Part 4 out of 15
like the look of that red in his hair."
"Now, isn't that a woman's reason?" Diavolo exclaimed, appealing to Mr.
"Yes, it is," said Angelica, preparing to defend it by shuffling a
note-book out of her pocket, and ruffling the leaves over: "Listen to
this"--and she read--"'A tinge of red in the hair denotes strength and
energy of character and good staying power.' We don't want a muff for a
tutor, do we? There are born muffs enough in the family without importing
them. And a woman's reason is always a good one, as men might see if
they'd only stop chattering and listen to it."
"It mayn't be well expressed, but it will bear examination," Mr. Ellis
"Do you like being a tutor?" Diavolo.
"It depends on whom I have to teach."
"If you're a good fellow, you'll have a nice time here--on the whole--I
hope, sir," Angelica observed. "But why are you a tutor?"
"To earn my living," Mr. Ellis answered, smiling again.
The children remembered this, and when they were having tea under the
shadow of the supposititious Peace Angel's wing, after the first occasion
on which, when the tutor tried to separate them during a fight at lessons,
they had turned simultaneously and attacked him, they made it the text of
some recommendations. He expressed a strong objection to having manual
labour imposed upon him as well as his other work: but they maintained
that if only he had called the affray "a struggle for daily bread" or "a
fight for a livelihood," he would quite have enjoyed it; and they further
suggested that such diversion must be much more interesting than being a
mere commonplace tutor who only taught lessons. They could not understand
why a fight was not as much fun for him as for them, and thought him
unreasonable when they found he was not to be persuaded to countenance
that way of varying the monotony. Not that there was ever much monotony in
the neighbourhood of the Heavenly Twins; they managed to introduce variety
into everything, and their quickness of action, when both were roused, was
phenomenal. One day while at work they saw a sparrow pick up a piece of
bread, take it to the roof-tree of an angle of the house visible from the
schoolroom window, drop it, and chase it as it fell; and the twins had
made a bet as to which would beat, bird or bread, quarrelled because they
could not agree as to which had bet on bird and which on bread, and boxed
each other's ears almost before the race was over.
Mr. Ellis, although continually upon his guard, was not by any means
always a match for them. Over and over again he found that his caution had
been fanned to sleep by flattering attentions, while traps were being laid
for him with the most innocent air in the world, as on one occasion when
Diavolo betrayed him into a dissertation on the consistency of the
Scriptures, and Angelica asked him to kindly show her how to reconcile
Prov. viii. 2: "For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that
may be desired are not be compared to it," with Eccles. i. 18: "For in
much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth
His way with them was admirable, however, and he completely won their
hearts. The thing that they respected him for most was the fact that he
took in _Punch_ on his own account, and could show you a lot of
things in it that you could never have discovered yourself, as Angelica
said, and read bits in a way that made them seem ever so much funnier than
when _you_ read them; and could tell you who drew the pictures the
moment he looked at them--so that "_Punch_ Day" came to be looked
forward to by the children as one of the pleasantest events of the week.
Lessons were suspended the moment the paper arrived, if they had been good;
but when they were naughty Mr. Ellis put the paper in his pocket, and
that was the greatest punishment he could inflict upon them--the only one
that ever made them sulk. They would be good for hours in advance to earn
the right of having _Punch_ shown to them the moment it came. And it
was certainly by means of his intelligent interpretation of it that their
tutor managed to cultivate their tastes in many ways, and give them true
ideas of art, and the importance of art, at the outset, and also of
ethics. He was as careful of Angelica's physical as of her mental
education, being himself strongly imbued by the then new idea that a woman
should have the full use of her limbs, lungs, heart, and every other organ
and muscle, so that life might be a pleasure to her and not a continual
exertion. He had a strong objection to the artificial waist, and impressed
the beauty of Tenniel's classical purity of figure upon the children by
teaching them to appreciate the contrast it presents to the bulging
vulgarities made manifest by Keene; and showed them also that while Du
Maurier depicted with admirable artistic interpretation the refined
surroundings and attenuated forms of women as they are, Linley Sambourne,
that master of lovely line, pointed the moral by drawing women as they
should be. There was nothing conventional about the Heavenly Twins, and it
was therefore easy to make a good impression upon them in this direction,
and, the tutor soon had a practical proof of his success which must have
been eminently satisfactory if a trifle embarrassing.
The children were out on the lawn in front of the house one afternoon when
a lady arrived to call upon their mother. They were struck by her
appearance as she descended from her carriage, and followed her into the
drawing room to have a good look at her. She was one of those heroic women
who have the constancy to squeeze their figures in beyond the Y shape,
which is the commonest deformity, to that of the hourglass which bulges
out more above and below the line of compression.
There were a good many other people in the room, whom the Heavenly Twins
saluted politely; and then they sat down opposite to the object of their
interest and gazed at her.
"Why are you tied so tight in the middle?" Angelica asked at last in a
voice that silenced everybody else in the room. "Doesn't it hurt? I mean
to have a _good_ figure when I grow up, like the Venus de Medici, you
know. I can show you a picture of her, if you like. She hasn't a stitch on
"She looks awfully nice, though," said Diavolo, "and Angelica thinks she'd
be able to eat more with that kind of figure."
"Yes," Angelica candidly confessed, looking at her victim compassionately.
"I shouldn't think, now, that you can eat both pudding and meat, can you?"
"Not to mention dessert!" Diavolo ejaculated with genuine concern.
"Mr. Ellis, will you get those children out of the room, somehow," Lady
Adeline whispered to the tutor, who had come in for tea.
"Is it true, do you think," Mr. Ellis began loudly, addressing Mr.
Hamilton-Wells across the room--"Is it true that Dr. Galbraith is going to
try some horrible experiments in vivisection this afternoon?"
"What is vivisection?" asked Angelica, diverted.
"Cutting up live animals to find out what makes them go," said the tutor.
In three minutes there wasn't a vestige of the Heavenly Twins about the
The twins had a code of ethics which differed in some respects from that
ordinarily accepted in their state of life. They honoured their
mother--they couldn't help it, as they said themselves, apologetically;
but their father they looked upon as fair game for their amusement.
"What was that unearthly noise I heard this morning?" Mr. Ellis asked one
"Oh, did we wake you, sir?" Diavolo exclaimed. "We didn't mean to. We were
only yowling papa out of bed with our fiddles. He's idle sometimes, and
won't get up, and it's so bad for him, you know."
"I wish you could see him scooting down the corridor after us," Angelica
observed. "And do you know, he speaks just the same at that time of day in
his dressing gown, as he does, in the evening in dress clothes. You'd die
if you heard him."
Another habit of the twins was to read any letters they might find lying
"It is dishonourable to read other people's letters," Mr. Ellis admonished
them severely when he became aware of this peculiarity.
"It isn't for us," Angelica answered defiantly. "You might as well say its
dishonourable to squint. We've always done it, and everybody knows we do
it. We warn them not to leave their letters lying about, don't we,
"That is because it is greater fun to hunt for them," Diavolo interpreted
precisely. When Angelica gave a reason he usually cleared it of all
obscurity in this way.
"And how are we to know what goes on in the family if we don't read the
letters?" Angelica demanded.
"What necessity is there for you to know?"
"Every necessity!" she retorted. "Not be interested in one's own family
affairs? Why, we should we wanting in intelligence, and we're not that,
you know! And we should be wanting in affection, too, and every right
feeling; and I hope we are not that either, Mr. Ellis, _quite_. But
you needn't be afraid about your own letters. We shan't touch them."
"No," drawled Diavolo. "Of course that would be a very different thing."
"I am glad you draw the line somewhere," Mr. Ellis observed sarcastically.
He was far from satisfied, however, but he noticed eventually that the
dust collected on letters of his own if he left them lying about, and he
soon discovered that when his intelligent pupils gave their word they kept
it uncompromisingly. It was one of their virtues, and the other was
loyalty to each other. Their devotion to their mother hardly counted for a
virtue, because they never carried it far enough to make any sacrifice for
her sake. But they would have sacrificed their very lives for each other,
and would have fought for the right to die until there was very little
left of either of them to execute; of such peculiar quality were their
They had gone straight to Fountain Towers by the shortest cut across the
fields that afternoon when Mr. Ellis suggested vivisection as a possible
occupation for Dr. Galbraith. They never doubted but that they should
discover him hard at work, in some underground cellar most likely, to
which they would be guided by the cries of his victims, and would be able
to conquer his reluctance to allow them to assist at his experiments, by
threats of exposure; and they were considerably chagrined when, having
carefully concealed themselves in a thick shrubbery, in order to
reconnoitre the house, they came upon him in the garden, innocently
occupied in the idle pursuit of pruning rose trees.
He was somewhat startled himself when he suddenly saw their hot red faces,
set like two moons in a clump of greenery, peeping out at him with
"Hollo!" he said. "Are you hungry?" The faces disappeared behind the
"Are we, Angelica?" Diavolo whispered anxiously.
"Of course we are," she retorted.
"I thought we were too angry--disgusted--disappointed--_something_"
he murmured apologetically, but evidently much relieved.
Dr. Galbraith went on with his pruning, and presently the twins appeared
walking down the proper approach to the garden hand in hand demurely.
After they had saluted their host politely, they stood and stared at him.
"Well?" he said at last.
"I suppose we are too late?" said Angelica.
"For what?" he asked, without pausing in his occupation.
"For the viv-viv-vivinesectionining."
"Vivinesectionining! What on earth--Oh!" Light broke in upon him. "Who
told you I was?"
"Mr. Ellis," said Angelica.
"No, he didn't tell us you were exactly," Diavolo explained with
conscientious accuracy. "He asked papa if it was true that you were going
to this afternoon?"
"And what were _you_ doing?" Dr. Galbraith asked astutely.
"We were in the drawing room," Angelica answered, "trying to find out from
a lady why she tied herself up so tight in the middle."
"And so you came off here to see?"
"Yes," said Diavolo. "We wanted to catch you at it."
"You little brute, misbegotten by the--" Dr. Galbraith began, but Diavolo
"_Sir!_" he exclaimed, drawing himself up with an expression of as
much indignation as could be got into his small patrician features. "If
you do not instantly withdraw that calumny, I shall have to fight you on
my mother's behalf, and I shall consider it my duty to inform her of the
insinuation which is the cause of offence."
"I apologize," said Dr. Galbraith, taking off his hat and bowing low. "I
assure you the expression was used as a mere _facon de parler_."
"I accept your explanation, sir," said Diavolo, returning the salute. "But
I caution you to be careful for the future. What is a _facon de
parler_, Angelica?" he whispered as he put his hat on.
"Oh, just a way of saying it," she answered. "I wish you wouldn't talk so
much. Men are always cackling by the hour all about nothing. If people
come to see me when _I_ have a house of my own, I shall not forget
the rites of hospitality."
The doctor put up his pruning knife. There was a twinkle in his gray eyes.
"If you will do me the favour to come this way," he said, "my slaves will
prepare a small collation on the instant."
"Oh, yes," said Diavolo. "Arabian Nights, you know! You must have fresh
fruits and dried fruits, choice wines, cakes, sweets, and nuts."
"It shall be done as my lord commands," said the doctor.
That same evening, when he took the children home, Dr. Galbraith found
Lady Adeline alone. She was a plain woman, but well-bred in appearance;
and tender thoughts had carved a sweet expression on her face.
Next to her brother Dawne, Dawne's most intimate friend, Dr. Galbraith,
was the man in the world upon whom she placed the greatest reliance.
"I have brought back the children," he said.
"Ah. then they _have_ been with you!" she answered in a tone of
relief. "We hoped they were."
"Oh, yes," he said smiling. "They showed me exactly what the difficulty
here had been, and I have been endeavouring to win back their esteem, for
they made it appear plainly that they despised me when they found me
peacefully pruning rose trees instead of dismembering live rabbits, as Mr.
Ellis had apparently led them to expect."
"They told you, then?"
"Oh, exactly, I am sure--about the lady tied too tight in the middle, and
"They are terrible, George, those children," Lady Adeline declared. "My
whole life is one ache of anxiety on their account. I am always in doubt
as to whether their unnatural acuteness portends vice or is promising; and
whether we are doing all that ought to be done for them."
"I am sure they are in very good hands now," he answered cheerfully. "Mr.
Ellis is an exceedingly good fellow; they like him too, and I don't think
anybody could manage them better."
"No;" said Lady Adeline: "but that only means that no one can manage them
at all. They are everywhere. They know everything. They have already
mastered every fact in natural history that can be learnt upon the estate;
and they will do almost anything, and are so unscrupulous that I fear
sometimes they are going to take after some criminal ancestor there may
have been in the family, although I never heard of one, and go to the bad
altogether. Now, what is to be done with such children? I hardly dare
allow myself to hope that they have good qualities enough to save them,
and yet--and yet they are lovable," she added, looking at him wistfully.
"Most lovable, and I am sure you need not disturb yourself seriously," he
answered with confidence. "The children have vivid imaginations and
incomparable courage; and their love of mischief comes from exuberance of
spirits only, I am sure. When Angelica's womanly instincts develop, and
she has seen something of the serious side of life--been made to
_feel_ it, I mean--she will become a very different person, or I am
much mistaken. Her character promises to be as fine, when it is formed, as
it will certainly be unusual. And as for Diavolo--well, I have seen no
sign of any positive vice in either of them."
"You comfort me," said Lady Adeline. "How did you entertain them?"
"Oh, we had great fun!" he replied, laughing. "We had an impromptu Arabian
Night's entertainment with all the men and women about the place disguised
as slaves; and they all entered into the spirit of the thing heartily. I
assure you, I never enjoyed anything more in my life. But I must go. I am
on my way to town to-night to read a paper to-morrow morning upon a most
interesting case of retarded brain development, which I have been studying
for the last year. If I am right in my conclusions, we are upon the high
road to some extraordinary and most valuable discoveries."
"Now, that is a singular man," Lady Adeline remarked to Mr. Ellis
afterward. She had been telling the tutor about the success of his
stratagem. "He spent valuable hours to-day playing with my children, and
he says he never enjoyed anything so much in his life, and I quite believe
him; and to-morrow he will probably astonish the scientific world with a
discovery of the last importance."
"I call him a human being, perfectly possessed of all his faculties," Mr.
The twins worked well by fits and starts; but when they did not chose to
be diligent, they considerately gave their tutor a holiday. The last
threat of a thrashing for Diavolo happened to be on the first of these
"It looks a good morning for fishing" he remarked casually to Angelica,
just after they had settled down to lessons.
"Yes, it does," she answered.
There was a momentary pause, and then away went their books, and they were
off out of the window.
But Mr. Ellis succeeded in capturing them, and, laying hold of an arm of
each, he dragged them before the paternal tribunal in the library. He was
not intimate with the peculiar relations of the household to each other at
that particular time, and he thought Mr. Hamilton-Wells would prefer to
order the punishment himself for so serious an offence. Angelica shook her
hair over her face, and made sufficient feint of resistance to tumble her
frock on the way, while Diavolo pretended to be terror-stricken; but this
was only to please Mr. Ellis with the delusion that fear of their father
gave him a moral hold over them, for the moment Mr. Hamilton-Wells frowned
upon them they straightened themselves and beamed about blandly.
Mr. Hamilton-Wells ordered Diavolo to be thrashed, and Diavolo dashed off
for the cane and handed it to his tutor politely, saying at the same time:
"Do be quick, Mr. Ellis, I want to get out."
"You wouldn't dare to thrash him if he were big enough to thrash you
back," Angelica shrieked, waltzing round like a tornado; "and it isn't
fair to thrash him and not me, for I am much worse than he is. You know I
am, papa! and I shall _hate_ you if Diavolo is thrashed, and teach
him how to make your life a burden to you for a month, I
_shall_"--stamping her foot.
It always made her blood boil if there were any question of corporal
punishment for Diavolo. She could have endured it herself without a
murmur, but she had a feminine objection to knowing that it was being
inflicted, especially as she was not allowed to be present.
"Don't be an idiot, Angelica," Diavolo drawled. "I would rather be
thrashed, and have done with it. It does fellows good to be thrashed;
makes them manly, they say in the books. And it hurts a jolly sight less
than being scratched by _you_, if that is any comfort."
"Oh, you _are_ mean!" Angelica exclaimed. "Wait till we get outside!"
"I think, sir," Mr. Ellis ventured to suggest in answer to an appealing
glance from Mr. Hamilton-Wells, and looking dubiously at the cane--"I
think, since Diavolo doesn't care a rap about being flogged, I had better
devise a form of punishment for which he will care."
"Then come along, Diavolo," Angelica exclaimed, making a dash for the
door. "They won't want us while they're devising."
Mr. Ellis would have followed them, but Mr. Hamilton-Wells gently
restrained him. "It is no use, Mr. Ellis," he said, sighing deeply. "I
would recommend you to keep up a show of disapproval for form's sake, but
I beg that you will not give yourself any unnecessary trouble. They are
"I hope not," the tutor answered.
"Well, I leave them to you, make what you can of them!" their father
rejoined. "I wash my hands of the responsibility while you are here."
The Heavenly Twins got their day's sport on that occasion, and returned
with a basket full of trout for tea, fishy themselves, and tired, but
bland and conciliatory. They dressed for the evening carefully, and
without coercion, which was always a sign of repentance; and then they
went down to the schoolroom, where they found Mr. Ellis standing with his
back to the fireplace, reading a newspaper. He looked at them each in turn
as they entered, and they looked at him, but he made no remark.
"I wish you would give us a good scolding at once, and have done with it,"
He made no sign of having heard, however, but quietly turned the paper
over, chose a fresh item of information, and began to read it. Angelica
sat down in her place at table, leant back with her short frock up to her
knees and her long legs tucked under her chair, and reflected: Diavolo did
the same, yawning aggressively.
"I'd sell my birthright for a mess of pottage with pleasure this minute,"
"What was pottage, Mr. Ellis?" Angelica asked insinuatingly.
"You don't suppose the recipe has been handed down in the Ellis family, do
you?" said Diavolo.
Angelica looked round for a missile to hurl at him, but there being
nothing handy, she tried the effect of a withering glance, to which he
responded by making a face at her. A storm was evidently brewing, but
fortunately just at that moment the tea arrived, and caused a diversion
which prevented further demonstrations. Happily for those in charge of the
twins, their outbursts of feeling were all squalls which subsided as
suddenly as those of the innocent babe which howls everybody in the house
out of bed for his bottle, and is beyond all comfort till he gets it, when
his anger instantly goes out, and only a few gurgling "Oh's" of intense
satisfaction mark the point from which the racket proceeded.
For a week Mr. Ellis maintained an attitude of dignified reserve with the
twins, and their sociable souls were much exercised to devise a means to
break down the barrier of coldness which they found between themselves and
their tutor. They tried everything they could think of to beguile him back
to the old friendly footing, and it was only after all other means had
failed that they thought at last of apologising for their unruly conduct.
It was the first time that they had ever done such a thing in their lives
spontaneously, and they were so proud of it that they went and told
everybody they knew.
Mr. Ellis, having graciously accepted the apology, found himself expected
to discuss the whole subject at tea that evening.
"Of course, we were quite in the wrong," said Angelica, taking advantage
of the Peace Angel's presence to sum up comprehensively; "but you must
acknowledge that we were not altogether to blame, for you really have not
been making our lessons sufficiently interesting to rivet our attention
"That is true," said the diligent Diavolo. "My attention has not been
riveted for weeks."
After the twins had made their memorable apology, they were so impressed
by the importance of the event that they determined to celebrate it in
some special way. They wanted to do something really worthy of the
"We'll do some good to somebody, shall we?" said Angelica.
"Not unless there's some fun in it," said Diavolo.
"Well, who proposed to do anything without fun in it?" Angelica wanted to
know. "You've no sense at all, Diavolo When people get up fancy fairs and
charity balls, do they pretend to be doing it for fun? No! They say, 'Oh,
my dear, I _am_ so busy, I hardly know what to do first; but what
keeps me up is the object! the good object!' And then they're enjoying it
as hard as they can all the time. And that's what we'll do. We'll give the
school children a treat."
The twins were allowed an hour to riot about the place after their early
dinner, and then a bell was rung to summon them in to lessons, but on that
particular day Mr. Ellis waited in vain for them. Angelica had concealed
her riding habit in a loft, and as soon as they got out they ran to the
stables, which were just then deserted, the men being at their dinner; and
Angelica changed her dress while Diavolo got out their ponies and saddled
them, and having carefully stolen through a thick plantation on to the
high road, they scampered off to Morningquest as hard as their lively
little steeds could carry them.
They were well known in Morningquest, and many an admiring as well as
inquiring glance followed them as they cantered close together side by
side through the quaint old streets. The people were wondering what on
earth they were up to.
"Everybody looks so pleased to see us," said Diavolo, smiling genially; "I
think we ought to come oftener."
"We will," said Angelica.
They pulled up at the principal confectioner's in the place, and bought as
many pounds of sweets as they could carry, desiring the proprietor in a
lordly way to send the bill to Hamilton House at his earliest convenience;
and then they rode off to the largest day school in the city, stationed
themselves on either side of a narrow gateway through which both girls and
boys had to pass to get in, and pelted the children with sweets as they
returned from their midday dinners; and as they had chosen sugar almonds,
birds' eggs, and other varieties of a hard and heavy nature, which,
although interesting in the mouth of a child, are inconvenient when
received in its eyes, and cause irritation, which is apt to be resented,
when pelted at the back of its head, the scene in a few minutes was
extremely animated. This was what the Heavenly Twins called giving the
school children a treat, and they told Mr. Ellis afterward that they
enjoyed doing good very much.
"What shall we do now?" said Diavolo as they walked their ponies aimlessly
down the street when that episode was over.
"Let's call on grandpapa and the bishop," Angelica suggested.
"The bishop first, then," said Diavolo. "They've such good cakes at the
"Well, that's just why we should do grandpapa first," said Angelica.
"Don't you see? We can have cake at Morne; and we shall be able to eat the
ones at the palace too, if they're better."
"Yes," said Diavolo, with grave precision. "I notice myself, that, however
much I have had, I can always eat a little more of something better."
"That's what they mean by tempting the appetite," observed Angelica
When the children arrived at the castle, it occurred to them that it would
be a very good idea to ride right in and go upstairs on their ponies; but
they only succeeded in mounting the broad steps and entering the hall,
where they were captured by the footmen and respectfully persuaded to
alight. They announced that they had come to call on the Duke of
Morningquest, and were conducted to his presence with pomp and ceremony
enough to have embarrassed any other equally dusty dishevelled mortals,
but the twins were not troubled with self-consciousness, and entered with
perfect confidence. The duke was delighted. If there was one thing which
could give him more pleasure than another in his old age, it was the
wicked ways of the Heavenly Twins, and especially of the promising
Angelica, who very much resembled him both in appearance, decision of
character, and sharpness of temper. She promised, however, to be on a much
larger scale, for the duke was diminutive. He looked like one who stands
in a picture at the end of a long line of ancestors, considerably reduced
by the perspective, and it was as if in his person an attempt had been
made to breed the race down to the vanishing point, His high-arched feet
were admired as models of size and shape, and so also were his slender
delicate hands; but neither were agreeable to an educated eye and an
intelligence indifferent to the dignity of dukes, but nice in the matter
The children found their grandfather in the oriel room, so called because
of the great oriel window, which was a small room in itself, although it
looked, as you approached the castle, no bigger than a swallow's nest on
the face of the solid masonry, being the only excrescence visible above
the trees from that point of view. The castle stood on a hill which
descended precipitously from under the oriel, so that the latter almost
overhung the valley in which the city lay below, and commanded a
magnificent view of the flat country beyond, thridded by a shining winding
ribbon of river. The hill was wooded on that side to the top, and the
castle crowned it, rising above the trees in irregular outline against the
sky imposingly. The old duke sat in the oriel often, looking down at the
wonderful prospect, but thinking less of his own vast possessions than of
the great cathedral of Morningquest, which he coveted for Holy Church. He
had become a convert to Roman Catholicism in his old age, and his bigotry
and credulity were as great now as his laxity and scepticism had been
before his conversion.
He was sitting alone with his confessor and private chaplain, Father
Ricardo, a man of middle age, middle height, attenuated form, round head
with coarse black hair, piercing dark eyes, aquiline nose somewhat thick,
and the loose mouth characteristic of devout Roman Catholics, High Church
people, and others who are continually being wound up to worship an unseen
Deity by means of sensuous enjoyment; the uncertain lines into which the
lips fall in repose indicating fairly the habitual extent of their
emotional indulgences. His manners were suave and deferential, his motives
sincerely disinterested in the interests of the Church, his method of
gaining his ends unhampered by any sense of the need of extreme verbal
accuracy. He was reading to the duke when the children were announced, and
rose and bowed low to them as they entered, with a smile of respectful and
Diavolo raised his dusty cap to his chest and returned the bow with
punctilious gravity. Angelica tossed him a nod as she passed up the room
in a business-like way to where her grandfather was sitting facing the
window. The old duke looked round as the children approached and his face
relaxed; he did not absolutely smile, but his eyes twinkled.
Angelica plumped down on the arm of his chair, put her arm round his neck,
and deposited a superficial kiss somewhere in the region of his ear, while
Diavolo wrung his hand more ceremoniously, but with much energy. Both
children seemed sure of their welcome, and comported themselves with their
usual unaffected ease of manner. The old duke controlled his mouth, but
there was something in the expression of his countenance which meant that
he would have chuckled if his old sense of humour had not been checked by
the presence of the priest, which held him somehow to his new professions
of faith, and the severe dignity of demeanour that best befits the piety
of a professional saint.
He was wearing a little black velvet skull cap, and Angelica, still
sitting on the arm of his chair, took it off as soon as she had saluted
him, looked into it, and clapped it on to the back of his head again,
"I am glad you have your black velvet coat on to-day," she said, embracing
the back of his chair with an arm, and kicking her long legs about in her
fidgety way. "It goes well with your hair, and I like the feel of it."
"Have you a holiday to-day?" the duke demanded with an affectation of
"Yes," said Angelica absently, taking up one of his delicate hands and
transferring a costly ring from his slender white forefinger to her own
dirty brown one.
"No," the more exact Diavolo contradicted; "we gave Mr. Ellis a holiday."
"To tell you the truth, grandpapa, I had forgotten all about lessons,"
said Angelica candidly. "I fancy Mr. Ellis is fizzing by this time, don't
"What are you doing here if you haven't a holiday?" their grandfather
"Visiting you, sir," Diavolo answered in his peculiar drawl, which always
left you uncertain as to whether he intended an impertinence or not. He
was lying at full length on the floor facing his grandfather, with the
back of his head resting on the low window sill, and the old gentleman was
looking at him admiringly. He was not at all sure of the import of
Diavolo's last reply, but had the tact not to pursue the subject.
The priest had remained standing, with his hands folded upon the book he
had been reading, and a set smile upon his thin intellectual face, behind
which it was easy to see that the busy thoughts came crowding.
Angelica turned on him suddenly, flinging herself from the arm of her
grandfather's chair on to a low seat which stood with its back to the
window, in order to do so.
"I say, Papa Ricardo, I want to ask you," she began. "What do you think of
that Baronne de Chantal, whom you call Sainte, when her son threw himself
across the threshold of their home to prevent her leaving the house, and
she stepped across his body to go and be _religieuse?_"
"It was the heroic act of a holy woman," the priest replied.
"But I thought Home was the woman's sphere?" said Angelica.
"Yes," the priest rejoined, "unless God calls them to religion."
"But did God give her all those children?" Angelica pursued.
"Yes, indeed," said Father Ricardo. "Children are the gift of God."
"Well, so I thought I had heard," Angelica remarked, with a genial air of
being much interested. "But it seems such bad management to give a lady a
lot of children, and then take her away so that she can't look after
The poor old duke had been dull all day. His mind, under the influence of
his father confessor, had been running on the horrors of hell, and such
subjects, together with the necessity of accomplishing certain good works
and setting aside large sums of money in order to excuse himself from such
condemnation as the priest had ventured to hint courteously that even a
great duke might entail upon himself by the quite excusable errors of his
youth; but since the Heavenly Twins arrived the old gentleman had begun to
see things again from a point of view more natural to one of his family,
and his countenance cleared in a way which denoted that his spirits were
rising. Father Ricardo was accustomed to say that the dear children's high
spirits were apt to be too much for his Grace; but this was a mistake, due
doubtless to his extreme humility, which would not allow him to mention
himself, for whom there was no doubt the dear children _were_ apt to
be too much.
The old duke, upon that last remark of Angelica's, twinkled a glance at
his Father Confessor which had an effect on the latter that made itself
apparent in the severity of his reply: "The ways of the Lord are
inscrutable," he said, "and it is presumptuous for mortals, however great
their station, to attempt to fathom them."
"I have heard that before too, often," said Diavolo, with a wise nod of
"So have I," said Angelica; and then both children beamed at the priest
cordially, and the long-suppressed chuckle escaped from the duke.
Father Ricardo retired into himself.
"Grandpapa," Diavolo resumed--the Heavenly Twins never allowed the
conversation to flag--"Grandpapa, do you believe there ever was a little
boy who never, never, told a lie?"
"I hope, sir, you do not mean me to infer that you are mendacious?" the
old gentleman sternly rejoined.
"Mendacious?" Diavolo repeated; "that's do I tell lies, isn't it? Well,
you see, sir, it's like this. If I'd been up to something, and you asked
me if I'd done it, I'd say 'Yes' like a shot; but if Angelica had been up
to something, and I knew all about it, and you asked me if she'd done it,
I'd say 'No' flatly."
"Do I understand, sir, that you would tell me a lie 'flatly'?"
"Yes," said Diavolo decidedly, "if you were mean enough to expect me to
sneak on Angelica."
"Father Ricardo," the latter began energetically, "when you tell a lie do
you look straight at a person or just past the side of their heads?"
"_I_ always look straight at a person myself," said Diavolo, gravely
considering the priest; "I can't help it."
"It's the best way," said Angelica with the assurance of one who has tried
both. "I suppose, grandpapa," she pursued, "when people get old they have
nothing to tell lies about. They just sit and listen to them;" and again
she looked hard at Father Ricardo, whose face had gradually become
suffused with an angry red.
"I should think, Father Ricardo," said Diavolo, observing this, "if you
were a layman, you would be feeling now as if you could throttle us?"
But before the poor priest could utter the reproof which trembled on his
lips, the door opened and the duke's unmarried daughter and youngest
child, the beautiful Lady Fulda, entered, and changed the moral atmosphere
in a moment.
Both children rose to receive her tender kisses affectionately.
Their passionate appreciation of all things beautiful betrayed itself in
the way they gazed at her; and hers was the only presence that ever
subdued them for a moment.
"I like her in white and gold," Angelica remarked to Diavolo when she had
looked her longest.
"So do I," Diavolo rejoined with a nod of satisfaction.
"My dear children!" Lady Fulda exclaimed. "You must not discuss my
appearance in that way. You speak of me as if I were not here."
"You never seem to be here, somehow," said Diavolo, struggling with a big
thought he could not express. "I always feel when you come in as if you
were miles and miles away from us. Now, mamma is always close to us, and
papa gets quite in the way; but you seem to be"--he raised both hands high
above his head, with the palms spread outward, and then let his arms sink
to his sides slowly. The gesture expressed an immeasurable distance above
and beyond him.
"Yes," said Angelica, "I feel that too. But sometimes, when there's music
and flowers and no light to speak of--in church, you know--and you feel as
if angels might be about, or even the Lord himself, I rise up beside you
somehow, and come quite close."
Lady Fulda's eyes deepened with feeling as Angelica spoke, and drawing the
child to her side, she smoothed her hair, and gazed down into her face
earnestly, as if she would penetrate the veil of flesh that baffled her
when she tried to see clearly the soul of which Angelica occasionally gave
her some such glimpse.
The old duke glanced round at the clock, and instantly the attentive
priest stepped to the window and opened it wide. Then the duke raised his
hand as if to enjoin silence, and presently the music of the bells of the
city clocks, striking the hour in various tones, and all at different
moments, causing a continuous murmurous sea of sound, arose from below.
When the last vibration ceased there was a quite perceptible pause. The
duke took off his little round black velvet cap, and leant forward,
listening intently; Lady Fulda bent her head and her lips moved; the
priest folded his hands and looked straight before him with the
unconscious eyes of one absorbed in thought or prayer who sees not; the
twins, assuming a sanctimonious expression, bowed their hypocritical heads
and watched what was going on out of the corners of their eyes. There was
a moment's interval, and then came the chime, mellowed by distance, but
clear and resonant:
[Illustration: (musical notation); lyrics: He, watch-ing o-ver Is--ra--el,
slumbers not, nor sleeps.]
It was the habit of the old duke to listen for it hour by hour, and while
it rang, he, and those of his household who shared his faith, offered a
fervent prayer for the restoration of Holy Church.
Lady Fulda insisted on sending the children home under proper escort. They
strongly objected. They said they were not going straight home; they had
to call on the Bishop of Morningquest.
"Why are you going to call on the Bishop of Morningquest?" their aunt
"We wish to see him," Angelica answered stiffly.
"On the subject of rotten potatoes," Diavolo supplemented. Lady Fulda
"Sainte Chantal, you know," said the ready Angelica. The reason was new to
her, but the twins usually understood each other like a flash. "They put a
rotten potato on her plate one day at dinner, and she ate it."
"She was so hungry?" suggested Lady Fulda, trying hard to remember the
"No, so humble," Angelica answered; "at least so they say in the book; but
we don't think it could have been humility; it must have been horrid bad
taste; but we're going to ask the bishop. He's so temperate, you know. We
tried to discuss the matter with Father Ricardo, but he shut us up
"My dear child!" Lady Fulda exclaimed, "what an expression!"
"I assure you it is the right one, Aunt Fulda," Angelica maintained. "He
got quite red in the face."
"Yes," said Diavolo, gazing at Father Ricardo thoughtfully. "He looked hot
enough to set fire to us if he'd touched us."
"I should think he would have been invaluable in the Inquisition," said
Angelica, to whom that last remark of Diavolo's had opened up a boundless
field of speculation and retrospect. "Wouldn't you like to hear a heretic
go off pop on a pile?" she inquired, turning to Father Ricardo.
The duke and Lady Fulda glanced at him involuntarily, and very
good-naturedly tried to smile. This, however, did not necessitate such an
effort as the mere cold reading of the twins' remark might make it appear,
for they both had a certain charm of manner, expressive of an utter
absence of any intention to offend, which no kindly disposed person could
resist; and Father Ricardo was essentially kindly disposed.
The twins were taking their leave by this time. Angelica proceeded to
deposit one of her erratic kisses somewhere on the old duke's head, with
an emphasis which caused him to wince perceptibly. Then she went up to
Father Ricardo, and shook hands with him.
"I hope the next time we come you will be able to tell us some nice bogey
stories about death and the judgment, and hell, and that kind of thing,"
she said politely. "They interest us very much. You remember, you told us
"It must be very jolly for grandpapa to have you here always, ready to
make his blood run cold whenever he feels dull," Diavolo observed, looking
up at the priest admiringly. "You do it so well, you know, just as if you
believed it all."
"We tried it once with some children we had to spend the day with us at
Hamilton House," Angelica said. "We took them into a dark room--the long
room, you know, Aunt Fulda; and Diavolo rubbed a match on the wall at the
far end, and I explained that that was a glimmer of hell-fire at a great
distance off; and then we told them if they didn't keep quite still the
old devil himself would come creeping up behind without any noise, and
jump on their backs."
"And the little beggars howled," Diavolo added, as if that consequence
still filled him with astonishment.
"My dear children, I am afraid you tell dreadful stories," Lady Fulda
exclaimed in a horrified tone.
"Yes," said Angelica, with her grave little nod; "and we're improving; but
we cannot come up to Father Ricardo yet in that line."
"Not by a long chalk," said Diavolo.
"But, my _dear_ child," Lady Fulda solemnly asserted, "Father Ricardo
tells you _nothing_ but what is _absolutely_ true."
"How do you know?" Angelica asked.
"Oh--oh!" Lady Fulda stammered, and then looked at the priest appealingly.
"When you are older, and able to understand these things," Father Ricardo
began with gentle earnestness, "perhaps you will allow me--"
"But how do you _know_ it's true yourself?" Angelica demanded.
"Did you ever _see_ the devil,
With his little spade and shovel,
Digging praties in the garden
With his tail cocked up?"--
Diavolo chanted, accompanying the words with a little dance, in which
Angelica, holding up her habit, joined incontinently.
Lady Fulda remained grave, but the old duke and Father Ricardo himself
were moved to mirth, and there was no more talk of Revealed Religion, the
Power of the Popedom, and the glory of the Church on earth, at Morne that
Lady Fulda had been firm about sending the children home under escort, and
they found a steady old groom waiting ready to mount a spirited horse when
they went down to the courtyard to get on their ponies. They had
discovered a box of croquet mallets on their way downstairs, and borrowed
As they descended the steep hill leading from the castle, at a walk, they
began to discuss recent events, as their habit was.
"What did you do when the chime went, and you hung your head?" said
"I hoped there'd be hot cakes for tea; bat I didn't mean it for a prayer,"
Diavolo answered, as if the matter admitted of a doubt.
"I'm glad we decided to go secondly to the palace; I didn't think much of
grandpapa's tea," Angelica observed. "It was all china, and no cakes--to
speak of; no crisp ones, you know."
"Well, you see his teeth are bad," said Diavolo indulgently.
"He has enough of them, then!" Angelica answered.
"Yes, but they aren't much good, they're so loose, you know; every now and
again you can see them waggle," said Diavolo.
"I'd like to see him bite a fig!" said Angelica, chuckling.
"They'd stick, I suppose," said Diavolo meditatively. "I expect there will
be great improvements in those matters by the time we want to be patched."
The groom, who had been riding at a respectful distance behind, suddenly
perceived that he had lost sight of the children altogether. The descent
was steep just there, and winding; and, knowing with whom he had to deal,
the man urged his horse on, straining his eyes at every turn to catch a
glimpse of the twins, but vainly, till he reached the bottom of the hill,
when they bounced out on him suddenly from among the trees on either side
of the road, whooping and flourishing their mallets wildly. The horse,
which was very fresh, gave one great bound and bolted, and the Heavenly
Twins, shrieking with delight, hunted him hard into Morningquest.
When they arrived at the palace, Angelica asked with the utmost confidence
if the bishop were at home; and, being informed by an obsequious footman
that he was, the twins marched into the hall, and were ushered into the
presence of Mrs. Beale and her daughter Edith.
"Tell his lordship we are here," Angelica said to the servant
authoritatively, before she performed her salutations. When these were
over, the twins sat down opposite to Edith and inspected her.
"We've just been seeing Aunt Fulda," Diavolo remarked.
Angelica caught the connection: "Your hair is about the same colour as
hers, but your face is smoother," she observed. "It looks like porcelain.
Hers has little stipples, you know, about the nose, when you go close.
They seem to come as you get older."
"Uncle Dawne calls you Saxon Edith," said Diavolo. "Don't you wonder he
doesn't want to marry you? _I_ do. When I'm old enough I'm going to
propose to you; do you think you will have me?"
"Have you! I should think not, indeed!" Angelica exclaimed with a jealous
flash. At that time the notion of sharing her brother's affection with
anybody always enraged her.
Diavolo was irritated by her scornful manner.
"I am a little afraid," he began, addressing Mrs. Beale in his deliberate
way: "I am a little afraid Angelica will stand in the way of my making a
good match. No respectable wife would have her about."
Quick as thought, Angelica had him by the hair, and the two were tumbling
over each other on the floor.
Mrs. Beale and Edith sprang forward to separate them, but that was
impossible until the twins had banged each other to their heart's content,
when they got up, with their feelings thoroughly relieved, and resumed
their seats and the conversation as if nothing had happened. The skirmish,
however, had been severe although short. Diavolo had a deep scratch over
his right eyebrow which began to bleed profusely. Angelica was the first
to notice it, and tearing out a handkerchief which was up her sleeve, she
rolled it into a bandage roughly, whirled over to Diavolo, and tied it
round his head, covering his right eye, and leaving a great knot and two
long ends sticking up like rabbit's ears amongst his fair hair, and a
pointed flap hanging down on the opposite side.
"I must cut my nails," she remarked, giving a finishing touch to this
labour of love, which made Diavolo rock on his chair, but he accepted her
attentions as a matter-of-course, merely drawling: "Angelica is _so_
energetical!" as he recovered his balance.
Just at this moment the bishop bustled in. He had been engaged upon some
important diocesan duties when the twins were announced; but, thinking
they must have come with an urgent message, he suspended the work of the
diocese, and hurried up to see what was the matter.
The twins rose to receive him with their usual unaffected affability. He
was a short stout man with a pleasant face, and a cordial well-bred manner;
a little apt to be fussy on occasion, and destitute of any sense of
humour in other people, although given to making his own little jokes. He
was a bishop of the old-fashioned kind, owing his position to family
influence rather than to any special attainment or qualification; but he
was a good man, and popular, and the See of Morningquest would have had
much to regret if the back door by which he got into the Church had been
shut before he passed through it.
"I am afraid there has been an accident," he said with concern when he saw
Diavolo's head tied up in a handkerchief.
"Oh, no, thank you, sir," that young gentleman assured him. "It is only a
"_I_ did it," said the candid Angelica; "and it looked unpleasant, so
I tied it up."
"Oh," the bishop ejaculated, glancing inquiringly at his wife and
daughter. "You wanted to see me?"
"Yes," said Diavolo, preparing to suit his conversation to the bishop's
taste. "There are a great many things we want to discuss with you; what
were they, Angelica? I am sure I have forgotten them all."
"Let me see," said Angelica--Sainte Chantal and the rotten potato had
quite gone out of her mind. "It was just to have a little interesting
conversation, you know."
"We're getting on very well with our lessons," Diavolo gravely assured
him, anticipating the inevitable question.
"We've just come from Morne," said Angelica.
"Indeed," the bishop answered. "How is your grandfather?"
"Rather flat to-day," said Angelica. "He didn't say anything of interest;
didn't even lecture us."
"No; but he looked pleasant," said Diavolo.
"I like him to lecture," Angelica insisted. "I like him to talk about the
Church, how it is going to encompass the earth, the sea, and all that in
them is; and that kind of thing, you know--boom, boom! He makes you feel
as if every word he uttered ought to be printed in capital letters; and it
seems as if your eyes opened wider and wider, and your skin got tight."
Diavolo nodded his head to one side in intelligent acquiescence.
Not being troubled with self-consciousness, he wore the handkerchief with
which his head was decorated with the grave dignity of his best behaviour.
"I sometimes think, sir," he began, addressing the bishop exactly in his
father's precise way, "that there is something remarkable about my
grandfather. He is a kind of a prophet, I imagine, to whom the Lord
Edith walked to the window, Mrs. Beale got out her handkerchief hastily;
the bishop's countenance relaxed.
"I suppose you wouldn't like us to be converted?" Angelica asked.
"We call it _perverted_, dear child," said Mrs. Beale.
"Well, they call it _converted_ just as positively up at the castle,"
Angelica rejoined, not argumentatively, merely stating the fact.
"I wonder what the angels call it," said Diavolo, looking up in their
direction out of a window opposite, and then glancing at the bishop as if
he thought he ought to know.
"I don't suppose they care a button what we call it," Angelica decided
off-hand, out of her own inner consciousness. "But you would not like us
to be either 'con' or 'per,' would you?" she asked the bishop.
"I am afraid I must not discuss so serious a question with you to-day," he
answered. "I am very busy, and I must go back to my work."
"I thought you looked unsettled," Angelica observed. "I know what it is
when you've got to come to the drawing room, and want to be somewhere
else. They won't excuse us at home as a rule, but we'll excuse you, if you
"Eh--thank you," the old gentleman answered, glancing with a smile at his
"But I should think some tea would do you good," Diavolo suggested.
"Have you not had any tea?" Edith asked, stretching her hand out toward
"Well, yes," he answered. "We've had a little"--the tone implied, "but not
"We always like your cakes, you know," said Angelica; "and ours at
Hamilton House are generally nice; but at Morne they're sometimes sodden."
The bishop withdrew at this point, and the children devoted the rest of
their attention to the cakes.
"Now we've got to go and settle with Mr. Ellis," Diavolo remarked to
Angelica, yawning, as they walked their ponies out of the palace grounds.
"Well, at any rate, we've done the celebration thoroughly," she answered,
"and enjoyed it. He won't be able to help that now. Oh--by the way! here's
grandpapa's ring. I forgot it."
"It doesn't matter," said Diavolo. "He knows you'll take care of it."
Almost at the same moment the old duke at Morne missed the ring, and
remarked: "Ah, I remember, Angelica has it. She put it on her finger when
she was sitting beside me this afternoon."
"Shall I go at once to Hamilton House, and bring it back with me?" Father
Ricardo asked, somewhat officiously.
"No, sir, thank you," said the duke with dignity. "My grand-daughter will
return the ring when it suits her convenience."
Next day Angelica begged her father to take the ring back for her with a
note of apology explaining that she had forgotten it, and expressing her
Part of the old gray palace at Morningquest had been a monastery. The
walls were thick, the windows gothic, the bedrooms small, the reception
rooms huge, as if built for the accommodation of a whole community at a
time; and with unexpected alcoves and angles and deep embrasures, all very
picturesque, and also extremely inconvenient; but Edith Beale, who had
been born in the palace and grown up there, under the protection of the
great cathedral, as it were, and the influence of its wonderful chime, was
never conscious of the inconvenience, and would not, at any rate, have
exchanged it for the comfort and luxury of the best appointed modern
house. The Bishop of Morningquest and Mrs. Beale had three sons, but Edith
was their only daughter, their white child, their pearl; and certainly she
was a lovely specimen of a well-bred English girl.
On the day following that upon which the Heavenly Twins had celebrated the
important occasion of their first spontaneous "Kow-tow," as they called
it, in the early morning Edith, being still asleep, turned toward the east
window of her room, the blind of which was up, and fell into a dream. The
sun, as he rose, smiled in upon her. She had flung her left hand up above
her head with the pink palm outward, and the fingers half bent; the right
lay on the sheet beside her, palm downward, spread out, and all relaxed.
Her whole attitude expressed the most complete abandonment of deep and
The night had been warm, and the heavier draperies had slipped from her
bed on the farther side, leaving only the sheet.
Her warm bright hair, partly loosened from the one thick braid into which
it had been plaited, fell from off the pillow to the floor on her right,
and the sun, looking in, lit it up and made it sparkle. She left that
window with the blind undrawn so that he might arouse her every morning;
and now, as the first pale ray gleamed over her face, her eyelids
quivered, and half opened, but she was still busy with her dream and did
not wake. She lived in an atmosphere of dreams and of mystic old
associations. Events of the days gone by were often more distinctly
pictured in her mind than incidents of yesterday. Mrs. Orton Beg, her
mother, and all the gentle mannered, pure-minded women among whom she had
grown up, thought less of this world, even as they knew it, than of the
next as they imagined it to be; and they received and treasured with
perfect faith every legend, hint, and shadow of a communication which they
believed to have come to them from thence. They neglected the good they
might have done here in order to enjoy their bright and tranquil dreams of
the hereafter. Their spiritual food was faith and hope. They kept their
tempers even and unruffled by never allowing themselves to think or know,
so far as it is possible with average intelligence not to do either in
this world, anything that is evil of anybody. They prided themselves on
only believing all that is good of their fellow-creatures; this was their
idea of Christian charity. Thus they always believed the best about
everybody, not on evidence, but upon principle; and then they acted as if
their attitude had made their acquaintances all they desired them to be.
They seemed to think that by ignoring the existence of sin, by refusing to
obtain any knowledge of it, they somehow helped to check it; and they
could not have conceived that their attitude made it safe to sin, so that,
when they refused to know and to resist, they were actually countenancing
evil and encouraging it. The kind of Christian charity from which they
suffered was a vice in itself. To keep their own minds pure was the great
object of their lives, which really meant to save themselves from the
horror and pain of knowing.
Edith, by descent, by teaching, by association, and in virtue of the
complete ignorance in which she had been kept, was essentially one of that
set. It is impossible for any adult creature to be more spiritually minded
than she was. She lived in a state of exquisite feeling. The whole
training of her mind had been so directed as to make her existence one
long beatific vision, and she was unconsciously prepared to resent in her
gentle way, and to banish at once, if possible, any disturbing thought
that might break in upon it.
In her dream that morning she smiled at first, and then she fairly
laughed. She had met the Heavenly Twins, and they were telling her
something--what was it? The most amusing thing she had ever heard them say;
she knew it by the way it had made her laugh--why couldn't she repeat it?
She was trying to tell her mother, and while in the act, she became
suddenly aware of a strange place, and Diavolo kneeling at her feet,
clasping her left hand, and kissing it. She felt the touch of his lips
distinctly; they were soft and warm. He was beseeching her to marry him,
she understood, and she was going to laugh at him for being a ridiculous
boy, but it was the steadfast, dark blue eyes of Lord Dawne that met hers,
and she was looking up at him, and not down at the fair-haired Diavolo
kneeling before her. She caught the gloss on Lord Dawne's black hair, the
curve of his slight moustache, and the gleam of his white teeth. He was
grave, but his lips were parted, and he carried a little child in his
arms, and the expression of his face was like the dear Lord's in a picture
of the Good Shepherd which she had in her room. He held the little child
out to her. She took it from him, smiling, raised its little velvet cheek
to hers, and then drew back to look at it, but was horrified because it
was not beautiful at all as it had been the moment before, but deformed,
and its poor little body was covered with sores. The sight sickened her,
and she tried to cover it with her own clothes. She tore at the skirt of
her gown. She struggled to take off a cloak she wore. She stripped herself
in the endeavour and cried aloud in her shame, but she could not help
herself, and Dawne could not help her, and in the agony of the attempt she
awoke, and sprang up, clutching at the bedclothes, but was not able to
find them at first, because they had fallen on the floor; and she fancied
herself still in her horrible dream. Big drops of perspiration stood on
her forehead, her eyes were dazzled by the sun, and she was all confused.
She jumped out of bed and stood a moment, trying to collect herself; and
the first thing she saw distinctly was the picture of the Saviour on the
wall. A _Prie-dieu_ stood beneath it, and she went and knelt there,
her beautiful yellow hair streaming behind her, her eyes fixed on the
wonderful, sad, sweet face.
"Dear Lord," she prayed passionately, "keep me from all knowledge of
unholy things,"--by which she meant sights and circumstances that were
unlovely, and horrified.
She knelt for some minutes longer, with all articulate thought suspended;
but by degrees there came to her that glow in the chest, that expansion of
it which is the accompaniment of the exalted sentiment known to us as
adoration, or love; love purged of all earthly admixture of doubt and
fear, which is the most delicious sensation human nature is capable of
experiencing. And presently she arose, free from the painful impression
made by the revolting details of her dream, put her hands under her hair
at the back of her neck, and then raised them up above her head and her
hair with them, stretching herself and yawning slightly. Then she brought
her hair all around to the right in a mass, and let it hang down to her
knees, and looked at it dreamily; and then began to twist it slowly,
preparatory to coiling it round her head. She went to the dressing-table
for hairpins to fasten it, holding up her long nightdress above her white
feet with one hand that she might not trip, and, standing before the
mirror, blushed at the beauty of her own reflection. When she had put her
hair out of the way, she glanced at her bed somewhat longingly, then at
her watch. It was very early, and the morning was chilly, so she put on
her white flannel dressing gown, got a book, returned to her bed, and
propped herself up in a comfortable position for reading; and so she spent
the time happily until her maid came to call her. Her book that morning
was "The Life of Frances Ridley Havergal," and she found it absorbingly
The ladies of an artist's family usually arrange and decorate their rooms
in a way which recalls the manner called artistic, more especially when
the artist is a figure or subject, as distinguished from a landscape
painter, for the latter lives too much in the free fresh air to cultivate
draperies, even if he does not absolutely detest them as being stuffy; and
in the same way the bedroom of the only daughter of the Bishop of
Morningquest would have made you think of matters ecclesiastical. The room
itself, with its thick walls, high stone mantelpiece, small gothic
windows, and plain ridged vault, was so in fact; and a sense of
suitability as well as the natural inclination of the occupant had led her
to choose the furniture and decoration as severely in keeping as possible.
The pictures consisted of photographs or engravings of sacred subjects,
all of Roman Catholic origin. There was a "Virgin and Child," by
Botticelli, and another by Perugini; "Our Lady of the Cat," by Baroccio;
the exquisite "Vision of St. Helena," by Paolo Veronese; Correggio's "Ecce
Homo"; and others less well-known; with a ghastly Crucifixion too painful
to be endured, especially by a young girl, had not custom dulled all
genuine perception of the horror of it. The whole effect, however, was a
delicious impression of freshness and serenity, which inspired something
of the same respect for Edith's sanctum that one felt for Edith herself,
as was evident on one occasion, when, the ladies of his family being
absent, the Bishop of Morningquest had taken Mr. Kilroy of Ilverthorpe, a
gentleman who had lately settled in that neighbourhood, over the palace.
When they came to Edith's room, he had opened the door absently, and then,
remembering whose it was, he said: "My daughter's room," and they had both
looked in without entering, and both becoming aware at the same moment
that they had their hats on, removed them involuntarily.
Edith's dress too, was characteristic. All the ornamentation was out of
sight, the lining of her gowns being often more costly than the materials
of which they were made. In the same way, her simple unaffected manners
were the plain garment which concealed the fine quality and cultivation of
her mind. She might have done great good in the world had she known of the
evil; she would have fought for the right in defiance of every prejudice,
as women do. But she had never been allowed to see the enemy. She had been
fitted by education to move in the society of saints and angels only, and
so rendered as unsuited as she was unprepared to cope with the world she
would have to meet in that state of life to which, as she herself would
have phrased it, it had pleased God to call her.
When she left her room that morning she went to her mother's sitting room,
which was on the same floor.
Edith and her mother usually breakfasted here together. Sometimes the
bishop joined them and chatted over an extra cup of tea; but he was an
early riser, and had generally breakfasted with his chaplain and private
secretary, and done an hour's work or so before his wife appeared. For
Mrs. Beale was delicate at that time, and obliged to forego the early
breakfast with her husband which had hitherto been the habit and pleasure
of her whole married life.
The bishop did not come up to the sitting room that morning, however, and
when Edith and her mother had breakfasted they read the Psalms for the day
together, and a chapter of the Bible, verse by verse. Then Edith wrote
some notes for her mother, who was busy making a cushion for a bazaar;
after which she went into the garden and gathered flowers in one of the
conservatories, which she brought in to paint on a screen she was making,
also for the bazaar.
Mother and daughter worked together without any conversation to speak of
until lunch: they were too busy to talk. After lunch they drove out into
the country and paid a call. On the way back Edith noticed a beggar, a
young, slender, very delicate-looking girl, lying across the footpath with
her feet toward the road. A tiny baby lay on her lap. Her head and
shoulders were pillowed upon the high bank which flanked the path, her
face was raised as if her last look had been up at the sky above her, her
hands had slipped helplessly on to the ground on either side of her,
releasing the child, which had rolled over on to its face and so continued
Edith caught only a passing glimpse of the group, and she made no remark
until they had driven on some distance; but then she asked: "Did you
notice that poor girl, mother?"
"No," Mrs. Beale answered. "Where was she?"
"Lying on the ground. She had a baby on her lap. I think she was ill."
They were in an open carriage, and Mrs. Beale looked round over the back
of it. It was a straight road, but she could only see something lying on
the footpath, which looked like a bundle at that distance.
"Are you sure it was a girl?" she said.
"Yes, quite, mother," Edith answered.
"Stop the carriage, then," said Mrs. Beale; "and we will turn back and see
what we can do."
They found the girl in the same attitude. Edith was about to alight, but
her mother stopped her.
"Let Edwards" (the footman, who was an old servant), "see what is the
matter," she said.
Edith instantly sat down again, and the footman went and stood by the
girl, looking down at her curiously. Then he stooped, took off his glove,
and put the points of the four fingers of his right hand on her chest,
like an amateur doctor afraid of soiling his hands, a perfunctory way of
ascertaining if she still breathed.
"I know who it is, ma'am," he said, returning to the carriage. "She's
French, and was a dressmaker in Morning-quest. There were two of them,
sisters, doing a very good business, but they got to know some of the
Mrs. Beale stopped him. She would not have heard the story for the world.
"She's not dead, is she?" Edith asked in a horrified tone.
The man looked at the girl again from where he stood; "No, miss," he
answered, "I think not. She's dead beat after a long tramp. The soles are
wore off her shoes. Or likely she's fainted. It's a pity of her," he added
for the relief of his own feelings, looking at her again compassionately.
"Oh, mother! can't we do something?" Edith exclaimed.
"But what _can_ we do?" Mrs. Beale responded helplessly, looking at
Edwards for a suggestion.
"We're not very far from the workus," he said, looking down the road they
had just retraversed. "We might call there as we pass, and leave a message
for them to send and take her in."
"Let us go at once," said Mrs. Beale in a tone of relief.
Edith, whose face was pale, looked pityingly once more at the girl and her
little child as they drove off. It had not occurred to either of the two
ladies, gentle, tender, and good as they were, to take the poor dusty
disgraced tramp into their carriage, and restore her to "life and use and
name and fame" as they might have done.
The incident, however, had naturally made a painful impression upon them
both; and when they returned to the palace they ordered tea in the drawing
room immediately, feeling that they must have something, and went there
with their things still on to wait for it. Neither of them could get the
tramp and her baby out of their heads, but they had not mentioned her
since they came in, until Mrs. Beale broke a long silence by exclaiming:
"We will drive that way again to-morrow, and find out how they are."
Edith needed no explanation as to whom she was alluding. "They would take
her in at once, of course, mother? They could not put it off?" she said.
"Oh, no! not when we asked them," her mother answered.
The tea was brought at this moment, and immediately afterward the footman
announced from the door; "Sir Mosley Menteith," and a tall, fair-haired
man about thirty, with a small, fine, light-coloured moustache, the ends
of which were waxed and turned up toward the corners of his eyes, entered
and shook hands with Mrs. Beale, looking into her face intently as he did
so, as if he particularly wanted to see what she was like; then he turned
to Edith, shook hands, and looked at her intently also, and taking a seat
near her he continued to scrutinize her in away that brought the blood to
her cheeks, and caused her to drop her eyes every time she looked at him.
But they were old acquaintances, and she was not displeased.
He was a good-looking young man, although he had a face which some people
called empty because of the singular immobility of every feature except
his eyes; but whether the set expression was worn as a mask, or whether he
really had nothing in him, was a question which could only be decided on
intimate acquaintance; for although some effect of personality continually
suggested the presence in him of thoughts and feelings disguised or
concealed by an affectation of impassivity, nothing he did or said at an
ordinary interview ever either quite confirmed or destroyed the
"I thought you had gone abroad with your regiment," said Mrs. Beale, who
had received him cordially.
"No, not yet," he answered, looking away from Edith for a minute in order
to scrutinize her mother.
He always seemed to be inspecting the person he addressed, and never spoke
of anyone without describing their charms or blemishes categorically.
"Fact is, I've just come to say good-bye. I've been abroad on leave for
two months. Took mine at the beginning of the season."
He looked intently at Edith again when he had said this.
"Mrs. Orton Beg," the servant announced.
Mrs. Orton Beg's ankle was strong enough now for her to walk from her
little house in the Close to the palace, but she had to use a stick. She
was bleached by being so much indoors, and looked very fragile in the
costly simplicity of her black draperies as she entered.
Mrs. Beale and Edith received her affectionately, and Sir Mosley rose and
transferred his scrutinizing gaze to her while they were so occupied. He
inspected her dark glossy hair; eyes, nose, mouth, and figure, down to her
feet; then looked into her eyes again, and bowed on being presented by
"Sir Mosley is in the Colquhoun Highlanders," the latter explained to Mrs.
Orton Beg. "He is just going out to Malta to join them."
Mrs. Orton Beg looked up at him with interest from the low chair into
which she had subsided: "Then you know my niece, I suppose," she
"I have not yet the pleasure," he answered, smiling so that he showed his
teeth. They were somewhat discoloured by tobacco, but the smile was a
pleasant one, to which people instantly responded. He went to the tea
table when he had spoken, and stood there waiting to hand Mrs. Orton Beg a
cup of tea which Mrs. Beale was pouring out for her. "But I have seen Mrs.
Colquhoun," he added. "I was at the wedding--she looked remarkably well."
He fixed his eyes on vacancy here, and turned his attention inward in
order to contemplate a vision of Evadne in her wedding dress. His first
question about a strange woman was always; "Is she good-looking?" and his
first thought when one whom he knew happened to be mentioned was always as
to whether she was attractive in appearance or not. He was one of several
of Colonel Colquhoun's brother officers who had graced the wedding. There
was not much variety amongst them. They were all excessively clean and
neat in appearance, their manners in society were unexceptionable, the
morals of most of them not worth describing because there was so little of
them; and their comments to each other on the occasion neither original
nor refined; generations of them had made the same remarks under similar
The bishop came in during the little diversion caused by handing tea and
cake to Mrs. Orton Beg.
"Ah, how do you do?" he said, shaking hands with the latter. "How is the
foot? Better? That's right. Oh! is that you, Mosley? I beg your pardon, my
dear boy"--here they shook hands--"I did not see you at first. Very glad
you've come, I'm sure. How is your mother? Not with your regiment, eh?" He
peered at Sir Mosley through a pair of very thick glasses he wore, and
seemed to read an answer to each question as he put it, written on the
"Will you have some tea, dear?" said Mrs. Beale.
"Eh, what did you say, my dear? Tea? Yes, if you please. That is what I
He turned to the tea table as he spoke, and stood over it rubbing his
hands, and beaming about him blandly.
Sir Mosley Menteith had been a good deal at the palace as a youngster. He
and Edith still called each other by their Christian names. The bishop had
seen him grow up from a boy, and knew all about him--so he would have
said--although he had not seen much of him and had heard absolutely
nothing for several years.
"So you are not with your regiment?" he repeated interrogatively.
"I am just on my way to join it now," the young man answered, looking up
at the bishop from the chair near Edith on which he was again sitting, and
giving the corners of his little light moustache a twirl on either side
when he had spoken. All his features, except his eyes, preserved an
imperturbable gravity; his lips moved, but without altering the expression
of his face. His eyes, however, inspected the bishop intelligently; and
always, when he spoke to him, they rested on some one point, his vest, his
gaiters, his apron, the top of his bald head, the end of his nose.
"Dr. Galbraith," the footman announced; and the doctor entered in his
easy, unaffected, but somewhat awkward way. He had his hat in his hand,
and there was a shade of weariness or depression on his strong pale face;
but his deep gray kindly eyes--the redeeming feature--were as
sympathetically penetrating as usual.
He shook hands with them all, except Sir Mosley, at whom he just glanced
sufficiently long to perceive that he was a stranger.
Mrs. Beale named them to each other, and they both bowed slightly, looking
at the ground, and then they exchanged glances.
"Not much like a medico if you are one," thought Menteith.
"Not difficult to take your measure," thought the doctor; after which he
turned at once to the tea-table, like one at home, and stood there waiting
for a cup. His manner was quite unassuming, but he was one of those men of
marked individuality who change the social atmosphere of a room when they
enter it. People became aware of the presence of strength almost before
they saw him or heard him speak. And he possessed that peculiar charm,
common to Lord Dawne and others of their set, which came of giving the
whole of their attention to the person with whom they were conversing for
the moment. His eyes never wandered, and if his interest flagged he did
not allow the fact to become apparent, so that he drew from everybody the
best that was in them, and people not ordinarily brilliant were often
surprised, on reflection, at the amount of information they had been
displaying, and the number of ideas which had come crowding into their
usually vacant minds while he talked with them.
He turned his attention to Mrs. Beale now. "I was afraid I should be late
for tea," he said. "I had to turn back--about something. I was delayed."
"We were late ourselves this afternoon," said Mrs. Beale.
Curiously enough the same cause had delayed them both, for Dr. Galbraith,
coming into Morningquest by the road Mrs. Beale had chosen for her drive
that day, had noticed the insensible girl and her baby lying on the
footpath, and had got down, lifted them into his carriage, and driven back
some miles with them in order to leave them at the house of one of his
tenants, a respectable widow whom he had trained as a nurse, and to whose
kind care he now confided them with strict orders for their comfort, and
the wherewithal to carry the orders out.
Dr. Galbraith took his tea now and sat down. He had come for a special
purpose, and hastened to broach the subject at once.
"Have you decided where to go this winter?" he asked Mrs. Beale. "You will
be having another attack of bronchitis, and then you will not be able to
travel. It is not safe to put it off too long."
His orders were that she should winter abroad that year, and Edith was to
accompany her; but they were both reluctant to go because of the bishop,
whose duties obliged him to remain behind alone. Mrs. Beale glanced at him
now affectionately. He was leaning back in a low chair, paunch
protuberant, and little legs crossed; and he answered the look with a
smile which was meant to be encouraging, but was only disturbed. He was a
perfect coward, this ruler of a great diocese, in matters which were of
moment to the health and well-being of his own family; he hated to have to
decide for them.
"Why not come to Malta?" Sir Mosley suggested.
"That would be nice for Evadne," Mrs. Orton Beg exclaimed, her mind taking
in at a glance all the advantage for the latter of having a companion of
her own age, and without quirks, like Edith, and the womanly restraining
influence of a friend like dear old Mrs. Beale.
"What kind of a place is Malta?" the bishop asked generally, tapping the
edge of his saucer with his teaspoon; then, addressing Dr. Galbraith in
particular, he added: "Would it be suitable?"
"Just the thing," the latter answered. "Picturesque, good society, and
delightful climate at this time of the year. Accessible, too; you can go
directly by P. and O., and the little sea voyage would be good for Mrs.
"It would be nice to have Evadne there," said Edith, considering the
proposition favourably. "I have hardly seen her at all since we were both
in the nursery."
"She was such a quiet child," said Mrs. Beale. "Unnaturally so; but they
used to say she was clever."
"She is," said Mrs. Orton Beg, "decidedly so, and original--or, rather,
_advanced_. I believe that is the proper word now."
"Oh, dear!" said Mrs. Beale. "Is that nice?"
"Well," Mrs. Orton Beg answered, smiling, "I cannot say. It is not a
matter of law, you know, but of opinion. Evadne is nice, however; so much
I will venture to declare!"
"She used to be very good to the little Hamilton-Wellses," Mrs. Beale gave
out as a point in her favour.
"Oh--_did_ you hear about the Heavenly Twins yesterday?" Edith
exclaimed, addressing Dr. Galbraith: "They came to call on papa, and he
couldn't make out what they wanted. He did look so puzzled! and they sat
down and endeavoured to draw him into a theological discussion, after
having had a fight on the floor--the children, I mean, not papa, of
"They always endeavour to adapt themselves to the people with whom they
happen to be," said Dr. Galbraith. "When they call upon me they come
primed with medical matters, and discuss the present condition of surgical
practice, and the future prospects of advance in that direction. And I
rather suspect that my own books and papers are the sources from which
they derive their information. I lock up my library and consulting rooms
now as a rule when I go out, but sometimes I forget to shut the windows."
"They are very singular little people," said the bishop, with his benign
smile; "very singular!"
"They are very _naughty_ little people, I think!" said Mrs. Beale.
Dr. Galbraith laughed as at some ludicrous reminiscence.
"But will you come to Malta?" said Sir Mosley. "Because if you will, and
would allow me, I could see about making arrangements for your
"You are very kind," said the bishop.
"But when should we be obliged to go?" Mrs, Beale asked, meaning, "How
long may we stay at home?"
"You must go as soon as possible," Dr. Galbraith decided inexorably.
And so the matter was settled after some little discussion of details,
during which Lady Adeline Hamilton-Wells and Mrs. Frayling came in. The
latter was in Morningquest for the day doing some shopping. She had
lunched with her sister, Mrs. Orton Beg, and had come to have tea with
Mrs. Beale; and she and Lady Adeline had encountered each other at the
Mrs. Frayling looked very well. She was a wonderfully preserved woman, and
being of an elastic temperament, a day away from home always sufficed to
smooth out the wrinkles which her husband's peculiar method of loving and
cherishing her tended to confirm. And she was especially buoyant just
then, for it was immediately after the Battle of the Letters, and Mr.
Frayling was so meek in his manner, and she felt altogether so free and
independent, that she had actually ventured to come into Morningquest that
day without first humbly asking his permission. She had just informed him
of her intention, and walked out before he could recover himself
sufficiently to oppose it.
Dr. Galbraith had taken his leave when they entered the room, and only
waited a moment afterward to exchange a word with Lady Adeline. When he
had gone, Sir Mosley asked the latter, who had known him since he was a
boy, but did not love him, "Is that ugly man a medical doctor?"
"Yes," she answered in her gentle but downright way, "he _is_ a
medical man, but not an 'ugly' man at all."
"Is Mosley calling Dr. Galbraith ugly?" Mrs. Beale exclaimed, "Now,
_I_ think he has the _nicest_ face!"
"A most good-looking kind of ugliness," said Mrs. Orton Beg.
Menteith perceived that any attempt to disparage Dr. Galbraith in that set
was a mistake, and retired from the position cleverly. "There is a kind of
ugliness which is attractive in a man," he said with his infectious smile.
Edith responded, and then they drew apart from the rest, and began to talk
to each other exclusively.
There was a bright tinge of colour in her transparent cheeks, her eyes
sparkled, and a pleased perpetual smile hovered about her lips. The
entrance of Sir Mosley Menteith had changed the unemotional feminine
atmosphere. He was an eligible, and his near neighbourhood caused the
girl's heart to swell with a sensation like enthusiasm. She felt as if she
could be eloquent, but no suitable subject presented itself, and so she
said little. She was very glad, however, and she looked so; and naturally
she thought no more for the moment of the poor little French girl--who was
just then awaking to a sense of pain, mental and physical, to horror of
the past, and fear for the future, and the heavy sense of an existence
marred, not by reason of her own weakness so much as by the possession of
one of the most beautiful qualities in human nature--the power to love and
"Is the old swing still on the elm?" said Sir Mosley.
"Yes," Edith answered. "Not exactly the same rope, you know; but we keep a
swing there always."
"Who uses it now?"
"Children who come to see us," she said. "And sometimes I sit in it
myself!" she added laughing.
"I should very much like to see it again," he said.
"Come and see it then," she answered, rising as she spoke. "Mosley wants
to see the old swing," she said to her mother as they left the room
"What a nice looking young man," Mrs. Frayling observed.
"His head is too small," Lady Adeline said. "Has he anything in him?"
"Oh--yes. Well, good average abilities, I should say," Mrs. Beale
rejoined, "Too much ability, you know, is rather dangerous. Men with many
ideas so often get into mischief."
"That is true," said Mrs. Frayling; "and it is worse with women. When
_they_ have ideas, as my husband was saying only this morning, they
become quite outrageous--_new_ ideas, of course I mean, you know."
"He seems to admire Edith very much," Mrs. Orton Beg observed.
Mrs. Beale smiled complacently.
Edith sat long in her room that night on the seat of the window that faced
the east. She had taken off her evening dress and put on her white flannel
wrapper. The soft material draped itself to her figure, and fell in heavy
folds to her feet. Her beautiful hair, which was arranged for the night in
one great plait with the ends loose, hung down to the ground beside her.
The moon was high in the heavens, but not visible from where she sat. Its
light, however, flooded the open spaces of the garden beneath her, and
cast great shadows of the trees across the lawn. The sombre afternoon had
cleared to a frosty night, and the deep indigo sky was sparsely sprinkled
with brilliant stars.
Edith looked out. She saw the stars, and the earth with its heavy shadows,
and the wavering outlines of the trees and shrubs, and felt a kinship with
She was very happy, but she did not think. She did not want to think. When
any obtrusive thought presented itself she instantly strove to banish it,
and at first she succeeded. She wanted to recall the pleasurable
sensations of the day, and to prolong them.
The last sixteen hours seemed longer in the retrospect than any other
measure of time with which she had been acquainted. She felt as if the
terrible dream from which she had awakened that morning in affright had
happened in some other state of being which ended abruptly while she was
pacing the shady walks of the old palace garden with Mosley Menteith in
the afternoon, and was now only to be vaguely recalled. Some great change
in herself had taken place since then; she would not define it; she
imagined she could not; but she knew what it was all the same, and
They were going to Malta.
The feeling resolved itself into that clear idea inevitably; and after a
little pause it was followed by the question: "Well, and what then?"
But either her mind refused to receive the reply, or else in the Book of
Fate the answer was still unwritten, for none came to her consciousness.
Turning at last from the window, she found the eyes of the Good Shepherd
in the picture fixed upon her, the beautiful benign eyes she loved so well;
and looking up at him responsively, she waited a moment for her heart to
expand anew, and then set herself to meditate upon his life. It was a
religious exercise she had taught herself, not knowing that the Roman
Catholics practise it as a duty always. She thought of him first as the
dear Lord who died for her, and her heart awoke trembling with joy and
fear at the realization of the glorious deed. His tenderness came upon
her, and she bowed her head to receive it. Her ears were straining as it
were to hear the sweetness of his voice. She sank on her knees before his
image to be the nearer to him while she dwelt on the mystery of his divine
patience, and felt herself filled with the serene intensity of his holy
love. She recalled the faultless grace and beauty of his person, and
revelled in the thought of it, till suddenly a deep and sensuous glow of
delight in him flooded her being, and her very soul was faint for him. She
called him by name caressingly: "Dear Lord!" She confessed her passionate
attachment to him. She implored him to look upon her lovingly. She offered
him the devotion of her life. And then she sank into a perfect stupor of
ecstatic contemplation. This was the way she worshipped, dwelling on the
charms of his person and character with the same senses that her delicate
maiden mind still shrank from devoting to an earthly lover; calling him
what she would have had her husband be: "Master!"--the woman's ideal of
perfect bliss: "A strong support!" "A sure refuge!"--praying him to
strengthen her, to make her wise, to keep her pure; to help, to guide, to
comfort her! and finding in each repetition of familiar phrases the
luxurious gladness of a great enthusiasm.
But these emotional excesses were not to be indulged in with impunity.
When Edith arose from her knees, she had already begun to suffer the
punishment of a chilling reaction. The love-light faded from her face. The
glow of ecstatic passion was extinguished in her heart. The festal robes
of enraptured feeling fell from her consciousness and were replaced by the
rags of unwelcome recollections. She thought of the poor delicate little
French girl lying by the wayside exhausted, and longed to know if she were
at that moment sheltering in the workhouse, and rested, and restored. She
wondered what it was like to be in the workhouse--alone--without a single
friend to speak kindly to her; but the bare thought of such a position
made her shudder. If only she could have befriended that poor creature and
her little child? The sweet maternal instinct of her own being set up a
yearning which softened her heart the more tenderly toward the mother
because of the child. She did so wish that she could have done something
for both of them, and then she recollected her horrible dream, and began
involuntarily to piece the vision of the morning to the incident of the
afternoon in order to find some faint foreshadowing for her guidance of
the one event in the other. Next day, she persuaded her mother to send to
the workhouse directly after breakfast to ask if the girl had been taken
in, and how she was. Edwards, the old footman, could have told his
mistress the girl's whole history, and she knew him also to be an honest
man, of simple speech, not given to exaggerate; but she scented something
"unpleasant" in the whole affair, and she would have looked coldly for the
rest of her life on anyone as being a suspicious character, who had
ventured to suggest that she should make herself acquainted with the
details of such a case. She considered that any inquiries of that kind
would have been improper to the last degree.
She sent Edwards to the workhouse, however, to know if the girl had been
found; and when he brought back word that she had not, although the most
careful search for her had been made in the neighbourhood, Mrs. Beale
concluded that she had recovered sufficiently to continue her weary tramp,
and very gladly dismissed the whole matter from her mind.
END OF BOOK I.
A MALTESE MISCELLANY.
Death itself to the reflecting mind is less serious than marriage. The
elder plant is cut down that the younger may have room to flourish; a few
tears drop into the loosened soil, and buds and blossoms spring over it.
Death is not a blow, is not even a pulsation; it is a pause. But marriage
unrolls the awful lot of numberless generations. Health, genius, honour
are the words inscribed on some; on others are disease, fatuity, and
infamy.--_Walter Savage Landor_.
The great leading idea is quite new to me, viz., that during late ages the
mind will have been modified more than the body; yet I had not got as far
as to see with you, that the struggle between the races of man depended
entirely on intellectual and _moral_ qualities.--_Darwin: Letter to
Meanwhile the Colquhouns at Malta had been steadily making each other's
Colonel Colquhoun had met Evadne on board the steamer on her arrival, and
had found her enchanted by her first glimpse of the place, and too
girlishly glad in the excitement of change, the bustle and movement and
novelty, to give a thought to anything else. The healthy young of the
human race have a large capacity for enjoyment, and they have also the
happy knack of banishing all thought which threatens to be an interruption
to pleasurable sensation. When a thing was once settled it was Evadne's
disposition to have done with it, and since she had come to satisfactory
terms with Colonel Colquhoun and recovered from the immediate effects of
the painful contest, the matter had not troubled her. She had perfect
confidence in his word of honour as a gentleman, and was prepared to find
it no more awkward to live in his house and have him for an occasional
companion, than it would to be a guest of good position in any other
His own attitude was that of a kind of pleased curiosity. He considered
their bargain a thing to be carried out to the letter so long as she held
him to it, like a debt of honour, not legally binding but morally, and he
was prepared, with gentlemanly tack, to keep faith without further
discussion of the subject. The arrangement did not trouble him at all. It
was original, and therefore somewhat piquant, and so was Evadne.
They met therefore without more than a momentary embarrassment, and his
first glimpse of her fresh young face, flushed with excitement, and full
of intelligent interest and of unaffected pleasure in everything, was an
unexpected revelation of yet another facet of her manifold nature, and a
bright one too. What a pity she had "views"! But there was always a hope
the determination to live up to them was merely an infantile disease of
which society would soon cure her. Society has views too. It believes all
it hears in the churches without feeling at all bound to practise any
inconvenient precept implied in the faith.
Colonel Colquhoun had gone out on a government steam launch to meet the
mail as soon as she was signalled, and finding Evadne on deck had remained
there with her watching the wonderful panorama of the place gradually
unfolding itself. He showed her the various points of interest as they
came along, and she smiled silent acknowledgments of the courtesy.
The sun was just dispelling the diaphanous mists of early morning, making
them hang luminous a moment and then disperse, like tinted gauze that
flutters slowly upward in a breeze and vanishes. Great white clouds,
foam-like and crisp, piled themselves up fantastically and floated off
also, leaving the deep blue vault to mirror itself in the answering azure
of the sea; the eternal calm above, awful in its intensity of stillness;
the ceaseless movement below, a type of life, throbbing, murmurous,
changeful, more interesting than awe-inspiring, more to be wondered at
Colonel Colquhoun pointed out the lighthouses of St. Elmo, patron saint of
sailors, on the right, and Ricasoli on the left. Then they were met by a
rainbow fleet of dghaisas, gorgeous in colour, and propelled by oarsmen
who stood to their work, and were also brightly clad--both boats and
boatmen, clothed by the sun, as it were, having blossomed into colour
unconsciously as the flowers do in genial atmospheres. The boats, carrying
fruits, flowers, tobacco, cheap jewellery, and coarse clothing for
sailors, each cargo adding something of picturesqueness to the scene,
formed a gay flotilla about the steamer and accompanied her, she towering
majestically above them, and appearing to attract them and hold them to
her sides as a great cork in the water does a handful of chopped straw.
The boatman held up their wares, chattering and gesticulating, their
sun-embrowned faces all animation and changeful as children's. One moment
they would be smiling up and speaking in wheedling tones to the
passengers, and the next they would be frowning round at each other, and
resenting some offence with torrents of abuse. So the mail glided into the
Grand Harbour, Evadne wondering at the fortifications, and straining her
eyes to make out somewhat of the symbols, alternate eye and ear, carved on
the old watch tower of St. Angelo; noticing, too, the sharp outline of
everything in the pellucid atmosphere, and feeling herself suddenly aglow
with warmth and colour, a part of the marvellous beauty and brightness,
and uplifted in spirit out of the everyday world above all thought and
care into regions of the purest pleasure.
"What a lovely place!" she exclaimed. "It looks like a great irregular
"It's very jolly," said Colonel Colquhoun, smiling upon the scene
complacently, and looking as important as if he were himself responsible
for the whole arrangement, but was too magnanimous to mention the fact. "I
thought you'd like it. But wait till you see it by moonlight! We'll come
off and dine with one of the naval fellows some night. I'm sure you'll be
delighted. It's just like a photograph."
Evadne found that Colonel Colquhoun had secured a good house for her, and
had bestowed much care upon the arrangement of it. It was the kind of
occupation in which he delighted, and he did it well. He showed Evadne
over the house himself as soon as she arrived, and what struck her as most
delightful were the flowers and foliage plants which decorated every
available corner, and nearly all growing; oranges and oleanders in great
tubs, and palms and ferns in oriental china stands and in Majolica vases.
"One only sees it so for a ball at home," she said; "or some other special
He looked at her keenly a moment. Her face was serenely content.
"Well, this is a kind of a special occasion with me," he said rather
He went on as he spoke, Evadne following him from room to room, pleased
with everything, and looking it; which is a much more convincing token of
appreciation than the best chosen words.
But when they came to the rooms which were to be hers, she was quite
overcome. For Colonel Colquhoun had chosen two opening into each other, as
nearly as possible like those she had occupied at Fraylingay, and had
filled them with all the beloved possessions, books, pictures, and
ornaments, which she had left behind her.
"How good you are! How very good you are!" she exclaimed impulsively. "I
hope we shall be friends."
"Oh, we shall be friends," he answered with affected carelessness, but
really well pleased. "I thought you would settle better if you had your
own pet things to begin with. I had a great fight with your father about
the books. He said you'd got all your nonsense out of them, but I
suggested that it might be a case of a little learning being a dangerous
thing, so I captured all the old ones, and I've got a lot more for you;
see, here's Zola and Daudet complete, and George Sand, You'll like them
better, I fancy, when you get into them than Herbert Spencer and Francis
Galton, But I've got you some more of their books as well--all that you
"You are really _too_ good," said Evadne.
Getting her the books was like putting butter on the paws of a strange cat
to make it settle. She sat down beside them and began to take off her
gloves at once. Colonel Colquhoun smiled beneath his blond moustache,
then, pleading regimental duty, left her to her treasures, assuring
himself as he went that he really did know women, exceptional or
He had arranged the books himself, placing Zola and Daudet in prominent
positions, and anticipating much entertainment from the observation of
their effect upon her. He expected that she would end by making love to
him; in which case he promised himself the pleasure of paying her off by
acting for a time after the manner proposed by the Barber's Fifth Brother.