The Three Brides
Charlotte M. Yonge
Part 4 out of 11
"Dear Emily! I miss her more now than even at Rockpier. But you,
who were her friend, and knew Camilla of old, I know you can help me
as no one else can."
Jenny returned a caress; and Eleonora spoke on. "You know I was
only eight years old when Camilla married, and I had scarcely seen
her till she came to us at Rockpier, on Lord Tyrrell's death, and
then she was most delightful. I thought her like mother and sister
both in one, even more tender than dear Emily. How could I have
thought so for a moment? But she enchanted everybody. Clergy,
ladies, and all came under the spell; and I can't get advice from
any of them--even from Miss Coles--you remember her?"
"Your governess? How nice she was!"
"Emily and I owed everything to her! She was as near being a mother
to us as any one could be; and Camilla could not say enough of
gratitude, or show esteem enough, and fascinated her like all the
rest of us; but she never rested till she had got her off to a
situation in Russia. I did not perceive the game at the time, but I
see now how all the proposals for situations within reach of me were
"But you write to her?"
"Yes; but as soon as I showed any of my troubles she reproved me for
self-will and wanting to judge for myself, and not submit to my
sister. That's the way with all at Rockpier. Camilla has gone
about pitying me to them for having to give way to my married
sister, but saying it was quite time that she took charge of us; and
on that notion they all wrote to me. Then she persuaded papa to go
abroad; and I was delighted, little thinking she never meant me to
go back again."
"Did she not?"
"Listen! I've heard her praise Rockpier and its church to the skies
to one person--say Mr. Bindon. To another, such as our own Vicar,
she says it was much too ultra, and she likes moderation; she tells
your father that she wants to see papa among his old friends; and to
Mrs. Duncombe, I've heard her go as near the truth as is possible to
her, and call it a wearisome place, with an atmosphere of incense,
curates, and old maids, from whom she had carried me off before I
grew fit for nothing else!"
"I dare say all these are true in turn, or seem so to her, or she
would not say them before you."
"She has left off trying to gloss it over with me, except so far as
it is part of her nature. She did at first, but she knows it is of
no use now."
"Really, Lenore, you must be going too far."
"I have shocked you; but you can't conceive what it is to live with
perpetual falsity. No, I can't use any other word. I am always
mistrusting and being angered, and my senses of right and wrong get
so confused, that it is like groping in a maze." Her eyes were full
of tears, but she exclaimed, "Tell me, Joanna, was there ever
anything between Camilla and Mr. Poynsett?"
"Why bring that up again now?"
"Why did it go off?" insisted Lenore.
"Because Mrs. Poynsett could not give up and turn into a dowager, as
if she were not the mistress herself."
"Was that all?"
"So it was said."
"I want to get to the bottom of it. It was not because Lord Tyrrell
came in the way."
"I am afraid they thought so here."
"Then," said Eleonora, in a hard, dry way, "I know the reason of our
being brought back here, and of a good deal besides."
"My dear Lena, I am very sorry for you; but I think you had better
keep this out of your mind, or you will fall into a hard, bitter,
"That is the very thing. I am in a hard, bitter, suspicious mood,
and I can't see how to keep out of it; I don't know when opposition
is right and firm, and when it is only my own self-will."
"Would it not be a good thing to talk to Julius Charnock? You would
not be betraying anything."
"No! I can't seem to make up to the good clergyman! Certainly not.
Besides, I've heard Camilla talking to his wife!"
"Admiring that dress, which she had been sneering at to your mother,
don't you remember? It was one of her honey-cups with venom below--
only happily, Lady Rosamond saw through the flattery. I'm ashamed
whenever I see her!"
"I don't think that need cut you off from Julius."
"Tell me _truly_," again broke in Lenore, "what Mrs. Poynsett really
is. She is a standing proverb with us for tyranny over her sons;
not with Camilla alone, but with papa."
"See how they love her!" cried Jenny, hotly.
"Camilla thinks that abject; but I can't forget how Frank talked of
her in those happy Rockpier days."
"When you first knew him?" said Jenny.
They must have come at length to the real point, for Eleonora began
at once--"Yes; he was with his sick friend, and we were so happy;
and now he is being shamefully used, and I don't know what to do!"
"Indeed, Lenore," said Jenny, in her downright way, "I do not
understand. You do not seem to care for him."
"Of course I am wrong," said the poor girl; "but I hoped I was doing
the best thing for him." Then, as Jenny made an indignant sound,
"See, Jenny, when he came to Rockpier, Camilla had been a widow
about three months. She never had been very sad, for Lord Tyrrell
had been quite imbecile for a year, poor man! And when Frank came,
she could not make enough of him; and he and I both thought the two
families had been devotedly fond of each other, and that she was
only too glad to meet one of them."
"I suppose that was true."
"So do I, as things stood then. She meant Frank to be a sort of
connecting link, against the time when she could come back here; but
we, poor children, never thought of that, and went on together, not
exactly saying anything, but quite understanding how much we cared.
Indeed, I know Camilla impressed on him that, for his mother's sake,
it must go no farther then, while he was still so young; and next
came our journey on the Continent, ending in our coming back here
Jenny remembered that Raymond's engagement had not been made known
till August, and Frank had only returned from a grouse-shooting
holiday a week or two before the arrival of the brides.
"Now," added Eleonora, "Camilla has made me understand that nothing
will induce her to let papa consent; and though I know he would, if
he were left to himself, I also see how all this family must hate
and loathe the connection."
"May I ask, has Frank ever spoken?"
"Oh no! I think he implied it all to Camilla when she bade him wait
till our return, fancying, I suppose, that one could forget the
"But why does she seem so friendly with him?"
"It is her way; she can't be other than smooth and caressing, and
likes to have young men about; and I try to be grave and distant,
because--the sooner he is cured of me the better for him," she
uttered, with a sob; "but when he is there, and I see those grieved
eyes of his, I can't keep it up! And papa does like him! Oh! if
Camilla would but leave us alone! See here, Jenny!" and she showed,
on her watch-chain, a bit of ruddy polished pebble. "Is it wrong to
keep this? He and I found the stone in two halves, on the beach,
the last day we were together, and had them set, pretending to one
another it was only play. Sometimes I think I ought to send mine
back; I know he has his, he let me see it one day. Do you think I
ought to give it up?"
"Why should you?"
"Because then he would know that it must be all over."
"But _is_ it all over? Within, I mean?"
"Jenny, you know better!"
"Then, Lenore, if so, and it is only your sister who objects, not
your father himself, ought you to torment poor Frank by acting
indifference when you do not feel it?"
"Am I untrue? I never thought of that. I thought I should be
sacrificing myself for his good!"
"His good? O, Lenore, I believe it is the worst wrong a woman can
do a man, to let him think he has wasted his heart upon her, and
that she is trifling with him. You don't know what a bad effect
this is having, even on his prospects. He cannot get his brain or
spirits free to work for his examination."
"How hard it is to know what is right! Here have I been thinking
that what made me so miserable must be the best for him, and would
it not make it all the worse to relax, and let him see?"
"I do not think so," returned Jenny. "His spirits would not be worn
by doubt of _you_--the worst doubt of all: and he would feel that
he had something to strive for."
Eleonora walked on for some steps in silence, then exclaimed, "Yes,
but there's his family. It would only stir up trouble for them
there. They can't approve of me."
"They don't know you. When they do, they will. Now they only see
what looks like--forgive me, Lena--caprice and coquetry; they will
know you in earnest, if you will let them."
"You don't mean that they know anything about it!" exclaimed
Jenny almost laughed. "Not know where poor Frank's heart is? You
don't guess how those sons live with their mother!"
"I suppose I have forgotten what sincerity and openness are," said
Eleonora, sadly. "But is not she very much vexed?"
"She was vexed to find it had gone so deep with him," said Jenny;
"but I know that you can earn her affection and trust by being
staunch and true yourself--and it is worth having, Lena!"
For Jenny knew Eleonora of old, through Emily's letters, and had no
doubt of her rectitude, constancy, and deep principle, though she
was at the present time petrified by constant antagonism to such
untruthfulness as, where it cannot corrupt, almost always hardens
those who come in contact with it. And this cruel idea of self-
sacrifice was, no doubt, completing the indurating process.
Jenny knew the terrible responsibility of giving such advice. She
had not done it lightly. She had been feeling for years past that
"'Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at
all;" and she knew that uncertainty of the right to love and trust
would have been a pang beyond all she had suffered. To give poor
Eleonora, situated as she now was, admission to the free wholesome
atmosphere of the Charnock family, was to her kind heart
irresistible; and it was pleasant to feel the poor girl clinging to
her, as people do to those who have given the very counsel the heart
It was twilight when the walk was over, and the drawing-room was
empty; but Anne came to invite them to Mrs. Poynsett's tea, saying
that Cecil had Lady Tyrrell in her own sitting-room. Perhaps Mrs.
Poynsett had not realized who was Jenny's companion, for she seemed
startled at their entrance; and Jenny said, "You remember Lenore
"I must have seen you as a child," said Mrs. Poynsett, courteously.
"You are very like your sister."
This, though usually a great compliment, disappointed Eleonora, as
she answered, rather frigidly, "So people say."
"Have you walked far?"
"To the Outwood Lodge."
"To-day? Was it not very damp in the woods?"
"Oh no, delightful!"
"Lena and I are old friends," said Jenny; "too glad to meet to heed
Here Raymond entered, with the air of a man who had just locked up a
heavy post-bag at the last possible moment; and he too was amazed,
though he covered it by asking why the party was so small.
"Rosamond has gone to meet her husband, and Cecil has her guest in
her own domains."
Then Jenny asked after his day's work--a county matter, interesting
to all the magistracy, and their womankind in their degree; and
Eleonora listened in silence, watching with quiet heedfulness
Frank's mother and brother.
When Frank himself came in, his face was a perfect study; and the
colour mantled in her cheeks, so that Jenny trusted that both were
touched by the wonderful beauty that a little softness and timidity
brought out on the features, usually so resolutely on guard. But
when, in the later evening, Jenny crept in to her old friend, hoping
to find that the impression had been favourable, she only heard,
"Exactly like her sister, who always had the making of a fine
"The mask--yes, but Lena has the spirit behind the mask. Poor girl!
she is not at all happy in the atmosphere her sister has brought
"Then I wish they would marry her!"
"Won't you believe how truly nice and good she is?"
"That will not make up for the connection. My heart sank, Jenny,
from the time I heard that those Vivians were coming back. I kept
Frank away as long as I could--but there's no help for it. It seems
the fate of my boys to be the prey of those sirens."
"Well, then, dear Mrs. Poynsett, do pray believe, on my word, that
Eleonora is a different creature!"
"Is there no hope of averting it? I thought Camilla would--poor
Frank is such insignificant game!"
"And when it does come, don't be set against her, please, dear Mrs.
Poynsett. Be as kind to her--as you were to me," whispered Jenny,
nestling up, and hiding her face.
"My dear, but I knew you! You were no such case."
"Except that you all were horribly vexed with us, because we
couldn't help liking each other," said Jenny.
"Ah! my poor child! I only wish you could have liked any one else!"
"Do you?" said Jenny, looking up. "Oh no, you don't! You would not
have me for your supplementary child, if I had," she added
playfully; then very low--"It is because the thought of dear Archie,
even ending as it did, is my very heart's joy, that I want you to
let them have theirs!"
And then came a break, which ended the pleading; and Jenny was
obliged to leave Compton without much notion as to the effect of her
advice, audacious as she knew it to have been.
Neither Land Nor Water
A light that never was on sea or land.--WORDSWORTH
Nothing could be prettier than Rosamond's happiness in welcoming her
school-boy brothers, and her gratitude to Mrs. Poynsett for inviting
them, declaring that she liked boys. Her sons, however, dreaded the
inroad of two wild Irish lads, and held council what covers and what
horses could most safely be victimized to them, disregarding all
testimony in their favour from interested parties. When, therefore,
Terence and Thomas de Lancey made their appearance, and were walked
in for exhibition by their proud and happy sister, there was some
surprise at the sight of two peculiarly refined, quiet boys, with
colourless complexions, soft, sleepy, long-lashed, liquid brown
eyes, the lowest of full voices, and the gentlest of manners, as if
nothing short of an explosion could rouse them.
And it was presently manifest that their sister had said rather too
little than too much of Terry's abilities. Not only had he brought
home a huge pile of prizes, but no sooner was the seance after
dinner broken up, than he detained Julius, saying, in a very meek
and modest tone, "Rose says you know all the books in the library."
"Rose undertakes a great deal for me. What is this the prelude to?"
"I wanted to ask if I might just look at any book about the physical
geography of Italy, or the History of Venice, or the Phoenicians."
"It is for the Prize Essay," explained the boy; "the subject is the
effect of the physical configuration of a country upon the character
of a nation."
Julius drew a long breath, astounded at the march of intellect since
his time. "They don't expect such things of fellows like you!" he
"Only of the sixth, but the fifth may go in for it, and I want to
get up to the Doctor himself; I thought, as I was coming to such a
jolly library, I might try; and if I do pretty well, I shall be put
up, if any more fellows leave. Do you think I may use the books?
I'm librarian, so I know how to take care of them."
"You can be trusted for that, you book-worm," said Julius; "here's
the library, but I fear I don't know much about those modern
histories. My mother is a great reader, and will direct us. Let us
come to her."
Quiet as Terry was, he was neither awkward nor shy; and when Julius
had explained his wishes, and Mrs. Poynsett had asked a few good-
natured questions, she was charmed as well as surprised at the
gentle yet eager modesty with which the low-pitched tones detailed
the ideas already garnered up, and inquired for authorities, in
which to trace them out, without the least notion of the remarkable
powers he was evincing. She was delighted with the boy; Julius
guided his researches; and he went off to bed as happy as a king,
with his hands full of little dark tarnished French duodecimos, and
with a ravenous appetite for the pasture ground he saw before him.
Lower Canada had taught him French, and the stores he found were
revelry to him.
Cecil's feelings may be better guessed than described when the
return of Mudie's box was hastened that he might have Motley's Dutch
Republic. She thought this studiousness mere affectation; but it
was indisputable that Terry's soul was in books, and that he never
was so happy as when turned loose into the library, dipping here and
there, or with an elbow planted on either side of a folio.
Offers of gun or horse merely tormented him, and only his sister
could drag him out by specious pleas of need, to help in those
Christmas works, where she had much better assistance in Anne and
the curates--the one for clubs and coals, the other for decorations.
Mrs. Poynsett was Terry's best friend. He used to come to her in
the evening and discuss what he had been reading till she was almost
as keen about his success as Frank's. He talked over his ambition,
of getting a scholarship, becoming a fellow, and living for ever
among the books, for which the scanty supply in his wandering
boyhood had but whetted his fervour. He even confided to her what
no one else knew but his sister Aileen, his epic in twenty-four
books on Brian Boromhe and the Battle of Clontarf; and she was
mother enough not to predict its inevitable fate, nor audibly to
detect the unconscious plagiarisms, but to be a better listener than
even Aileen, who never could be withheld from unfeeling laughter at
the touching fate of the wounded warriors who were tied to stakes
that they might die fighting.
Tom was a more ordinary youth, even more lazy and quiet in the
house, though out of it he amazed Frank and Charlie by his dash,
fire, and daring, and witched all the stable-world with noble
horsemanship. Hunting was prevented, however, by a frost, which
filled every one with excitement as to the practicability of
The most available water was a lake between Sirenwood and Compton;
and here, like eagles to the slaughter, gathered, by a sort of
instinct, the entire skating population of the neighbourhood on the
first day that the ice was hard enough. Rosamond was there, of
course, with both her brothers, whom she averred, by a bold figure
of speech, to have skated in Canada before they could walk. Anne
was there, studying the new phenomena of ice and snow under good-
natured Charlie's protection, learning the art with unexpected
courage and dexterity. Cecil was there but not shining so much, for
her father had been always so nervous about his darling venturing on
the ice, that she had no skill in the art; and as Raymond had been
summoned to some political meeting, she had no special squire, as
her young brother-in-law eluded the being enlisted in her service;
and she began to decide that skating was irrational and unwomanly;
although Lady Tyrrell had just arrived, and was having her skates
put on; and Eleonora was only holding back because she was taking
care of the two purple-legged, purple-faced, and purple-haired
little Duncombes, whom she kept sliding in a corner, where they
could hardly damage themselves or the ice.
Cecil had just thanked Colonel Ross for pushing her in a chair, and
on his leaving her was deliberating whether to walk home with her
dignity, or watch for some other cavalier, when the drag drew up on
the road close by, and from it came Captain and Mrs. Duncombe, with
two strangers, who were introduced to her as 'Mrs. Tallboys and the
Professor, just fetched from the station.'
The former was exquisitely dressed in blue velvet and sealskin, and
had the transparent complexion and delicate features of an American,
with brilliant eyes, and a look of much cleverness; her husband,
small, sallow, and dark, and apparently out of health. "Are you
leaving off skating, Cecil?" asked Mrs. Duncombe; "goodness me, I
could go on into next year! But if you are wasting your privileges,
bestow them on Mrs. Tallboys, for pity's sake. We came in hopes
some good creature had a spare pair of skates. Gussie Moy offered,
but hers were yards too long."
"I hope mine are not too small," said Cecil, not quite crediting
that an American foot could be as small as that of a Charnock; but
she found herself mistaken, they were a perfect fit; and as they
were tried, there came a loud laugh, and she saw a tall girl
standing by her, whom, in her round felt hat and thick rough coat
with metal buttons, she had really taken for one of the Captain's
"I wouldn't have such small feet," she said; "I shouldn't feel
secure of my understanding."
"Mrs. Tallboys would not change with you, Gussie," said Captain
Duncombe. "I'd back her any day--"
"What odds will you take, Captain--"
But Mrs. Duncombe broke in. "Bless me, if there aren't those little
dogs of mine! Lena Vivian does spoil them. Send them home, for
pity's sake, Bob."
"Poor little kids, they are doing no harm."
"We shall have them tumbling in, and no end of a row! I can't stand
a swarm of children after me, and they are making a perfect victim
of Lena. Send them home, Bob, or I shall have to do it."
The Captain obeyed somewhat ruefully. "Come, my lads, Bessie says
you must go home, and leave Miss Vivian in peace."
"O, Bob, please let us stay; Lena is taking care of us--"
"Indeed I like nothing so well," protested Lenore; but the Captain
murmured something about higher powers, and cheerfully saying he
would give the boys a run, took each by an unwilling hand, and raced
them into a state of frightened jollity by a short cut, by which he
was able to dispose of them in the drag.
The Professor, meanwhile, devoted himself to Mrs. Charnock Poynsett,
took her chair for a whirl on the ice; described American sleighing
parties; talked of his tour in Europe. He was really a clever,
observant man, and Cecil had not had any one to talk Italy to her
for a long time past, and responded with all her full precision.
The Professor might speak a little through his nose, but she had
seldom met any one more polite and accomplished.
Meantime, a quadrille was being got up. Such a performance and such
partners had never been seen in light that shone on water or on
land, being coupled by their dexterity in the art. They were led
off by Mrs. Duncombe and the Reverend James Bindon. Mrs. Tallboys
paired with Terry De Lancey, Lady Tyrrell with Herbert Bowater, Lady
Rosamond with one of the officers. Tom was pounced on by the great
'Gussy Moy,' who declared, to his bitter wrath, that she preferred
little boys, turning her back on Mr. Strangeways and two or three
more officers, as she saw them first solicitous to engage Eleonora
Vivian--who, however, was to skate with Charlie.
A few wistful glances were cast towards the Wil'sbro' road, for
Frank had been obliged by the cruel exigencies of the office to
devote this magnificent frosty day to the last agonies of cram.
This, however, had gone on better for the last fortnight--owing,
perhaps, to some relaxation of Eleonora's stern guard over her
countenance in their few meetings since Jenny's departure.
"And after all," as Charlie said, with the cheeriness of one who has
passed his own ordeal, "a man who had taken such a degree as Frank
could not depend on a few weeks of mere cramming."
Frank did come speedily up the road just as the quadrille was in
full force; and perhaps the hindrance had stood him in good stead;
for when the performance ceased in the twilight, and voices were
eagerly talking of renewing it as a fackel-tanz in the later
evening, and only yielding at the recollection of dinner
engagements, it was not Charlie who was taking off Eleonora's
skates; and when, after fixing grand plans for the morrow, Lady
Tyrrell mounted her pony-carriage and looked for her sister, she
heard that Miss Vivian was walking home.
Yes, Miss Vivian was walking home; and there was a companion by her
side feeling as if that dark, hard gravelled road were the pebbly
beach of Rockpier.
"When do you go to London?" she asked.
"To-morrow afternoon. Wish me well through, Lenore."
"Indeed I do."
"Say it again, Lenore! Give me the elixir that will give me power
to conquer everything."
"Don't say such exaggerated things."
"Do you think it is possible to me to exaggerate what a word from
you is to me?" said Frank, in a low voice of intense feeling.
"O Frank! it is wiser not to say such things."
"Wise! what is that to me? It is true, and you have known it--and
why will you not allow that you do, as in those happy old days--"
"That's what makes me fear. It would be so much better for you if
all this had never begun."
"It has begun, then!" murmured Frank, with joy and triumph in the
sound. "As long as you allow that, it is enough for me."
"I must! It is true; and truth must be somewhere!" was whispered in
a strange, low, resolute whisper.
"True! true that you can feel one particle of the intensity--Oh!
what words can I find to make you understand the glow and tenderness
the very thought of you has been!"
"Hush, hush!--pray, Frank. Now, if I do own it--"
"It--what? Let me hear! I'm very stupid, you know!" said Frank, in
a voice of exulting comprehension, belying his alleged stupidity.
"What you have been to me--"
"Have been--eh?" said this cruel cross-examiner.
"Do not let us waste time," said Eleonora, in a trembling voice;
"you know very well."
"If you only knew what it would be worth to me to hear you say it!"
"I'm afraid it would be only worth pain and grief to you, and anger
from every one," said she, in a low dejected voice, "far more than I
"You? Trust me to judge of that, Lenore. Would not you be worth
all, and more than all, that flesh or spirit could feel! I could
face it all for one look from you!" said Frank, with fervour from
his heart of hearts.
"You make me more and more afraid. It is all too wretched to lead
any one into. Since I knew the whole truth, I have tried to spare
you from it."
"That is why you have been so cold, and held so cruelly aloof all
this time, so that if I had not caught one ray now and then, you
would have broken my heart, Lenore; as it is, I've been wretched
beyond description, hardly able to sleep by night or speak
rationally by day. How had you the heart to serve me so, like a
stony Greek statue?"
"I thought it must be right. It seemed to break my own heart too."
"That's the woman's way of showing a thing is right; but why I can't
see. If you did hate me, it might be all very well to throw me
over; but if not, why torture two as well as one? Are you afraid of
my people? I'll manage them."
"You little know--"
"All that made it cruel in Camilla to throw us together."
"Cruel! when it was the crowning joy of my past life, and is to be
the crowning joy of the future?"
"How can it? Frank, you must know the causes your mother has for
abhorring any connection with our unhappy family."
"My mother has too much sense to think a little extravagance among
the men of a family can affect the daughters. I know the outer
world is afraid of her, but she is the tenderest and most indulgent
of mothers to us. No fear of her!"
"Ah! but that's not all."
"You mean that she has not taken much to your sister. I know; and
I'm very sorry; but bring them together, and it would soon be got
over. Besides, it is not your sister, but you. What do you mean?"
"Then you really did not know of the old engagement between Camilla
and your eldest brother?"
"Oh, oh! So she consented once! Then she will do so again."
"Listen! Camilla broke it off because your mother could not resign
her position to her."
He gave a whistle of dismay, then recovering himself with a laugh,
said, "Fourth sons don't have such expectations founded on them.
Don't fear, dearest; that can't be all the story, though no doubt it
was part of it. My mother would rather go into a hermitage than
stand in the way of Raymond's happiness. Some one must have made
"It was not all," said the girl; "it was Lord Tyrrell's coming in
the way. Yes, my father told me so; he held it up to me as an
example of what one ought to do for one's family."
"Then she was coerced?"
"I don't know; but such a marriage for me, with some one who would
redeem the property, is their scheme for me. Even if your mother
and brother could tolerate the thought of one of us, my poor dear
father will never dare to consent as long as she is with him."
"Nay, Lenore; have I not often heard her say she prefers happiness
to ambition? Whatever she may have done, she has come to think
differently. She has well-nigh told me so."
"Yes, at Rockpier," sighed Eleonora. "Hark!" The sound of the
ponies' bells and hoofs was heard; Lenore put her hand on his arm,
and drew him aside on the grass, behind a clump of trees, hushing
him by a silent pressure as he tried to remonstrate. He clasped her
hand, and felt her trembling till the tinkling and tramp were gone
"You frightened darling!" were his first words, when she let him
speak. "Who would have thought you would be so shy? But we'll have
it out, and--"
"It is not that," interrupted Lenore, "not maidenly shyness. That's
for girls who are happy and secure. No; but I don't want to have it
all overthrown at once--the first sweetness--"
"It can't be overthrown!" he said, holding arm and hand in the
"Not really, never; but there is no use in attempting anything till
I am of age--next autumn, the 7th of November."
"Say nothing till then!" exclaimed Frank, in some consternation.
"We are only where we were before! We are sure of each other now.
It will be only vexation and harass," said she, with the instinct of
a persecuted creature.
"I couldn't," said Frank. "I could not keep it in with mother! It
would not be right if I could, nor should I feel as if I were acting
fairly by your father."
"You are right, Frank. Forgive me! You don't know what it is to
have to be always saving one's truth only by silence. Speak when
you think right."
"And I believe we shall find it far easier than you think. I'm not
quite a beggar--except for you, my Lena. I should like to go home
this minute, and tell mother and Charlie and Rose, that I'm--I'm
treading on air; but I should only be fallen upon for thinking of
anything but my task-work. So I'll take a leaf out of your book,
you cautious Lenore, and wait till I come down victorious, happy and
glorious--and I shall now. I feel as if you had given me power to
scale Olympus, now I know I may carry your heart with me. Do you
remember this, Lena?" He guided her hand to the smooth pebble on
his chain. She responded by putting her own into his.
"My talisman!" he said. "It has been my talisman of success many a
time. I have laid my hand on it, and thought I was working for you.
Mine! mine! mine! Waters cannot quench love--never fear."
"Hush!" as the light of the opening hall door was seen, and Lady
Tyrrell's voice was heard, saying, "I thought we passed her; I am
sure she was near."
Eleonora withdrew her arm, patted Frank back, waved him into
silence, and went forward, saying, "Here I am, Camilla; I walked
Her voice was calm and self-contained as ever--the unassailable
dignity just as usual. The hall was full of officers, standing
about the fire and drinking tea, and Eleonora's well-worn armour was
instantly on, as her sister asked where she had been, since others
had walked home and had not overtaken her.
"I came by the lower road," said she.
"Indeed! I never saw you."
"I saw you pass--or rather heard you."
"And did not let me pick you up! Did you hide yourself?"
"It was much warmer to walk."
"So you seem to have found it, to judge by your cheeks," said Lady
And Mr. Strangeways and one or two others could not restrain a
murmured exclamation on the exceeding loveliness of that deepened
colour and brightened eye; but Lenore only knew that an equally
bright and keen eye was watching her heedfully, and knew that she
was suspected, if not read through and through.
She mingled in the discussion of the skating, with those outward
society-senses that she learnt to put on, and escaped as soon as
possible to her own room.
Again she almost fell on the ground in her own little oratory
chamber, in a tumult of gladness that was almost agony, and fear
that was almost joy.
She wanted to give thanks that Frank had become so wholly and
avowedly hers, and for that deep intense affection that had gone on,
unfed, uncherished, for years; but the overflow of delight was
checked with foreboding--there was the instinctive terror of a
basilisk eye gazing into her paradise of joy--the thanksgiving ran
into a half-despairing deprecation.
And she knew that Frank was under Camilla's spell, and admired and
trusted her still; nor had she been able to utter a word of caution
to undeceive him. Should she have the power on the morrow? Camilla
really loved skating, and surrounded as she was sure to be, there
was hope of escaping her vigilant eye once more. To-morrow there
would be another meeting with Frank! perhaps another walk with him!
That anticipation was soothing enough to bring back the power of
joyful gratitude, and therewith of hopeful prayer.
Plot and Counterplot
A lady a party of pleasure made,
And she planned her scheme full well,
And day and night the party filled
The head of the demoiselle.--FABER
Though Frank had no reason to expect that the tidings of his success
would be hailed with much satisfaction at home, yet his habit of
turning to his mother for sympathy would have been too much for his
prudence, but for the fact that Terry De Lancey had dragged into her
room a massive volume of prints from the Uffizi Gallery, and was
looking it over with her, with a zest she had not seen since the
days when her father gloried in his collection.
His victory could only be confided to Charlie, who might laugh, but
fully appreciated the repose of mind with which he could now
encounter the examiners, and promised to do his part to cover the
meetings of the lovers the next day. But even then the chances of
another performance on the lake, or of a walk among the icicles
afterwards, were departing. Thaw was setting in and by breakfast-
time there was a down-pouring rain. Frank lingered about Cecil in
hopes of a message to serve as an excuse for a rush to Sirenwood;
but she proved to be going to drive to the working-room, and then to
lunch at Mrs. Duncombe's, to meet the Americans and the ladies from
Sirenwood, according to a note sent over in early morning at first
sight of the wet.
Thereupon Frank found he had a last reference to make to his tutor,
and begged for a lift. A touch of warmth in Cecil would have opened
the flood-gates of his confidence, but she was exercised about a
mistake in the accounts, and claimed his aid in tracking a defective
seven-pence. When she heard him utter the monstrous statement that
a hundred and five farthings were almost nine shillings, she looked
at him with withering compassion, as sure to fail, and a small loss
to Her Majesty; nor would she listen to any of his hints that he was
very curious to see her working-room.
His question to the tutor judiciously lasted till twelve, when he
dropped in to consult Captain Duncombe about horse-hire in London;
and that gentleman, who had been undergoing a course of political
economy all the morning, eagerly pounced on him for a tour of his
stables, which lasted till luncheon was due, and he could casually
enter the dining-room, where Lady Tyrrell held out her hand good-
naturedly to him, laughing at the blankness he could not entirely
conceal. "Only me!" she said. "It can't be helped! Poor Lenore
caught such a dreadful sore throat last night, that I have shut her
up in her room with a mustard poultice."
"Indeed! I am very sorry."
"You may well look horrified! You were the guilty party, I suspect.
Taking her all across the park under those dank trees!"
He coloured up to the eyes, little expecting to be thus convicted;
but Mrs. Duncombe came to his aid. "My impartiality would impute
the damage to her standing about with those wretched little dogs of
"It is your climate," said Mrs. Tallboys. "In our dry atmosphere
there would be no risk with a far lower temperature."
"I hope it is nothing serious," said Frank, anxiously.
"I hope so too," said Lady Tyrrell, looking archly into his face,
which had not learnt such impenetrability as poor Lenore's.
"No; but really?" he said, in anxiety that would not be rallied
"This is the way," said Lady Tyrrell. "Young gentlemen persuade
young ladies to do the most imprudent things--saunter about in the
cold after skating, and dawdle under trees, and then wonder when
they catch cold.--Do they do such things in your country, Mrs.
Tallboys, and expect the mammas and elder sisters to be gratified?"
"Mammas and elder sisters are at a discount with you, are not they?"
said Mrs. Duncombe.
"Our young women are sufficient to protect themselves without our
showing tacit distrust, and encumbering them with guardianship,"
returned the Professor.
"Mr. Charnock wishes we had reached that point," said Lady Tyrrell.
She had put him completely out of countenance. He had not supposed
her aware of his having been Lenore's companion, and was not certain
whether her sister had not after all confided in her, or if he
himself had not been an unconscious victim. The public banter
jarred upon him; and while Cecil was making inquiries into the
extent of the young ladies' privileges in America, he was mentally
calculating the possibilities of rushing up to Sirenwood, trying to
see Lenore in spite of her throat, and ascertaining her position,
before his train was due; but he was forced to resign the notion,
for Raymond had made an appointment for him in London which must not
be missed; and before luncheon was over the dog-cart, according to
agreement with Charlie, called for him.
"Good-bye, Mr. Frank," said Mrs. Duncombe; "will you have an old
shoe thrown after you for luck?"
"The time is not come for that yet," said Cecil, gravely.
"Tending in that direction. Eh, Charnock?" said the Captain.
"Here's to your success--now, and in what's to come!"
"Thank you, Captain," said Frank, shaking his hand, liking the
hearty voice. "Lady Tyrrell, won't you give me your good wishes?"
he asked, half diffidently.
"For the examination--yes, certainly," she replied. "It is safer
not to look too far into your wishing-well."
"And--and will you give my--my best regards to Le--to Miss Vivian,
and say I grieve for her cold, and trust to her--to her good wishes--
" he uttered, quick and fast, holding her hand all the time.
"Yes, yes," she said quickly; "but last messages won't do when
trains are due."
"Not due yet," said Frank; "but I must go home. I've not seen my
mother to-day, and I shall not have a moment.--Good-bye, Cecil; have
you any commands for Raymond?"
"No, thank you," said Cecil, gravely; and with a bow to the
Americans, he was gone.
"That is one of your products of the highest English refinement?"
said Mrs. Tallboys, whom in his preoccupation he had scarcely
"How does he strike you?" said Cecil. "He is my brother-in-law, but
never mind that."
"He looks fitted for the hero of a vapid English novel. I long to
force him to rough it, and to rub off that exquisite do-nothing air.
It irritates me!"
"Frank Charnock has done a good deal of hard work, and is not to
lead the life of an idle man," said Captain Duncombe. "I know I
should not like to be in his shoes if he succeeds--grinding away in
an office ten months out of the twelve."
"In an office! I should like to set him to work with an axe!"
"Well, those dainty-looking curled darlings don't do badly in the
backwoods," said Lady Tyrrell.
"Ah! I understand! You stand up for him because there's a little
tendresse for your sister," said the plain-spoken American.
"Poor fellow! I am afraid he is far gone. It is an impossible
thing, though, and the sooner he can be cured of it the better,"
said Lady Tyrrell. "I am sorry that walk took place yesterday.--Did
he mention it at home, Cecil?"
"You are a very inconsistent woman, Lady Tyrrell," broke in Mrs.
Duncombe in her abrupt way. "Here you are come to uphold the
emancipation of woman, and yet, when we come to your own sister
taking one poor walk--"
"I beg your pardon, Bessie," said Lady Tyrrell, with her most
courteous manner. "I never said I was come to uphold the
emancipation of woman; only to subject myself to Mrs. Tallboys'
influence--she has to make a convert of me."
For, of course, Lady Tyrrell was only drawn into the controversy as
a matter of amusement, and possibly as something specially
distasteful to the house of Charnock Poynsett; and Cecil was a good
deal influenced by the fascination of her example, as well as by the
eagerness of Mrs. Duncombe and the charms of the Americans; and
above all, they conspired in making her feel herself important, and
assuming that she must be foremost in all that was done. She did
not controvert the doctrines of Dunstone so entirely as to embrace
the doctrines of emancipation, but she thought that free ventilation
was due to every subject, most especially when the Member's wife was
the leading lady in bringing about such discussion. The opposition
made in the town to Mrs. Duncombe's sanitary plans, and the contempt
with which they had been treated as ladies' fancies, had given a
positive field of battle, with that admixture of right and wrong on
either side which is essential to championship. And in truth Cecil
was so much more under the influence of Camilla Tyrrell and Bessie
Duncombe than under that of any other person, that she was ready to
espouse any cause that they did.
How to arrange for the intended instruction was the difficulty,
since Wil'sbro' was without a town-hall, and, moreover, the
inhabitants were averse to all varieties of change, either as to the
claims of women, the inequality of social laws, the improvement of
education, or the comprehension of social science--the regular
course which Mrs. Clio W. Tallboys was wont to lecture.
The matter could only be managed by arranging a series of soirees at
different houses. Mrs. Duncombe's rooms were far too small; but if
some person of more note--'some swell' as she said--would make the
beginning, there would be no difficulty in bringing others to follow
"You must do it, Lady Tyrrell," said Mrs. Duncombe.
"I! If there's nobody else; but it would come much better from
another quarter," nodding at Cecil.
"Don't you wish you may get it?" muttered the slang-loving Bessie.
"That's one point in which we leave you far behind," said Mrs.
Tallboys. "We issue our invitations quite independently of the
other members of the household. Each has a separate visiting list."
"There need be no difficulty," said Cecil; "all matters of visiting
are in my hands. It is necessary in our position; and if Lady
Tyrrell thinks it proper that I should give the first party, I will
"Bravo, what fun!" cried Mrs. Duncombe, clapping her hands. "You
won't get into a jolly row, though?" she added, anxiously.
"I am perfectly sure of my ground," said Cecil, with the dignity of
one to whom a 'row' was unheard of. "It is the simple duty of a
Member to come forward in promoting free discussion of opinions."
"You are a public-spirited woman, Cecil," said Lady Tyrrell. "When
you have made the first move, I'll follow. Then whom shall we ask
"Mrs. Moy," said Bessie. "She is a nonentity herself, but if Gussie
were to be strongly bitten she could do more than any one else, and
make her father reform that nest of horrors in Water Lane!"
"I'm afraid the freedom side will bite her more than the sanitary
side," said Lady Tyrrell.
"She is capital fun, though, and a great ally of ours," said Mrs.
Duncombe; "and the rooms at Proudfoot Lawn are worth anything!"
Other details were fixed, even to the day of Cecil's opening party,
which must take place on the first practicable day; but there was
none to be found till the Wednesday week, the day before Raymond
would return home. Cecil did not recollect this till the day had
been unanimously agreed on, and it was with a little alarm; but
after what she had asserted about her freedom of action, she could
not retract before the eyes of the American lady; and, as she said
to herself, she could receive her own ladies' party, without
interfering with any one else, in the library, so that no one had a
right to object. However, she had a certain anticipation of
opposition, which caused her to act before announcing her intention;
and thus it was that Rosamond found her dropping a number of notes
through the slit in the lid of the post-box. "Another dinner?" was
"No, this is a soiree in the library, entirely for ladies; Mrs.
Tallboys is to explain her views in the evenings at the Principal
houses in the neighbourhood. She will begin here on Wednesday
"Why, that's before Raymond comes back!"
"This is entirely for women."
"Women! women's rights! How have you got Mrs. Poynsett to consent?"
"I have carte blanche in these matters."
"Do you mean that you have not consulted her? Does Raymond know?
Oh! Yes, I see I have no right to ask; but, Cecil, for your own
sake, I entreat you to consider what you are about, before running
into such a frightful scrape!" and Rosamond impulsively caught the
hand that was still putting in a letter; but Cecil stood still, not
withdrawing or moving a muscle, perfectly impassive. Rosamond went
on more eagerly, "Oh yes, I know you don't like me--I'm only a poor
battered soldier's daughter, quite an unworthy associate for a
Charnock of the Charnocks; but I can't help begging you to consider
the consequences of sending out invitations to hear this strange
woman hold forth in Mrs. Poynsett's own house, in your husband's
"Thank you for your solicitude," said Cecil, dropping in her
envelope the instant the obstructive hand was removed, and going on
her way with dignified self-possession; while Rosamond, in a tumult
of indignation, which made her scarcely comprehensible, rushed up to
her husband at his writing, and poured out her story.
Clio advocating female supremacy in Mrs. Poynsett's own house,
without notice to her! Should she be warned in time to stop the
letters? Should Raymond be written to? Rosamond was for both,
Julius for neither. He said that either way would begin a system
that could never be forgiven; and that they had better consider
themselves as practically at the Rectory, and not interfere.
"How can you be so cold-blooded?" cried she.
"I do not want to do worse harm. My mother will learn what is to
happen sooner or later; and then she can put a stop to it in any way
"I wish she would send in Mrs. Crabtree with her tawse!" said
Rosamond. "But is it right by Raymond to let his wife bring this
Yankee muse to talk her nonsense in his very rooms?"
"You have argued with her?"
"Or with a block--a stock--a stone!" raved Rosamond.
"Then depend upon it, to inform against her would be far worse than
letting any amount of absurdity be talked. I should like to know
how you would get over being so served!"
"Don't make comparisons, sir! Poor things! they would not be the
worse for a little of our foolishness!"
Things settled themselves according to Julius's prediction; for Mr.
Bowater, coming up with his son Herbert to see his old friend, said,
"What grand doings are you having here? What is Raymond's wife up
to? Ladies' conversazione--that's a new thing in these parts!"
"I gave such matters up to her," said Mrs. Poynsett. "Young people
like a little freedom of action; and there are changes in the
neighbourhood since I was laid up." It was a temporizing speech, to
avoid showing her total ignorance.
Mr. Bowater cleared his throat. "Young folk may like freedom of
action, but it don't always follow that it is good for them. I hope
she won't get Raymond into a scrape, that's all--committing him and
herself to a course of lectures by that Yankee woman on woman's
"It does not commit him; it is before he comes home, on Wednesday,"
"Never mind that; what a woman does her husband does. Look here,
Mrs. Poynsett, I brought over Jenny's note in my pocket; see, here
are two--one to accept, and one to refuse, just as you choose."
"Oh! accept, by all means," cried Mrs. Poynsett; "don't leave the
Then she changed the conversation, so decidedly, that Mr. Bowater
could not resume his warning; but after taking leave of her, he met
Rosamond in the avenue, and could not help saying, "Pray, was my old
friend aware of Mrs. Raymond's doings?"
"Have you told her? Oh! I am so glad!"
"Then it is as you said, Herbert. Mrs. Raymond had left her in
ignorance! The impudent baggage! That's what the world is coming
"But what regular game Mrs. Poynsett was!" said Herbert. "You could
not make out in the least that she had been left in the lurch; and
I'm sure she has a plan, by the way in which she desired Jenny and
Edie to come."
"Only make her understand that the Wil'sbro' folks are in a ticklish
state," said Mr. Bowater; "they are sulking already, because they
say the ladies have been stirring him up to put them to expense
about the drains."
"Wil'sbro' isn't sweet," said Herbert.
"There's been nothing amiss in my time," returned his father.
"Perfectly healthy in all reason! Ay! you may laugh, young folks,
but I never heard of any receipt to hinder people from dying; and
let well alone is a safe maxim."
"If it be well," said Rosamond. "However, Raymond says whatever is
done must be by general consent, and that small private attempts do
more harm than good."
"He had better take care what he says. If they fancy he is in
league with that ridiculous Duncombe woman against their pockets,
Moy is on the watch to take advantage of it; and all the old family
interest will not save his seat."
When Rosamond reached home she found Anne beside her mother-in-law,
provided with a quire of note-paper and pile of envelopes. "My
dear, I want your help," she said. "Till my accident I always had a
children's party at Christmas; and now I have so many young people
to manage it for me, I think we might try again, and combine it with
Cecil's ladies' party, on Wednesday."
"Hurrah!" cried Rosamond. "You mean that we should have plenty of
fun--and, in fact, drum out the rights of woman."
"At any rate, present a counter attraction. You and Charlie and
your brothers, with the Bowaters, might do something?"
"Trust me!" cried Rosamond. "Oh! I am so thankful to Mr. Bowater.
Julius and I had our blood boiling; and I said as much or more to
Cecil than woman could, but she minded me no more than the old white
cockatoo; and Julius said our telling would only make more
"He was quite right," said his mother. "Let there not be one word
of opposition, you know; only swamp it. You could get up some
charades, and have something going on all the evening."
"Trust me for that! Oh! if my darling Aileen were but here! But
Tom is the very model of an actor, and Terry is grand, if only we
can keep him out of the high tragedy line. King Lear is the mildest
thing he condescends to!"
"Could you manage a Christmas-tree? The taking up a room beforehand
is inconvenient; but I should like to offer some little substantial
bait, even to the grown-up;" and her eyes twinkled merrily.
"I know a better thing," said Rosamond; "an enchanted grove with a
beneficent witch. We did it at St. Awdry's, with bon-bons and
trumpery, in a little conservatory, hardly large enough to turn
round in. If I may have the key of the conservatory, I'll manage."
"You shall have what you please; and perhaps you would kindly go and
choose the things at Backsworth. There is a very good fancy shop
"Thank you, thank you! How sweet!--Now, Anne, you will see what you
"Is there to be dancing?" asked Anne, humbly yet resolutely.
"There shall not be, my dear, if it will spoil the evening for you,"
said Mrs. Poynsett.
"I promised," said Anne.
At that moment the servants came in with the preparations for the
afternoon tea, closely followed by the ever punctual Cecil.
Mrs. Poynsett asked her whether she would require the barouche on
the morrow, since Rosamond and Anne would want it to go to
Backsworth, to obtain requisites for a children's entertainment to
take place on Wednesday.
"Some friends of mine are coming on Wednesday," said Cecil
"Indeed! In Raymond's absence?"
"This is not a dinner, but a ladies' party."
"Then it will combine the better."
"Certainly not," replied Cecil. "Mine is simply intellectual--only
a few intelligent women to meet Mrs. Tallboys in the library. It
will be quite apart from any amusements Rosamond may like to have
for the children in the drawing-room."
"Pray, will they require nothing but this feast of reason and flow
of soul?--for the housekeeper will need warning."
"They will have dined. Nothing but coffee will be wanted."
"For how many?"
"About twelve or fourteen, thank you. Excuse me--I have something
to finish in my own room."
They were very glad to excuse her, and the following note was
concocted to serve both for those she might have invited and those
she might not; and it was copied by the two daughters for all the
acquaintance who had young folks in their houses. An appearance of
want of unanimity was carefully avoided, and it stood thus:--
"I am desired by Mrs. Poynsett to say that the ladies' party already
proposed for the 3rd is to undergo a little expansion, and that she
much hopes to see you and ---, at 7 p.m., disposed for a few
The Drive To Backsworth
She was betrothed to one now dead,
Or worse, who had dishonoured fled.--SCOTT
The party set out for Backsworth early in the day. It included
Julius, who had asked for a seat in the carriage in order to be able
to go on to Rood House, where lived Dr. Easterby, whom he had not
seen since he had been at Compton.
"The great light of the English Church," said Rosamond, gaily; while
Anne shuddered a little, for Miss Slater had told her that he was
the great fountain-head of all that distressed her in Julius and his
curates. But Julius merely said, "I am very glad of the
opportunity;" and the subject dropped in the eager discussion of the
intended pastimes, which lasted beyond the well-known Wil'sbro'
bounds, when again Julius startled a Anne by observing, "No dancing?
That is a pity."
"There, Anne!" exclaimed Rosamond.
"It was out of kindness to me," said Anne: and then, with a
wonderful advance of confidence, she added, "Please tell me how you,
a minister, can regret it?"
"Because I think it would be easier to prevent mischief than when
there has to be a continual invention of something original. There
is more danger of offence and uncharitableness, to speak plainly."
"And you think that worse than dancing?" said Anne, thoughtfully.
"Why is dancing bad at all, Anne?" asked Rosamond.
Anne answered at once, "It is worldly."
"Not half so worldly as driving in a carriage with fine horses, and
liveries, and arms, and servants, and all," said Rosamond from her
comfortable corner, nestling under Miles's racoon-skin rug; "I
wonder you can do that!"
"The carriage is not mine," said Anne.
"The worldliness would be in sacrificing a duty to the luxury and
ostentation of keeping one," said Julius. "For instance, if I
considered it due to my lady in the corner there to come out in this
style, and put down a curate and a few such trifles with that
object. To my mind, balls stand on the same ground; they are
innocent as long as nothing right is given up for them."
"You would not dance?" said Anne.
"Wouldn't he?" said Rosamond. "I've seen him. It was at St.
Awdry's at a Christmas party, in our courting days. No, it wasn't
with me. Oh no! That was the cruel cut! It was with little Miss
Marks, whose father had just risen from the ranks. Such a figure
she was, enough to set your teeth on edge; when, behold! this
reverend minister extracts her from the wall-flowers, and goes
through the Lancers with her in first-rate style, I assure you. It
had such an effect, do you know, that what does my father do but go
and ask her next; and I heard an old lady remarking that there were
only two gentlemen in the room, Mr. Charnock and Lord Rathforlane.
So you see it was all worldliness after all, Anne."
"I suppose it was good-nature," said Anne.
"Indignation, I fancy," said Julius.
"Now, was he very wicked for it, Anne?"
"N--no, if dancing be not wrong."
"But why should it?"
"All the bad people danced in the Bible."
"Miriam--King David, eh?"
"That was part of their religious service."
"The welcome to the prodigal son?" further suggested Julius. "Does
not this prove that the exercise is not sinful in itself?"
"But you would not do it again?" repeated Anne.
"I certainly should not make a practice of it, nor go to balls any
more than I would be a sportsman or a cricketer, because I am bound
to apply my whole self to the more direct service; but this does not
show that there is evil necessarily connected with these amusements,
or that they may not safely be enjoyed by those who have time, and
who need an outlet for their spirits, or by those who wish to guard
these pleasures by presiding over them."
"Don't persuade me!" exclaimed Anne. "I gave my word to Mr. Pilgrim
that nothing should induce me to dance or play at cards."
"Mr. Pilgrim had no right--" began Rosamond; but Julius hushed her,
saying, "No one wishes to persuade you, Anne. Your retirement
during Miles's absence is very suitable and becoming."
"Till we live in the Bush, out of the way of it all," said Anne.
"I wish you could have seen one of our real old Christmas parties;
but those can never be again, without mother herself or Mrs.
"Do tell me about those Douglases," said Rosamond. "Cecil hinted at
some romance, but seemed to think you had suppressed the connection
because he was an attorney."
"Not exactly," said Julius, smiling; "but it is a sad story, though
we have no doubt he bore the guilt of others."
"Something about two thousand pounds!"
"Yes. It was the year that my mother and Raymond were abroad. She
had been buying some property near, and sent home an order from
Vevay. It did not come, and was inquired for; but as it was an
order, not a draft, it was not stopped at the bank; and in about a
fortnight more it was presented by a stranger, and paid without
hesitation, as it was endorsed "Proudfoot and Moy." Old Proudfoot
was away at Harrogate, and came home to investigate; young Proudfoot
denied all knowledge of it, and so did his brother-in-law Moy; but
Raymond, working at the other end, found that the waiter at the
hotel at Vevay had forgotten to post the letter for more than a
week, and it was traced through the post to Wil'sbro', where the
postman remembered delivering a foreign-looking letter to Archie
Douglas at the door of the office. It came alone by the afternoon
post. His account was this: They were all taking it rather easy in
old Proudfoot's absence; and when a sudden summons came to take the
old farmer's instructions for his will, Archie, as the junior, was
told off to do it. He left George Proudfoot and Moy in a private
room at the office, with Tom Vivian leaning over the fire talking,
as he had a habit of doing in old Proudfoot's absence. As he opened
the office door the postman put the letter into his hand; and
recognizing the writing, he ran back, and gave it in triumph to
George Proudfoot, exclaiming that there it was at last, but he was
in danger of being late for the train, and did not wait to see it
opened; and when he came back he was told that it had been merely a
letter of inquiry, with nothing in it, and destroyed at once. That
was his account; but Proudfoot, Moy, and Vivian all denied any
knowledge of this return of his, or of the letter. The night of
this inquiry he was missing. Jenny Bowater, who was with an aunt in
London, heard that a gentleman had called to see her while she was
out for a couple of days; and a week later we saw his name among the
passengers lost in the Hippolyta off Falmouth."
"Poor Jenny! Was she engaged to him?"
"On sufferance. On her death-bed Mrs. Douglas had wrung from Mr.
Bowater a promise that if Archie did well, and ever had means
enough, he would not refuse consent; but he always distrusted poor
Archie, because of his father, and I believe he sent Jenny away to
be out of his reach. If any of us had only been near, I think we
could have persuaded him to face it out, and trust to his innocence;
but Raymond was abroad, Miles at sea, I at Oxford, and nothing like
a counsellor was near. If Jenny had but seen him!"
"And has nothing happened to clear him?"
"No. Raymond hurried home, and did his best, but all in vain.
George Proudfoot was indeed known to have been in debt to Vivian;
but Moy, his brother-in-law, an older man, was viewed as a person
whose word was above all question, and they both declared the
signature at the back of the order not to be genuine. Archie's
flight, you see, made further investigation impossible; and there
was no putting on oath, no cross-examination."
"Then you think those three had it?"
"We can think nothing else, knowing Archie as we did. Raymond
showed his suspicions so strongly, that old Proudfoot threw up all
agencies for our property, and there has been a kind of hostility
ever since. Poor Vivian, as you know, came to his sad end the next
year, but he had destroyed all his papers; and George Proudfoot has
been dead four or five years, but without making any sign. Moy has
almost risen above the business, and--see, there's Proudfoot Lawn,
where he lives with the old man. He claims to compete with the
county families, and would like to contest Wils'bro' with Raymond."
"And Jenny?" asked Anne. "Did she bear it as a Christian? I know
"She did indeed--most nobly, most patiently. Poor girl! at her own
home she knew she stood alone in her faith in Archie's innocence;
but they were kind and forbearing, and kept silence, and the
knowledge of our trust in him has bound her very close to us."
"Was that call, when she did not see him, all she ever heard of
"All! except that he left a fragment of paper with the servant, with
the one pencil scrawl, 'A Dieu!'--a capital D to mark the full
meaning. She once showed it to me--folded so as to fit into the
back of a locket with his photograph."
"Dear Jenny! And had you traced him on board this ship?"
"No, but his name was in the list; and we knew he had strong fancy
for South Africa, whither the Hippolyta was bound. In fact he ought
to have been a sailor, and only yielded to his mother's wishes."
"We knew a Mr. Archibald Douglas once," said Anne; "he came and
outspanned by us when he was going north after elephants. He stayed
a fortnight, because his wagon had to be mended."
"O, Julius! if we could but find him for her again!" cried Rosamond.
"I am afraid Archibald Douglas is not much more individual a name
than John Smith," said Julius, sadly.
"That tells as much against the Hippolyta man," said Rosamond.
"Poor Archie would not be difficult to identify," said Julius; "for
his hair was like mine, though his eyes were blue, and not short-
"That is all right, then," cried Anne; "for we had a dispute whether
he were young or old, and I remember mamma saying he had a look
about him as if his hair might have turned white in a single night."
"Julius! Now won't you believe?" cried Rosamond.
"Had he a Scotch accent?" said Julius.
"No; I recollect papa's telling him he never should have guessed him
to be a Scot by his tongue; and he said he must confess that he had
never seen Scotland."
"Now, Julius!" pleaded Rosamond, with clasped hands, as if Jenny's
fate hung on his opinion.
"How long ago was this?" asked he.
"Four years," said Anne, with a little consideration. "He came both
in going and returning, and Alick was wild to join him if he ever
passed our way again. My father liked him so much that he was
almost ready to consent; but he never came again. Ivory hunters go
more from Natal now."
"You will trace him! There's a dear Anne!" exclaimed Rosamond.
"I will write to them at home; Alick knows a good many hunters, and
could put Miles into the way of making inquiries, if he touches at
Natal on his way home."
"Miles will do all he can," said Julius; "he was almost broken-
hearted when he found how Archie had gone. I think he was even more
his hero than Raymond when we were boys, because he was more
enterprising; and my mother always thought Archie's baffled passion
for the sea reacted upon Miles."
"He will do it! He will find him, if he is the Miles I take him
for! How old was he--Archie, I mean?"
"A year older than Raymond; but he always seemed much younger, he
was so full of life and animation--so unguarded, poor fellow! He
used to play tricks with imitating hand-writing; and these, of
course, were brought up against him."
"Thirty-four! Not a bit too old for the other end of the romance!"
"Take care, Rosie. Don't say a word to Jenny till we know more.
She must not be unsettled only to be disappointed."
"Do you think she would thank you for that, you cold-blooded
"I don't know; but I think the suspense would be far more trying
than the quiet resigned calm that has settled down on her. Besides,
you must remember that even if Archie were found, the mystery has
never been cleared up."
"You don't think that would make any difference to Jenny?"
"It makes all the difference to her father; and Jenny will never be
a disobedient daughter."
"Oh! but it will--it must be cleared! I know it will! It is
faithless to think that injustice is not always set right!"
"Not always here," said Julius, sadly. "See, there's the Backsworth
race-ground, the great focus of the evil."
"Were racing debts thought to have any part in the disaster?"
"That I can't tell; but it was those races that brought George
Proudfoot under the Vivian influence; and in the absence of all of
us, poor Archie, when left to himself after his mother's death, had
become enough mixed up in their amusements to give a handle to those
who thought him unsteady."
"As if any one must be unsteady who goes to the races!" cried
Rosamond. "You were so liberal about balls, I did expect one little
good word for races; instead of which, you are declaring a poor
wretch who goes to them capable of embezzling two thousand pounds,
and I dare say Anne agrees with you!"
"Now, did I ever say so, Anne?"
"You looked at the course with pious horror, and said it justified
the suspicion!" persisted Rosamond.
"That's better," said Julius; "though I never even said it justified
the suspicion, any more than I said that balls might not easily be
overdone, especially by _some_ people."
"But you don't defend races?" said Anne.
"No; I think the mischief they do is more extensive, and has less
mitigation than is the case with any other public amusement."
"H'm!" said Rosamond. "Many a merry day have I had on the top of
the regimental drag; so perhaps there's nothing of which you would
not suspect me."
"I'll tell you what I more than suspect you of," said Julius, "of
wearing a gay bonnet to be a bait and a sanction to crowds of young
girls, to whom the place was one of temptation, though not to you."
"Oh, there would be no end to it if one thought of such things."
"Or the young men who--"
"Well," broke in Rosamond, "it was always said that our young
officers got into much less mischief than where there was a
straight-laced colonel, who didn't go along with them to give them a
"That I quite believe. I remember, too, the intense and breathless
sense of excitement in the hush and suspense of the multitude, and
the sweeping by of the animals--"
"Then you've been!" cried his wife.
"As a boy, yes."
"Not since you were old enough to think it over?" said Anne eagerly.
"No. It seemed to me that the amount of genuine interest in the
sport and the animals was infinitesimal compared with the fictitious
excitement worked up by betting."
"And what's the harm of betting when you've got the money?"
"And when you haven't?"
"That's another question."
"Do you approve it at the best?"
"It's a man's own concern."
"That's arguing against your better sense."
"Can't be helped, with two such solemn companions! There would be
no bearing you if I didn't take you down sometimes, when you get so
didactic, and talk of fictitious excitement, indeed! And now you
are going to Rood House, what will you be coming back?"
Rood House stood about two miles on the further side of Backsworth.
It was an ancient almshouse, of which the mastership had been wisely
given to Dr. Easterby, one of the deepest theological scholars,
holiest men, and bravest champions of the Church, although he was
too frail in health to do much, save with his pen, and in council
with the numerous individuals who resorted to him from far and wide,
and felt the beautiful old fragment of a monastic building where he
dwelt a true court of peace and refreshment, whence they came forth,
aided by prayer and counsel, for their own share of the combat.
Julius Charnock had, happily for himself, found his way thither when
his character and opinions were in process of formation, and had
ever since looked to Rood House for guidance and sympathy. To be
only fourteen miles distant had seemed to him one great perfection
of Compton Poynsett; but of course he had found visits there a far
more possible thing to an unoccupied holiday son of the great house
than to a busy parish priest, so that this opportunity was very
valuable to him.
And so it proved; not so much for the details as for the spirit in
which he was aided in looking at everything, from the mighty
questions which prove the life of the Church by the vehement emotion
they occasion, down to the difficulties of theory and practice that
harassed himself--not named, perhaps, but still greatly unravelled.
Those perpetual questions, that have to be worked out again and
again by each generation, were before him in dealing with his
parish; and among them stood in his case the deeper aspects of the
question that had come forward on the drive, namely, the lawfulness
and expedience of amusement.
Granting the necessity of pastimes and recreation for most persons,
specially the young, there opened the doubtful, because ever-
varying, question of the kind and the quantity to be promoted or
sanctioned, lest restraint should lead to reaction, and lest
abstinence should change from purity and spirituality to moroseness
or hypocrisy. And if Julius found one end of the scale represented
by his wife and his junior curate, his sister-in-law and his senior
curate were at the other. Yet the old recluse was far more inclined
to toleration than he had been in principle himself, though the spur
of the occasion had led him to relaxations towards others in the
individual cases brought before him, when he had thought opposition
would do more harm than the indulgence. His conscience had been
uneasy at this divergence, till he could discuss the subject.
The higher the aspiration of the soul, the less, of course, would be
the craving for diversion, the greater the shrinking from those evil
accompaniments that soon mar the most innocent delights. Some
spirits are austere in their purity, like Anne; some so fervent in
zeal, as to heed nothing by the way, like Mr. Bindon; but most are
in an advanced stage of childhood, and need play and pleasure almost
as much as air or food; and these instincts require wholesome
gratification, under such approval as may make the enjoyment bright
and innocent; and yet there should be such subduing of their excess,
such training in discipline, as shall save them from frivolity and
from passing the line of evil, prevent the craving from growing to a
passion, and where it has so grown, tone it back to the limits of
obedience and safety.
Alas! perhaps there lay the domestic difficulty of which Julius
could not speak; yet, as if answering the thought, Dr. Easterby
said, "After all, charity is the true self-acting balance to many a
sweet untaught nature. Self-denials which spring out of love are a
great safeguard, because they are almost sure to be both humble and
And Julius went away cheered as he thought of his Rosamond's wells
of unselfish affection, confident that all the cravings for variety
and excitement, which early habit had rendered second nature, would
be absorbed by the deeper and keener feelings within, and that these
would mount higher as time went on, under life's great training.
Pleasant it was to see the triumphant delight of the two sisters
over their purchases. Such a day's English shopping was quite a new
experience to Anne; and she had not been cautioned against it, so
her enjoyment was as fresh and vivid as a child's; and they both
chattered all the way home with a merriment in which Julius fully
shared, almost surprised to see Anne so eager and lively, and--as
her cheeks glowed and her eyes brightened--beginning to understand
what had attracted Miles.
Mrs. Poynsett had not had quite so pleasant a day, for Cecil knocked
at her door soon after luncheon with an announcement that Lady
Tyrrell wished for admission. Expecting an exposition of the Clio
scheme, she resigned herself, looking with some curiosity at the
beautiful contour of face and drooping pensive loveliness, that had
rather gained than lost in grace since the days when she had deemed
them so formidable.
"This is kind, dear Mrs. Poynsett," said the soft voice, while the
hand insisted on a pressure. "I have often wished to come and see
you, but I could not venture without an excuse."
"Thank you," was the cold reply.
"I have more than an excuse--a reason, and I think we shall be fully
agreed; but first you must let me have the pleasure of one look to
recall old times. It is such a treat to see you so unchanged. I
hope you do not still suffer."
"No, thank you."
"And are you always a prisoner here? Ah! I know your patience."
"What was the matter on which you wanted to speak to me?" said Mrs.
Poynsett, fretted beyond endurance by the soft, caressing tone.
"As I said, I should hardly venture if I did not know we agreed--
though perhaps not for the same reasons. We do agree in our love
and high opinion of your dear Frank!"
"Well!" repressing a shudder at the 'dear.'
"I am afraid we likewise agree that, under all circumstances, our
two young people are very unfortunately attached, and that we must
be hard-hearted, and let it go no further."
"You mean your sister?"
"My dear Lena! I cannot wonder! I blame myself excessively, for it
was all through my own imprudence. You see, when dear Frank came to
Rockpier, it was so delightful to renew old times, and they both
seemed such children, that I candidly confess I was off my guard;
but as soon as I had any suspicion, I took care to separate them,
knowing that, in the state of my poor father's affairs, it would be
most unjustifiable to let so mere a youth be drawn into an
"Frank is no prize," said his mother with some irony.
"I knew you would say that, dear Mrs. Poynsett. Pecuniarily
speaking, of course, he is not; though as to all qualities of the
heart and head, he is a prize in the true sense of the word. But,
alas! it is a sort of necessity that poor Lena, if she marry at all,
should marry to liberal means. I tell you candidly that she has not
been brought up as she ought to have been, considering her
expectations or no expectations. What could you expect of my poor
father, with his habits, and two mere girls? I don't know whether
the governess could have done anything; but I know that it was quite
time I appeared. I tell you in confidence, dear Mrs. Poynsett,
there was a heavy pull on my own purse before I could take them away
from Rockpier; and, without blaming a mere child like poor dear Lena
you can see what sort of preparation she has had for a small
It is hard to say which tried Mrs. Poynsett's patience most, the
'dears' or the candour; and the spirit of opposition probably
prompted her to say, "Frank has his share, like his brothers."
"I understand, and for many girls the provision would be ample; but
poor Lena has no notion of economizing--how should she? I am afraid
there is no blinking it, that, dear children as they both are,
nothing but wretchedness could result from their corning together;
and thus I have been extremely sorry to find that the affair has
"It was not an unnatural result of their meeting again."
"Ah! there I was to blame again; but no one can judge whether an
attachment be real between such children. I thought, too, that
Frank would be gone out into the world, and I confess I did not
expect to find that he had absolutely addressed her, and kept it
secret. That is what my poor father feels so much. Eleonora is his
special darling, and he says he could have overlooked anything but
Maternal affection assumed the defensive; and, though the idea of
concealment on the part of one of her sons was a shock, Mrs.
Poynsett made no betrayal of herself, merely asking, "How did it
come to light?"
"I extorted the confession. I think I was justified, standing in a
mother's position, as I do. I knew my vigilance had been eluded,
and that your son had walked home with her after the skating; and
you know very well how transparent young things are."
The skating! The mother at once understood that Frank was only
postponing the explanation till after his examination; and besides,
she had never been ignorant of his attachment, and could not regard
any display thereof more or less as deception towards herself. The
very fact that Lady Tyrrell was trying to prejudice her beforehand,
so as to deprive him of the grace of taking the initiative towards
his own mother, enlisted her feelings in his defence, so she coldly
answered, "I am sorry if Sir Harry Vivian thinks himself unfairly
treated; but I should have thought my son's feelings had been as
well known in the one family as in the other."
"But, _dear_ Mrs. Poynsett," exclaimed Lady Tyrrell, "I am sure you
never encouraged them. I am quite enough aware--whatever I may once
have been--of the unfortunate contrast between our respective
Certainly there was no connection Mrs. Poynsett less wished to
encourage; yet she could not endure to play into Camilla' hands, and
made reply, "There are many matters in which young men must judge
for themselves. I have only once see Miss Vivian, and have no means
of estimating my son's chance of happiness with her."
Her impenetrability ruffled Lady Tyrrell; but the answer was softer
than ever. "Dear Mrs. Poynsett, what a happy mother you are, to be
able so freely to allow your sons to follow their inclinations!
Well! since you do not object, my conscience is easy on that score;
but it was more than I durst hope."
To have one's approval thus stolen was out of the question and Mrs.
Poynsett said, "Regret is one thing, opposition another. Sir Harry
Vivian need not doubt that, when my son's position is once fixed, he
will speak openly and formally, and it will then be time to judge."
"Only," said Lady Tyrrell, rising, "let this be impressed on your
son. Eleonora cannot marry till she is of age, and my father cannot
sanction any previous entanglement. Indeed it is most unfortunate,
if her affections have been tampered with, for me, who have outgrown
romance, and know that, in her position, a wealthy match is a
necessity. I have spoken candidly," she repeated; "for I like Frank
too well to bear that he should be trifled with and disappointed."
The ladies parted, liking one another, if possible, less than
Mrs. Poynsett's instinct of defence had made her profess much less
distaste to the marriage than she really felt; she was much
concerned that another son should be undergoing Raymond's sad
experiences, but she had no fear that Lady Tyrrell would ever allow
it to come to a marriage, and she did not think Frank's poetical
enthusiasm and admiration for beauty betokened a nature that would
suffer such an enduring wound as Raymond's had done.
So she awaited his return, without too much uneasiness for amusement
in Rosamond's preparations. One opening into the conservatory was
through her room, so that every skilful device, or gay ornament,
could be exhibited to her; and she much enjoyed the mirth that went
on between the queen of the revels and her fellow-workers.
Cecil did not interfere, being indeed generally with her friends at
Sirenwood, Aucuba Villa, or the working-room, in all of which she
had the pleasure of being treated as a person of great
consideration, far superior to all her natural surroundings, and on
whom hinged all the plans for the amelioration of Willansborough.
Sometimes, however, it happens that the other side of a question is
presented; and thus it was on the day before the entertainment, when
Rosamond had taken her brother Tom to have his hair cut, and to
choose some false moustaches, and the like requisites for their
They went first to Pettitt's, the little hair-dresser, where Tom was
marvellously taken with the two Penates, and could hardly be dragged
into the innermost recesses, where in the middle of a sheet, with a
peignoir on his shoulders, he submitted to the clipping of his
raven-black locks, as Mr. Pettitt called them, on the condition of
his sister looking on.
Presently they heard some feet enter the outer shop, and Mrs.
Duncombe's voice asking for Mr. Pettitt; while his mother replied
that he would wait on her immediately, but that he was just now
engaged with the Honourable Mr. De Lancey. "Could she show them
"Oh no, thank you, we'll wait! Don't let us keep you, Mrs. Pettitt,
it is only on business."
"Ay!" said the other voice--female, and entirely untamed. "He's
your great ally about your gutters and drains, isn't he?"
"The only landowner in Wil'sbro' who has a particle of public
spirit!" said Mrs. Duncombe.
Whereat good-natured Lady Rosamond could not but smile
congratulation to the hair-cutter, who looked meekly elevated, while
Tom whispered, "Proverb contradicted."
But the other voice replied, "Of course--he's a perfumer, learned in
smells! You'd better drop it, Bessie! you'll never make anything of
"I'll never drop what the health and life of hundreds of my fellow-
creatures depend on! I wish I could make you understand, Gussie!"
"You'll never do anything with my governor, if that's your hope--you
should hear him and the mum talking! 'It's all nonsense,' he says;
'I'm not going to annoy my tenants, and make myself unpopular, just
to gratify a fashionable cry.' 'Well,' says mumsey, 'it is not what
was thought the thing for ladies in my time; but you see, if Gussie
goes along with it, she will have the key to all the best county
society.' 'Bother the county society!' says I. 'Bessie Duncombe's
jolly enough--but such a stuck-up set as they all are at Compton,
I'll not run after, behaving so ill to the governor, too!' However--"
"There's a proverb about listeners!" said Rosamond, emerging when
she felt as if she ought to hearken no longer, and finding Mrs.
Duncombe leaning with her back to the counter, and a tall girl, a
few degrees from beauty, in a riding-habit, sitting upon it.
They both laughed; and the girl added, "If you had waited a moment,
Lady Rosamond, you would have heard that you were the only jolly one
of all the b'iling!"
"Ah! we shall see where you are at the end of Mrs. Tallboys'
lectures!" said Mrs. Duncombe.
"On what?" asked Rosamond. "Woman's rights, or sanitary measures?
for I can't in the least understand why they should be coupled up
"Nor I!" said Miss Moy. "I don't see why we shouldn't have our own
way, just as well as the men; but what that has to do with drains
and gutters, I can't guess."
"I'm the other way," said Rosamond. "I think houses and streets
ought to be made clean and healthy; but as for woman's rule, I fancy
we get more of it now than we should the other way."
"As an instance," said Mrs. Duncombe, "woman is set on cleansing
Wil'sbro'. Man will not stir. Will it ever be done till woman has
"Perhaps, if woman would be patient, man would do it in the right
way, instead of the wrong!" quoth Rosamond.
"Patient! No, indeed! Nothing is to be done by that! Let every
woman strive her utmost to get the work done as far as her powers
go, and the crusade will be accomplished for very shame!"
Just then Tom, looking highly amused, emerged, followed by Mr.
Pettitt, the only enlightened landlord on whom Mrs. Duncombe had
been able to produce the slightest impression. He had owned a few
small tenements in Water Lane, which he was about to rebuild, and
which were evidently the pivot of operations.
At the door they met Cecil, and Rosamond detained her a moment in
the street to say, "My dear Cecil, is _that_ Miss Moy coming on
"Of course she is. We greatly want to move her father. He has the
chief house property there."
"It is too late now," said Rosamond; "but do you think it can be
pleasant to Jenny Bowater to meet her?"
"I know nothing of the old countrified animosities and gossipings,
which you have so heartily adopted," replied Cecil, proudly.
"Firstly, I ignore them as beneath me; secondly, I sacrifice them
all to a great cause. If Miss Bowater does not like my guests, let
her stay away."
Here Mrs. Duncombe stood on the step, crying out, "Well, Cecil, how
have you sped with Mrs. Bungay?"
"Horrid woman!" and no more was heard, as Cecil entered Mr.
"That might be echoed," said Tom, who was boiling over at the speech
to his sister. "I knew that ape was an intolerable little prig of a
peacock, but I didn't think she could be such a brute to you, Rosie!
Is she often like that, and does your parson stand such treatment of
"Nonsense, Tom!" said Rosamond; "it doesn't often happen, and breaks
no bones when it does. It's only the ignorance of the woman, and
small blame to her--as Mrs. M'Kinnon said when Corporal Sims's wife
threw the red herring's tail at her!"
"But does Julius stand it?" repeated Tom, fiercely, as if hesitating
whether to call out Julius or Mrs. Charnock Poynsett.
"Don't be so ridiculous, Tom! I'd rather stand a whole shower of
red herrings' tails at once than bother Julius about his brother's
wife. How would you and Terry like it, if your wives took to
squabbling, and setting you together by the ears? I was demented
enough to try it once, but I soon saw it was worse than anything."
"What? He took her part?"
"No such thing! Hold your tongue, Tommy, and don't talk of married
folk till you're one yourself!"
"Papa never meant it," repeated the indignant Tom. "I've a great
mind to write and tell him how you are served!"
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