Part 3 out of 11
"It is _only_ James," said Lady Tyrrell; "as long as it is not the
coachman, it matters the less. There's no danger."
"You will not keep him, though!"
"I don't know. He is much the best looking and handiest of the men;
and your page, Master Joshua, is no great acquisition yet."
"I wish you would not call him mine; I wish you would send him back
to his grandmother. I can't bear his being among those men."
"Very complimentary to my household! They are not a bit worse than
the company he came from! You don't believe in rural simplicity,
"I believe that taking that boy from his home makes us responsible."
"And do I hinder you from catechizing him to your heart's content?
or sending him to the school of design?"
Again Eleonora was silent. Perhaps the balancing of the footman's
head occupied her mind. At any rate, no more was said till the
sisters had reached their home. Then, at the last moment, when
there was no time left for a reply, Eleonora cleared and steadied
her voice, and said, "Camilla, understand two things for truth's
sake. First, I mean what I say. Nothing shall ever induce me to
marry a man who bets. Next, I never have forgotten Frank Charnock
for one moment. If I have been cold and distant to him, it is
because I will not draw him near me to be cruelly scorned and
"I don't mind the why, if the effect is the same," were Lady
Tyrrell's last words, as the door opened.
Eleonora's little white feet sped quickly up the steps, and with a
hasty good night, she sped across the hall, but paused at the door.
"Papa must not be disappointed," she whispered to herself, and
dashed her hand over her eyes; and at the moment the lock turned,
and a gray head appeared, with a mighty odour of smoke. "Ah! I
thought my little Lena would not pass me by! Have you had a
pleasant party, my dear? Was young Strangeways there?"
She had nestled in his arms, and hoped to avoid notice by keeping
her head bent against him, as she hastily responded to his
questions; but he detected something.
"Eh? Camilla been lecturing? Is that it? You've not been crying,
little one? It is all right, you know! You and I were jolly enough
at Rockpier; but it was time we were taken in hand, or you would
have grown into a regular little nun, among all those black coats."
"I wish I were."
"Nonsense! You don't know life! You'll tell another story one of
these days; and hark childie, when you've married, and saved the old
place, you'll keep the old room for the old man, and we'll have our
own way again."
She could but kiss him, and hide her agitation in caresses, ere
hurrying up the stairs she reached her own rooms, a single bed-
chamber opening into a more spacious sitting-room, now partially
lighted by the candles on the toilette-table within.
She flung herself down on a chair beyond the line of light, and
panted out half aloud, "Oh! I am in the toils! Oh for help! Oh
for advice! Oh! if I knew the right! Am I unfair? am I cold and
hard and proud? Is she telling me true? No, I know she is not--not
the whole truth, and I don't know what is left out, or what is
false! And I'm as bad--making them think I give in and discard
Frank! Oh! is that my pride--or that it is too bad to encourage him
now I know more? He'll soon scorn me, and leave off--whatever he
ever thought of me. She has taken me from all my friends--and she
will take him away! No one is left me but papa; and though she
can't hurt his love, she has got his confidence away, and made him
join against me! But that one thing I'll never, never do!"
She started up, and opened a locked purple photograph-album, with
'In Memoriam' inscribed on it--her hands trembling so that she could
hardly turn the key. She turned to the likeness of a young man--a
painful likeness of a handsome face, where the hard verities of sun-
painting had refused to veil the haggard trace of early dissipation,
though the eyes had still the fascinating smile that had made her
brother Tom, with his flashes of fitful good-nature, the idol of his
little sister's girlhood. The deadly shock of his sudden death had
been her first sorrow; and those ghastly whispers which she had
heard from the servants in the nursery, and had never forgotten,
because of the hushed and mysterious manner, had but lately started
into full force and meaning, on the tongues of the plain-spoken
She gazed, and thought of the wrecked life that might have been so
rich in joys; nay, her tenderness for her father could not hide from
her how unlike his old age was from that of Mr. Bowater, or of any
men who had done their service to their generation in all noble
exertion. He had always indeed been her darling, her charge; but
she had never known what it was to look up to him with the fervent
belief and enthusiasm she had seen in other girls. To have him
amused, loitering from reading-room to parade or billiard-room, had
been all that she aspired to, and only lately had she unwillingly
awakened to the sense how and why this was--and why the family were
aliens in their ancestral home.
"And Camilla, who knew all--knew, and lived through the full force
of the blight and misery--would persuade me that it all means
nothing, and is a mere amusing trifle! Trifle, indeed, that breaks
hearts and leads to despair and self-destruction and dishonour! No,
no, no--nothing shall lead me to a gamester! though Frank may be
lost to me! He will be! he will be! We deserve that he should be!
I deserve it--if family sins fall on individuals--I deserve it! It
is better for him--better--better. And yet, can he forget--any more
than I--that sunny day--? Oh! was she luring him on false
pretences? What shall I do? How will it be? Where is my
counsellor? Emily, Emily, why did you die?"
Emily's portrait--calm, sweet, wasted, with grave trustful eyes--was
in the next page. The lonely girl turned to it, and gazed, and
drank in the soothing influence of the countenance that had never
failed to reply with motherly aid and counsel. It rested the
throbbing heart; and presently, with hands clasped and head bent,
Eleonora Vivian knelt in the little light closet she had fitted as
an oratory, and there poured out her perplexities and sorrows.
Since for your pleasure you came here,
You shall go back for mine.--COWPER
"How like Dunstone you have made this room!" said Raymond, entering
his wife's apartment with a compliment that he knew would be
Cecil turned round from her piano, to smile and say, "I wish papa
could see it."
"I hope he will next spring; but he will hardly bring Mrs. Charnock
home this winter. I am afraid you are a good deal alone here,
Cecil. Is there no one you would like to ask?"
"The Venns," suggested Cecil; "only we do not like them to leave
home when we are away; but perhaps they would come."
Raymond could not look as if the proposal were a very pleasing one.
"Have you no young-lady friends?" he asked.
"We never thought it expedient to have intimacies in the
neighbourhood," said Cecil.
"Well, we shall have Jenny Bowater here in a week or two."
"I thought she was your mother's friend."
"So she is. She is quite young enough to be yours."
"I do not see anything remarkable about her."
"No, I suppose there is not; but she is a very sensible superior
"Indeed! In that commonplace family."
"Poor Jenny has had an episode that removes her from the
commonplace. Did you ever hear of poor Archie Douglas?"
"Was not he a good-for-nothing relation of your mother?"
"Not that exactly. He was the son of a good-for-nothing, I grant,
whom a favourite cousin had unfortunately married, but he was an
excellent fellow himself; and when his father died, she had Mrs.
Douglas to live in that cottage by the Rectory, and sent the boy to
school with us; then she got him into Proudfoot's office--the
solicitor at Backsworth, agent for everybody's estates hereabouts.
Well, there arose an attachment between him and Jenny; the Bowaters
did not much like it, of course; but they are kind-hearted and good-
natured, and gave consent, provided Archie got on in his profession.
It was just at the time when poor Tom Vivian was exercising a great
deal more influence than was good among the young men in the
neighbourhood; and George Proudfoot was rather a joke for imitating
him in every respect--from the colour of his dog-cart to the curl of
his dog's tail. I remember his laying a wager, and winning it too,
that if he rode a donkey with his face to the tail, Proudfoot would
do the same; but then, Vivian did everything with a grace and
"Like his sister."
"And doubly dangerous. Every one liked him, and we were all more
together than was prudent. At last, two thousand pounds of my
mother's money, which was passing through the Proudfoots' hands,
disappeared; and at the same time poor Archie fled. No one who knew
him could have any reasonable doubt that he did but bear the blame
of some one else's guilt, most likely that of George Proudfoot; but
he died a year or two back without a word, and no proof has ever
been found; and alas! the week after Archie sailed, we saw his name
in the list of sufferers in a vessel that was burnt. His mother
happily had died before all this, but there were plenty to grieve
bitterly for him; and poor Jenny has been the more like one of
ourselves in consequence. He had left a note for Jenny, and she
always trusted him; and we all of us believe that he was innocent."
"I can't think how a person can go about as usual, or ever get over
such a thing as that."
"Perhaps she hasn't," said Raymond, with a little colour on his
brown cheek. "But I'm afraid I can't make those visits with you to-
day. I am wanted to see the plans for the new town-hall at
Wil'sbro'. Will you pick me up there?"
"There would be sure to be a dreadful long waiting, so I will
luncheon at Sirenwood instead; Lady Tyrrell asked me to come over
"Alone? I think you had better wait for me."
"I can take Frank."
"I should prefer a regular invitation to us both."
"She did not mean to make a formal affair."
"Forms are a protection, and I do not wish for an intimacy there,
especially on Frank's account."
"It would be an excellent match for Frank."
"Indeed, no; the estate is terribly involved, and there are three
daughters; besides which, the family would despise a younger son.
An attachment could only lead to unhappiness now, besides the
positive harm of unsettling him. His tutor tells me that as it is
he is very uneasy about his examination--his mind is evidently
preoccupied. No, no, Cecil, don't make the intercourse
unnecessarily close. The Vivians have not behaved well to my
mother, and it is not desirable to begin a renewal. But you shall
not lose your ride, Cecil; I'll ask one of the boys to go with you
to the Beeches, and perhaps I shall meet you there."
"He talks of my lonely life," said Cecil, to herself, "and yet he
wants to keep me from the only person who really understands me, all
for some rancorous old prejudice of Mrs. Poynsett's. It is very
hard. There's no one in the house to make a friend of--Rosamond, a
mere garrison belle; and Anne, bornee and half a dissenter; and as
soon as I try to make a friend, I am tyrannized over, and this Miss
Bowater thrust on me."
She was pounding these sentiments into a sonata with great energy,
when her door re-opened, and Raymond again appeared. "I am looking
for two books of Mudie's. Do you know where they can be? I can't
make up the number."
"They are here," said Cecil; "Lanfrey's Vie de Napoleon; but I have
not finished them."
"The box should have gone ten days ago. My mother has nothing to
read, and has been waiting all this time for the next part of
Middlemarch," said Raymond.
"She said there was no hurry," murmured Cecil.
"No doubt she did; but we must not take advantage of her
consideration. Reading is her one great resource, and we must so
contrive that your studies shall not interfere with it."
He waited for some word of regret, but none came; and he was obliged
to add, "I must deprive you of the books for the present, for she
must not be kept waiting any longer; but I will see about getting
them for you in some other way. I must take the box to the station
in the dog-cart." He went without a word from her. It was an
entirely new light to her that her self-improvement could possibly
be otherwise than the first object with everyone. At home, father
and mother told one another complacently what Cecil was reading, and
never dreamt of obstructing the virtuous action. Were her studies
to be sacrificed to an old woman's taste for novels?
Cecil had that pertinacity of nature that is stimulated to
resistance by opposition; and she thought of the Egyptian campaign,
and her desire to understand the siege of Acre. Then she
recollected that Miss Vivian had spoken of reading the book, and
this decided her. "I'll go to Sirenwood, look at it, and order it.
No one can expect me to submit to have no friends abroad nor books
at home. Besides, it is all some foolish old family feud; and what
a noble thing it will be for my resolution and independence to force
the two parties to heal the breach, and bridge it over by giving
Miss Vivian to Frank."
In this mood she rang the bell, and ordered her horses; not however
till she had reason to believe the dog-cart on the way down the
avenue. As she came down in her habit, she was met by Frank,
returning from his tutor.
"Have I made a mistake, Cecil! I thought we were to go out together
"Yes; but Raymond was wanted at Willansborough, and I am going to
lunch at Sirenwood. I want to borrow a book."
"Oh, very well, I'll come, if you don't mind. Sir Harry asked me to
drop in and look at his dogs."
This was irresistible; and Frank decided on riding the groom's
horse, and leaving him to conduct Anne to the rendezvous in the
afternoon--for Charlie had been at Sandhurst for the last week--
running in first to impart the change of scheme to her, as she was
performing her daily task of reading to his mother.
He did so thus: "I say, Anne, Cecil wants to go to Sirenwood first
to get a book, so Lee will bring you to meet us at the Beeches at
"Are you going to luncheon at Sirenwood?" asked Mrs. Poynsett.
"Yes; Cecil wants to go," said the dutiful younger brother.
"I wish you would ask Cecil to come in. Raymond put himself into
such a state of mind at finding me reading Madame de Sevigne, that I
am afraid he carried off her books summarily, though I told him I
was glad of a little space for my old favourites."
Cecil was, however, mounted by the time Frank came out, and they
cantered away together, reaching the portico of Sirenwood in about
Cecil had never been in the house before, having only left her card,
though she had often met the sisters. She found herself in a
carpeted hall, like a supplementary sitting-room, where two
gentlemen had been leaning over the wide hearth. One, a handsome
benignant-looking old man, with a ruddy face and abundant white
whiskers, came forward with a hearty greeting. "Ah! young Mrs.
Poynsett! Delighted to see you!--Frank Charnock, you're come in
good time; we are just going down to see the puppies before
luncheon. Only I'll take Mrs. Poynsett to the ladies first.
Duncombe, you don't know Mrs. Raymond Poynsett--one must not say
senior bride, but the senior's bride. Is that right?"
"No papa," said a bright voice from the stairs, "you haven't it at
all right; Mrs. Charnock Poynsett, if you please--isn't it?"
"I believe so," replied Cecil. "Charnock always seems my right
"And you have all the right to retain it that Mrs. Poynsett had to
keep hers," said Lady Tyrrell, as they went up-stairs to her
bedroom. "How is she?"
"As usual, thank you; always on the sofa."
"But managing everything from it?"
"Never was there such a set of devoted sons, models for the
Cecil felt a sense of something chiming in with her sources of
vexation, but she only answered, "They are passionately fond of
"Talk of despotism! Commend me to an invalid! Ah! how delightfully
you contrive to keep your hair in order! I am always scolding
Lenore for coming in dishevelled, and you look so fresh and compact!
Here is my sanctum. You'll find Mrs. Duncombe there. She drove
over in the drag with her husband on their way to Backsworth. I am
so glad you came, there is so much to talk over."
"If our gentlemen will give us time," said Mrs. Duncombe; "but I am
afraid your senator will not be as much absorbed in the dogs as my
"I did not come with my husband," said Cecil; "he is gone to
Willansborough to meet the architect."
"Ah, about the new buildings. I do hope and trust the opportunity
will not be wasted, and that the drainage will be provided for."
"You are longing to have a voice there," said Lady Tyrrell,
"I am. It is pre-eminently a woman's question, and this is a great
opportunity. I shall talk to every one. Little Pettitt, the hair-
dresser, has some ground there, and he is the most intelligent of
the tradesmen. I gave him one of those excellent little hand-bills,
put forth by the Social Science Committee, on sanitary arrangements.
I thought of asking you to join us in ordering some down, and never
letting a woman leave our work-room without one."
"You couldn't do better, I am sure," said Lady Tyrrell; "only,
what's the use of preaching to the poor creatures to live in good
houses, when their landlords won't build them, and they must live
"Make them coerce the landlords," said Mrs. Duncombe; "that's the
only way. Upheave the masses from beneath."
"But that's an earthquake," said Cecil.
"Earthquakes are sometimes wholesome."
"But the process is not so agreeable that we had not rather avert
it," said Lady Tyrrell.
"All ours at Dunstone are model cottages," said Cecil; "it is my
father's great hobby."
"Squires' hobbies are generally like the silver trough the lady gave
her sow," said Mrs. Duncombe; "they come before the poor are
prepared, and with a spice of the autocrat."
"Come, I won't have you shock Mrs. Charnock Poynsett," said Lady
Tyrrell. "You illogical woman! The poor are to demand better
houses, and the squires are not to build them!"
"The poor are to be fitly housed, as a matter of right, and from
their own sense of self-respect," returned Mrs. Duncombe; "not a few
favourites, who will endure dictation, picked out for the model
cottage. It is the hobby system against which I protest."
"Without quite knowing what was conveyed by it in this instance?"
said Lady Tyrrell. "I am sure there is nothing I wish more than
that we had any power of improvement of the cottages here; but
influence is our only weapon."
"By the bye, Mrs. Poynsett," continued Mrs. Duncombe, "will you give
a hint to Mrs. Miles Charnock that it will never do to preach to the
women at the working-room? I don't mean holding forth," she added,
seeing Cecil's look of amazement; "but improving the occasion,
talking piously, giving tracts, and so forth."
"I thought you gave sanitary tracts!" said Lady Tyrrell.
"That is quite different."
"I doubt whether the women would see the distinction. A little book
_is_ a tract to them."
"I would abstain rather than let our work get a goody reputation for
indoctrinating sectarianism. It would be all up with us; we might
as well keep a charity school."
"I don't think the women dislike it," said Cecil.
"Most likely they think it the correct thing, the grain which they
must swallow with our benefits; but for that very reason it injures
the whole tone, and prevents them learning independence. Put it in
that light; I know you can."
"I don't think Anne would understand," said Cecil, somewhat
"I doubt whether there are three women in the neighbourhood who
would," said Lady Tyrrell.
"People always think charity--how I hate the word!--a means of
forcing their own tenets down the throats of the poor," said Mrs.
Duncombe. "And certainly this neighbourhood is as narrow as any I
ever saw. Nobody but you and--shall I say the present company?--has
any ideas. I wonder how they will receive Clio Tallboys and her
"Ah! you have not heard about them," said Lady Tyrrell. "Most
delightful people, whom Mrs. Duncombe met on the Righi. He is a
"Taillebois--I don't remember the name," said Cecil, "and we know a
great many Cambridge men. We went to a Commencement there."
"Oh, not Cambridge on the Cam! the American Cambridge," said Mrs.
Duncombe. "He is a quiet, inoffensive man, great on political
economy; but his wife is the character. Wonderfully brilliant and
original, and such a lecturer!"
"Ladies' lectures _would_ startle the natives," said Lady Tyrrell.
"Besides, the town-hall is lacking," said Mrs. Duncombe; "but when
the Tallboys come we might arrange a succession of soirees, where
she might gather her audience."
"But where?" said Lady Tyrrell. "It would be great fun, and you
might reckon on me; but where else? Mrs. Charnock Poynsett has to
think of la belle mere."
"She has given up the management of all matters of society to me,"
said Cecil with dignity; "you may reckon on me."
"No hope of the Bowaters, of course," said Mrs. Duncombe.
"Miss Bowater is coming to stay with us," volunteered Cecil.
"To be near that unlucky Life Guardsman manque," said Mrs. Duncombe.
"Come, I'll not have honest Herbert abused," said the other lady.
"He is the only one of the Bowaters who has any go in him."
"More's the pity, if he can't use it. Is his sister coming to help
the Reverend Julius to drill him?"
"On Mrs. Poynsett's account too, I fancy," said Lady Tyrrell; "Jenny
Bowater is her amateur companion. Indeed, I believe it was no
slight disappointment that her sons' appreciation did not quite
reach the pitch of the mother's."
"Indeed!" asked Mrs. Duncombe; "I thought there had been a foolish
affair with poor young Douglas."
"Cela n'empeche pas. By the bye, have you finished Fleurange?"
"Oh, you are quite welcome to it. It is quite as goody as an
English tale in one volume."
This opened the way to Cecil's desire to borrow Lanfrey, not
concealing the reason why; and she was gratified by the full
sympathy of both ladies, who invited her in self-defence to join in
their subscription to Rolandi, to which she eagerly agreed, and
would have paid her subscription at once if there had not been a
term to be finished off first.
The gong summoned them to luncheon, and likewise brought down Miss
Vivian, who shook hands rather stiffly, and wore a cold, grave
manner that did not sit badly on her handsome classical features.
The countenance was very fine, but of the style to which early youth
is less favourable than a more mature development; and she was less
universally admired than was her sister. Her dress was a dark
maroon merino, hanging in simple, long, straight folds, and there
was as little distortion in her coiffure as the most moderate
compliance with fashion permitted; and this, with a high-bred,
distinguished deportment, gave an air almost of stern severity.
This deepened rather than relaxed at the greeting from Frank--who,
poor fellow! had an uncontrollably wistful eager look in his face, a
sort of shy entreaty, and was under an incapacity of keeping up a
conversation with anybody else, while trying to catch the least word
She, however, seemed to have more eyes and ears for her father than
for any one else, and he evidently viewed her as the darling and
treasure of his life. His first question, after performing the
duties of a host, was, "Well, my little Lenore, what have you been
"The old story, papa," raising her clear, sweet voice to reach his
rather deaf ears.
"Got on with your drawing?--The child is competing with a club, you
"Not exactly, papa: it is only a little society that was set on
foot at Rockpier to help us to improve ourselves."
"What is your subject this month?" Frank asked.
"A branch of blackberries," she answered briefly.
"Ah!" said Lady Tyrrell, "I saw your pupil bringing in a delicious
festoon--all black and red fruit and crimson and purple leaves. He
is really a boy of taste; I think he will do you credit."
"The new Joshua Reynolds," said Frank, glad of an excuse to turn
towards Eleonora. "Rosamond mentioned her discovery."
"You might have seen him just now figuring as Buttons," said Lady
Tyrrell. "Degradation of art, is it not? But it was the only way
to save it. Lenore is teaching him; and if his talent prove worth
it we may do something with him. Any way, the produce of native
genius will be grand material for the bazaar."
"Card-board prettinesses!" said Mrs. Duncombe; "you spoil him with
them; but that you'll do any way--make him fit for nothing but a
"Unappreciated zeal!" said Lady Tyrrell, glancing at her sister, who
flushed a little, and looked the more grave.
"Eh, Lenore," said her father, "wasn't it to please you that Camilla
made me take your pet to make havoc of my glasses?"
"You meant it so, dear papa," said Eleonora, calling up a smile that
satisfied the old gentleman. "It was very kind in you."
Fresh subjects were started, and on all the talk was lively and
pleasant, and fascinated Cecil, not from any reminiscence of
Dunstone--for indeed nothing could be more unlike the tone that
prevailed there: but because it was so different from that of
Compton Poynsett, drifting on so unrestrainedly, and touching so
lightly on all topics.
By the close of the meal, rain had set in, evidently for the
afternoon. Frank offered to ride home, and send the carriage for
Cecil; but the Duncombes proposed to take her and drop her at home;
and to this she consented, rather to Frank's dismay, as he thought
of their coach appearing at his mother's door.
Lady Tyrrell took her up to resume her hat; and on the way, moved by
distaste to her double surname, and drawn on by a fresh access of
intimacy, she begged to be called Cecil--a privilege of which she
had been chary even in her maiden days; but the caressing manner had
won her heart, and spirit of opposition to the discouragement at
home did the rest.
The request was reciprocated with that pensive look which was so
touching. "I used to be Camilla to all the neighbourhood, and here
I find myself--miles'--no, leagues further off--banished to
"How unjust and unkind!" cried Cecil.
"My dear, you have yet to learn the gentle uncharitableness of
prejudice. It is the prevailing notion that my married life was a
career of dissipation. Ah! if they only knew!"
"The drag is round," said Mrs. Duncombe's voice at the door, in all
its decisive abruptness, making both start.
"Just ready," called Lady Tyrrell; adding, in a lower tone, "Ah! she
is startling, but she is genuine! And one must take new friends
when the old are chilly. She is the only one--"
Cecil's kiss was more hearty than any she had given at Compton, and
she descended; but just as she came to the door, and was only
delaying while Frank and Captain Duncombe were discussing the merits
of the four horses, the Compton carriage appeared in the approach,
and Raymond's head within. Lady Tyrrell looked at Cecil, and saw it
was safe to make a little gesture with the white skin of her fair
brow, expressing unutterable things.
Mrs. Duncombe lost no time in asking if any steps were being taken
for improving the drainage; to which Raymond replied, "No, that was
not the business in hand. This was the architecture of the town-
"Splendour of municipality above, and fever festering below," said
"Wilsborough is not unhealthy," said Raymond.
She laughed ironically.
"The corporation have been told that they have an opportunity," said
Raymond; "but it takes long to prepare people's minds to believe in
the expedience of such measures. If Whitlock could be elected mayor
there would be some chance, but I am afraid they are sure to take
Truelove; and as things are at Wilsborough, we must move all at once
or not at all. Individual attempts would do more harm than good."
"Ah! you fear for your seat!" said the plain-spoken lady.
Raymond only chose to answer by a laugh, and would not pursue the
subject so treated. He was politeness itself to all; but he
withstood Lady Tyrrell's earnest entreaties to come in and see some
Florentine photographs, growing stiffer and graver each moment,
while his wife waxed more wrathful at the treatment which she knew
was wounding her friend, and began almost to glory in having
incurred his displeasure herself. Indeed, this feeling caused the
exchange of another kiss between the ladies before Sir Harry handed
Cecil into the carriage, and Raymond took the yellow paper books
that were held out to her.
Looking at the title as they drove off, he said quietly, "I did not
mean to deprive you, Cecil; I had ordered Lanfrey from Bennet for
She was somewhat abashed, but was excited enough to answer, "Thank
you. I am going to join Lady Tyrrell and Mrs. Duncombe in a
subscription to Rolandi's."
He started, and after a pause of a few moments said gently, "Are you
sure that Mr. and Mrs. Charnock would like to trust your choice of
foreign books to Mrs. Duncombe?"
Taking no notice of the point of this question, she replied, "If it
is an object to exchange books at home faster than I can read them
properly, I must look for a supply elsewhere."
"You had better subscribe alone," he replied, still without manifest
"That would be uncivil now."
"I take that upon myself."
Wherewith there came a silence; while Cecil swelled as she thought
of the prejudice against her friend, and Raymond revolved all he had
ever heard about creatures he knew so little as women, to enable him
to guess how to deal with this one. How reprove so as not to make
it worse? Ought not his silent displeasure to suffice? And in such
musings the carriage reached home.
It had been an untoward day. He had been striving hard against the
stream at Willansborough. The drainage was not only scouted as an
absurd, unreasonable, and expensive fancy, but the architect whom he
had recommended, in the hope that he would insist on ground-work
which might bring on the improvement, had been rejected in favour of
a kinsman of Mr. Briggs, the out-going mayor, a youth of the lower
walk of the profession--not the scholar and gentleman he had
desired, for the tradesman intellect fancied such a person would be
expensive and unmanageable.
Twin plans for church and town-hall had been produced, which to
Raymond's taste savoured of the gimcrack style, but which infinitely
delighted all the corporation; and where he was the only cultivated
gentleman, except the timid Vicar, his reasonings were all in vain.
The plan was accepted for the town-hall, and the specifications were
ordered to be made out for competition, and a rate decided on. The
church was to wait for subscription and bazaar; the drains, for
reason in Wil'sbro', or for the hope of the mayoralty of Mr.
Whitlock, a very intelligent and superior linendraper.
Pray, sir, do you laugh at me?--Title of Old Caricature
Was Cecil's allegiance to Dunstone, or was it to the heiress of
Dunstone? Tests of allegiance consist in very small matters, and it
is not always easy to see the turning-point. Now Cecil had always
stood on a pinnacle at Dunstone, and she had found neither its
claims nor her own recognized at Compton. One kind of allegiance
would have remained on the level, and retained the same standard,
whether accepted or not. Another would climb on any pinnacle that
any one would erect for the purpose, and become alienated from
whatever interfered with such eminence.
So as nobody seemed so willing to own Cecil's claims to county
supremacy as Lady Tyrrell, her bias was all towards Sirenwood; and
whereas such practices as prevailed at Dunstone evidently were
viewed as obsolete and narrow by these new friends, Cecil was
willing to prove herself superior to them, and was far more
irritated than convinced when her husband appealed to her former
The separation of the welfare of body and soul had never occurred to
the beneficence of Dunstone, and it cost Cecil a qualm to accept it;
but she could not be a goody in the eyes of Sirenwood; and besides,
she was reading some contemporary literature, which made it plain
that any religious instruction was a most unjustifiable interference
with the great law, "Am I my brother's keeper?" and so, when she met
Anne with a handful of texts neatly written out in printing letters,
she administered her warning.
Cecil and Anne had become allies to a certain extent, chiefly
through their joint disapproval of Rosamond, not to say of Julius;
and the order was so amazing that Anne did not at first take it in;
and when she understood that all mention of religion was forbidden,
she said, "I do not think I ought to yield in this."
"Surely," said Cecil, "there is no connection between piety and
"I don't know," said Anne; "but it does not seem to me to be right
to go on with a work where my Master's Name is forbidden."
"Religion ought never to be obtruded," said Cecil.
"The Word ought to flavour everything, in season or out of season,"
said Anne, thoughtfully.
"Oh! that's impossible. It's your narrow view. If you thrust
preaching into everything, we can never work together."
"Oh, then," said Anne, quickly, "I must give it up!" And she turned
away with a rapid step, to carry her texts back to her room.
"Anne!" called Cecil, "I did not mean _that_!"
Anne paused for a moment, looked over the baluster, and repeated
firmly, "No, Cecil; it would be denying Christ to work where His
Name is forbidden."
Perhaps there was something in the elevation and the carved rail
that gave the idea of a pulpit, for Cecil felt as if she was being
preached at, and turned her back, indignant and vexed at what she
had by no means intended to incur--the loss of such a useful
assistant as she found in Anne.
"Such nonsense!" she said to herself, as she crossed the hall alone,
there meeting with Rosamond, equipped for the village. "Is not Anne
going to-day?" she said, as she saw the pony-carriage at the door.
"No. It is so vexatious. She is so determined upon preaching to
the women, that I have been obliged to put a stop to it."
"Indeed! I should not have thought it of poor Anne; but no one can
tell what those semi-dissenters think right."
"When she declared she ought to do it in season or out of season,
what was one to do?" said Cecil.
"I thought that was for clergymen," said Rosamond, hitting the right
nail on the head in her ignorance, as so often happened.
"She sees no difference," said Cecil. "Shall I drive you down?" she
added graciously, according to the fashion of uniting with one
sister-in-law against the other; and Rosamond not only accepted, but
asked to be taken on to Willansborough, to buy a birthday present
for her brother Terry, get stamps for an Indian letter, and perform
a dozen more commissions that seemed to arise in her mind with the
opportunity. Her two brothers were to spend the Christmas holidays
with her, and she was in high spirits, and so communicative about
them that she hardly observed how little interest Cecil took in
"Who is that," she presently asked, "with those red-haired children?
It looked like Miss Vivian's figure."
"I believe it was. Julius and I often see her walking about the
lanes; but she passes like--like a fire-flaught, whatever that is--
just bows, and hardly ever speaks."
"She is a strange girl," said Cecil. "Lady Tyrrell says she cannot
draw her into any of her interests, but she will go her own way."
"Like poor Anne?"
"No, not out of mere moping and want of intellect, like Anne. But
Lady Tyrrell says she feels for her; she was brought a great deal
too forward, and was made quite mistress of the house at Rockpier,
being her father's darling and all, and now it is trying to her,
though it is quite wholesome, to be in her proper place. It is a
pity she is so bitter over it, and flies off her own way."
"That boy!" said Rosamond; "I hope she does something for his good."
"She teaches him, I believe; but there's another instance of her
strange ways. She was absolutely vexed when Lady Tyrrell took him
into the house, though he was her protege, only because it was not
done in _her_ way. It is a great trial to Camilla."
"I could fancy a reason for that," said Rosamond. "Julius does not
like the tone of the household at all." But she added hastily, "Who
could those children be? They did not look _quite_ like poor
"Ah! she is always taking up with some odd person in her own away,"
said Cecil. "But here we are. Will you drive on to the hotel, or
get out here?"
When, at the end of two hours, the sisters-in-law met at the work-
room, and Rosamond had taken a survey of the row of needle-women,
coming up one by one to give their work, be paid and dismissed,
there was a look of weariness and vexation on Cecil's face. She had
found it less easy to keep order and hinder gossip, and had hardly
known how to answer when that kind lady, Mrs. Miles Charnock, had
been asked after; but she would have scorned to allow that she had
missed her assistant, and only politely asked how Rosamond had sped.
"Oh! excellently. People were so well advised as to be out, so I
paid off all my calls."
"You did not return your calls without Julius?"
"There's nothing he hates so much. I would not have dragged him
with me on any account."
"I think it is due to one's self."
"Ah! but then I don't care what is due to myself. I saw a friend of
"Mrs. Duncombe," said Rosamond. "I went to Pettitt's--the little
perfumer, you know, that Julius did so much for at the fire; and
there she was, leaning on the counter, haranguing him confidentially
upon setting an example with sanatory measures."
"Sanitary," corrected Cecil; "sanitas is health, sano to cure.
People never know the difference."
"Certainly I don't," said Rosamond. "It must be microscopic!"
"Only it shows the difference between culture and the reverse," said
"Well, you know, I'm the reverse," said Rosamond, leaning sleepily
back, and becoming silent; but Cecil was too anxious for
intelligence to let her rest, and asked on what Mrs. Duncombe was
"I am not quite sure--she was stirring up his public spirit, I
think, about the drainage; and they were both of them deploring the
slackness and insensibility of the corporation, and canvassing for
Mr. Whitlock, as I believe. It struck me as a funny subject for a
lady, but I believe she does not stick at trifles."
"No real work can be carried out by those who do," said Cecil.
"Oh!" added Rosamond, "I met Mrs. and Miss Bowater, and they desired
me to say that Jenny can't come till the dinner-party on the 20th,
and then they will leave her."
"How cool to send a message instead of writing!"
"Oh! she has always been like one of themselves, like a sister to
"I can't bear that sort of people."
"Who worm themselves in."
"Miss Bowater could have no occasion for worming. They must be
quite on equal terms."
"At any rate, she was only engaged to their poor relation."
"What poor relation? Tell me! Who told you?"
"Raymond. It was a young attorney--a kind of cousin of the Poynsett
side, named Douglas."
"What? There's a cross in the churchyard to Elizabeth Douglas,
daughter of Francis Poynsett, and wife of James Douglas, and at the
bottom another inscription to Archibald Douglas, her son, lost in
"Yes, that must be the man. He was flying from England, having been
suspected of some embezzlement."
"Indeed! And was Jenny engaged to him? Julius told me that Mrs.
Douglas had been his mother's dearest friend, and that this Archie
had been brought up with them, but he did not say any more."
"Perhaps he did not like having had a cousin in an attorney's
office. I am sure I had no notion of such a thing."
Rosamond laughed till she was exhausted at the notion of Julius's
sharing the fastidious objections she heard in Cecil's voice; and
then, struck by the sadness of the story, she cried, "And that makes
them all so fond of Miss Bowater. Poor girl, what must she not have
gone through! And yet how cheerful she does look!"
"People say," proceeded Cecil, unable to resist the impulse to
acquire a partaker in her half-jealous aversion, "that it was a
great disappointment that Mrs. Poynsett could not make her sons like
her as much as she did herself."
"Oh!" cried Rosamond, "how little peace we should have if we always
heeded what people say!"
"People that know," persisted Cecil.
"Not very wise or very kind people to say so," quoth Rosamond;
"though, by the bye, the intended sting is happily lost, considering
that it lies among five."
"Why should you assume a sting?"
"Because I see you are stung, and want to sting me," said Rosamond,
in so merry a tone that the earnestness was disguised.
"I! I'm not stung! What Mrs. Poynsett or Miss Bowater may have
schemed is nothing to me," said Cecil, with all her childish
"People talk of Irish imagination," said Rosamond in her lazy
"Well?" demanded Cecil, sharply.
"Only it is not _my_ Irish imagination that has devised this
dreadful picture of the artful Jenny and Mrs. Poynsett spinning
their toils to entrap the whole five brothers. Come, Cecil, take my
advice and put it out of your head. Suppose it were true, small
blame to Mrs. Poynsett."
"What do you mean?" said Cecil, in a voice of hurt dignity.
"I may mean myself." And Rosamond's peal of merry laughter was most
amazing and inexplicable to her companion, who was not sure that she
was not presuming to laugh at her.
There was a silence, broken at last by Rosamond. "Cecil, I have
been tumbled about the world a good deal more than you have, and I
never found that one got any good by disregarding the warnings of
the natives. There's an immense deal in the cat and the cock."
"I do not understand, said Cecil.
Whereupon Rosamond, in a voice as if she were telling the story to a
small child, began: "Once upon a time there was a wee bit
mousiekie, that lived in Giberatie O--that trotted out of her hole
upon an exploring expedition. By and by she came scuttling back in
a state of great trepidation--in fact, horribly nervous. 'Mother,
mother!' said the little mouse, 'I've seen a hideous monster, with a
red face, and a voice like a trumpet, and a pair of spurs.'"
"Of course, I know that," broke in Cecil.
"Ah, you haven't heard all. 'I should have died of terror,' said
the little mouse, 'only that I saw a dear sweet graceful creature,
with a lovely soft voice, and a smooth coat, and the most beautiful
eyes, and the most exquisite pathetic expression in her smile; and
she held out her velvet paw to me, and said, 'Dear little mousiekie-
pousie, you're the loveliest creature I ever met, quite
unappreciated in these parts. That horrid old cock is terribly
vulgar and commonplace; and never you believe your mother if she
tells you he is better worth cultivating than one who has such a
deep genuine love and appreciation of all the excellences of all
mice, and of you in particular with your dun fur.'"
Rosamond could not for her very life help putting in that word dun;
and Cecil, who had been driving straight on with her eyes fixed on
her pony's ears, and rather a sullen expression of forced endurance,
faced about. "What you mean by all this I don't know; but if you
think it applies to me or my friends, you are much mistaken."
"I told you," said Rosamond, with the same languor, looking out
under her half-shut eyes, "that I apply things to myself. I've met
both sorts in my time."
And silence reigned for the rest of the way. Cecil had read many
more books, knew much more, and was altogether a far more cultivated
personage than the Lady Rosamond; but she was not half so ready in
catching the import of spoken words; and all this time she was by no
means certain whether all this meant warning or meant mockery,
though either was equally impertinent, and must be met with the same
lady-like indifference, which Cecil trusted that she had never
Neither of them, nor indeed any other living creature, knew of a
little episode which had occurred about eighteen months previously,
when Joanna Bowater had been taking care of Mrs Poynsett during
Raymond's first absence from home after her accident. Of course he
took her back to Strawyers as soon as he arrived; and about half-
way, after a prolonged and unusual silence, he said, "Jenny, I
believe we know one another's histories pretty well. It would be a
great happiness and blessing if you could bring yourself to sink the
past so far as to take me, and become indeed my mother's daughter.
Do not answer me in haste. Think it over, and tell me if it is
Jenny let him drive on more than a mile before she spoke; and when
she did, the tears stood on her cheek, and it was quite an effort
that her voice was made steady. "No, Raymond, I am very sorry, but
it will not do. Two griefs will not make one joy."
"Yes, they would, to my mother."
"Ah! there it lies! Indeed, Raymond, I do feel for you all so much,
especially your dear mother, that I would bring myself to it, if I
could; but the very thought brings Archie up so vividly before me
that I cannot! He has almost seemed to be sitting by me all this
time. It seems as though beginning again would kill my right to
think of him foremost of all."
"I could bear with that and trust to time," said Raymond. "Think it
over, Jenny. I will be candid with you. The old delusion was too
strong for any repetition of that kind, as you may see by the lame
performance I am making now."
Jenny gave a little agitated laugh, and ejaculated, "Dear Raymond!"
then added, "It is not on your account, but mine."
"But," he added, "my marriage is becoming a necessity, if only for
my mother's sake; and you stand far before any other woman with me,
if that would but satisfy you. I verily believe that in a short
time we should be just as comfortable together as if we could start
with more romance."
"I dare say we should, dear Raymond," said Jenny; "but I cannot feel
that it is the right thing, while I have not _that_ feeling for you
which overpowers everything else; it seems to me that I ought not to
give up my place at home. Papa depends on me a good deal, and they
both will want me more and more."
"Less than my mother."
"I don't know; and they are my first duty. I can always come to
your mother when I am wanted, and I know in your secret soul you
prefer me on those terms."
He made no answer, only when passing the lodge he said, "Will you
consider it a little longer, Jenny?"
But this only resulted in a note:--
"DEAR RAYMOND,--Considering only shows me that I must be Archie
Douglas's now and for ever. I can't help it. It is better for
you; for you can find some young girl who can wake your heart
again, as never could be done by your still affectionate J. B."
Raymond and Jenny had met so often since, that the matter was
entirely past, and no one ever guessed it.
At any rate, Rosamond, the most ready to plunge into counsel to
Cecil, was the least likely to have it accepted; Rosamond had
foibles of her own that Cecil knew of, and censured freely enough
That never-ending question, whether what became the Colonel's
daughter became the clergyman's wife, would crop up under endless
forms. Rosamond, in all opinions, was good-natured and easy, and
always for pardon and toleration to an extent that the Compton code
could not understand. She could not bear that anybody should be
punished or shut out of anything; while there was no denying that,
now the first novelty was passing, she was very lazy as to her
parochial work, and that where her feelings were not stirred she was
of little use.
Julius seemed shamefully tolerant of her omissions, and likewise of
her eagerness for all gaieties. He would not go himself, would not
accept a dinner invitation for any of the three busy nights of the
week, and refused all those to dances and balls for himself, though
he never hindered Rosamond's going.
She used absolutely to cry with passionate entreaties that he would
relent and come with her, declaring that he was very unkind, he knew
it took away all her pleasure--he was a tyrant, and wanted her not
to go. And then he smiled, and owned that he hoped some day she
would be tired of it; whereat she raged, and begged him to forbid
her, if he really thought her whole life had been so shocking,
declaring in the same breath that she would never disown her family,
or cast a slur on her mother and sisters.
It always ended in her going, and though never again offending as by
her bridal gown, she seldom failed to scandalize Cecil by an excess
of talking and of waltzing, such as even Raymond regretted, and
which disabled her for a whole day after from all but sofa, sleep,
novels, and yawns.
Was this the person whose advice the discreet heiress of Dunstone
was likely to follow?
It may be mentioned here, among other elements of difficulty, that
Cecil's maid Grindstone was a thorough Dunstonite, who 'kept herself
to herself,' was perfectly irreproachable, lived on terms of distant
civility with the rest of the household, never complained, but
constantly led her young mistress to understand that she was
enduring much for her sake.
Cecil was too well trained, and so was she, for a word of gossip or
censure to pass between them; but the influence was not the less
A finger's breadth at hand may mar
A world of light in heaven afar;
A mote eclipse a glorious star,
An eyelid hide the sky.--KEBLE.
The dinner was over, and Cecil was favouring the audience with a
severely classical piece of music, when, under cover thereof, a low
voice said to Julius, "Now, really and truly, tell me how he is
"Really and truly, Jenny?"
"Well, not as you would tell mamma, for instance; but as you think
in your secret soul."
"I am sorry you think me so duplex."
"Come, you understand how anxious I am about the boy."
"Exactly." And they both laughed.
"Is that all?" said Joanna Bowater.
"_Really and truly_ it is! Rose can manage him much better than I
"He is very fond of her; but does he--is he--is his heart in his
work?" asked the sister, looking with her honest eyes earnestly at
Julius, her contemporary and playfellow as a child, and afterwards
the companion with whom she had worked out many a deep problem,
rendering mutual assistance that made each enter in no common degree
into the inner thoughts of the other.
Julius smiled. "I doubt whether he has come to his heart yet."
"Why should he be so young? Think what you were at twenty-three."
"I never had Herbert's physique; and that makes an immense
difference. I had no taste or capacity for what is a great
privation to a fine young fellow like him. Don't look startled! He
attempts nothing unfitting; he is too good and dutiful, but--"
"Yes, I know what that _but_ means."
"Nothing to be unhappy about. You know how blameless he has always
been at Eton and Oxford; and though he may view his work rather in a
school-boy aspect, and me as a taskmaster, as long as he is doing
right the growth is going on. Don't be unhappy, Jenny! His great
clear young voice is delightful to hear; he is capital at choral
practices, and is a hero to all the old women and boys, the more so
for the qualities that earnestness cannot give, but rather detracts
"You mean that he is not in earnest?"
"Don't pervert all I say! He is not past the time of life when all
appointed work seems a task, and any sort of excuse a valid cause
against it; but he is conscientious, and always good-humoured under
a scolding,--and Rosamond does not spare him," he added, laughing.
"Then you don't think there has been a mistake about him?" said
Jenny, in a low voice of alarm.
"I have little doubt that when anything develops his inner life, so
as to overcome the great strong animal that demands play and
exercise, he will be a most useful clergyman."
"Perhaps he is too young, though I don't see how it could be helped.
Papa always intended it, because of the living; and Herbert never
wished anything else. I thought he really desired it, but now I
don't know whether he did not only take it as a matter of course."
"Obedience is no unwholesome motive. As things stood, to delay his
ordination would have been a stigma he did not deserve; and though
he might have spent a year with advantage in a theological college,
pupilage might only have prolonged his boyhood. It must be
experience, not simply years of study, that deepens him."
"Ah, those studies!"
"To tell the truth, that's what I am most uneasy about. I take care
he should have two hours every forenoon, and three evenings every
week, free; but when a man is in his own neighbourhood, and so
popular, I am afraid he does not get many evenings at home; and I
can't hinder Bindon from admonishing him."
"No," said the sister; "nothing will stir him till the examination
is imminent; but I will try what I can do with him for the present.
Here he comes, the dear old idle fellow!"
"Joanie, here you are at last, in conclave with the Rector. Lady
Rose wants me to sing, and you must accompany me. No one is so
jolly for picking one up."
'Picking one up' was apt to be needed by Herbert, who had a good ear
and voice, but had always regarded it as 'bosh' to cultivate them,
except for the immediately practical purposes that had of late been
forced on him. The choral society had improved him; but Jenny was
taken aback by being called on to accompany him in Mrs. Brown's
Luggage; and his father made his way up to him, saying, "Eh,
Herbert! is that the last clerical fashion?"
"'Tis my Rectoress who sets me on, sir," was Herbert's merry answer,
looking at her. "Now, Lady Rose, you'll keep me in countenance! My
father has never heard you sing Coming through the Rye."
"No, no, Herbert, my singing is only to amuse little boys. Here's
the higher order of art!"
For Cecil was leading a young lady to the piano, and looking as if
she by no means approved of such folly, though everybody had
listened to the Poor Old Cockatoo, laughed and applauded heartily;
and the ensuing performance seemed to be unappreciated by any one
except Raymond and Cecil themselves.
Anne was sitting in a corner of the sofa, with a straight back and
weary face, having been driven out into the throng by the old
friends who came to sit with Mrs. Poynsett; but she brightened as
Miss Bowater took a seat beside her, and accepted her inquiries for
Captain Charnock far more graciously than the many which had
preceded them. Was not her likeness in his album? And had he not
spoken of her as one whom Anne would like?
Soon Joanna had led her to tell not only of Miles's last letter, but
of those from Glen Fraser, of which she had spoken to no one, under
the impression that nobody cared. She even spoke of the excellent
farm and homestead which Mr. Van Dorp wanted to sell before going to
the Free State, and which her father thought would exactly suit
"Does he mean to settle there?"
"Oh, yes; he promised me to leave the navy and take me home as soon
as this voyage is over," said Anne, eagerly. "If the Salamanca only
puts in for long enough, he might run up to Glen Fraser, and see
Bocksfeld Stoop, and settle it all at once. I am sure he would be
delighted with it, and it is only two miles from Mr. Pilgrim's."
"I'm afraid you can never feel this like home," said Jenny.
"Miles wanted me to know his family, and thought I should be useful
to his mother," said Anne; "but she does not want anything I could
do for her. If she has Raymond, she seems to need nobody else."
"And have you nothing to do?"
"I have letters to write to Miles and to them all at home; and I am
making a whole set of shirts and stockings for papa and the boys--it
will spare mamma and Jeanie, and I have plenty of time."
"Too much, I am afraid! But Herbert said you were very useful at
the Work Society at Wil'sbro'."
"No," in the old cold dry tone. But while Jenny was doubting
whether to inquire further, innate sympathy conquered, and Anne
added, "I wonder whether I did wrong!"
"As how?" asked Joanna, kindly.
"They said"--she lowered her voice--"I must never speak on religious
"How do you mean? What had you done?"
"One day I found a woman crying because her husband had gone away to
seek work, so I told her my husband was further away and repeated
the texts I like. She was so much comforted that I printed them on
a card for her."
"Was that all?"
"No; there was another poor dear that was unhappy about her baby;
and when I bade her pray for it, she did not know how, so I had to
tell her a little. There is one who does know her Saviour, and I
did love to have a few words of peace with her."
"And was that what was objected to?"
"Yes; they said it would change the whole character of the
"Cecil--Mrs. Charnock Poynsett. I think Lady Tyrrell and Mrs.
Duncombe desired her. I thought it was no place for me where I
might not speak one word for Christ, and I said so; but since I have
wondered whether the old Adam did not speak in me, and I ought to
have gone on."
"My wonder," said Jenny, indignantly, "would be what right they had
to stop you. This was private interference, not from the Vicar or
"But I am not a real visiting lady. I only go to help Cecil."
"I see; but why didn't you ask Julius what was right? He would have
"Oh, no, I could not."
"It would seem like a complaint of Cecil. Besides--"
"I don't think Julius is a Christian."
The startling announcement was made in so humble and mournful a
voice as almost to disarm Jenny's resentment; and before she had
recovered enough for a reply, she was called to take leave of her
Her brother was the professed object of her visit, and she was only
at the Hall because there was no accommodation at his lodgings, so
that she had no scruple in joining the early breakfast spread for
the Rector and his wife, so as to have the morning free for him; but
she found Julius alone, saying that his wife was tired after the
party; and to Jenny's offer to take her class, he replied, "Thank
you, it will be a great kindness if you will teach; but Rose has no
regular class. Teaching is not much in her line; and it is a pity
she should have to do it, but we have to make the most of the single
hour they allow us for godliness."
"Don't you utilize Mrs. Charnock? or is she not strong enough for
"Poor Anne! The truth is, I am afraid of her. I fancy all her
doctrine comes out of the Westminster Catechism."
"Could Calvinism be put in at seven years old? Would not it be a
pouring of stiff glue into a narrow-necked phial?"
"A few pure drops might got in--and you could give her books."
"It had struck me that it might be wholesome work for her; but the
children's good must stand first. And, timid and reserved as she
seems, she insisted on preaching at the work-room, so that Cecil had
to put a stop to it."
"Are you certain about that preaching?"
"Rose heard of it from Cecil herself."
"Did she ask what it amounted to?"
"I don't know; perhaps I had better find out. I remember it came
after that ride to Sirenwood. By the bye, Jenny, I wish Cecil could
be hindered from throwing herself into that oak of Broceliande!"
"Are not you so suspicious that you see the waving arms and magic
"A friendship with any one here is so unnatural, that I can't but
think it a waving of hands boding no good. And there is worse than
friendship in that quarter too."
"Oh, but Lenore is quite different!"
"A Vivienne still!" said Julius, bitterly. "If she costs poor Frank
nothing more than his appointment, it will be well."
"I don't understand!"
"She caught him in her toils two years ago at Rockpier; and now she
is playing fast and loose with him--withdrawing, as I believe; and
at any rate keeping the poor foolish boy in such an agitation, that
he can't or won't settle to his reading; and Driver thinks he will
"I can't think it of Lenore.--Oh! good morning, Raymond!"
"Good morning! May I come to breakfast number one? I have to go to
"Yes," said Jenny; "we told papa it was too bad to put you on the
Prison Committee. What does your wife say?"
"My wife has so many occupations, that she is very sufficient for
herself," said Raymond. "I hope you will get on with her, Jenny.
If she could only be got to think you intellectual!"
"Me? O, Raymond! you've not been telling her so?" exclaimed Jenny,
"A very superior coach in divinity, &c.," said Julius, in a tone
half banter, half earnest.
But Jenny exclaimed in distress, "No, no, no; say nothing about
that! It would never do for Herbert to have it known. Don't let
him guess that you know."
"Quite right, Jenny; never fear," said Julius; "though it is
tempting to ask you to take Frank in hand at the same time."
"Have you seen anything of the Vivians?" asked Raymond.
"Very little. I hoped to see something of Eleonora from hence."
"I can't understand that young lady," said Julius. "She was very
friendly when first we met her; but now she seems absolutely
"Tant mieux," Raymond
"They seem inclined to take up all the good works in hand," said
Jenny. "By the bye, what is all this story about Raymond affronting
Wil'sbro' by stirring up their gutters? Papa has been quite in a
state of mind for fear they should take offence and bring in Mr.
"Julius only thinks I have not stirred the gutters enough," said
Raymond. "And after all, it is not I, but Whitlock. I was in hopes
that matters might have been properly looked after if Whitlock had
been chosen mayor this year; but, somehow, a cry was got up that he
was going to bring down a sanitary commission, and put the town to
great expense; and actually, this town-council have been elected
_because_ they are opposed to drainage."
"And Truelove, the grocer, is mayor?"
"Yes; one of the most impracticable men I ever encountered. One
can't get him so much as to understand anything. Now Briggs does
understand, only he goes by pounds s. d."
"Posterity has done nothing for me, and I will do nothing for
posterity, is his principle," said Julius. "Moreover, he is a
"No chance for the Church in his time," said Jenny.
"There's the less harm in that," said Raymond, "that the plan is
intolerable. Briggs's nephew took the plan of what he calls a
German Rat-house, for the town-hall, made in gilt gingerbread; and
then adapted the church to a beautiful similarity. If that could be
staved off by waiting for the bazaar, or by any other means, there
might be a chance of something better. So poor Fuller thinks,
though he is not man enough to speak out at once."
"Then the bazaar is really fixed?"
"So far as the resolution goes of the lady population, though Julius
is sanguine, and hopes to avert it. After all, I believe the
greatest obstructive to improvement is Moy."
"Old Mr. Proudfoot's son-in-law?" said Jenny. "I know he has
blossomed out in great splendour on our side of the county, and his
daughter is the general wonder. Papa is always declaring he will
set up in opposition to you."
"Not much fear of that," said Raymond. "But the man provokes me, he
has so much apparent seriousness."
"Even to the persecution of Dr. Easterby," put in Julius. "And yet
he is the great supporter of that abominable public-house in Water
Lane, the Three Pigeons--which, unluckily, escaped the fire. He
owns it, and all those miserable tenements beyond it, and nothing
will move him an inch towards doing any good there!"
"I remember," said Jenny, "papa came home very angry on the
licensing day; the police had complained of the Three Pigeons, and
the magistrates would have taken away the license, but that Mr. Moy
made such a personal matter of it."
"You don't mean that he is a magistrate!" exclaimed Julius.
"Yes," said Raymond. "He got the ear of the Lord-Lieutenant."
"And since he has lived at the Lawn, they have all quite set up for
county people or anything you please," said Jenny, a little
bitterly. "Mrs. Moy drives about with the most stylish pair of
ponies; and as to Miss Gussie, she is making herself into a proverb!
I can't bear them."
"Well done, Jenny!" exclaimed Julius.
"Perhaps it is wrong," said Jenny, in a low voice. "I dare say I am
not just. You know I always did think Mr. Moy could have cleared
Archie if he would," she added, with a slightly trembling tone.
"So did I," said Raymond. "I gave him the opportunity after George
Proudfoot's death; but when the choice lay between two memories, one
could hardly wonder if he preferred to shield his brother-in-law."
"Or himself!" said Jenny, under her breath.
"Come, Jenny," said Julius, feeling that the moment for interruption
had come, "it is time we should be off. Methinks there are sounds
as if the whole canine establishment at Mrs. Hornblower's were
prancing up to meet us."
So it proved; and Jenny had to run the gauntlet through the
ecstasies of all the dogs, whose ecclesiastical propriety was quite
overthrown, for they danced about her to the very threshold of the
church, and had to have the door shut on their very noses. That
drop of bitterness, which her sad brief story could not fail to have
left in poor Joanna's heart, either passed out of mind in what
followed, or was turned into the prayer, "And to turn their hearts;"
and she was her bright self again for her promised assistance at the
Then Herbert's address was, "Come, Joan, I promised to take you to
see the Reeves's pheasant at the Outwood Lodge. Such a jolly old
"No; the keeper's mother. Tail a yard long! I don't see why we
shouldn't turn them out at home. If father won't take it up, I
shall write to Phil."
"Thank you, Herbs. Hadn't you better secure a little reading first?
I could wait; I've got to write to Will."
"The post doesn't go till five."
"But I want to get it done. The mail goes to-morrow."
"You'll do it much better after a walk. I can't understand anything
after the fumes of the school, unless I do a bit of visiting first;
and that pheasant is a real stunner. It really is parish work,
Jenny. Look here, this is what I'm reading her."
"_Learn to die_!" said Jenny, laughing heartily. "Nothing could be
more appropriate, only you should have begun before October."
"You choose to make fun of everything!" answered Herbert, gruffly;
and Jenny, deciding that she would see a specimen day, made her
peace by consenting to share in the pastoral visit, whether to
pheasant or peasant. Indeed, a walk with Herbert was one of the
prime pleasures of her life--and this was delightful, along broad
gravelled drives through the autumnal woods with tinted beech-leaves
above, and brackens of all shades of brown, green, and yellow
beneath. And it was charming to see Herbert's ways with the old
woman--a dainty old dame, such as is grown in the upper ranks of
service, whom he treated with a hearty, bantering, coaxing manner,
which she evidently enjoyed extremely. His reading, for he _did_
come to more serious matters, was very good--in a voice that without
effort reached deaf ears, and with feeling about it that did a great
deal to reassure his sister that there was something behind the big
But by the time he had done the honours of all the pheasants, and
all the dogs, and all the ferrets, and all the stuffed birds, and
all the eggs (for the keeper was a bit of a naturalist), and had
discussed Mr. Frank's last day's shooting, it was so late, that
Jenny had only just time to walk back to the Hall at her best pace,
to see Mrs. Poynsett for a few minutes before luncheon; and her
reception was, "Is that Herbert's step? Call him in, my dear!--You
must make the most of your sister, Herbert. Come in to all meals
while she is here."
He heard with gratitude--his sister with consternation. If forenoon
pastoral visits were to be on that scale, and he dined out whenever
he was not at school or at church, how would his books fare? and yet
she could not grudge his pleasure. She could not help looking half
foolish, half sad, when she met the Rector's eye.
Julius thought so much of her advice, as to knock at Cecil's
sitting-room door, and beg to ask her a question; and as she liked
to be consulted, she welcomed him hospitably into that temple,
sacred to culture and to Dunstone--full of drawings, books, and
"I was thinking," he said, "of offering Anne some parish work. I
wanted to know if you saw any objection?"
"Certainly not; I have not been able to make acquaintance yet with
all our tenants, but they seem quite to understand the difference in
our positions," said Cecil, with due deliberation.
Julius choked his amusement, and waived that point. "But did you
not feel obliged to decline her services at the Wil'sbro' work-
"That was quite another thing. What was most undesirable in such an
institution would be all very well for your old women."
"What kind of thing?"
"Talking piously, giving away texts, and so on; just the way to make
the women think we intended to impose religious instruction and give
a sectarian character, defeating our own object."
"Was there any flaw in what she said?"
"I can't tell what she said. It was just a little murmur over the
"Not in that sense," said Cecil, with a little compunction.
"I am glad to hear it; it makes a great difference."
"You see," said the lady, "our institution is merely intended to
support these women in the time of want; and if we were to couple
our assistance with religion we should just sink into a mothers'
meeting, and make the women think--"
"Think that you prize the soul more than the body," said Julius, as
she halted in search of a word. "I understand, Cecil; you would not
be in the prevailing fashion. I don't want to argue that point,
only to understand about Anne."
So saying, he went at once to Anne's abode, the old schoolroom,
which, like everything else belonging to Mrs. Miles Charnock, had a
sad-coloured aspect, although it had been fitted up very prettily.
The light was sombre, and all the brighter pictures and ornaments
seemed to have been effaced by a whole gallery of amateur
photographs, in which the glories of the African bush were
represented by brown masses of shade variegated by blotches of
white. Even in Miles's own portrait on the table, the gold seemed
overwhelmed by the dark blue; and even as Julius entered, she shut
it up in its brown case, as too sacred for even his brother's eyes.
However, a flush of pleasure came to her pale face at the invitation
to take a class, and to read to a good old woman, whom in his secret
soul he thought so nearly a dissenter, that she could not be made
more so. She promised her help with some eagerness for as long as
she should remain in England, and accepted the books he gave her
without protest. Nay, that same evening she took Jenny off into her
gray abode, to consult her whether, since she must now join the
early breakfast, she could go to daily service without becoming
She even recurred to her question, whether Julius was a Christian,
without nearly as much negation in her tones as before; and Jenny,
taking it as it was meant, vouched for his piety, so as might render
it a little more comprehensible to one matured on Scottish Calvinism
and English Methodism, diluted in devout undogmatic minds, with no
principle more developed than horror of Popery and of worldliness.
Turned loose in solitude, reserve, and sadness, on her husband's
family, who did nothing but shock her with manifestations of the
latter, she could hardly turn even to the clerical portion of it,
while Julius, as well as his curates, bore all the tokens by which
she had been taught to know a Papist. Daily intercourse was perhaps
drawing her a little towards her brother-in-law; but Herbert Bowater
united these obnoxious externals to a careless tongue, and joyous
easy-going manner, and taste for amusement, which so horrified Anne,
that she once condoled with his sister, and proposed to unite in
prayer for his conversion; but this was more than Joanna could bear,
and she cried, "I only wish I were as good a Christian as dear
For indeed, the sister's heart intensely esteemed his sweetness,
honesty, and simplicity, even while she found it an uphill task to
coax him to steady work. After that first morning he was indeed
ashamed to let her see the proportion between his pastoral visits
and his theological reading; but the newspapers (he had two or three
weekly ones) had a curious facility of expansion, and there was a
perilous sound in "I'll just see where the meet is,"--not that he
had the most distant idea of repairing thither; it was pure filial
interest in learning where his father and Edith would be.
Jenny could not tell whether her presence conduced to diligence or
to chatter, but he minded her more than any one else, and always
stuck close to her, insisting on her admiring all his proteges.
There was one with whom he was certainly doing a work, which, as
Julius truly said, no one more clerical could have done so well--
namely, the son of his landlady, a youth who held a small clerkship
in an office at Willansborough, and who had fallen this year under
the attraction of the Backsworth races, so as to get into serious
difficulties with his master, and narrowly escape dismissal for the
sake of his mother.
The exceeding good-nature and muscular Christian side of the
lodger's character was having a most happy effect on the lad. He
had set up a regular hero-worship, which Herbert encouraged by
always calling for him when going to the choral practices, getting
him into the choir, lending him books, and inviting him to read in
his room in the evening. How much they played with the dogs was not
known; but at any rate, Harry Hornblower was out of mischief, and
his mother was so grateful to Mr. Bowater, that she even went the
length of preferring his sermons to those of both his seniors.
The discovery that most vexed Jenny was that Sirenwood had so much
of his time. He seemed to be asked to come to dinner whenever Sir
Harry saw him, or a chair was left vacant at a party; and though his
Rector was inexorable as to releasing him on casual notice from the
parish avocations of three nights in the week, the effect was
grumbling as savage as was possible from so good-humoured a being;
and now and then a regular absence without leave, and a double growl
at the consequent displeasure. It was true that in ten minutes he
was as hearty and friendly as ever to his colleagues, but that might
be only a proof of his disregard of their reproofs, and their small
Eleonora Vivian was not the attraction. No; Herbert thought her a
proud, silent, disagreeable girl, and could see no beauty in her;
but he had a boy's passion for the matured splendour of her sister's
beauty; and she was so kind to him!
What could Jenny mean by looking glum about it? She was stunningly
good, and all that. She had done no end of good with clubs and
mothers' meetings at her married home; and it was no end of a pity
she was not in Compton parish, instead of under poor wretched old
Fuller, whom you could not stir--no, not if you tied a firebrand to
Withered Leaves and Fresh Buds
Lady Rosamond and Joanna Bowater could not fail to be good friends;
Herbert was a great bond of union, and so was Mrs. Poynsett.
Rosamond found it hard to recover from the rejection of her scheme
of the wheeled-chair, and begged Jenny to become its advocate; but
Mrs. Poynsett listened with a smile of the unpromising kind--"You
"Why not, dear Mrs. Poynsett? How nice it would be to see you in
your own corner again!"
"I don't think my own corner remains."
"Oh! but it could be restored at once."
"Do you think so? No, no, Jenny my dear; cracked china is better
left on the shelf out of the way, even if it could bear the move,
which it can't."
Then Jenny understood, and advised Rosamond to bide her time, and
wait till the session of parliament, when the house would be
quieter; and Rosamond nodded and held her peace.
The only person who held aloof was Cecil, who would not rise to the
bait when Raymond tried to exhibit Miss Bowater as a superior
Unluckily, too, Jenny observed one evening at the five o'clock tea,
"I hear that Mrs. Duncombe has picked up some very funny people--a
lady lecturer, who is coming to set us all to rights."
"A wonderful pair, I hear!" said Frank. "Mrs. Clio Tallboys, she
calls herself, and a poor little husband, whom she carries about to
show the superiority of her sex."
"A Cambridge professor and a great political economist!" observed
Cecil, in a low but indignant voice.
"The Yankee Cambridge!" quoth Frank.
"The American Cambridge is a distinguished university," returned
"Cecil is right, Master Frank," laughed his mother; "Cam and Isis
are not the only streams of learning in the world."
"I never heard of him," said Jenny; "he is a mere satellite to the
"They are worth seeing," added Frank; "she is one of those regular
American beauties one would pay to get a sight of."
"Where did you get all this information?" asked Cecil.
"From Duncombe himself. They met on the Righi; and nothing is more
comical than to near him describe the ladies' fraternization over
female doctors and lawyers, till they rushed into each other's arms,
and the Clio promised to come down on a crusade and convert you
"There are two ways of telling a story," said Cecil.
"No wonder the gentlemen quake!" said Mrs. Poynsett.
"I don't," said Frank, boyishly.
"Because you've no wife to take you in hand," retorted Jenny.
"For my part," said Mrs. Poynsett, "I can't see what women want. I
have always had as many rights as I could exercise."
"Ah! but we are not all ladies of the manor," said Jenny, "nor do we
all drive coaches."
"I observe," said Cecil, with dignity, "that there is supposed to be
a license to laugh at Mrs. Duncombe and whatever she does."
"She would do better to mind her children," said Frank.
"Children! Has she children?" broke in Anne and Rosamond, both at
"Didn't you know it?" said Jenny.
"No, indeed! I didn't think her the sort of woman," said Rosamond.
"What does she do with them?"
"Drops them in the gutter," said Frank. "Literally, as I came home,
I heard a squeak, and found a child flat in a little watercourse. I
picked it out, and the elder one told me it was Ducky Duncombe, or
some such word. Its little boots had holes in them, mother; its
legs were purple, and there was a fine smart foreign woman flirting
round the corner with young Hornblower."
"Boys with long red hair, and Highland dresses?" exclaimed Rosamond.
"Yes, the same we saw with Miss Vivian!"
"Exactly!" said Frank, eagerly. "She is quite a mother to those
poor little wretches; they watch for her at the Sirenwood gate, and
she walks with them. The boy's cry was not for mother or nurse, but
"Pray, did she come at his call?"
"No; but when I carried the brat home, poor Duncombe told me almost
with tears, how good she is to them. I fancy he feels their
mother's neglect of them."
"I'm sure I gave her credit for having none," said Rosamond.
"Ah!" said Jenny, "you should have heard her condolences with my
sister Mary on her last infliction. Fancy Mary's face!"
"No doubt it was to stem a torrent of nursery discussions," said
Cecil. "Such bad taste!"
"Which?" murmured Rosamond under her breath, with an arched eyebrow.
"Plain enough," said Frank: "if a woman is a woman, the bad taste
is to be ashamed of it."
"Yes," said Cecil, "that is the way with men; they would fain keep
us down to the level of the nursery."
"I thought nurseries were usually at the top of the house."
"Perhaps," said Mrs. Poynsett, disregarding this mischievous
suggestion, "they mean that organization, like charity, should begin
"You say that meaningly," said Rosamond. "I have heard very odd
stories of domestic affairs at Aucuba Villa, and that she can't get
a servant to stay there."
"That man, Alexander, has always been there," said Frank.
"Yes; but he has occasionally to do all the work of the house. Yes,
I can't help it, Cecil, Susan will regale me with cook-stories
sometimes; and I have heard of the whole establishment turning out
on being required to eat funguses."
"I shall beware of dining there!" said Rosamond.
"Don't they dine here to-morrow?" asked Frank.
"No, they are engaged to the Moys," said Cecil.
"But the Vivians come?"
Every one knew that already; but Frank could not help having it
repeated. It was a mere formal necessity to ask them, and had been
accepted as such; but there was some amazement when Cecil brought
home Lady Tyrrell and Miss Vivian to lunch and spend the afternoon.
It might be intended as one of her demonstrations; for though it was
understood that any of the inmates were free to bring home friends
to luncheon, it was not done--except with a casual gentleman--
without notice to the mistress of the house. Cecil, however,
comported herself entirely as in that position, explaining that Lady
Tyrrell was come to give her advice upon an intended fernery, and
would perform her toilette here, so as to have plenty of time.
Frank, little knowing what was passing, was working the whole day at
his tutor's for the closely imminent examination; Julius and Raymond
were gravely polite; Eleonora very silent; and as soon as the meal
was over, Rosamond declared that she should not come out to stand
planning in the cold; and though Herbert would have liked nothing
better in that company, his Rector carried him off to arrange an
Advent service in a distant hamlet; Anne's horse came to the door;
and only Joanna remained to accompany the gardening party, except
that Raymond came out with them to mark the limits of permissible
"How unchanged!" exclaimed Lady Tyrrell. "Time stands still here;
only where is the grand old magnolia? How sweet it used to be!"
"Killed by the frost," said Raymond, shortly, not choosing to
undergo a course of reminiscences, and chafing his wife by his
repressive manner towards her guest. When he had pointed out the
bed of Americans that were to be her boundary, he excused himself as
having letters to finish; and as he went away Cecil gave vent to her
distaste to the old shrubs and borders, now, of course, at their
worst--the azaleas mere dead branches, the roses with a few yellow
night-capped buds still lingering, and fuchsias with a scanty bell
Jenny fought for their spring beauty, all the more because Lady
Tyrrell was encouraging the wife to criticize the very things she
had tried to sentimentalize over with the husband; but seeing that
she was only doing harm, she proposed a brisk walk to Eleonora, who
gladly assented, though her sister made a protest about damp, and
her being a bad walker. The last things they heard was Cecil's
sigh, "It is all so shut in, wherever there is level ground, that
the bazaar would be impossible."
"I should hope so!" muttered Jenny.
"What do you mean to do about this bazaar?" asked Eleonora, as they
"I don't know. Those things so often go off in smoke, that I don't
make up my mind till they become imminent."
"I am afraid this will go on," said Eleonora. "Camilla means it and
she always carries out her plans; I wish I saw the right line."
"About everything. It seems to me that there never was any one so
cut off from help and advice as I am;" then, as Joanna made some
mute sign of sympathy, "I knew you would understand; I have been
longing to be with you, for there has been no one to whom I could
speak freely since I left Rockpier."
"And I have been longing to have you. Mamma would have asked you to
stay with us before, only we had the house full. Can't you come
"You will see that I shall not be allowed. It is of no use to think
about it!" said the girl, with a sigh. "Here, let us get out of
this broad path, or she may yet come after us--persuade Mrs.
Charnock Poynsett it is too cold to stand about--anything to break
up a tete-a-tete."
Jenny saw she really was in absolute fear of pursuit; but hardly yet
understood the nervous haste to turn into a not very inviting side-
path, veiled by the trees, whose wet leaves were falling.
"Do you mind the damp?" asked the girl, anxiously.
"No, not at all; but--"
"You don't know what it is never to feel free, but be like a French
girl, always watched--at least whenever I am with any one I care to
"Are you quite sure it is not imagination?"
"O, Joanna, don't be like all the rest, blinded by her! You knew
"Only from below. I am four years younger; you know dear Emily was