Part 5 out of 11
"Now, Tom," cried Rosamond, stopping short, "if you do that, I
solemnly declare I'll never have you here again! What could papa
do? Do you think he could cure Raymond's wife of being a ridiculous
little prig? And if he could--why, before your letter got to
Meerut, she will be gone up to London; and by the time she comes
back we'll be safe in our own Rectory. Here, come in, and get our
string and basket at Mrs. Bungay's."
"I'll pay her out!" muttered Tom, as he followed his sister into
Mrs. Bungay's shop, one of much smaller pretensions, for the sale of
baskets, brushes, mats, &c.
The mistress, a stout, red-faced woman, looked as if she had been
'speaking a bit of her mind,' and was at first very gruff and
ungracious, until she found they were real customers; and moreover,
Tom's bland Irish courtesy perfectly disarmed her, when Rosamond,
having fixed her mind on a box in the very topmost pigeon-hole, they
not only apologized for the trouble they were giving, but Tom
offered to climb up and bring it down, when she was calling for the
errand-boy in vain.
"It's no trouble, sir, thank you; I'd think nothing of that for you,
my lady, nor for Mr. Charnock--which I'm sure I'll never forget all
he did for us at the fire, leading my little Alferd out like a lamb!
I beg your ladyship's pardon, ma'am, if I seemed a bit hasty; but
I've been so put about--and I thought at first you'd come in on the
same matter, which I'm sure a lady like you wouldn't ever do--about
the drains, and such like, which isn't fit for no lady to speak of!
As if Water Lane weren't as sweet and clean as it has any call to
be, and as if we didn't know what was right by our tenants, which
are a bad lot, and don't merit no money to be laid out on them!"
"So you have houses in Water Lane, Mrs. Bungay? I didn't even know
"Yes, Lady Rosamond! My husband and I thought there was no better
investment than to buy a bit of land, when the waste was inclosed,
and run 'em up cheap. Houses always lets here, you see, and the
fire did no damage to that side. But of course you didn't know,
Lady Rosamond; a real lady like you wouldn't go prying into what
she's no call to, like that fine decked-out body Duncombe's wife,
which had best mind her own children, which it is a shame to see
stravaging about the place! I know it's her doing, which I told
young Mrs. Charnock Poynsett just now, which I'm right sorry to see
led along by the like of her, and so are more of us; and we all wish
some friend would give her a hint, which she is but young--and 'tis
doing harm to Mr. Charnock Poynsett, Lady Rosamond, which all of us
have a regard for, as is but right, having been a good customer, and
friend to the town, and all before him; but we can't have ladies
coming in with their fads and calling us names for not laying out on
what's no good to nobody, just to satisfy them! As if Wil'sbro'
hadn't been always healthy!"
Tom was wicked enough to put in a good many notes of sympathy, at
the intervals of the conjunctive whiches, and to end by declaring,
"Quite right, Mrs. Bungay! You see how much better we've brought up
my sister! I say--what's the price of that little doll's broom?"
"What do you want of it, Tom?"
"Never you mind!"
"No mischief, I hope?"
"It seems a shame," the Walrus said,
"To play them such a trick,
After we've brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick."
The carpenter said nothing, but
"The butter's spread too thick."--LEWIS CARROLL
A telegram arrived from Frank, in the midst of the preparations on
Wednesday, announcing that 'he was all right, and should be at
Hazlitt's Gate at 8.10 p.m.'
At 6.30 children of all sizes, with manes of all colours, were
arriving, and were regaled in the dining-room by Anne, assisted by
Jenny and Charlie. Anne had a pretty pink colour in her cheeks, her
flaxen locks were bound with green ribbons, and green adorned her
white dress, in which she had a gracious, lily-like look of
unworldly purity. She thoroughly loved children, was quite equal to
the occasion, and indeed enjoyed it as much as the recent Christmas-
tree in the village school.
Such of Cecil's guests as were mothers for the most part came with
their children; but Lady Tyrrell, her sister, and others, who were
unattached, arrived later, and were shown to the library, where she
entertained them on the specified refreshment, biscuits and coffee,
and enthroned Mrs Tallboys in the large arm-chair, where she looked
most beautiful and gorgeous, in a robe of some astonishing sheeny
sky-blue, edged with paly gold, while on her head was a coronal of
sapphire and gold, with a marvellous little plume. The cost must
have been enormous, and her delicate and spirituelle beauty was
shown to the greatest advantage; but as the audience was far too
scanty to be worth beginning upon, Cecil, with a sigh at the folly
of maternal idolatry, went to hunt up her ladies from gazing at the
babyish amusements of their offspring; and Miss Moy, in spite of her
remonstrance, jumped up to follow her; while Mrs. Duncombe, the only
_good_ mother in this new sense, remained, keeping guard lest
curiosity, and the echo of piano music, which now began to be heard,
should attract away any more of the ladies.
Cecil was by no means prepared for the scene. The drawing-room was
crowded--chiefly indeed with ladies and children, but there was a
fair sprinkling of gentlemen--and all had their faces turned towards
the great glass doors opening into the conservatory, which was
brilliantly lighted and echoing with music and laughter. Cecil
tried to summon some of the ladies of her own inviting, announcing
that Mrs. Tallboys was arrived; but this appeared to have no effect.
"Yes, thank you," was all she heard. Penetrating a little farther,
"Mrs. Tallboys is ready." "Thank you, I'll come; but my little
people are so anxious to have me with them."--"Mrs. Tallboys is
waiting!" to the next; who really did not hear, but only responded,
"Did you ever see anything more charming?"
By this time Cecil could see over the heads of the front rank of
children. She hardly knew the conservatory. All the veteran
camellia and orange-trees, and a good many bay and laurel boughs
besides, were ranged along the central alley, gorgeous with fairy
lamps and jewels, while strains of soft music proceeded from some
unseen quarter. "Very pretty!" said Cecil, hastily, trying another
of her intended guests with her intelligence. "Really--yes,
presently, thank you," was the absent answer. "There is some
delightful mystery in there."
Cecil found her attempts were vain, and was next asked, as one of
the household, what delicious secret was going on there; and as it
hurt her feelings to be left out, she pressed into the conservatory,
with some vague intention of ordering Anne, if not Rosamond, to
release her grown-up audience, and confine their entertainment to
the children; but she found herself at once caught by the hand by a
turbaned figure like a prince in the Arabian Nights, who, with a low
salaam, waved her on.
"No, thank you. I'm looking for--"
But retreat was impossible, for many were crowding up in eager
curiosity; moreover, a muslin bandage descended-on her eyes.
"Don't!" she expostulated; "I'm not at play--I'm--" but her words
"Hush! the Peri's cave is near,
No one enters scatheless here;
Lightly tread and lowly bend,
Win the Peri for your friend,"
sung a voice to the mysterious piano accompaniment; and Cecil found
both hands taken, and was forced to move on, as she guessed the
length of the conservatory, amid sounds of suppressed laughter that
exceedingly annoyed her, till there was a pause and repetition of
the two last lines with an attempt to make her obey them. She was
too impatient and angry to perceive that it would have been much
better taste to enter into the humour of the thing; and she only
said with all her peculiar cold petulance, just like sleet, "Let me
go, if you please; I am engaged. I am waited for."
Behold, every hair shall bristle
When she hears the magic whistle!"
and a whistle, sharp, long, and loud, sounded behind her, amid peals
of merriment. She turned sharply round, but still the whistle was
behind her, and rang out again and again, till she was half
deafened, and wholly irate; while the repetition of
"Bend, bend, lowly bend,
Win the Peri for your friend,"
forced on her the conviction that on no other condition should she
be set free, though the recognition of Terry's voice made the
command doubly unpalatable, and as she made the stiffest and most
reluctant of courtesies, a voice said,
"Homage done, you may be
Of this merry company;"
and with a last blast of the whistle the bandage was removed, and
she found herself in the midst of a half circle of laughing children
and grown people; in front of her a large opening, like a cavern,
hung with tiny lamps of various colours, in the midst of which stood
the Peri, in a Persian pink robe, white turban, and wide white
trousers, with two oriental genies attendant upon her.
A string was thrust into Cecil's hand, apparently fastened to her,
and accounting for some sharp pulls she had felt during the
whistling. She drew it in front in sharp haste, to be rid of the
obnoxious instrument; but instead of a whistle, she found in her
hand a little dust-pan and brush, fit for a baby-house, drawn
through a ring, while the children eagerly cried, "What have you
got? What have you got?"
"Some nonsense. I do not approve of practical jokes," began Cecil;
but the song only replied,
In the cave no longer stay;
Others come to share our play;"
and one of the genies drew her aside, while another blindfolded
victim was being introduced with the same rites, only fare more
willingly. The only way open to here was that which led to the
window of the dining-room, where she found Anne with the children
who had had their share, and were admiring their prizes. Anne tried
to soothe her by saying, "You see every one is served alike. They
thought it would be newer than a tree."
"Did you mean to _give_ me _this_?" asked a little girl, in whose
hands Cecil had thrust her dust-pan, without a glance at it.
"Oh the ring!" said Anne. "You must keep that, Mrs. Poynsett
thought you would like it. It is a gem--some Greek goddess, I
"Is this her arrangement?" asked Cecil, pointing to the dust-pan.
"Oh no! she knew nothing about that, nor I; but you see every one
has something droll. See what Mr. Bowater has!"
And Herbert Bowater showed that decidedly uncomplimentary penwiper,
where the ass's head declares "There are two of us;" while every
child had some absurdity to show; and Miss Moy's shrieks of delight
were already audible at a tortoise-shell pen-holder disguised as a
"I must go to my friends," said Cecil, vouchsafing no admiration of
the ring, though she had seen enough to perceive that it was a
beautifully engraved ruby; and she hurried back to the library, but
only to find all her birds flown, and the room empty! Pursuing them
to the drawing-room, she saw only the backs of a few, in the
rearmost rank of the eager candidates for admission to the magic
Lady Tyrrell alone saw her, and turned back from the eager
multitude, to say in her low, modulated voice, "Beaten, my dear.
Able strategy on la belle mere's part."
"Where's Mrs. Tallboys?"
"Don't you see her blue feather, eagerly expectant? Just after you
were gone, Edith Bowater came in, and begged us to come and see the
conservatory lighted up; and then came a rush of the Brenden
children after their aunt, exclaiming wildly it was delicious--
lights, and a fairy, and a secret, and every one got something, if
they were ever so old. Of course, after that there was nothing but
to follow the stream."
"It is a regular plot for outwitting us! Rosamond is dressed up for
the fairy. They are all in league."
"Well, we must put a good face on it for the present," said Lady
Tyrrell. "Don't on any account look as if you were not in perfect
accordance. You can show your sentiments afterwards, you know."
Cecil saw she must acquiesce, for Mrs. Tallboys was full in the
midst. With an infinitely better grace than her hostess, she
yielded herself to the sports, bowed charmingly to the Peri, whirled
like a fairy at the whistling, and was rewarded with a little enamel
padlock as a brooch, and two keys as ear-rings; indeed she
professed, with evident sincerity, that she was delighted with these
sports of the old country, and thought the two genies exquisite
specimens of the fair, useless, gentle English male aristocracy.
Mrs. Duncombe, too, accepted the inevitable with considerable spirit
and good-humour, though she had a little passage-at-arms with
Julius; when showing him the ivory card-case that had fallen to her
lot, she said, "So this is the bribe! Society stops the mouth of
"That is as you choose to take it," he said.
"Exactly. When we want to go deep into eternal verities you silence
us with frivolous din and dainty playthings for fear of losing your
"I don't grant that."
"Then why hinder an earnest discussion by all this hubbub?"
"Because this was not the right place or time."
"It never is the right time for the tyrants to let their slaves
confer, or to hear home-truths."
"On the contrary, my curiosity is excited. I want to hear Mrs.
"Then when will you dine with us? Next Wednesday?"
"Thank you. Wednesday has an evening service."
"Ah! I told you it was never the right time! Then Thursday? And
you'll trust your wife with us?"
"Oh yes, certainly."
"It is a bargain, then? Seven o'clock, or there will be no time."
Julius's attention suddenly wandered. Was not a whisper pervading
the room of a railway accident? Was not Frank due by that night's
There were still so many eager to visit the magic cave, that Julius
trusted his wife would remain there sheltered from the report; Jenny
Bowater was behind a stand of trees, acting orchestra; but when
Terry came to the outskirts of the forest in search of other knights
of the whistle, Julius laid a hand on him, and gave instructions in
case any rumour should reach Rosamond to let her know how vague it
was, tell her that he was going to ascertain the truth, and beg her
to keep up the game and cause no alarm.
Next encountering Anne, he begged her to go to his mother and guard
her from any alarm, until there was some certainty.
"Can't we send all these people away?" she asked.
"Not yet. We had better make no unnecessary disturbance. There
will be time enough if anything be amiss. I am going down to
Anne was too late. Charlie had not outgrown the instinct of rushing
to his mother with his troubles; and he was despairingly telling the
report he had heard of a direful catastrophe, fatal to an unknown
quantity of passengers, while she, strong and composed because he
gave way, was trying to sift his intelligence. No sooner did he
hear from Anne that Julius was going to the station, than he started
up to accompany him--the best thing he could do in his present
state. Hardly, however, had he closed the door, before he returned
with fresh tears in his eyes, leading in Eleonora Vivian, whom he
had found leaning against the wall outside, white and still, scarce
drawing her breath.
"Come," he said; and before she knew what he was doing, she was at
Mrs. Poynsett's side. "Here, mother," he said, "take her." And he
Mrs. Poynsett stretched out her arms. The hearts of the two women
who loved Frank could not help meeting. Eleonora sank on her knees,
hiding her face on the mother's breast, with two tender arms clasped
Anne was kneeling too, but she was no longer the meek, shy stranger.
Now, in the hour of trouble, she poured forth, in a voice fervent
and sweet, a prayer for protection and support for their beloved
one, so that it might be well with him, whatever might be his
Heavenly Father's Will.
As she paused, Mrs. Poynsett, in a choked voice, said, "Thank you,
dear child;" when there were steps in the hall. Anne started up,
Lenore buried her face on Mrs. Poynsett's bosom, the mother clasped
her hands over her convulsively, then beheld, as the door opened, a
tall figure, with a dark bright face full of ineffable softness and
joy. Frank himself, safe and sound, with his two brothers behind
him. They stayed not to speak, but hastened to spread the glad
tidings; while he flung himself down, including both his mother and
Lenore in one rapturous embrace, and carrying his kiss from one to
the other--conscious, if no one else was, that this first seal of
his love was given in his mother's arms.
Lenore did indeed extricate herself, and stand up as rosy red as she
had been pale; but she had no room for any thought beyond his
mother's trembling "Not hurt, my dear?"
"Not hurt! Not a scratch! Thank God! Oh! thank God!" answered
Frank, quivering all over with thankfulness, though probably far
more at the present joy than the past peril.
"Yes--oh, thanks for His mercy!" echoed Anne, giving fervent hand
and tearful cheek to the eager salutation, which probably would have
been as energetic to Clio or old Betty at that moment!
"But there's blood on your wristband," cried the mother. "You are
"No; it's not mine. I didn't know it. It is from the poor fellow I
helped to carry into the public-house at Knoll, just this side
Backsworth, a good deal hurt, I'm afraid. Something had got on the
lines, I believe. I was half asleep, and knew nothing till I found
ourselves all crushed up together in the dark, upside-down, my feet
above my head. There was but one man in my carriage, and we didn't
get foul of one another, and found we were all right, when we
scrambled out of the window. So we helped out the others, and found
that, besides the engineer and stoker--who I don't suppose can live,
poor fellows!--there was only this man much damaged. Then, when
there seemed no more to be done, I took my bag and walked across
country, to reach home before you heard. But oh, this is worth
He had to bend down for another embrace from his mother whose heart
was very full as she held his bright young healthful face between
her hands, though all she said was, "You have walked eleven miles
and more! You must be half starved!--Anne, my dear, pray let him
have something. He can eat it here."
"I'll see," said Anne, hastening away.
"Oh, don't go, Lenore," cried Frank, springing up. "Stay, I've not
seen you!--Mother, how sweet of you! But I forgot! You don't know!
I was only waiting till I was through."
"I understand, my dear boy."
"But how? How did you find out? Was it only that you knew she was
the precious darling of my heart? and now you see and own why,"
cries Frank, almost beside himself with excitement and delight.
"It was Lady Tyrrell who told me," said Mrs. Poynsett, sympathizing
too much with the lovers to perceive that her standpoint of
resistance was gone from her.
"Yes," said Lenore. "She knew of our walk, and questioned me so
closely that I could not conceal anything without falsehood."
"After she met me at Aucuba Villa?" asked Frank.
"Yes. Did you tell her anything?"
"I thought she knew more than I found afterwards that she did," said
Frank; "but there's no harm done. It is all coming now."
"She told my father," said Eleonora, sadly, "and he cannot
understand our delay. He is grieved and displeased, and thinks I
have not been open with him."
"Oh! that will be all right to-morrow," said Frank. "I'll have it
out with a free heart, now there's no fear but that I have passed;
and I've got the dearest of mothers! I feel as if I could meet him
if he were a dozen examiners rolled into one, instead of the good
old benevolent parent that he is! Ha! Anne--Susan--Jenkins--thank
you--that's splendid! May I have it here? Super-excellent! Only
here's half the clay-pit sticking to me! Let me just run up and
make myself decent. Only don't let her run away."
Perhaps Clio would have scorned the instinct that made a Charnock
unable to enjoy a much-needed meal in the presence of mother and of
love till the traces of the accident and the long walk had been
removed. His old nurse hurried after--ostensibly to see that his
linen was at hand, but really to have her share of the petting and
congratulation; and Lenore stood a little embarrassed, till Mrs.
Poynsett held out her arms, with the words, "My dear child!" and
again she dropped on her knee by the couch, and nestled close in
Presently however, she raised herself, and said sadly, almost
coldly, "I am afraid you have been surprised into this."
"I must love one who so loves my boy," was the ardent answer.
"I couldn't help it!" said the maiden, again abandoning herself to
the tenderness. "Oh! it is so good of you!"
"My dear, dear daughter!"
"Only please give me one mother's kiss! I have so longed for one."
"Poor motherless child! My sweet daughter!"
Then after a pause Eleonora said, "Indeed, I'll try to deserve
better; but oh! pray forgive me, if I cost him much more pain and
patience than I am worth."
"He thinks you well worth anything, and perhaps I do," said Mrs
Poynsett, who was conquered, won over, delighted more than by either
of the former brides, in spite of all antecedents.
"Then will you always trust me?" said Eleonora, with clasped hands,
and a wondrous look of earnest sincerity on her grave open brow and
beautiful pensive dark blue eyes.
"I _must_, my dear."
"And indeed I don't think I could help holding to _him_, because he
seems my one stay and hope here; and now I know it is all right with
you, indeed it is such happiness as I never knew."
She laid her head down again in subdued joy and rest: but the pause
was broken by Frank's return; and a moment after, in darted the Peri
in her pink cashmere costume, with a glow transforming her usually
colourless face. "Dear, dear Frank, I'm so glad!" she cried,
bestowing her kiss; while he cried in amazement, "Is it Rose? Is
there a fancy ball?"
"Only Aladdin's Cave. I'm just out of it; and while Jenny is
keeping up games, and Edith is getting up a charade, I could dash in
to see that Frank was all there, and more too. The exam, is safe,
"I trust so," said Frank; "the list will not come just yet; but I am
told I am certain of a pass--indeed, that I stand high as to
"That's noble!--Now, Mrs. Poynsett, turn him out as soon as he has
eaten his dinner. We want any one who can keep up a respectable
kind of a row. I say, will you two do Ferdinand and Miranda playing
at chess? You look just like it."
"Must we go?" asked Frank, reluctantly; and there was something in
the expression of his face, a little paler than usual, that reminded
his mother that the young man had for the first time seen sudden and
violent death that day, and that though his present gladness was so
great, yet that he had gone through too much in body and mind for
the revels of the evening not either to jar, or to produce a
vehement reaction, if he were driven into them. So she answered by
pleading the eleven miles' walk; and the queen of the sports was
merciful, adding, "But I must be gone, or Terry will be getting up
his favourite tableau of the wounded men of Clontarf, or Rothesay,
or the Black Bull's Head, or some equally pleasing little incident."
"Is it going on well?" asked Mrs. Poynsett.
"Sweetly! Couldn't be better. They have all amalgamated and are in
the midst of the 'old family coach,' with Captain Duncombe telling
the story. He is quite up to the trick, and enjoys turning the
tables on his ladies."
"And Camilla?" asked Lenore, in a hesitating, anxious tone
"Oh! she's gone in for it. I think she is the springs! I heard her
ask where you were, and Charley told her; so you need not be afraid
to stay in peace, if you have a turn that way. Good-bye; you'd
laugh to see how delighted people are to be let off the lecture."
And she bent over Lenore with a parting kiss, full of significance
She returned, after changing her dress, to find a pretty fairy
tableau, contrived by the Bowater sisters, in full progress, and
delighting the children and the mothers. Lady Vivian contrived to
get a word with her as she returned.
"Beautifully managed, Lady Rosamond. I tell Cecil she should enjoy
a defeat by such strategy."
"It is Mrs. Poynsett's regular Christmas party," said Rosamond, not
deigning any other reply.
"I congratulate her on her skilful representatives," said Lady
Tyrrell. "May I ask if we are to see the hero of the day? No?
What! you would say better employed? Poor children, we must let
them alone to-night for their illusion, though I am sorry it should
be deepened; it will be only the more pain by and by."
"I don't see that," said Rosamond, stoutly.
"Ah! Lady Rosamond, you are a happy young bride, untaught what is
l'impossible." Rosamond could not help thinking that no one
understood it better than she, as the eldest of a large family with
more rank and far more desires than means; but she disliked Lady
Tyrrell far too much for even her open nature to indulge in
confidences, and she made a successful effort to escape from her
neighbourhood by putting two pale female Fullers into the place of
honour in front of the folding doors into the small drawing-room,
which served as a stage, and herself hovered about the rear, wishing
she could find some means of silencing Miss Moy's voice, which was
growing louder and more boisterous than ever.
The charade which Rosamond had expected was the inoffensive, if
commonplace, Inspector, and the window she beheld, when the curtain
drew up, was, she supposed, the bar of an inn. But no; on the board
were two heads, ideals of male and female beauty, one with a waxed
moustache, the other with a huge chignon, vividly recalling Mr.
Pettitt's Penates. Presently came by a dapper professor, in blue
spectacles and a college cap, who stood contemplating, and indulging
in a harangue on entities and molecules, spirit and matter,
affinities and development, while the soft deep brown eyes of the
chignoned head languished, and the blue ones of the moustached one
rolled, and the muscles twitched and the heads turned till, by a
strong process of will explained by the professor, they bent their
necks, erected themselves, and finally started into life and the
curtain fell on them with clasped hands!
It rose to show the newly-animated pair, Junius Brutus and Barberina
his wife, at the breakfast table, with a boar's head of brawn before
them, while the Lady Barberina boldly asserted her claims to the
headship of the house. Had she not lately been all head?
The pathetic reply was, "Would it were so still, my dear. All head
and no tongue, like our present meal."
The lady heaved up the boar's head to throw at him, and the scene
Next, Brutus was seen awkwardly cleaning his accoutrements, having
enlisted, as he soliloquized, to escape from woman.
Enter a sergeant with a rich Irish brogue, and other recruits,
forming the awkward squad. The drill was performed with immense
spirit, but only one of the soldiers showed any dexterity; but while
the sergeant was upholding him as 'the very moral of a patthern to
the rest,' poor Brutus was seized with agonizing horror at the
recognition of Barberina in this disguise!
"Why not?" she argued. "Why should not woman learn to use the arms
of which man has hitherto usurped the use?"
Poor Brutus stretched out his arms in despair, and called loudly for
the professor to restore him to his original state of silent
felicity in the barber's window.
"Ye needn't do that, me boy," quoth the sergeant with infinite
scorn. "Be ye where ye will, ye'll never be aught but a blockhead."
Therewith carriages were being announced to the heads of families;
and with compliments and eager thanks, and assurances that nothing
could have been more delightful, the party broke up.
Captain Duncombe, while muffling his boys, declared that he never
saw a cleverer hit in his life, and that those two De Lancey
brothers ought to be on the stage; while Miss Moy loudly demanded
whether he did not feel it personal; and Mrs. Tallboys, gracefully
shaking hands with Anne and Rosamond, declared it a grand challenge
where the truth had been unconsciously hit off. Cecil was nowhere
to be seen.
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.--BURNS
The hours of the soiree had been early; but the breakfast was so
irregular and undecided as to time, that no one took much notice of
an intimation which Jenkins had received from the grim Mrs.
Grindstone that Mrs, Charnock Poynsett would take breakfast in her
own room. Indeed, they all felt glad that her views of etiquette
did not bind them to their places; for Frank was burning to be off
to Sirenwood, forgetting that it was far easier to be too early than
too late for Sir Harry Vivian, who was wont to smoke till long after
midnight, and was never visible till the midday repast.
And thus it was Lady Tyrrell who came to Frank alone. "Early
afoot," she said; "you foolish, impatient fellow! You _will_ outrun
my best advice."
"Ah! but I'm armed. I always told you we might trust to my mother,
and it is all right. She loves Lenore with all her heart, and
consents freely and gladly."
"Indeed! Well, the dear child has made her conquest!"
"I always knew she would when once reserve was broken down."
"Did you get up the alarm on purpose?"
"Really, one would think I had done so. One such moment was worth
years of ordinary meetings! Half the battle is won!"
"Have you seen your mother this morning?"
"No; but she knew I was coming."
"Then you do not know what her feelings are on cooler reflection?"
"My mother would never retract what she has once assured me of,"
said Frank, haughtily.
"Forgive me--of what has she assured you?"
"That she regards Eleonora as a dear daughter, and that implies
doing the same for me as for my brothers. If Sir Harry would but be
so good as to come and see her--'
"Stay, Frank, you have not come that length. You forget that if you
have, as you say, gained half the battle, there is another half; and
that my father very reasonably feels hurt at being the last to be
favoured with the intelligence."
"Dear Lady Tyrrell, you can see how it was. There was no helping it
when once I could speak to Lenore; and then no one would have let me
utter a word till I had gone through the examination. We never
meant to go on a system of concealment; but you know how every one
would have raved and stormed if I had betrayed a thought beyond old
Driver, and yet it was only being at rest about Lenore that carried
me through without breaking down. Can't you see?"
"You special pleader! May you win over my father; but you must
remember that we are a fallen house, unable to do all we wish."
"If I might see Sir Harry! I must make him forgive me."
"I will see whether he is ready."
Could Frank's eyes have penetrated the walls, he would have seen
Lady Tyrrell received with the words, "Well, my dear, I hope you
have got rid of the young man--poor fellow!"
"I am afraid that cannot be done without your seeing him yourself."
"Hang it! I hate it! I can't abide it, Camilla. He's a nice lad,
though he is his mother's son; and Lenore's heart is set on him, and
I can't bear vexing the child."
"Lena cares for him only because she met him before she knew what
life is like. After one season she will understand what five
hundred a year means."
"Well, you ought to know your sister best; but if the lad has spoken
to her, Lena is not the girl to stand his getting his conge so
"Exactly; it would only lead to heroics, and deepen the mischief."
"Hang it! Then what do you want me to say?"
"Stand up for your rights, and reduce him to submission by
displeasure at not having been consulted. Then explain how there
can be no engagement at once; put him on his honour to leave her
free till after her birthday in November."
"What! have him dangling after her? That's no way to make her
"She never will under direct opposition--she is too high-spirited
for that; but if we leave it alone, and they are unpledged, there is
a fair chance of her seeing the folly both for her and for him."
"I don't know that. Lena may be high-flown; but things go deep with
the child--deeper than they did with you, Camilla!"
Perhaps this was a stab, for there was bitterness in the answer.
"You mean that she is less willing to give up a fancy for the family
good. Remember, it is doubly imperative that Lena should marry a
man whose means are in his own power, so that he could advance
something. This would be simply ruin--throwing up the whole thing,
after all I have done to retrieve our position."
"After all, Camilla, I am growing an old man, and poor Tom is gone.
I don't know that the position is worth so much to me as the
happiness to her, poor child!" said Sir Harry, wistfully.
"Happiness!" was the scornful answer. "If you said 'her own way,'
it would be nearer the truth. A back street in London--going about
in a cab--and occasional holidays on sufferance from Mrs. Poynsett."
However little happiness either father or daughter had derived from
their chosen ways, this idea was abhorrent to both; and Lady Tyrrell
pressed her advantage. "If we keep him waiting much longer he will
be rushing after Lena, and if you show the least sign of relenting
he will insist on dragging you to an interview with his mother."
The threat was effectual; for Sir Harry had had passages-at arms
enough with Mrs. Poynsett to make him dread her curt dry civility
far more than either dun or bailiff, and he was at once roused to
the determination to be explicit.
Frank met him, with crimson face and prepared speech. "Good
morning, Sir Harry! I am afraid you may think that you have reason
to complain of my not having spoken to you sooner; but I trusted to
your previous knowledge of my feelings, and I was anxious to
ascertain my position before laying it before you, though I don't
believe I should have succeeded unless my mind had been set at
Soft-hearted Sir Harry muttered, "I understand, but--"
The pause at that 'but' was so long that Frank ventured on going on.
"I have not had an official communication, but I know privately that
I have passed well and stand favourably for promotion, so that my
income will go on increasing, and my mother will make over to me
five thousand pounds, as she has done to Miles and Julius, so that
it can be settled on Eleonora at once."
"There, there, that's enough!" said Sir Harry, coerced by his
daughter's glances; "there's plenty of time before coming to all
that! You see, my dear boy, I always liked you, and had an immense
respect for your--your family; but, you see, Eleonora is young, and
under the circumstances she ought not to engage herself. She can't
any way marry before coming of age, and--considering all things--I
should much prefer that this should go no further."
"You ought both to be free!" said Lady Tyrrell.
"That I can never be!"
"Nor do you think that she can--only it sounds presumptuous," smiled
Lady Tyrrell. "Who can say? But things have to be proved; and
considering what young untried hearts are, it is safer and happier
for both that there should be perfect freedom, so that no harm
should be done, if you found that you had not known your own minds."
"It will make no difference to me."
"Oh yes, we know that!" laughed Sir Harry. "Only suppose you
changed your mind, we could not be angry with you."
"You don't think I could!"
"No, no," said Lady Tyrrell; "we think no such thing. Don't you
see, if we did not trust your honour, we could not leave this in
suspense. All we desire is that these matters may be left till it
is possible to see our way, when the affairs of the estate are wound
up; for we can't tell what the poor child will have. Come, don't
repeat that it will make no difference. It may not to you; but it
must to us, and to your mother."
"My mother expects nothing!" said Frank, eagerly; but it was a false
Sir Harry bristled up, saying, "Sir, my daughter shall go into no
family that--that has not a proper appreciation of--and expectations
befitting her position."
"Dear papa," exclaimed Lady Tyrrell, "he means no such thing. He is
only crediting his mother with his own romantic ardour and
disinterestedness.--Hark! there actually is the gong. Come and have
some luncheon, and contain yourself, you foolish boy!"
"I am sorry I said anything that seemed unfitting," said Frank,
meekly. "You know I _could_ not mean it!"
"Yes, yes, yes, I bear no malice; only one does not like to see
one's own child courted without a voice in the matter, and to hear
she is to be taken as a _favour_, expecting nothing. But, there,
we'll say no more. I like you, Frank Charnock! and only wish you
had ten thousand a year, or were any one else; but you see--you see.
Well, let's eat our luncheon."
"Does she know this decision?" asked Frank, aside, as he held open
the door for Lady Tyrrell.
"Yes, she knows it can go no further; though we are too merciful to
deny you the beatific vision, provided you are good, and abstain
from any more little tendresses for the present.--Ah!"--enter Cecil--
"I thought we should see you to-day, my dear!"
"Yes; I am on my way to meet my husband at the station," said Cecil,
meeting her in the hall, and returning her kiss.
"Is Raymond coming home to-day?" said Frank, as he too exchanged
greetings. "Ah! I remember; I did not see you at breakfast this
"No!" and there was signification in the voice; but Frank did not
heed it, for coming down-stairs was Eleonora, her face full of a
blushing sweetness, which gave it all the beauty it had ever lacked.
He could do no more than look and speak before all the rest; the
carriage was ordered for the sisters to go out together, and he
lingered in vain for a few words in private, for Sir Harry kept him
talking about Captain Duncombe's wonderful colt, till Cecil had
driven off one way, and their two hostesses the other; and he could
only ride home to tell his mother how he had sped.
Better than Rosamond, better even than Charlie, was his mother as a
confidante; and though she had been surprised into her affectionate
acceptance of Eleonora, it was an indescribable delight to mother
and son to find themselves once more in full sympathy; while he
poured out all that had been pent up ever since his winter at
Rockpier. She almost made common cause with him in the question,
what would Raymond say? And it proved to be news to her that her
eldest son was to be immediately expected at home. Cecil had not
come to see her, and had sent her no message; but ungracious
inattention was not so uncommon as to excite much remark from one
who never wished to take heed to it; and it was soon forgotten in
the praise of Eleonora.
Cecil meanwhile was receiving Raymond at the station. He was
pleased to see her there in her pony-carriage, but a little startled
by the brief coldness of her reply to his inquiry after his mother,
and the tight compression of her lips all the time they were making
their way through the town, where, as usual, he was hailed every two
or three minutes by persons wanting a word with him. When at last
there was a free space, she began: "Raymond, I wish to know whether
you mean me to be set at naught, and my friends deliberately
A gentleman here hurried up with "I'll not detain you a minute."
He did, however, keep them for what seemed a great many, to the
chafing spirit which thought a husband should have no ears save for
his wife's wrongs; so she made her preface even more startling--
"Raymond, I cannot remain in the house any longer with Lady Rosamond
Charnock and those intolerable brothers of hers!"
"Perhaps you will explain yourself," said Raymond, almost relieved
by the evident exaggeration of the expressions.
"There has been a conspiracy to thwart and insult me--a regular
"Cecil! let me understand you. What can have happened?"
"When I arranged an evening for my friends to meet Mrs. Tallboys, I
did not expect to have it swamped by a pack of children, and noisy
nonsensical games, nor that both she and I should be insulted by
practical jokes and a personal charade."
"A party to meet Mrs. Tallboys?"
"A ladies' party, a conversazione."
"What--by my mother's wish?"
"I was given to understand that I had carte blanche in visiting
"You did not ask her consent?"
"I saw no occasion."
"You did not?"
"Then, Cecil, I must say that whatever you may have to complain of,
you have committed a grave act of disrespect."
"I was told that I was free to arrange these things!"
"Free!" said Raymond, thoroughly roused; "free to write notes, and
order the carriage, and play lady of the house; but did you think
that made you free to bring an American mountebank of a woman to
hold forth absurd trash in my mother's own drawing-room, as soon as
my back was turned?"
"I should have done the same had you been there."
"Indeed!" ironically; "I did not know how far you had graduated in
the Rights of Women. So you invited these people?"
"Then the whole host of children was poured in on us, and everything
imaginable done to interrupt, and render everything rational
impossible. I know it was Rosamond's contrivance, she looked so
triumphant, dressed in an absurd fancy dress, and her whole train
doing nothing but turning me into ridicule, and Mrs. Tallboys too.
Whatever you choose to call her, you cannot approve of a stranger
and foreigner being insulted here. It is that about which I care--
not myself; I have seen none of them since, nor shall I do so until
a full apology has been made to my guest and to myself."
"You have not told me the offence."
"In the first place, there was an absurd form of Christmas-tree, to
which one was dragged blindfold, and sedulously made ridiculous; and
I--I had a dust-pan and brush. Yes, I had, in mockery of our
endeavours to purify that unhappy street."
"I should have taken it as a little harmless fun," said Raymond.
"Depend on it, it was so intended."
"What, when Mrs. Tallboys had a padlock and key? I see you are
determined to laugh at it all. Most likely they consulted you
"Cecil, I cannot have you talk such nonsense. Is this all you have
to complain of?"
"No. There was a charade on the word Blockhead, where your brother
Charles and the two De Lanceys caricatured what they supposed to be
Mrs. Tallboys' doctrines."
"How did she receive it?"
"Most good-humouredly; but that made it no better on their part."
"Are you sure it was not a mere ordinary piece of pleasantry, with
perhaps a spice of personality, but nothing worth resenting?"
"You did not see it. Or perhaps you think no indignity towards me
"I do not answer that, Cecil; you will think better of those words
another time," said Raymond, sternly. "But when you want your cause
taken up, you have to remember that whatever the annoyance, you
brought it upon yourself and her, by your own extraordinary
proceeding towards my mother--I will not say towards myself. I will
try to smooth matters. I think the De Lanceys must have acted
foolishly; but the first step ought to be an expression of regret
for such conduct towards my mother."
"I cannot express regret. I ought to have been told if there were
"Must I forbid your playing Punch and Judy, or dancing on the tight-
rope?" cried Raymond, exasperated.
Cecil bit her lip, and treated the exclamation with the silent
dignity of a deeply injured female; and thus they reached home, when
Raymond said, "Come to your senses, Cecil and apologize to my
mother. You can explain that you did not know the extent of your
"Certainly not. They all plotted against me, and I am the person to
whom apology is due."
Wherewith she marched up-stairs, leaving Raymond, horribly
perplexed, to repair at once to his mother's room, where Frank still
was; but after replying about his success in the examination, the
younger brother retreated, preferring that his story should be told
by his mother; but she had not so much as entered on it when Raymond
demanded what had so much disturbed Cecil.
"I was afraid she would be vexed," said Mrs. Poynsett; "but we were
in a difficulty. We thought she hardly knew what she had been led
into, and that as she had invited her ladies, it would do less harm
to change the character of the party than to try to get it given
"I have no doubt you did the best you could," said Raymond, speaking
with more like censure of his mother than he had ever done since the
hot days of his love for Camilla Vivian; "and you could have had
nothing to do with the personalities that seem to have been the
Mrs. Poynsett, true boy-lover that she was, had been informed of the
success of Tom's naughtiness--not indeed till after it was over,
when there was nothing to be done but to shake her head and laugh;
and now she explained so that her son came to a better understanding
of what had happened.
As to the extinguishing Women's Rights in child's play, he saw that
it had been a wise manoeuvre of his mother, to spare any appearance
of dissension, while preventing what she disapproved and what might
have injured his interests; but he was much annoyed with the De
Lanceys for having clogged the measure with their own folly; and
judging of cause by effect, he would hear of no excuse for Rosamond
or her brothers, and went away resolved that though nothing should
induce him to quarrel with Julius, yet he should tell him plainly
that he must restrain his wife and her brothers from annoying Cecil
by their practical jokes. He was, as usual, perfectly gentle to his
mother, and thanked her for her arrangement. "It was not her fault
that it had not turned out better," he said; and he did not seem to
hear her exoneration of Rosamond.
He had scarcely gone when Rosamond came in from the village, asking
whether he had arrived, as she had seen his hat in the hall.
"Yes, Rosamond. You did not tell me of Cecil's vexation!"
"Cecil? Have I seen her since? No, I remember now. But is she
angry? Was it the dust-pan? Oh! Tom, Tom!"
"That and the Blockhead. Did Tom say anything very cutting?"
"Why it was an old stock charade they acted two years ago! I had
better tell her so."
"If you would it would be an immense relief, my dear. Raymond is
very much annoyed; she says she will speak to nobody till she has
had an apology."
"Then she can be as great a goose as I! Why, the Yankee muse and
Mrs. Duncombe took all in good part; but Cecil has not atom of fun
in her. Don't you think that was the gift the fairies left out at
the christening of the all-endowed princess?"
Mrs. Poynsett laughed, but anxiously. "My dear, if you can make
peace, it will be a family blessing."
"I! I'll eat any dirt in the world, and make Tom eat it too, rather
than you should be vexed, or make discord in the house," cried
Rosamond, kissing her, and speeding away to Cecil's door.
It was Raymond who opened it, looking perturbed and heated, but a
good deal amazed at seeing his intended scapegoat coming thus boldly
to present herself.
"Let me in," she breathlessly said. "I am come to tell Cecil how
sorry I am she was so much vexed; I really did not know it before."
"I am ready to accept any proper apology that is offered me," said
Cecil, with cold dignity; "but I cannot understand your profession
that you did not know I was vexed. You could have intended nothing
"But, Cecil, you misunderstood--" began Rosamond.
"I never misunderstand--"
"No human creature can say that!" interposed Raymond, immensely
thankful to Rosamond--whatever her offence--for her overtures, and
anxious they should be accepted.
"I could not," continued Cecil, "misunderstand the impertinent
insults offered to my friends and to myself; though if Lady Rosamond
is willing to acknowledge the impropriety I will overlook it."
Raymond's face and neck crimsoned, but Raymond's presence helped her
to rein in her temper; and she thought of Julius, and refrained from
more than a "Very well. It was meant as a harmless joke, and--and
if you--you did not take it so, I am very sorry."
Raymond saw the effort, and looked at his wife for softening; but as
he saw none, he met the advance by saying kindly, "I am sure it was
so meant, though the moment was unfortunate."
"Indeed it was so," cried Rosamond, feeling it much easier to speak
to him, and too generous to profess her own innocence and give up
Tom. "It was just a moment's idle fancy--just as we've chaffed one
another a hundred times; and for the Blockhead, it is the boys' pet
old stock charade that they've acted scores of times. It was mere
thoughtlessness; and I'll do or say anything Cecil pleases, if only
she won't bother Julius or Mrs. Poynsett about our foolishness."
And the mist of tears shone in the dark lashes as she held out her
"I cannot suppose it mere thoughtlessness--" began Cecil; but
Raymond cut her short with angry displeasure, of which she had not
supposed him capable. "This is not the way to receive so kind an
apology. Take Rosamond's hand, and respond properly."
To respond _properly_ was as little in Cecil's power as her will;
but she had not been an obedient daughter for so large a proportion
of her life without having an instinct for the voice of real
authority, and she did not refuse her hand, with the words, "If you
express regret I will say no more about it."
And Rosamond, thinking of Julius and his mother, swallowed the
ungraciousness, and saying "Thank you," turned to go away.
"Thank you most heartily for this, my dear Rosamond," said Raymond,
holding out his hand as he opened the door for her; "I esteem it a
very great kindness."
Rosamond, as she felt the strong pressure of his hand, looked up in
his face with a curious arch compassion in her great gray eyes. He
shut the door behind her, and saw Cecil pouting by the mantelpiece,
vexed at being forced into a reconciliation, even while she knew she
could not persist in sending all the family except Frank to
Coventry. He was thoroughly angry at the dogged way in which she
had received this free and generous peace-making, and he could not
but show it. "Well," he said, "I never saw an apology made with a
better grace nor received with a worse one."
Cecil made no reply. He stood for a minute looking at her with eyes
of wondering displeasure, then, with a little gesture of amazement,
left the room.
Cecil felt like the drowning woman when she gave the last scissor-
like gesture with her fingers. She was ready to fall into a chair
and cry. A sense of desolateness was very strong on her, and that
look in his dark eyes had seemed to blast her.
But pride came to her aid. Grindstone was moving about ready to
dress her for dinner. No one should see that she was wounded, or
that she took home displeasure which she did not merit. So she held
up her head, and was chilling and dignified all dinner-time; after
which she repaired to Lady Tyrrell's conversazione.
The Monstrous Regiment of Women
Descend, my muse!
Raymond had been invited by one of his fellow-guests to make a visit
at his house, and this was backed up on the morning after his return
by a letter containing a full invitation to both himself and his
wife. He never liked what he called "doing nothing in other
people's houses," but he thought any sacrifice needful that might
break up Cecil's present intimacies, and change the current of her
ideas; and his mother fully agreed in thinking that it would be well
to being a round of visits, to last until the Session of Parliament
should have begin. By the time it was over Julius and Rosamond
would be in their own house, and it might be easier to make a new
The friends whom he could reckon on as sure to welcome him and his
bride were political acquaintances of mark, far above the Dunstone
range, and Cecil could not but be gratified, even while Mrs.
Duncombe and her friend declared that they were going to try to
demoralize her by the seductions of the aristocracy.
After all, Cecil was too much of an ingrained Charnock to be very
deeply imbued with Women's Rights. All that she wanted was her own
way, and opposition. Lady Tyrrell had fascinated her and secured
her affection, and she followed her lead, which was rather that of
calm curiosity and desire to hear the subject ventilated than actual
partisanship, for which her ladyship was far too clever, as well as
too secure in her natural supremacy. They had only seemed on that
side because other people were so utterly alien to it, and because
of their friendship with the really zealous Mrs. Duncombe.
The sanitary cause which had become mixed with it was, however,
brought strongly before their minds by Mrs. Tallboys' final lecture,
at which she impressed on the ladies' minds with great vehemence
that here they might lead the way. If men would not act as a body,
the ladies should set the example, and shame them, by each doing her
very utmost in the cleansing of the nests of disease that reeked in
the worn-out civilization of the cities of the old country. The
ladies listened: Lady Tyrrell, with a certain interest in such an
eager flow of eloquence; Eleonora, with thoughts far away. Bessie
Duncombe expressed a bold practical determination to get one
fragment, at least, of the work done, since she knew Pettitt, the
hair-dresser, was public-spirited enough to allow her to carry out
her ideas on his property, and Cecil, with her ample allowance, as
yet uncalled for, in the abundance of her trousseau, promised to
supply what the hair-dresser could not advance, as a tangible proof
of her sincerity.
She held a little council with Mrs. Duncombe at the working society,
when she resigned her day into that lady's hands on going away. "I
shall ask Mrs. Miles Charnock," said that lady. "You don't object?"
"Oh no, only don't ask her till I'm gone, and you know she will only
come on condition of being allowed to expound."
"We must have somebody, and now the thing has gone on so long, and
will end in three months, the goody element will not do much harm,
and, unluckily, most women will not act without it."
"You have been trying to train Miss Moy."
"I shall try still, but I can't get her to take interest in anything
but the boisterous side of emancipation."
"I can't bear the girl," said Cecil; "I am sure she comes only for
the sake of the horses."
"I'm afraid so; but she amuses Bob, and there's always a hope of
moving her father through her, though she declares that the Three
Pigeons is his tenderest point, and that he had as soon meddle with
it as with the apple of his eye. I suppose he gets a great rent
from that Gadley."
"Do you really think you shall do anything with her?" said Cecil,
who might uphold her at home, but whose taste was outraged by her.
"I hope so! At any rate, she is not conventional. Why, when I was
set free from my school at Paris, and married Bob three months
later, I hadn't three ideas in my head beyond horses and balls and
soldiers. It has all come with life and reading, my dear."
And a very odd 'all' it was, so far; but there was this difference
between Bessie Duncombe and Cecil Charnock Poynsett, that the
'gospel of progress' was to the one the first she had ever really
known, and became a reaching forward to a newly-perceived standard
of benevolence and nobleness: to the other it was simply
retrograding, and that less from conviction than from the spirit of
rivalry and opposition.
Lady Tyrrell with her father and sister were likewise going to leave
home, to stay among friends with whom Sir Harry could hunt until the
London campaign, when Eleonora was to see the world. Thus the
bazaar was postponed until the return of the ladies in the summer,
when the preparations would be more complete and the season more
suitable. The church must wait for it, for nothing like a
sufficient amount of subscription had been as yet promised.
There was still, however, to come that select dinner-party at Mrs.
Duncombe's, to which Julius, moved by her zeal and honesty, as well
as by curiosity, had promised his presence with Rosamond, "at his
peril," as she said.
They were kept so long at the door of Aucuba Villa that they had
begun to doubt if they had not mistaken the day, until the Sirenwood
carriage crashed up behind them; and after the third pull at the
bell they were admitted by an erect, alert figure,--a remnant of
Captain Duncombe's military life.
He marshalled them into the drawing-room, where by dim firelight
they could just discern the Professor and a certain good-natured
horsey friend of the Captain's, who sprang up from easy-chairs on
the opposite sides of the fire to greet them, while the man hastily
stirred up the fire, lighted the gas, dashed at the table, shutting
up an open blotting-book that lay on it, closing an ink-bottle, and
gathering up some torn fragments or paper, which he would have
thrown into the scrap-basket but that it was full of little books on
the hundred ways of dressing a pumpkin. Then he gave a wistful look
at the ami de la maison, as if commending the guests to him, and
receiving a nod in return, retired.
"I fear we are too early," said Lady Tyrrell.
"Fact is," said the familiar, whose name Julius was trying to
remember, "there's been a catastrophe; cook forgot to order the
turkey, went to bed last night in hysterics, and blew out the gas
instead of turning it off. No, no"--as the guests expecting fatal
consequences, looked as if they thought they had better remove
themselves: "she came round, and Duncombe has driven over to
Backsworth to bring home the dinner. He'll soon be back."
This not appearing greatly to reassure the visitors, the Professor
added, "No, no, ladies. Mrs. Duncombe charged me to say that she
will be perfectly fixed in a short time, and I flatter myself that
my wife is equal to any emergency."
"It is very kind in her," said Lady Tyrrell.
"I confess," said Professor Tallboys, "that I am not sorry that such
an occasion should occur of showing an American lady's domestic
powers. I flatter myself they do not discredit her cause."
Just then were heard the wheels of the drag, and in rushed one of
the boys, grasping Eleonora's skirts, and proclaiming, "We've got
the grub! Oysters and a pie! Oh my!"
"Satisfactory!" said the friend. "But let go, Ducky, you are
rumpling Miss Vivian."
"She's coming to see the quarion! You promised, Lena! Here's a
jolly crayfish! He'll pinch!"
There was a small conservatory or glazed niche on one side of the
room, into which the boy dragged Lenore, and Julius followed, dimly
sensible of what the quarion might be, and hoping for a word with
the young lady, while he trusted to his wife to occupy her sister.
The place contained two desolate camellias, with leaves in the same
proportion as those on trees in the earlier ages of illumination,
and one scraggy, leafless geranium, besides a green and stagnant
tank, where a goldfish moved about, flapping and gasping, as the boy
disturbed it in his search for the crayfish. He absorbed all the
conversation, so that Julius could only look back into the room,
where an attempt at artistic effect was still dimly visible through
accumulated litter. The Venus of Milo stood on a bracket, with a
riding-whip in her arms, and a bundle of working society tickets
behind her, and her vis-a-vis, the Faun of Praxiteles, was capped by
a glove with one finger pointing upwards, and had a ball of worsted
tangled about his legs; but further observation was hindered by the
man-servant's voice at the outer door, "Master Ducky, where are you?
Your ma says you are to go to bed directly."
"No, no, I'll put myself to bed!"
"Come, sir, please do, like a good boy--Master Pinney won't go
without you, and I must put him to bed while they are dishing up.
Come, sir, I've got a mince-pie for you."
"And some oysters--Bobby said I should have some oysters!"
"Yes, yes; come along, sir."
And Master Ducky submitted to his fate, while Julius looked his
wonder, and asked, "Is he nursery-maid?"
"Just now, since the bonne went," said Lenore. "He is a most
faithful, attached servant, who will do anything for them. _She_
does attach people deeply when the first shock is over."
"I am coming to believe so," he answered. "There seem to me to be
"I am so glad!" said Lenore; "she is so thorough, so true and frank;
and much of this oddness is really an inconsistent struggle to keep
out of debt."
"Well! at any rate I am thankful to her for this opportunity of
seeing you," said Julius. "We have both been longing to speak our
welcome to you."
"Thank you. It is so kind," she fervently whispered; "all the
kinder for the state of things that is insisted on--though you know
that it can make no real difference," she added, apparently
addressing the goldfish.
"Frank knows it," said Julius, in a low voice.
"I trust he does, though I cannot see him to assure him--you will?"
she added, looking up at him with a shy brightness in her eye and a
flush on her cheek.
"Yes, indeed!" he said, laying his hand on hers for a moment. "I
fear you may both have much to pull through, but I think you are of
a steadfast nature."
"I hope so--I think I am, for none of my feelings seem to me ever to
change, except that I get harder, and, I am afraid, bitterer."
"I can understand your feeling that form of trial."
"Oh, if you could, and would help me!"
"As a brother; if I may."
Again she laid a hand on his, saying, "I have longed to talk openly
to you ever since we met in the cow-shed; but I could not make any
advance to any of you, because," she whispered in haste, "I thought
it my duty to hold back from Frank. And now, till we go away,
Camilla watches me and occupies me every minute, will not even let
me ride out with papa. I wonder she lets me talk to you now."
"We know each other," said Julius, shortly.
It was so. Once, in the plain-spoken days of childhood, Miles and
Julius had detected Camilla Vivian in some flagrant cheating at a
game, and had roundly expressed their opinion. In the subsequent
period of Raymond's courtship, Miles had succumbed to the
fascination, but Julius had given one such foil, that she had never
again attempted to cajole him.
"I have seen that you did from the first," said Lenore. "And it
would make it much easier to talk to you than to any outsider, who
would never understand, even if it were possible for me to explain,
how hard it is to see which way my duty lies--especially filial."
"Do you mean in general, or in this special matter?"
"Both. You see, in her hands he is so different from what he was
before she came home, that I don't feel as if I was obeying him--
only her; and I don't think I am bound to do that. Not in the great
matter, I am clear. Nobody can meddle with my real sincere pledge
of myself to Frank, nobody!" she spoke as if there was iron in her
lips. "But as far as overt acts go, they have a right to forbid me,
till I am of age at least, and we must bear it."
"Yes, you are right there."
"But there are thousands of other little cases of right and wrong,
and altogether I have come to such a spirit of opposition that I
find it easier to resist than to do anything with a good grace."
"You cannot always tell when resistance is principle, and when
temper or distaste."
"There's distaste enough always," said poor Lenore.
"To gaieties?" he said, amazed as one habituated to his wife's
ravenous appetite for any sort of society or amusement.
"Of course," she answered sadly. "A great deal of trouble just for
a little empty babble. Often not one word worth remembering, and a
general sense of having been full of bad feelings."
"No enjoyment?" he asked in surprise.
"Only by the merest chance and exception," she answered, surprised
at his surprise; "what is there to enjoy?"
The peculiar-looking clergyman might have seemed more likely to ask
such a question than the beautiful girl, but he looked at her
anxiously and said, "Don't nourish morbid dislike and contempt, my
dear Lena, it is not a safeguard. There are such things as perilous
reactions. Try to weigh justly, and be grateful for kindness, and
to like what is likeable."
At that moment, after what had been an interval of weary famine to
all but these two, host and hostess appeared, the lady as usual,
picturesque, though in the old black silk, with a Roman sash tied
transversely, and holly in her hair; and gaily shaking hands--
"That's right, Lady Rosamond; so you are trusted here! Your husband
hasn't sent you to represent him?"
"I'm afraid his confidence in me did not go so far," said Rosamond.
"Ah! I see--Lady Tyrrell, how d'ye do--you've brought Lena? Well,
Rector, are you prepared?"
"That depends on what you expect of me."
"Have you the convinceable spot in your mind?"
"We must find it. It is very uncommon, and indurates very soon, so
we had better make the most of our opportunity," said the American
lady, who had entered as resplendent as before, though in so
different a style that Rosamond wondered how such a wardrobe could
be carried about the world; and the sporting friend muttered,
"Stunning! she has been making kickshaws all day, and looks as if
she came out of a bandbox! If all women were like that, it might
It was true. Mrs. Tallboys was one of those women of resource whose
practical powers may well inspire the sense of superiority, and with
the ease and confidence of her country.
The meal was a real success. That some portion had been procured,
ready dressed, at Backsworth, was evident, but all that had been
done at home had a certain piquant Transatlantic flavour, in which
the American Muse could be detected; and both she and her husband
were polished, lively, and very agreeable, in spite of the twang in
their voices. Miss Moy, the Captain and his friend, talked horses
at one end of the table, and Rosamond faltered her woman's horror
for the rights of her sex, increased by this supposed instance.
When the ladies rose at dessert, Mrs. Duncombe summoned him: "Come,
Rector!--come, Professor! you're not to sit over your wine."
"We rise so far above the ordinary level of manhood!" said Julius,
"Once for all, Mr. Charnock," said Mrs. Duncombe, turning on him
with flashing eyes and her Elizabethan majesty, "if you come
prepared to scoff, we can have nothing to do with you."
Rosamond's eyes looked mischievous, and her brow cocked, but Julius
answered in earnest, "Really, I assure you I have not come in a
spirit of sarcasm; I am honestly desirous of hearing your
"Shall I stay in your stead?" added Miss Moy. "They'll be much more
"Come, Gussie, you're on your good behaviour," said Mrs. Duncombe.
"Bob kept you to learn the right way of making a sensation."
As they entered the drawing-room two more guests arrived, namely,
Joanna Bowater, and Herbert, who walked in with a kind of grim
submission, till he saw Lady Tyrrell, when he lighted up, and, on a
little gracious gesture with her hand, he sat down on the sofa
beside her; and was there solaced by an occasional remark in an
undertone; for indeed the boy was always in a trance wherever she
was, and she had a fair amount of by-play wherewith to entertain
herself and him during the discussion.
"You are just in time, Jenny," said Rosamond; "the great question is
going to be started."
"And it is--?"
"The Equality of the Sexes," pronounced Mrs. Duncombe.
"Ex cathedra?" said Julius, as the graceful Muse seated herself in a
large red arm-chair. "This scene is not an easy one in which to
"You see, Bessie," said Mrs. Tallboys, "that men are so much afraid
of the discussion that they try to elude it with empty compliment
under which is couched a covert sneer."
"Perhaps," returned Julius, "we might complain that we can't open
our lips without compliments and sneers being detected when we were
innocent of both."
"Were you?" demanded Mrs. Tallboys.
"Honestly, I was looking round and thinking the specimens before us
would tell in your favour."
"What a gallant parson!" cried Miss Moy.
But a perfect clamour broke out from others.
"Julius, that's too bad! when you know--"
"Mr Charnock, you are quite mistaken. Bob is much cleverer than I,
in his own line--"
"Quite true, Rector," affirmed Herbert; "Joan has more brains than
all the rest of us--for a woman, I mean."
"For a woman!" repeated Mrs. Tallboys. "Let a human being do or be
what she will, it is disposed of in a moment by that one verdict,
'Very well for a woman!'"
"How is it with the decision of posterity?" said Jenny. "Can you
show any work of woman of equal honour and permanence with that of
"Because her training has been sedulously inferior."
"Not always," said Jenny; "not in Italy in the cinque cento, nor in
England under Elizabeth."
"Yes, and there were names--!"
"Names, yes, but that is all. The lady's name is remembered for the
curiosity of her having equalled the ordinary poet or artist of her
time, but her performances either are lost or only known to curious
scholars. They have not the quality which makes things permanent."
"What do you say to Sappho?"
"There is nothing of her but a name, and fragments that curious
"Worse luck to her if she invented Sapphics," added Herbert.
"One of womankind's torments for mankind, eh?" said his neighbour.
"And there are plenty more such," asserted Mrs. Duncombe, boldly
(for these were asides). "It is only that one can't recollect--and
the men have suppressed them."
"I think men praised them," said Jenny, "and that we remember the
praise, not the works. For instance, Roswitha, or Olympia Morata,
or Vittoria Colonna. Vittoria's sonnets are extant, but we only
value them as being hers, more for what she _was_ than for their
"And," added Eleonora, "men did not suppress Hannah More, or Joanna
Baillie. You know Scott thought Miss Baillie's dramas would rank
Mrs. Tallboys was better read in logic and mathematics than in
history, and did not follow Jenny, but she turned her adversary's
argument to her own advantage, by exclaiming, "Are the gentlemen
present familiar with these bright lights?"
"I confess my ignorance of some of them," said Julius.
"But my youngest brother knows all that," said Rosamond at a brave
"Macaulay's school-boy," murmured Lady Tyrrell, softly.
"Let us return to the main point," said Mrs. Tallboys, a little
annoyed. "It is of the present and future that I would speak, not
of the past."
"Does not the past give the only data on which to form a
conclusion?" said Julius.
"Certainly not. The proposition is not what a woman or two in her
down-trodden state may have exceptionally effected, but her natural
equality, and in fact superiority, in all but the physical strength
which has imposed an unjust bondage on the higher nature."
"I hardly know where to meet you if you reject all arguments from
proved facts," said Julius.
"And the Bible. Why don't you say the Bible?" exclaimed his wife in
an undertone; but Mrs. Tallboys took it up and said, "The precepts
of Scripture are founded on a state of society passed away. You may
find arguments for slavery there."
"I doubt that," said Julius. "There are practical directions for an
existing state of things, which have been distorted into sanction
for its continuance. The actual precepts are broad principles,
which are for all times, and apply to the hired servant as well as
to the slave. So again with the relations of man and wife; I can
nowhere find a command so adapted to the seclusion and depression of
the Eastern woman as to be inapplicable to the Christian matron.
And the typical virtuous woman, the valiant woman, is one of the
noblest figures anywhere depicted."
"I know," said Mrs. Tallboys, who had evidently been waiting
impatiently again to declaim, "that men, even ministers of religion,
from Paul if you like downwards, have been willing enough to exalt
woman so long as they claim to sit above her. The higher the
oppressed, so much higher the self-exaltation of the oppressor.
Paul and Peter exalt their virtuous woman, but only as their own
appendage, adorning themselves; and while society with religious
ministers at the head of it call on woman to submit, and degrade the
sex, we shall continue to hear of such disgraces to England as I see
in your police reports--brutal mechanics beating their wives."
"I fear while physical force is on the side of the brute," said
Julius, "no abstract recognition of equality would save her."
"Society would take up her cause, and protect her."
"So it is willing to do now, if she asks for protection."
"Yes," broke in Rosamond, "but nothing would induce a woman worth
sixpence to take the law against her husband."
"There I think Lady Rosamond has at once demonstrated the higher
nature of the woman," said Mrs. Tallboys. "What man would be
capable of such generosity?"
"No one denies," said Julius, "that generous forbearance, patience,
fortitude, and self-renunciation, belong almost naturally to the
true wife and mother, and are her great glory; but would she not be
stripped of them by self-assertion as the peer in power?"
"Turning our flank again with a compliment," said Mrs. Duncombe.
"These fine qualities are very convenient to yourselves, and so you
praise them up."
"Not so!" returned Julius, "because they are really the higher
"Patience!" at once exclaimed the American and English emancipators
with some scorn.
"Yes," said Julius, in a low tone of thorough earnest. "The
patience of strength and love is the culmination of virtue."
Jenny knew what was in his mind, but Mrs. Tallboys, with a curious
tone, half pique, half triumph, said, "You acknowledge this which
you call the higher nature in woman--that is to say, all the passive
qualities,--and you are willing to allow her a finer spiritual
essence, and yet you do not agree to her equal rights. This is the
injustice of the prejudice which has depressed her all these
"Stay," broke in Jenny, evidently not to the lady's satisfaction.
"That does not state the question. Nobody denies that woman is
often of a higher and finer essence, as you say, than man, and has
some noble qualities in a higher degree than any but the most
perfect men; but that is not the question. It is whether she have
more force and capacity than man, is in fact actually able to be on
"And, I say," returned Mrs. Tallboys, "that man has used brute force
to cramp woman's intellect and energy so long, that she has learnt
to acquiesce in her position, and to abstain from exerting herself,
so that it is only where she is partially emancipated, as in my own
country, that any idea of her powers can be gained."
"I am afraid," said Julius, "that more may be lost to the world than
is gained! No; I am not speaking from the tyrant point of view. I
am thinking whether free friction with the world way not lessen that
sweetness and tender innocence and purity that make a man's home an
ideal and a sanctuary--his best earthly influence."
"This is only sentiment. Innocence is worthless if it cannot stand
alone and protect itself!" said Mrs. Tallboys.
"I do not mean innocence unable to stand alone. It should be strong
and trustworthy, but should have the bloom on it still, not rubbed
off by contact or knowledge of evil. Desire of shielding that bloom
from the slightest breath of contamination is no small motive for
self-restraint, and therefore a great preservative to most men."
"Women purify the atmosphere wherever they go," said the lady.
"Many women do," returned Julius; "but will they retain that power
universally if they succeed in obtaining a position where there will
be less consideration for them, and they must be exposed to a
certain hardening and roughening process?"
"If so," exclaimed Mrs. Tallboys, "if men are so base, we would soon
assert ourselves. We are no frail morning glories for you to guard
and worship with restraint, lest forsooth your natural breath should
wither us away."
As she spoke the door opened, and, with a strong reek of tobacco, in
came the two other gentlemen. "Well, Rector, have you given in?"
asked the Captain. "Is Lady Rosamond to mount the pulpit
"Ah! wouldn't I preach you a sermon," returned Rosamond.
"To resume," said Mrs. Tallboys, sitting very upright. "You still
go on the old assumption that woman was made for you. It is all the
same story: one man says she is for his pleasure, another for his
servant, and you, for--for his refinement. You would all have us
adjectives. Now I defy you to prove that woman is not a
substantive, created for herself."
"If you said 'growed,' Mrs. Tallboys, it would be more consistent,"
said Jenny. "Her creation and her purpose in the world stand upon
precisely the same authority."
"I wonder at you, Miss Bowater," said Mrs. Tallboys. "I cannot
understand a woman trying to depreciate her sex."
"No," thrust in Gussie Moy; "I want to know why a woman can't go
about without a dowager waddling after her" ("Thank you," breathed
Lady Tyrrell into Herbert's ear), "nor go to a club."
"There was such a club proposed in London," said Captain Duncombe,
"and do you know, Gussie, the name of it?"
"The Middlesex Club!"
"There! it is just as Mrs. Tallboys said; you will do nothing but
laugh at us, or else talk sentiment about our refining you. Now, I
want to be free to amuse myself."
"I don't think those trifling considerations will be great
impediments in your way," said Lady Tyrrell in her blandest tone.
"Is that actually the carriage? Thank you, Mrs. Tallboys. This is
good-bye, I believe. I am sorry there has not been more time for a
fuller exposition to-night."
"There would have been, but I never was so interrupted," said Mrs.
Tallboys in an undertone, with a displeased look at Jenny at the
other end of the room.
Declamation was evidently more the Muse's forte than argument, but
her aside was an aside, and that of the jockey friend was not. "So
you waited for us to give your part of the lecture, Miss Moy?"
"Of course. What's the use of talking to a set of women and
parsons, who are just the same?"
Poor Herbert's indignant flush infinitely amused the party who were
cloaking in the hall. "Poor Gussie; her tongue runs fast," said
"Emancipated!" said Jenny. "Good-bye, Mrs. Duncombe. Please let us
be educated up to our privileges before we get them."
"A Parthian shot, Jenny," said Julius, as they gave her a homeward
lift in the carriage. "You proved yourself the fittest memberess
for the future parliament to-night."
"To be elected by the women and parsons," said Jenny, with little
chuckle of fun. "Poor Herbert!"
"I only wish that girl was a man that I might horsewhip her," the
clerical sentiment growled out from Herbert's corner of the
carriage. "Degradation of her sex! She's a standing one!"
Of all the old women that ever I saw,
Sweet bad luck to my mother in law.--Irish Song
The Parliamentary Session had reached the stage that is ended by no
power save that of grouse, and the streets were full of vans
fantastically decorated with baths, chairs, bedsteads, and nursery
Cecil could see two before different house-doors as she sat behind
her muslin curtains, looking as fresh and healthful as ever, and
scarcely more matronly, except that her air of self-assertion had
become more easy and less aggressive now that she was undisputed
mistress of the house in London.
There was no concern on her part that she was not the mother of
either of the two latest scions of the house of Charnock. Certainly
she did not like to be outdone by Rosamond; but then it was only a
girl, and she could afford to wait for the son and heir; indeed, she
did not yet desire him at the cost of all the distinguished and
intellectual society, the concerts, soirees, and lectures that his
non-arrival left her free to enjoy. The other son and heir
interested her nearly, for he was her half-brother. There had been
something almost ludicrous in the apologies to her. His mother
seemed to feel like a traitor to her, and Mr. Charnock could hardly
reconcile his darling's deposition with his pride in the newcomer.
Both she and Raymond had honestly rejoiced in their happiness and
the continuance of the direct line of Dunstone, and had completed
the rejoicing of the parents by thorough sympathy, when the party
with this unlooked-for addition had returned home in the spring.
Mrs. Charnock had insisted on endowing his daughter as largely as he
justly could, to compensate for this change in her expectations, and
was in doubt between Swanmore, an estate on the Backsworth side of
Willansborough, and Sirenwood itself, to purchase and settle on her.
Raymond would greatly have preferred Sirenwood, both from its
adjoining the Compton property and as it would be buying out the
Vivians; but there were doubts about the involvements, and nothing
could be done till Eleonora's majority. Mr. Charnock preferred
Swanmore as an investment, and Raymond could, of course, not press
A short visit had been made at Dunstone to join in the festivities
in honour of the little heir, but Cecil had not been at Compton
since Christmas, though Raymond had several times gone home for a
Sunday when she had other companionship. Charlie had been with them
preparing his outfit for India whither he had been gone about a
month; and Frank, though living in lodgings, was the more frequently
at his sister-in-law's service, because wherever she was the Vivian
sisters might be looked for.
No sooner had Raymond taken the house in --- Square than Lady
Tyrrell had engaged the opposite one, so that one household could
enjoy evening views of the other's interior, and Cecil had chiefly
gone into society under her friend's auspices. Her presentation at
Court had indeed been by the marchioness; she had been staying with
an old friend of Mrs. Poynsett's, quite prepared to be intimate with
Raymond Poynsett's wife, if only Cecil would have taken to her. But
that lady's acceptance of any one recommended in this manner was not
to be thought of, and besides, the family were lively, merry people,
and Cecil was one of those who dislike and distrust laughter, lest
it should be at themselves. So she remained on coldly civil terms
with that pleasant party, and though to a certain degree following
her husband's lead as to her engagements, all her ways were moulded
by her friend's influence. Nor was the effect otherwise than
becoming. Nothing could be in better taste than all in Mrs.
Charnock Poynsett's establishment, and London and Lady Tyrrell
together had greatly improved her manners. All her entertainments
went off well, and she filled her place in the world with grace and
skill, just as she had always figured herself doing.
Yet there was a sense of disappointment and dissatisfaction, which
increased upon her as the time drew nearer for returning to be again
only a guest in her married home. It was a tangible grievance on
which her mind could fix itself. Surely it was hard on her that her
husband should require it of her, and yet she perceived that he
could not avoid it, since his mother was mistress. She knew too
that he was unfailingly kind, attentive, and indulgent, except on
that one occasion when he had sharply reproved her for her behaviour
in the Tallboys matter; and strange to say, a much stronger feeling
towards him had been setting in ever since that one time when she
had seen him thoroughly angry. She longed and craved to stir that
even, gentle courtesy to frowns or smiles; and yet there was a
perversity in her nature that seem to render it impossible to her to
attempt to win a smile from him, far more so to lay aside any device
or desire of her own to gratify him. All she did know was, that to
be all that her ambition had sought, a Charnock by marriage as well
as birth, and with a kind, considerate husband, was not enough to
hinder a heartsickness she had never known or supposed possible.
Presently, through the flowers in her balcony, Cecil saw the opening
and closing of the opposite house-door, and a white parasol
unfurled, and she had only time to finish and address her letter to
Mrs. Duncombe before Lady Tyrrell was announced.
"Here I am after a hard morning's work, winding up accounts, &c."
"You go to-morrow?"
"Yes, trusting that you will soon follow; though you might be a
cockney born, your bloom is town-proof."
"We follow as soon as the division on the Education Question is
over, and that will not be for ten days. You are come to look at my
stores for the bazaar; but first, what are you going to do this
"What are your plans?"
"I must leave cards at half-a-dozen people's at the other end of the
park. Will you come with me? Where is Lenore?"
"She is gone to take leave of the Strangeways' party; Lady Susan
insisted on having her for this last day. Poor Frank! I confess
impartially that it does not look well for him."
"Poor Frank!" repeated Cecil, "he does look very forlorn when he
hears where she is."
"When, after all, if the silly boy could only see it, it is the most
fortunate thing that could happen to him, and the only chance of
keeping his head above water. I have made Lady Susan promise me two
of her daughters for the bazaar. They thoroughly know how to make
themselves useful. Oh, how pretty!"
For Cecil was producing from the shelves of various pieces of
furniture a large stock of fancy articles--Swiss carvings, Spa toys,
Genevese ornaments, and Japanese curiosities, which, as Lady Tyrrell
said, "rivalled her own accumulation, and would serve to carry off
the housewives and pen-wipers on which all the old maids of
Wil'sbro' were employed."
"We must put out our programmes," Cecil added; "people will not work
in earnest till the day is fixed and they know the sellers."
"Yes, the lady patronesses are most important," said Lady Tyrrell,
writing them down: "Mrs. Raymond Charnock Poynsett; Lady Rosamond,
"Oh no, Julius won't hear of it."
"And opposition is sweet: so we lose her romantic name, and the
stall of the three brides. Mrs. Miles Charnock is too much out of
the world to be worth asking. Then myself--Mrs. Duncombe, Mrs.
Fuller, as a matter of necessity, Mrs. Moy."
"Needful, my dear, to propitiate that set. Also that mayoress, Mrs.
Truelove, isn't she? Six. We'll fill up with country people!"
Six more distinguished names were soon supplied of ladies who would
give their patronage, provided neither toil nor care was required of
them; and still consulting, the two friends took their seats in the
carriage. The time of the bazaar was to be fixed by the opening of
the town-hall, which was to take place on the 12th of September--a
Thursday, the week before the races; and the most propitious days
appeared to be the Tuesday and Wednesday before the Great Backsworth
Cup Day, since the world would then be in an excited, pleasure-
seeking state, favourable to their designs.
"I shall have a party in the house," said Lady Tyrrell: "shall you
"I can't tell; you know it does not depend on me, and I certainly
shall not ask it as a favour. Camilla, did I tell you that I tried
to make my father understand the state of things, and speak to
Raymond? But he would only say, that while I am so young and
inexperienced, it is a great advantage for me to live with Mrs.
Poynsett, and that I must be the greatest comfort to her. Papa is
an intense believer in Mrs. Poynsett, and when he once has taken up
a notion nothing will convince him."
"You can't even make capital of this purchase of a house of your
"I don't like to do that."
"My dear, I see your delicacy and forbearance, and I would not urge
you, if I did not see how deeply your happiness is concerned. Of
course I don't mean merely the authority over the wirthschaft,
though somehow the cares of it are an ingredient in female
contentment; but forgive me, Cecil, I am certain that you will never
take your right place--where you care for it more--till you have a
home of your own."
"Ah!" The responsive sound burst from the very depths of Cecil's
heart, penetrated as they had never been before; but pride and
reserve at once sprang up, and she answered coldly, "I have no
reason to complain."
"Right, my dear Cecil, I like you the better;" and she pressed her
"It is quite true," said Cecil, withdrawing hers.
"Quite, absolutely true. He would die rather than give you any
reason for the slightest murmur; but, Cecil, dearest, that very
heedfulness shows there is something he cannot give you."
"I don't know why you should say so," answered a proud but choked