Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
Part 5 out of 9
ministered to her love for Leonard. Everything does minister to
love when its foundation lies deep in a true heart, and it was
with an exquisite pang of delight that, after a moment of vague
("Oh, mercy! to myself I said, If Lucy should be dead!")
she saw her child's bright face of welcome as he threw open the
door every afternoon on her return home. For it was his
silently-appointed work to listen for her knock, and rush
breathless to let her in. If he were in the garden, or upstairs
among the treasures of the lumber-room, either Miss Benson, or
her brother, or Sally would fetch him to his happy little task;
no one so sacred as he to the allotted duty. And the joyous
meeting was not deadened by custom, to either mother or child.
Ruth gave the Bradshaws the highest satisfaction, as Mr. Bradshaw
often said both to her and to the Bensons; indeed, she rather
winced under his pompous approbation. But his favourite
recreation was patronising; and when Ruth saw how quietly and
meekly Mr. Benson submitted to gifts and praise, when an honest
word of affection, or a tacit, implied acknowledgment of
equality, would have been worth everything said and done, she
tried to be more meek in spirit, and to recognise the good that
undoubtedly existed in Mr. Bradshaw. He was richer and more
prosperous than ever;--a keen, far-seeing man of business, with
an undisguised contempt for all who failed in the success which
he had achieved. But it was not alone those who were less
fortunate in obtaining wealth than himself that he visited with
severity of judgment; every moral error or delinquency came under
his unsparing comment. Stained by no vice himself, either in his
own eyes or in that of any human being who cared to judge him,
having nicely and wisely proportioned and adapted his means to
his ends, he could afford to speak and act with a severity which
was almost sanctimonious in its ostentation of thankfulness as to
himself. Not a misfortune or a sin was brought to light but Mr.
Bradshaw could trace to its cause in some former mode of action,
which he had long ago foretold would lead to shame. If another's
son turned out wild or bad, Mr. Bradshaw had little sympathy; it
might have been prevented by a stricter rule, or more religious
life at home; young Richard Bradshaw was quiet and steady, and
other fathers might have had sons like him if they had taken the
same pains to enforce obedience. Richard was an only son, and yet
Mr. Bradshaw might venture to say he had never had his own way in
his life. Mrs. Bradshaw was, he confessed (Mr. Bradshaw did not
dislike confessing his wife's errors), rather less firm than he
should have liked with the girls; and with some people, he
believed, Jemima was rather headstrong; but to his wishes she had
always shown herself obedient. All children were obedient if
their parents were decided and authoritative; and every one would
turn out well, if properly managed. If they did not prove good,
they might take the consequences of their errors.
Mrs. Bradshaw murmured faintly at her husband when his back was
turned; but if his voice was heard, or his foot-steps sounded in
the distance, she was mute, and hurried her children into the
attitude or action most pleasing to their father. Jemima, it is
true, rebelled against this manner of proceeding, which savoured
to her a little of deceit; but even she had not, as yet, overcome
her awe of her father sufficiently to act independently of him,
and according to her own sense of right--or rather, I should say,
according to her own warm, passionate impulses. Before him the
wilfulness which made her dark eyes blaze out at times was hushed
and still; he had no idea of her self-tormenting, no notion of
the almost southern jealousy which seemed to belong to her
brunette complexion. Jemima was not pretty; the flatness and
shortness of her face made her almost plain; yet most people
looked twice at her expressive countenance, at the eyes which
flamed or melted at every trifle, at the rich colour which came
at every expressed emotion into her usually sallow face, at the
faultless teeth which made her smile like a sunbeam. But then,
again, when she thought she was not kindly treated, when a
suspicion crossed her mind, or when she was angry with herself,
her lips were tight-pressed together, her colour was wan and
almost livid, and a stormy gloom clouded her eyes as with a film.
But before her father her words were few, and he did not notice
looks or tones.
Her brother Richard had been equally silent before his father in
boyhood and early youth; but since he had gone to be a clerk in a
London house, preparatory to assuming his place as junior partner
in Mr. Bradshaw's business, he spoke more on his occasional
visits at home. And very proper and highly moral was his
conversation; set sentences of goodness, which were like the
flowers that children stick in the ground, and that have not
sprung upwards from roots--deep down in the hidden life and
experience of the heart. He was as severe a judge as his father
of other people's conduct, but you felt that Mr. Bradshaw was
sincere in his condemnation of all outward error and vice, and
that he would try himself by the same laws as he tried others;
somehow, Richard's words were frequently heard with a lurking
distrust, and many shook their heads over the pattern son; but
then it was those whose sons had gone astray, and been condemned,
in no private or tender manner, by Mr. Bradshaw, so it might be
revenge in them. Still, Jemima felt that all was not right; her
heart sympathised in the rebellion against his father's commands,
which her brother had confessed to her in an unusual moment of
confidence, but her uneasy conscience condemned the deceit which
he had practised.
The brother and sister were sitting alone over a blazing
Christmas fire, and Jemima held an old newspaper in her hand to
shield her face from the hot light. They were talking of family
events, when, during a pause, Jemima's eye caught the name of a
great actor, who had lately given prominence and life to a
character in one of Shakespeare's plays. The criticism in the
paper was fine, and warmed Jemima's heart.
"How I should like to see a play!" exclaimed she.
"Should you?" said her brother listlessly.
"Yes, to be sure! Just hear this!" and she began to read a fine
passage of criticism.
"Those newspaper people can make an article out of anything,"
said he, yawning.
"I've seen the man myself, and it was all very well, but nothing
to make such a fuss about."
"You! you seen----! Have you seen a play, Richard? Oh, why did
you never tell me before? Tell me all about it! Why did you never
name seeing----in your letters?"
He half smiled, contemptuously enough. "Oh! at first it strikes
one rather, but after a while one cares no more for the theatre
than one does for mince-pies."
"Oh, I wish I might go to London!" said Jemima impatiently. "I've
a great mind to ask papa to let me go to the George Smiths', and
then I could see----. I would not think him like mince-pies."
"You must not do any such thing!" said Richard, now neither
yawning nor contemptuous. "My father would never allow you to go
to the theatre; and the George Smiths are such old fogeys--they
would be sure to tell."
"How do you go, then? Does my father give you leave?"
"Oh! many things are right for men which are not for girls."
Jemima sat and pondered. Richard wished he had not been so
"You need not name it," said he, rather anxiously.
"Name what?" said she, startled, for her thoughts had gone far
"Oh, name my going once or twice to the theatre!"
"No, I shan't name it!" said she. "No one here would care to hear
But it was with some little surprise, and almost with a feeling
of disgust, that she heard Richard join with her father in
condemning some one, and add to Mr. Bradshaw's list of offences,
by alleging that the young man was a playgoer. He did not think
his sister heard his words. Mary and Elizabeth were the two girls
whom Ruth had in charge; they resembled Jemima more than their
brother in character. The household rules were occasionally a
little relaxed in their favour, for Mary, the elder, was nearly
eight years younger than Jemima, and three intermediate children
had died. They loved Ruth dearly, made a great pet of Leonard,
and had many profound secrets together, most of which related to
their wonders if Jemima and Mr. Farquhar would ever be married.
They watched their sister closely; and every day had some fresh
confidence to make to each other, confirming or discouraging to
Ruth rose early, and shared the household work with Sally and
Miss Benson till seven; and then she helped Leonard to dress, and
had a quiet time alone with him till prayers and breakfast. At
nine she was to be at Mr. Bradshaw's house. She sat in the room
with Mary and Elizabeth during the Latin, the writing, and
arithmetic lessons, which they received from masters; then she
read, and walked with them, clinging to her as to an elder
sister; she dined with her pupils at the family lunch, and
reached home by four. That happy home--those quiet days! And so
the peaceful days passed on into weeks, and months, and years,
and Ruth and Leonard grew and strengthened into the riper beauty
of their respective ages; while as yet no touch of decay had come
on the quaint, primitive elders of the household.
JEMIMA REFUSES TO BE MANAGED
It was no wonder that the lookers-on were perplexed as to the
state of affairs between Jemima and Mr. Farquhar, for they two
were sorely puzzled themselves at the sort of relationship
between them. Was it love, or was it not? that was the question
in Mr. Farquhar's mind. He hoped it was not; he believed it was
not; and yet he felt as if it were. There was something
preposterous, he thought, in a man nearly forty years of age
being in love with a girl of twenty. He had gone on reasoning,
through all the days of his manhood, on the idea of a staid,
noble-minded wife, grave and sedate, the fit companion in
experience of her husband. He had spoken with admiration of
reticent characters, full of self-control and dignity; and he
hoped--he trusted, that all this time he had not been allowing
himself unconsciously to fall in love with a wild-hearted,
impetuous girl, who knew nothing of life beyond her father's
house, and who chafed under the strict discipline enforced there.
For it was rather a suspicious symptom of the state of Mr.
Farquhar's affections, that he had discovered the silent
rebellion which continued in Jemima's heart, unperceived by any
of her own family, against the severe laws and opinions of her
father. Mr. Farquhar shared in these opinions; but in him they
were modified, and took a milder form. Still, he approved of much
that Mr. Bradshaw did and said; and this made it all the more
strange that he should wince so for Jemima, whenever anything
took place which he instinctively knew that she would dislike.
After an evening at Mr. Bradshaw's, when Jemima had gone to the
very verge of questioning or disputing some of her father's
severe judgments, Mr. Farquhar went home in a dissatisfied,
restless state of mind, which he was almost afraid to analyse. He
admired the inflexible integrity--and almost the pomp of
principle--evinced by Mr. Bradshaw on every occasion; he wondered
how it was that Jemima could not see how grand a life might be,
whose every action was shaped in obedience to some eternal law;
instead of which, he was afraid she rebelled against every law,
and was only guided by impulse. Mr. Farquhar had been taught to
dread impulses as promptings of the devil. Sometimes, if he tried
to present her father's opinion before her in another form, so as
to bring himself and her rather more into that state of agreement
he longed for, she flashed out upon him with the indignation of
difference that she dared not show to, or before, her father, as
if she had some diviner instinct which taught her more truly than
they knew, with all their experience; at least, in her first
expressions there seemed something good and fine; but opposition
made her angry and irritable, and the arguments which he was
constantly provoking (whenever he was with her in her father's
absence) frequently ended in some vehemence of expression on her
part that offended Mr. Farquhar, who did not see how she expiated
her anger in tears and self-reproaches when alone in her chamber.
Then he would lecture himself severely on the interest he could
not help feeling in a wilful girl; he would determine not to
interfere with her opinions in future, and yet, the very next
time they differed, he strove to argue her into harmony with
himself, in spite of all resolutions to the contrary.
Mr. Bradshaw saw just enough of this interest which Jemima had
excited in his partner's mind, to determine him in considering
their future marriage as a settled affair. The fitness of the
thing had long ago struck him; her father's partner--so the
fortune he meant to give her might continue in the business; a
man of such steadiness of character, and such a capital eye for a
desirable speculation, as Mr. Farquhar--just the right age to
unite the paternal with the conjugal affection, and consequently
the very man for Jemima, who had something unruly in her, which
might break out under a regime less wisely adjusted to the
circumstances than was Mr. Bradshaw's (in his own opinion)--a
house ready furnished, at a convenient distance from her home--no
near relations on Mr. Farquhar's side, who might be inclined to
consider his residence as their own for an indefinite time, and
so add to the household expenses--in short, what could be more
suitable in every way? Mr. Bradshaw respected the very
self-restraint he thought he saw in Mr. Farquhar's demeanour,
attributing it to a wise desire to wait until trade should be
rather more slack, and the man of business more at leisure to
become the lover.
As for Jemima, at times she thought she almost hated Mr.
"What business has he," she would think, "to lecture me? Often I
can hardly bear it from papa, and I will not bear it from him. He
treats me just like a child, and as if I should lose all my
present opinions when I know more of the world. I am sure I
should like never to know the world, if it was to make me think
as he does, hard man that he is! I wonder what made him take Jem
Brown on as gardener again, if he does not believe that above one
criminal in a thousand is restored to goodness. I'll ask him,
some day, if that was not acting on impulse rather than
principle. Poor impulse! how you do get abused! But I will tell
Mr. Farquhar I will not let him interfere with me. If I do what
papa bids me, no one has a right to notice whether I do it
willingly or not."
So then she tried to defy Mr. Farquhar, by doing and saying
things that she knew he would disapprove. She went so far that he
was seriously grieved, and did not even remonstrate and
"lecture," and then she was disappointed and irritated; for,
somehow, with all her indignation at interference, she liked to
be lectured by him; not that she was aware of this liking of
hers, but still it would have been more pleasant to be scolded
than so quietly passed over. Her two little sisters, with their
wide-awake eyes, had long ago put things together, and
conjectured. Every day they had some fresh mystery together, to
be imparted in garden walks and whispered talks.
"Lizzie, did you see how the tears came into Mimie's eyes when
Mr. Farquhar looked so displeased when she said good people were
always dull? I think she's in love." Mary said the last words
with grave emphasis, and felt like an oracle of twelve years of
"I don't," said Lizzie. "I know I cry often enough when papa is
cross, and I'm not in love with him."
"Yes! but you don't look as Mimie did."
"Don't call her Mimie--you know papa does not like it?"
"Yes; but there are so many things papa does not like I can never
remember them all. Never mind about that; but listen to something
I've got to tell you, if you'll never, never tell."
"No, indeed I won't, Mary. What is it?"
"Not to Mrs. Denbigh?"
"No, not even to Mrs. Denbigh."
"Well, then, the other day--last Friday, Mimie----"
"Jemima!" interrupted the more conscientious Elizabeth.
"Jemima, if it must be so," jerked out Mary, "sent me to her desk
for an envelope, and what do you think I saw?"
"What?" asked Elizabeth, expecting nothing else than a red-hot
Valentine, signed Walter Farquhar, pro Bradshaw, Farquhar, & Co.,
"Why, a piece of paper, with dull-looking lines upon it, just
like the scientific dialogues; and I remember all about it. It
was once when Mr. Farquhar had been telling us that a bullet does
not go in a straight line, but in a something curve, and he drew
some lines on a piece of paper; and Mimie----"
"Jemima!" put in Elizabeth.
"Well, well! She had treasured it up, and written in corner, 'W.
F., April 3rd.' Now, that's rather like love, is not it? For
Jemima hates useful information just as much as I do, and that's
saying a great deal; and yet she had kept this paper, and dated
"If that's all, I know Dick keeps a paper with Miss Benson's name
written on it, and yet he's not in love with her; and perhaps
Jemima may like Mr. Farquhar, and he may not like her. It seems
such a little while since her hair was turned up, and he has
always been a grave, middle-aged man ever since I can recollect;
and then, have you never noticed how often he finds fault with
her--almost lectures her?"
"To be sure," said Mary; "but he may be in love, for all that.
Just think how often papa lectures mamma; and yet, of course,
they're in love with each other."
"Well! we shall see," said Elizabeth.
Poor Jemima little thought of the four sharp eyes that watched
her daily course while she sat alone, as she fancied, with her
secret in her own room. For, in a passionate fit of grieving, at
the impatient, hasty temper which had made her so seriously
displease Mr. Farquhar that he had gone away without
remonstrance, without more leave-taking than a distant bow, she
had begun to suspect that, rather than not be noticed at all by
him, rather than be an object of indifference to him--oh! far
rather would she be an object of anger and upbraiding; and the
thoughts that followed this confession to herself stunned and
bewildered her; and for once that they made her dizzy with hope,
ten times they made her sick with fear. For an instant she
planned to become and to be all he could wish her; to change her
very nature for him. And then a great gush of pride came over
her, and she set her teeth tight together, and determined that he
should either love her as she was or not at all. Unless he could
take her with all her faults, she would not care for his regard;
"love" was too noble a word to call such cold, calculating
feeling as his must be, who went about with a pattern idea in his
mind, trying to find a wife to match. Besides, there was
something degrading, Jemima thought, in trying to alter herself
to gain the love of any human creature. And yet, if he did not
care for her, if this late indifference were to last, what a
great shroud was drawn over life! Could she bear it?
From the agony she dared not look at, but which she was going to
risk encountering, she was aroused by the presence of her mother.
"Jemima! your father wants to speak to you in the dining-room."
"What for?" asked the girl.
"Oh! he is fidgeted by something Mr. Farquhar said to me and
which I repeated. I am sure I thought there was no harm in it,
and your father always likes me to tell him what everybody says
in his absence."
Jemima went with a heavy heart into her father's presence.
He was walking up and down the room, and did not see her at
"O Jemima! is that you? Has your mother told you what I want to
speak to you about?"
"No!" said Jemima. "Not exactly."
"She has been telling me what proves to me how very seriously you
must have displeased and offended Mr. Farquhar, before he could
have expressed himself to her as he did, when he left the house.
You know what he said?"
"No!" said Jemima, her heart swelling within her. "He has no
right to say anything about me." She was desperate, or she durst
not have said this before her father.
"No right!--what do you mean, Jemima?" said Mr. Bradshaw, turning
sharp round. "Surely you must know that I hope he may one day be
your husband; that is to say, if you prove yourself worthy of the
excellent training I have given you. I cannot suppose Mr.
Farquhar would take any undisciplined girl as a wife." Jemima
held tight by a chair near which she was standing. She did not
speak; her father was pleased by her silence--it was the way in
which he liked his projects to be received.
"But you cannot suppose," he continued, "that Mr. Farquhar will
consent to marry you----"
"Consent to marry me!" repeated Jemima, in a low tone of brooding
indignation; were those the terms upon which her rich woman's
heart was to be given, with a calm consent of acquiescent
acceptance, but a little above resignation on the part of the
"If you give way to a temper which, although you have never dared
to show it to me, I am well aware exists, although I hoped the
habits of self-examination I had instilled had done much to cure
you of manifesting it. At one time, Richard promised to be the
more headstrong of the two; now, I must desire you to take
pattern by him. Yes," he continued, falling into his old train of
thought, "it would be a most fortunate connection for you in
every way. I should have you under my own eye, and could still
assist you in the formation of your character, and I should be at
hand to strengthen and confirm your principles. Mr. Farquhar's
connection with the firm would be convenient and agreeable to me
in a pecuniary point of view. He----" Mr. Bradshaw was going on
in his enumeration of the advantages which he in particular, and
Jemima in the second place, would derive from this marriage, when
his daughter spoke, at first so low that he could not hear her,
as he walked up and down the room with his creaking boots, and he
had to stop to listen.
"Has Mr. Farquhar ever spoken to you about it?" Jemima's cheek
was flushed as she asked the question; she wished that she might
have been the person to whom he had first addressed himself.
Mr. Bradshaw answered--
"No, not spoken. It has been implied between us for some time. At
least, I have been so aware of his intentions that I have made
several allusions, in the course of business, to it, as a thing
that might take place. He can hardly have misunderstood; he must
have seen that I perceived his design, and approved of it," said
Mr. Bradshaw, rather doubtfully; as he remembered how very
little, in fact, passed between him and his partner which could
have reference to the subject, to any but a mind prepared to
receive it. Perhaps Mr. Farquhar had not really thought of it;
but then again, that would imply that his own penetration had
been mistaken, a thing not impossible certainly, but quite beyond
the range of probability. So he reassured himself, and (as he
thought) his daughter, by saying--
"The whole thing is so suitable--the advantages arising from the
connection are so obvious; besides which, I am quite aware, from
many little speeches of Mr. Farquhar's, that he contemplates
marriage at no very distant time; and he seldom leaves Eccleston,
and visits few families besides our own--certainly, none that can
compare with ours in the advantages you have all received in
moral and religious training." But then Mr. Bradshaw was checked
in his implied praises of himself (and only himself could be his
martingale when he once set out on such a career) by a
recollection that Jemima must not feel too secure, as she might
become if he dwelt too much on the advantages of her being her
father's daughter. Accordingly, he said, "But you must be aware,
Jemima, that you do very little credit to the education I have
given you, when you make such an impression as you must have done
to-day, before Mr. Farquhar could have said what he did of you!"
"What did he say?" asked Jemima, still in the low, husky tone of
"Your mother says he remarked to her, 'What a pity it is that
Jemima cannot maintain her opinions without going into a passion;
and what a pity it is that her opinions are such as to sanction,
rather than curb, these fits of rudeness and anger!'"
"Did he say that?" said Jemima, in a still lower tone, not
questioning her father, but speaking rather to herself.
"I have no doubt he did," replied her father gravely. "Your
mother is in the habit of repeating accurately to me what takes
place in my absence; besides which, the whole speech is not one
of hers; she has not altered a word in the repetition, I am
convinced. I have trained her to habits of accuracy very unusual
in a woman."
At another time, Jemima might have been inclined to rebel against
this system of carrying constant intelligence to headquarters,
which she had long ago felt as an insurmountable obstacle to any
free communication with her mother; but now, her father's means
of acquiring knowledge faded into insignificance before the
nature of the information he imparted. She stood quite still,
grasping the chair-back, longing to be dismissed.
"I have said enough now, I hope, to make you behave in a becoming
manner to Mr. Farquhar; if your temper is too unruly to be always
under your own control, at least have respect to my injunctions,
and take some pains to curb it before him."
"May I go?" asked Jemima, chafing more and more.
"You may," said her father. When she left the room be gently
rubbed his hands together, satisfied with the effect he had
produced, and wondering how it was that one so well brought up as
his daughter could ever say or do anything to provoke such a
remark from Mr. Farquhar as that which he had heard repeated.
"Nothing can be more gentle and docile than she is when spoken to
in the proper manner. I must give Farquhar a hint," said Mr.
Bradshaw to himself. Jemima rushed upstairs and locked herself
into her room. She began pacing up and down at first, without
shedding a tear; but then she suddenly stopped, and burst out
crying with passionate indignation.
"So! I am to behave well, not because it is right--not because it
is right--but to show off before Mr. Farquhar. Oh, Mr. Farquhar!"
said she, suddenly changing to a sort of upbraiding tone of
voice, "I did not think so of you an hour ago. I did not think
you could choose a wife in that cold-hearted way, though you did
profess to act by rule and line; but you think to have me, do
you? because it is fitting and suitable, and you want to be
married, and can't spare time for wooing" (she was lashing
herself up by an exaggeration of all her father had said). "And
bow often I have thought you were too grand for me! but now I
know better. Now I can believe that all you do is done from
calculation; you are good because it adds to your business
credit--you talk in that high strain about principle because it
sounds well, and is respectable--and even these things are better
than your cold way of looking out for a wife, just as you would
do for a carpet, to add to your comforts, and settle you
respectably. But I won't be that wife. You shall see something of
me which shall make you not acquiesce so quietly in the
arrangements of the firm." She cried too vehemently to go on
thinking or speaking. Then she stopped, and said--
"Only an hour ago I was hoping--I don't know what I was
hoping--but I thought--oh! how I was deceived!--I thought he had
a true, deep, loving manly heart, which God might let me win; but
now I know he has only a calm, calculating head----"
If Jemima had been vehement and passionate before this
conversation with her father, it was better than the sullen
reserve she assumed now whenever Mr. Farquhar came to the house.
He felt it deeply; no reasoning with himself took off the pain he
experienced. He tried to speak on the subjects she liked, in the
manner she liked, until he despised himself for the unsuccessful
efforts. He stood between her and her father once or twice, in
obvious inconsistency with his own previously expressed opinions;
and Mr. Bradshaw piqued himself upon his admirable management, in
making Jemima feel that she owed his indulgence or forbearance to
Mr. Farquhar's interference; but Jemima--perverse, miserable
Jemima--thought that she hated Mr. Farquhar all the more. She
respected her father inflexible, much more than her father
pompously giving up to Mr. Farquhar's subdued remonstrances on
her behalf. Even Mr. Bradshaw was perplexed, and shut himself up
to consider how Jemima was to be made more fully to understand
his wishes and her own interests. But there was nothing to take
hold of as a ground for any further conversation with her. Her
actions were so submissive that they were spiritless; she did all
her father desired; she did it with a nervous quickness and
haste, if she thought that otherwise Mr. Farquhar would interfere
in any way. She wished evidently to owe nothing to him. She had
begun by leaving the room when he came in, after the conversation
she had had with her father; but at Mr. Bradshaw's first
expression of his wish that she should remain, she
remained--silent, indifferent, inattentive to all that was going
on; at least there was this appearance of inattention. She would
work away at her sewing as if she were to earn her livelihood by
it; the light was gone out of her eyes as she lifted them up
heavily before replying to any question, and the eyelids were
often swollen with crying.
But in all this there was no positive fault. Mr. Bradshaw could
not have told her not to do this, or to do that, without her
doing it; for she had become much more docile of late.
It was a wonderful proof of the influence Ruth had gained in the
family, that Mr. Bradshaw, after much deliberation, congratulated
himself on the wise determination he had made of requesting her
to speak to Jemima, and find out what feeling was at the bottom
of all this change in her ways of going on. He rang the bell.
"Is Mrs. Denbigh here?" he inquired of the servant who answered
"Yes, sir; she has just come."
"Beg her to come to me in this room as soon as she can leave the
young ladies." Ruth came.
"Sit down, Mrs. Denbigh; sit down. I want to have a little
conversation with you; not about your pupils; they are going on
well under your care, I am sure; and I often congratulate myself
on the choice I made--I assure you I do. But now I want to speak
to you about Jemima. She is very fond of you, and perhaps you
could take an opportunity of observing to her--in short, of
saying to her, that she is behaving very foolishly--in fact,
disgusting Mr. Farquhar (who was, I know, inclined to like her)
by the sullen, sulky way she behaves in, when he is by."
He paused for the ready acquiescence he expected. But Ruth did
not quite comprehend what was required of her, and disliked the
glimpse she had gained of the task very much.
"I hardly understand, sir. You are displeased with Miss
Bradshaw's manners to Mr. Farquhar."
"Well, well! not quite that; I am displeased with her
manners--they are sulky and abrupt, particularly when he is
by--and I want you (of whom she is so fond) to speak to her about
"But I have never had the opportunity of noticing them. Whenever
I have seen her, she has been most gentle and affectionate."
"But I think you do not hesitate to believe me when I say that I
have noticed the reverse," said Mr. Bradshaw, drawing himself up.
"No, sir. I beg your pardon if I have expressed myself so badly
as to seem to doubt. But am I to tell Miss Bradshaw that you have
spoken of her faults to me?" asked Ruth, a little astonished, and
shrinking more than ever from the proposed task.
"If you would allow me to finish what I have got to say, without
interruption, I could then tell you what I do wish."
"I beg your pardon, sir," said Ruth gently.
"I wish you to join our circle occasionally in an evening; Mrs.
Bradshaw shall send you an invitation when Mr. Farquhar is likely
to be here. Warned by me, and, consequently, with your
observation quickened, you can hardly fail to notice instances of
what I have pointed out; and then I will trust to your own good
sense" (Mr. Bradshaw bowed to her at this part of his sentence)
"to find an opportunity to remonstrate with her."
Ruth was beginning to speak, but he waved his hand for another
minute of silence.
"Only a minute, Mrs. Denbigh. I am quite aware that, in
requesting your presence occasionally in the evening, I shall be
trespassing upon the time which is, in fact, your money; you may
be assured that I shall not forget this little circumstance, and
you can explain what I have said on this head to Benson and his
"I am afraid I cannot do it," Ruth began; but, while she was
choosing words delicate enough to express her reluctance to act
as he wished, he had almost bowed her out of the room; and
thinking that she was modest in her estimate of her
qualifications for remonstrating with his daughter, he added,
"No one so able, Mrs. Denbigh. I have observed many qualities in
you--observed when, perhaps, you have little thought it."
If he had observed Ruth that morning he would have seen an
absence of mind and depression of spirits not much to her credit
as a teacher; for she could not bring herself to feel that she
had any right to go into the family purposely to watch over and
find fault with any one member of it. If she had seen anything
wrong in Jemima, Ruth loved her so much that she would have told
her of it in private; and with many doubts, how far she was the
one to pull out the mote from any one's eye, even in the most
tender manner;--she would have had to conquer reluctance before
she could have done even this; but there was something
indefinably repugnant to her in the manner of acting which Mr.
Bradshaw had proposed, and she determined not to accept the
invitations which were to place her in so false a position.
But as she was leaving the house, after the end of the lessons,
while she stood in the hall tying on her bonnet, and listening to
the last small confidences of her two pupils, she saw Jemima
coming in through the garden-door, and was struck by the change
in her looks. The large eyes, so brilliant once, were dim and
clouded; the complexion sallow and colourless; a lowering
expression was on the dark brow, and the corners of her mouth
drooped as with sorrowful thoughts. She looked up, and her eyes
"Oh! you beautiful creature!" thought Jemima, "with your still,
calm, heavenly face, what are you to know of earth's trials? You
have lost your beloved by death--but that is a blessed sorrow;
the sorrow I have pulls me down and down, and makes me despise
and hate every one--not you, though." And, her face changing to a
soft, tender look, she went up to Ruth and kissed her fondly; as
if it were a relief to be near some one on whose true, pure heart
she relied. Ruth returned the caress; and even while she did so,
she suddenly rescinded her resolution to keep clear of what Mr.
Bradshaw had desired her to do. On her way home she resolved, if
she could, to find out what were Jemima's secret feelings; and if
(as, from some previous knowledge, she suspected) they were
morbid and exaggerated in any way, to try and help her right with
all the wisdom which true love gives. It was time that some one
should come to still the storm in Jemima's turbulent heart, which
was daily and hourly knowing less and less of peace. The
irritating difficulty was to separate the two characters, which
at two different times she had attributed to Mr. Farquhar--the
old one, which she had formerly believed to be true, that he was
a man acting up to a high standard of lofty principle, and acting
up without a struggle (and this last had been the circumstance
which had made her rebellious and irritable once); the new one,
which her father had excited in her suspicious mind, that Mr.
Farquhar was cold and calculating in all he did, and that she was
to be transferred by the former, and accepted by the latter, as a
sort of stock-in-trade--these were the two Mr. Farquhars who
clashed together in her mind. And in this state of irritation and
prejudice, she could not bear the way in which he gave up his
opinions to please her; that was not the way to win her; she
liked him far better when he inflexibly and rigidly adhered to
his idea of right and wrong, not even allowing any force to
temptation, and hardly any grace to repentance, compared with
that beauty of holiness which had never yielded to sin. He had
been her idol in those days, as she found out now, however much
at the time she had opposed him with violence.
As for Mr. Farquhar, he was almost weary of himself; no
reasoning, even no principle, seemed to have influence over him,
for he saw that Jemima was not at all what he approved of in
woman. He saw her uncurbed and passionate, affecting to despise
the rules of life he held most sacred, and indifferent to, if not
positively disliking, him; and yet he loved her dearly. But he
resolved to make a great effort of will, and break loose from
these trammels of sense. And while he resolved, some old
recollection would bring her up, hanging on his arm, in all the
confidence of early girlhood, looking up in his face with her
soft, dark eyes, and questioning him upon the mysterious subjects
which had so much interest for both of them at that time,
although they had become only matter for dissension in these
It was also true, as Mr. Bradshaw had said, Mr. Farquhar wished
to marry, and had not much choice in the small town of Eccleston.
He never put this so plainly before himself, as a reason for
choosing Jemima, as her father had done to her; but it was an
unconscious motive all the same. However, now he had lectured
himself into the resolution to make a pretty long absence from
Eccleston, and see if, amongst his distant friends, there was no
woman more in accordance with his ideal, who could put the
naughty, wilful, plaguing Jemima Bradshaw out of his head, if he
did not soon perceive some change in her for the better. A few
days after Ruth's conversation with Mr. Bradshaw the invitation
she had been expecting, yet dreading, came. It was to her alone.
Mr. and Miss Benson were pleased at the compliment to her, and
urged her acceptance of it. She wished that they had been
included; she had not thought it right, or kind to Jemima, to
tell them why she was going, and she feared now lest they should
feel a little hurt that they were not asked too. But she need not
have been afraid. They were glad and proud of the attention to
her, and never thought of themselves.
"Ruthie, what gown shall you wear to-night? Your dark-grey one, I
suppose?" asked Miss Benson.
"Yes, I suppose so. I never thought of it; but that is my best."
"Well; then, I shall quill up a ruff for you. You know I am a
famous quiller of net."
Ruth came downstairs with a little flush on her cheeks when she
was ready to go. She held her bonnet and shawl in her hand, for
she knew Miss Benson and Sally would want to see her dressed.
"Is not mamma pretty?" asked Leonard, with a child's pride.
"She looks very nice and tidy," said Miss Benson, who had an idea
that children should not talk or think about beauty.
"I think my ruff looks so nice," said Ruth, with gentle pleasure.
And, indeed, it did look nice, and set off the pretty round
throat most becomingly. Her hair, now grown long and thick, was
smoothed as close to her head as its waving nature would allow,
and plaited up in a great rich knot low down behind. The grey
gown was as plain as plain could be.
"You should have light gloves, Ruth," said Miss Benson. She went
upstairs, and brought down a delicate pair of Limerick ones,
which had been long treasured up in a walnut-shell.
"They say them gloves is made of chickens'-skins," said Sally,
examining them curiously. "I wonder how they set about skinning
"Here, Ruth," said Mr. Benson, coming in from the garden, "here's
a rose or two for you. I am sorry there are no more; I hoped I
should have had my yellow rose out by this time, but the damask
and the white are in a warmer corner, and have got the start."
Miss Benson and Leonard stood at the door, and watched her down
the little passage-street till she was out of sight.
She had hardly touched the bell at Mr. Bradshaw's door, when Mary
and Elizabeth opened it with boisterous glee.
"We saw you coming--we've been watching for you--we want you to
come round the garden before tea; papa is not come in yet. Do
She went round the garden with a little girl clinging to each
arm. It was full of sunshine and flowers, and this made the
contrast between it and the usual large family room (which
fronted the north-east, and therefore had no evening sun to light
up its cold, drab furniture) more striking than usual. It looked
very gloomy. There was the great dining-table, heavy and square;
the range of chairs, straight and square; the work-boxes, useful
and square; the colouring of walls, and carpets, and curtains,
all of the coldest description; everything was handsome, and
everything was ugly. Mrs. Bradshaw was asleep in her easy-chair
when they came in. Jemima had just put down her work, and, lost
in thought, she leaned her cheek on her hand. When she saw Ruth
she brightened a little, and went to her and kissed her. Mrs.
Bradshaw jumped up at the sound of their entrance, and was wide
awake in a moment.
"Oh! I thought your father was here," said she, evidently
relieved to find that he had not come in and caught her sleeping.
"Thank you, Mrs. Denbigh, for coming to us to-night," said she,
in the quiet tone in which she generally spoke in her husband's
absence. When he was there, a sort of constant terror of
displeasing him made her voice sharp and nervous; the children
knew that many a thing passed over by their mother when their
father was away was sure to be noticed by her when he was
present, and noticed, too, in a cross and querulous manner, for
she was so much afraid of the blame which on any occasion of
their misbehaviour fell upon her. And yet she looked up to her
husband with a reverence and regard, and a faithfulness of love,
which his decision of character was likely to produce on a weak
and anxious mind. He was a rest and a support to her, on whom she
cast all her responsibilities; she was an obedient,
unremonstrating wife to him; no stronger affection had ever
brought her duty into conflict with any desire of her heart. She
loved her children dearly, though they all perplexed her very
frequently. Her son was her especial darling, because he very
seldom brought her into any scrapes with his father; he was so
cautious and prudent, and had the art of "keeping a calm sough"
about any difficulty he might be in. With all her dutiful sense
of the obligation, which her husband enforced upon her, to notice
and tell him everything that was going wrong in the household,
and especially among his children, Mrs. Bradshaw, somehow,
contrived to be honestly blind to a good deal that was not
praiseworthy in Master Richard.
Mr. Bradshaw came in before long, bringing with him Mr. Farquhar.
Jemima had been talking to Ruth with some interest before then;
but, on seeing Mr. Farquhar, she bent her head down over her
work, went a little paler; and turned obstinately silent. Mr.
Bradshaw longed to command her to speak; but even he had a
suspicion that what she might say, when so commanded, might be
rather worse in its effect than her gloomy silence; so he held
his peace, and a discontented, angry kind of peace it was. Mrs.
Bradshaw saw that something was wrong, but could not tell what;
only she became every moment more trembling, and nervous, and
irritable, and sent Mary and Elizabeth off on all sorts of
contradictory errands to the servants, and made the tea twice as
strong, and sweetened it twice as much as--usual, in hopes of
pacifying her husband with good things. Mr. Farquhar had gone for
the last time, or so he thought. He had resolved (for the fifth
time) that he would go and watch Jemima once more, and if her
temper got the better of her, and she showed the old sullenness
again, and gave the old proofs of indifference to his good
opinion, he would give her up altogether, and seek a wife
elsewhere. He sat watching her with folded arms, and in silence.
Altogether they were a pleasant family party!
Jemima wanted to wind a skein of wool. Mr. Farquhar saw it, and
came to her, anxious to do her this little service. She turned
away pettishly, and asked Ruth to hold it for her.
Ruth was hurt for Mr. Farquhar, and looked sorrowfully at Jemima;
but Jemima would not see her glance of upbraiding, as Ruth,
hoping that she would relent, delayed a little to comply with her
request. Mr. Farquhar did; and went back to his seat to watch
them both. He saw Jemima turbulent and stormy in look; he saw
Ruth, to all appearance heavenly calm as the angels, or with only
that little tinge of sorrow which her friend's behaviour had
called forth. He saw the unusual beauty of her face and form,
which he had never noticed before; and he saw Jemima, with all
the brilliancy she once possessed in eyes and complexion, dimmed
and faded. He watched Ruth, speaking low and soft to the little
girls, who seemed to come to her in every difficulty, and he
remarked her gentle firmness when their bed-time came, and they
pleaded to stay up longer (their father was absent in his
counting-house, or they would not have dared to do so). He liked
Ruth's soft, distinct, unwavering "No! you must go. You must keep
to what is right," far better than the good-natured yielding to
entreaty he had formerly admired in Jemima. He was wandering off
into this comparison, while Ruth with delicate and unconscious
tact, was trying to lead Jemima into some subject which should
take her away from the thoughts, whatever they were, that made
her so ungracious and rude.
Jemima was ashamed of herself before Ruth, in a way which she had
never been before any one else. She valued Ruth's good opinion so
highly, that she dreaded lest her friend should perceive her
faults. She put a check upon herself--a check at first; but after
a little time she had forgotten something of her trouble, and
listened to Ruth, and questioned her about Leonard, and smiled at
his little witticisms; and only the sighs, that would come up
from the very force of habit, brought back the consciousness of
her unhappiness. Before the end of the evening, Jemima had
allowed herself to speak to Mr. Farquhar in the old
way--questioning, differing, disputing. She was recalled to the
remembrance of that miserable conversation by the entrance of her
father. After that she was silent. But he had seen her face more
animated, and bright with a smile, as she spoke to Mr. Farquhar;
and although he regretted the loss of her complexion (for she was
still very pale), he was highly pleased with the success of his
project. He never doubted but that Ruth had given her some sort
of private exhortation to behave better. He could not have
understood the pretty art with which, by simply banishing
unpleasant subjects, and throwing a wholesome natural sunlit tone
over others, Ruth had insensibly drawn Jemima out of her gloom.
He resolved to buy Mrs. Denbigh a handsome silk gown the very
next day. He did not believe she had a silk gown, poor creature!
He had noticed that dark-grey stuff, this long, long time, as her
Sunday dress. He liked the colour; the silk one should be just
the same tinge. Then he thought that it would, perhaps, be better
to choose a lighter shade, one which might be noticed as
different to the old gown. For he had no doubt she would like to
have it remarked, and, perhaps, would not object to tell people,
that it was a present from Mr. Bradshaw--a token of his
approbation. He smiled a little to himself as he thought of this
additional source of pleasure to Ruth. She, in the meantime, was
getting up to go home. While Jemima was lighting the bed-candle
at the lamp, Ruth came round to bid good-night. Mr. Bradshaw
could not allow her to remain till the morrow uncertain whether
he was satisfied or not.
"Good-night, Mrs Denbigh," said he. "Good-night. Thank you. I am
obliged to you--I am exceedingly obliged to you."
He laid emphasis on these words, for he was pleased to see Mr.
Farquhar step forward to help Jemima in her little office.
Mr. Farquhar offered to accompany Ruth home; but the streets that
intervened between Mr. Bradshaw's and the Chapel-house were so
quiet that he desisted, when he learnt from Ruth's manner how
much she disliked his proposal. Mr. Bradshaw, too, instantly
"Oh! Mrs. Denbigh need not trouble you, Farquhar. I have servants
at liberty at any moment to attend on her, if she wishes it."
In fact, he wanted to make hay while the sun shone, and to detain
Mr. Farquhar a little longer, now that Jemima was so gracious.
She went upstairs with Ruth to help her to put on her things.
"Dear Jemima!" said Ruth, "I am so glad to see you looking better
to-night! You quite frightened me this morning, you looked so
"Did I?" replied Jemima. "O Ruth! I have been so unhappy lately.
I want you to come and put me to rights," she continued, half
smiling. "You know I'm a sort of out-pupil of yours, though we
are so nearly of an age. You ought to lecture me, and make me
"Should I, dear?" said Ruth. "I don't think I'm the one to do
"Oh yes! you are--you've done me good to-night."
"Well, if I can do anything for you, tell me what it is?" asked
"Oh, not now--not now," replied Jemima. "I could not tell you
here. It's a long story, and I don't know that I can tell you at
all. Mamma might come up at any moment, and papa would be sure to
ask what we had been talking about so long."
"Take your own time, love," said Ruth; "only remember, as far as
I can, how glad I am to help you."
"You're too good, my darling!" said Jemima fondly.
"Don't say so," replied Ruth earnestly, almost as if she were
afraid. "God knows I am not."
"Well! we're none of us too good," answered Jemima; "I know that.
But you are very good. Nay, I won't call you so, if it makes you
look so miserable. But come away downstairs."
With the fragrance of Ruth's sweetness lingering about her,
Jemima was her best self during the next half-hour. Mr. Bradshaw
was more and more pleased, and raised the price of the silk,
which he was going to give Ruth, sixpence a yard during the time.
Mr. Farquhar went home through the garden-way, happier than he
had been this long time. He even caught himself humming the old
"On revient, on revient toujours, A ses premiers amours."
But as soon as he was aware of what he was doing, he cleared away
the remnants of the song into a cough, which was sonorous, if not
MR. FARQUHAR'S ATTENTIONS TRANSFERRED
The next morning, as Jemima and her mother sat at their work, it
came into the head of the former to remember her father's very
marked way of thanking Ruth the evening before.
"What a favourite Mrs. Denbigh is with papa!" said she. "I am
sure I don't wonder at it. Did you notice, mamma, how he thanked
her for coming here last night?"
"Yes, dear; but I don't think it was all----" Mrs. Bradshaw
stopped short. She was never certain if it was right or wrong to
"Not all what?" asked Jemima, when she saw her mother was not
going to finish the sentence.
"Not all because Mrs. Denbigh came to tea here," replied Mrs.
"Why, what else could he be thanking her for? What has she done?"
asked Jemima, stimulated to curiosity by her mother's hesitating
"I don't know if I ought to tell you," said Mrs. Bradshaw.
"Oh, very well!" said Jemima, rather annoyed.
"Nay, dear! your papa never said I was not to tell; perhaps I
"Never mind; I don't want to hear," in a piqued tone.
There was silence for a little while. Jemima was trying to think
of something else, but her thoughts would revert to the wonder
what Mrs. Denbigh could have done for her father.
"I think I may tell you, though," said Mrs. Bradshaw, half
questioning. Jemima had the honour not to urge any confidence,
but she was too curious to take any active step towards
Mrs. Bradshaw went on--"I think you deserve to know. It is partly
your doing that papa is so pleased with Mrs. Denbigh. He is going
to buy her a silk gown this morning, and I think you ought to
"Why?" asked Jemima.
"Because papa is so pleased to find that you mind what she says."
"I mind what she says! To be sure I do, and always did. But why
should papa give her a gown for that? I think he ought to give it
me rather," said Jemima, half laughing.
"I am sure he would, dear; he will give you one, I am certain, if
you want one. He was so pleased to see you like your old self to
Mr. Farquhar last night. We neither of us could think what had
come over you this last month; but now all seems right."
A dark cloud came over Jemima's face. She did not like this close
observation and constant comment upon her manners; and what had
Ruth to do with it?
"I am glad you were pleased," said she, very coldly. Then, after
a pause, she added, "But you have not told me what Mrs. Denbigh
had to do with my good behaviour."
"Did not she speak to you about it?" asked Mrs. Bradshaw, looking
"No. Why should she? She has no right to criticise what I do. She
would not be so impertinent," said Jemima, feeling very
uncomfortable and suspicious.
"Yes, love! she would have had a right, for papa had desired her
to do it."
"Papa desired her! What do you mean, mamma?"
"Oh dear! I dare say I should not have told you," said Mrs.
Bradshaw, perceiving, from Jemima's tone of voice, that something
had gone wrong. "Only you spoke as if it would be impertinent in
Mrs. Denbigh, and I am sure she would not do anything that was
impertinent. You know, it would be but right for her to do what
papa told her; and he said a great deal to her, the other day,
about finding out why you were so cross, and bringing you right.
And you are right now, dear!" said Mrs. Bradshaw soothingly,
thinking that Jemima was annoyed (like a good child) at the
recollection of how naughty she had been.
"Then papa is going to give Mrs. Denbigh a gown because I was
civil to Mr. Farquhar last night?"
"Yes, dear!" said Mrs. Bradshaw, more and more frightened at
Jemima's angry manner of speaking--low-toned, but very indignant.
Jemima remembered, with smouldered anger, Ruth's pleading way of
wiling her from her sullenness the night before. Management
everywhere! but in this case it was peculiarly revolting; so much
so, that she could hardly bear to believe that the seemingly
transparent Ruth had lent herself to it.
"Are you sure, mamma, that papa asked Mrs. Denbigh to make me
behave differently? It seems so strange."
"I am quite sure. He spoke to her last Friday morning in the
study. I remember it was Friday, because Mrs. Dean was working
Jemima remembered now that she had gone into the schoolroom on
the Friday, and found her sisters lounging about, and wondering
what papa could possibly want with Mrs. Denbigh.
After this conversation Jemima repulsed all Ruth's timid efforts
to ascertain the cause of her disturbance, and to help her if she
could. Ruth's tender, sympathising manner, as she saw Jemima
daily looking more wretched, was distasteful to the latter in the
highest degree. She could not say that Mrs. Denbigh's conduct was
positively wrong--it might even be quite right; but it was
inexpressibly repugnant to her to think of her father consulting
with a stranger (a week ago she almost considered Ruth as a
sister) how to manage his daughter, so as to obtain the end he
wished for; yes, even if that end was for her own good.
She was thankful and glad to see a brown paper parcel lying on
the hall-table, with a note in Ruth's handwriting, addressed to
her father. She knew what it was, the grey silk dress. That she
was sure Ruth would never accept. No one henceforward could
induce Jemima to enter into conversation with Mr. Farquhar. She
suspected manoeuvring in the simplest actions, and was miserable
in this constant state of suspicion. She would not allow herself
to like Mr. Farquhar, even when he said things the most after her
own heart. She heard him, one evening, talking with her father
about the principles of trade. Her father stood out for the
keenest, sharpest work, consistent with honesty; if he had not
been her father, she would, perhaps, have thought some of his
sayings inconsistent with true Christian honesty. He was for
driving hard bargains, exacting interest and payment of just
bills to a day. That was (he said) the only way in which trade
could be conducted; once allow a margin of uncertainty, or where
feelings, instead of maxims, were to be the guide, and all hope
of there ever being any good men of business was ended.
"Suppose a delay of a month in requiring payment might save a
man's credit--prevent his becoming a bankrupt?" put in Mr.
"I would not give it him. I would let him have money to set up
again as soon as he had passed the Bankruptcy Court; if he never
passed, I might, in some cases, make him an allowance; but I
would always keep my justice and my charity separate."
"And yet charity (in your sense of the word) degrades; justice,
tempered with mercy and consideration, elevates."
"That is not justice--justice is certain and inflexible. No! Mr.
Farquhar, you must not allow any Quixotic notions to mingle with
your conduct as a tradesman."
And so they went on; Jemima's face glowing with sympathy in all
Mr. Farquhar said; till once, on looking up suddenly with
sparkling eyes, she saw a glance of her father's, which told her,
as plain as words can say, that he was watching the effect of Mr.
Farquhar's speeches upon his daughter. She was chilled
thenceforward; she thought her father prolonged the argument, in
order to call out those sentiments which he knew would most
recommend his partner to his daughter. She would so fain have let
herself love Mr. Farquhar; but this constant manoeuvring, in
which she did not feel clear that he did not take a passive part,
made her sick at heart. She even wished that they might not go
through the form of pretending to try to gain her consent to the
marriage, if it involved all this premeditated action and
speech-making--such moving about of every one into their right
places, like pieces at chess. She felt as if she would rather be
bought openly, like an Oriental daughter, where no one is
degraded in their own eyes by being parties to such a contract.
The consequences of all this "admirable management" of Mr.
Bradshaw's would have been very unfortunate to Mr. Farquhar (who
was innocent of all connivance in any of the plots--indeed would
have been as much annoyed at them as Jemima, had he been aware of
them), but that the impression made upon him by Ruth on the
evening I have so lately described was deepened by the contrast
which her behaviour made to Miss Bradshaw's on one or two more
There was no use, he thought, in continuing attentions so
evidently distasteful to Jemima. To her, a young girl hardly out
of the schoolroom; he probably appeared like an old man; and he
might even lose the friendship with which she used to regard him,
and which was, and ever would be, very dear to him, if he
persevered in trying to be considered as a lover. He should
always feel affectionately towards her; her very faults gave her
an interest in his eyes, for which he had blamed himself most
conscientiously and most uselessly when he was looking upon her
as his future wife, but which the said conscience would learn to
approve of when she sank down to the place of a young friend,
over whom he might exercise a good and salutary interest. Mrs.
Denbigh, if not many months older in years, had known sorrow and
cares so early that she was much older in character. Besides, her
shy reserve, and her quiet daily walk within the lines of duty,
were much in accordance with Mr. Farquhar's notion of what a wife
should be. Still, it was a wrench to take his affections away
from Jemima. If she had not helped him to do so by every means in
her power, he could never have accomplished it.
Yes! by every means in her power had Jemima alienated her lover,
her beloved--for so he was in fact. And now her quick-sighted
eyes saw he was gone for ever--past recall: for did not her
jealous, sore heart feel, even before he himself was conscious of
the fact, that he was drawn towards sweet, lovely, composed, and
dignified Ruth--one who always thought before she spoke (as Mr.
Farquhar used to bid Jemima do)--who never was tempted by sudden
impulse, but walked the world calm and self-governed. What now
availed Jemima's reproaches, as she remembered the days when he
had watched her with earnest, attentive eyes, as he now watched
Ruth; and the times since, when, led astray by her morbid fancy,
she had turned away from all his advances!
"It was only in March--last March, he called me 'dear Jemima.'
Ah! don't I remember it well? The pretty nosegay of greenhouse
flowers that he gave me in exchange for the wild daffodils--and
how he seemed to care for the flowers I gave him--and how he
looked at me, and thanked me--that is all gone and over now."
Her sisters came in bright and glowing.
"O Jemima, how nice and cool you are, sitting in this shady
room!" (she had felt it even chilly). "We have been such a long
walk! We are so tired. It is so hot."
"Why did you go, then?" said she.
"Oh! we wanted to go. We would not have stayed at home on any
account. It has been so pleasant," said Mary.
"We've been to Scaurside Wood, to gather wild strawberries," said
"Such a quantity! We've left a whole basketful in the dairy. Mr.
Farquhar says he'll teach us how to dress them in the way he
learnt in Germany, if we can get him some hock. Do you think papa
will let us have some?"
"Was Mr. Farquhar with you?" asked Jemima, a dull light coming
into her eyes.
"Yes; we told him this morning that mamma wanted us to take some
old linen to the lame man at Scaurside Farm, and that we meant to
coax Mrs. Denbigh to let us go into the wood and gather
strawberries," said Elizabeth.
"I thought he would make some excuse and come," said the
quick-witted Mary, as eager and thoughtless an observer of one
love-affair as of another, and quite forgetting that, not many
weeks ago, she had fancied an attachment between him and Jemima.
"Did you? I did not," replied Elizabeth. "At least I never
thought about it. I was quite startled when I heard his horse's
feet behind us on the road."
"He said he was going to the farm, and could take our basket. Was
it not kind of him?" Jemima did not answer, so Mary continued--
"You know it's a great pull up to the farm, and we were so hot
already. The road was quite white and baked; it hurt my eyes
terribly. I was so glad when Mrs. Denbigh said we might turn into
the wood. The light was quite green there, the branches are so
"And there are whole beds of wild strawberries," said Elizabeth,
taking up the tale now Mary was out of breath. Mary fanned
herself with her bonnet, while Elizabeth went on--
"You know where the grey rock crops out, don't you, Jemima? Well,
there was a complete carpet of strawberry-runners. So pretty! And
we could hardly step without treading the little bright scarlet
berries under foot."
"We did so wish for Leonard," put in Mary.
"Yes! but Mrs. Denbigh gathered a great many for him. And Mr.
Farquhar gave her all his."
"I thought you said he bad gone on to Dawson's farm," said
"Oh yes! he just went up there; and then he left his horse there,
like a wise man, and came to us in the pretty, cool, green wood.
O Jemima! it was so pretty-little flecks of light coming down
here and there through the leaves, and quivering on the ground.
You must go with us to-morrow."
"Yes," said Mary, "we're going again to-morrow. We could not
gather nearly all the strawberries."
"And Leonard is to go too, to-morrow."
"Yes! we thought of such a capital plan. That's to say, Mr.
Farquhar thought of it--we wanted to carry Leonard up the hill in
a king's cushion, but Mrs. Denbigh would not hear of it."
"She said it would tire us so; and yet she wanted him to gather
"And so," interrupted Mary, for by this time the two girls were
almost speaking together, "Mr. Farquhar is to bring him up before
him on his horse."
"You'll go with us, won't you, dear Jemima?" asked Elizabeth: "it
will be at----"
"No! I can't go," said Jemima abruptly. "Don't ask me--I can't."
The little girls were hushed into silence by her manner; for
whatever she might be to those above her in age and position, to
those below her Jemima was almost invariably gentle She felt that
they were wondering at her.
"Go upstairs and take off your things. You know papa does not
like you to come into this room in the shoes in which you have
She was glad to out her sisters short in the details which they
were so mercilessly inflicting--details which she must harden
herself to, before she could hear them quietly and unmoved. She
saw that she had lost her place as the first object in Mr.
Farquhar's eyes--a position she had hardly cared for while she
was secure in the enjoyment of it; but the charm of it now was
redoubled, in her acute sense of how she had forfeited it by her
own doing, and her own fault. For if he were the cold,
calculating man her father had believed him to be, and had
represented him as being to her, would he care for a portionless
widow in humble circumstances like Mrs. Denbigh--no money, no
connection, encumbered with her boy? The very action which proved
Mr. Farquhar to be lost to Jemima reinstated him on his throne in
her fancy. And she must go on in hushed quietness, quivering with
every fresh token of his preference for another? That other, too,
one so infinitely more worthy of him than herself; so that she
could not have even the poor comfort of thinking that he had no
discrimination, and was throwing himself away on a common or
worthless person. Ruth was beautiful, gentle, good, and
conscientious. The hot colour flushed up into Jemima's sallow
face as she became aware that, even while she acknowledged these
excellences on Mrs. Denbigh's part, she hated her. The
recollection of her marble face wearied her even to sickness; the
tones of her low voice were irritating from their very softness.
Her goodness, undoubted as it was, was more distasteful than many
faults which had more savour of human struggle in them.
"What was this terrible demon in her heart?" asked Jemima's
better angel. "Was she, indeed, given up to possession? Was not
this the old stinging hatred which had prompted so many crimes?
The hatred of all sweet virtues which might win the love denied
to us? The old anger that wrought in the elder brother's heart,
till it ended in the murder of the gentle Abel, while yet the
world was young?"
"O God! help me! I did not know I was so wicked," cried Jemima
aloud in her agony. It had been a terrible glimpse into the dark,
lurid gulf--the capability for evil, in her heart. She wrestled
with the demon, but he would not depart: it was to be a struggle
whether or not she was to be given up to him, in this her time of
All the next day long she sat and pictured the happy
strawberry-gathering going on, even then, in pleasant Scaurside
Wood. Every touch of fancy which could heighten her idea of their
enjoyment, and of Mr. Farquhar's attention to the blushing,
conscious Ruth--every such touch which would add a pang to her
self-reproach and keen jealousy, was added by her imagination.
She got up and walked about, to try and stop her over-busy fancy
by bodily exercise. But she had eaten little all day, and was
weak and faint in the intense heat of the sunny garden. Even the
long grass-walk under the filbert-hedge was parched and dry in
the glowing August sun. Yet her sisters found her there when they
returned, walking quickly up and down, as if to warm herself on
some winter's day. They were very weary; and not half so
communicative as on the day before, now that Jemima was craving
for every detail to add to her agony.
"Yes! Leonard came up before Mr. Farquhar. Oh! how hot it is,
Jemima! Do sit down, and I'll tell you about it, but I can't if
you keep walking so."
"I can't sit still to-day," said Jemima, springing up from the
turf as soon as she had sat down. "Tell me! I can hear you while
I walk about."
"Oh! but I can't shout; I can hardly speak, I am so tired. Mr.
Farquhar brought Leonard----"
"You've told me that before," said Jemima sharply.
"Well, I don't know what else to tell. Somebody had been since
yesterday, and gathered nearly all the strawberries off the grey
rock. Jemima! Jemima!" said Elizabeth faintly, "I am so dizzy--I
think I am ill."
The next minute the tired girl lay swooning on the grass. It was
an outlet for Jemima's fierce energy. With a strength she had
never again, and never had known before, she lifted up her
fainting sister, and, bidding Mary run and clear the way, she
carried her in through the open garden-door, up the wide
old-fashioned stairs, and laid her on the bed in her own room,
where the breeze from the window came softly and pleasantly
through the green shade of the vine-leaves and jessamine.
"Give me the water. Run for mamma, Mary," said Jemima, as she saw
that the fainting-fit did not yield to the usual remedy of a
horizontal position and the water-sprinkling.
"Dear! dear Lizzie!" said Jemima, kissing the pale, unconscious
face. "I think you loved me, darling."
The long walk on the hot day had been too much for the delicate
Elizabeth, who was fast outgrowing her strength. It was many days
before she regained any portion of her spirit and vigour. After
that fainting-fit she lay listless and weary, without appetite or
interest, through the long sunny autumn weather, on the bed or on
the couch in Jemima's room, whither she had been carried at
first. It was a comfort to Mrs. Bradshaw to be able at once to
discover what it was that had knocked up Elizabeth; she did not
rest easily until she had settled upon a cause for every ailment
or illness in the family. It was a stern consolation to Mr.
Bradshaw, during his time of anxiety respecting his daughter, to
be able to blame somebody. He could not, like his wife, have
taken comfort from an inanimate fact; he wanted the satisfaction
of feeling that some one had been in fault, or else this never
could have happened. Poor Ruth did not need his implied
reproaches. When she saw her gentle Elizabeth lying feeble and
languid, her heart blamed her for thoughtlessness so severely as
to make her take all Mr. Bradshaw's words and hints as too light
censure for the careless way in which, to please her own child,
she had allowed her two pupils to fatigue themselves with such
long walks. She begged hard to take her share of nursing. Every
spare moment she went to Mr. Bradshaw's, and asked, with earnest
humility, to be allowed to pass them with Elizabeth; and, as it
was often a relief to have her assistance, Mrs. Bradshaw received
these entreaties very kindly, and desired her to go upstairs,
where Elizabeth's pale countenance brightened when she saw her,
but where Jemima sat in silent annoyance that her own room was
now become open ground for one, whom her heart rose up against,
to enter in and be welcomed. Whether it was that Ruth, who was
not an inmate of the house, brought with her a fresher air, more
change of thought to the invalid, I do not know, but Elizabeth
always gave her a peculiarly tender greeting; and if she had sunk
down into languid fatigue, in spite of all Jemima's endeavours to
interest her, she roused up into animation when Ruth came in with
a flower, a book, or a brown and ruddy pear, sending out the warm
fragrance it retained from the sunny garden-wall at Chapel-house.
The jealous dislike which Jemima was allowing to grow up in her
heart against Ruth was, as she thought, never shown in word or
deed. She was cold in manner, because she could not be
hypocritical; but her words were polite and kind in purport; and
she took pains to make her actions the same as formerly. But rule
and line may measure out the figure of a man; it is the soul that
gives it life; and there was no soul, no inner meaning, breathing
out in Jemima's actions. Ruth felt the change acutely. She
suffered from it some time before she ventured to ask what had
occasioned it. One day she took Miss Bradshaw by surprise, when
they were alone together for a few minutes, by asking her if she
had vexed her in any way, she was so changed. It is sad when
friendship has cooled so far as to render such a question
necessary. Jemima went rather paler than usual, and then made
"Changed! How do you mean? How am I changed? What do I say or do
different from what I used to do?"
But the tone was so constrained and cold, that Ruth's heart sank
within her. She knew now, as well as words could have told her,
that not only had the old feeling of love passed away from
Jemima, but that it had gone unregretted, and no attempt had been
made to recall it. Love was very precious to Ruth now, as of old
time. It was one of the faults of her nature to be ready to make
any sacrifices for those who loved her, and to value affection
almost above its price. She had yet to learn the lesson, that it
is more blessed to love than to be beloved; and, lonely as the
impressible years of her youth had been--without parents, without
brother or sister--it was, perhaps, no wonder that she clung
tenaciously to every symptom of regard, and could not relinquish
the love of any one without a pang.
The doctor who was called in to Elizabeth prescribed sea-air as
the best means of recruiting her strength. Mr. Bradshaw (who
liked to spend money ostentatiously) went down straight to
Abermouth, and engaged a house for the remainder of the autumn;
for, as he told the medical man, money was no object to him in
comparison with his children's health; and the doctor cared too
little about the mode in which his remedy was administered to
tell Mr. Bradshaw that lodgings would have done as well, or
better, than the complete house he had seen fit to take. For it
was now necessary to engage servants, and take much trouble,
which might have been obviated, and Elizabeth's removal effected
more quietly and speedily, if she had gone into lodgings. As it
was, she was weary of hearing all the planning and talking, and
deciding, and undeciding, and redeciding, before it was possible
for her to go. Her only comfort was in the thought that dear Mrs.
Denbigh was to go with her.
It had not been entirely by way of pompously spending his money
that Mr. Bradshaw had engaged this seaside house. He was glad to
get his little girls and their governess out of the way; for a
busy time was impending, when he should want his head clear for
electioneering purposes, and his house clear for electioneering
hospitality. He was the mover of a project for bringing forward a
man on the Liberal and Dissenting interest, to contest the
election with the old Tory member, who had on several successive
occasions walked over the course, as he and his family owned half
the town, and votes and rent were paid alike to the landlord.
Kings of Eccleston had Mr. Cranworth and his ancestors been this
many a long year; their right was so little disputed that they
never thought of acknowledging the allegiance so readily paid to
them. The old feudal feeling between land-owner and tenant did
not quake prophetically at the introduction of manufactures; the
Cranworth family ignored the growing power of the manufacturers,
more especially as the principal person engaged in the trade was
a Dissenter. But notwithstanding this lack of patronage from the
one great family in the neighbourhood, the business flourished,
increased, and spread wide; and the Dissenting head thereof
looked around, about the time of which I speak, and felt himself
powerful enough to defy the great Cranworth interest even in
their hereditary stronghold, and, by so doing, avenge the slights
of many years--slights which rankled in Mr. Bradshaw's mind as
much as if he did not go to chapel twice every Sunday, and pay
the largest pew-rent of any member of Mr. Benson's congregation.
Accordingly, Mr. Bradshaw had applied to one of the Liberal
parliamentary agents in London--a man whose only principle was to
do wrong on the Liberal side; he would not act, right or wrong,
for a Tory, but for a Whig the latitude of his conscience had
never yet been discovered. It was possible Mr. Bradshaw was not
aware of the character of this agent; at any rate, he knew he was
the man for his purpose, which was to hear of some one who would
come forward as a candidate for the representation of Eccleston
on the Dissenting interest.
"There are in round numbers about six hundred voters," said he;
"two hundred are decidedly in the Cranworth interest--dare not
offend Mr. Cranworth, poor souls! Two hundred more we may
calculate upon as pretty certain--factory hands, or people
connected with our trade in some way or another--who are
indignant at the stubborn way in which Cranworth has contested
the right of water; two hundred are doubtful."
"Don't much care either way," said the parliamentary agent. "Of
course, we must make them care."
Mr. Bradshaw rather shrank from the knowing look with which this
was said. He hoped that Mr. Pilson did not mean to allude to
bribery; but he did not express this hope, because he thought it
would deter the agent from using this means, and it was possible
it might prove to be the only way. And if he (Mr. Bradshaw) once
embarked on such an enterprise, there must be no failure. By some
expedient or another, success must be certain, or he could have
nothing to do with it. The parliamentary agent was well
accustomed to deal with all kinds and shades of scruples. He was
most at home with men who had none; but still he could allow for
human weakness; and he perfectly understood Mr. Bradshaw.
"I have a notion I know of a man who will just suit your purpose.
Plenty of money--does not know what to do with it, in fact--tired
of yachting, travelling; wants something new. I heard, through
some of the means of intelligence I employ, that not very long
ago he was wishing for a seat in Parliament."
"A Liberal?" said Mr. Bradshaw.
"Decidedly. Belongs to a family who were in the Long parliament
in their day." Mr. Bradshaw rubbed his hands.
"Dissenter?" asked he.
"No, no! Not so far as that. But very lax Church."
"What is his name?" asked Mr. Bradshaw eagerly.
"Excuse me. Until I am certain that he would like to come forward
for Eccleston, I think I had better not mention his name."
The anonymous gentleman did like to come forward, and his name
proved to be Donne. He and Mr. Bradshaw had been in
correspondence during all the time of Mr. Ralph Cranworth's
illness; and when he died, everything was arranged ready for a
start, even before the Cranworths had determined who should keep
the seat warm till the eldest son came of age, for the father was
already member for the county. Mr. Donne was to come down to
canvass in person, and was to take up his abode at Mr.
Bradshaw's; and therefore it was that the seaside house, within
twenty miles' distance of Eccleston, was found to be so
convenient as an infirmary and nursery for those members of his
family who were likely to be useless, if not positive
encumbrances, during the forthcoming election.
THE LIBERAL CANDIDATE AND HIS PRECURSOR
Jemima did not know whether she wished to go to Abermouth or not.
She longed for change. She wearied of the sights and sounds of
home. But yet she could not bear to leave the neighbourhood of
Mr. Farquhar; especially as, if she went to Abermouth, Ruth would
in all probability be left to take her holiday at home. When Mr.
Bradshaw decided that she was to go, Ruth tried to feel glad that
he gave her the means of repairing her fault towards Elizabeth;
and she resolved to watch over the two girls most faithfully and
carefully, and to do all in her power to restore the invalid to
health. But a tremor came over her whenever she thought of
leaving Leonard; she had never quitted him for a day, and it
seemed to her as if her brooding, constant care was his natural
and necessary shelter from all evils--from very death itself. She
would not go to sleep at nights, in order to enjoy the blessed
consciousness of having him near her; when she was away from him
teaching her pupils, she kept trying to remember his face, and
print it deep on her heart, against the time when days and days
would elapse without her seeing that little darling countenance.
Miss Benson would wonder to her brother that Mr. Bradshaw did not
propose that Leonard should accompany his mother; he only begged
her not to put such an idea into Ruth's head, as he was sure Mr.
Bradshaw had no thoughts of doing any such thing, yet to Ruth it
might be a hope, and then a disappointment. His sister scolded
him for being so cold-hearted; but he was full of sympathy,
although he did not express it, and made some quiet little
sacrifices in order to set himself at liberty to take Leonard a
long walking expedition on the day when his mother left
Eccleston. Ruth cried until she could cry no longer, and felt
very much ashamed of herself as she saw the grave and wondering
looks of her pupils, whose only feeling on leaving home was
delight at the idea of Abermouth, and into whose minds the
possibility of death to any of their beloved ones never entered.
Ruth dried her eyes, and spoke cheerfully as soon as she caught
the perplexed expression of their faces; and by the time they
arrived at Abermouth she was as much delighted with all the new
scenery as they were, and found it hard work to resist their
entreaties to go rambling out on the sea-shore at once; but
Elizabeth had undergone more fatigue that day than she had had
before for many weeks, and Ruth was determined to be prudent.
Meanwhile, the Bradshaws' house at Eccleston was being rapidly
adapted for electioneering hospitality. The partition-wall
between the unused drawing-room and the schoolroom was broken
down, in order to admit of folding-doors; the "ingenious"
upholsterer of the town (and what town does not boast of the
upholsterer full of contrivances and resources, in opposition to
the upholsterer of steady capital and no imagination, who looks
down with uneasy contempt on ingenuity?) had come in to give his
opinion, that "nothing could be easier than to convert a bathroom
into a bedroom, by the assistance of a little drapery to conceal
the shower-bath," the string of which was to be carefully
concealed, for fear that the unconscious occupier of the bath-bed
might innocently take it for a bell-rope. The professional cook
of the town had been already engaged to take up her abode for a
month at Mr. Bradshaw's, much to the indignation of Betsy, who
became a vehement partisan of Mr. Cranworth, as soon as ever she
heard of the plan of her deposition from sovereign authority in
the kitchen, in which she had reigned supreme for fourteen years.
Mrs. Bradshaw sighed and bemoaned herself in all her leisure
moments, which were not many, and wondered why their house was to
be turned into an inn for this Mr. Donne, when everybody knew
that the "George" was good enough for the Cranworths, who never
thought of asking the electors to the Hall;--and they had lived
at Cranworth ever since Julius Caesar's time, and if that was not
being an old family, she did not know what was. The excitement
soothed Jemima. There was something to do. It was she who planned
with the upholsterer; it was she who soothed Betsy into angry
silence; it was she who persuaded her mother to lie down and
rest, while she herself went out to buy the heterogeneous things
required to make the family and house presentable to Mr. Donne
and his precursor--the friend of the parliamentary agent. This
latter gentleman never appeared himself on the scene of action,
but pulled all the strings notwithstanding. The friend was a Mr.
Hickson, a lawyer--a briefless barrister, some people called him;
but he himself professed a great disgust to the law, as a "great
sham," which involved an immensity of underhand action, and
truckling, and time-serving, and was perfectly encumbered by
useless forms and ceremonies, and dead obsolete words. So,
instead of putting his shoulder to the wheel to reform the law,
he talked eloquently against it, in such a high-priest style,
that it was occasionally a matter of surprise how ho could ever
have made a friend of the parliamentary agent before mentioned.
But, as Mr. Hickson himself said, it was the very corruptness of
the law which he was fighting against, in doing all he could to
effect the return of certain members to Parliament; these certain
members being pledged to effect a reform in the law, according to
Mr. Hickson. And, as he once observed confidentially, "If you had
to destroy a hydra-headed monster, would you measure swords with
the demon as if he were a gentleman? Would you not rather seize
the first weapon that came to hand? And so do I. My great object
in life, sir, is to reform the law of England, sir. Once get a
majority of Liberal members into the House, and the thing is
done. And I consider myself justified, for so high--for, I may
say, so holy--an end, in using men's weaknesses to work out my
purpose. Of course, if men were angels, or even immaculate--men
invulnerable to bribes, we would not bribe."
"Could you?" asked Jemima, for the conversation took place at Mr.
Bradshaw's dinner-table, where a few friends were gathered
together to meet Mr. Hickson; and among them was Mr. Benson.
"We neither would nor could," said the ardent barrister,
disregarding in his vehemence the point of the question, and
floating on over the bar of argument into the wide ocean of his
own eloquence: "As it is--as the world stands, they who would
succeed even in good deeds must come down to the level of
expediency; and therefore, I say once more, if Mr. Donne is the
man for your purpose, and your purpose is a good one, a lofty
one, a holy one" (for Mr. Hickson remembered the Dissenting
character of his little audience, and privately considered the
introduction of the word "holy" a most happy hit), "then, I say,
we must put all the squeamish scruples which might befit Utopia,
or some such place, on one side and treat men as they are. If
they are avaricious, it is not we who have made them so; but as
we have to do with them, we must consider their failings in
dealing with them; if they have been careless or extravagant, or
have had their little peccadilloes, we must administer the screw.
The glorious reform of the law will justify, in my idea, all
means to obtain the end--that law, from the profession of which I
have withdrawn myself from perhaps a too scrupulous conscience!"
he concluded softly to himself.
"We are not to do evil that good my come," said Mr. Benson. He
was startled at the deep sound of his own voice as he uttered
these words; but he had not been speaking for some time, and his
voice came forth strong and unmodulated.
"True, sir; most true," said Mr. Hickson, bowing. "I honour you
for the observation." And he profited by it, insomuch that he
confined his further remarks on elections to the end of the
table, where he sat near Mr. Bradshaw, and one or two equally
eager, though not equally influential, partisans of Mr. Donne's.
Meanwhile Mr. Farquhar took up Mr. Benson's quotation, at the end
where he and Jemima sat near to Mrs. Bradshaw and him.
"But in the present state of the world, as Mr. Hickson says, it
is rather difficult to act upon that precept."
"Oh, Mr. Farquhar!" said Jemima indignantly, the tears springing
to her eyes with a feeling of disappointment. For she had been
chafing under all that Mr. Hickson had been saying, perhaps the
more for one or two attempts on his part at flirtation with the
daughter of his wealthy host, which she resented with all the
loathing of a preoccupied heart; and she had longed to be a man,
to speak out her wrath at this paltering with right and wrong.
She had felt grateful to Mr. Benson for his one clear, short
precept, coming down with a divine' force against which there was
no appeal; and now to have Mr. Farquhar taking the side of
expediency! It was too bad.
"Nay, Jemima!" said Mr. Farquhar, touched, and secretly flattered
by the visible pain his speech bad given. "Don't be indignant
with me till I have explained myself a little more. I don't
understand myself yet; and it is a very intricate question, or so
it appears to me, which I was going to put, really, earnestly,
and humbly, for Mr. Benson's opinion. Now, Mr. Benson, may I ask
if you always find it practicable to act strictly in accordance
with that principle? For if you do not, I am sure no man living
can. Are there not occasions when it is absolutely necessary to
wade through evil to good? I am not speaking in the careless,
presumptuous way of that man yonder," said he, lowering his
voice, and addressing himself to Jemima more exclusively; "I am
really anxious to hear what Mr. Benson will say on the subject,
for I know no one to whose candid opinion I should attach more
But Mr. Benson was silent. He did not see Mrs. Bradshaw and
Jemima leave the room. He was really, as Mr. Farquhar supposed
him, completely absent, questioning himself as to how far his
practice tallied with his principle. By degrees he came to
himself; he found the conversation still turned on the election;
and Mr. Hickson, who felt that he had jarred against the little
minister's principles, and yet knew, from the carte du pays which
the scouts of the parliamentary agent had given him, that Mr.
Benson was a person to be conciliated, on account of his
influence over many of the working-people, began to ask him
questions with an air of deferring to superior knowledge, that
almost surprised Mr. Bradshaw, who had been accustomed to treat
"Benson" in a very different fashion, of civil condescending
indulgence, just as one listens to a child who can have had no
opportunities of knowing better.
At the end of a conversation that Mr. Hickson held with Mr.
Benson, on a subject in which the latter was really interested,
and on which he had expressed himself at some length, the young
barrister turned to Mr. Bradshaw and said very audibly--
"I wish Donne had been here. This conversation during the last
half-hour would have interested him almost as much as it has done
Mr. Bradshaw little guessed the truth, that Mr. Donne was, at
that very moment, coaching up the various subjects of public
interest at Eccleston, and privately cursing the particular
subject on which Mr. Benson had been holding forth, as being an
unintelligible piece of Quixotism; or the leading Dissenter of
the town need not have experienced a pang of jealousy at the
possible future admiration his minister might excite in the
possible future member for Eccleston. And if Mr. Benson had been
clairvoyant, he need not have made an especial subject of
gratitude out of the likelihood that he might have an opportunity
of so far interesting Mr. Donne in the condition of the people of
Eccleston as to induce him to set his face against any attempts
Mr. Benson thought of this half the night through; and ended by
determining to write a sermon on the Christian view of political
duties, which might be good for all, both electors and member, to
hear on the eve of an election. For Mr. Donne was expected at Mr.
Bradshaw's before the next Sunday; and, of course, as Mr. and
Miss Benson had settled it, he would appear at the chapel with
them on that day. But the stinging conscience refused to be
quieted. No present plan of usefulness allayed the aching
remembrance of the evil he had done that good might come. Not
even the look of Leonard, as the early dawn fell on him, and Mr.
Benson's sleepless eyes saw the rosy glow on his firm, round
cheeks; his open mouth, through which the soft, long-drawn breath
came gently quivering; and his eyes not fully shut, but closed to
outward sight--not even the aspect of the quiet, innocent child
could soothe the troubled spirit.
Leonard and his mother dreamt of each other that night. Her dream
of him was one of undefined terror--terror so great that it
wakened her up, and she strove not to sleep again, for fear that
ominous, ghastly dream should return. He, on the contrary, dreamt
of her sitting watching and smiling by his bedside, as her gentle
self had been many a morning; and when she saw him awake (so it
fell out in the dream), she smiled still more sweetly, and
bending down she kissed him, and then spread out large, soft,
white-feathered wings (which in no way surprised her child--he
seemed to have known they were there all along), and sailed away
through the open window far into the blue sky of a summer's day.
Leonard wakened up then, and remembered how far away she really
was--far more distant and inaccessible than the beautiful blue
sky to which she had betaken herself in his dream--and cried
himself to sleep again.
In spite of her absence from her child, which made one great and
abiding sorrow, Ruth enjoyed her seaside visit exceedingly. In
the first place, there was the delight of seeing Elizabeth's
daily and almost hourly improvement. Then, at the doctor's
express orders, there were so few lessons to be done, that there
was time for the long exploring rambles, which all three
delighted in. And when the rain came on and the storms blew, the
house, with its wild sea-views, was equally delightful.
It was a large house, built on the summit of a rock, which nearly
overhung the shore below; there was, to be sure, a series of
zig-zag tacking paths down the face of this rock, but from the
house they could not he seen. Old or delicate people would have
considered the situation bleak and exposed; indeed, the present
proprietor wanted to dispose of it on this very account; but by
its present inhabitants this exposure and bleakness were called
by other names, and considered as charms. From every part of the
rooms they saw the grey storms gather on the sea-horizon, and put
themselves in marching array; and soon the march became a sweep,
and the great dome of the heavens was covered with the lurid
clouds, between which and the vivid green earth below there
seemed to come a purple atmosphere, making the very threatening
beautiful; and by-and-by the house was wrapped in sheets of rain,
shutting out sky, and sea, and inland view; till, of a sudden,
the storm was gone by, and the heavy rain-drops, glistened in the
sun as they hung on leaf and grass, and the "little birds sang
east, and the little birds sang west," and there was a pleasant
sound of running waters all abroad.
"Oh! if papa would but buy this house!" exclaimed Elizabeth,
after one such storm, which she had watched silently from the
very beginning of the "little cloud no bigger than a man's hand."
"Mamma would never like it, I am afraid," said Mary. "She would
call our delicious gushes of air draughts, and think we should
"Jemima would be on our side. But how long Mrs. Denbigh is! I
hope she was near enough to the post-office when the rain came
Ruth had gone to "the shop" in the little village, about
half-a-mile distant, where all letters were left till fetched.
She only expected one, but that one was to tell her of Leonard.
She, however, received two; the unexpected one was from Mr.
Bradshaw, and the news it contained was, if possible, a greater
surprise than the letter itself. Mr. Bradshaw informed her that
he planned arriving by dinner-time the following Saturday at
Eagle's Crag; and more, that he intended bringing Mr. Donne and
one or two other gentlemen with him, to spend the Sunday there!
The letter went on to give every possible direction regarding the
household preparations. The dinner-hour was fixed to be at six;
but, of course, Ruth and the girls would have dined long before.
The (professional) cook would arrive the day before, laden with
all the provisions that could not be obtained on the spot. Ruth
was to engage a waiter from the inn, and this it was that
detained her so long. While she sat in the little parlour,
awaiting the coming of the landlady, she could not help wondering
why Mr. Bradshaw was bringing this strange gentleman to spend two
days at Abermouth, and thus giving himself so much trouble and
fuss of preparation.
There were so many small reasons that went to make up the large
one which had convinced Mr. Bradshaw of the desirableness of this
step, that it was not likely that Ruth should guess at one-half
of them. In the first place, Miss Benson, in the pride and
fulness of her heart, had told Mrs. Bradshaw what her brother had
told her; how he meant to preach upon the Christian view of the
duties involved in political rights; and as, of course, Mrs.
Bradshaw had told Mr. Bradshaw, he began to dislike the idea of
attending chapel on that Sunday at all; for he had an
uncomfortable idea that by the Christian standard--that divine
test of the true and pure--bribery would not be altogether
approved of; and yet he was tacitly coming round to the
understanding that "packets" would be required, for what purpose
both he and Mr. Donne were to be supposed to remain ignorant. But
it would be very awkward, so near to the time, if he were to be
clearly convinced that bribery, however disguised by names and
words, was in plain terms a sin. And yet he knew Mr. Benson had
once or twice convinced him against his will of certain things,
which he had thenceforward found it impossible to do, without
such great uneasiness of mind, that he had left off doing them,
which was sadly against his interest. And if Mr. Donne (whom he
had intended to take with him to chapel, as fair Dissenting prey)
should also become convinced, why, the Cranworths would win the
day, and he should be the laughing-stock of Eccleston. No! in
this one case bribery must be allowed--was allowable; but it was
a great pity human nature was so corrupt, and if his member
succeeded, he would double his subscription to the schools, in
order that the next generation might be taught better. There were
various other reasons, which strengthened Mr. Bradshaw in the
bright idea of going down to Abermouth for the Sunday; some
connected with the out-of-door politics, and some with the
domestic. For instance, it had been the plan of the house to have
a cold dinner on the Sunday--Mr. Bradshaw had piqued himself on
this strictness--and yet he had an instinctive feeling that Mr.
Donne was not quite the man to partake of cold meat for
conscience sake with cheerful indifference to his fare.
Mr. Donne had, in fact, taken the Bradshaw household a little by
surprise. Before he came, Mr. Bradshaw had pleased himself with
thinking that more unlikely things had happened than the espousal
of his daughter with the member of a small borough. But this
pretty airy bubble burst as soon as he saw Mr. Donne; and its
very existence was forgotten in less than half-an-hour, when he
felt the quiet but incontestable difference of rank and standard
that there was, in every respect, between his guest and his own
family. It was not through any circumstance so palpable, and
possibly accidental, as the bringing down a servant, whom Mr.
Donne seemed to consider as much a matter of course as a
carpet-bag (though the smart gentleman's arrival "fluttered the
Volscians in Corioli" considerably more than his gentle-spoken
master's). It was nothing like this; it was something
indescribable--a quiet being at ease, and expecting every one
else to be so--an attention to women, which was so habitual as to
be unconsciously exercised to those subordinate persons in Mr.
Bradshaw's family--a happy choice of simple and expressive words,
some of which it must be confessed were slang, but fashionable
slang, and that makes all the difference--a measured, graceful
way of utterance, with a style of pronunciation quite different
to that of Eccleston. All these put together make but a part of
the indescribable whole which unconsciously affected Mr.
Bradshaw, and established Mr. Donne in his estimation as a
creature quite different to any he had seen before, and as most
unfit to mate with Jemima. Mr. Hickson, who had appeared as a
model of gentlemanly ease before Mr. Donne's arrival, now became
vulgar and coarse in Bradshaw's eyes. And yet, such was the charm
of that languid, high-bred manner, that Mr. Bradshaw "cottoned"
(as he expressed it to Mr. Farquhar) to his new candidate at
once. He was only afraid lest Mr. Donne was too indifferent to
all things under the sun to care whether he gained or lost the
election; but he was reassured after the first conversation they
had together on the subject. Mr. Donne's eye lightened with an
eagerness that was almost fierce, though his tones were as
musical, and nearly as slow, as ever; and, when Mr. Bradshaw
alluded distantly to "probable expenses" and "packets," Mr. Donne
"Oh, of course! disagreeable necessity! Better speak as little
about such things as possible; other people can be found to
arrange all the dirty work. Neither you nor I would like to soil
our fingers by it, I am sure. Four thousand pounds are in Mr.
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