More Bywords
Charlotte M. Yonge

Part 2 out of 4

the Crusaders.

Bare, hard, and rocky were the hills around--the slopes and the
valley itself, which in the earlier season had been filled with rich
grass, Calvary clover, blood-red anemones, and pale yellow
amaryllis, only showed their arid brown or gray remnants. The moat
had become a deep waterless cleft; and beneath, on the accessible
sides towards the glen, clustered a collection of black horsehair
tents, the foremost surmounted by the ill-omened crescent.

The burning sun had driven every creature under shelter, and no one
was visible; but well was it known that watch and ward was closely
kept from beneath those dark tents, that to the eyes within had the
air of couching beasts of prey. Yes, couching to devour what could
not fail to be theirs, in spite of the mighty walls of rock and
impregnable keep, for those deadly and insidious foes, hunger and
thirst, were within, gaining the battle for the Saracens without,
who had merely to wait in patience for the result.

Some years previously, Sir William de Hundberg, a Norman knight, had
been expelled from his English castle by the partisans of Stephen,
and with wife and children had followed Count Fulk of Anjou to his
kingdom of Palestine, and had been endowed by him with one of the
fortresses which guarded the passes of Galilee, under that
exaggeration of the feudal system which prevailed in the crusading
kingdom of Jerusalem.

Climate speedily did its work with the lady, warfare with two of her
sons, and there only remained of the family a youth of seventeen,
Walter, and his sister Mabel, fourteen, who was already betrothed to
the young Baron of Courtwood, then about to return to England. The
treaty with Stephen and the success of young Henry of Anjou gave Sir
William hopes of restitution; but just as he was about to conduct
her to Jerusalem for the wedding, before going back to England, he
fell sick of one of the recurring fevers of the country; and almost
at the same time the castle was beleaguered by a troop of Arabs,
under the command of a much-dreaded Sheik.

His constitution was already much shaken, and Sir William, after a
few days of alternate torpor and delirium, passed away, without
having been conscious enough to leave any counsel to his children,
or any directions to Father Philip, the chaplain, or Sigbert, his
English squire.

At the moment, sorrow was not disturbed by any great alarm, for the
castle was well victualled, and had a good well, supplied by springs
from the mountains; and Father Philip, after performing the funeral
rites for his lord, undertook to make his way to Tiberias, or to
Jerusalem, with tidings of their need; and it was fully anticipated
that succour would arrive long before the stores in the castle had
been exhausted.

But time went on, and, though food was not absolutely lacking, the
spring of water which had hitherto supplied the garrison began to
fail. Whether through summer heats, or whether the wily enemy had
succeeded in cutting off the source, where once there had been a
clear crystal pool in the rock, cold as the snow from which it came,
there only dribbled a few scanty drops, caught with difficulty, and
only imbibed from utter necessity, so great was the suspicion of
their being poisoned by the enemy.

The wine was entirely gone, and the salted provision, which alone
remained, made the misery of thirst almost unbearable.

On the cushions, richly embroidered in dainty Eastern colouring, lay
Mabel de Hundberg, with dry lips half opened and panting, too weary
to move, yet listening all intent.

Another moment, and in chamois leather coat, his helmet in hand,
entered her brother from the turret stair, and threw himself down
hopelessly, answering her gesture.

"No, no, of course no. The dust was only from another swarm of
those hateful Saracens. I knew it would be so. Pah! it has made my
tongue more like old boot leather than ever. Have no more drops
been squeezed from the well? It's time the cup was filled!"

"It was Roger's turn. Sigbert said he should have the next," said

Walter uttered an imprecation upon Roger, and a still stronger one
on Sigbert's meddling. But instantly the cry was, "Where is

Walter even took the trouble to shout up and down the stair for
Sigbert, and to demand hotly of the weary, dejected men-at-arms
where Sigbert was; but no one could tell.

"Gone over to the enemy, the old traitor," said Walter, again
dropping on the divan.

"Never! Sigbert is no traitor," returned his sister.

"He is an English churl, and all churls are traitors," responded

The old nurse, who was fitfully fanning Mabel with a dried palm-
leaf, made a growl of utter dissent, and Mabel exclaimed, "None was
ever so faithful as good old Sigbert."

It was a promising quarrel, but their lips were too dry to keep it
up for more than a snarl or two. Walter cast himself down, and bade
old Tata fan him; why should Mabel have it all to herself?

Then sounds of wrangling were heard below, and Walter roused himself
to go down and interfere. The men were disputing over some
miserable dregs of wine at the bottom of a skin. Walter shouted to
call them to order, but they paid little heed.

"Do not meddle and make, young sir," said a low-browed, swarthy
fellow. "There's plenty of cool drink of the right sort out there."

"Traitor!" cried Walter; "better die than yield."

"If one have no mind for dying like an old crab in a rock," said the

"They would think nought of making an end of us out there," said

"I'd as lief be choked at once by a cord as by thirst," was the

"That you are like to be, if you talk such treason," threatened
Walter. "Seize him, Richard--Martin."

Richard and Martin, however, hung back, one muttering that Gil had
done nothing, and the other that he might be in the right of it; and
when Walter burst out in angry threats he was answered in a gruff
voice that he had better take care what he said, "There was no
standing not only wasting with thirst and hunger, but besides being
blustered at by a hot-headed lad, that scarce knew a hauberk from a

Walter, in his rage, threw himself with drawn sword on the mutineer,
but was seized and dragged back by half a dozen stalwart arms, such
as he had no power to resist, and he was held fast amid rude laughs
and brutal questions whether he should thus be carried to the
Saracens, and his sister with him.

"The old Sheik would give a round sum for a fair young damsel like
her!" were the words that maddened her brother into a desperate
struggle, baffled with a hoarse laugh by the men-at-arms, who were
keeping him down, hand and foot, when a new voice sounded: "How
now, fellows! What's this?"

In one moment Walter was released and on his feet, and the men fell
back, ashamed and gloomy, as a sturdy figure, with sun-browned face,
light locks worn away by the helmet, and slightly grizzled, stood
among them, in a much-rubbed and soiled chamois leather garment.

Walter broke out into passionate exclamations; the men, evidently
ashamed, met them with murmurs and growls. "Bad enough, bad
enough!" broke in Sigbert; "but there's no need to make it worse.
Better to waste with hunger and thirst than be a nidering fellow--
rising against your lord in his distress."

"We would never have done it if he would have kept a civil tongue."

"Civility's hard to a tongue dried up," returned Sigbert. "But look
you here, comrades, leave me a word with my young lord here, and I
plight my faith that you shall have enow to quench your thirst
within six hours at the least."

There was an attempt at a cheer, broken by the murmur, "We have
heard enough of that! It is always six hours and six hours."

"And the Saracen hounds outside would at least give us a draught of
water ere they made away with us," said another.

"Saracens, forsooth!" said Sigbert. "You shall leave the Saracens
far behind you. A few words first with my lord, and you shall hear.
Meanwhile, you, John Cook, take all the beef remaining; make it in
small fardels, such as a man may easily carry."

"That's soon done," muttered the cook. "The entire weight would
scarce bow a lad's shoulders."

"The rest of you put together what you would save from the enemy,
and is not too heavy to carry." One man made some attempt at
growling at a mere lad being consulted, while the stout warriors
were kept in ignorance; but the spirit of discipline and confidence
had returned with Sigbert, and no one heeded the murmur. Meantime,
Sigbert followed the young Lord Walter up the rough winding stairs
to the chamber where Mabel lay on her cushions. "What! what!"
demanded the boy, pausing to enter. Sigbert, by way of answer,
quietly produced from some hidden pouch two figs. Walter snatched
at one with a cry of joy. Mabel held out her hand, then, with a
gasp, drew it back. "Has Roger had one?"

Sigbert signed in the affirmative, and Mabel took a bite of the
luscious fruit with a gasp of pleasure, yet paused once more to hold
the remainder to her nurse.

"The Saints bless you, my sweet lamb!" exclaimed the old woman;
"finish it yourself. I could not."

"If you don't want it, give it to me," put in Walter.

"For shame, my lord," Sigbert did not scruple to say, nor could the
thirsty girl help finishing the refreshing morsel, while Walter,
with some scanty murmur of excuse, demanded where it came from, and
what Sigbert had meant by promises of safety.

"Sir," said Sigbert, "you may remember how some time back your
honoured father threw one of the fellaheen into the dungeon for
maiming old Leo."

"The villain! I remember. I thought he was hanged."

"No, sir. He escaped. I went to take him food, and he was gone! I
then found an opening in the vault, of which I spoke to none, save
your father, for fear of mischief; but I built it up with stones.
Now, in our extremity, I bethought me of it, and resolved to try
whether the prisoner had truly escaped, for where he went, we might
go. Long and darksome is the way underground, but it opens at last
through one of the old burial-places of the Jews into the thickets
upon the bank of the Jordan."

"The Jordan! Little short of a league!" exclaimed Walter.

"A league, underground, and in the dark," sighed Mabel.

"Better than starving here like a rat in a trap," returned her

"Ah yes; oh yes! I will think of the cool river and the trees at
the end."

"You will find chill enough, lady, long ere you reach the river,"
said Sigbert. "You must wrap yourself well. 'Tis an ugsome
passage; but your heart must not fail you, for it is the only hope
left us."

The two young people were far too glad to hear of any prospect of
release, to think much of the dangers or discomforts of the mode.
Walter danced for joy up and down the room like a young colt, as he
thought of being in a few hours more in the free open air, with the
sound of water rippling below, and the shade of trees above him.
Mabel threw herself on her knees before her rude crucifix, partly in
thankfulness, partly in dread of the passage that was to come first.

"Like going through the grave to life," she murmured to her nurse.

And when the scanty garrison was gathered together, as many as
possible provided with brands that might serve as torches, and
Sigbert led them, lower and lower, down rugged steps hewn in the
rock, through vaults where only a gleam came from above, and then
through deeper cavernous places, intensely dark, there was a shudder
perceptible by the clank and rattle of the armour which each had
donned. In the midst, Walter paused and exclaimed--

"Our banner! How leave it to the Paynim dogs?"

"It's here, sir," said Sigbert, showing a bundle on his back.

"Warning to the foe to break in and seek us," grumbled Gilbert.

"Not so," replied Sigbert. "I borrowed an old wrapper of nurse's
that will cheat their eyes till we shall be far beyond their ken."

In the last dungeon a black opening lay before them, just seen by
the light of the lamp Sigbert carried, but so low that there was no
entrance save on hands and knees.

"That den!" exclaimed Walter. "'Tis a rat-hole. Never can we go
that way."

"I have tried it, sir," quoth Sigbert. "Where I can go, you can go.
Your sister quails not."

"It is fearful," said Mabel, unable to repress a shiver; "but,
Walter, think what is before us if we stay here! The Saints will
guard us."

"The worst and lowest part only lasts for a few rods," explained
Sigbert. "Now, sir, give your orders. Torches and lanterns, save
Hubert's and nurse's, to be extinguished. We cannot waste them too
soon, but beware of loosing hold on them."

Walter repeated the orders thus dictated to him, and Sigbert
arranged the file. It was absolutely needful that Sigbert should go
first to lead the way. Mabel was to follow him for the sake of his
help, then her brother, next nurse, happily the only other female.
Between two stout and trustworthy men the wounded Roger came. Then
one after another the rest of the men-at-arms and servants, five-
and-twenty in number. The last of the file was Hubert, with a lamp;
the others had to move in darkness. There had been no horse of any
value in the castle, for the knight's charger had been mortally hurt
in his last expedition, and there had been no opportunity of
procuring another. A deerhound, however, pushed and scrambled to
the front, and Sigbert observed that he might be of great use in
running before them. Before entering, however, Sigbert gave the
caution that no word nor cry must be uttered aloud, hap what might,
until permission was given, for they would pass under the Saracen
camp, and there was no knowing whether the sounds would reach the
ears above ground.

A strange plunge it was into the utter darkness, crawling on hands
and knees, with the chill cavernous gloom and rock seeming to press
in upon those who slowly crept along, the dim light of Sigbert's
lamp barely showing as he slowly moved on before. One of the two in
the rear was dropped and extinguished in the dismal passage, a loss
proclaimed by a suppressed groan passing along the line, and a
louder exclamation from Walter, causing Sigbert to utter a sharp
'Hush!' enforced by a thud and tramp above, as if the rock were
coming down on them, but which probably was the trampling of horses
in the camp above.

The smoke of the lamp in front drifted back, and the air was more
and more oppressive. Mabel, with set teeth and compressed lips,
struggled on, clinging tight to the end of the cord which Sigbert
had tied to his body for her to hold by, while in like manner
Walter's hand was upon her dress. It became more and more difficult
to breathe, or crawl on, till at last, just as there was a sense
that it was unbearable, and that it would be easier to lie still and
die than be dragged an inch farther, the air became freer, the roof
seemed to be farther away, the cavern wider, and the motion freer.

Sigbert helped his young lady to stand upright, and one by one all
the train regained their feet. The lamp was passed along to be
rekindled, speech was permitted, crevices above sometimes admitted
air, sometimes dripped with water. The worst was over--probably the
first part had been excavated, the farther portion was one of the
many natural 'dens and caves of the earth,' in which Palestine
abounds. There was still a considerable distance to be traversed,
the lamps burnt out, and had to be succeeded by torches carefully
husbanded, for the way was rough and rocky, and a stumble might end
in a fall into an abyss. In time, however, openings of side
galleries were seen, niches in the wall, and tokens that the outer
portion of the cavern had been once a burial-place of the ancient
Israelites--'the dog Jews,' as the Crusaders called them, with a
shudder of loathing and contempt.

And joy infinite--clear daylight and a waving tree were perceptible
beyond. It was daylight, was it? but the sun was low. Five hours
at least had been spent in that dismal transit, before the
exhausted, soiled, and chilled company stepped forth into a green
thicket with the Jordan rushing far below. Five weeks' siege in a
narrow fortress, then the two miles of subterranean struggle--these
might well make the grass beneath the wild sycamore, the cork-tree,
the long reeds, the willows, above all, the sound of the flowing
water, absolute ecstasy. There was an instant rush for the river,
impeded by many a thorn-bush and creeper; but almost anything green
was welcome at the moment, and the only disappointment was at the
height and steepness of the banks of rock. However, at last one
happy man found a place where it was possible to climb down to the
shingly bed of the river, close to a great mass of the branching
headed papyrus reed. Into the muddy but eminently sweet water most
of them waded; helmets became cups, hands scooped up the water,
there were gasps of joy and refreshment and blessing on the cool
wave so long needed.

Sigbert and Walter between them helped down Mabel and her nurse, and
found a secure spot for them, where weary faces, feet, and hands
might be laved in the pool beneath a rock.

Then, taking up a bow and arrows laid down by one of the men,
Sigbert applied himself to the endeavour to shoot some of the water-
fowl which were flying wildly about over the reeds in the unwonted
disturbance caused by the bathers. He brought down two or three of
the duck kind, and another of the party had bethought him of angling
with a string and one of the only too numerous insects, and had
caught sundry of the unsuspecting and excellent fish. He had also
carefully preserved a little fire, and, setting his boy to collect
fuel, he produced embers enough to cook both fish and birds
sufficiently to form an appetising meal for those who had been
reduced to scraps of salt food for full a fortnight.

"All is well so far," said Walter, with his little lordly air. "We
have arranged our retreat with great skill. The only regret is that
I have been forced to leave the castle to the enemy! the castle we
were bound to defend."

"Nay, sir, if it be your will," said Sigbert, "the tables might yet
be turned on the Saracen."

With great eagerness Walter asked how this could be, and Sigbert
reminded him that many a time it had been observed from the tower
that, though the Saracens kept careful watch on the gates of the
besieged so as to prevent a sally, they left the rear of their camp
absolutely undefended, after the ordinary Eastern fashion, and
Sigbert, with some dim recollection of rhymed chronicles of Gideon
and of Jonathan, believed that these enemies might be surprised
after the same fashion as theirs. Walter leapt up for joy, but
Sigbert had to remind him that the sun was scarcely set, and that
time must be given for the Saracens to fall asleep before the
attack; besides that, his own men needed repose.

"There is all the distance to be traversed," said Walter.

"Barely a league, sir."

It was hard to believe that the space, so endless underground, was
so short above, and Walter was utterly incredulous, till, climbing
the side of the ravine so high as to be above the trees, Sigbert
showed him the familiar landmarks known in hunting excursions with
his father. He was all eagerness; but Sigbert insisted on waiting
till past midnight before moving, that the men might have time to
regain their vigour by sleep, and also that there might be time for
the Saracens to fall into the deepest of all slumbers in full

The moon was low in the West when Sigbert roused the party, having
calculated that it would light them on the way, but would be set by
the time the attack was to be made.

For Mabel's security it was arranged that a small and most unwilling
guard should remain with her, near enough to be able to perceive how
matters went; and if there appeared to be defeat and danger for her
brother, there would probably be full time to reach Tiberias even on

However, the men of the party had little fear that flight would be
needed, for, though perhaps no one would have thought of the scheme
for himself, there was a general sense that what Sigbert devised was
prudent, and that he would not imperil his young lord and lady upon
a desperate venture.

Keeping well and compactly together, the little band moved on, along
arid, rocky paths, starting now and then at the howls of the jackals
which gradually gathered into a pack, and began to follow, as if--
some one whispered--they scented prey, "On whom?" was the question.

On a cliff looking down on the Arab camp, and above it on the dark
mass of the castle, where, in the watch-tower, Sigbert had left a
lamp burning, they halted just as the half-moon was dipping below
the heights towards the Mediterranean. Here the Lady Mabel and her
guard were to wait until they heard the sounds which to their
practised ears would show how the fight went.

The Arab shout of victory they knew only too well, and it was to be
the signal of flight towards Tiberias; but if success was with the
assailants, the war-cry 'Deus vult,' and 'St. Hubert for Hundberg,'
were to be followed by the hymn of victory as the token that it was
safe to descend.

All was dark, save for the magnificent stars of an Eastern night, as
Mabel, her nurse, and the five men, commanded by the wounded Roger,
stood silently praying while listening intently to the muffled tramp
of their own people, descending on the blacker mass denoting the
Saracen tents.

The sounds of feet died away, only the jackal's whine and moan, were
heard. Then suddenly came a flash of lights in different
directions, and shouts here, there, everywhere, cries, yells,
darkness, an undistinguishable medley of noise, the shrill shriek of
the Moslem, and the exulting war-cry of the Christian ringing
farther and farther off, in the long valley leading towards the
Jordan fords.

Dawn began to break--overthrown tents could be seen. Mabel had time
to wonder whether she was forgotten, when the hymn began to sound,
pealing on her ears up the pass, and she had not had time for more
than an earnest thanksgiving, and a few steps down the rocky
pathway, before a horse's tread was heard, and a man-at-arms came
towards her leading a slender, beautiful Arab horse. "All well! the
young lord and all. The Saracens, surprised, fled without ever
guessing the number of their foes. The Sheik made prisoner in his
tent. Ay, and a greater still, the Emir Hussein Bey, who had
arrived to take possession of the castle only that very evening.
What a ransom he would pay! Horses and all were taken, the spoil of
the country round, and Master Sigbert had sent this palfrey for Lady
Mabel to ride down."

Perhaps Sigbert, in all his haste and occupation, had been able to
discern that the gentle little mare was not likely to display the
Arab steed's perilous attachment to a master, for Mabel was safely
mounted, and ere sunrise was greeted by her joyous and victorious
brother. "Is not this noble, sister? Down went the Pagan dogs
before my good sword! There are a score of them dragged off to the
dead man's hollow for the jackals and vultures; but I kept one
fellow uppermost to show you the gash I made! Come and see."

Roger here observed that the horse might grow restive at the
carcase, and Mabel was excused the sight, though Walter continued to
relate his exploits, and demand whether he had not won his spurs by
so grand a ruse and victory.

"Truly I think Sigbert has," said his sister. "It was all his

"Sigbert, an English churl! What are you thinking of, Mabel?"

"I am thinking to whom the honour is due."

"You are a mere child, sister, or you would know better. Sigbert is
a very fair squire; but what is a squire's business but to put his
master in the way of honour? Do not talk such folly."

Mabel was silenced, and after being conducted across the bare
trampled ground among the tents of the Arabs, she re-entered the
castle, where in the court groups of disarmed Arabs stood, their
bournouses pulled over their brows, their long lances heaped in a
corner, grim and disconsolate at their discomfiture and captivity.

A repast of stewed kid, fruit, and sherbet was prepared for her and
her brother from the spoil, after which both were weary enough to
throw themselves on their cushions for a long sound sleep.

Mabel slept the longer, and when she awoke, she found that the sun
was setting, and that supper was nearly ready.

Walter met her just as she had arranged her dress, to bid nurse make
ready her bales, for they were to start at dawn on the morrow for
Tiberias. It was quite possible that the enemy might return in
force to deliver their Emir. A small garrison, freshly provisioned,
could hold out the castle until relief could be sent; but it would
be best to conduct the two important prisoners direct to the King,
to say nothing of Walter's desire to present them and to display
these testimonies of his prowess before the Court of Jerusalem.

The Emir was a tall, slim, courteous Arab, with the exquisite
manners of the desert. Both he and the Sheik were invited to the
meal. Both looked startled and shocked at the entrance of the fair-
haired damsel, and the Sheik crouched in a corner, with a savage
glare in his eye like a freshly caught wild beast, though the Emir
sat cross-legged on the couch eating, and talking in the LINGUA
FRANCA, which was almost a native tongue, to the son and daughter of
the Crusader. From him Walter learnt that King Fulk was probably at
Tiberias, and this quickened the eagerness of all for a start. It
took place in the earliest morning, so as to avoid the heat of the
day. How different from the departure in the dark underground

Horses enough had been captured to afford the Emir and the Sheik
each his own beautiful steed (the more readily that the creatures
could hardly have been ridden by any one else), and their parole was
trusted not to attempt to escape. Walter, Mabel, Sigbert, and Roger
were also mounted, and asses were found in the camp for the nurse,
and the men who had been hurt in the night's surprise.

The only mischance on the way was that in the noontide halt, just as
the shimmer of the Lake of Galilee met their eyes, under a huge
terebinth-tree, growing on a rock, when all, except Sigbert, had
composed themselves to a siesta, there was a sudden sound of loud
and angry altercation, and, as the sleepers started up, the Emir was
seen grasping the bridle of the horse on which the Sheik sat
downcast and abject under the storm of fierce indignant words hurled
at him for thus degrading his tribe and all Islam by breaking his
plighted word to the Christian.

This was in Arabic, and the Emir further insisted on his prostrating
himself to ask pardon, while he himself in LINGUA FRANCA explained
that the man was of a low and savage tribe of Bedouins, who knew not
how to keep faith.

Walter broke out in loud threats, declaring that the traitor dog
ought to be hung up at once on the tree, or dragged along with hands
tied behind him; but Sigbert contented himself with placing a man at
each side of his horse's head, as they proceeded on their way to the
strongly fortified town of the ancient Herods, perched at the head
of the dark gray Lake of Galilee, shut in by mountain peaks. The
second part of the journey was necessarily begun in glowing heat,
for it was most undesirable to have to spend a night in the open
country, and it was needful to push on to a fortified hospice or
monastery of St. John, which formed a half-way house.

Weary, dusty, athirst, they came in sight of it in the evening; and
Walter and Roger rode forward to request admittance. The porter
begged them to wait when he heard that the party included women and
Saracen prisoners; and Walter began to storm. However, a few
moments more brought a tall old Knight Hospitalier to the gate, and
he made no difficulties as to lodging the Saracens in a building at
the end of the Court, where they could be well guarded; and Mabel
and her nurse were received in a part of the precincts appropriated
to female pilgrims.

It was a bare and empty place, a round turret over the gateway, with
a stone floor, and a few mats rolled up in the corner, mats which
former pilgrims had not left in an inviting condition.

However, the notions of comfort of the twelfth century were not
exacting. Water to wash away the dust of travel was brought to the
door, and was followed by a substantial meal on roasted kid and thin
cakes of bread. Sigbert came up with permission for the women to
attend compline, though only strictly veiled; and Mabel knelt in the
little cool cryptlike chapel, almost like the late place of her
escape, and returned thanks for the deliverance from their recent

Then, fresh mats and cushions having been supplied, the damsel and
her nurse slept profoundly, and were only roused by a bell for a
mass in the darkness just before dawn, after which they again set
forth, the commander of the Hospice himself, and three or four
knights, accompanying them, and conversing familiarly with the Emir
on the current interests of Palestine.

About half-way onward, the glint and glitter of spears was seen amid
a cloud of dust on the hill-path opposite. The troop drew together
on their guard, though, as the Hospitalier observed, from the side
of Tiberias an enemy could scarcely come. A scout was sent forward
to reconnoitre; but, even before he came spurring joyously back, the
golden crosses of Jerusalem had been recognised, and confirmed his
tidings that it was the rearguard of the army, commanded by King
Fulk himself, on the way to the relief of the Castle of Gebel-Aroun.

In a brief half-hour more, young Walter de Hundberg, with his sister
by his side, was kneeling before an alert, slender, wiry figure in
plain chamois leather, with a worn sunburnt face and keen blue eyes--
Fulk of Anjou--who had resigned his French county to lead the
crusading cause in Palestine.

"Stand up, fair youth, and tell thy tale, and how thou hast
forestalled our succour."

Walter told his tale of the blockaded castle, the underground
passage, and the dexterous surprise of the besiegers, ending by
presenting, not ungracefully, his captives to the pleasure of the

"Why, this is well done!" exclaimed Fulk. "Thou art a youth of
promise, and wilt well be a prop to our grandson's English throne.
Thou shalt take knighthood from mine own hand as thy prowess well
deserveth. And thou, fair damsel, here is one whom we could scarce
hold back from rushing with single hand to deliver his betrothed.
Sir Raymond of Courtwood, you are balked of winning thy lady at the
sword's point, but thou wilt scarce rejoice the less."

A dark-eyed, slender young knight, in bright armour, drew towards
Mabel, and she let him take her hand; but she was intent on
something else, and exclaimed--

"Oh, sir, Sir King, let me speak one word! The guerdon should not
be only my brother's. The device that served us was--our squire's."

The Baron of Courtwood uttered a fierce exclamation. Walter
muttered, "Mabel, do not be such a meddling fool"; but the King
asked, "And who may this same squire be?"

"An old English churl," said Walter impatiently. "My father took
him as his squire for want of a better."

"And he has been like a father to us," added Mabel

"Silence, sister! It is not for you to speak!" petulantly cried
Walter. "Not that the Baron of Courtwood need be jealous," added
he, laughing somewhat rudely. "Where is the fellow? Stand forth,

Travel and heat-soiled, sunburnt, gray, and ragged, armour rusted,
leathern garment stained, the rugged figure came forward, footsore
and lame, for he had given up his horse to an exhausted man-at-arms.
A laugh went round at the bare idea of the young lady's preferring
such a form to the splendid young knight, her destined bridegroom.

"Is this the esquire who hath done such good service, according to
the young lady?" asked the King.

"Ay, sir," returned Walter; "he is true and faithful enough, though
nothing to be proud of in looks; and he served us well in my sally
and attack."

"It was his--" Mabel tried to say, but Sigbert hushed her.

"Let be, let be, my sweet lady; it was but my bounden duty."

"What's that? Speak out what passes there," demanded young
Courtwood, half-jealously still.

"A mere English villein, little better than a valet of the camp!"
were the exclamations around. "A noble damsel take note of him!
Fie for shame!"

"He has been true and brave," said the King. "Dost ask a guerdon
for him, young sir?" he added to Walter.

"What wouldst have, old Sigbert?" asked Walter, in a patronising

"I ask nothing, sir," returned the old squire. "To have seen my
lord's children in safety is all I wish. I have but done my duty."

King Fulk, who saw through the whole more clearly than some of those
around, yet still had the true Angevin and Norman contempt for a
Saxon, here said: "Old man, thou art trusty and shrewd, and mayst
be useful. Wilt thou take service as one of my men-at-arms?"

"Thou mayst," said Walter; "thou art not bound to me. England hath
enough of Saxon churls without thee, and I shall purvey myself an
esquire of youthful grace and noble blood."

Mabel looked at her betrothed and began to speak.

"No, no, sweet lady, I will have none of that rough, old masterful
sort about me."

"Sir King," said Sigbert, "I thank thee heartily. I would still
serve the Cross; but my vow has been, when my young lord and lady
should need me no more, to take the Cross of St. John with the

"As a lay brother? Bethink thee," said Fulk of Anjou. "Noble blood
is needed for a Knight of the Order."

Sigbert smiled slightly, in spite of all the sadness of his face,
and the Knight Commander who had ridden with them, a Fleming by
birth, said--

"For that matter, Sir King, we are satisfied. Sigbert, the son of
Sigfrid, hath proved his descent from the old English kings of the
East Saxons, and the Order will rejoice to enrol in the novitiate so
experienced a warrior."

"Is this indeed so?" asked Fulk. "A good lineage, even if English!"

"But rebel," muttered Courtwood.

"It is so, Sir King," said Sigbert. "My father was disseised of the
lands of Hundberg, and died in the fens fighting under Hereward le
Wake. My mother dwelt under the protection of the Abbey of
Colchester, and, by and by, I served under our Atheling, and, when
King Henry's wars in Normandy were over, I followed the Lord of
Hundberg's banner, because the men-at-arms were mine own neighbours,
and his lady my kinswoman. Roger can testify to my birth and

"So, thou art true heir of Hundberg, if that be the name of thine
English castle?"

"Ay, sir, save for the Norman! But I would not, if I could, meddle
with thee, my young lord, though thou dost look at me askance, spite
of having learnt of me to ride and use thy lance. I am the last of
the English line of old Sigfrid the Wormbane, and a childless man,
and I trust the land and the serfs will be well with thee, who art
English born, and son to Wulfrida of Lexden. And I trust that thou,
my sweet Lady Mabel, will be a happy bride and wife. All I look for
is to end my days under the Cross, in the cause of the Holy
Sepulchre, whether as warrior or lay brother. Yes, dear lady, that
is enough for old Sigbert."

And Mabel had to acquiesce and believe that her old friend found
peace and gladness beneath the eight-pointed Cross, when she and her
brother sailed for England, where she would behold the green fields
and purple heather of which he had told her amid the rocks of

Moreover, she thought of him when on her way through France, she
heard the young monk Bernard, then rising into fame, preach on the
beleaguered city, saved by the poor wise man; and tell how, when the
city was safe, none remembered the poor man. True, the preacher
gave it a mystic meaning, and interpreted it as meaning the
emphatically Poor Man by Whom Salvation came, and Whom too few bear
in mind. Yet such a higher meaning did not exclude the thought of
one whose deserts surpassed his honours here on earth.


An Alderman bold, Henry Smith was enrolled,
Of the Silversmiths' Company;
Highly praised was his name, his skill had high fame,
And a prosperous man was he.

Knights drank to his health, and lauded his wealth;
Sailors came from the Western Main,
Their prizes they sold, of ingots of gold,
Or plate from the galleys of Spain.

Then beakers full fine, to hold the red wine,
Were cast in his furnace's mould,
Or tankards rich chased, in intricate taste,
Gimmal rings of the purest gold.

On each New Year's morn, no man thought it scorn--
Whether statesman, or warrior brave--
The choicest device, of costliest price,
For a royal off'ring to crave.

"Bring here such a toy as the most may joy
The eyes of our gracious Queen,
Rows of orient pearls, gold pins for her curls,
Silver network, all glistening sheen."

Each buyer who came--lord, squire, or dame--
Behaved in most courteous guise,
Showing honour due, as to one they knew
To be at once wealthy and wise.

In London Guild Hall, the citizens all,
Esteemed him their future Lord Mayor;
Not one did he meet, in market or street,
But made him a reverence fair.

"Ho," said Master Smith, "I will try the pith
Of this smooth-faced courtesy;
Do they prize myself, do they prize my pelf,
Do they value what's mine or me?"

His gold chain of pride he hath laid aside,
And furred gown of the scarlet red;
He set on his back a fardel and pack,
And a hood on his grizzled head.

His 'prentices all he hath left in stall,
But running right close by his side,
In spite of his rags, guarding well his bags,
His small Messan dog would abide.

So thus, up and down, through village and town,
In rain or in sunny weather,
Through Surrey's fair land, his staff in his hand,
Went he and the dog together.

"Good folk, hear my prayer, of your bounty spare,
Help a wanderer in his need;
Better days I have seen, a rich man I have been,
Esteemed both in word and deed."

In the first long street, certain forms he did meet,
But scarce might behold their faces;
From matted elf-locks eyes stared like an ox,
And shambling were their paces!

Not one gave him cheer, nor would one come near,
As he turned him away to go,
Then a heavy stone at the dog was thrown,
To deal a right cowardly blow.

In Mitcham's fair vale, the men 'gan to rail,
"Not a vagabond may come near;"
Each mother's son ran, each boy and each man,
To summon the constable here.

The cart's tail behind, the beggar they bind,
They flogged him full long and full sore;
They hunted him out, did that rabble rout,
And bade him come thither no more!

All weary and bruised, and scurvily used,
He went trudging along his track;
The lesson was stern he had come to learn,
And yet he disdained to turn back.

Where Walton-on-Thames gleams fair through the stems
Of its tufted willow palms,
There were loitering folk who most vilely spoke,
Nor would give him one groat in alms.

"Dog Smith," was the cry, "behold him go by,
The fool who hath lost all he had!"
For only to tease can delight and can please
The ill-nurtured village lad.

Behold, in Betchworth was a blazing hearth
With a hospitable door.
"Thou art tired and lame," quoth a kindly dame,
"Come taste of our humble store.

"Though scant be our fare, thou art welcome to share;
We rejoice to give thee our best;
Come sit by our fire, thou weary old sire,
Come in, little doggie, and rest."

And where Mole the slow doth by Cobham go,
He beheld a small village maiden;
Of loose flocks of wool her lap was quite full,
With a bundle her arms were laden.

"What seekest thou, child, 'mid the bushes wild,
Thy face and thine arms that thus tear?"
"The wool the sheep leave, to spin and to weave;
It makes us our clothes to wear."

Then she led him in, where her mother did spin,
And make barley bannocks to eat;
They gave him enough, though the food was rough--
The kindliness made it most sweet.

Many years had past, report ran at last,
The rich Alderman Smith was dead.
Then each knight and dame, and each merchant came,
To hear his last testament read.

I, Harry Smith, found of mind clear and sound,
Thus make and devise my last will:
While England shall stand, I bequeath my land,
My last legacies to fulfil.

"To the muddy spot, where they cleaned them not,
When amongst their fields I did roam;
To every one there with the unkempt hair
I bequeath a small-toothed comb.

"Next, to Mitcham proud, and the gaping crowd,
Who for nobody's sorrows grieve;
With a lash double-thong, plaited firm and strong,
A horsewhip full stout do I leave.

"To Walton-on-Thames, where, 'mid willow stems,
The lads and the lasses idle;
To restrain their tongues, and breath of their lungs,
I bequeath a bit and a bridle.

"To Betchworth so fair, and the households there
Who so well did the stranger cheer,
I leave as my doles to the pious souls,
Full seventy pounds by the year.

"To Cobham the thrifty I leave a good fifty,
To be laid out in cloth dyed dark;
On Sabbath-day to be given away,
And known by Smith's badge and mark.

"To Leatherhead too my gratitude's due,
For a welcome most freely given;
Let my bounty remain, for each village to gain,
Whence the poor man was never driven."

So in each sweet dale, and bright sunny vale,
In the garden of England blest;
Those have found a friend, whose gifts do not end,
Who gave to that stranger a rest!

Henry Smith's history is literally true. He was a silversmith of
immense wealth in London in the latter part of the sixteenth
century, but in his later years he chose to perambulate the county
of Surrey as a beggar, and was known as 'Dog Smith.' He met with
various fortune in different parishes, and at Mitcham was flogged at
the cart's tail. On his death, apparently in 1627, he was found to
have left bequests to almost every place in Surrey, according to the
manners of the inhabitants--to Mitcham a horsewhip, to Walton-on-
Thames a bridle, to Betchworth, Leatherhead, and many more,
endowments which produce from 50 to 75 pounds a year, and to Cobham
a sum to be spent annually in woollen cloth of a uniform colour,
bearing Smith's badge, to be given away in church to the poor and
impotent, as the following tablet still records:--


ITEM--That the Gift to the impotent and aged poor people, shall be
bestowed in Apparell of one Coulour, with some Badge or other Mark,
that it may be known to be the Gift of the said Henry Smith, or else
in Bread, flesh, or fish on the Sabbath-day publickly in the Church.
In Witness whereof the said Henry Smith did put to his Hand and seal
the Twenty-first day of January in the Second Year of the Reign of
our most gracious Sovereign Lord King Charles the First.



My Dear Charlotte,--I find I shall need at least a month to get
through the necessary business; so that I shall only have a week at
last for my dear mother and the party collected at New Cove. You
will have ample time to decide which of the nieces shall be asked to
accompany us, but you had better give no hint of the plan till you
have studied them thoroughly. After all the years that you have
accompanied me on all my stations, you know how much depends on the
young lady of our house being one able to make things pleasant to
the strange varieties who will claim our hospitality in a place like
Malta, yet not likely to flag if left in solitude with you. She
must be used enough to society to do the honours genially and
gracefully, and not have her head turned by being the chief young
lady in the place. She ought to be well bred, if not high bred,
enough to give a tone to the society of her contemporaries, and
above all she must not flirt. If I found flirtation going on with
the officers, I should send her home on the spot. Of course, all
this means that she must have the only real spring of good breeding,
and be a thoroughly good, religious, unselfish, right-minded girl;
otherwise we should have to rue our scheme. In spite of all you
would do towards moulding and training a young maiden, there will be
so many distractions and unavoidable counter-influences that the
experiment would be too hazardous, unless there were a character and
manners ready formed. There ought likewise to be cultivation and
intelligence to profit by the opportunities she will have. I should
not like Greece and Italy, to say nothing of Egypt and Palestine, to
be only so much gape seed. You must have an eye likewise to good
temper, equal to cope with the various emergencies of travelling.
N.B. You should have more than one in your eye, for probably the
first choice will be of some one too precious to be attainable.--
Your affectionate brother,



My Dear Edward,--When Sydney Smith led Perfection to the Pea because
the Pea would not come to Perfection, he could hardly have had such
an ideal as yours. Your intended niece is much like the 'not
impossible she' of a youth under twenty. One comfort is that such
is the blindness of your kind that you will imagine all these charms
in whatever good, ladylike, simple-hearted girl I pitch upon, and
such I am sure I shall find all my nieces. The only difficulty will
be in deciding, and that will be fixed by details of style, and the
parents' willingness to spare their child.

This is an excellent plan of yours for bringing the whole family
together round our dear old mother and her home daughter. This is
the end house of three on a little promontory, and has a charming
view--of the sea in the first place, and then on the one side of
what is called by courtesy the parade, on the top of the sea wall
where there is a broad walk leading to S. Clements, nearly two miles
off. There are not above a dozen houses altogether, and the hotel
is taken for the two families from London and Oxford, while the
Druces are to be in the house but one next to us, the middle one
being unluckily let off to various inhabitants. We have one bedroom
free where we may lodge some of the overflowings, and I believe the
whole party are to take their chief meals together in the large room
at the hotel. The houses are mostly scattered, being such as
fortunate skippers build as an investment, and that their wives may
amuse themselves with lodgers in their absence. The church is the
weakest point in this otherwise charming place. The nearest, and
actually the parish church, is a hideous compo structure, built in
the worst of times as a chapel of ease to S. Clements. I am afraid
my mother's loyalty to the parochial system will make her secure a
pew there, though at the farther end of the town there is a new
church which is all that can be wished, and about a mile and a half
inland there is a village church called Hollyford, held, I believe,
by a former fellow-curate of Horace Druce. Perhaps they will
exchange duties, if Horace can be persuaded to take a longer holiday
than merely for the three weeks he has provided for at Bourne Parva.
They cannot come till Monday week, but our Oxford professor and his
party come on Thursday, and Edith will bring her girls the next day.
Her husband, our Q.C., cannot come till his circuit is over, but of
course you know more about his movements than I do. I wonder you
have never said anything about those girls of his, but I suppose you
class them as unattainable. I have said nothing to my mother or
Emily of our plans, as I wish to be perfectly unbiased, and as I
have seen none of the nieces for five years, and am prepared to
delight in them all, I may be reckoned as a blank sheet as to their
merits.--Your affectionate sister,


JULY 4.--By noon to-day arrived Martyn, {127} with Mary his wife,
Margaret and Avice their daughters, Uchtred their second son, and
poor Harry Fulford's orphan, Isabel, who has had a home with them
ever since she left school. Though she is only a cousin once
removed, she seems to fall into the category of eligible nieces, and
indeed she seems the obvious companion for us, as she has no home,
and seems to me rather set aside among the others. I hope there is
no jealousy, for she is much better looking than her cousins, with
gentle, liquid eyes, a pretty complexion, and a wistful expression.
Moreover, she is dressed in a quiet ladylike way, whereas grandmamma
looked out just now in the twilight and said, "My dear Martyn, have
you brought three boys down?" It was a showery, chilly evening, and
they were all out admiring the waves. Ulsters and sailor hats were
appropriate enough then, but the genders were not easy to
distinguish, especially as the elder girl wears her hair short--no
improvement to a keen face which needs softening. She is much too
like a callow undergraduate altogether, and her sister follows suit,
though perhaps with more refinement of feature--indeed she looks
delicate, and was soon called in. They are in slight mourning, and
appear in gray serges. They left a strap of books on the sofa, of
somewhat alarming light literature for the seaside. Bacon's ESSAYS
AND ELEMENTS OF LOGIC were the first Emily beheld, and while she
stood regarding them with mingled horror and respect, in ran Avice
to fetch them, as the two sisters are reading up for the Oxford
exam--'ination' she added when she saw her two feeble-minded aunts
looking for the rest of the word. However, she says it is only Pica
who is going up for it this time. She herself was not considered
strong enough. Yet there have those two set themselves down with
their books under the rocks, blind to all the glory of sea and
shore, deaf to the dash and ripple of the waves! I long to go and
shout Wordsworth's warning about 'growing double' to them. I am
glad to say that Uchtred has come and fetched Avice away. I can
hardly believe Martyn and Mary parents to this grown-up family.
They look as youthful as ever, and are as active and vigorous, and
full of their jokes with one another and their children. They are
now gone out to the point of the rocks at the end of our promontory,
fishing for microscopical monsters, and comporting themselves boy
and girl fashion.

Isabel has meantime been chatting very pleasantly with grandmamma,
and trying to extricate us from our bewilderment as to names and
nicknames. My poor mother, after strenuously preventing
abbreviations in her own family, has to endure them in her
descendants, and as every one names a daughter after her, there is
some excuse! This Oxford Margaret goes by the name of Pie or Pica,
apparently because it is the remotest portion of Magpie, and her
London cousin is universally known as Metelill--the Danish form, I
believe; but in the Bourne Parva family the young Margaret Druce is
nothing worse than Meg, and her elder sister remains Jane. "Nobody
would dare to call her anything else," says Isa. Avice cannot but
be sometimes translated into the Bird; while my poor name, in my
second London niece, has become the masculine Charley. "I shall
know why when I see her," says Isa laughing. This good-natured
damsel is coming out walking with us old folks, and will walk on
with me, when grandmamma turns back with Emily. Her great desire is
to find the whereabouts of a convalescent home in which she and her
cousins have subscribed to place a poor young dressmaker for a six
weeks' rest; but I am afraid it is on the opposite side of S.
Clements, too far for a walk.

JULY 5.--Why did you never tell me how charming Metelill is? I
never supposed the Fulford features capable of so much beauty, and
the whole manner and address are so delightful that I do not wonder
that all her cousins are devoted to her; Uchtred, or Butts, as they
are pleased to name him, has brightened into another creature since
she came, and she seems like sunshine to us all. As to my namesake,
I am sorry to say that I perceive the appropriateness of Charley;
but I suppose it is style, for the masculine dress which in Pica and
Avice has an air of being worn for mere convenience' sake, and is
quite ladylike, especially on Avice, has in her an appearance of
defiance and coquetry. Her fox-terrier always shares her room,
which therefore is eschewed by her sister, and this has made a
change in our arrangements. We had thought the room in our house,
which it seems is an object of competition, would suit best for Jane
Druce and one of her little sisters; but a hint was given by either
Pica or her mother that it would be a great boon to let Jane and
Avice share it, as they are very great friends, and we had the
latter there installed. However, this fox-terrier made Metelill
protest against sleeping at the hotel with her sister, and her
mother begged us to take her in. Thereupon, Emily saw Isa looking
annoyed, and on inquiry she replied sweetly, "Oh, never mind, aunty
dear; I daresay Wasp won't be so bad as he looks; and I'll try not
to be silly, and then I daresay Charley will not tease me! Only I
had hoped to be with dear Metelill; but no doubt she will prefer her
Bird--people always do." So they were going to make that poor child
the victim! For it seems Pica has a room to herself, and will not
give it up or take in any one. Emily went at once to Avice and
asked whether she would mind going to the hotel, and letting Isa be
with Metelill, and this she agreed to at once. I don't know why I
tell you all these details, except that they are straws to show the
way of the wind, and you will see how Isabel is always the
sacrifice, unless some one stands up for her. Here comes Martyn to
beguile me out to the beach.

JULY 6 (Sunday).--My mother drove to church and took Edith, who was
glad neither to walk nor to have to skirmish for a seat. Isa walked
with Emily and me, and so we made up our five for our seat, which,
to our dismay, is in the gallery, but, happily for my mother, the
stairs are easy. The pews there are not quite so close to one's
nose as those in the body of the church; they are a little wider,
and are furnished with hassocks instead of traps to prevent
kneeling, so that we think ourselves well off, and we were agreeably
surprised at the service. There is a new incumbent who is striving
to modify things as well as his people and their architecture
permit, and who preached an excellent sermon. So we triumph over
the young folk, who try to persuade us that the gallery is a
judgment on us for giving in to the hired pew system. They may
banter me as much as they like, but I don't like to see them jest
with grandmamma about it, as if they were on equal terms, and she
does not understand it either. "My dear," she gravely says, "your
grandpapa always said it was a duty to support the parish church."
"Nothing will do but the Congregational system in these days; don't
you think so?" began Pica dogmatically, when her father called her
off. Martyn cannot bear to see his mother teased. He and his wife,
with the young ones, made their way to Hollyford, where they found a
primitive old church and a service to match, but were terribly late,
and had to sit in worm-eaten pews near the door, amid scents of
peppermint and southernwood. On the way back, Martyn fraternised
with a Mr. Methuen, a Cambridge tutor with a reading party, who has,
I am sorry to say, arrived at the house VIS-A-VIS to ours, on the
other side of the cove. Our Oxford young ladies turn up their noses
at the light blue, and say the men have not the finish of the dark;
but Charley is in wild spirits. I heard her announcing the arrival
thus: "I say, Isa, what a stunning lark! Not but that I was up to
it all the time, or else I should have skedaddled; for this place
was bound to be as dull as ditchwater." "But how did you know?"
asked Isa. "Why, Bertie Elwood tipped me a line that he was coming
down here with his coach, or else I should have told the mater I
couldn't stand it and gone to stay with some one." This Bertie
Elwood is, it seems, one of the many London acquaintance. He looks
inoffensive, and so do the others, but I wish they had chosen some
other spot for their studies, and so perhaps does their tutor,
though he is now smoking very happily under a rock with Martyn.

JULY 7.--Such a delightful evening walk with Metelill and Isa as
Emily and I had last night, going to evensong in our despised
church! The others said they could stand no more walking and heat,
and yet we met Martyn and Mary out upon the rocks when we were
coming home, after being, I must confess, nearly fried to death by
the gas and bad air. They laughed at us and our exertions, all in
the way of good humour, but it was not wholesome from parents. Mary
tried to make me confess that we were coming home in a self-
complacent fakir state of triumph in our headaches, much inferior to
her humble revelling in cool sea, sky, and moonlight. It was like
the difference between the BENEDICITE and the TE DEUM, I could not
help thinking; while Emily said a few words to Martyn as to how
mamma would be disappointed at his absenting himself from Church,
and was answered, "Ah! Emily, you are still the good home child of
the primitive era," which she did not understand; but I faced about
and asked if it were not what we all should be. He answered rather
sadly, "If we could'; and his wife shrugged her shoulders. Alas! I
fear the nineteenth century tone has penetrated them, and do not
wonder that this poor Isabel does not seem happy in her home.

9.--What a delightful sight is a large family of young things
together! The party is complete, for the Druces arrived yesterday
evening in full force, torn from their bucolic life, as Martyn tells
them. My poor dear old Margaret! She does indeed look worn and
aged, dragged by cares like a colonist's wife, and her husband is
quite bald, and as spare as a hermit. It is hard to believe him
younger than Martyn; but then his whole soul is set on Bourne Parva,
and hers on him, on the children, on the work, and on making both
ends meet; and they toil five times more severely in one month than
the professor and his lady in a year, besides having just twice as
many children, all of whom are here except the schoolboys. Margaret
declares that the entire rest, and the talking to something not
entirely rural, will wind her husband up for the year; and it is
good to see her sitting in a basket-chair by my mother, knitting
indeed, but they both do that like breathing, while they purr away
to one another in a state of perfect repose and felicity. Meantime
her husband talks Oxford with Martyn and Mary. Their daughter Jane
seems to be a most valuable helper to both, but she too has a worn,
anxious countenance, and I fear she may be getting less rest than
her parents, as they have brought only one young nursemaid with
them, and seem to depend on her and Meg for keeping the middle-sized
children in order. She seems to have all the cares of the world on
her young brow, and is much exercised about one of the boxes which
has gone astray on the railway. What do you think she did this
morning? She started off with Avice at eight o'clock for the S.
Clements station to see if the telegram was answered, and they went
on to the Convalescent Home and saw the Oxford dressmaker. It seems
that Avice had taken Uchtred with her on Sunday evening, made out
the place, and gone to church at S. Clements close by--a very long
walk; but it seems that those foolish girls thought me too fine a
lady to like to be seen with her in her round hat on a Sunday. I
wish they could understand what it is that I dislike. If I objected
to appearances, I am afraid the poor Druces would fare ill.
Margaret's girls cannot help being essentially ladies, but they have
not much beauty to begin with--and their dress! It was chiefly made
by their own sewing machine, with the assistance of the Bourne Parva
mantua-maker, superintended by Jane, 'to prevent her from making it
foolish'; and the effect, I grieve to say, is ill-fitting dowdiness,
which becomes grotesque from their self-complacent belief that it
displays the only graceful and sensible fashion in the place. It
was laughable to hear them criticising every hat or costume they
have seen, quite unaware that they were stared at themselves, till
Charley told them people thought they had come fresh out of Lady
Bountiful's goody-box, which piece of impertinence they took as a
great compliment to their wisdom and excellence. To be sure, the
fashions are distressing enough, but Metelill shows that they can be
treated gracefully and becomingly, and even Avice makes her serge
and hat look fresh and ladylike. Spite of contrast, Avice and Jane
seem to be much devoted to each other. Pica and Charley are another
pair, and Isa and Metelill--though Metelill is the universal
favourite, and there is always competition for her. In early
morning I see the brown heads and blue bathing-dresses, a-
mermaiding, as they call it, in the cove below, and they come in all
glowing, with the floating tresses that make Metelill look so
charming, and full of merry adventures at breakfast. We all meet in
the great room at the hotel for a substantial meal at half-past one,
and again (most of us at least) at eight; but it is a moot point
which of these meals we call dinner. Very merry both of them are;
Martyn and Horace Druce are like boys together, and the girls scream
with laughter, rather too much so sometimes. Charley is very noisy,
and so is Meg Druce, when not overpowered by shyness. She will not
exchange a sentence with any of the elders, but in the general laugh
she chuckles and shrieks like a young Cochin-Chinese chicken
learning to crow; and I hear her squealing like a maniac while she
is shrimping with the younger ones and Charley. I must except those
two young ladies from the unconscious competition, for one has no
manners at all, and the other affects those of a man; but as to the
rest, they are all as nice as possible, and I can only say, "How
happy could I be with either." Isa, poor girl, seems to need our
care most, and would be the most obliging and attentive. Metelill
would be the prettiest and sweetest ornament of our drawing-room,
and would amuse you the most; Pica, with her scholarly tastes, would
be the best and most appreciative fellow-traveller; and Jane, if she
could or would go, would perhaps benefit the most by being freed
from a heavy strain, and having her views enlarged.

10.--A worthy girl is Jane Druce, but I fear the Vicarage is no
school of manners. Her mother is sitting with us, and has been
discoursing to grandmamma on her Jane's wonderful helpfulness and
activity in house and parish, and how everything hinged on her last
winter when they had whooping-cough everywhere in and out of doors;
indeed she doubts whether the girl has ever quite thrown off the
effects of all her exertions then. Suddenly comes a trampling, a
bounce and a rush, and in dashes Miss Jane, fiercely demanding
whether the children had leave to go to the cove. Poor Margaret
meekly responds that she had consented. "And didn't you know,"
exclaims the damsel, "that all their everyday boots are in that
unlucky trunk?" There is a humble murmur that Chattie had promised
to be very careful, but it produces a hotter reply. "As if
Chattie's promises of that kind could be trusted! And I had _TOLD_
them that they were to keep with baby on the cliff!" Then came a
real apology for interfering with Jane's plans, to which we listened
aghast, and Margaret was actually getting up to go and look after
her amphibious offspring herself, when her daughter cut her off
short with, "Nonsense, mamma, you know you are not to do any such
thing! I must go, that's all, or they won't have a decent boot or
stocking left among them." Off she went with another bang, while
her mother began blaming herself for having yielded in haste to the
persuasions of the little ones, oblivious of the boots, thus
sacrificing Jane's happy morning with Avice. My mother showed
herself shocked by the tone in which Margaret had let herself be
hectored, and this brought a torrent of almost tearful apologies
from the poor dear thing, knowing she did not keep up her authority
or make herself respected as would be good for her girl, but if we
only knew how devoted Jane was, and how much there was to grind and
try her temper, we should not wonder that it gave way sometimes.
Indeed it was needful to turn away the subject, as Margaret was the
last person we wished to distress.

Jane could have shown no temper to the children, for at dinner a
roly-poly person of five years old, who seems to absorb all the fat
in the family, made known that he had had a very jolly day, and he
loved cousin Avice very much indeed, and sister Janie very much
indeeder, and he could with difficulty be restrained from an
expedition to kiss them both then and there.

The lost box was announced while we were at dinner, and Jane is gone
with her faithful Avice to unpack it. Her mother would have done it
and sent her boating with the rest, but submitted as usual when
commanded to adhere to the former plan of driving with grandmamma.
These Druce children must be excellent, according to their mother,
but they are terribly brusque and bearish. They are either seen and
not heard, or not seen and heard a great deal too much. Even Jane
and Meg, who ought to know better, keep up a perpetual undercurrent
of chatter and giggle, whatever is going on, with any one who will
share it with them.

10.--I am more and more puzzled about the new reading of the Fifth
Commandment. None seem to understand it as we used to do. The
parents are content to be used as equals, and to be called by all
sorts of absurd names; and though grandmamma is always kindly and
attentively treated, there is no reverence for the relationship. I
heard Charley call her 'a jolly old party,' and Metelill respond
that she was 'a sweet old thing.' Why, we should have thought such
expressions about our grandmother a sort of sacrilege, but when I
ventured to hint as much Charley flippantly answered, "Gracious me,
we are not going back to buckram"; and Metelill, with her caressing
way, declared that she loved dear granny too much to be so stiff and
formal. I quoted--

"If I be a Father, where is My honour?"

And one of them taking it, I am sorry to say, for a line of secular
poetry, exclaimed at the stiffness and coldness. Pica then put in
her oar, and began to argue that honour must be earned, and that it
was absurd and illogical to claim it for the mere accident of
seniority or relationship. Jane, not at all conscious of being an
offender, howled at her that this was her horrible liberalism and
neology, while Metelill asked what was become of loyalty. "That
depends on what you mean by it," returned our girl graduate. "LOI-
AUTE, steadfastness to principle, is noble, but personal loyalty, to
some mere puppet or the bush the crown hangs on, is a pernicious
figment." Charley shouted that this was the No. 1 letter A point in
Pie's prize essay, and there the discussion ended, Isa only sighing
to herself, "Ah, if I had any one to be loyal to!"

"How you would jockey them!" cried Charley, turning upon her so
roughly that the tears came into her eyes; and I must have put on
what you call my Government-house look, for Charley subsided

11.--Here was a test as to this same obedience. The pupils, who are
by this time familiars of the party, had devised a boating and
fishing expedition for all the enterprising, which was satisfactory
to the elders because it was to include both the fathers.
Unluckily, however, this morning's post brought a summons to Martyn
and Mary to fulfil an engagement they have long made to meet an
American professor at ---, and they had to start off at eleven
o'clock; and at the same time the Hollyford clergyman, an old
fellow-curate of Horace Druce, sent a note imploring him to take a
funeral. So the voice of the seniors was for putting off the
expedition, but the voice of the juniors was quite the other way.
The three families took different lines. The Druces show obedience
though not respect; they growled and grumbled horribly, but
submitted, though with ill grace, to the explicit prohibition. Non-
interference is professedly Mary's principle, but even she said,
with entreaty veiled beneath the playfulness, when it was pleaded
that two of the youths had oars at Cambridge, "Freshwater fish, my
dears. I wish you would wait for us! I don't want you to attend
the submarine wedding of our old friends Tame and Isis." To which
Pica rejoined, likewise talking out of Spenser, that Proteus would
provide a nice ancient nymph to tend on them. Her father then
chimed in, saying, "You will spare our nerves by keeping to dry land
unless you can secure the ancient mariner who was with us

"Come, come, most illustrious," said Pica good-humouredly, "I'm not
going to encourage you to set up for nerves. You are much better
without them, and I must get some medusae."

It ended with, "I beg you will not go without that old man," the
most authoritative speech I have heard either Martyn or Mary make to
their daughters; but it was so much breath wasted on Pica, who
maintains her right to judge for herself. The ancient mariner had
been voted an encumbrance and exchanged for a jolly young waterman.

Our other mother, Edith, implored, and was laughed down by Charley,
who declared she could swim, and that she did not think Uncle Martyn
would have been so old-womanish. Metelill was so tender and
caressing with her frightened mother that I thought here at last was
submission, and with a good grace. But after a turn on the
esplanade among the pupils, back came Metelill in a hurry to say,
"Dear mother, will you very much _MIND_ if I go? They will be so
disappointed, and there will be such a fuss if I don't; and Charley
really ought to have some one with her besides Pie, who will heed
nothing but magnifying medusae." I am afraid it is true, as Isa
says, that it was all owing to the walk with that young Mr Horne.

Poor Edith fell into such a state of nervous anxiety that I could
not leave her, and she confided to me how Charley had caught her
foolish masculine affectations in the family of this very Bertie
Elwood, and told me of the danger of an attachment between Metelill
and a young government clerk who is always on the look-out for her.
"And dear Metelill is so gentle and gracious that she cannot bear to
repel any one," says the mother, who would, I see, be thankful to
part with either daughter to our keeping in hopes of breaking off
perilous habits. I was saved, however, from committing myself by
the coming in of Isabel. That child follows me about like a tame
cat, and seems so to need mothering that I cannot bear to snub her.

She came to propound to me a notion that has risen among these
Oxford girls, namely, that I should take out their convalescent
dressmaker as my maid instead of poor Amelie. She is quite well
now, and going back next week; but a few years in a warm climate
might be the saving of her health. So I agreed to go with Isa to
look at her, and judge whether the charming account I heard was all
youthful enthusiasm. Edith went out driving with my mother, and we
began our TETE-A-TETE walk, in which I heard a great deal of the
difficulties of that free-and-easy house at Oxford, and how often
Isa wishes for some one who would be a real guide and helper,
instead of only giving a playful, slap-dash answer, like good-
natured mockery. The treatment may suit Mary's own daughters, but
'Just as you please, my dear,' is not good for sensitive, anxious
spirits. We passed Jane and Avice reading together under a rock; I
was much inclined to ask them to join us, but Isa was sure they were
much happier undisturbed, and she was so unwilling to share me with
any one that I let them alone. I was much pleased with the
dressmaker, Maude Harris, who is a nice, modest, refined girl, and
if the accounts I get from her employers bear out what I hear of
her, I shall engage her; I shall be glad, for the niece's sake, to
have that sort of young woman about the place. She speaks most
warmly of what the Misses Fulford have done for her.

Jane will be disappointed if I cannot have her rival candidate--a
pet schoolgirl who works under the Bourne Parva dressmaker. "What a
recommendation!" cries Pica, and there is a burst of mirth, at which
Jane looks round and says, "What is there to laugh at? Miss
Dadworthy is a real good woman, and a real old Bourne Parva person,
so that you may be quite sure Martha will have learnt no nonsense to
begin with."

"No," says Pica, "from all such pomps and vanities as style, she
will be quite clear."

While Avice's friendship goes as far as to say that if Aunt
Charlotte cannot have Maude, perhaps Martha could get a little more
training. Whereupon Jane runs off by the yard explanations of the
admirable training--religious, moral, and intellectual--of Bourne
Parva, illustrated by the best answers of her favourite scholars,
anecdotes of them, and the reports of the inspectors, religious and
secular; and Avice listens with patience, nay, with respectful

12.--We miss Mary and Martyn more than I expected. Careless and
easy-going as they seem, they made a difference in the ways of the
young people; they were always about with them, not as dragons, but
for their own pleasure. The presence of a professor must needs
impose upon young men, and Mary, with her brilliant wit and charming
manners, was a check without knowing it. The boating party came
back gay and triumphant, and the young men joined in our late meal;
and oh, what a noise there was! though I must confess that it was
not they who made the most. Metelill was not guilty of the noise,
but she was--I fear I must say it--flirting with all her might with
a youth on each side of her, and teasing a third; I am afraid she is
one of those girls who are charming to all, and doubly charming to
your sex, and that it will never do to have her among the staff. I
don't think it is old-maidish in us to be scandalised at her walking
up and down the esplanade with young Horne till ten o'clock last
night; Charley was behind with Bertie Elwood, and, I grieve to say,
was smoking. It lasted till Horace Druce went out to tell them that
Metelill must come in at once, as it was time to shut up the house.

The Oxford girls were safe indoors; Isa working chess problems with
another of the lads, Avice keeping Jane company over the putting the
little ones to sleep--in Mount Lebanon, as they call the Druce
lodging--and Pica preserving microscopic objects. "Isn't she
awful?" said one of those pupils. "She's worse than all the dons in
Cambridge. She wants to be at it all day long, and all through the

They perfectly flee from her. They say she is always whipping out a
microscope and lecturing upon protoplasms--and there is some truth
in the accusation. She is almost as bad on the emancipation of
women, on which there is a standing battle, in earnest with Jane--in
joke with Metelill; but it has, by special orders, to be hushed at
dinner, because it almost terrifies grandmamma. I fear Pica tries
to despise her!

This morning the girls are all out on the beach in pairs and threes,
the pupils being all happily shut up with their tutor. I see the
invalid lady creep out with her beach-rest from the intermediate
house, and come down to her usual morning station in the shade of a
rock, unaware, poor thing, that it has been monopolised by Isa and
Metelill. Oh, girls! why don't you get up and make room for her?
No; she moves on to the next shady place, but there Pica has a
perfect fortification of books spread on her rug, and Charley is
sketching on the outskirts, and the fox-terrier barks loudly. Will
she go on to the third seat? where I can see, though she cannot,
Jane and Avice sitting together, and Freddy shovelling sand at their
feet. Ah! at last she is made welcome. Good girls! They have
seated her and her things, planted a parasol to shelter her from the
wind, and lingered long enough not to make her feel herself turning
them out before making another settlement out of my sight.

THREE O'CLOCK.--I am sorry to say Charley's sketch turned into a
caricature of the unprotected female wandering in vain in search of
a bit of shelter, with a torn parasol, a limp dress, and dragging
rug, and altogether unspeakably forlorn. It was exhibited at the
dinner-table, and elicited peals of merriment, so that we elders
begged to see the cause of the young people's amusement. My blood
was up, and when I saw what it was, I said--

"I wonder you like to record your own discourtesy, to call it
nothing worse."

"But, Aunt Charlotte," said Metelill in her pretty pleading way, "we
did not know her."

"Well, what of that?" I said.

"Oh, you know it is only abroad that people expect that sort of
things from strangers."

"One of the worst imputations on English manners I ever heard," I

"But she was such a guy!" cried Charley. "Mother said she was sure
she was not a lady."

"And therefore you did not show yourself one," I could not but

There her mother put in a gentle entreaty that Charley would not
distress grandmamma with these loud arguments with her aunt, and I
added, seeing that Horace Druce's attention was attracted, that I
should like to have added another drawing called 'Courtesy,' and
shown that there was _SOME_ hospitality _EVEN_ to strangers, and
then I asked the two girls about her. They had joined company
again, and carried her beach-rest home for her, finding out by the
way that she was a poor homeless governess who had come down to stay
in cheap lodgings with an old nurse to try to recruit herself till
she could go out again. My mother became immediately interested,
and has sent Emily to call on her, and to try and find out whether
she is properly taken care of.

Isa was very much upset at my displeasure. She came to me
afterwards and said she was greatly grieved; but Metelill would not
move, and she had always supposed it wrong to make acquaintance with
strangers in that chance way. I represented that making room was
not picking up acquaintance, and she owned it, and was really
grateful for the reproof; but, as I told her, no doubt such a rule
must be necessary in a place like Oxford.

How curiously Christian courtesy and polished manners sometimes
separate themselves! and how conceit interferes with both! I acquit
Metelill and Isa of all but thoughtless habit, and Pica was
absorbed. She can be well mannered enough when she is not defending
the rights of woman, or hotly dogmatical on the crude theories she
has caught--and suppose she has thought out, poor child! And Jane,
though high-principled, kind, and self-sacrificing, is too narrow
and--not exactly conceited--but exclusive and Bourne Parvaish, not
to be as bad in her way, though it is the sound one. The wars of
the Druces and Maronites, as Martyn calls them, sometimes rage
beyond the bounds of good humour.

TEN P.M.--I am vexed too on another score. I must tell you that
this hotel does not shine in puddings and sweets, and Charley has
not been ashamed to grumble beyond the bounds of good manners. I
heard some laughing and joking going on between the girls and the
pupils, Metelill with her "Oh no! You won't! Nonsense!" in just
that tone which means "I wish, I would, but I cannot bid you,"--the
tone I do not like to hear in a maiden of any degree.

And behold three of those foolish lads have brought her gilt and
painted boxes of bon-bons, over which there was a prodigious
giggling and semi-refusing and bantering among the young folks,
worrying Emily and me excessively, though we knew it would not do to

There is a sea-fog this evening unfavourable to the usual
promenades, and we elders, including the tutor, were sitting with my
mother, when, in her whirlwind fashion, in burst Jane, dragging her
little sister Chattie with her, and breathlessly exclaiming,
"Father, father, come and help! They are gambling, and I can't get
Meg away!"

When the nervous ones had been convinced that no one had been caught
by the tide or fallen off the rocks, Jane explained that Metelill
had given one box of bon-bons to the children, who were to be served
with one apiece all round every day. And the others were put up by
Metelill to serve as prizes in the 'racing game,' which some one had
routed out, left behind in the lodging, and which was now spread on
the dining-table, with all the young people playing in high glee,
and with immense noise.

"Betting too!" said Jane in horror. "Mr. Elwood betted three
chocolate creams upon Charley, and Pica took it! Father! Come and
call Meg away."

She spoke exactly as if she were summoning him to snatch her sister
from ROUGE ET NOIR at Monaco; and her face was indescribable when
her aunt Edith set us all off laughing by saying, "Fearful
depravity, my dear."

"Won't you come, father?" continued Jane; "Mr. Methuen, won't you
come and stop those young men?"

Mr. Methuen smiled a little and looked at Horace, who said--

"Hush, Janie; these are not things in which to interfere."

"Then," quoth Jane sententiously, "I am not astonished at the
dissipation of the university."

And away she flounced in tears of wrath. Her mother went after her,
and we laughed a little, it was impossible to help it, at the bathos
of the chocolate creams; but, as Mr. Methuen said, she was really
right, the amusement was undesirable, as savouring of evil. Edith,
to my vexation, saw no harm in it; but Horace said very decidedly he
hoped it would not happen again; and Margaret presently returned,
saying she hoped that she had pacified Jane, and shown her that to
descend as if there were an uproar in the school would only do much
more harm than was likely to happen in that one evening; and she
said to me afterwards, "I see what has been wanting in our training.
We have let children's loyalty run into intolerance and rudeness."
But Meg was quite innocent of there being any harm in it, and only
needed reproof for being too much charmed by the pleasure for once
to obey her dictatorial sister.

13, TEN A.M.--Horace has had it out with sundry of the young ladies,
so as to prevent any more betting. Several had regretted it. "Only
they did so want to get rid of the bon-bons! And Jane did make such
an uproar." After all, nobody did really bet but Charley and the
young Elwood, and Pica only that once. Jane candidly owns that a
little gentleness would have made a difference.

Again I see this obtuseness to courtesy towards strangers. Our
despised church has become popular, and so many of the young folks
choose to accompany us that they overflowed into the free seats in
the aisle, where I had a full view of them from above. These
benches are long, and I was sorry to see the girls planting
themselves fast at the outer end, and making themselves square, so
as to hinder any one else from getting in, till the verger came and
spoke to them, when Charley giggled offensively; and even then they
did not make room, but forced the people to squeeze past. Isa could
not help herself, not being the outermost; but she was much
distressed, and does not shelter herself under Charley's plea that
it was so hot that the verger should have been indicted for cruelty
to animals. Certainly they all did come home very hot from walking
back with the pupils.

Pica and Avice were not among them, having joined the Druces in
going to Hollyford, where Horace preached this morning. Their gray
serges and sailor hats were, as they said, "not adapted to the town

"It is the congregation you dress for?" said their uncle dryly,
whereupon Pica upbraided him with inconsistency in telling his poor
people not to use the excuse of 'no clothes,' and that the heart,
not the dress, is regarded. He said it was true, but that he should
still advocate the poor man's coming in his cleanest and best.
"There are manners towards God as well as towards man," he said.

I was too much tired by the heat to go to church again this evening,
and am sitting with my mother, who is dozing. Where the young
people are I do not know exactly, but I am afraid I hear Charley's
shrill laugh on the beach.

14.--Who do you think has found us out? Our dear old Governor-
General, "in all his laurels," as enthusiastic little Avice was
heard saying, which made Freddy stare hard and vainly in search of
them. He is staying at Hollybridge Park, and seeing our name in the
S. Clements' list of visitors, he made Lady Hollybridge drive him
over to call, and was much disappointed to find that you could not
be here during his visit. He was as kind and warm-hearted as ever,
and paid our dear mother such compliments on her son, that we tell
her the bows on her cap are starting upright with pride.

Lady Hollybridge already knew Edith. She made herself very
pleasant, and insisted on our coming EN MASSE to a great garden
party which they are giving to-morrow. Hollybridge is the S.
Clements' lion, with splendid grounds and gardens, and some fine old
pictures, so it is a fine chance for the young people; and we are
going to hire one of the large excursion waggonettes, which will
hold all who have age, dress, and will for gaieties. The pupils, as
Mr. Methuen is a friend of the Hollybridge people, will attend us as
outriders on their bicycles. I am rather delighted at thus catching
out the young ladies who did not think it worth while to bring a
Sunday bonnet. They have all rushed into S. Clements to furbish
themselves for the occasion, and we are left to the company of the
small Druces. Neither Margaret nor Emily chooses to go, and will
keep my mother company.

I ventured on administering a sovereign apiece to Isa and Jane
Druce. The first blushed and owned that it was very welcome, as her
wardrobe had never recovered a great thunderstorm at Oxford. Jane's
awkwardness made her seem as if it were an offence on my part, but
her mother tells me it made her very happy. Her father says that
she tells him he was hard on Avice, a great favourite of his, and
that I must ask Jane to explain, for it is beyond him. It is all
right about the Oxford girl. I have engaged her, and she goes home
to-morrow to prepare herself. This afternoon she is delighted to
assist her young ladies in their preparations. I liked her much in
the private interview. I was rather surprised to find that it was
'Miss Avice,' of whom she spoke with the greatest fervour, as having
first made friends with her, and then having constantly lent her
books and read to her in her illness.

15.--S. Swithun is evidently going to be merciful to us to-day, and
the damsels have been indefatigable--all, that is to say, but the
two Londoners, who have lawn tennis dresses, and their mother's maid
to turn them out complete. Isa brought home some tulle and white
jessamine with which she is deftly freshening the pretty compromise
between a bonnet and a hat which she wears on Sunday; also a
charming parasol, with a china knob and a wreath of roses at the
side. She hopes I shall not think her extravagant, but she had a
little money of her own.

Jane Druce displays two pairs of gloves and two neckties for herself
and her sister; and after all Meg will not go; she is so uncouth
that her mother does not like her to go without her own supervision;
and she with true Bourne Parva self-appreciation and exclusiveness

"I'm sure I don't want to go among a lot of stupid people, who care
for nothing but fine clothes and lawn tennis."

There was a light till one o'clock last night in the room where
Avice sleeps with Charley and the dog; and I scarcely saw either of
the Oxford sisters or Jane all this morning till dinner-time, when
Pica appeared very appropriately to her name, turned out in an old
black silk dress left behind by her mother, and adorned with white
tulle in all sorts of folds, also a pretty white bonnet made up by
Avice's clever fingers, and adorned with some soft gray sea-birds'
feathers and white down. Isa and Metelill were very well got up and
nice. Metelill looks charming, but I am afraid her bouquet is from
one of those foolish pupils. She, as usual, has shared it with Isa,
who has taken half to prevent her cousin being remarkable. And,
after all, poor Avice is to be left behind. There was no time to
make up things for two, and being in mourning, she could not borrow,
though Metelill would have been too happy to lend. She says she
shall be very happy with the children, but I can't help thinking
there was a tear in her eye when she ran to fetch her dress cloak
for Jane, whom, by the bye, Avice has made wonderfully more like
other people. Here is the waggonette, and I must finish to-morrow.

16.--We have had a successful day. The drive each way was a treat
in itself, and the moon rising over the sea on our way home was a
sight never to be forgotten. Hollybridge is charming in itself.
Those grounds with their sea-board are unique, and I never saw such
Spanish chestnuts in England. Then the gardens and the turf! One
must have lived as long in foreign parts as we have to appreciate
the perfect finish and well-tended look of such places. Your dear
old chief does not quite agree. He says he wants space, and is
oppressed with the sense of hedges and fences, except when he looks
to the sea, and even there the rocks look polished off, and treated
by landscape gardeners! He walked me about to see the show places,
and look at the pictures, saying he had been so well lionised that
he wanted some one to discharge his information upon. It was great
fun to hear him criticising the impossibilities of a battle-piece--
Blenheim, I think--the anachronisms of the firearms and uniforms,
and the want of discipline around Marlborough, who would never have
won a battle at that rate. You know how his hawk's eye takes note
of everything. He looked at Metelill and said, "Uncommonly pretty
girl that, and knows it," but when I asked what he thought of
Isabel's looks, he said, "Pretty, yes; but are you sure she is quite
aboveboard? There's something I don't like about her eyes." I wish
he had not said so. I know there is a kind of unfriendly feeling
towards her among some of the girls, especially the Druces and
Charley. I have heard Charley openly call her a humbug, but I have
thought much of this was dislike to the softer manners, and perhaps
jealousy of my notice, and the expression that the old lord noticed
is often the consequence of living in an uncongenial home.

Of course my monopoly of the hero soon ended, and as I had no
acquaintances there, and the young ones had been absorbed into
games, or had fraternised with some one, I betook myself to
explorations in company with Jane, who had likewise been left out.
After we had wandered along a dazzling stand of calceolarias, she
said, "Aunt Charlotte, papa says I ought to tell you something; I
mean, why Avice could not come to-day, and why she has nothing to
wear but her round hat. It is because she and Pica spent all they
had in paying for that Maude Harris at the Convalescent Home. They
had some kind of flimsy gauzy bonnets that were faded and utterly
done for after Commemoration week; and as Uncle Martyn is always
growling about ladies' luggage, they thought it would be a capital
plan to go without all the time they are down here, till another
quarter is due. Avice never thought of its not being right to go to
Church such a figure, and now she finds that papa thinks the command
to "have power on her head" really may apply to that sort of
fashion, we are going to contrive something for Sunday, but it could
not be done in time for to-day. Besides, she had no dress but a

"She preferred dressing her sister to dressing herself," I answered;
and Jane began assuring me that no one knew how unselfish that dear
old Bird is. The little money she had, she added to Pica's small
remnant, and thus enough had been provided to fit the elder sister

"I suppose," I said, "that Isa manages better, for she does not seem
to be reduced to the same extremities, though I suppose she has less
allowance than her cousins."

"She has exactly the same. I know it." And Jane caught herself up,
evidently checking something I might have thought ill-natured, which
made me respond something intended to be moralising, but which was
perhaps foolish, about good habits of economy, and how this
disappointment, taken so good-humouredly, would be a lesson to
Avice. "A lesson? I should think so," said Jane bluntly. "A
lesson not to lend her money to Isa"; and then, when I asked what
she meant, she blurted out that all Isa's so-called share of the
subscription for Maude Harris had been advanced by Avice--Pica had
told her so, with comments on her sister's folly in lending what she
well knew would never be repaid; and Alice could not deny it, only
defending herself by saying, she could not sacrifice the girl. It
was a very uncomfortable revelation, considering that Isa might have
given her cousin my sovereign, but no doubt she did not think that
proper, as I had meant it to be spent for this outing.

I will at least give her the benefit of the doubt, and I would not
encourage Jane to say any more about her. Indeed, the girl herself
did not seem so desirous of dwelling on Isa as of doing justice to
Avice, whom, she told me very truly, I did not know. "She is always
the one to give way and be put aside for Pie and Isa," said Jane.
And now I think over the time we have had together, I believe it has
often been so. "You are very fond of her," I said; and Jane
answered, "I should _THINK_ so! Why, she spent eight months with us
once at Bourne Parva, just after the great row with Miss Hurlstone.
Oh, didn't you know? They had a bad governess, who used to meet a
lover--a German musician, I think he was--when they were out
walking, and bullied Avice because she was honest. When it all came
to light, Pica came out and Isa was sent to school, but Avice had
got into a low state of health, and they said Oxford was not good
for her, so she came to us. And papa prepared her for Confirmation,
and she did everything with us, and she really is just like one of
ourselves," said Jane, as the highest praise imaginable, though any
one who contrasted poor Jane's stiff PIQUE (Miss Dadsworth's turn-
out) with the grace even of the gray serge, might not think it a
compliment. Jane was just beginning to tell me that Avice always
wrote to her to lay before her father the difficulties about right
and wrong faith and practice that their way of life and habits of
society bring before the poor child, when Isa descended upon us with
"Oh! Aunt Charlotte, I could not think what had become of you, when
I saw the great man without you."

I begin to wonder whether she is really so very fond of me, or
whether she does not like to see me with one of the others.

However, I shall be able to take Jane's hint, and cultivate Avice,
for, as my mother did not come yesterday, Lady Hollybridge has most
kindly insisted on her going over to-day. The carriage is taking
some one to the station, and is to call for her and me to bring us
to luncheon, the kind people promising likewise to send us back. So
I asked whether I might bring a niece who had not been able to come
yesterday, and as the young people had, as usual, become enamoured
of Metelill, they begged for her likewise. Avice looks very well in
the dress she made up for Pica, and being sisters and in mourning,
the identity will only be natural. She is very much pleased and
very grateful, and declares that she shall see everything she cares
about much more pleasantly than in the larger party, and perhaps
'really hear the hero talk.' And Uncle Horace says, "True, you
Bird, you are not like some young folk, who had rather hear
themselves talk than Socrates and S. Ambrose both at once." "Oh!"
said saucy Pica, "now we know what Uncle Horace thinks of his own
conversations with father!" By the bye, Martyn and Mary come home
to-morrow, and I am very glad of it, for those evening diversions on
the beach go on in full force, and though there is nothing tangible,
except Charley's smoke, to object to, and it is the present way of
young people, there is something unsatisfactory in it. Edith does
not seem to mind what her daughters do. Margaret has no occasion to
be uneasy about Jane, who always stays with the little ones while
the maids are at supper, and generally takes with her the devoted
Avice, who has some delicacy of throat forbidding these evening
excursions. Meg gets more boisterous and noisy every day, Uchtred
being her chief companion; but as she is merely a tomboy, I believe
her parents think it inexpedient to give her hints that might only
put fancies in her head. So they have only prohibited learning to
smoke, staying out later than nine o'clock, and shrieking louder
than a steam whistle!

17.--Yesterday was a great success. Avice was silent at first, but
Metelill drew her out, and she had become quite at her ease before
we arrived. You would have been enchanted to see how much was made
of our dear mother. Lord Hollybridge came out himself to give her
his arm up the stone steps and across the slippery hall. The good
old chief talked to her by the hour about you, and Avice's eyes
shone all the time. After luncheon our kind hostess arranged that
dear mother should have half an hour's perfect rest, in a charming
little room fitted like a tent, and then had a low chair with two
little fairy ponies in it to drive her about the gardens, while I
walked with the two gentlemen and saw things much better than in the
former hurly-burly, though that was a beautiful spectacle in its
way. Avice, who has seen scores of FETES in college grounds, much
preferred the scenery, etc., in their natural state to a crowd of
strangers. The young people took possession of the two girls, and
when we all met for the five o'clock tea, before going home, Lady
Georgina eagerly told her father that Miss Fulford had made out the
subject of 'that picture.' It was a very beautiful Pre-Raffaelite,
of a lady gathering flowers in a meadow, and another in
contemplation, while a mysterious shape was at the back; the ladies
stiff-limbed but lovely faced, and the flowers--irises, anemones,
violets, and even the grass-blossom, done with botanical accuracy.
A friend of Lord Hollybridge had picked it up for him in some
obscure place in Northern Italy, and had not yet submitted it to an
expert. Avice, it appeared, had recognised it as representing Leah
and Rachel, as Action and Contemplation in the last books of Dante's
PURGATORIO, with the mystic griffin car in the distance. Our hosts
were very much delighted; we all repaired to the picture, where she
very quietly and modestly pointed out the details. A Dante was
hunted up, but Lady Hollybridge and I were the only elders who knew
any Italian, and when the catalogue was brought, Avice knew all the
names of the translators, but as none were to be found, Lord
Hollybridge asked if she would make him understand the passage,
which she did, blushing a little, but rendering it in very good
fluent English, so that he thanked her, and complimented her so much
that she was obliged to answer that she had got it up when they were
hearing some lectures on Dante; and besides it was mentioned by
Ruskin; whereupon she was also made to find the reference, and mark
both it and Dante.

"I like that girl," said the old Governor-General, "she is
intelligent and modest both. There is something fine about the
shape of her head."

When we went home, Metelill was as proud and delighted as possible
at what she called the Bird's triumph; but Avice did not seem at all
elated, but to take her knowledge as a mere outcome of her ordinary
Oxford life, where allusions, especially Ruskinese and Dantesque,
came naturally. And then, as grandmamma went to sleep in her
corner, the two girls and I fell into a conversation on that whole
question of Action and Contemplation. At least Metelill asked the
explanation, but I doubt whether she listened much while Avice and I
talked out the matter, and I felt myself a girl again, holding the
old interminable talks with the first dear Avice, before you made
her my sister for those two happy years, and--Well, it is no use
paining you and myself with going back to those days, though there
was something in the earnest thoughtfulness and depth of her young
namesake and godchild that carried me back to the choicest day of
companionship before you came on the scene. And to think what a
jewel I have missed all this time!

18.--I am deeply grieved, and am almost ashamed to write what I have
to tell you. I had been out to see my mother with Margaret and
Emily settle in their favourite resort on the beach, and was coming
in to write my letters, when, in the sitting-room, which has open
French windows down to the ground, I heard an angry voice--

"I tell you it was no joke. It's no use saying so," and I beheld
Charley and Isa in the midst of a violent quarrel. "I've looked on
at plenty of your dodges, sucking up to Aunt Charlotte to get taken
out with her; but when it comes to playing spiteful tricks on my
sister I will speak out."

By this time I was on the window-step, checking Charley's very
improper tone, and asking what was the matter. Isa sprang to me,
declaring that it was all Charley's absurd suspicion and
misconstruction. At last, amid hot words on both sides, I found
that Charley had just found, shut into a small album which Metelill
keeps upon the drawing-room table, a newly taken photograph of young
Horne, one of the pupils, with a foolish devoted inscription upon
the envelope, directed to Miss Fulford.

Isa protested that she had only popped it in to keep it safe until
she could return it. Charley broke out. "As if I did not know
better than that! Didn't you make him give you that parasol and
promise him your photo? Ay, and give it him in return? You thought
he would keep your secret, I suppose, but he tells everything, like
a donkey as he is, to Bertie Elwood, and Bertie and I have such fun
over him. And now, because you are jealous of poor Metelill, and
think Aunt Charlotte may take a fancy to you instead of her, you are
sticking his photo into her book just to do her harm with the aunts.
I'm not strait-laced. I wouldn't mind having the photos of a
hundred and fifty young men, only they would be horrid guys and all
just alike; but Aunt Charlotte is--is--well--a regular old maid
about it, and you knew she would mind it, and so you did it on
purpose to upset Metelill's chances."

Isa clung to me in floods of tears, desiring me not to believe
anything so cruel and false. Every one always was so hard upon her,
she said, and she had only put the thing inadvertently there, to get
it out of sight, into the first book she saw, but unfortunately she
did not know I had heard her trying to pass it off to Charley as a
jest. However, as there was no proof there, I asked about the
parasol. While the shopping was going on, she and young Horne had
been in another street, and this was the consequence! I was
perfectly confounded. Receive presents from young men! It seemed
to me quite impossible. "Oh, Isa thinks nothing of that!" said
Charley. "Ask her where she got those bangles, and that bouquet
which she told you was half Metelill's. You think me awful, I know,
Aunt Charlotte, but I do draw a line, though I would never have said
one word about it if she had not played this nasty trick on
Metelill." Isa would have begun some imploring excuse, but our two
gentlemen were seen coming up towards the window, and she fled,
gasping out an entreaty that I would not tell Uncle Martyn.

Nor did I then and there, for I needed to understand the matter and
look into it, so I told Martyn and Horace not to wait for me, and
heard Charley's story more coolly. I had thought that Mr. Horne was


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