Charlotte M. Yonge
Part 3 out of 4
Metelill's friend. "So he was at first," Charley said, "but he is
an uncommon goose, and Isa is no end of a hand at doing the pathetic
poverty-stricken orphan! That's the way she gets so many presents!"
Then she explained, in her select slang, that young Horne's love
affairs were the great amusement of his fellow-pupils, and that she,
being sure that the parasol was no present from me, as Isa had given
the cousins to understand, had set Bertie Elwood to extract the
truth by teasing his friend. "But I never meant to have told," said
Charley, "if you had not come in upon us, when I was in the midst of
such a wax that I did not know what I was saying"; and on my
demanding what she meant by the elegant expression she had used
about Isa and me, she explained that it was the schoolboy's word for
currying favour. Every one but we stupid elders perceived the game,
nay, even the Druces, living in full confidence with their children,
knew what was going on. I have never spoken, but somehow people
must read through one's brains, for there was a general conviction
that I was going to choose a niece to accompany us. I wonder if
you, my wise brother, let out anything to Edith. It is what men
always do, they bind women to silence and then disclose the secret
themselves, and say, "Nothing is safe with these women."
Any way, these girls have been generous, or else true to their
ESPRIT DE CORPS, I do not know which to call it; for though they
looked on at Isa's manoeuvres and my blindness with indignant
contempt, they never attempted to interfere. Jane Druce was seized
with a fit of passionate wrath and pity for me, but her father
withheld her from disclosures, assuring her that I should probably
find out the girl's true disposition, and that it would be wrong to
deprive Isa of a chance of coming under a fresh influence.
Poor girl, she must be very clever, for she kept up her constant
wooing of me while she also coquetted with Mr. Horne, being really,
as her contemporaries declare, a much worse flirt than Metelill, but
the temptation of the parasol threw her off her guard, and she was
very jealous of my taking out Metelill and Avice. I see now that it
has been her effort to keep the others away from me. This spiteful
trick, if it be true that she meant it, seems to have been done on
Metelill, as being supposed to be her only real rival. Avice always
yields to her, and besides, is too inoffensive to afford her any
When I talked to Mary, she said, "Oh yes, I always knew she was a
horrid little treacherous puss. Nature began it, and that governess
worked on a ready soil. We sent her to school, and hoped she was
cured, but I have long seen that it has only shown her how to be
more plausible. But what can one do? One could not turn out an
orphan, and I did not see that she was doing our own girls any harm.
I'm sure I gave her every chance of marrying, for there was nothing
I wished for so much, and I never told Martyn of her little
manoeuvres, knowing he would not stand them; and now what he will
do, I can't think, unless you and Edward will take her off our
hands. I believe you might do her good. She is an unfathomable
mixture of sham and earnest, and she really likes you, and thinks
much of you, as having a certain prestige, and being a woman of the
world" (fancy that). "Besides, she is really religious in a sort of
a way; much good you'll say it does her, but, as you know, there's a
certain sort of devotion which makes no difference to people's
It seems to be the general desire of the family that we should take
this unfortunate Isabel off their hands. Shall we? Cruelly as I
have been disappointed in the girl, I can't help liking her; she is
obliging, pleasant, ladylike in manners, very affectionate, and I
can't help thinking that with the respect and fear for you she would
feel she might be restrained, and that we could be the saving of
her, though at the same time I know that my having been so
egregiously deceived may be a sign that I am not fit to deal with
her. I leave it to your decision altogether, and will say no more
till I hear. Metelill is a charming girl, and I fancy you prefer
her, and that her mother knows it, and would send her for at least a
winter; but she gets so entirely off her balance whenever a young
man of any sort comes near, that I should not like to take charge of
her. It might be good for the worthy Jane, but as she would take a
great deal of toning down and licking into shape, and as she would
despise it all, refer everything to the Bourne Parva standard, and
pine for home and village school, I don't think she need be
considered, especially as I am sure she would not go, and could not
be spared. Pica would absorb herself in languages and antiquities,
and maintain the rights of women by insisting on having full time to
study her protoplasms, snubbing and deriding all the officers who
did not talk like Oxford dons. Probably the E. E. would be the only
people she would think fit to speak to. Avice is the one to whom I
feel the most drawn. She is thoroughly thoughtful, and her religion
is not of the uninfluential kind Mary describes. Those distresses
and perplexities which poor Isa affected were chiefly borrowed from
her genuine ones; but she has obtained the high cultivation and
intelligence that her Oxford life can give in full measure, and
without conceit or pretension, and it is her unselfish, yielding
spirit that has prevented me from knowing her sooner, though when
not suppressed she can be thoroughly agreeable, and take her part in
society with something of her mother's brilliancy. I think, too,
that she would be spared, as Oxford does not agree with her, and a
southern winter or two would be very good for her. Besides, the
others might come and see her in vacation time. Could we not take
both her and Isabel at least for the first winter?
19.--A stormy wet day, the first we have had. Poor Isa has made an
attempt at explanation and apology, but lost herself in a mist of
words and tears. I suppose I was severe, for she shrinks from me,
and clings to Avice, who has stood her friend in many a storm
before, and, as Jane indignantly tells me, persists in believing
that she is really sorry and wishes to be good. She is very
attentive and obliging, and my dear mother, who is in happy
ignorance of all this uproar, really likes her the best of all the
21.--We have had a great alarm. Last evening we went to the parish
church; Horace Druce had been asked to preach, and the rain, which
had fallen all the morning, cleared off just in time for the walk.
Emily, Margaret, two of her children, and I sat in the gallery, and
Avice and Isa in the free seats below. Avice had been kept at home
by the rain in the morning, but had begged leave to go later.
Darkness came on just as the first hymn was given out, and the
verger went round with his long wand lighting the gas. In the
gallery we saw plainly how, at the east end, something went wrong
with his match, one which he thought had failed, and threw aside.
It fell on a strip of straw matting in the aisle, which, being very
dry, caught fire and blazed up for a few seconds before it was
trampled out. Some foolish person, however, set the cry of 'Fire!'
going, and you know what that is in a crowded church. The vicar, in
his high old-fashioned desk with a back to it, could not see.
Horace in a chair, in the narrow, shallow sanctuary, did see that it
was nothing, but between the cries of 'Fire!' and the dying peal of
the organ, could not make his voice heard. All he could do was to
get to the rear of the crowd, together with the other few who had
seen the real state of things, and turn back all those whom they
could, getting them out through the vestry. But the main body were
quite out of their reach, and everybody tried to rush scrambling
into the narrow centre aisle, choking up the door, which was a
complicated trap meant to keep out draughts. We in the gallery
tried vainly to assure them that the only danger was in the crowd,
and the clergyman in his desk, sure that was the chief peril, at any
rate, went on waving and calling to them to wait; but the cries and
shrieks drowned everything, and there was a most terrible time, as
some 600 people jammed themselves in that narrow space, fighting,
You may suppose how we watched our girls. They had let themselves
be thrust up to the end of the seat by later comers: Avice the
innermost. We saw them look up to us, with white faces. To our
joy, Avice seemed to understand our signs and to try to withhold
Isa, but she was too wild with fright not to try to push on to the
end of the pew. Avice held her dress, and kept her back. Then, as
the crowd swayed, the two girls stood on the seat, and presently I
saw Avice bend down, and take from some one's arms a little child,
which she seated on the edge of the pew, holding it in her arms, and
soothing it. I don't know how long it all lasted, Horace says it
was not ten minutes before he had got men and tools to break down
the obstruction at the door, and pull out the crowded, crushed
people, but to us it seemed hours. They were getting calmer too in
the rear, for many had followed the lead through the vestry door,
and others had found out that there was no fire at all.
Wonderful to tell, no one was killed. There were some broken arms,
three I think, and some bad bruises. Many people were fainting, and
much hurt by the horrible heat and crush, but when at last the way
was free, we saw Horace come into the church, looking about in great
anxiety for the two girls, whom he had failed to find in the
trampled multitude. Then Avice came up to him, with the child in
her arms, and Isa followed, quite safe! How thankful we all were!
Avice says she remembered at once that she had been told of the
American fireman's orders to his little girl always to keep still in
such an alarm, for the crowd was a worse peril than the fire. By
the time we had come down the stairs and joined them, the child's
father had come for it in great anxiety, for its sister had been
trampled down fainting, and had just only revived enough to miss it!
I shall never forget what it was to see people sucked down in that
surging mass, and the thankful thrill of seeing our girls standing
there quietly with the child between them, its little fair head on
Avice's breast. We went home quietly and thankfully. Horace took
Avice to the hotel that he might explain all to her parents, and let
them know how well she had behaved; Isabel was shaken and tearful,
and her voice sounded weak and nervous as she bade her cousin good-
night and embraced her with much agitation. So I went to her room
to see whether she needed any doctoring, but I found Metelill
soothing her nicely, so I only kissed her (as I had not done these
two nights). "Ah, dear aunt, you forgive me!" she said. The tone
threw me back, as if she were making capital of her adventure, and I
said, "You have not offended _ME_." "Ah! you are still angry, and
yet you _DO_ love me still a little," she said, not letting me go.
"The more love, the more grief for your having done wrong," I said;
and she returned, "Ah! if I always had you." That chilled me, and I
went away. She does not know the difference between pardon and
remission of consequences. One must have something of the spirit of
the fifty-first Psalm before that perception comes. Poor dear
child, how one longs for power to breathe into her some such
Avice is quite knocked up to-day, and her mother has kept her in
bed, where she is very happy with her Jane. I have been to see her,
and she has been thanking me for having suggested the making way for
fresh comers in a pew. Otherwise, she says, she could not have
withstood the rush.
SIR EDWARD FULFORD TO MISS FULFORD
My Dear Charlotte,--I decidedly object to the company of a young
lady with such a genius for intrigue as Isabel Fulford seems to
possess. If we had only ourselves to consider, no doubt it would be
well for you to take her in hand, but in the sort of house ours will
be, there must be no one we cannot depend upon in our own family.
I suppose I am guilty of having betrayed my thoughts to Edith. I
had certainly wished for Metelill. She is an engaging creature, and
I am sorry you take so adverse a view of her demeanour; but I
promised to abide by your judgment and I will not question it. We
will ask Arthur and Edith to bring her to visit us, and then perhaps
you may be better satisfied with her.
The learned young lady is out of the question, and as Avice is my
dear wife's godchild as well as mine, I am very glad she has
deserved that your choice should fall upon her. It seems as if you
would find in her just the companionship you wish, and if her health
needs the southern climate, it is well to give her the opportunity.
You had better propose the scheme at once, and provide what she will
need for an outfit. The last touches might be given at Paris. I
hope to get time to run down to New Cove next week, and if you and
the niece can be ready to start by the middle of August, we will
take Switzerland by the way, and arrive at Malta by the end of
I shall be curious to hear the result of your throwing the
handkerchief.--Your affectionate brother,
MISS FULFORD TO SIR EDWARD FULFORD
JULY 24.--I threw the handkerchief by asking Martyn and Mary to
spare their daughter. Tears came into Mary's eyes, the first I ever
saw there, and she tried in vain to say something ridiculous.
Martyn walked to the window and said huskily, "Dr. A--- said it
would confirm her health to spend a few winters in the South. Thank
you, Charlotte!" They did not doubt a moment, but Martyn feels the
parting more than I ever thought he would, and Pica and Uchtred go
about howling and bewailing, and declaring that they never shall
know where to find anything again.
Avice herself is much more sorrowful than glad, though she is too
courteous and grateful not to show herself gracious to me. She did
entreat me to take Isa instead, so earnestly that I was obliged to
read her your decided objections. It was a blow to her at first,
but she is rapidly consoling herself over the wonderful commissions
she accepts. She is to observe Mediterranean zoophytes, and send
them home on glass slides for the family benefit. She is to send
her father photographs and drawings to illustrate his lectures, and
Jane has begged for a pebble or rock from S. Paul's Bay, to show to
her class at school. Indeed, I believe Avice is to write a special
journal, to be published in the BOURNE PARVA PARISH MAGAZINE;
Charley begs for a sea-horse, and Freddy has been instructed by one
of the pupils to bargain for nothing less than the Colossus of
Rhodes; Metelill is quite as cordial in her rejoicing, and Edith
owns that, now it has come to the point, she is very glad to keep
And Isa? Well, she is mortified, poor child. I think she must have
cried bitterly over the disappointment, for she looked very wretched
when we met at dinner.
Meanwhile, Martyn had a walk with Emily, who found that he was very
sorry not to be relieved from Isabel, though he knew you were quite
right not to take her. He thought Oxford not a good place for such
a girl, and the absence of the trustworthy Avice would make things
worse. Then Emily proposed to take Isabel back to the Birchwood
with her. Grandmamma really likes the girl, who is kind and
attentive. There are no young people to whom she could do harm,
Emily can look after her, and will be glad of help and
companionship. The whole family council agreed that it will be a
really charitable work, and that if any one can do her good, it will
be the mother and Aunt Emily.
Isa has acquiesced with an overflow of gratitude and affection to
them for taking pity on her. It sounds a little fulsome, but I
believe some of it is genuine. She is really glad that some one
wishes for her, and I can quite believe that she will lose in Avice
all that made life congenial to her under Mary's brisk
uncompromising rule. If she can only learn to be true--true to
herself and to others--she will yet be a woman to love and esteem,
and at Birchwood they will do their best to show that religious
sentiment must be connected with Truth.
And so ends my study of the manners of my nieces, convincing me the
more that as the manners are, so is the man or woman. The heart, or
rather the soul, forms the manners, and they _ARE_ the man.
COME TO HER KINGDOM
'Take care! Oh, take care!'
Whisk, swish, click, click, through the little crowd at Stokesley on
a fine April afternoon, of jocund children just let loose from
school, and mothers emerging from their meeting, collecting their
progeny after the fashion of old ewes with their lambs; Susan
Merrifield in a huge, carefully preserved brown mushroom hat, with a
big basket under one arm, and a roll of calico under the other; her
sister Elizabeth with a book in one hand, and a packet of ambulance
illustrations; the Vicar, Mr. Doyle, and his sister likewise loaded,
talking to them about the farmer's wedding of the morning, for which
the bells had been ringing fitfully all day, and had just burst out
again. Such was the scene, through which, like a flash, spun a
tricycle, from which a tiny curly-haired being in knickerbockers was
barely saved by his mother's seizing him by one arm.
'A tricycle!' exclaimed the Vicar.
'A woman! Oh!' cried Susan in horror, 'and she's stopping--at the
'My dear Susie, you must have seen ladies on tricycles before,'
whispered her sister.
'No, indeed, I am thankful to say I have not! If it should be Miss
Arthuret!' said Susan, with inexpressible tones in her voice.
'She was bowing right and left,' said the Vicar, a little
maliciously; 'depend upon it, she thought this was a welcome from
the rural population.'
'Hark! here's something coming.'
The Bonchamp fly came rattling up, loaded with luggage, and with a
quiet lady in black seated in it, which stopped at the same gate.
'The obedient mother, no doubt,' said Elizabeth. 'She looks like a
There had been a good deal of excitement at Stokesley about the
property known by the pleasing name of the Gap. An old gentleman
had lived there for many years, always in a secluded state, and
latterly imbecile, and on his death in the previous year no one had
for some time appeared as heir; but it became known that the
inheritrix was a young lady, a great-niece, living with a widowed
mother in one of the large manufacturing towns in the north of
England. Her father had been a clergyman and had died when she was
an infant. That was all that was known, and as the house had become
almost uninhabitable, the necessary repairs had prevented the
heiress from taking possession all this time. It was not a very
large inheritance, only comprising a small farm, the substantial
village shop, four or five cottages, and a moderate-sized house and
grounds, where the neglected trees had grown to strange irregular
proportions, equally with the income, which, owing to the outgoings
being small, had increased to about 800 or 900 pounds a year, and of
course it was a subject of much anxiety with Admiral Merrifield's
family to know what sort of people the newcomers would prove.
Of the large family only the two eldest daughters were at home;
Susan, now nearly forty, had never left it, but had been the
daughter-of-all-work at home and lady-of-all-work to the parish ever
since she had emerged from the schoolroom; her apricot complexion
showing hardly any change, and such as there was never perceived by
her parents. The Admiral, still a light, wiry, hale man, as active
as ever, with his hands full of county, parish, and farming
business; an invalid for many years, but getting into that health
which is LA JEUNESSE DE LA VIEILLESSE.
Elizabeth had, from twenty-five to thirty-two, been spared from home
by her father to take care of his stepmother in London, where she
had beguiled her time with a certain amount of authorship under a
NOM DE PLUME, and had been introduced to some choice society both
through her literary abilities and her family connections.
Four years previous the old lady had died, leaving her a legacy,
which, together with her gains, would have enabled her to keep such
a home in town as to remain in touch with the world to which she had
been introduced; but she had never lost her Stokesley heart enough
for the temptation to outweigh the disappointment she would have
caused at home, and the satisfaction and rest of being among her own
people. So she only went up for an occasional visit, and had become
the brightness of the house, and Susan's beloved partner in all her
Her father, who understood better than did her mother and sister
what she had given up, had insisted on her having a sitting-room to
herself, which she embellished with the personal possessions she had
accumulated, and where she pursued her own avocations in the
forenoon, often indeed interrupted, but never showing, and not often
feeling, that it was to her hindrance, and indeed the family looked
on her work sufficiently as a profession, not only to acquiesce, but
to have a certain complacency in it, though it was a kind of
transparent fiction that MESA was an anagram of her initials and
that of Stokesley. Her mother at any rate believed that none of the
neighbours guessed at any such thing.
Stokesley was a good deal out of the world, five miles from the
station at Bonchamp, over hilly, stony roads, so that the cyclist
movement had barely reached it; the neighbourhood was sparse, and
Mrs. Merrifield's health had not been conducive to visiting, any
more than was her inclination, so that there was a little agitation
about first calls.
The newcomers appeared at church on Sunday at all the services. A
bright-faced girl of one-and-twenty, with little black eyes like
coals of fire, a tight ulster, like a riding habit, and a small
billycock hat, rather dismayed those who still held that bonnets
ought to be the Sunday gear of all beyond childhood; but the mother,
in rich black silk, was unexceptionable.
Refusing to be marshalled up the aisle to the seat which persistent
tradition assigned to the Gap in the aristocratic quarter, daughter
and mother (it was impossible not thus to call them) sat themselves
down on the first vacant place, close to a surviving white smock-
frock, and blind to the bewildered glances of his much-bent friend
in velveteen, who, hobbling in next after, found himself displaced
and separated alike from his well-thumbed prayer and hymn book and
the companion who found the places for him.
'It ain't fitty like,' said the old man confidentially to Susan,
'nor the ladies wouldn't like it when we comes in with our old coats
all of a muck with wet.'
'The principle is right,' said Bessie, when this was repeated to
her; 'but practice ought to wait till native manners and customs are
The two sisters offered to save their mother the first visit--leave
her card, or make her excuses; but Mrs. Merrifield held that a card
thus left savoured of deceit, and that the deed must be womanfully
done in person. But she would not wait till the horses could be
spared, saying that for near village neighbours it was more friendly
to go down in her donkey-chair; and so she did, Bessie driving her,
and the Admiral walking with them.
The Gap had, ever since Bessie could remember, been absolutely
shrouded in trees, its encircling wall hidden in ivy bushes, over
which laburnums, lilacs, pink thorns, and horse chestnuts towered;
and the drive from the seldom-opened gate was almost obstructed by
the sweeping arms of laurels and larches.
It was obstructed now, but by these same limbs lying amputated; and
'chop, chop!' was heard in the distance.
'Oh, the Arbutus!' sighed Bessie.
'Clearing was much needed,' said her father, with a man's propensity
for the axe.
The donkey, however, thought it uncanny, 'upon the pivot of his
skull, turned round his long left ear,' and planted his feet firmly.
Mrs. Merrifield, deprecating the struggle by which her husband would
on such occasions enforce discipline, begged to get out; and while
this was going on, the ulstered young lady, with a small axe in
hand, came, as it were, to the rescue, and, while the donkey was
committed to a small boy, explained hastily, 'So overgrown, there is
nothing to be done but to let in light and air. My mother is at
home,' she added; 'she will be happy to see you,' and, conducting
them in with complete self-possession--rather, as it occurred to
Bessie, as the Queen might have led the way to the Duchess of Kent,
though there was a perfect simplicity and evident enjoyment about
her that was very prepossessing, and took off the edge of the sense
of conceit. Besides, the palace was, to London eyes at least, so
little to boast of, with the narrow little box of a wooden porch,
the odd, one-sided vestibule, and the tiny anteroom with the worn
carpet; but the drawing-room, in spite of George IV furniture, was
really pretty, with French windows opening on a well-mown lawn, and
fresh importations of knick-knacks, and vases of wild flowers, which
made it look inhabited and pleasant. There was no one there, and
the young lady proceeded to fetch her mother; and the unguarded
voice was caught by Bessie's quick ears from the window.
'Here are Admiral and Mrs. Merrifield, and one daughter. Come
along, little mammy! Worthy, homely old folks--just in your line.'
To Bessie's relief, she perceived that this was wholly unheard by
her father and mother. And there was no withstanding the eager,
happy, shy looks of the mother, whose whole face betrayed that after
many storms she had come into a haven of peace, and that she was
proud to owe it to her daughter.
A few words showed that mother and daughter were absolutely
enchanted with Stokesley, their own situation, and one another--the
young lady evidently all the more because she perceived so much to
'Everything wants improving. It is so choked up,' she said, 'one
wants to let in the light.'
'There are a good many trees,' said the Admiral, while Bessie
suspected that she meant figuratively as well as literally; and as
the damsel was evidently burning to be out at her clearing
operations again, and had never parted with her axe, the Admiral
offered to go with her and tell her about the trees, for, as he
observed, she could hardly judge of those not yet out in leaf.
She accepted him, though Bessie shrewdly suspected that the advice
would be little heeded, and, not fancying the wet grass and
branches, nor the demolition of old friends, she did not follow the
pair, but effaced herself, and listened with much interest to the
two mothers, who sat on the sofa with their heads together. Either
Mrs. Merrifield was wonderful in inspiring confidence, or it was
only too delightful to Mrs. Arthuret to find a listener of her own
standing to whom to pour forth her full heart of thankfulness and
delight in her daughter. 'Oh, it is too much!' occurred so often in
her talk that, if it had not been said with liquid eyes, choking
voice, and hands clasped in devout gratitude, it would have been
tedious; but Mrs. Merrifield thoroughly went along with it, and was
The whole story, as it became known, partly in these confidences,
partly afterwards, was this. The good lady, who had struck the
family at first as a somewhat elderly mother for so young a
daughter, had been for many years a governess, engaged all the time
to a curate, who only obtained a small district incumbency in a
town, after wear and tear, waiting and anxiety, had so exhausted him
that the second winter brought on bronchitis, and he scarcely lived
to see his little daughter, Arthurine. The mother had struggled on
upon a pittance eked out with such music teaching as she could
procure, with her little girl for her sole care, joy, and pride--a
child who, as she declared, had never given her one moment's pang or
'Poor mamma, could she say that of any one of her nine?' thought
Bessie; and Mrs. Merrifield made no such attempt.
Arthurine had brought home all prizes, all distinctions at the High
School, but--here was the only disappointment of her life--a low
fever had prevented her trying for a scholarship at Girton. In
consideration, however, of her great abilities and high qualities,
as well as out of the great kindness of the committee, she had been
made an assistant to one of the class mistresses, and had worked on
with her own studies, till the wonderful tidings came of the
inheritance that had fallen to her quite unexpectedly; for since her
husband's death Mrs. Arthuret had known nothing of his family, and
while he was alive there were too many between him and the
succession for the chance to occur to him as possible. The relief
and blessing were more than the good lady could utter. All things
are comparative, and to one whose assured income had been 70 pounds
a year, 800 pounds was unbounded wealth; to one who had spent her
life in schoolrooms and lodgings, the Gap was a lordly demesne.
'And what do you think was the first thing my sweet child said?'
added Mrs. Arthuret, with her eyes glittering through tears.
'Mammy, you shall never hear the scales again, and you shall have
the best Mocha coffee every day of your life.'
Bessie felt that after this she must like the sweet child, though
sweetness did not seem to her the predominant feature in Arthurine.
After the pathos to which she had listened there was somewhat of a
comedy to come, for the ladies had spent the autumn abroad, and had
seen and enjoyed much. 'It was a perfect feast to see how Arthurine
entered into it all,' said the mother. 'She was never at a loss,
and explained it all to me. Besides, perhaps you have seen her
'I beg your pardon.'
'Her article in the KENSINGTON. It attracted a great deal of
attention, and she has had many compliments.'
'Oh! the KENSINGTON MAGAZINE,' said Mrs. Merrifield, rather
uneasily, for she was as anxious that Bessie should not be suspected
of writing in the said periodical as the other mother was that
Arthurine should have the fame of her contributions.
'Do you take it?' asked Mrs. Arthuret, 'for we should be very glad
to lend it to you.'
A whole pile was on the table, and Mrs. Merrifield looked at them
with feeble thanks and an odd sort of conscious dread, though she
could with perfect truth have denied either 'taking it' or reading
Bessie came to her relief. 'Thank you,' she said; 'we do; some of
us have it. Is your daughter's article signed A. A., and doesn't it
describe a boarding-house on the Italian lakes? I thought it very
clever and amusing.'
Mrs. Arthuret's face lighted up. 'Oh yes, my dear,' slipped out in
her delight. 'And do you know, it all came of her letter to one of
the High School ladies, who is sister to the sub-editor, such a
clever, superior girl! She read it to the headmistress and all, and
they agreed that it was too good to be lost, and Arthurine copied it
out and added to it, and he--Mr. Jarrett--said it was just what he
wanted--so full of information and liveliness--and she is writing
some more for him.'
Mrs. Merrifield was rather shocked, but she felt that she herself
was in a glass house, was, in fact, keeping a literary daughter, so
she only committed herself to, 'She is very young.'
'Only one-and-twenty,' returned Mrs. Arthuret triumphantly; 'but
then she has had such advantages, and made such use of them.
Everything seems to come at once, though, perhaps, it is unthankful
to say so. Of course, it is no object now, but I could not help
thinking what it would have been to us to have discovered this
talent of hers at the time when we could hardly make both ends
'She will find plenty of use for it,' said Mrs. Merrifield, who, as
the wife of a country squire and the mother of nine children, did
not find it too easy to make her ends meet upon a larger income.
'Oh yes! indeed she will, the generous child. She is full of plans
for the regeneration of the village.'
Poor Mrs. Merrifield! this was quite too much for her. She thought
it irreverent to apply the word in any save an ecclesiastical sense;
nor did she at all desire to have the parish, which was considered
to be admirably worked by the constituted authorities,
'regenerated,' whatever that might mean, by a young lady of one-and-
twenty. She rose up and observed to her daughter that she saw papa
out upon the lawn, and she thought it was time to go home.
Mrs. Arthuret came out with them, and found what Bessie could only
regard as a scene of desolation. Though gentlemen, as a rule, have
no mercy on trees, and ladies are equally inclined to cry, 'Woodman,
spare that tree,' the rule was reversed, for Miss Arthuret was
cutting, and ordering cutting all round her ruthlessly with
something of the pleasure of a child in breaking a new toy to prove
that it is his own, scarcely listening when the Admiral told her
what the trees were, and how beautiful in their season; while even
as to the evergreens, she did not know a yew from a cedar, and
declared that she must get rid of this horrid old laurustinus, while
she lopped away at a Portugal laurel. Her one idea seemed to be
that it was very unwholesome to live in a house surrounded with
trees; and the united influence of the Merrifields, working on her
mother by representing what would be the absence of shade in a few
months' time, barely availed to save the life of the big cedar;
while the great rhododendron, wont to present a mountain of shining
leaves and pale purple blossoms every summer, was hewn down without
remorse as an awful old laurel, and left a desolate brown patch in
'Is it an emblem,' thought Bessie, 'of what she would like to do to
all of us poor old obstructions?'
After all, Mrs. Merrifield could not help liking the gentle mother,
by force of sympathy; and the Admiral was somewhat fascinated by the
freshness and impetuosity of the damsel, as elderly men are wont to
be with young girls who amuse them with what they are apt to view as
an original form of the silliness common to the whole female world
except their own wives, and perhaps their daughters; and Bessie was
extremely amused, and held her peace, as she had been used to do in
London. Susan was perhaps the most annoyed and indignant. She was
presiding over seams and button-holes the next afternoon at school,
when the mother and daughter walked in; and the whole troop started
to their feet and curtsied.
'Don't make them stand! I hate adulation. Sit down, please.
Where's the master?'
'In the boys' school, ma'am,' said the mistress, uncomfortably
indicating the presence of Miss Merrifield, who felt herself obliged
to come forward and shake hands.
'Oh! so you have separate schools. Is not that a needless expense?'
'It has always been so,' returned Susan quietly.
'Board? No? Well, no doubt you are right; but I suppose it is at a
sacrifice of efficiency. Have you cookery classes?'
'We have not apparatus, and the girls go out too early for it to be
of much use.'
'Ah, that's a mistake. Drawing?'
'The boys draw.'
'I shall go and see them. Not the girls? They look orderly enough;
but are they intelligent? Well, I shall look in and examine them on
their special subjects, if they have any. I suppose not.'
'Only class. Grammar and needlework.'
'I see, the old routine. Quite the village school.'
'It is very nice work,' put in Mrs. Arthuret, who had been looking
'Oh yes, it always is when everything is sacrificed to it. Good-
morning, I shall see more of you, Mrs.--ahem.'
'Please, ma'am, should I tell her that she is not a school manager?'
inquired the mistress, somewhat indignantly, when the two ladies had
'You had better ask the Vicar what to do,' responded Susan.
The schoolmaster, on his side, seemed to have had so much advice and
offers of assistance in lessons on history, geography, and physical
science, that he had been obliged to refer her to the managers, and
explain that till the next inspection he was bound to abide by the
'Ah, well, I will be one of the managers another year.'
So she told the Vicar, who smiled, and said, 'We must elect you.'
'I am sure much ought to be done. It is mere waste to have two
separate schools, when a master can bring the children on so much
better in the higher subjects.'
'Mrs. Merrifield and the rest of us are inclined to think that what
stands highest of all with us is endangered by mixed schools,' said
'Oh!' Arthurine opened her eyes; 'but education does all _THAT_!'
'Education does, but knowledge is not wisdom. Susan Merrifield's
influence has done more for our young women than the best class
teaching could do.'
'Oh, but the Merrifields are all so BORNES and homely; they stand in
the way of all culture.'
'Indeed,' said the Vicar, who had in his pocket a very favourable
review of MESA's new historical essay.
'Surely an old-fashioned squire and Lady Bountiful and their very
narrow daughters should not be allowed to prevent improvement,
pauperise the place, and keep it in its old grooves.'
'Well, we shall see what you think by the time you have lived here
long enough to be eligible for--what?'
'School manager, guardian of the poor!' cried Arthurine.
'We shall see,' repeated the Vicar. 'Good-morning.'
He asked Bessie's leave to disclose who MESA was.
'Oh, don't!' she cried, 'it would spoil the fun! Besides, mamma
would not like it, which is a better reason.'
There were plenty of books, old and new, in Bessie's room, magazines
and reviews, but they did not come about the house much, unless any
of the Rockstone cousins or the younger generation were staying
there, or her brother David had come for a rest of mind and body.
Between housekeeping, gardening, parish work, and pottering, Mrs.
Merrifield and Susan never had time for reading, except that Susan
thought it her duty to keep something improving in hand, which
generally lasted her six weeks on a moderate average. The Admiral
found quite reading enough in the newspapers, pamphlets, and
business publications; and their neighbours, the Greville family,
were chiefly devoted to hunting and lawn tennis, so that there was
some reason in Mrs. Arthuret's lamentation to the Vicar that dear
Arthurine did so miss intellectual society, such as she had been
used to with the High School mistresses--two of whom had actually
been at Girton!
'Does she not get on with Bessie Merrifield?' he asked.
'Miss Bessie has a very sweet face; Arthurine did say she seemed
well informed and more intelligent than her sister. Perhaps
Arthurine might take her up. It would be such an advantage to the
'Which?' was on Mr. Doyle's tongue, but he restrained it, and only
observed that Bessie had lived for a good many years in London.
'So I understood,' said Arthurine, 'but with an old grandmother, and
that is quite as bad as if it was in the country; but I will see
about it. I might get up a debating society, or one for studying
In the meantime Arthurine decided on improving and embellishing the
parish with a drinking fountain, and meeting Bessie one afternoon in
the village, she started the idea.
'But,' said Bessie, 'there is a very good supply. Papa saw that
good water was accessible to all the houses in the village street
ten years ago, and the outlying ones have wells, and there's the
brook for the cattle.'
'I am sure every village should have a fountain and a trough, and I
shall have it here instead of this dirty corner.'
'Can you get the ground?'
'Oh, any one would give ground for such a purpose! Whose is it?'
'Mr. Grice's, at Butter End.'
The next time Susan and Bessie encountered Arthurine, she began--
'Can you or Admiral Merrifield do nothing with that horrid old
Grice! Never was any one so pigheaded and stupid.'
'What? He won't part with the land you want?'
'No; I wrote to him and got no answer. Then I wrote again, and I
got a peaked-hand sort of note that his wife wrote, I should think.
"Mr. Grice presented his compliments" (compliments indeed!), "and
had no intention of parting with any part of Spragg's portion."
Well, then I called to represent what a benefit it would be to the
parish and his own cattle, and what do you think the old brute
said?--that "there was a great deal too much done for the parish
already, and he wouldn't have no hand in setting up the labourers,
who were quite impudent enough already." Well, I saw it was of no
use to talk to an old wretch like that about social movements and
equal rights, so I only put the question whether having pure water
easily accessible would not tend to make them better behaved and
less impudent as he called it, upon which he broke out into a
tirade. "He didn't hold with cold water and teetotal, not he. Why,
it had come to _THAT_--that there was no such thing as getting a
fair day's work out of a labouring man with their temperance, and
their lectures, and their schools, and their county councils and
what not!" Really I had read of such people, but I hardly believed
they still existed.'
'Grice is very old, and the regular old sort of farmer,' said
'But could not the Admiral persuade him, or Mr. Doyle?'
'Oh no,' said Susan, 'it would be of no use. He was just as bad
about a playground for the boys, though it would have prevented
their being troublesome elsewhere.'
'Besides,' added Bessie, 'I am sure papa would say that there is no
necessity. He had the water analysed, and it is quite good, and
plenty of it.'
'Well, I shall see what can be done.'
'She thinks us as bad as old Grice,' said Susan, as they saw her
walking away in a determined manner.
The next thing that was heard was the Admiral coming in from the
servants' hall, whither he had been summoned by 'Please, sir, James
Hodd wishes to speak to you.'
'What is this friend of yours about, Bessie?'
'What friend, papa?'
'Why, this Miss Arthur--what d'ye call her?' said the Admiral (who
on the whole was much more attracted by her than were his
daughters). 'Here's a deputation from her tenant, James Hodd, with
"Please, sir, I wants to know if 'tis allowed to turn folks out of
their houses as they've paid rent for reg'lar with a week's notice,
when they pays by the year."'
'You don't mean it!' exclaimed Mrs. Merrifield and Susan together.
'Poor old Mrs. West,' said the mother.
'And all the Tibbinses!' exclaimed Susan. 'She can't do it, can
'Certainly not, without the proper notice, and so I told James, and
that the notice she had sent down to him was so much waste-paper.'
'So at least she has created a village Hampden,' said Bessie,
'though, depend upon it, she little supposes herself to be the petty
'I must go and explain to her, I suppose, to-morrow morning,' said
However, he had scarcely reached his own gate before the ulstered
form was seen rushing up to him.
'Oh! Admiral Merrifield, good-morning; I was coming to ask you--'
'And I was coming to you.'
'Oh! Admiral, is it really so--as that impudent man told me--that
those horrid people can't be got out of those awful tumbledown,
unhealthy places for all that immense time?'
'Surely he was not impudent to you? He was only asserting his
right. The cottages were taken by the year, and you have no choice
but to give six months' notice. I hope he was not disrespectful.'
'Well, no--I can't say that he was, though I don't care for those
cap-in-hand ways of your people here. But at any rate, he says he
won't go--no, not any of them, though I offered to pay them up to
the end of the time, and now I must put off my beautiful plans. I
was drawing them all yesterday morning--two model cottages on each
side, and the drinking fountain in the middle. I brought them up to
show you. Could you get the people to move out? I would promise
them to return after the rebuilding.'
'Very nice drawings. Yes--yes--very kind intentions.'
'Then can't you persuade them?'
'But, my dear young lady, have you thought what is to become of them
in the meantime?'
'Why, live somewhere else! People in Smokeland were always shifting
'Yes--those poor little town tenements are generally let on short
terms and are numerous enough. But here--where are the vacant
cottages for your four families? Hodd with his five children,
Tibbins with eight or nine, Mrs. West and her widow daughter and
three children, and the Porters with a bedridden father?'
'They are dreadfully overcrowded. Is there really no place?'
'Probably not nearer than those trumpery new tenements at Bonchamp.
That would be eight miles to be tramped to the men's work, and the
Wests would lose the washing and charing that maintains them.'
'Then do you think it can never be done? See how nice my plans
'Oh yes! very pretty drawings, but you don't allow much outlet.'
'I thought you had allotments, and that they would do, and I mean to
get rid of the pig-sties.'
'A most unpopular proceeding, I warn you.'
'There's nothing more unsanitary than a pig-sty.'
'That depends on how it is kept. And may I ask, do you mean also to
dispense with staircases?'
'Oh! I forgot. But do you really mean to say that I can never
carry out my improvements, and that these people must live all
herded together till everybody is dead?'
'Not quite that,' said the Admiral, laughing; 'but most improvements
require patience and a little experience of the temper and habits of
the people. There are cottages worse than these. I think two of
them have four rooms, and the Wests and Porters do not require so
much. If you built one or two elsewhere, and moved the people into
them, or waited for a vacant one, you might carry out some of your
'And my fountain?'
'I am not quite sure, but I am afraid your cottages are on that
stratum where you could not bring the water without great expense.'
Arthurine controlled herself enough for a civil 'Good-morning!' but
she shed tears as she walked home and told her pitying mother that
she was thwarted on every side, and that nobody could comprehend
The meetings for German reading were, however, contrived chiefly--
little as Arthurine guessed it--by the influence of Bessie
Merrifield. The two Greville girls and Mr. Doyle's sister, together
with the doctor's young wife, two damsels from the next parish, and
a friend or two that the Arthurets had made at Bonchamp, formed an
imposing circle--to begin.
'Oh, not on WILHELM TELL!' cried Arthurine. 'It might as well be
the alphabet at once.'
However, the difficulties in the way of books, and consideration for
general incompetency, reduced her to WILHELM TELL, and she began
with a lecture first on Schiller, and then upon Switzerland, and on
the legend; but when Bessie Merrifield put in a word of such history
and criticisms as were not in the High School Manual, she was sure
everything else must be wrong--'Fraulein Blumenbach never said so,
and she was an admirable German scholar.'
Miss Doyle went so far as to declare she should not go again to see
Bessie Merrifield so silenced, sitting by after the first saying
nothing, but only with a little laugh in her eyes.
'But,' said Bessie, 'it is such fun to see any person having it so
entirely her own way--like Macaulay, so cock-sure of everything--and
to see those Bonchamp girls--Mytton is their name--so entirely
'I am sorry she has taken up with those Myttons,' said Miss Doyle.
'So am I,' answered Susan.
'You too, Susie!' exclaimed Bessie--'you, who never have a word to
say against any one!'
'I daresay they are very good girls,' said Susan; 'but they are--'
'Underbred,' put in Miss Doyle in the pause. 'And how they
'I think the raptures are genuine gush,' said Bessie; 'but that is
so much the worse for Arthurine. Is there any positive harm in the
family beyond the second-rate tone?'
'It was while you were away,' said Susan; 'but their father somehow
behaved very ill about old Colonel Mytton's will--at least papa
thought so, and never wished us to visit them.'
'He was thought to have used unfair influence on the old gentleman,'
said Miss Doyle; 'but the daughters are so young that probably they
had no part in it. Only it gives a general distrust of the family;
and the sons are certainly very undesirable young men.'
'It is unlucky,' said Bessie, 'that we can do nothing but inflict a
course of snubbing, in contrast with a course of admiration.'
'I am sure I don't want to snub her,' said good-natured Susan.
'Only when she does want to do such queer things, how can it be
It was quite true, Mrs. and Miss Arthuret had been duly called upon
and invited about by the neighbourhood; but it was a scanty one, and
they had not wealth and position enough to compensate for the girl's
self-assertion and literary pretensions. It was not a superior or
intellectual society, and, as the Rockstone Merrifields laughingly
declared, it was fifty years behindhand, and where Bessie
Merrifield, for the sake of the old stock and her meek bearing of
her success--nay, her total ignoring of her literary honours--would
be accepted. Arthurine, half her age, and a newcomer, was disliked
for the pretensions which her mother innocently pressed on the
world. Simplicity and complacency were taken for arrogance, and the
mother and daughter were kept upon formal terms of civility by all
but the Merrifields, who were driven into discussion and opposition
by the young lady's attempts at reformations in the parish.
It was the less wonder that they made friends where their intimacy
was sought and appreciated. There was nothing underbred about
themselves; both were ladies ingrain, though Arthurine was abrupt
and sometimes obtrusive, but they had not lived a life such as to
render them sensitive to the lack of fine edges in others, and were
quite ready to be courted by those who gave the meed of appreciation
that both regarded as Arthurine's just portion.
Mr. Mytton had been in India, and had come back to look after an old
relation; to whom he and his wife had paid assiduous attention, and
had been so rewarded as to excite the suspicion and displeasure of
the rest of the family. The prize had not been a great one, and the
prosperity of the family was further diminished by the continual
failures of the ne'er-do-well sons, so that they had to make the
best of the dull, respectable old house they had inherited, in the
dull, respectable old street of the dull, respectable old town.
Daisy and Pansy Mytton were, however, bright girls, and to them
Arthurine Arthuret was a sort of realised dream of romance, raised
suddenly to the pinnacle of all to which they had ever durst aspire.
After meeting her at a great OMNIUM GATHERUM garden party, the
acquaintance flourished. Arthurine was delighted to give the
intense pleasure that the freedom of a country visit afforded to the
sisters, and found in them the contemporaries her girl nature had
They were not stupid, though they had been poorly educated, and were
quite willing to be instructed by her and to read all she told them.
In fact, she was their idol, and a very gracious one. Deeply did
they sympathise in all her sufferings from the impediments cast in
her way at Stokesley.
Indeed, the ladies there did not meet her so often on their own
ground for some time, and were principally disturbed by reports of
her doings at Bonchamp, where she played at cricket, and at hockey,
gave a course of lectures on physiology, presided at a fancy-dress
bazaar for the schools as Lady Jane Grey, and was on two or three
committees. She travelled by preference on her tricycle, though she
had a carriage, chiefly for the sake of her mother, who was still in
a state of fervent admiration, even though perhaps a little worried
at times by being hurried past her sober paces.
The next shock that descended on Stokesley was that, in great
indignation, a cousin sent the Merrifields one of those American
magazines which are read and contributed to by a large proportion of
English. It contained an article called 'The Bide-as-we-bes and
parish of Stick-stodge-cum-Cadgerley,' and written with the same
sort of clever, flippant irony as the description of the mixed
company in the boarding-house on the Lago Maggiore.
There was the parish embowered, or rather choked, in trees, the
orderly mechanical routine, the perfect self-satisfaction of all
parties, and their imperviousness to progress,--the two squires, one
a fox-hunter, the other a general reposing on his laurels,--the
school where everything was subordinated to learning to behave
oneself lowly and reverently to all one's betters, and to do one's
duty in that state of life to which it _HAS_ pleased Heaven to call
one,--the horror at her tricycle, the impossibility of improvement,
the predilection for farmyard odours, the adherence to tumbledown
dwellings, the contempt of drinking fountains,--all had their meed
of exaggeration not without drollery.
The two ancient spinsters, daughters to the general, with their
pudding-baskets, buttonholes, and catechisms, had their full share--
dragooning the parish into discipline,--the younger having so far
marched with the century as to have indited a few little tracts of
the Goody Two-Shoes order, and therefore being mentioned by her
friends with bated breath as something formidable, 'who writes,'
although, when brought to the test, her cultivation was of the
vaguest, most discursive order. Finally, there was a sketch of the
heavy dinner party which had welcomed the strangers, and of the
ponderous county magnates and their wives who had been invited, and
the awe that their broad and expansive ladies expected to impress,
and how one set talked of their babies, and the other of G.F.S.
girls, and the gentlemen seemed to be chiefly occupied in abusing
their M.P. and his politics. Altogether, it was given as a lesson
to Americans of the still feudal and stationary state of country
districts in poor old England.
'What do you think of this, Bessie?' exclaimed Admiral Merrifield.
'We seem to have got a young firebrand in the midst of us.'
'Oh, papa! have you got that thing? What a pity!'
'You don't mean that you have seen it before?'
'Yes; one of my acquaintances in London sent it to me.'
'And you kept it to yourself?'
'I thought it would only vex you and mamma. Who sent it to you?'
'Anne did, with all the passages marked. What a horrid little
'I daresay we are very tempting. For once we see ourselves as
others see us! And you see 'tis American.'
'All the worse, holding us, who have done our best to welcome her
hospitably, up to the derision of the Yankees!'
'But you won't take any notice.'
'Certainly not, ridiculous little puss, except to steer as clear of
her as possible for fear she should be taking her observations.
"Bide as we be"; why, 'tis the best we can do. She can't pick a
hole in your mother though, Bess. It would have been hard to have
forgiven her that! You're not such an aged spinster.'
'It is very funny, though,' said Bessie; 'just enough exaggeration
to give it point! Here is her interview with James Hodd.'
Whereat the Admiral could not help laughing heartily, and then he
picked himself out as the general, laughed again, and said:
'Naughty girl! Bess, I'm glad that is not your line. Little
tracts--Goody Two-Shoes! Why, what did that paper say of your
essay, Miss Bess? That it might stand a comparison with Helps,
'And I wish I was likely to enjoy such lasting fame as Goody Two-
Shoes,' laughed Bessie, in a state of secret exultation at this bit
of testimony from her father.
Mrs. Merrifield, though unscathed, was much more hurt and annoyed
than either her husband or her daughter, especially at Susan and
Bessie being termed old maids. She _DID_ think it very ungrateful,
and wondered how Mrs. Arthuret could have suffered such a thing to
be done. Only the poor woman was quite foolish about her daughter--
could have had no more authority than a cat. 'So much for modern
But it was not pleasant to see the numbers of the magazine on the
counters at Bonchamp, and to know there were extracts in the local
papers, and still less to be indignantly condoled with by neighbours
who expressed their intention of 'cutting' the impertinent girl.
They were exactly the 'old fogies' Arthurine cared for the least,
yet whose acquaintance was the most creditable, and the home party
at Stokesley were unanimous in entreating others to ignore the whole
and treat the newcomers as if nothing had happened.
They themselves shook hands, and exchanged casual remarks as if
nothing were amiss, nor was the subject mentioned, except that Mrs.
Arthuret contrived to get a private interview with Mrs. Merrifield.
'Oh! dear Mrs. Merrifield, I am so grieved, and so is Arthurine. We
were told that the Admiral was so excessively angry, and he is so
kind. I could not bear for him to think Arthurine meant anything
'Indeed,' said Mrs. Merrifield, rather astonished.
'But is he so very angry?--for it is all a mistake.'
'He laughs, and so does Bessie,' said the mother.
'Laughs! Does he? But I do assure you Arthurine never meant any
place in particular; she only intended to describe the way things go
on in country districts, don't you understand? She was talking one
day at the Myttons, and they were all so much amused that they
wanted her to write it down. She read it one evening when they were
with us, and they declared it was too good not to be published--and
almost before she knew it, Fred Mytton's literary friend got hold of
it and took it to the agency of this paper. But indeed, indeed, she
never thought of its being considered personal, and is as vexed as
possible at the way in which it has been taken up. She has every
feeling about your kindness to us, and she was so shocked when Pansy
Mytton told us that the Admiral was furious.'
'Whoever told Miss Mytton so made a great mistake. The Admiral only
is--is--amused--as you know gentlemen will be at young girls'
little--little scrapes,' returned Mrs. Merrifield, longing to say
'impertinences,' but refraining, and scarcely believing what
nevertheless was true, that Arthurine did not know how personal she
had been, although her mother said it all over again twice. Bessie,
however, did believe it, from experience of resemblances where she
had never intended direct portraiture; and when there was a somewhat
earnest invitation to a garden party at the Gap, the Merrifields not
only accepted for themselves, but persuaded as many of their
neighbours as they could to countenance the poor girl. 'There is
something solid at the bottom in spite of all the effervescence,'
It was late in the year for a garden party, being on the 2d of
October, but weather and other matters had caused delays, and the
Indian summer had begun with warm sun and exquisite tints. 'What
would not the maple and the liquid amber have been by this time,'
thought the sisters, 'if they had been spared.' Some of the PETITE
NOBLESSE, however, repented of their condescension when they saw how
little it was appreciated. Mrs. Arthuret, indeed, was making
herself the best hostess that a lady who had served no
apprenticeship could be to all alike, but Arthurine or 'Atty,' as
Daisy and Pansy were heard shouting to her--all in white flannels, a
man all but the petticoats--seemed to be absorbed in a little court
of the second-rate people of Bonchamp, some whom, as Mrs. Greville
and Lady Smithson agreed, they had never expected to meet. She was
laughing and talking eagerly, and by and by ran up to Bessie,
exclaiming in a patronising tone--
'Oh! my dear Miss Bessie, let me introduce you to Mr. Foxholm--such
a clever literary man. He knows everybody--all about everybody and
everything. It would be such an advantage! And he has actually
made me give him my autograph! Only think of that!'
Bessie thought of her own good luck in being anonymous, but did not
express it, only saying, 'Autograph-hunters are a great nuisance. I
know several people who find them so.'
'Yes, he said it was one of the penalties of fame that one must
submit to,' returned Miss Arthuret, with a delighted laugh of
Bessie rejoiced that none of her own people were near to see the
patronising manner in which Arthurine introduced her to Mr. Foxholm,
a heavily-bearded man, whose eyes she did not at all like, and who
began by telling her that he felt as if he had crossed the Rubicon,
and entering an Arcadia, had found a Parnassus.
Bessie looked to see whether the highly-educated young lady detected
the malaprop for the Helicon, but Arthurine was either too well-bred
or too much exalted to notice either small slips, or even bad taste,
and she stood smiling and blushing complacently. However, just then
Susan hurried up. 'Bessie, you are wanted. Here's a card. The
gentleman sent it in, and papa asked me to find you.'
Bessie opened her eyes. The card belonged to the editor of one of
the most noted magazines of the day, but one whose principles she
did not entirely approve. What could be coming?
Her father was waiting for her.
'Well, Miss Bessie,' he said, laughing, 'Jane said the gentleman was
very urgent in wanting to know when you would be in. An offer, eh?'
'Perhaps it is an offer, but not of _THAT_ sort,' said Bessie, and
she explained what the unliterary Admiral had not understood. He
answered with a whistle.
'Shall you do it, Bessie?'
'I think not,' she said quietly.
The editor was found waiting for her, with many apologies for
bringing her home, and the Admiral was so delighted with his
agreeableness as hardly to be able to tear himself away to bring
home his wife.
The offer was, as Bessie expected, of excellent terms for a serial
story--terms that proved to her what was her own value, and in which
she saw education for her sister Anne's eldest boy.
'Of course, there would be a certain adaptation to our readers.'
She knew what that meant, and there was that in her face which drew
forth the assurance.
'Of course nothing you would not wish to say would be required, but
it would be better not to press certain subjects.'
'I understand,' said Bessie. 'I doubt--'
'Perhaps you will think it over.'
Bessie's first thought was, 'If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, then let
my right hand forget her cunning.' That had been the inward motto
of her life. Her second was, 'Little Sam! David's mission room!'
There was no necessity to answer at once, and she knew the
periodical rather by report than by reading, so she accepted the two
numbers that were left with her, and promised to reply in a week.
It was a question on which to take counsel with her father, and with
her own higher conscience and heavenly Guide.
The Admiral, though not much given to reading for its own sake, and
perhaps inclined to think ephemeral literature the more trifling
because his little daughter was a great light there, was anything
but a dull man, and had an excellent judgment. So Bessie, with all
the comfort of a woman still with a wise father's head over her,
decided to commit the matter to him. He was somewhat disappointed
at finding her agreeable guest gone, and wished that dinner and bed
had been offered.
Mrs. Merrifield and Susan were still a good deal excited about
Arthurine's complimentary friend, who they said seemed to belong to
Fred Mytton, of whom some of the ladies had been telling most
unpleasant reports, and there was much lamentation over the set into
which their young neighbour had thrown herself.
'Such a dress too!' sighed Mrs. Merrifield.
'And her headmistress has just arrived,' said Susan, 'to make her
worse than ever!'
'How comes a headmistress to be running about the country at this
time of year?' asked Bessie.
'She has been very ill,' said Mrs. Merrifield, 'and they wrote to
her to come down as soon as she could move. There was a telegram
this morning, and she drove up in the midst of the party, and was
taken to her room at once to rest. That was the reason Miss
Arthuret was away so long. I thought it nice in her.'
'Perhaps she will do good,' said Bessie.
Dinner was just over, and the Admiral had settled down with his
shaded lamp to read and judge of the article that Bessie had given
him as a specimen, when in came the message, 'Mrs. Rudden wishes to
speak to you, sir.'
Mrs. Rudden was the prosperous widow who continued the business in
the village shop, conjointly with the little farm belonging to the
Gap property. She was a shrewd woman, had been able to do very well
by her family, and was much esteemed, paying a rent which was a
considerable item in the Gap means. The ladies wondered together at
the summons. Susan hoped 'that girl' did not want to evict her, and
Bessie suggested that a co-operative store was a more probable
peril. Presently the Admiral came back. 'Do any of you know Miss
Arthuret's writing?' he said.
'Bessie knows it best,' said Susan.
He showed a letter. 'That is hers--the signature,' said Bessie. 'I
are not sure about the rest. Why--what does it mean?'
For she read--
'The Gap, 2D OCT.
'MRS. RUDDEN,--You are requested to pay over to the bearer, Mr.
Foxholm, fifty pounds of the rent you were about to bring me to-
morrow.--I remain, etc.,
'What does it mean?' asked Bessie again. 'That's just what Mrs.
Rudden has come up to me to ask,' said the Admiral. 'This fellow
presented it in her shop about a quarter of an hour ago. The good
woman smelt a rat. What do you think she did? She looked at it and
him, asked him to wait a bit, whipped out at her back door, luckily
met the policeman starting on his rounds, bade him have an eye to
the customer in her shop, and came off to show it to me. That young
woman is demented enough for anything, and is quite capable of doing
it--for some absurd scheme. But do you think it is hers, or a
'Didn't she say she had given her autograph?' exclaimed Susan.
'And see here,' said Bessie, 'her signature is at the top of the
sheet of note-paper--small paper. And as she always writes very
large, it would be easy to fill up the rest, changing the first side
'I must take it up to her at once,' said the Admiral. 'Even if it
be genuine, she may just as well see that it is a queer thing to
have done, and not exactly the way to treat her tenants.'
'It is strange too that this man should have known anything about
Mrs. Rudden,' said Mrs. Merrifield.
'Mrs. Rudden says she had a message this morning, when she had come
up with her rent and accounts, to say that Miss Arthuret was very
much engaged, and would be glad if she would come to-morrow! Could
this fellow have been about then?'
No one knew, but Bessie breathed the word, 'Was not that young
It was not taken up, for no one liked to pronounce the obvious
inference. Besides, the Admiral was in haste, not thinking it well
that Mr. Foxholm should be longer kept under surveillance in the
shop, among the bread, bacon, cheeses, shoes, and tins of potted
He was then called for; and on his loudly exclaiming that he had
been very strangely treated, the Admiral quietly told him that Mrs.
Rudden had been disturbed at so unusual a way of demanding her rent,
and had come for advice on the subject; and to satisfy their minds
that all was right, Mr. Foxholm would, no doubt, consent to wait
till the young lady could be referred to. Mr. Foxholm did very
decidedly object; he said no one had any right to detain him when
the lady's signature was plain, and Admiral Merrifield had seen him
in her society, and he began an account of the philanthropical
purpose for which he said the money had been intended, but he was
'You must be aware,' said the Admiral, 'that this is not an ordinary
way of acting, and whatever be your purpose, Mrs. Rudden must
ascertain your authority more fully before paying over so large a
sum. I give you your choice, therefore, either of accompanying us
to the Gap, or of remaining in Mrs. Rudden's parlour till we
The furtive eye glanced about, and the parlour was chosen. Did he
know that the policeman stationed himself in the shop outside?
The dinner at the Gap was over, and Miss Elmore, the headmistress,
was established in an arm-chair, listening to the outpouring of her
former pupil and the happy mother about all the felicities and
glories of their present life, the only drawback being the dullness
and obstructiveness of the immediate neighbours. 'I thought Miss
Merrifield was your neighbour--Mesa?'
'Oh no--quite impossible! These are Merrifields, but the daughters
are two regular old goodies, wrapped up in Sunday schools and penny
'Well, that is odd! The editor of the --- came down in the train
with me, and said he was going to see Mesa--Miss Elizabeth
'I do think it is very unfair,' began Arthurine; but at that moment
the door-bell rang. 'How strange at this time!'
'Oh! perhaps the editor is coming here!' cried Arthurine. 'Did you
tell him _I_ lived here, Miss Elmore?'
'Admiral Merrifield,' announced the parlour-maid.
He had resolved not to summon the young lady in private, as he
thought there was more chance of common-sense in the mother.
'You are surprised to see me at this time,' he said; 'but Mrs.
Rudden is perplexed by a communication from you.'
'Mrs. Rudden!' exclaimed Arthurine. 'Why, I only sent her word that
I was too busy to go through her accounts to-day, and asked her to
come to-morrow. That isn't against the laws of the Medes and
Persians, is it?'
'Then did you send her this letter?'
'I?' said Arthurine, staring at it, with her eyes at their fullest
extent. 'I! fifty pounds! Mr. Foxholm! What does it mean?'
'Then you never wrote that order?'
'No! no! How should I?'
'That is not your writing?'
'No, not that.'
'Look at the signature.'
'Oh! oh! oh!'--and she dropped into a chair. 'The horrible man!
That's the autograph I gave him this afternoon.'
'You are sure?'
'Quite; for my pen spluttered in the slope of the A. Has she gone
and given it to him?'
'No. She brought it to me, and set the policeman to watch him.'
'What a dear, good woman! Shall you send him to prison, Admiral
Merrifield? What can be done to him?' said Arthurine, not looking
at all as if she would like to abrogate capital punishment.
'Well, I had been thinking,' said the Admiral. 'You see he did not
get it, and though I could commit him for endeavouring to obtain
money on false pretences, I very much doubt whether the prosecution
would not be worse for you than for him.'
'That is very kind of you, Admiral!' exclaimed the mother. 'It
would be terribly awkward for dear Arthurine to stand up and say he
cajoled her into giving her autograph. It might always be
remembered against her!'
'Exactly so,' said the Admiral; 'and perhaps there may be another
reason for not pushing the matter to extremity. The man is a
stranger here, I believe.'
'He has been staying at Bonchamp,' said Mrs. Arthuret. 'It was
young Mr. Mytton who brought him over this afternoon.'
'Just so. And how did he come to be aware that Mrs. Rudden owed you
There was a pause, then Arthurine broke out--
'Oh, Daisy and Pansy can't have done anything; but they were all
three there helping me mark the tennis-courts when the message
'Including the brother?'
'He is a bad fellow, and I would not wish to shield him in any way,
but that such a plot should be proved against him would be a
grievous disgrace to the family.'
'I can't ever feel about them as I have done,' said Arthurine, in
tears. 'Daisy and Pansy said so much about poor dear Fred, and
every one being hard on him, and his feeling my good influence--and
all the time he was plotting this against me, with my chalk in his
hand marking my grass,' and she broke down in child-like sobs.
The mortification was terrible of finding her pinnacle of fame the
mere delusion of a sharper, and the shock of shame seemed to
overwhelm the poor girl.
'Oh, Admiral!' cried her mother, 'she cannot bear it. I know you
will be good, and manage it so as to distress her as little as
possible, and not have any publicity.'
'1 will do my best,' said the Admiral. 'I will try and get a
confession out of him, and send him off, though it is a pity that
such a fellow should get off scot-free.'
'Oh, never mind, so that my poor Arthurine's name is not brought
forward! We can never be grateful enough for your kindness.'
It was so late that the Admiral did not come back that night, and
the ladies were at breakfast when he appeared again. Foxholm had,
on finding there was no escape, confessed the fraud, but threw most
of the blame on Fred Mytton, who was in debt, not only to him but to
others. Foxholm himself seemed to have been an adventurer, who
preyed on young men at the billiard-table, and had there been in
some collusion with Fred, though the Admiral had little doubt as to
which was the greater villain. He had been introduced to the Mytton
family, who were not particular; indeed, Mr. Mytton had no objection
to increasing his pocket-money by a little wary, profitable betting
and gambling on his own account. However, the associates had no
doubt brought Bonchamp to the point of being too hot to hold them,
and Fred, overhearing the arrangement with Mrs. Rudden, had
communicated it to him--whence the autograph trick. Foxholm was
gone, and in the course of the day it was known that young Mytton
was also gone.
The Admiral promised that none of his family should mention the
matter, and that he would do his best to silence Mrs. Rudden, who
for that matter probably believed the whole letter to have been
forged, and would not enter into the enthusiasm of autographs.
'Oh, thank you! It is so kind,' said the mother; and Arthurine, who
looked as if she had not slept all night, and was ready to burst
into tears on the least provocation, murmured something to the same
effect, which the Admiral answered, half hearing--
'Never mind, my dear, you will be wiser another time; young people
will be inexperienced.'
'Is that the cruellest cut of all?' thought Miss Elmore, as she
beheld her former pupil scarcely restraining herself enough for the
farewell civilities, and then breaking down into a flood of tears.
Her mother hovered over her with, 'What is it? Oh! my dear child,
you need not be afraid; he is so kind!'
'I hate people to be kind, that is the very thing,' said Arthurine,--
'Oh! Miss Elmore, don't go!--while he is meaning all the time that
I have made such a fool of myself! And he is glad, I know he is, he
and his hateful, stupid, stolid daughters.'
'My dear! my dear!' exclaimed her mother.
'Well, haven't they done nothing but thwart me, whatever I wanted to
do, and aren't they triumphing now in this abominable man's
treachery, and my being taken in? I shall go away, and sell the
place, and never come back again.'
'I should think that was the most decided way of confessing a
failure,' said Miss Elmore; and as Mrs. Arthuret was called away by
the imperative summons to the butcher, she spoke more freely. 'Your
mother looks terrified at being so routed up again.'
'Oh, mother will be happy anywhere; and how can I stay with these
stick-in-the-mud people, just like what I have read about?'
'And have gibbeted! Really, Arthurine, I should call them very
'It is their thick skins,' muttered she; 'at least so the Myttons
said; but, indeed, I did not mean to be so personal as it was
'But tell me. Why did you not get on with Mesa?'
'That was a regular take-in. Not to tell one! When I began my
German class, she put me out with useless explanations.'
'What kind of explanations?'
'Oh, about the Swiss being under the Empire, or something, and she
_WOULD_ go into parallels of Saxon words, and English poetry, such
as our Fraulein never troubled us with. But I showed her it would
'So instead of learning what you had not sense to appreciate, you
wanted to teach your old routine.'
'But, indeed, she could not pronounce at all well, and she looked
ever so long at difficult bits, and then she even tried to correct
'Did she go on coming after you silenced her?'
'Yes, and never tried to interfere again.'
'I am afraid she drew her own conclusions about High Schools.'
'Oh, Miss Elmore, you used to like us to be thorough and not
discursive, and how could anybody brought up in this stultifying
place, ages ago, know what will tell in an exam?'
'Oh! Arthurine. How often have I told you that examinations are not
education. I never saw so plainly that I have not educated you.'
'I wanted to prepare Daisy and Pansy, and they didn't care about her
prosing when we wanted to get on with the book.'
'Which would have been the best education for them, poor girls, an
example of courtesy, patience, and humility, or _GETTING ON_, as you
'Oh! Miss Elmore, you are very hard on me, when I have just been so
'My dear child, it is only because I want you to discover why you
have been so cruelly disappointed.'
It would be wearisome to relate all that Arthurine finally told of
those thwartings by the Merrifields which had thrown her into the
arms of the Mytton family, nor how Miss Elmore brought her to
confess that each scheme was either impracticable, or might have
been injurious, and that a little grain of humility might have made
her see things very differently. Yet it must be owned that the good
lady felt rather like bending a bow that would spring back again.
Bessie Merrifield had, like her family, been inclined to conclude
that all was the fault of High Schools. She did not see Miss Elmore
at first, thinking the Arthurets not likely to wish to be intruded
upon, and having besides a good deal to think over. For she and her
father had talked over the proposal, which pecuniarily was so
tempting, and he, without prejudice, but on principle, had concurred
with her in deciding that it was her duty not to add one touch of
attractiveness to aught which supported a cause contrary to their
strongest convictions. Her father's approbation was the crowning
pleasure, though she felt the external testimony to her abilities,
quite enough to sympathise with such intoxication of success as to
make any compliment seem possible. Miss Elmore had one long talk
with her, beginning by saying--
'I wish to consult you about my poor, foolish child.'
'Ah! I am afraid we have not helped her enough!' said Bessie. 'If
we had been more sympathetic she might have trusted us more.'
'Then you are good enough to believe that it was not all folly and
'I am sure it was not,' said Bessie. 'None of us ever thought it
more than inexperience and a little exaltation, with immense good
intention at the bottom. Of course, our dear old habits did look
dull, coming from life and activity, and we rather resented her
contempt for them; but I am quite sure that after a little while,
every one will forget all about this, or only recollect it as one
does a girlish scrape.'
'Yes. To suppose all the neighbourhood occupied in laughing at her
is only another phase of self-importance. You see, the poor child
necessarily lived in a very narrow world, where examinations came,
whatever I could do, to seem everything, and she only knew things
beyond by books. She had success enough there to turn her head, and
not going to Cambridge, never had fair measure of her abilities.
Then came prosperity--'
'Quite enough to upset any one's balance,' said Bessie. 'In fact,
only a very sober, not to say stolid, nature would have stood it.'
'Poor things! They were so happy--so open-hearted. I did long to
caution them. "Pull cup, steady hand."'
'It will all come right now,' said Bessie. 'Mrs Arthuret spoke of
their going away for the winter; I do not think it will be a bad
plan, for then we can start quite fresh with them; and the intimacy
with the Myttons will be broken, though I am sorry for the poor
girls. They have no harm in them, and Arthurine was doing them
'A whisper to you, Miss Merrifield--they are going back with me, to
be prepared for governesses at Arthurine's expense. It is the only
thing for them in the crash that young man has brought on the
'Dear, good Arthurine! She only needed to learn how to carry her
I. FATHER AND DAUGHTER
SCENE.--THE DRAWING-ROOM OF DARKGLADE VICARAGE. MR. AVELAND, AN
ELDERLY CLERGYMAN. MRS. MOLDWARP, WIDOW ON THE VERGE OF MIDDLE AGE.
MR. A. So, my dear good child, you will come back to me, and do
what you can for the lonely old man!
MRS. M. I know nothing can really make up--
MR. A. Ah! my dear, you know only too well by your own experience,
but if any one could, it would be you. And at least you will let
nothing drop in the parish work. You and Cicely together will be
able to take that up when Euphrasia is gone too.
MRS. M. It will be delightful to me to come back to it! You know I
was to the manner born. Nothing seems to be so natural!
MR. A. I am only afraid you are giving up a great deal. I don't
know that I could accept it--except for the parish and these poor
MRS. M. Now, dear father, you are not to talk so! Is not this my
home, my first home, and though it has lost its very dearest centre,
what can be so dear to me when my own has long been broken?
MR. A. But the young folks--young Londoners are apt to feel such a
change a great sacrifice.
MRS. M. Lucius always longs to be here whenever he is on shore, and
Cicely. Oh! it will be so good for Cicely to be with you, dear
father. I know some day you will be able to enjoy her. And I do
look forward to having her to myself, as I have never had before
since she was a little creature in the nursery. It is so fortunate
that I had not closed the treaty for the house at Brompton, so that
I can come whenever Phrasie decides on leaving you.
MR. A. And she must not be long delayed. She and Holland have
waited for each other quite long enough. Your dear mother begged
that there should be no delay; and neither you nor I, Mary, could
bear to shorten the time of happiness together that may be granted
them. She will have no scruple about leaving George's children now
you and Cicely will see to them--poor little things!
MRS. M. Cicely has always longed for a sphere, and between the
children and the parish she will be quite happy. You need have no
fears for her, father!
II. BROTHER AND SISTER
SCENE--THE BROAD WALK UNDER THE VICARAGE GARDEN WALL, LUCIUS
MOLDWARP, A LIEUTENANT IN THE NAVY. CICELY MOLDWARP.
C. Isn't it disgusting, Lucius?
L. What is?
C. This proceeding of the mother's.
L. Do you mean coming down here to live?
C. Of course I do! Without so much as consulting me.
L. The captain does not ordinarily consult the crew.
C. Bosh, Lucius. That habit of discipline makes you quite stupid.
Now, haven't I the right to be consulted?
L. (A WHISTLE)
C. (A STAMP)
L. Pray, what would your sagacity have proposed for grandpapa and
the small children?
L. (A SLIGHT LAUGH.)
C. I do think it is quite shocking of Aunt Phrasie to be in such
haste to marry!
L. After eleven years--eh? or twelve, is it?
C. I mean of course so soon after her mother's death.
L. You know dear granny herself begged that the wedding might not
be put off on that account.
C. Mr. Holland might come and live here.
L. Perhaps he thinks he has a right to be consulted.
C. Then she might take those children away with her.
L. Leaving grandpapa alone.
C. The Curate might live in the house.
L. Lively and satisfactory to mother. Come now, Cis, why are you
so dead set against this plan? It is only because your august
consent has not been asked?
C. I should have minded less if the pros and cons had been set
before me, instead of being treated like a chattel; but I do not
think my education should be sacrificed.
L. Not educated! At twenty!
C. Don't be so silly, Lucius. This is the time when the most
important brain work is to be done. There are the art classes at
the Slade, and the lectures I am down for, and the Senior Cambridge
and cookery and nursing. Yes, I see you make faces! You sailors
think women are only meant for you to play with when you are on
shore; but I must work.
L. Work enough here!
C. Goody-goody! Babies, school-children, and old women! I'm meant
for something beyond that, or what are intellect and artistic
faculty given for?
L. You could read for Cambridge exam. all the same. Here are tons
of books, and grandpapa would help you. Why not? He is not a bit
of a dull man. He is up to everything.
C. So far as _YOU_ know. Oh no, he is not naturally dense. He is
a dear old man; but you know clerics of his date, especially when
they have vegetated in the country, never know anything but the
Fathers and church architecture.
L. Hum! I should have said the old gentleman had a pretty good
intelligence of his own. I know he set me on my legs for my exam.
as none of the masters at old Coade's ever did. What has made you
take such a mortal aversion to the place? We used to think it next
door to Paradise when we were small children.
C. Of course, when country freedom was everything, and we knew
nothing of rational intercourse; but when all the most intellectual
houses are open to me, it is intolerable to be buried alive here
with nothing to talk of but clerical shop, and nothing to do but
read to old women, and cram the unfortunate children with the
catechism. And mother and Aunt Phrasie expect me to be in raptures!
L. Whereas you seem to be meditating a demonstration.
C. I shall tell mother that if she must needs come down to wallow
in her native goodiness, it is due to let me board in Kensington
till my courses are completed.
L. Since she won't be an unnatural daughter, she is to leave the
part to you. Well, I suppose it will be for the general peace.
C. Now, Lucius, you speak out of the remains of the old tyrannical
barbarism, when the daughters were nothing but goods and chattels.
L. Goods, yes, indeed, and betters.
C. No doubt the men liked it! But won't you stand by me, Lucius?
You say it would be for the general peace.
L. I only said you would be better away than making yourself
obnoxious. I can't think how you can have the heart, Cis, such a
pet as you always were.
C. I would not hurt their feelings for the world, only my
improvement is too important to be sacrificed, and if no one else
will stand up for me, I must stand up for myself.
III. BRIDE-ELECT AND FATHER
SCENE.--THREE WEEKS LATER. BREAKFAST TABLE AT DARKGLADE VICARAGE,
MR. AVELAND AND EUPHRASIA READING THEIR LETTERS. THREE LITTLE
CHILDREN EATING BREAD AND MILK.
E. There! Mary has got the house at Brompton off her hands and can
come for good on the 11th. That is the greatest possible comfort.
She wants to bring her piano; it has a better tone than ours.
MR. A. Certainly! Little Miss Hilda there will soon be strumming
her scales on the old one, and Mary and Cis will send me to sleep in
the evening with hers.
MR. A. Why, Phrasie, what's the matter?
E. This is a blow! Cicely is only coming to be bridesmaid, and
then going back to board at Kensington and go on with her studies.
MR. A. To board? All alone?
E. Oh! that's the way with young ladies!
MR. A. Mary cannot have consented.
E. Have you done, little folks? Then say grace, Hilda, and run out
till the lesson bell rings. Yes, poor Mary, I am afraid she thinks
all that Cecilia decrees is right; or if she does not naturally
believe so, she is made to.
MR. A. Come, come, Phrasie, I always thought Mary a model mother.
E. So did I, and so she was while the children were small, except
that they were more free and easy with her than was the way in our
time. And I think she is all that is to be desired to her son; but
when last I was in London, I cannot say I was satisfied, I thought
Cissy had got beyond her.
MR. A. For want of a father?
E. Not entirely. You know I could not think Charles Moldwarp quite
worthy of Mary, though she never saw it.
MR. A. Latterly we saw so little of him! He liked to spend his
holiday in mountain climbing, and Mary made her visits here alone.
E. Exactly so. Sympathy faded out between them, though she, poor
dear, never betrayed it, if she realised it, which I doubt. And as
Cissy took after her father, this may have weakened her allegiance
to her mother. At any rate, as soon as she was thought to have
outgrown her mother's teaching, those greater things, mother's
influence and culture, were not thought of, and she went to school
and had her companions and interests apart; while Mary, good soul,
filled up the vacancy with good works, and if once you get into the
swing of that sort of thing in town, there's no end to the demands
upon your time. I don't think she ever let them bore her husband.
He was out all day, and didn't want her; but I am afraid they do
bore her daughter, and absorb attention and time, so as to hinder
full companionship, till Cissy has grown up an extraneous creature,
not formed by her. Mary thinks, in her humility, dear old thing,
that it is a much superior creature; but I don't like it as well as
the old sort.
MR. A. The old barndoor hen hatched her eggs and bred up her chicks
better than the fine prize fowl. Eh?
E. So that incubator-hatched chicks, with a hot-bed instead of a
hovering wing and tender cluck-cluck, are the fashion! I was in
hopes that coming down to the old coop, with no professors to run
after, and you to lead them both, all would right itself, but it
seems my young lady wants more improving.
MR. A. Well, my dear, it must be mortifying to a clever girl to
have her studies cut short.
E. Certainly; but in my time we held that studies were subordinate
to duties; and that there were other kinds of improvement than in
model-drawing and all the rest of it.
MR. A. It will not be for long, and Cissy will find the people, or
has found them, and Mary will accept them.
E. If her native instinct objects, she will be cajoled or bullied
into seeing with Cissy's eyes.
MR. A. Well, Euphrasia, my dear, let us trust that people are the
best judges of their own affairs, and remember that the world has
got beyond us. Mary was always a sensible, right-minded girl, and I
cannot believe her as blind as you would make out.
E. At any rate, dear papa, you never have to say to her as to me,
'Judge not, that ye be not judged.'
IV. MOTHER AND DAUGHTER
SCENE.--DARKGLADE VICARAGE DRAWING-ROOM.
MRS. M. So, my dear, you think it impossible to be happy here?
C. Little Mamsey, why _WILL_ you never understand? It is not a
question of happiness, but of duty to myself.
MRS. M. And that is--
C. Not to throw away all my chances of self-improvement by
burrowing into this hole.
MRS. M. Oh, my dear, I don't like to hear you call it so.
C. Yes, I know you care for it. You were bred up here, and know
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