The Three Brides
Charlotte M. Yonge
Part 10 out of 11
lives. If Moy would sign such an exculpation of me as could be
shown to Mr. Bowater, and any other whom it might concern, I should
be quite willing to have nothing told publicly, at least as long as
the old gentleman lives."
"I think Archie is right," said Miles, in the pause, with a great
"Yes, right in the highest sense of the word," said Julius.
"It is Christian," Anne breathed across to her husband.
"I don't like it," said Mrs. Poynsett.
"Let that scoundrel go unhung!" burst from Frank, who had failed to
catch the spirit of his interpreter.
"I don't like it in the abstract, mother," said Miles; "but you and
Frank have not seen the scoundrel in his beaten down state, and, as
Archie says, it is hard to blacken the memory of either poor George
Proudfoot or Tom Vivian, who have fathers to feel it for them."
"Poor Tom Vivian's can hardly be made much blacker," said Mrs.
Poynsett, "nor are Sir Harry's feelings very acute; but perhaps poor
old Proudfoot ought to be spared, and there are considerations as to
the Vivian family. Still, I don't see how to consent to Archie
going into exile again with this stigma upon him. I am sure Raymond
would not, and I do not think Mr. Bowater will."
"Dear Aunt Julia," said Archie, affectionately, coming across to
her, "it was indeed exile before, when I was dead to all of you; but
can it be so now the communication is open, and when I am making or
winning my home?" and his eyes brought Jenny to him by her side.
"Yes, dear Mrs. Poynsett," she said, holding her hand, "I am sure he
is right, and that it would spoil all our own happiness to break
that poor old father's heart, and bring him and his wife to disgrace
and misery. When I think of the change in everything since two days
back--dear Herbert wrung a sort of forgiveness out of me--I can't
bear to think of anybody being made miserable."
"And what will your papa say, child?"
"I think he will feel a good deal for old Proudfoot," said Jenny.
"He rather likes the old man, and has laughed at our hatred of Miss
"Then it is settled," said Archie; "I will write to Moy, for I
suppose he had rather not see me, that I will say nothing about it
publicly while Mr. Proudfoot lives, and will not show this
confession of his, unless it should be absolutely necessary to my
character. Nor after old Proudfoot's death, will I take any step
without notice to him."
"Much more than he ought to expect," said Mrs. Poynsett.
"I don't know," said Archie. "If he had refused, it would not have
been easy to bring him to the point, I suppose I must have
surrendered to take my trial, but after so many years, and with so
many deaths, it would have been awkward."
"And the money, mother," said Miles, producing a cheque. "Poor Moy,
that was a relief to him. He said he had kept it ready for years."
Mrs. Poynsett waved it off as if she did not like to touch it.
"I don't want it! Take it, Archie. Set up housekeeping on it," she
said. "You are not really going back to that place?"
"Yes, indeed I am; I sail on Tuesday. Dear good Aunt Julia, how
comfortable it is to feel any one caring for me again; but I am
afraid even this magnificent present, were it ten times as much,
could not keep me; I must go back to fulfil my word to my partner
out there, even if I returned at once."
"And you let him go, Jenny?"
"I must!" said Jenny. "And only think how different it is now! For
the rest, whether he comes back for me at once, or some years hence,
must depend on papa and mamma."
She spoke with grave content beaming in her eyes, just like herself.
The restoration was still swallowing up everything else.
And when the self-abhorring thrill
Is past--as pass it must,
When tasks of life thy spirit fill,
Then be the self-renouncing will
The seal of thy calm trust.--Lyra Apostolica
By Christmas Day Archie Douglas was in the Bay of Biscay; but even
to Joanna it was not a sorrowful day, for did not Herbert on that
day crawl back into his sitting-room, full dressed for the first
time, holding tight by her shoulder, and by every piece of furniture
on his way to the sofa, Rollo attending in almost pathetic delight,
gazing at him from time to time, and thumping the floor with his
tail? He had various visitors after his arrival--the first being
his Rector, who came on his way back from church to give his
congratulations, mention the number of convalescents who had there
appeared, and speak of the wedding he had celebrated that morning,
that of Fanny Reynolds and her Drake, who were going forth the next
day to try whether they could accomplish a hawker's career free from
what the man, at least, had only of late learnt to be sins. It was
a great risk, but there had been a penitence about both that Julius
trusted was genuine. A print of the Guardian Angel, which had been
her boy's treasure, had been hung by Fanny in her odd little
bedroom, and she had protested with tears that it would seem like
her boy calling her back if she were tempted again.
"Not that I trust much to that," said Julius. "Poor Fanny is soft,
and likes to produce an effect; but I believe there is sterling
stuff in Drake."
"And he never had a chance before," said Herbert.
"No. Which makes a great difference--all indeed between the
Publicans, or the Heathens, and the Pharisees. He can't read, and I
doubt whether he said the words rightly after me; but I am sure he
"I suppose all this has done great good?" said Jenny.
"It will be our fault if it do not do permanent good. It ought,"
said Julius, gravely. "No, no, Herbert, I did not mean to load you
with the thought. Getting well is your business for the present--
not improving the occasion to others."
To which all that Herbert answered was, "Harry Hornblower!" as if
that name spoke volumes of oppression of mind.
That discussion, however, was hindered by Mrs. Hornblower's own
arrival with one of her lodger's numerous meals, and Julius went off
to luncheon. The next step on the stairs made Herbert start and
exclaim, "That's the dragoon! Come in, Phil."
And there did indeed stand the eldest brother, who had obtained a
few days' leave, as he told them, and had ridden over from Strawyers
after church. He came in with elaborate caution in his great muddy
boots, and looked at Herbert like a sort of natural curiosity,
exclaiming that he only wanted a black cap and a pair of bands to be
exactly like Bishop Bowater, a Caroline divine, with a meek, oval,
spiritual face, and a great display of delicate attenuated fingers,
the length of which had always been a doubt and marvel to his sturdy
"Hands and all," quoth Philip; "and what are you doing with them?"
as he spied a Greek Testament in the fingers, and something far too
ponderous for them within reach. "Jenny, how dare you?" he
remonstrated, poising the bigger book as if to heave it at her head.
"That's what comes of your encouraging followers, eh?"
"Ah!" said Jenny, pretending to dodge the missile, while Rollo
exercised great forbearance in stifling a bark, "Greek is not quite
so severe to some folks as dragoon captains think."
"Severe or not he might let it alone," said Phil, looking much
disposed to wrest away the little book, which Herbert thrust under
his pillow, saying--
"It was only the Lesson."
"Why can't you read the Lesson like a sensible man in its native
English? Don't laugh, children, you know what I mean. There's no
good in this fellow working his brain. He can't go up again before
September, and according to the Bishop's letter to my father, he is
safe to pass, if he could not construe a line, after what he did at
Wil'sbro'. The Bishop and Co. found they had made considerable
donkeys of themselves. Yes, 'tis the ticket for you to be shocked;
but it is just like badgering a fellow for his commission by asking
him how many facets go to a dragon-fly's eye, instead of how he can
stand up to a battery."
"So I thought," said Herbert; "but I know now what it is to be in
the teeth of the battery without having done my best to get my
weapons about me."
"Come now! Would any of those poor creatures have been the better
for your knowing
"How many notes a sackbut has,
Or whether shawms have strings,"
or the Greek particles, which I believe were what sacked you?"
"They would have been the better if I had ever learnt to think what
men's souls are, or my own either," said Herbert, with a heavy sigh.
"Ah! well, you have had a sharp campaign," said Phil; "but you'll
soon get the better of it when you are at Nice with the old folks.
Jolly place--lots of nice girls--something always going on. I'll
try and get leave to take you out; but you'll cut us all out!
Ladies won't look at a fellow when there's an interesting young
parson to the fore."
Herbert made an action of negation, and his sister said--
"The doctors say Nice will not do after such an illness as this.
Papa asked the doctor there, and he said he could not advise it."
"Indeed! Then I'll tell you what, Herbs, you shall come into
lodgings at York, and I'll look after you there. You shall ride
Pimento, and dine at the mess."
"Thank you, Phil," said Herbert, to whom a few months ago this
proposal would have been most seducing, "but I am going home, and
that's all the change I shall want."
"Home! Yes, Ellen is getting ready for you. Not your room--oh, no!
but the state bedroom! When will you come? My leave is only till
"Oh! I don't know how to think of the drive," sighed Herbert
"We must wait for a fine day, when he feels strong enough," said
"All right," said Phil; "but ten days or a fortnight there will be
quite enough, and then you'll come. There are some friends of
yours, that only looked at me, I can tell you, for the sake of your
name--eh, Master Herbs?"
Herbert did not rise to the bait; but Jenny said, "The Miss
"Yes. Wouldn't he be flattered to hear of the stunning excitement
when they heard of Captain Bowater, and how the old lady, their
mother, talked by the yard about him? You'll get a welcome indeed
when you come, old fellow. When shall it be?"
"No, thank you, Phil," said Herbert, gravely. "I shall come back
here as soon as I am well enough. But there is one thing I wish you
would do for me."
"Well, what? I'll speak about having any horse you please taken up
for you to ride; I came over on Brown Ben, but he would shake you
"No, no, it's about a young fellow. If you could take him back to
York to enlist--"
"My dear Herbert, I ain't a recruiting-sergeant."
"No, but it might be the saving of him," said Herbert, raising
himself and speaking with more animation. "It is Harry Hornblower."
"Why, that's the chap that bagged your athletic prizes! Whew!
Rather strong, ain't it, Joan!"
"He did no such thing," said Herbert, rather petulantly; "never
dreamt of it. He only was rather a fool in talking of them--
vaunting of me, I believe, as not such a bad fellow for a parson; so
his friends got out of him where to find them. But they knew better
than to take him with them. Tell him, Jenny; he won't believe me."
"It is quite true, Phil," said Jenny, "the poor fellow did get into
bad company at the races, but that was all. He did not come home
that night, but he was stupefied with drink and the beginning of the
fever, and it was proved--perfectly proved--that he was fast asleep
at a house at Backsworth when the robbery was committed, and he was
as much shocked about it as any one--more, I am sure, than Herbert,
who was so relieved on finding him clear of it, that he troubled
himself very little about the things. And now he has had the fever--
not very badly--and he is quite well now, but he can't get anything
to do. Truelove turned him off before the races for hanging about
at the Three Pigeons, and nobody will employ him. I do think it is
true what they say--his mother, and Julius, and Herbert, and all--
that he has had a lesson, and wants to turn over a new leaf, but the
people here won't let him. Julius and Herbert want him to enlist,
and I believe he would, but his mother--as they all do--thinks that
the last degradation; but she might listen if Captain Bowater came
and told her about his own regiment--cavalry too--and the style of
men in it--and it is the only chance for him."
Philip made a wry face.
"You see I took him up and let him down," said Herbert, sadly and
"I really do believe," said Jenny, clenching the matter, "that
Herbert would get well much faster if Harry Hornblower were off his
Phil growled, and his younger brother and sister knew that they
would do their cause no good by another word. There was an odd
shyness about them all. The elder brother had not yet said anything
about Jenny's prospects, and only asked after the party at the Hall.
"All nearly well, except Frank's deafness," said Jenny. "In a day
or two he is going up to London to consult an aurist, and see
whether he can keep his clerkship. Miles is going with him, and
Rosamond takes Terry up to see his brother in London, and then, I
believe, she is going on to get rooms at Rockpier, while Miles comes
home to fetch his mother there."
"Mrs. Poynsett!" with infinite wonder.
"Oh yes, all this has really brought out much more power of activity
in her. You know it was said that there was more damage to the
nervous system than anything else, and the shock has done her good.
Besides, Miles is so much less timid about her than dear Raymond,
who always handled her like a cracked teapot, and never having known
much of any other woman, did not understand what was good for her."
"Miles has more pith in him than ever poor old Raymond had," said
Phil. "Poor old Poynsett, I used to think he wanted to be spoony on
you, Joan, if he had only known his own mind. If he had, I suppose
he would have been alive now!"
"What a pleasing situation for Jenny!" Herbert could not help
"Much better than running after ostriches in the wilderness," quoth
Philip. "You ride them double, don't you?"
"Two little negro boys at a time," replied Jenny, "according to the
nursery-book. Will you come and try, Phil?"
"You don't mean to go out?"
"I don't know," said Jenny; "it depends on how mamma is, and how
Edith gets on."
Philip gave a long whistle of dismay. Herbert looked at him
wistfully, longing to hear him utter some word of congratulation or
sympathy with his sister; but none was forthcoming. Philip had
disliked the engagement originally--never had cared for Archie
Douglas, and was not melted now that Jenny was more valuable than
ever. She knew him too well to expect it of him, and did not want
to leave him to vex Herbert by any expression of his opinion on the
matter, and on this account, as well as on that of the fatigue she
saw on her patient's features, she refused his kind offer of keeping
guard while she went in the afternoon to church, adding that Herbert
must rest, as Mrs. Duncombe was coming afterwards to take leave of
Philip shrugged his shoulders in horror, and declared that he should
not return again till _that_ was over; but he should look in again
before he went home to settle about Herbert's coming to York.
"York!" said Herbert, with a gasp, as Jenny brought his jelly, and
arranged his pillows for a rest, while the dragoon's boots resounded
on the stairs. "Please tell him to say no more about it. I want
them all to understand that I'm not going in for that sort of thing
"My dear, I think you had better not say things hotly and rashly;
you may feel so very differently by and by."
"I know that," said Herbert; "but after all it is only what my
ordination vows mean, though I did not see it then. And this year
must be a penance year; I had made up my mind to that before I fell
"Only you must get well," said Jenny.
"That takes care of itself when one is sound to begin with," said
Herbert. "And now that I have been brought back again, and had my
eyes opened, and have got another trial given me, it would be double
shame to throw it away."
"I don't think you will do that."
"I only pray that all that seems burnt out of me by what I have
seen, and heard, and felt, may not come back with my strength."
"I could hardly pray that for you, Herbert," said Jenny. "Spirits
are wanted to bear a clergyman through his work, and though you are
quite right not to _go in_ for those things, I should be sorry if
you never enjoyed what came in your way."
"If I never was tempted."
"It need not be temptation. It would not be if your mind were full
of your work--it would only be refreshment. I don't want my boy to
turn stern, and dry, and ungenial. That would not be like your
"My Rector did not make such a bad start, and can trust himself
better," said Herbert. "Come, Jenny, don't look at me in that way.
You can't wish me to go to York, and meet those rattling girls
"No, certainly not, though Sister Margaret told Rosamond they had
never had such a sobering lesson in their lives as their share in
the mischief to you."
"It was not their fault," said Herbert. "It was deeper down than
that. And they were good girls after all, if one only had had
"Nonsense, Jenny," with a little smile, as he read her face, "I'm
not bitten--no--but they, and poor Lady Tyrrell, and all are proof
enough that it is easy to turn my head, and that I am one who ought
to keep out of that style of thing for the future. So do silence
Phil, for you know when he gets a thing into his head how he goes
on, and I do not think I can bear it now."
"I am sure you can't," said Jenny, emphatically, "and I'll do my
best. Only, Herbie, dear, do one thing for me, don't bind yourself
by any regular renunciations of moderate things now your mind is
excited, and you are weak. I am sure Julius or Dr. Easterby would
"I'll think," said Herbert. "But if I am forgiven for this year,
nothing seems to me too much to give up to the Great Shepherd to
show my sorrow. 'Feed My sheep' was the way He bade St. Peter prove
Jenny longed to say it was feeding the sheep rather than self-
privation, but she was not sure of her ground, and Herbert's low,
quiet, soft voice went to her heart. There were two great tears on
his cheeks, he shut his eyes as if to keep back any more, and turned
his face inwards on the sofa, his lips still murmuring over 'Feed My
sheep.' She looked at him, feeling as if, while her heart had
wakened to new glad hopes of earth, her brother, in her fulfilled
prayer, had soared beyond her. They were both quite still till Mrs.
Duncombe came to the door.
She was at the Rectory, her house being dismantled, and she, having
stayed till the last case of fever was convalescent, and the Sisters
recalled, was to go the next day to her mother-in-law's. She was
almost as much altered as Herbert himself. Her jaunty air had given
way to something equally energetic, but she looked wiry and worn,
and her gold pheasant's crest had become little more than a sandy
wisp, as she came quietly in and took the hand that Herbert held out
to her, saying how glad she was to see him on the mend.
He asked after some of the people whom they had attended together,
and listened to the details, asking specially after one or two
families, where one or both parents had been taken away. "Poor
Cecil Poynsett is undertaking them," was the answer in each case.
Some had been already sent to orphanages; others were boarded out
till places could be found for them; and the Sisters had taken
charge of two.
Then one widow was to 'do for' the Vicar, who had taken solitary
possession of the Vicarage, but would soon be joined there by one or
more curates. He had been inducted into the ruinous chancel of the
poor old church, had paid the architect of the Rat-house fifty
pounds (a sum just equalling the proceeds of the bazaar) to be rid
of his plans; had brought down a first-rate architect; and in the
meantime was working the little iron church vigorously.
"Everything seems to be beginning there just as I go into exile!"
said Mrs. Duncombe. "It seems odd that I should have to go from
what I have only just learnt to prize. But you have taught mo a
"Every one must have learnt a good deal," said Herbert wearily. "If
one only has!"
"I meant you yourself, and that is what I came to thank you for.
Yes, I did; even if you don't like to hear it, your sister does, and
I must have it out. I shall recollect you again and again standing
over all those beds, and shrinking from nothing, and I shall hold up
the example to my boys."
"Do hold up something better!"
"Can you write?" she said abruptly.
"I have written a few lines to my mother."
"Do you remember what you said that night, when you had to hold that
poor man in his delirium, and his wife was so wild with fright that
she could not help?"
"I am not sure what you mean."
"You said it three or four times. It was only--"
"I remember," said Herbert, as she paused; "it was the only thing I
could recollect in the turmoil."
"Would it tire you very much to write it for me in the flyleaf of
this Prayer-Book that Mr. Charnock has given me?"
Herbert pulled himself into a sitting posture, and signed to his
sister to give him the ink.
"I shall spoil your book," he said, as his hand shook.
"Never mind," she said, eagerly, "the words come back to me whenever
I think of the life I have to face, and I want them written; they
soothe me, as they soothed that frightened woman and raving man."
And Herbert wrote. It was only--'The Lord is a very present help in
"Yes," she said; "thank you. Put your initials, pray. There--thank
you. No, you can never tell what it was to me to hear those words,
so quietly, and gravely, and strongly, in that deadly struggle. It
seemed to me, for the first time in all my life, that God is a real
Presence and an actual Help. There! I see Miss Bowater wants me
gone; so I am off. I shall hear of you."
Herbert was exhausted with the exertion, and only exchanged a close
pressure of the hand, and when Jenny came back, after seeing the
lady to the door, she thought there were tears on his cheek, and
bent down to kiss him.
"That was just the way, Jenny," his low, tired voice said. "I never
could recollect what I wanted to say. Only just those few Psalms
that you did manage to teach me before I went to school, they came
back and back."
Jenny had no time to answer, for the feet of Philip were on the
stairs. He had been visiting Mrs. Hornblower, and persuading her
that to make a dragoon of her son was the very best thing for him--
great promotion, and quite removed from the ordinary vulgar
enlistment in the line--till he had wiled consent out of her. And
though Philip declared it was blarney, and was inclined to think it
infra dig. to have thus exerted his eloquence, it was certain that
Mrs. Hornblower would console herself by mentioning to her
neighbours that her son was gone in compliment to Captain Bowater,
who had taken a fancy to him.
The relief to Herbert was infinite; but he was by this time too much
tired to do anything but murmur his thanks, and wish himself safe
back in his bed, and Philip's strong-armed aid in reaching that
haven was not a little appreciated.
Julius looked in with his mother's entreaty that Philip, and if
possible his sister, should come up to eat their Christmas dinner at
the Hall; and Herbert, wearily declaring that sleep was all he
needed, and that Cranky would be more than sufficient for him,
insisted on their accepting the invitation; and Jenny was not sorry,
for she did not want a tete-a-tete with Philip so close to her
patient's room, that whatever he chose to hear, he might.
She had quite enough of it in the walk to the Hall. Phil, with the
persistency of a person bent on doing a kind thing, returned to his
York plan, viewing it as excellent relaxation for a depressed, over-
worked man, and certain it would be a great treat to 'little Herb.'
He still looked on the tall young man as the small brother to be
patronized, and protected, and dragged out of home-petting; so he
pooh-poohed all Jenny's gentler hints as to Herbert's need of care
and desire to return to his work, until she was obliged to say
plainly that he had entreated her to beg it might not be argued with
him again, as he was resolved against amusement for the present.
Then Phil grew very angry both with Herbert and Jenny.
"Did they suppose he wanted the boy to do anything unclerical?"
"No; but you know it was by nothing positively unclerical that he
was led aside before."
Phil broke out into a tirade against the folly of Jenny's speech.
In his view, Herbert's conduct at Wil'sbro' had confuted the
Bishop's censure, and for his own part, he only wished to amuse the
boy, and give him rest, and if he did take him to a ball, or even
out with the hounds, he would be on leave, and in another diocese,
where the Bishop had nothing to do with him.
Jenny tried to make him understand that dread of the Bishop was the
last thing in Herbert's mind. It was rather that he did not think
it right to dissipate away a serious impression.
That was worse than before. She was threatened with the most
serious displeasure of her father and mother, if she encouraged
Herbert in the morbid ascetic notions ascribed to Dr. Easterby.
"It was always the way with the women--they never knew where to
"No," said Jenny, "I did not know there was anywhere to stop in the
way of Heaven."
"As if there were no way to Heaven without making a fool of
This answer made Jenny sorry for her own, as needlessly vexatious,
and yet she recollected St. Paul's Christian paradoxes, and felt
that poor Herbert might have laid hold of the true theory of the
ministry. At any rate, she was glad that they were at that moment
hailed and overtaken by the party from the Rectory, and that Phil
pounced at once on Julius, to obtain his sanction to giving Herbert
a little diversion at York.
Julius answered more warily, "Does he wish it?"
"No; but he is too weak yet, and is hipped and morbid."
"Well, Phil, I would not put it into his head. No doubt you would
take very good care of him, but I doubt whether your father would
like the Bishop to hear of him--under the circumstances--going to
disport himself at the dragoon mess. Besides, I don't think he will
be well enough before Lent, and then of course he could not."
This outer argument in a man's voice pacified Phil, as Julius knew
it would, much better than the deeper one, and he contented himself
with muttering that he should write to his father about it, which
every one knew he was most likely not to do.
Who could have foretold last Christmas who would be the party at
that dinner? Mrs. Poynsett at the head of her own table, and Miles
in the master's place, and the three waifs from absent families
would have seemed equally unlikely guests; while of last year's
party--Charlie was in India, Tom De Lancey with the aunts in
Ireland, Cecil at Dunstone. Mrs. Duncombe was perfectly quiet, not
only from the subduing influence of all she had undergone, but
because she felt herself there like an intruder, and would have
refused, but that to leave her at home would have distressed her
hostess. Mrs. Poynsett had never seen her before, and after all she
had heard about her, was quite amazed at the sight of such an
insignificant little person as she was without her dash and sparkle,
and in a dress which, when no longer coquettish, verged upon the
Poor thing, she was waiting till the Christmas visit of the elder
Mrs. Duncombe's own daughter was over, so that there might be room
for her, and she was thankful for the reprieve, which left her able
to spend Christmas among the privileges she had only learnt to value
just as she was deprived of them. She looked at Mrs. Poynsett, half
in curiosity, half in compunction, as she remembered how she had
helped to set Cecil against her.
"But then," as she said to Rosamond, in going home, "I had
prejudices about the genus belle-mere. And mine always knew and
said I should ruin her son, in which, alas! she was quite right!"
"She will be pleased now," said Rosamond.
"No, indeed, I believe she had rather I were rapidity personified
than owe the change to any one of your Rector's sort. I have had a
letter or two, warning me against the Sisters, or thinking there is
any merit in works of mercy. Ah, well! I'll try to think her a
good old woman! But if she had only not strained the cord till it
snapped, how much happier Bob and I should have been!"
What a difference there is between straining the cord for one's self
and for other people! So Julius could not help feeling when
Herbert, in spite of all that could be said to him, about morbid
haste in renunciation, sent for the village captain of the cricket-
club, and delivered over to him the bat, which had hitherto been as
a knightly sword to him, resigning his place in the Compton Poynsett
Eleven, and replying to the dismayed entreaties and assurances of
the young farmer that he would reconsider his decision, and that he
would soon be quite strong again, that he had spent too much time
over cricket, and liked it too well to trust himself at it again.
That was the last thing before on a New Year's Day, which was like
an April day, Herbert came into church once more, and then was
carried off in the Strawyers carriage, lying back half ashamed, half
astonished, at the shower of strange tears which the ecstatic shouts
and cheers of the village boys had called forth.
For Love himself took part against himself
To warn us off.--TENNYSON
Rosamond was to have a taste of her old vocation, and go campaigning
for lodgings, the searching for which she declared to be her
strongest point. Rockpier was to be the destination of the family;
Eleonora Vivian, whose letters had been far fewer than had been
expected of her, was known to be there with her father, and this was
lure sufficient for Frank. Frank's welfare again was the lure to
Mrs. Poynsett; and the benefit Rosamond was to derive from sea air,
after all she had gone through, made Julius willing to give himself
the holiday that everybody insisted on his having until Lent.
First, however, was sent off an advanced guard, consisting of
Rosamond and Terry, who went up to London with Frank, that he might
there consult an aurist, and likewise present himself to his chief,
and see whether he could keep his clerkship. All this turned out
well, his duties did not depend on his ears, and a month's longer
leave of absence was granted to him; moreover, his deafness was
pronounced to be likely to yield to treatment, and a tube restored
him to somewhat easier intercourse with mankind, and he was in high
spirits, when, after an evening spent with Rosamond's friends, the
M'Kinnons, the trio took an early train for Rockpier, where Rosamond
could not detain Frank even to come to the hotel with them and have
luncheon before hurrying off to Verdure Point, the villa inhabited
by Sir Harry. All he had done all the way down was to impress upon
her, in the fulness of his knowledge of the place, that the only
habitable houses in Rockpier were in that direction--the nearer to
Verdure Point the more perfect!
Terry listened with smiling eyes, sometimes viewing the lover as a
bore, sometimes as a curious study, confirming practical statements.
Terry was thoroughly well, only with an insatiable appetite, and he
viewed his fellow convalescent's love with double wonder when he
found it caused oblivion of hunger, especially as Frank still looked
gaunt and sallow, and was avowedly not returned to his usual health.
Rosamond set forth house-hunting, dropping Terry ere long at the
Library, where she went to make inquiries, and find the sine qua
non. When she reached the sitting-room at the hotel, she found
Frank cowering over the fire in an arm-chair, the picture of
despondency. Of course, he did not hear her entrance, and she
darted up to him, and put her hand on his shoulder. He looked up to
her with an attempt at indifference.
"Well, Rose! How have you sped?"
"I have got a house; but it is in Marine Terrace. I don't know what
you'll say to me."
"I don't know that it signifies."
"You are shivering! What's the matter?"
"Only, it is very cold!"
(Aside. "Ring the bell, Terry, he is as cold as ice.") "Did you
"Oh yes. Did you have any luncheon?" ("Some port-wine and hot
water directly, please.")
"Yes, I believe so. You are not ordering anything for me? There's
nothing amiss--only it is so cold."
"It is cold, and you are not to be cold; nor are we to be cold, sir.
You must go to bed early in the evening, Terry," said Rosamond, at
last. "I shall make nothing of him while you are by, and an hour's
more sleep will not be lost on you."
"Will you come and tell me then, Rosey? I deserve something."
"What, for sleeping there instead of here, when you've nothing to
"Indeed, but I have. I want to make out this little Chaucer. I
shall go down to the coffee-room and do it."
"Well, if you like poking out your eyes with the gas in the coffee-
room, I have no objection, since you are too proud to go to bed.
Wish him good night first, and do it naturally."
"Nature would be thrown away on him, poor fellow," said Terry, as he
roused Frank with difficulty to have 'Good night' roared into his
ear, and give a listless hand. He was about to deal with Rosamond
in the same way, but she said--
"No, I am not going yet," and settled herself opposite to him, with
her half-knitted baby's shoe in her hands, and her feet on the
fender, her crape drawn up from the fire, disposed for conversation.
Frank, on the other hand, fell back into the old position, looking
so wretched that she could bear it no longer, picked up the tube,
forced it on him, and said, "Do tell me, dear Frank. You used to
tell me long ago."
He shook his head. "That's all over. You are very good, Rosamond,
but you should not have forced her to come to me."
"My life was not worth saving."
"She has not gone back from you again?--the horrible girl!" (this
"It is not that she has gone back. She has never changed. It is I
who have forfeited her."
"You!--You!--She has not cast you off?"
"You know how it was, and the resolution by which she had bound
herself, and how I was maddened."
"That! I thought it was all forgiven and forgotten!" cried
"It is not a matter of forgiveness. She put it to me whether it was
possible to begin on a broken word."
"Worse and worse! Why, when you've spoken a foolish word, it is the
foolishest thing in the world to hold to it."
"If it were a foolish word!" said poor Frank. "I think I could have
atoned for that day, if she could have tried me; but when she left
me to judge, and those eyes of sweet, sorrowful--"
"Sweet! Sorrowful, indeed! About as sweet and sorrowful as the
butcher to the lamb. Left you to judge! A refinement of cruelty!
She had better have stayed away when I told her it was the only
chance to save your life."
"Would that she had!" sighed Frank. "But that was your doing,
Rosamond, and what she did in mere humanity can't be cast back again
to bind her against her conscience."
"Plague on her conscience!" was my Lady's imprecation. "I wonder if
it is all coquetry!"
"She deserves no blame," said Frank, understanding the manner,
though the words were under Rosamond's breath. "Her very troubles
in her own family have been the cause of her erecting a standard of
what alone she could trust. Once in better days she fancied I came
up to it, and when I know how far I have fallen short of it--"
"Nonsense. She had no business to make the condition without
"She knows more of me than only that," muttered poor Frank. "I was
an ass in town last summer. It was the hope of seeing her that drew
me; but if I had kept out of that set, all this would never have
"It was all for her sake." (A substratum of 'Ungrateful, ungenerous
"For her sake, I thought--not her true sake." Then there was a
silence, broken by his exclaiming, "Rose, I must get away from
"You can't," she called back. "Here's your mother coming. She
would be perfectly miserable to find you gone."
"It is impossible I should stay here."
"Don't be so chicken-hearted, Frank. If she has a heart worth
speaking of, she'll come round, if you only press hard enough. If
not, you are well quit of her."
He cried out at this, and Rosamond saw that what she called
faintness of heart was really reverence and sense of his own
failings; but none the less did she scorn such misplaced adoration,
as it seemed to her, and scold him in her own fashion, for not
rushing on to conquer irresistibly; or else being cool and easy as
to his rejection. He would accept neither alternative, was
depressed beyond the power of comfort, bodily weariness adding to
his other ills, and went off at last to bed, without retracting his
intention of going away.
"Well, Terry, it is a new phase, and a most perplexing one!" said
Rosamond, when her brother came back with arch curiosity in his
brown eyes. "The girl has gone and turned him over, and there he
lies on his back prostrate, just like Ponto, when he knows he
"Turned him over--you don't mean that she is off? I thought she was
a perfect angel of loveliness and goodness."
"Goodness! It is enough to make one hate goodness, unless this is
all mere pretence on her part. But what I am afraid of is his
setting off, no one knows where, before any one is up, and leaving
us to confront his mother, while he falls ill in some dog-hole of a
place. He is not fit to go about by himself, and I trust to you to
watch him, Terry."
"Shall I lie on the mat outside his door?" said Terry, half meaning
it, and somewhat elated by the romantic situation.
"No, we are not come to quite such extremities. You need not even
turn his key by mistake; only keep your ears open. He is next to
you, is he not?--and go in on pretext of inquiry--if you hear him up
Nothing was heard but the ordinary summons of Boots; and it turned
out in the morning that the chill had exasperated his throat, and
reduced him to a condition which took away all inclination to move,
besides deafening him completely.
Rosamond had to rush about all day, providing plenishing for the
lodging. Once she saw Sir Harry and his daughter in the distance,
and dashed into a shop to avoid them, muttering, "I don't believe
she cared for him one bit. I dare say she has taken up with Lorimer
Strangeways after all! Rather worse than her sister, I declare, for
she never pretended to be too _good_ for Raymond," and then as a
curate in a cassock passed--"Ah! some of them have been working on
her, and persuading her that he is not good enough for her.
Impertinent prig! He looks just capable of it!"
Frank was no better as to cold and deafness, though somewhat less
uncomfortable the next day in the lodging, and Rosamond went up
without him to the station to meet the rest of the party, and
arrange for Mrs. Poynsett's conveyance. They had accomplished the
journey much better than had been, hoped, but it was late and dark
enough to make it expedient that Mrs. Poynsett should be carried to
bed at once, after her most unwonted fatigue, and only have one
glimpse and embrace of Frank, so as to stave off the knowledge of
his troubles till after her night's rest. He seconded this desire,
and indeed Miles and Anne only saw that he had a bad cold; but
Rosamond no sooner had her husband to herself, than she raved over
his wrongs to her heart's content, and implored Julius to redress
them, though how, she did not well know, since she by turns declared
that Frank was well quit of Lenore, and that he would never get over
Julius demurred a good deal to her wish of sending him on a mission
to Eleonora. All Charnocks naturally swung back to distrust of the
Vivians, and he did not like to plead with a girl who seemed only to
be making an excuse to reject his brother; while, on the other hand,
he knew that Raymond had not been satisfied with Frank's London
habits, nor had he himself been at ease as to his religious
practices, which certainly had been the minimum required to suit his
mother's notions. He had been a communicant on Christmas Day, but
he was so entirely out of reach that there was no knowing what
difference his illness might have made in him; Eleonora might know
more than his own family did, and have good and conscientious
reasons for breaking with him; and, aware that his own authority had
weight with her, Julius felt it almost too much responsibility to
interfere till the next day, when his mother, with tears in her
eyes, entreated him to go to Miss Vivian, to find out what was this
dreadful misunderstanding, which perhaps might only be from his want
of hearing, and implore her, in the name of an old woman, not to
break her boy's heart and darken his life, as it had been with his
Mrs. Poynsett was tremulous and agitated, and grief had evidently
told on her high spirit, so that Julius could make no objection, but
promised to do his best.
By the time it was possible to Julius to call, Sir Harry and Miss
Vivian were out riding, and he had no further chance till at the
gaslit Friday evening lecture, to which he had hurried after dinner.
A lady became faint in the heated atmosphere, two rows of chairs
before him, and as she turned to make her way out, he saw that it
was Eleonora, and was appalled by seeing not only the whiteness of
the present faintness, but that thinness and general alteration
which had changed the beautiful face so much that he asked himself
for a moment whether she could have escaped the fever. In that
moment he had moved forward to her support; and she, seeming to have
no one belonging to her, clung to the friendly arm, and was
presently in the porch, where the cool night air revived her at
once, and she begged him to return, saying nothing ailed her but
"No, I shall see you home, Lena."
"Indeed, there is no need," said the trembling voice, in which he
detected a sob very near at hand.
"I shall use my own judgment as to that," said Julius, kindly.
She made no more resistance, but rose from the seat in the porch,
and accepted his arm. He soon felt that her steps were growing
firmer, and he ventured to say, "I had been looking for you to-day."
"Yes, I saw your card."
"I had a message to you from my mother." Lenore trembled again, but
did not dare to relax her hold on him. "I think you can guess what
it is. She thinks poor Frank must have mistaken what you said."
"No--I wrote it," said Lena, very low.
"And you really meant that the resolution made last year is to stand
between you and Frank? I am not blaming you, I do not know whether
you may not be acting rightly and wisely, and whether you may not
have more reason than I know of to shrink from intrusting yourself
to Frank; but my mother cannot understand it, and when she sees him
heartbroken, and too unwell to act for himself--"
"Oh! is he ill?"
"He has a very bad cold, and could not get up till the afternoon,
and he is deafer than ever."
He proceeded: "So as he cannot act for himself, my mother begged me
to come to an understanding."
"I told him to judge," said Lena faintly, but turning Julius so as
to walk back along the parade instead of to her abode.
"Was not that making him his own executioner?" said Julius.
"A promise is binding," she added.
"Yet, is it quite fair?" said Julius, sure now which way her heart
went, and thinking she was really longing to be absolved from a
superstitious feeling; "is it fair to expect another person to be
bound by a vow of which you have not told him?"
"I never thought he could," sighed she.
"And you know he was entrapped!" said Julius, roused to defend his
"And by whom?" she said in accents of deep pain.
"I should have thought it just--both by your poor sister and by him--
to undo the wrong then wrought," said Julius, "unless, indeed, you
have some further cause for distrusting him?"
"No! no!" cried she. "Oh, Julius! I do it for his own good. Your
mother knows not what she wishes, in trying to entangle him again
"Lenore, will you tell me if anything in him besides that unhappy
slip makes you distrust him?"
"I must tell the whole truth," gasped the poor girl, as they walked
along in the sound of the sea, the dark path here and there
brightened by the gas-lights, "or you will think it is his fault!
Julius, I know more about my poor father than ever I did before. I
was a child when I lived here before, and then Camilla took all the
management. When we came to London, two months ago, I soon saw the
kind of people he got round him for his comforters. I knew how he
spent his evenings. It is second nature to him--he can't get put of
it, I believe! I persuaded him to come down here, thinking it a
haven of peace and safety. Alas! I little knew what old habits
there were to resume, nor what was the real reason Camilla brought
us away after paying our debts. I was a happy child _then_, when I
only knew that papa was gone to his club. Now I know that it is a
billiard-room--and that it is doing all the more harm because he is
there--and I see him with people whom he does not like me to speak
to. I don't know whether I could get him away, and it would be as
bad anywhere else. I don't think he can help it. And he is often
unwell; he can't do without me when he has the gout, and I ought not
to leave him to himself. And then, if--if we did marry and he lived
with us in London, think what it would be for Frank to have such a
set brought about him. I don't see how he could keep them off. Or
even an engagement bringing him down here--or anywhere, among papa's
friends would be very bad for him. I saw it in London, even with
Camilla to keep things in check." She was almost choked with
"I see," said Julius, gravely and pitifully, "it would take a man of
more age and weight than poor Frank to deal with the habits of a
lifetime. The risk is great."
"And when I saw it," added Eleonora, "I felt I must never, never
bring him into it. And how could I tell him? Your mother does not
know, or she could not wish it!"
"It is plain that in the present state of things you ought not to
marry, and so far you are judging nobly," said Julius; "but next
comes the question--how far it is well to make that day at the races
"Don't call it a pretext," said Lenore, quickly. "I meant what I
said a year ago, with all my soul. Perhaps it was hasty, when poor
Camilla drove me into saying I did not mean only an habitual
gambler, but one who had ever betted. And now, well as I know how
cruelly she used that presumptuous vow of mine, and how she repented
of it at last, still I feel that to fly in its face might be so
wrong, that I should have no right to expect not to drag Frank
"Perhaps I am too much interested to judge fairly," said Julius. "I
should like you to consult some one--say Dr. Easterby--but it seems
to me that it is just such a vow as you may well be absolved from."
"But is it not Frank's protection?"
"Put yourself in that poor fellow's place, Lena, and see what it is
to him to be cast off for such a reason. He did the wrong, I know.
He knew he ought not, apart from your resolution, and he did thus
prove his weakness and unfitness--"
"Oh no, no--it was not his fault."
Julius laughed a little, and added, "I am not saying he deserves
you--hush!--or that it would be well to take him now, only that I
think to find himself utterly rejected for so insufficient a reason,
and when he was really deceived, would not only half kill him now,
but do his whole nature cruel harm."
"What is to be done then?" sighed Eleonora.
"I should say, and I think my mother would put him on some probation
if you like, even before you call it an engagement; but give him
hope. Let him know that your attachment is as true and unselfish as
ever, and do not let him brood in misery, enhanced by his deafness."
"I can't marry while poor papa is like what he is," said she, as if
trying to keep hold of her purpose.
"But you can be Frank's light and hope--the prize for which he can
"If--your mother will have it so--then," said Eleonora, and the sigh
that followed was one to relieve, not exhaust.
"May I tell her then?"
"You must, I suppose," said the poor girl; "but she can never wish
it to go on!"
Julius left her at her own door and went home.
As Mrs. Poynsett said, she could expect nothing better of him. "It
is quite clear," she said, "that poor Lena is right, that Frank must
not set up housekeeping with him. Even if he were certain to be
proof against temptation, it would be as bad a connection as could
be. I never thought of his being with them; but I suppose there is
nothing else to be done with him."
"Frank ought not to be exposed to the trial. The old man has a
certain influence over him."
"Though I should have thought such a hoary old wreck was nothing but
a warning. It has been a most unhappy affair from first to last;
but Lena is a good, unselfish girl, and nothing else will give Frank
a chance of happiness. Waiting will do them no harm, they are young
enough, and have no great sum to marry upon, so if you can bring her
to me to-morrow, Julius, I will ask her to grant my poor boy leave
to wait till she can see her way to marrying."
Julius ventured to write down, 'Hope on!'
To this Frank replied with rather a fiery look, "Mind, I will not
have her persuaded or worked on. It must be all her own doing.
Yes," answering a look of his brother, "I see what you are about.
You want to tell her it is a superstition about her vow and not
using me fairly. So it may be in some points of view; but the fact
remains. She thought she might trust to my good sense and
principle, and it proved that she was wrong. After that it is not
right to force myself on her. I don't dare to do it, Julius. I
have not been shut up with myself all these weeks for nothing. I
know now how unworthy I ever was to think of her as mine. If I can
ever prove my repentance she might in time forgive me; but for her
to be driven to take me out of either supposed justice or mercy, I
will not stand! A wretched deaf being like me! It is not fitting,
and I _will_ not have it done!"
Julius wrote--"She is suffering greatly. She nearly fainted at
church, and I had to take her out."
Frank's face worked, and he put his hand over it as he said, "You
are all torturing her; I shall write a letter and settle it myself."
Frank did write the letter that very night, and when Julius next saw
Eleonora her eyes were swollen with weeping, and she said--
"Take me to him! I must comfort him!"
"You have heard from him?"
"Yes. Such a beautiful letter. But he must not think it _that_."
She did show the letter, reserved though she was. She was right
about it; Julius was struck with the humble sweetness, which made
him think more highly of poor Frank than ever he had done before.
He had decided against himself, feeling how much his fall at the
race-ground had been the effect of the manner in which he had
allowed himself to be led during the previous season in London, and
owning how far his whole aim in life fell short of what it ought to
be, asking nothing for himself, not even hope nor patience, though
he could not refrain from expressing his own undying love, and his
one desire that if she had not attached herself to one more worthy,
he might in time be thought to have proved his repentance. In the
meantime she would and could be only his beacon star.
Julius could not but take her home, and leave her with Frank, though
his mother was a little annoyed not to have first seen her; but when
Frank himself brought her to Mrs. Poynsett's arms, it turned out
that the two ladies were quite of one mind as to the inexpediency of
Sir Harry living with Frank. They said it very covertly, but each
understood the other, and Eleonora went home wonderfully happier,
and looking as if her fresh beauty would soon return.
There was quite enough to dazzle Miles, whose first opinion was that
they were hard on Sir Harry, and that two ladies and a clergyman
might be making a great deal too much of an old man's form of
loitering, especially in a female paradise of ritualism, as he was
pleased to call Rockpier, where all the male population seemed to be
However, it was not long before he came round to their view. He
found that Sir Harry, in spite of his gentlemanly speech and
bearing, was a battered old roue, who was never happy but when
gambling, and whose air and title were baits to victims of a lower
class than himself; young clerks and medical students who were
flattered by his condescension. He did not actually fleece them
himself, he had too little worldly wisdom for that; but he was the
decoy of a coterie of Nyms, Pistols, and Bardolphs, who gathered up
the spoil of these and any unwary youth who came to Rockpier in the
wake of an invalid, or to 'see life' at a fashionable watering-
place. Miles thought the old man was probably reduced to a worse
style of company by the very fact of the religious atmosphere of the
place, where he himself found so little to do that he longed for the
opening of the Session; but he was strongly impressed with the
impracticability of a menage for Frank, with the baronet as father-
Not so, Sir Harry. He was rather fond of Frank, and had been glad
to be no longer bound to oppose the match, and he had benignantly
made up his mind to the great sacrifice of living in his house in
London, surrounding himself with all his friends, and making the
young couple supply him with pocket-money whenever he had a run of
ill-luck. They would grant it more easily than Camilla, and would
never presume to keep him under regulation as she had done. They
would be too grateful to him.
So, after a day or two, he demanded of Eleonora whether her young
man had given her up, or what he meant by his coolness in not
calling? Lena answered the last count by explaining how unwell he
had been, and how his hearing might be lost by a renewal of his
cold. She was however further pressed, and obliged to say how
matters stood, namely, that they were engaged, but meant to wait.
Whereupon, Sir Harry, quite sincerely, poor old man, grew
compassionate and grandly benignant. The young people were prudent,
but he would come to their aid. His pittance added to theirs--even
now would set all things straight. He would never stand in the way
of their happiness!
Mrs. Poynsett had bidden Lena cast the whole on her shoulders. The
girl was too truthful and generous to do this, fond as she still was
of her father.
"No, dear papa," she said, "it is very kind in you," for she knew
that so he meant it, "but I am afraid it will not quite do. You see
Frank must be very careful in his situation--and I don't think so
quiet a way of life would suit you."
"Nonsense, child; I'm an old man, and I want no racketing. Just
house-room for myself and Victor. That fellow is worth two women in
a house. You'll keep a good cook. I'll never ask for more than a
few old friends to dinner, when I don't feel disposed to have them
at the club."
Old friends! Yes, Lenore knew them, and her flesh crept to think of
Frank's chief hearing of them constantly at his house.
"I don't think we should afford it, dear papa," she said. "We have
agreed that I had better stay with you for the present, and let
Frank make his way."
Then a thought occurred to Sir Harry. "Is this the Poynsetts'
"No," said Eleonora, stoutly. "It is mine. I know that--oh! papa,
forgive me!--the things and people you like would not be good for
Frank, and I will not leave you nor bring him into them. Never!"
Sir Harry swore--almost for the first time before her--that this was
that old hag Mrs. Poynsett's doing, and that she would make his
child abandon him in his old age. He would not have his daughter
dragged into a long engagement. Wait--he knew what waiting meant--
wait for his death; but they should have her now or not at all; and
he flung away from her and her entreaties to announce his
determination to the suitor's family.
He did not find this very easy to accomplish. Frank's ears were
quite impervious to all his storming, and if he was to reduce his
words to paper, they came less easily. Miles, to whom he tried to
speak as a man of the world, would only repeat that his mother would
never consent to the marriage, unless the young couple were to live
alone; nay, he said, with a grain of justice, he thought that had
been Sir Harry's own view in a former case. Would he like to see
Mrs. Poynsett? she is quite ready.
Again Sir Harry quailed at the notion of encountering Mrs. Poynsett;
but Miles, who had a great idea that his mother could deal with
everybody, and was the better for doing so, would not let him off,
and ushered him in, then stood behind her chair, and thoroughly
enjoyed the grand and yet courteous way in which she reduced to
nothing Sir Harry's grand beneficence in eking out the young folks'
income with his own. She knew very well that even when the estate
was sold, at the highest estimate, Eleonora would have the barest
maintenance, and that he could hardly expect what the creditors now
allowed him, and she made him understand that she knew this, and
that she had a right to make conditions, since Frank, like her other
sons, could not enter into possession of his share of his father's
fortune unless he married with her consent.
And when he spoke of breaking off the engagement, she was callous,
and said that he must do as he pleased, though after young people
were grown up, she thought the matter ought to rest with themselves.
She did not wish her son to marry till his character was more
He went home very angry, and yet crest-fallen, sought out Eleonora,
and informed her of his command, that her engagement should be
"I do not know how that can be done, papa," said Eleonora. "We have
never exactly made an engagement; we do not want to marry at once,
and we could not help loving each other if we tried."
"Humph! And if I laid my commands on you never to marry into that
"I do not think you will do that, papa, after your promise to
She had conquered. No further objection was made to her being as
much as she pleased with the Charnocks as long as they remained at
Rockpier, nor to her correspondence with Frank when he went away,
not to solitary lodgings as before, but to the London house, which
Miles and Anne only consented to keep on upon condition of their
mother sharing it with them.
The Third Autumn
A good man ther was of religion,
That was a poure Persone of a toune;
But rich he was of holy thought and work,
He also was a learned man a clerk.--CHAUCER
Autumn came round again, and brought with it a very different
September from the last.
Willansborough was in a state of commotion. That new Vicar had not
only filled the place with curates, multiplied services in the iron
church, and carried on the building of St. Nicholas in a style of
beauty that was quite affronting to those who were never asked to
contribute to it, but he gave people no peace in their easy
conventional sins, pricked them in their hearts with personal
individual stings, and, worse than all, protested against the races,
as conducted at Wil'sbro'.
And their Member was just as bad! Captain Charnock Poynsett,
instead of subscribing, as part of his duty to his constituents, had
replied by sending his brother Raymond's half-finished letter to the
club, with an equally strong and resolute one of his own, and had
published both in all the local papers.
Great was the fury and indignation of Wil'sbro', Backsworth, and all
the squires around. Of course it was a delirious fancy of poor
Raymond Poynsett, and Miles had been worked upon by his puritanical
wife and ritualistic brother to publish it. Newspapers teemed with
abuse of superstition and pharisaism, and praise of this wholesome,
moral, and 'truly English' sport. Gentlemen, and ladies too, took
the remonstrance as a personal offence, and threatened to visit no
more at Compton; the electors bade him look to his seat, and held
meetings to invite 'Mr. Simmonds Proudfoot,' as he now called
himself, to represent them; and the last week, before the races, the
roughs mobbed him in Water Lane. He rode quietly through them, with
his sailor face set as if against a storm, but when he was out of
the place, he stopped his horse at Herbert Bowater's lodgings, that
his black eye might be washed, and the streams of rotten egg removed
from his coat before he presented himself at home. Not that he had
much fear of startling his wife and mother. It was more from the
Englishman's hatred of showing himself a hero, for Anne was
perfectly happy in the persecution he had brought on himself, for
she never had been so sure before that he was not of the world,
The races were exceptionally brilliant, and fully attended, but the
triumph of the roughs had made them more outrageously disgraceful in
their conduct than ever; and when Miles went to the quarter-
sessions, rather doubting whether he should not find himself landed
in Coventry, not only did the calendar of offences speak for itself,
but sundry country gentlemen shook him by the hand, lamenting that
railways and rowdyism had entirely altered races from what they used
to be, that he was in the right, and what they had seen so recently
proved that the only thing to be done was to withdraw from what
respectable people could no longer keep within bounds. Such
withdrawal will not prevent them, but it will hinder the
demoralization from being so extensive as formerly, since no one of
much character to lose will attend them.
Mr. Bowater rejoiced in Miles's triumph. None of that family had
been at these same races. They had all been much too anxious about
Herbert not to view Ember Week in a very different light from that
in which they had thought of it before.
Lent had brought the junior curate back from Strawyers, not much
more than a convalescent, but with his sister to look after him, and
both Rector and senior anxious to spare him; he had gone on well
till the family returned and resumed Jenny, when he was left to his
own devices, namely, 'all work and no play.' He was as fixed as
ever in his resolution of making this a penance year, and believed
himself so entirety recovered as to be able to do without
relaxations. Cricket, riding, dinners, and garden-parties alike he
had given up, and divided his time entirely between church and
parish work and study. Hard reading had never been congenial, and
took a great deal out of him, and in fact, all his theological study
had hitherto been little more than task-work, into which he had
never fully entered, whereas these subjects had now assumed such a
force, depth, and importance, that he did in truth feel constrained
to go to the very foundation, and work through everything again,
moved and affected by them in every fibre of his soul, which
vibrated now at what it had merely acquiesced in before. It was a
phase that had come suddenly on him, when his mind was in full
vigour of development, and his frame and nerves below par, and the
effect could not but be severe. He was wrapped up in these great
realities, and seemed to care for no talk, except discussing them
with Julius or the senior curate, and often treated things of common
life like the dream that they really are.
Julius laid as little parish work on him as possible, only, indeed,
what seemed actually beneficial by taking him out; but it may be
feared, that in his present fervid state he was not nearly so
winning to his young clients as when he was less 'terribly in
earnest,' although the old women were perhaps more devoted to him,
from the tender conviction 'that the poor dear young gentleman would
not be here long.'
For indeed it was true that he had never advanced in strength or
looks since his return, but rather lost ground, and thus every
change of weather, or extra exertion, told on him, till in August he
was caught in a thunder-storm, and the cold that ensued ran on into
a feverish attack, which barely left him in time for the Ordination,
and then with a depressed system, and nerves morbidly sensitive.
So sensible (or more than sensible) was he of his deficiencies, that
he would willingly have held back, and he was hardly well enough to
do himself justice; but there was no doubt that he would pass, and
it was plain that three more months of the strain of preparation
might leave permanent effects on his health.
As it was, the examining chaplain did not recognize the lean, pale,
anxious man, for the round-faced, rosy, overgrown boy of a year ago.
His scholarship and critical knowledge were fairly above the mark,
in spite of a racking headache; and his written sermon, together
with all that was elicited from him, revealed, all unconsciously to
himself, what treasures he had brought back from the deep waters
which had so nearly closed over him.
So superior had he shown himself, that he was appointed to read the
Gospel, a choice that almost shocked him, knowing that what had made
him excel had been an experience that the younger men had happily
missed. But the mark of approval was compensation to his parents
and sisters for the disappointment of the last year, and the only
drawback was fear of the effect of the long ceremonial, so deeply
He met them afterwards, very white-faced, with head aching, and
weary almost beyond speech, but with a wonderfully calm, restful
look on his face, such as reminded Jenny of those first hours of his
They took him home and put him to bed, and there he lay, hardly
speaking, and generally sleeping. There he still was on the Monday,
when Julius came to inquire after him, and was taken up-stairs at
once by Jenny, with the greeting, "So the son and heir is come,
"Yes, and I never saw my mother more exulting. When Rosamond ran
down to tell her, she put her arms round her neck and cried. She
who never had a tear through all last year. I met your father and
mother half-way, and they told me I might come on."
"I think nothing short of such news would have made mamma leave this
boy," said Jenny; "but she must have her jubilee with Mrs.
"And I'm quite well," said Herbert, who had been grasping Julius's
hand, with a wonderful look in his eyes; "yes, really--the doctor
"Yes, he did," said Jenny, "only he said we were to let him alone,
and that he was not to get up till he felt quite rested."
"And I shall get up to dinner," said Herbert, so sleepily, that
Julius doubted it. "I hope to come back before Sunday."
"What does your doctor say to that?"
"He says," replied Jenny, "that this gentleman must be rational;
that he has nothing the matter with him now, but that he is low, and
ripe for anything. Don't laugh, you naughty boy, he said you were
ripe for anything, and that he must--yes, he _must_--be turned out
to grass somehow or other for the winter, and do nothing at all."
"I begin to see what you are driving at, Mrs. Joan, you look so
"_Yes_," said Jenny, blushing a little, and looking quite young
again; "I believe poor mamma would be greatly reconciled to it, if
Herbert were to see me out to Natal."
"Is that to be the way?"
"It would be very absurd to make Archie come home again for me,"
said Jenny. "And everything else is most happily smoothed for me,
you know; Edith has come quite to take my place at home; mamma
learnt to depend on her much more than on me while I was with
"And it has made her much more of a woman," added Herbert.
"Then you know that full statement poor Mr. Moy put forth when he
left the place, on his wife's death, quite removed all lingering
hesitation on papa's part," added Jenny.
"It ought, I am sure!" said Julius.
"So, now, if Herbert will go out with me, it seems to me to be all
right," said Jenny, colouring deeply, as she made this lame and
"My father wishes it," said Herbert. "I believe he meant to see you
to-day to ask leave of absence for me. That is what he wishes; but
I have made up my mind that I ought to resign the curacy--where I
have never been any use to you--though, if I had been well, I meant
to have worked a year with you as a priest."
"I don't like to lose you, but I think you are right. Your
beginning with me was a mistake. There is not enough work for three
of us; but you know Easterby would be delighted to have you at St.
Nicholas. He says his most promising people talk of what you said
to them when they were ill, and he asked me if you could possibly
come to him."
"I think it would be better to begin in a new place, further from
home," said Herbert, quietly.
And both knew what he meant, and how hard it would be to be the
clergyman he had learnt to wish to be, if his mother were at hand to
be distressed by all he did or did not do.
"But, any way," added Herbert, "I hope to have some time longer at
Compton before I go. Next Sunday, if I only _can_."
His mind was evidently full of the Feast of the Sunday, and Julius
answered, "Whichever Sunday you are strong enough, of course, dear
fellow. You had better come with him, Jenny, and sleep at the
"Oh! thank you. I should like nothing so much; and I think they
will spare me that one day."
"You will come in for a grand gathering, that is, if poor Cecil
accepts. Miles thinks she ought to be godmother."
"And no one has said a word of any cloud. It is better he should
"And oh! Julius, is it true that her father has bought Sirenwood for
"Quite true. You know it was proposed at first, but the trustees
doubted of the title; but when all that was cleared up, it turned
out to be a better investment than Swanslea, and so they settled it,
without much reference to her."
"She will let it, of course?"
"I suppose so."
"You don't think she will come to the christening?"
"I cannot tell; Rose has had one or two very sad letters from her.
She wanted us very much to come to Dunstone, and was much
disappointed that we were prevented. I fancy her heart has turned
to us, and that it is very sore, poor thing."
Julius was right. Cecil did return an answer, whose warmth quite
amazed all but Miles and Anne, who thought nothing too much for
their son; and she gladly came to attend the christening of the
young Raymond. Gladly--yes, she was glad to leave Dunstone. She
had gone home weary and sick of her lodging and convalescence, and
hoping to find relief in the home that had once been all-sufficient
for her, but Dunstone was not changed, and she was. She had not
been able to help outgrowing its narrow opinions and formal
precisions; and when she came home, crushed with her scarcely
realized grief, nothing there had power to comfort her.
There was soothing at first in her step-mother's kindness, and she
really loved her father; but their petting admiration soon grew
oppressive, after the more bracing air of Compton; and their
idolatry of her little brother fretted and tried her all the more,
because they thought he must be a comfort to her, and any slight
from her might be misconstrued. Mr. Venn's obsequiousness, instead
of rightful homage, seemed deprivation of support, and she saw no
one, spoke to no one, without the sense of Raymond's vast
superiority and her own insensibility to it, loving him a thousand
times more than she had loved him in life, and mourning him with an
anguish beyond what the most perfect union would have left. She had
nothing to do. Self-improvement was a mere oppression, and she
longed after nothing so much as the sight of Rosamond, Anne, Julius,
or even Frank, and her amiable wishes prevailed to have them invited
to Dunstone; but at the times specified there were hindrances. Anne
had engagements at home, and Rosamond appeared to the rest of the
family to be a perpetual refuge for stray De Lanceys, while Frank
had to make up for his long enforced absence by a long unbroken
spell of work.
Cecil therefore had seen none of the family till she arrived at
Compton. She was perfectly well, she said, and had become a great
walker, and so, indeed, she showed herself, for she went out
directly after breakfast every morning, and never appeared again
till luncheon time; and would take long rides in the afternoon. "It
was her only chance of sleep," she said, when remonstrated with.
She did not look ill, but there was a restless, worn air that was
very distressing on her young features, and was the more piteous to
her relations, that she was just as constrained as ever in her
intercourse with them. She was eagerly attentive to Mrs. Poynsett,
and evidently so anxious to wait on her that Anne left to her many
little services, but if they were alone together, they were tongue-
tied, and never went deeper than surface subjects. Mrs. Poynsett
never discussed her, never criticized her, never attempted to fathom
her, being probably convinced that there was nothing but hard
coldness to be met with by probing. Yet there was something
striking in Cecil's having made people call her Mrs. Raymond
Poynsett, surrendering the Charnock, which she had once brandished
in all their faces, and going by the name by which her husband had
been best known.
To Anne she was passively friendly, and neither gave nor sought
confidences, and Anne was so much occupied with her baby, and all
the little household services that had grown on her, as well as with
her busy husband, that there was little leisure for them; and though
the meeting with Rosamond was at first the most effusive and
affectionate of all, afterwards she seemed to avoid tetes-a-tetes
with her, and was shyer with her than with Anne.
It was Miles that she got on with best. He had never so fully
realized the unhappiness of his brother's married life as those who
had watched it; and he simply viewed her as Raymond's loved and
loving widow and sincere mourner, and treated her with all brotherly
tenderness and reverence for her grief; while she responded with a
cordiality and gratitude which made her, when talking to him, a
pleasanter person than she had ever been seen at Compton before.
But it was not to Miles, but to Rosamond, that she brought an
earnest question, walking in one autumn morning to the Rectory, amid
the falling leaves of the Virginian-creeper, and amazing Rosamond,
who was writing against time for the Indian mail, by asking--
"Rosamond, will you find out if Mrs. Poynsett would mind my coming
to live at Sirenwood?"
"Yes, I'm old enough. There's no place for me at home, and though I
must be miserable anywhere, it will be better where I have something
to do, of some real use to somebody. I've been walking all round
every day, and seeing what a state it is in--in the hands of
creditors all these years."
"But you would be quite alone!"
"I am quite alone as it is."
"And would your father consent?"
"I think he would. I am a burthen to them now. They cannot feel my
grief, nor comfort it, and they don't like the sight of it, though I
am sure I trouble them with it as little as possible."
"Dear Cecil!" and the ready tears welled up in Rosamond's gray eyes.
"I don't want to talk of it," said Cecil. "If I felt worthy to
grieve it would be less dreadful; but it all seems like hypocrisy.
Rosamond, if you were to lose Julius to-morrow, you would not be as
unhappy as I am."
"Don't, don't!" cried Rosamond, making a gesture of horror. "But
does not coming here make it worse?"
"No, real stabs are better than dull aching; and then you--you,
Rosamond, did know how it really was, and that I would--I would--"
Cecil wept now as Rosamond had longed to see her weep when she had
left Compton, and Rosamond spoke from her tender heart of comfort;
but the outburst did not last long, and Cecil said, recovering
"After all, my most peaceful times of late have been in walking
about in those woods at Sirenwood; I should like to live there. You
know _he_ always wished it to be the purchase, because it joins
Compton, and I should like to get it all into perfect order and
beauty, and leave it all to little Raymond."
"I should have thought the place would have been full of ghosts."
"I tried. I made the woman let me in, and I sat where poor Camilla
used to talk to me, and I thought I was the better for facing it
out. The question is whether Mrs. Poynsett will dislike it. She
has a right to be consulted."
Perhaps Cecil could not be gracious. Certainly, Raymond would have
been thankful for even this admission.
"You wish me to find out?"
"If you would be so good. I would give it up at once if she has any
feeling against it, and go somewhere else--and of course she has!
She never can forget what I did!"
Rosamond caressed Cecil with that sweetness which saw everything in
the most consoling manner; but when the poor young widow was out of
sight, there was a revulsion of feeling.
"No, Mrs Poynsett must always feel that that wretched marriage broke
her son's heart, and murdered him!--murdered him!" said Rosamond to
herself, clenching that soft fist of hers. "It ought not to be
broached to her!"
But Julius--when she stated it to him rather less broadly, but still
saying that she did not know whether she could bear the sight of
Cecil, except when she was before her eyes, and how could his mother
endure her at all--did not see it in the same light. He thought
Sirenwood gave duties to Cecil, and that she ought not to be
hindered from fulfilling them. And he said his mother was a large-
minded woman, and not likely to have that personal bitterness
towards Cecil that both the ladies seemed to expect, as her rival in
her son's affections, and the means of his unhappiness and death.
He was right; Mrs. Poynsett was touched by finding that Cecil clung
to them rather than to her sublime family, and especially by the
design as to little Raymond, though she said that must never be
mentioned; nothing must bind so young a creature as Cecil, who
really did not know what love was at all.
"She is afraid the sight of her is distressing to you," said
"Poor child, why should she?" said Mrs. Poynsett. "She was the
victim of an unsuccessful experiment of my dear boy's, and the
unsuspecting instrument of poor Camilla's vengeance. That is all I
see in her."
"Mrs. Poynsett, how can you!" cried Rosamond, impetuously. "With
all I know of her sorrow, I rage at her whenever I am out of sight
"I can't do that," said Mrs. Poynsett, half smiling, "any more than
I could at a doll. The poor thing was in a false position, and
nobody was more sorry for her than Raymond himself; but you see he
had fancied that marriage must bring the one thing it would not in
that short time."
"It would, if she had not been a little foolish donkey."
"Or if Camilla Tyrrell had let her alone! It is of no use to rake
up these things, my dear Rosamond. Let her come to Sirenwood, and
do such good as she can there, if it can comfort her. It was for my
sake that the unconscious girl was brought here to have her life
spoilt, and I would not stand in the way of what seems to be any
"But is it no pain?" persisted Rosamond.
"No, my dear. I almost wish it was. I shall never get on with her;
but I am glad she should come and be near you all; and Miles likes
Mr. Charnock demurred at first, and wanted to saddle Cecil with her
old governess as a companion, but when he found that Mrs. Poynsett
and Miles made no objection, and remembered that she would be under
their wing, and would be an inestimable adviser and example to Anne,
he consented; and Cecil's arrangements were made with startling
rapidity, so that she was in possession before Christmas, which she
insisted on spending there. Dunstone had stereotyped hospitalities,
which she could not bear, and would not prevent, and now that her
first year of widowhood was over, the sorrow was not respected,
while it seemed to her more oppressive than ever.
So there she was in vehement activity; restless rather than
religious in her beneficence still, though the lesson she had had
showed itself in her constantly seeking the advice of Miles, who
thought her the most sensible woman in the world, except his Nan.
Whether this constant occupation, furnishing, repairing, planning,
beautifying her model cottages, her school chapel, and all the rest,
were lessening the heartache, no one knew, but the sharp black eyes
looked as dry and hard, the lines round the mouth as weary as ever;
and Rosamond sometimes thought if Sirenwood were not full of ghosts
to her, she was much like a ghost herself who came
"Hovering around her ancient home,
To find no refuge there."
There was another who could not help seeing her somewhat in that
light, and this was Eleonora Vivian, who had come to Compton to be
with Frank, when he was at last able to enjoy a well-earned holiday,
and with ears restored to their natural powers, though he always
declared that his eight months of deafness had done him more good
than anything that had ever befallen him in his life. It had thrown
him in on his real self, and broken all the unfortunate associations
of his first year in London. His first few months, while he was
still in need of care, had been spent with Miles and Anne, and that
tender ministry to him which his sister-in-law had begun in his
illness had been with him when he was tired, dispirited, or beset by
the trials of a tardy convalescence. As his interpreter, too, and
caterer for the pleasures his infirmity allowed, Anne had been
educating herself to a degree that 'self' improvement never would
And when left alone in London, he was able to take care of himself
in all ways, and had followed the real leadings of his disposition,
which his misdirected courtship had interrupted for the time,
returning to the intellectual pursuits which were likely to be
beneficial, not only as pleasures, but in an economical point of
view; and he was half shy, half proud of the profits, such as they
were, of a few poems and essays which he certainly had not had it in
him to write before the ordeal he had undergone.
Eleonora's elder sister, Mrs. Fanshaw, had come home from India with
her husband, newly made a Major-General. Frank had gone to Rockpier
early in January, to be introduced to them, and after spending a day
or two there, to escort Lena to Compton. Mrs. Poynsett needed but
one glance to assure her that the two were happier than their wooing
had ever made them before, save in that one brief moment at Cecil's
party. Eleonora looked more beautiful, and the look of wistful pain
had left her brow, but it had made permanent lines there, as well
had seemed likely, and though her laugh would never have the abandon
of Rosamond's, still it was not so very rare, and though she was
still like a beautiful night, it was a bright moonlight one.
A few private interviews made the cause of the change apparent. The
sister, Mary Fanshaw, had something of Camilla's dexterity, but
having been early married to a good man, she had found its use
instead of its abuse; and though Lena's trust had come very slowly,
she had given it at last, and saw that her elders could deal with
her father as she could never do. Sir Harry respected the General
enough to let himself be restrained by him, and the husband and wife
were ready to take the charge--removing, however, from Rockpier, for
the religious atmosphere of which they were unprepared, and which
General Fanshaw thought very dull. Affairs were in course of being
wound up on the sale of Sirenwood, and the General had talked to
Frank, as one of the family, in a way that had proved to him his own
manhood more than anything that had happened to him. Out of the
wreck, nothing remained to the old man, and the portion which had
been secured by the mother's marriage settlements to younger
children, though hitherto out of reach, was felt by the daughters to
be due to the creditors, so that only two thousand pounds apiece had
been secured to each of them; and this the General consulted Frank
about appropriating for Sir Harry's use during his lifetime, himself
retaining the management, so as to secure the attendance of the
favourite valet, the keeping of a horse, and a fair amount of menus
It was also made plain to Frank that Lena's filial duties and
scruples need no longer stand in the way of the marriage. Mrs.
Fanshaw had two girls almost come out, and perhaps she did not wish
them to be overshadowed by the aunt, who, however retiring, could
not help being much more beautiful. So all that remained was that
Mrs. Poynsett should be willing to supplement Frank's official
income with his future portion. She was all the more rejoiced, as
this visit showed her for the first time what Lena really was when
brought into the sunshine without dread of what she might hear or
see, or of harm being done by her belongings; and her gratitude for
the welcome with which she was received was most touching.
The rest of her family were in course of removing to their new home,
where Mrs. Fanshaw would be mistress of the house, and so Eleonora's
stay at Compton was prolonged till the general migration to London,
which was put off till Easter. Just before this, Herbert Bowater
came back from Natal, and walked from Strawyers with all his happy
dogs, as strong and hearty and as merry as ever; his boyish outlines
gone, but wholesome sunburn having taken the place of his rosiness,
and his bonny smile with its old joyousness. He had married Jenny
and Archie himself, and stayed a month on their ostrich farm, which
he declared was a lesson on woman's rights, since Mrs. Ostrich was
heedless and indifferent as to her eggs, but was regularly hunted
back to the duties by her husband, who always had two wives, and
regularly forced them to take turns in sitting; a system which
Herbert observed would be needful if the rights of women were to
work. He had brought offerings of eggs and feathers to Lady
Rosamond, and pockets full of curiosities for all his village
friends; also, he had been at the Cape, had seen Glen Fraser,
rejoiced the inhabitants with his accounts of Anne, and brought home
a delightful budget for her.
But the special cause of his radiance was a letter he brought from
his father to Mr. Bindon. The family living, which had decided his
own profession, had fallen vacant, and his father, wishing perhaps
not to be thought cruel and unnatural by his wife, had made no
appointment until Herbert's return, well knowing that he would
decide against himself: and feeling that, as things stood, it would
be an awkward exercise of patronage to put him in at once. Herbert
had declared that nothing would have induced him to accept what he
persuaded his father to let him offer to James Bindon, whom he had
found to have an old mother in great need of the comfortable home,
which, without interest, or any talent save for hard work, he could
scarcely hope to secure to her.
"And you, Herbert," said Julius, "can I ask you to come back to me,
now that we shall have a fair amount to do between us?"
Herbert smiled and shook his head, as he took out an advertisement
for a curate in one of the blackest parishes of the Black Country.
"I've written to answer that," he said.
Julius did not try to hinder him. What had been exaggerated had
parsed away, and he was now a brave man going forth in his strength
and youth to the service he had learnt to understand; able still
keenly to enjoy, but only using pleasure as an incidental episode
for the delight of others, and as subordinate to the true work of
He asked for his fellow-worker, Mrs. Duncombe. There were tidings,
but disappointing ones. She had written a long letter to Julius,
full of her reasons for being received into the Roman Communion,
where she rapturously declared she had for the first time found
peace. Anne and Rosamond took the change most bitterly to heart,
but Julius, though believing he could have saved her from the
schism, by showing her the true beauty and efficiency of her own
Church, could not wonder at this effect of foreign influences on one
so recently and imperfectly taught, and whose ardent nature required
strong forms of whatever she took up. And the letters she continued
to write to Julius were rapturous in the cause of the Pope and as to
all that she had once most contemned. She had taken her children
with her, but her husband remained tolerant, indifferent, and so
probably he would do while his health lasted.
Early in the summer Frank and Eleonora were married, and a pretty
little house in the outskirts of London found for them, suiting with
the grace of the one and the poetry of the other. It was a small,
quiet household, but could pleasantly receive those literary friends
of Frank's whom he delighted to present to his beautiful and
appreciative wife, whose sweetness and brightness grew every day
under the influence of affection and confidence. The other augury
of poor Lady Tyrrell, that their holidays would be spent at Compton
Hall, was fulfilled, but very pleasantly for both parties, for it
was as much home to Lena as to Frank.
Miles's geniality made all at ease that came near him, and Anne,
though never a conversational person, was a quietly kind hostess,
much beloved by all who had experienced her gentleness, and she had
Frank and Lena to give distinction in their different ways to her
London parties, as at Compton, Rosamond never failed to give
everything a charm where she assisted in planning or receiving.
Rosamond would never cease to love society. Even had she been a
grandmother she would have fired at the notion of a party, enjoy,
and render it enjoyable; and the mere announcement of a new face
would be as stimulating to her as it was the reverse to Anne. But
she had grown into such union with her husband, and had so forgotten
the Rathforlane defence, as to learn that it was pleasanter to do as
he liked than to try to make him like what she did, and a look of
disapproval from him would open her eyes to the flaws in any scheme,
however enchanting at first.
She was too necessary an element in all hospitalities of Cecil or of
Anne not to get quite as much diversion as so thorough a wife and
mother could find time for, since Julia did not remain by any means
an only child, and besides her permanent charge of Terence, relays
of De Lanceys were constantly casting up at the Rectory for
mothering in some form or other.
Cecil depended on her more than on any one else for sympathy, not
expressly in feeling, but in all her pursuits. In three years' time
Sirenwood was in perfect order, the once desolate garden blazed with
ribbons, triangles and pattipans of verbena, scarlet geranium and
calceolaria, with intervals of echiverias, pronounced by Tom to be
like cabbages trying to turn into copper kettles; her foliage plants
got all the prizes at horticultural shows, her poultry were
incomparable at their exhibitions, her cottages were models, her
school machinery perfect, and if a pattern in farming apparatus were
wanted, people went to Mrs. Raymond Poynsett's steward. She had
people of note to stay with her every winter, went to London for the
season, and was made much of, and all the time she looked as little,
and pinched, and weary, and heart-hungered as ever, and never seemed
to thaw or warm, clinging to no one but to Miles for counsel, and to
Rosamond for the fellow-feeling it was not always easy to give--when
it was apparently only about an orchid or a churn--and yet Rosamond
tried, for she knew it was starvation for sympathy.
The Charnock world murmured a little when, after a succession of De
Lancey visitors for four months, the Rectory was invaded by
Rosamond's eldest brother, Lord Ballybrehon, always the most hair-
brained of the family, and now invalided home in consequence of a
concussion of the brain while pigsticking in India. He was but a
year older than Rosamond, and her favourite of all, whose scrapes
she had shared, befriended, defended, and scolded in turn, very
handsome, very lazily daring, droll and mischievous, a sort of
concentration of all the other De Lanceys. His sister loved him
passionately, he fascinated the Rector, and little Julia was the
adorer of Uncle Bally.
But Rosamond was rather aghast to find Bally making such love as
only an Irishman could do to the prim little widow at Sirenwood,
dismayed and a little bit ashamed of her unspoken conviction that
Bally, after all his wild freaks and frolics, had come to have an
eye to the needs of the Rathforlane property; and what were her
feelings when, instead of finding the wild Irishman contemned, she
perceived that he was believed in and met fully half way? The
stiffness melted, the eyes softened and sparkled, the lips parted in
soft agitated smiles, the cheeks learnt to blush, and Cecil was
absolutely and thoroughly in love!
Yes, she had found her heart and was won--won in spite of the
Dunstone dislike to the beggarly title--in spite of Miles's well-
considered cautions--in spite of all her original self. And if
Ballybrehon began from mere desire to try for the well-endowed
widow, he had the warm loving nature that was sure to kindle and
reciprocate the affection he evoked, enough to make him a kind
And yet, could any one have wished Cecil Poynsett a more trying life
than one of her disposition must needs have with impetuous,
unpunctual, uncertain, scatter-brained, open-handed Ballybrehon,
always in a scramble, always inviting guests upon guests without
classification, and never remembering whom he had invited!
Rosamond herself declared she should be either in a rage or worn to
fritters by a month of it. How Cecil liked it never appeared. Some
thought that they squabbled and worried each other in private, but
it is certain that, as Terry said, Bally had turned the block into
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