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The Heir of Redclyffe by Charlotte M. Yonge

Part 9 out of 14

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'Well, I am glad there is a point on which you can't even pretend to
stand up for him, or I should have thought you crazed with Quixotism.
But I am keeping you when you want to be off to Amy. Never mind Mr.
Ready-to-halt; I shall wait till my father comes back. If you want the
letter put off you had better give some hopes of--Oh! he is gone, and
disinterested advice it is of mine, for what is to become of me without
Amy remains to be proved. Laura, poor thing, looks like Patience on a
monument. I wonder whether Philip's disgrace has anything to do with
it. Hum! If mamma's old idea was right, the captain has been more
like moth and candle than consistent with his prudence, unless he
thought it "a toute epreuve". I wonder what came to pass last autumn,
when I was ill, and mamma's head full of me. He may not intend it, and
she may not know it, but I would by no means answer for Cupid's being
guiltless of that harassed look she has had ever since that ball-going
summer. Oh! there go that pretty study, Amy and her true knight. As
to Guy, he is more incomprehensible than ever; yet there is no avoiding
obeying him, on the principle on which that child in the "Moorland
cottage" said she should obey Don Quixote.'

So when his father came in, Charles wiled him into deferring the letter
till the next day, by giving him an indistinct hope that some notion
when the marriage would be, might be arrived at by that time. He
consented the more readily, because he was in haste to investigate a
complaint that had just been made of the union doctor; but his last
words to his wife and son before he went, were--'Of course, they must
marry directly, there is nothing on earth to wait for. Live at
Redclyffe alone? Not to be thought of. No, I'll see little Amy my
Lady Morville, before Philip goes abroad, if only to show him I am not
a man to be dictated to.'

Mrs. Edmonstone sighed; but when he was gone, she agreed with Charles
that there was nothing to wait for, and that it would be better for Guy
to take his wife at once with him, when he settled at Redclyffe. So it
must be whenever Amy could make up her mind to it; and thereupon they
made plans for future meetings, Charles announcing that the Prince of
the Black Isles would become locomotive, and Charlotte forming grand
designs upon Shag Island.

In the meantime, Guy and Amy were walking in the path through the wood,
where he began: 'I would not have asked you to do anything so
unpleasant as reading that letter, but I thought you ought to consider
of it.'

'It was just like himself! How could he?' said Amy, indignantly.

'I wonder whether he will ever see his own harshness?' said Guy. 'It
is very strange, that with all his excellence and real kindness, there
should be some distortion in his view of all that concerns me. I
cannot understand it.'

'You must let me call it prejudice, Guy, in spite of your protest. It
is a relief to say something against him.'

'Amy, don't be venomous!' said Guy, in a playful tone of reproach.

'Yes; but you know it is not _me_ whom he has been abusing.'

'Well,' said Guy, musingly, 'I suppose it is right there should be this
cloud, or it would be too bright for earth. It has been one of my
chief wishes to have things straight with Philip, ever since the time
he stayed at Redclyffe as a boy. I saw his superiority then; but it
fretted me, and I never could make a companion of him. Ever since, I
have looked to his approval as one of the best things to be won. It
shows his ascendancy of character; yet, do what I will, the mist has
gone on thickening between us; and with reason, for I have never been
able to give him the confidence he required, and his conduct about my
uncle has so tried my patience, that I never have been quite sure
whether I ought to avoid him or not.'

'And now you are the only person who will speak for him. I don't
wonder papa is provoked with you,' said she, pretending to be wilful.
'I only hope you don't want to make me do the same. I could bear
anything better than his old saying about your attractive manners and
good impulses, and his opinion that has never altered. 0 Guy, he is
the most provoking person in all the world. Don't try to make me
admire him, nor be sorry for him.'

'Not when you remember how he was looked on here? and how, without
doing anything worthy of blame, nay, from his acting unsparingly, as he
thought right, every one has turned against him? even mamma, who used
to be so fond of him?'

'Not Laura.'

'No, not Laura, and I am thankful to her for it; for all this makes me
feel as if I had supplanted him.'

'Yes, yes, yes, it is like you; but don't ask me to feel that yet,'
said Amy, with tears in her eyes,' or I shall be obliged to tell you
what you won't like to hear, about his tone of triumph that terrible
time last year. It was so very different, I don't think I could ever
forgive him, if it had not made me so miserable too.'

Guy pressed her arm. 'Yes; but he thought himself right. He meant to
do the kindest thing by you,' said he, so entirely without effort, that
no one could doubt it came straight from his heart. 'So he thinks
still, Amy; there is fairness, justice, good sense in his letter, and
we must not blind our eyes to it, though there is injustice, at least,
harshness. I did fail egregiously in my first trial.'

'Fail!'

'In temper.'

'Oh!'

'And, Amy, I wanted to ask what you think about the four years he
speaks of. Do you think, as he says, my habits might be more fixed,
and altogether you might have more confidence?'

'I don't look on you quite as he does now,' said Amy, with a very
pretty smile. 'Do you think his opinion of you will ever alter?'

'But what do you think? Is there not some reason in what he says?'

'The only use I can see is, that perhaps I should be wiser at twenty-
four, and fitter to take care of such a great house; but then you have
been always helping me to grow wiser, and I am not much afraid but that
you will be patient with me. Indeed, Guy, I don't know whether it is a
thing I ought to say,' she added, blushing, 'but I think it would be
dismal for you to go and live all alone at Redclyffe.'

'Honestly, Amy,' replied he, after a little pause, 'if you feel so, and
your father approves, I don't think it will be better to wait. I know
your presence is a safeguard, and if the right motives did not suffice
to keep me straight, and I was only apparently so from hopes of you,
why then I should be so utterly good for nothing at the bottom, if not
on the surface, that you had better have nothing to say to me.'

Amy laughed incredulously.

'That being settled,' proceeded Guy, 'did you hear what your father
said as you left the breakfast-room?'

She coloured all over, and there was silence. 'What did you answer?'
said she, at length.

'I said, whatever happened, you must not be taken by surprise in having
to decide quickly. Do you wish to have time to think? I'll go in and
leave you to consider, if you like.'

'I only want to know what you wish,' said Amy, not parting with his
arm.

'I had rather you did just as suits you best. Of course, you know what
my wish must be.'

Amy walked on a little way in silence. 'Very well,' said she,
presently, 'I think you and mamma had better settle it. The worst'--
she had tears in her eyes--'the going away--mamma--Charlie--all that
will be as bad at one time as at another.' The tears flowed faster.
'It had better be as you all like best.'

'0 Amy! I wonder at myself for daring to ask you to exchange your
bright cheerful home for my gloomy old house.'

'No, your home,' said Amy, softly.

'I used to wonder why it was called gloomy; but it will be so no more
when you are there. Yet there is a shadow hanging over it, which makes
it sometimes seem too strange that you and it should be brought
together.'

'I have read somewhere that there is no real gloom but what people
raise for themselves.'

'True. Gloom is in sin, not sorrow. Yes, there would be no comfort if
I were not sure that if aught of grief or pain should come to you
through me, it will not, cannot really hurt you, my Amy.'

'No, unless by my own fault, and you will help me to meet it. Hark!
was that a nightingale?'

'Yes, the first! How beautiful! There--don't you see it? Look on
that hazel, you may see its throat moving. Well!' when they had
listened for a long time,--'after all, that creature and the sea will
hardly let one speak of gloom, even in this world, to say nothing of
other things.

'The sea! I am glad I have never seen it, because now you will show it
to me for the first time.'

'You will never, can never imagine it, Amy! and he sung,--

'With all tones of waters blending,
Glorious is the breaking deep,
Glorious, beauteous, without ending,
Songs of ocean never sleep.'

A silence followed, only broken by the notes of the birds, and
presently by the strokes of the great clock. Guy looked at his watch.

'Eleven, Amy! I must go to my reading, or you will have to be very
much ashamed of me.'

For, after the first few days, Guy had returned to study regularly
every day. He said it was a matter of necessity, not at all of merit,
for though he did not mean to try for honours, Amy must not marry a
plucked man. His whole career at Oxford had been such a struggle with
the disadvantages of his education, that all his diligence had, he
thought, hardly raised him to a level with his contemporaries.
Moreover, courtship was not the best preparation for the schools, so
that though he knew he had done his best, he expected no more than to
pass respectably, and told Amy it was very good of her to be contented
with a dunce, whereat she laughed merrily. But she knew him too well
to try to keep him lingering in the April sunshine, and in they went,
Guy to his Greek, and Amy to her mother. Charlotte's lessons had been
in abeyance, or turned over to Laura of late, and Mrs. Edmonstone and
her dressing-room were always ready for the confidences of the family,
who sought her there in turn--all but one, and that the one whose need
was the sorest.

Amy and her mother comforted themselves with a good quiet cry, that was
not exactly sorrowful, and came to the conclusion that Guy was the most
considerate person in the world, and they would do whatever best suited
him and papa. So, when Mr. Edmonstone came home, he was rewarded for
putting off the letter by finding every one willing to let the marriage
take place whenever he pleased. There were various conferences in the
dressing-room, and Guy and Amy both had burning faces when they came
down to dinner. Laura beheld them with a throbbing heart, while she
mechanically talked to Dr. Mayerne, as if nothing was going on. She
was glad there was no singing that evening, for she felt incapable of
joining; and when at night Charles and his father talked of sitting up
to write to Philip, the misery was such that she had no relief till she
had shut herself in her room, to bear or to crush the suffering as best
she might.

She was still sitting helpless in her wretchedness when Amy knocked at
the door, and came in glowing with blushes and smiles, though her
eyelashes were dewy with tears.

'Laura, dearest! if you would not be so very unhappy! I wish I knew
what to do for you.'

Laura laid her head on her shoulder, and cried. It was a great
comfort, little as Amy could understand her trouble. Amy kissed her,
soothed her caressingly, cried too, and said, in broken sentences, how
often they would be together, and how comfortable it was that Charlie
was so much better, and Charlotte quite a companion.

'Then you have fixed the day?' whispered Laura, at last.

'The Tuesday in Whitsun-week,' returned Amy, resting her forehead on
Laura's shoulder. 'They all thought it right.'

Laura flung her arms round her, and wept too much to speak.

'Dear, dear Laura!' said Amy, after a time, 'it is very kind of you,
but--'

'Oh, Amy! you don't know. You must not think so much better of me than
I deserve. It is not only--No, I would not be so selfish, if but--but-
-' Never had her self-command so given way.

'Ah! you are unhappy about Philip,' said Amy; and Laura, alarmed lest
she might have betrayed him, started, and tried to recover herself; but
she saw Amy was quite unsuspicious, and the relief from this fright
helped her through what her sister was saying,-- 'Yes, you, who were so
fond of him, must be vexed at this unkindness on his part.'

'I am sure it is his real wish for your good,' murmured Laura.

'I dare say!' said Amy, with displeasure. Then changing her tone, 'I
beg your pardon, dear Laura, but I don't think I can quite bear to hear
any one but Guy defend him.'

'It is very generous.'

'Oh, is not it, Laura? and he says he is so grieved to see us turned
against Philip, after being so fond of him; he says it makes him feel
as if he had supplanted him, and that he is quite thankful to you for
taking his part still.'

'How shall I bear it?' sighed Laura, to herself.

'I wonder whether he will come?' said Amy, thoughtfully.

'He will,' said Laura.

'You think so?' said Amy. 'Well, Guy would be glad. Yes. 0 Laura, if
Philip would learn to do Guy justice, I don't think there would be any
more to wish!'

'He will in time,' said Laura. 'He is too generous not to be won by
such generosity as Guy's; and when all this is forgotten, and all these
accusations have been lived down, he will be the warmest of friends.'

'Yes,' said Amy, as if she wished to be convinced; 'but if he would
only leave off saying his opinion has never altered, I think I could
bring myself to look on him as Guy wants me to do. Good night! dear
Laura, and don't be unhappy. Oh! one thing I must tell you; Guy made
Charles promise to do all he could not to let it be a hasty letter.
Now, good night!'

Poor Laura, she knew not whether gratitude to Guy was not one of her
most painful sensations. She wished much to know what had been said in
the letter; but only one sentence transpired, and that was, that Mr.
Edmonstone had never heard it was necessary to apply to a nephew for
consent to a daughter's marriage. It seemed as if it must have been as
cutting as Charles could make it; but Laura trusted to Philip's
knowledge of the family, and desire for their good, to make him forgive
it, and the expectation of seeing him again at the wedding, cheered
her. Indeed, a hope of still greater consequences began to rise in her
mind, after Charles one day said to her, 'I think you ought to be much
obliged to Guy. This morning, he suddenly exclaimed, "I say, Charlie,
I wish you would take care Amy's fortune is not settled on her so that
it can't be got rid of." I asked how he meant to make ducks and drakes
of it; and he explained, that if either of you two did not happen to
marry for money, like Amy, it might do you no harm.'

'We are very much obliged to him,' said Laura, more earnestly than
Charles had expected. 'Do you know what it is, Charlie?'

'Oh! you want to calculate the amount of your obligation! Somewhere
about five thousand pounds, I believe.'

Charles watched Laura, and the former idea recurred, as he wondered
whether there was any particular meaning in her inquiry.

Meaning, indeed, there was. Laura knew nothing about the value of
money; she did not know what Philip had of his own; how far five, or
even ten, thousand would go in enabling them to marry, or whether it
was available in her father's lifetime; but she thought this prospect
might smooth the way to the avowal of their attachment, as effectually
as his promotion; she reckoned on relief from the weary oppression of
secrecy, and fully expected that it would all be told in the favourable
juncture, when her parents were full of satisfaction in Amy's marriage.
Gratitude to Guy would put an end to all doubt, dislike, and prejudice,
and Philip would receive him as a brother.

These hopes supported Laura, and enabled her to take part with more
appearance of interest in the consultations and arrangements for the
marriage, which were carried on speedily, as the time was short, and
Mr. Edmonstone's ideas were on a grand scale. It seemed as if he meant
to invite all the world, and there were no limits to his views of
breakfast, carriages, and splendours. His wife let him run on without
contradiction, leaving the plans either to evaporate or condense, as
time might prove best. Guy took Amy out walking, and asked what she
thought of it.

'Do you dislike it very much?' she said.

'I can hardly tell. Of course, as a general rule, the less parade and
nonsense the better; but if your father wishes it, and if people do
find enjoyment in that way, it seems hard they should not have all they
can out of it.'

'Oh, yes; the school children and poor people,' said Amy.

'How happy the Ashford children will be, feasting the poor people at
Redclyffe! Old Jonas Ledbury will be in high glory.'

'To be sure it does not seem like merit to feast one's poor neighbours
rather than the rich. It is so much pleasanter.'

'However, since the poor will be feasted, I don't think the rich ones
will do us much harm.'

'I am sure I shall know very little about them,' said Amy.

'The realities are so great to us, that they will swallow up the
accessories. There must be the church, and all that; and for the rest,
Amy, I don't think I shall find out whether you wear lace or grogram.'

'There's encouragement for me!' said Amy, laughing. 'However, what I
mean is, that I don't care about it, if I am not obliged to attend, and
give my mind, to those kind of things just then, and that mamma will
take care of.'

'Is it not a great trouble for her? I forgot that. It was selfish;
for we slip out of the fuss, and it all falls on her.'

'Yes,' said Amy; 'but don't you think it would tease her more to have
to persuade papa out of what he likes, and alter every little matter?
That would be worry, the rest only exertion; and, do you know, I
think,' said she, with a rising tear, 'that it will be better for her,
to keep her from thinking about losing me.'

'I see. Very well, we will take the finery quietly. Only one thing,
Amy, we will not be put out of,--we will not miss the full holy-day
service.'

'Oh, yes; that will be the comfort.'

'One other thing, Amy. You know I have hardly a friend of my own; but
there is one person I should like to ask,--Markham. He has been so
kind, and so much attached to me; he loved my father so devotedly, and
suffered so much at his death, that it is a pity he should not be made
happy; and very happy he will be.'

'And there is one person I should like to ask, Guy, if mamma thinks we
can do it. I am sure little Marianne ought to be one of my
bridesmaids. Charlotte would take care of her, and it would be very
nice to have her.'

CHAPTER 28

But no kind influence deign they shower,
Till pride be quelled and love be free.--SCOTT

Kilcoran was about twenty miles from Cork, and Captain Morville was
engaged to go and spend a day or two there. Maurice de Courcy drove
him thither, wishing all the way for some other companion, since no one
ever ventured to smoke a cigar in the proximity of 'Morville'; and,
besides, Maurice's conversational powers were obliged to be entirely
bestowed on his horse and dog, for the captain, instead of, as usual,
devoting himself to suit his talk to his audience, was wrapped in the
deepest meditation, now and then taking out a letter and referring to
it.

This letter was the reply jointly compounded by Mr. Edmonstone and
Charles, and the subject of his consideration was, whether he should
accept the invitation to the wedding. Charles had taken care fully to
explain how the truth respecting the cheque had come out, and Philip
could no longer suspect that it had been a fabrication of Dixon's; but
while Guy persisted in denial of any answer about the thousand pounds,
he thought the renewal of the engagement extremely imprudent. He was
very sorry for poor little Amy, for her comfort and happiness were, he
thought, placed in the utmost jeopardy, with such a hot temper, under
the most favourable circumstances; and there was the further peril,
that when the novelty of the life with her at Redclyffe had passed off,
Guy might seek for excitement in the dissipation to which his uncle had
probably already introduced him. In the four years' probation, he saw
the only hope of steadying Guy, or of saving Amy, and he was much
concerned at the rejection of his advice, entirely for their sakes, for
he could not condescend to be affronted at the scornful, satirical tone
towards himself, in which Charles's little spitefulness was so fully
apparent.

The wedding was a regular sacrifice, and Amabel was nothing but a
victim; but an invitation to Hollywell had a charm for him that he
scarcely could resist. To see Laura again, after having parted, as he
thought, for so many years, delighted him in anticipation; and it would
manifest his real interest in his young cousins, and show that he was
superior to taking offence at the folly of Charles or his father.

These were his first thoughts and inclinations; his second were, that
it was contrary to his principles to sanction so foolish and hasty a
marriage by his presence; that he should thus be affording a triumph to
Guy, and to one who would use it less moderately--to Charles. It would
be more worthy of himself, more consistent with his whole course of
conduct, to refuse his presence, instead of going amongst them when
they were all infatuated, and unable to listen to sober counsel. If he
stayed away now, when Guy should have justified his opinion, they would
all own how wisely he had acted, and would see the true dignity which
had refused, unlike common minds, to let his complaisance draw him into
giving any sanction to what he so strongly disapproved. Laura, too,
would pass through this trying time better if she was not distracted by
watching him; she would understand the cause of his absence, and he
could trust her to love and comprehend him at a distance, better than
he could trust her to hear the marriage-service in his presence without
betraying herself. Nor did he wish to hear her again plead for the
confession of their engagement; and, supposing any misadventure should
lead to its betrayal, what could be more unpleasant than for it to be
revealed at such a time, when Charles would so turn it against him,
that all his influence and usefulness would be for ever at an end?

Love drew him one way, and consistency another. Captain Morville had
never been so much in the condition of Mahomet's coffin in his life;
and he grew more angry with his uncle, Charles, and Guy, for having put
him in so unpleasant a predicament. So the self-debate lasted all the
way to Kilcoran and he only had two comforts--one, that he had sent the
follower who was always amenable to good advice, safe out of the way of
Lady Eveleen, to spend his leave of absence at Thorndale--the other,
that Maurice de Courcy was, as yet, ignorant of the Hollywell news, and
did not torment him by talking about it.

This satisfaction, however, lasted no longer than till their arrival at
Kilcoran; for, the instant they entered the drawing-room, Lady Eveleen
exclaimed, '0 Maurice, I have been so longing for you to come! Captain
Morville, I hope you have not told him, for I can't flatter myself to
be beforehand with you, now at least.'

'He has told me nothing,' said Maurice; 'indeed, such bad company has
seldom been seen as he has been all the way.'

'You don't mean that you don't know it? How delightful! 0, mamma!
think of knowing something Captain Morville does not!'

'I am afraid I cannot flatter you so far,' said Philip, knowing this
was no place for allowing his real opinion to be guessed.

'Then you do know?' said Lady Kilcoran, sleepily; 'I am sure it is a
subject of great rejoicing.'

'But what is it, Eva? Make haste and tell,' said Maurice.

'No; you must guess!'

'Why, you would not be in such a way about it if it was not a wedding.'

'Right, Maurice; now, who is it?'

'One of the Edmonstones, I suppose. 'Tis Laura?'

'Wrong!'

'What, not Laura! I thought she would have been off first. Somebody's
got no taste, then, for Laura is the prettiest girl I know.'

'Ah! your heart has escaped breaking this time, Maurice. It is that
little puss, Amy, that has made a great conquest. Now guess.'

'Oh! young Morville, of course. But what possessed him to take Amy,
and leave Laura?'

'Perhaps Laura was not to be had. Men are so self-sufficient, that
they always think they may pick and choose. Is it not so, Captain
Morville? I like Sir Guy better than most men, but Laura is too good
for any one I know. If I could make a perfect hero, I would at once,
only Charles would tell me all the perfect heroes in books are bores.
How long have you known of it, Captain Morville?'

'For the last ten days.'

'And you never mentioned it?'

'I did not know whether they intended to publish it.'

'Now, Captain Morville, I hope to make some progress in your good
opinion. Of course, you believe I can't keep a secret; but what do you
think of my having known it ever since last summer, and held my tongue
all that time?'

'A great effort, indeed,' said Philip, smiling. 'It would have been
greater, I suppose, if the engagement had been positive, not
conditional.'

'Oh! every one knew what it must come to. No one could have the least
fear of Sir Guy. Yes; I saw it all. I gave my little aid, and I am
sure I have a right to be bridesmaid, as I am to be. Oh! won't it be
charming? It is to be the grandest wedding that ever was seen. It is
to be on Whit-Tuesday; and papa is going to take me and Aunt Charlotte;
for old Aunt Mabel says Aunt Charlotte must go. There are to be six
bridesmaids, and a great party at the breakfast; everything as splendid
as possible; and I made Mrs. Edmonstone promise from the first that we
should have a ball. You must go, Maurice.'

'I shall be on the high seas!'

'Oh yes, that is horrid! But you don't sail with the regiment, I
think, Captain Morville. You surely go?'

'I am not certain,' said Philip; especially disgusted by hearing of the
splendour, and thinking that he had supposed Guy would have had more
sense; and it showed how silly Amy really was, since she was evidently
only anxious to enjoy the full paraphernalia of a bride.

'Not certain!' exclaimed Maurice and Eveleen, in a breath.

'I am not sure that I shall have time. You know I have been intending
to make a walking tour through Switzerland before joining at Corfu.'

'And you really would prefer going by yourself--"apart, unfriended,
melancholy, slow."'

'Very slow, indeed,' said Maurice.

'A wedding is a confused melancholy affair,' said Philip. 'You know I
am no dancing man, Lady Eveleen; one individual like myself can make
little difference to persons engrossed with their own affairs; I can
wish my cousins well from a distance as well as at hand; and though
they have been kind enough to ask me, I think that while their house is
overflowing with guests of more mark, my room will be preferred to my
company.'

'Then you do not mean to go?' said Lady Kilcoran. 'I do not,' she
continued, 'for my health is never equal to so much excitement, and it
would only be giving poor Mrs. Edmonstone additional trouble to have to
attend to me.'

'So you really mean to stay away?' said Eveleen.

'I have not entirely decided.'

'At any rate you must go and tell old Aunt Mabel all about them,' said
Eveleen. 'She is so delighted. You will be quite worshipped, at the
cottage, for the very name of Morville. I spend whole hours in
discoursing on Sir Guy's perfections.'

Philip could not refuse; but his feelings towards Guy were not warmed
by the work he had to go through, when conducted to the cottage, where
lived old Lady Mabel Edmonstone and her daughter, and there required to
dilate on Guy's excellence. He was not wanted to speak of any of the
points where his conscience would not let him give a favourable report;
it was quite enough for him to tell of Guy's agreeable manners and
musical talents, and to describe the beauty and extent of Redclyffe.
Lady Mabel and Miss Edmonstone were transported; and the more Philip
saw of the light and superficial way in which the marriage was
considered, the more unwilling he became to confound himself with such
people by eagerness to be present at it, and to join in the
festivities. Yet he exercised great forbearance in not allowing one
word of his disapproval or misgivings to escape him; no censure was
uttered, and Lady Eveleen herself could not make out whether he
rejoiced or not. He was grave and philosophical, superior to
nonsensical mirth, that was all that she saw; and he made himself very
agreeable throughout his visit, by taking condescending interest in all
that was going on, and especially to Lady Eveleen, by showing that he
thought her worthy of rational converse.

He made himself useful, as usual. Lord Kilcoran wanted a tutor for his
two youngest boys, and it had been proposed to send them to Mr.
Wellwood, at his curacy at Coombe Prior. He wished to know what
Captain Morville thought of the plan; and Philip, thinking that Mr.
Wellwood had been very inattentive to Guy's proceedings at St.
Mildred's, though he would not blame him, considered it very fortunate
that he had a different plan to recommend. One of the officers of his
regiment had lately had staying with him a brother who had just left
Oxford, and was looking out for a tutorship, a very clever and
agreeable young man, whom he liked particularly, and he strongly
advised Lord Kilcoran to keep his sons under his own eye, and place
them under the care of this gentleman. His advice, especially when
enforced by his presence, was almost sure to prevail, and thus it was
in the present case.

The upshot of his visit was, that he thought worse and worse of the
sense of the whole Edmonstone connection,--considered that it would be
of no use for him to go to Hollywell,--adhered to his second
resolution, and wrote to his uncle a calm and lofty letter, free from
all token of offence, expressing every wish for the happiness of Guy
and Amabel, and thanking his uncle for the invitation, which, however,
he thought it best to decline, much as he regretted losing the
opportunity of seeing Hollywell and its inhabitants again. His
regiment would sail for Corfu either in May or June; but he intended,
himself, to travel on foot through Germany and Italy, and would write
again before quitting Ireland.

'So,' said Charles, 'there were at the marriage the Picanninies, and
the Joblillies, and the Garryulies, but not the grand Panjandrum
himself.'

'Nor the little round button at top!' rejoined Charlotte.

'Well, it's his own look out,' said Mr. Edmonstone. 'It is of a piece
with all the rest.'

'I am sure we don't want him,' said Charlotte.

'Not in this humour,' said her mother.

Amy said nothing; and if she did not allow herself to avow that his
absence was a relief, it was because she saw it was a grief and
disappointment to Guy.

Laura was, of course, very much mortified,--almost beyond the power of
concealment. She thought he would have come for the sake of seeing
her, and she had reckoned so much on this meeting that it was double
vexation. He did not know what he was missing by not coming; and she
could not inform him, for writing to him was impossible, without the
underhand dealings to which they would never, either of them, have
recourse. So much for herself; and his perseverance in disapproval, in
spite of renewed explanation, made her more anxious and sorry on Amy's
account. Very mournful were poor Laura's sensations; but there was no
remedy but to try to bewilder and drive them away in the bustle of
preparation.

Guy had to go and take his degree, and then return to make his own
preparations at Redclyffe. Amy begged him, as she knew he would like,
to leave things alone as much as possible; for she could not bear old
places to be pulled to pieces to suit new-comers; and she should like
to find it just as he had been used to it.

He smiled, and said, 'It should only be made habitable.' She must have
a morning-room, about which he would consult Mrs. Ashford: and he would
choose her piano himself. The great drawing-room had never been
unpacked since his grandmother's time, so that must be in repair; and,
as for a garden, they would lay it out together. There could not be
much done; for though they did not talk of it publicly, lest they
should shock Mr. Edmonstone, they meant to go home directly after their
marriage.

To Oxford, then, went Guy; his second letter announced that he had done
tolerably well on his examination; and it came round to the
Edmonstones, that it was a great pity he had not gone up for honours,
as he would certainly have distinguished himself.

Redclyffe was, of course, in a state of great excitement at the news
that Sir Guy was going to be married. Markham was very grand with the
letter that announced it, and could find nothing to grumble about but
that the lad was very young, and it was lucky it was no worse.

Mrs. Ashford was glad it was so good a connection, and obtained all the
intelligence she could from James Thorndale, who spoke warmly of the
Hollywell family in general; and, in particular, said that the young
ladies looked after schools and poor people,--that Miss Edmonstone was
very handsome and clever--a very superior person; but as to Miss
Amabel, he did not know that there was anything to say about her. She
was just like other young ladies, and very attentive to her invalid
brother.

Markham's enmity to Mr. Ashford had subsided at the bidding of his
master; and he informed him one day, with great cordiality, that Sir
Guy would be at home the next. He was to sleep that night at Coombe
Prior, and ride to Redclyffe in the morning; and, to the great delight
of the boys, it was at the parsonage door that he dismounted.

Mrs. Ashford looked up in his bright face, and saw no more of the shade
that had perplexed her last winter. His cheeks were deeper red as she
warmly shook hands with him; and then the children sprung upon him for
their old games,--the boys claiming his promise, with all their might,
to take them out to the Shag. She wondered when she should venture to
talk to him about Miss Amabel. He next went to find Markham, and met
him before he reached his house. Markham was too happy not to grant
and grumble more than ever.

'Well, Sir Guy; so here you are! You've lost no time about it,
however. A fine pair of young housekeepers, and a pretty example of
early marriages for the parish!'

Guy laughed. 'You must come and see the example, Markham. I have a
message from Mr. and Mrs. Edmonstone, to ask you to come to Hollywell
at Whitsuntide.'

Grunt! 'You are making a fool of me, Sir Guy. What's a plain old man
like me to do among all your lords and ladies, and finery and flummery?
I'll do no such thing.'

'Not to oblige me?'

'Oblige you? Nonsense! Much you'll care for me!'

'Nay, Markham, you must not stay away. You, my oldest and best
friend,--my only home friend. I owe all my present happiness to you,
and it would really be a great disappointment to me if you did not
come. She wishes it, too.'

'Well, Sir Guy,' and the grunt was of softer tone, 'if you do choose to
make a fool of me, I can't help it. You must have your own way; though
you might have found a friend that would do you more credit.'

'Then I may say that you will come?'

'Say I am very much obliged to Mr. and Mrs. Edmonstone for their
invitation. It is very handsome of them.'

'Then you will have the settlements ready by that time. You must,
Markham.'

'I'll see about it.'

'And the house must be ready to come home to at once.'

'You don't know what you are talking of, Sir Guy!' exclaimed Markham,
at once aghast and angry.

'Yes, I do. We don't intend to turn the house upside down with new
furniture.'

'You may talk as you please, Sir Guy, but I know what's what; and it is
mere nonsense to talk of bringing a lady to a house in this condition.
A pretty notion you have of what is fit for your bride! I hope she
knows what sort of care you mean to take of her!'

'She will be satisfied,' said Guy. 'She particularly wishes not to
have everything disarranged, I only must have two rooms furnished for
her.'

'But the place wants painting from head to foot, and the roof is in
such a state--'

'The roof? That's serious!'

'Serious; I believe so. You'll have it about your ears in no time, if
you don't look sharp.'

'I'll look this minute,' said Guy, jumping up. 'Will you come with
me?'

Up he went, climbing about in the forest of ancient timbers, where he
could not but be convinced that there was more reason than he could
wish in what Markham said, and that his roof was in no condition to
bring his bride to. Indeed it was probable that it had never been
thoroughly repaired since the time of old Sir Hugh, for the Morvilles
had not been wont to lay out money on what did not make a display. Guy
was in dismay, he sent for the builder from Moorworth; calculated times
and costs; but, do what he would, he could not persuade himself that
when once the workmen were in Redclyffe, they would be out again before
the autumn.

Guy was very busy during the fortnight he spent at home. There were
the builder and his plans, and Markham and the marriage settlements,
and there were orders to be given about the furniture. He came to Mrs.
Ashford about this, conducted her to the park, and begged her to be so
kind as to be his counsellor, and to superintend the arrangement. He
showed her what was to be Amy's morning-room--now bare and empty, but
with the advantages of a window looking south, upon the green wooded
slope of the park, with a view of the church tower, and of the moors,
which were of very fine form. He owned himself to be profoundly
ignorant about upholstery matters, and his ideas of furniture seemed to
consist in prints for the walls, a piano, a bookcase, and a couch for
Charles.

'You have heard about Charles?' said he, raising his bright face from
the list of needful articles which he was writing, using the window-
seat as a table.

'Not much,' said Mrs. Ashford. 'Is he entirely confined to the sofa?'

'He cannot move without crutches; but no one could guess what he is
without seeing him. He is so patient, his spirits never flag; and it
is beautiful to see how considerate he is, and what interest he takes
in all the things he never can share, poor fellow. I don't know what
Hollywell would be without Charlie! I wonder how soon he will be able
to come here! Hardly this year, I am afraid, for things must be
comfortable for him, and I shall never get them so without Amy, and
then it will be autumn. Well, what next? Oh, you said window-
curtains. Some blue sort of stuff, I suppose, like the drawing-room
ones at Hollywell. What's the name of it?'

In fact, Mrs. Ashford was much of his opinion, that he never would make
things comfortable without Amy, though he gave his best attention to
the inquiries that were continually made of him; and where he had an
idea, carried it out to the utmost. He knew much better what he was
about in the arrangements for Coombe Prior, where he had installed his
friend, Mr. Wellwood, and set on foot many plans for improvements,
giving them as much attention as if he had nothing else to occupy his
mind. Both the curate and Markham were surprised that he did not leave
these details till his return home; but he answered,--

'Better do things while we may. The thought of this unhappy place is
enough to poison everything; and I don't think I could rest without
knowing that the utmost was being done for it.'

He was very happy making arrangements for a village feast on the
wedding-day. The Ashfords asked if he would not put it off till his
return, and preside himself.

'It won't hurt them to have one first. Let them make sure of all the
fun they can,' he answered; and the sentiment was greatly applauded by
Edward and Robert, who followed him about more than ever, and grew so
fond of him, that it made them very angry to be reminded of the spirit
of defiance in which their acquaintance had begun. Nevertheless they
seemed to be preparing the same spirit for his wife, for when their
mother told them they must not expect to monopolize him thus when he
was married, they declared, that they did not want a Lady Morville at
all, and could not think why he was so stupid as to want a wife.

Their father predicted that he would never have time to fulfil his old
engagement of taking them out to the Shag Rock, but the prediction was
not verified, for he rowed both them and Mr. Ashford thither one fine
May afternoon, showed them all they wanted to see, and let them
scramble to their heart's content. He laughed at their hoard of scraps
of the wood of the wreck, which they said their mamma had desired them
to fetch for her.

So many avocations came upon Guy at once,--so many of the neighbours
came to call on him,--such varieties of people wanted to speak to him,-
-the boys followed him so constantly,--and he had so many invitations
from Mr. Wellwood and the Ashfords, that he never had any time for
himself, except what must be spent in writing to Amabel. There was a
feeling upon him, that he must have time to commune with himself, and
rest from this turmoil of occupation, in the solitude of which
Redclyffe had hitherto been so full. He wanted to be alone with his
old home, and take leave of it, and of the feelings of his boyhood,
before beginning on this new era of his life; but whenever he set out
for a solitary walk, before he could even get to the top of the crag,
either Markham marched up to talk over some important question,--a
farmer waylaid him to make some request,--some cottager met him, to
tell of a grievance,--Mr. Wellwood rode over,--or the Ashford boys
rushed up, and followed like his shadow.

At length, on Ascension day, the last before he was to leave Redclyffe,
with a determination that he would escape for once from his pursuers,
he walked to the Cove as soon as he returned from morning service,
launched his little boat and pushed off into the rippling whispering
waters. It was a resumption of the ways of his boyhood; it seemed like
a holiday to have left all these cares behind him, just as it used to
be when all his lessons were prepared, and he had leave to disport
himself, by land or water, the whole afternoon, provided he did not go
out beyond the Shag Rock. He took up his sculls and rowed merrily,
singing and whistling to keep time with their dash, the return to the
old pleasure quite enough at first, the salt breeze, the dashing waves,
the motion of the boat. So he went on till he had come as far as his
former boundary, then he turned and gazed back on the precipitous
rocks, cleft with deep fissures, marbled with veins of different shades
of red, and tufted here and therewith clumps of samphire, grass, and a
little brushwood, bright with the early green of spring. The white
foam and spray were leaping against their base, and roaring in their
hollows; the tract of wavelets between glittered in light, or heaved
green under the shadow of the passing clouds; the sea-birds floated
smoothly in sweeping undulating lines,

As though life's only call and care
Were graceful motion;

the hawks poised themselves high in air near the rocks. The Cove lay
in sunshine, its rough stone chimneys and rude slate roofs overgrown
with moss and fern, rising rapidly, one above the other, in the fast
descending hollow, through which a little stream rushed to the sea,--
more quietly than its brother, which, at some space distant, fell sheer
down over the crag in a white line of foam, brawling with a tone of its
own, distinguishable among all the voices of the sea contending with
the rocks. Above the village, in the space where the outline of two
hills met and crossed, rose the pinnacled tower of the village church,
the unusual height of which was explained by the old custom of lighting
a beacon-fire on its summit, to serve as a guide to the boats at sea.
Still higher, apparently on the very brow of the beetling crag that
frowned above, stood the old Gothic hall, crumbling and lofty, a fit
eyrie for the eagles of Morville. The sunshine was indeed full upon
it; but it served to show how many of the dark windows were without the
lining of blinds and curtains, that alone gives the look of life and
habitation to a house. How crumbled by sea-wind were the old walls,
and the aspect altogether full of a dreary haughtiness, suiting with
the whole of the stories connected with its name, from the time when it
was said the very dogs crouched and fled from the presence of the
sacrilegious murderer of the Archbishop, to the evening when the heir
of the line lay stretched a corpse before his father's gate.

Guy sat resting on his oars, gazing at the scene, full of happiness,
yet with a sense that it might be too bright to last, as if it scarcely
befitted one like himself. The bliss before him, though it was surely
a beam from heaven, was so much above him, that he hardly dared to
believe it real: like a child repeating, 'Is it my own, my very own?'
and pausing before it will venture to grasp at a prize beyond its
hopes. He feared to trust himself fully, lest it should carry him away
from his self-discipline, and dazzle him too much to let him keep his
gaze on the light beyond; and he rejoiced in this time of quiet, to
enable him to strive for power over his mind, to prevent himself from
losing in gladness the balance he had gained in adversity.

It was such a check as he might have wished for, to look at that grim
old castle, recollect who he was, and think of the frail tenure of all
earthly joy, especially for one of the house of Morville. Could that
abode ever be a home for a creature like Amy, with the bright innocent
mirth that seemed too soft and sweet ever to be overshadowed by gloom
and sorrow? Perhaps she might be early taken from him in the undimmed
beauty of her happiness and innocence, and he might have to struggle
through a long lonely life with only the remembrance of a short-lived
joy to lighten it; and when he reflected that this was only a
melancholy fancy, the answer came from within, that there was nothing
peculiar to him in the perception that earthly happiness was fleeting.
It was best that so it should be, and that he should rest in the trust
that brightened on him through all,--that neither life nor death,
sorrow nor pain, could separate, for ever, him and his Amy.

And he looked up into the deep blue sky overhead, murmuring to himself,
'In heart and mind thither ascend, and with Him continually dwell,' and
gazed long and intently as he rocked on the green waters, till he again
spoke to himself,--'Why stand ye here gazing up into heaven?' then
pulled vigorously back to the shore, leaving a shining wake far behind
him.

CHAPTER 29

Hark, how the birds do sing,
And woods do ring!
All creatures have their joy, and man hath his;
Yet if we rightly measure,
Man's joy and pleasure
Rather hereafter than in present is:

Not that he may not here
Taste of the cheer,
But as birds drink and straight lift up the head,
So must he sip and think
Of better drink
He may attain to after he is dead.--HERBERT

Guy returned to Hollywell on the Friday, there to spend a quiet week
with them all, for it was a special delight to Amy that Hollywell and
her family were as precious to him for their own sakes as for hers. It
was said that it was to be a quiet week--but with all the best efforts
of Mrs. Edmonstone and Laura to preserve quiet, there was an amount, of
confusion that would have been very disturbing, hut for Amy's
propensity never to be ruffled or fluttered.

What was to be done in the honeymoon was the question for
consideration. Guy and Amy would have liked to make a tour among the
English cathedrals, pay a visit at Hollywell, and then go home and live
in a corner of the house till the rest was ready; for Amy could not see
why she should take up so much more room than old Sir Guy, and Guy
declared he could not see that happiness was a reason for going
pleasure-hunting; but Charles pronounced this very stupid, and Mr.
Edmonstone thought a journey on the Continent was the only proper thing
for them to do. Mrs. Edmonstone wished Amy to see a little of the
world. Amy was known to have always desired to see Switzerland; it
occurred to Guy that it would be a capital opportunity of taking Arnaud
to see the relations he had been talking for the last twenty years of
visiting, and so they acquiesced; for as Guy said, when they talked it
over together, it did not seem to him to come under the denomination of
pleasure-hunting, since they had not devised it for themselves; they
had no house to go to; they should do Arnaud a service, and perhaps
they should meet Philip.

'That will not be pleasure-hunting, certainly,' said Amy; then,
remembering that he could not bear to hear Philip under-rated, she
added, 'I mean, unless you could convince him, and then it would be
more than pleasure.'

'It would be my first of unattained wishes,' said Guy. 'Then we will
enjoy the journey.'

'No fear on that score,'

'And for fear we should get too much into the stream of enjoyment, as
people abroad forget home-duties, let us stick to some fixed time for
coming back.'

'You said Redclyffe would be ready by Michaelmas.'

'I have told the builder it must be. So, Amy, as far as it depends on
ourselves, we are determined to be at home by Michaelmas.'

All seemed surprised to find the time for the wedding so near at hand.
Charles's spirits began to flag, Amy was a greater loss to him than to
anybody else; she could never again be to him what she had been, and
unable as he was to take part in the general bustle and occupation, he
had more time for feeling this, much more than his mother and Laura,
who were employed all day. He and Guy were exemplary in their
civilities to each other in not engrossing Amy, and one who had only
known him three years ago, when he was all exaction and selfishness,
could have hardly believed him to he the same person who was now only
striving to avoid giving pain, by showing how much it cost him to yield
up his sister. He could contrive to be merry, but the difficulty was
to be cheerful; he could make them all laugh in spite of themselves,
but when alone with Amy, or when hearing her devolve on her sisters the
services she had been wont to perform for him, it was almost more than
he could endure; but then he dreaded setting Amy off into one of her
silent crying-fits, for which the only remedy was the planning a grand
visit to Redclyffe, and talking overall the facilities of railroads and
carriages.

The last day had come, and a long strange one it was; not exactly
joyful to any, and very sad to some, though Amy, with her sweet pensive
face, seemed to have a serenity of her own that soothed them whenever
they looked at her. Charlotte, though inclined to be wild and flighty,
was checked and subdued in her presence; Laura could not be entirely
wretched about her; Charles lay and looked at her without speaking; her
father never met her without kissing her on each side of her face, and
calling her his little jewel; her mother--but who could describe Mrs.
Edmonstone on that day, so full of the present pain, contending with
the unselfish gladness.

Guy kept out of the way, thinking Amy ought to be left to them. He sat
in his own room a good while, afterwards rode to Broadstone, in coming
home made a long visit to Mr. Ross; and when he returned, he found
Charles in his wheeled chair on the lawn, with Amy sitting on the grass
by his side. He sat down by her and there followed a long silence,--
one of those pauses full of meaning.

'When shall we three meet again?' at length said Charles, in a would-be
lively tone.

'And where?' said Amy.

'Here,' said Charles; 'you will come here to tell your adventures, and
take up Bustle.'

'I hope so,' said Guy. 'We could not help it. The telling you about
it will be a treat to look forward to all the time.'

'Yes; your sight-seeing is a public benefit. You have seen many a
thing for me.'

'That is the pleasure of seeing and hearing, the thing that is not
fleeting,' said Guy.

'The unselfish part, you mean,' said Charles; and mused again, till
Guy, starting up, exclaimed--

'There are the people!' as a carriage came in view in the lane. 'Shall
I wheel you home, Charlie?'

'Yes, do.'

Guy leant over the back, and pushed him along; and as he did so
murmured in a low tremulous tone, 'Wherever or whenever we may be
destined to meet, Charlie, or if never again, I must thank you for a
great part of my happiness here--for a great deal of kindness and
sympathy.'

Charles looked straight before him, and answered--'The kindness was all
on your part. I had nothing to give in return but ill-temper and
exactions. But, Guy, you must not think I have not felt all you have
done for me. You have made a new man of me, instead of a wretched
stick, laughing at my misery, to persuade myself and others that I did
not feel it. I hope you are proud of it.'

'As if I had anything to do with it!'

'Hadn't, you, that's all! I know what you won't deny, at any rate--
what a capital man-of-all-work you have been to me, when I had no right
to ask it, as now we have,' he added, smiling, because Amy was looking
at him, but not making a very successful matter of the smile. 'When
you come back, you'll see me treat you as indeed "a man and a
brother."'

This talk retarded them a little, and they did not reach the house till
the guests were arriving. The first sight that met the eyes of Aunt
Charlotte and Lady Eveleen as they entered, was, in the frame of the
open window, Guy's light agile figure, assisting Charles up the step,
his brilliant hazel eyes and glowing healthy complexion contrasting
with Charles's pale, fair, delicate face, and features sharpened and
refined by suffering. Amy, her deep blushes and downcast eyes almost
hidden by her glossy curls, stood just behind, carrying her brother's
crutch.

'There they are,' cried Miss Edmonstone, springing forward from her
brother and his wife, and throwing her arms round Amy in a warm
embrace. 'My dear, dear little niece, I congratulate you with all my
heart, and that I do,'

'I'll spare your hot cheeks, Amy dearest!' whispered Eveleen, as Amy
passed to her embrace, while Aunt Charlotte hastily kissed Charles, and
proceeded--'I don't wait for an introduction;' and vehemently shook
hands with Guy.

'Ay, did I say a word too much in his praise?' said Mr. Edmonstone.
'Isn't he all out as fine a fellow as I told you?'

Guy was glad to turn away to shake hands with Lord Kilcoran, and the
next moment he drew Amy out of the group eagerly talking round
Charles's sofa, and holding her hand, led her up to a sturdy, ruddy-
brown, elderly man, who had come in at the same time, but after the
first reception had no share in the family greetings. 'You know him,
already,' said Guy; and Amy held out her hand, saying--

'Yes, I am sure I do.'

Markham was taken by surprise, he gave a most satisfied grunt, and
shook hands as heartily as if she had been his favourite niece.

'And the little girl?' said Amy.

'0 yes.--I picked her up at St. Mildred's: one of the servants took
charge of her in the hall.'

'I'll fetch her,' cried Charlotte, as Amy was turning to the door, and
the next moment she led in little Marianne Dixon, clinging to her hand.
Amy kissed her, and held her fast in her arms, and Marianne looked up,
consoled in her bewilderment, by the greeting of her dear old friend,
Sir Guy.

Mr. Edmonstone patted her head; and when the others had spoken kindly
to her, Charlotte, under whose especial charge Guy and Amy had placed
her, carried her off to the regions up-stairs.

The rest of the evening was hurry and confusion. Mrs. Edmonstone was
very busy, and glad to be so, as she must otherwise have given way; and
there was Aunt Charlotte to be talked to, whom they had not seen since
Charles's illness. She was a short, bustling, active person, with a
joyous face, inexhaustible good-humour, a considerable touch of Irish,
and referring everything to her mother,--her one thought. Everything
was to be told to her, and the only drawback to her complete pleasure
was the anxiety lest she should be missed at home.

Mrs. Edmonstone was occupied with her, telling her the history of the
engagement, and praising Guy; Amy went up as soon as dinner was over,
to take leave of old nurse, and to see little Marianne; and Eveleen sat
between Laura and Charlotte, asking many eager questions, which were
not all convenient to answer.

Why Sir Guy had not been at home at Christmas was a query to which it
seemed as if she should never gain a reply; for that Charles had been
ill, and Guy at Redclyffe, was no real answer; and finding she should
not be told, she wisely held her tongue. Again she made an awkward
inquiry--

'Now tell me, is Captain Morville pleased about this or not?'

Laura would have been silent, trusting to Eveleen's propensity for
talking, for bringing her to some speech that it might be easier to
answer, but Charlotte exclaimed, 'What has he been saying about it?'

'Saying? 0 nothing. But why does not he come?'

'You have seen him more lately than we have,' said Laura.

'That is an evasion,' said Eveleen; 'as if you did not know more of his
mind than I could ever get at, if I saw him every day of my life.'

'He is provoking, that is all,' answered Charlotte. 'I am sure we
don't want him; but Laura and Guy will both of them take his part.'

A call came at that moment,--the box of white gloves was come, and
Laura must come and count them. She would fain have taken Charlotte
with her; but neither Charlotte nor Eveleen appeared disposed to move,
and she was obliged to leave them. Eva had already guessed that there
was more chance of hearing the facts from Charlotte, and presently she
knew a good deal. Charlotte had some prudence, but she thought she
might tell her own cousin what half the neighbourhood knew--that Philip
had suspected Guy falsely, and had made papa very angry with him, that
the engagement had been broken off, and Guy had been banished, while
all the time he was behaving most gloriously. Now it was all
explained; but in spite of the fullest certainty, Philip would not be
convinced, and wanted them to have waited five years.

Eveleen agreed with Charlotte that this was a great deal too bad,
admired Guy, and pitied Amy to her heart's content.

'So, he was banished, regularly banished!' said she. 'However of
course Amy never gave him up.'

'Oh, she never mistrusted him one minute.'

'And while he had her fast, it was little he would care for the rest.'

'Yes, if he had known it, but she could not tell him.'

Eveleen looked arch.

'But I am sure she did not,' said Charlotte, rather angrily.

'You know nothing about it, my dear.'

'Yes, but I do; for mamma said to Charlie how beautifully she did
behave, and he too,--never attempting any intercourse.'

'Very good of you to believe it.'

'I am sure of it, certain sure,' said Charlotte. 'How could you
venture to think they would either of them do anything wrong?'

'I did not say they would.'

'What, not to write to each other when papa had forbidden it, and do it
in secret, too?'

'My dear, don't look so innocently irate. Goodness has nothing to do
with it, it would be only a moderate constancy. You know nothing at
all of lovers.'

'If I know nothing of lovers, I know a great deal of Amy and Guy, and I
am quite sure that nothing on earth would tempt them to do anything in
secret that they were forbidden.'

'Wait till you are in love, and you'll change your mind.'

'I never mean to be in love,' said Charlotte indignantly. Eveleen
laughed the more, Charlotte grew more angry and uncomfortable at the
tone of the conversation, and was heartily glad that it was broken off
by the entrance of the gentlemen. Guy helped Charles to the sofa, and
then turned away to continue his endless talk on Redclyffe business
with Markham. Charlotte flew up to the sofa, seized an interval when
no one was in hearing, and kneeling down to bring her face on a level
with her brother's whispered--'Charlie, Eva won't believe but that Guy
and Amy kept up some intercourse last winter.'

'I can't help it, Charlotte.'

'When I tell her they did not, she only laughs at me. Do tell her they
did not.'

'I have too much self-respect to lay myself open to ridicule.'

'Charlie, you don't think it possible yourself?' exclaimed Charlotte,
in consternation.

'Possible--no indeed.'

'She _will_ say it is not wrong, and that I know nothing of lovers.'

'You should have told her that ours are not commonplace lovers, but far
beyond her small experience.'

'I wish I had! Tell her so, Charlie; she will believe you.'

'I sha'n't say one word about it.'

'Why not?'

'Because she is not worthy. If she can't appreciate them, I would let
her alone. I once thought better of Eva, but it is very bad company
she keeps when she is not here.'

Charles, however, was not sorry when Eveleen came to sit by him, for a
bantering conversation with her was the occupation of which he was moat
capable. Amy, returning, came and sat in her old place beside him,
with her hand in his, and her quiet eyes fixed on the ground.

The last evening for many weeks that she would thus sit with him,--the
last that she would ever be a part of his home. She had already ceased
to belong entirely to him; she who had always been the most precious to
him, except his mother.

Only his mother could have been a greater loss,--he could not dwell on
the anticipation; and still holding her hand, he roused himself to
listen, and answer gaily to Eveleen's description of the tutor, Mr.
Fielder, 'a thorough gentleman, very clever and agreeable, who had read
all the books in the world; the ugliest, yes, without exaggeration, the
most quaintly ugly man living,--little, and looking just as if he was
made of gutta percha, Eveleen said, 'always moving by jerks,--so
Maurice advised the boys not to put him near the fire, lest he should
melt.'

'Only when he gives them some formidable lesson, and they want to melt
his heart,' said Charles, talking at random, in hopes of saying
something laughable.

'Then his eyes--'tis not exactly a squint, but a cast there is, and one
set of eyelashes are black and the other light, and that gives him just
the air of a little frightful terrier of Maurice's named Venus, with a
black spot over one eye. The boys never call him anything but Venus.'

'And you encourage them in respect for their tutor?'

'Oh, he holds his own at lessons, I trow; but he pretends to have such
a horror of us wild Irish, and to wonder not to find us eating potatoes
with our fingers, and that I don't wear a petticoat over my head
instead of a bonnet, in what he calls the classical Carthaginian Celto-
Hibernian fashion.'

'Dear me,' said Charlotte, 'no wonder Philip recommended him.'

'0, I assure you he has the gift, no one else but Captain Morville
talks near as well.'

So talked on Eveleen, and Charles answered her as much in her own
fashion as he could, and when at last the evening came to an end, every
one felt relieved.

Laura lingered long in Amy's room, perceiving that hitherto she had
known only half the value of her sister her sweet sister. It would be
worse than ever now, when left with the others, all so much less
sympathizing, all saying sharp things of Philip, none to cling to her
with those winsome ways that had been unnoted till the time when they
were no more to console her, and she felt them to have been the only
charm that had softened her late dreary desolation.

So full was her heart, that she must have told Amy all her grief but
for the part that Philip had acted towards Guy, and her doubts of Guy
would not allow her the consolation of dwelling on Amy's happiness,
which cheered the rest. She could only hang about her in speechless
grief, and caress her fondly, while Amy cried, and tried to comfort
her, till her mother came to wish her good night.

Mrs. Edmonstone did not stay long, because she wished Amy, if possible
to rest.

'Mamma' said Amy, as she received her last kiss, 'I can't think why I
am not more unhappy.'

'It is all as it should be,' said Mrs. Edmonstone.

Amabel slept, and awakened to the knowledge that it was her wedding-
day. She was not to appear at the first breakfast, but she came to
meet Charles in the dressing-room; and as they sat together on the
sofa, where she had watched and amused so many of his hours of
helplessness, he clasped round her arm his gift,--a bracelet of his
mother's hair. His fingers trembled and his eyes were hazy, but he
would not let her help him. Her thanks were obliged to be all kisses,
no words would come but 'Charlie; Charlie! how could I ever have
promised to leave you?'

'Nonsense! who ever dreamt that my sisters were to be three monkeys
tied to a dog?'

It was impossible not to smile, though it was but for a moment,--
Charles's mirth was melancholy.

'And, dear Charlie, you will not miss me so very much; do pray let
Charlotte wait upon you.'

'After the first, perhaps, I may not hate her. Oh, Amy, I little knew
what I was doing when I tried to get him back again for you. I was
sawing off the bough I was sitting on. But there! I will not flatter
you, you've had enough to turn that head of yours. Stand up, and let
me take a survey. Very pretty, I declare,--you do my education credit.
There, if it will be for your peace, I'll do my best to wear on without
you. I've wanted a brother all my life, and you are giving me the very
one I would have picked out of a thousand--the only one I could forgive
for presuming to steal you, Amy. Here he is. Come in,' he added, as
Guy knocked at his door, to offer to help him down-stairs.

Guy hardly spoke, and Amy could not look in his face. It was late, and
he took down Charles at once. After this, she had very little quiet,
every one was buzzing about her, and putting the last touches to her
dress; at last, just as she was quite finished, Charlotte exclaimed,
'Oh, there is Guy's step; may I call him in to have one look?'

Mrs. Edmonstone did not say no; and Charlotte, opening the dressing-
room door, called to him. He stood opposite to Amy for some moments,
then said, with a smile, 'I was wrong about the grogram. I would not
for anything see you look otherwise than you do.'

It seemed to Mrs. Edmonstone and Laura that these words made them lose
sight of the details of lace and silk that had been occupying them, so
that they only saw the radiance, purity, and innocence of Amy's bridal
appearance. No more was said, for Mr. Edmonstone ran up to call Guy,
who was to drive Charles in the pony-carriage.

Amabel, of course, went with her parents. Poor child! her tears flowed
freely on the way, and Mr. Edmonstone, now that it had really come to
the point of parting with his little Amy, was very much overcome, while
his wife, hardly refraining from tears, could only hold her daughter's
hand very close.

The regular morning service was a great comfort, by restoring their
tranquillity, and by the time it was ended, Amabel's countenance had
settled into its own calm expression of trust and serenity. She
scarcely even trembled when her father led her forward; her hand did
not shake, and her voice, though very low, was firm and audible, while
Guy's deep, sweet tones had a sort of thrill and quiver of intense
feeling.

No one could help observing that Laura was the most agitated person
present; she trembled so much that she was obliged to lean on
Charlotte, and her tears gave the infection to the other bridesmaids--
all but Mary Ross, who could never cry when other people did, and
little Marianne, who did nothing but look and wonder.

Mary was feeling a great deal, both of compassion for the bereaved
family and of affectionate admiring joy for the young pair who knelt
before the altar. It was a showery day, with gleams of vivid sunshine,
and one of these suddenly broke forth, casting a stream of colour from
a martyr's figure in the south window, so as to shed a golden glory on
the wave of brown hair over Guy's forehead, then passing on and tinting
the bride's white veil with a deep glowing shade of crimson and purple.

Either that golden light, or the expression of the face on which it
beamed, made Mary think of the lines--

Where is the brow to wear in mortal's sight,
The crown of pure angelic light?

Charles stood with his head leaning against a pillar as if he could not
bear to look up; Mr. Edmonstone was restless and almost sobbing; Mrs.
Edmonstone alone collected, though much flushed and somewhat trembling,
while the only person apparently free from excitement was the little
bride, as there she knelt, her hand clasped in his, her head bent down,
her modest, steadfast face looking as if she was only conscious of the
vow she exchanged, the blessing she received, and was, as it were,
lifted out of herself.

It was over now. The feast, in its fullest sense, was held, and the
richest of blessings had been called down on them.

The procession came out of the vestry in full order, and very pretty it
was; the bride and bridegroom in the fresh bright graciousness of their
extreme youth, and the six bridesmaids following; Laura and Lady
Eveleen, two strikingly handsome and elegant girls; Charlotte, with the
pretty little fair Marianne; Mary Ross, and Grace Harper. The village
people who stood round might well say that such a sight as that was
worth coming twenty miles to see.

The first care, after the bridal pair had driven off, was to put
Charles into his pony-carriage. Charlotte, who had just pinned on his
favour, begged to drive him, for she meant to make him her especial
charge, and to succeed to all Amy's rights. Mrs. Edmonstone asked
whether Laura would not prefer going with him, but she hastily
answered,

'No, thank you, let Charlotte;' for with her troubled feelings, she
could better answer talking girls than parry the remarks of her shrewd,
observant brother.

Some one said it would rain, but Charlotte still pleaded earnestly.

'Come, then, puss,' said Charles, rallying his spirits, 'only don't
upset me, or it will spoil their tour.'

Charlotte drove off with elaborate care,--then came a deep sigh, and
she exclaimed, 'Well! he is our brother, and all is safe.'

'Yes,' said Charles; 'no more fears for them.'

'Had you any? I am very glad if you had.'

'Why?'

'Because it was so like a book. I had a sort of feeling, all the time,
that Philip would come in quite grand and terrible.'

'As if he must act Ogre. I am not sure that I had not something of the
same notion,--that he might appear suddenly, and forbid the banns,
entirely for Amy's sake, and as the greatest kindness to her.'

'Oh!'

'However, he can't separate them now; let him do his worst, and while
Amy is Guy's wife, I don't think we shall easily be made to quarrel. I
am glad the knot is tied, for I had a fatality notion that the feud was
so strong, that it was nearly a case of the mountains bending and the
streams ascending, ere she was to be our foeman's bride.'

'No,' said Charlotte, 'it ought to be like that story of Rosaura and
her kindred, don't you remember? The fate would not be appeased by the
marriage, till Count Julius had saved the life of one of the hostile
race. That would be _it_,--perhaps they will meet abroad, and Guy will
_do_ _it_.'

'That won't do. Philip will never endanger his precious life, nor ever
forgive Guy the obligation. Well, I suppose there never was a prettier
wedding--how silly of me to say so, I shall be sick of hearing it
before night.'

'I do wish all these people were gone; I did not know it would be so
horrid. I should like to shut myself up and cry, and think what I
could ever do to wait on you. Indeed, Charlie, I know I never can be
like Amy but if you--'

'Be anything but sentimental; I don't want to make a fool of myself'
said Charles, with a smile and tone as if he was keeping sorrow at bay.
'Depend upon it if we were left to ourselves this evening, we should be
so desperately savage that we should quarrel furiously, and there would
be no Amy to set us to rights.'

'How Aunt Charlotte did cry! What a funny little woman she is.'

'Yes, I see now who you take after, puss. You'll be just like her when
you are her age.'

'So I mean to be,--I mean to stay and take care of you all my life, as
she does of grandmamma.'

'You do, do you?'

'Yes. I never mean to marry, it is so disagreeable. 0 dear! But how
lovely dear Amy did look.'

'Here's the rain!' exclaimed Charles, as some large drops began to fall
in good time to prevent them from being either savage or sentimental,
though at the expense of Charlotte's pink and white; for they had no
umbrella, and she would not accept a share of Charles's carriage-cloak.
She laughed, and drove on fast through the short cut, and arrived at
the house-door, just as the pelting hail was over, having battered her
thin sleeves, and made her white bonnet look very deplorable. The
first thing they saw was Guy, with Bustle close to him, for Bustle had
found out that something was going on that concerned his master, and
followed him about more assiduously than ever, as if sensible of the
decree, that he was to be left behind to Charlotte's care.

'Charlotte, how wet you are.'

'Never mind, Charlie is not.' She sprung out, holding his hand, and
felt as if she could never forget that moment when her new brother
first kissed her brow.

'Where's Amy?'

'Here!' and while Guy lifted Charles out, Charlotte was clasped in her
sister's arms.

'Are you wet, Charlie?'

'No, Charlotte would not be wise, and made me keep the cloak to
myself.'

'You are wet through, poor child; come up at once, and change,' said
Amy, flying nimbly up the stairs,--up even to Charlotte's own room, the
old nursery, and there she was unfastening the drenched finery.

'0 Amy, don't do all this. Let me ring.'

'No, the servants are either not come home or are too busy. Charles
won't want me, he has Guy. Can I find your white frock?'

'Oh, but Amy--let me see!' Charlotte made prisoner the left hand, and
looked up with an arch smile at the face where she had called up a
blush. 'Lady Morville must not begin by being lady's-maid.'

'Let me--let me, Charlotte, dear, I sha'n't be able to do anything for
you this long time.' Amy's voice trembled, and Charlotte held her fast
to kiss her again.

'We must make haste,' said Amy, recovering herself. 'There are the
carriages.'

While the frock was being fastened, Charlotte looked into the Prayer-
book Amy had laid down. There was the name, Amabel Frances Morville,
and the date.

'Has he just written it?' said Charlotte.

'Yes; when we came home.'

'0 Amy! dear, dear Amy; I don't know whether I am glad or sorry!'

'I believe I am both,' said Amy.

At that moment Mrs. Edmonstone and Laura hastened in. Then was the
time for broken words, tears and smiles, as Amy leant against her
mother, who locked her in a close embrace, and gazed on her in a sort
of trance, at once of maternal pride and of pain, at giving up her
cherished nestling. Poor Laura! how bitter were her tears, and how
forced her smiles,--far unlike the rest!

No one would care to hear the details of the breakfast, and the
splendours of the cake; how Charlotte recovered her spirits while
distributing the favours: and Lady Eveleen set up a flirtation with
Markham, and forced him into wearing one, though he protested, with
many a grunt, that she was making a queer fool of him; how often
Charles was obliged to hear it had been a pretty wedding; and how well
Lord Kilcoran made his speech proposing the health of Sir Guy and Lady
Morville. All the time, Laura was active and useful,--feeling as if
she was acting a play, sustaining the character of Miss Edmonstone, the
bridesmaid at her sister's happy marriage; while the true Laura,
Philip's Laura, was lonely, dejected, wretched; half fearing for her
sister, half jealous of her happiness, forced into pageantry with an
aching heart,--with only one wish, that it was over, and that she might
be again alone with her burden.

She was glad when her mother rose, and the ladies moved into the
drawing-room,--glad to escape from Eveleen's quick eye, and to avoid
Mary's clear sense,--glad to talk to comparative strangers,--glad of
the occupation of going to prepare Amabel for her journey. This lasted
a long time,--there was so much to be said, and hearts were so full,
and Amy over again explained to Charlotte how to perform all the little
services to Charles which she relinquished; while her mother had so
many affectionate last words, and every now and then stopped short to
look at her little daughter, saying, she did not know if it was not a
dream.

At length Amabel was dressed in her purple and white shot silk, her
muslin mantle, and white bonnet. Mrs. Edmonstone left her and Laura to
have a few words together, and went to the dressing-room. There she
found Guy, leaning on the mantelshelf, as he used to do when he brought
his troubles to her. He started as she entered.

'Ought I not to be here? he said. 'I could not help coming once more.
This room has always been the kernel of my home, my happiness here.'

'Indeed, it has been a very great pleasure to have you here.'

'You have been very kind to me,' he proceeded, in a low, reflecting
tone. 'You have helped me very much, very often; even when-- Do you
remember the day I begged you to keep me in order, as if I were
Charles? I did not think then--'

He was silent; and Mrs. Edmonstone little able to find words, smiling,
tried to say,--'I little thought how truly and how gladly I should be
able to call you my son;' and ended by giving him a mother's kiss.

'I wish I could tell you half,' said Guy,--'half what I feel for the
kindness that made a home to one who had no right to any. Coming as a
stranger, I found--'

'We found one to love with all our hearts,' said Mrs. Edmonstone. 'I
have often looked back, and seen that you brought a brightness to us
all--especially to poor Charles. Yes, it dates from your coming; and I
can only wish and trust, Guy, that the same brightness will rest on
your own home.'

'There must be brightness where she is,' said Guy.

'I need not tell you to take care of her,' said Mrs. Edmonstone,
smiling. 'I think I can trust you; but I feel rather as I did when
first I sent her and Laura to a party of pleasure by themselves.'

Laura at this moment, came in. Alone with Amy, she could not speak,
she could only cry; and fearful of distressing her sister, she came
away; but here, with Guy, it was worse, for it was unkind not to speak
one warm word to him. Yet what could she say! He spoke first--

'Laura, you must get up your looks again, now this turmoil is over.
Don't do too much mathematics, and wear yourself down to a shadow.'

Laura gave her sad, forced smile.

'Will you do one thing for me, Laura? I should like to have one of
your perspective views of the inside of the church. Would it be too
troublesome to do?'

'Oh, no; I shall be very glad.'

'Don't set about it till you quite like it, and have plenty of time.
Thank you. I shall think it is a proof that you can forgive me for all
the pain I am causing you. I am very sorry.

'You are so very kind,' said Laura, bursting into tears; and, as her
mother was gone, she could not help adding, 'but don't try to comfort
me, Guy; don't blame yourself,--'tisn't only that,--but I am so very,
very unhappy.'

'Amy told me you were grieved for Philip. I wish I could help it,
Laura. I want to try to meet him in Switzerland, and, if we can,
perhaps it may be set right. At any rate he will be glad to know you
see the rights of it.'

Laura wept still more; but she could never again lose the sisterly
feeling those kind words had awakened. If Philip had but known what he
missed!

Charlotte ran in. 'Oh, I am glad to find you here, Guy; I wanted to
put you in mind of your promise. You must write me the first letter
you sign "Your affectionate brother!"'

'I won't forget, Charlotte.'

'Guy! Where's Guy?' called Mr. Edmonstone. 'The rain's going off.
You must come down, both of you, or you'll be too late.'

Mrs. Edmonstone hastened to call Amabel. Those moments that she had
been alone, Amabel had been kneeling in an earnest supplication that
all might be forgiven that she had done amiss in the home of her
childhood, that the blessings might be sealed on her and her husband,
and that she might go forth from her father's house in strength sent
from above. Her mother summoned her; she rose, came calmly forth, met
Guy at the head of the stairs, put her arm in his, and they went down.

Charles was on the sofa in the ante-room, talking fast, and striving
for high spirits.

'Amy, woman, you do us credit! Well, write soon, and don't break your
heart for want of me.'

There was a confusion of good-byes, and then all came out to the hall
door; even Charles, with Charlotte's arm. One more of those fast-
locked embraces between the brother and sister, and Mr. Edmonstone put
Amabel into the carriage.

'Good-bye, good-bye, my own dearest little one! Bless you, bless you!
and may you be as happy as a Mayflower! Guy, goodbye. I've given you
the best I had to give,--and 'tis you that are welcome to her. Take
care what you do with her, for she's a precious little jewel! Good-
bye, my boy!'

Guy's face and grasping hand were the reply. As he was about to spring
into the carriage, he turned again. 'Charlotte, I have shut Bustle up
in my room. Will you let him out in half an hour? I've explained it
all to him, and he will be very good. Good-bye.'

'I'll take care of him. I'll mention him in every letter.'

'And, Markham, mind, if our house is not ready by Michaelmas, we shall
be obliged to come and stay with you.'

Grunt!

Lastly, as if he could not help it, Guy dashed up the step once more,
pressed Charles's hand, and said, 'God bless you, Charlie!'

In an instant he was beside Amabel, and they drove off,--Amabel leaning
forward, and gazing wistfully at her mother and Charles, till she was
startled by a long cluster of laburnums, their yellow bloom bent down
and heavy with wet, so that the ends dashed against her bonnet, and the
crystal drops fell on her lap.

'Why, Amy, the Hollywell flowers are weeping for the loss of you!

She gave a sweet, sunny smile through her tears. At that moment they
came beyond the thick embowering shrubs, while full before them was the
dark receding cloud, on which the sunbeams were painting a wide-spanned
rainbow. The semicircle was perfect, and full before them, like an
arch of triumph under which they were to pass.

'How beautiful!' broke from them both.

'Guy,' said the bride, after a few minutes had faded the rainbow, and
turned them from its sight, 'shall I tell you what I was thinking? I
was thinking, that if there is a doom on us, I am not afraid, if it
will only bring a rainbow.'

'The rainbow will come after, if not with it,' said Guy.

CHAPTER 30

She's a winsome wee thing,
She's a handsome wee thing,
She's a bonnie wee thing,
This sweet wee wifie of mine.--BURNS

'Look here, Amy,' said Guy, pointing to a name in the traveller's book
at Altdorf.

'Captain Morville!' she exclaimed, 'July 14th. That was only the day
before yesterday.'

'I wonder whether we shall overtake him! Do you know what was this
gentleman's route?' inquired Guy, in French that was daily becoming
more producible.

The gentleman having come on foot, with nothing but his knapsack, had
not made much sensation. There was a vague idea that he had gone on to
the St. Gothard; but the guide who was likely to know, was not
forthcoming, and all Guy's inquiries only resulted in, 'I dare say we
shall hear of him elsewhere.'

To tell the truth, Amabel was not much disappointed, and she could see,
though he said nothing, that Guy was not very sorry. These two months
had been so very happy, there had been such full enjoyment, such
freedom from care and vexation, or aught that could for a moment ruffle
the stream of delight. Scenery, cathedrals music, paintings,
historical association, had in turn given unceasing interest and
pleasure; and, above all, Amabel had been growing more and more into
the depths of her husband's mind, and entering into the grave, noble
thoughts inspired by the scenes they were visiting. It had been a sort
of ideal happiness, so exquisite, that she could hardly believe it
real. A taste of society, which they had at Munich, though very
pleasant, had only made them more glad to be alone together again; any
companion would have been an interruption, and Philip, so intimate, yet
with his carping, persecuting spirit towards Guy, was one of the last
persons she could wish to meet; but knowing that this was by no means a
disposition Guy wished to encourage, she held her peace.

For the present, no more was said about Philip; and they proceeded to
Interlachen, where they spent a day or two, while Arnaud was with his
relations; and they visited the two beautiful lakes of Thun and
Brientz. On first coming among mountains, Amabel had been greatly
afraid of the precipices, and had been very much alarmed at the way in
which Guy clambered about, with a sureness of foot and steadiness of
head acquired long ago on the crags of Redclyffe, and on which the
guides were always complimenting him; but from seeing him always come
down safe, and from having been enticed by him to several heights,
which had at first seemed to her most dizzy and dangerous, she had
gradually laid aside her fears, and even become slightly, very
slightly, adventurous herself.

One beautiful evening, they were wandering on the side of the
Beatenberg, in the little narrow paths traced by the tread of the goats
and their herdsmen. Amabel sat down to try to sketch the outline of
the white-capped Jung Frau and her attendant mountains, wishing she
could draw as well as Laura, but intending her outline to aid in
describing the scene to those whose eyes she longed to have with her.
While she was drawing, Guy began to climb higher, and was soon out of
sight, though she still heard him whistling. The mountains were not
easy to draw, or rather she grew discontented with her black lines and
white paper, compared with the dazzling snow against the blue sky,
tinged by the roseate tints of the setting sun, and the dark fissures
on the rocky sides, still blacker from the contrast.

She put up her sketching materials, and began to gather some of the
delightful treasury of mountain flowers. A gentle slope of grass was
close to her, and on it grew, at some little distance from her, a tuft
of deep purple, the beautiful Alpine saxifrage, which she well knew by
description. She went to gather it, but the turf was slippery, and
when once descending, she could not stop herself; and what was the
horror of finding herself half slipping, half running down a slope,
which became steeper every moment, till it was suddenly broken off into
a sheer precipice! She screamed, and grasped with both hands at some
low bushes, that grew under a rock at the side of the treacherous turf.
She caught a branch, and found herself supported, by clinging to it
with her hands, while she rested on the slope, now so nearly
perpendicular, that to lose her hold would send her instantly down the
precipice. Her whole weight seemed to depend on that slender bough,
and those little hands that clenched it convulsively,--her feet felt in
vain for some hold. 'Guy! Guy!' she shrieked again. Oh, where was
he? His whistle ceased,--he heard her,--he called,

'Here!'

'Oh, help me!' she answered. But with that moment's joy came the
horror, he could not help her--he would only fall himself. 'Take care!
don't come on the grass!' she cried. She must let go the branch in a
short, time then a slip, the precipice,--and what would become of him?
Those moments were hours.

'I am coming--hold fast!' She heard his voice above her, very near.
To find him so close made the agony of dread and of prayer even more
intense. To be lost, with her husband scarcely a step from her! Yet
how could he stand on the slippery turf, and so as to be steady enough
to raise her up?

'Now, then!' he said, speaking from the rock under which the brushwood
grew, 'I cannot reach you unless you raise up your hand to me--your
left hand--straight up. Let go. Now!'

It was a fearful moment. Amabel could not see him, and felt as if
relinquishing her grasp of the tree was certain destruction. The
instinct of self-preservation had been making her cling desperately
with that left hand, especially as it held by the thicker part of the
bough. But the habit of implicit confidence and obedience was stronger
still; she did not hesitate, and tightening her hold with the other
hand, she unclasped the left and stretched it upwards.

Joy unspeakable to feel his fingers close over her wrist, like iron,
even while the bush to which she had trusted was detaching itself,
almost uprooted by her weight! If she had waited a second she would
have been lost, but her confidence had been her safety. A moment or
two more, and with closed eyes she was leaning against him; his arm was
round her, and he guided her steps, till, breathless, she found herself
on the broad well-trodden path, out of sight of the precipice.

'Thank heaven!' he said, in a very low voice, as he stood still.
'Thank God! my Amy, I have you still.'

She looked up and saw how pale he was, though his voice had been so
steady throughout. She leant on his breast, and rested her head on his
shoulder again in silence, for her heart was too full of awe and
thankfulness for words, even had she not been without breath or power
to speak, and needing his support in her giddiness and trembling.

More than a minute passed thus. Then, beginning to recover, she looked
up to him again, and said, 'Oh, it was dreadful! I did not think you
could have saved me.'

'I thought so too for a moment!' said Guy, in a stifled voice. 'You
are better now? You are not hurt? are you sure?'

'Quite sure! I did not fall, you know, only slipped. No, I have
nothing the matter with me, thank you.'

She tried to stand alone, but the trembling returned. He made her sit
down, and she rested against him, while he still made her assure him
that she was unhurt. 'Yes, quite unhurt--quite well; only this wrist
is a little strained, and no wonder. Oh, I am sure it was Providence
that made those bushes grow just there!'

'How did it happen?'

'It was my fault. I went after a flower; my foot slipped on the turf,
and I could not stop myself. I thought I should have run right down
the precipice.'

She shut her eyes and shuddered again. 'It was frightful!' he said,
holding her fast. 'It was a great mercy, indeed. Thank heaven, it is
over! You are not giddy now.'

'Oh, no; not at all!'

'And your wrist?'

'Oh, that's nothing. I only told you to show you what was the worst,'
said Amy, smiling with recovered playfulness, the most re-assuring of
all.

'What flower was it?'

'A piece of purple saxifrage. I thought there was no danger, for it
did not seem steep at first.'

'No, it was not your fault. You had better not move just yet; sit
still a little while.'

'0 Guy, where are you going?'

'Only for your sketching tools and my stick. I shall not be gone an
instant. Sit still and recover.'

In a few seconds he came back with her basket, and in it a few of the
flowers.

'Oh, I am sorry,' she said, coming to meet him; 'I wish I had told you
I did not care for them. Why did you?'

'I did not put myself in any peril about them. I had my trusty staff,
you know.'

'I am glad I did not guess what you were doing. I thought it so
impossible, that I did not think of begging you not. I shall keep them
always. It is a good thing for us to be put in mind how frail all our
joy is.'

'All?' asked Guy, scarcely as if replying to her, while, though his arm
pressed hers, his eye was on the blue sky, as he answered himself,
'Your joy no man taketh from you.'

Amabel was much impressed, as she thought what it would have been for
him if his little wife bad been snatched from him so suddenly and
frightfully. His return--his meeting her mother--his desolate home and
solitary life. She could almost have wept for him. Yet, at the moment
of relief from the fear of such misery, he could thus speak. He could
look onward to the joy beyond, even while his cheek was still blanched
with the horror and anguish of the apprehension; and how great they had
been was shown by the broken words he uttered in his sleep, for several
nights afterwards, while by day he was always watching and cautioning
her. Assuredly his dependence on the joy that could not be lost did
not make her doubt his tenderness; it only made her feel how far behind
him she was, for would it have been the same with her, had the danger
been his?

In a couple of days they arrived at the beautiful Lugano, and, as
usual, their first walk was to the post-office, but disappointment
awaited them. There had been some letters addressed to the name of
Morville, but the Signor Inglese had left orders that such should be
forwarded to Como. Amabel, in her best Italian, strove hard to explain
the difference between the captain and Sir Guy, the Cavaliere Guido, as
she translated him, who stood by looking much amused by the
perplexities of his lady's construing; while the post-master, though
very polite and sorry for the Signora's disappointment, stuck to the
address being Morville, poste restante.

'There is one good thing,' said the cavaliere, as they walked away, 'we
can find the captain now. I'll write and ask him--shall I say to meet
us at Varenna or at Bellagio?'

'Whichever suits him best, I should think. It can't make much
difference to us.'

'Your voice has a disconsolate cadence,' said Guy, looking at her with
a smile.

'I did not mean it,' she answered; 'I have not a word to say against
it. It is quite right, and I am sure I don't wish to do otherwise.'

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