Part 14 out of 14
She saw Mr. Wellwood, and heard a good account of Coombe Prior. She
made great friends with the Ashfords, especially little Lucy and the
baby. She delighted in visits to the cottages, and Charles every day
wondered where was the drooping dejection that she could not shake off
at home. She would have said that in Guy's own home, 'the joy' had
come to her, no longer in fitful gleams and held by an effort for a
moment, but steadily brightening. She missed him indeed, but the power
of finding rest in looking forward to meeting him, the pleasure of
dwelling on the days he had been with her, and the satisfaction of
doing his work for the present, had made a happiness for her, and still
in him, quiet, grave, and subdued, but happiness likely to bloom more
and more brightly throughout her life. The anniversary of his death
was indeed a day of tears, but the tears were blessed ones, and she was
more full of the feeling that had sustained her on that morning, than
she had been through all the year before.
Charles and Philip, meanwhile, proceeded excellently together, each
very anxious for the comfort of the other. Philip was a good deal
overwhelmed at first by the quantity of business on his hands, and
setting about it while his head was still weak, would have seriously
hurt himself again, if Charles had not come to his help, worked with a
thorough good will, great clearness and acuteness, and surprised Philip
by his cleverness and perseverance. He was elated at being of so much
use; and begged to be considered for the future as Philip's private
secretary, to which the only objection was, that his handwriting was as
bad as Philip's was good; but it was an arrangement so much to the
benefit of both parties, that it was gladly made. Philip was very
grateful for such valuable assistance; and Charles amused himself with
triumphing in his importance, when he should sit in state on his sofa
at Hollywell, surrounded with blue-books, getting up the statistics for
some magnificent speech of the honourable member for Moorworth.
In the meantime, Charles and Amabel saw no immediate prospect of their
party returning from Ireland, and thought it best to remain at
Redclyffe, since Philip had so much to do there; and besides, events
were occurring at Kilcoran which would have prevented his visit, even
without his illness.
One of the first drives that Charles and Philip took, after the latter
was equal to any exertion, was to Thorndale. There Charles was much
amused by the manner in which Philip was received, and he himself, for
his sake; and as he said to Amabel on his return, there was no question
now, that the blame of spoiling Philip did not solely rest at
Finding only Lady Thorndale at home, and hearing that Lord Thorndale
was in the grounds, Philip went out to look for him, leaving Charles on
the sofa, under her ladyship's care. Charles, with a little
exaggeration, professed that he had never been so flattered in his
whole life, as he was by the compliments that reflected on him as the
future brother-in-law of Philip; and that he had really begun to think
even Laura not half sensible enough of her own happiness. Lady
Thorndale afterwards proceeded to inquiries about the De Courcy family,
especially Lady Eveleen; and Charles, enlightened by Charlotte, took
delight in giving a brilliant description of his cousin's charms, for
which he was rewarded by very plain intimations of the purpose for
which her son James was gone to Kilcoran.
On talking the visit over, as they drove home, Charles asked Philip if
he had guessed at his friend's intentions. 'Yes,' he answered.
'Then you never took the credit of it. Why did you not tell us?'
'I knew it from himself, in confidence.'
'Oh!' said Charles, amusing himself with the notion of the young man's
dutifully asking the permission of his companion, unshaken in
allegiance though the staff might be broken, and the book drowned
deeper than did ever plummet sound. Philip spoke no more, and Charles
would ask no more, for Philip's own affairs of the kind were not such
as to encourage talking of other people's. No explanation was needed
why he should now promote an attachment which he had strongly
disapproved while James Thorndale was still in the army.
A day or two after, however, came a letter from Charlotte, bringing
further news, at which Charles was so amazed, that he could not help
communicating it at once to his companions.
'So! Eveleen won't have him!'
'What?' exclaimed both.
'You don't mean that she has refused Thorndale?' said Philip.
'Even so!' said Charles. 'Charlotte says he is gone. "Poor Mr.
Thorndale left us this morning, after a day of private conferences, in
which he seems to have had no satisfaction, for his resolute dignity
and determination to be agreeable all the evening were"--ahem--"were
great. Mabel cannot get at any of the real reasons from Eveleen,
though I think I could help her, but I can't tell you."'
'Charlotte means mischief.' said Charles, as he concluded.
'I am very sorry!' said Philip. 'I did think Lady Eveleen would have
been able to estimate Thorndale. It will be a great disappointment--
the inclination has been of long standing. Poor Thorndale!'
'It would have been a very good thing for Eva,' said Amabel. 'Mr.
Thorndale is such a sensible man.'
'And I thought his steady sense just what was wanting to bring out all
her good qualities that are running to waste in that irregular home,'
said Philip. 'What can have possessed her?'
'Ay! something must have possessed her,' said Charles. 'Eva was always
ready to be fallen in love with on the shortest notice, and if there
was not something prior in her imagination, Thorndale would not have
had much difficulty. By the bye, depend upon it, 'tis the tutor.'
Philip looked a little startled, but instantly reassuring himself,
'George Fielder! Impossible! You have never seen him!'
'Ah! don't you remember her description!' said Amy, in a low voice,
The very reason, Amy,' said Charles; 'it showed that he had attracted
Philip smiled a little incredulously.
'Ay!' said Charles, 'you may smile, but you handsome men can little
appreciate the attractiveness of an interesting ugliness. It is the
way to be looked at in the end. Mark my words, it is the tutor.'
'I hope not!' said Philip, as if shaken in his confidence. 'Any way it
is a bad affair. I am very much concerned for Thorndale.'
So sincerely concerned, that his head began to ache in the midst of
some writing. He was obliged to leave it to Charles to finish, and go
out to walk with Amy.
Amabel came in before him, and began to talk to Charles about his great
vexation at his friend's disappointment.
'I am almost sorry you threw out that hint about Mr. Fielder,' said
she. 'Don't you remember how he was recommended?'
'Ah! I had forgotten it was Philip's doing; a bit of his spirit of
opposition,' said Charles. 'Were not the boys to have gone to Coombe
'Yes' said Amabel, 'that is the thing that seems to have made him so
unhappy about it. I am sure I hope it is not true,' she added,
considering, 'for, Charlie, you must know that Guy had an impression
'Had he?' said Charles, anxiously.
'It was only an impression, nothing he could accuse him of, or mention
to Lord Kilcoran. He would have told no one but me, but he had seen
something of him at Oxford, and thought him full of conversation, very
clever, only not the sort of talk he liked.'
'I don't like that. Charlotte concurs in testifying to his
agreeableness; and in the dearth of intellect, I should not wonder at
Eva's taking up with him. He would be a straw to the drowning. It
They were very anxious for further intelligence, but received none,
except that Philip had a letter from his friend, on which his only
comment was a deep sigh, and 'Poor Thorndale! She little knows what
she has thrown away!' Letters from Kilcoran became rare; Laura
scarcely wrote at all to Philip, and though Mrs. Edmonstone wrote as
usual, she did not notice the subject; while Charlotte's gravity and
constraint, when she did achieve a letter to Charles, were in such
contrast to her usual free and would-be satirical style, that such eyes
as her brother's could hardly fail to see that something was on her
So it went on week after week, Charles and Amabel wondering when they
should ever have any notice to go home, and what their family could be
doing in Ireland. October had given place to November, and more than a
week of November had passed, and here they still were, without anything
like real tidings.
At last came a letter from Mrs. Edmonstone, which Amabel could not read
without one little cry of surprise and dismay, and then had some
difficulty in announcing its contents to Philip.
'Kilcoran, Nov. 8th.
'My Dearest Amy,--You will be extremely surprised at what I have to
tell you, and no less grieved. It has been a most unpleasant,
disgraceful business from beginning to end, and the only comfort in it
to us is the great discretion and firmness that Charlotte has shown. I
had better, however, begin at the beginning, and tell you the history
as far as I understand it myself. You know that Mr. James Thorndale
has been here, and perhaps you know it was for the purpose of making an
offer to Eveleen. Every one was much surprised at her refusing him,
and still more when, after much prevarication, it came out that the
true motive was her attachment to Mr. Fielder, the tutor. It appeared
that they had been secretly engaged for some weeks, ever since they had
perceived Mr. Thorndale's intentions, and not, as it was in poor
Laura's case, an unavowed attachment, but an absolute engagement. And
fancy Eva justifying it by Laura's example! There was of course great
anger and confusion. Lord Kilcoran was furious, poor Lady Kilcoran had
nervous attacks, the gentleman was dismissed from the house, and
supposed to be gone to England, Eva shed abundance of tears, but after
a great deal of vehemence she appeared subdued and submissive. We were
all very sorry for her, as there is much that is very agreeable and
likely to attract her in Mr. Fielder, and she always had too much mind
to be wasted in such a life as she leads here. It seemed as if Laura
was a comfort to her, and Lady Kilcoran was very anxious we should stay
as long as possible. This was all about three weeks or a month ago;
Eva was recovering her spirits, and I was just beginning a letter to
tell you we hoped to be at home in another week, when Charlotte came
into my room in great distress to tell me that Eveleen and Mr. Fielder
were on the verge of a run-away marriage. Charlotte had been coming
back alone from a visit to grandmamma, and going down a path out of the
direct way to recall Bustle, who had run on, she said, as if he scented
mischief, came, to her great astonishment, on Eveleen walking arm-in-
arm with Mr. Fielder! Charlie will fancy how Charlotte looked at them!
They shuffled, and tried to explain it away, but Charlotte was too
acute for them, or rather, she held steadily to "be that as it may,
Lord Kilcoran ought to know it." They tried to frighten her with the
horrors of betraying secrets, but she said none had been confided to
her, and mamma would judge. They tried to persuade her it was the way
of all lovers, and appealed to Laura s example, but there little
Charlotte was less to be shaken than on any point. "I did not think
them worthy to hear their names," she said to me, "but I told them,
that I had seen that the truest and deepest of love had a horror of all
that was like wrong, and as to Philip and Laura, they little knew what
they had suffered; besides, theirs was not half so bad." I verily
believe these were the very words she used to them. At last Eva threw
herself on her mercy, and begged so vehemently that she would only wait
another day, that she suspected, and, with sharpness very like
Charlie's, forced from Eva that they were to marry the next morning.
Then she said it would be a great deal better that they should abuse
her and call her a spy than do what they would repent of all their
lives; she begged Eva's pardon, and cried so much that Eva was in hopes
she would relent, and then came straight to me, very unhappy, and not
in the least triumphant in her discovery. You can guess what a
dreadful afternoon we had, I don't think any one was more miserable
than poor Charlotte, who stayed shut up in my room all day, dreading
the sight of any one, and expecting to be universally called a traitor.
The end was, that after much storming, Lord Kilcoran, finding Eveleen
determined, and anxious to save her the discredit of an elopement, has
agreed to receive Mr. Fielder, and they are to be married from this
house on the 6th of December, though what they are to live upon no one
can guess. The Kilcorans are very anxious to put the best face on the
matter possible, and have persuaded us, for the sake of the family, to
stay for the wedding; indeed, poor Lady Kilcoran is so completely
overcome, that I hardly like to leave her till this is over. How
unpleasant the state of things in the house is no one can imagine, and
very, very glad shall I be to get back to Hollywell and my Amy and
Charlie. Dearest Amy,
'Your most affectionate.
The news was at length told, and Philip was indeed thunder-struck at
this fresh consequence of his interference. It threatened at first to
overthrow his scarcely recovered spirits, and but for the presence of
his guests, it seemed as if it might have brought on a renewal of the
state from which they had restored him.
'Yes,' said Charles to Amy, when they talked it over alone, 'It seems
as if good people could do wrong with less impunity than others. It is
rather like the saying about fools and angels. Light-minded people see
the sin, but not the repentance, so they imitate the one without being
capable of the other. Here are Philip and Laura finishing off like the
end of a novel, fortune and all, and setting a very bad example to the
world in general.'
'As the world cannot see below the surface,' said Amy, 'how distressed
Laura, must be! You see, mamma does not say one word about her.'
Philip had not much peace till he had written to Mr. Thorndale, who was
going at once to Germany, not liking to return home to meet the
condolences. Mrs. Edmonstone had nearly the whole correspondence of
the family on her hands; for neither of her daughters liked to write,
and she gave the description of the various uncomfortable scenes that
took place. Lord de Courcy's stern and enduring displeasure, and his
father's fast subsiding violence; Lady Kilcoran's distress, and the
younger girls' excitement and amusement; but she said she thought the
very proper and serious way in which Charlotte viewed it, would keep it
from doing them much harm, provided, as was much to be feared, Lord
Kilcoran did not end by keeping the pair always at home, living upon
him till Mr. Fielder could get a situation. In fact, it was difficult
to know what other means there were of providing for them.
At last the wedding took place, and Mrs. Edmonstone wrote a letter,
divided between indignation at the foolish display that had attended
it, and satisfaction at being able at length to fix the day for the
meeting at Hollywell. No one could guess how she longed to be at home
again, and to be once more with Charlie.
Nor were Charles and Amabel less ready to go home, though they could
both truly say that they had much enjoyed their stay at Redclyffe.
Philip was to come with them, and it was privately agreed that he
should return to Redclyffe no more till he could bring Laura with him.
Amabel had talked of her sister to Mrs. Ashford, and done much to
smooth the way; and even on the last day or two, held a few
consultations with Philip, as to the arrangements that Laura would
like. One thing, however, she must ask for her own pleasure.
'Philip,' said she, 'you must let me have this piano.'
His answer was by look and gesture.
'And I want very much to ask a question, Philip. Will you tell me
which is Sir Hugh's picture?'
'You have been sitting opposite to it every day at dinner.'
'That!' exclaimed Amy. 'From what I heard, I fully expected to have
known Sir Hugh's in a moment, and I often looked at that one, but I
never could see more likeness than there is in almost all the pictures
about the house.'
She went at once to study it again, and wondered more.
'I have seen him sometimes look like it; but it is not at all the
strong likeness I expected.'
Philip stood silently gazing, and certainly the countenance he
recalled, pleading with him to desist from his wilfulness, and bending
over him in his sickness, was far unlike in expression to the fiery
youth before him. In a few moments more, Amabel had run up-stairs, and
brought down Mr. Shene's portrait. There was proved to be more
resemblance than either of them had at first sight credited. The form
of the forehead, nose, and short upper lip were identical, so were the
sharply-defined black eyebrows, the colour of the eyes; and the way of
standing in both had a curious similarity; but the expression was so
entirely different, that strict comparison alone proved, that Guy's
animated, contemplative, and most winning countenance, was in its
original lineaments entirely the same with that of his ancestor.
Although Sir Hugh's was then far from unprepossessing, and bore as yet
no trace of his unholy passions, it bought to Amabel's mind the shudder
with which Guy had mentioned his likeness to that picture, and seemed
to show her the nature he had tamed.
Philip, meanwhile, after one glance at Mr. Shene's portrait, which he
had not before seen, had turned away, and stood leaning against the
window-frame. When Amy had finished her silent comparison, and was
going to take her treasure back, he looked up, and said, 'Do you
dislike leaving that with me for a few minutes?'
'Keep it as long as you like,' said she, going at once, and she saw him
no more till nearly an hour after; when, as she was coming out of her
own room, he met her, and gave it into her hands, saying nothing except
a smothered 'Thank you;' but his eyelids were so swollen and heavy,
that Charles feared his head was bad again, while Amy was glad to
perceive that he had had the comfort of tears.
Every one was sorry to wish Lady Morville and her brother good-bye,
only consoling themselves with hoping that their sister might be like
them; and as to little Mary, the attention paid to her was so devoted
and universal, that her mamma thought it very well she should receive
the first ardour of it while she was too young to have her head turned.
They again slept a night in London, and in the morning Philip took
Charles for a drive through the places he had heard of, and was much
edified by actually beholding. They were safely at home the same
evening, and on the following, the Hollywell party was once more
complete, gathered round Charles's sofa in a confusion of welcomes and
Mrs. Edmonstone could hardly believe her eyes, so much had Charles's
countenance lost its invalid look, and his movements were so much more
active; Amabel, too, though still white and thin, had a life in her eye
and an air of health most unlike her languor and depression.
Every one looked well and happy but Laura, and she had a worn, faded,
harassed aspect, which was not cheered even by Philip's presence;
indeed, she seemed almost to shrink from speaking to him. She was the
only silent one of the party that evening, as they gathered round the
dinner or tea-table, or sat divided into threes or pairs, talking over
the subjects that would not do to be discussed in public. Charlotte
generally niched into Amy's old corner by Charles, hearing about
Redclyffe, or telling about Ireland. Mrs. Edmonstone and Amy on the
opposite sides of the ottoman, their heads meeting over the central
cushion, talking in low, fond, inaudible tones; Mr. Edmonstone going in
and out of the room, and joining himself to one or other group, telling
and hearing news, and sometimes breaking up the pairs; and then Mrs.
Edmonstone came to congratulate Charles on Amy's improved looks, or
Charlotte pressed up close to Amy to tell her about grandmamma. For
Charlotte could not talk about Eveleen, she had been so uncomfortable
at the part she had had to act, that all the commendation she received
was only like pain and shame, and her mother was by no means
dissatisfied that it should be so, since a degree of forwardness had
been her chief cause of anxiety in Charlotte; and it now appeared that
without losing her high spirit and uncompromising sense of right, her
sixteenth year was bringing with it feminine reserve.
Laura lingered late in Amabel's room, and when her mother had wished
them good night, and left them together, she exclaimed, 'Oh, Amy! I am
so glad to be come back to you. I have been so very miserable!'
'But you see he is quite well,' said Amy. 'We think him looking better
than in the summer.'
'0 yes! Oh, Amy, what have you not done? If you could guess the
relief of hearing you were with him, after that suspense!' But as if
losing that subject in one she was still more eager about, 'What did he
think of me?'
'My dear,' said Amabel, 'I don't think I am the right person to tell
'You saw how it struck him when he heard of my share in it.'
'Yours? Mamma never mentioned you.'
'Always kind!' said Laura. 'Oh, Amy! what will you think of me when I
tell I knew poor Eva's secret all the time? What could I do, when Eva
pleaded my own case? It was very different, but she would not see it,
and I felt as if I was guilty of all. Oh, how I envied Charlotte.'
'Dear Laura, no wonder you were unhappy!'
'Nothing hitherto has been equal to it! said Laura. 'There was the
misery of his silence, and the anxiety that you, dearest, freed me
from, then no sooner was that over than this was confided to me. Think
what I felt when Eva put me in mind of a time when I argued in favour
of some such concealment in a novel! No, you can never guess what I
went through, knowing that he would think me weak, blameable,
'Nay, he blames himself too much to blame you.'
'No, that he must not do! It was my fault from the beginning. If I
had but gone at once to mamma!'
'Oh, I am so glad!' exclaimed Amy, suddenly.
'I mean,' said Amy, looking down, 'now you have said that, I am sure
you will be happier.'
'Happier, now I feel and see how I have lowered myself even in his
sight?' said Laura, drooping her head and hiding her face in her hands,
as she went on in so low a tone that Amy could hardly hear her. 'I
know it all now. He loves me still, as he must whatever he has once
taken, into that deep, deep heart of his: he will always; but he cannot
have that honouring, trusting, confiding love that--you enjoyed and
deserved, Amy--that he would have had if I had cared first for what
became me. If I had only at first told mamma, he would not even have
been blamed; he would have been spared half this suffering and self-
reproach; he would have loved me more; Eva might not have been led
astray, at least she could not have laid it to my charge,--and I could
lift up my head,' she finished, as she hung it almost to her knees.
Her sister raised the head, laid it on her own bosom, and kissed, the
cheeks and brow again and again. 'Dearest, dearest Laura, I am so
sorry for you; but I am sure you must feel freer and happier now you
know it all, and see the truth.'
'I don't know!' said Laura, sadly.
'And at least you will be better able to comfort him.'
'No, no, I shall only add to his self-reproach. He will see more
plainly what a wretched weak creature he fancied had firmness and
discretion. Oh, what a broken reed I have been to him!'
'There is strength and comfort for us all to lean upon,' said Amy.
'But you ought to go to bed. Shall I read to you, Laura? you are so
tired, I should like to come and read you to sleep.'
Laura was not given to concealments; that fatal one had been her only
insincerity, and she never thought of doing otherwise than telling the
whole of her conduct in Ireland to Philip. She sat alone with him the
next morning, explained all, and entreated his pardon, humiliating
herself so much, that he could not bear to hear her.
'It was the fault of our whole lifetime, Laura,' said he, recovering
himself, when a few agitated words had passed on either side. 'I
taught you to take my dictum for law, and abused your trusty and
perverted all the best and most precious qualities. It is I who stand
first to bear the blame, and would that I could bear all the suffering!
But as it is, Laura, we must look to enduring the consequence all our
lives, and give each other what support we may.'
Laura could hardly brook his self-accusation, but she could no longer
argue the point; and there was far more peace and truth before them
than when she believed him infallible, and therefore justified herself
for all she had done in blind obedience to him.
Thus souls by nature pitched too high,
By sufferings plunged too low,
Meet in the church's middle sky,
Halfway 'twixt joy and woe;
To practise there the soothing lay,
That sorrow best relieves,
Thankful for all God takes away,
Humbled by all He gives.--CHRISTIAN YEAR
One Afternoon, late in April, Charles opened the dressing-room door,
and paused a moment, smiling. There sat Amabel on the floor before the
fire, her hand stretched out, playfully holding back the little one,
who, with scanty, flossy, silken curls, hazel eyes and jet-black
lashes, plump, mottled arms, and tiny tottering feet, stood crowing and
shouting in exulting laughter, having just made a triumphant clutch at
her mamma's hair, and pulled down all the light, shining locks, while
under their shade the reddening, smiling face recalled the Amy of days
long gone by.
'That's right! cried Charles, delighted, 'pull it all down. Out with
mamma's own curls again!'
'No, I can never wear my curls again,' said Amy, so mournfully, that he
was sorry he had referred to them; and perceiving this, she smiled
sweetly, and pulling a tress to its full length, showed how much too
short it was for anything but being put plainly under the cap, to which
she restored it.
'Is Mrs. Henley come?' she asked.
'As large as life, and that is saying a good deal. She would make two
of Philip. As tall and twice as broad. I thought Juno herself was
advancing on me from the station.'
'How did you get on with her?'
'Famously; I told her all about everything, and how the affair is to be
really quiet, which she had never believed. She could hardly believe
my word, when I told her there was to be absolutely no one but
ourselves and Mary Ross. She supposed it was for your sake, and I did
not tell her it was for their own. It really was providential that the
Kilcoran folk disgusted my father with grand weddings, for Philip never
could endure one.'
'Oh, Miss Mischief, there goes my hair again! You know Philip is
exceedingly worried about Mr. Fielder. Lord Kilcoran has been writing
to ask him to find him a situation.'
'That is an article they will be seeking all the rest of their lives,'
said Charles. 'A man is done for when he begins to look for a
situation! Yes, those Fielders will be a drag on Philip and Laura for
ever; for they don't quite like to cast them off, feeling as he does
that he led to her getting into the scrape, by recommending him; and
poor Laura thinking she set the example.'
'I wish Eva was away from home,' said Amy, 'for Aunt Charlotte's
accounts of her vex Laura so much.'
'Ay! trying to eat her cake and have it, expecting to be Mr. Fielder's
wife, and reign as the earl's daughter all the same. Poor thing! the
day they get the situation will be a sad one for her. She does not
know what poortith cauld will be like.'
'Poor Eva!' said Amy. 'I dare say she will shine and be all the better
for trouble. There is much that is so very nice in her.'
'Ay, if she has not spoilt it all by this time,--as that creature is
doing with your hair! You little monkey, what have you to say to me?'
'Only to wish you good night. Come, baby, we must go to Anne. Good
night, Uncle Charles.'
Just as Amabel had borne off her little girl, Mrs. Edmonstone and
Charlotte came in, after conducting Mrs. Henley to her room. Charlotte
made a face of wonder and dismay, and Mrs. Edmonstone asked where Amy
'She carried the baby to the nursery just before you came. I wish you
had seen her. The little thing had pulled down her hair and made her
look so pretty and like herself.'
'How well her spirits keep up! She has been running up and down stairs
all day, helping about everything. Well! we little thought how things
would turn out.'
'And that after all Amy would be the home-bird,' said Charles. 'I
don't feel as if it was wrong to rejoice in having her in this sweet,
shady brightness, as she is now.'
'Do you know whether she means to go to church to-morrow? I don't like
'I know she does,' said Charlotte. 'She told me so.'
'I hope it will not be too much for her! Dear Amy.'
'She would say it was wrong to have our heads fuller of her than of our
bride,' said Charles.
'Poor Laura!' said Mrs. Edmonstone. 'I am glad it is all right at
last. They have both gone through a great deal.'
'And not in vain,' added Charles. 'Philip is--'
'Oh, I say not a word against him !' cried Mrs. Edmonstone. 'He is
most excellent; he will be very distinguished,--he will make her very
'In fact,' said Charles, 'he is made to be one of the first in this
world, and to be first by being above it; and the only reason we are
almost discontented is, that we compare him with one who was too good
for this world.'
'It is not only that.'
'Ah! you did not see him at Redclyffe, or you would do more than simply
forgiving him as a Christian.'
'I am very sorry for him.'
'That is not quite enough,' said Charles, smiling, with a mischievous
air, though fully in earnest. 'Is it, Charlotte? She must take him
home to her mamma's own heart.'
'No, no, that is asking too much, Charlie,' said Mrs. Edmonstone.
'Only one ever was--' then breaking off--'and I can never think of
Philip as I used to do.'
'I like him much better now,' said Charlotte.
'For my part,' said Charles, 'I never liked him--nay, that's too mild,
I could not abide him, I rebelled against him, heart, soul, and taste.
If it had not been for Guy, his fashion of goodness would have made me
into an extract of gall and wormwood, at the very time you admired him,
and yet a great deal of it was genuine. But it is only now that I have
liked him. Nay, I look up to him, I think him positively noble and
grand, and when I see proofs of his being entirely repentant, I
perceive he is a thorough great man. If I had not seen one greater, I
should follow his young man's example and take him for my hero model.'
'As if you wanted a hero model,' whispered Charlotte, in a tone between
caressing and impertinence.
'I've had one!' returned Charles, also aside.
'Yes,' said Mrs. Edmonstone, going on with her own thoughts, 'unless
there had been a great fund of real goodness, he would never have felt
it so deeply. Indeed, even when I best liked Philip, I never thought
him capable of such repentance as he has shown.'
'If mamma wants to like him very much,' said Charlotte, 'I think she
has only to look at our other company.'
'Ay!' said Charles, 'we want no more explanation of the tone of the
"Thank you," with which he answered the offer to invite his sister.'
'One comfort is, she can't stay long. She has got a committee meeting
for the Ladies' Literary and Scientific Association, and must go home
for it the day after to-morrow,' said Charlotte.
'If you are very good, perhaps she will give you a ticket, Charlotte,'
said her brother, 'and another for Bustle.'
Mrs. Henley was, meanwhile, highly satisfied with the impression she
thought she was making on her aunt's family, especially on Charles and
Charlotte. The latter she patronized, to her extreme though suppressed
indignation, as a clever, promising girl; the former, she discovered to
be a very superior young man, a most valuable assistant to her brother
in his business, and her self-complacency prevented her from finding
out how he was playing her off, whenever neither Philip nor Laura were
at hand to be hurt by it.
She thought Laura a fine-looking person, like her own family, and fit
to be an excellent lady of the house; and in spite of the want of
fortune, she perceived that her brother's choice had been far better
than if he had married that poor pale little Amabel, go silent and
quiet that she never could make a figure anywhere, and had nothing like
the substantive character that her brother must have in a wife.
Could Mrs. Henley have looked behind the scenes she would have
'One kiss for mamma; and one for papa,' was Amy's half-uttered morning
greeting, as she lifted from her cot her little one, with cheeks
flushed by sleep. Morning and evening Amy spoke those words, and was
happy in the double kiss that Mary had learnt to connect with them;
happy too in holding her up to the picture, and saying 'papa,' so that
his child might never recollect a time when he had not been a familiar
and beloved idea.
A little play with the merry child, then came Anne to take her away;
and with a suppressed sigh, Amabel dressed for the first time without
her weeds, which she had promised to leave off on Laura's wedding-day.
'No, I will not sigh!' then she thought, 'it does not put me further
from him. He would be more glad than any one this day, and so I must
show some sign of gladness.'
So she put on such a dress as would be hers for life--black silk, and
face cap over her still plain hair, then with real pleasure she put on
Charles's bracelet, and the silver brooch, which she had last worn the
evening when the echoes of Recoara had answered Guy's last chant. Soon
she was visiting Laura, cheering her, soothing her agitation, helping
her to dress in her bridal array, much plainer than Amy's own had been,
for it had been the especial wish of both herself and Philip that their
wedding should be as quiet and unlike Guy's as possible. Then Amabel
was running down-stairs to see that all was right, thinking the
breakfast-table looked dull and forlorn, and calling Charlotte to help
her to make it appear a little more festal, with the aid of some
flowers. Charlotte wondered to see that she had forgotten how she
shunned flowers last summer, for there she was flitting from one old
familiar plant to another in search of the choicest, arranging little
bouquets with her own peculiar grace and taste, and putting them by
each person's place, in readiness to receive them.
It was as if no one else could smile that morning, except Mr.
Edmonstone, who was so pleased to see her looking cheerful, in her
altered dress, that he kissed her repeatedly, and confidentially told
Mrs. Henley that his little Amy was a regular darling, the sweetest
girl in the world, poor dear, except Laura.
Mrs. Henley, in the richest of all silks, looked magnificent and
superior. Mrs. Edmonstone had tears in her eyes, and attended to every
one softly and kindly, without a word; Charlotte was grave, helpful,
and thoughtful; Charles watching every one, and intent on making things
smooth; Laura looked fixed in the forced composure which she had long
ago learnt, and Philip,--it was late before he appeared at all, and
when he came down, there was nothing so plainly written on his face as
It was so severe that the most merciful thing was to send him to lie on
the sofa in the dressing-room. Amabel said she would fetch him some
camphor, and disappeared, while Laura sat still with her forced
composure. Her father fidgeted, only restrained by her presence from
expressing his fears that Philip was too unwell for the marriage to
take place to-day, and Charles talked cheerfully of the great
improvement in his general health, saying this was but a chance thing,
and that on the whole he might be considered as quite restored.
Mrs. Henley listened and answered, but could not comprehend the state
of things. Breakfast was over, when she heard Amabel speaking to Laura
in the ante-room.
'It will go off soon. Here is a cup of hot coffee for you to take him.
I'll call you when it is time to go.'
Amabel and Charlotte were very busy looking after Laura's packing up,
and putting all that was wanted into the carriage, in which the pair
were to set off at once from church, without returning to Hollywell.
At the last moment she went to warn Philip it was time to go, if he
meant to walk to church alone, the best thing for his head.
'It is better,' said Laura, somewhat comforted.
'Much better for your bathing it, thank you,' said Philip, rising;
then, turning to Amy,--'Do I wish you good-bye now?'
'No, I shall see you at church, unless you don't like to have my
'Would we not have our guardian angel, Laura?' said Philip.
'You know _he_ would have been there,' said Amy. 'No one would have
been more glad, so thank you for letting me come.'
'Thank you for coming,' said Laura, earnestly. 'It is a comfort.'
They left her, and she stood a few minutes to enjoy the solitude, and
to look from the window at her little girl, whom she had sent out with
Anne. She was just about to open the window to call to her, and make
her look up with one of her merry shouts of 'Mamma!' when Philip came
out at the garden-door, and was crossing the lawn. Mary was very fond
of him, flattered by the attention of the tallest person in the house,
and she stretched her arms, and gave a cry of summons. Amabel watched
him turn instantly, take her from her nurse, and hold her in a close
embrace, whilst her little round arms met round his neck. She was
unwilling to be restored to Anne, and when he left she looked up in his
face, and unprompted, held up to him the primroses and violets in her
Those flowers were in his coat when Amabel saw him again at church, and
she knew that this spontaneous proof of affection from Guy's little
unconscious child was more precious to him than all the kindnesses she
Little space was there for musing, for it was high time to set off for
church. Mary Ross met the party at the wicket of the churchyard, took
Charles on her arm, and by look and sign inquired for Amy.
'Bright outwardly,' he answered, 'and I think so inwardly. Nothing
does her so much good as to represent him. Did you wonder to see her?'
'No' said Mary. 'I thought she would come. It is the crowning point
of his forgiveness.'
'Such forgiveness that she has forgotten there is anything to forgive,'
Philip Morville and Laura Edmonstone stood before Mr. Ross. It was not
such a wedding as the last. There was more personal beauty, but no
such air of freshness, youth, and peace. He was, indeed, a very fine-
looking man, his countenance more noble than it had ever been, though
pale and not only betraying the present suffering of the throbbing,
burning brow, but with the appearance of a care-worn, harassed man,
looking more as if his age was five-and-thirty than eight-and-twenty.
And she, in her plain white muslin and quiet bonnet, was hardly bridal-
looking in dress, and so it was with her face, still beautiful and
brilliant in complexion, but with the weight of care permanent on it,
and all the shades of feeling concealed by a fixed command of
countenance, unable, however, to hide the oppression of dejection and
Yet to the eyes that only beheld the surface, there was nothing but
prosperity and happiness in a marriage between a pair who had loved so
long and devotedly, and after going through so much for each other's
sake, were united at length, with wealth, honour, and distinction
before them. His health was re-established, and the last spring had
proved that his talents would place him in such a position as had been
the very object of his highest hopes. Was not everything here for
which the fondest and most aspiring wishes could seek? Yet for the
very reason that there was sadness at almost every heart, not one tear
was shed. Mrs. Edmonstone's thoughts were less engrossed with the
bride than with the young slender figure in black, standing in her own
drooping way, her head bent down, and the fingers of her right hand
clasping tight her wedding-ring, through her white glove.
The service was over. Laura hung round her mother's neck in an ardent
'Your pardon! 0, mamma, I see it all now!'
Poor thing! she had too much failed in a daughter's part to go forth
from her home with the clear, loving, hopeful heart her sister had
carried from it! Mrs. Edmonstone's kiss was a full answer, however, a
kiss unlike what it had been with all her efforts for many and many a
'Amy, pray that it may not be visited!' were the last words breathed to
her sister, as they were pressed in each other's arms.
Philip scarcely spoke, only met their kindnesses with grateful gestures
and looks, and brief replies, and the parting was hastened that he
might as soon as possible be at rest. His only voluntary speech was as
he bade farewell to Amabel,--
'My sister now!'
'And _his_ brother,' she answered. 'Good-bye!'
As soon as Amabel was alone in the carriage with Charles, she leant
back, and gave way to a flood of tears.
'Amy, has it been too much?'
'No,' she said, recovering herself; 'but I am so glad! It was _his_
chief desire. Now everything he wished is fulfilled.'
'And you are free of your great charge. He has been a considerable
care to you, but now he is safe on Laura's hands, and well and
satisfactory; so you have no care but your daughter, and we settle into
our home life.'
'Amy, I do wish I was sure you are happy.'
'Yes, dear Charlie, indeed I am. You are all so very kind to me, and
it is a blessing, indeed, that my own dear home can open to take in me
and baby. You know _he_ liked giving me back to you.'
'And it is happiness, not only thinking it ought to be! Don't let me
tease you, Amy, don't answer if you had rather not.'
'Thank you, Charlie, it _is_ happiness. It must be when I remember how
very happy he used to be, and there can be nothing to spoil it. When I
see how all the duties of his station worry and perplex Philip, I am
glad he was spared from it, and had all his freshness and brightness
his whole life. It beams out on me more now, and it was such perfect
happiness while I had him here, and it is such a pleasure and honour to
be called by his name; besides, there is baby. Oh! Charlie, I must be
happy--I am; do believe it! Indeed, you know I have you and mamma and
all too. And, Charlie, I think he made you all precious to me over
again by the way he loved you all, and sent me back, to you especially.
Yes, Charlie, you must not fancy I grieve. I am very happy, for he is,
and all I have is made bright and precious by him.'
'Yes,' said he, looking at her, as the colour had come into her face,
and she looked perfectly lovely with eager, sincere happiness; one of
her husband's sweetest looks reflected on her face; altogether, such a
picture of youth, joy, and love, as had not been displayed by the bride
that morning. 'Amy, I don't believe anything could make you long
'Nothing but my own fault. Nothing else can part me from him,' she
whispered almost to herself.
'Yes; no one else had such a power of making happy,' said Charles,
thoughtfully. 'Amy, I really don't know whether even you owe as much
to your husband as I do. You were good for something before, but when
I look back on what I was when first he came, I know that his leading,
unconscious as it was, brought out the stifled good in me. What a
wretch I should have been; what a misery to myself and to you all by
this time, and now, I verily believe, that since he let in the sunlight
from heaven on me, I am better off than if I had as many legs as other
'Yes. Nobody else lives in such an atmosphere of petting, and has so
little to plague them. Nobody else has such a "mamma," to say nothing
of silly little Amy, or Charlotte, or Miss Morville. And as to being
of no use, which I used to pine about--why, when the member for
Moorworth governs the country, I mean to govern him.'
'I am sure you are of wonderful use to every one,' said Amabel;
'neither Philip nor papa could get on without you to do their writing
for them. Besides, I want you to help me when baby grows older.'
'Is that the laudable result of that great book on education I saw you
reading the other day?' said Charles. 'Why don't you borrow a few
hints from Mrs. Henley?'
Amy's clear, playful laugh was just what it used to be.
'It is all settled, then, that you go on with us! Not that I ever
thought you were going to do anything so absurd as to set up for
yourself, you silly little woman: but it seems to be considered right
to come to a formal settlement about such a grand personage as my Lady
'Yes; it was better to come to an understanding,' said Amabel. 'It was
better that papa should make up his mind to see that I can't turn into
a young lady again. You see Charlotte will go out with him and be the
Miss Edmonstone for company, and he is so proud of her liveliness and--
how pretty she is growing--so that will keep him from being vexed. So
now you see I can go on my own way, attend to baby, and take Laura's
business about the school, and keep out of the way of company, so that
it is very nice and comfortable. It is the very thing that Guy
Amabel's life is here pretty well shown. That of Philip and Laura may
be guessed at. He was a distinguished man, one of the most honoured
and respected in the country, admired for his talents and excellence,
and regarded universally as highly prosperous and fortunate, the pride
of all who had any connection with him. Yet it was a harassed, anxious
life, with little of repose or relief; and Laura spent her time between
watching him and tending his health, and in the cares and
representation befitting her station, with little space for domestic
pleasure and home comfort, knowing her children more intimately through
her sister's observation than through her own.
Perfect and devoted as ever was their love, and they were thought most
admirable and happy people. There was some wonder at his being a
grave, melancholy man, when he had all before him so richly to enjoy,
contrary to every probability when he began life. Still there was one
who never could understand why others should think him stern and
severe, and why even his own children should look up to him with love
that partook of distant awe and respect, one to whom he never was
otherwise than indulgent, nay, almost reverential, in the gentleness of
his kindness, and that was Mary Verena Morville.