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The Heir of Redclyffe by Charlotte M. Yonge

Part 13 out of 14

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from her. Poor silly little Amy, her heart beat not a little till he
turned back, restored the babe, and while he walked hastily to the
window, she saw that two large tear-drops had fallen on the white folds
of its mantle. She did not speak; she guessed how much he must feel in
thus holding Guy's child, and, besides, her own tears would now flow so
easily that she must be on her guard. She sat down, settled the little
one on her knee, and gave him time to recover himself.

Presently he came and stood by her saying, in a most decided tone,
'Amabel, you must let me do this child justice.'

She looked up, wondering what he could mean.

'I will not delay in taking steps for restoring her inheritance,' said
he, hoping by determination to overpower Amabel, and make her believe
it a settled and a right thing.

'0 Philip, you are not thinking of that!'

'It is to be done.'

'You would not be so unkind to this poor little girl,' said Amy, with a
persuasive smile, partaking of her old playfulness, adding, very much
in earnest, 'Pray put it out of your head directly, for it would be
very wrong.'

The nurse knocked at the door to fetch the baby, as Amabel had desired.
When this interruption was over, Philip came and sat down opposite to
her, and began with his most decided manner:--

'You must listen to me, Amy, and not allow any scruples to prevent you
from permitting your child to be restored to her just rights. You must
see that the estate has come to me by circumstances such that no honest
man can be justified in retaining it. The entail was made to exclude
females, only because of the old Lady Granard. It is your duty to
consent.'

'The property has always gone in the male line,' replied Amabel.

'There never was such a state of things. Old Sir Guy could never have
thought of entailing it away from his own descendant on a distant
cousin. It would be wrong of me to profit by these unforeseen
contingencies, and you ought not, in justice to your child, to object.'

He spoke so forcibly and decidedly that he thought he must have
prevailed. But not one whit convinced, Amabel answered, in her own
gentle voice, but beginning with a business-like argument:--'Such a
possibility was contemplated. It was all provided for in the marriage
settlements. Indeed, I am afraid that, as it is, she will be a great
deal too rich. Besides, Philip, I am sure this is exactly what Guy
would have chosen,' and the tears rose in her eyes. 'The first thing
that came into my head when she was born, was, that it was just what he
wished, that I should have her for myself, and that you should take
care of Redclyffe. I am certain now that he hoped it would be so. I
know--indeed I do--that he took great pleasure in thinking of its being
in your hands, and of your going on with all he began. You can't have
forgotten how much he left in your charge? If you were to give it up,
it would be against his desire; and with that knowledge, how could I
suffer it? Then think what a misfortune to her, poor little thing, to
be a great heiress, and how very bad for Redclyffe to have no better a
manager than me! Oh, Philip, can you not see it is best as it is, and
just as he wished?'

He almost groaned-- 'If you could guess what a burden it is.'

'Ah! but you must carry it, not throw it down on such hands as mine and
that tiny baby's,' said she, smiling.

'It would have been the same if it had been a boy.'

'Yes; then I must have done the best I could, and there would have been
an end to look to, but I am so glad to be spared. And you are so fit
for it, and will make it turn to so much use to every one.'

'I don't feel as if I should ever be of use to any one,' said Philip,
in a tone of complete dejection.

'Your head is aching,' said she, kindly.

'It always does, more or less,' replied he, resting it on his hand.

'I am so sorry. Has it been so ever since you were ill? But you are
better? You look better than when I saw you last.'

'I am better on the whole, but I doubt whether I shall ever be as
strong as I used to be. That ought to make me hesitate, even if--'
then came a pause, while he put his hand over his face, and seemed
struggling with irrepressible emotion; and after all he was obliged to
take two walks to the window before he could recover composure, and
could ask in a voice which he tried to make calm and steady, though his
face was deeply flushed-- 'Amy, how is Laura?'

'She is very well,' answered Amabel. 'Only you must not be taken by
surprise if you see her looking thinner.'

'And she has trusted--she has endured through all?' said he, with
inquiring earnestness.

'O yes!'

'And they--your father and mother--can forgive?'

'They do--they have. But, Philip, it was one of the things I came down
to say to you. I don't think you must expect papa to begin about it
himself. You know he does not like awkwardness, though he will be very
glad when once it is done, and ready to meet you half way.' He did not
answer, and after a silence Amabel added, 'Laura is out of doors. She
and Charlotte take very long walks.'

'And is she really strong and well, or is it that excited overdoing of
employment that I first set her upon?' he asked, anxiously.

'She is perfectly well, and to be busy has been a great help to her,'
said Amabel. 'It was a great comfort that we did not know how ill you
had been at Corfu, till the worst was over. Eveleen only mentioned it
when you were better. I was very anxious, for I had some fears from
the note that you sent by Arnaud. I am very glad to see you safe here,
for I have felt all along that we forsook you; but I could not help
it.'

'I am very glad you did not stay. The worst of all would have been
that you should have run any risk.'

'There is the carriage,' said Amy. 'Mamma and Charlie have been to
Broadstone. They thought they might meet you by the late train.'

Philip's colour rose. He stood up--sat down; then rising once more,
leant on the mantel-piece, scarcely knowing how to face either of them-
-his aunt, with her well-merited displeasure, and Charles, who when he
parted with him had accused him so justly--Charles, who had seen
through him and had been treated with scorn.

A few moments, and Charles came in, leaning on his mother. They both
shook hands, exclaimed at finding Amabel downstairs, and Mrs.
Edmonstone asked after Philip's health in her would-be cordial manner.
The two ladies then went up-stairs together, and thus ended that
conference, in which both parties had shown rare magnanimity, of which
they were perfectly unconscious; and perhaps the most remarkable part
of all was that Philip quietly gave up the great renunciation and so-
called sacrifice, with which he had been feeding his hopes, at the
simple bidding of the gentle-spoken Amabel--not even telling her that
he resigned it. He kept the possessions which he abhorred, and gave up
the renunciation he had longed to make, and in this lay the true
sacrifice, the greater because the world would think him the gainer.

When the mother and daughter were gone, the cousins were silent, Philip
resting his elbow on the mantel-shelf and his head on his hand, and
Charles sitting at the end of the sofa, warming first one hand, then
the other, while he looked up to the altered face, and perceived in it
grief and humiliation almost as plainly as illness. His keen eyes read
that the sorrow was indeed more deeply rooted than he had hitherto
believed, and that Amabel's pity had not been wasted; and he was also
struck by the change from the great personal strength that used to make
nothing of lifting his whole weight.

'I am sorry to see you so pulled down,' said he. 'We must try if we
can doctor you better than they did at St. Mildred's. Are you getting
on, do you think?'

He had hardly ever spoken to Philip, so entirely without either
bitterness or sarcasm, and his manner hardly seemed like that of the
same person.

'Thank you, I am growing stronger; but as long as I cannot get rid of
this headache, I am good for nothing.'

'You have had a long spell of illness indeed,' said Charles. 'You
can't expect to shake off two fevers in no time. Now all the anxiety
is over, you will brighten like this house.'

'But tell me, what is thought of Amabel? Is she as well as she ought
to be?'

'Yes, quite, they say--has recovered her strength very fast, and is in
just the right spirits. She was churched yesterday, and was not the
worse for it. It was a trial, for she had not been to East-hill since-
-since last May.'

'It is a blessing, indeed,' said Philip, earnestly.

'She has been so very happy with the baby,' said Charles. 'You hear
what its name is to be?'

'Yes, she told me in her letter.'

'To avoid having to tell you here, I suppose. Mary is for common wear,
Verena is for ourselves. She asked if it would be too foolish to give
such a name, and mamma said the only question was, whether she would
like indifferent people to ask the reason of it.'

Philip lapsed into thought, and presently said, abruptly, 'When last
we parted you told me I was malignant. You were right.'

'Shake hands!' was all Charles's reply, and no more was said till
Charles rose, saying it was time to dress. Philip was about to help
him, but he answered, 'No, thank you, I am above trusting to anything
but my own crutches now; I am proud to show you what feats I can
perform.'

Charles certainly did get on with less difficulty than heretofore, but
it was more because he wanted to spare Philip fatigue than because he
disdained assistance, that he chose to go alone. Moreover, he did what
he had never done for any one before--he actually hopped the whole
length of the passage, beyond his own door to do the honours of
Philip's room, and took a degree of pains for his comfort that seemed
too marvellous to be true in one who had hitherto only lived to be
attended on.

By the time he had settled Philip, the rest of the party had come home,
and he found himself wanted in the dressing-room, to help his mother to
encourage his father to enter on the conversation with Philip in the
evening, for poor Mr. Edmonstone was in such a worry and perplexity,
that the whole space till the dinner-bell rang was insufficient to
console him in. Laura, meanwhile, was with Amabel, who was trying to
cheer her fluttering spirits and nerves, which, after having been so
long harassed, gave way entirely at the moment of meeting Philip again.
How would he regard her after her weakness in betraying him for want of
self-command? Might he not be wishing to be free of one who had so
disappointed him, and only persisting in the engagement from a sense of
honour! The confidence in his affection, which had hitherto sustained
her, was failing; and not all Amabel could say would reassure her. No
one could judge of him but herself, his words were so cautious, and he
had so much command over himself, that nobody could guess. Of course
he felt bound to her; but if she saw one trace of his being only
influenced by honour and pity, she would release him, and he should
never see the struggle.

She had worked herself up into almost a certainty that so it would be,
and Amabel was afraid she would not be fit to go down to dinner; but
the sound of the bell, and the necessity of moving, seemed to restore
the habit of external composure in a moment. She settled her
countenance, and left the room.

Charlotte, meantime, had been dressing alone, and raging against
Philip, declaring she could never bear to speak to him, and that if she
was Amy she would never have chosen him for a godfather. And to think
of his marrying just like a good hero in a book, and living very happy
ever after! To be sure she was sorry for poor Laura; but it was all
very wrong, and now they would be rewarded! How could Charlie be so
provoking as to talk about his sorrow! She hoped he was sorry; and as
to his illness, it served him right.

All this Charlotte communicated to Bustle; but Bustle had heard some
mysterious noise, and insisted on going to investigate the cause; and
Charlotte, finding her own domain dark and cold, and private
conferences going on in Amabel's apartment and the dressing-room, was
fain to follow him down-stairs, as soon as her toilet was complete,
only hoping Philip would keep out of the way.

But, behold, there he was; and even Bustle was propitiated, for she
found him, his nose on Philip's knee, looking up in his face, and
wagging his tail, while Philip stroked and patted him, and could hardly
bear the appealing expression of the eyes, that, always wistful, now
seemed to every one to be looking for his master.

To see this attention to Bustle won Charlotte over in a moment. 'How
are you, Philip? Good dog, dear old Bustle!' came in a breath, and
they were both making much of the dog, when she amicably asked if he
had seen the baby, and became eager in telling about the christening.

The dinner-bell brought every one down but Amabel. The trembling hands
of Philip and Laura met for a moment, and they were in the dining-room.

Diligently and dutifully did Charles and Mrs. Edmonstone keep up the
conversation; the latter about her shopping, the former about the
acquaintances who had come to speak to him as he sat in the carriage.
As soon as possible, Mrs. Edmonstone left the dining-room, then Laura
flew up again to the dressing-room, sank down on a footstool by
Amabel's side, and exclaiming, '0 Amy, he is looking so ill!' burst
into a flood of tears.

The change had been a shock for which Laura had not been prepared.
Amy, who had seen him look so much worse, had not thought of it, and it
overcame Laura more than all her anxieties, lest his love should be
forfeited. She sobbed inconsolably over the alteration, and it was
long before Amabel could get her to hear that his face was much less
thin now, and that he was altogether much stronger; it was fatigue and
anxiety to-night, and to-morrow he would be better. Laura proceeded to
brood over her belief that his altered demeanour, his settled
melancholy, his not seeking her eye, his cold shake of the hand, all
arose from the diminution of his love, and his dislike to be encumbered
with a weak, foolish wife, with whom he had entangled himself when he
deemed her worthy of him. She dwelt on all this in silence, as she sat
at her sister's feet, and Amy left her to think, only now and then
giving some caress to her hair or cheek, and at each touch the desolate
waste of life that poor Laura was unfolding before herself was rendered
less dreary by the thought, 'I have my sister still, and she knows
sorrow too.' Then she half envied Amy, who had lost her dearest by
death, and held his heart fast to the last; not, like herself, doomed
to see the love decay for which she had endured so long--decay at the
very moment when the suspense was over.

Laura might justly have envied Amabel, though for another reason; it
was because in her cup there was no poison of her own infusing.

There she stayed till Charlotte came to summon her to tea, saying the
gentlemen, except Charles, were still in the dining-room.

They had remained sitting over the fire for a considerable space,
waiting for each other to begin, Mr. Edmonstone irresolute, Philip
striving to master his feelings, and to prevent increasing pain and
confusion from making him forget what he intended, to say. At last,
Mr. Edmonstone started up, pulled out his keys, took a candle, and
said, 'Come to the study--I'll give you the Redclyffe papers.'

'Thank you,' said Philip, also rising, but only because he could not
sit while his uncle stood. 'Not to-night, if you please. I could not
attend to them.'

'What, your head? Eh?'

'Partly. Besides, there is another subject on which I hope you will
set me at rest before I can enter on any other.'

'Yes--yes--I know,' said Mr. Edmonstone, moving uneasily.

'I am perfectly conscious how deeply I have offended.'

Mr. Edmonstone could not endure the apology.

'Well, well,' he broke in nervously, 'I know all that, and it can't be
helped. Say no more about it. Young people will be foolish, and I
have been young and in love myself.'

That Captain Morville should live to be thankful for being forgiven in
consideration of Mr. Edmonstone's having been young!

'May I then consider myself as pardoned, and as having obtained your
sanction?'

'Yes, yes, yes; and I hope it will cheer poor Laura up again a little.
Four years has it gone on? Constancy, indeed! and it is time it should
be rewarded. We little thought what you were up to, so grave and
demure as you both were. So you won't have the papers to-night? I
can't say you do look fit for business. Perhaps Laura may suit you
better--eh, Philip?'

Love-making was such a charming sight to Mr. Edmonstone, that having
once begun to look on Philip and Laura as a pair of lovers, he could
not help being delighted, and forgetting, as well as forgiving, all
that had been wrong.

They did not, however, exactly answer his ideas; Laura did not once
look up, and Philip, instead of going boldly to take the place next
her, sat down, holding his hand to his forehead, as if too much
overpowered by indisposition to think of anything else. Such was in
great measure the case; he was very much fatigued with the journey, and
these different agitating scenes had increased the pain in his head to
a violent degree; besides which, feeling that his aunt still regarded
him as she did at Recoara, he could not bear to make any demonstration
towards Laura before her, lest she might think it a sort of triumphant
disregard of her just displeasure.

Poor Laura saw in it both severe suffering and dislike to her; and the
more she understood from her father's manner what had passed in the
other room, the more she honoured him for the sacrifice he was making
of himself.

Mrs. Edmonstone waited on the headache with painful attention, but they
all felt that the only thing to be done for the two poor things was to
let them come to an explanation; so Charlotte was sent to bed, her
mother went up to Amy, Charles carried off his father to the study, and
they found themselves alone.

Laura held down her face, and struggled to make her palpitating heart
and dry tongue suffer her to begin the words to which she had wound
herself up. Philip raised his hands from his eyes as the door shut,
then rose up, and fixed them on Laura. She, too, looked up, as if to
begin; their eyes met, and they understood all. He stepped towards
her, and held out his hands. The next moment both hers were clasped in
his--he had bent down and kissed her brow.

No words of explanation passed between them. Laura knew he was her
own, and needed no assurance that her misgivings had been vain. There
was a start of extreme joy, such as she had known twice before, but it
could be only for a moment while he looked so wretchedly unwell. It
did but give her the right to attend to him. The first thing she said
was to beg him to lie down on the sofa; her only care was to make him
comfortable with cushions, and he was too entirely worn out to say
anything he had intended, capable only of giving himself up to the
repose of knowing her entirely his own, and of having her to take care
of him. There he lay on the sofa, with his eyes shut, and Laura's hand
in his, while she sat beside him, neither of them speaking; and,
excepting that she withdrew her hand, neither moved when the others
returned.

Mrs. Edmonstone compassionated him, and showed a great deal of
solicitude about him, trying hard to regard him as she used to do, yet
unable to bring back the feeling, and therefore, do what she would,
failing to wear its semblance.

Laura, sad, anxious, and restless, had no relief till she went to wish
her sister good night. Amabel, who was already in bed, stretched out
her hand with a sweet look, beaming with affection and congratulation.

'You don't want to be convinced now that all is right!' said she.

'His head is so dreadfully bad!' said Laura.

'Ah! it will get better now his mind is at rest.'

'If it will but do so!'

'And you know you must be happy to-morrow, because of baby.'

'My dear,' said Mrs. Edmonstone, coming in, 'I am sorry to prevent your
talk, but Amy must not be kept awake. She must keep her strength for
to-morrow'

'Good night, then, dear, dear Laura. I am so glad your trouble is
over, and you have him again!' whispered Amabel, with her parting kiss;
and Laura went away, better able to hope, to pray, and to rest, than
she could have thought possible when she left the drawing-room.

'Poor dear Laura,' said Mrs. Edmonstone, sighing; 'I hope he will soon
be better.'

'Has it been very uncomfortable?'

'I can't say much for it, my dear. He was suffering terribly with his
head, so that I should have been quite alarmed if he had not said it
was apt to get worse in the evening; and she, poor thing, was only
watching him. However, it is a comfort to have matters settled; and
papa and Charlie are well pleased with him. But I must not keep you
awake after driving Laura away. You are not over-tired to-night I
hope, my dear?'

'Oh, no; only sleepy. Good night, dearest mamma.'

'Good night, my own Amy;' then, as Amy put back the coverings to show
the little face nestled to sleep on her bosom, 'good night, you little
darling! don't disturb your mamma. How comfortable you look! Good
night, my dearest!'

Mrs. Edmonstone looked for a moment, while trying to check the tears
that came at the thought of the night, one brief year ago, when she
left Amy sleeping in the light of the Easter moon. Yet the sense of
peace and serenity that had then given especial loveliness to the
maiden's chamber on that night, was there still with the young widow.
It was dim lamplight now that beamed on the portrait of her husband,
casting on it the shade of the little wooden cross in front, while she
was shaded by the white curtains drawn from her bed round the infant's
little cot, so as to shut them both into the quiet twilight, where she
lay with an expression of countenance that, though it was not sorrow,
made Mrs. Edmonstone more ready to weep than if it had been; so with
her last good night she left her.

And Amabel always liked to be shut in by herself, dearly as she loved
them all, and mamma especially; there was always something pleasant in
being able to return to her own world, to rest in the thoughts of her
husband, and in the possession of the little unconscious creature that
had come to inhabit that inner world of hers, the creature that was
only his and hers.

She had from the first always felt herself less lonely when quite
alone, before with his papers, and now with his child; and could Mrs.
Edmonstone have seen her face, she would have wept and wondered more,
as Amy fondled and hushed her babe, whispering to it fond words which
she could never have uttered in the presence of any one who could
understand them, and which had much of her extreme youthfulness in
them. Not one was so often repeated or so endearing as 'Guy's baby!
Guy's own dear little girl!' It did not mean half so much when she
called it her baby; and she loved to tell the little one that her
father had been the best and the dearest, but he was gone away, and
would she be contented to be loving and good with only her mother to
take care of her, and tell her, as well as she could, what a father
hers was, when she was old enough to know about him?

To-night, Amy told her much in that soft, solemn, murmuring tone, about
what was to befall her to-morrow, and the great blessings to be given
to her, and how the poor little fatherless one would be embraced in the
arms of His mercy, and received by her great Father in heaven:--'Ay,
and brought nearer to your own papa, and know him in some inner way,
and he will know his little child then, for you will be as good and
pure and bright as he, and you will belong to the great communion of
saints to-morrow, you precious little one, and be so much nearer to him
as you will be so much better than I. Oh! baby, if we can but both
endure to the end!'

With such half-uttered words, Amabel Morville slept the night before
her babe's christening.

CHAPTER 41

A stranger's roof to hold thy head,
A stranger's foot thy grave to tread;
Desert and rock, and Alp and sea,
Spreading between thy home and thee.--SEWELL

Mary Ross was eager for the first report from Hollywell the next
morning, and had some difficulty in keeping her attention fixed on her
class at school. Laura and Charlotte came in together in due time, and
satisfied her so far as to tell her that Amy was very well.

'Is Captain Morville come?' thought Mary. 'No, I cannot guess by
Laura's impressive face. Never mind, Charles will tell me all between
services.'

The first thing she saw on coming out of school was the pony carriage,
with Charles and Captain Morville himself. Charlotte, who was all
excitement, had time to say, while her sister was out of hearing,--

'It is all made up now, Mary, and I really am very sorry for Philip.'

It was fortunate that Mary understood the amiable meaning this speech
was intended to convey, and she began to enter into its grounds in the
short conference after church, when she saw the alteration in the whole
expression of countenance.

'Yes,' said Charles, who as usual remained at the vicarage during the
two services, and who perceived what passed in her mind, 'if it is any
satisfaction to you to have a good opinion of your fellow-sponsor, I
assure you that I am converted to Amy's opinion. I do believe the
black dog is off his back for good and all.'

'I never saw any one more changed,' said Mary.

'Regularly tamed,' said Charles. He is something more like his old
self to-day than last night, and yet not much. He was perfectly
overpowered then--so knocked up that there was no judging of him. To-
day he has all his sedateness and scrupulous attention, but all like a
shadow of former time--not a morsel of sententiousness, and seeming
positively grateful to be treated in the old fashion.'

'He looks very thin and pale. Do you think him recovered?'

'A good way from it,' said Charles. 'He is pretty well to-day,
comparatively, though that obstinate headache hangs about him. If this
change last longer than that and his white looks, I shall not even
grudge him the sponsorship Amy owed me.'

'Very magnanimous!' said Mary. 'Poor Laura! I am glad her suspense is
over. I wondered to see her at school.'

'They are very sad and sober lovers, and it is the best way of not
making themselves unbearable, considering--Well, that was a different
matter. How little we should have believed it, if any one had told us
last year what would be the state of affairs to-day. By the bye, Amy's
godson is christened to-day.'

'Who?'

'Didn't you hear that the Ashfords managed to get Amy asked if she
would dislike their calling their boy by that name we shall never hear
again, and she was very much pleased, and made offer in her own pretty
way to be godmother. I wonder how Markham endures it! I believe he is
nearly crazy. He wrote me word he should certainly have given up all
concern with Redclyffe, but for the especial desire of--.What a state
of mind he will be in, when he remembers how he has been abusing the
captain to me!'

The afternoon was fresh and clear, and there was a spring brightness in
the sunshine that Amabel took as a greeting to her little maiden, as
she was carried along the churchyard path. Many an eye was bent on the
mother and child, especially on the slight form, unseen since she had
last walked down the aisle, her arm linked in her bridegroom's.

'Little Amy Edmonstone,' as they had scarcely learnt to cease from
calling her, before she was among them again, the widowed Lady
Morville; and with those kind looks of compassion for her, were joined
many affectionate mourning thoughts of the young husband and father,
lying far away in his foreign grave, and endeared by kindly
remembrances to almost all present. There was much of pity for his
unconscious infant, and tears were shed at the thought of what the wife
must be suffering; but if the face could have been seen beneath the
thick crape folds of her veil, it would have shown no tears--only a
sweet, calm look of peace, and almost gladness.

The babe was on her knees when the time for the christening came; she
was awake, and now and then making a little sound and as she was
quieter with her than any one else, Amabel thought she might herself
carry her to the font.

It was deep, grave happiness to stand there, with her child in her
arms, and with an undefined sense that she was not alone as if in some
manner her husband was present with her; praying with her prayers, and
joining in offering up their treasure; when the babe was received into
Mr. Ross's arms, and Amy, putting back her veil, gazed up with a
wistful but serene look.

'To her life's end?' Therewith came a vision of the sunrise at
Recoara, and the more glorious dawn that had shone in Guy's dying
smile, and Amabel knew what would be her best prayer for his little
Mary Verena, as she took her back, the drops glistening on her brow,
her eyes open, and arms outspread. It was at that moment that Amabel
was first thrilled with a look in her child that was like its father.
She had earnestly and often sought a resemblance without being able
honestly to own that she perceived any; but now, though she knew not in
what it consisted, there was something in that baby face that recalled
him more vividly than picture or memory.

'Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace.'

Those words seemed to come from her own heart. She had brought Guy's
daughter to be baptized, and completed his work of pardon, and she had
a yearning to be departing in peace, whither her sunshine was gone.
But he had told her not to wish that his child should be motherless;
she had to train her to be fit to meet him. The sunshine was past, but
she had plenty to do in the shade, and it was for his sake. She would,
therefore, be content to remain to fulfil her duties among the dear
ones to whom he had trusted her for comfort, and with the sense of
renewed communion with him that she had found in returning again to
church.

So felt Amabel, as she entered into the calm that followed the one year
in which she had passed through the great events of life, and known the
chief joy and deepest grief that she could ever experience.

It was far otherwise with her sister. Laura's term of trouble seemed
to be ending, and the spring of life beginning to dawn on her.

Doubt and fear were past, she and Philip were secure of each other, he
was pardoned, and they could be together without apprehension, or
playing tricks with their consciences; but she had as yet scarcely been
able to spend any time with him; and as Charles said, their ways were
far more grave and less lover-like than would have seemed natural after
their long separation.

In truth, romantic and uncalculating as their attachment was, they
never had been lover-like. They had never had any fears or doubts; her
surrender of her soul had been total, and every thought, feeling, and
judgment had taken its colour from him as entirely as if she had been a
wife of many years' standing. She never opened her mind to perceive
that he had led her to act wrongly, and all her unhappiness had been
from anxiety for him, not repentance on her own account; for so
complete was her idolatry, that she entirely overlooked her failure in
duty to her parents.

It took her by surprise when, as they set out together that evening to
walk home from East-hill, he said, as soon as they were apart from the
village--

'Laura, you have more to forgive than all.'

'Don't, speak so, Philip, pray don't. Do you think I would not have
borne far more unhappiness willingly for your sake? Is it not all
forgotten as if it had not been?'

'It is not unhappiness I meant,' he replied, 'though I cannot bear to
think of what you have undergone. Unhappiness enough have I caused
indeed. But I meant, that you have to forgive the advantage I took of
your reliance on me to lead you into error, when you were too young to
know what it amounted to.'

'It was not an engagement,' faltered Laura.

'Laura, don't, for mercy's sake, recall my own hateful sophistries,'
exclaimed Philip, as if unable to control the pain it gave him; 'I have
had enough of that from my sister;' then softening instantly: 'it was
self-deceit; a deception first of myself, then of you. You had not
experience enough to know whither I was leading you, till I had
involved you; and when the sight of death showed me the fallacy of the
salve to my conscience, I had nothing for it but to confess, and leave
you to bear the consequences. 0 Laura! when I think of my conduct
towards you, it seems even worse than that towards--towards your
brother-in-law!'

His low, stern tone of bitter suffering and self-reproach was something
new and frightful to Laura. She clung to his arm and tried to say--'0,
don't speak in that way! You know you meant the best. You could not
help being mistaken.'

'If I did know any such thing, Laura! but the misery of perceiving that
my imagined anxiety for his good,--his good, indeed! was but a cloak
for my personal enmity--you can little guess it.'

Laura tried to say that appearances were against Guy, but he would not
hear.

'If they were, I triumphed in them. I see now that a shade of honest
desire to see him exculpated would have enabled me to find the clue.
If I had gone to St. Mildred's at once--interrogated him as a friend--
seen Wellwood--but dwelling on the _ifs_ of the last two years can
bring nothing but distraction,' he added, pausing suddenly.

'And remember,' said Laura, 'that dear Guy himself was always grateful
to you. He always upheld that you acted for his good. Oh! the way he
took it was the one comfort I had last year.'

'The acutest sting, and yet the only balm,' murmured Philip; 'see,
Laura,' and he opened the first leaf of Guy's prayer-book, which he had
been using at the christening.

A whispered 'Dear Guy!' was the best answer she could make, and the
tears were in her eyes. 'He was so very kind to me, when he saw me
that unhappy wedding-day.'

'Did Amy tell you his last words to me?'

'No,' said Laura.

'God bless you and my sister!' he repeated, so low that she could
hardly hear.

'Amy left that for you to tell,' said Laura, as her tears streamed
fast. How can we speak of her, Philip?'

'Only as an angel of pardon and peace!' he answered.

'I don't know how to tell you of all her kindness,' said Laura; 'half
the bitterness of it seemed to be over when once she was in the house
again, and, all the winter, going into her room was like going into
some peaceful place where one must find comfort.'

'"Spirits of peace, where are ye" I could have said, when I saw her
drive away at Recoara, and carry all good angels with her except those
that could not but hover round that grave.'

'How very sad it must have been! Did--'

'Don't speak of it; don't ask me of it' said Philip, hastily. 'There
is nothing in my mind but a tumult of horror and darkness that it is
madness to remember. Tell me of yourself--tell me that you have not
been hurt by all that I have brought on you.'

'Oh, no!' said Laura 'besides, that is all at an end.'

'All an end! Laura, I fear in joining your fate to mine, you will find
care and grief by no means at an end. You must be content to marry a
saddened, remorseful man, broken down in health and spirits, his whole
life embittered by that fatal remembrance, forced to endure an
inheritance that seems to have come like the prosperity of the wicked.
Yet you are ready to take all this? Then, Laura, that precious, most
precious love, that has endured through all, will be the one drop of
comfort through the rest of my life.

She could but hear such words with thrills of rejoicing affection; and
on they walked, Laura trembling and struck with sorrow at the depth of
repentance he now and then disclosed, though not in the least able to
fathom it, thinking it all his nobleness of mind, justifying him to
herself, idolizing him too much to own he had ever been wrong; yet the
innate power of tact and sympathy teaching her no longer to combat his
self-reproaches, and repeat his former excuses, but rather to say
something soothing and caressing, or put in some note of thankfulness
and admiration of Amy and Guy. This was the best thing she could do
for him, as she was not capable, like Amy, of acknowledging that his
repentance was well-founded. She was a nurse, not a physician, to the
wounded spirit; but a very good and gentle nurse she was, and the
thorough enjoyment of her affection and sympathy, the opening into
confidence, and the freedom from doubt and suspense, were comforts that
were doing him good every hour.

The christening party consisted only of the Rosses, and Dr. Mayerne,
who had joined them at East-hill church, and walked home with Mr.
Edmonstone. They could not have been without him, so grateful were
they for his kindness all through their anxious winter, and Mr.
Edmonstone was well pleased to tell him on the way home that they might
look to having a wedding in the family; it had been a very long
attachment, constancy as good as a story, and he could all along have
told what was the matter, when mamma was calling in the doctor to
account for Laura's looking pale.

The doctor was not surprised at the news, for perhaps he, too, had had
some private theory about those pale looks; but, knowing pretty well
the sentiments Charles had entertained the winter before last, he was
curious to find out how he regarded this engagement. Charles spoke of
it in the most ready cordial way. 'Well, doctor, so you have heard our
news! I flatter myself we have as tall and handsome a pair of lovers
to exhibit here, as any in the United Kingdom, when we have fattened
him a little into condition.'

'Never was there a better match,' said Dr. Mayerne. 'Made for each
other all along. One could not see them without feeling it was the
first chapter of a novel.'

When Mrs. Edmonstone came in, the doctor was a little taken aback. He
thought her mind must be with poor Sir Guy, and was afraid the lovers
had been in such haste as to pain Lady Morville; for there was a
staidness and want of "epanchement du coeur" of answering that was very
unlike her usual warm manner. At dinner, Mr. Edmonstone was in high
spirits, delighted at Amy's recovery, happy to have a young man about
the house again, charmed to see two lovers together, pleased that Laura
should be mistress of Redclyffe, since it could not belong to Amy's
child; altogether, as joyous as ever. His wife, being at ease about
Amy, did her best to smile, and even laugh, though sad at heart all the
time, as she missed the father from the christening feast, and thought
how happy she had been in that far different reunion last year. It
might be the same with Charles; but the outward effect was exhibited in
lively nonsense; Charlotte's spirits were rising fast, and only Philip
and Laura themselves were grave and silent, she, the more so, because
she was disappointed to find that the one walk back from East-hill,
much as he had enjoyed it, had greatly tired Philip. However, the
others talked enough without them; and Mr. Edmonstone was very happy,
drinking the health of Miss Morville, and himself carrying a bit of the
christening cake to the mamma in the drawing-room.

There sat Amabel by the fire, knowing that from henceforth she must
exert herself to take part in the cheerfulness of the house, and
willing to join the external rejoicing in her child's christening, or
at least not to damp it by remaining up-stairs. Yet any one but Mr.
Edmonstone would have seen more sadness than pleasure in the sweet
smile with which she met and thanked him; but they were cheerful tones
in which she replied, and in her presence everything was hushed and
gentle, subdued, yet not mournful. The spirit of that evening was only
recognized after it was past, and then it ever grew fairer and sweeter
in recollection, so as never to be forgotten by any of those who shared
it.

CHAPTER 42

She was not changed when sorrow came,
That awed the sternest men;
It rather seemed she kept her flame
To comfort us till then.

But sorrow passed, and others smiled
With happiness once more;
And she drew back the spirit mild
She still had been before.--S. R.

Philip's marriage could not take place at once. No one said, but every
one felt, that it must not be talked of till the end of Amabel's first
year of widowhood; and in the meantime Philip remained at Hollywell,
gaining strength every day, making more progress in one week than he
had done in six at St. Mildred's, finding that, as his strength
returned, his mind and memory regained their tone, and he was as
capable as ever of applying to business, and, above all, much settled
and comforted by some long conversations with Mr. Ross.

Still he could not endure the thought of being at Redclyffe. The
business connected with it was always performed with pain and dislike,
and he shrank with suffering at every casual mention of his going
thither. Mrs. Edmonstone began to wonder whether he could mean to
linger at Hollywell all the summer, and Amabel had some fears that it
would end in his neglecting Redclyffe, till a letter arrived from Lord
Thorndale, saying that his brother, the member for Moorworth, had long
been thinking of giving up his seat, and latterly had only waited in
hopes that the succession at Redclyffe might come to Philip Morville.
Moorworth was entirely under the Thorndale and Morville interest, and
Lord Thorndale wrote to propose that Philip should come forward at
once, inviting him to Thorndale instead of going to his own empty
house.

To be in parliament had been one of the favourite visions of Philip's
youth, and for that very reason he hesitated, taking it as one of the
strange fulfilments of his desires that had become punishments. He
could not but feel that as this unhappy load of wealth had descended on
him, he was bound to make it as beneficial as he could to others, and
not seeking for rest or luxury, to stand in the gap where every good
man and true was needed. But still he dreaded his old love of
distinction. He disliked a London life for Laura, and he thought that,
precarious as his health had become, it might expose her to much
anxiety, since he was determined that if he undertook it at all, he
would never be an idle member.

It ended in his referring the decision to Laura, who, disliking London,
fearful for his health, eager for his glory, and reluctant to keep back
such a champion from the battle, was much perplexed, only desirous to
say what he wished, yet not able to make out what that might be. She
carried her doubts to Charles and Amabel, who both pronounced that the
thought of going to Redclyffe seemed far worse for him than any degree
of employment--that occupation of the mind was the best thing for his
spirits; and ended by recommending that Dr. Mayerne should be
consulted.

He was of the same opinion. He said a man could hardly have two fevers
following, and one of them upon the brain, without having reason to
remember them. That his constitution had been seriously weakened, and
there was an excitability of brain and nerves which made care
requisite; but depression of spirits was the chief thing to guard
against, and a London life, provided he did not overwork himself, was
better for him than solitude at Redclyffe.

Accordingly Philip went to Thorndale, and was returned for Moorworth
without opposition. Markham sent his nephew to transact business with
him at Thorndale, for he could not bear to meet him himself, and while
there was any prospect of his coming to Redclyffe, walked about in
paroxysms of grunting and ill-humour. The report that Mr. Morville was
engaged to the other Miss Edmonstone did but render him more furious,
for he regarded it as a sort of outrage to Lady Morville's feelings
that a courtship should be carried on in the house with her. She was
at present the object of all his devoted affection for the family, and
he would not believe, but that she had been as much disappointed at the
birth of her daughter, as he was himself. He would not say one word
against Mr. Morville, but looked and growled enough to make Mr. Ashford
afraid that the new squire would find him very troublesome.

The Ashfords were in a state of mind themselves to think that Mr.
Morville ought to be everything excellent to make up for succeeding Sir
Guy; but having a very high opinion of him to begin with, they were
very sorry to find all Redclyffe set against him. In common with the
parish, they were very anxious for the first report of his arrival and
at length he came. James Thorndale, as before, drove him thither,
coming to the Ashfords while he was busy with Markham. He would not go
up to the Park, he only went through some necessary business with
Markham, and then walked down to the Cove, afterwards sitting for about
ten minutes in Mrs. Ashford's drawing-room.

The result of the visit was that old James Robinson reported that the
new squire took on as much about poor Sir Guy as any one could do, and
turned as pale as if he had been going into a swoon, when he spoke his
name and gave Ben his message. And as to poor Ben, the old man said,
he regularly did cry like a child, and small blame to him, to hear that
Sir Guy had took thought of him at such a time and so far away; and he
verily believed Ben could never take again to his bad ways, after such
a message as that.

Markham was gruff with the Robinsons for some time after and was even
heard to mutter something about worshipping the rising sun, an act of
idolatry of which he could not be accused, since it was in the most
grudging manner that he allowed, that Mr. Morville's sole anxiety
seemed to be to continue all Sir Guy had undertaken; while Mrs.
Ashford, on the other hand was much affected by the account her cousin
James had been giving her of the grief that he had suffered at Sir
Guy's death, his long illness, his loss of spirits, the reluctance he
had shown to come here at all, and his present unconquerable dread of
going to the Park.

He was soon after in London, where, as far as could be judged in such
early days, he seemed likely to distinguish himself according to the
fondest hopes that Margaret or Laura could ever have entertained.
Laura was only afraid he was overworking himself, especially as, having
at present little command of ready money, he lived in a small lodging,
kept no horse, and did not enter into society; but she was reassured
when he came to Hollywell for a day or two at Whitsuntide, not having
indeed regained flesh or colour, but appearing quite well, in better
spirits, and very eager about political affairs.

All would have been right that summer, but that, as Philip observed,
the first evening of his arrival, Amabel was not looking as well as she
had done at the time of the christening. She had, just after it, tried
her strength and spirits too much, and had ever since been not exactly
unwell, but sad and weary, more dejected than ever before, unable to
bear the sight of flowers or the sound of music, and evidently
suffering much under the recurrence of the season, which had been that
of her great happiness--the summer sunshine, the long evenings, the
nightingale's songs. She was fatigued by the most trifling exertion,
and seemed able to take interest in nothing but her baby, and a young
widow in the village, who was in a decline; and though she was willing
to do all that was asked of her, it was in a weary, melancholy manner,
as if she had no peace but in being allowed to sit alone, drooping over
her child.

From society she especially shrunk, avoiding every chance of meeting
visitors, and distressed and harassed when her father brought home some
of his casual dinner guests, and was vexed not to see her come into the
drawing-room in the evening. If she did make the effort of coming, to
please him, she was so sure to be the worse for it, that her mother
would keep her up-stairs the next time, and try to prevent her from
knowing that her father was put out, and declared it was nonsense to
expect poor Amy to get up her spirits, while she never saw a living
soul, and only sat moping in the dressing-room.

A large dinner-party did not interfere with her, for even he could not
expect her to appear at it, and one of these he gave during Philip's
visit, for the pleasure of exhibiting such company as the M.P. for
Moorworth. After dinner, Charlotte told Mary Ross to go and see Amy.
Not finding her in the dressing-room, she knocked at her own door.
'Come in,' answered the low soft voice; and in the window, overhung by
the long shoots of the roses, Amabel's close cap and small head were
seen against the deep-blue evening sky, as she sat in the summer
twilight, her little one asleep in her cot.

'Thank you for coming,' said she. 'I thought you would not mind
sitting here with baby and me. I have sent Anne out walking.'

'How pretty she looks!' said Mary, stooping over the infant. 'Sleep is
giving her quite a colour; and how fast she grows!'

'Poor little woman!' said Amy, sighing.

'Tired, Amy?' said Mary, sitting down, and taking up the little
lambswool shoe, that Amy had been knitting.

'N--no, thank you,' said Amy, with another sigh.

'I am afraid you are. You have been walking to Alice Lamsden's again.'

'I don't think that tires me. Indeed, I believe the truth is,' and her
voice sounded especially sad in the subdued tone in which she spoke,
that she might not disturb the child, 'I am not so much tired with what
I do, which is little enough, as of the long, long life that is before
me.'

Mary's heart was full, but she did not show her thought otherwise than
by a look towards the babe.

'Yes, poor little darling,' said Amabel, 'I know there is double
quantity to be done for her, but I am so sorry for her, when I think
she must grow up without knowing him.'

'She has you, though,' Mary could not help saying, as she felt that
Amabel was superior to all save her husband.

Perhaps Amy did not hear; she went up to the cot, and went on:--'If he
had but once seen her, if she had but had one kiss, one touch that I
could tell her of by and by, it would not seem as if she was so very
fatherless. Oh no, baby, I must wait, that you may know something
about, him; for no one else can tell you so well what he was, though I
can't tell much!' She presently returned to her seat. 'No, I don't
believe I really wish I was like poor Alice,' said she; 'I hope not; I
am sure I don't for her sake. But, Mary, I never knew till I was well
again how much I had reckoned on dying when she was born. I did not
think I was wishing it, but it seemed likely, and I was obliged to
arrange things in case of it. Then somehow, as he came back last
spring, after that sad winter, it seemed as if this spring, though he
would not come back to me, I might be going to him.'

'But then she comforted you.'

'Yes, that she did, my precious one; I was so glad of her, it was a
sort of having him again, and so it is still sometimes, and will be
more so, I dare say. I am very thankful for her, indeed I am; and I
hope I am not repining, for it does not signify after all, in the end,
if I am weary and lonely sometimes. I wish I was sure it was not
wrong. I know I don't wish to alter things.'

'No, I am sure you don't.'

'Ah!' said Amabel, smiling, 'it is only the old, silly little Amy that
does feel such a heart-aching and longing for one glance of his eye, or
touch of his hand, or sound of his foot in the passage. Oh, Mary, the
worst of all is to wake up, after dreaming I have heard his voice.
There is nothing for it but to take our baby and hold her very tight.'

'Dearest Amy! But you are not blaming yourself for these feelings. It
might be wrong to indulge them and foster them; but while you struggle
with them, they can't in themselves be wrong.'

'I hope not,' said Amabel pausing to think. 'Yes, I have "the joy" at
the bottom still; I know it is all quite right, and it came straight
from heaven, as he said. I can get happy very often when I am by
myself, or at church, with him; it is only when I miss his bright
outside and can't think myself into the inner part, that it is so
forlorn and dreary. I can do pretty well alone. Only I wish I could
help being so troublesome and disagreeable to everybody' said Amy,
concluding in a matter-of-fact tone.

'My dear!' said Mary, almost laughing.

'It is so stupid of me to be always poorly, and making mamma anxious
when there's nothing the matter with me. And I know I am a check on
them down-stairs--papa, and Charlotte, and all--they are very kind,
considerate, and yet'--she paused--'and it is a naughty feeling; but
when I feel all those dear kind eyes watching me always, and wanting me
to be happy, it is rather oppressive, especially when I can't; but if I
try not to disappoint them, I do make such a bad hand of it, and am
sure to break down afterwards, and that grieves mamma all the more.'

'It will be better when this time of year is over,' said Mary.

'Perhaps, yes. He always seemed to belong to summer days, and to come
with them. Well, I suppose trials always come in a different shape
from what one expects; for I used to think I could bear all the doom
with him, but, I did not know it would be without him, and yet that is
the best. Oh, baby!'

'I should not have come to disturb her.'

'No--never mind; she never settles fairly to sleep till we are shut in
by ourselves. Hush! hush, darling--No? Will nothing do but being
taken up? Well, then, there! Come, and show your godmamma what a
black fringe those little wakeful eyes are getting.'

And when Mary went down it was with the conviction that those black
eyelashes, too marked to he very pretty in so young a babe, were more
of a comfort to Amabel than anything she could say.

The evening wore on, and at length Laura came into her sister's room.
She looked fagged and harassed, the old face she used to wear in the
time of disguise and secrecy, Amabel asked if it had been a tiresome
party.

'Yes--no--I don't know. Just like others,' said Laura.

'You are tired, at any rate,' said Amabel. 'You took too long a ride
with Philip. I saw you come in very late.'

'I am not in the least tired, thank you.'

'Then he is,' said Amabel. 'I hope he has not one of his headaches
again.'

'No,' said Laura, still in a dissatisfied, uncomfortable tone.

'No? Dear Laura, I am sure there is something wrong;' and with a
little more of her winning, pleading kindness, she drew from Laura that
Philip had told her she idolized him. He had told her so very gently
and kindly, but he had said she idolized him in a manner that was
neither good for herself nor him; and he went on to blame himself for
it, which was what she could not bear. It had been rankling in her
mind ever since that he had found fault with her for loving him so
well, and it had made her very unhappy. She _could_ not love him less,
and how should she please him? She had much rather he had blamed her
than himself.

'I think I see what he means' said Amy, thoughtfully. 'He has grown
afraid of himself, and afraid of being admired now.'

'But how am I to help that, Amy?' said Laura, with tears in her eyes:
'he cannot help being the first, the very first of all with me--'

'No, no,' said Amy, quickly, 'not the very first, or what would you do
if you were to be--like me? Don't turn away, dear Laura; I don't think
I over could bear this at all, if dear Guy had not kept it always
before my eyes from the very first that we were to look to something
else besides each other.'

'Of course I meant the first earthly thing,' said Laura; but it was not
heartfelt--she knew she ought, therefore she thought she did.

'And so,' proceeded Amy, 'I think if that other is first, it would make
you have some other standard of right besides himself, then you would
be a stay and help to him. I think that is what he means.'

'Amy! let me ask you,' said Laura, a little entreatingly, yet as if she
must needs put the question--'surely, you never thought Guy had
faults?'

Her colour deepened. 'Yes, Laura,' she answered, firmly. 'I could not
have understood his repentance if I had not thought so. And, dear
Laura, if you will forgive me for saying it, it would be much better
for yourself and Philip if you would see the truth.'

'I thought you forgave him,' murmured Laura.

'Oh, Laura! but does not that word "forgive" imply something? I could
not have done anything to comfort him that day, if I had not believed
he had something to be comforted for. It can't be pleasant to him to
see you think his repentance vain.'

'It is noble and great.'

'But if it was not real, it would be thrown away. Besides, dear Laura,
do let me say this for once. If you would but understand that you let
him lead you into what was not right, and be really sorry for that, and
show mamma that you are, I do think it would all begin much more
happily when you are married.'

'I could never have told, till I was obliged to betray myself,' said
Laura. 'You know, Amy, it was no engagement. We never wrote to each
other, we had but one walk; it was no business of his to speak till he
could hope for papa's consent to our marriage. It would have been all
confusion if he had told, and that would have been only that we had
always loved each other with all our hearts, which every one knew
before.'

'Yet, Laura, it was what preyed on him when he thought he was dying.'

'Because it was the only thing like a fault he could think of,' said
Laura, excited by this shade of blame to defend him vehemently--
'because his scruples are high and noble and generous.'

She spoke so eagerly, that the baby's voice again broke on the
conversation, and she was obliged to go away; but though her idolatry
was complete, it did not seem to give full satisfaction or repose. As
to Philip, though his love for her was unchanged, it now and then was
felt, though not owned by him, that she was not fully a helpmeet, only
a 'Self'; not such a 'Self' as he had left at St. Mildred's, but still
reflecting on him his former character, instead of aiding him to a new
one.

CHAPTER 43

But nature to its inmost part
Faith had refined; and to her heart
A peaceful cradle given,
Calm as the dew drops free to rest
Within a breeze-fanned rose's breast
Till it exhales to heaven.--WORDSWORTH

It had long been a promise that Mr. Edmonstone should take Charlotte to
visit her grandmamma, in Ireland. They would have gone last autumn,
but for Guy's illness, and now Aunt Charlotte wrote to hasten the
performance of the project. Lady Mabel was very anxious to see them,
she said; and having grown much more infirm of late, seemed to think it
would be the last meeting with her son. She talked so much of Mrs.
Edmonstone and Laura, that it was plain that she wished extremely for a
visit from them, though she did not like to ask it, in the present
state of the family.

A special invitation was sent to Bustle; indeed, Charles said Charlotte
could not have gone without his permission, for he reigned like a
tyrant over her, evidently believing her created for no purpose but to
wait on him, and take him to walk.

Laura was a great favourite at the cottage of Kilcoran, and felt she
ought to offer to go. Philip fully agreed, and held out home hopes of
following as soon as the session, was over, and he had been to
Redclyffe about some business that had been deferred too long.

And now it appeared that Mr. Edmonstone had a great desire to take his
wife, and she herself said, that under any other circumstances she
should have been very desirous of going. She had not been to Ireland
for fifteen years, and was sorry to have seen so little of her mother-
in-law; and now that it had been proved that Charles could exist
without her, she would not have hesitated to leave him, but for
Amabel's state of health and spirits, which made going from home out of
the question.

Charles and Amabel did not think so. It was not to be endured, that
when grandmamma wished for her, she should stay at home for them
without real necessity; besides, the fatigue, anxiety, and sorrow she
had undergone of late, had told on her, and had made her alter
perceptibly, from being remarkably fresh and youthful, to be somewhat
aged; and the change to a new scene, where she could not be distressing
herself at every failure in cheerfulness of poor Amy's, was just the
thing to do her good.

Amabel was not afraid of the sole charge of Charles or of the baby, for
she had been taught but too well to manage for herself, she understood
Charles very well, and had too much quiet good sense to be fanciful
about her very healthy baby. Though she was inexperienced, with old
nurse hard by, and Dr. Mayerne at Broadstone, there was no fear of her
not having good counsel enough. She was glad to be of some use, by
enabling her mother to leave Charles, and her only fear was of being
dull company for him; but as he was so kind as to bear it, she would do
her best, and perhaps their neighbours would come and enliven him
sometimes.

Charles threw his influence into the same scale. His affectionate
observation had shown him that it oppressed Amabel's spirits to be the
object of such constant solicitude, and be was convinced it would be
better for her, both to have some necessary occupation and to be free
from that perpetual mournful watching of her mother's that caused her
to make the efforts to be cheerful which did her more harm than
anything else.

To let her alone to look and speak as she pleased without the fear of
paining and disappointing those she loved, keep the house quiet, and
give her the employment of household cares and attending on himself,
was, he thought, the best thing for her; and he was full of eagerness
and pleasure at the very notion of being of service to her, if only by
being good for nothing but to be waited on. He thought privately that
the spring of his mother's mind had been so much injured by the grief
she had herself suffered for 'her son Guy,' her cruel disappointment in
Laura, and the way in which she threw herself into all Amy's
affliction, that there was a general depression in her way of observing
and attending Amy, which did further harm; and that to change the
current of her thoughts, and bring her home refreshed and inspirited,
would be the beginning of improvement in all. Or, as he expressed it
to Dr. Mayerne, 'We shall set off on a new tack.'

His counsel and Mr. Edmonstone's wishes at length decided mamma, on
condition that Mary Ross and Dr. Mayerne would promise to write on
alternate weeks a full report, moral and physical, as Charles called
it. So in due time the goods were packed, Mrs. Edmonstone cried
heartily over the baby, advised Amabel endlessly about her, and finally
looked back through her tears, as she drove away, to see Charles
nodding and waving his hand at the bay-window, and Amabel standing with
her parting smile and good-bye on the steps.

The reports, moral and physical, proved that Charles had judged wisely.
Amabel was less languid as she had more cause for exertion, and seemed
relieved by the absence of noise and hurry, spending more time down-
stairs, and appearing less weary in the evening. She still avoided the
garden, but she began to like short drives with her brother in the
pony-carriage, when he drove on in silence, and let her lean back and
gaze up into the sky, or into the far distance, undisturbed. Now and
then he would be rejoiced by a bright, genuine smile, perfectly
refreshing, at some of the pretty ways of the babe, a small but plump
and lively creature, beginning to grasp with her hands, laugh and gaze
about with eyes that gave promise of the peculiar colour and brilliancy
of her father's. Amabel was afraid she might be tempted into giving
Charles too much of the little lady's society; but he was very fond of
her, regarding her with an odd mixture of curiosity and amusement, much
entertained with watching what he called her unaccountable manners, and
greatly flattered when he could succeed in attracting her notice.
Indeed, the first time she looked full at him with a smile on the verge
of a laugh, it completely overcame him, by the indescribably forcible
manner in which it suddenly recalled the face which had always shone on
him like a sunbeam. Above all, it was worth anything to see the looks
she awoke in her mother, for which he must have loved her, even had she
not been Guy's child.

In the evening, especially on Sunday, Amabel would sometimes talk to
him as she had never yet been able to do, about her last summer's
journey, and her stay at Recoara, and his way of listening and
answering had in it something that gave her great pleasure; while, on
his side, he deemed each fresh word of Guy's a sort of treasure for
which to be grateful to her. The brother and sister were a great help
and happiness to each other; Amabel found herself restored to Charles,
as Guy had liked to think of her, and Charles felt as if the old
childish fancies were fulfilled, in which he and Amy were always to
keep house together. He was not in the least dull; and though his
good-natured visitors in the morning were welcome, and received with
plenty of his gay lively talk, he did not by any means stand in need of
the compassion they felt for him, and could have done very well without
them; while the evenings alone with Amy had in them something so
pleasant that they were almost better than those when Mr. Ross and Mary
came to tea. He wrote word to his mother that she might be quite at
ease about them, and he thought Amy would get through the anniversaries
of September better while the house was quiet, so that she need not
think of trying to hurry home.

He was glad to have done so, for the letters, which scarcely missed a
day in being written by his mother and Charlotte, seemed to show that
their stay was likely to be long. Lady Mabel was more broken than they
had expected, and claimed a long visit, as she was sure it would be
their last, while the Kilcoran party had taken possession of Laura and
Charlotte, as if they never meant to let them go. Charlotte wrote her
brother very full and very droll accounts of the Iricisms around her
which she enjoyed thoroughly, and Charles, declaring he never expected
to see little Charlotte come out in the character of the facetious
correspondent, used to send Mary Ross into fits of laughing by what he
read to her. Mr. Fielder, the tutor, wrote Charlotte, was very nearly
equal to Eveleen's description of him, but very particularly agreeable,
in fact, the only man who had any conversation, whom she had seen since
she had been at Kilcoran.

'Imagine,' said Charles, 'the impertinent little puss setting up for
intellectual conversation, forsooth!'

'That's what comes of living with good company,' said Mary.

The brother and sister used sometimes to drive to Broadstone to fetch
their letters by the second post.

'Charlotte, of course,' said Charles, as he opened one. 'My Lady
Morville, what's yours?'

'Only Mr. Markham,' said Amabel, 'about the winding up of our business
together, I suppose. What does Charlotte say?'

'Charlotte is in a fit of impudence, for which she deserves
chastisement,' said Charles, unable to help laughing, as he read,--

'Our last event was a call from the fidus Achates, who, it seems, can
no longer wander up and down the Mediterranean without his pius Aeneas,
and so has left the army, and got a diplomatic appointment somewhere in
Germany. Lord Kilcoran has asked him to come and stay here, and Mabel
and I are quite sure he comes for a purpose. Of course he has chosen
this time, in order that he may be able to have his companion before
his eyes, as a model for courtship, and I wish I had you to help me
look on whenever Philip comes, as that laugh I must enjoy alone with
Bustle. However, when Philip will come we cannot think, for we have
heard nothing of him this age, not even Laura, and she is beginning to
look very anxious about him. Do tell us if you know anything about
him. The last letter was when parliament was prorogued, and he was
going to Redclyffe, at least three weeks ago.'

'I wonder if Mr. Markham mentions him,' said Amabel, hastily unfolding
her letter, which was, as she expected, about the executors' business,
but glancing on to the end, she exclaimed,--

'Ah! here it is. Listen, Charlie. "Mr. Morville has been here for the
last few weeks, and is, I fear, very unwell. He has been entirely
confined to the house, almost ever since his arrival, by violent
headache, which has completely disabled him from attending to business;
but he will not call in any advice. I make a point of going to see him
every day, though I believe my presence is anything but acceptable, as
in his present state of health and spirits, I cannot think it right
that he should be left to servants." Poor fellow! Redclyffe has been
too much for him.'

'Over-worked, I suppose,' said Charles. 'I thought he was coming it
pretty strong these last few weeks.'

'Not even writing to Laura! How very bad he must be! I will write at
once to ask Mr. Markham for more particulars.'

She did so, and on the third day they drove again to fetch the answer.
It was a much worse account. Mr. Morville was, said Markham, suffering
dreadfully from headache, and lay on the sofa all day, almost unable to
speak or move, but resolved against having medical advice, though his
own treatment of himself did not at all succeed in relieving him.
There was extreme depression of spirits, and an unwillingness to see
any one. He had positively refused to admit either Lord Thorndale or
Mr. Ashford, and would hardly bear to see Markham himself, who, indeed,
only forced his presence on him from thinking it unfit to leave him
entirely to the servants, and would be much relieved if some of Mr.
Morville's friends were present to free him from the responsibility.

'Hem!' said Charles. 'I can't say it sounds comfortable.'

'It is just as I feared!' said Amy. 'Great excitability of brain and
nerve, Dr. Mayerne said. All the danger of a brain fever again! Poor
Laura! What is to be done?'

Charles was silent.

'It is for want of some one to talk to him,' said Amabel. 'I know how
he broods over his sad recollections, and Redclyffe must make it so
much worse. If mamma and Laura were but at home to go to him, it might
save him, and it would be fearful for him to have another illness,
reduced as he is. How I wish he was here!'

'He cannot come, I suppose,' said Charles, 'or he would be in Ireland.'

'Yes. How well Guy knew when he said it would be worse for him than
for me! How I wish I could do something now to make up for running
away from him in Italy. If I was but at Redclyffe!'

'Do you really wish it?' said Charles, surprised.

'Yes, if I could do him any good.'

'Would you go there?'

'If I had but papa or mamma to go with me.'

'Do you think I should do as well?'

'Charlie!'

'If you think there would be any use in it, and choose to take the
trouble of lugging me about the country, I don't see why you should
not.'

'Oh! Charlie, how very, kind! How thankful poor Laura will be to you!
I do believe it will save him!' cried Amabel, eagerly.

'But, Amy,'--he paused--'shall you like to see Redclyffe?'

'Oh! that is no matter,' said she, quickly. 'I had rather see after
Philip than anything. I told you how he was made my charge, you know.
And Laura! Only will it not be too tiring for you?'

'I can't see how it should hurt me. But I forget, what is to be done
about your daughter?'

'I don't know what harm it could do her,' said Amy, considering. 'Mrs.
Gresham brought a baby of only three months old from Scotland the other
day, and she is six. It surely cannot hurt her, but we will ask Dr.
Mayerne.'

'Mamma will never forgive us if we don't take the doctor into our
councils.'

'Arnaud can manage for us. We would sleep in London, and go on by an
early train, and we can take our--I mean my--carriage, for the journey
after the railroad. It would not be too much for you. How soon could
we go?'

'The sooner the better,' said Charles. 'If we are to do him any good,
it must be speedily, or it will be a case of shutting the stable-door.
Why not to-morrow?'

The project was thoroughly discussed that evening, but still with the
feeling as if it could not be real, and when they parted at night they
said,--'We will see how the scheme looks in the morning.'

Charles was still wondering whether it was a dream, when the first
thing he heard in the court below his window was--

'Here, William, here's a note from my lady for you to take to Dr.
Mayerne.'

'They be none of them ill?' answered William's voice.

'0 no; my lady has been up this hour, and Mr. Charles has rung his
bell. Stop, William, my lady said you were to call at Harris's and
bring home a "Bradshaw".'

Reality, indeed, thought Charles, marvelling at his sister, and his
elastic spirits throwing him into the project with a sort of enjoyment,
partaking of the pleasure of being of use, the spirit of enterprise,
and the 'fun' of starting independently on an expedition unknown to all
the family.

He met Amabel with a smile that showed both were determined. He
undertook to announce the plan to his mother, and she said she would
write to tell Mr. Markham that as far as could be reckoned on two such
frail people, they would be at Redclyffe the next evening, and he must
use his own discretion about giving Mr. Morville the note which she
enclosed.

Dr. Mayerne came in time for breakfast, and the letter from Markham was
at once given to him.

'A baddish state of things, eh, doctor!' said Charles. 'Well, what do
you think this lady proposes? To set off forthwith, both of us, to
take charge of him. What do you think of that, Dr. Mayerne?'

'I should say it was the only chance for him,' said the doctor, looking
only at the latter. 'Spirits and health reacting on each other, I see
it plain enough. Over-worked in parliament, doing nothing in
moderation, going down to that gloomy old place, dreaming away by
himself, going just the right way to work himself into another attack
on the brain, and then he is done for. I don't know that you could do
a wiser thing than go to him, for he is no more fit to tell what is
good for him than a child.' So spoke the doctor, thinking only of the
patient till looking up at the pair he was dismissing to such a charge,
the helpless, crippled Charles, unable to cross the room without
crutches, and Amabel, her delicate face and fragile figure in her
widow's mourning, looking like a thing to be pitied and nursed with the
tenderest care, with that young child, too, he broke off and said--'But
you don't mean you are in earnest?'

'Never more so in our lives,' said Charles; on which Dr. Mayerne looked
so wonderingly and inquiringly at Amabel, that she answered,--

'Yes that we are, if you think it safe for Charles and baby.'

'Is there no one else to go? What's become of his sister?'

'That would never do,' said Charles, 'that is not the question;' and he
detailed their plan.

'Well, I don't see why it should not succeed,' said the doctor, 'or how
you can any of you damage yourselves.'

'And baby?' said Amy.

'What should happen to her, do you think?' said the doctor with his
kind, reassuring roughness. 'Unless you leave her behind in the
carriage, I don't see what harm she could come to, and even then, if
you direct her properly, she will come safe to hand.'
Amabel smiled, and saying she would fetch her to be inspected, ran up-
stairs with the light nimble step of former days.

'There goes one of the smallest editions of the wonders of the world!'
said Charles, covering a sigh with a smile. 'You don't think it will
do her any harm?'

'Not if she wishes it. I have long thought a change, a break, would be
the best thing for her--poor child!--I should have sent her to the sea-
side if you had been more movable, and if I had not seen every fuss
about her made it worse.'

'That's what I call being a reasonable and valuable doctor,' said
Charles. 'If you had routed the poor little thing out to the sea, she
would have only pined the more. But suppose the captain turns out too
bad for her management, for old Markham seems in a proper taking?'

'Hem! No, I don't expect it is come to that.'

'Be that as it may, I have a head, if nothing else, and some one is
wanted. I'll write to you according as we find Philip.'

The doctor was wanted for another private interview, in which to assure
Amabel that there was no danger for Charles, and then, after promising
to come to Redclyffe if there was occasion, and engaging to write and
tell Mrs. Edmonstone they had his consent, he departed to meet them by
and by at the station, and put Charles into the carriage.

A very busy morning followed; Amabel arranged household affairs as
befitted the vice-queen; took care that Charles's comforts were
provided for; wrote many a note; herself took down Guy's picture, and
laid it in her box, before Anne commenced her packing; and lastly,
walked down to the village to take leave of Alice Lamsden.

Just as the last hues of sunset were fading, on the following evening,
Lady Morville and Charles Edmonstone were passing from the moor into
the wooded valley of Redclyffe. Since leaving Moorworth not a word had
passed. Charles sat earnestly watching his sister; though there was
too much crape in the way for him to see her face, and she was
perfectly still, so that all he could judge by was the close, rigid
clasping together of the hands, resting on the sleeping infant's white
mantle. Each spot recalled to him some description of Guy's, the
church-tower, the school with the two large new windows, the park wall,
the rising ground within. What was she feeling? He did not dare to
address her, till, at the lodge-gate, he exclaimed--'There's Markham;'
and, at the same time, was conscious of a feeling between hope and
fear, that this might after all be a fool's errand, and a wonder how
they and the master of the house would meet if it turned out that they
had taken fright without cause.

At his exclamation, Amy leant forward, and beckoned. Markham came up
to the window, and after the greeting on each side, walked along with
his hand on the door, as the carriage slowly mounted the steep hill,
answering her questions: 'How is he?'

'No better. He has been putting on leeches, and made himself so giddy,
that yesterday he could hardly stand.'

'And they have not relieved him?'

'Not in the least. I am glad you are come, for it has been an absurd
way of going on.'

'Is he up?'

'Yes; on the sofa in the library.'

'Did you give him my note? Does he expect us?'

'No, I went to see about telling him this morning, but found him so low
and silent, I thought it was better not. He has not opened a letter
this week, and he might have refused to see you, as he did Lord
Thorndale. Besides, I didn't know how he would take my writing about
him, though if you had not written, I believe I should have let Mrs.
Henley know by this time.'

'There is an escape for him,' murmured Charles to his sister.

'We have done the best in our power to receive you' proceeded Markham;
'I hope you will find it comfortable, Lady Morville, but--'

'Thank you, I am not afraid,' said Amy, smiling a little. Markham's
eye was on the little white bundle in her lap, but he did not speak of
it, and went on with explanations about Mrs. Drew and Bolton and the
sitting-room, and tea being ready.

Charles saw the great red pile of building rise dark, gloomy, and
haunted-looking before them. The house that should have been Amabel's!
Guy's own beloved home! How could she bear it? But she was eagerly
asking Markham how Philip should be informed of their arrival, and
Markham was looking perplexed, and saying, that to drive under the
gateway, into the paved court, would make a thundering sound, that he
dreaded for Mr. Morville. Could Mr. Charles Edmonstone cross the court
on foot? Charles was ready to do so; the carriage stopped, Amabel gave
the baby to Anne, saw Arnaud help Charles out; and turning to Markham,
said, 'I had better go to him at once. Arnaud will show my brother the
way.'

'The sitting-room, Arnaud' said Markham, and walked on fast with her,
while Charles thought how strange to see her thus pass the threshold of
her husband's house, come thither to relieve and comfort his enemy.

She entered the dark-oak hall. On one side the light shone cheerfully
from the sitting-room, the other doors were all shut. Markham
hesitated, and stood reluctant.

'Yes, you had better tell him I am here,' said she, in the voice, so
gentle, that no one perceived its resolution.

Markham knocked at one of the high heavy doors, and softly opened it.
Amabel stood behind it, and looked into the room, more than half dark,
without a fire, and very large, gloomy, and cheerless, in the gray
autumn twilight, that just enabled her to see the white pillows on the
sofa, and Philip's figure stretched out on it. Markham advanced and
stood doubtful for an instant, then in extremity, began--'Hem! Lady
Morville is come, and--'

Without further delay she came forward, saying--'How are you, Philip?'

He neither moved nor seemed surprised, he only said, 'So you are come
to heap more coals on my head.'

A thrill of terror came over her, but she did not show it, as she said,
'I am sorry to find you so poorly.'

It seemed as if before he had taken her presence for a dream; for,
entirely roused, he exclaimed, in a tone of great surprise, 'Is it you,
Amy?' Then sitting up, 'Why? When did you come here?'

'Just now. We were afraid you were ill, we heard a bad account of you,
so we have taken you by storm: Charles, your goddaughter, and I, are
come to pay you a visit.'

'Charles! Charles here?' cried Philip, starting up. 'Where is he?'

'Coming in,' said Amy; and Philip, intent only on hospitality, hastened
into the hall, and met him at the door, gave him his arm and conducted
him where the inviting light guided them to the sitting-room. The full
brightness of lamp and fire showed the ashy paleness of his face; his
hair, rumpled with lying on the sofa, had, on the temples, acquired a
noticeable tint of gray, his whole countenance bore traces of terrible
suffering; and Amabel thought that even at Recoara she had never seen
him look more wretchedly ill.

'How did you come?' he asked. 'It was very kind. I hope you will be
comfortable.'

'We have taken good care of ourselves,' said Amy. 'I wrote to Mr.
Markham, for I thought you were not well enough to be worried with
preparations. We ought to beg your pardon for breaking on you so
unceremoniously.'

'If any one should be at home here--' said Philip, earnestly;--then
interrupting himself, he shaded his eyes from the light, 'I don't know
how to make you welcome enough. When did you set off?'

'Yesterday afternoon,' said Charles; 'we slept in London, and came on
to-day.'

'Have you dined?' said Philip, looking perplexed to know where the
dinner could come from.

'Yes; at K---, thank you.'

'What will you have? I'll ring for Mrs. Drew.'

'No, thank you; don't tease yourself. Mrs. Drew will take care of us.
Never mind; but how bad your head is!' said Amabel, as he sat down on
the sofa, leaning his elbow on his knee, and pressing his hand very
hard on his forehead. 'You must lie down and keep quiet, and never
mind us. We only want a little tea. I am just going to take off my
bonnet, and see what they have done with baby, and then I'll come down.
Pray lie still till then. Mind he does, Charlie.'

They thought she was gone; but the next moment there she was with the
two pillows from the library sofa, putting them under Philip's head,
and making him comfortable; while he, overpowered by a fresh access of
headache, had neither will nor power to object. She rang, asked for
Mrs. Drew, and went.

Philip lay, with closed eyes, as if in severe pain: and Charles, afraid
to disturb him, sat feeling as if it was a dream. That he, with Amy
and her child, should be in Guy's home, so differently from their old
plans, so very differently from the way she should have arrived. He
looked round the room, and everywhere knew what Guy's taste had
prepared for his bride--piano, books, prints, similarities to
Hollywell, all with a fresh new bridal effect, inexpressibly
melancholy. They brought a thought of the bright eye, sweet voice,
light step, and merry whistle; and as he said to himself 'gone for
ever,' he could have hated Philip, but for the sight of his haggard
features, gray hairs, and the deep lines which, at seven-and-twenty,
sorrow had traced on his brow. At length Philip turned and looked up.

'Charles,' he said, 'I trust you have not let her run any risk.'

'No: we got Dr. Mayerne's permission.'

'It is like all the rest,' said Philip, closing his eyes again.
Presently he asked: 'How did you know I was not well?'

'Markham said something in a business letter that alarmed Amy. She
wrote to inquire, and on his second letter we thought we had better
come and see after you ourselves.'

No more was said till Amabel returned. She had made some stay up-
stairs, talking to Mrs. Drew, who was bewildered between surprise, joy,
and grief; looking to see that all was comfortable in Charles's room,
making arrangements for the child, and at last relieving herself by a
short space of calm, to feel where she was, realize that this was
Redclyffe, and whisper to her little girl that it was her father's own
home. She knew it was the room he had destined for her; she tried,
dark as it was, to see the view of which he had told her, and looked
up, over the mantel-piece, at Muller's engraving of St. John. Perhaps
that was the hardest time of all her trial, and she felt as if, without
his child in her arms, she could never have held up under the sense of
desolation that came over her, left behind, while he was in his true
home. Left, she told herself, to finish the task he had begun, and to
become fit to follow him. Was she not in the midst of fulfilling his
last charge, that Philip should be taken, care of? It was no time for
giving way, and here was his own little messenger of comfort looking up
with her sleepy eyes to tell her so. Down she must go, and put off
'thinking herself into happiness' till the peaceful time of rest; and
presently she softly re-entered the sitting-room, bringing to both its
inmates in her very presence such solace as she little guessed, in her
straightforward desire to nurse Philip, and take care Charles was not
made uncomfortable.

That stately house had probably never, since its foundation, seen
anything so home-like as Amabel making tea and waiting on her two
companions; both she and Charles pleasing each other by enjoying the
meal, and Philip giving his cup to be filled again and again, and
wondering why one person's tea should taste so unlike another's.

He was not equal to conversation, and Charles and Amabel were both
tired, so that tea was scarcely over before they parted for the night;
and Amy, frightened at the bright and slipperiness of the dark-oak
stairs, could not be at peace till she had seen Arnaud help Charles
safely up them, and made him promise not to come down without
assistance in the morning.

She was in the sitting-room soon after nine next morning, and found
breakfast on one table, and Charles writing a letter on the other.

'Well,' said he, as she kissed him, 'all right with you and little
miss?'

'Quite, thank you. And are you rested?'

'Slept like a top; and what did you do? Did you sleep like a sensible
woman?'

'Pretty well, and baby was very good. Have you heard anything of
Philip?'

'Bolton thinks him rather better, and says he is getting up.'

'How long have you been up?'

'A long time. I told Arnaud to catch Markham when he came up, as he
always does in a morning to see after Philip, and I have had a
conference with him and Bolton, so that I can lay the case before Dr.
Mayerne scientifically.'

'What do you think of it?'

'I think we came at the right time. He has been getting more and more
into work in London, taking no exercise, and so was pretty well knocked
up when he came here; and this place finished it. He tried to attend
to business about the property, but it always ended in his head growing
so bad, he had to leave all to Markham, who, by the way, has been
thoroughly propitiated by his anxiety for him. Then he gave up
entirely; has not been out of doors, written a note, nor seen a
creature the last fortnight, but there he has lain by himself in the
library, given up to all manner of dismal thoughts without a break.'

'How dreadful!' said Annabel, with tears in her eyes. 'Then he would
not see Mr. Ashford? Surely, he could have done something for him.'

'I'll tell you what,' said Charles, lowering his voice,' from what
Bolton says, I think he had a dread of worse than brain fever.'

She shuddered, and was paler, but did not speak.

'I believe,' continued Charles, 'that it is one half nervous and the
oppression of this place, and the other half, the over-straining of a
head that was already in a ticklish condition. I don't think there was
any real danger of more than such a fever as he had at Corfu, which
would probably have been the death of him; but I think he dreaded still
worse, and that his horror of seeing any one, or writing to Laura,
arose from not knowing how far he could control his words.'

'0! I am glad we came,' repeated Amabel, pressing her hands together.

'He has been doctoring himself,' proceeded Charles; 'and probably has
kept off the fever by strong measures, but, of course, the more he
reduced his strength, the greater advantage he gave to what was simply
low spirits. He must have had a terrible time of it, and where it
would have ended I cannot guess, but it seems to me that most likely,
now that he is once roused, he will come right again.'

Just as Charles had finished speaking, he came down, looking extremely
ill, weak, and suffering; but calmed, and resting on that entire
dependence on Amabel which had sprung up at Recoara.

She would not let him go back to his gloomy library, but made him lie
on the sofa in the sitting-room, and sat there herself, as she thought
a little quiet conversation between her and Charles would be the best
thing for him. She wrote to Laura, and he sent a message, for he could
not yet attempt to write; and Charles wrote reports to his mother and
Dr. Mayerne; a little talk now and then going on about family matters.

Amabel asked Philip if he knew that Mr. Thorndale was at Kilcoran.

'Yes,' he said, 'he believed there was a letter from him, but his eyes
had ached too much of late to read.'

Mrs. Ashford sent in to ask whether Lady Morville would like to see
her. Amabel's face flushed, and she proposed going to her in the
library; but Philip, disliking Amy's absence more than the sight of a
visitor, begged she might come to the sitting-room.

The Ashfords had been surprised beyond measure at the tidings that Lady
Morville had actually come to Redclyffe, and had been very slow to
believe it; but when convinced by Markham's own testimony, Mrs.
Ashford's first idea had been to go and see if she could be any help to
the poor young thing in that great desolate house, whither Mrs. Ashford
had not been since, just a year ago, Markham had conducted her to
admire his preparations. There was much anxiety, too, about Mr.
Morville, of whose condition, Markham had been making a great mystery,
and on her return, Mr. Ashford was very eager for her report.

Mr. Morville, she said, did look and seem very far from well, but Lady
Morville had told her they hoped it was chiefly from over fatigue, and
that rest would soon restore him. Lady Morville herself was a fragile
delicate creature, very sweet looking, but so gentle and shrinking,
apparently, that it gave the impression of her having no character at
all, not what Mrs. Ashford would have expected Sir Guy to choose. She
had spoken very little, and the chief of the conversation had been
sustained by her brother.

'I was very much taken with that young Mr. Edmonstone,' said Mrs.
Ashford; 'he is about three-and-twenty, sadly crippled, but with such a
pleasing, animated face, and so extremely agreeable and sensible, I do
not wonder at Sir Guy's enthusiastic way of talking of him. I could
almost fancy it was admiration of the brother transferred to the
sister.'

'Then after all you are disappointed in her, and don't lament, like
Markham, that she is not mistress here?'

'No: I won't say I am disappointed; she is a very sweet creature. 0
yes, very! but far too soft and helpless for such a charge as this
property, unless she had her father or brother to help her. But I must
tell you that she took me to see her baby, a nice little lively thing,
poor little dear! and when we were alone, she spoke rather more, begged
me to send her godson to see her, thanked me for coming, but crying
stopped her from saying more. I could grow very fond of her. No, I
don't wonder at him, for there is a great charm in anything so soft and
dependent.

Decidedly, Mary Ross had been right when she said, that except Sir Guy,
there was no one so difficult to know as Amy.

In the afternoon, Charles insisted on Amabel's going out for fresh air
and exercise, and she liked the idea of a solitary wandering; but
Philip, to her surprise, offered to come with her, and she was too glad
to see him exert himself, to regret the musings she had hoped for; so
out they went, after opening the window to give Charles what he called
an airing, and he said, that in addition he should 'hirple about a
little to explore the ground-floor of the house.'

'We must contrive some way for him to drive out,' said Philip, as he
crossed the court with Amabel; 'and you too. There is no walk here,
but up hill or down.'

Up-hill they went, along the path leading up the green slope, from
which the salt wind blew refreshingly. In a few minutes, Amabel found
herself on a spot which thrilled her all over.

There lay before her Guy's own Redclyffe bay; the waves lifting their
crests and breaking, the surge resounding, the sea-birds skimming
round, the Shag Rock dark and rugged, the scene which seemed above all
the centre of his home affections, which he had so longed to show her,
that it had cost him an effort on his death-bed to resign the hope; the
leaping waves that he said he would not change for the white-headed
mountains. And now he was lying among those southern mountains, and
she stood in the spot where he had loved to think of seeing her; and
with Philip by her side. His sea, his own dear sea, the vision of
which had cheered, his last day, like the face of a dear old friend;
his sea, rippling and glancing on, unknowing that the eyes that had
loved it so well would gaze on it no more; the wind that he had longed
for to cool his fevered brow, the rock which had been like a playmate
in his boyhood, and where he had perilled his life, and rescued so
many. It was one of the seasons when a whole gush of fresh perceptions
of his feelings, like a new meeting with himself, would come on her,
her best of joys; and there she stood, gazing fixedly, her black veil
fluttering in the wind, and her hands pressed close together, till
Philip, little knowing what the sight was to her, shivered, saying it
was very cold and windy, and without hesitation she turned away,
feeling that now Redclyffe was precious indeed.

She brought her mind back to listen, while Philip was considering of
means of taking Charles out of doors; he supposed there might be some
vehicle about the place; but he thought there was no horse. Very
unlike was this to the exact Philip. The great range of stables was
before them, where the Morvilles had been wont to lodge their horses as
sumptuously as themselves, and Amabel proposed to go and see what they
could find; but nothing was there but emptiness, till they came to a
pony in one stall, a goat in another, and one wheelbarrow in the coach-
house.

On leaving it, under the long-sheltered sunny wall, they came in sight
of a meeting between the baby taking the air in Anne's arms, and
Markham, who had been hovering about all day, anxious to know how
matters were going on. His back was towards them, so that he was
unconscious of their approach, and they saw how he spoke to Anne,
looked fixedly at the child, made her laugh, and finally took her in
his arms, as he had so often carried her father, studying earnestly her
little face. As soon as he saw them coming, he hastily gave her back
to Anne, as if ashamed to be thus caught, but he was obliged to grunt
and put his hand up to his shaggy eyelashes, before he could answer
Amabel's greeting.

He could hardly believe his eyes, that here was Mr. Morville, who
yesterday was scarcely able to raise his head from the pillow, and
could attend to nothing. He could not think what Lady Morville had
done to him, when he heard him inquiring and making arrangements about
sending for a pony carriage, appearing thoroughly roused, and the dread
of being seen or spoken to entirely passed away, Markham was greatly
rejoiced, for Mr. Morville's illness, helplessness, and dependence upon
himself, had softened and won him to regard him kindly as nothing else
would have done; and his heart was entirely gained when, after they had
wished him good-bye, he saw Philip and Amabel walk on, overtake Anne,
Amy take the baby and hold her up to Philip, who looked at her with the
same earnest interest. From thenceforward Markham knew that Redclyffe
was nothing but a burden to Mr. Morville, and he could bear to see it
in his possession since like himself, he seemed to regard Sir Guy's
daughter like a disinherited princess.

This short walk fatigued Philip thoroughly. He slept till dinner-time,
and when he awoke said it was the first refreshing dreamless sleep he
had had for weeks. His head was much better, and at dinner he had
something like an appetite.

It was altogether a day of refreshment, and so were the ensuing ones.
Each day Philip became stronger, and resumed more of his usual habits.
From writing a few lines in Amabel's daily letter to Laura, he
proceeded to filling the envelope, and from being put to sleep by
Charles's reading, to reading aloud the whole evening himself. The
pony carriage was set up, and he drove Charles out every day, Amabel
being then released from attending him, and free to enjoy herself in
her own way in rambles about the house and park, and discoveries of the
old haunts she knew so well by description.

She early found her way to Guy's own room, where she would walk up and
down with her child in her arms, talking to her, and holding up to her,
to be admired, the treasures of his boyhood, that Mrs. Drew delighted
to keep in order. One day, when alone in the sitting-room, she thought
of trying the piano he had chosen for her. It was locked, but the key
was on her own split-ring, where he had put it for her the day he
returned from London. She opened it, and it so happened, that the
first note she struck reminded her of one of the peculiarly sweet and
deep tones of Guy's voice. It was like awaking its echo again, and as
it died away, she hid her face and wept. But from that time the first
thing she did when her brother and cousin were out, was always to bring
down her little girl, and play to her, watching how she enjoyed the
music.

Little Mary prospered in the sea air, gained colour, took to springing
and laughing; and her intelligent lively way of looking about brought
out continually more likeness to her father. Amabel herself was no
longer drooping and pining, her step grew light and elastic, a shade of
pink returned to her cheek, and the length of walk she could take was
wonderful, considering her weakness in the summer. Every day she stood
on the cliff and looked at 'Guy's sea,' before setting out to visit the
cottages, and hear the fond rough recollections of Sir Guy, or to
wander far away into the woods or on the moor, and find the way to the
places he had loved. One day, when Philip and Charles came in from a
drive, they overtook her in the court, her cloak over her arm, her
crape limp with spray, her cheeks brightened to a rosy glow by the
wind, and a real smile as she looked up to them. When Charles was on
his sofa, she stooped over him and whispered, 'James and Ben Robinson
have taken me out to the Shag!'

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