Part 6 out of 11
"I say so," replied the clear tones, firmly, though with a touch of
pity, "because I see it. Cecil, poor child, they married you very
"I missed nothing," exclaimed Cecil; but she felt that she could
only say so in the past, and her eyes burnt with unshed tears.
"No, my dear, you were still a girl, and your deeper woman's heart
had not grown to perceive that it was not met."
"He chose me," she faintly said.
"His mother needed a daughter. It was proper for him to marry, and
you were the most eligible party. I will answer for it that he
warned you how little he could give."
"He did," cried Cecil. "He did tell me that he could not begin in
freshness and warmth, like a young man; but I thought it only meant
that we were too sensible to care about nonsense, and liked him for
it. He always must have been staid and reserved--he could never
have been different, Camilla. Don't smile in that way! Tell me
what you mean."
"My dear Cecil, I knew Raymond Poynsett a good many years before you
"And--well? Then he had a first love?" said Cecil, in a voice
schooled into quiet. "Was he different then? Was he as desperate
as poor Frank is now?"
"Frank is a very mild copy of him at that age. He overbore every
one, wrung consent from all, and did everything but overcome his
mother's calm hostility and self-assertion."
"Did that stop it? She died of course," said Cecil. "She could not
have left off loving him."
"She did not die, but her family were wearied out by the continual
objections to their overtures, and the supercilious way of treating
them. They thought it a struggle of influence, and that he was too
entirely dominated for a daughter-in-law to be happy with her. So
they broke it off."
"And she--" Cecil looked up with searching eyes.
"She had acutely felt the offence, the weakness, the dutifulness,
whatever you may choose to call it, and in the rebound she married."
"Who is she?" gasped Cecil.
"It is not fair to tell you," was the gentle answer, with a shade of
rebuke. "You need not look for her. She is not in the county."
"I hope I shall never see her!"
"You need not dread doing so if you can only have fair play, and
establish the power that belongs rightly to you. She would have no
chance with you, even if he had forgiven her."
"Has not he?"
"And he used up all his heart?" said Cecil in a low, musing tone.
"All but what his mother absorbed. She was a comparatively young
and brilliant woman, and she knew her power. It is a great
ascendancy, and only a man's honest blindness could suppose that any
woman would be content under it."
Cecil's tongue refused to utter what oppressed her heart--those
evenings beside the sofa, those eager home expeditions for Sunday,
the uniform maintenance of his mother's supremacy.
"And you think absence from her would lessen her influence?"
"I am sure of it. There might be a struggle, but if I know Mr.
Charnock Poynsett rightly, he is too upright not to be conscious of
what is due to you, and be grieved not to be able to give you more--
that is, when his mother is not holding him in her grasp. Nor can
there be any valid objection, since Mrs Miles Charnock is always at
"She will return to Africa. I don't know why she and Rosamond have
been always so much more acceptable."
"They are not her rivals; besides, they have not your strength. She
is a woman who tries to break whatever she cannot bend, and the
instant her son began to slip from her grasp the contest necessarily
began. You had much better have it over once and for ever, and have
him on your side. Insist on a house of your own, and when you have
made your husband happy in it, then, then--Ah! Good morning--Sir
She had meant to say, "Then you win his heart," but the words would
not come, and a loathing hatred of the cold-hearted child who had a
property in Raymond so mastered her that she welcomed the
interruption, and did not return to the subject.
She knew when she had said enough, and feared to betray herself; nor
could Cecil bear to resume the talk, stunned and sore as she was at
the revelation, though with no suspicion that the speaker had been
the object of her husband's affection. She thought it must have
been the other sister, now in India, and that this gave the key to
many allusions she had heard and which she marvelled at herself for
not having understood. The equivocation had entirely deceived her,
and she little thought she had been taking counsel with the rival
who was secretly triumphing in Raymond's involuntary constancy, and
sowing seeds of vengeance against an ancient enemy.
She could not settle to anything when she came home. Life had taken
a new aspect. Hitherto she had viewed herself as born to all
attention and deference, and had taken it as a right, and now she
found herself the victim of a mariage de convenance to a man of
exhausted affections, who meant her only to be the attendant of his
domineering mother. The love that was dawning in her heart did but
add poignancy to the bitterness of the revelation, and fervour to
her resolve to win the mastery over the heart which was her lawful
She was restless till his return. She was going to an evening
party, and though usually passive as to dress, she was so changeable
and difficult to satisfy that Grindstone grew cross, and showed it
by stern, rigid obedience. And Cecil well knew that Grindstone; who
was in authority in the present house, hated the return to be merely
the visitor of Alston and Jenkins.
In the drawing-room Cecil fluttered from book to window, window to
piano again, throwing down her occupation at every sound and taking
up another; and when at last Raymond came in, his presence at first
made her musings seem mere fancies.
Indeed it would have been hard to define what was wanting in his
manner. He lamented his unavoidable delay, and entertained her with
all the political and parliamentary gossip he had brought home, and
which she always much enjoyed as a tribute to her wisdom, so much
that it had been an entire, though insensible cure for the Rights of
Woman. Moreover, he was going with her to this 'drum,' though he
would greatly have preferred the debate, and was to be summoned in
case of a division. She knew enough of the world to be aware that
such an attentive and courteous husband was not the rule. But what
was courtesy to one who longed for unity?
"Is Frank to be there this evening?" he asked.
"Yes, I believe so."
"I thought he was to have gone with us."
"He told me not to depend on him. He had made an engagement to ride
into the country with Sir Harry Vivian." And she added, though the
proud spirit so hated what seemed to her like making an advance that
it sounded like a complaint, "So you can't avoid going with me?"
"I should any way have gone with you, but I may have to leave you to
Frank to see you away," he said. "And I had rather have Frank here
than with that set."
"Breaking up one of our few tete-a-tete evenings, and they are
becoming few enough!"
This murmur gratified him, and he said, "We shall be more alone
together now. The Rectory is almost ready, and Julius means to move
in another week, and I suppose Miles will carry Anne off before the
year is over."
"Yes, we are the only ones with no home."
"Rather, we hold fast to the old home."
"Not my old home."
"Does not mine become yours?"
"Not while--." She paused and started afresh. "Raymond, could we
not live at Swanslea, if it is bought for us?"
"Swanslea! Five miles off! Impossible."
Cecil was silent.
"My dear Cecil," he said, after a few moments' consideration, "I can
understand that you felt unfortunately crowded last year, but all
that is over, and you must see that we are necessary to my mother,
and that all my duties require me to live at home."
"You could attend to the property from Swanslea."
"The property indeed! I meant my mother!"
"She has Anne."
"Anne will soon be in Africa--even if she were more of a companion.
I am sorry it is a trial to you; for my proper place is clearly with
my mother, the more in her helpless state, and with my brothers gone
out into the world. Now that the numbers are smaller, you will find
it much easier to take the part that I most earnestly wish should be
"I cannot get on with her."
"Do not say so! Do not think so! To have Rosamond there with her
Irish ease, and her reserve, kept you in the background before; I
say it, but I could not help it; and now there will be no hindrance
to your drawing together. There is nothing I so desire."
If the carriage had not stopped as he spoke Cecil would not have
uttered the thought that smote her, namely, that his desire was on
behalf, not of his wife, but of his mother, to whom he was ready to
sacrifice her happiness without a pang. She did not see that he
could imagine no greater happiness for her than a thorough love of
They certainly were not the happiest couple present as they walked
up-stairs, looking like a model husband and wife, with their name
echoing from landing to landing.
If any expression savouring of slang could possibly be applied to
Raymond, he might be said to be struck all of a heap by his wife's
proposition. He had never even thought of the possibility of making
a home anywhere but at Compton Poynsett, or of his wife wishing that
he should do so; and proverbial sayings about the incompatability of
relatives-in-law suddenly assumed a reasonableness that he could not
bear to remember.
But his courtesy and sense of protection, trained by a woman of the
old school, would not suffer him to relax his attention to his wife.
Though he was very anxious to get back to the house, he would not
quit her neighbourhood till he had found Frank and intrusted her to
He was not happy about Frank. The youth was naturally of an
intellectual and poetical temperament, and had only cared for horses
and field-sports as any healthy lad growing up in a country house
must enjoy them; and Raymond had seen him introduced to the style of
men whom he thought would be thoroughly congenial to him, and not
unlikely to lead him on to make a mark in the world.
But that unfortunate Vivian attachment stood in the way; Sir Harry
and his elder daughter ignored it entirely, but did not forbid Frank
the house; though Lady Tyrrell took care, as only she could do, that
Eleonora should never have ten minutes private conversation with
him, either at home or abroad. Even in a crowd, a ball, or garden-
party, the vigilant sister had her means of breaking into any kind
of confidence; and Frank was continually tantalized by the pursuit.
It could not but unsettle him, and draw him into much more gaiety
than was compatible with the higher pursuits his mother had expected
of him; and what was worse, it threw him into Sir Harry Vivian's
set, veteran roues, and younger men who looked up to their
knowingness and listened to their good stories.
What amount of harm it was doing Raymond could not guess. He had
known it all himself, and had escaped unscathed, but he did not fear
the less for his younger brother, and he only hoped that the
inducement to mingle with such society would be at an end before
Frank had formed a taste for the habits that there prevailed.
Eleonora Vivian had been much admired at first, but her cold manner
kept every one at a distance, and her reserve was hardly ever seen
to relax. However, her one friendship with the Strangeways family
gave Raymond hopes that her constancy was not proof against the
flattering affection, backed by wealth, that seemed to await her
there. The best he could wish for Frank was that the infatuation
might be over as soon as possible, though he pitied the poor fellow
sincerely when he saw him, as he did to-night, waiting with scarcely
concealed anxiety while Miss Vivian stood listening to a long
discourse about yachting from an eager pair of chattering girls.
Then some break occurred, and Frank moved up to her. "Your last
evening! How little I have seen of you!"
"I called, but you were at the Strangeways'."
"They are very kind to me. When is your holiday?"
"Not till spring, but I may get a few days in the autumn: you will
be at home?"
"As far as I know."
"If I thought for a moment you cared to see me; but you have shown
few signs of wishing it of late."
"Frank--if I could make you understand--"
They were walking towards a recess, when Lady Tyrrell fastened upon
Raymond. "Pray find my sister; she forgets that we have to be at
Lady Granby's--Oh! are you there, Lenore! Will you see her down,
Mr. Poynsett? Well, Frank, did you get as far as you intended?"
And she went down on his arm, her last words being, "Take care of
yourself till we meet at home. For this one year I call Sirenwood
Raymond and Lenore said no more to one another. The ladies were put
into the carriage. The elder brother bade Frank take care of Cecil,
and started for Westminster with the poor lad's blank and
disappointed face still before his eyes, hoping at least it was well
for him, but little in love with life, or what it had to offer.
When life becomes a spasm,
And history a whiz,
If that is not sensation,
I don't know what it is.--LEWIS CARROLL
"Is Lady Rosamond at home?"
"Nor Mrs. Charnock?"
"No, ma'am; they are both gone down to the Rectory."
"Would you ask whether Mrs. Poynsett would like to see me?"
"I'll inquire, ma'am, if you will walk in," said Mr. Jenkins moved
by the wearied and heated looks of Miss Vivian, who had evidently
come on foot at the unseasonable visiting hour of 11.15 a.m.
The drawing-room was empty, but, with windows open on the shady
side, was most inviting to one who had just become unpleasantly
aware that her walking capacity had diminished under the stress of a
London season, and that a very hampering one. She was glad of the
rest, but it lasted long enough to be lost in the uncomfortable
consciousness that hers was too truly a morning call, and she would
have risen and escaped had not that been worse.
At last the door of communication opened, and to her amazement Mrs.
Poynsett was pushed into the room by her maid in a wheeled chair.
"Yes, my dear," she said, in reply to Eleonora's exclamation of
surprise and congratulation, "this is my dear daughters'
achievement; Rosamond planned and Anne contrived, and they both
coaxed my lazy bones."
"I am so very glad! I had no notion I should see you out of your
"Such is one's self-importance! I thought the fame would have
reached you at least."
"Ah, you don't know how little I see of any one I can hear from!
And now I am afraid I have disturbed you too early."
"Oh no, my dear; it was very good and kind, and I am only grieved
that you had so long to wait; but we will make the most of each
other now. You will stay to luncheon?"
"Thank you, indeed I am afraid I must not: papa would not like it,
for no one knows where I am."
"You have taken this long walk in the heat, and are going back! I
don't like it, my dear; you look fagged. London has not agreed with
Mrs. Poynsett rang her little hand-bell, and ordered in biscuits and
wine, and would have ordered the carriage but for Lenore's urgent
entreaties to the contrary, amounting to an admission that she
wished her visit to be unnoticed at home. This was hardly settled
before there was a knock at the door, announcing baby's daily visit;
and Miss Julia was exhibited by her grandmamma with great
satisfaction until another interruption came, in a call from the
doctor, who only looked in occasionally, and had fallen on this
"Most unlucky," said Mrs. Poynsett. "I am afraid you will doubt
about coming again, and I have not had one word about our Frankie."
"He is very well. I saw him at a party the night before we left
town. Good-bye, dear Mrs. Poynsett."
"You will come again?"
"If I can; but the house is to be full of visitors. If I don't, you
will know it is because I can't."
"I shall be thankful for whatever you can give me. I wish I could
save you that hot walk in the sun."
But as Mrs. Poynsett was wheeled into her own room some compensation
befell Eleonora, for she met Julius in the hall, and he offered to
drive her to the gates of Sirenwood in what he called 'our new
plaything, the pony carriage,' on his way to a clerical meeting.
"You are still here?" she said.
"Till Tuesday, when we go to the Rectory to receive the two De
Lancey boys for the holidays."
"How Mrs. Poynsett will miss you."
"Anne is a very efficient companion," said Julius, speaking to her
like one of the family; "the pity is that she will be so entirely
lost to us when Miles claims her."
"Then they still mean to settle in Africa?"
"Her heart has always been there, and her father is in treaty for a
farm for him, so I fear there is little hope of keeping them. I
can't think what the parish will do without her. By the bye, how
does Joe Reynolds get on with his drawings?"
"I must show them to you. He is really very clever. We sent him to
the School of Art twice a week, and he has got on wonderfully. I
begin to believe in my academician."
"So you don't repent?"
"I think not. As far as I can judge he is a good boy still. I make
him my escort to church, so that I am sure of him there. Renville
would have taken him for a boy about his studio, and I think he will
go there eventually; but Camilla thinks he may be an attraction at
the bazaar, and is making him draw for it."
"I was in hopes that the bazaar would have blown over, but the
Bishop has been demanding of Fuller and his churchwardens how soon
they mean to put the building in hand, and this seems to be their
only notion of raising money."
"I am very glad of this opportunity of asking what you think I had
better do about it. Your wife takes no part in it?"
"Certainly not; but I doubt whether that need be a precedent for
you. I am answerable for her, and you could hardly keep out of it
without making a divided household."
"I see the difference, and perhaps I have made myself quite
unpleasant enough already."
"As the opposition?"
"And Camilla has been very kind in giving me much more freedom than
I expected, and pacifying papa. She let me go every Friday evening
to help Lady Susan Strangeways at her mothers' meeting."
"Lady Susan Strangeways! I have heard of her."
"She has been my comforter and help all this time. She is all
kindness and heartiness,--elbow-deep in everything good. She got up
at five o'clock to finish the decorations at St. Maurice's, and to-
day she is taking five hundred school-children to Windsor forest."
"Is she the mother of the young man at Backsworth?"
"Yes," said Eleonora, in rather a different tone. "Perhaps she goes
rather far; and he has flown into the opposite extreme, though they
say he is improving, and has given up the turf, and all that sort of
"Was he at home? I heard he was on leave."
"He was said to be at home, but I hardly ever saw him. He was
always out with his own friends when I was there."
"I should not suppose Lady Susan's pursuits were much in his line.
Is not one of the daughters a Sister?"
"Yes, at St. Faith's. She was my great friend. The younger ones
are nice girls, but have not much in them. Camilla is going to have
them down for the bazaar."
"What, do they patronize bazaars?"
"Everything that is _doing_ they patronize. I have known them be
everywhere, from the Drawing-room to a Guild-meeting in a back slum,
and all with equal appetite. That is one reason why I fear I shall
not see much of your mother; they are never tired, and I shall never
get out alone. The house is to be full of people, and we are to be
She spoke with a tone that betrayed how little pleasure she
expected, though it strove to be uncomplaining; and Julius, who had
learnt something of poor Frank's state of jealous misery, heartily
wished the Strangeways family further, regarding the intimacy as a
manoeuvre of Lady Tyrrell's, and doubting how far all Eleonora's
evident struggles would keep her out of the net; and though while
talking to her he had not the slightest doubt of her sincerity, he
had not long set her down at the lodge before he remembered that she
was a Vivian.
Meantime Rosamond, carrying some medicament to old Betty Reynolds,
found the whole clan in excitement at the appearance of Joe in all
his buttons, looking quite as honest and innocent, though a good
deal more civilized, than when he was first discovered among the
"Only to think," said his great-grandmother, "that up in London all
they could gie to he was a bad penny."
"It is the bronze medal, my lady," said Joshua, with a blush; "the
second prize for crayons in our section."
"Indeed," cried Rosamond. "You are a genius, Joe, worthy of your
namesake. There are many that would be proud to have the grandson
you have, Betty."
"Tubby sure," added an aunt-in-law, "'tis cheap come by. Such
things to make a young lad draught. They ought to be ashamed of
themselves, they did oughter. Shut it up, Josh; don't be showing it
to the lady--'tis nothing but the bare back of a sweep."
"My lady and Miss Vivian have seen it," said Joshua, blushing.
"'Tis torso, my lady, from a cast from the museum."
"A black-looking draught," repeated the grandmother. "I tells Joe
if he drawed like King Geaarge's head up at Wil'sbro' on the sign,
with cheeks like apples, and a gould crown atop, he'd arn his
"All in good time, Betty. He can't colour till he can draw. I'm
glad to see him looking so well."
"Yes, my lady, he do have his health torrablish, though he lives in
a underground sort of a place; and they fine servants puts upon he
"Granny!" muttered Joshua, in expostulation.
"He's a brave boy, and does not mind roughing it, so he can get on,"
"And the ladies are very good to me," said the boy.
"Show Lady Rosamond the draught you did of Miss Vivian, like a
hangel," suggested the aunt.
The rising artist coloured, saying, "Please, my lady, don't name it
to no one. I would not have shown it, but little Bess, she pulled
down all my things on the floor when I was not looking. It is from
memory, my lady, as she looks when she's doing anything for Sir
It was a very lovely sketch--imperfect but full of genius, and
wonderfully catching, the tender, wistful look which was often on
Eleonora's face, as she waited on her father. Rosamond longed that
Frank should see it; but the page was very shy about it, and his
grandmother contrasted it with the performances of the painter 'who
had draughted all the farmers' wives in gould frames for five pound
a head; but satin gownds and gold chains was extry.'
But Joe had brought her a pound of tea, and an 'image' for her
mantelpiece, which quite satisfied her, though the image, being a
Parian angel of Thorwaldsen's, better suited his taste than its
The whole scene served Rosamond for a narrative in her most lively
style for Mrs. Poynsett's amusement that evening. There was the
further excitement of a letter from Miles, and the assurance that he
would be at home in November. Anne had become far less chary of
communications from his letters than she had at first been, but of
this one she kept back so large a portion in public, that the
instant Mrs. Poynsett had bidden them good night and been wheeled
away, Rosamond put a hand on each shoulder, and looking into her
face, said, "Now, Anne, let us hear! Miles has found Archie
Douglas. It is no use pretending. Fie, Mrs. Anne, why can't you
"I was not to tell any one but Julius."
"Well, I'm Julius. Besides, wasn't I at the very bottom of the
tracing him out? Haven't I the best right to know whether it is bad
"Not bad, I am sure," said Julius, quickly and anxiously.
"Oh, no, not bad," answered Anne. "He has seen him--had him on
board for a night."
"Off Durban. But this whole sheet about it is marked 'Private--only
for Julius,' so I could say nothing about it before your mother. I
have hardly glanced at it myself as yet, but I think he says Mr.
Douglas made him promise not to tell her or Joanna Bowater."
"Not tell Jenny!" cried Rosamond. "And you said it was not bad. He
must have gone and married!"
"I do not think that is it," said Anne; "but you shall hear. Miles
says:--'I have at last seen our poor Cousin Archie. I told you I
was following up your brother Sandie's hint about the agents for the
hunters; and at last I fell in with a merchant, who, on my inquiry,
showed me an invoice that I could have sworn to as in Archie's hand,
and described his white hair. It seems he has been acting as
manager on an ostrich farm for the last three years, far up the
country. So I lost no time in sending up a note to him, telling
him, if he had not forgotten old times, to come down and see me
while I was lying off Durban Bay. I heard no more for ten days, and
had got in the stores and was to sail the next day, thinking he had
given us all up, when a boat hailed us just come over the bar. I
saw Archie's white head, and in ten minutes I had him on deck. 'For
Heaven's sake--am I cleared, Miles?' was the first thing he said;
and when I could not say that he was, it went to my heart to see how
the eager look sank away, and he was like a worn-down man of fifty.
Poor fellow, I found he had ridden two hundred miles, with the hope
that I had brought him news that his innocence was proved, and the
revulsion was almost more than he could bear. You see, he had no
notion that we thought him dead, and so he took the entire absence
of any effort to trace him as acquiescence in his guilt; and when he
found out how it was, he laid me under the strongest injunctions to
disclose to no one that he is living--not that he fears any results,
but that he says it would only disturb every one and make them
"He must have gone and married. The wretch!" broke in Rosamond.
"No, oh no!" cried Anne. "Only hear the rest. 'I told him that I
could not see that at all, and that there was a very warm and tender
remembrance of him among us all, and he nearly broke down and said,
'For Heaven's sake then, Miles, let them rest in that! There's more
peace for them so.' I suppose I looked--I am sure I did not speak--
as though I were a little staggered as to whether he were ashamed to
be known; for he drew himself up in the old way I should have known
anywhere, and told me there was no reason I should fear to shake
hands with him; however his name might be blasted at home, he had
done nothing to make himself unworthy of his mother and Jenny--and
there was a sob again. So I let him know that up to my last letters
from home Jenny was unmarried. I even remembered those descriptive
words of yours, Nannie, 'living in patient peacefulness and
cheerfulness on his memory.'"
"I was called on deck just then, so I gave him my home photograph-
book, and left him with it. I found him crying like a child over it
when I came back; I was obliged to strip it of all my best for him,
for I could not move him. We went through the whole of the old
story, to see if there were any hope; and when he found that Tom
Vivian was dead, and George Proudfoot too, without a word about him,
he seemed to think it hopeless. He believes that Proudfoot at
least, if not Moy, was deeply in debt to Vivian, though not to that
extent, and that Vivian probably incited them to 'borrow' from my
mother's letter. He was very likely to undertake to get the draft
cashed for them, and not to account for the difference. It may have
helped to hasten his catastrophe. Moy I never should have
suspected; Archie says he should once have done so as little; but he
was a plausible fellow, and would do things on the sly, while all
along appearing to old Proudfoot as a mentor to George. Archie
seemed to feel his prosperity the bitterest pill of all--reigning
like one of the squirearchy at Proudfoot Lawn--a magistrate
forsooth, with his daughter figuring as an heiress. One thing worth
note--Archie says, that when it was too late, he remembered that the
under-clerk, Gadley, might not have gone home, and might have heard
him explain that the letter had turned up.'"
"Gadley? Why that's the landlord of the 'Three Pigeons!'" exclaimed
Rosamond. "It is Mr. Moy's house, and he supports him through thick
"Yes," said Julius, "the magistrates have been on the point of
taking away his license, but Moy always stands up for him. There is
something suspicious in that."
"I heard Miss Moy, with my own ears, tell Mrs. Duncombe that he was
the apple of her father's eye," cried Rosamond.
"He's bribed! he's bribed! Oh, I see it all. Well, go on, Anne.
If Archie isn't at home before he is a year older--"
Anne went on. "'He allowed that he would have done more wisely in
facing it out and standing his trial; but he said, poor fellow, that
he felt as if the earth had given way under him. There was not a
soul near who believed him; they brought his father's history
against him, and moreover he had been at the races, and had been
betting, though in fact he had won, and not lost, and the 201. he
had become possessed of was his capital, besides the little he could
draw out of the bank
"'If he could only have seen Jenny in London she would have turned
him back. Indeed, that first stage was to consult her, but he
fancied he saw the face of the Wil'sbro' Superintendent in a cab,
and the instinct of avoiding arrest carried him to Southampton,
where he got a steerage berth in a sailing vessel, and came out to
the Cape. He has lived hard enough, but his Scots blood has stood
him in good stead, and he has made something as an ivory-hunter, and
now has a partnership in an ostrich farm in the Amatongula country.
Still he held to it that it was better he should continue dead to
all here, since Mr. Bowater would never forgive him; and the
knowledge of his existence would only hinder Jenny's happiness. You
should have seen the struggle with which he said that! He left me
no choice, indeed; forbade a word to any one, until I suggested that
I had a wife, and that my said wife and Julius had put me on the
scent. He was immensely struck to find that my sweet Nan came from
Glen Fraser. He said the evenings he spent there had done more to
renew his home-sickness, and made him half mad after the sight or
sound of us, than anything else had done, and I got him to promise
to come and see us when we are settled in the bush. What should you
say to joining him in ostrich-hatching? or would it be ministering
too much to the vanities of the world? However, I'll do something
to get him cleared, if it comes to an appeal to old Moy himself,
when I come home. Meantime, remember, you are not at liberty to
speak a word of this to any one but Julius, and, I suppose, his
wife. I hope--' There, Rose, I beg your pardon."
"What does he hope?" asked Rosamond.
"He only hopes she is a cautious woman."
"As cautious as his Nan, eh? Ah, Anne! you're a canny Scot, and
maybe think holding your tongue as fine a thing as this Archie does;
but I can't bear it. I think it is shocking, just wearing out the
heart of the best and sweetest girl in the world."
"At any rate," said Julius, "we must be silent. We have no right to
speak, however we may feel."
"You don't expect it will stay a secret, or that he'll go and pluck
ostriches like geese, with Miles and Anne, and nobody know it?
'Twould be taking example by their ostriches, indeed!"
"I think so," said Julius, laughing; "but as it stands now, silence
is our duty by both Miles and Archie, and Anne herself. We must not
make her repent having told us."
"It's lucky I'm not likely to fall in with Jenny just yet," said
Rosamond. "Don't leave me alone with her, either of you; if you do,
it is at your peril. It is all very well to talk of honour and
secrets, but to see the look in her eyes, and know he is alive,
seems to me rank cruelty and heartlessness. It is all to let Miles
have the pleasure of telling when he comes home."
"Miles is not a woman, nor an Irishwoman," said Julius.
"But he's a sailor, and he's got a feeling heart," said Rosamond;
"and if he stands one look of Jenny, why, I'll disown him for the
brother-in-law I take him for. By the bye, is not Raymond to know?"
"No," said Anne; "here is a postscript forbidding my telling him or
"Indeed! And I suppose Herbert knows nothing?"
"Nothing. He was a boy at school at the time. Say nothing to him,
"Oh, no; besides, his brain is all run to cricket."
It was but too true. When the sun shone bright in April, and the
wickets were set up, Herbert had demonstrated that his influence was
a necessity on the village green; and it was true that his goodly
and animated presence was as useful morally to the eleven as it was
conducive to their triumphs; so his Rector suppressed a few sighs at
the frequency of the practices and the endless matches. Compton had
played Wil'sbro' and Strawyers, Duddingstone and Woodbury; the choir
had played the school, the single the married; and when hay and
harvest absorbed the rustic eleven, challenges began among their
betters. The officers played the county--Oxonians, Cantabs--
Etonians, Harrovians--and wherever a match was proclaimed, that
prime bowler, the Reverend Herbert Bowater, was claimed as the
indispensable champion of his cause and country.
If his sister had any power to moderate his zeal, she had had little
chance of exercising it; for Mrs. Bowater had had a rheumatic fever
in March, and continued so much of an invalid all the summer that
Jenny seldom went far from home, only saw her brother on his weekly
visits to the sick-room, and was, as Rosamond said, unlikely to
become a temptation to the warm heart and eager tongue.
* * * * *
The week-day congregation were surprised one August morning at eight
o'clock by the entrance of three ladies in the most recent style of
fashionable simplicity, and making the most demonstrative tokens of
reverence. As the Rector came out he was seized upon at once by the
"Mr. Charnock! I must introduce myself; I knew your dear mother so
well when we were both girls. I am so delighted to find such a
church--quite an oasis; and I want to ascertain the best hour for
calling on her. Quite an invalid--I was so shocked to hear it.
Will the afternoon suit her? I am only here for three days to
deposit these two girls, while I take the other on a round of
visits. Three daughters are too great an affliction for one's
friends, and Bee and Conny are so delighted to be near their brother
and with dear Lena Vivian, that I am very glad above all, since I
find there are real church privileges--so different from the Vicar
of Wil'sbro'. Poor man; he is a great trial."
All this was said between the church and the lych-gate, and almost
took Julius's breath away; but Mrs. Poynsett was prepared to welcome
her old friend with some warmth and more curiosity.
Lady Susan Strangeways was a high-bred woman, but even high breeding
could not prevent her from being overwhelming, especially as there
was a great deal more of her than there had been at the last meeting
of the friends, so that she was suggestive of Hawthorne's inquiry,
whether a man is bound to so many more pounds of flesh than he
originally wedded. However, it was prime condition, and activity
was not impeded, but rather received impetus. She had already,
since her matutinal walk of more than a mile and back, overhauled
the stores for the bazaar, inspected the town-hall, given her
advice, walked through the ruins for the church, expressed herself
strongly on the horrors of the plan, and begun to organize shilling
cards, all before Sir Harry had emerged from his room.
She was most warm-hearted and good-natured, and tears glistened in
her honest gray eyes as she saw her old friend's helpless state.
"You don't know how much I have improved," said Mrs. Poynsett; "I
feel quite at liberty in this chair, all owing to my good daughters-
"Ah! I have so pitied you for having no girls! My dear daughters
have been so entirely one with me--such a blessing in all I have
Mrs. Poynsett of course declared her complete comfort in her five
sons, but Lady Susan was sure that if she had had as many boys,
instead of one son and four daughters, she should have been worn
out. Lorimer was a dear, affectionate fellow. Those he loved could
guide him with a leash of gossamer, but young men in his position
were exposed to so many temptations! There ensued a little sighing
over the evils of wealth; and to see and hear the two ladies, no one
would have thought that Julia Poynsett had married a young man for
love--Susan Lorimer an old man for independence.
Possibly with her present principles she would not have done so; but
through the vista of a long and prosperous widowhood deficiencies in
the courtship were easily forgotten; and perhaps there was the more
romance and sentiment now because she had been balked of it in her
youth. She had freely allowed her eldest daughter to enter a
sisterhood from the purest, most unselfish motives, but there was
compensation in talking of her Margaret as a Sister of Mercy.
And ere long she was anxiously inquiring Mrs. Poynsett's opinion of
Eleonora Vivian, and making confidences somewhat trying to the
mother of the young lady's ardent lover.
She was quite aware that as to fortune there could hardly be a worse
match than Miss Vivian; but she was sensible enough to see that her
son had a sufficiency, and generous enough to like the idea of
redeeming the old estate. Her husband had spent his latter years in
a vain search for a faultless property, and his wealth was waiting
for Lorimer's settling down. She had always regretted the having no
vassals rightfully her own, and had felt the disadvantages of being
Lady Bountiful only by tenant right. To save an old estate from
entirely passing out of a family, and relieve 'a noble old wreck,'
like Sir Harry, seemed to her so grand a prospect that she could not
but cast a little glamour over the manner of the shipwreck. Still,
to do her justice, her primary consideration was the blessing such a
woman as Lenore might be to her son.
She had not fathomed Lady Tyrrell. No woman could do so without
knowing her antecedents, but she understood enough to perceive that
Eleonora was not happy with her, and this she attributed to the
girl's deep nature and religious aspirations. Rockpier was an
ecclesiastical paradise to Lady Susan, and a close bond with Lenore,
to whom in London she had given all the facilities that lay in her
power for persevering in the observances that were alien to the gay
household at home. She valued this constancy exceedingly, and
enthusiastically dilated on the young lady's goodness, and
indifference to the sensation she had created. "Lorimer allows he
never saw her equal for grace and dignity."
Allows! Fancy Frank _allowing_ any perfection in his Lenore! Was
it not possible that a little passing encomium on unusual beauty was
being promoted and magnified by the mother into a serious
attachment? But Lady Tyrrell was playing into her hands, and
Lenore's ecclesiastical proclivities were throwing her into the arms
of the family!
It hardly seemed fair to feign sympathy, yet any adverse hint would
be treason, and Mrs. Poynsett only asked innocently whether her
friend had seen her son Frank.
"Oh yes, often; the handsomest of all your sons, is he not?"
"Perhaps he is _now_."
"My girls rave about his beautiful brown eyes, just as you used to
do, Julia, five-and-thirty years ago."
Mrs. Poynsett was sure that whatever she had thought of Miles
Charnock's eyes five-and-thirty years ago, she had never raved about
them to Susan Lorimer, but she only said, "All my boys are like
their father except Charlie."
"But Master Frank has no eyes for any one but Miss Vivian. Oh yes,
I see the little jealousies; I am sorry for him; but you see it
would be a shocking bad thing for a younger son like him; whereas
Lory could afford it, and it would be the making of him."
Mrs. Poynsett held her peace, and was not sorry that her visitor was
called away while she was still deliberating whether to give a hint
of the state of the case.
Lady Susan was, however, more aware of it than she knew; Lady
Tyrrell had 'candidly' given her a hint that there had been 'some
nonsense about Frank Charnock,' but that he could never afford such
a marriage, even if his mother would allow it, all which she never
would. Besides, he had not fallen into a satisfactory set in
London--why, it was not needful to tell.
When, after the drive, Lady Tyrrell, fairly tired out by her
visitor's unfailing conversation and superabundant energy, had gone
to lie down and recruit for the evening, Lady Susan pressed on
Eleonora a warm invitation to the house in Yorkshire which she was
renting, and where Lorimer would get as much shooting as his colonel
would permit. The mention of him made Lenore blush to the ears, and
say, "Dear Lady Susan, you are always so kind to me that I ought to
be open with you. Don't fancy--"
"I understand, I understand, my dear," broke in Lady Susan. "You
shall not be teased. Do not the girls and I care for you for your
"I hope so."
The elder lady sprang up and embraced her. Affection was very
pleasant to the reserved nature that could do so little to evoke
caresses. Yet Eleonora clasped her Rockpier charm in her hand, and
added, "I must tell you that so far as I can without disobedience, I
hold myself engaged to Frank Charnock."
"To Frank Charnock?" repeated Lady Susan, startled at this positive
statement. "My dear, are you quite sure of his ways?--since he has
been in town I mean."
"I know him, and I trust him."
"I'm sure he is a fine-looking young man, and very clever, they say;
dear Julia Poynsett's son too, and they have all turned out so
well," said honest Lady Susan; "but though you have been used to it
all your life, my dear, a taste for horses is very dangerous in a
young man who can't afford to lose now and then, you know."
"I have seriously made up my mind never to marry a man who has
anything to do with the turf," said Eleonora.
"Ah, my poor dear, I can understand that," said Lady Susan, aware
how ill this told for her Lory. "May I ask, does he know it?"
"It would insult him to say it. None of the Charnocks ever meddle
with those things. Ah! I know your son saw him on the Derby-day;
but he went down with his eldest brother and his wife--and _that_ is
a very different thing! I stayed at home, you remember--papa had a
fit of the gout."
"My dear, I don't want to accuse him. Don't bristle up; only I am
sorry, both for my own little plan of having you for my _very_ own,
and because I fear there is trouble in store for you. It can't be
palatable." Here Eleonora shook her head, and her worn, wearied
look went to the good-natured heart. "Dear child, you have gone
through a great deal. You shan't be worried or fretted about
anybody or anything at Revelrig."
"I should be very glad," said Lenore, who had no fears of Lory
personally, though she could not be invited on false pretences.
"You had better come when Bee and Conny meet me. Let me see--will
the retreat be over by that time? Are you going to it? You are an
associate of St. Faith."
"Yes, but I don't see how I could go to the retreat. Oh, what a
relief it would be to have such a week!"
"Exactly what I feel," said Lady Susan, somewhat to her surprise.
"It strengthens and sets me right for the year. Dr. Easterby
conducts this one. Do you not know him? Is not Rood House near
"Yes on the other side, but he is utterly out of my reach. Julius
Charnock looks up to him so much; but his name--even more than St.
Faith's--would horrify my father."
"You could not go direct there," said Lady Susan; "but when once you
are with me you are my charge, and I could take you."
She considered a little. Both she and her friend knew that all her
religious habits were alien to Sir Harry, and that what he had
freely permitted, sometimes shared at Rockpier, was now only winked
at, and that if he had guessed the full extent of her observances he
would have stormily issued a prohibition. Could it be wrong to
spend part of her visit to Lady Susan with her hostess in a
sisterhood, when she had no doubt as to attending services which he
absolutely never dreamt of, and therefore did not forbid? The
sacred atmosphere and holy meditations, without external strife and
constant watchfulness, seemed to the poor girl like water to the
thirsty; and she thought, after all the harass and whirl of the
bazaar and race week, she might thus recruit her much-needed
strength for the decisive conflicts her majority would bring.
Lady Susan had no doubts. The 'grand old wreck' was in his present
aspect a hoary old persecutor, and charming Lady Tyrrell a worldly,
scheming elder sister. It was as much an act of charity to give
their victim an opportunity of devotion and support as if she had
been the child of abandoned parents in a back court in East London.
Reserve to prevent a prohibition was not in such cases treachery or
disobedience; and she felt herself doing a mother's part, as she
told her daughters, with some enjoyment of the mystery. Eleonora
made no promise, hoping to clear her mind by consideration, or to
get Julius's opinion. He and his wife dined at Sirenwood, and found
Joe Reynolds's drawings laid out for inspection, while Lady Susan
was advising that, instead of selling them, there should be an
industrial exhibition of all curiosities of art and nature to be
collected in the neighbourhood, and promising her own set of foreign
photographs and coloured costumes, which had served such purposes
many and many a time.
After dinner the good dame tried to talk to Rosamond on what she
deemed the most congenial subjects; but my Lady Rose had no notion
of 'shop' at a dinner-party, so she made languid answer that she
'left all that to the curates,' and escaped to a frivolous young
matron on the other side of the room, looking on while her husband
was penned in and examined on his services, and his choir, and his
system, and his decorations, and his classes, and his schools, for
all or any of which Lady Susan pressed on him the aid of the two
daughters she was leaving at Sirenwood; and on his hint that this
was beyond his parish, she repeated her strong disapproval of the
Vicar of Wil'sbro', whom she had met at dinner the night before, and
besides, the school there had numerous Sunday teachers.
Julius assented, for he had no redundance of the article, and his
senior curate had just started on a vacation ramble with a brother;
but a sort of misgiving crossed him as he heard Herbert Bowater's
last comic song pealing out, and beheld the pleasingly plain face of
a Miss Strangeways on either side of him. Had he not fought the
Eton and Harrow match over again with one of them at dinner? and had
not a lawn tennis challenge already passed?
For Lady Tyrrell and Mrs. Charnock Poynsett were to have garden-
parties on alternate Wednesdays, and the whole neighbourhood soon
"You'll find nobody at home, Jenny," said Julius, coming out of a
cottage opposite, as she rode up to Mrs. Hornblower's, on one of the
last days of August. "Nobody--that is, but my mother. Can you come
up and see her?"
"With all my heart; but I must get down here; I'm sent for one of
Herbert's shirts. The good boy lets mamma and aunty manage them
still! I believe their hearts would break outright if he took to
shop ones, like the rest of them. Hush, Tartar, for shame! don't
you know me? Where's your master?"
"At a garden-party at Duddingstone. Your mother is better, I see."
"Yes, thank you--out driving with papa. Good Rollo!" as the
dignified animal rose from the hearthrug to greet her, waving his
handsome tail, and calmly expelled a large tabby cat from the easy-
chair, to make room for his friends. "Well done, old Roll! Fancy a
cat in such company."
"Herbert's dogs partake his good-nature."
"Mungo seems to be absent too."
"Gone with him no doubt. He is the great favourite with one of the
"Which--Herbert or Mungo?"
"Both! I might say, I know the young ladies best by one being
rapturous about Tartar and the other about Mungo. Rollo treats both
with equally sublime and indifferent politeness, rather as Raymond
"What sort of girls are they? Herbert calls them 'awfully jolly.'"
"I'm sorry to say I never can think of any other epithet for them.
For once it is really descriptive."
"Is it either of them in particular?"
"Confess, Joan, that's what brought you over."
"Perhaps so. Edith heard some nonsense at Backsworth, and mamma
could not rest till she had sent me over to see about it; but would
there be any great harm in it if it were true? Is not Lady Susan a
"You've hit it again, Jenny. Couple the two descriptions."
"I gather that you don't think the danger great."
"Not at present. The fascination is dual, and is at least a
counteraction to the great enchantress."
"That _is_ well! It was not wholesome!"
"Whereas, these two are hearty, honest, well-principled girls, quite
"Yet you don't say it with all your heart."
"I own I should like to find something they had left undone."
"What, to reduce them to human nature's daily food?"
"Daily indeed! There's just no escaping them. There they are at
matins and evensong."
"How shocking! What, gossip afterwards?"
"Ask Rollo whether Mungo and Tartar don't stand at the lych-gate,
and if he finds it easy to put an end to the game at play."
"Oh! and he said they never missed a Sunday service, or the school.
Do they distract him?"
"Whom would it not distract to see two figures walking in with
hunches on their backs like camels, and high-heeled shoes, and hats
on the back of their heads, and chains and things clattering all
"Aren't they lady-like?"
"Oh! they are quite that. Rose says it is all the pink of fashion--
only coming it strong--I declare they are infectious!"
"I believe so. I never heard so many nibbles at slang from any of
you five, as from the Rector of Compton in the last five minutes. I
gather that he is slightly bothered."
"There's so much of it. We are forced to have them to all the meals
on Sunday, and their lectures on functions have nearly scared poor
Anne to the Pilgrim level again. They have set upon me to get up a
choir-concert and a harvest-feast; but happily no one has time for
the first at this season, and as to the other, I doubted whether to
make this first start after such a rainy summer, and they decide me
against it. To have them decorating the church!"
"Awfully jolly," suggested Jenny.
"Even so. They are, if you understand me, technically reverent;
they have startled the whole place with their curtsies and crossings
in church; but they gabble up to the very porch; and the familiarity
with which they discuss High Mass, as they are pleased to call it!
I was obliged to silence them, and I must say they took it nicely."
"How do they suit Lena?"
"She likes them. Lady Susan was a great help to her in London, and
she feels the comfort of their honesty. They brought her to church
with them one or two mornings, but it knocked her up to walk so
early. Insensibly, I think they do Lady Tyrrell's work in shutting
her up from any of us."
"Spite of croquet, which seems perpetual."
"Chronic and sporadic parties make it so. There are few days
without that or something else. Cricket or the band at the
"People say the neighbourhood has never been so gay since Camilla
Vivian's marriage. I sometimes wonder whether anything can be going
to happen," said Jenny with a sigh, not guessing at what Julius was
thinking of; then changing her tone: "Surely Herbert does not go to
it all, and leave you alone? O, Julius! you should not let him."
"Never mind, Jenny, there's no more work now in the holidays than I
am sufficient for; and for him, it is quite as guileless play as
ever he had twenty years ago. It will soon be over, or I should
take it more seriously."
"But it is at such a time!"
"Yes, that is the worst of it. I have thought it over; but while he
is in this mood, the making him feel victimized and interfered with
has a worse effect than the letting him have his swing."
"What is he doing now, I wonder? Here's his sermon-paper on the
table, and a Greek Testament, and Hints on Decorating Churches, with
'Constance Strangeways' on the first leaf--no other book. How long
will this saturnalia last?"
"Up to the Ordination, I fear. You know the good people have
contrived to put bazaar, races, and ball, all into the Ember Week,
and they are the great object of the young ladies' visit. Could you
have him home for a quiet week first?"
"It would not be a quiet week; Edith is in the way of most of these
affairs; besides, to open fire about these young ladies might just
be putting nonsense into an innocent head. Now, I've not seen your
The said Rectory was in a decided state of fresh, not to say raw,
novelty outside, though the old trees and garden a little softened
its hard grays and strong reds; but it promised to look well when
crumbling and weather-stain had done their work. At the door they
met the pretty young nurse, with a delicate sea-green embroidered
cashmere bundle in her arms.
"Little Lady Green Mantle," exclaimed Jenny.
"Erin-go-bragh," said Julius. "Rose clung to her colours in spite
of all predictions about 'the good people.' Asleep of course," as
Jenny took her and uncovered her face. "She won't exhibit her eyes,
but they are quite _proper_ coloured."
"Yes, I see she is like Raymond!"
"Do you? They all say she is a perfect Charnock, though how they
know I can't guess. There," after a little more baby-worship, "you
may take her Emma."
"Is that the under-nurse?" asked Jenny, rather surprised by her
"The sole one. My mother and Susan are rather concerned, but Rose
asserts that experience in that department is always associated with
gin; and she fell in love with this girl--a daughter of John
Gadley's, who is much more respectable than he of the 'Three
Pigeons.' I suppose it is not in the nature of things for two women
to have the same view of nursery matters, unless one have brought up
"Or even if she have. Witness mamma's sighs over Mary's nurses."
"I thought it was the common lot. You've not seen the dining-room."
And the full honours were done. They were pleasant rooms, still
unpapered, and the furniture chiefly of amber-coloured varnished
deal; the drawing-room, chiefly with green furniture, with only a
few brighter dashes here and there, and a sociable amount of
comfortable litter already. The study was full of new shelves and
old books, and across the window-sill lay a gray figure, with a book
and a sheet of paper.
"You here, Terry! I thought you were gone with Rose," said Julius,
as the boy rose to greet Miss Bowater.
"She said I need not, and I hate those garden-parties," said Terry;
and they relieved him of their presence as soon as Jenny had paid
her respects to the favourite prints and photographs on the walls.
"He has a passion for the history of Poland just now," said Julius.
"Sobieski is better company than he would meet at Duddingstone, I
suspect--poor fellow! Lord Rathforlane has been so much excited by
hearing of Driver's successes as a coach, as to desire Terry to read
with him for the Royal Engineers. The boys must get off his hands
as soon as possible, he says, and Terry, being cleverest, must do so
soonest; but the boy has seen the dullest side of soldiering, and
hates it. His whole soul is set on scholarship. I am afraid it is
a great mistake."
"Can't you persuade him?"
"We have both written; but Rose has no great hopes of the result. I
wish he could follow his bent."
"Yes," said Jenny, lingering as she looked towards Church-house,
"the young instinct ought not to be repressed."
Julius knew that she was recollecting how Archie Douglas had
entreated to go to sea, and the desire had been quashed because he
was an only son. His inclination to speak was as perilous as if he
had been Rosamond herself, and he did not feel it unfortunate that
Jenny found she must no longer stay away from home.
Times Out of Joint
Alte der Meere,
Komm und hore;
Meine Frau, die Ilsebill,
Will nicht als ich will!
Life at Compton Poynsett was different from what it had been when
the two youngest sons had been at home, and Julius and Rosamond in
the house. The family circle had grown much more stiff and quiet,
and the chief difference caused by Mrs. Poynsett's presence was that
Raymond was deprived of his refuge in her room. Cecil had taken a
line of polite contempt. There was always a certain languid amount
of indifferent conversation, 'from the teeth outward,' as Rosamond
said. Every home engagement was submitted to the elder lady with
elaborate scrupulousness, almost like irony. Visitors in the house
or invitations out of it, were welcome breaks, and the whirl of
society which vaguely alarmed Joanna Bowater was a relief to the
inhabitants of the Hall.
Anne's companionship was not lively for her mother-in-law, but she
was brightening in the near prospect of Miles's return, and they had
established habits that carried them well through the evening. Anne
covered screens and made scrap-books, and did other work for the
bazaar; and Mrs. Poynsett cut out pictures, made suggestions, and
had associations of her own with the combinations of which Anne had
little notion. Or she dictated letters which Anne wrote, and
through all these was a kindly, peaceful spirit, most unlike the
dreary alienation in which Cecil persevered.
To Cecil this seemed the anxious desire for her lawful rights. She
had been used to spend the greater part of the evening at the piano,
but her awakened eyes perceived that this was a cover to Raymond's
conversations at his mother's sofa; so she sat tying knots in stiff
thread at her macrame lace pillow, making the bazaar a plea for
nothing but work. Raymond used to arm himself with the newspapers
as the safest point d'appui, and the talk was happiest when it
_only_ languished, for it could do much worse.
"Shall you be at Sirenwood to-morrow, Cecil?" asked Mrs. Poynsett,
as she was wheeled to her station by the fire after dinner. "Will
you kindly take charge of a little parcel for me? One of the Miss
Strangeways asked me to look for some old franks, so Anne and I have
been turning out my drawers."
"Are they for sale?" asked Raymond.
"Yes," said Cecil. "Bee Strangeways is collecting; she will pay for
all that are new to her, and sell any duplicates."
"Has she many?" asked Mrs. Poynsett, glad of this safe subject.
"Quantities; and very valuable ones. Her grandfather knew
everybody, and was in the Ministry."
"Was he?" said Raymond, surprised.
"Lord Lorimer?" said Mrs. Poynsett. "Not when I knew them. He was
an old-fashioned Whig, with some peculiar crotchets, and never could
work with any Cabinet."
"Beatrice told me he was," said Cecil, stiffly.
"I rather think he was Master of the Buckhounds for a little while
in the Grey Ministry," said Mrs. Poynsett, "but he gave it up
because he would not vote with ministers on the poor laws."
"I knew I was not mistaken in saying he was in the Ministry," said
"The Master of the Buckhounds is not in the Cabinet, Cecil," said
"I never said he was. I said he was in office," returned the
Mrs. Poynsett thought it well to interrupt by handing in an envelope
franked by Sir Robert Peel; but Cecil at once declared that the
writing was different from that which Bee already owned.
"Perhaps it is not the same Sir Robert," said Mrs. Poynsett.
"She got it from the Queen, and they are all authenticated. The
Queen newspaper, of course" (rather petulantly).
"Indisputable," said Raymond; "but this frank contained a letter
from the second Sir Robert to my father."
Mrs. Poynsett made a sign of acquiescence, and Cecil pouted in her
dignified way, though Mrs. Poynsett tried to improve matters by
saying, "Then it appears that Miss Strangeways will have a series of
Peel autographs, all in fact but the first generation."
Common sense showed she was right, but Cecil still felt
discontented, for she knew she had been resisted and confuted, and
she believed it was all Mrs. Poynsett's doing instead of Raymond's.
And she became as mute as Anne for the next half-hour, nor did
either Raymond or his mother venture on starting any fresh topic,
lest there might be fresh jarring.
Only Anne presently came up to Mrs. Poynsett and tenderly purred
with her over some little preparation for Miles.
Certainly Anne was the most improved in looks of all the three
brides, who had arrived just a year ago. The thin, scraggy Scotch
girl, with the flabby, washed-out look alternating with angular
rigidity was gone, but the softening and opening of her expression,
the light that had come into her eyes, and had made them a lovely
blue instead of pale gray; the rose-tint on her cheeks, the delicate
rounded contour of her face, the improved carriage of her really
fine figure, the traces of style in the braiding of her profuse
flaxen hair, and the taste that was beginning to conquer in the
dress, were all due to the thought that the Salamanca might soon be
in harbour. She sat among them still as a creature whose heart and
spirit were not with them.
That some change must come was felt as inevitable by each woman, and
it was Mrs. Poynsett who began, one forenoon when her son had
brought a lease for her to sign. "Raymond," said she, "you know
Church-house is to be vacant at Michaelmas. I wish you would look
at it, and see what repairs it wants, and if the drawing-room
windows could be made to open on the lawn."
"Are you hoping to tempt Miles to settle there?"
"No, I fear there is no hope of that; but I do not think an old
broken-backed invalid ought to engross this great house."
"Mother, I cannot hear you say so! This is your own house!"
"So is the other," she said, trying to smile, "and much fitter for
my needs, with Susan and Jenkins to look after me."
"There is no fit place for you but this. You said that once."
"Under very different circumstances. All the younger boys were
still under my wing, and needed the home, and I was strong and
vigorous. It would not have been acting right by them to have given
up the place; but now they are all out in the world, and I am laid
by, my stay here only interferes with what can be much better
managed without me or my old servants."
"I do not see that. If any one moves, it should be ourselves."
"You are wanted on the spot continually. If Sirenwood were in the
market, that might not be so much amiss."
"I do not think that likely. They will delay the sale in the hope
of Eleonora's marrying a rich man; besides, Mr. Charnock has set his
mind upon Swanslea. I hope _this_ is from nothing Cecil has said or
"Cecil wishes to part then? She has said nothing to me, but I see
she has to you. Don't be annoyed, Raymond; it is in the nature of
"I believe it is all Lady Tyrrell's doing. The mischief such a
woman can do in the neighbourhood!"
"Perhaps it is only what any friend of Cecil would advise."
"It is the very reverse of what I intended," said Raymond, shading
"My dear Raymond, I know what you meant, and what you wish; but I am
also certain it is for no one's happiness to go on in this way."
"And the wife's right comes first."
"Not to this house."
"But to this man. Indeed I see more hope of your happiness now than
I did last year."
"What, because she has delivered herself over bound hand and foot to
"No, because she is altered. Last year she was merely vexed at my
position in the house. Now she is vexed at my position with you."
"Hardly so. I should not have liked your father to be so much
devoted to his mother. Remember, jealousy is a smoke that cannot
exist without some warmth."
"If she had any proper feeling for me, she would show it by her
treatment of you."
"That would be asking too much when she thinks I engross you."
"Mother, while you show such marvellous candour and generosity, and
"Hush! Raymond, leave it unsaid! We cannot expect her to see more
than her own side of the question. She has been put into an
avowedly trying position, and does not deserve hard judgment for not
being happy in it. All that remains is to relieve her. Whether by
my moving or yours is the question. I prefer the Church-house
"Either way is shame and misery to me," broke out Raymond in a
"Nonsense," said his mother, trying to be cheerful. "You made an
impracticable experiment, that's all. Give Cecil free scope, let
her feel that she has her due, and all will come right."
"Nothing can be done till after the Wil'sbro' business," said
Raymond, glad of the reprieve. He could not bear the prospect of
banishment for his mother or himself from the home to which both
were rooted; and the sentence of detachment from her was especially
painful when she seemed his only consolation for his wife's
perverseness. Yet he was aware that he had been guilty of the
original error, and was bound to give such compensation to his wife
as was offered by his mother's voluntary sacrifice. He was slow to
broach the subject, but only the next morning came a question about
an invitation to a dull house.
"But," said Cecil, "it is better than home." She spoke on purpose.
"I am sorry to hear you say so."
"I can't call it home where I am but a guest."
"Well, Cecil, my mother offers to leave the home of her life and
retire into Church-house."
Cecil felt as if the screw she had been long working had come off in
her hands. She frowned, she gazed, collecting her senses, while
Raymond added, "It is to my intense grief and mortification, but I
suppose you are gratified."
"Uh, it would never do!" she exclaimed, to his surprise and
"Quite right," he returned. "Just what I felt. Nothing can make me
so glad as to see that you think the idea as socking as I do."
"Our going to Swanslea would be much better--far more natural, and
no one could object. We could refurnish, and make it perfect;
whereas nothing can be done to this place, so inconveniently built
and buried in trees. I should feel much freer in a place of my
"So that is what you meant when I thought you were thinking of my
"I am obliged to take thought for myself when you take heed to no
one but her," said Cecil; and as the carriage was at that moment
announced, she left him. Which was the most sick at heart it would
be hard to say, the wife with the sense that she was postponed in
everything to the mother, the husband at the alienation that had
never before been so fully expressed. Cecil's errand was a council
about the bazaar; and driving round by Sirenwood, Lady Tyrrell
became her companion in the carriage. The quick eyes soon perceived
that something had taken place, and confidence was soon drawn forth.
"The ice is broken; and by whom do you think?"
"By la belle mere? Skilful strategy to know when the position is
"She wants to retreat to Church-house."
"Don't consent to that."
"I said I should prefer Swanslea for ourselves."
"Hold to that, whatever you do. If she moves to the village you
will have all the odium and none of the advantages. There will be
the same daily haunt; and as to your freedom of action, there are no
spies like the abdicated and their dependents. A very clever plan,
but don't be led away by it."
"No," said Cecil, resolutely; but after a moment: "It would be
inconvenient to Raymond to live so far away from the property."
"Swanslea will be property too, and a ride over on business is not
like strolling in constantly."
"I know I shall never feel like my own mistress in a house of hers."
"Still less with her close by, with the Rectory family running in
and out to exchange remarks. No, no, hold fast to insisting that
she must not leave the ancestral halls. That you can do dutifully
Cecil knew she had been betrayed into the contrary; but they were by
this time in the High Street, bowing to others of the committee on
their way to the town-hall, a structure of parti-coloured brick in
harlequin patterns, with a peaked roof, all over little sham domes,
which went far to justify its title of the Rat-house, since nothing
larger could well use them. The facade was thus somewhat imposing;
of the rear the less said the better; and as to the interior, it was
at present one expanse of dust, impeded by scaffold-poles, and all
the windows had large blotches of paint upon them.
It required a lively imagination to devise situations for the
stalls; but Mrs. Duncombe valiantly tripped about, instructing her
attendant carpenter with little assistance except from the well-
experienced Miss Strangeways. The other ladies had enough to do in
keeping their plumage unsoiled. Lady Tyrrell kept on a little
peninsula of encaustic tile, Cecil hopped across bird-like and
unsoiled, Miss Slater held her carmelite high and dry, but poor Miss
Fuller's pale blue and drab, trailing at every step, became
constantly more blended!
The dust induced thirst. Lady Tyrrell lamented that the Wil'sbro'
confectioner was so far off and his ices doubtful, and Miss Slater
suggested that she had been making a temperance effort by setting up
an excellent widow in the lane that opened opposite to them in a
shop with raspberry vinegar, ginger-beer, and the like mild
compounds, and Mrs. Duncombe caught at the opportunity of exhibiting
the sparkling water of the well which supplied this same lane. The
widow lived in one of the tenements which Pettitt had renovated
under her guidance, and on a loan advanced by Cecil, and she was
proud of her work.
"Clio Tallboys would view this as a triumph," said Mrs. Duncombe,
as, standing on the steps of the town-hall, she surveyed the four
tenements at the corner of the alley. "Not a man would stir in the
business except Pettitt, who left it all to me."
"Taking example by the Professor," said Lady Tyrrell.
"It is strange," said Miss Slater, "how much illness there has been
ever since the people went into those houses. They are in my
district, you know."
"You should make them open their windows," said Mrs. Duncombe.
"They lay it on the draughts."
"And stuff up my ventilators. That is always the way they begin."
The excellent widow herself had a bad finger, which was a great
impediment in administering the cooling beverages, but these were so
excellent as to suggest the furnishing of a stall therewith for the
thirsty, as something sure to be popular and at small expense.
Therewith the committee broke up, all having been present but Miss
Moy, whose absence was not regretted, though apologized for by Mrs.
Duncombe. "I could not get her away from the stables," she said.
"She and Bob would contemplate Dark Hag day and night, I believe."
"I wouldn't allow it," said Lady Tyrrell.
Mrs. Duncombe shrugged her shoulders and laughed. "That's Mr. Moy's
look-out," she said.
"You don't choose to interfere with her emancipation," said Lady
"Clio would tell you she could take care of herself at the stables
as well as anywhere else."
"Query?" said Lady Tyrrell. "Don't get into a scrape, Bessie. Does
your Captain report on the flirtation with young Simmonds?"
"Who is he?" asked Cecil
"The trainer's son," said Bessie. "It is only a bit of imitation of
"You know she's an heiress," said Lady Tyrrell. "You had better
take care how you put such a temptation in his way."
"I don't suppose the Moys are anybody," said Cecil.
"Not in your sense, my dear," said Lady Tyrrell, laughing; "but from
another level there's a wide gap between the heiress of Proudfoot
Lawn and the heir of the training stables."
"Cecil looks simply disgusted," said Bessie. "She can't bear the
Moys betwixt the wind and her nobility."
"They are the great drawback to Swansea, I confess," said Cecil.
"Oh! are you thinking of Swanslea?" cried Mrs Duncombe.
"Yes," said Lady Tyrrell, "she is one to be congratulated on
"Well can I do so," said Mrs. Duncombe. "Don't I know what mothers-
in-law are? Mine is the most wonderful old Goody, with exactly the
notions of your meek Mrs. Miles."
"Incompatibility decidedly," said Lady Tyrrell.
"Only she was the Spartan mother combined with it," continued Mrs.
Duncombe. "When Bob was a little urchin, he once, in anticipation
of his future tastes, committed the enormity of riding on a stick on
Sunday; so she locked him up till he had learnt six verses of one of
Watts's hymns about going to church being like a little heaven
below, isn't it?"
"Increasing his longing that way," said Lady Tyrrell.
"She doesn't even light the drawing-room fire on Sunday, for fear
people should not sit in their rooms and meditate," continued Mrs.
Duncombe. "Bob manages to be fond of her through all; but she
regularly hates me."
"Not very wonderful," said Lady Tyrrell, laughing. "I suppose there
is a charming reciprocity of feeling."
"I think I can afford to pity her," said Mrs. Duncombe, lightly.
"Just fancy what I must have been to her! You know I was brought up
in a convent at Paris. The very bosom of the scarlet woman."
"But," interrupted Cecil, "you were never a Roman Catholic, Bessie!"
"Oh dear, no; the Protestant boarders were let entirely alone.
There were only two of us, and we lay in bed while the others went
to mass, and played while they went to confession, that was all. I
was an orphan; never remember my mother, and my father died abroad.
Luckily for me, Bob was done for by my first ball. Very odd he
should have liked a little red-haired thing like me; but every one
is ticketed, I believe. My uncle was glad enough to get rid of me,
and poor old Mrs. Duncombe was unsuspecting till we went home--and
"Cecil may have some faint idea."
"Of what you underwent?"
"She wanted to begin on me as if I were a wild savage heathen, you
know! I believe she nearly had a fit when I declined a prayer-
meeting, and as to my walking out with Bob on Sunday evening!"
"Did she make you learn Watts's hymns?"
"No! but she did what was much worse to poor Bob. She told him she
had spent the time in prayer and humiliation, and the poor fellow
very nearly cried."
"Ah, those mothers have such an advantage over their sons," said
"I determined I would never go near her again after that," said Mrs.
Duncombe. "Bob goes; he is really fond of her; but I knew we should
keep the peace better apart. I let her have the children now and
then, when it is convenient, and oddly enough they like it; but I
shall soon have to stop that, for I won't have them think me a
reprobate; and she has thought me ten times worse ever since I found
out that I had brains and could use them."
"Quite true," said Camilla; "there's no peacemaker like absence."
"The only pity is that Swanslea is no further off," returned Bessie.
And so it was that Cecil, backed by her two counsellors, held her
purpose, and Raymond sadly spoke of the plan of separation to
Julius. Both thought Mrs. Poynsett's own plan the best, though they
could not bear the idea of her leaving her own house. Raymond was
"At least," he said, "there is a reprieve till this frantic
fortnight is over. I envy your exemption from the turmoil."
"I wish you would exempt yourself from the races," said Julius.
"The mischief they have done in these villages is incalculable! The
very men-servants are solicited to put into sweepstakes, whenever
they go into Wil'sbro'; and only this morning Mrs. Hornblower has
been to me about her son."
"I thought he was the great feather in Herbert Bowater's cap."
"Showing the direction of the wind only too well. Since Herbert has
been infected with the general insanity, poor Harry Hornblower has
lapsed into his old ways, and is always hanging about the 'Three
Pigeons' with some of the swarm of locusts who have come down
already to brawl round the training stables. This has come to
Truelove's ears, and he has notice of dismissal. At the mother's
desire I spoke to Truelove, but he told me that at last year's races
the lad had gambled at a great rate, and had only been saved from
dishonesty by detection in time. He was so penitent that Truelove
gave him another trial, on condition that he kept out of temptation;
but now he has gone back to it, Mr. Truelove thinks it the only way
of saving him from some fresh act of dishonesty. 'It is all up with
them,' he says, 'when once they take that turn.'"
"You need not speak as if I were accountable for all the
"Every man is accountable who lends his name and position to bolster
up a field of vice."
"Come, come, Julius. Remember what men have been on the turf."
"If those men had withheld their support, fashion would not have led
so many to their ruin."
"Hundreds are present without damage. It is a hearty out-of-doors
country amusement, and one of the few general holidays that bring
all ranks together."
"You speak of racing as it has been or might be in some golden age,"
said Julius. "Of course there is no harm in trying one horse's
speed against another; but look at the facts and say whether it is
right to support an amusement that becomes such an occasion of
"Because a set of rascals choose to bring their villainies there you
would have the sport of the whole neighbourhood given up. 'No cakes
and ale' with a vengeance!"
"The cakes and ale that make a brother offend ought to be given up."
"That sentences all public amusements."
"Not necessarily. The question is of degree. Other amusements may
have evil incidentally connected with them, and may lead to
temptation, but it is not their chief excitement. The play or the
opera is the prime interest, and often a refined and elevated one,
but at races the whole excitement depends upon the horses, and is so
fictitious that it needs to be enhanced by this betting system. No
better faculty is called into play. Some few men may understand the
merits of the horse; many more, and most of the ladies, simply like
the meeting in numbers; but there is no higher faculty called out,
and in many cases the whole attraction is the gambling, and the
fouler wickedness in the background."
"Which would be ten thousand times worse if all gentlemen stood
"What good do these gentlemen do beyond keeping the contest
honourable and the betting in which they are concerned? Do not they
make themselves decoys to the young men on the border-land who would
stay away if the turf were left to the mere vulgar? Why should they
not leave it to drop like bull-baiting or cock-fighting?"
"Well done, Julius!" said Raymond. "You will head a clerical
crusade against the turf, but I do not think it just to compare it
with those ferocious sports which were demoralizing in themselves;
while this is to large numbers simply a harmless holiday and excuse
for an outing, not to speak of the benefit to the breed of horses."
"I do not say that all competitions of speed are necessarily wrong,
but I do say that the present way of managing races makes them so
mischievous that no one ought to encourage them."
"I wonder what Backsworth and Wil'sbro' would say to you! It is
their great harvest. Lodgings for those three days pay a quarter's
rent; and where so many interests are concerned, a custom cannot
lightly be dropped."
"Well," said Raymond with a sigh, "it is not pleasure that takes me.
I shall look on with impartial eyes, if that is what you wish."
Poor Raymond! it was plain that he had little liking for anything
that autumn. He rode over to Swanslea with Cecil, and when he said
it was six miles off, she called it four; what he termed bare,
marshy, and dreary, was in her eyes open and free; his swamp was her
lake; and she ran about discovering charms and capabilities where he
saw nothing but damp and dry rot, and, above all, banishment.
Would she have her will? Clio would have thought her lecture had
taken effect, and mayhap, it added something to the general temper
of self-assertion, but in fact Cecil had little time to think, so
thickly did gaieties and preparations crowd upon her. It was the
full glory and importance of the Member's wife, her favourite ideal,
but all the time her satisfaction was marred by secret heartache as
she saw how wearily and formally her husband dragged through
whatever fell to his lot, saw how jaded and depressed he looked, and
heard him laugh his company laugh without any heart in it. She
thought it all his mother's fault, and meant to make up for
everything when she had him to herself.
Julius had his troubles. When Rosamond found that races were what
she called his pet aversion, she resisted with all her might. Her
home associations were all on fire again. She would not condemn the
pleasures she had shared with her parents, by abstinence from them,
any more than she would deviate from Lady Rathforlane's nursery
management to please Mrs. Poynsett and Susan. A bonnet, which
Julius trusted never to see in church, was purchased in the face of
his remark that every woman who carried her gay attire to the stand
made herself an additional feather on the hook of evil. At first
she laughed, and then grew tearfully passionate in protests that
nothing should induce her to let her brothers see what their own
father did turned into a crime; and if they went without her to take
care of them, and fell into mischief, whose fault would that be?
It was vain to hint that Tom was gone back to school, and Terry
cared more for the Olympic dust than that of Backsworth. She had
persuaded herself that his absence would be high treason to her
father, whom she respected far more at a distance than when she had
been struggling with his ramshackle, easy-going ways. Even now, she
was remonstrating with him about poor Terry's present misery. His
last half year had been spent under the head-master, who had
cultivated his historical and poetical intelligence, whereas Mr.
Driver was nothing but an able crammer; and the moment the lad
became interested and diverged from routine, he was choked off
because such things would not 'tell.' If the 'coach' had any
enthusiasm it was for mathematics, and thitherwards Terry's brain
was undeveloped. With misplaced ingenuity, he argued that sums came
right by chance and that Euclid was best learnt by heart, for 'the
pictures' simply confused him; and when Julius, amazed at finding so
clever a boy in the novel position of dunce, tried to find out what
he did know of arithmetic, his ignorance and inappreciation were so
unfathomable that Julius doubted whether the power or the will was
at fault. At any rate he was wretched in the present, and dismal as
to the future, and looked on his brother-in-law as in league with
the oppressors for trying to rouse his sense of duty.
Remonstrance seemed blunted and ineffective everywhere. When
Herbert Bowater tried to reclaim Harry Hornblower into giving up his
notorious comrades, he received the dogged reply, "Why should not a
chap take his pleasure as well as you?" With the authority at once
of clergyman and squire's son, he said, "Harry, you forget yourself.
I am not going to discuss my occupations with you."
"You know better," rudely interrupted the lad. "Racketing about all
over the country, and coming home late at night. You'd best not
speak of other folks!"
As a matter of fact, Herbert had never been later than was required
by a walk home from a dinner, or a very moderate cricket supper; and
his conscience was clear as to the quality of his amusements; but
instead of, as hitherto, speaking as youth to youth, he used the
language of the minister to the insulting parishioner. "I am sorry
I have disturbed Mrs. Hornblower, but the case is not parallel.
Innocent amusement is one thing--it is quite another to run into
haunts that have _already_ proved dangerous to your principles."
Harry Hornblower laughed. "It's no go coming the parson over me,
Mr. Bowater! It's well known what black coats are, and how they
never cry out so loud upon other folks as when they've had a jolly
lark among themselves. No concealment now, we're up to a thing or
two, and parsons, and capitalists, and squires will have to look
This oration, smacking of 'The Three Pigeons,' was delivered so loud
as to bring the mother on the scene. "O, Harry, Harry, you aren't
never speaking like that to Mr. Bowater!"
"When folks jaw me about what's nothing to them I always give them
as good as they bring. That's my principle," said Harry, flinging
out of the house, while the curate tried to console the weeping
mother, and soon after betook himself to his Rector with no mild
comments on the lad's insolence.
"Another warning how needful it is for us to avoid all occasion for
misconstruction," said Julius.
"We do, all of us," said Herbert. "Even that wretched decoction,
Fuller, and that mere dictionary, Driver, never gave cause for
imputations like these. What has the fellow got hold of?"
"Stories of the last century 'two-bottle men,'" said Julius,
"trumped up by unionists now against us in these days. The truth is
that the world triumphs and boasts whenever it catches the ministry
on its own ground. Its ideal is as exacting as the saintly one."
"I say Rector," exclaimed the curate, after due pause, "you'll be at
Evensong on Saturday? The ladies at Sirenwood want me to go to
Backsworth with them to hear the band."
"Cannot young Strangeways take care of his sisters?"
"I would not ask it, sir, but they have set their heart on seeing
Rood House, and want me to go with them because of knowing Dr.
Easterby. Then I'm to dine with them, and that's the very last of
it for me. There's no more croquet after this week."
"I am thankful to hear it," said Julius, suppressing his distaste
that the man he most reverenced, and the place which was his haven
of rest, should be a mere lion for Bee and Conny, a slight pastime
before the regimental band!
The Apple of Ate
Oh mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of us all?--The Three Bears
"I do really think Terry has found the secret of happiness, for a
_little_ while at least," said Rosamond, entering Mrs. Poynsett's
room. "That funny little man in the loan museum has asked him to
help in the arrangement."
"Who is it?"
"The little watchmaker, or watch cobbler, in the old curiosity
"Yes; Terry calls him a descendant of the Genoese Frescobaldi, and
I'm sure his black eyes were never made for an English head. Terry
has always haunted those uncanny wares of his, and has pursued them
to the museum. ''Tis not every young gentleman I would wish to see
there,' says the old man, 'but the Honourable Mr. De Lancey has the
soul of an antiquarian.'"
"They say the old man is really very clever and well read."
"He looks like an old magician, with his white cap and spectacles,
and he had need to have a wand to bring order out of that awful
chaos. Everybody all round has gone and cleared out their rubbish-
closet. Upon my word, it looks so. There are pictures all one
network of cracks, and iron caps and gauntlets out of all the halls
in every stage of rust, and pots and pans and broken crocks, and
baskets of coin all verdigris and tarnish!--Pah!"
"Are Miles's birds safe?"
"Oh yes, with a swordfish's sword and a sawfish's saw making a
trophy on the top. Terry is in the library, hunting material for a
dissertation upon the ancient unicorn, which ought to conclude with
the battle royal witnessed by Alice in Wonderland. The stuffed
department is numerous but in a bad way as to hair, and chiefly
consists of everybody's grandmother's old parrots and squirrels and
white rats. Then, every boy, who ever had a fit of birds' eggs or
butterflies, has sent in a collection, chiefly minus the lower
wings, and with volunteer specimens of moth; but luckily some give
leave to do what they please with them, so the magician is making
composition animals with the debris."
"I made a feeble attempt with an admiral's wings and an orange tip,
but I was scouted. About four dilapidated ones make up a proper
specimen, and I can't think how it is all to be done in the time;
but really something fit to be seen is emerging. Terry is sorting
the coins, a pretty job, I should say; but felicity to him. But oh!
the industrial articles! There are all the regalia, carved out of
cherry-stones, and a patchwork quilt of 5000 bits of silk each no
bigger than a shilling. And a calculation of the middle verse in
the Bible, and the longest verse, and the shortest verse, and the
like edifying Scriptural researches, all copied out like flies'