Part 3 out of 4
"Jacques returned to the stranger, and asked him Virginie's question.
His eyes were fixed on the cousins; he was very pale, and the
twitchings or contortions, which must have been involuntary whenever
he was agitated, convulsed his whole body.
"He made a long pause. 'I will save mademoiselle and monsieur, if
she will go straight from prison to the mairie, and be my wife.'
"'Your wife!' Jacques could not help exclaiming, 'That she will never
"'Ask her!' said Morin, hoarsely.
"But almost before Jacques thought he could have fairly uttered the
words, Clement caught their meaning.
"'Begone!' said he; 'not one word more.' Virginie touched the old
man as he was moving away. 'Tell him he does not know how he makes
me welcome death.' And smiling, as if triumphant, she turned again
"The stranger did not speak as Jacques gave him the meaning, not the
words, of their replies. He was going away, but stopped. A minute
or two afterwards, he beckoned to Jacques. The old gardener seems to
have thought it undesirable to throw away even the chance of
assistance from such a man as this, for he went forward to speak to
"'Listen! I have influence with the gaoler. He shall let thee pass
out with the victims to-morrow. No one will notice it, or miss thee-
-. They will be led to trial,--even at the last moment, I will save
her, if she sends me word she relents. Speak to her, as the time
draws on. Life is very sweet,--tell her how sweet. Speak to him; he
will do more with her than thou canst. Let him urge her to live.
Even at the last, I will be at the Palais de Justice,--at the Greve.
I have followers,--I have interest. Come among the crowd that follow
the victims,--I shall see thee. It will be no worse for him, if she
"'Save my master, and I will do all,' said Jacques.
"'Only on my one condition,' said Morin, doggedly; and Jacques was
hopeless of that condition ever being fulfilled. But he did not see
why his own life might not be saved. By remaining in prison until
the next day, he should have rendered every service in his power to
his master and the young lady. He, poor fellow, shrank from death;
and he agreed with Morin to escape, if he could, by the means Morin
had suggested, and to bring him word if Mademoiselle de Crequy
relented. (Jacques had no expectation that she would; but I fancy he
did not think it necessary to tell Morn of this conviction of his.)
This bargaining with so base a man for so slight a thing as life, was
the only flaw that I heard of in the old gardener's behaviour. Of
course, the mere reopening of the subject was enough to stir Virginie
to displeasure. Clement urged her, it is true; but the light he had
gained upon Morin's motions, made him rather try to set the case
before her in as fair a manner as possible than use any persuasive
arguments. And, even as it was, what he said on the subject made
Virginie shed tears--the first that had fallen from her since she
entered the prison. So, they were summoned and went together, at the
fatal call of the muster-roll of victims the next morning. He,
feeble from his wounds and his injured health; she, calm and serene,
only petitioning to be allowed to walk next to him, in order that she
might hold him up when he turned faint and giddy from his extreme
"Together they stood at the bar; together they were condemned. As
the words of judgment were pronounced, Virginie tuned to Clement, and
embraced him with passionate fondness. Then, making him lean on her,
they marched out towards the Place de la Greve.
"Jacques was free now. He had told Morin how fruitless his efforts
at persuasion had been; and scarcely caring to note the effect of his
information upon the man, he had devoted himself to watching Monsieur
and Mademoiselle de Crequy. And now he followed them to the Place de
la Greve. He saw them mount the platform; saw them kneel down
together till plucked up by the impatient officials; could see that
she was urging some request to the executioner; the end of which
seemed to be, that Clement advanced first to the guillotine, was
executed (and just at this moment there was a stir among the crowd,
as of a man pressing forward towards the scaffold). Then she,
standing with her face to the guillotine, slowly made the sign of the
cross, and knelt down.
"Jacques covered his eyes, blinded with tears. The report of a
pistol made him look up. She was gone--another victim in her place--
and where there had been a little stir in the crowd not five minutes
before, some men were carrying off a dead body. A man had shot
himself, they said. Pierre told me who that man was."
After a pause, I ventured to ask what became of Madame de Crequy,
"She never made any inquiry about him," said my lady. "She must have
known that he was dead; though how, we never could tell. Medlicott
remembered afterwards that it was about, if not on--Medlicott to this
day declares that it was on the very Monday, June the nineteenth,
when her son was executed, that Madame de Crequy left off her rouge
and took to her bed, as one bereaved and hopeless. It certainly was
about that time; and Medlicott--who was deeply impressed by that
dream of Madame de Crequy's (the relation of which I told you had had
such an effect on my lord), in which she had seen the figure of
Virginie--as the only light object amid much surrounding darkness as
of night, smiling and beckoning Clement on--on--till at length the
bright phantom stopped, motionless, and Madame de Crequy's eyes began
to penetrate the murky darkness, and to see closing around her the
gloomy dripping walls which she had once seen and never forgotten--
the walls of the vault of the chapel of the De Crequys in Saint
Germain l'Auxerrois; and there the two last of the Crequys laid them
down among their forefathers, and Madame de Crequy had wakened to the
sound of the great door, which led to the open air, being locked upon
her--I say Medlicott, who was predisposed by this dream to look out
for the supernatural, always declared that Madame de Crequy was made
conscious in some mysterious way, of her son's death, on the very day
and hour when it occurred, and that after that she had no more
anxiety, but was only conscious of a kind of stupefying despair."
"And what became of her, my lady?" I again asked.
"What could become of her?" replied Lady Ludlow. "She never could be
induced to rise again, though she lived more than a year after her
son's departure. She kept her bed; her room darkened, her face
turned towards the wall, whenever any one besides Medlicott was in
the room. She hardly ever spoke, and would have died of starvation
but for Medlicott's tender care, in putting a morsel to her lips
every now and then, feeding her, in fact, just as an old bird feeds
her young ones. In the height of summer my lord and I left London.
We would fain have taken her with us into Scotland, but the doctor
(we had the old doctor from Leicester Square) forbade her removal;
and this time he gave such good reasons against it that I acquiesced.
Medlicott and a maid were left with her. Every care was taken of
her. She survived till our return. Indeed, I thought she was in
much the same state as I had left her in, when I came back to London.
But Medlicott spoke of her as much weaker; and one morning on
awakening, they told me she was dead. I sent for Medlicott, who was
in sad distress, she had become so fond of her charge. She said
that, about two o'clock, she had been awakened by unusual
restlessness on Madame de Crequy's part; that she had gone to her
bedside, and found the poor lady feebly but perpetually moving her
wasted arm up and down--and saying to herself in a wailing voice: 'I
did not bless him when he left me--I did not bless him when he left
me!' Medlicott gave her a spoonful or two of jelly, and sat by her,
stroking her hand, and soothing her till she seemed to fall asleep.
But in the morning she was dead."
"It is a sad story, your ladyship," said I, after a while.
"Yes it is. People seldom arrive at my age without having watched
the beginning, middle, and end of many lives and many fortunes. We
do not talk about them, perhaps; for they are often so sacred to us,
from having touched into the very quick of our own hearts, as it
were, or into those of others who are dead and gone, and veiled over
from human sight, that we cannot tell the tale as if it was a mere
story. But young people should remember that we have had this solemn
experience of life, on which to base our opinions and form our
judgments, so that they are not mere untried theories. I am not
alluding to Mr. Horner just now, for he is nearly as old as I am--
within ten years, I dare say--but I am thinking of Mr. Gray, with his
endless plans for some new thing--schools, education, Sabbaths, and
what not. Now he has not seen what all this leads to."
"It is a pity he has not heard your ladyship tell the story of poor
Monsieur de Crequy."
"Not at all a pity, my dear. A young man like him, who, both by
position and age, must have had his experience confined to a very
narrow circle, ought not to set up his opinion against mine; he ought
not to require reasons from me, nor to need such explanation of my
arguments (if I condescend to argue), as going into relation of the
circumstances on which my arguments are based in my own mind, would
"But, my lady, it might convince him," I said, with perhaps
"And why should he be convinced?" she asked, with gentle inquiry in
her tone. "He has only to acquiesce. Though he is appointed by Mr.
Croxton, I am the lady of the manor, as he must know. But it is with
Mr. Horner that I must have to do about this unfortunate lad Gregson.
I am afraid there will be no method of making him forget his unlucky
knowledge. His poor brains will be intoxicated with the sense of his
powers, without any counterbalancing principles to guide him. Poor
fellow! I am quite afraid it will end in his being hanged!"
The next day Mr. Horner came to apologize and explain. He was
evidently--as I could tell from his voice, as he spoke to my lady in
the next room--extremely annoyed at her ladyship's discovery of the
education he had been giving to this boy. My lady spoke with great
authority, and with reasonable grounds of complaint. Mr. Horner was
well acquainted with her thoughts on the subject, and had acted in
defiance of her wishes. He acknowledged as much, and should on no
account have done it, in any other instance, without her leave.
"Which I could never have granted you," said my lady.
But this boy had extraordinary capabilities; would, in fact, have
taught himself much that was bad, if he had not been rescued, and
another direction given to his powers. And in all Mr. Horner had
done, he had had her ladyship's service in view. The business was
getting almost beyond his power, so many letters and so much account-
keeping was required by the complicated state in which things were.
Lady Ludlow felt what was coming--a reference to the mortgage for the
benefit of my lord's Scottish estates, which, she was perfectly
aware, Mr. Horner considered as having been a most unwise proceeding-
-and she hastened to observe--"All this may be very true, Mr. Horner,
and I am sure I should be the last person to wish you to overwork or
distress yourself; but of that we will talk another time. What I am
now anxious to remedy is, if possible, the state of this poor little
Gregson's mind. Would not hard work in the fields be a wholesome and
excellent way of enabling him to forget?"
"I was in hopes, my lady, that you would have permitted me to bring
him up to act as a kind of clerk," said Mr. Horner, jerking out his
"A what?" asked my lady, in infinite surprise.
"A kind of--of assistant, in the way of copying letters and doing up
accounts. He is already an excellent penman and very quick at
"Mr. Horner," said my lady, with dignity, "the son of a poacher and
vagabond ought never to have been able to copy letters relating to
the Hanbury estates; and, at any rate, he shall not. I wonder how it
is that, knowing the use he has made of his power of reading a
letter, you should venture to propose such an employment for him as
would require his being in your confidence, and you the trusted agent
of this family. Why, every secret (and every ancient and honourable
family has its secrets, as you know, Mr. Horner) would be learnt off
by heart, and repeated to the first comer!"
"I should have hoped to have trained him, my lady, to understand the
rules of discretion."
"Trained! Train a barn-door fowl to be a pheasant, Mr. Horner! That
would be the easier task. But you did right to speak of discretion
rather than honour. Discretion looks to the consequences of actions-
-honour looks to the action itself, and is an instinct rather than a
virtue. After all, it is possible you might have trained him to be
Mr. Horner was silent. My lady was softened by his not replying, and
began as she always did in such cases, to fear lest she had been too
harsh. I could tell that by her voice and by her next speech, as
well as if I had seen her face.
"But I am sorry you are feeling the pressure of the affairs: I am
quite aware that I have entailed much additional trouble upon you by
some of my measures: I must try and provide you with some suitable
assistance. Copying letters and doing up accounts, I think you
Mr. Horner had certainly had a distant idea of turning the little
boy, in process of time, into a clerk; but he had rather urged this
possibility of future usefulness beyond what he had at first
intended, in speaking of it to my lady as a palliation of his
offence, and he certainly was very much inclined to retract his
statement that the letter-writing, or any other business, had
increased, or that he was in the slightest want of help of any kind,
when my lady after a pause of consideration, suddenly said -
"I have it. Miss Galindo will, I am sure, be glad to assist you. I
will speak to her myself. The payment we should make to a clerk
would be of real service to her!"
I could hardly help echoing Mr. Horner's tone of surprise as he said
For, you must be told who Miss Galindo was; at least, told as much as
I know. Miss Galindo had lived in the village for many years,
keeping house on the smallest possible means, yet always managing to
maintain a servant. And this servant was invariably chosen because
she had some infirmity that made her undesirable to every one else.
I believe Miss Galindo had had lame and blind and hump-backed maids.
She had even at one time taken in a girl hopelessly gone in
consumption, because if not she would have had to go to the
workhouse, and not have had enough to eat. Of course the poor
creature could not perform a single duty usually required of a
servant, and Miss Galindo herself was both servant and nurse.
Her present maid was scarcely four feet high, and bore a terrible
character for ill-temper. Nobody but Miss Galindo would have kept
her; but, as it was, mistress and servant squabbled perpetually, and
were, at heart, the best of friends. For it was one of Miss
Galindo's peculiarities to do all manner of kind and self-denying
actions, and to say all manner of provoking things. Lame, blind,
deformed, and dwarf, all came in for scoldings without number: it
was only the consumptive girl that never had heard a sharp word. I
don't think any of her servants liked her the worse for her peppery
temper, and passionate odd ways, for they knew her real and beautiful
kindness of heart: and, besides, she had so great a turn for humour
that very often her speeches amused as much or more than they
irritated; and on the other side, a piece of witty impudence from her
servant would occasionally tickle her so much and so suddenly, that
she would burst out laughing in the middle of her passion.
But the talk about Miss Galindo's choice and management of her
servants was confined to village gossip, and had never reached my
Lady Ludlow's ears, though doubtless Mr. Horner was well acquainted
with it. What my lady knew of her amounted to this. It was the
custom in those days for the wealthy ladies of the county to set on
foot a repository, as it was called, in the assize-town. The
ostensible manager of this repository was generally a decayed
gentlewoman, a clergyman's widow, or so forth. She was, however,
controlled by a committee of ladies; and paid by them in proportion
to the amount of goods she sold; and these goods were the small
manufactures of ladies of little or no fortune, whose names, if they
chose it, were only signified by initials.
Poor water-colour drawings, indigo and Indian ink; screens,
ornamented with moss and dried leaves; paintings on velvet, and such
faintly ornamental works were displayed on one side of the shop. It
was always reckoned a mark of characteristic gentility in the
repository, to have only common heavy-framed sash-windows, which
admitted very little light, so I never was quite certain of the merit
of these Works of Art as they were entitled. But, on the other side,
where the Useful Work placard was put up, there was a great variety
of articles, of whose unusual excellence every one might judge. Such
fine sewing, and stitching, and button-holing! Such bundles of soft
delicate knitted stockings and socks; and, above all, in Lady
Ludlow's eyes, such hanks of the finest spun flaxen thread!
And the most delicate dainty work of all was done by Miss Galindo, as
Lady Ludlow very well knew. Yet, for all their fine sewing, it
sometimes happened that Miss Galindo's patterns were of an old-
fashioned kind; and the dozen night-caps, maybe, on the materials for
which she had expended bona-fide money, and on the making-up, no
little time and eye-sight, would lie for months in a yellow neglected
heap; and at such times, it was said, Miss Galindo was more amusing
than usual, more full of dry drollery and humour; just as at the
times when an order came in to X. (the initial she had chosen) for a
stock of well-paying things, she sat and stormed at her servant as
she stitched away. She herself explained her practice in this way:-
"When everything goes wrong, one would give up breathing if one could
not lighten ones heart by a joke. But when I've to sit still from
morning till night, I must have something to stir my blood, or I
should go off into an apoplexy; so I set to, and quarrel with Sally."
Such were Miss Galindo's means and manner of living in her own house.
Out of doors, and in the village, she was not popular, although she
would have been sorely missed had she left the place. But she asked
too many home questions (not to say impertinent) respecting the
domestic economies (for even the very poor liked to spend their bit
of money their own way), and would open cupboards to find out hidden
extravagances, and question closely respecting the weekly amount of
butter, till one day she met with what would have been a rebuff to
any other person, but which she rather enjoyed than otherwise.
She was going into a cottage, and in the doorway met the good woman
chasing out a duck, and apparently unconscious of her visitor.
"Get out, Miss Galindo!" she cried, addressing the duck. "Get out!
O, I ask your pardon," she continued, as if seeing the lady for the
first time. "It's only that weary duck will come in. Get out Miss
Gal- " (to the duck).
"And so you call it after, me, do you?" inquired her visitor.
"O, yes, ma'am; my master would have it so, for he said, sure enough
the unlucky bird was always poking herself where she was not wanted."
"Ha, ha! very good! And so your master is a wit, is he? Well! tell
him to come up and speak to me to-night about my parlour chimney, for
there is no one like him for chimney doctoring."
And the master went up, and was so won over by Miss Galindo's merry
ways, and sharp insight into the mysteries of his various kinds of
business (he was a mason, chimney-sweeper, and ratcatcher), that he
came home and abused his wife the next time she called the duck the
name by which he himself had christened her.
But odd as Miss Galindo was in general, she could be as well-bred a
lady as any one when she chose. And choose she always did when my
Lady Ludlow was by. Indeed, I don't know the man, woman, or child,
that did not instinctively turn out its best side to her ladyship.
So she had no notion of the qualities which, I am sure, made Mr.
Horner think that Miss Galindo would be most unmanageable as a clerk,
and heartily wish that the idea had never come into my lady's head.
But there it was; and he had annoyed her ladyship already more than
he liked to-day, so he could not directly contradict her, but only
urge difficulties which he hoped might prove insuperable. But every
one of them Lady Ludlow knocked down. Letters to copy? Doubtless.
Miss Galindo could come up to the Hall; she should have a room to
herself; she wrote a beautiful hand; and writing would save her
eyesight. "Capability with regard to accounts?" My lady would
answer for that too; and for more than Mr. Horner seemed to think it
necessary to inquire about. Miss Galindo was by birth and breeding a
lady of the strictest honour, and would, if possible, forget the
substance of any letters that passed through her hands; at any rate,
no one would ever hear of them again from her. "Remuneration?" Oh!
as for that, Lady Ludlow would herself take care that it was managed
in the most delicate manner possible. She would send to invite Miss
Galindo to tea at the Hall that very afternoon, if Mr. Horner would
only give her ladyship the slightest idea of the average length of
time that my lady was to request Miss Galindo to sacrifice to her
daily. "Three hours! Very well." Mr. Horner looked very grave as
he passed the windows of the room where I lay. I don't think he
liked the idea of Miss Galindo as a clerk.
Lady Ludlow's invitations were like royal commands. Indeed, the
village was too quiet to allow the inhabitants to have many evening
engagements of any kind. Now and then, Mr. and Mrs. Horner gave a
tea and supper to the principal tenants and their wives, to which the
clergyman was invited, and Miss Galindo, Mrs. Medlicott, and one or
two other spinsters and widows. The glory of the supper-table on
these occasions was invariably furnished by her ladyship: it was a
cold roasted peacock, with his tail stuck out as if in life. Mrs.
Medlicott would take up the whole morning arranging the feathers in
the proper semicircle, and was always pleased with the wonder and
admiration it excited. It was considered a due reward and fitting
compliment to her exertions that Mr. Horner always took her in to
supper, and placed her opposite to the magnificent dish, at which she
sweetly smiled all the time they were at table. But since Mrs.
Horner had had the paralytic stroke these parties had been given up;
and Miss Galindo wrote a note to Lady Ludlow in reply to her
invitation, saying that she was entirely disengaged, and would have
great pleasure in doing herself the honour of waiting upon her
Whoever visited my lady took their meals with her, sitting on the
dais, in the presence of all my former companions. So I did not see
Miss Galindo until some time after tea; as the young gentlewomen had
had to bring her their sewing and spinning, to hear the remarks of so
competent a judge. At length her ladyship brought her visitor into
the room where I lay,--it was one of my bad days, I remember,--in
order to have her little bit of private conversation. Miss Galindo
was dressed in her best gown, I am sure, but I had never seen
anything like it except in a picture, it was so old-fashioned. She
wore a white muslin apron, delicately embroidered, and put on a
little crookedly, in order, as she told us, even Lady Ludlow, before
the evening was over, to conceal a spot whence the colour had been
discharged by a lemon-stain. This crookedness had an odd effect,
especially when I saw that it was intentional; indeed, she was so
anxious about her apron's right adjustment in the wrong place, that
she told us straight out why she wore it so, and asked her ladyship
if the spot was properly hidden, at the same time lifting up her
apron and showing her how large it was.
"When my father was alive, I always took his right arm, so, and used
to remove any spotted or discoloured breadths to the left side, if it
was a walking-dress. That's the convenience of a gentleman. But
widows and spinsters must do what they can. Ah, my dear (to me)!
when you are reckoning up the blessings in your lot,--though you may
think it a hard one in some respects,--don't forget how little your
stockings want darning, as you are obliged to lie down so much! I
would rather knit two pairs of stockings than darn one, any day."
"Have you been doing any of your beautiful knitting lately?" asked my
lady, who had now arranged Miss Galindo in the pleasantest chair, and
taken her own little wicker-work one, and, having her work in her
hands, was ready to try and open the subject.
"No, and alas! your ladyship. It is partly the hot weather's fault,
for people seem to forget that winter must come; and partly, I
suppose, that every one is stocked who has the money to pay four-and-
sixpence a pair for stockings."
"Then may I ask if you have any time in your active days at liberty?"
said my lady, drawing a little nearer to her proposal, which I fancy
she found it a little awkward to make.
"Why, the village keeps me busy, your ladyship, when I have neither
knitting or sewing to do. You know I took X. for my letter at the
repository, because it stands for Xantippe, who was a great scold in
old times, as I have learnt. But I'm sure I don't know how the world
would get on without scolding, your ladyship. It would go to sleep,
and the sun would stand still."
"I don't think I could bear to scold, Miss Galindo," said her
"No! because your ladyship has people to do it for you. Begging your
pardon, my lady, it seems to me the generality of people may be
divided into saints, scolds, and sinners. Now, your ladyship is a
saint, because you have a sweet and holy nature, in the first place;
and have people to do your anger and vexation for you, in the second
place. And Jonathan Walker is a sinner, because he is sent to
prison. But here am I, half way, having but a poor kind of
disposition at best, and yet hating sin, and all that leads to it,
such as wasting, and extravagance, and gossiping,--and yet all this
lies right under my nose in the village, and I am not saint enough to
be vexed at it; and so I scold. And though I had rather be a saint,
yet I think I do good in my way."
"No doubt you do, dear Miss Galindo," said Lady Ludlow. "But I am
sorry to hear that there is so much that is bad going on in the
"O, your ladyship! then I am sorry I brought it out. It was only by
way of saying, that when I have no particular work to do at home, I
take a turn abroad, and set my neighbours to rights, just by way of
steering clear of Satan.
For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do,
you know, my lady."
There was no leading into the subject by delicate degrees, for Miss
Galindo was evidently so fond of talking, that, if asked a question,
she made her answer so long, that before she came to an end of it,
she had wandered far away from the original starting point. So Lady
Ludlow plunged at once into what she had to say.
"Miss Galindo, I have a great favour to ask of you."
"My lady, I wish I could tell you what a pleasure it is to hear you
say so," replied Miss Galindo, almost with tears in her eyes; so glad
were we all to do anything for her ladyship, which could be called a
free service and not merely a duty.
"It is this. Mr. Horner tells me that the business-letters, relating
to the estate, are multiplying so much that he finds it impossible to
copy them all himself, and I therefore require the services of some
confidential and discreet person to copy these letters, and
occasionally to go through certain accounts. Now, there is a very
pleasant little sitting-room very near to Mr. Horner's office (you
know Mr. Horner's office--on the other side of the stone hall?), and
if I could prevail upon you to come here to breakfast and afterwards
sit there for three hours every morning, Mr. Horner should bring or
send you the papers--"
Lady Ludlow stopped. Miss Galindo's countenance had fallen. There
was some great obstacle in her mind to her wish for obliging Lady
"What would Sally do?" she asked at length. Lady Ludlow had not a
notion who Sally was. Nor if she had had a notion, would she have
had a conception of the perplexities that poured into Miss Galindo's
mind, at the idea of leaving her rough forgetful dwarf without the
perpetual monitorship of her mistress. Lady Ludlow, accustomed to a
household where everything went on noiselessly, perfectly, and by
clock-work, conducted by a number of highly-paid, well-chosen, and
accomplished servants, had not a conception of the nature of the
rough material from which her servants came. Besides, in her
establishment, so that the result was good, no one inquired if the
small economies had been observed in the production. Whereas every
penny--every halfpenny, was of consequence to Miss Galindo; and
visions of squandered drops of milk and wasted crusts of bread filled
her mind with dismay. But she swallowed all her apprehensions down,
out of her regard for Lady Ludlow, and desire to be of service to
her. No one knows how great a trial it was to her when she thought
of Sally, unchecked and unscolded for three hours every morning. But
all she said was -
"'Sally, go to the Deuce.' I beg your pardon, my lady, if I was
talking to myself; it's a habit I have got into of keeping my tongue
in practice, and I am not quite aware when I do it. Three hours
every morning! I shall be only too proud to do what I can for your
ladyship; and I hope Mr. Horner will not be too impatient with me at
first. You know, perhaps, that I was nearly being an authoress once,
and that seems as if I was destined to 'employ my time in writing.'"
"No, indeed; we must return to the subject of the clerkship
afterwards, if you please. An authoress, Miss Galindo! You surprise
"But, indeed, I was. All was quite ready. Doctor Burney used to
teach me music: not that I ever could learn, but it was a fancy of
my poor father's. And his daughter wrote a book, and they said she
was but a very young lady, and nothing but a music-master's daughter;
so why should not I try?"
"Well! I got paper and half-a-hundred good pens, a bottle of ink,
"O, it ended in my having nothing to say, when I sat down to write.
But sometimes, when I get hold of a book, I wonder why I let such a
poor reason stop me. It does not others."
"But I think it was very well it did, Miss Galindo," said her
ladyship. "I am extremely against women usurping men's employments,
as they are very apt to do. But perhaps, after all, the notion of
writing a book improved your hand. It is one of the most legible I
"I despise z's without tails," said Miss Galindo, with a good deal of
gratified pride at my lady's praise. Presently, my lady took her to
look at a curious old cabinet, which Lord Ludlow had picked up at the
Hague; and while they were out of the room on this errand, I suppose
the question of remuneration was settled, for I heard no more of it.
When they came back, they were talking of Mr. Gray. Miss Galindo was
unsparing in her expressions of opinion about him: going much
farther than my lady--in her language, at least.
"A little blushing man like him, who can't say bo to a goose without
hesitating and colouring, to come to this village--which is as good a
village as ever lived--and cry us down for a set of sinners, as if we
had all committed murder and that other thing!--I have no patience
with him, my lady. And then, how is he to help us to heaven, by
teaching us our, a b, ab--b a, ba? And yet, by all accounts, that's
to save poor children's souls. O, I knew your ladyship would agree
with me. I am sure my mother was as good a creature as ever breathed
the blessed air; and if she's not gone to heaven I don't want to go
there; and she could not spell a letter decently. And does Mr. Gray
think God took note of that?"
"I was sure you would agree with me, Miss Galindo," said my lady.
"You and I can remember how this talk about education--Rousseau, and
his writings--stirred up the French people to their Reign of Terror,
and all those bloody scenes."
"I'm afraid that Rousseau and Mr. Gray are birds of a feather,"
replied Miss Galindo, shaking her head. "And yet there is some good
in the young man too. He sat up all night with Billy Davis, when his
wife was fairly worn out with nursing him."
"Did he, indeed!" said my lady, her face lighting up, as it always
did when she heard of any kind or generous action, no matter who
performed it. "What a pity he is bitten with these new revolutionary
ideas, and is so much for disturbing the established order of
When Miss Galindo went, she left so favourable an impression of her
visit on my lady, that she said to me with a pleased smile -
"I think I have provided Mr. Horner with a far better clerk than he
would have made of that lad Gregson in twenty years. And I will send
the lad to my lord's grieve, in Scotland, that he may be kept out of
But something happened to the lad before this purpose could be
The next morning, Miss Galindo made her appearance, and, by some
mistake, unusual to my lady's well-trained servants, was shown into
the room where I was trying to walk; for a certain amount of exercise
was prescribed for me, painful although the exertion had become.
She brought a little basket along with her and while the footman was
gone to inquire my lady's wishes (for I don't think that Lady Ludlow
expected Miss Galindo so soon to assume her clerkship; nor, indeed,
had Mr. Horner any work of any kind ready for his new assistant to
do), she launched out into conversation with me.
"It was a sudden summons, my dear! However, as I have often said to
myself, ever since an occasion long ago, if Lady Ludlow ever honours
me by asking for my right hand, I'll cut it off, and wrap the stump
up so tidily she shall never find out it bleeds. But, if I had had a
little more time, I could have mended my pens better. You see, I
have had to sit up pretty late to get these sleeves made"--and she
took out of her basket a pail of brown-holland over-sleeves, very
much such as a grocer's apprentice wears--"and I had only time to
make seven or eight pens, out of some quills Farmer Thomson gave me
last autumn. As for ink, I'm thankful to say, that's always ready;
an ounce of steel filings, an ounce of nut-gall, and a pint of water
(tea, if you're extravagant, which, thank Heaven! I'm not), put all
in a bottle, and hang it up behind the house door, so that the whole
gets a good shaking every time you slam it to--and even if you are in
a passion and bang it, as Sally and I often do, it is all the better
for it--and there's my ink ready for use; ready to write my lady's
will with, if need be."
"O, Miss Galindo!" said I, "don't talk so my lady's will! and she not
"And if she were, what would be the use of talking of making her
will? Now, if you were Sally, I should say, 'Answer me that, you
goose!' But, as you're a relation of my lady's, I must be civil, and
only say, 'I can't think how you can talk so like a fool!' To be
sure, poor thing, you're lame!"
I do not know how long she would have gone on; but my lady came in,
and I, released from my duty of entertaining Miss Galindo, made my
limping way into the next room. To tell the truth, I was rather
afraid of Miss Galindo's tongue, for I never knew what she would say
After a while my lady came, and began to look in the bureau for
something: and as she looked she said--"I think Mr. Horner must have
made some mistake, when he said he had so much work that he almost
required a clerk, for this morning he cannot find anything for Miss
Galindo to do; and there she is, sitting with her pen behind her ear,
waiting for something to write. I am come to find her my mother's
letters, for I should like to have a fair copy made of them. O, here
they are: don't trouble yourself, my dear child."
When my lady returned again, she sat down and began to talk of Mr.
"Miss Galindo says she saw him going to hold a prayer-meeting in a
cottage. Now that really makes me unhappy, it is so like what Mr.
Wesley used to do in my younger days; and since then we have had
rebellion in the American colonies and the French Revolution. You
may depend upon it, my dear, making religion and education common--
vulgarising them, as it were--is a bad thing for a nation. A man who
hears prayers read in the cottage where he has just supped on bread
and bacon, forgets the respect due to a church: he begins to think
that one place is as good as another, and, by-and-by, that one person
is as good as another; and after that, I always find that people
begin to talk of their rights, instead of thinking of their duties.
I wish Mr. Gray had been more tractable, and had left well alone.
What do you think I heard this morning? Why that the Home Hill
estate, which niches into the Hanbury property, was bought by a
Baptist baker from Birmingham!"
"A Baptist baker!" I exclaimed. I had never seen a Dissenter, to my
knowledge; but, having always heard them spoken of with horror, I
looked upon them almost as if they were rhinoceroses. I wanted to
see a live Dissenter, I believe, and yet I wished it were over. I
was almost surprised when I heard that any of them were engaged in
such peaceful occupations as baking.
"Yes! so Mr. Horner tells me. A Mr. Lambe, I believe. But, at any
rate, he is a Baptist, and has been in trade. What with his
schismatism and Mr. Gray's methodism, I am afraid all the primitive
character of this place will vanish."
From what I could hear, Mr. Gray seemed to be taking his own way; at
any rate, more than he had done when he first came to the village,
when his natural timidity had made him defer to my lady, and seek her
consent and sanction before embarking in any new plan. But newness
was a quality Lady Ludlow especially disliked. Even in the fashions
of dress and furniture, she clung to the old, to the modes which had
prevailed when she was young; and though she had a deep personal
regard for Queen Charlotte (to whom, as I have already said, she had
been maid-of-honour), yet there was a tinge of Jacobitism about her,
such as made her extremely dislike to hear Prince Charles Edward
called the young Pretender, as many loyal people did in those days,
and made her fond of telling of the thorn-tree in my lord's park in
Scotland, which had been planted by bonny Queen Mary herself, and
before which every guest in the Castle of Monkshaven was expected to
stand bare-headed, out of respect to the memory and misfortunes of
the royal planter.
We might play at cards, if we so chose, on a Sunday; at least, I
suppose we might, for my lady and Mr. Mountford used to do so often
when I first went. But we must neither play cards, nor read, nor sew
on the fifth of November and on the thirtieth of January, but must go
to church, and meditate all the rest of the day--and very hard work
meditating was. I would far rather have scoured a room. That was
the reason, I suppose, why a passive life was seen to be better
discipline for me than an active one.
But I am wandering away from my lady, and her dislike to all
innovation. Now, it seemed to me, as far as I heard, that Mr. Gray
was full of nothing but new things, and that what he first did was to
attack all our established institutions, both in the village and the
parish, and also in the nation. To be sure, I heard of his ways of
going on principally from Miss Galindo, who was apt to speak more
strongly than accurately.
"There he goes," she said, "clucking up the children just like an old
hen, and trying to teach them about their salvation and their souls,
and I don't know what--things that it is just blasphemy to speak
about out of church. And he potters old people about reading their
Bibles. I am sure I don't want to speak disrespectfully about the
Holy Scriptures, but I found old Job Horton busy reading his Bible
yesterday. Says I, 'What are you reading, and where did you get it,
and who gave it you?' So he made answer, 'That he was reading
Susannah and the Elders, for that he had read Bel and the Dragon till
he could pretty near say it off by heart, and they were two as pretty
stories as ever he had read, and that it was a caution to him what
bad old chaps there were in the world.' Now, as Job is bed-ridden, I
don't think he is likely to meet with the Elders, and I say that I
think repeating his Creed, the Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer,
and, maybe, throwing in a verse of the Psalms, if he wanted a bit of
a change, would have done him far more good than his pretty stories,
as he called them. And what's the next thing our young parson does?
Why he tries to make us all feel pitiful for the black slaves, and
leaves little pictures of negroes about, with the question printed
below, 'Am I not a man and a brother?' just as if I was to be hail-
fellow-well-met with every negro footman. They do say he takes no
sugar in his tea, because he thinks he sees spots of blood in it.
Now I call that superstition.
The next day it was a still worse story.
"Well, my dear! and how are you? My lady sent me in to sit a bit
with you, while Mr. Horner looks out some papers for me to copy.
Between ourselves, Mr. Steward Horner does not like having me for a
clerk. It is all very well he does not; for, if he were decently
civil to me, I might want a chaperone, you know, now poor Mrs. Horner
is dead." This was one of Miss Galindo's grim jokes. "As it is, I
try to make him forget I'm a woman, I do everything as ship-shape as
a masculine man-clerk. I see he can't find a fault--writing good,
spelling correct, sums all right. And then he squints up at me with
the tail of his eye, and looks glummer than ever, just because I'm a
woman--as if I could help that. I have gone good lengths to set his
mind at ease. I have stuck my pen behind my ear, I have made him a
bow instead of a curtsey, I have whistled--not a tune I can't pipe up
that--nay, if you won't tell my lady, I don't mind telling you that I
have said 'Confound it!' and 'Zounds!' I can't get any farther. For
all that, Mr. Horner won't forget I am a lady, and so I am not half
the use I might be, and if it were not to please my Lady Ludlow, Mr.
Horner and his books might go hang (see how natural that came out!).
And there is an order for a dozen nightcaps for a bride, and I am so
afraid I shan't have time to do them. Worst of all, there's Mr. Gray
taking advantage of my absence to seduce Sally!"
"To seduce Sally! Mr. Gray!"
"Pooh, pooh, child! There's many a kind of seduction. Mr. Gray is
seducing Sally to want to go to church. There has he been twice at
my house, while I have been away in the mornings, talking to Sally
about the state of her soul and that sort of thing. But when I found
the meat all roasted to a cinder, I said, 'Come, Sally, let's have no
more praying when beef is down at the fire. Pray at six o'clock in
the morning and nine at night, and I won't hinder you.' So she
sauced me, and said something about Martha and Mary, implying that,
because she had let the beef get so overdone that I declare I could
hardly find a bit for Nancy Pole's sick grandchild, she had chosen
the better part. I was very much put about, I own, and perhaps
you'll be shocked at what I said--indeed, I don't know if it was
right myself--but I told her I had a soul as well as she, and if it
was to be saved by my sitting still and thinking about salvation and
never doing my duty, I thought I had as good a right as she had to be
Mary, and save my soul. So, that afternoon I sat quite still, and it
was really a comfort, for I am often too busy, I know, to pray as I
ought. There is first one person wanting me, and then another, and
the house and the food and the neighbours to see after. So, when
tea-time comes, there enters my maid with her hump on her back, and
her soul to be saved. 'Please, ma'am, did you order the pound of
butter?'--'No, Sally,' I said, shaking my head, 'this morning I did
not go round by Hale's farm, and this afternoon I have been employed
in spiritual things.'
"Now, our Sally likes tea and bread-and-butter above everything, and
dry bread was not to her taste.
"'I'm thankful,' said the impudent hussy, 'that you have taken a turn
towards godliness. It will be my prayers, I trust, that's given it
"I was determined not to give her an opening towards the carnal
subject of butter, so she lingered still, longing to ask leave to run
for it. But I gave her none, and munched my dry bread myself,
thinking what a famous cake I could make for little Ben Pole with the
bit of butter we were saving; and when Sally had had her butterless
tea, and was in none of the best of tempers because Martha had not
bethought herself of the butter, I just quietly said -
"'Now, Sally, to-morrow we'll try to hash that beef well, and to
remember the butter, and to work out our salvation all at the same
time, for I don't see why it can't all be done, as God has set us to
do it all.' But I heard her at it again about Mary and Martha, and I
have no doubt that Mr. Gray will teach her to consider me a lost
I had heard so many little speeches about Mr. Gray from one person or
another, all speaking against him, as a mischief-maker, a setter-up
of new doctrines, and of a fanciful standard of life (and you may be
sure that, where Lady Ludlow led, Mrs. Medlicott and Adams were
certain to follow, each in their different ways showing the influence
my lady had over them), that I believe I had grown to consider him as
a very instrument of evil, and to expect to perceive in his face
marks of his presumption, and arrogance, and impertinent
interference. It was now many weeks since I had seen him, and when
he was one morning shown into the blue drawing-room (into which I had
been removed for a change), I was quite surprised to see how innocent
and awkward a young man he appeared, confused even more than I was at
our unexpected tete-a-tete. He looked thinner, his eyes more eager,
his expression more anxious, and his colour came and went more than
it had done when I had seen him last. I tried to make a little
conversation, as I was, to my own surprise, more at my ease than he
was; but his thoughts were evidently too much preoccupied for him to
do more than answer me with monosyllables.
Presently my lady came in. Mr. Gray twitched and coloured more than
ever; but plunged into the middle of his subject at once.
"My lady, I cannot answer it to my conscience, if I allow the
children of this village to go on any longer the little heathens that
they are. I must do something to alter their condition. I am quite
aware that your ladyship disapproves of many of the plans which have
suggested themselves to me; but nevertheless I must do something, and
I am come now to your ladyship to ask respectfully, but firmly, what
you would advise me to do."
His eyes were dilated, and I could almost have said they were full of
tears with his eagerness. But I am sure it is a bad plan to remind
people of decided opinions which they have once expressed, if you
wish them to modify those opinions. Now, Mr. Gray had done this with
my lady; and though I do not mean to say she was obstinate, yet she
was not one to retract.
She was silent for a moment or two before she replied.
"You ask me to suggest a remedy for an evil of the existence of which
I am not conscious," was her answer--very coldly, very gently given.
"In Mr. Mountford's time I heard no such complaints: whenever I see
the village children (and they are not unfrequent visitors at this
house, on one pretext or another), they are well and decently
"Oh, madam, you cannot judge," he broke in. "They are trained to
respect you in word and deed; you are the highest they ever look up
to; they have no notion of a higher."
"Nay, Mr. Gray," said my lady, smiling, "they are as loyally disposed
as any children can be. They come up here every fourth of June, and
drink his Majesty's health, and have buns, and (as Margaret Dawson
can testify) they take a great and respectful interest in all the
pictures I can show them of the royal family."
"But, madam, I think of something higher than any earthly dignities."
My lady coloured at the mistake she had made; for she herself was
truly pious. Yet when she resumed the subject, it seemed to me as if
her tone was a little sharper than before.
"Such want of reverence is, I should say, the clergyman's fault. You
must excuse me, Mr. Gray, if I speak plainly."
"My Lady, I want plain-speaking. I myself am not accustomed to those
ceremonies and forms which are, I suppose, the etiquette in your
ladyship's rank of life, and which seem to hedge you in from any
power of mine to touch you. Among those with whom I have passed my
life hitherto, it has been the custom to speak plainly out what we
have felt earnestly. So, instead of needing any apology from your
ladyship for straightforward speaking, I will meet what you say at
once, and admit that it is the clergyman's fault, in a great measure,
when the children of his parish swear, and curse, and are brutal, and
ignorant of all saving grace; nay, some of them of the very name of
God. And because this guilt of mine, as the clergyman of this
parish, lies heavy on my soul, and every day leads but from bad to
worse, till I am utterly bewildered how to do good to children who
escape from me as it I were a monster, and who are growing up to be
men fit for and capable of any crime, but those requiring wit or
sense, I come to you, who seem to me all-powerful, as far as material
power goes--for your ladyship only knows the surface of things, and
barely that, that pass in your village--to help me with advice, and
such outward help as you can give."
Mr. Gray had stood up and sat down once or twice while he had been
speaking, in an agitated, nervous kind of way, and now he was
interrupted by a violent fit of coughing, after which he trembled all
My lady rang for a glass of water, and looked much distressed.
"Mr. Gray," said she, "I am sure you are not well; and that makes you
exaggerate childish faults into positive evils. It is always the
case with us when we are not strong in health. I hear of your
exerting yourself in every direction: you overwork yourself, and the
consequence is, that you imagine us all worse people than we are."
And my lady smiled very kindly and pleasantly at him, as he sat, a
little panting, a little flushed, trying to recover his breath. I am
sure that now they were brought face to face, she had quite forgotten
all the offence she had taken at his doings when she heard of them
from others; and, indeed, it was enough to soften any one's heart to
see that young, almost boyish face, looking in such anxiety and
"Oh, my lady, what shall I do?" he asked, as soon as he could recover
breath, and with such an air of humility, that I am sure no one who
had seen it could have ever thought him conceited again. "The evil
of this world is too strong for me. I can do so little. It is all
in vain. It was only to-day--" and again the cough and agitation
"My dear Mr. Gray," said my lady (the day before I could never have
believed she could have called him My dear), "you must take the
advice of an old woman about yourself. You are not fit to do
anything just now but attend to your own health: rest, and see a
doctor (but, indeed, I will take care of that), and when you are
pretty strong again, you will find that you have been magnifying
evils to yourself."
"But, my lady, I cannot rest. The evils do exist, and the burden of
their continuance lies on my shoulders. I have no place to gather
the children together in, that I may teach them the things necessary
to salvation. The rooms in my own house are too small; but I have
tried them. I have money of my own; and, as your ladyship knows, I
tried to get a piece of leasehold property, on which to build a
school-house at my own expense. Your ladyship's lawyer comes
forward, at your instructions, to enforce some old feudal right, by
which no building is allowed on leasehold property without the
sanction of the lady of the manor. It may be all very true; but it
was a cruel thing to do,--that is, if your ladyship had known (which
I am sure you do not) the real moral and spiritual state of my poor
parishioners. And now I come to you to know what I am to do. Rest!
I cannot rest, while children whom I could possibly save are being
left in their ignorance, their blasphemy, their uncleanness, their
cruelty. It is known through the village that your ladyship
disapproves of my efforts, and opposes all my plans. If you think
them wrong, foolish, ill-digested (I have been a student, living in a
college, and eschewing all society but that of pious men, until now:
I may not judge for the best, in my ignorance of this sinful human
nature), tell me of better plans and wiser projects for accomplishing
my end; but do not bid me rest, with Satan compassing me round, and
stealing souls away."
"Mr. Gray," said my lady, "there may be some truth in what you have
said. I do not deny it, though I think, in your present state of
indisposition and excitement, you exaggerate it much. I believe--
nay, the experience of a pretty long life has convinced me--that
education is a bad thing, if given indiscriminately. It unfits the
lower orders for their duties, the duties to which they are called by
God; of submission to those placed in authority over them; of
contentment with that state of life to which it has pleased God to
call them, and of ordering themselves lowly and reverently to all
their betters. I have made this conviction of mine tolerably evident
to you; and I have expressed distinctly my disapprobation of some of
your ideas. You may imagine, then, that I was not well pleased when
I found that you had taken a rood or more of Farmer Hale's land, and
were laying the foundations of a school-house. You had done this
without asking for my permission, which, as Farmer Hale's liege lady,
ought to have been obtained legally, as well as asked for out of
courtesy. I put a stop to what I believed to be calculated to do
harm to a village, to a population in which, to say the least of it,
I may be disposed to take as much interest as you can do. How can
reading, and writing, and the multiplication-table (if you choose to
go so far) prevent blasphemy, and uncleanness, and cruelty? Really,
Mr. Gray, I hardly like to express myself so strongly on the subject
in your present state of health, as I should do at any other time.
It seems to me that books do little; character much; and character is
not formed from books."
"I do not think of character: I think of souls. I must get some
hold upon these children, or what will become of them in the next
world? I must be found to have some power beyond what they have, and
which they are rendered capable of appreciating, before they will
listen to me. At present physical force is all they look up to; and
I have none."
"Nay, Mr. Gray, by your own admission, they look up to me."
"They would not do anything your ladyship disliked if it was likely
to come to your knowledge; but if they could conceal it from you, the
knowledge of your dislike to a particular line of conduct would never
make them cease from pursuing it."
"Mr. Gray"--surprise in her air, and some little indignation--"they
and their fathers have lived on the Hanbury lands for generations!"
"I cannot help it, madam. I am telling you the truth, whether you
believe me or not." There was a pause; my lady looked perplexed, and
somewhat ruffled; Mr. Gray as though hopeless and wearied out.
"Then, my lady," said he, at last, rising as he spoke, "you can
suggest nothing to ameliorate the state of things which, I do assure
you, does exist on your lands, and among your tenants. Surely, you
will not object to my using Farmer Hale's great barn every Sabbath?
He will allow me the use of it, if your ladyship will grant your
"You are not fit for any extra work at present," (and indeed he had
been coughing very much all through the conversation). "Give me time
to consider of it. Tell me what you wish to teach. You will be able
to take care of your health, and grow stronger while I consider. It
shall not be the worse for you, if you leave it in my hands for a
My lady spoke very kindly; but he was in too excited a state to
recognize the kindness, while the idea of delay was evidently a sore
irritation. I heard him say: "And I have so little time in which to
do my work. Lord! lay not this sin to my charge."
But my lady was speaking to the old butler, for whom, at her sign, I
had rung the bell some little time before. Now she turned round.
"Mr. Gray, I find I have some bottles of Malmsey, of the vintage of
seventeen hundred and seventy-eight, yet left. Malmsey, as perhaps
you know, used to be considered a specific for coughs arising from
weakness. You must permit me to send you half-a-dozen bottles, and,
depend upon it, you will take a more cheerful view of life and its
duties before you have finished them, especially if you will be so
kind as to see Dr. Trevor, who is coming to see me in the course of
the week. By the time you are strong enough to work, I will try and
find some means of preventing the children from using such bad
language, and otherwise annoying you."
"My lady, it is the sin, and not the annoyance. I wish I could make
you understand." He spoke with some impatience; Poor fellow! he was
too weak, exhausted, and nervous. "I am perfectly well; I can set to
work to-morrow; I will do anything not to be oppressed with the
thought of how little I am doing. I do not want your wine. Liberty
to act in the manner I think right, will do me far more good. But it
is of no use. It is preordained that I am to be nothing but a
cumberer of the ground. I beg your ladyship's pardon for this call."
He stood up, and then turned dizzy. My lady looked on, deeply hurt,
and not a little offended, he held out his hand to her, and I could
see that she had a little hesitation before she took it. He then saw
me, I almost think, for the first time; and put out his hand once
more, drew it back, as if undecided, put it out again, and finally
took hold of mine for an instant in his damp, listless hand, and was
Lady Ludlow was dissatisfied with both him and herself, I was sure.
Indeed, I was dissatisfied with the result of the interview myself.
But my lady was not one to speak out her feelings on the subject; nor
was I one to forget myself, and begin on a topic which she did not
begin. She came to me, and was very tender with me; so tender, that
that, and the thoughts of Mr. Gray's sick, hopeless, disappointed
look, nearly made me cry.
"You are tired, little one," said my lady. "Go and lie down in my
room, and hear what Medlicott and I can decide upon in the way of
strengthening dainties for that poor young man, who is killing
himself with his over-sensitive conscientiousness."
"Oh, my lady!" said I, and then I stopped.
"Well. What?" asked she.
"If you would but let him have Farmer Hale's barn at once, it would
do him more good than all."
"Pooh, pooh, child!" though I don't think she was displeased, "he is
not fit for more work just now. I shall go and write for Dr.
And for the next half-hour, we did nothing but arrange physical
comforts and cures for poor Mr. Gray. At the end of the time, Mrs.
Medlicott said -
"Has your ladyship heard that Harry Gregson has fallen from a tree,
and broken his thigh-bone, and is like to be a cripple for life?"
"Harry Gregson! That black-eyed lad who read my letter? It all
comes from over-education!"
But I don't see how my lady could think it was over-education that
made Harry Gregson break his thigh, for the manner in which he met
with the accident was this:-
Mr. Horner, who had fallen sadly out of health since his wife's
death, had attached himself greatly to Harry Gregson. Now, Mr.
Horner had a cold manner to every one, and never spoke more than was
necessary, at the best of times. And, latterly, it had not been the
best of times with him. I dare say, he had had some causes for
anxiety (of which I knew nothing) about my lady's affairs; and he was
evidently annoyed by my lady's whim (as he once inadvertently called
it) of placing Miss Galindo under him in the position of a clerk.
Yet he had always been friends, in his quiet way, with Miss Galindo,
and she devoted herself to her new occupation with diligence and
punctuality, although more than once she had moaned to me over the
orders for needlework which had been sent to her, and which, owing to
her occupation in the service of Lady Ludlow, she had been unable to
The only living creature to whom the staid Mr. Horner could be said
to be attached, was Harry Gregson. To my lady he was a faithful and
devoted servant, looking keenly after her interests, and anxious to
forward them at any cost of trouble to himself. But the more shrewd
Mr. Horner was, the more probability was there of his being annoyed
at certain peculiarities of opinion which my lady held with a quiet,
gentle pertinacity; against which no arguments, based on mere worldly
and business calculations, made any way. This frequent opposition to
views which Mr. Horner entertained, although it did not interfere
with the sincere respect which the lady and the steward felt for each
other, yet prevented any warmer feeling of affection from coming in.
It seems strange to say it, but I must repeat it--the only person for
whom, since his wife's death, Mr. Horner seemed to feel any love, was
the little imp Harry Gregson, with his bright, watchful eyes, his
tangled hair hanging right down to his eyebrows, for all the world
like a Skye terrier. This lad, half gipsy and whole poacher, as many
people esteemed him, hung about the silent, respectable, staid Mr.
Horner, and followed his steps with something of the affectionate
fidelity of the dog which he resembled. I suspect, this
demonstration of attachment to his person on Harry Gregson's part was
what won Mr. Horner's regard. In the first instance, the steward had
only chosen the lad out as the cleverest instrument he could find for
his purpose; and I don't mean to say that, if Harry had not been
almost as shrewd as Mr. Horner himself was, both by original
disposition and subsequent experience, the steward would have taken
to him as he did, let the lad have shown ever so much affection for
But even to Harry Mr. Horner was silent. Still, it was pleasant to
find himself in many ways so readily understood; to perceive that the
crumbs of knowledge he let fall were picked up by his little
follower, and hoarded like gold that here was one to hate the persons
and things whom Mr. Horner coldly disliked, and to reverence and
admire all those for whom he had any regard. Mr. Horner had never
had a child, and unconsciously, I suppose, something of the paternal
feeling had begun to develop itself in him towards Harry Gregson. I
heard one or two things from different people, which have always made
me fancy that Mr. Horner secretly and almost unconsciously hoped that
Harry Gregson might be trained so as to be first his clerk, and next
his assistant, and finally his successor in his stewardship to the
Harry's disgrace with my lady, in consequence of his reading the
letter, was a deeper blow to Mr. Horner than his quiet manner would
ever have led any one to suppose, or than Lady Ludlow ever dreamed of
inflicting, I am sure.
Probably Harry had a short, stern rebuke from Mr. Horner at the time,
for his manner was always hard even to those he cared for the most.
But Harry's love was not to be daunted or quelled by a few sharp
words. I dare say, from what I heard of them afterwards, that Harry
accompanied Mr. Horner in his walk over the farm the very day of the
rebuke; his presence apparently unnoticed by the agent, by whom his
absence would have been painfully felt nevertheless. That was the
way of it, as I have been told. Mr. Horner never bade Harry go with
him; never thanked him for going, or being at his heels ready to run
on any errands, straight as the crow flies to his point, and back to
heel in as short a time as possible. Yet, if Harry were away, Mr.
Horner never inquired the reason from any of the men who might be
supposed to know whether he was detained by his father, or otherwise
engaged; he never asked Harry himself where he had been. But Miss
Galindo said that those labourers who knew Mr. Horner well, told her
that he was always more quick-eyed to shortcomings, more savage-like
in fault-finding, on those days when the lad was absent.
Miss Galindo, indeed, was my great authority for most of the village
news which I heard. She it was who gave me the particulars of poor
"You see, my dear," she said, "the little poacher has taken some
unaccountable fancy to my master." (This was the name by which Miss
Galindo always spoke of Mr. Horner to me, ever since she had been, as
she called it, appointed his clerk.)
"Now if I had twenty hearts to lose, I never could spare a bit of one
of them for that good, gray, square, severe man. But different
people have different tastes, and here is that little imp of a gipsy-
tinker ready to turn slave for my master; and, odd enough, my
master,--who, I should have said beforehand, would have made short
work of imp, and imp's family, and have sent Hall, the Bang-beggar,
after them in no time--my master, as they tell me, is in his way
quite fond of the lad, and if he could, without vexing my lady too
much, he would have made him what the folks here call a Latiner.
However, last night, it seems that there was a letter of some
importance forgotten (I can't tell you what it was about, my dear,
though I know perfectly well, but 'service oblige,' as well as
'noblesse,' and you must take my word for it that it was important,
and one that I am surprised my master could forget), till too late
for the post. (The poor, good, orderly man is not what he was before
his wife's death.) Well, it seems that he was sore annoyed by his
forgetfulness, and well he might be. And it was all the more
vexatious, as he had no one to blame but himself. As for that
matter, I always scold somebody else when I'm in fault; but I suppose
my master would never think of doing that, else it's a mighty relief.
However, he could eat no tea, and was altogether put out and gloomy.
And the little faithful imp-lad, perceiving all this, I suppose, got
up like a page in an old ballad, and said he would run for his life
across country to Comberford, and see if he could not get there
before the bags were made up. So my master gave him the letter, and
nothing more was heard of the poor fellow till this morning, for the
father thought his son was sleeping in Mr. Horner's barn, as he does
occasionally, it seems, and my master, as was very natural, that he
had gone to his father's."
"And he had fallen down the old stone quarry, had he not?"
"Yes, sure enough. Mr. Gray had been up here fretting my lady with
some of his new-fangled schemes, and because the young man could not
have it all his own way, from what I understand, he was put out, and
thought he would go home by the back lane, instead of through the
village, where the folks would notice if the parson looked glum.
But, however, it was a mercy, and I don't mind saying so, ay, and
meaning it too, though it may be like methodism; for, as Mr. Gray
walked by the quarry, he heard a groan, and at first he thought it
was a lamb fallen down; and he stood still, and then he heard it
again; and then I suppose, he looked down and saw Harry. So he let
himself down by the boughs of the trees to the ledge where Harry lay
half-dead, and with his poor thigh broken. There he had lain ever
since the night before: he had been returning to tell the master
that he had safely posted the letter, and the first words he said,
when they recovered him from the exhausted state he was in, were"
(Miss Galindo tried hard not to whimper, as she said it), "'It was in
time, sir. I see'd it put in the bag with my own eyes.'"
"But where is he?" asked I. "How did Mr. Gray get him out?"
"Ay! there it is, you see. Why the old gentleman (I daren't say
Devil in Lady Ludlow's house) is not so black as he is painted; and
Mr. Gray must have a deal of good in him, as I say at times; and then
at others, when he has gone against me, I can't bear him, and think
hanging too good for him. But he lifted the poor lad, as if he had
been a baby, I suppose, and carried him up the great ledges that were
formerly used for steps; and laid him soft and easy on the wayside
grass, and ran home and got help and a door, and had him carried to
his house, and laid on his bed; and then somehow, for the first time
either he or any one else perceived it, he himself was all over
blood--his own blood--he had broken a blood-vessel; and there he lies
in the little dressing-room, as white and as still as if he were
dead; and the little imp in Mr. Gray's own bed, sound asleep, now his
leg is set, just as if linen sheets and a feather bed were his native
element, as one may say. Really, now he is doing so well, I've no
patience with him, lying there where Mr. Gray ought to be. It is
just what my lady always prophesied would come to pass, if there was
any confusion of ranks."
"Poor Mr. Gray!" said I, thinking of his flushed face, and his
feverish, restless ways, when he had been calling on my lady not an
hour before his exertions on Harry's behalf. And I told Miss Galindo
how ill I had thought him.
"Yes," said she. "And that was the reason my lady had sent for
Doctor Trevor. Well, it has fallen out admirably, for he looked well
after that old donkey of a Prince, and saw that he made no blunders."
Now "that old donkey of a Prince" meant the village surgeon, Mr.
Prince, between whom and Miss Galindo there was war to the knife, as
they often met in the cottages, when there was illness, and she had
her queer, odd recipes, which he, with his grand pharmacopoeia, held
in infinite contempt, and the consequence of their squabbling had
been, not long before this very time, that he had established a kind
of rule, that into whatever sick-room Miss Galindo was admitted,
there he refused to visit. But Miss Galindo's prescriptions and
visits cost nothing and were often backed by kitchen-physic; so,
though it was true that she never came but she scolded about
something or other, she was generally preferred as medical attendant
to Mr. Prince.
"Yes, the old donkey is obliged to tolerate me, and be civil to me;
for, you see, I got there first, and had possession, as it were, and
yet my lord the donkey likes the credit of attending the parson, and
being in consultation with so grand a county-town doctor as Doctor
Trevor. And Doctor Trevor is an old friend of mine" (she sighed a
little, some time I may tell you why), "and treats me with infinite
bowing and respect; so the donkey, not to be out of medical fashion,
bows too, though it is sadly against the grain; and he pulled a face
as if he had heard a slate-pencil gritting against a slate, when I
told Doctor Trevor I meant to sit up with the two lads, for I call
Mr. Gray little more than a lad, and a pretty conceited one, too, at
"But why should you sit up, Miss Galindo? It will tire you sadly."
"Not it. You see, there is Gregson's mother to keep quiet for she
sits by her lad, fretting and sobbing, so that I'm afraid of her
disturbing Mr. Gray; and there's Mr. Gray to keep quiet, for Doctor
Trevor says his life depends on it; and there is medicine to be given
to the one, and bandages to be attended to for the other; and the
wild horde of gipsy brothers and sisters to be turned out, and the
father to be held in from showing too much gratitude to Mr. Gray, who
can't hear it,--and who is to do it all but me? The only servant is
old lame Betty, who once lived with me, and WOULD leave me because
she said I was always bothering--(there was a good deal of truth in
what she said, I grant, but she need not have said it; a good deal of
truth is best let alone at the bottom of the well), and what can she
do,--deaf as ever she can be, too?"
So Miss Galindo went her ways; but not the less was she at her post
in the morning; a little crosser and more silent than usual; but the
first was not to he wondered at, and the last was rather a blessing.
Lady Ludlow had been extremely anxious both about Mr. Gray and Harry
Gregson. Kind and thoughtful in any case of illness and accident,
she always was; but somehow, in this, the feeling that she was not
quite--what shall I call it?--"friends" seems hardly the right word
to use, as to the possible feeling between the Countess Ludlow and
the little vagabond messenger, who had only once been in her
presence,--that she had hardly parted from either as she could have
wished to do, had death been near, made her more than usually
anxious. Doctor Trevor was not to spare obtaining the best medical
advice the county could afford: whatever he ordered in the way of
diet, was to be prepared under Mrs. Medlicott's own eye, and sent
down from the Hall to the Parsonage. As Mr. Horner had given
somewhat similar directions, in the case of Harry Gregson at least,
there was rather a multiplicity of counsellors and dainties, than any
lack of them. And, the second night, Mr. Horner insisted on taking
the superintendence of the nursing himself, and sat and snored by
Harry's bedside, while the poor, exhausted mother lay by her child,--
thinking that she watched him, but in reality fast asleep, as Miss
Galindo told us; for, distrusting any one's powers of watching and
nursing but her own, she had stolen across the quiet village street
in cloak and dressing-gown, and found Mr. Gray in vain trying to
reach the cup of barley-water which Mr. Horner had placed just beyond
In consequence of Mr. Gray's illness, we had to have a strange curate
to do duty; a man who dropped his h's, and hurried through the
service, and yet had time enough to stand in my Lady's way, bowing to
her as she came out of church, and so subservient in manner, that I
believe that sooner than remain unnoticed by a countess, he would
have preferred being scolded, or even cuffed. Now I found out, that
great as was my lady's liking and approval of respect, nay, even
reverence, being paid to her as a person of quality,--a sort of
tribute to her Order, which she had no individual right to remit, or,
indeed, not to exact,--yet she, being personally simple, sincere, and
holding herself in low esteem, could not endure anything like the
servility of Mr. Crosse, the temporary curate. She grew absolutely
to loathe his perpetual smiling and bowing; his instant agreement
with the slightest opinion she uttered; his veering round as she blew
the wind. I have often said that my lady did not talk much, as she
might have done had she lived among her equals. But we all loved her
so much, that we had learnt to interpret all her little ways pretty
truly; and I knew what particular turns of her head, and contractions
of her delicate fingers meant, as well as if she had expressed
herself in words. I began to suspect that my lady would be very
thankful to have Mr. Gray about again, and doing his duty even with a
conscientiousness that might amount to worrying himself, and
fidgeting others; and although Mr. Gray might hold her opinions in as
little esteem as those of any simple gentlewoman, she was too
sensible not to feel how much flavour there was in his conversation,
compared to that of Mr. Crosse, who was only her tasteless echo.
As for Miss Galindo, she was utterly and entirely a partisan of Mr.
Gray's, almost ever since she had begun to nurse him during his
"You know, I never set up for reasonableness, my lady. So I don't
pretend to say, as I might do if I were a sensible woman and all
that,--that I am convinced by Mr. Gray's arguments of this thing or
t'other. For one thing, you see, poor fellow! he has never been able
to argue, or hardly indeed to speak, for Doctor Trevor has been very
peremptory. So there's been no scope for arguing! But what I mean
is this:- When I see a sick man thinking always of others, and never
of himself; patient, humble--a trifle too much at times, for I've
caught him praying to be forgiven for having neglected his work as a
parish priest," (Miss Galindo was making horrible faces, to keep back
tears, squeezing up her eyes in a way which would have amused me at
any other time, but when she was speaking of Mr. Gray); "when I see a
downright good, religious man, I'm apt to think he's got hold of the
right clue, and that I can do no better than hold on by the tails of
his coat and shut my eyes, if we've got to go over doubtful places on
our road to Heaven. So, my lady, you must excuse me if, when he gets
about again, he is all agog about a Sunday-school, for if he is, I
shall be agog too, and perhaps twice as bad as him, for, you see,
I've a strong constitution compared to his, and strong ways of
speaking and acting. And I tell your ladyship this now, because I
think from your rank--and still more, if I may say so, for all your
kindness to me long ago, down to this very day--you've a right to be
first told of anything about me. Change of opinion I can't exactly
call it, for I don't see the good of schools and teaching A B C, any
more than I did before, only Mr. Gray does, so I'm to shut my eyes,
and leap over the ditch to the side of education. I've told Sally
already, that if she does not mind her work, but stands gossiping
with Nelly Mather, I'll teach her her lessons; and I've never caught
her with old Nelly since."
I think Miss Galindo's desertion to Mr. Gray's opinions in this
matter hurt my lady just a little bit; but she only said -
"Of course, if the parishoners wish for it, Mr. Gray must have his
Sunday-school. I shall, in that case, withdraw my opposition. I am
sorry I cannot alter my opinions as easily as you."
My lady made herself smile as she said this. Miss Galindo saw it was
an effort to do so. She thought a minute before she spoke again.
"Your ladyship has not seen Mr. Gray as intimately as I have done.
That's one thing. But, as for the parishioners, they will follow
your ladyship's lead in everything; so there is no chance of their
wishing for a Sunday-school."
"I have never done anything to make them follow my lead, as you call
it, Miss Galindo," said my lady, gravely.
"Yes, you have," replied Miss Galindo, bluntly. And then, correcting
herself, she said, "Begging your ladyship's pardon, you have. Your
ancestors have lived here time out of mind, and have owned the land
on which their forefathers have lived ever since there were
forefathers. You yourself were born amongst them, and have been like
a little queen to them ever since, I might say, and they've never
known your ladyship do anything but what was kind and gentle; but
I'll leave fine speeches about your ladyship to Mr. Crosse. Only
you, my lady, lead the thoughts of the parish; and save some of them
a world of trouble, for they could never tell what was right if they
had to think for themselves. It's all quite right that they should
be guided by you, my lady,--if only you would agree with Mr. Gray."
"Well," said my lady, "I told him only the last day that he was here,
that I would think about it. I do believe I could make up my mind on
certain subjects better if I were left alone, than while being
constantly talked to about them."
My lady said this in her usual soft tones; but the words had a tinge
of impatience about them; indeed, she was more ruffled than I had
often seen her; but, checking herself in an instant she said -
"You don't know how Mr. Horner drags in this subject of education
apropos of everything. Not that he says much about it at any time:
it is not his way. But he cannot let the thing alone."
"I know why, my lady," said Miss Galindo. "That poor lad, Harry
Gregson, will never be able to earn his livelihood in any active way,
but will be lame for life. Now, Mr. Horner thinks more of Harry than
of any one else in the world,--except, perhaps, your ladyship." Was
it not a pretty companionship for my lady? "And he has schemes of
his own for teaching Harry; and if Mr. Gray could but have his
school, Mr. Horner and he think Harry might be schoolmaster, as your
ladyship would not like to have him coming to you as steward's clerk.
I wish your ladyship would fall into this plan; Mr. Gray has it so at
Miss Galindo looked wistfully at my lady, as she said this. But my
lady only said, drily, and rising at the same time, as if to end the
"So Mr. Horner and Mr. Gray seem to have gone a long way in advance
of my consent to their plans."
"There!" exclaimed Miss Galindo, as my lady left the room, with an
apology for going away; "I have gone and done mischief with my long,
stupid tongue. To be sure, people plan a long way ahead of to-day;
more especially when one is a sick man, lying all through the weary
day on a sofa."
"My lady will soon get over her annoyance," said I, as it were
apologetically. I only stopped Miss Galindo's self-reproaches to
draw down her wrath upon myself.
"And has not she a right to be annoyed with me, if she likes, and to
keep annoyed as long as she likes? Am I complaining of her, that you
need tell me that? Let me tell you, I have known my lady these
thirty years; and if she were to take me by the shoulders, and turn
me out of the house, I should only love her the more. So don't you
think to come between us with any little mincing, peace-making
speeches. I have been a mischief-making parrot, and I like her the
better for being vexed with me. So good-bye to you, Miss; and wait
till you know Lady Ludlow as well as I do, before you next think of
telling me she will soon get over her annoyance!" And off Miss
I could not exactly tell what I had done wrong; but I took care never
again to come in between my lady and her by any remark about the one
to the other; for I saw that some most powerful bond of grateful
affection made Miss Galindo almost worship my lady.
Meanwhile, Harry Gregson was limping a little about in the village,
still finding his home in Mr. Gray's house; for there he could most
conveniently be kept under the doctor's eye, and receive the
requisite care, and enjoy the requisite nourishment. As soon as he
was a little better, he was to go to Mr. Horner's house; but, as the
steward lived some distance out of the way, and was much from home,
he had agreed to leave Harry at the house; to which he had first been
taken, until he was quite strong again; and the more willingly, I
suspect, from what I heard afterwards, because Mr. Gray gave up all
the little strength of speaking which he had, to teaching Harry in
the very manner which Mr. Horner most desired.
As for Gregson the father--he--wild man of the woods, poacher,
tinker, jack-of-all trades--was getting tamed by this kindness to his
child. Hitherto his hand had been against every man, as every man's
had been against him. That affair before the justice, which I told
you about, when Mr. Gray and even my lady had interested themselves
to get him released from unjust imprisonment, was the first bit of
justice he had ever met with; it attracted him to the people, and
attached him to the spot on which he had but squatted for a time. I
am not sure if any of the villagers were grateful to him for
remaining in their neighbourhood, instead of decamping as he had
often done before, for good reasons, doubtless, of personal safety.
Harry was only one out of a brood of ten or twelve children, some of
whom had earned for themselves no good character in service: one,
indeed, had been actually transported, for a robbery committed in a
distant part of the county; and the tale was yet told in the village
of how Gregson the father came back from the trial in a state of wild
rage, striding through the place, and uttering oaths of vengeance to
himself, his great black eyes gleaming out of his matted hair, and
his arms working by his side, and now and then tossed up in his
impotent despair. As I heard the account, his wife followed him,
child-laden and weeping. After this, they had vanished from the
country for a time, leaving their mud hovel locked up, and the door-
key, as the neighbours said, buried in a hedge bank. The Gregsons
had reappeared much about the same time that Mr. Gray came to
Hanbury. He had either never heard of their evil character, or
considered that it gave them all the more claims upon his Christian
care; and the end of it was, that this rough, untamed, strong giant
of a heathen was loyal slave to the weak, hectic, nervous, self-
distrustful parson. Gregson had also a kind of grumbling respect for
Mr. Horner: he did not quite like the steward's monopoly of his
Harry: the mother submitted to that with a better grace, swallowing
down her maternal jealousy in the prospect of her child's advancement
to a better and more respectable position than that in which his
parents had struggled through life. But Mr. Horner, the steward, and
Gregson, the poacher and squatter, had come into disagreeable contact
too often in former days for them to be perfectly cordial at any
future time. Even now, when there was no immediate cause for
anything but gratitude for his child's sake on Gregson's part, he
would skulk out of Mr. Horner's way, if he saw him coming; and it
took all Mr. Horner's natural reserve and acquired self-restraint to
keep him from occasionally holding up his father's life as a warning
to Harry. Now Gregson had nothing of this desire for avoidance with
regard to Mr. Gray. The poacher had a feeling of physical protection
towards the parson; while the latter had shown the moral courage,
without which Gregson would never have respected him, in coming right
down upon him more than once in the exercise of unlawful pursuits,
and simply and boldly telling him he was doing wrong, with such a
quiet reliance upon Gregson's better feeling, at the same time, that
the strong poacher could not have lifted a finger against Mr. Gray,
though it had been to save himself from being apprehended and taken
to the lock-ups the very next hour. He had rather listened to the
parson's bold words with an approving smile, much as Mr. Gulliver
might have hearkened to a lecture from a Lilliputian. But when brave
words passed into kind deeds, Gregson's heart mutely acknowledged its
master and keeper. And the beauty of it all was, that Mr. Gray knew
nothing of the good work he had done, or recognized himself as the
instrument which God had employed. He thanked God, it is true,
fervently and often, that the work was done; and loved the wild man
for his rough gratitude; but it never occurred to the poor young
clergyman, lying on his sick-bed, and praying, as Miss Galindo had
told us he did, to be forgiven for his unprofitable life, to think of
Gregson's reclaimed soul as anything with which he had had to do. It
was now more than three months since Mr. Gray had been at Hanbury
Court. During all that time he had been confined to his house, if
not to his sick-bed, and he and my lady had never met since their
last discussion and difference about Farmer Hale's barn.
This was not my dear lady's fault; no one could have been more
attentive in every way to the slightest possible want of either of
the invalids, especially of Mr. Gray. And she would have gone to see
him at his own house, as she sent him word, but that her foot had
slipped upon the polished oak staircase, and her ancle had been
So we had never seen Mr. Gray since his illness, when one November
day he was announced as wishing to speak to my lady. She was sitting
in her room--the room in which I lay now pretty constantly--and I
remember she looked startled, when word was brought to her of Mr.
Gray's being at the Hall.
She could not go to him, she was too lame for that, so she bade him
be shown into where she sat.
"Such a day for him to go out!" she exclaimed, looking at the fog
which had crept up to the windows, and was sapping the little
remaining life in the brilliant Virginian creeper leaves that
draperied the house on the terrace side.
He came in white, trembling, his large eyes wild and dilated. He
hastened up to Lady Ludlow's chair, and, to my surprise, took one of
her hands and kissed it, without speaking, yet shaking all over.
"Mr. Gray!" said she, quickly, with sharp, tremulous apprehension of
some unknown evil. "What is it? There is something unusual about
"Something unusual has occurred," replied he, forcing his words to be
calm, as with a great effort. "A gentleman came to my house, not
half an hour ago--a Mr. Howard. He came straight from Vienna."
"My son!" said my dear lady, stretching out her arms in dumb
"The Lord gave and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the
But my poor lady could not echo the words. He was the last remaining
child. And once she had been the joyful mother of nine.
I am ashamed to say what feeling became strongest in my mind about
this time; next to the sympathy we all of us felt for my dear lady in
her deep sorrow, I mean; for that was greater and stronger than
anything else, however contradictory you may think it, when you hear
It might arise from my being so far from well at the time, which
produced a diseased mind in a diseased body; but I was absolutely
jealous for my father's memory, when I saw how many signs of grief
there were for my lord's death, he having done next to nothing for
the village and parish, which now changed, as it were, its daily
course of life, because his lordship died in a far-off city. My
father had spent the best years of his manhood in labouring hard,
body and soul, for the people amongst whom he lived. His family, of
course, claimed the first place in his heart; he would have been good
for little, even in the way of benevolence, if they had not. But
close after them he cared for his parishioners, and neighbours. And
yet, when he died, though the church-bells tolled, and smote upon our
hearts with hard, fresh pain at every beat, the sounds of every-day
life still went on, close pressing around us,--carts and carriages,
street-cries, distant barrel-organs (the kindly neighbours kept them
out of our street): life, active, noisy life, pressed on our acute
consciousness of Death, and jarred upon it as on a quick nerve.
And when we went to church,--my father's own church,--though the
pulpit cushions were black, and many of the congregation had put on
some humble sign of mourning, yet it did not alter the whole material
aspect of the place. And yet what was Lord Ludlow's relation to
Hanbury, compared to my father's work and place in--?
O! it was very wicked in me! I think if I had seen my lady,--if I
had dared to ask to go to her, I should not have felt so miserable,
so discontented. But she sat in her own room, hung with black, all,
even over the shutters. She saw no light but that which was
artificial--candles, lamps, and the like--for more than a month.
Only Adams went near her. Mr. Gray was not admitted, though he
called daily. Even Mrs. Medlicott did not see her for near a
fortnight. The sight of my lady's griefs, or rather the recollection
of it, made Mrs. Medlicott talk far more than was her wont. She told
us, with many tears, and much gesticulation, even speaking German at
times, when her English would not flow, that my lady sat there, a
white figure in the middle of the darkened room; a shaded lamp near
her, the light of which fell on an open Bible,--the great family
Bible. It was not open at any chapter or consoling verse; but at the
page whereon were registered the births of her nine children. Five
had died in infancy,--sacrificed to the cruel system which forbade
the mother to suckle her babies. Four had lived longer; Urian had
been the first to die, Ughtred-Mortimar, Earl Ludlow, the last.
My lady did not cry, Mrs. Medlicott said. She was quite composed;
very still, very silent. She put aside everything that savoured of
mere business: sent people to Mr. Horner for that. But she was
proudly alive to every possible form which might do honour to the
last of her race.
In those days, expresses were slow things, and forms still slower.
Before my lady's directions could reach Vienna, my lord was buried.
There was some talk (so Mrs. Medlicott said) about taking the body
up, and bringing him to Hanbury. But his executors,--connections on
the Ludlow side,--demurred to this. If he were removed to England,
he must be carried on to Scotland, and interred with his Monkshaven
forefathers. My lady, deeply hurt, withdrew from the discussion,
before it degenerated to an unseemly contest. But all the more, for
this understood mortification of my lady's, did the whole village and
estate of Hanbury assume every outward sign of mourning. The church
bells tolled morning and evening. The church itself was draped in
black inside. Hatchments were placed everywhere, where hatchments
could be put. All the tenantry spoke in hushed voices for more than
a week, scarcely daring to observe that all flesh, even that of an
Earl Ludlow, and the last of the Hanburys, was but grass after all.
The very Fighting Lion closed its front door, front shutters it had
none, and those who needed drink stole in at the back, and were
silent and maudlin over their cups, instead of riotous and noisy.
Miss Galindo's eyes were swollen up with crying, and she told me,
with a fresh burst of tears, that even hump-backed Sally had been
found sobbing over her Bible, and using a pocket-handkerchief for the
first time in her life; her aprons having hitherto stood her in the
necessary stead, but not being sufficiently in accordance with
etiquette to be used when mourning over an earl's premature decease.
If it was this way out of the Hall, "you might work it by the rule of
three," as Miss Galindo used to say, and judge what it was in the
Hall. We none of us spoke but in a whisper: we tried not to eat;
and indeed the shock had been so really great, and we did really care
so much for my lady, that for some days we had but little appetite.
But after that, I fear our sympathy grew weaker, while our flesh grew
stronger. But we still spoke low, and our hearts ached whenever we
thought of my lady sitting there alone in the darkened room, with the
light ever falling on that one solemn page.
We wished, O how I wished that she would see Mr. Gray! But Adams
said, she thought my lady ought to have a bishop come to see her.
Still no one had authority enough to send for one.
Mr. Horner all this time was suffering as much as any one. He was
too faithful a servant of the great Hanbury family, though now the
family had dwindled down to a fragile old lady, not to mourn acutely
over its probable extinction. He had, besides, a deeper sympathy and
reverence with, and for, my lady, in all things, than probably he
ever cared to show, for his manners were always measured and cold.
He suffered from sorrow. He also suffered from wrong. My lord's
executors kept writing to him continually. My lady refused to listen
to mere business, saying she intrusted all to him. But the "all" was
more complicated than I ever thoroughly understood. As far as I
comprehended the case, it was something of this kind:- There had been
a mortgage raised on my lady's property of Hanbury, to enable my
lord, her husband, to spend money in cultivating his Scotch estates,
after some new fashion that required capital. As long as my lord,
her son, lived, who was to succeed to both the estates after her
death, this did not signify; so she had said and felt; and she had
refused to take any steps to secure the repayment of capital, or even
the payment of the interest of the mortgage from the possible
representatives and possessors of the Scotch estates, to the possible
owner of the Hanbury property; saying it ill became her to calculate
on the contingency of her son's death.
But he had died childless, unmarried. The heir of the Monkshaven
property was an Edinburgh advocate, a far-away kinsman of my lord's:
the Hanbury property, at my lady's death, would go to the descendants
of a third son of the Squire Hanbury in the days of Queen Anne.
This complication of affairs was most grievous to Mr. Horner. He had
always been opposed to the mortgage; had hated the payment of the
interest, as obliging my lady to practise certain economies which,
though she took care to make them as personal as possible, he
disliked as derogatory to the family. Poor Mr. Horner! He was so
cold and hard in his manner, so curt and decisive in his speech, that
I don't think we any of us did him justice. Miss Galindo was almost
the first, at this time, to speak a kind word of him, or to take
thought of him at all, any farther than to get out of his way when we
saw him approaching.
"I don't think Mr. Horner is well," she said one day; about three
weeks after we had heard of my lord's death. "He sits resting his
head on his hand, and hardly hears me when I speak to him."
But I thought no more of it, as Miss Galindo did not name it again.
My lady came amongst us once more. From elderly she had become old;
a little, frail, old lady, in heavy black drapery, never speaking
about nor alluding to her great sorrow; quieter, gentler, paler than
ever before; and her eyes dim with much weeping, never witnessed by
She had seen Mr. Gray at the expiration of the month of deep
retirement. But I do not think that even to him she had said one
word of her own particular individual sorrow. All mention of it
seemed buried deep for evermore. One day, Mr. Horner sent word that
he was too much indisposed to attend to his usual business at the
Hall; but he wrote down some directions and requests to Miss Galindo,
saying that he would be at his office early the next morning. The
next morning he was dead.
Miss Galindo told my lady. Miss Galindo herself cried plentifully,
but my lady, although very much distressed, could not cry. It seemed
a physical impossibility, as if she had shed all the tears in her
power. Moreover, I almost think her wonder was far greater that she
herself lived than that Mr. Horner died. It was almost natural that
so faithful a servant should break his heart, when the family he
belonged to lost their stay, their heir, and their last hope.
Yes! Mr. Horner was a faithful servant. I do not think there are
many so faithful now; but perhaps that is an old woman's fancy of
mine. When his will came to be examined, it was discovered that,
soon after Harry Gregson's accident, Mr. Horner had left the few
thousands (three, I think,) of which he was possessed, in trust for
Harry's benefit, desiring his executors to see that the lad was well
educated in certain things, for which Mr. Horner had thought that he
had shown especial aptitude; and there was a kind of implied apology
to my lady in one sentence where he stated that Harry's lameness
would prevent his being ever able to gain his living by the exercise
of any mere bodily faculties, "as had been wished by a lady whose
wishes" he, the testator, "was bound to regard."
But there was a codicil in the will, dated since Lord Ludlow's death-
-feebly written by Mr. Horner himself, as if in preparation only for
some more formal manner of bequest: or, perhaps, only as a mere
temporary arrangement till he could see a lawyer, and have a fresh
will made. In this he revoked his previous bequest to Harry Gregson.
He only left two hundred pounds to Mr Gray to be used, as that
gentleman thought best, for Henry Gregson's benefit. With this one
exception, he bequeathed all the rest of his savings to my lady, with
a hope that they might form a nest-egg, as it were, towards the
paying off of the mortgage which had been such a grief to him during
his life. I may not repeat all this in lawyer's phrase; I heard it
through Miss Galindo, and she might make mistakes. Though, indeed,
she was very clear-headed, and soon earned the respect of Mr.
Smithson, my lady's lawyer from Warwick. Mr. Smithson knew Miss
Galindo a little before, both personally and by reputation; but I
don't think he was prepared to find her installed as steward's clerk,
and, at first, he was inclined to treat her, in this capacity, with
polite contempt. But Miss Galindo was both a lady and a spirited,
sensible woman, and she could put aside her self-indulgence in
eccentricity of speech and manner whenever she chose. Nay more; she
was usually so talkative, that if she had not been amusing and warm-
hearted, one might have thought her wearisome occasionally. But to
meet Mr. Smithson she came out daily in her Sunday gown; she said no
more than was required in answer to his questions; her books and
papers were in thorough order, and methodically kept; her statements
of matters-of-fact accurate, and to be relied on. She was amusingly
conscious of her victory over his contempt of a woman-clerk and his
preconceived opinion of her unpractical eccentricity.
"Let me alone," said she, one day when she came in to sit awhile with
me. "That man is a good man--a sensible man--and I have no doubt he
is a good lawyer; but he can't fathom women yet. I make no doubt
he'll go back to Warwick, and never give credit again to those people
who made him think me half-cracked to begin with. O, my dear, he
did! He showed it twenty times worse than my poor dear master ever
did. It was a form to be gone through to please my lady, and, for
her sake, he would hear my statements and see my books. It was
keeping a woman out of harm's way, at any rate, to let her fancy
herself useful. I read the man. And, I am thankful to say, he
cannot read me. At least, only one side of me. When I see an end to
be gained, I can behave myself accordingly. Here was a man who
thought that a woman in a black silk gown was a respectable, orderly
kind of person; and I was a woman in a black silk gown. He believed
that a woman could not write straight lines, and required a man to
tell her that two and two made four. I was not above ruling my
books, and had Cocker a little more at my fingers' ends than he had.
But my greatest triumph has been holding my tongue. He would have
thought nothing of my books, or my sums, or my black silk gown, if I
had spoken unasked. So I have buried more sense in my bosom these
ten days than ever I have uttered in the whole course of my life
before. I have been so curt, so abrupt, so abominably dull, that
I'll answer for it he thinks me worthy to be a man. But I must go
back to him, my dear, so good-bye to conversation and you."
But though Mr. Smithson might be satisfied with Miss Galindo, I am
afraid she was the only part of the affair with which he was content.
Everything else went wrong. I could not say who told me so--but the
conviction of this seemed to pervade the house. I never knew how
much we had all looked up to the silent, gruff Mr. Horner for
decisions, until he was gone. My lady herself was a pretty good
woman of business, as women of business go. Her father, seeing that
she would be the heiress of the Hanbury property, had given her a
training which was thought unusual in those days, and she liked to
feel herself queen regnant, and to have to decide in all cases
between herself and her tenantry. But, perhaps, Mr. Horner would
have done it more wisely; not but what she always attended to him at
last. She would begin by saying, pretty clearly and promptly, what
she would have done, and what she would not have done. If Mr. Horner
approved of it, he bowed, and set about obeying her directly; if he
disapproved of it, he bowed, and lingered so long before he obeyed
her, that she forced his opinion out of him with her "Well, Mr.
Horner! and what have you to say against it?" For she always
understood his silence as well as if he had spoken. But the estate
was pressed for ready money, and Mr. Horner had grown gloomy and
languid since the death of his wife, and even his own personal
affairs were not in the order in which they had been a year or two
before, for his old clerk had gradually become superannuated, or, at
any rate, unable by the superfluity of his own energy and wit to
supply the spirit that was wanting in Mr. Horner.
Day after day Mr. Smithson seemed to grow more fidgety, more annoyed
at the state of affairs. Like every one else employed by Lady
Ludlow, as far as I could learn, he had an hereditary tie to the
Hanbury family. As long as the Smithsons had been lawyers, they had
been lawyers to the Hanburys; always coming in on all great family
occasions, and better able to understand the characters, and connect
the links of what had once been a large and scattered family, than
any individual thereof had ever been.
As long as a man was at the head of the Hanburys, the lawyers had
simply acted as servants, and had only given their advice when it was
required. But they had assumed a different position on the memorable
occasion of the mortgage: they had remonstrated against it. My lady
had resented this remonstrance, and a slight, unspoken coolness had
existed between her and the father of this Mr. Smithson ever since.
I was very sorry for my lady. Mr. Smithson was inclined to blame Mr.
Horner for the disorderly state in which he found some of the
outlying farms, and for the deficiencies in the annual payment of
rents. Mr. Smithson had too much good feeling to put this blame into
words; but my lady's quick instinct led her to reply to a thought,
the existence of which she perceived; and she quietly told the truth,
and explained how she had interfered repeatedly to prevent Mr. Horner
from taking certain desirable steps, which were discordant to her
hereditary sense of right and wrong between landlord and tenant. She
also spoke of the want of ready money as a misfortune that could be
remedied, by more economical personal expenditure on her own part; by
which individual saving, it was possible that a reduction of fifty
pounds a year might have been accomplished. But as soon as Mr.
Smithson touched on larger economies, such as either affected the
welfare of others, or the honour and standing of the great House of
Hanbury, she was inflexible. Her establishment consisted of
somewhere about forty servants, of whom nearly as many as twenty were
unable to perform their work properly, and yet would have been hurt
if they had been dismissed; so they had the credit of fulfilling
duties, while my lady paid and kept their substitutes. Mr. Smithson
made a calculation, and would have saved some hundreds a year by
pensioning off these old servants. But my lady would not hear of it.
Then, again, I know privately that he urged her to allow some of us
to return to our homes. Bitterly we should have regretted the
separation from Lady Ludlow; but we would have gone back gladly, had
we known at the time that her circumstances required it: but she
would not listen to the proposal for a moment.
"If I cannot act justly towards every one, I will give up a plan
which has been a source of much satisfaction; at least, I will not
carry it out to such an extent in future. But to these young ladies,
who do me the favour to live with me at present, I stand pledged. I
cannot go back from my word, Mr. Smithson. We had better talk no
more of this."
As she spoke, she entered the room where I lay. She and Mr. Smithson
were coming for some papers contained in the bureau. They did not
know I was there, and Mr. Smithson started a little when he saw me,
as he must have been aware that I had overheard something. But my
lady did not change a muscle of her face. All the world might
overhear her kind, just, pure sayings, and she had no fear of their
misconstruction. She came up to me, and kissed me on the forehead,
and then went to search for the required papers.
"I rode over the Connington farms yesterday, my lady. I must say I
was quite grieved to see the condition they are in; all the land that
is not waste is utterly exhausted with working successive white
crops. Not a pinch of manure laid on the ground for years. I must
say that a greater contrast could never have been presented than that
between Harding's farm and the next fields--fences in perfect order,
rotation crops, sheep eating down the turnips on the waste lands--
everything that could be desired."
"Whose farm is that?" asked my lady.
"Why, I am sorry to say, it was on none of your ladyship's that I saw
such good methods adopted. I hoped it was, I stopped my horse to
inquire. A queer-looking man, sitting on his horse like a tailor,
watching his men with a couple of the sharpest eyes I ever saw, and
dropping his h's at every word, answered my question, and told me it
was his. I could not go on asking him who he was; but I fell into
conversation with him, and I gathered that he had earned some money
in trade in Birmingham, and had bought the estate (five hundred
acres, I think he said,) on which he was born, and now was setting
himself to cultivate it in downright earnest, going to Holkham and
Woburn, and half the country over, to get himself up on the subject."
"It would be Brooke, that dissenting baker from Birmingham," said my