Part 5 out of 14
'Excellently. Here is its name. See how neatly Charlie has printed
it, Mary. Is it not odd, that he prints so well when he writes so
'"The Seven Sisters." There, fair sisterhood, grow and thrive, till I
come to transplant you in the autumn. Are there any more?'
'No, that is the last. Now, Mary, let us come to mamma.'
Guy waited to clear the path of the numerous trailing briery branches,
and the others walked on, Amy telling how sorry they were to lose Guy's
vacation, but that he thought he could not give time enough to his
studies here, and had settled, at Oxford, to make one of a reading-
party, under the tutorship of his friend, Mr. Wellwood.
'Where do they go?'
'It is not settled. Guy wished it to be the sea-side; but Philip has
been recommending a farmhouse in Stylehurst parish, rather nearer St.
Mildred's Wells than Stylehurst, but quite out in the moor, and an
immense way from both.'
'Do you think it will be the place?'
'Yes; Guy thinks it would suit Mr. Wellwood, because he has friends at
St. Mildred's, so he gave his vote for it. He expects to hear how it
is settled to-day or to-morrow.'
Coming out on the lawn, they found the three ladies sitting under the
acacia, with their books and work. Laura did, indeed, look older than
her real age, as much above twenty as Amy looked under nineteen. She
was prettier than ever; her complexion exquisite in delicacy, her fine
figure and the perfect outline of her features more developed; but the
change from girl to woman had passed over her, and set its stamp on the
anxious blue eye, and almost oppressed brow. Mary thought it would be
hard to define where was that difference. It was not want of bloom,
for of that Laura had more than any of the others, fresh, healthy, and
bright, while Amy was always rather pale, and Lady Eveleen was
positively wan and faded by London and late hours; nor was it loss of
animation, for Laura talked and laughed with interest and eagerness;
nor was it thought, for little Amy, when at rest, wore a meditative,
pensive countenance; but there was something either added or taken
away, which made it appear that the serenity and carelessness of early
youth had fled from her, and the air of the cares of life had come over
Mary told her plans,--Church service at four, followed by a tea-
drinking in the fields; tea in the garden for the company, and play for
the school children and all who liked to join them. Every one likes
such festivals, which have the recommendation of permitting all to do
as they please, bringing friends together in perfect ease and freedom,
with an object that raises them above the rank of mere gatherings for
the pleasure of rich neighbours.
Mrs. Edmonstone gladly made the engagement and Lady Eveleen promised to
be quite well, and to teach the children all manner of new games,
though she greatly despised the dullness of English children, and had
many droll stories of the stupidity of Laura's pupils, communicated to
her, with perhaps a little exaggeration, by Charles, and still further
embellished by herself, for the purpose of exciting Charlotte's
Mary proceeded to her consultation about the singing, and was conducted
by Guy and Amy to the piano, and when her ears could not be
indoctrinated by their best efforts, they more than half engaged to
walk to East-hill, and have a conversation with the new school-master,
whom Mary pitied for having fallen on people so unable to appreciate
his musical training as herself and her father. The whole party walked
back with her as far as the shade lasted; and at the end of the next
field she turned, saw them standing round the stile, thought what happy
people they were, and then resumed her wonder whither Laura's
youthfulness had flown.
The situation of Philip and Laura had not changed. His regiment had
never been at any great distance from Hollywell, and he often came,
venturing more as Laura learnt to see him with less trepidation. He
seldom or never was alone with her; but his influence was as strong as
ever, and look, word, and gesture, which she alone could understand,
told her what she was to him, and revealed his thoughts. To him she
was devoted, all her doings were with a view to please him, and deserve
his affection; he was her world, and sole object. Indeed, she was
sometimes startled by perceiving that tenderly as she loved her own
family, all were subordinate to him. She had long since known the true
name of her feelings for him; she could not tell when or how the
certainty had come, but she was conscious that it was love that they
had acknowledged for one another and that she only lived in the light
of his love. Still she did not realize the evil of concealment; it was
so deep a sensation of her innermost heart, that she never could
imagine revealing it to any living creature, and she had besides so
surrendered her judgment to her idol, that no thought could ever cross
her that he had enjoined what was wrong. Her heart and soul were his
alone, and she left the future to him without an independent desire or
reflection. All the embarrassments and discomforts which her secret
occasioned her were met willingly for his sake, and these were not a
few, though time had given her more self-command, or, perhaps, more
properly speaking, had hardened her.
She always had a dread of tete-a-tetes and conversations over novels,
and these were apt to be unavoidable when Eveleen was at Hollywell.
The twilight wanderings on the terrace were a daily habit, and Eveleen
almost always paired with her. On this evening in particular, Laura
was made very uncomfortable by Eveleen's declaring that it was
positively impossible and unnatural that the good heroine of some novel
should have concealed her engagement from her parents. Laura could not
help saying that there might be many excuses; then afraid that she was
exciting suspicion, changed the subject in great haste, and tried to
make Eveleen come indoors, telling her she would tire herself to death,
and vexed by her cousin's protestations that the fresh cool air did her
good. Besides, Eveleen was looking with attentive eyes at another pair
who were slowly walking up and down the shady walk that bordered the
grass-plot, and now and then standing still to enjoy the subdued
silence of the summer evening, and the few distant sounds that marked
the perfect lull.
'How calm--how beautiful!' murmured Amabel.
'It only wants the low solemn surge and ripple of the tide, and its
dash on the rocks,' said Guy. 'If ever there was music, it is there;
but it makes one think what the ear must be that can take in the whole
of those harmonics.'
'How I should like to hear it!'
'And see it. 0 Amy! to show you the sunny sea,--the sense of breadth
and vastness in that pale clear horizon line, and the infinite number
of fields of light between you and it,--and the free feelings as you
stand on some high crag, the wind blowing in your face across half the
globe, and the waves dashing far below! I am growing quite thirsty for
'You know, papa said something about your taking your reading-party to
'True, but I don't think Markham would like it, and it would put old
Mrs. Drew into no end of a fuss.'
'Not like to have you?'
'0 yes, I should be all very well; but if they heard I was bringing
three or four men with me, they would think them regular wild beasts.
They would be in an awful fright. Besides, it is so long since I have
been at home, that I don't altogether fancy going there till I settle
there for good.'
'Ah! it will be sad going there at first.'
'And it has not been my duty yet.'
'But you will be glad when you get there?'
'Sha'n't I? I wonder if any one has been to shoot the rabbits on the
shag rock. They must have quite overrun it by this time. But I don't
like the notion of the first day. There is not only the great change,
but a stranger at the vicarage.'
'Do you know anything about the new clergyman? I believe Mrs. Ashford
is a connection of Lady Thorndale's?'
'Yes; Thorndale calls them pattern people, and I have no doubt they
will do great good in the parish. I am sure we want some
enlightenment, for we are a most primitive race, and something beyond
Jenny Robinson's dame school would do us no harm.'
Here Mr. Edmonstone called from the window that they must come in.
Mrs. Edmonstone thought deeply that night. She had not forgotten her
notion that Eveleen was attracted by Guy's manners, and had been
curious to see what would happen when Eveleen was sent to Hollywell for
She had a very good opinion of Lady Eveleen. Since the former visit,
she had shown more spirit of improvement, and laid aside many little
follies; she had put herself under Laura's guidance, and tamed down
into what gave the promise of a sensible woman, more than anything that
had hitherto been observed in her; and little addicted to match-making
as Mrs. Edmonstone was, she could not help thinking that Eva was almost
worthy of her dear Guy (she never could expect to find anyone she
should think quite worthy of him, he was too like one of her own
children for that), and on the other hand, how delighted Lord and Lady
Kilcoran would be. It was a very pretty castle in the air; but in the
midst of it, the notion suddenly darted into Mrs. Edmonstone's head,
that while she was thinking of it, it was Amy, not Eveleen, who was
constantly with Guy. Reading and music, roses, botany, and walks on
the terrace! She looked back, and it was still the same. Last Easter
vacation, how they used to study the stars in the evening, to linger in
the greenhouse in the morning nursing the geraniums, and to practise
singing over the school-room piano; how, in a long walk, they always
paired together; and how they seemed to share every pursuit or
Now Mrs. Edmonstone was extremely fond of Guy, and trusted him
entirely; but she thought she ought to consider how far this should be
allowed. Feeling that he ought to see more of the world, she had sent
him as much as she could into society, but it had only made him cling
closer to home. Still he was but twenty, it was only a country
neighbourhood, and there was much more for him to see before he could
fairly be supposed to know his own mind. She knew he would act
honourably; but she had a horror of letting him entangle himself with
her daughter before he was fairly able to judge of his own feelings.
Or, if this was only behaving with a brother's freedom and confidence,
Mrs. Edmonstone felt it was not safe for her poor little Amy, who might
learn so to depend on him as to miss him grievously when this intimacy
ceased, as it must when he settled at his own home. It would be right,
while it was still time, to make her remember that they were not
brother and sister, and by checking their present happy, careless,
confidential intercourse, to save her from the chill which seemed to
have been cast on Laura. Mrs. Edmonstone was the more anxious, because
she deeply regretted not having been sufficiently watchful in Laura's
case, and perhaps she felt an unacknowledged conviction that if there
was real love on Guy's part, it would not be hurt by a little reserve
on Amy's. Yet to have to speak to her little innocent daughter on such
a matter disturbed her so much, that she could hardly have set about
it, if Amy had not, at that very moment, knocked at her door.
'My dear, what has kept you up so late?'
'We have been sitting in Eveleen's room, mamma, hearing about her
London life; and then we began to settle our plans for to-morrow, and I
came to ask what you think of them. You know Guy has promised to go
and hear the East-hill singing, and we were proposing, if you did not
mind it, to take the pony-carriage and the donkey, and go in the
morning to East-hill, have luncheon, and get Mary to go with us to the
top of the great down, where we have never been. Guy has been wanting
us, for a long time past, to go and see the view, and saying there is a
track quite smooth enough to drive Charlie to the top.'
Amy wondered at her mother's look of hesitation. In fact, the scheme
was so accordant with their usual habits that it was impossible to find
any objection; yet it all hinged on Guy, and the appointment at East-
hill might lead to a great many more.
'Do you wish us to do anything else, mamma? We don't care about it.'
'No, my dear,' said Mrs. Edmonstone, 'I see no reason against it. But-
-' and she felt as if she was making a desperate plunge, 'there is
something I want to say to you.'
Amy stood ready to hear, but Mrs. Edmonstone paused. Another effort,
and she spoke:-
'Amy, my dear, I don't wish to find fault, but I thought of advising
you to take care. About Guy--'
The very brilliant pink which instantly overspread Amy's face made her
mother think her warning more expedient.
'You have been spending a great deal of time with him of late, very
sensibly and pleasantly, I know; I don't blame you at all, my dear, so
you need not look distressed. I only want you to be careful. You
know, though we call him cousin, he is scarcely a relation at all.'
'0 mamma, don't go on,' said poor little Amy, hurriedly; 'indeed I am
For Amy understood that it was imputed to her that she had been forward
and unmaidenly. Mrs. Edmonstone saw her extreme distress, and, grieved
at the pain she had inflicted, tried to reassure her as much as might
'Indeed, my dear, you have done nothing amiss. I only intended to tell
you to be cautious for fear you should get into a way of going on which
might not look well. Don't make any great difference, I only meant
that there should not be quite so much singing and gardening alone with
him, or walking in the garden in the evening. You can manage to draw
back a little, so as to keep more with me or with Laura, and I think
that will be the best way.'
Every word, no matter what, increased the burning of poor Amy's cheeks.
A broad accusation of flirting would have been less distressing to many
girls than this mild and delicate warning was to one of such shrinking
modesty and maidenly feeling. She had a sort of consciousness that she
enjoyed partaking in his pursuits, and this made her sense of confusion
and shame overwhelming. What had she been thoughtlessly doing? She
could not speak, she could not look. Her mother put her arm round her,
and Amy hid her head on her shoulder, and held her fast. Mrs.
Edmonstone kissed and caressed the little fluttering bird, then saying,
'Good night, my own dear child,' unloosed her embrace.
'Good night, dear mamma,' whispered Amy. 'I am very sorry.'
'You need not be sorry, my dear, only be careful. Good night.' And it
would be hard to say whether the mother or the daughter had the hottest
Poor little Amy! what was her dismay as she asked herself, again and
again, what she had been doing and what she was to do? The last was
plain,--she knew what was right, and do it she must. There would be an
end of much that was pleasant, and a fresh glow came over her as she
owned how very, very pleasant; but if it was not quite the thing,--if
mamma did not approve, so it must be. True, all her doings received
their zest from Guy,--her heart bounded at the very sound of his
whistle, she always heard his words through all the din of a whole
party,--nothing was complete without him, nothing good without his
without his approval,--but so much the more shame for her. It was a
kind of seeking him which was of all things the most shocking. So
there should be an end of it,--never mind the rest! Amy knelt down,
and prayed that she might keep her resolution.
She did not know how much of her severity towards herself was learned
from the example that had been two years before her. Nor did she think
whether the seeking had been mutual; she imagined it all her own doing,
and did not guess that she would give pain to Guy by withdrawing
herself from him.
The morning gave vigour to her resolution, and when Laura came to ask
what mamma thought of their project, Amy looked confused--said she did
not know--she believed it would not do. But just then in came her
mother, to say she had been considering of the expedition, and meant to
join it herself. Amy understood, blushed, and was silently grateful.
When Laura wanted to alter her demeanour towards Guy, being perfectly
cool, and not in the least conscious, she had acted with great
judgment, seen exactly what to do, and what to leave undone, so as to
keep up appearances. But it was not so with Amy. She was afraid of
herself, and was in extremes. She would not come down till the last
moment, that there might be no talking in the window. She hardly spoke
at breakfast-time, and adhered closely to Laura and Eveleen when they
wandered in the garden. Presently Charles looked out from the
dressing-room window, calling,--
'Amy, Guy is ready to read.'
'I can't come. Read without me,' she answered, hoping Charlie would
not be vexed, and feeling her face light up again.
The hour for the expedition came, and Amy set off walking with Laura,
because Guy was with Mrs. Edmonstone; but presently, after holding open
a gate for Charlotte, who was on the donkey, he came up to the sisters,
and joined in the conversation. Amy saw something in the hedge--a
foxglove, she believed--it would have done as well if it had been a
nettle--she stopped to gather it, hoping to fall behind them, but they
waited for her. She grew silent, but Guy appealed to her. She ran on
to Charlotte and her donkey, but at the next gate Guy had joined
company again. At last she put herself under her mother's wing, and by
keeping with her did pretty well all the time she was at East-hill.
But when they went on, she was riding the donkey, and it, as donkeys
always are, was resolved on keeping a-head of the walkers, so that as
Guy kept by her side, it was a more absolute tete-a-tete than ever.
At the top of the hill they found a fine view, rich and extensive,
broad woods, fields waving with silvery barley, trim meadows, fair hazy
blue distance, and a dim line of sea beyond. This, as Amy knew, was
Guy's delight, and further, what she would not tell herself, was that
he chiefly cared for showing it to her. It was so natural to call him
to admire everything beautiful, and ask if it was equal to Redclyffe,
that she found herself already turning to him to participate in his
pleasure, as he pointed out all that was to be seen; but she
recollected, blushed, and left her mother to speak. He had much to
show. There was a hanging wood on one side of the hill, whence he had
brought her more than one botanical prize, and she must now visit their
native haunts. It was too great a scramble for Mrs. Edmonstone, with
all her good will; Eveleen was to be kept still, and not to tire
herself; Laura did not care for botany, nor love brambles, and Amy was
obliged to stand and look into the wood, saying, 'No, thank you, I
don't think I can,' and then run back to Mary and Charles; while
Charlotte was loudly calling out that it was delightful fun, and that
she was very stupid. In another minute Guy had overtaken her, and in
his gentle, persuasive voice, was telling her it was very easy, and she
must come and see the bird's-nest orchises. She would have liked it
above all things, but she thought it very kind of Guy not to seem angry
when she said, 'No, thank you.'
Mary, after what she had seen yesterday, could not guess at the real
reason, or she would have come with her; but she thought Amy was tired,
and would rather not. Poor Amy was tired, very tired, before the walk
was over, but her weary looks made it worse, for Guy offered her his
arm. 'No thank you,' she said, 'I am getting on very well;' and she
trudged on resolutely, for her mother was in the carriage, and to lag
behind the others would surely make him keep with her.
Mrs. Edmonstone was very sorry for her fatigue, but Amy found it a good
excuse for not wandering in the garden, or joining in the music. It
had been a very uncomfortable day; she hoped she had done right; at any
rate, she had the peaceful conviction of having tried to do so.
The next day, Amy was steady to her resolution. No reading with the
two youths, though Charles scolded her; sitting in her room till Guy
was gone out, going indoors as soon as she heard him return, and in the
evening staying with Charles when her sisters and cousins went out; but
this did not answer, for Guy came and sat by them. She moved away as
soon as possible, but the more inclined she was to linger, the more she
thought she ought to go; so murmuring something about looking for
Laura, she threw on her scarf, and sprung to the window. Her muslin
caught on the bolt, she turned, Guy was already disentangling it, and
she met his eye. It was full of anxious, pleading inquiry, which to
her seemed upbraiding, and, not knowing what to do, she exclaimed,
hurriedly, 'Thank you; no harm done!' and darted into the garden,
frightened to feel her face glowing and her heart throbbing. She could
not help looking back to see if he was following. No, he was not
attempting it; he was leaning against the window, and on she hastened,
the perception dawning on her that she was hurting him; he might think
her rude, unkind, capricious, he who had always been so kind to her,
and when he was going away so soon. 'But it is right; it must be
done,' said little Amy to herself, standing still, now that she was out
of sight. 'If I was wrong before, I must bear it now, and he will see
the rights of it sooner or later. The worst of all would be my not
doing the very _most_ _right_ to please any body. Besides he can't
really care for missing silly little Amy when he has mamma and Charlie.
And he is going away, so it will be easier to begin right when he comes
back. Be that as it may, it must be done. I'll get Charlie to tell me
what he was saying about the painted glass.'
Oh, thou child of many prayers!
Life hath quicksands--life hath snares--
Care and age come unawares.
Like the swell of some sweet tune,
Morning rises into noon,
May glides onward into June.--Longfellow
'What is the matter with Amy? What makes her so odd?' asked Charles,
as his mother came to wish him good night.
'Poor little dear! don't take any notice,' was all the answer he
received; and seeing that he was to be told no more, he held his peace.
Laura understood without being told. She, too, had thought Guy and Amy
were a great deal together, and combining various observations, she
perceived that her mother must have given Amy a caution. She therefore
set herself, like a good sister, to shelter Amy as much as she could,
save her from awkward situations, and, above all, to prevent her
altered manner from being remarked. This was the less difficult, as
Eveleen was subdued and languid, and more inclined to lie on the sofa
and read than to look out for mirth.
As to poor little Amy, her task was in one way become less hard, for
Guy had ceased to haunt her, and seemed to make it his business to
avoid all that could cause her embarrassment; but in another way it
hurt her much more, for she now saw the pain she was causing. If
obliged to do anything for her, he would give a look as if to ask
pardon, and then her rebellious heart would so throb with joy as to
cause her dismay at having let herself fall into so hateful a habit as
wishing to attract attention. What a struggle it was not to obey the
impulse of turning to him for the smile with which he would greet
anything in conversation that interested them both, and how wrong she
thought it not to be more consoled when she saw him talking to Eveleen,
or to any of the others, as if he was doing very well without her.
This did not often happen; he was evidently out of spirits, and
thoughtful, and Amy was afraid some storm might be gathering respecting
Mr. Sebastian Dixon, about whom there always seemed to be some
Mrs. Edmonstone saw everything, and said nothing. She was very sorry
for them both, but she could not interfere, and could only hope she had
done right, and protected Amy as far as she was able. She was vexed
now and then to see Eveleen give knowing smiles and significant
glances, feared that she guessed what was going on, and wondered
whether to give her a hint not to add to Amy's confusion; but her great
dislike to enter on such a subject prevailed, and she left things to
take their course, thinking that, for once, Guy's departure would be a
The approach of anything in the shape of a party of pleasure was one of
the best cures for Eveleen's ailments, and the evening before Mary's
tea-drinking, she was in high spirits, laughing and talking a great
deal, and addressing herself chiefly to Guy. He exerted himself to
answer, but it did not come with life and spirit, his countenance did
not light up, and at last Eveleen said, 'Ah! I see I am a dreadful
bore. I'll go away, and leave you to repose.'
'Lady Eveleen!' he exclaimed, in consternation; 'what have I been
doing--what have I been thinking of?'
'Nay, that is best known to yourself, though I think perhaps I could
divine,' said she, with that archness and grace that always seemed to
remove the unfavourable impression that her proceedings might have
given. 'Shall I?'
'No, no,' he answered, colouring crimson, and then trying to laugh off
his confusion, and find some answer, but without success; and Eveleen,
perceiving her aunt's eyes were upon her, suddenly recollected that she
had gone quite as far as decorum allowed, and made as masterly a
retreat as the circumstances permitted.
'Well, I have always thought a "penny for your thoughts" the boldest
offer in the world, and now it is proved.'
This scene made Mrs. Edmonstone doubly annoyed, the next morning, at
waking with a disabling headache, which made it quite impossible for
her to attempt going to Mary Ross's fete. With great sincerity, Amy
entreated to be allowed to remain at home, but she thought it would
only be making the change more remarkable; she did not wish Mary to be
disappointed; among so many ladies, Amy could easily avoid getting into
difficulties; while Laura would, she trusted, be able to keep Eveleen
The day was sunny, and all went off to admiration. The gentlemen
presided over the cricket, and the ladies over 'blind man's buff' and
'thread my needle;' but perhaps Mary was a little disappointed that,
though she had Sir Guy's bodily presence, the peculiar blitheness and
animation which he usually shed around him were missing. He sung at
church, he filled tiny cups from huge pitchers of tea, he picked up and
pacified a screaming child that had tumbled off a gate--he was as good-
natured and useful as possible, but he was not his joyous and brilliant
Amy devoted herself to the smallest fry, played assiduously for three
quarters of an hour with a fat, grave boy of three, who stood about a
yard-and-a-half from her, solemnly throwing a ball into her lap, and
never catching it again, took charge of many caps and bonnets, and
walked about with Louisa Harper, a companion whom no one envied her.
In conclusion, the sky clouded over, it became chilly, and a shower
began to fall. Laura pursued Eveleen, and Amy hunted up Charlotte from
the utmost parts of the field, where she was the very centre of
'winding up the clock,' and sorely against her will, dragged her off
the wet grass. About sixty yards from the house, Guy met them with an
umbrella, which, without speaking, he gave to Charlotte. Amy said,
'Thank you,' and again came that look. Charlotte rattled on, and hung
back to talk to Guy, so that Amy could not hasten on without leaving
her shelterless. It may be believed that she had the conversation to
herself. At the door they met Mary and her father, going to dismiss
their flock, who had taken refuge in a cart-shed at the other end of
the field. Guy asked if he could be of any use; Mr. Ross said no, and
Mary begged Amy and Charlotte to go up to her room, and change their
There, Amy would fain have stayed, flushed and agitated as those looks
made her; but Charlotte was in wild spirits, delighted at having been
caught in the rain, and obliged to wear shoes a mile too large, and
eager to go and share the fun in the drawing-room. There, in the
twilight, they found a mass of young ladies herded together, making a
confused sound of laughter, and giggling, while at the other end of the
room, Amy could just see Guy sitting alone in a dark corner.
Charlotte's tongue was soon the loudest in the medley, to which Amy did
not at first attend, till she heard Charlotte saying--
'Ah! you should hear Guy sing that.'
'What?' she whispered to Eveleen.
'"The Land of the Leal,"' was the answer.
'I wish he would sing it now,' said Ellen Harper.
'This darkness would be just the time for music,' said Eveleen; 'it is
quite a witching time.'
'Why don't you ask him?' said Ellen. 'Come, Charlotte, there's a good
girl, go and ask him.'
'Shall I?' said Charlotte, whispering and giggling with an affectation
'No, no, Charlotte,' said Laura.
'No! why not?' said Eveleen. 'Don't be afraid, Charlotte.'
'He is so grave,' said Charlotte.
Eveleen had been growing wilder and less guarded all day, and now,
partly liking to tease and surprise the others, and partly emboldened
by the darkness, she answered,--
'It will do him all manner of good. Here, Charlotte, I'll tell you how
to make him. Tell him Amy wants him to do it.'
'Ay! tell him so,' cried Ellen, and they laughed in a manner that
overpowered Amy with horror and shyness. She sprung to seize
Charlotte, and stop her; she could not speak, but Louisa Harper caught
her arm, and Laura's grave orders were drowned in a universal titter,
and suppressed exclamation,--'Go, Charlotte, go; we will never forgive
you if you don't!'
'Stop!' Amy struggled to cry, breaking from Louisa, and springing up in
a sort of agony. Guy, who had such a horror of singing anything deep
in pathos or religious feeling to mixed or unfit auditors, asked to do
so in her name! 'Stop! oh, Charlotte!' It was too late; Charlotte,
thoughtless with merriment, amused at vexing Laura, set up with
applause, and confident in Guy's good nature, had come to him, and was
saying,--'Oh, Guy! Amy wants you to come and sing us the "Land of the
Amy saw him start up. What, did he think of her? Oh, what! He
stepped towards them. The silly girls cowered as if they had roused a
lion. His voice was not loud--it was almost as gentle as usual; but it
quivered, as if it was hard to keep it so, and, as well as she could
see, his face was rigid and stern as iron. 'Did you wish it?' he said,
addressing himself to her, as if she was the only person present.
Her breath was almost gone. 'Oh! I beg your pardon,' she faltered.
She could not exculpate herself, she saw it looked like an idle, almost
like an indecorous trick, unkind, everything abhorrent to her and to
him, especially in the present state of things. His eyes were on her,
his head bent towards her; he waited for an answer. 'I beg your
pardon,' was all she could say.
There was--yes, there was--one of those fearful flashes of his kindling
eye. She felt as if she was shrinking to nothing; she heard him say,
in a low, hoarse tone, 'I am afraid I cannot;' then Mr. Ross, Mary,
lights came in; there was a bustle and confusion, and when next she was
clearly conscious, Laura was ordering the carriage.
When it came, there was an inquiry for Sir Guy.
'He is gone home,' said Mr. Ross. 'I met him in the passage, and
wished him good night.'
Mr. Ross did not add what he afterwards told his daughter, that Guy
seemed not to know whether it was raining or not; that he had put an
umbrella into his hand, and seen him march off at full speed, through
the pouring rain, with it under his arm.
The ladies entered the carriage. Amy leant back in her corner, Laura
forbore to scold either Eveleen or Charlotte till she could have them
separately; Eveleen was silent, because she was dismayed at the effect
she had produced, and Charlotte, because she knew there was a scolding
impending over her.
They found no one in the drawing-room but Mr. Edmonstone and Charles,
who said they had heard the door open, and Guy run up-stairs, but they
supposed he was wet through, as he had not made his appearance. It was
very inhospitable in the girls not to have made room for him in the
Amy went to see how her mother was, longing to tell her whole trouble,
but found her asleep, and was obliged to leave it till the morrow.
Poor child, she slept very little, but she would not go to her mother
before breakfast, lest she should provoke the headache into staying
another day. Guy was going by the train at twelve o'clock, and she was
resolved that something should be done; so, as soon as her father had
wished Guy goodbye, and ridden off to his justice meeting, she
entreated her mother to come into the dressing-room, and hear what she
had to say.
'Oh, mamma! the most dreadful thing has happened!' and, hiding her
face, she told her story, ending with a burst of weeping as she said
how Guy was displeased. 'And well he might be! That after all that
has vexed him this week, I should tease him with such a trick. Oh,
mamma, what must he think?'
'My dear, there was a good deal of silliness; but you need not treat it
as if it was so very shocking.'
'Oh, but it hurt him! He was angry, and now I know how it is, he is
angry with himself for being angry. Oh, how foolish I have been! What
shall I do?'
'Perhaps we can let him know it was not your fault,' said Mrs.
Edmonstone, thinking it might be very salutary for Charlotte to send
her to confess.
'Do you think so?' cried Amy, eagerly. 'Oh! that would make it all
comfortable. Only it was partly mine, for not keeping Charlotte in
better order, and we must not throw it all on her and Eveleen. You
think we may tell him?'
'I think he ought not to be allowed to fancy you let your name be so
A message came for Mrs. Edmonstone, and while she was attending to it,
Amy hastened away, fully believing that her mother had authorized her
to go and explain it to Guy, and ask his pardon. It was what she
thought the natural thing to do, and she was soon by his side, as she
saw him pacing, with folded arms, under the wall.
Much had lately been passing in Guy's mind. He had gone on floating on
the sunny stream of life at Hollywell, too happy to observe its
especial charm till the change in Amy's manner cast a sudden gloom over
all. Not till then did he understand his own feelings, and recognize
in her the being he had dreamt of. Amy was what made Hollywell
precious to him. Sternly as he was wont to treat his impulses, he did
not look on his affection as an earthborn fancy, liable to draw him
from higher things, and, therefore, to be combated; he deemed her
rather a guide and guard whose love might arm him, soothe him, and
encourage him. Yet he had little hope, for he did not do justice to
his powers of inspiring affection; no one could distrust his temper and
his character as much as he did himself, and with his ancestry and the
doom he believed attached to his race, with his own youth and untried
principles, with his undesirable connections, and the reserve he was
obliged to exercise regarding them, he considered himself as
objectionable a person as could well be found, as yet untouched by any
positive crime, and he respected the Edmonstones too much to suppose
that these disadvantages could be counterbalanced for a moment by his
position; indeed, he interpreted Amy's coolness by supposing that there
was a desire to discourage his attentions. No poor tutor or penniless
cousin ever felt he was doing a more desperate thing in confessing an
attachment, than did Sir Guy Morville when he determined that all
should be told, at the risk of losing her for ever, and closing against
himself the doors of his happy home. It was not right and fair by her
parents, he thought, so to regard their daughter, and live in the same
house with his sentiments unavowed, and as to Amy herself, if his
feelings had reached such a pitch of sensitiveness that he must needs
behave like an angry lion, because her name had been dragged into an
idle joke, it was high time it should be explained, unpropitious as the
moment might be for declaring his attachment, when he had manifested
such a temper as any woman might dread. Thus he made up his mind that,
come of it what might, he would not leave Hollywell that day till the
truth was told. Just as he was turning to find Mrs. Edmonstone and
'put his fate to the touch,' a little figure stood beside him, and
Amy's own sweet, low tones were saying, imploringly,--
'Guy, I wanted to tell you how sorry I am you were so teased last
'Don't think of it!' said he, taken extremely by surprise
'It was our fault, I could not stop it; I should have kept Charlotte in
better order, but they would not let her hear me. I knew it was what
you dislike particularly, and I was very sorry.'
'You--I was--I was. But no matter now. Amy,' he added earnestly, 'may
I ask you to walk on with me a little way? I must say something to
Was this what 'mamma' objected to? Oh no! Amy felt she must stay now,
and, in truth, she was glad it was right, though her heart beat fast,
fast, faster, as Guy, pulling down a long, trailing branch of Noisette
rose, and twisting it in his hand, paused for a few moments, then spoke
collectedly, and without hesitation, though with the tremulousness of
subdued agitation, looking the while not at her, but straight before
'You ought to be told why your words and looks have such effect on me
as to make me behave as I did last night. Shame on me for such
conduct! I know its evil, and how preposterous it must make what I
have to tell you. I don't know now long it has been, but almost ever
since I came here, a feeling has been growing up in me towards you,
such as I can never have for any one else.'
The flame rushed into Amy's cheeks, and no one could have told what she
felt, as he paused again, and then went on speaking more quickly, as if
his emotion was less under control.
'If ever there is to be happiness for me on earth, it must be through
you; as you, for the last three years, have been all my brightness
here. What I feel for you is beyond all power of telling you, Amy!
But I know full well all there is against me--I know I am untried, and
how can I dare to ask one born to brightness and happiness to share the
doom of my family?'
Amy's impulse was that anything shared with him would be welcome; but
the strength of the feeling stifled the power of expression, and she
could not utter a word.
'It seems selfish even to dream of it,' he proceeded, 'yet I must,--I
cannot help it. To feel that I had your love to keep me safe, to know
that you watched for me, prayed for me, were my own, my Verena,--oh
Amy! it would be more joy than I have ever dared to hope for. But
mind,' he added, after another brief pause, 'I would not even ask you
to answer me now, far less to bind yourself, even if--if it were
possible. I know my trial is not come; and were I to render myself, by
positive act, unworthy even to think of you, it would be too dreadful
to have entangled you, and made you unhappy. No. I speak now, because
I ought not to remain here with such feelings unknown to your father
At that moment, close on the other side of the box-tree clump, were
heard the wheels of Charles's garden-chair, and Charlotte's voice
talking to him, as he made his morning tour round the garden. Amy flew
off, like a little bird to its nest, and never stopped till, breathless
and crimson, she darted into the dressing room, threw herself on her
knees, and with her face hidden in her mother's lap, exclaimed in
panting, half-smothered, whispers, which needed all Mrs. Edmonstone's
intuition to make them intelligible,--
'0 mamma, mamma, he says--he says he loves me!'
Perhaps Mrs. Edmonstone was not so very much surprised; but she had no
time to do more than raise and kiss the burning face, and see, at a
moment's glance, how bright was the gleam of frightened joy, in the
downcast eye and troubled smile; when two knocks, given rapidly, were
heard, and almost at the same moment the door opened, and Guy stood
before her, his face no less glowing than that which Amy buried again
on her mother's knee.
'Come in, Guy,' said Mrs. Edmonstone, as he stood doubtful for a moment
at the door, and there was a sweet smile of proud, joyful affection on
her face, conveying even more encouragement than her tone. Amy raised
her head, and moved as if to leave the room.
'Don't go,' he said, earnestly, 'unless you wish it.'
Amy did not wish it, especially now that she had her mother to save her
confusion, and she sat on a footstool, holding her mother's hand,
looking up to Guy, whenever she felt bold enough, and hanging down her
head when he said what showed how much more highly he prized her than
silly little Amy could deserve.
'You know what I am come to say,' he began, standing by the mantel-
shelf, as was his wont in his conferences with Mrs. Edmonstone; and he
repeated the same in substance as he had said to Amy in the garden,
though with less calmness and coherence, and far more warmth of
expression, as if, now that she was protected by her mother's presence,
he exercised less force in self-restraint.
Never was anyone happier than was Mrs. Edmonstone; loving Guy so
heartily, seeing the beauty of his character in each word, rejoicing
that such affection should be bestowed on her little Amy, exulting in
her having won such a heart, and touched and gratified by the free
confidence with which both had at once hastened to pour out all to her,
not merely as a duty, but in the full ebullition of their warm young
love. The only difficulty was to bring herself to speak with prudence
becoming her position, whilst she was sympathizing with them as
ardently as if she was not older than both of them put together. When
Guy spoke of himself as unproved, and undeserving of trust, it was all
she could do to keep from declaring there was no one whom she thought
'While you go on as you have begun, Guy?'
'If you tell me to hope! Oh, Mrs. Edmonstone, is it wrong that an
earthly incentive to persevere should have power which sometimes seems
greater than the true one?'
'There is the best and strongest ground of all for trusting you,' said
she. 'If you spoke keeping right only for Amy's sake, then I might
fear; but when she is second, there is confidence indeed.'
'If speaking were all!' said Guy.
'There is one thing I ought to say,' she proceeded; 'you know you are
very young, and though--though I don't know that I can say so in my own
person, a prudent woman would say, that you have seen so little of the
world, that you may easily meet a person you would like better than
such a quiet little dull thing as your guardian's daughter.'
The look that he cast on Amy was worth seeing, and then, with a smile,
'I am glad you don't say it in your own person.'
'It is very bold and presumptuous in me to say anything at all in
papa's absence' said Mrs. Edmonstone, smiling; 'but I am sure he will
think in the same way, that things ought to remain as they are, and
that it is our duty not to allow you to be, or to feel otherwise than
entirely at liberty.'
'I dare say it may be right in you,' said Guy, grudgingly. 'However, I
must not complain. It is too much that you should not reject me
To all three that space was as bright a gleam of sunshine as ever
embellished life, so short as to be free from a single care, a
perfectly serenely happy present, the more joyous from having been
preceded by vexations, each of the two young things learning that there
was love where it was most precious. Guy especially, isolated and
lonely as he stood in life, with his fear and mistrust of himself, was
now not only allowed to love, and assured beyond his hopes that Amy
returned his affection, but found himself thus welcomed by the mother,
and gathered into the family where his warm feelings had taken up their
abode, while he believed himself regarded only as a guest and a
They talked on, with happy silences between, Guy standing all the time
with his branch of roses in his hand, and Amy looking up to him, and
trying to realize it, and to understand why she was so very, very
No one thought of time till Charlotte rushed in like a whirlwind,
'Oh, here you are! We could not think what had become of you. There
has Deloraine been at the door these ten minutes, and Charlie sent me
to find you, for he says if you are too late for Mrs. Henley's dinner,
she will write such an account of you to Philip as you will never get
Very little of this was heard, there was only the instinctive
consternation of being too late. They started up, Guy threw down his
roses, caught Amy's hand and pressed it, while she bent down her head,
hiding the renewed blush; he dashed out of the room, and up to his own,
while Mrs. Edmonstone and Charlotte hurried down. In another second,
he was back again, and once more Amy felt the pressure of his hand on
'Good-bye!' he said; and she whispered another 'Good-bye!' the only
words she had spoken.
One moment more he lingered,--
'My Verena!' said he; but the hurrying sounds in the hall warned him--
he sprang down to the drawing-room. Even Charles was on the alert,
standing, leaning against the table, and looking eager; but Guy had not
time to let him speak, he only shook hands, and wished good-bye, with a
sort of vehement agitated cordiality, concealed by his haste.
'Where's Amy?' cried Charlotte. 'Amy! Is not she coming to wish him
He said something, of which 'up-stairs' was the only audible word; held
Mrs. Edmonstone's hand fast, while she said, in a low voice--'You shall
hear from papa to-morrow,' then sprung on his horse, and looked up.
Amy was at the window, he saw her head bending forward, under its veil
of curls, in the midst of the roses round the lattice; their eyes met
once more, he gave one beamy smile, then rode off at full speed, with
Bustle racing after him, while Amy threw herself on her knees by her
bed, and with hands clasped over her face, prayed that she might be
thankful enough, and never be unworthy of him.
Every one wanted to get rid of every one else except Mrs. Edmonstone;
for all but Charlotte guessed at the state of the case, and even she
perceived that something was going on. Lady Eveleen was in a state of
great curiosity; but she had mercy, she knew that they must tell each
other before it came to her turn, and very good-naturedly she invited
Charlotte to come into the garden with her, and kept her out of the way
by a full account of her last fancy ball, given with so much spirit and
humour that Charlotte could not help attending.
Charles and Laura gained little by this kind manoeuvre, for their
mother was gone up again to Amy, and they could only make a few
conjectures. Charles nursed his right hand, and asked Laura how hers
felt? She looked up from her work, to which she had begun to apply
herself diligently, and gazed at him inquiringly, as if to see whether
he intended anything.
'For my part,' he added, 'I certainly thought he meant to carry off the
hands of some of the family.'
'I suppose we shall soon hear it explained,' said Laura, quietly.
'Soon! If I had an many available 1egs as you, would I wait for other
'I should think she had rather be left to mamma,' said Laura, going on
with her work.
'Then you do think there is something in it?' said Charles, peering up
in her face; but he saw he was teasing her, recollected that she had
long seemed out of spirits, and forbore to say any more. He was,
however, too impatient to remain longer quiet, and presently Laura saw
him adjusting his crutches.
'O Charlie! I am sure it will only be troublesome.'
'I am going to my own room,' said Charles, hopping off. 'I presume you
don't wish to forbid that.'
His room had a door into the dressing-room, so that it was an excellent
place for discovering all from which they did not wish to exclude him,
and he did not believe he should be unwelcome; for though he might
pretend it was all fun and curiosity, he heartily loved his little Amy.
The tap of his crutches, and the slow motion with which he raised
himself from step to step, was heard, and Amy, who was leaning against
her mother, started up, exclaiming--
'0 mamma, here comes Charlie! May I tell him? I am sure I can't meet
'I suspect he has guessed it already,' said Mrs. Edmonstone, going to
open the door, just as he reached the head of the stairs, and then
'Well, Amy,' said he, looking full at her carnation cheeks, 'are you
prepared to see me turn lead-coloured, and fall into convulsions, like
the sister with the spine complaint?'
'0 Charlie! You know it. But how?'
Amy was helping him to the sofa, laid him down, and sat by him on the
old footstool; he put his arm round her neck, and she rested her head
on his shoulder.
'Well, Amy,' I give you joy, my small woman,' said he, talking the more
nonsense because of the fullness in his throat; 'and I hope you give me
credit for amazing self-denial in so doing.'
'0 Charlie--dear Charlie!' and she kissed him, she could not blush
more, poor little thing, for she had already reached her utmost
capability of redness--'it is no such thing.'
'No such thing? What has turned you into a turkey-cock all at once or
what made him nearly squeeze off my unfortunate fingers? No such
'I mean--I mean, it is not _that_. We are so very young, and I am so
'Is that his reason?'
'You must make me so much better and wiser. Oh, if I could but be good
For that matter, I don't think any one else would be good enough to
take care of such a silly little thing. But what is the that, that it
is, or is not?'
'Nothing now, only when we are older. At least, you know papa has not
'Provided my father gives his consent, as the Irish young lady added to
all her responses through the marriage service. But tell me all--all
you like, I mean--for you will have lovers' secrets now, Amy.'
Mrs. Edmonstone had, meantime, gone down to Laura. Poor Laura, as soon
as her brother had left the room, she allowed the fixed composure of
her face to relax into a restless, harassed, almost miserable
expression, and walked up and down with agitated steps.
'0 wealth, wealth!'--her lips formed the words, without uttering them--
'what cruel differences it makes! All smooth here! Young, not to be
trusted, with strange reserves, discreditable connections,--that
family,--that fearful temper, showing itself even to her! All will be
overlooked! Papa will be delighted, I know he will! And how is it
with us? Proved, noble, superior, owned as such by all, as Philip is,
yet, for that want of hateful money, he would be spurned. And. for
this--for this--the love that has grown up with our lives must be
crushed down and hidden--our life is wearing out in wearying self-
The lock of the door turned, and Laura had resumed her ordinary
expression before it opened, and her mother came in: but there was
anything but calmness beneath, for the pang of self-reproach had come--
'Was it thus that she prepared to hear these tidings of her sister?'
'Well, Laura,' began Mrs. Edmonstone, with the eager smile of one
bringing delightful news, and sure of sympathy.
'It is so, then?' said Laura. 'Dear, dear, little Amy! I hope--' and
her eyes filled with tears; but she had learnt to dread any outbreak of
feeling, conquered it in a minute, and said--
'What has happened? How does it stand?'
'It stands, at least as far as I can say without papa, as the dear Guy
very rightly and wisely wished it to stand. There is no positive
engagement, they are both too young; but he thought it was not right to
remain here without letting us know his sentiments towards her.'
A pang shot through Laura; but it was but for a moment. Guy might
doubt where Philip need never do so. Her mother went on,--
'Their frankness and confidence are most beautiful. We know dear
little Amy could not help it; but there was something very sweet, very
noble, in his way of telling all.'
Another pang for Laura. But no! it was only poverty that was to blame.
Philip would speak as plainly if his prospects were as fair.
'Oh, I hope it will do well,' said she.
'It must,--it will!' cried Mrs. Edmonstone, giving way to her joyful
enthusiasm of affection. 'It is nonsense to doubt, knowing him as we
do. There is not a man in the world with whom I could be so happy to
Laura could not hear Guy set above all men in the world, and she
remembered Philip's warning to her, two years ago.
'There is much that is very good and very delightful about him,' she
'You are thinking of the Morville temper,' said her mother; 'but I am
not afraid of it. A naturally hot temper, controlled like his by
strong religious principle, is far safer than a cool easy one, without
Laura thought this going too far, but she felt some compensation due to
Guy, and acknowledged how strongly he was actuated by principle.
However--and it was well for her--they could not talk long, for Eveleen
and Charlotte were approaching, and she hastily asked what was to be
done about telling Eva, who could not fail to guess something.
'We must tell her, and make her promise absolute secrecy,' said Mrs.
Edmonstone. 'I will speak to her myself; but I must wait till I have
seen papa. There is no doubt of what he will say, but we have been
taking quite liberties enough in his absence.'
Laura did not see her sister till luncheon, when Amy came down, with a
glow on her cheeks that made her so much prettier than usual, that
Charles wished Guy could have seen her. She said little, and ran up
again as soon as she could. Laura followed her; and the two sisters
threw their arms fondly round each other, and kissed repeatedly.
'Mamma has told you? said Amy. 'Oh, it has made me so very happy; and
every one is so kind.'
'Dear, dear Amy!'
'I'm only afraid--'
'He has begun so well--'
'Oh, nonsense! You cannot think I could be so foolish as to be afraid
for him! Oh no! But if he should take me for more than I am worth. 0
Laura, Laura! What shall I do to be as good and sensible as you! I
must not be silly little Amy any more.'
'Perhaps he likes you best as you are?'
'I don't mean cleverness: I can't help that,--and he knows how stupid I
am,--but I am afraid he thinks there is more worth in me. Don't you
know, he has a sort of sunshine in his eyes and mind, that makes all he
cares about seem to him brighter and better than it really is. I am
afraid he is only dressing me up with that sunshine.'
'It must be strange sunshine that you want to make you better and
brighter than you are,' said Laura, kissing her.
'I'll tell you what it is,' said Amy folding her hands, and standing
with her face raised, 'it won't do now, as you told me once, to have no
bones in my character. I must learn to be steady and strong, if I can;
for if this is to be, he will depend on me, I don't mean, to advise
him, for he knows better than anybody, but to be--you know what--if
vexation, or trouble was to come! And Laura, think if he was to depend
on me, and I was to fail! Oh, do help me to have firmness and self-
command, like you!'
'It was a long time ago that we talked of your wanting bones.'
'Yes, before he came; but I never forget it.'
Laura was obliged to go out with Eveleen. All went their different
ways; and Amy had the garden to herself to cool her cheeks in. But
this was a vain operation, for a fresh access of burning was brought on
while Laura was helping her to dress for dinner, when her father's
quick step sounded in the passage. He knocked at her door, and as she
opened it, he kissed her on each cheek; and throwing his arm round her,
'Well, Miss Amy, you have made a fine morning's work of it! A pretty
thing, for young ladies to be accepting offers while papa is out of the
way. Eh, Laura?'
Amy knew this was a manifestation of extreme delight; but it was not
very pleasant to Laura.
'So you have made a conquest!' proceeded Mr. Edmonstone; 'and I
heartily wish you joy of it, my dear. He is as amiable and good-
natured a youth as I would wish to see; and I should say the same if he
had not a shilling in the world.'
Laura's heart bounded; but she knew, whatever her father might fancy,
the reality would be very different if Guy were as poor as Philip.
'I shall write to him this very evening,' he continued, 'and tell him,
if he has the bad taste to like such a silly little white thing, I am
not the man to stand in his way. Eh, Amy? Shall I tell him so?'
'Tell him what you please, dear papa.'
'Eh? What I please? Suppose I say we can't spare our little one, and
he may go about his business?'
'I'm not afraid of you, papa.'
'Come, she's a good little thing--sha'n't be teased. Eh, Laura? what
do you think of it, our beauty, to see your younger sister impertinent
enough to set up a lover, while your pink cheeks are left in the
Laura not being wont to make playful repartees, her silence passed
unnoticed. Her feelings were mixed; but perhaps the predominant one
was satisfaction that it was not for her pink cheeks that she was
It had occurred to Mrs. Edmonstone that it was a curious thing, after
her attempt at scheming for Eveleen, to have to announce to her that
Guy was attached to her own daughter; nay, after the willingness
Eveleen had manifested to be gratified with any attention Guy showed
her, it seemed doubtful for a moment whether the intelligence would be
pleasing to her. However, Eveleen was just the girl to like men better
than women, and never to be so happy as when on the verge of flirting;
it would probably have been the same with any other youth that came in
her, way, and Guy might fully be acquitted of doing more than paying
her the civilities which were requisite from him to any young lady
visitor. He had, two years ago, when a mere boy, idled, laughed, and
made fun with her, but his fear of trifling away his time had made him
draw back, before he had involved himself in what might have led to
anything further; and during the present visit, no one could doubt that
he was preoccupied with Amy. At any rate, it was right that Eveleen
should know the truth, in confidence, if only to prevent her from
talking of any surmises she might have.
Mrs. Edmonstone was set at ease in a moment. Eveleen was enchanted,
danced round and round the room, declared they would be the most
charming couple in the world; she had seen it all along; she was so
delighted they had come to an understanding at last, poor things, they
were so miserable all last week; and she must take credit to herself
for having done it all. Was not her aunt very much obliged to her?
'My dear Eva,' exclaimed Mrs. Edmonstone, into whose mind the notion
never entered that any one could boast of such a proceeding as hers
last night; but the truth was that Eveleen, feeling slightly culpable,
was delighted that all had turned out so well, and resolved to carry it
off with a high hand.
'To be sure! Poor little Amy! when she looked ready to sink into the
earth, she little knew her obligations to me! Was not it the cleverest
thing in the world? It was just the touch they wanted--the very
'My dear, I am glad I know that you are sometimes given to talking
nonsense,' said Mrs. Edmonstone, laughing.
'And you won't believe me serious? You won't be grateful to me for my
lucky hit' said Eveleen, looking comically injured. 'Oh auntie, that
is very hard, when I shall believe to my dying day that I did it!'
'Why, Eva, if I thought it had been done by design, I should find it
very hard to forgive you for it at all, rather hard even to accept Guy,
so you had better not try to disturb my belief that it was only that
spirit of mischief that makes you now and then a little mad.'
'Oh dear! what a desperate scolding you must have given poor little
Charlotte!' exclaimed Eveleen, quaintly.
Mrs. Edmonstone could not help laughing as she confessed that she had
altogether forgotten Charlotte.
'Then you will. You'll go on forgetting her,' cried Eveleen. 'She
only did what she was told, and did not know the malice of it. There,
you're relenting! There's a good aunt! And now, if you won't be
grateful, as any other mamma in the world would have been, and as I
calculated on, when I pretended to have been a prudent, designing
woman, instead of a wild mischievous monkey at least you'll forgive me
enough to invite me to the wedding. Oh! what a beauty of a wedding it
will be! I'd come from Kilcoran all the way on my bare knees to see
it. And you'll let me be bridesmaid, and have a ball after it?'
'There is no saying what I may do, if you'll only be a good girl, and
hold your tongue. I don't want to prevent your telling anything to
your mamma, of course, but pray don't let it go any further. Don't let
Maurice hear it, I have especial reasons for wishing it should not be
known. You know it is not even an engagement, and nothing must be done
which can make Guy feel in the least bound?'
Eveleen promised, and Mrs. Edmonstone knew that she had sense and
proper feeling enough for her promise to deserve trust.
For falsehood now doth flow,
And subject faith doth ebbe,
Which would not be, if reason ruled,
Or wisdom weav'd the webbe.
The daughter of debate,
That eke discord doth sowe,
Shal reape no gaine where former rule
Hath taught stil peace to growe.--QUEEN ELIZABETH
'MY DEAR PHILIP,--
Thank you for returning the books, which were brought safely by Sir
Guy. I am sorry you do not agree in my estimate of them. I should
have thought your strong sense would have made you perceive that
reasoning upon fact, and granting nothing without tangible proof, were
the best remedy for a dreamy romantic tendency to the weakness and
credulity which are in the present day termed poetry and faith. It is
curious to observe how these vague theories reduce themselves to the
absurd when brought into practice. There are two Miss Wellwoods here,
daughters of that unfortunate man who fell in a duel with old Sir Guy
Morville, who seem to make it their business to become the general
subject of animadversion, taking pauper children into their house,
where they educate them in a way to unfit them for their station, and
teach them to observe a sort of monastic rule, preaching the poor
people in the hospital to death, visiting the poor at all sorts of
strange hours. Dr Henley actually found one of them, at twelve o'clock
at night, in a miserable lodging-house, filled with the worst
description of inmates. Quite young women, too, and with no mother or
elder person to direct them; but it is the fashion among the attendants
at the new chapel to admire them. This subject has diverted me from
what I intended to say with respect to the young baronet. Your
description agrees with all I have hitherto seen, though I own I
expected a Redclyffe Morville to have more of the "heros de roman", or
rather of the grand tragic cast of figure, as, if I remember right, was
the case with this youth's father, a much finer and handsomer young
man. Sir Guy is certainly gentlemanlike, and has that sort of
agreeability which depends on high animal spirits. I should think him
clever, but superficial; and with his mania for music, he can hardly
fail to be merely an accomplished man. In spite of all you said of the
Redclyffe temper, I was hardly prepared to find it so ready to flash
forth on the most inexplicable provocations. It is like walking on a
volcano. I have seen him two or three times draw himself up, bite his
lip, and answer with an effort and a sharpness that shows how thin a
crust covers the burning lava; but I acknowledge that he has been very
civil and attentive, and speaks most properly of what he owes to you.
I only hope he will not be hurt by the possession of so large a
property so early in life, and I have an idea that our good aunt at
Hollywell has done a good deal to raise his opinion of himself. We
shall, of course, show him every civility in our power, and give him
the advantage of intellectual society at our house. His letters are
directed to this place, as you know South Moor Farm is out of the
cognizance of the post. They seem to keep up a brisk correspondence
with him from Hollywell. Few guardians' letters are, I should guess,
honoured with such deepening colour as his while reading one from my
uncle. He tells me he has been calling at Stylehurst; it is a pity,
for his sake, that Colonel Harewood is at home, for the society of
those sons is by no means advisable for him. I can hardly expect to
offer him what is likely to be as agreeable to him as the conversation
and amusements of Edward and Tom Harewood, who are sure to be at home
for the St. Mildred's races. I hear Tom has been getting into fresh
scrapes at Cambridge.
'Your affectionate sister,
'MY DEAR PHILIP,
--No one can have a greater dislike than myself to what is called
mischief-making; therefore I leave it entirely to you to make what use
you please of the following facts, which have fallen under my notice.
Sir Guy Morville has been several times at St. Mildred's, in company
with Tom Harewood, and more than once alone with some strange
questionable-looking people; and not many days ago, my maid met him
coming out of a house in one of the low streets, which it is hard to
assign a motive for his visiting. This, however, might be accident,
and I should never have thought of mentioning it, but for a
circumstance that occurred this morning. I had occasion to visit
Grey's Bank, and while waiting in conversation with Mr. Grey, a person
came in whom I knew to be a notorious gambler, and offered a cheque to
be changed. As it lay on the counter, my eye was caught by the
signature. It was my uncle's. I looked again, and could not be
mistaken. It was a draft for £3O on Drummond, dated the 12th of
August, to Sir Guy Morville, signed C. Edmonstone, and endorsed in Sir
Guy's own writing, with the name of John White. In order that I might
be certain that I was doing the poor young man no injustice, I
outstayed the man, and asked who he was, when Mr. Grey confirmed me in
my belief that it was one Jack White, a jockeying sort of man who
attends all the races in the country, and makes his livelihood by
betting and gambling. And now, my dear brother, make what use of this
fact you think fit, though I fear there is little hope of rescuing the
poor youth from the fatal habits which are hereditary in his family,
and must be strong indeed not to have been eradicated by such careful
training as you say he has received. I leave it entirely to you,
trusting in your excellent judgment, and only hoping you will not bring
my name forward. Grieving much at having to be the first to
communicate such unpleasant tidings, which will occasion so much
vexation at Hollywell.'
'Your affectionate sister,
Captain Morville was alone when he received the latter of these
letters. At first, a look divided between irony and melancholy passed
over his face, as he read his sister's preface and her hearsay
evidence, but, as he went farther, his upper lip curled, and a sudden
gleam, as of exultation in a verified prophecy, lighted his eye,
shading off quickly, however, and giving place to an iron expression of
rigidity and sternness, the compressed mouth, coldly-fixed eye, and
sedate brow, composed into a grave severity that might have served for
an impersonation of stern justice. He looked through the letter a
second time, folded it up, put it in his pocket, and went about his
usual affairs; but the expression did not leave his face all day; and
the next morning he took a day-ticket by the railway to Broadstone,
where, as it was the day of the petty sessions, he had little doubt of
meeting Mr. Edmonstone. Accordingly, he had not walked far down the
High Street, before he saw his uncle standing on the step of the post-
office, opening a letter he had just received.
'Ha! Philip, what brings you here? The very man I wanted. Coming to
'No, thank you, I go back this evening,' said Philip, and, as he spoke,
he saw that the letter which Mr. Edmonstone held, and twisted with a
hasty, nervous movement, was in Guy's writing.
'Well, I am glad you are here, at any rate. Here is the most
extraordinary thing! What possesses the boy I cannot guess. Here's
Guy writing to me for--What do you think? To send him a thousand
'Hem!' said Philip in an expressive tone; yet, as if he was not very
much amazed; 'no explanation, I suppose?'
'No, none at all. Here, see what he says yourself. No! Yes, you
may,' added Mr. Edmonstone, with a rapid glance at the end of the
letter,--a movement, first to retain it, and then following his first
impulse, with an unintelligible murmuring.
'SOUTH MOOR, SEPT. 7th.
'MY DEAR MR, EDMONSTONE,
--You will be surprised at the request I have to make you, after my
resolution not to exceed my allowance. However, this is not for my own
expenses, and it will not occur again. I should be much obliged to you
to let me have £1000, in what manner you please, only I should be glad
if it were soon. I am sorry I am not at liberty to tell you what I
want it for, but I trust to your kindness. Tell Charlie I will write
to him in a day or two, but, between our work, and walking to St.
Mildred's for the letters, which we cannot help doing every day, the
time for writing is short. Another month, however, and what a holiday
it will be! Tell Amy she ought to be here to see the purple of the
hills in the early morning; it almost makes up for having no sea. The
races have been making St. Mildred's very gay; indeed, we laugh at
Wellwood for having brought us here, by way of a quiet place. I never
was in the way of so much dissipation in my life.
'Yours very affectionately,
'Well, what do you think of it? What would you do in my place--eh,
Philip! What can he want of it, eh?' said Mr. Edmonstone, tormenting
his riding-whip, and looking up to study his nephew's face, which, with
stern gravity in every feature, was bent over the letter, as if to
weigh every line. 'Eh, Philip?' repeated Mr. Edmonstone, several
times, without obtaining an answer.
'This is no place for discussion,' at last said Philip, deliberately
returning the letter. 'Come into the reading-room. We shall find no
one there at this hour. Here we are.'
'Well--well--well,' began Mr. Edmonstone, fretted by his coolness to
the extreme of impatience, 'what do you think of it? He can't be after
any mischief; 'tis not in the boy; when--when he is all but--Pooh! what
am I saying? Well, what do you think?'
'I am afraid it confirms but too strongly a report which I received
'From your sister? Does she know anything about it?'
'Yes, from my sister. But I was very unwilling to mention it, because
she particularly requests that her name may not be used. I came here
to see whether you had heard of Guy lately, so as to judge whether it
was needful to speak of it. This convinces me; but I must beg, in the
first instance, that you will not mention her, not even to my aunt.'
'Well, yes; very well. I promise. Only let me hear.'
'Young Harewood has, I fear, led him into bad company. There can now
be no doubt that he has been gambling.'
Philip was not prepared for the effect of these words. His uncle
started up, exclaiming--'Gambling! Impossible! Some confounded
slander! I don't believe one word of it! I won't hear such things
said of him,' he repeated, stammering with passion, and walking
violently about the room. This did not last long; there was something
in the unmoved way in which Philip waited till he had patience to
listen, which gradually mastered him; his angry manner subsided, and,
sitting down, he continued the argument, in a would-be-composed voice.
'It is utterly impossible! Remember, he thinks himself bound not so
much as to touch a billiard cue.'
'I could have thought it impossible, but for what I have seen of the
way in which promises are eluded by persons too strictly bound,' said
Philip. 'The moral force of principle is the only efficient pledge.'
'Principle! I should like to see who has better principles than Guy!'
cried Mr. Edmonstone. 'You have said so yourself, fifty times, and
your aunt has said so, and Charles. I could as soon suspect myself.'
He was growing vehement, but again Philip's imperturbability repressed
his violence, and he asked, 'Well, what evidence have you? Mind, I am
not going to believe it without the strongest. I don't know that I
would believe my own eyes against him.'
'It is very sad to find such confidence misplaced,' said Philip. 'Most
sincerely do I wish this could be proved to be a mistake; but this
extraordinary request corroborates my sister's letter too fully.'
'Let me hear,' said Mr. Edmonstone feebly. Philip produced his letter,
without reading the whole of it; for he could not bear the appearance
of gossip and prying, and would not expose his sister; so he pieced it
out with his own words, and made it sound far less discreditable to
her. It was quite enough for Mr. Edmonstone; the accuracy of the
details seemed to strike him dumb; and there was a long silence, which
he broke by saying, with a deep sigh,--
'Who could have thought it? Poor little Amy!'
'Amy?' exclaimed Philip.
'Why, ay. I did not mean to have said anything of it, I am sure; but
they did it among them,' said Mr. Edmonstone, growing ashamed, under
Philip's eye, as of a dreadful piece of imprudence. 'I was out of the
way at the time, but I could not refuse my consent, you know, as things
'Do you mean to say that Amy is engaged to him?'
'Why, no--not exactly engaged, only on trial, you understand, to see if
he will be steady. I was at Broadstone; 'twas mamma settled it all.
Poor little thing, she is very much in love with him, I do believe, but
there's an end of everything now.'
'It is very fortunate this has been discovered in time,' said Philip.
'Instead of pitying her, I should rejoice in her escape.'
'Yes,' said Mr. Edmonstone, ruefully. 'Who could have thought it?'
'I am afraid the mischief is of long standing,' proceeded Philip,
resolved, since he saw his uncle so grieved, to press him strongly,
thinking that to save Amy from such a marriage was an additional
motive. 'He could hardly have arrived at losing as much as a thousand
pounds, all at once, in this month at St. Mildred's. Depend upon it,
that painful as it may be at present, there is great reason, on her
account, to rejoice in the discovery. You say he has never before
applied, to you for money?'
'Not a farthing beyond his allowance, except this unlucky thirty
pounds, for his additional expense of the tutor and the lodging.'
'You remember, however, that he has always seemed short of money, never
appeared able to afford himself any little extra expense. You have
noticed it, I know. You remember, too, how unsatisfactory his reserve
about his proceedings in London has been, and how he has persisted in
delaying there, in spite of all warnings. The work, no doubt, began
there, under the guidance of his uncle; and now the St. Mildred's races
and Tom Harewood have continued it.'
'I wish he had never set foot in the place!'
'Nay; for Amy's sake, the exposure is an advantage, if not for his own.
The course must have been long since begun; but he contrived to avoid
what could lead to inquiry, till he has at length involved himself in
some desperate scrape. You see, he especially desires to have the
money _soon_, and he never even attempts to say you would approve of
'Yes; he has the grace not to say that.'
'Altogether, it is worse than I could have thought possible,' said
Philip. I could have believed him unstable and thoughtless; but the
concealment, and the attempting to gain poor Amy's affections in the
midst of such a course--'
'Ay, ay!' cried Mr. Edmonstone, now fully provoked; 'there is the
monstrous part. He thought I was going to give up my poor little girl
to a gambler, did he? but he shall soon see what I think of him,--
riches, Redclyffe, title, and all!'
'I knew that would be your feeling.'
'Feel! Yes; and he shall feel it, too. So, Sir Guy, you thought you
had an old fool of a guardian, did you, whom you could blind as you
pleased? but you shall soon see the difference!'
'Better begin cautiously,' suggested Philip. 'Remember his unfortunate
temper, and write coolly.'
'Coolly? You may talk of coolness; but 'tis enough to make one's blood
boil to be served in such a way. With the face to be sending her
messages in the very same letter! That is a pass beyond me, to stand
coolly to see my daughter so treated.'
'I would only give him the opportunity of saying what he can for
himself. He may have some explanation.'
'I'll admit of no explanation! Passing himself off for steadiness
itself; daring to think of my daughter, and all the time going on in
this fashion! I hate underhand ways! I'll have no explanation. He
may give up all thoughts of her. I'll write and tell him so before I'm
a day older; nay, before I stir from this room. My little Amy,
Philip put no obstacles in the way of this proposal, for he knew that
his uncle's displeasure, though hot at first, was apt to evaporate in
exclamations; and he thought it likely that his good nature, his
partiality for his ward, his dislike to causing pain to his daughter,
and, above all, his wife's blind confidence in Guy, would, when once at
home, so overpower his present indignation as to prevent the salutary
strictness which was the only hope of reclaiming Guy. Beside, a letter
written under Philip's inspection was likely to be more guarded, as
well as more forcible, than an unassisted composition of his own, as
was, indeed, pretty well proved by the commencement of his first
'My dear Guy,--I am more surprised than I could have expected at your
Philip read this aloud, so as to mark its absurdity, and he began
'I am greatly astonished, as well as concerned, at your application,
which confirms the unpleasant reports--'
'Why say anything of reports?' said Philip. 'Reports are nothing. A
man is not forced to defend himself from reports.'
'Yes,--hum--ha,--the accounts I have received. No. You say there is
not to be a word of Mrs. Henley.'
'Not a word that can lead her to be suspected.'
'Confirms--confirms--' sighed Mr. Edmonstone.
'Don't write as if you went on hearsay evidence. Speak of proofs--
irrefragable proofs--and then you convict him at once, without power of
So Mr. Edmonstone proceeded to write, that the application confirmed
the irrefragable proofs, then laughed at himself, and helplessly begged
Philip to give him a start. It now stood thus:--
'Your letter of this morning has caused me more concern than surprise,
as it unhappily only adds confirmation to the intelligence already in
my possession; that either from want of resolution to withstand the
seductions of designing persons, or by the impetuosity and instability
of your own character, you have been led into the ruinous and degrading
practice of gambling; and that from hence proceed the difficulties that
occasion your application to me for money. I am deeply grieved at thus
finding that neither the principles which have hitherto seemed to guide
you, nor the pledges which you used to hold sacred, nor, I may add, the
feelings you have so recently expressed towards a member of my family,
have been sufficient to preserve you from yielding to a temptation
which could never be presented to the mind of any one whose time was
properly occupied in the business of his education.'
'Is that all I am to say about her,' exclaimed Mr. Edmonstone, 'after
the atrocious way the fellow has treated her in?'
'Since it is, happily, no engagement, I cannot see how you can, with
propriety, assume that it is one, by speaking of breaking it off.
Besides, give him no ground for complaint, or he will take refuge in
believing himself ill-used. Ask him if he can disprove it, and when he
cannot, it will be time enough to act further. But wait--wait, sir,'
as the pen was moving over the paper, impatient to dash forward. 'You
have not told him yet of what you accuse him.'
Philip meditated a few moments, then produced another sentence.
'I have no means of judging how long you have been following this
unhappy course; I had rather believe it is of recent adoption, but I do
not know how to reconcile this idea with the magnitude of your demand,
unless your downward progress has been more rapid than usual in such
beginnings. It would, I fear, be quite vain for me to urge upon you
all the arguments and reasons that ought to have been present to your
mind, and prevented you from taking the first fatal step. I can only
entreat you to pause, and consider the ruin and degradation to which
this hateful vice almost invariably conducts its victims, and
consistently with my duty as your guardian, everything in my power
shall be done to extricate you from the embarrassments in which you
have involved yourself. But, in the first place, I make it a point
that you treat me with perfect confidence, and make a full, unequivocal
statement of your proceedings; above all, that you explain the
circumstances, occasioning your request for this large sum. Remember,
I say, complete candour on your part will afford the only means of
rescuing you from difficulties, or of in any degree restoring you to my
So far the letter had proceeded slowly, for Philip was careful and
deliberate in composition, and while he was weighing his words, Mr.
Edmonstone rushed on with something unfit to stand, so as to have to
begin over again. At last, the town clock struck five; Philip started,
declaring that if he was not at the station in five minutes, he should
lose the train; engaged to come to Hollywell on the day an answer might
be expected, and hastened away, satisfied by having seen two sheets
nearly filled, and having said there was nothing more but to sign,
seal, and send it.
Mr. Edmonstone had, however, a page of note-paper more, and it was with
a sensation of relief that he wrote,--
'I wish, from the bottom of my heart, that you could clear yourself.
If a dozen men had sworn it till they were black in the face, I would
not have believed it of you that you could serve us in such a manner,
after the way you have been treated at home, and to dare to think of my
daughter with such things on your mind. I could never have believed
it, but for the proofs Philip has brought; and I am sure he is as sorry
as myself. Only tell the whole truth, and I will do my best to get you
out of the scrape. Though all else must be at an end between us, I am
your guardian still, and I will not be harsh with you.'
He posted his letter, climbed up his tall horse, and rode home, rather
heavy-hearted; but his wrath burning out as he left Broadstone behind
him. He saw his little Amy gay and lively, and could not bear to
sadden her; so he persuaded himself that there was no need to mention
the suspicions till he had heard what Guy had to say for himself.
Accordingly, he told no one but his wife; and she, who thought Guy as
unlikely to gamble as Amy herself, had not the least doubt that he
would be able to clear himself, and agreed that it was much better to
keep silence for the present.
'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
How much I have disabled mine estate,
By something showing a more swelling port
Than my faint means would grant continuance. Merchant of Venice
St. Mildred's was a fashionable summer resort, which the virtues of a
mineral spring, and the reputation of Dr. Henley, had contributed to
raise to a high degree of prosperity. It stood at the foot of a
magnificent range of beautifully formed hills, where the crescents and
villas, white and smart, showed their own insignificance beneath the
purple peaks that rose high above them.
About ten miles distant, across the hills, was Stylehurst, the parish
of the late Archdeacon Morville, and the native place of Philip and his
sister Margaret. It was an extensive parish, including a wide tract of
the hilly country; and in a farm-house in the midst of the moorland,
midway between St. Mildred's and the village of Stylehurst, had Mr.
Wellwood fixed himself with his three pupils.
Guy's first visit was of course to Mrs. Henley, and she was, on her
side, prepared by her brother to patronize him as Philip would have
done in her place. Her patronage was valuable in her own circle; her
connections were good; the Archdeacon's name was greatly respected; she
had a handsome and well-regulated establishment, and this, together
with talents which, having no family, she had cultivated more than most
women have time to do, made her a person of considerable distinction at
St. Mildred's. She was, in fact, the leading lady of the place--the
manager of the book-club, in the chair at all the charitable
committees, and the principal person in society, giving literary
parties, with a degree of exclusiveness that made admission to them a
She was a very fine woman, handsomer at two-and-thirty than in her
early bloom; her height little less than that of her tall brother, and
her manner and air had something very distinguished. The first time
Guy saw her, he was strongly reminded both of Philip and of Mrs.
Edmonstone, but not pleasingly. She seemed to be her aunt, without the
softness and motherly affection, coupled with the touch of naivete that
gave Mrs. Edmonstone her freshness, and loveableness; and her likeness
to her brother included that decided, self-reliant air, which became
him well enough, but which did not sit as appropriately on a woman.
Guy soon discovered another resemblance--for the old, unaccountable
impatience of Philip's conversation, and relief in escaping from it,
haunted him before he had been a quarter of an hour in Mrs. Henley's
drawing-room. She asked after the Hollywell party; she had not seen
her cousins since her marriage, and happily for his feelings, passed
over Laura and Amy as if they were nonentities; but they were all too
near his heart for him to be able with patience to hear 'poor
Charles's' temper regretted, and still less the half-sarcastic, half-
compassionate tone in which she implied that her aunt spoilt him
dreadfully, and showed how cheap she hold both Mr. and Mrs. Edmonstone.
Two years ago, Guy could not have kept down his irritation; but now he
was master of himself sufficiently to give a calm, courteous reply, so
conveying his own respect for them, that Mrs. Henley was almost
Stylehurst had great interest for Guy, both for the sake of Archdeacon
Morville's kindness, and as the home which Philip regarded with
affection, that seemed the one softening touch in his character. So
Guy visited the handsome church, studied the grave-yard, and gathered
the traditions of the place from the old sexton's wife, who rejoiced in
finding an auditor for her long stories of the good Archdeacon, Miss
Fanny, and Mr. Philip. She shook her head, saying times were changed,
and 'Miss Morville that was, never came neist the place.'
The squire, Colonel Harewood, was an old friend of his grandfather's,
and therefore was to be called on. He had never been wise, and had
been dissipated chiefly from vacancy of mind; he was now growing old,
and led a quieter life, and though Guy did not find him a very
entertaining companion, he accepted, his civilities, readily, for his
grandfather's sake. When his sons came home, Guy recognized in them
the description of men he was wont to shun at Oxford, as much from
distaste as from principle; but though he did not absolutely avoid
them, he saw little of them, being very busy, and having pleasant
companions in his fellow pupils. It was a very merry party at South
Moor, and Guy's high spirits made him the life of everything.
The first time Mr. Wellwood went to call on his cousins at St.
Mildred's, the daughters of that officer who had fallen by the hand of
old Sir Guy, he began repeating, for the twentieth time, what an
excellent fellow Morville was; then said he should not have troubled
them with any of his pupils, but Morville would esteem their receiving
him as an act of forgiveness, and besides, he wished them to know one
whom he valued so highly. Guy thus found himself admitted into an
entirely new region. There were two sisters, together in everything.
Jane, the younger, was a kind-hearted, commonplace person, who would
never have looked beyond the ordinary range of duties and charities;
but Elizabeth was one of those who rise up, from time to time, as
burning and shining lights. It was not spending a quiet, easy life,
making her charities secondary to her comforts, but devoting time,
strength, and goods; not merely giving away what she could spare, but
actually sharing all with the poor, reserving nothing for the future.
She not only taught the young, and visited the distressed, but she
gathered orphans into her house, and nursed the sick day and night.
Neither the means nor the strength of the two sisters could ever have
been supposed equal to what they were known to have achieved. It
seemed as if the power grew with the occasion, and as if they had some
help which could not fail them. Guy venerated them more and more, and
many a long letter about them was written to Mrs. Edmonstone for Amy to
read. There is certainly a 'tyrannous hate' in the world for unusual
goodness, which is a rebuke to it, and there was a strong party against
the sisters. At the head of it was Mrs. Henley, who had originally
been displeased at their preferring the direction of the clergyman to
that of the ladies' committee, though the secret cause of her dislike
was, perhaps, that Elizabeth Wellwood was just what Margaret Morville
might have been. So she blamed them, not, indeed for their charity,
but for slight peculiarities which might well have been lost in the
brightness of the works of mercy. She spoke as with her father's
authority, though, if she had been differently disposed, she might have
remembered that his system and principles were the same as theirs, and
that, had he been alive, he would probably have fully approved of their
proceedings. Archdeacon Morville's name was of great weight, and
justified many persons, in their own opinion, in the opposition made to
Miss Wellwood, impeding her usefulness, and subjecting her to endless
These made Guy very angry. He knew enough of the Archdeacon through
Mrs. Edmonstone, and the opinions held by Philip, to think his daughter
was ascribing to him what he had never held but, be that as it might,
Guy could not bear to hear good evil spoken of, and his indignation was
stirred as he heard these spiteful reports uttered by people who sat at
home at ease, against one whose daily life was only too exalted for
their imitation. His brow contracted, his eye kindled, his lip was
bitten, and now and then, when he trusted himself to reply, it was with
a keen, sharp power of rebuke that made people look round, astonished
to hear such forcible words from one so young. Mrs. Henley was afraid
of him, without knowing it; she thought she was sparing the Morville
temper when she avoided the subject, but as she stood in awe of no one
else, except her brother, she disliked him accordingly.
One evening Guy had been dining at Dr. Henley's, and was setting out,
enjoying his escape from Mrs. Henley and her friends, and rejoicing in
the prospect of a five miles' walk over the hills by moonlight. He had
only gone the length of two streets, when he saw a dark figure at a
little distance from him, and a voice which he had little expected to
hear, called out,--
'Sir Guy himself! No one else could whistle that Swedish air so
'My uncle!' exclaimed Guy. 'I did not know that you were here!'
Mr. Dixon laughed, said something about a fortunate rencontre, and
began an account about a concert somewhere or other, mixed up with
something about his wife and child, all so rambling and confused, that
Guy, beginning to suspect he had been drinking, was only anxious to get
rid of him, asked where he lodged, and talked of coming to see him in
the morning. He soon found, however, that this had not been the case,
at least not to any great extent. Dixon was only nervous and excited,
either about something he had done, or some request he had to make, and
he went on walking by his nephew's side, talking in a strange,
desultory way of open, generous-hearted fellows overlooking a little
indiscretion, and of Guy's riches, which he seemed to think
'If there is anything that you want me to do for you, tell me plainly
what it is,' said Guy, at last.
Mr. Dixon began to overwhelm him with thanks, but he cut them short.
'I promise nothing. Let me hear what you want, and I can judge whether
I can do it.'
Sebastian broke out into exclamations at the words 'if I can,' as if he
thought everything in the power of the heir of Redclyffe.
'Have I not told you,' said Guy, 'that for the present I have very
little command of money? Hush! no more of that,' he added, sternly,
cutting off an imprecation which his uncle was commencing on those who
kept him so short.
'And you are content to bear it? Did you never hear of ways and means?
If you were to say but one word of borrowing, they would go down on
their knees to you, and offer you every farthing you have to keep you
in their own hands.'
'I am quite satisfied,' said Guy, coldly.
'The greater fool are you!' was on Dixon's lips, but he did not utter
it, because he wanted to propitiate him; and after some more
circumlocution, Guy succeeded in discovering that he had been gambling,
and had lost an amount which, unless he could obtain immediate
assistance, would become known, and lead to the loss of his character
and situation. Guy stood and considered. He had an impulse, but he
did not think it a safe one, and resolved to give himself time.
'I do not say that I cannot help you,' he answered, 'but I must have
time to consider.'
'Time! would you see me ruined while you are considering?'
'I suppose this must be paid immediately. Where do you lodge?'
Mr. Dixon told him the street and number.
'You shall hear from me to-morrow morning. I cannot trust my present
thoughts. Good night!'
Mr. Dixon would fain have guessed whether the present thoughts were
favourable, but all his hope in his extremity was in his nephew; it
might be fatal to push him too far, and, with a certain trust in his
good-nature, Sebastian allowed him to walk away without further
Guy knew his own impetuous nature too well to venture to act on impulse
in a doubtful case. He had now first to consider what he was able to
do, and secondly what he would do; and this was not as clear to his
mind as in the earlier days of his acquaintance with his uncle.
Their intercourse had never been on a comfortable footing. It would
perhaps have been better if Philip's advice had been followed, and no
connection kept up. Guy had once begged for some definite rule, since
there was always vexation when he was known to have been with his
uncle, and yet Mr. Edmonstone would never absolutely say he ought not
to see him. As long as his guardian permitted it, or rather winked at
it, Guy did not think it necessary to attend to Philip's marked
disapproval. Part of it was well founded, but part was dislike to all
that might be considered as vulgar, and part was absolute injustice to
Sebastian Dixon, there was everything that could offend in his line of
argument, and in the very circumstance of his interfering; and Guy had
a continual struggle, in which he was not always successful, to avoid
showing the affront he had taken, and to reason down his subsequent
indignation. The ever-recurring irritation which Philip's conversation
was apt to cause him, made him avoid it as far as he could, and retreat
in haste from the subjects on which they were most apt to disagree, and
so his manner had assumed an air of reserve, and almost of distrust,
with his cousin, that was very unlike its usual winning openness.
This had been one unfortunate effect of his intercourse with his uncle,
and another was a certain vague, dissatisfied feeling which his
silence, and Philip's insinuations respecting the days he spent in
London, left on Mr. Edmonstone's mind, and which gained strength from
their recurrence. The days were, indeed, not many; it was only that in
coming from and going to Oxford, he slept a night at an hotel in London
(for his uncle never would take him to his lodgings, never even would
tell him where they were, but always gave his address at the place of
his engagement), was conducted by him to some concert in the evening,
and had him to breakfast in the morning. He could not think there was
any harm in this; he explained all he had done to Mr. Edmonstone the
first time, but nothing was gained by it: his visits to London
continued to be treated as something to be excused or overlooked--as
something not quite correct.
He would almost have been ready to discontinue them, but that he saw
that his uncle regarded him with affection, and he could not bear the
thought of giving up a poor relation for the sake of the opinion of his
rich friends. These meetings were the one pure pleasure to which
Sebastian looked, recalling to him the happier days of his youth, and
of his friendship with Guy's father; and when Guy perceived how he
valued them, it would have seemed a piece of cruel neglect to gratify
himself by giving the time to Hollywell.
Early in the course of their acquaintance, the importunity of a
creditor revealed that, in spite of his handsome salary, Sebastian
Dixon was often in considerable distress for money. In process of
time, Guy discovered that at the time his uncle had been supporting his
sister and her husband in all the luxury he thought befitted their
rank, he had contracted considerable debts, and he had only been able
to return to England on condition of paying so much a-year to his
creditors. This left him very little on which to maintain his family,
but still his pride made him bent on concealing his difficulties, and
it was not without a struggle that he would at first consent to receive
assistance from his nephew.
Guy resolved that these debts, which he considered as in fact his
father's own, should be paid as soon as he had the command of his
property; but, in the meantime, he thought himself bound to send his
uncle all the help in his power, and when once the effort of accepting
it at all was over, Dixon's expectations extended far beyond his power.
His allowance was not large, and the constant requests for a few pounds
to meet some pressing occasion were more than he could well meet. They
kept him actually a great deal poorer than men without a tenth part of
his fortune, and at the end of the term he would look back with
surprise at having been able to pay his way; but still he contrived
neither to exceed his allowance, nor to get into debt. This was,
indeed, only done by a rigid self-denial of little luxuries such as
most young men look on nearly as necessaries; but he had never been
brought up to think self-indulgence a consequence of riches, he did not
care what was said of him, he had no expensive tastes, for he did not
seek after society, so that he was not ill-prepared for such a course,
and only thought of it as an assistance in abstaining from the time-
wasting that might have tempted him if he had had plenty of money to
The only thing that concerned him was a growing doubt lest he might be
feeding extravagance instead of doing good; and the more he disliked
himself for the suspicion, the more it would return. There was no
doubt much distress, the children were sickly; several of them died;
the doctor's bills, and other expenses, pressed heavily, and Guy blamed
himself for having doubted. Yet, again, he could not conceal from
himself traces that his uncle was careless and imprudent. He had once,
indeed, in a violent fit of self-reproach, confessed as much, allowed
that what ought to have been spent in the maintenance of his family,
had gone in gambling, but immediately after, he had been seized with a
fit of terror, and implored Guy to guard the secret, since, if once it
came to the knowledge of his creditors, it would be all over with him.
Concealment of his present difficulties was therefore no less necessary
than assistance in paying the sum he owed. Indeed, as far as Guy was
able to understand his confused statement, what he wanted was at once
to pay a part of his debt, before he could go on to a place where he
was engaged to perform, and where he would earn enough to make up the
Guy had intended to have sent for Deloraine, but had since given up the
idea, in order to be able to help forward some plans of Miss
Wellwood's, and resigning this project would enable him to place thirty
pounds at his uncle's disposal, leaving him just enough to pay his
expenses at South Moor, and carry him back to Hollywell. It was sorely
against his inclination that, instead of helping a charity, his savings
should go to pay gaming debts, and his five-miles walk was spent in