote once--a threatening, swaggering letter from America,
demanding hush-money. It did not come till she was too ill to open
it--only in the last week before her death, and it was left till we
settled her affairs.
Then Fulk wrote and told him of the verdict against him, and
recommended him to let himself be heard of no more. And he took the
We found that dear Hester had left all the fortune, 30,000 pounds,
which had been settled on herself and Trevor, to be divided equally
between us three. Nor had we any scruple in profiting by it.
Trevorsham had enough, and it was what my father would have given us
if he could.
It was enough to make Jaquetta and her young Dr. Cradock settle down
happily and prosperously on the practice they bought.
And enough too, together with Emily's strong quiet determination, to
make Mrs. Deerhurst withdraw her opposition. Daughters of twenty-
nine years old may get their own way.
Moreover a drawing-room and dining-room were built on to Skimping's
Lawn, though Alured declares they have spoilt the place, and nothing
ever was so jolly as the keeping-room.
We had a beautiful double wedding in the summer, in our old church,
and since that I have come to make the old Hall homelike to my boy in
We are very happy together when he comes home, and fills the house
with his young friends; and if it feels too large and empty for me in
his absence, I can always walk down for a happy afternoon with Emily,
or go and make a longer visit to Jaquetta.
And I don't think, as a leader of the fashion, she would have been
half so happy as the motherly, active, ready-handed doctor's wife.
But best of all to me, are those quiet moments when Alured's earnest
spirit shows itself, and he talks out what is in his heart; that it
is a great responsibility to stand in the place such a man as Fulk
would have had--yes--and to have been saved at the cost of Trevor's
I believe the pure, calm remembrance of Trevor Lea's life will be his
guiding star, and that he will be worthy of it.