Part 8 out of 14
the last of them--the best--he would have been--he was. Would to
heaven I were with him, that, if he is lost, we might all go together.'
'There, sir,' called Jem, who, being forbidden to do anything but
watch, did so earnestly; 'they be as far now as opposite West Cove.
Don't you see them, in that light place?'
The moon had by this time gone down, but the first great light of dawn
was beginning to fall on the tall Shag, and show its fissures and dark
shades, instead of leaving it one hard, unbroken mass. Now and then
Jem thought he saw the boats; but never so distinctly as to convince
the watchers that they had not been swamped among the huge waves that
tumbled and foamed in that dangerous tract.
Mr. Ashford had borrowed Markham's telescope, and was looking towards
the rock, where the shipwrecked crew had taken refuge.
'There is some one out of the boat, climbing on the rocks. Can you
make him out, Jem?'
'I see--I see,' said Mr. Brown; 'there are two of them. They are
climbing along the lee-side of the long ridge of rocks.'
'Ay, ay,' said old Ledbury; 'they can't get in a boat close to the flat
rocks, they must take out a line. Bold fellows!'
'Where are the boats?' asked Mr. Ashford.
'I can tell that,' said Ledbury; 'they must have got under the lee of
the lesser Shag. There's a ring there that Sir Guy had put in to moor
his boat to. They'll be made fast there, and those two must be taking
the rope along that ledge, so as for the poor fellows on the rock to
have a hold of, as they creep along to where the boats are.'
'Those broken rocks!' said Mr. Ashford. 'Can there be a footing, and
in such a sea?'
'Can you give a guess who they be, sir?' asked Robinson, earnestly.
'If you'd only let Jem have a look, maybe he could guess.'
Markham's glass was at his service.
'Hullo! what a sea! I see them now. That's Ben going last--I know his
red cap. And the first--why, 'tis Sir Guy himself!'
'Don't be such a fool, Jem' cried Markham, angrily. 'Sir Guy knows
better. Give me the glass.'
But when it was restored, Markham went on spying in silence, while
Brown, keeping fast possession of his own telescope, communicated his
'Ay, I see them. Where are they? He's climbing now. There's a
breaker just there, will wash them off, as sure as they're alive! I
don't see 'em. Yes, I do--there's Redcap! There's something stirring
on the rock!'
So they watched till, after an interval, in which the boats disappeared
behind the rocks, they were seen advancing over the waters again--one--
yes--both, and loaded. They came fast, they were in sight of all,
growing larger each moment, mounting on the crest of the huge rolling
waves, then plunged in the trough so long as to seem as if they were
lost, then rising--rising high as mountains. Over the roaring waters
came at length the sound of voices, a cheer, pitched in a different key
from the thunder of wind and wave; they almost fancied they knew the
voice that led the shout. Such a cheer as rose in answer, from all the
Redclyffe villagers, densely crowded on quay, and beach, and every
corner of standing ground!
The sun was just up, his beams gilded the crests of the leaping waves,
and the spray danced up, white and gay, round the tall rocks, whose
shadow was reflected in deep green, broken by the ever-moving swell.
The Shag and its attendant rocks, and the broken vessel, were bathed in
the clear morning light; the sky was of a beautiful blue, with
magnificent masses of dark cloud, the edges, where touched by the
sunbeams, of a pearly white; and across the bay, tracing behind them
glittering streams of light, came up the two boats with their freight
of rescued lives. Martin's boat was the first to touch the landing-
'All saved,' he said; 'all owing to him,' pointing back to Sir Guy.
There was no time for questions; the wan, drenched sailors had to be
helped on shore, and the boat hauled up out of the way. In the
meantime, Guy, as he steered in past the quay, smiled and nodded to Mr.
Ashford and Markham, and renewed the call, 'All safe!' Mr. Ashford
thought that he had never seen anything brighter than his face--the
eyes radiant in the morning sun, the damp hair hanging round it, and
life, energy, and promptitude in every feature and movement.
The boat came in, the sailors were assisted out, partly by their
rescuers, partly by the spectators. Guy stood up, and, with one foot
on the seat, supported on his knee and against his arm a little boy,
round whom his great-coat was wrapped.
'Here, Jem!' he shouted, to his rejected volunteer, who had been very
active in bringing in the boat, 'here's something for you to do. This
poor little fellow has got a broken arm. Will you ask your mother to
take him in? She's the best nurse in the parish. And send up for Mr.
Jem received the boy as tenderly as he was given; and, with one bound,
Guy was by the side of his two friends. Mr. Ashford shook hands with
heartfelt gratulation; Markham exclaimed,--
'There, Sir Guy, after the old fashion! Never was man so mad in this
world! I've done talking! You'll never be content till you have got
your death. As if no one could do anything without you.'
'Was it you who carried out the line on the rock?' said Mr. Ashford.
'Ben Robinson and I. I had often been there, after sea anemones and
weeds, and I had a rope round me, so don't be angry, Markham.'
'I have no more to say,' answered Markham, almost surly. 'I might as
well talk to a sea-gull at once. As if you had any right to throw away
'I enjoyed it too much to have anything to say for myself,' said Guy;
'besides, we must see after these poor men. There were two or three
nearly drowned. Is no one gone for Mr. Gregson?'
Mr. Gregson, the doctor, was already present, and no one who had any
authority could do anything but attend to the disposal of the
shipwrecked crew. Mr. Ashford went one way, Markham another, Guy a
third; but, between one cottage and another, Mr. Ashford learnt some
particulars. The crew had been found on a flat rock and the fishermen
had at first thought all their perils in vain, for it was impossible to
bring the boats up, on account of the rocks, which ran out in a long
reef. Sir Guy, who knew the place, steered to the sheltered spot where
he had been used to make fast his own little boat, and undertook to
make his way from thence to the rock where the crew had taken refuge,
carrying a rope to serve as a kind of hand-rail, when fastened from one
rock to the other. Ben insisted on sharing his peril, and they had
crept along the slippery, broken reefs, lashed by the surge, for such a
distance, that the fishermen shuddered as they spoke of the danger of
being torn off by the force of the waves, and dashed against the rocks.
Nothing else could have saved the crew. They had hardly accomplished
the passage through the rising tide, even with the aid of the rope and
the guidance of Sir Guy and Ben, and, before the boats had gone half a
mile on their return, the surge was tumbling furiously over the stones
where they had been found.
The sailors were safely disposed of, in bed, or by the fireside, the
fishers vying in services to them. Mr. Ashford went to the cottage of
Charity Ledbury, Jem's mother, to inquire for the boy with the broken
arm. As he entered the empty kitchen, the opposite door of the stairs
was opened, and Guy appeared, stepping softly, and speaking low.
'Poor little fellow!' he said; 'he is just going to sleep. He bore it
'The setting his arm?'
'Yes. He was quite sensible, and very patient, and that old Charity
Ledbury is a capital old woman. She and Jem are delighted to have him,
and will nurse him excellently. How are all the others? Has that poor
man come to his senses?'
'Yes. I saw him safe in bed at old Robinson's. The captain is at the
'I wonder what time of day it is?'
'Past eight. Ah! there is the bell beginning. I was thinking of going
to tell Master Ray we are not too much excited to remember church-going
this morning; but I am glad he has found it out only ten minutes too
late. I must make haste. Good-bye!'
'May not I come, too, or am I too strange a figure?' said Guy, looking
at his dress, thrown on in haste, and saturated with sea-water.
'May you?' said Mr. Ashford, smiling. 'Is it wise, with all your wet
'I am not given to colds,' answered Guy, and they walked on quickly for
some minutes; after which he said, in a low voice and hurried manner,--
'would you make some mention of it in the Thanksgiving?'
'Of course I will' said Mr. Ashford, with much emotion. 'The danger
must have been great.'
'It was,' said Guy, as if the strong feeling would show itself. 'It
was most merciful. That little boat felt like a toy at the will of the
winds and waves, till one recollected who held the storm in His hand.'
He spoke very simply, as if he could not help it, with his eye fixed on
the clear eastern sky, and with a tone of grave awe and thankfulness
which greatly struck Mr. Ashford, from the complete absence of self-
consciousness, or from any attempt either to magnify or depreciate his
sense of the danger.
'You thought the storm a more dangerous time than your expedition on
'It was not. The fishermen, who were used to such things, did not
think much of it; but I am glad to have been out on such a night, if
only for the magnificent sensation it gives to realize one's own
powerlessness and His might. As for the rock, there was something to
do to look to one's footing, and cling on; no time to think.'
'It was a desperate thing!'
'Not so bad as it looked. One step at a time is all one wants, you
know, and that there always was. But what a fine fellow Ben Robinson
is! He behaved like a regular hero--it was the thorough contempt and
love of danger one reads of. There must be a great deal of good in
him, if one only knew how to get hold of it.'
'Look there!' was Mr. Ashford's answer, as he turned his head at the
church wicket; and, at a short distance behind, Guy saw Ben himself
walking up the path, with his thankful, happy father, a sight that had
not been seen for months, nay, for years.
'Ay,' he said, 'such a night as this, and such a good old man as the
father, could not fail to bring out all the good in a man.'
'Yes,' thought Mr. Ashford, 'such a night, under such a leader! The
sight of so much courage based on that foundation is what may best
touch and save that man.'
After church, Guy walked fast away; Mr. Ashford went home, made a long
breakfast, having the whole story to tell, and was on to the scene of
action again, where he found the master, quite restored, and was
presently joined by Markham. Of Sir Guy, there was no news, except
that Jem Ledbury said he had looked in after church to know how the
cabin boy was going on, and the master, understanding that he had been
the leader in the rescue, was very anxious to thank him, and walked up
to the house with Markham and Mr. Ashford.
Markham conducted them straight to the library, the door of which was
open. He crossed the room, smiled, and made a sign to Mr. Ashford, who
looked in some surprise and amusement. It has been already said that
the room was so spacious that the inhabited part looked like a little
encampment by the fire, though the round table was large, and the green
leather sofa and arm chair were cumbrous.
However, old Sir Guy's arm-chair was never used by his grandson;
Markham might sit there, and Bustle did sometimes, but Guy always used
one of the unpretending, unluxurious chairs, which were the staple of
the room. This, however, was vacant, and on the table before it stood
the remains of breakfast, a loaf reduced to half its dimensions, an
empty plate and coffee-cup. The fire was burnt down to a single log,
and on the sofa, on all the various books with which it was strewed,
lay Guy, in anything but a comfortable position, his head on a great
dictionary, fairly overcome with sleep, his very thick, black eyelashes
resting on his fresh, bright cheek, and the relaxation of the grave
expression of his features making him look even younger than he really
was. He was so sound asleep that it was not till some movement of
Markham's that he awoke, and started up, exclaiming,--
'What a horrid shame! I am very sorry!'
'Sorry! what for?' said Markham. 'I am glad, at any rate, you have
been wise enough to change your things, and eat some breakfast.'
'I meant to have done so much,' said Guy; 'but sea-wind makes one so
sleepy!' Then, perceiving the captain, he came forward, hoping he was
The captain stood mystified, for he could not believe this slim youth
could be the Sir Guy of whose name he had heard so much, and, after
answering the inquiry, he began,--
'If I could have the honour of seeing Sir Guy--'
'Well?' said Guy.
'I beg your pardon, sir!' said the captain, while they all laughed, 'I
did not guess you could be so young a gentleman. I am sure, sir, 'tis
what any man might be proud of having done, and--I never saw anything
like it!' he added, with a fresh start, 'and it will do you honour
everywhere. All our lives are owing to you, sir.'
Guy did not cut him short, though very glad when it was over. He felt
he should not, in the captain's place, like to have his thanks
shortened, and besides, if ever there was happiness or exultation, it
was in the glistening eyes of old Markham, the first time he had ever
been able to be justly proud of one of the family, whom he loved with
so much faithfulness and devotion.
Is there a word, or jest, or game,
But time encrusteth round
With sad associate thoughts the same?
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.
Among the persons who spent a forlorn autumn was Mr. Ross, though his
troubles were not quite of the same description as those of his young
parishioners. He missed his daughter very much; all his household
affairs got out of order; the school-girls were naughty, and neither
he, nor Miss Edmonstone, nor the mistress, could discover the culprits;
their inquiries produced nothing but a wild confusion of mutual
accusations, where the truth was undistinguishable. The cook never
could find anything to make broth of, Mr. Ross could, never lay his
hands on the books he wanted for himself or anybody else; and, lastly,
none of his shirts ever had their buttons on.
Mary, meanwhile, had to remain through a whole course of measles, then
to greet the arrival of a new nephew, and to attend his christening:
but she had made a vow that she would be at home by Christmas, and she
Mr. Ross had the satisfaction of fetching her home from the station the
day before Christmas Eve, and of seeing her opposite to him, on her own
side of the table, in the evening, putting on the buttons, and
considering it an especial favour and kindness, for which to be for
ever grateful, that he had written all his Christmas sermons
beforehand, so as to have a whole evening clear before her. He was
never a great letter-writer, and Mary had a great deal to hear, for all
that had come to her were the main facts, with very few details.
'I have had very few letters, even from Hollywell,' said she. 'I
suppose it is on account of Charles's illness. You think him really
'Yes, much better. I forgot to tell you, you are wanted for their
Christmas party to-morrow night.'
'Oh! he is well enough for them not to put it off! Is he able to be
out of bed?'
'No, he lies perfectly flat, and looks very thin. It has been a very
severe illness. I don't think I ever knew him suffer so much; but, at
the same time, I never knew him behave so well, or show so much
patience, and consideration for other people, I was the more surprised,
because at first he seemed to have relapsed into all the ways he
thought he had shaken off; he was so irritable and fretful, that poor
Mrs. Edmonstone looked worn out; but it seems to have been only the
beginning of the illness; it was very different after he was laid up.'
'Has he had you to see him?'
'Yes, he asked for it, which he never did before, and Amabel reads to
him every morning. There is certainly much more that is satisfactory
about those young Edmonstones than there once seemed reason to expect.'
'And now tell me about Sir Guy. What is the matter? Why does he not
come home this winter!'
'I cannot tell you the rights of it, Mary. Mr. Edmonstone is very much
offended about something he is reported to have said, and suspects him
of having been in mischief at St. Mildred's; but I am not at all
persuaded that it is not one of Mr. Edmonstone's affronts.'
'Where is he?'
'At Redclyffe. I have a letter from him which I am going to answer to-
night. I shall tell the Edmonstones about it, for I cannot believe
that, if he had been guilty of anything very wrong, his mind would be
occupied in this manner;' and he gave Mary the letter.
'Oh, no!' exclaimed Mary, as she read. 'I am sure he cannot be in any
mischief. What an admirable person he is! I am very sorry this cloud
has arisen! I was thinking last summer how happy they all were
'Either this or Charles's illness has cast a gloom over the whole
house. The girls are both grown much graver.'
'Amy graver?' said Mary, quickly.
'I think so. At least she did not seem to cheer up as I should have
expected when her brother grew better. She looks as if she had been
nursing him too closely, and yet I see her walking a good deal.'
'Poor little Amy!' said Mary, and she asked no more questions, but was
anxious to make her own observations.
She did not see the Edmonstones till the next evening, as the day was
wet, and she only received a little note telling her that one carriage
would be sent to fetch her and Mr. Ross. The whole of the family,
except Charles, were in the drawing-room, but Mary looked chiefly at
Amy. She was in white, with holly in her hair, and did not look
sorrowful; but she was paler and thinner than last summer, and though
she spoke, smiled, and laughed when she ought, it was without the gay,
childish freedom of former times. She was a small, pale, quiet girl
now, not a merry, caressing kitten. Mary recollected what she had been
in the wood last summer, and was sure it was more than Charles's
illness that had altered her; yet still Amy had not Laura's harassed
Mary had not much talk with Amy, for it was a large party, with a good
many young ladies and children, and Amy had a great deal of work in the
way of amusing them. She had a wearied look, and was evidently
exerting herself to the utmost.
'You look tired,' said Mary, kindly.
'No, it is only stupidity,' said Amy, smiling rather sadly. 'We can't
be entertaining without Charlie.'
'It has been a melancholy winter,' began Mary, but she was surprised,
for Amy's face and neck coloured in a moment; then, recovering herself,
with some hesitation, she said,--
'Oh! but Charlie is much better, and that is a great comfort. I am
glad you are come home, Mary.'
'We are going to have some magic music,' was said at the other end of
the room. 'Who will play?'
'Little Amy!' said Mr. Edmonstone. 'Where is she? She always does it
to admiration. Amy, come and be a performer.'
Amy rose, and came forward, but the colour had flushed into her cheeks
again, and the recollection occurred to Mary, that her fame as a
performer, in that way, arose from the very amusing manner in which she
and Sir Guy had conducted the game last year. At the same moment her
mother met her, and whispered,--
'Had you rather not, my dear?'
'I can do it, mamma, thank you--never mind.'
'I should like to send you up to Charlie--he has been so long alone.'
'Oh! thank you, dear mamma,' with a look of relief.
'Here is Charlotte wild to be a musician,' said Mrs. Edmonstone.
'Perhaps you will see how she can manage; for I think Charles must want
a visit from his little nurse.'
Amy moved quietly away, and entered Charles's room, full of warm
gratitude for the kindness which was always seeking how to spare her.
Charles was asleep, and throwing a shawl round her, she sat down in the
dim light of the lamp, relieved by the stillness, only broken by now
and then a louder note of the music down-stairs. It was very
comfortable, after all that buzz of talk, and the jokes that seemed so
nonsensical and tiresome. There were but two people who could manage
to make a party entertaining, and that was the reason it was so
different last year. Then Amy wondered if she was the only person who
felt sick at heart and dreary; but she only wondered for a moment--she
murmured half aloud to herself, 'I said I never would think of him
except at my prayers! Here I am doing it again, and on Christmas
night. I won't hide my eyes and moan over my broken reed; for
Christmas is come, and the circles of song are widening round! Glory!
good will, peace on earth! How he sang it last year, the last thing,
when the people were gone, before we went up to bed. But I am breaking
my resolution again. I must do something.'
She took up a book of sacred poetry, and began to learn a piece which
she already nearly knew; but the light was bad, and it was dreamy work;
and probably she was half asleep, for her thoughts wandered off to
Sintram and the castle on the Mondenfelsen, which seemed to her like
what she had pictured the Redclyffe crags, and the castle itself was
connected in her imagination with the deep, echoing porch, while Guy's
own voice seemed to be chanting--
Who lives forlorn,
On God's own word doth rest;
His path is bright
With heavenly light,
His lot among the blest.
'Are you there, Amy?' said Charles, waking. 'What are you staying here
for? Don't they want you?'
'Mamma was so kind as to send me up.'
'I am glad you are come, for I have something to tell you. Mr. Ross
has been up to see me, you know, and he has a letter from Guy.'
Amy's heart beat fast, and, with eyes fixed on the ground, she listened
as Charles continued to give an account of Guy's letter about Coombe
Prior. 'Mr. Ross is quite satisfied about him, Amy,' he concluded. 'I
wish you could have heard the decided way in which he said, "He will
_live_ it down."'
Amy's answer was to stoop down and kiss her brother's forehead.
Another week brought Guy's renewal of the correspondence.
'Amy, here is something for you to read,' said Charles, holding up the
letter as she came into the room.
She knew the writing. 'Wait one moment, Charlie, dear;' and she ran
out of the room, found her mother fortunately alone, and said, averting
her face,--'Mamma, dear, do you think I ought to let Charlie show me
Mrs. Edmonstone took hold of her hand, and drew her round so as to look
into the face through its veiling curls. The hand shook, and the face
was in a glow of eagerness. 'Yes, dearest!' said she, for she could
not help it; and then, as Amy ran back again, she asked herself whether
it was foolish, and bad for her sweet little daughter, then declared to
herself that it must--it should--it would come right.
There was not a word of Amy in the letter, but it, or something else,
made her more bright and cheerful than she had been for some time past.
It seemed as if the lengthening days of January were bringing renewed
comfort with them, when Charles, who ever since October had been
confined to bed, was able to wear the Chinese dressing-gown, be lifted
to a couch, and wheeled into the dressing-room, still prostrate, but
much enjoying the change of scene, which he called coming into the
These were the events at quiet Hollywell, while Redclyffe was still
engrossed with the shipwreck, which seemed to have come on purpose to
enliven and occupy this solitary winter. It perplexed the Ashfords
about their baronet more than ever. Mr. Ashford said that no one whose
conscience was not clear could have confronted danger as he had done;
and yet the certainty that he was under a cloud, and the sadness, so
inconsistent with his age and temperament still puzzled them. Mrs.
Ashford thought she had made a discovery. The second day after the
wreck, the whole crew, except the little cabin-boy, were going to set
off to the nearest sea-port; and the evening preceding their departure,
they were to meet their rescuers, the fishermen, at a supper in the
great servants' hall at the park. Edward and Robert were in great
glory, bringing in huge branches of evergreens to embellish the clean,
cold place; and Mr. and Mrs. Ashford and Grace were to come to see the
entertainment, after having some coffee in the library.
Guy prepared it for his company by tumbling his books headlong from the
sofa to a more remote ottoman, sticking a bit of holly on the mantel-
shelf, putting out his beloved old friend, Strutt's 'Sports and
Pastimes,' to amuse Grace, and making up an immense fire; and then,
looking round, thought the room was uncommonly comfortable; but the
first thing that struck Mrs, Ashford, when, with face beaming welcome,
he ushered her in from the great hall, was how forlorn rooms looked
that had not a woman to inhabit them.
The supper went off with great eclat. Arnaud at the head of the table
carved with foreign courtesies, contrasted with the downright bluff way
of the sailors. As soon as Sir Guy brought Mrs. Ashford to look in on
them, old James Robinson proposed his health, with hopes he would soon
come and live among them for good, and Jonas Ledbury added another
wish, that 'Lady Morville' might soon be there too. At these words, an
expression of pain came upon Guy's face; his lips were rigidly pressed
together; he turned hastily away, and paced up and down before he could
command his countenance. All were so busy cheering, that no one heeded
his change of demeanour save Mrs. Ashford; and though, when he returned
to the place where he had been standing, his complexion was deepened,
his lip quivered, and his voice trembled in returning thanks, Mr.
Ashford only saw the emotion naturally excited by his people's
The lady understood it better; and when she talked it over with her
husband in the evening, they were convinced the cause of his trouble
must be some unfortunate attachment, which he might think it his duty
to overcome; and having settled this, they became very fond of him, and
anxious to make Redclyffe agreeable to him.
Captain and crew departed; the little boy was better, and his hosts,
Charity and Jem Ledbury, only wished to keep him for ever; the
sensation at Redclyffe was subsiding, when one morning Markham came, in
a state of extreme satisfaction and importance, to exhibit the county
paper, with a full account of the gallant conduct of the youthful
baronet. Two or three days after, on coming home from a ride to Coombe
Prior, Guy found Lord Thorndale's card, and heard from Arnaud that 'my
lord had made particular inquiries how long he would be in the country,
and had been to the cliff to see where the wreck was.'
Markham likewise attached great importance to this visit, and went off
into a long story about his influence, and the representation of
Moorworth, or even of the county. As soon as Guy knew what he was
talking about, he exclaimed, 'Oh, I hope all that is not coming on me
yet! Till I can manage Todd and Coombe Prior, I am sure I am not fit
to manage the country!'
A few mornings after, he found on the table an envelope, which he
studied, as if playing with his eagerness. It had an East-hill post-
mark, and a general air of Hollywell writing, but it was not in the
hand of either of the gentlemen, nor was the tail of the y such as Mrs.
Edmonstone was wont to make. It had even a resemblance to Amabel's own
writing that startled him. He opened it at last, and within found the
hand he could not doubt--Charles's, namely--much more crooked than
usual, and the words shortened and blotted:--
'DEAR G.,--I ought not to do this, but I must; I have tyrannized over
Charlotte, and obtained the wherewithal. Write me a full account of
your gallant conduct. I saw it first in A.'s face. It has done you
great good with my father. I will write more when I can. I can't get
on now. 'C. M. E.'
He might well say he had first seen it in his sister's face. She had
brought him the paper, and was looking for something he wanted her to
read to him, when 'Redclyffe Bay' met her eye, and then came the whole
at one delightful glance. He saw the heightened colour, the exquisite
smile, the tear-drop on the eyelash.
'Amy! what have you there?'
She pointed to the place, gave the paper into his hand, and burst into
tears, the gush of triumphant feeling. Not one was shed because she
was divided from the hero of the shipwreck; they were pure unselfish
tears of joy, exultation, and thankfulness. Charles read the history,
and she listened in silence; then looked it over again with him, and
betrayed how thoroughly she had been taught the whole geography of
Redclyffe Bay. The next person who came in was Charlotte; and as soon
as she understood what occupied them, she went into an ecstasy, and
flew away with the paper, rushing with it straight into her father's
room, where she broke into the middle of his letter-writing, by reading
it in a voice of triumph.
Mr. Edmonstone was delighted. He was just the person who would be far
more taken with an exploit of this kind, such as would make a figure in
the world, than by steady perseverance in well-doing, and his heart was
won directly. His wrath at the hasty words had long been diminishing,
and now was absolutely lost in his admiration. 'Fine fellow! noble
fellow!' he said. 'He is the bravest boy I ever heard of, but I knew
what was in him from the first. I wish from my heart there was not
this cloud over him. I am sure the whole story has not a word of truth
in it, but he won't say a word to clear himself, or else we would have
him here again to-morrow.'
This was the first time Mr. Edmonstone had expressed anything of real
desire to recall Guy, and it was what Charles meant in his letter.
The tyranny over Charlotte was exercised while the rest were at dinner,
and they were alone together. They talked over the adventure for the
tenth time that day, and Charles grew so excited that he vowed that he
must at once write to Guy, ordered her to give him the materials, and
when she hesitated, forced her into it, by declaring that he should get
up and reach the things himself, which would be a great deal worse.
She wanted to write from his dictation, but he would not consent,
thinking that his mother might not consider it proper, and he began
vigorously; but though long used to writing in a recumbent posture, he
found himself less capable now than he had expected, and went on
soliloquizing thus: 'What a pen you've given me, Charlotte. There goes
a blot! Here, another dip, will you! and take up that with the
blotting paper before it becomes more like a spider.'
'Won't you make a fresh beginning?'
'No, that has cost me too much already. I've got no more command over
my fingers. Here we go into the further corner of the paper. Well!
C. M. E. There 'tis--do it up, will you? If he can read it he'll be
lucky. How my arms ache!'
'I hope it has not hurt you, Charlie; but I am sure he will be very
glad of it. Oh! I am glad you said that about Amy.'
'Who told you to read it, Puss?'
'I could not help it, 'tis so large.'
'I believe I _didn't_ _ought_ to have said it. Don't tell her I did,'
said Charles; 'but I couldn't for the life of me--or what is more to
the purpose, for the trouble of it--help putting it. He is too true a
knight not to hear that his lady, not exactly smiled, but cried.'
'He is a true knight,' said Charlotte, emphatically, as with her best
pen, and with infinite satisfaction, she indited the 'Sir Guy Morville,
Bart., Redclyffe Park, Moorworth,' only wishing she could lengthen out
the words infinitely.
'Do you remember, Charlie, how we sat here the first evening he came,
and you took me in about the deadly feud?'
'It was no take-in,' said Charles; 'only the feud is all on one side.'
'Oh, dear! it has been such a stupid winter without Guy,' sighed
Charlotte; 'if this won't make papa forgive him, I don't know what
'I wish it would, with all my heart,' said Charles; 'but logically, if
you understand the word, Charlotte, it does not make much difference to
the accusation. It would not exactly be received as exculpatory
evidence in a court of justice.'
'You don't believe the horrid stories?'
'I believe that Guy has gamed quite as much as I have myself; but I
want to see him cleared beyond the power of Philip to gainsay or
disbelieve it. I should like to have such a force of proof as would
annihilate Philip, and if I was anything but what I am, I would have
it. If you could but lend me a leg for two days, Charlotte.'
'I wish I could.'
'One thing shall be done,' proceeded Charles: 'my father shall go and
meet him in person when he comes of age. Now Don Philip is out of the
way, I trust I can bring that about.'
'If he would but come here!'
'No, that must not be, as mamma says, till there is some explanation;
but if I was but in my usual state, I would go with papa and meet him
in London. I wonder if there is any chance of it. The 28th of March--
ten weeks off! If I can but get hold of those trusty crutches of mine
by that time I'll do, and I'll do, and I'll do. We will bring back
Amy's knight with flying colours.'
'Oh how happy we should be!'
'If I only knew what sort of sense that Markham of his may have, I
would give him a hint, and set him to ferret out at St. Mildred's. Or
shall I get Dr. Mayerne to order me there for change of air?'
So schemed Charles; while Guy, on his side, busied himself at Redclyffe
as usual; took care and thought for the cabin-boy--returned Lord
Thorndale's call without finding him at home--saw the school finished,
and opened--and became more intimate with the Ashfords.
He said he should not come home at Easter, as he should be very busy
reading for his degree; and as his birthday this year fell in Holy
Week, there could be no rejoicings; besides, as he was not to have his
property in his own hands till he was five-and-twenty, it would make no
difference to the people. The Ashfords agreed they had rather he was
safe at home for the vacation, and were somewhat anxious when he spoke
of coming home to settle, after he had taken his degree.
For his own part he was glad the season would prevent any rejoicings,
for he was in no frame of mind to enter into them and his birthday had
been so sad a day for his grandfather, that he had no associations of
pleasure connected with it.
Markham understood the feeling, liked it, and shared it, only saying
that they would have their day of rejoicing when he married. Guy could
not answer, and the old steward remarked the look of pain.
'Sir Guy,' said he, 'is it that which is wrong with you? Don't be
angry with an old man for asking the question, but I only would hope
and trust you are not getting into any scrape.'
'Thank you, Markham,' said Guy, after an effort; 'I cannot tell you
about it. I will only set you at rest by saying it is nothing you
could think I ought to be ashamed of.'
'Then why--what has come between? What could man or woman object to in
you?' said Markham, regarding him proudly.
'These unhappy suspicions,' said Guy.
I can't make it out,' said Markham. 'You must have been doing something
foolish to give rise to them.'
Guy told nearly what he had said on the first day of his return, but
nothing could be done towards clearing up the mystery, and he returned
to Oxford as usual.
March commenced, and Charles, though no longer absolutely recumbent,
and able to write letters again, could not yet attempt to use his
crutches, so that all his designs vanished, except that of persuading
his father to go to London to meet Guy and Markham there, and transact
the business consequent on his ward's attaining his majority. He
trusted much to Guy's personal influence, and said to his father, 'You
know no one has seen him yet but Philip, and he would tell things to
you that he might not to him.'
It was an argument that delighted Mr. Edmonstone.
'Of course I have more weight and experience, and--and poor Guy is very
fond of us. Eh, Charlie?'
So Charles wrote to make an appointment for Guy to meet his guardian
and Markham in London on Easter Tuesday. 'If you will clear up the
gambling story,' he wrote, 'all may yet be well.'
Guy sighed as he laid aside the letter. 'All in vain, kind Charlie,'
said he to himself, 'vain as are my attempts to keep my poor uncle from
sinking himself further! Is it fair, though,' continued he, with
vehemence, 'that the happiness of at least one life should be
sacrificed to hide one step in the ruin of a man who will not let
himself be saved? Is it not a waste of self-devotion? Have I any
right to sacrifice hers? Ought I not rather'--and a flash of joy came
over him--'to make my uncle give me back my promise of concealment? I
can make it up to him. It cannot injure him, since only the
Edmonstones will know it! But'--and he pressed his lips firmly
together--'is this the spirit I have been struggling for this whole
winter? Did I not see that patient waiting and yielding is fit penance
for my violence. It would be ungenerous. I will wait and bear,
contented that Heaven knows my innocence at least in this. For her,
when at my best I dreaded that my love might bring sorrow on her--how
much more now, when I have seen my doom face to face, and when the
first step towards her would be what I cannot openly and absolutely
declare to be right? That would be the very means of bringing the
suffering on her, and I should deserve it.'
Guy quitted these thoughts to write to Markham to make the appointment,
finishing his letter with a request that Markham would stop at St.
Mildred's on his way to London, and pay Miss Wellwood, the lady with
whom his uncle's daughter was placed, for her quarter's board. 'I hope
this will not be a very troublesome request,' wrote Guy; 'but I know
you had rather I did it in this way, than disobey your maxims, as to
not sending money by the post.'
The time before the day of meeting was spent in strengthening himself
against the pain it would be to refuse his confidence to Mr.
Edmonstone, and thus to throw away the last chance of reconciliation,
and of Amy. This would be the bitterest pang of all--to see them ready
to receive him, and he forced to reject their kindness.
So passed the preceding week, and with it his twenty-first birthday,
spent very differently from the way in which it would ordinarily be
passed by a youth in his position. It went by in hard study and sad
musings, in bracing himself to a resolution that would cost him all he
held dear, and, as the only means of so bracing himself, in trying to
fix his gaze more steadily beyond the earth.
Easter day steadied the gaze once more for him, and as the past week
had nerved him in the spirit of self-sacrifice, the feast day brought
him true unchanging joy, shining out of sadness, and enlightening the
path that would lead him to keep his resolution to the utmost, and
endure the want of earthly hope.
Already in thy spirit thus divine,
Whatever weal or woe betide,
Be that high sense of duty still thy guide,
And all good powers will aid a soul like thine.--SOUTHEY
'Now for it!' thought Guy, as he dismissed his cab, and was shown up-
stairs in the hotel. 'Give me the strength to withstand!'
The door was opened, and he beheld Mr. Edmonstone, Markham, and
another--it surely was Sebastian Dixon! All sprung up to receive him;
and Mr. Edmonstone, seizing him by both hands, exclaimed--
'Here he is himself! Guy, my boy, my dear boy, you are the most
generous fellow in the world! You have been used abominably. I wish
my two hands had been cut off before I was persuaded to write that
letter, but it is all right now. Forget and forgive--eh, Guy? You'll
come home with me, and we will write this very day for Deloraine.'
Guy was almost giddy with surprise. He held one of Mr. Edmonstone's
hands, and pressed it hard; his other hand he passed over his eyes, as
if in a dream. 'All right?' he repeated.
'All right!' said Mr. Edmonstone. 'I know where your money went, and I
honour you for it, and there stands the man who told me the whole
story. I said, from the first, it was a confounded slander. It was
all owing to the little girl.'
Guy turned his face in amazement towards his uncle, who was only
waiting to explain. 'Never till this morning had I the least
suspicion that I had been the means of bringing you under any
imputation. How could you keep me in ignorance?'
'You have told--'
'Of the cheque,' broke in Mr. Edmonstone, 'and of all the rest, and of
your providing for the little girl. How could you do it with that
pittance of an allowance of yours? And Master Philip saying you never
had any money! No wonder, indeed!'
'If I had known you were pinching yourself,' said Dixon, 'my mind would
'Let me understand it,' said Guy, grasping the back of a chair. 'Tell
me, Markham. Is it really so? Am I cleared? Has Mr. Edmonstone a
right to be satisfied?'
'Yes, Sir Guy,' was Markham's direct answer. 'Mr. Dixon has accounted
for your disposal of the thirty pound cheque, and there is an end of
Guy drew a long breath, and the convulsive grasp of his fingers
'I cannot thank you enough!' said he to his uncle; then to Mr.
Edmonstone, 'how is Charles?'
'Better--much better, you shall see him to-morrow--eh, Guy?'
'But I cannot explain about the one thousand pounds.'
'Never mind--you never had it, so you can't have misspent it. That's
neither here nor there.'
'And you forgive my language respecting you?'
'Nonsense about that! If you never said anything worse than that
Philip was a meddling coxcomb, you haven't much to repent of; and I am
sure I was ten old fools when I let him bore me into writing that
'No, no; you did right under your belief; and circumstances were strong
against me. And is it clear? Are we where we were before?'
'We are--we are in everything, only we know better what you are worth,
Guy. Shake hands once more. There's an end of all misunderstanding
and vexation, and we shall be all right at home again!'
The shake was a mighty one. Guy shaded his face for a moment or two,
and then said--
'It is too much. I don't understand it. How did you know this matter
wanted explanation?' said he, turning to his uncle.
'I learnt it from Mr. Markham, and you will do me the justice to
believe, that I was greatly shocked to find that your generosity--'
'The truth of the matter is this,' said Markham. 'You sent me to Miss
Wellwood's, at St. Mildred's. The principal was not within, and while
waiting for her to make the payment, I got into conversation with her
sister, Miss Jane. She told me that the child, Mr. Dixon's daughter,
was always talking of your kindness, especially of a morning at St.
Mildred's, when you helped him in some difficulty. I thought this
threw some light on the matter, found out Mr. Dixon this morning, and
you see the result.'
'I do, indeed,' said Guy; 'I wish I could attempt to thank you all.'
'Thanks enough for me to see you look like yourself,' said Markham.
'Did you think I was going to sit still and leave you in the mess you
had got yourself into, with your irregularity about keeping your
'And to you,' said Guy, looking at his uncle, as if it was especially
pleasant to be obliged to him. 'You never can guess what I owe to
'Nay, I deserve no thanks at all,' said Sebastian, 'since I was the
means of bringing the imputation on you; and I am sure it is enough for
a wretch like me, not to have brought only misery wherever I turn--to
have done something to repair the evil I have caused. Oh, could I but
bring back your father to what he was when first I saw him as you are
He was getting into one of those violent fits of self-reproach, at once
genuine and theatrical, of which Guy had a sort of horror, and it was
well Mr. Edmonstone broke in, like comedy into tragedy.
'Come, what's past can't be helped, and I have no end of work to be
done, so there's speechifying enough for once. Mr. Dixon, you must not
be going. Sit down and look over the newspaper, while we sign these
papers. You must dine with us, and drink your nephew's health, though
it is not his real birthday.'
Guy was much pleased that Mr. Edmonstone should have given this
invitation, as well as with the consideration Markham had shown for
Dixon in his narration. Mr. Dixon, who had learnt to consider parents
and guardians as foes and tyrants, stammered and looked confused and
enraptured; but it appeared that he could not stay, for he had a
professional engagement. He gave them an exhortation to come to the
concert where he was employed, and grew so ardent in his description of
it, that Guy could have wished to go; but his companions were in haste
to say there was far too much to do. And the next moment Guy told
himself, that Mr. Edmonstone's good-natured face and joyous 'eh, Guy?'
were more to him than any music he could hear nearer than Hollywell.
He went down-stairs with his uncle, who all the way raved about the
music, satisfied to find ears that could comprehend, and was too full
of it even to attend or respond to the parting thanks, for his last
words were something about a magnificent counter-tenor.
Guy walked up slowly, trying to gather his thoughts: but when it came
back to him that Amy was his again, his brain seemed to reel with
ecstasy, and it would have taken far more time than he could spare to
recall his sober senses, so he opened the door, to convince himself at
least of Mr. Edmonstone's presence, and was received with another shake
of the hand.
'So here you are again. I was afraid he was carrying you off to his
concert after all! I believe you have half a mind for it. Do you
like to stay in London for the next? Eh, Guy?' and it was good to hear
Mr. Edmonstone's hearty laugh, as he patted his ward on the shoulder,
saw his blushing, smiling shake of the head, and gave a knowing look,
which let in a fresh light on Markham, and luckily was unseen by Guy.
'Well,' continued Mr. Edmonstone, 'the man is more gentlemanlike than I
expected. A good sort of fellow at the bottom, I dare say. He was
pretty considerably shocked to find he had brought you into such a
'He is very generous,' said Guy. 'Oh, there is much of a noble
character in him.'
'Noble! humph!' put in Markham. 'He has gone down-hill fast enough,
since I used to see him in your father's time; but I am glad he had the
decency not to be the undoing of you.'
'His feeling is his great point,' said Guy, 'when you can once get at
it. I wish--' But breaking off short, 'I can't make it out. What did
little Marianne tell you? Or was it Miss Wellwood?'
'It was first the youngest sister,' said Markham. 'I sat there talking
to her some little time; she said you had been very kind to the family,
and the child was very grateful to you--was always talking of some
morning when you and your dog came, and helped her mother. Her father
had been out all night, and her mother was crying, she said, and
declaring he would be sent to prison, till you came and helped them.'
'Yes, that's it,' said Guy.
'Well, I remembered what you had told me of the mystery of the draft,
and guessed that this might be the clue to it. I begged to see the
child, and in she came, the very image of your mother, and a sharp
little thing that knew what she meant, but had not much idea of the
shame, poor child, about her father. She told me the story of his
coming home in the morning, and her mother being in great distress, and
saying they were ruined, till you came and talked to her mother, and
gave her something. I asked if it was money, and she said it was
paper. I showed her a draft, and she knew it was like that. So then I
made her tell me where to find her father, whom I used to know in old
times, and had to write to, now and then. I hunted him up, and a
creditable figure he was, to be sure; but I got the truth out of him at
last, and when he heard you had got into disgrace on his account, he
raved like a tragedy hero, and swore he would come and tell your
guardian the whole story. I put him into a cab for fear he should
repent, and he had just got to the end of it when you came in.'
'It is of no use to thank you again, Markham!'
'Why, I have been getting your family out of scrapes these forty years
or thereabouts,' said Markham; ''tis all I am good for; and if they had
been no worse than this one it would be better for all of us. But time
is getting on, and there is enough to do.'
To the accounts they went at once. There was a good deal to be
settled; and though Guy had as yet no legal power, according to his
grandfather's will, he was of course consulted about everything. He
was glad that, since he could not be alone to bring himself to the
realization of his newly-recovered happiness, he should have this
sobering and engrossing occupation. There he sat, coolly discussing
leases and repairs, and only now and then allowing himself a sort of
glimpse at the treasury of joy awaiting him whenever he had time to
dwell on it. The Coombe Prior matters were set in a better train, the
preliminary arrangements about the curacy were made, and Guy had hopes
it would be his friend Mr. Wellwood's title for Orders.
There was no time to write to Hollywell, or rather Mr. Edmonstone
forgot to do so till it was too late, and then consoled himself by
observing that it did not signify if his family were taken by surprise,
since joy killed no one.
His family were by no means of opinion that it did not signify when the
next morning's post brought them no letter. Mrs Edmonstone and Charles
had hoped much, and Amy did not know how much she hoped until the
melancholy words, 'no letter,' passed from one to the other.
To make it worse, by some of those mismanagements of Mr. Edmonstone's
which used to run counter to his wife's arrangements, a dinner-party
had been fixed for this identical Wednesday, and the prospect was
agreeable to no one, especially when the four o'clock train did not
bring Mr. Edmonstone, who, therefore, was not to be expected till
seven, when all the world would be arrived.
Laura helped Amy to dress, put the flowers in her hair, kissed her, and
told her it was a trying day; and Amy sighed wearily, thanked her, and
went down with arms twined in hers, whispering, 'If I could help being
so foolish as to let myself have a little hope!'
Laura thought the case so hopeless, that she was sorry Amy could not
cease from the foolishness, and did not answer. Amy sat down at the
foot of the sofa, whither Charles was now carried down every day, and
without venturing to look at him, worked at her netting. A carriage--
her colour came and went, but it was only some of the guests; another--
the Brownlows. Amy was speaking to Miss Brownlow when she heard more
greetings; she looked up, caught by the arm of the sofa, and looked
again. Her father was pouring out apologies and welcomes, and her
mother was shaking hands with Guy.
Was it a dream? She shut her eyes, then looked again. He was close to
her by this time, she felt his fingers close on her white glove for one
moment, but she only heard his voice in the earnest 'How are you,
Charlie?' Her father came to her, gave her first his usual kiss of
greeting, then, not letting her go, looked at her for a moment, and, as
if he could not help it, kissed her on both cheeks, and said, 'How d'ye
do, my little Amy?' in a voice that meant unutterable things. All the
room was swimming round; there was nothing for it but to run away, and
she ran, but from the ante-room she heard the call outside, 'Sir Guy's
bag to his room,' and she could not rush out among the servants. At
that moment, however, she spied Mary Ross and her father; she darted up
to them, said something incoherent about Mary's bonnet, and took her up
to her own room.
'Amy, my dear, you look wild. What has come to you?'
'Papa is come home, and--' the rest failed, and Amy was as red as the
camellia in her hair.
'And?' repeated Mary, 'and the mystery is explained?'
'Oh! I don't know; they are only just come, and I was so silly, I ran
away,--I did not know what to do.'
'_They_ are come, are they?' thought Mary. 'My little Amy, I see it
She made the taking off her bonnet and the settling her lace as
elaborate an operation as she could, and Amy flitted about as if she
did not by any means know what she was doing. A springy, running step
was heard on the stairs and in the passage, and Mary, though she could
not see her little friend's face, perceived her neck turn red for a
moment, after which Amy took her arm, pressed it affectionately, and
they went down.
Mrs. Edmonstone was very glad to see Amabel looking tolerably natural.
'Mamma' was of course burning to hear all, but she was so confident
that the essentials were safe, that her present care was to see how her
two young lovers would be able to comport themselves, and to be on her
guard against attending to them more than to her guests.
Amy, after passing by Charles, and getting a squeeze from his ever-
sympathizing hand, put herself away behind Mary, while Laura talked to
every one, hoping to show that there was some self-possession in the
family. Guy reappeared, but, after one glance to see if Amy was
present, he did not look at her again, but went and leant over the
lower end of Charles's sofa, just as he used to do; and Charles lay
gazing at him, and entirely forgetting what he had been trying to say
just before to Mrs. Brownlow, professing to have come from London that
morning, and making the absent mistakes likely to be attributed to the
Mr. Edmonstone came, and dinner followed. As Mrs. Edmonstone paired
off her company, she considered what to do with her new arrival.
'If you had come two hours ago,' said she, within herself, 'I would
have let you be at home. Now you must be a great man, and be content
with me. It will be better for Amy.'
Accordingly Guy was between her and Mrs. Gresham. She did not try to
speak to him, and was amused by his fitful attempts at making
conversation with Mrs. Gresham, when it struck him that he ought to be
taking notice of her. Amy (very fortunately, in her own opinion) was
out of sight of him, on the same side of the table, next to Mr. Ross,
who, like his daughter, guessed enough about the state of things to let
Charles was enjoying all manner of delightful conjectures with
Charlotte, till the ladies returned to the drawing-room, and then he
said as much as he dared to Mary Ross, far more than she had gained
from Laura, who, as they came out of the dining-room, had said,--
'Don't ask me any questions, for I know nothing at all about it.'
Amy was talked to by Mrs. Gresham about club-books, and new flowers, to
which she was by this time able to attend very well, satisfied that his
happiness had returned, and content to wait till the good time for
knowing how. She could even be composed when the gentlemen came in,
Guy talking to Mr. Ross about Coombe Prior, and then going to Charles;
but presently she saw no more, for a request for music was made, and
she was obliged to go and play a duet with Laura. She did not dislike
this, but there followed a persecution for some singing. Laura would
have spared her, but could not; and while she was turning over the book
to try to find something that was not impossible to begin, and Laura
whispering encouragingly, 'This--try this--your part is almost nothing;
or can't you do this?' another hand turned over the leaves, as if
perfectly at home in them, and, without speaking, as if it was natural
for him to spare Amy, found a song which they had often sung together,
where she might join as much or as little as she chose, under cover of
his voice. She had not a thought or sensation beyond the joy of
hearing it again, and she stood, motionless, as if in a trance. When
it was over, he said to Laura, 'I beg your pardon for making such bad
work. I am so much out of practice.'
Mrs. Brownlow was seen advancing on them; Amy retreated, leaving Guy
and Laura to fulfil all that was required of them, which they did with
a very good grace, and Laura's old familiar feeling began to revive, so
much that she whispered while he was finding the place, 'Don't you
dislike all this excessively?'
'It does as well as anything else, thank you,' was the answer. 'I can
do it better than talking.'
At last they were released, and the world was going away. Mary could
not help whispering to Mrs. Edmonstone, 'How glad you must be to get
rid of us!' and, as Mrs. Edmonstone answered with a smile, she ventured
further to say,--'How beautifully Amy has behaved!'
Little Amy, as soon as she had heard the last carriage roll off, wished
every one good night, shook hands with Guy, holding up the lighted
candle between him and her face as a veil, and ran away to her own
room. The others remained in a sort of embarrassed silence, Mr.
Edmonstone rubbing his hands; Laura lighted the candles, Charlotte
asked after Bustle, and was answered that he was at Oxford, and
Charles, laying hold of the side of the sofa, pulled himself by it into
a sitting posture.
'Shall I help you?' said Guy.
'Thank you, but I am not ready yet; besides, I am an actual log now,
and am carried as such, so it is of no use to wait for me. Mamma shall
have the first turn, and I won't even leave my door open.'
'Yes, yes, yes; go and have it out with mamma, next best to Amy
herself, as she is run away--eh, Guy?' said Mr. Edmonstone.
Guy and Mrs. Edmonstone had not hitherto trusted themselves to speak to
each other, but they looked and smiled; then, wishing the rest good
night, they disappeared. Then there was a simultaneous outbreak of
'All right!' said Mr. Edmonstone. 'Every word was untrue. He is the
noblest fellow in the world, as I knew all the time, and I was an old
fool for listening to a pack of stories against him.'
'Hurrah!' cried Charles, drumming on the back of his sofa. 'Let us
hear how the truth came out, and what it was.'
'It was that Dixon. There has he been helping that man for ever,
sending his child to school, giving him sums upon sums, paying his
gaming debts with that cheque!'
'Oh, oh!' cried Charles.
'Yes that was it! The child told Markham of it, and Markham brought
the father to tell me. It puts me in a rage to think of the monstrous
stories Philip has made me believe!'
'I was sure of it!' cried Charles. 'I knew it would come out that he
had only been so much better than other people that nobody could
believe it. Cleared! cleared! Why, Charlotte, Mr. Ready-to-halt will
be for footing it cleverly enough!' as she was wildly curvetting round
'I was always sure,' said Mr. Edmonstone. 'I knew it was not in him to
go wrong. It was only Philip, who would persuade me black was white.'
'I never believed one word of it,' said Charles; 'still less after I
saw Philip's animosity.'
'"Les absens ont toujours tort,"' interrupted Laura; then, afraid of
saying too much, she added,--'Come, Charlotte, it is very late.'
'And I shall be the first to tell Amy!' cried Charlotte. 'Good night,
papa!--good night, Charlie!'
She rushed up-stairs, afraid of being forestalled. Laura lingered,
putting some books away in the ante-room, trying to overcome the weary
pain at her heart. She did not know how to be confident. Her father's
judgment was worthless in her eyes, and Philip had predicted that Amy
would be sacrificed after all. To see them happy made her sigh at the
distance of her own hopes, and worse than all was self-reproach for
unkindness in not rejoicing with the rest, in spite of her real
affection for Guy himself. When she thought of him, she could not
believe him guilty; when she thought of Philip's belief, she could not
suppose him innocent, and she pitied her sister for enjoying a delusive
happiness. With effort, however, she went to her room, and, finding
her a little overpowered by Charlotte's tumultuous joy, saw that peace
and solitude were best for her till she could have more certain
intelligence, and, after very tender good-nights, carried off
It would be hard to describe Mrs. Edmonstone's emotion, as she preceded
Guy to the dressing-room, and sat down, looking up to him as he stood
in his old place by the fire. She thought he did not look well, though
it might be only that the sun-burnt colour had given place to his
natural fairness; his eyes, though bright as ever, did not dance and
sparkle; a graver expression sat on his brow; and although he still
looked very young, a change there certainly was, which made him man
instead of boy--a look of having suffered, and conquered suffering.
She felt even more motherly affection for him now than when he last
stood there in the full tide of his first outburst of his love for her
daughter, and her heart was almost too full for speech; but he seemed
to be waiting for her, and at last she said,--'I am very glad to have
you here again.'
He smiled a little, then said, 'May I tell you all about it?'
'Sit down here. I want very much to hear it. I am sure you have gone
through a good deal.'
I have, indeed,' said he, simply and gravely; and there was a silence,
while she was certain that, whatever he might have endured, he did not
feel it to have been in vain.
' But it is at an end,' said she. 'I have scarcely seen Mr. Edmonstone,
but he tells me he is perfectly satisfied.'
'He is so kind as to be satisfied, though you know I still cannot
explain about the large sum I asked him for.'
'We will trust you,' said Mrs. Edmonstone, smiling, 'but I am very
anxious to hear how you came to an understanding.'
Guy went over the story in detail, and very much affected she was to
hear how entirely unfounded had been the suspicion, and how thankful he
was for Mr. Edmonstone's forgiveness.
'You had rather to forgive us!' said she.
'You forget how ill I behaved,' said Guy, colouring. 'If you knew the
madness of those first moments of provocation, you would think that the
penance of a lifetime, instead of only one winter, would scarce have
'You would not say, as Charles does, that the suspicion justified your
'No, indeed!' He paused, and spoke again. 'Thank Heaven, it did not
last long; but the insight it gave me into the unsubdued evil about me
was a fearful thing.'
'But you conquered it. They were the unguarded exclamations of the
first shock. Your whole conduct since, especially the interview with
Philip, has shown that your anger has not been abiding, and that you
have learnt to subdue it.'
'It could not abide, for there was no just cause of offence. Of course
such a dreadful outburst warned me to be on my guard; and you know the
very sight of Philip is a warning that there is danger in that way! I
mean,' said Guy, becoming conscious that he had been very severe, 'I
mean that I know of old that I am apt to be worried by his manner, and
that ought to make me doubly cautious.'
Mrs. Edmonstone was struck by the soberer manner in which he spoke of
his faults. He was as ready to take full blame, but without the
vehemence which he used to expend in raving at himself instead of at
the offender. It seemed as if he had brought himself to the tone he
used to desire so earnestly.
'I am very glad to be able to explain all to Philip,' he said.
'I will write as soon as possible. Oh, Mrs. Edmonstone! if you knew
what it is to be brought back to such unhoped-for happiness, to sit
here once more, with you,'--his voice trembled, and the tears were in
her eyes,--'to have seen _her_, to have all overlooked, and return to
all I hoped last year. I want to look at you all, to believe that it
is true,' he finished, smiling.
'You both behaved very well this evening,' said she, laughing, because
she could do so better than anything else at that moment.
'You both!' murmured Guy to himself.
'Ah! little Amy has been very good this winter.'
He answered her with a beautiful expression of his eyes, was silent a
little while, and suddenly exclaimed, in a candid, expostulating tone,
'But now, seriously, don't you think it a very bad thing for her?'
'My dear Guy,' said she, scarcely repressing a disposition to laugh, 'I
told you last summer what I thought of it, and you must settle the rest
with Amy to-morrow. I hear the drawing-room bell, which is a sign I
must send you to bed. Good night!'
'Good night!' repeated Guy, as he held her hand. 'It is so long since
I have had any one to wish me good night! Good night, mamma!'
She pressed his hand, then as he ran down to lend a helping hand in
carrying Charles, she, the tears in her eyes, crossed the passage to
see how it was with her little Amy, and to set her at rest for the
night. Amy's candle was out, and she was in bed, lying full in the
light of the Easter moon, which poured in glorious whiteness through
her window. She started up as the door opened. 'Oh, mamma! how kind
of you to come!'
'I can only stay a moment, my dear; your papa is coming up; but I must
just tell you that I have been having such a nice talk with dear Guy.
He has behaved beautifully, and papa is quite satisfied. Now, darling,
I hope you will not lie awake all night, or you won't be fit to talk to
Amy sat up in bed, and put her arms round her mother's neck. 'Then he
is happy again,' she whispered. 'I should like to hear all.'
'He shall tell you himself to-morrow, my dear. Now, good night! you
have been a very good child. Now, go to sleep, my dear one.'
Amy lay down obediently. 'Thank you for coming to tell me, dear
mamma,' she said. 'I am very glad; good night.'
She shut her eyes, and there was something in the sweet, obedient,
placid look of her face, as the white moonlight shone upon it, that
made her mother pause and gaze again with the feeling, only tenderer,
left by a beautiful poem. Amy looked up to see why she delayed; she
gave her another kiss, and left her in the moonlight.
Little Amy's instinct was to believe the best and do as she was bidden,
and there was a quietness and confidence in the tone of her mind which
gave a sort of serenity of its own even to suspense. A thankful, happy
sensation that all was well, mamma said so, and Guy was there, had
taken possession of her, and she did not agitate herself to know how or
why, for mamma, had told her to put herself to sleep; so she thought of
all the most thanksgiving verses of her store of poetry, and before the
moon had passed away from her window, Amabel Edmonstone was wrapped in
a sleep dreamless and tranquil as an infant's.
Hence, bashful cunning,
And prompt me, plain and holy innocence.
I am your wife if you will marry me.--TEMPEST
Amabel awoke to such a sense of relief and repose that she scarcely
liked to ask herself the cause, lest it might ruffle her complete
peace. Those words 'all right,' seemed to be enough to assure her that
the cloud was gone.
Her mother came in, told her one or two of the main facts, and took her
down under her wing, only stopping by the way for a greeting to
Charles, who could not rise till after breakfast. He held her fast,
and gazed up in her face, but she coloured so deeply, cast down her
eyes, and looked so meek and submissive, that he let her go, and said
The breakfast party were for the most part quiet, silent, and happy.
Even Charlotte was hushed by the subdued feeling of the rest, and Mr.
Edmonstone's hilarity, though replied to in turn by each, failed to
wake them into mirth. Guy ran up and down-stairs continually, to wait
upon Charles; and thus the conversation was always interrupted as fast
as it began, so that the only fact that came out was the cause of the
lateness of their arrival yesterday. Mr. Edmonstone had taken it for
granted that Guy, like Philip, would watch for the right time, and warn
him, while Guy, being excessively impatient, had been so much afraid of
letting himself fidget, as to have suffered the right moment to pass,
and then borne all the blame.
'How you must have wanted to play the Harmonious Blacksmith,' said
'I caught myself going through the motions twice,' said Guy.
Mrs. Edmonstone said to herself that he might contest the palm of
temper with Amy even; the difference being, that hers was naturally
sweet, his a hasty one, so governed that the result was the same. When
breakfast was over, as they were rising, Guy made two steps towards
Amabel, at whom he had hitherto scarcely looked, and said, very low, in
his straightforward way: 'Can I speak to you a little while?'
Amy's face glowed as she moved towards him, and her mother said
something about the drawing-room, where the next moment she found
herself. She did not use any little restless arts to play with her
embarrassment; she did not torment the flowers or the chimney
ornaments, nor even her own rings, she stood with her hands folded and
her head a little bent down, like a pendant blossom, ready to listen to
whatever might be said to her.
He did not speak at first, but moved uneasily about. At last he came
nearer, and began speaking fast and nervously.
'Amabel, I want you to consider--you really ought to think whether this
is not a very bad thing for you.'
The drooping head was raised, the downcast lids lifted up, and the blue
eyes fixed on him with a look at once confiding and wondering. He
'I have brought you nothing but unhappiness already. So far as you
have taken any interest in me, it could cause you only pain, and the
more I think of it, the more unfit it seems that one so formed for
light, and joy, and innocent mirth, should have anything to do with the
darkness that is round me. Think well of it. I feel as if I had done
a selfish thing by you, and now, you know, you are not bound. You are
quite free! No one knows anything about it, or if they did, the blame
would rest entirely with me. I would take care it should. So, Amy,
think, and think well, before you risk your happiness.'
'As to that,' replied Amy, in a soft, low voice, with _such_ a look of
truth in her clear eyes, 'I must care for whatever happens to you, and
I had rather it was with you, than without you,' she said, casting them
'My Amy!--my own!--my Verena!'--and he held fast one of her hands, as
they sat together on the sofa--'I had a feeling that so it might be
through the very worst, yet I can hardly believe it now.'
'Guy,' said Amy, looking up, with the gentle resolution that had lately
grown on her, 'you must not take me for more than I am worth, and I
should like to tell you fairly. I did not speak last time, because it
was all so strange and so delightful, and I had no time to think,
because I was so confused. But that is a long time ago, and this has
been a very sad winter, and I have thought a great deal. I know, and
you know, too, that I am a foolish little thing; I have been silly
little Amy always; you and Charlie have helped me to all the sense I
have, and I don't think I could ever be a clever, strong-minded woman,
such as one admires.'
'Heaven forbid!' ejaculated Guy; moved, perhaps, by a certain
remembrance of St. Mildred's.
'But,' continued Amy, 'I believe I do really wish to be good, and I
know you have helped me to wish it much more, and I have been trying to
learn to bear things, and so'--out came something, very like a sunny
smile, though some tears followed--'so if you do like such a silly
little thing, it can't be helped, and we will try to make the best of
her. Only don't say any more about my being happier without you, for
one thing I am very sure of, Guy, I had rather bear anything with you,
than know you were bearing it alone. I am only afraid of being foolish
and weak, and making things worse for you.'
'So much worse! But still,' he added, 'speak as you may, my Amy, I
cannot, must not, feel that I have a right to think of you as my own,
till you have heard all. You ought to know what my temper is before
you risk yourself in its power. Amy, my first thought towards Philip
was nothing short of murder.'
She raised her eyes, and saw how far entirely he meant what he said.
'The first--not the second,' she murmured.
'Yes, the second--the third. There was a moment when I could have
given my soul for my revenge!'
'Only a moment!'
'Only a moment, thank Heaven! and I have not done quite so badly since.
I hope I have not suffered quite in vain; but if that shock could
overthrow all my wonted guards, it might, though I pray Heaven it may
not, it might happen again.'
'I think you conquered yourself then, and that you will again,' said
'And suppose I was ever to be mad enough to be angry with you?'
Amy smiled outright here. 'Of course, I should deserve it; but I think
the trouble would be the comforting you afterwards. Mamma said'--she
added, after a long silence, during which Guy's feeling would not let
him speak--'mamma said, and I think, that you are much safer and better
with such a quick temper as yours, because you are always struggling
and fighting with it, on the real true religious ground, than a person
more even tempered by nature, but not so much in earnest in doing
'Yes, if I did not believe myself to be in earnest about that, I could
never dare to speak to you at all.'
'We will help each other,' said Amy; 'you have always helped me, long
before we knew we cared for each other!'
'And, Amy, if you knew how the thought of you helped me last winter,
even when I thought I had forfeited you for ever.'
Their talk only ceased when, at one o'clock, Mrs. Edmonstone, who had
pronounced in the dressing-room that three hours was enough for them at
once, came in, and asked Guy to go and help to carry Charles down-
He went, and Amy nestled up to her mother, raising her face to be
'It is very nice!' she whispered; and then arranged her brother's sofa,
as she heard his progress down-stairs beginning. He was so light and
thin as to be very easily carried, and was brought in between Guy and
one of the servants. When he was settled on the sofa, he began thus,--
'There was a grand opportunity lost last winter. I was continually
rehearsing the scene, and thinking what waste it was to go through such
a variety of torture without the dignity of danger. If I could but
have got up ever so small an alarm, I would have conjured my father to
send for Guy, entreated pathetically that the reconciliation might be
effected, and have drawn my last breath clasping their hands, thus!
The curtain falls!'
He made a feint of joining their hands, put his head back, and shut his
eyes with an air and a grace that put Charlotte into an ecstasy, and
made even Amy laugh, as she quitted the room, blushing.
'But if it had been your last breath,' said Charlotte, 'you would not
have been much the wiser.'
'I would have come to life again in time to enjoy the "coup de
theatre". I had some thoughts of trying an overdose of opium; but I
thought Dr. Mayerne would have found me out. I tell you, because it is
fair I should have the credit; for, Guy, if you knew what she was to me
all the winter, you would perceive my superhuman generosity in not
receiving you as my greatest enemy.'
'I shall soon cease to be surprised at any superhuman generosity,' said
Guy. 'But how thin you are, Charlie; you are a very feather to carry;
I had no notion it had been such a severe business.'
'Most uncommon!' said Charles, shaking his head, with a mock solemnity.
'It was the worst of all,' said Mrs. Edmonstone, 'six weeks of constant
'How very sorry Philip must have been!' exclaimed Guy.
'Philip?' said Charlotte.
'Why, was it not owing to him? Surely, your father told me so. Did
not he let you fall on the stairs?'
'My dear father!' exclaimed Charles, laughing; every disaster that
happens for the next twelvemonth will be imputed to Philip.'
'How was it, then?' said Guy.
'The fact was this,' said Charles; 'it was in the thick of the
persecution of you, and I was obliged to let Philip drag me upstairs,
because I was in a hurry. He took the opportunity of giving me some
impertinent advice which I could not stand. I let go his arm,
forgetting what a dependent mortal I am, and down I should assuredly
have gone, if he had not caught me, and carried me off, as a fox does a
goose, so it was his fault, as one may say, in a moral, though not in a
'Then,' said his mother, 'you do think your illness was owing to that
'I suppose the damage was brewing, and that the shake brought it into
an active state. There's a medical opinion for you!'
'Well, I never knew what you thought of it before,' said Mrs.
'Why, when I had a condor to pick on Guy's account with Philip, I was
not going to pick a crow on my own,' said Charles. 'Oh! is luncheon
ready; and you all going? I never see anybody now. I want the story
of the shipwreck, though, of course, Ben What's-his-name was the hero,
and Sir Guy Morville not a bit of it.'
Laura wanted to walk to East Hill, and the other young people agreed to
go thither, too.
'It will be nice to go to church there to-day' said Amy, in a half-
whisper, heard only by Guy, and answered by a look that showed how well
he understood and sympathized.
'Another thing,' said Amy, colouring a good deal; 'shall you mind my
telling Mary? I behaved so oddly last night, and she was so kind to me
that I think I ought.'
Mary had seen enough last night to be very curious to-day, though
hardly expecting her curiosity to be gratified. However, as she was
putting on her bonnet for church, she looked out of her window, and saw
the four coming across the fields from Hollywell. Guy and Amy did not
walk into the village arm-in-arm; but, as they came under the church
porch, Guy, unseen by all held out his hand, sought hers, and, for one
moment, pressed it fervently. Amy knew he felt this like their
After the service, they stood talking with Mr. Ross and Mary, for some
little time. Amy held apart, and Mary saw how it was. As they were
about to turn homewards, Amy said quickly, 'Come and walk a little way
home with me.'
She went on with Mary before the rest, and when out of sight of them
all, said, 'Mary!' and then stopped short.
'I guess something, Amy,' said Mary.
'Don't tell any one but Mr. Ross.'
'Then I have guessed right. My dear little Amy, I am very glad! So
that was the reason you flew out of the room last evening, and looked
so bright and glowing!'
'It was so good of you to ask no questions!'
'I don't think I need ask any now, Amy; for I see in your face how
right and happy it all is.'
'I can't tell you all, Mary, but I must one thing,--that the whole
terrible story arose from his helping a person in distress. I like you
to know that.'
'Papa was always sure that he had not been to blame,' said Mary.
'Yes; so Charlie told me, and that is the reason I wanted you to know.'
'Then, Amy, something of this had begun last summer?'
'Yes; but not as it is now. I did not half know what it was then.'
'Poor dear little Amy,' said Mary; 'what a very sad winter it must have
been for you!'
'Oh, very!' said Amy; 'but it was worse for him, because he was quite
alone; and here every one was so kind to me. Mamma and Laura, and poor
Charlie, through all his illness and pain, he was so very kind. And do
you know, Mary, now it is all over, I am very glad of this dismal time;
for I think that it has taught me how to bear things better.'
She looked very happy. Yet it struck Mary that it was strange to hear
that the first thought of a newly-betrothed maiden was how to brace
herself in endurance. She wondered, however, whether it was not a more
truly happy and safe frame than that of most girls, looking forward to
a life of unclouded happiness, such as could never be realized. At
least, so it struck Mary, though she owned to herself that her
experience of lovers was limited.
Mary walked with Amy almost to the borders of Hollywell garden; and
when the rest came up with them, though no word passed, there was a
great deal of congratulation in her warm shake of Guy's hand, and no
lack of reply in his proud smile and reddening cheek. Charlotte could
not help turning and going back with her a little way, to say, 'Are not
you delighted, Mary? Is not Amy the dearest thing in the world? And
you don't know, for it is a secret, and I know it, how very noble Guy
has been, while they would suspect him.'
'I am very, very glad, indeed! It is everything delightful.'
'I never was so happy in my life,' said Charlotte; 'nor Charlie,
either. Only think of having Guy for our brother; and he is going to
send for Bustle to-morrow.'
Mary laughed, and parted with Charlotte, speculating on the cause of
Laura's graver looks. Were they caused by the fear of losing her
sister, or by a want of confidence in Guy?
That evening, how happy was the party at Hollywell, when Charles put
Guy through a cross-examination on the shipwreck, from the first puff
of wind to the last drop of rain; and Guy submitted very patiently,
since he was allowed the solace of praising his Redclyffe fishermen.
Indeed, this time was full of tranquil, serene happiness. It was like
the lovely weather only to be met with in the spring, and then but
rarely, when the sky is cloudless, and intensely blue,--the sunshine
one glow of clearness without burning,--not a breath of wind checks the
silent growth of the expanding buds of light exquisite green. Such
days as these shone on Guy and Amabel, looking little to the future, or
if they did so at all, with a grave, peaceful awe, reposing in the
present, and resuming old habits,--singing, reading, gardening, walking
as of old, and that intercourse with each other that was so much more
than ever before.
It was more, but it was not quite the same; for Guy was a very
chivalrous lover; the polish and courtesy that sat so well on his
frank, truthful manners, were even more remarkable in his courtship.
His ways with Amy had less of easy familiarity than in the time of
their brother-and-sister-like intimacy, so that a stranger might have
imagined her wooed, not won. It was as if he hardly dared to believe
that she could really be his own, and treated her with a sort of
reverential love and gentleness, while she looked up to him with ever-
increasing honour. She was better able to understand him now than in
her more childish days last summer; and she did not merely see, as
before, that she was looking at the upper surface of a mystery. He
had, at the same time, grown in character, his excitability and over-
sensitiveness seemed to have been smoothed away, and to have given
place to a calmness of tone, that was by no means impassibility.
When alone with Amy, he was generally very grave, often silent and
meditative, or else their talk was deep and serious; and even with the
family he was less merry and more thoughtful than of old, though very
bright and animated, and showing full, free affection to them all, as
entirely accepted and owned as one of them.
So, indeed, he was. Mr. Edmonstone, with his intense delight in
lovers, patronized them, and made commonplace jokes, which they soon
learnt to bear without much discomposure. Mrs. Edmonstone was all that
her constant appellation of 'mamma' betokened, delighting in Guy's
having learnt to call her so. Charles enjoyed the restoration of his
friend, the sight of Amy's happiness, and the victory over Philip, and
was growing better every day. Charlotte was supremely happy, watching
the first love affair ever conducted in her sight, and little less so
in the return of Bustle, who resumed his old habits as regularly as if
he had only left Hollywell yesterday.
Laura alone was unhappy. She did not understand her own feelings; but
sad at heart she was; with only one who could sympathize with her, and
he far away, and the current of feeling setting against him. She could
not conceal her depression, and was obliged to allow it to be
attributed to the grief that one sister must feel in parting with
another; and as her compassion for her little Amy, coupled with her
dread of her latent jealousy, made her particularly tender and
affectionate, it gave even more probability to the supposition. This
made Guy, who felt as if he was committing a robbery on them all,
particularly kind to her, as if he wished to atone for the injury of
taking away her sister; and his kindness gave her additional pain at
entertaining such hard thoughts of him.
How false she felt when she was pitied! and how she hated the
congratulations, of which she had the full share! She thought,
however, that she should be able to rejoice when she had heard Philip's
opinion; and how delightful it would be for him to declare himself
satisfied with Guy's exculpation.
I forgave thee all the blame,
I could not forgive the praise.--TENNYSON
'If ever there was a meddlesome coxcomb on this earth!' Such was the
exclamation that greeted the ears of Guy as he supported Charles into
the breakfast-room; and, at the same time, Mr. Edmonstone tossed a
letter into Guy's plate, saying,--
'There's something for you to read.'
Guy began; his lips were tightly pressed together; his brows made one
black line across his forehead, and his eye sparkled even through his
bent-down eyelashes; but this lasted only a few moments; the forehead
smoothed, again, and there was a kind of deliberate restraint and force
upon himself, which had so much power, that no one spoke till he had
finished, folded it up with a sort of extra care, and returned it, only
'You should not show one such letters, Mr. Edmonstone.'
'Does not it beat everything?' cried Mr. Edmonstone. 'If that is not
impertinence, I should like to know what is! But he has played my Lord
Paramount rather too long, as I can tell him! I ask his consent,
forsooth! Probation, indeed! You might marry her to-morrow, and
welcome. There, give it to mamma. See if she does not say the same.
Mere spite and malice all along.'
Poor Laura! would no one refute such cruel injustice? Yes, Guy spoke,
'No no; that it never was. He was quite right under his belief.'
'Don't tell me! Not a word in his favour will I hear!' stormed on Mr.
Edmonstone. 'Mere envy and ill-will.'
'I always told him so,' said Charles. 'Pure malignity!'
'Nonsense, Charlie!' said Guy, sharply; 'there is no such thing about
'Come, Guy; I can't stand this,' said Mr. Edmonstone. 'I won't have
him defended; I never thought to be so deceived; but you all worshipped
the boy as if every word that came out of his mouth was Gospel truth,
and you've set him up till he would not condescend to take an advice of
his own father, who little thought what an upstart sprig he was
rearing; but I tell him he has come to the wrong shop for domineering--
'Well!' cried Mrs. Edmonstone, who had read till near the end with
tolerable equanimity; this really is too bad!'
'Mamma and all!' thought poor Laura, while her mother continued,--'It
is wilful prejudice, to say the least,--I never could have believed him
capable of it!'
Charles next had the letter, and was commenting on it in a style of
mingled sarcasm and fury; while Laura longed to see it justify itself,
as she was sure it would.
'Read it, all of you--every bit,' said Mr. Edmonstone, 'that you may
see this paragon of yours!'
'I had rather not,' said Amy, shrinking as it came towards her.
'I should like you to do so, if you don't dislike it very much,' said
She read in silence; and then came the turn of Laura, who marvelled at
the general injustice as she read.
'CORK, April 8th.
'MY DEAR UNCLE,--I am much obliged to you for the communication of your
intention with regard to Amabel; but, indeed, I must say I am a good
deal surprised that you should have so hastily resolved on so important
a step, and have been satisfied with so incomplete an explanation of
circumstances which appeared to you, as well as to myself, to show that
Guy's character was yet quite unsettled, and his conduct such as to
create considerable apprehension that he was habitually extremely
imprudent, to say the least of it, in the management of his own
affairs. How much more unfit, therefore, to have the happiness of
another intrusted to him? I believe--indeed, I understood you to have
declared to me that you were resolved never to allow the engagement to
be renewed, unless he should, with the deference which is only due to
you as his guardian, consent to clear up the mystery with which he has
thought fit to invest all his pecuniary transactions, and this, it
appears, he refuses, as he persists in denying all explanation of his
demand for that large sum of money. As to the cheque, which certainly
was applied to discreditable uses, though I will not suffer myself to
suppose that Guy was in collusion with his uncle, yet it is not at all
improbable that Dixon, not being a very scrupulous person, may, on
hearing of the difficulties in which his nephew has been placed, come
forward to relieve him from his embarrassment, in the hope of further
profit, by thus establishing a claim on his gratitude. In fact, this
proof of secretly renewed intercourse with Dixon rather tends to
increase the presumption that there is something wrong. I am not
writing this in the expectation that the connection should be entirely
broken off, for that, indeed, would be out of the question as things
stand at present, but for my little cousin's sake, as well as his own,
I entreat of you to pause. They are both extremely young--so young,
that if there was no other ground, many persons would think it
advisable to wait a few years; and why not wait until the time fixed by
his grandfather for his coming into possession of his property? If the
character of his attachment to Amabel is firm and true, the probation
may be of infinite service to him, as keeping before him, during the
most critical period of his life, a powerful motive for restraining the
natural impetuosity of his disposition; while, on the other hand, if
this should prove to have been a mere passing fancy for the first young
lady into whose society he has been thrown on terms of easy familiar
intercourse, you will then have the satisfaction of reflecting that
your care and caution have preserved your daughter from a life of
misery. My opinion has never altered respecting him, that he is brave
and generous, with good feelings and impulses, manners peculiarly
attractive, and altogether a character calculated to inspire affection,
but impetuous and unsteady, easily led into temptation, yet obstinate
in reserve, and his temper of unchecked violence. I wish him happiness
of every kind; and, as you well know, would, do my utmost for his
welfare; but my affection for your whole family, and my own
conscientious conviction, make me feel it my duty to offer this
remonstrance, which I hope will be regarded as by no means the result
of any ill-will, but simply of a sincere desire for the good of all
parties, such as can only be evinced by plain speaking.
Ail the time Laura was reading, Guy was defending Philip against the
exaggerated abuse that Mr. Edmonstone and Charles were pouring out,
till at last, Mrs. Edmonstone, getting out of patience, said,--
'My dear Guy, if we did not know you so well, we should almost accuse
you of affectation.'
'Then I shall go away,' said Guy, laughing as he rose. 'Can you come
out with me?' said he, in a lower tone, leaning over the back of Amy's
'No; wait a bit,' interposed Mr. Edmonstone; 'don't take her out, or
you won't be to be found, anywhere, and I want to speak to you before I
write my letter, and go to the Union Meeting. I want to tell Master
Philip, on the spot, that the day is fixed, and we snap our fingers at
him and his probation. Wait till twenty-five! I dare say!'
At 'I want to speak to you,' the ladies had made the first move towards
departure, but they were not out of hearing at the conclusion. Guy
looked after Amy, but she would not look round, and Charles lay
twisting Bustle's curls round his fingers, and smiling to himself at
the manner in which the letter was working by contraries. The
overthrow of Philip's influence was a great triumph for him, apart from
the way in which it affected his friend and his sister.
Mr. Edmonstone was disappointed that Guy would not set about fixing the
day, in time for him to announce it in a letter to be written in the
course of an hour. Guy said he had not begun on the subject with Amy,
and it would never do to hurry her. Indeed, it was a new light to
himself that Mr. Edmonstone would like it to take place so soon.
'Pray, when did you think it was to be?' said Mr. Edmonstone. 'Upon my
word, I never in all my days saw a lover like you, Guy!'
'I was too happy to think about the future; besides, I did not know
whether you had sufficient confidence in me.'
'Confidence, nonsense! I tell you if I had a dozen daughters, I would
trust them all to you.'
Guy smiled, and was infected by Charles's burst of laughing, but Mr.
Edmonstone went on unheeding--'I have the most absolute confidence in
you! I am going to write to Philip this minute, to tell him he has
played three-tailed Bashaw rather too long. I shall tell him it is to
be very soon, at any rate; and that if he wishes to see how I value his
pragmatical advice, he may come and dance at the wedding. I declare,
your mamma and that colonel of his have perfectly spoilt him with their
flattery! I knew what would come of it; you all would make a prodigy
of him, till he is so puffed up, that he entirely forgets who he is!'
'Not I' said Charles; 'that can't be laid to my door.'
'But I'll write him such a letter this instant as shall make him
remember what he is, and show him who he has to deal with. Eh,
'Don't you think,' said Guy, preparing to go, 'that it might be better
to wait a day or two, till we see our way clearer, and are a little
'I tell you, Guy, there is no one that puts me out of patience now, but
yourself. You are as bad as Philip himself. Cool? I am coolness
itself, all but what's proper spirit for a man to show when his family
is affronted, and himself dictated to, by a meddling young jackanapes.
I'll serve him out properly!'
A message called him away. Guy stood looking perplexed and sorrowful.
'Never mind,' said Charles, 'I'll take care the letter is moderate.
Besides, it is only Philip, and he knows that letter-writing is not his
'I am afraid things will be said in irritation, which you will both
regret. There are justice and reason in the letter.'
'There shall be more in the answer, as you will see.'
'No, I will not see. It is Mr. Edmonstone's concern, not mine. I am
the last person who should have anything to do with it.'
'Just what the individual in question would not have said.'
'Would you do one thing to oblige me, Charlie?'
'Anything but not speaking my mind to, or of, the captain.'
'That is the very thing, unluckily. Try to get the answer put off till
to-morrow, and that will give time to look at this letter candidly.'
'All the candour in the world will not make me think otherwise than
that he is disappointed at being no longer able to make us the puppets
of his malevolence. Don't answer, or if you do, tell me what you say
in favour of that delicate insinuation of his.'
Guy made a step towards the window, and a step back again. ''Tis not
fair to ask such questions,' he replied, after a moment. 'It is
throwing oil on the fire. I was trying to forget it. He neither knows
my uncle nor the circumstances.'