Herb of Grace
Rosa Nouchette Carey
Part 7 out of 8
oppressed him intolerably. Nothing interested him--nothing gave him
pleasure. His literary work, the society of his friends, even his
nightly "smokes" with the faithful Goliath, were like the dust and
bitterness of the apples of Sodom. The present was like the desert
of Sahara to him, and the future a perfect cavern of gloom.
He was tired of himself and every one else, and, though he did not
know it, his nerves were unstrung, and he could not always control
But he did his best, and fought his "foul fiend" gallantly. "He is a
good divine that follows his own instructions," he would say grimly,
when he compelled himself to make fresh efforts. Anything was better
than brooding, he thought. And in the evenings he would resist the
temptation to yield to his weariness and to take possession of his
For he knew too well that at such hours he was not master of his
thoughts, and that in fancy the empty chair opposite to him would
not long be unoccupied.
How often had he pictured Elizabeth there as the companion of his
solitude--how often had her bright face, with its changing
expression, come between him and his book! And in the gloaming her
pleasant voice, with its quick breaks and hesitation, its
characteristic abruptness, had sounded in his ears. Sometimes he
would walk to and fro in a perfect agony of impatience and
passionate rebellion against his fate. "I am possessed, but it is
with an angel in woman's shape," he would say to himself; "and yet
she is no angel either--she is far too human. And her faults--oh
well," with a dreary laugh, "her faults are Elizabethan too." But
once, when the bitterness of his pain was too great, he muttered to
himself a strange thing.
"It is I who ought to be in his place," he said. "She is bewitched--
David Carlyon's simplicity and goodness have bewitched her--but he
is not her rightful mate." And then he struck himself fiercely on
the breast and whispered, "He is here--he is here, Elizabeth!"
But in spite of his inward sadness he would not spare himself, and
every week he went as usual to Queen's Gate to dine with his mother.
But the long evenings tried him, and he found it difficult to hide
his ennui and weariness from his mother's sharp eyes. One evening,
just before Christmas, Anna made some remarks on his tired looks in
her gentle, affectionate way, and he had checked her with unwonted
"I wish you would get out of that habit of commenting on people's
looks," he said quite angrily. "It is very objectionable to me. I
suppose every one is tired and out of sorts at times, but it does no
good to notice it."
"I am sorry, Malcolm--I will try to remember next time," faltered
Anna; but the tears were in her eyes, and a few minutes later she
left the room.
Mrs. Herrick ventured on a remonstrance. "I am afraid you have hurt
Anna," she said; "she is so sensitive, and you were quite rough with
"I am afraid I was," returned Malcolm penitently; "but if you only
knew how it riles a man to be watched so closely."
"It was a very natural speech on Anna's part," replied his mother in
her sensible, matter-of-fact way. "The truth is, Malcolm, you have
not been like yourself for months--you are ill or worried, and you
do not wish us to take any notice. Well, you shall have your way,
but it is a little hard on us both."
"Mother, there is nothing that I can tell you. You know I have said
that before. One must have worries in this life--" But Malcolm
checked himself as Anna came back into the room. She was rather
quiet and subdued all dinner-time, though she tried to appear as
usual. And Malcolm's conscience pricked him unmercifully.
Later on he found himself alone with her. She was drawing at a
little round table, and he went and stood by her.
"Annachen," he said caressingly, as he put his hand under her chin
and made her look at him, "I was a brute to speak to you as I did.
Of course you meant it kindly, dear, but it seemed to rub me up the
wrong way. I think I am tired this evening; anyhow, my head aches."
And Malcolm might have added with truthfulness that his heart ached
"Yes, and I worried you; it was very tactless and foolish on my
part," and again the ready tears started to Anna's eyes. But Malcolm
would not allow this--his dear little Anna was always kind and
thoughtful, and he had no right to be so savage with her.
"My mother is always hinting at my changed looks, but indeed I try
to be as usual. If I behave so badly, I must keep away." But this
threat so alarmed Anna that he took back his words.
"He is very unhappy--I think he gets more so," Anna thought, as she
stood by her window that night; "and of course it is Elizabeth who
makes him so." And that night Anna again wept and prayed for
Malcolm--her dearest brother, as she called him--for deep down in
her girlish heart there was buried the pure virginal love that she
had unconsciously given him--a love that no touch or breath would
ever wake into life now.
Malcolm was very repentant for days over his unkind speech, and on
Christmas Eve, when he paid his next visit, he brought Anna a peace-
offering in the shape of a valuable proof engraving of a picture she
had long coveted. Malcolm had had it beautifully framed. Anna was
enchanted with the gift, but Mrs. Herrick privately called her son
to account for his extravagance.
"There was no need to make Anna such an expensive present," she said
seriously. "You must have paid twenty guineas for that engraving.
You are too lavish in your generosity. She would be quite satisfied
with some pretty trifle."
"I am quite sure of that," he returned; "but it is such a pleasure
to give her things. Indeed, mother," as Mrs. Herrick still looked
grave, "I can well afford it. I have more money than I know how to
spend, and as I am not likely to marry, I see no good in hoarding."
Malcolm was right in saying that his income was too large for a
bachelor, for in addition to the salary he drew from his literary
post, his mother insisted on making him a handsome allowance, and
every quarter day a large sum was placed to his account at his
banker's, which Malcolm rarely touched.
"You are my only son, and there will be plenty for you when I die,"
she had said to him; "and Anna shall have her share too. Your father
was a rich man, Malcolm, and there is no need for you to work unless
you wish to do so;" but Malcolm soon convinced her that an idle life
was not to his taste.
Just after the new year Malcolm received rather a reproachful letter
from Mrs. Godfrey, accusing him of forgetting their existence.
"Of course you will say you are busy," she wrote, "but I do not mean
to accept that excuse. You can spend a quiet Sunday with us as well
as at Oxford, and I beg to remind you that I am an older friend than
Dinah Templeton." Then Malcolm somewhat reluctantly made up his mind
to accept the invitation for the following Saturday, although he was
hardly in the mood for his old friend's lively talk.
To his surprise his genial hostess received him rather gravely, and
it struck him at once that her cheerfulness was a little forced, and
with the familiarity of their intimate friendship he at once taxed
her with it. "Colonel Godfrey is well, and you are quite well," he
said pointedly, "and yet something seems troubling you?"
"You are quite right," she returned with a sigh. "You know I am
rather a sympathetic person, Mr. Herrick, and I have been very much
upset this morning by a letter from Elizabeth Templeton. Mr. Carlyon
has been up to town to consult Dr. Broderick. His father took him;
and from what she says there is nothing to be done--the poor fellow
is in a rapid decline," and as she said this Mrs. Godfrey's eyes
were full of tears.
Bleed on beneath the rod,
Weep on until thou see;
Turn fear and hope to love of God,
Who loveth thee.
Turn all to love, poor soul;
Be love thy starting-point, thy goal,
Be love thy watch and ward;
And thy reward.
It was the Feast of the Epiphany, and morning service was just over
in Rotherwood church, when Elizabeth Templeton came out of the porch
and walked slowly towards the gate, as though she expected some one
to overtake her.
At the sound of short, hurrying footsteps behind her she turned
round and welcomed the new-comer with a faint smile, and they went
on together. The Rev. Rupert Carlyon had been taking the service at
his son's request, and now, as he walked beside Elizabeth and tried
vainly to adapt his brisk, rapid step to hers, he looked more than
ever like a gray-haired, shabby David Carlyon. The resemblance
between father and son had always been striking, and even the
mannerisms and tricks of speech were absurdly similar. "A dry,
chippy little man," Cedric had once called him, and now, in his worn
Inverness cape and slouched clerical hat, he seemed smaller and more
shrunken than ever.
It was a lovely winter's day, and the hoar-frost on the hedges
glittered in the sunshine; the air was crisp and buoyant in spite of
the cold; but Elizabeth, who so revelled in the beauty of Nature,
and thought every season good and perfect, now only glanced round
her with the indifferent air of one whose thoughts were elsewhere.
"You are going to the vicarage?" she remarked at last; "I must not
take you out of your way."
"Oh, I will walk as far as the White Cottage with you," returned Mr.
Carlyon briskly. "You have promised to spend my last day with my boy
and me, so I shall be sure to turn up at tea. Charrington will give
me some luncheon, and then I have two or three visits to pay for
David; he is worrying himself dreadfully about that cobbler's
"Ah, poor little Kit," observed Elizabeth sadly; "how sorry Mr.
Herrick will be--Kit is his special protegee. But Dr. Randolph says
that she could never have lived to grow up. Her stepmother is
nursing her devotedly; but it is so sad to see Caleb Martin: he is
quite bound up in the child, and it seems no use to try and comfort
him. 'Ay, it is the Lord's will,' he said to me yesterday, 'and
maybe Kit will have a fine time when the angels make much of her;
but what will Ma'am and I do without her--that is what I want to
"To be sure--to be sure," returned Mr. Carlyon hurriedly, "that is
what we all want to know. Well, Elizabeth, you will do your best to
make my boy hear reason? Theo and I have failed, and this is our
"I will do what I can," replied Elizabeth dejectedly; "but David is
a difficult patient, and I very much fear that even I shall have
little influence with him. It is so strange," she continued
sorrowfully, "that with all his unselfishness he should think so
little of our feelings in this."
"Oh, you must make allowances for the morbidness of disease,"
returned Mr. Carlyon, shaking his head. "Sick people have their
fancies. You must not lose heart, my dear,--remember you are my
chief comfort as well as David's." Then again she tried to smile.
The next minute they came in sight of the White Cottage, and Mr.
Carlyon left her to fulfil his self-imposed duties.
Elizabeth was right when she confessed that David Carlyon was a
difficult patient, for his high spirit and energy had prevented him
for a long time from owning he was ill.
Even in the early days of their engagement there had been symptoms
that ought not to have been neglected; but he had fought his languor
and fever manfully, and even Elizabeth knew nothing of an alarming
attack of faintness that had followed an unusually hard day's work.
Afterwards he had taken cold, and his illness had been so sharp that
Elizabeth in desperation had summoned his sister; but even then
David had absolutely refused any further medical advice, and had
also resisted all his friends' entreaties that he would be moved to
the vicarage or the Wood House to be properly nursed. "His old
diggings were good enough for the likes of him," he would say, "and
though Mother Pratt had her failings, she was not a bad sort;" and
when Elizabeth pressed him more closely he had seemed quite worried.
"Do give me my way in this," he said to her coaxingly. "If you knew
how I love this dear old cottage! It was in this room I first saw
you, dearest. You were standing by that window, in the sunshine,
when the vicar brought me to see the place, and you turned round
with such a beaming smile on your face. I think I loved you then. I
could not be so happy anywhere else." And Elizabeth had reluctantly
yielded her opinion.
But the humble cottage rooms had been beautified and transformed by
hers and Dinah's thoughtful care for the invalid, and one comfort
after another had found their way from the Wood House. The very
couch that Dinah had used in her illness, with its soft silk
cushions and eider-down foot-quilt, the gold and black screen from
the inner drawing-room, and a favourite easy-chair that David had
often praised, were all at the White Cottage, Nor was Mr.
Charrington behindhand in his attentions. His housekeeper, Mrs.
Finch, always prepared the invalid's dainty little dinners: the
excellent beef-tea and soups, the jellies, rusks, and delicate
puddings, were all Mrs. Finch's handiwork. Mrs. Pratt's cookery was
not to be depended on, and though she pretended to grumble at other
folks' interference, she was only too glad to be saved trouble.
It may be doubted whether David Carlyon really realized his own
serious condition until the physician's opinion had been made known
to him. "Advanced phthisis," he muttered thoughtfully. But when Dr.
Broderick proceeded to recommend Mentone or some southern health
resort for the winter, he had turned upon him almost abruptly.
"I suppose Davos Platz would not cure me?" he asked. Then, as the
doctor hesitated with the natural dislike to give pain, David
"It would be the truest kindness on your part, Dr. Broderick, to
tell me the truth. If I take your advice and go to one of these
places, may I expect to get well in time?"
"I am afraid not, Mr. Carlyon," returned the physician reluctantly.
"It would be wrong of me to let you go away with this idea. You have
consulted me too late--the disease is too far advanced. But it is my
duty to tell you that life would certainly be prolonged in a warmer
"There, David," and the Rev Rupert Carlyon looked pleadingly at his
"Wait a moment, father," returned David firmly; "I have not quite
finished my questions. Let us understand each other, doctor. If I go
away, you tell me my life will be prolonged--do you mean for years?"
Dr. Broderick shook his head.
"Oh, I see"--but David tried not to look at his father's pinched,
white face--"you mean months probably?"
"Yes--yes," returned the doctor hurriedly; "with care, and under
favourable circumstances, there might be no further breakdown for
another year; but"--with a keen look at his patient--"I will not
undertake to promise this."
"I quite understand," returned David quietly. "Dr. Broderick, I am
sorry, but I cannot take your prescription. They sent my mother to
Davos Platz--there seemed hope for her--and she died away from us
all; and one of my sisters died at Mentone too. But I do not intend
to follow their example;" and then he had risen from his chair and
put an end to the interview.
Nothing would induce him to go abroad. Even when Elizabeth promised
that she and Dinah would go too, his resolution to remain in England
had been unshaken.
"Why should I let them sacrifice themselves for me?" he said to his
father. "Am I not bringing trouble enough on Elizabeth? Why did I
ever speak to her? I was mad to let her engage herself to me--I
might have known how it would be!" And that day David's despondency
was very great.
But at other times he made heroic efforts to hide his deep inward
sadness from Elizabeth. He was so young, and the love of life was so
strong within him, and the thought of disease and death so terrible.
Sometimes in the dark hours of the winter's night, when his racking
cough would not let him sleep, he wrestled with his despair as
Christian wrestled with Apollyon.
"A soldier who refuses wounds and death," he would say to himself--
"a minister of Christ who fears to tread in his Master's footsteps,
what is he but a coward and deserter--and I am both!"
And then the torrent of his human passion would sweep over his soul-
-his love for Elizabeth, the knowledge that but for this hereditary
malady he would have had the blessed certainty of calling her wife!
What a noble life they two would have lived! What plans of
unselfishness they had formed! How the treasures of their happiness
would have overflowed and fertilised other and more barren lives!
And now not life but death claimed him!
Ah, no wonder if his human weakness blenched at the prospect, if his
heart at times quailed and grew sick within him; for when one is
young and happy it is not easy to die, and fuller life, not rest, is
the thing desired.
But there were times when his fears seemed lulled and tranquillised,
and when, with the strange hopefulness that was a feature of his
disease, he would even delude himself with the idea that the doctors
were wrong, and that he would surely get better.
These intervals of comparative brightness would come to him when the
sun shone, or his nights had been less suffering, or when Elizabeth
was with him. Her presence so rested and stimulated him that it was
impossible for him always to realise the truth. "I can think of
nothing but you," he would say to her--"I can think of nothing but
The sitting-room at the White Cottage looked snug and cosy that
morning; the fire burned cheerily, and David Carlyon lay on his
luxurious couch in the sunshine in a perfect nest of pillows,
carefully screened from draughts, and with a small table beside him,
with flowers and fruit and books--all carefully and tastefully
arranged by Elizabeth's own hands, on her way to church, while the
invalid was still in his bedroom.
It was a good day with David, and the old cheery smile was on his
lips as Elizabeth entered; but as she knelt beside him to give him
her usual greeting, the ravages of the fatal disease were fearfully
perceptible in the strong light.
The hollowed temples and sharply-defined features, the tightened
skin, the hectic flush, the emaciation and shortness of breathing,
and the constant cough, all told their sad tale of rapid decline and
decay. Too late--she knew it well--for any human skill to arrest
those symptoms; no earthly care and love could preserve that
cherished life much longer!
"You are late, dearest," he said, holding her hand; "I saw the
church-goers pass a quarter of an hour ago. I expect you and my
father were gossiping as usual. But all the same I know my good
Fairy has been at work," with a glance at his flowers. "You must not
spoil me like this, my darling," and he raised her hand to his lips.
"You know I love to do it," returned Elizabeth gently. And then she
brought a low chair to his side, and placed herself where he could
see her. He would lie for hours contentedly watching her as she
worked or read to him. Sometimes the thin hand would touch a fold of
her dress caressingly, as though even that were sacred to him, and
not a change of the speaking face or an intonation of her voice
would be lost on him.
Perhaps no two men were more dissimilar than David Carlyon and
Malcolm Herrick, and yet they were alike in this, that they each
loved Elizabeth with a profound and noble love.
"You are looking serious, dear," he said presently, as Elizabeth
made a pretence of sorting the silks of her embroidery. That little
piece of embroidery with its gay silken flowers became one of
Elizabeth's dearest relics. It was David who helped her choose the
shades, who insisted on a spray of his favourite lilies of the
valley being inserted. How he had praised her skill and made his
little jokes over her industry! But the screen would never be used
by him now, and the stitches were put in perfunctorily and with a
Elizabeth had made no answer to David's remark about her gravity.
She was trying to collect her thoughts for the business she had in
view; but the next minute a hand was laid upon her work.
"Tell me all about it," he said persuasively. "Of course I know you
and my father have been brewing mischief. I think I can read your
very thoughts," as Elizabeth looked up at him; "you need not try to
hide things from me."
"I could not if I tried," she returned in a low voice. "David, I
want you to do something for my sake. Your father and I--yes, and
Dinah too--have been making such a nice little plan. We have heard
of a delightful house at Ventnor; it belongs to a friend of Mrs.
Godfrey, and it is so comfortable and so beautifully furnished, and
with such a pleasant view. You are so fond of the sea, David, and
your father loves it too; and we thought"--hesitating a moment, as
she felt the grip of David's fingers round her wrist--"Dinah and I
both thought it would be a capital arrangement to take Red Brae for
three or four months. There would be plenty of room for you, and
your father and Theo too," she continued as he remained silent; "and
it would be so nice for us to be together, and our old nurse Mrs.
Gibbon--you know Mrs. Gibbon, dear--would help us to take care of
David drew a deep breath. "Yes, I see," he returned slowly, "and all
the expense and trouble would be for me. Don't I know your
generosity, Elizabeth," in a choked voice. "But it is too much--I
cannot do it. Don't you know, darling--don't we both know--that
nothing really matters? Ventnor will do me no good. Let me bide
where I am," and David's voice was pathetic in its pleading--"let me
die in this dear old cottage."
"No, no," returned Elizabeth, bursting into tears. "David, how can
you be so cruel! Surely you wish to stay longer with me! Why need we
be parted yet! Think of it, dear--that it is for my sake, and your
father's and Theo's. If it is a sacrifice, it is a sacrifice for
those you love. Oh, David, my David, it is such a little thing I
ask--just for us to be a few months longer together. I know how you
hated going abroad, and I would not have pressed it for worlds; but
Ventnor--oh, David, you cannot have the heart to refuse me!" And
Elizabeth broke down utterly and hid her face in her hands.
Perhaps it was as well that she did not see David's expression that
moment; as he lay back upon his pillows his face was deathly. Why
did they ask this of him? He was just growing more resigned and
peaceful. Those agonised prayers of his for aid and succour had been
answered, and the deep blessedness of an accepted cross seemed to
fill his soul with a strange calm. He must die, and he knew it; but
his Heavenly Father had been merciful to him, and death had lost its
terrors; and now his longing was to die in the village he had chosen
as his home, and under the shadow of the church where he had
ministered as God's priest.
He knew where they would lay him: he and Elizabeth had chosen his
last resting-place, and she had listened dry-eyed to his simple
directions and wishes. He had talked out his heart to her, and her
unselfish sympathy had been his greatest comfort. But now she was
asking this sacrifice of him, and how was he to refuse her? And yet,
if Elizabeth had guessed how the thought of that exile filled him
with dismay and desolation, she would surely have denied her own
craving for a few more weeks of life. But David knew better than to
Presently the hot hand was laid on her head.
"Elizabeth, let me see your dear face. You and my father shall have
your way, darling; I will go to Ventnor." David's breathing was so
laboured that he was obliged to stop here; but Elizabeth, with a cry
of joy, threw her arms round him.
"Oh, David dear, thank you--thank you! You have made me so happy!"
and the smile he loved so well beamed through her tears. But David's
answering smile was rather forced.
"There is little cause for thankfulness," he replied wearily--"a
poor helpless invalid who will only give you trouble! But there is
one thing you must promise, dearest." And, as she looked at him
expectantly, he whispered, "You must promise to bring me back here."
Then Elizabeth bowed her head in silence, for she knew too well what
"I HAVE BEEN A COWARD"
Father! we need Thy winter as Thy spring;
We need Thy earthquakes as Thy summer showers;
But through them all Thy strong arms carry us,
Thy strong heart bearing large share in our grief.
Because Thou lovest goodness more than joy
In them Thou lovest, Thou dost let them grieve.
And so it was settled--Elizabeth had her way; and after a little
they talked quietly of their future plans. The flitting was to be
accomplished as soon as possible. The house would be ready for them
in another week. Dinah would go down first to make arrangements, and
Cedric would accompany her, and stay at Ventnor until it was time
for him to return to Oxford. The change of scene would be good for
him, and in many ways he would be useful to Dinah. Elizabeth also
told David that his father had promised to travel down with them;
that he intended to find a locum tenens for Stokeley, and that he
would probably remain with them for a month or six weeks; and this
last item of information seemed to afford David much satisfaction.
But the next moment he observed, in rather a worried tone, that it
would be a great expense, and that he was afraid Theo would object.
"Theo will have to mind her own business," returned Elizabeth
severely. "Your father means to tell her that you are his first
duty, and of course he is right." But Elizabeth carefully forbore to
tell David that she had already undertaken to pay the expenses of
the locum tenens for three months, and by dint of sheer obstinacy
and feminine persuasions she had at last induced Mr. Carlyon to
accept her bounty.
"My poverty and not my will consents," he observed sadly. But
Elizabeth would not listen to this.
"Dear Mr. Carlyon," she had said earnestly, "if you only knew the
pleasure this will give me. Can you not understand that I only cared
for my money because it would be his, and now what good will it be
to me? Let me use it for him as long as I can. Let me do all in my
power for him and you too--as though--as though I were already your
daughter." And then, as she wiped away a few quiet tears, Mr.
Carlyon had yielded.
David strove with his wonted unselfishness to interest himself in
Elizabeth's plans for his comfort. He heard how the inner drawing-
room at Red Brae was to be converted into a bedroom, that he might
be able, without fatigue, to take possession of the drawing-room
couch by the pleasant window, with its view of the sea; and how a
smaller room on the same floor was to be prepared for his father.
But by and bye, in spite of his efforts, his attention flagged, and
he looked so exhausted that Elizabeth refused to say another word.
"I shall give you your luncheon, and then read you to sleep," she
said, in what David called "her Mother Gamp tone;" but he was too
worn out to resist, and though forgetfulness was not to be obtained,
it was certainly a comfort to lie with closed eyes and listen to
Elizabeth's dear voice, till the twilight compelled her to close the
book, and then she sat by him in silence until he asked her to light
Tea was ready before Mr. Carlyon returned. As he opened the door he
gave a quick, anxious glance at Elizabeth.
"Come in, dad, it is all right," observed David in a weak voice, but
he spoke with his old cheeriness. "Wilful man, and wilful woman too,
must have their way, and I have given in like a good boy."
"That's a dear lad," returned his father, rubbing his cold hands
gleefully together. "I knew you would make him hear reason,
Elizabeth. She is worth the rest of us put together, is she not,
"Mr. Carlyon," interrupted Elizabeth, "David is tired and must not
talk any more, and some one else is tired too." And then she drew up
an easy-chair by the fire and gave Mr. Carlyon his tea, and talked
to him softly about Mr. Charrington and Kit, until it was time for
her to go; but even then she refused to bid him good-bye. "I shall
be at the station," she whispered, as he kissed her forehead; "we
can say things to each other then," and he understood her and
But later on, as Mr. Carlyon sat beside his son's bed-side, with the
worn little book of devotions out of which he had been reading to
him still open in his hands, he was struck with the strained,
troubled look in David's eyes.
"What is it, my dear?" he said wistfully, for the curate-in-charge
of Stokeley had homely little ways and tricks of speech that
endeared him still more to those who loved him, and Elizabeth would
often praise the simplicity and unobtrusive goodness that reminded
her of David.
"There is something on your mind," he continued tenderly; "make a
clean breast of it, my boy. You and I understand each other--don't
we, Davie?" and Mr. Carlyon gently patted his son's hand, as though
he were still a little child. "Out with it, lad--you are not quite
happy about Ventnor?"
"Father, how could you guess that?" returned David in a deprecating
voice. "If you knew how I hate myself for being so cowardly and
ungrateful. Promise me--promise me, dad, that you will never let
Elizabeth know how badly I feel about it; it would make her so
"So it would, poor girl--so it would," rejoined Mr. Carlyon, for in
his eyes Elizabeth was still a girl, and the very dearest of
daughters to him.
"She and Dinah have planned it all for me," continued David. "I know
what a sacrifice it is to Dinah, for she does so dislike leaving
home; but she is doing it for Elizabeth's sake."
"You are doing it for Elizabeth's sake too, are you not, David?"
asked his father quietly. Then the harassed face brightened at once.
"Let me tell you all about it, dad," he returned eagerly--"it will
be such a comfort; you have often been my father-confessor before.
If you knew how my heart sank when Elizabeth begged me to go to
Ventnor, and yet how was I to refuse her when she said, with tears
in her eyes, that my consenting to the plan would probably give her
a few more weeks of happiness. You know how she meant it?"
"Oh yes, I know, David," in the same quiet tone.
"Of course, I could not refuse. I dared not be guilty of such
selfishness, for--after all, what does a little more pain matter?"
and here David drew a heavy sigh of intense weariness. "But I was so
tired, and then I knew that the battle would have to be fought all
"I am not sure that I understand you, dear lad."
"No, because I am not making things clear; but I will try to do so,
and then you must help me. I have been a coward, father--that's the
truth--and have rebelled against my hard fate--God's will was not my
will, and I wanted to live and marry Elizabeth."
"Ay, David boy, I know."
"Yes, you know," with a sad, yearning look at the gray head bent now
upon the trembling hands. "You know that was how my mother felt when
she went so far away from us to die--she only consented to go
because she wanted to live."
"And it broke her heart to leave us," returned his father huskily.
"Dear heart, how she prayed that we might be spared that parting;
but the Divine Will ordered otherwise."
"I have prayed too," murmured David, "and then, thank God! the
strength and help I needed so sorely came. I have felt so peaceful
lately, and now the struggle will begin again."
"Oh no, surely not, David."
"Yes, father, it must. I shall get better for a time, and I shall
have the sunshine, and Elizabeth's dear love, and life will grow too
precious to me again, and I shall dishonour my Master, and put Him
to shame, by wanting to lay down my cross."
"No, David, I am not afraid of that," returned his father gravely.
"My own boy, this is only one of the dark hours, when the evil one
tempts you in your weakness; need I remind you of what you have so
often preached to others, that as thy day thy strength will be, and
that help never comes beforehand?"
"True, but I seem to forget everything." Then a warm, comforting
hand was laid tenderly upon David's forehead.
"I shall remind you. We shall not be parted yet, my son, and God
will help me to say the right words to you. Ah, David," in a
reverent tone, "many lives have their Gethsemanes, but only one ever
drank the bitter cup of sorrow to the dregs without a murmur, and
only one had an angel to comfort Him. He will not be hard on us
because our human will shrinks from some hard cross of pain, for 'He
knoweth our frame,' and in our weakness and extremity He will be our
staff and our stay." And in trembling tones he blessed his boy, and
sat beside him in voiceless prayer and the deep, inward supplication
of exceeding love, nor did he leave him until David had sunk into an
David was very feverish and unwell the next day, and Mr. Carlyon
could not leave him; but after a few hours he grew better again, and
as the days went on he seemed to recover his old cheerfulness.
One afternoon, as Elizabeth was sitting with him as usual--for she
always spent her afternoons at the White Cottage--he surprised her
by asking if Malcolm Herrick never came to the Wood House now.
"How strange that you should ask that question," returned Elizabeth,
colouring slightly at the mention of Malcolm's name, "for he is
coming down this very evening, and Cedric is driving to Earlsfield
to meet him. Dinah asked him to come," she went on; "she wanted to
talk to him about Cedric."
"Herrick is Dinah's right-hand man of business--she quite swears by
him," replied David, smoothing tenderly a ruffled lock of brown hair
that the wind had disordered. "I suppose he will remain the night?"
"Oh yes, of course. Dinah has got a room ready for him; she told him
that she should not allow him to go to the 'King's Arms.'"
"It was right for her to put her foot down," returned David
approvingly. "Why on earth need he scruple to accept your
hospitality! Somehow I always liked Herrick, though I am not so sure
that he returned the compliment; perhaps under the circumstances one
could hardly expect it."
Elizabeth's face grew hot--the subject was a painful one to her.
"Never mind about Mr. Herrick, dear," she said hurriedly; "Dinah and
he are great friends."
"You need not tell me that," in rather a meaning tone; "Dinah has
excellent taste. Dearest," his voice changing to seriousness, "I
want you to give Herrick a message from me. Tell him I should like
to shake hands with him when he goes to the vicarage."
"Do you really want me to say this to him?" and there was little
doubt from Elizabeth's face that she was reluctant to give the
message. But David meant to have his way.
"Yes, tell him," he repeated. "He and Cedric are sure to walk over
in the morning--the vicar and Herrick are such cronies; and why
should he pass my door?" And this seemed so plausible that Elizabeth
said no more; but as she walked home she wondered more than once
over this strange fancy on David's part. There had been so little
intercourse between the two young men--a secret sense of antagonism
on Malcolm Herrick's part had been an obstacle to David's proffered
friendliness. It was true that Mr. Herrick must pass the White
Cottage on his way to the vicarage, and even without the message his
good feeling would probably have induced him to stop and inquire
after the invalid, but she felt David's request would surprise him.
Nevertheless, she must do his will and give the message.
Elizabeth was later than usual that evening, and she found that
Malcolm had just arrived, and was talking to Dinah in the drawing-
room. He was standing before the fire warming himself after his cold
drive, and as Elizabeth entered he broke off in the middle of a
sentence and silently shook hands with her. Elizabeth felt at once
conscious that his manner was even more constrained and guarded than
usual, and this made her nervous, and for the moment she could find
nothing to say. It was a relief to them both when Dinah observed in
her quiet, matter-of-fact way--
"Mr. Herrick is so kind and obliging, Betty; he has promised not to
leave us until quite late to-morrow afternoon--that will give us
plenty of time for a nice talk. You see, Cedric will be with us this
evening, and we may find it difficult to get rid of him, and there
is so much that I want to say."
"I think I can take him off your hands," replied Elizabeth; and then
she turned to Malcolm, though he noticed that she avoided looking at
him, and there was a curious abruptness in her manner that almost
amounted to awkwardness.
"Mr. Carlyon has sent you a message, Mr. Herrick. He thinks you will
be sure to call at the vicarage, and he would like you to look in at
the White Cottage as you pass. He says that he would be pleased to
shake hands with you."
There was no doubt that Malcolm was surprised. He unconsciously
"He is very kind," he said rather formally; "but of course I meant
to call, or at least leave my card--I had just told your sister so."
"Perhaps you had better call at the vicarage first," returned
Elizabeth hurriedly. "Mr. Carlyon is rarely out of his room before
mid-day, and all hours are alike to Mr. Charrington." And when
Malcolm had gravely agreed to do this, Elizabeth went upstairs to
prepare for dinner, and did not appear again until the gong sounded.
She did not forget her promise, however, of taking Cedric off
Dinah's hands, and as soon as they had finished their coffee she
challenged him to a game of chess in the inner drawing-room, where
on cold nights a second fire generally burned.
The rooms were so large that unless Dinah and Malcolm raised their
voices it was impossible to hear their conversation, and as Cedric
had his back to them he had no idea that they were talking more
confidentially than usual; but from Malcolm's position Elizabeth's
face stood out in full relief, and in spite of all his efforts his
attention often wandered.
Even in those few short weeks since they had last met he could see a
change in her. She had grown thinner and paler, and there was a
deepened sadness in her eyes; and yet in his opinion she had never
looked more lovely, though it was more the inward than outward
loveliness that he meant.
He noticed how mechanically she played, and how the game failed to
interest her. When Cedric checkmated her twice, she only rose with
an air of relief, as though she had finished a wearisome task, and
came towards them.
"I am cold," she said simply, as Dinah made room for her; "we nearly
let the fire out between us." But as she sat in her snug corner
warming her hands, she did not attempt to join in the conversation.
Indeed, her manner was so absent that Malcolm felt convinced that
she heard little of what they said, and he was not surprised that
Dinah noticed it at last.
"You are tired, Betty dear," she said kindly; "I am quite sure that
Mr. Herrick will excuse you;" and Elizabeth availed herself at once
of this permission to withdraw.
"She is not at her ease," Malcolm thought bitterly. "She seems
afraid of me somehow; she will not meet my eyes, and she has
scarcely spoken a dozen words to me." And he sighed, for it seemed
the saddest thing to him that she should suffer, and that he should
be powerless to help her; and in his fanciful way he said to
himself, "We are like two travellers walking along stony paths with
a high wall between us, so that no helping hand can be stretched
out, and no voices of comfort can be heard." And then he added, "I
dare not even tell her that I am sorry for her, and for him too."
Malcolm was alone when he paid his visit to the White Cottage. There
was no doubt that the change in David Carlyon shocked him greatly,
though he strove to hide this from the invalid.
David welcomed him with his old cordiality; but Malcolm, who was
exceedingly nervous, could only stammer out a few commonplaces.
The bright, eager young face that Elizabeth so loved was shrunken
and wasted, the lips seemed drawn from the teeth, and yet at times
the old cheery smile played round them; but the voice was weak and
toneless, and every now and then the hard, dry cough seemed to rack
"If you knew how sorry I am to see you like this," observed Malcolm
"Well, I am rather a poor specimen just now," returned David with a
feeble laugh; "but what can't be cured must be endured--eh, Herrick?
I told Elizabeth" (here a shade came over Malcolm's face) "that I
should like to shake hands with you. When a fellow is going a long
journey"--and here David's hollow eyes grew a little sad and
wistful--"it seems natural to bid one's friends good-bye. We did not
know each other much, Herrick, but I always wanted to see more of
"You are very good to say so"--but if his life had depended on it
Malcolm could not have brought himself to say more at that moment.
He wished himself a hundred miles away.
A quaint, sweet smile flitted across David's face; he could read
"You have been such a good fellow, Herrick, and have done so much
for them all. That was a bad business with Cedric, but at his age he
will get over it--you and I know that."
"We do indeed," returned Malcolm gravely.
"Dinah comes and talks to me sometimes," went on David. "She says
that if you had been their own brother you could not have done more;
she is so grateful to you, Herrick." Perhaps he would have said
more, but Malcolm checked him.
"Never mind that, Carlyon; it was a great pleasure to me to do it.
Now let us talk of something more interesting." And then for a short
time they talked of Oxford and the boat-race; and then of Ventnor,
which Malcolm knew well--he had even spent an evening at Red Brae
when the Godfreys were staying there. "The house is charming," he
said quite enthusiastically; "I know the rooms you will have,
Carlyon, and they are delightful."
David did not respond, and he was evidently getting tired, so
Malcolm rose to take his leave.
"I wish--I wish I could do something for you too," he said with such
sincerity that David was quite touched.
"I have had my good things," he returned in a low voice, "and now I
must dree my weird. Don't worry, Herrick--things generally come
right in the long run, but we must not try to act Providence too
much. Good-bye--God bless you." The thin hand wrung Malcolm's with
surprising force; but Malcolm's eyes were a little misty as he went
out of the room, for he knew--he knew too well--that in this life he
should never see David Carlyon's face again!
THE PARTING OF THE WAYS
Shall I forget on this side of the grave?
I promise nothing: you must wait and see,
Patient and brave.
(O my soul, watch with him and he with me!)
Shall I forget in peace of Paradise?
I promise nothing: follow, friend, and see,
Faithful and wise.
(O my soul, lead the way he walks with me!)
A few days after the invalid had safely reached Ventnor, Dinah wrote
one of her pleasant, chatty letters to Malcolm. She told him that
David had borne the long journey fairly well, and that he and Mr.
Carlyon were charmed with Red Brae. "I wish Cedric could have stayed
longer," she finished. "He has been such a dear good boy; but I am
afraid he is still very unhappy. Elizabeth heard from Mrs. Godfrey
yesterday. Leah has been ill with influenza, but Mrs. Richardson has
nursed her like a mother. Leah seems devoted to her already. The
poor girl told Mrs. Godfrey that she had never had such a kind
friend in her life."
As the weeks went on, Dinah wrote still more cheerily. "The
improvement in David is quite surprising," she said in one of her
letters. "Even Dr. Hewlitt seems astonished. He is able to be out in
his bath-chair every day, and on sunny afternoons he spends hours on
the balcony. Mr. Carlyon is always with him. It is beautiful to see
their devotion to each other. They seem to think alike on every
subject. He and Elizabeth read aloud by turns, and I like to take my
work there and listen to them."
"A happy family party," thought Malcolm a little bitterly, as he put
down the letter. Even now he could have found it in his heart to
envy his rival; but the next moment he dismissed the unworthy
But it was only a temporary rally. Dr. Hewlitt told Dinah privately
one day that there was no real improvement in the patient's
condition, and that at any time there might be a sudden change for
the worse; when they least expected it, haemorrhage or collapse
might set in. And the doctor's fears were verified.
One day, late in March, David seemed unusually well. A gale had
blown all night, but towards morning the wind had lulled and a heavy
rain had set in, and David had expressed some disappointment at
having to remain indoors; but Mr. Carlyon, who considered himself
weather-wise, assured him that the weather would improve later.
The gale had disturbed Elizabeth, and she had found it impossible to
sleep for hours, and when she rose the next morning she felt
unusually weary and depressed. A strange foreboding--a sense of
separation and loss--seemed to oppress her, and no efforts on her
part could enable her to maintain her wonted cheerfulness. Her
dejection was so evident that David noticed it at last, and when Mr.
Carlyon had put on his old mackintosh and gone out for a blow on the
parade, he gently rallied her on her depression.
"What is it, dearest?" he asked rather anxiously. "You are not your
bright self this morning. You are so good and unselfish, darling,
that you never let me see when you are unhappy, but to-day you
cannot hide it from me." Then he took her hands and held them so
that he could see her face.
"I do not know what has come over me," returned Elizabeth in a
mournful voice, "but all night long and this morning my heart has
felt as heavy as lead." Great tears welled in her eyes, and she
suddenly laid her head down on his shoulder. "Oh, David--David, if I
could only go too; life will be so long and difficult without you."
He stroked her hair for a few minutes without speaking. She was
thinking of the parting that must surely come, and he must find some
word to comfort her. "If I could only feel that you were near me,"
she whispered, "even though I could not see you or hear your voice--
that you were still loving me and watching over my poor life!"
"Dearest," he returned tenderly, "I have often had these thoughts.
More than once my father and I have spoken of it. It is his idea
that nothing can divide us from those we love. Continuity of life--
continuity of love, that is his creed."
"Is it yours too, David?"
"Dear Elizabeth," returned the young man simply, "the future is so
veiled in mystery and silence that one hardly knows what one
believes, except that all will be well with us. It seems to me that
even in paradise we must still love our dear ones and pray for them,
so tossed and buffeted by the waves of this troublesome world: but
more than that I dare not say. I think I must always love you--there
as well as here." Then she smiled at him through her tears.
"Dear love," he went on a moment later, "there is something I have
often wanted to say, and yet the words were difficult to utter.
Elizabeth, life is long as you say, and your great loving heart must
not remain unsatisfied. Do not mourn for me too long--do not refuse
comfort that may be offered to you, if you can be happy, dear."
But here Elizabeth's hand was laid over his lips.
"No--no, you shall not say it--I will not hear it;" and Elizabeth's
eyes were wide with trouble. "David--David--" and then she could say
no more for her wild weeping.
"Hush--hush, my darling--I cannot bear this," and David's lips grew
so white that Elizabeth in alarm controlled herself. But as she gave
him a restorative, he held out his feeble hand to her. "Forgive me
if I said too much," he pleaded; "I thought perhaps it might be a
comfort afterwards. Dear Elizabeth, be true to yourself as you have
been true to me, and may God bless and reward you for all your
goodness to me and mine!" David spoke with strange solemnity, for,
though neither of them guessed it then, this was their last farewell
before the parting of the ways.
The evening passed tranquilly. Elizabeth seemed less dejected, but
her head ached, and she sat silently beside David, while Mr. Carlyon
went on with the book they were reading. Once, when there was a
pause, she looked up and saw David's rapt gaze fixed on the sunset,
while a look of almost unearthly beauty seemed to transform his
emaciated features. She would have spoken to him; but he made a
gesture as though for silence, and again that awful sense of
separation seemed to pass between them. Mr. Carlyon put down his
book, and looked too at the wondrous pageant of the sea and sky.
"The bridegroom has run his race," murmured David in a strange
voice. "What regal robes of gold and crimson! Father, this is the
best sunset we have seen yet."
"Ay, that it is, David," returned Mr. Carlyon; "but you are looking
weary, my boy, and I must be getting you to bed. Will you ring for
Nurse Gibbon, Elizabeth?" But as she did so she noticed how feebly
David walked, and how heavily he leant on his father's arm.
Half an hour later, as Elizabeth was standing on the balcony
enjoying the cool spring air, she heard Mr. Carlyon call her loudly.
Then a bell rang, and she and Dinah rushed into David's room. One
look at the changed, livid face told them the truth. Dinah sent off
for the doctor, and she and Elizabeth tried all possible remedies,
but in vain. Sudden collapse had set in. David could not speak; but
for one moment his dying eyes rested on Elizabeth's face, and his
last act of consciousness was to try to put her hand in his
"I understand, David," Elizabeth stooped and whispered into his dull
ear. "Yes, we will take care of each other, and comfort each other;"
and then a faint, flickering smile seemed to cross his face, but the
next moment unconsciousness set in. For hours Elizabeth knelt beside
him with her arm supporting the pillow under his head, while on the
other side the stricken father offered up supplications for his
dying son. When his voice quavered and broke with human weakness,
and Dinah begged him to spare himself, he shook his gray head.
"Maybe he hears me--I will go as far as I can with him down the
valley of the shadow of death," And then he folded his trembling
hands together. "Oh, David--David, would God I had died for thee, my
"It was very sudden," wrote Dinah to Malcolm the next morning. "Dear
David had seemed so much better that day; but Dr. Hewlitt had warned
us of probable collapse and heart-failure."
"He had only left us half an hour, and Mr. Carlyon was reading the
Evening Psalms to him, when he saw a change in him and called to
"I am sure David knew us when we went in, but he could not speak,
and then unconsciousness came on. The end was so quiet that we
hardly knew when he left us. We have telegraphed to Theo; there is
much to be done. Dear Elizabeth is very good and calm. She and Mr.
Carlyon are never apart; he can do nothing without her."
"He looks quite aged and broken, and no wonder: he has known so much
trouble, and David was his only son."
Dinah secretly marvelled at Elizabeth's wonderful self-control and
calmness. During those trying days no one saw her shed tears: it
seemed as though her grief was too deep and sacred for outward
manifestation. But when Dinah gently hinted at her surprise,
Elizabeth looked at her almost reproachfully.
"I thought you would have understood, Die," she returned in a low
voice. "David, my David, is a saint in paradise, and one must be
still and reverent in one's grief. When one has to mourn all one's
life, there need be no excitement." And then she murmured, "I shall
go to him, but he shall not return to me;" and then, as Dinah took
her sister's hand and kissed it almost passionately in her love and
sympathy, one of the old beautiful smiles lighted up Elizabeth's
"I was as one who dreamed," she said later on; and indeed it was a
strange dual life that she lived. There were the quiet hours when
she knelt beside the coffin--when her thoughts seemed winged, and
carried her to the still land where her beloved walked in green
pastures and beside still waters; when in fancy she seemed to hear
far-off echoes of melodious voices; when for David's sake she would
feel comforted and at rest.
"He did not want to die," she would say to herself--"life was sweet
to him--but God gave him grace to offer up his will, and then peace
came. Darling--darling," laying her cheek against the coffin, "you
will never suffer again--no more pain or weariness--no more conflict
and temptation--only fuller life and more faithful service--for His
servants shall serve Him, and they shall see His face." Elizabeth
marked those words with a red cross on the margin of her Bible on
the day David died.
But there was another reason for Elizabeth's self-control and
unselfishness. She was anxious on Mr. Carlyon's account. Dinah was
right when she told Malcolm that he was much aged and broken. "I
have lost my Benjamin, the son of my right hand," he had said to
her--"God's hand is heavy upon me;" and though he strove to bear his
sorrow with resignation, his feebleness alarmed them all. Theo, as
usual, was undisciplined in her grief. "He will die too," she
lamented. "Elizabeth, David has gone, and now poor father will
follow him. I have never seen him look so ill. David and he were
everything to each other."
"Hush, Theo," returned Elizabeth quietly, "we must give him time. It
has been a great shock. We must not let him know that we are
anxious." And, forgetful of her own trouble, Elizabeth ministered to
him with filial devotion. No one else could induce him to take food.
She would bring the cup of soup, or the glass of wine, and sit
beside him as he took it; or lure him gently to talk to her of
David--of his childhood or boyhood. "No one does him so much good as
Miss Templeton," Dr. Hewlitt observed one day to Dinah. "I confess I
was a bit anxious about him for two days--he has a weak heart, and I
did not quite like his look; but your sister has brought him round."
Elizabeth smiled happily when Dinah told her this.
"I am glad Dr. Hewlitt said that, Die. I do love to take care of
him; it is the only thing I can do for David now."
"Father," she said to him one day--for when they were alone she
always called him by that name--"I think you have still some work to
do before your rest time comes. You are getting better, are you
Then he looked at her with sad wistfulness.
"I think I am not worthy to go yet," he returned humbly. "I must do
my Master's work as long as He gives me strength to do it. Oh,
Elizabeth, they are all there--all but Theo and I--David's mother,
and Alice, and Magdalene, and our little Felicia, and now David has
joined them in that heavenly mansion."
"But you will go too, dear, when the Master says, 'Go up higher,'"
Then the slow tears of age gathered in Mr. Carlyon's eyes. "Yes--
yes, I know it; but the flesh is weak, Elizabeth. Pray for me that I
may have patience;" and then he rested his gray head against her as
she knelt beside him, as though the burden of that sorrow were too
heavy for him to bear.
Malcolm was in the churchyard that sunshiny April day when they
buried David in the tranquil spot that he had chosen for his last
resting-place. Not only the people of Rotherwood, but friends from
Staplegrove and Earlsfield, and from the villages for miles round,
were gathered there--for the young clergyman had been much beloved.
Very near the newly-made grave was a tiny grassy mound where little
Kit lay; and at Malcolm's side stood a small, shabbily-dressed man,
with pale watery blue eyes and an air of extreme dejection,
nervously fumbling with the crape band on his hat. Malcolm had just
laid a little spray of violets and lilies of the valley on the
mound, as they waited for the funeral procession.
"She was fond of flowers, Caleb."
"Ay, that she was, sir," brightening up. "Kit loved everything that
was bright and pretty, bless her dear heart! I hope they'll give her
lots of flowers where she's gone, and that they will let her pick
them for herself. You mind her last words to me, Mr. Herrick--'Good-
bye, dad, I am a-going to be an angel, and I mean to be a real
splendid one,' and all the time her poor throat would hardly let her
"Poor little soul," murmured Malcolm compassionately; for Kit had
suffered greatly in her heroic childish fashion. "Hush, here they
Malcolm grew quite white when he saw Elizabeth looking like a widow
in her deep mourning and crape veil, leaning on Mr. Carlyon's arm.
She had chosen the two hymns that David's favourite choir-boys were
to sing--"For all the saints who from their labours rest," and "How
bright those glorious spirits shine." They were singing the last
when the breeze caught Elizabeth's veil and blew it aside, and he
had a glimpse of her face. The beauty of her expression--its patient
sadness, its calm faith--moved him strangely. "He is not here," it
seemed to say--"he has gone to a world where there are no more
sorrow and sighing, and God shall wipe away all tears." And then the
boys' voices rang sweetly through the churchyard:
"'Midst pastures green He'll lead His flock,
Where living streams appear;
And God the Lord from every eye
Shall wipe off every tear."
Malcolm lingered behind until the crowd had dispersed, and then he
and Caleb looked down at the flower-decked coffin. Loving hands had
lined the walls of the grave with grasses and spring flowers, Lent
lilies and blue hyacinths, until it looked like a green bower decked
with blossoms. Countless wreaths and crosses and rustic bunches of
flowers lay on the grass waiting until the grave was filled. Malcolm
looked at them all before he went back to town; but all that evening
the remembrance of Elizabeth's rapt, uplifted look remained with
"She did not know I was there," he said to himself. But he was
wrong. The very next evening he had a note from Dinah.
"Elizabeth wants me to thank you," she wrote, "for your lovely
cross. She thought it so kind of you to be there with us. We both
saw you. Was it not all peaceful and beautiful? Next Thursday
Elizabeth is going to Stokeley with Mr. Carlyon. He is better, but
still very weak and ailing, and she dare not leave him to Theo. When
I am alone, will you come down for a night? it would be such a
comfort to talk to so kind a friend." And then when Malcolm read
this he made up his mind that he would go to the Wood House as soon
as Elizabeth had left for Stokeley.
God has furnished us with constant occasions of bearing
one another's burdens. For there is no man living
without his failings, no man that is so happy as never
to give offence, no man without his load of trouble.
A loving heart is the great requirement.
--Teaching of Buddha.
Cedric had spent the Easter vacation with Malcolm at Cheyne Walk.
Malcolm had previously sounded Dinah before he gave the invitation,
and found that she fully appreciated the thoughtfulness that
prompted it. "It is so like your usual kindness, dear friend," she
wrote. "You felt, as we do, that the Wood House would be too quiet
and dull just now for Cedric. It is so much better for him to be
with you. Indeed, I shall not mind being alone; and when Cedric goes
back to Oxford you will run down to see me as you promised."
Malcolm was relieved to find a great improvement in Cedric. Though
his love-affair had ended so disastrously, he had achieved his pet
ambition, and had been in the winning boat in the Oxford and
Cambridge boat-race. The excitement and months of training had done
him good morally and physically, and though he was still depressed
and melancholy, and had by no means forgotten Leah, he showed
greater manliness and self-control, and Malcolm's influence was
again in the ascendant.
Malcolm took him to Queen's Gate and introduced him to his mother
and Anna. He had previously acquainted his mother with the story of
his unfortunate infatuation for Leah Jacobi. To his surprise she was
deeply interested, and begged to be allowed to tell Anna.
"Anna cares so much more for unhappy people," she said. "You will
see how kind she will be to the poor fellow."
In her way Mrs. Herrick was kind too. Malcolm, who knew young men
were seldom welcome at 27 Queen's Gate, was secretly amazed at the
graciousness with which Cedric was received.
Mrs. Herrick's stoicism was not proof against the lad's handsome
face and deep melancholy. Her manner softened and grew quite
motherly; and as for Anna, Malcolm took her to task at last, when he
found that Cedric was in the habit of going over to Queen's Gate at
all hours in the day.
Anna thought Malcolm was serious, and flushed up in quite a
distressed manner at his bantering tone.
"Mother asked him," she said, defending herself quite anxiously. "It
is so dull for him at Cheyne Walk while you are in town, and so
mother said he could come here to luncheon whenever he liked."
"That was kind of her," returned Malcolm; "but as for dulness, there
is not a more jovial old fellow than Goliath of Gath. He and Verity
would look after him right enough during my absence. Cedric used to
be quite chummy with them when he was with me before."
"Yes, I know, dear, but Mr. Templeton says things are so different
this time. He likes the Kestons tremendously, but somehow he says he
does not feel up to the studio life. I know what he means, Malcolm,"
rather shyly--"when one is unhappy one must choose one's own
"And so Cedric prefers being here, and talking to you about his
troubles." Perhaps Malcolm's tone was slightly mischievous, for Anna
"Oh, Malcolm, surely you understand," she returned nervously. "Don't
you see, Mr. Templeton knows we are sorry for him, and he is
grateful for our sympathy, and he likes to come and talk to us. He
made me feel quite bad yesterday. I could hardly sleep for thinking
of all he went through, and thinking of the death of that poor Mr.
Carlyon. He does seem so sorry for his sister, though he declares
that he never thought him good enough for her. That is how people
talk," went on Anna, frowning thoughtfully over her words; "they
will judge by outward appearance, as though anything matters when
two people love each other. Mr. Templeton has been talking so much
about his sister Elizabeth that he quite makes me long to see her,
but all the same he seems to care most for his elder sister."
"I believe he does," returned Malcolm; "but then she has taken the
place of a mother to him. Anna, dear, I was only in jest. I am
really very grateful to you and my mother for making Cedric so happy
and at home. I do quite understand, and I believe the society of two
such good women will do much for him. Like the rest of us, he has
found out that you are a friend born for adversity--a veritable
daughter of consolation," and Malcolm's words made Anna very happy.
When Cedric returned to Oxford for his last term, Malcolm paid his
promised visit to the Wood House; but he only stayed two nights. The
place was too full of painful associations. Elizabeth's presence
haunted every room, the emptiness and desolation of the house
oppressed him like a nightmare, and though Dinah's gentleness and
tact made things more bearable during the day, at night he found
himself unable to sleep; and Dinah, who read his weary look aright,
forbore to press him to remain. "It is not good for him to be here,"
she said to herself; "he is so kind and unselfish that he will not
spare himself, but I will not ask him to come again," and Dinah kept
But they had much to discuss during those two days. There was now no
longer any talk of the Civil Service Examination for Cedric. At the
end of June he was to go abroad for six or eight months. A friend of
Malcolm's, a young barrister, who had also been crossed in love--a
sensible, straightforward fellow--was to accompany him. "He is sure
to like Dunlop," Malcolm observed, as he and Dinah paced the terrace
together in the sweet spring sunshine. "Charlie is a good-hearted
fellow, and one of the best companions I know, though he is a bit
down in the mouth just now, poor old chap."
"I think you said the lady jilted him?" asked Dinah sympathetically.
"Yes, and he is well rid of her, if we could only get him to believe
that. She was a handsome girl--I saw her once--but she came across
an American millionaire, and sent Charlie about his business. Oh, he
will get over it fast enough," as Dinah looked quite sorrowful;
"when a woman does that sort of thing, she just kills a man's love.
Of course he must suffer a bit--his pride is hurt as well as his
heart--but in two or three years he will fall in love again, and
will live happy ever after."
"Oh, how I hope Cedric will care for some nice girl by-and-bye,"
exclaimed Dinah earnestly; but Malcolm only smiled.
"You need have no doubt of that, my dear lady," he returned; "but
you must give him time to be off with the old love. That is why I am
so anxious that he and Miss Jacobi should not meet. You tell me that
she and Mrs. Richardson return to Sandy Hollow early in June?"
"Yes; Mrs. Godfrey told us that."
"Then the sooner he is out of England the better. In London one is
never sure of not coming across people." And then he rapidly
sketched out the details of the proposed trip, which was to include
Germany, Switzerland, the Austrian Tyrol, the Italian Lakes, and
probably Greece and Constantinople. Cedric had a great desire to
visit the Crimea and the shores of the Bosphorus, and to see
something of Eastern life. In all probability Christmas and the New
Year would be spent in Cairo. "We had better leave Dunlop to work
out details," continued Malcolm, "as money or time seem no object.
You may as well give them a long tether. Change of scene will do
Cedric a world of good, and when he is tired of wandering he will
settle down more happily. Very likely by that time he will have some
idea of what he wants to do;" and Malcolm's sound common-sense
carried the day.
Dinah spoke very little of her sister. She was well, she said in
answer to Malcolm's inquiries--Elizabeth was so strong that her
health rarely suffered; but she was grieving sorely for David. "Mr.
Carlyon is better," she continued. "Elizabeth is the greatest
comfort to him. She goes with him when he visits the sick, and sits
beside him when he writes his sermons. Indeed, Theo says they are
never apart. Theo is very much softened and subdued by her brother's
death," went on Dinah. "I think Elizabeth's influence and example
will do good there. I believe that, with all her faults, Theo
Carlyon is really a good-hearted woman."
Malcolm paid a flying visit to Oxford soon after he got back to
town--somehow movement seemed necessary to him in those weary,
restless days--and he took Mr. Dunlop with him, and had the
satisfaction of seeing that Cedric appeared to like him at once.
"He does not seem to stand on tiptoe and look over a fellow's head,
don't you know," observed Cedric. "He meets one on equal terms,
though he is ten years older. He is a chip of your block, Herrick,
and I expect he is a good fellow too"--and all this speech did
Malcolm retail to Dinah in his next letter.
Cedric spent three or four days at Cheyne Walk before he started for
the Continent, and again most of his time was devoted to his friends
at 27 Queen's Gate.
Malcolm was secretly glad that he was in such safe hands, for, as
the time of Cedric's departure drew near, he could not divest
himself of an uneasy fear that all their precautions might be
unavailing, and that, when they least expected it, he and Leah
Jacobi would come face to face. He knew that she and her new friend
Mrs. Richardson were now settled at Sandy Hollow for the summer, and
that Mrs. Richardson came frequently to town for sight-seeing or
Malcolm little knew what good reason he had for his fears.
On Cedric's last day in Cheyne Walk, Mrs. Herrick proposed that he
should drive with her and Anna to Pall Mall to see some pictures
that were being exhibited. She would leave them at the gallery for
an hour, and call for them when she had done her shopping. Malcolm
had promised to be there at the same time, and they would all go
back together to Queen's Gate for the remainder of the day. It so
happened that Mrs. Richardson had planned one of her favourite
shopping expeditions for the same day, and in the course of the
afternoon the hansom she had chartered drew up at a shop exactly
opposite the gallery, where at that very moment Anna, Cedric, and
Malcolm were coming down the staircase to join Mrs. Herrick, who was
waiting for them in her carriage.
Leah, who had not recovered her normal strength since her attack of
influenza, was excessively tried by all the noise and bustle of the
West End, and begged to remain in the hansom while Mrs. Richardson
finished her purchases. When Mrs. Richardson came out of the shop a
quarter of an hour later, the handsome carriage with its pair of bay
horses had driven off, and Leah was leaning back in the hansom
looking white as death, with a pained, startled expression in her
Mrs. Richardson told the man to drive to the station. Then she took
the girl's hand kindly. "What is it, my dear?" she said in a
motherly voice. "Are you ill, or has something frightened you?" but
it was long before Leah could gasp out her explanation.
"She had seen him, and he looked quite bright and happy, and he was
talking to a fair haired-girl with a sweet face, and Mr. Herrick was
with them;" but poor Leah could say no more, for the jealous pain
seemed to choke her. That was the way he had smiled at her, and now
she was forgotten, and this other girl had taken her place!
Mrs. Richardson, with all her eccentricities, had a warm, true
heart, and she was very patient and tender with the poor girl.
But late that night, as she sat in her dressing-room, there was a
timid knock at her door, and Leah entered in her white wrapper, with
all her glorious dark hair streaming over her shoulders; but her
eyes were swollen with weeping.
"I felt I must come and speak to you or I could not sleep!" she
exclaimed in her deep voice; and kneeling down by her friend--"Oh, I
have been so wicked! but I will try to be good now."
"Tell me all about it, dearie," returned Mrs. Richardson in her
kind, comforting voice; and she drew the dark head to her shoulder,
and a sort of wonder filled her eyes as she saw the glossy lengths
of hair that swept the floor.
To an onlooker Mrs. Richardson might have seemed a somewhat
grotesque figure in her quilted magenta silk dressing-gown, with her
gray fringe pinned up by her maid in little twists and rolls, but
her honest eyes beamed with kindness and sympathy.
"Oh, I have been so wicked!" repeated Leah. "All these months I have
been praying that he might not suffer as I have been suffering, and
that in time he might forget me and be happy; and yet, because my
prayer has been answered, and that girl is helping him to forget, I
felt as though I hated her;" and then she hid her face in the folds
of the gaudy dressing-gown and shed tears of bitter shame and self-
"My dear, if you cry so you will make yourself ill," observed Mrs.
Richardson soothingly. "You have been sorely tried, you poor child,
but you are not wicked; on the contrary, I think few girls have
behaved so well. Do not call yourself names, dearie; Mrs. Godfrey
and I both think you good, and we mean to do our best to make you
"Yes, and I am so grateful to you both, you dear, dear friends," and
Leah raised her tear-stained face and kissed her with all the warmth
of her loving nature. What was it to her that Mrs. Richardson was an
odd-looking, eccentric old lady, whose curled gray fringe and gay
attire scarcely harmonised with her homely, weather-beaten features;
to Leah her face was transfigured by the loveliness of a kind and
tender nature. "I think I saw her as the angels did," she said long
years afterwards to one who had served for her as Jacob did for his
beloved Rachel; "for I loved every line of her dear homely face. Oh,
how she mothered me, who had never known mother love, and how good
and patient she was with me in my bad times! If God had not taken
her, I could never have left her--never!" For when Mrs. Richardson
died some years later, her hand was locked in that of her adopted
Leah drooped for some time after this encounter. Then, as the summer
went on, she recovered her spirits gradually; new duties and
interests demanded her attention, and in the wholesome and active
life led by the mistress of Sandy Hollow she found plenty to
distract her sad thoughts.
Mrs. Richardson was a great gardener, and on warm days she spent
most of her time in the open air; they breakfasted under a spreading
chestnut, and often dined in foreign fashion on the terrace facing
When Malcolm went down to the Manor House in August before he
started for Norway, he walked across to Sandy Hollow with Mrs.
Godfrey. They found Mrs. Richardson sitting in a shady retreat, with
all her various pets round her. Leah was gathering flowers in the
lower garden, she said. She received Malcolm very kindly, for he was
one of her favourites, and talked to him a great deal about the
girl--of her sweet temper, her docility, and her patience.
"She has heard nothing of that wretched brother of hers," she
continued. Then Malcolm shrugged his shoulders; he could give her
information on that subject, he said drily--at least a score of
begging letters had reached him and Cedric from New York, and had
been consigned to the flames. Saul Jacobi was evidently playing his
old tricks and living on his wits; he was utterly irredeemable. Hugh
Rossiter always prophesied that he would never die in his bed; and
this prediction was unfortunately verified some three years later,
when, in a drunken brawl, a tipsy sailor lurched up against him one
dark night and pushed him over the quay. No one heard his cry for
help for the oaths and curses that were filling the air; neither was
his body found until the next day. Strange to say, it was Hugh
Rossiter who identified it; and it was he who later on brought Leah
a pathetic little proof that Saul had not wholly forgotten his
In the pocket of his shabby old coat--how shabby and how ragged it
was Hugh never ventured to tell her--there was a cheap little photo
of Leah, taken when she was eighteen, and in the first bloom of her
young beauty; and on the soiled envelope was written, "My little
sister Leah," and the date of her birth. For no nature is wholly
evil and irreclaimable, and perhaps, in spite of his tyranny and
cruel tempers, there was a spark of affection in the man's heart for
the young sister dependent on him. Leah always believed this, and
she wept the saddest, tenderest tears over the little photo. "My
poor Saul," she said, "his nature was strangely warped, and he did
not know how to speak the truth, and he could be hard and cruel--as
I know to my cost--but there were times when he was very good to
me;" and so even Saul Jacobi had one human being to mourn for him.
THE NEW CURATE-IN-CHARGE
While I? I sat alone and watched;
My lot in life, to live alone
In my own world of interests,
Much felt but little shown.
Yet sometimes, when I feel my strength
Most weak, and life most burdensome,
I lift mine eyes up to the hills,
From whence my help shall come.
Malcolm sat for some time talking to the two ladies; then he made
an excuse and set off in search of Leah. He was well acquainted with
the grounds of Sandy Hollow, and could have found his way
blindfolded to the lower garden.
It was a quaint old plaisance shut in with high walls, which were
covered with fruit trees, where downy peaches, and nectarines, and
golden apricots, and big yellow plums nestled their sun-kissed
cheeks against the warm red bricks. In the oddly-shaped beds all
manner of sweet growing things seemed to jostle each other--not
forming stately rows, or ordered phalanx, or even gay-patterned
borders after the fashion of modern flower-beds, but growing
together in the loveliest confusion--peonies and nasturtiums, sweet-
peas and salvias; and everywhere crowds of roses--over arches,
climbing up walls, hanging in festoons over the gateway, long rows
of Standards guarding the path like an army of beauteous Amazons;
while all day long the heavy brown bees hummed round them, and
filled their honey-bags with rifled sweets.
There was a small green bench placed invitingly in a shady corner,
where Leah had seated herself to rest after her labours. Malcolm
thought that her figure gave the finishing touch to the picture. She
wore a white dress and a large shady hat, and a basket of Marshal
Niel roses was in her lap; but when she caught sight of the visitor
she rose so hastily that the basket was upset and the roses strewed
the ground at her feet. Malcolm felt concerned when he saw how pale
she had grown, and how she was trembling from head to foot, but he
thought it better to take no notice and to give her time to recover
"Have I startled you?" he said lightly. "Let me pick up your roses
for you. May I have this bud for myself?" showing her his spoil.
Then, when the basket was full again, he sat down beside her; but it
was Leah who broke the silence. She had not regained her colour, and
her voice still trembled a little.
"I did not know you were in the neighbourhood," she faltered, "and
it startled me so to see you at the gate. I have not been strong
since the influenza, and even a little thing like that brings on
palpitation; but you must not think that I am not glad to see you."
"Thank you," returned Malcolm in a pleasant, friendly voice. "I only
arrived at the Manor House last evening, so you see I have lost no
time in coming over to Sandy Hollow. I wanted to see for myself how
you were. You are rather too thin and unsubstantial-looking, Miss
Jacobi;" but all the time he was saying to himself that he had never
seen her look more lovely.
"What does it matter how one looks?" she returned indifferently.
"You are thinner too, Mr. Herrick; but then you work so hard. Do you
know"--and here her voice changed--"that I saw you a few weeks ago.
You did not see me, and I could not speak; you were with some
friends." Leah's manner was so significant and pregnant with meaning
that Malcolm gazed at her inquiringly.
"I do not remember; I have so many friends," he observed in a
"You had been to see those French pictures in the new gallery," she
returned, "and a lady was waiting for you in her carriage." Then a
sudden light broke in upon Malcolm.
"It must have been my mother!" he exclaimed, and then he stopped a
little awkwardly, for of course he remembered now; but she finished
his sentence quite calmly.
"Yes, he was there--Mr. Templeton, I mean; he was talking to a girl
with fair hair, and with such a nice face--not pretty, but sweet and
good; and they were laughing together. I could hear him laugh quite
distinctly--my hansom was so close."
"Good heavens! what an escape," Malcolm said to himself inwardly;
"it was a near thing." Then aloud, "That was Anna Sheldon, my
adopted sister; she is the dearest girl in the world; but you are
right, she is not really pretty."
"They seemed very happy," returned Leah, but her voice was full of
Malcolm, who was a fellow-sufferer, understood in a moment what she
was feeling, and his kind heart prompted the remedy.
"Cedric has been a great deal with them lately," he said quietly;
"my mother and Anna know all about his trouble; and they are very
kind to him. It is good for him to be with friends who can make
allowances for him, and help him."
"But he seemed happy," persisted the poor girl; "and--and--Miss
Sheldon will soon make him forget things." But Malcolm shook his
"I am afraid not," he returned rather sadly; "Cedric is by no means
happy, though we all do our best to make him so. He has had a great
shock, Miss Jacobi, and in spite of his youth he has suffered much.
I wish I could tell you truthfully that he has forgotten you, but it
would be a useless falsehood. We can only hope that time and change
will be beneficial;" and then, in the kindest manner, he sketched
the outline of Cedric's projected travels, and gave her a full
description of his travelling companion.
Malcolm's confidence was not thrown away; before many minutes were
over Leah's wan face brightened a little, and her eyes lost their
"Thank you--thank you so much, Mr. Herrick," she said gratefully,
when he had finished; "no one has told me anything about him, and it
does me good to know. And now will you do me a favour"--turning to
him--"when you write next to Mr. Templeton, will you give him a
message from me?"
"May I know the message first?" replied Malcolm cautiously. Then she
smiled a little sadly.
"Ah, you do not trust me. Well, I cannot wonder at that. But my
message will not hurt him; indeed, I think it may do him good. I
want you to tell him that I have been ill, but I am getting well and
strong now, and that I am with a dear friend who mothers and takes
care of me, and whom I love better every day; and that I am content
and at peace. Tell him that I never forget to pray for him, and that
my one prayer and wish is for his happiness; that I entreat him with
all my heart not to let his disappointment shadow his life; that if
he can forget me, it would be wiser and better to do so; but if he
remembers, let him think of me as though I were dead, and already
praying for him in paradise. Will you tell him this?"
Malcolm was silent for a moment, then he bowed his head, and Leah
saw him pencil the message rapidly in his note-book.
"He shall have it--not a word shall be missed," he said briefly.
Then he saw the tears of gratitude in her eyes.
"It will make him happier to know I am content," she whispered;
"Cedric has such a kind heart."
"You are right--I think that message will do him good," agreed
Malcolm. And then Leah lifted her basket and they walked back to the
It was during this visit to the Manor House that, in an unguarded
moment, Malcolm's jealously-kept secret was betrayed to Mrs.
Godfrey's sharp eyes, though Malcolm never guessed the fact then or
They had been having tea in the alcove as usual, and the Colonel had
just gone to the stables to give an order for the next day. Malcolm
had made some humorous speech or other about his wonderful agility
for a man of his age, when Mrs. Godfrey remarked innocently--
"How strange that you should say that, Mr. Herrick! It is just word
for word what Elizabeth said when she was last here. I never saw two
people think so alike;" and here Mrs. Godfrey laughed quite merrily,
for once before she had accused Malcolm of making Elizabethan
speeches. But her laugh died away when she saw Malcolm's face. It
was too sudden, and he was not prepared; but the next moment he was
hanging over the parapet trying to catch a peacock butterfly, and
was actually joining in the laugh.
"That reminds me of a funny story," he said, speaking rather
rapidly, "of two fellows who coined each other's ideas and got
rather mixed sometimes;" and he told her the story from beginning to
end with his old vivacity, and when he had finished it he went off
in search of the Colonel.
But Mrs. Godfrey looked thoughtfully at the distant prospect until
Malcolm's footsteps were no longer audible.
"I feel like a burglar," she said to herself--"as though I had
picked a lock and stolen something. I, to call myself a clever woman
and never to guess it! But he has been too deep for me. He is very
strong; one might as well try to open an oyster with one's nails as
to find out anything Malcolm Herrick wishes to hide."
Mrs. Godfrey's face grew more troubled. "His mouth was like iron,"
she whispered, "but his face was so white in the sunshine. Poor
fellow--poor fellow," in quite a caressing tone. "But you will be
safe with me--even Alick shall not know. I wonder if he guesses
anything; he only said yesterday that Mr. Herrick was different
somehow. Ah, Elizabeth," she went on, pacing the terrace restlessly,
"even wise women like you and me make mistakes sometimes. Yes, yes,
you have made a great mistake, my dear;" and then she went into the
house to get ready for her walk.
Malcolm went to Norway, and wondered why he did not enjoy himself
more. He had congenial companions, good sport, and the weather was
distinctly favourable, but he could not get rid of his trouble.
Wherever he went, in sunlight or moonlight, the shadowy presence of
the woman he loved so passionately walked beside him. On the shores
of the lonely fiord or in the pine forests, Elizabeth's bright,
speaking face seemed to move before him like a will o' the wisp;
even in the rustle of the summer breeze in the leaves he could hear
her voice, with its odd breaks and sibilant pauses, so curiously
sweet to his ear. "I am possessed," he would say to himself--"I am
possessed!" and indeed with all his strength of will he was
powerless to resist that influence.
Dinah still wrote to him from time to time. The Wood House was
empty, she told him; they had taken a house at Ullswater for three
months. Mr. Carlyon and Theo were to be their guests. "Mr. Carlyon
is very far from well," she wrote, "and his doctor has ordered
complete rest for some months; and we think Elizabeth needs rest and
change too, so altogether it is an excellent plan."
The Ullswater scheme seemed to work well. Dinah told Malcolm that
Mr. Carlyon and Elizabeth were out together most of the day--
fishing, boating, or roaming over the country in search of ferns and
wild-flowers. "The life just suits Elizabeth," she went on; "she
likes the quiet and freedom. And then she and Mr. Carlyon do each
other so much good. He was so weak after the funeral that it is my
private opinion that but for Elizabeth's care and devotion he would
soon have followed David. I know he thinks so himself. 'Father has
two daughters now,' Theo often says, 'but Elizabeth suits him best.'
She says it quite amiably. Theo and I keep each other company. Her
favourite amusement seems visiting the cottages and talking to the
women and children; they get quite fond of 'the red-headed lady' as
they call her. But in the evening we are all together, and then Mr.
Carlyon or Elizabeth reads aloud."
Malcolm was hard at work in his chambers long before the sisters
returned to the Wood House. His book had proved a great success, and
the leading papers had reviewed it most favourably. He had now
commenced fresh work, and spent all his leisure hours at his desk.
When Amias Keston complained that the studio evenings were things of
the past, Malcolm looked at him a little sadly. "I can't help it,
old fellow," he said gravely; "my social qualities are a bit rusty,
but I will behave better by and bye;" and then he nodded to Verity,
and went back to his papers and wrote on grimly, as though some
unseen taskmaster were behind him, ready to scourge him on if he
"My work saved me--I had nothing else to live for," he said long
afterwards; "nothing else fully occupied my thoughts and made me
forget my trouble. When I was turning out copy I was almost happy. I
was not Malcolm Herrick: I was the heir of all the ages entering
into my kingdom."
"Yes, I know what you mean," replied the friend to whom he had said
this: "the children were strewing flowers, and there were timbrels
and harps, and they had crowned you with laurel leaves, as though
you were a conquering hero."
"Something of that sort," he returned laughing. "But you must not
make fun of my sweet mistress from Parnassus; it kept me sane and
cool to woo my reluctant Muse. At times she frowned, and then I set
my teeth hard and worked like a navvy; but when she smiled my pen
seemed to fly in the sunlight, and I was warm and happy."
Malcolm sent a copy of his book to Dinah, and she was not long in
acknowledging it. "We have both read it, and think it beautiful,"
she wrote. "I tried to read it aloud to Elizabeth, but I got so
choky over it, and stopped so often, that she grew impatient at last
and carried off the book to finish it in her own room. She wants me
to tell you how much she likes it. She has sent a copy to Mr.
Carlyon. Now I am going to tell you a piece of news that will rather
surprise you, but Elizabeth did not wish me to drop a hint until
things were definitely settled."
"Mr. Carlyon has resigned his living. The doctor has told him
plainly that another winter at Stokeley will be too great a risk:
the place is very bleak and cold, and the work far too hard. The
Bishop is going to put in a younger man."
"Mr. Carlyon is actually coming to Rotherwood, and is to take
David's place"--Malcolm started and frowned when he came to this.
"You will be surprised, of course--every one is--but it is really a
most excellent arrangement."
"You see, Mr. Charrington's health is not good, and as he will have
to winter abroad, he really requires a curate-in-charge who will be
responsible for the parish. The salary will be very little less than
the income of Stokeley; there is no house, but we have got over this
difficulty. Do you remember that low gray house, with the rowan tree
over the gate, just by Elizabeth's Home of Rest, where little Kit
died? It is scarcely more than a cottage, but it is very cosy and
comfortable, and quite large enough for Theo and her father. There
are two sitting-rooms--the larger one is to be Mr. Carlyon's study,
they will not need a drawing-room--and four bed-rooms, and the
garden is really charming. Rowan Cottage belongs to us, so we can
ask a nominal rent. I cannot tell you how happy all this makes
Elizabeth. Mr. Carlyon has been her one thought since David died.
She feels it such a privilege to watch over him and attend to his
little comforts. She is at work now at the cottage, getting
everything ready for them, for they are expected in about a
fortnight's time. But what a volume I am writing, my dear friend,
and as usual about our own affairs. By the bye, I have never given
you Elizabeth's message. She says that now you have become a
celebrated author, she hopes you will not forget your old friends at
the Wood House. Of course, this was only one of her joking speeches;
she makes her little jokes now and then. What she really means is
that you have not been to see us for a long time, and that when you
come you will be welcome."
Malcolm read this letter at least a dozen times, and each time he
came to the message he smiled as though he were well pleased;
nevertheless he made no attempt to go to Staplegrove.
With the exception of that half-hour in the churchyard, he had not
seen Elizabeth since her trouble--an instinctive feeling of delicacy
had warned him to keep his distance. Nearly eight months had passed,
but he was still unwilling to force himself upon her, and the
present moment seemed to him peculiarly unpropitious. Elizabeth's
thoughts would be occupied with the preparations at the cottage. He
knew her so well: she never did things by halves, and she would be
at Rotherwood all day long. No, he would not go yet, he said to
himself; it would be time enough when Cedric came back, and then he
would go down to the Wood House as a matter of course. It cost
Malcolm some effort to keep this resolution when Cedric deferred his
return week after week. When the New Year opened he was at Cairo,
and having "a rattling good time," as he expressed it. It was not
until the end of March that he and Mr. Dunlop turned their faces
homeward; but Malcolm made his work an excuse and held grimly to his
"HE IS MY RIVAL STILL"
Fire that's closest kept burns most of all.
Ay, so true love should do: it cannot speak;
For truth hath better deeds than words to grace it.
Love is patient and content with anything, so it be
together with its beloved.
It was on a bright sunshiny April afternoon that Malcolm at last
paid his long-deferred visit to Staplegrove. Cedric had been at home
for nearly a week then, but he and Malcolm had already met. Cedric
had spent a night at Cheyne Walk before going down to the Wood
House, and had extracted from his friend a reluctant promise that he
would come down as early in the week as possible. Malcolm's
assurance that he could only spare two nights was treated by the
young matron with incredulity.
"Look here, Herrick," he returned in a lordly manner, "it is no good
putting on side with me. You may be a brilliant essayist, as that
fellow called you, and a tiptop literary swell, but you are not
going to chuck up old friends in this fashion. You are going to pay
us a decent visit, or your humble servant will kick up no end of a
shindy." But to all this Malcolm turned a deaf ear. He repeated
gravely that his engagements would only allow him to sleep two
nights at the Wood House; and as Malcolm had made the engagements
himself for the express purpose of shortening his visit, he probably
Cedric grumbled a good deal, and used some strong language, but he
quieted down after a time, and they went on with their conversation;
for Cedric had a plan in his head, and he wanted his friend's advice
and co-operation. As Malcolm listened, he wondered what Dinah would
think of her boy. Cedric looked at least two or three years older;
he was broader, stronger, and Malcolm even fancied he had gained an
inch in height; he was certainly a magnificent specimen of an
athletic young Englishman.
He had always been handsome, but in Malcolm's opinion he had never
appeared to greater advantage than now. His skin was slightly tanned
by sun and wind, and his hair had darkened a little; he had lost the
expression of weak irresolution which had marred his face, and he
had evidently grown in manliness and self-restraint. His manner was
still boyish at times, and Malcolm was glad to hear the old ringing
laugh. Cedric's wound had been deep, but it was not incurable--time
and change of scene had been potent factors in the cure. Malcolm
listened with a great deal of interest to the scheme that Cedric
intended to lay before his sisters.
It appeared that in the Bavarian highlands he had stumbled across an
old school-fellow, Harry Strickland.
"We were chums at Haileybury," went on Cedric. "Harry was always a
good sort; but his people sent him to Cambridge, so I lost sight of
him. I knew his father was dead and that an uncle had offered him a
home--his mother had died when he was quite a little chap, and he
had no brothers or sisters--but when we met in the inn that wet
night--when Dunlop and I were nearly drowned getting down from the
Alp--he told me that a fit of gout had carried off his uncle quite
"Poor chap, he seems a bit lonely," observed Malcolm
"Yes, he was mooning about, and rather bothered what to do next. So
he was delighted at the idea of joining some of our excursions. But
I will keep all that for the Wood House, for we had no end of
adventures--the dare-devil Englishmen as they called us. But never
mind that, I must hurry on."
"Harry is his uncle's heir--not that that amounts to much--but he
has come into possession of a fine old farm that has been in the
family for a hundred years at least, with plenty of good land, but,
alas! little capital. The facts of the case are these, Herrick.
Roger Strickland was not a rich man, and for want of a little ready
money the farm has deteriorated in value. There is plenty to be got
out of the land if only more could be spent on it; they want a new
barn and some outhouses, and some of the fencing is disgraceful. As
for the Priory itself--it is the Priory farm, you know--it is an old
ramshackle place and in sore need of repair; some of the floors are
rotten, and there are holes and crannies, and the mice and rats hold
high revel in the disused rooms."
"My dear fellow, your description is not alluring," remarked
Malcolm, wondering what all this meant.
"Oh, I am telling you the worst; it really is a lovely old place.
Only Harry declares he would not live there alone for anything; it
is supposed to be haunted by a certain evil-minded Strickland, in a
green velvet suit and a powdered periwig, who drags one leg--but I
will tell you the story another time; it will make your hair stand
on end. Now Harry's difficulty is this: he has so little capital
that he is half afraid of taking up the farm himself, and yet it is
the only life he cares about; and he wants to find some one, with
money to spare, who would join him in working the concern"--and here
Cedric stopped and looked significantly at Malcolm.
"Ah, I understand now," returned his friend; "it is to be a sort of
partnership. And so you think you would like to take to farming--eh,
"Like it," returned Cedric, colouring with excitement, "it is the
very life I should choose. It would be just splendid for Harry and
me to work together! Oh, I know what you are going to say"--as
Malcolm opened his lips--"but wait a moment and let me finish first.
Of course I know nothing of farming, and Harry knows precious little
either; but he has a good bailiff whom he can trust, and whose wife
manages the dairy. What I am going to propose is this, that Harry
and I should go to the Agricultural College at Cirencester for a few
months and get an idea of the business; and then, if Dinah would
start me with a good round sum we could begin to get the place in
order. I have set my heart on it, Herrick," and here Cedric's voice
was very persuasive, "and I want you to come down and talk it out
with her, like the good fellow you are."
"I will come, of course," returned Malcolm slowly, "and on the whole
I am inclined to approve of your plan; but I do not think we can
decide anything in this off-hand way. I think the best thing would
be for us to reconnoitre the place, and perhaps Mr. Strickland could
accompany us. The bailiff could give us full particulars, and we
might consult Mr. Strickland's lawyer if we are in any difficulty."
And Cedric made no objection to this arrangement. They would go into
the thing properly, of course, and there was no need to hurry
matters; he only stipulated that Malcolm should come down and talk
to Dinah without delay. This Malcolm had already promised; and when
Cedric went to bed he felt assured that Malcolm's interest and
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