The Three Brides
Charlotte M. Yonge
Part 8 out of 11
She lifted her eyes to his face. "I wanted to tell you all day,"
she said. "Didn't you come to the door?"
"Many times, my dear."
"And now! oh dear! I don't recollect. Don't go, please."
He sat down by her; she held his hand and dozed again.
"You had best leave her now, sir," said the maid; "she will only go
on in this way, and I can tend her."
He would have given a great deal to have been sure that he could
hold up his head ten minutes longer and to venture to send the woman
away. Cecil muttered "Stay," and he sat on till her sleep seemed
deeper, and he felt as if a few moments more might disable him from
crossing the room, but his first movement again made her say
"Mr. Poynsett cannot stay, ma'am," said Grindstone, in a persuasive
tone. "He is very tired, and not well, and you would not wish to
"Give me a kiss," she said, like a tired child. It was not like the
shy embrace with which they had sometimes met and parted, but he
knew he must not rouse her, and only said very low, "Good night, my
poor dear; God bless you, and grant us a happy meeting, whenever it
Tears were flowing down his cheeks when Julius presently came to him
again, and only left him when settled for the night.
The Water Lane Fever
The Water Lane Fever. People called it so, as blinking its real
name, but it was not the less true that it was a very pestilence in
the lower parts of Wil'sbro'; and was prostrating its victims far
and wide among the gentry who had resorted to the town-hall within
the last few weeks.
Cases had long been smouldering among the poor and the workmen
employed, and several of these were terminating fatally just as the
outbreak was becoming decisive.
On Monday morning Julius returned from visits to his brothers to
find a piteous note from Mrs. Fuller entreating him to undertake two
funerals. Her husband had broken down on Sunday morning and was
very ill, and Mr. Driver had merely read the services and then
joined his pupils, whom he had sent away to the sea-side. He had
never been responsible for pastoral care, and in justice to them
could not undertake it now. "Those streets are in a dreadful
state," wrote the poor lady, "several people dying; and there is
such a panic in the neighbourhood that we know not where to turn for
help. If you could fix an hour we would let the people know. The
doctor insists on the funerals being immediate."
Julius was standing in the porch reading this letter, and thinking
what hour he could best spare from nearer claims, when he heard the
gate swing and beheld his junior curate with a very subdued and
sobered face, asking, "Is it true?"
"That the fever is here? Yes, it is."
"And very bad?"
"Poor Frank is our worst case as yet. He is constantly delirious.
The others are generally sensible, except that Terry is dreadfully
haunted with mathematics."
"Then it is all true about the Hall. Any one else ill?"
"Only the two Willses. They were carousing at the 'Three Pigeons.'
I hope that Raymond's prohibition against that place may have been
the saving of the Hall servants. See here," and he gave the note.
"I had better take those two funerals. I can at least do that,"
said Herbert. "That Driver must be a regular case of a hireling."
"He never professed that the sheep were his," said Julius.
"Then I'll go to the Vicarage and get a list of the sick, and see
after them as far as I can," said Herbert, in a grave, humble tone,
showing better than a thousand words how he felt the deprivation he
had brought on himself; and as to shame or self-consciousness, the
need had swallowed them all.
"It will be a great act of kindness, Herbert. The point of
infection does not seem clear yet, but I am afraid it will be a
"I did not believe it could all be true when the report came to Rood
House, but of course I came to hear the truth and see what I could
do. How is Mrs. Poynsett bearing up?"
"Bravely. Anne contrived our carrying her up-stairs, and it is the
greatest comfort to Raymond to lie and look at her, and Susan looks
after them both."
"Then he can't be so very ill."
"Not so acutely, but there are symptoms that make Worth anxious.
Shall I give you a note for Mrs. Fuller?"
"Do, and put me at your disposal for all you can spare for, or I can
do. Have you written to Bindon?"
"I don't know where, within some hundred miles. But, Herbert, I
think we ought to undertake the help that is wanted at Wil'sbro'.
Smith of Duddingstone is too weakly, and poor old Mr. Moulden
neither could nor would. We are the nearest, and having it here
already, do not run the risk of spreading it. As things are, I
cannot be very long away from home, but I would come in for an hour
or so every day, if you could do the rest."
"Yes, that was what I meant," said Herbert.
"Worth says the best protection is never to go among the sick hungry
or exhausted. He says he keeps a biscuit in his pocket to eat
before going into a sick house. I shall make Rosamond keep you
supplied, and you must promise to use them."
"Oh yes, I promise."
"And never drink anything there. There is to be a public meeting
to-morrow, to see whether the cause of this outbreak is not
traceable to the water down there."
"Mrs. Duncombe's meddling?"
"Don't judge without evidence. But it does seem as if the water at
the well at Pettitt's houses had done much of the harm. Terry was
drinking it all that hot day, and to-day we hear that Lady Tyrrell
and two of the servants are ill, besides poor little Joe Reynolds."
"It is very terrible," said Herbert. "Lady Tyrrell, did you say?"
"Yes. She was there constantly, like Raymond's wife. Happily there
is not much fear for your people, Herbert. Your father was at the
dinner, but he is not a water drinker, and Jenny only just came to
the bazaar, that was all. Edith happily gave up the ball."
"I know," said Herbert, colouring. "Jenny persuaded her to give it
up because of--me. Oh, how I have served them all!"
"I told Jenny that perhaps her Ember prayers had been met in the
"Yes," said Herbert. "I can't understand now how I could have been
such an audacious fool as to present myself so coolly after the year
I had spent. God forgive me for it! Rector, thank you for leaving
me at Rood House. It was like having one's eyes opened to a new
life. I say, do you know anything about Harry Hornblower? Is he
"Yes. You wouldn't prosecute?"
"Happily I couldn't. The things were gone and could not be
identified, and there was nothing about him. So, though they had me
over to Backsworth, they could not fall foul of me for refusing to
prosecute. Have you seen him?"
"No, I tried, but he had got out of my way. You've not been there?"
seeing that Herbert had brought back his bag.
"No; I will not till I come back;" and as he took the note he added,
"Rector, I do beg your pardon with all my might." Then, after a
strong clasp of the hand, he sped away with a long, manful,
energetic stride, which made Julius contrast his volunteer courage
with the flight of the man who, if not pledged to pastoral care at
Wil'sbro', still had priestly vows upon him.
Julius had no scruples about risking this favourite home child. If
he thought about it at all, it was to rejoice that Mrs. Bowater was
safely gone, for he had passed unscathed through scenes at St.
Awdry's that would have made his mother tremble, and he had little
fear of contagion, with reasonable care. Of course the doctors had
the usual debate whether the fever were infectious or epidemic, but
it made little difference. The local ones, as well as an authority
from London, had an inspection previous to the meeting, which took
place in the school, whose scholars were dispersed in the panic. No
ladies were admitted. "We have had enough of them," quoted
Worshipful Mayor Truelove. Mr. Briggs, the ex-mayor, was at the
bedside of his son, and there were hardly enough present to make
The focus of the disease was in Pettitt's well. The water, though
cold, clear, and sparkling, was affected by noxious gases from the
drains, and had become little better than poison; the air was not
much better, and as several neighbouring houses, some swarming with
lodgers, used this water, the evil was accounted for. The 'Three
Pigeons' had been an attraction to the servants waiting with their
ladies' carriages during the entertainments, and though they had not
meddled much with the simple element, spirits had not neutralized
the mischief. Thence too had come water for the tea and iced
beverages used at the bazaar and ball. Odours there had been in
plenty from the untouched drainage of the other houses, and these,
no doubt, enhanced the evil; but every one agreed that the bad
management of the drains on Mr. Pettitt's property had been the main
agency in the present outbreak.
The poor little perfumer had tears of grief and indignation in his
eyes, but he defended his cause and shielded the ladies with
chivalry worthy of his French ancestry. He said he had striven to
do his duty as a proprietor, and if other gentlemen had done the
same, and the channels could have had a free outlet, this misfortune
would never have occurred. He found himself backed up by Mr. Julius
Charnock, who rose to declare that what Mr. Pettitt had said was
just what his brother, Mr. Charnock Poynsett, had desired should be
stated as his own opinion, namely, that the responsibility rested,
not with those who had done all within their power or knowledge for
the welfare of their tenants, but with those whose indifference on
the score of health had led them to neglect all sanitary measures.
"He desires me to say," added Julius, "that being concerned both in
the neglect and in the unfortunate consequences, he is desirous to
impress his opinion on all concerned."
Future prevention was no longer in the hands of the Town Council,
for a sanitary commission would take that in hand; but in the
meantime it was a time of plague and sickness, and measures must be
taken for the general relief. Mr. Moy, to whom most of the houses
belonged, was inquired for; but it appeared that he had carried off
his wife and daughter on Saturday in terror when one of his servants
had fallen ill, and even his clerks would not know where to write to
him till he should telegraph. The man Gadley was meantime driving
an active trade at the 'Three Pigeons,' whither the poor, possessed
with the notion that spirits kept out the infection, were resorting
more than ever, and he set at defiance all the preventives which
doctors, overseer, and relieving officer were trying to enforce,
with sullen oaths against interference.
Two deaths yesterday, one to-day, three hourly apprehended; doctors
incessantly occupied, nurses, however unfit, not to be procured by
any exertion of the half-maddened relieving-officer; bread-winners
prostrated; food, wine, bedding, everything lacking. Such was the
state of things around the new town-hall of Wil'sbro', and the
gentry around were absorbed by cases of the same epidemic in their
To telegraph for nurses from a hospital, to set on foot a
subscription, appoint a committee of management, and name a
treasurer and dispenser of supplies, were the most urgent steps.
Julius suggested applying to a Nursing Sisterhood, but Mr. Truelove,
without imputing any motives to the reverend gentleman, was
unwilling to insert the thin end of the wedge; so the telegram was
sent to a London Hospital, and Mr. Whitlock, the mayor-elect,
undertook to be treasurer, and to print and circulate an appeal for
supplies of all sorts. Those present resolved themselves into a
committee, and consulted about a fever hospital, since people could
hardly be expected to recover in the present condition of Water
Lane; but nothing was at present ready, and the question was
adjourned to the next day. As Julius parted with Mr. Whitlock he
met Herbert Bowater returning from the cemetery in search of him,
with tidings of some cases where he was especially needed. As they
walked on together Mrs. Duncombe overtook them with a basket on her
arm. She held out her hand with an imploring gesture.
"Mr. Charnock, it can't be true, can it?--they only say so out of
ignorance--that it was Pettitt's well, I mean?"
In a few words Julius made it clear what the evil had been and how
She did not dispute it, she merely grew sallower and said:
"God forgive us! We did it for the best. I planned. I never
thought of that. Oh!"
"My brother insists that the mischief came of not following the
example you set."
"Cecil is too much stupefied to know anything about it."
"You are helping here? Make me all the use you can. Whatever has
to be done give it to me."
"Nay, you have your family to consider."
"My boys are at their grandmother's. My husband is gone abroad.
Give me work. I have brought some wine. Who needs it most?"
"Wine?" said Herbert. "Here? I was going back for some, but half
an hour may make all the difference to the poor lad in here."
Mrs. Duncombe was within the door in a moment.
"There has been an execution in her house," said Herbert, as they
went home. "That fellow went off on Saturday, and left her alone to
"I thought she had striven to keep out of debt."
"What can a woman do when a man chooses to borrow? That horse
brought them to more unexpected smash. They say that after the
ball, where she appeared in all her glory, as if nothing had
happened, she made Bob give her a schedule of his debts, packed his
portmanteau, sent him off to find some cheap hole abroad, and stayed
to pick up the pieces after the wreck."
"She is a brave woman," said Julius.
Therewith they plunged into the abodes of misery, where the only
other helper at present was good old Miss Slater, who was going from
one to another, trying to show helpless women how to nurse, but able
only to contribute infinitesimal grains of aid or comfort at immense
cost to herself. Julius insisted on taking home with him his
curate, who had been at work from ten o'clock that morning till six,
when as Julius resigned the pony's reins to him, he begged that they
might go round and inquire at Sirenwood, to which consent was the
more willingly given because poor Frank's few gleams of
consciousness were spent in sending his indefatigable nurse Anne to
ask whether his mother had 'had that letter,' and in his delirium he
was always feeling his watch-chain for that unhappy pebble, and
moaning when he missed it. Mrs. Poynsett's letter had gone on
Friday, and still there was no answer, and this was a vexation,
adding to the fear that the poor fellow's rejection had been final.
Yet she might have missed the letter by being summoned home. Close
to the lodge, they overtook Sir Harry, riding dejectedly homewards,
and, glad to be saved going up to the house, they stopped and
inquired for Lady Tyrrell.
"Very low and oppressed," he said. "M'Vie does not give us reason
to expect a change just yet. Do they tell you the same? Worth
attends you, I think?"
"He seems to think it must run on for at least three weeks," said
"You've been to the meeting, eh? Was it that well of Pettitt's?
Really that meddling wife of Duncombe's ought to be prosecuted. I
hope she'll catch the fever and be served out."
"She tried to prevent it," said Julius.
"Pshaw! women have no business with such things, they only put their
foot in it. Nobody used to trouble themselves about drains, and one
never heard of fevers."
Instead of contesting the point, Julius asked whether Miss Vivian
were at home.
"No; that's the odd thing. I wrote, for M'Vie has no fear of
infection, and poor Camilla is always calling for her, and that
French maid has thought proper to fall ill, and we don't know what
to do. Upper housemaid cut and run in a panic, cook dead drunk last
night, not a servant in the house to be trusted. If it were not for
my man Victor I don't know where I should be. Very odd what that
child is about. Lady Susan can't be keeping it from her.
"She is with Lady Susan Strangeways?"
"Yes. Went with Bee and Conny. I was glad, for we can't afford to
despise a good match, though I _was_ sorry for your brother."
"Do I understand you that she is engaged to Mr. Strangeways?"
"No, no; not yet. One always hears those things before they are
true, and you see they are keeping her from us as if she belonged to
them already. I call it unfeeling! I have just been to the post to
see if there's a letter! Can't be anything wrong in the address,--
Revelrig, Cleveland, Yorkshire."
"Why don't you telegraph?"
"I shall, if I don't hear to-morrow morning."
But the morning's telegrams were baffling. None came in answer to
Sir Harry, though he had bidden his daughter to telegraph back
instantly; and two hospitals replied that they had no nurses to
spare! This was the first thing Julius heard when he came to the
committee-room. The second was that the only parish nurse had been
found asleep under the influence of the port-wine intended for her
patients, the third that there were five more deaths, one being Mrs.
Gadley, of the 'Three Pigeons,' from diphtheria, and fourteen more
cases of fever were reported. Julius had already been with the
schoolmistress, who was not expected to live through the day. He
had found that Mrs. Duncombe had been up all night with one of the
most miserable families, and only when her unpractised hands had
cared for a little corpse, had been forced home by good Miss Slater
for a little rest. He had also seen poor Mr. Fuller, who was too
weak and wretched to say anything more than 'God help us, Charnock:
you will do what you can;' and when Julius asked for his sanction to
sending for Sisters, he answered, "Anything, anything."
The few members who had come to the committee were reduced to the
same despairing consent, and Julius was allowed to despatch a
telegram to St. Faith's, which had sent Sisters in the emergency at
St. Awdry's. He likewise brought an offer, suggested by Raymond, of
a great old tithe barn, his own property, but always rented by Mrs.
Poynsett, in a solitary field, where the uninfected children might
be placed under good care, and the houses in Water Lane thus
relieved. As to a fever hospital, Raymond had sent his advice to
use the new town-hall itself. A word from him went a great way just
then with the Town Council, and the doctors were delighted with the
Funds and contributions of bedding, clothing, food and wine were
coming in, but hands were the difficulty. The adaptations of the
town-hall and the bringing in of beds were done by one strong
carpenter and Mrs. Duncombe's man Alexander, whom she had brought
with her, and who proved an excellent orderly; and the few who would
consent, or did not resist occupying the beds there, were carried in
by Herbert Bowater and a strapping young doctor who had come down
for this fever pasture. There Mrs. Duncombe and Miss Slater
received them. No other volunteer had come to light willing to
plunge into this perilous and disgusting abyss of misery; and among
the afflicted families the power of nursing was indeed small.
However, the healthy children were carried away without much
resistance, and established in the great barn under a trustworthy
widow; and before night, two effective-looking Sisters were in
charge at the hospital.
Still, however, no telegram, no letter, came from Eleonora Vivian.
Mr. M'Vie had found a nurse for Lady Tyrrell, but old Sir Harry rode
in to meet every delivery of the post, and was half distracted at
finding nothing from her; and Frank's murmurs of her name were most
piteous to those who feared that, if he were ever clearly conscious
again, it would only be to know how heavy had been the meed of his
What dost thou here, frail wanderer from thy task?--Christian
Eleonora Vivian was trying to fix her attention on writing out the
meditation she had just heard from Dr. Easterby.
It had been a strange time. All externally was a great hush. There
was perfect rest from the tumult of society, and from the harassing
state of tacit resistance habitual to her. This was the holy
quietude for which she had longed, yet where was the power to feel
and profit by it? Did not the peace without only make her hear the
storm within all the more?
A storm had truly been raging within ever since Conny Strangeways
had triumphantly exhibited the prize she had won from Frank Charnock
at the races; and Camilla had taken care that full and undeniable
evidence should prove that this was not all that the young man had
lost upon the Backsworth race-ground.
Lenore might guess, with her peculiarly painful intuition, who had
been the tempter, but that did not lessen her severity towards the
victim. In her resolution against a betting man, had she not
trusted Frank too implicitly even to warn him of her vow? Nay, had
she not felt him drifting from her all through the season, unjustly
angered, unworthily distrustful, easily led astray? All the
misgivings that had fretted her at intervals and then cleared away
seemed to gather into one conviction--Frank had failed her!
Eleonora's nature was one to resent before grieving. Her spirit was
too high to break down under the first shock, and she carried her
head proudly to the ball, betraying by no outward sign the stern
despair of her heart, as she listened to the gay chatter of her
companions, and with unflinching severity she carried out that
judicial reply to Frank which she had already prepared, and then
guarded herself among numerous partners against remonstrance or
explanation. It had been all one whirl of bewilderment; Lady
Tyrrell tired, and making the girls' intended journey on the morrow
a plea for early departure; and the Strangeways, though dancing
indefatigably, and laughing at fatigue, coming away as soon as they
saw she really wished it. All said good night and good-bye
together, both to Lady Tyrrell and Sir Harry, and Lenore started at
ten o'clock without having seen either. Her sense of heroism lasted
till after the glimpse of Frank on the road. Her mood was of bitter
disappointment and indignation. Frank was given up, but not less so
were her father, her sister, and the world. Sir Harry had made
Camilla suffice to him, he did not want her. He had been the means
of perverting Frank, and Lenore could not see that she need any
longer be bound for his sake to the life she detested. In a few
weeks she would be of age, and what would then prevent her from
finding a congenial home in the Sisterhood, since such kindred could
have no just claim to her allegiance? It was the hasty
determination of one who had suffered a tacit persecution for three
years, and was now smarting under the cruellest of blows. Her lover
perverted, her conditions broken, her pledge gambled away, and all
this the work of her father and sister!
Conny and Bee thought her grave and more silent than usual, and when
Lady Susan met them in London there was no time for thought.
Saturday was spent on a harvest festival at a suburban church, after
which the daughters were despatched to their uncle's by a late
train. Sunday was spent in the pursuit of remarkable services; and
on Monday Lady Susan and Eleonora had gone to St. Faith's and the
Here was to be the longed-for rest, for which she had thirsted all
the more through those days of hurry and of religious spectacles, as
she felt that, be they what they might to their regular attendants,
to her, as an outsider, they could be but sights, into whose spirit
her sick and wearied soul could not enter.
Here was no outward disturbance, no claim from the world, no
importunate chatter, only religious services in their quietest, most
unobtrusive form; and Dr. Easterby's low tender tones, leading his
silent listeners to deep heart-searchings, earnest thoughts, and
Ah! so no doubt it was with many; but Lena, with book and pen, was
dismayed to find that the one thing she recollected was the
question, "Friend, how camest thou in hither?" After that, she had
only heard her own thoughts. Her mind had lapsed into one vague
apprehension of the effects of having cut off all communication with
home, imaginings of Frank's despair, relentings of pity, all broken
by dismay at her own involuntary hypocrisy in bringing such thoughts
into the Retreat. Had she any right to be there at all? Was not a
thing that should have been for her peace become to her an occasion
It was Thursday evening, and on the morrow there would be the
opportunity of private interviews with Dr. Easterby. She longed for
the moment, chiefly to free herself from the sense of deception that
had all this time seemed to vitiate her religious exercises, deafen
her ears, and blow aside her prayers. There was a touch on her
shoulder, and one of the Sisters who had received the ladies said,
interrogatively, "Miss Vivian? The Mother would be obliged if you
would come to her room."
The general hush prevented Lenore from manifesting her extreme
agitation, and she moved with as quiet a step as she could command,
though trembling from head to foot. In the room to which she came
stood the Superior and Dr. Easterby, and a yellow telegram-paper lay
on the table.
"My father?" she asked.
"No," said the Superior, kindly, "it is your sister, who is ill.
Here is the telegram--"
"Sister Margaret to the Mother Superior, St. Faith's, Dearport.
Lady Tyrrell has the fever. Miss Vivian much needed.
"Wils'bro, Sept. 26th, 5.30."
"The fever!" She looked up bewildered, and the Superior added--
"You did not know of a fever at Wil'sbro'? Some of our nursing
Sisters were telegraphed for, and went down yesterday. I was sorry
to send Sister Margaret away just when her mother and you are here;
but she was the only available head, and the need seemed great."
"I have heard nothing since I left home on Friday," said Eleonora,
hoarsely. "It is my own fault. They think I am at Revelrig."
"Your family do not know you are here?" said the Superior, gravely.
"It was very wrong," she said. "This is the punishment. I must go.
"Surely, as soon as there is a train," said the Superior, beginning
to look for a Bradshaw; while Dr. Easterby gave Lenore a chair, and
bade her sit down. She looked up at his kind face, and asked
whether he had heard of this fever.
"On Sunday evening, some friends who came out from Backsworth to our
evening service spoke of an outbreak of fever at Wil'sbro', and said
that several of the Charnock family were ill. I have had this card
since from young Mr. Bowater:--
"T. F. in severe form. J. C. well, but both his brothers are
down in it, and Lady K.'s brother, also Lady T. and the Vicar.
No one to do anything; we have taken charge of Wil'sbro'. I have
no time to do more than thank you for unspeakable kindness. H.
"You knew?" exclaimed Lenore, as she saw her sister's initial.
"I knew Lady Tyrrell was ill, but I do not know who the ladies are
whom I address. I did not guess that you were here," said Dr.
No one living near Backsworth could fail to know Sir Harry Vivian's
reputation, so that the master of Rood House knew far better than
the Superior of St. Faith's how much excuse Lenore's evasion might
have; but whatever could seem like tampering with young people was
most distressing to the Sisters, and the Mother was more grave than
There was no train till the mail at night, and there would be two
hours to wait in London; but Lenore would listen to no entreaties to
wait till morning, and as they saw that she had plenty of health and
strength, they did not press her, though the Superior would send a
nurse with her, who, if not needed at Sirenwood, might work in Water
Lane. It was thought best not to distract Lady Susan, and Lenore
was relieved not to have her vehement regret and fussy cares about
her; but there were still two hours to be spent before starting, and
in these Dr. Easterby was the kindest of comforters.
Had she erred in her concealment? He thought she had, though with
much excuse. A Retreat was not like a sacrament, a necessity of a
Christian's life; and no merely possible spiritual advantage ought
to be weighed against filial obedience. It was a moment of
contrition, and of outpouring for the burthened heart, as Lenore was
able to speak of her long trial, and all the evil it had caused in
hardening and sealing up her better nature. She even told of her
unsanctioned but unforbidden engagement, and of its termination;
yearning to be told that she had been hasty and hard, and to be
bidden to revoke her rejection.
She found that Dr. Easterby would not judge for her, or give her
decided direction. He showed her, indeed, that she had given way to
pride and temper, and had been unjust in allowing no explanation;
but he would not tell her to unsay her decision, nor say that it
might not be right, even though the manner had been wrong. While
the past was repented, and had its pardon, for the future he would
only bid her wait, and pray for guidance and aid through her trial.
"My child," he said, "chastening is the very token of pardon, and
therein may you find peace, and see the right course."
"And you will pray for me--that however it may be, He may forgive
"Indeed, I will. We all will pray for you as one in sorrow and
anxiety. And remember this: There is a promise that a great
mountain shall become a plain; and so it does, but to those who
bravely try to climb it in strength not their own, not to those who
try to go round or burrow through."
"I see," was all she answered, in the meek submissive tone of a
strong nature, bent but not daring to break down. She could not
shed tears, deeply as she felt; she must save all her strength and
bear that gnawing misery which Herbert Bowater's mention of J. C.'s
brothers had inflicted upon her--bear it in utter uncertainty
through the night's journey, until the train stopped at Wil'sbro' at
eleven o'clock, and her father, to whom she had telegraphed, met
her, holding out his arms, and absolutely crying over her for joy.
"My dear, my dear, I knew you would come; I could trust to my little
Lena. It was all some confounded mistake."
"It was my fault. How is she?"
"Does nothing but ask for you. Very low--nasty fever at night.
What's that woman? M'Vie sent a nurse, who is awfully jealous;
can't have her in to Camilla: but there's plenty to do; Anais is
laid up--coachman too, and Joe--half the other servants gone off. I
told Victor I would pay anything to him if he would stay."
"And--at Compton?" faintly asked Lenore.
"Bad enough, they say. Serves 'em right; Mrs. Raymond was as
mischievous as Duncombe's wife, but I've not heard for the last two
days; there's been no one to send over, and I've had enough to think
about of my own."
"Who have it there?" she managed to say.
"Raymond and his wife, both; and Frank and the young De Lancey, I
heard. I met Julius Charnock the other day very anxious about them.
He's got his tithe barn stuffed with children from Water Lane, as if
he wanted to spread it. All their meddling! But what kept you so
long, little one? Where were you hiding?--or did Lady Susan keep it
from you? I began to think you had eloped with her son. You are
sure you have not?"
"I was wrong, father; I went to a Retreat with Lady Susan."
"A what? Some of Lady Susan's little poperies, eh? I can't scold
you, child, now I've got you; only have your letters forwarded
another time," said Sir Harry, placable as usual when alone with
Fears of infection for her did not occur to him. Mr. M'Vie held the
non-contagion theory, and helpless selfishness excluded all thoughts
of keeping his daughter at a distance. He clung to her as he used
to do in former days, before Camilla had taken possession of him,
and could not bear to have her out of reach. In the sick-room she
was of disappointingly little use. The nurse was a regular
professional, used to despotism, and resenting her having brought
home any one with her, and she never permitted Miss Vivian's
presence, except when the patient's anxiety made it necessary to
bring her in; and when admitted, there was nothing to be done but to
sit by Camilla, and now and then answer the weary disjointed talk,
and, if it grew a little livelier, the warning that Lady Tyrrell was
getting excited was sure to follow.
Outside there was enough to do, in the disorganized state of the
sick and panic-stricken household, where nobody was effective but
the French valet and one very stupid kitchen-maid. Lena helped the
St. Faith's nurse in her charge of the French maid, but almost all
her time in the morning was spent in domestic cares for the sick and
for her father; and when he was once up, he was half plaintive, half
passionate, if she did not at once respond to his calls. She read
the papers to him, walked up and down the terrace with him while he
smoked, and played bezique with him late into the night, to distract
his thoughts. And where were hers, while each day's bulletin from
Compton Hall was worse than the last? Little Joe Reynolds had been
sent home on being taken ill, and she would fain have gone to see
him, but detentions sprang up around her, and sometimes it would
have been impossible to go so far from the house, so that days had
become weeks, and the month of October was old before she was
walking down the little garden of old Betty's house. The door
opened, and Julius Charnock came out, startling her by the sight of
his worn and haggard looks, as he made a deprecating movement, and
shut the door behind him. Then she saw that the blinds were in the
act of being drawn down.
"Is it so?" she said.
"Yes," said Julius, in a quiet tone, as sad and subdued as his
looks. "He slept himself away peacefully a quarter of an hour ago."
"I suppose I must not go in now. I longed to come before. Poor
boy, he was like a toy flung away."
"You need not grieve over him," said Julius. "Far from it. You
have done a great deal for him."
"I--I only caused him to be put into temptation."
"Nay. Your care woke his spirit up and guarded him. No one could
hear his wanderings without feeling that he owed much to you. There
is a drawing to be given to you that will speak much to you. It is
at the Rectory; it was not safe here. And his mother is here. I
can't but hope her soul has been reached through him. Yes," as
Lenore leant against the gate, her warm tears dropping, "there is no
grief in thinking of him. He had yearnings and conceptions that
could not have been gratified in his former station; and for him an
artist's life would have been more than commonly uphill work--full
of trial. I wish you could have heard the murmured words that
showed what glorious images floated before him--no doubt now
"I am glad he was really good," were the only words that would come.
The hearts of both were so full, that these words on what was a
little further off were almost necessary to them.
"Take my arm," said Julius, kindly. "Our roads lie together down
the lane. How is your sister? Better, I hope, as I see you here."
"She has slept more quietly. Mr. M'Vie thinks her a little better."
"So it is with Terry de Lancey," said Julius; "he is certainly less
feverish to-day;" but there was no corresponding tone of gladness in
the voice, though he added, "Cecil is going on well too."
"And--" Poor Lenore's heart died within her; she could only press
his arm convulsively, and he had mercy on her.
"Frank's illness has been different in character from the others,"
he said; "the fever has run much higher, and has affected the brain
more, and the throat is in a very distressing state; but Dr. Worth
still does not think there are specially dangerous symptoms, and is
less anxious about him than Raymond."
"Ah! is it true?"
"He does not seem as ill as Frank; but there have been bleedings at
the nose, which have brought him very low, and which have hitherto
been the worst symptoms," and here the steady sadness of his voice
quivered a little.
Lenore uttered a cry of dismay, and murmured, "Your mother?"
"She is absorbed in him. Happily, she can be with him constantly.
They seem to rest in each other's presence, and not to look
"It has taken the lethargic turn with Cecil. She is almost always
asleep, and is now, I believe, much better; but in truth we have
none of us been allowed to come near her. Her maid, Grindstone, has
taken the sole charge, and shuts us all out, for fear, I believe, of
our telling her how ill Raymond is."
"Oh, I know Grindstone."
"Who looks on us all as enemies. However, Raymond has desired us to
write to her father, and he will judge when he comes."
They were almost at the place of parting. Eleonora kept her hand on
his arm, longing for another word, nay, feeling that without it her
heart would burst. "Who is with Frank?"
"Anne. She hardly ever leaves him. She is our main-stay at the
"Is he ever sensible?" she faintly asked.
"He has not been really rational for nearly ten days now."
"If--if--oh! you know what I mean. Oh! gain his pardon for me!" and
she covered her face with her hand.
"Poor Frank!--it is of your pardon that he talks. Tell me,
Eleonora, did you ever receive a letter from my mother?"
"Never. Where was it sent?" she said, starting.
"To Revelrig. It was written the day after the ball."
"I never went to Revelrig. Oh! if I could have spoken to you first
I should have been saved from so much that was wrong. No one knew
where I was."
"No, not till Sister Margaret told Herbert Bowater that her sisters
had been at a ball at the town-hall the week before. Then he saw
she was Miss Strangeways, and asked if she knew where you were."
"Ah, yes! disobedience--tacit deception--temper. Oh! they have
brought their just punishment. But that letter!"
"I think it was to explain poor Frank's conduct at the races.
Perhaps, as the servants at Revelrig had no knowledge of you, it may
have been returned, and my mother's letter have been left untouched.
I will see."
They knew they must not delay one another, and parted; Julius
walking homewards by the Hall, where, alas! there was only one of
the family able to move about the house, and she seldom left her
Julius did, however, find her coming down-stairs with Dr. Worth, and
little as he gathered that was reassuring in the physician's words,
there was a wistful moisture about her eyes, a look altogether of
having a bird in her bosom, which made him say, as the doctor
hurried off, "Anne, some one must be better."
"Cecil is," she said; and he had nearly answered, "_only_ Cecil,"
but her eyes brimmed over suddenly, and she said, "I am so
"Miles!" he exclaimed.
She handed him a telegram. The Salamanca was at Spithead; Miles
telegraphed to her to join him.
"Miles come! Thank God! Does mother know?"
"Hush! no one does," and with a heaving breast she added, "I
answered that I could not, and why, and that he must not come."
"No, I suppose he must not till he is free of his ship. My poor
"Oh no! I know he is safe. I am glad! But the knowledge would
tear your mother to pieces."
"Her soul is in Raymond now, and to be certain of Miles being at
hand would be an unspeakable relief to him. Come and tell them."
"No, no, I can't!" she cried, with a sudden gush of emotion sweeping
over her features, subdued instantly, but showing what it was to
her. "You do it. Only don't let them bring him here."
And Anne flew to her fastness in Frank's attic, while Julius
repaired to Raymond's room, and found him as usual lying tranquil,
with his mother's chair so near that she could hand him the cool
fruit or drink, or ring to summon other help. Their time together
seemed to both a rest, and Julius always liked to look at their
peaceful faces, after the numerous painful scenes he had to
encounter. Raymond, too, was clinging to him, to his ministrations
and his talk, as to nothing else save his mother. Raymond had
always been upright and conscientious, but his religion had been
chiefly duty and obligation, and it was only now that comfort or
peace seemed to be growing out of it for him. As he looked up at
his brother, he too saw the involuntary brightness that the tidings
had produced, and said, "Is any one else better, Julius? I know
Terry is; I am so glad for Rose."
"I asked Anne the same question," said Julius. "Mother, you will be
more glad than tantalized. The Salamanca is come in."
Raymond made an inarticulate sound of infinite relief. His mother
exclaimed, "He must not come here! But Frankie could not spare Anne
to him. What will she do?"
"She will stay bravely by Frank," said Julius. "We must all wait
till the ship is paid off."
"Of course," said Raymond. "If she can rejoice that he is out of
danger, we will; I am content to know him near. It makes all much
easier. And, mother, he will find all ready to own what a priceless
treasure he sent before him in his wife."
There was the old note of pain in the comparison. Julius's heart
was wrung as he thought of Sirenwood, with the sense that the victim
was dying, the author of the evil recovering. He could only stifle
the thought by turning away, and going to the table in his mother's
adjacent room, where letters had accumulated unopened. 'On Her
Majesty's Service' bore the post-mark which justified him in opening
it, and enclosing the letter it contained to Miss Vivian.
He did so almost mechanically. He had gone through these weeks only
by never daring to have a self. The only man of his family who
could be effective; the only priest in the two infected parishes; he
had steadfastly braced himself for the work. He ventured only to
act and pray, never to talk, save for the consolation of others. To
Wil'sbro' he daily gave two morning hours, for he never failed to be
wanted either for the last rites, or for some case beyond Herbert's
experience, as well as to see the Vicar, who was sinking fast, in a
devout and resigned frame, which impressed while it perplexed his
brother clergyman, in view of the glaring deficiencies so plain to
others, but which never seemed to trouble his conscience.
The nursing-staff still consisted of the Sisters, Herbert Bowater,
Mrs. Duncombe and her man-servant. Under their care, the virulence
of the disease was somewhat abating, and the doctors ventured to say
that after the next few days there would be much fewer fatal cases;
but Water Lane was now a strangely silent place,--windows open,
blinds flapping in the wind, no children playing about, and the
'Three Pigeons' remained the only public-house not shut up. It was
like having the red cross on the door.
A Strange Night
Cold, cold with death, came up the tide
In no manner of haste,
Up to her knees, and up to her side,
And up to her wicked waist;
For the hand of the dead, and the heart of the dead,
Are strong hasps they to hold.--G. MACDONALD
"Rector," said Herbert Bowater, "are you specially at home?"
"Why?" asked Julius, pausing.
"There's that man Gadley."
"Gadley! Is he down?"
"It seems that he has been ill this fortnight, but in the low,
smouldering form; and he and that hostler of his kept it a secret,
for fear of loss of gain, and hatred of doctors, parsons, Sisters,
and authorities generally, until yesterday, when the hostler made
off with all the money and the silver spoons. This morning early, a
policeman, seeing the door open, went in, and found the poor wretch
in a most frightful state, but quite sensible. I was passing as he
came out to look for help, and I have been there mostly ever since.
He is dying--M'Vie says there's not a doubt of that, and he has got
something on his mind. He says he has been living on Moy's hush-
money all this time, for not bringing to light some embezzlement of
your mother's money, and letting the blame light on that poor cousin
of yours, Douglas."
Herbert was amazed at the lighting up of his Rector's worn, anxious
"Douglas! Thank Heaven! Herbert, we must get a magistrate at once
to take the deposition!"
"What! Do you want to prosecute Moy?"
"No, but to clear Archie."
"I thought he was drowned?"
"No; that was all a mistake. Miles saw him at Natal. Herbert, this
will be life and joy to your sister. What!--you did not know about
Jenny and Archie?"
"Not I--Jenny!--poor old Joan! So that's what has stood in her way,
and made her the jolliest of old sisters, is it? Poor old Joanie!
What! was she engaged to him?"
"Yes, much against your father's liking, though he had consented. I
remember he forbade it to be spoken of,--and you were at school."
"And Joan was away nursing old Aunt Joan for two years. So Archie
went off with this charge on him, and was thought to be lost! Whew!
How did she stand it? I say, does she know he is alive?"
"No, he forbade Miles to speak. No one knows but Miles and I, and
our wives. Anne put us on the scent. Now, Herbert, I'll go to the
poor man at once, and you had better find a magistrate."
"Whom can I find?" said Herbert. "There's my father away, and
Raymond ill, and Lipscombe waved me off--wouldn't so much as speak
to me for fear I should be infectious."
"You must get a town magistrate."
"Briggs is frantic since he lost his son, and Truelove thinks he has
the fever, though Worth says it is all nonsense. There's nobody but
Whitlock. Dear old Jenny! Well, there always was something
different from other people in her, and I never guessed what it was.
I'd go to the end of the world to make her happy and get that
patient look out of her eyes."
Herbert had nearly to fulfil this offer, for Mr. Whitlock was gone
to London for the day, and magistrates were indeed scarce; but at
last, after walking two miles out of the town, his vehemence and
determination actually dragged in the unfortunate, timid justice of
the peace who had avoided him in the road, but who could not refuse
when told in strong earnest that the justification of an innocent
man depended on his doing his duty.
Poor Mr. Lipscombe! The neglected 'Three Pigeons' was just now the
worst place in all Water Lane. The little that had hastily been
done since the morning seemed to have had no effect on the foetid
atmosphere, even to Herbert's well accustomed nostrils; and what
must it have been to a stranger, in spite of the open window and all
the disinfectants? And, alas! the man had sunk into a sleep.
Julius, who still stood by him, had heard all he had to say to
relieve his mind, all quite rationally, and had been trying to show
him the need of making reparation by repeating all to a magistrate,
when the drowsiness had fallen on him; and though the sound of feet
roused him, it was to wander into the habitual defiance of
authority, merging into terror.
Herbert soothed him better than any one else could do, and he fell
asleep again; but Mr. Lipscombe declared it was of no use to remain--
nothing but madness; and they could not gainsay him. He left the
two clergymen together, feeling himself to have done a very valiant
and useless thing in the interests of justice, or at the importunity
of a foolishly zealous young curate.
"Look here," said Herbert, "Whitlock may be trusted. Leave a note
for him explaining. I'll stay here; I'm the best to do so, any way.
If he revives and is sensible, I'll send off at once for Whitlock,
or if there is no time, I'll write it down and let him see me sign
"And some one else, if possible," said Julius. "The difficulty is
that I never had authority given me to use what he said to me in
private. Rather the contrary, for old instinctive habits of caution
awoke the instant I told him it was his duty to make it known, and
that Archie was alive. I don't like leaving you here, Herbert, but
Raymond was very weak this morning; besides, there's poor Joe's
"Oh, never mind. He'll have his sleep out, and be all right when he
awakes. Think of righting Jenny's young man! How jolly!"
Julius went across to the town-hall hospital, and told the Sisters,
whose darling his curate was, of the charge he had undertaken, and
they promised to look after him. After which Julius made the best
of his way home, where Rosamond had, as usual, a bright face for
him. Her warm heart and tender tact had shown her that obtrusive
attempts to take care of him would only be harassing, so she only
took care to secure him food and rest in his own house whenever it
was possible, and that however low her own hopes might be, she would
not add to his burden; and now Terry was so much better that she
could well receive him cheerily, and talk of what Terry had that day
eaten, so joyously, as almost to conceal that no one was better at
"I will come with you," she said; "I might do something for poor
Fanny," as the bell began to toll for little Joshua's funeral.
Fanny Reynolds, hearing some rumour of her boy's illness, had
brought Drake to her home three days before his death. The poor
little fellow's utterances, both conscious and unconscious, had
strangely impressed the man, and what had they not awakened in the
mother? And when the words, so solemn and mysterious, fell on those
unaccustomed ears in the churchyard, and Fanny, in her wild
overpowering grief, threw herself about in an agony of sorrow and
remorse, and sobbed with low screams, it was 'the lady' whom she
viewed as an angel of mercy, who held her and hushed her; and when
all was over, and she was sinking down, faint and hysterical, it was
'the lady' who--a little to the scandal of the more respectable--
helped Drake to carry her to the Rectory, the man obeying like one
"I must leave the sheep that was lost to you, Rose," said Julius.
"You can do more for them than I as yet, and they have sent for me
to the Hall."
"You will stay there to-night if they want you; I don't want any
one," said Rosamond at the door.
He was wanted indeed at his home. Frank was in a wilder and more
raving state than ever, and Raymond so faint and sinking, and with
such a look about him, that Julius felt, more than he had ever done
before, that though the fever had almost passed away, there was no
spirit or strength to rally. He was very passive, and seemed to
have no power to wonder, though he was evidently pleased when Julius
told him both of Archie Douglas's life and the hopes of clearing his
name. "Tell Jenny she was right," he said, and did not seem
inclined to pursue the subject.
They wheeled Mrs. Poynsett away at her usual hour, when he was
dozing; and as Frank was still tossing and moaning incoherently, and
often required to be held, Julius persuaded Anne to let him take her
place with him, while she became Raymond's watcher. He dozed about
half an hour, and when she next gave him some food, he said, in a
very low feeble tone:
"You have heard from Miles?"
"Yes; he says nothing shall stop him the moment they are paid off."
"That's right. No fear of infection--that's clear," said Raymond.
"I think not--under God!" and Anne's two hands unseen clasped over
her throbbing, yearning heart.
"Dear old fellow!" said Raymond. "It is such pleasure to leave
mother to him. If I don't see him, Anne, tell him how glad I am.
I've no charge. I know he will do it all right. And mother will
have you," and he held out his hand to her. Presently he said:
"Anne. One thing--"
"Yes," she said anxiously.
"You always act on principle, I know; but don't hang back from
Miles's friends and pleasures. I know the old fellow, Anne. His
nature is sociable, and he wants sympathy in it."
"I know what you mean, Raymond," said Anne; "I do mean to try to do
"I know, I know," said he, getting a little excited, and speaking
eagerly; "but don't let right blind you, Anne, if you censure and
keep from all he likes--if you will be a recluse and not a woman--
he--don't be offended, Anne; but if you leave him to himself, then
will every effort be made to turn him from you. You don't believe
"My dear Raymond, don't speak so eagerly," as his cheeks flushed.
"I must! I can't see his happiness and yours wrecked like mine. Go
with him, Anne. Don't leave him to be poisoned. Mesmerism has its
power over whoever has been under the spell. And he has--he has!
She will try to turn him against you and mother."
"Hush, Raymond! Indeed I will be on my guard. There's no one
there. What are you looking at?"
"Camilla!" he said, with eyes evidently seeing something. "Camilla!
Is it not enough to have destroyed _one_ peace?"
"Raymond, indeed there is no one here."
But he had half raised himself. "Yes, Camilla, you have had your
revenge. Let it be enough. No--no; I forgive you; but I forbid you
to touch her."
He grasped Anne's arm with one hand, and stretched the other out as
though to warn some one away. The same moment there was another
outburst of the bleeding. Anne rang for help with one hand, and
held him as best she could. It lasted long; and when it was over he
was manifestly dying. "It is coming," he said; looking up to
Julius. "Pray! Only first--my love to Cecil. I hope she is still
young enough not to have had all her life spoilt. Is her father
"To-morrow," said Anne.
"That's well. Poor child! she is better free."
How piteously sad those words of one wedded but a year! How unlike
the look that met his mother's woeful yet tender eyes, as she held
his hand. She would aid him through that last passage as through
all before, only a word of strong and tender love, as he again
looked up to Julius and Anne, as if to put her in their keeping, and
once more murmured something of "Love to sweet Rose! Now, Julius,
An ever dutiful man, there was no wandering in look or tone. He
breathed 'Amen' once or twice, but never moved again, only his eyes
still turned on his mother, and so in its time came the end.
Old Susan saw at first that the long fluttering gasp had no
successor, and her touch certified Julius. He rose and went towards
his mother. She held out her hands and said. "Take me to my
"We had better," whispered Anne.
They wheeled her to the foot of the stairs. Julius took her in his
arms, Anne held her feet, and thus they carried her up the stairs,
and along the passage, hearing Frank's husky rapid babble all the
way, and finding him struggling with the fierce strength of delirium
against Jenkins, who looked as if he thought them equally senseless,
when he saw his helpless mistress carried in.
"Frank, my boy, do lie still," she said, and he took no notice; but
when she laid her hand on his, he turned, looked at her with his
dull eyes, and muttered, "Mother!"
It was the first recognition for many a day! and, at the smoothing
motion of her hand over him, while she still entreated, "Lie still,
my dear," the mutterings died away; the childish instinct of
obedience stilled the struggles; and there was something more like
repose than had been seen all these weary months.
"Mother," said Julius, "you can do for us what no one else can. You
will save him."
She looked up to him, and hope took away the blank misery he had
dreaded to see. "My poor Frankie," she said dreamily, "he has
wanted me, I will not leave him now."
All was soon still; Frank's face had something like rest on it, as
he lay with his mother's hand on his brow, and she intent only on
"You can leave them to me, I think," said Anne. "I will send if
there be need; but if not, you had better not come up till you have
been to Wil'sbro'--if you must go."
"I must, I fear; I promised to come to Fuller if he be still here.
I will speak to Jenkins first."
Julius was living like a soldier in a campaign, with numbers
dropping beside him, and no time to mourn, scarcely to realize the
loss, and he went on, almost as if he had been a stranger; while the
grief of poor old Jenkins was uncontrollable, both for his lady's
sake and for the young master, who had been his pride and glory.
His sobs brought out Mrs. Grindstone into the gallery, to insist,
with some asperity, that there should be no noise to awaken her
mistress, who was in a sweet sleep.
"We will take care," said Julius, sadly. "I suppose she had better
hear nothing till Mr. Charnock comes."
"She must be left to me, sir, or I cannot be answerable for the
consequences," was the stiff reply, wherewith Mrs. Grindstone
retreated into her castle.
Julius left the hushed and veiled house, in the frosty chill of the
late autumn just before dawn, shivering between grief and cold, and
he walked quickly down the avenue, feeling it strange that the
windows in the face of his own house were glittering back the
reflection of the setting moon.
Something long and black came from the opposite direction.
"Rector," it said, in a low hoarse voice, "I've got leave from him
to use what he said to you. Sister Margaret and I signed it. Will
"I can't tell now, Herbert, I can't think. My brother is just
gone," said Julius in his inward voice.
"Raymond! No! Oh, I beg your pardon; I never thought of that;
"Go home and go to bed," said Julius, as the young man wrung his
hand. "Rest now--we must think another time."
Did Rosamond know? was perhaps the foremost of his weary thoughts.
Ah! did she not! Was she not standing with her crimson shawl round
her, and the long black plaits falling on it, to beckon him to the
firelit comfort of his own room? Did she not fall on his neck as he
came heavily up, and cling around him with her warm arms? "Oh,
Julius, what a dear brother he was! What can we do for your
As he told her how Frank's need did more than any support could do
for her, her tears came thicker; but in spite of them, her fond
hands put him into the easy-chair by the fire, and drew off his damp
boots; and while listening to the low sunken voice that told her of
the end, she made ready the cup of cocoa that was waiting, and put
the spoon in his hand in a caressing manner, that made her care,
comfort, not oppression. Fatigue seconded her, for he took the warm
food, faltered and leant back, dozing till the baby's voice awoke
him, and as he saw Rosamond hushing her, he exclaimed:
"O, Rose! if poor Raymond had ever known one hour like this!" and he
held out his arms for his child.
"You know I don't let you hold her in that coat. Go into your
dressing-room, have your bath, and put on your dressing-gown, and if
you will lie on the bed, you shall take care of her while I go and
feed Terry. You can't do anything for anybody yet, it is only six
These precautions, hindering his going jaded and exhausted into
infection, were what Rosamond seemed to live for, though she never
forced them on him, and he was far too physically tired out not to
yield to the soothing effect; so that even two hours on the bed sent
him forth renovated to that brief service in the church, where
Herbert and he daily met and found their strength for the day. They
had not had time to exchange a word after it before there was a
knock at the vestry door, and a servant gave the message to Herbert,
who had opened it: "Lady Tyrrell is taken worse, sir, and Sir Harry
Vivian begged that Mr. Charnock would come immediately."
A carriage had been sent for him, and he could only hurry home to
tell Rosamond to send on the pony to Sirenwood, to take him to
Wil'sbro', unless he were first wanted at home. She undertook to go
up to the Hall and give Anne a little rest, and he threw himself
into the carriage, not daring to dwell on the pain it gave him to go
from his brother's death bed to confront Camilla.
At the door Eleonora came to meet him. "Thank you," she said. "We
knew it was no time to disturb you."
"I can be better spared _now_," answered Julius.
"You don't mean," she said, with a strange look, which was not quite
"Yes, my dear brother left us at about three o'clock last night. A
change came on at twelve."
"Twelve!" Eleonora laid her hand on his arm, and spoke in a quick
agitated manner. "Camilla was much better till last night, when at
twelve I heard such a scream that I ran into her room. She was
sitting up with her eyes fixed open, like a clairvoyante, and her
voice seemed pleading--pleading with _him_, as if for pardon, and
she held out her hands and called him. Then, suddenly, she gave a
terrible shriek, and fell back in a kind of fit. Mr. M'Vie can do
nothing, and though she is conscious now, she does nothing but ask
for you and say that he does not want you now."
Julius grew paler, as he said very low, "Anne said he seemed to be
seeing and answering _her_. Not like delirium, but as if she were
"Don't tell any one," entreated Eleonora, in a breathless whisper,
and he signed consent, as both felt how those two spirits must have
been entwined, since these long years had never broken that subtle
link of sympathy which had once bound them.
Sir Harry's face, dreary, sunken, and terrified, was thrust over the
balusters, as he called, "Don't hinder him, Lena, she asks for him
every moment;" and as they came on, he caught Julius's hand, saying,
"Soothe her, soothe her--'tis the only chance. If she could but
There lay Camilla Tyrrell, beautiful still, but more than ever like
the weird tragic head with snake-wreathed brows, in the wasted
contour of her regular features and the flush on her hollow cheeks,
while her eyes burned with a strange fire that almost choked back
Julius's salutation of peace, even while he breathed it, for might
not the Son of Peace be with some there?
The eager glance seemed to dart at him. "Julius Charnock!" she
cried, "come!" and as he would have said some word about her health,
she cut him short: "Never mind that; I must speak while my brain
serves. After that be the priest. He is dead!"
"My brother? Yes."
"The only one I ever loved! There's no sin nor scandal in saying so
now. His wife is better? It will never kill her."
"She does not know."
"No? There was nothing to make her. He could not give her his
heart, try as he would. Why did he turn the unchangeable to hate!
"Lady Tyrrell, you did not send for me to hear what ought not to be
said at all?"
"Don't fly off," she said. "I had really something to say. It was
not wholly hate, Julius; I really tried to teach his little idiot of
a wife to win him at last. I meant it to turn out well, and nothing
could, with that mother there."
"I must leave you, Lady Tyrrell, if you will not control yourself."
"Don't be hard on me, Julius," and she looked up with a glance of
better days. "You idolize her, like all the rest of you; but she
chilled me and repelled me, and turned me to bitterness, when I was
young and he might have led me. Her power and his idolatry made me
jealous, and what I did in a fit of petulance was so fastened on
that I could not draw back. Why did not he wait a little longer to
encumber himself with that girl! No--that wasn't what I had to say--
it's all over now. It is the other thing. How is Frank?"
"Very ill indeed; but quieter just now."
"Then there shall not be another wreck like ours. Lena, are you
here? You saw that Frank had let Constance Strangeways win your
pebble. It was because I showed him the one Beatrice bought, and he
thought it yours. Yes, I saw nothing else for it. What was to
become of the property if you threw yourself away, and on _her_
son?" she added, with the malignant look. "Whether he knew of this
little vow of yours, I can't tell, but he had lost his head and did
for himself. It was for your good and papa's; but I shall not be
here to guide the clue, so you must go your own way and be happy in
it, if _she_ will let you. Father, do you hear? Don't think to
please me by hindering the course of true love; and you, Julius,
tell Frank he was 'a dull Moor.' I liked the boy, I was sorry for
him; but he ought to have known his token better;--and there was the
estate to be saved."
"Estates weigh little now!"
"Clerical! I suppose now is the time for it? You were all
precision at Compton. It would kill me; I can't live with Mrs.
Poynsett. No, no, Tom, I can't have old Raymond quizzed; I'll get
him out of it when the leading-strings are cut. What right has she--
The delirium had returned. Julius's voice kept her still for a few
moments, but she broke out afresh at his first pause, and murmurs
fell thick and fast from her tongue, mixing the names of her brother
and Raymond with railings at Mrs. Poynsett for slights in the days
when the mother was striving to discourage the inclination that
resulted in the engagement.
Earnestly did Julius beseech for peace, for repentance for the poor
storm-tossed soul; but when the raving grew past control, and the
time was coming for his ministrations to the Vicar of Wil'sbro', he
was forced to leave her. Poor old Sir Harry would have clung to him
as to anything like a support, but Eleonora knew better. "No, dear
papa," she said, "he has given us too much of his time already. He
must go where he can still help. Poor Camilla cannot attend to
"If she came to herself--"
"Then send for me. I would come instantly. Send to the town-hall
any time before twelve, after that to Compton. Send without
scruples, Lenore, you have truly the right."
They did not send, except that a note met him as he returned home,
telling him that suffusion of the brain had set in. Camilla Tyrrell
did not survive Raymond Poynsett twelve hours.
And are ye sure the news is true?
And are ye sure he's weel?--J. THOMPSON
Eleonora Vivian was striving to write her sorrowful announcements in
the deepening dusk of that autumn evening, while her father had shut
himself up after his vigil to sleep under Victor's care, when a
message came that Lady Rosamond Charnock earnestly begged to see
her. She stood with a face white and set, looking like a galvanized
corpse, as her lips framed the words, "He is dead!"
"No!" almost screamed Rosamond, snatching her hand. "No! But no
one can save him but you. Come!"
Without a word, Eleonora stepped into her own room, and came back in
cloak, hat, and veil.
"Right," said Rosamond, seizing her arm, and taking her to the pony-
carriage at the door, then explaining while driving rapidly: "He
has left off raving ever since his mother has been with him, but he
lies--not still but weak, not speaking, only moaning now and then.
His throat is so dreadful that it is hard to give him anything, and
he takes no notice of what one says, only if his mother takes the
spoon. He gets weaker, and Dr. Worth says it is only because there
is no impulse to revive him--he is just sinking because he can't be
roused. When I heard that, I thought I knew who could."
Eleonora's lips once moved, but no sound came from them, and
Rosamond urged her little pony to its best speed through the two
parks from one veiled house to another, fastened it to the garden-
door without calling any one, and led her silent companion up the
Mrs. Poynsett felt a hand on her shoulder, and Rosamond said, "I
have brought our only hope," and Eleonora stood, looking at the
ghastly face. The yellow skin, the inflamed purple lips, the
cavernous look of cheeks and eyes, were a fearful sight, and only
the feeble incessant groping of the skeleton fingers showed life or
"Put this into his hand," said Rosamond, and Lenore found the pebble
token given to her, and obeyed. At the touch, a quivering trembled
over face and form, the eyelids lifted, the eyes met hers, there was
a catching of the breath, a shudder and convulsive movement. "He is
going," cried his mother, but Anne started forward with drops of
strong stimulant, Rosamond rubbed spirit into his forehead, the
struggle lessened, the light flickered back into his brown eyes, his
fingers closed on hers. "Speak to him," said Mrs. Poynsett. "Do
you see her, Frankie dear?"
"Frank! dear Frank, here I am."
The eyes gazed with more meaning, the lips moved, but no sound came
till Anne had given another drop of the stimulant, and the terrible
pain of the swallowing was lessened. Then he looked up, and the
words were heard.
"Is it true?"
"It is, my dear boy. It is Lena."
"Here, Frank," as still the wistful gaze was unsatisfied; she laid
her hands on his, and then he almost smiled and tried to raise it to
his cheeks, but he was too weak; and she obeyed the feeble gesture,
and stroked the wasted face, while a look of content came over it,
the eyes closed, and he slept with his face against her hand, his
mother watching beside with ineffable gratitude and dawning hope.
Lenore was forgetting everything in this watching, but in another
quarter of an hour Anne was forced again to torture him with her
spoon; but life was evidently gaining ground, for though he put it
from him at first, he submitted at Lena's gesture and word. She
felt the increased warmth and power in his grasp, as he whispered,
"Lena, you are come back," then felt for the token.
Alas! that she must leave him. They knew she must not stay away
from her father; indeed, Rosamond had told no one of her attempt,
her forlorn hope. Lena tried to give assurances that she only went
because it could not be helped, and the others told him she would
return, but still he held her, and murmured, "Stay." She could not
tear herself away, she let him keep her hand, and again he dozed and
his fingers relaxed. "Go now, my dear," said Mrs. Poynsett, "you
have saved him. This stone will show him that you have been here.
You will come back to-morrow, I may promise him?"
"Yes, yes. In the morning, or whenever I can be spared," whispered
Lena, who was held for a moment to Mrs. Poynsett's breast, ere
Rosamond took her away again, and brought her once more down-stairs
and to the pony-carriage. There she leant back, weeping quietly but
bitterly over the shock of Frank's terribly reduced state, which
seemed to take from her all the joy of his revival, weeping too at
the cruel need that was taking her away.
"He will do now! I know he will," said Rosamond, happy in her bold
"Oh! if I could stay!"
"Most likely you would be turned out for fear of excitement. The
stone will be safer for him."
"Where did that come from?" asked Lenore, struck suddenly with
"I wrote to Miss Strangeways, when I saw how he was always feeling,
feeling, feeling for it, like the Bride of Lammermoor. I told her
there was more than she knew connected with that bit of stone, and
life or death might hang on it. Then when I'd got it, I hardly knew
what to do with it, for if it had soothed the poor boy delirious,
the coming to his right mind might have been all the worse."
Rosamond kissed her effusively, and she dreamily muttered, "He must
be saved." There was a sort of strange mist round her, as though
she knew not what she was doing, and she longed to be alone. She
would not let Rosamond drive her beyond the Sirenwood gate, but
insisted on walking through the park alone in the darkness, by that
very path where Frank had ten months ago exchanged vows with her.
Rosamond turned back to the Hall. It was poor Cecil's pony-carriage
that she was driving, and she took it to the stable-yard, where her
entreaty had obtained it from the coachman, whom she rewarded by
saying, "I was right, Brown, I fetched his best doctor," and the old
servant understood, and came as near a smile as any one at Compton
could do on such a day.
"Is the carriage gone for Mr. Charnock?"
"Yes, my lady, I sent Alfred with it; I did not seem as if I could
go driving into Wil'sbro' on such a day."
Rosamond bade a kind farewell to the poor old coachman, and was
walking homewards, when she saw a figure advancing towards her,
strangely familiar, and yet hat and coat forbade her to believe it
her husband, even in the dusk. She could not help exclaiming,
"Yes!" he said, coming to a standstill. "Are you Rosamond?"
"I am;--Anne is quite well and Frank better. Oh! this will do them
good! You know--"
"Yes--yes, I know," he said hastily, as if he could not bear to let
himself out to one as yet a stranger. "My mother?"
"Absorbed in Frank too much to feel it yet fully; Anne watches them
both. Oh! Miles, what she has been!" and she clasped his hand
again. "Let me call her."
And Rosamond opened the hall door just as some instinct, for it
could hardly have been sense of hearing, had brought Anne upon the
stairs, where, as Miles would have hurried up to her, she seemed, in
the light gray dress she still wore, to hover like some spirit
eluding his grasp like the fabled shades.
"Oh no! you ought not. Infection--I am steeped in it."
"Nonsense," and she was gathered into the strong grasp that was home
and rest to her, while Miles was weeping uncontrollably as he held
her in his arms. "O, Nannie, Nannie! I did not think it would be
like this. Why did they keep me till he was gone? No, I did not
get the telegram, I only heard at the station. They let me go this
morning, and I did think I should have been in time." He loosed
himself from her, and hung over the balustrade, struggling with a
strong man's anguish, then said in a low voice, "Did he want me?"
"He knew it was your duty," said Anne. "We all were thankful you
were kept from infection, and he said many little things, but the
chief was that he trusted you too much to leave any special
messages. Hark! that must be Mr. Charnock, Cecil's father! I must
go and receive him. Stay back, Miles, you can't now--you know my
He signed acquiescence, but lingered in the dark to look down and
see how, though Rosamond had waited to spare them this reception,
his wife's tall graceful figure came forward, and her kindly
comforting gestures, as the two sisters-in-law took the newcomer
into the drawing-room, and in another minute Anne flitted up to him
again. "That good Rosamond is seeing to Mr. Charnock," she said;
"will you come, Miles? I think it will do your mother good; only
quietly, for Frank knows nothing."
Mrs. Poynsett still sat by Frank. To Miles's eyes he was a fearful
spectacle, but to Anne there was hourly progress; the sunken
dejected look was gone, and though there was exhaustion, there was
rest; but he was neither sleeping nor waking, and showed no heed
when his brother dropped on one knee by his mother's side, put an
arm round her waist, and after one fervent kiss laid his black head
on her lap, hiding his face there while she fondled his hair, and
said, "Frank, Frankie dear, here's Miles come home." He did not
seem to hear, only his lips murmured something like 'Anne,' and the
tender hand and ready touch of his unwearied nurse at once fulfilled
his need, while his mother whispered, "Miles, she is our blessing!"
Poor Miles! Never had sailor a stranger, though some may have had
an even sadder, return. He had indeed found his wife, but hers was
the only hand that could make Frank swallow the sustenance that he
needed every half-hour, or who knew how to relieve him. Indeed,
even the being together in the sick-room was not long possible, for
Anne was called to the door. Mr. Charnock was asking to see Mrs.
Poynsett. Would Mrs. Miles come and speak to him?
Mr. Charnock was a small and restless man with white hair, little
black eyes, looking keener than they were, and a face which had
evidently been the mould of Cecil's. He was very kind, with a full
persuasion that the consolations of his august self must be
infallible; but this was coupled with an inclination to reprove
everybody for the fate that had left his cherished darling a
childless widow at two-and-twenty. To take him to Frank's room was
impossible, and he had to be roundly told so. Neither had he seen
his daughter. She was very weak, but recovering, and Grindstone,
whom he had seen and talked with, was as strenuous in deprecating
any excitement as he was nervous about it. So he could only be
disposed of in his room till dinner-time, when he came down prepared
to comfort the family, but fulfilled his mission rather by doing
such good as a blister, which lessens the force of the malady by
Julius came up to be with Miles, and to help them through the
dinner, the first which had been laid for many a long day. His
enquiry for Cecil was answered: "She is progressing as favourably
as there can be reason to expect, but I have not seen her. I follow
the judgment of her faithful Grindstone."
"Then she still knows nothing--"
"Of her bereavement? No. Her state does not yet warrant it. In
fact, I almost wish I had obeyed my original impulse, and brought
down Venn to make the melancholy communication."
To every one's surprise Anne bristled up, saying, "Why, here is
Julius, Mr. Charnock!"
Mr. Charnock bowed: "I understand that my Cousin Julius has been
engrossed by his wife's family and by the adjoining parish, the care
of which he has assumed."
Anne fairly coloured up, and exclaimed, "Julius has been our main-
stay and help in everything--I can't think how he has done it. He
has been here whenever we needed him, as well as at Wil'sbro', where
people have been dying everywhere, the poor Vicar and all--"
"Far be it from me to discourage philanthropy," said Mr. Charnock,
"only I would have it within due bounds. I am an old-fashioned
squire, of a school, it may be, antiquated, an advocate of the
parochial system; and I cannot help thinking that if this had been
closely adhered to by hot-headed young clergymen, my poor child
might not have been a childless widow at two-and-twenty."
Julius was too much tired and too sad-hearted to heed greatly what
Mr. Charnock said. It was so strange to have Miles in sight, yet to
feel so unable to be glad, that he scarcely heard anything. But
Anne again took up the cudgels: "Mr. Charnock, you don't suppose
that it was anything Julius did that brought this fever here. It
was going to the town-hall among the drains."
"My dear Mrs. Miles Charnock, I am sure your husband will agree with
me that sanitary arrangements and all connected with them are beyond
the range of ladies, who are happily exempted from all knowledge of
Anne could not say aloud that she wished Cecil had held this
opinion, but she subsided, while Mr. Charnock prosed on, asking
questions about the arrangements, and seeming shocked to hear that
the funeral must be early the next day, this being one of the prime
injunctions of the doctors, and that the one had been asked to
attend it. It made him sigh again for his poor daughter, as he
handed Anne in to dinner. She did not stay half through it, for it
was again the time for feeding Frank. Miles went half way up-stairs
with her and returned, looking very wistful. Julius smiled at him,
"Your wife is too valuable, Miles; she is every one's property."
"It must be very gratifying to you," added Mr. Charnock, "to find
how example and superior society have developed the native qualities
your discernment detected in the charming young lady who has just
quitted us. It was a most commendable arrangement to send her to
enjoy the advantages of this place."
"I sent her to be a comfort to my mother," said Miles, bluntly.
"And so she has been," said Julius, fervently, but sotto voce.
"I understand," said Mr. Charnock; "and as I was saying, my dear
Cecil expressed from the first her desire to assist in forming her
stranger sister-in-law, and I am happy to see the excellent effect.
I should scarcely have guessed that she came from a colony."
"Indeed," Miles answered dryly.
Mr. Charnock might have it his own way, if he liked to think Anne
had been a Hottentot till Cecil reclaimed her.
The two brothers did feel something like joy when a message at last
informed Mr. Charnock that his daughter was awake and he might see
her. They drew nearer together, and leant against one another, with
absolute joy in the contact. They were singularly alike in outline,
voice, and manner, in everything but colouring, and had always been
one in spirit, except for the strong passion for adventure which had
taken Miles to sea, to find he had chosen his profession too young
to count the cost, and he held to it rather by duty than taste.
Slight as had been his seniority, poor Raymond had always been on a
sort of paternal pinnacle, sharing the administration with his
mother, while Miles and Julius had paired on an equality.
"Poor mother!" sighed Miles. "How is she to live without him?
Julius, did he leave any word for me with you?"
"Above all, that Anne is the daughter for my mother, and so she is."
"What, when this poor wife of Raymond's was said to be the superior
"You see her adoring father," said Julius. "My Rose has necessarily
her own cares, but Anne has been my mother's silent aid and stay for
months, and what she has been in the present need no words can say.
My mother has had no power to take the direction of anything, her
whole being has been absorbed, first in Raymond, now in Frank; and
not only has Anne been Frank's constant nurse through these five
weeks of the most frightful fever and delirium I have seen at all
here, but she has had thought for all, and managed all the house and
servants. We could do comparatively little, with Rose's brother ill
at home, and the baby so young; besides, there have been eleven
cases in the parish; and there was Wil'sbro'--but Anne has been the
angel in the house."
"I knew--I knew she would be everything when once the first
strangeness was over; but, poor girl, her heart is in Africa, and it
has been all exile here; I could see it in every letter, though she
tried to make the best of it. If there had but been a child here!"
"I think you will find sufficient attachment to mother to weigh a
good deal with her. Poor Anne, she did think us all very wicked at
first, and perhaps she does still, but at least this has drawn us
all nearer together."
And then the brothers lowered their voices, and Miles heard the full
history of Raymond's last illness, with all the details that Julius
could have spoken of to none else, while the sailor's tears slowly
dropped through the hands that veiled his face. It was a great
deprivation to him that he might not look on Raymond's face again,
but the medical edict had been decisive, and he had come home to be
of use and not a burthen. As Julius told Rosamond, he only
thoroughly felt the blessing of Miles's return when he bade good
night and left the Hall, in peace and security that it had a
sufficient aid and stay, and that he was not deserting it.
Miles had proposed to send his wife to bed and take the night watch,
and he so far prevailed that she lay down in the adjoining room in
her dressing gown while he sat by Frank's side. She lay where she
could feast her eyes upon him, as the lamplight fell on his ruddy
brown cheek, black hair, and steady dark eye, so sad indeed, but so
full of quiet strength and of heedful alacrity even in stillness--a
look that poor Raymond, with all his grave dignity, had never worn.
That sight was all Anne wanted. She did not speak, she did not
sleep; it was enough, more than enough, to have him there. She was
too much tired, body and mind, after five weeks of strain, for more
than the sense that God had given her back what she loved, and this
was 'more than peace and more than rest.'
Funerals were little attended in these sad days. The living had to
be regarded more than the dead, and Raymond Poynsett was only
followed to the grave by his two brothers, his father-in-law, and
some of the servants. Rosamond, however, weeping her soft profuse
tears, could hear everything from behind the blind at Terry's open
window, on that moist warm autumn day; everything, for no exception
was made to the rule that coffins might not be taken into the church
during this deadly sickness. She did hear a faltering and a
blundering, which caused her to look anxiously at the tall white
figure standing at the head of the grave, and, as she now saw, once
or twice catching at the iron railing that fenced in the Poynsett
tombs. Neither her husband nor his brother seemed to notice what
she observed. Absorbed in the sorrow and in one another, they
turned away after the service was ended and walked towards the Hall.
Rosamond did not speak for a minute or two, then she turned round to
Terry, who was sitting up in bed, with an awe-struck face, listening
as well as he could to the low sounds, and watching her.
"Terry, dear, shall you mind my going to see after Herbert Bowater?
I am sure they have let him overwork himself. If he is not fit to
take Lady Tyrrell's funeral this afternoon, I _shall_ send to
Duddingstone on my own responsibility. I will not have Julius doing
"Do you think he is ill--Bowater, I mean?" asked Terry.
"I don't like it. He seemed to totter as he went across the
churchyard, and he blundered. I shall go and see."
"Oh yes, go," said Terry; "I don't want anybody. Don't hurry."
Rosamond put on her hat and sped away to Mrs. Hornblower's. As
usual, the front door leading to the staircase was open, and, going
up, she knocked at the sitting-room door; but the only response was
such a whining and scratching that she supposed the dogs had been
left prisoners there and forgotten, and so she turned the lock--but
there was an obstruction; so that though Mungo and Tartar darted out
and snuffed round her, only Rollo's paw and head appeared, and there
was a beseeching earnestness in his looks and little moans, as if
entreating her to come in. Another push, vigorously seconded by
Rollo within, showed her that it was Herbert's shoulder that
hindered her, and that he was lying outstretched on the floor,
apparently just recalled to consciousness by the push; for as Rollo
proceeded to his one remedy of licking, there was a faint murmur of
"It is I! What is the matter?"
"Lady Rose! I'll--I'll try to move--oh!" His voice died away, and
Rosamond thrust in her salts, and called to Mrs. Hornblower for
water, but in vain. However, Herbert managed to move a little to
one side. She squeezed into the doorway, hastily brought water from
his bedroom within, and, kneeling down by him, bathed his face, so
that he revived to say, in the same faint voice, "I'm so sorry I
made such mulls. I couldn't see. I thought I knew it by heart."
"Never mind, never mind, dear Herbert! You are better. Couldn't
you let me help you to the sofa?"
"Oh, presently;" and as she took his head on her lap, "Thank you; I
did mean to hold out till after this day's work; but it is all right
now Bindon is come."
"Come!--is he?" she joyfully exclaimed.
"Yes, I saw him from the window. I was getting up to hail him when
the room turned upside down with me."
"There's his step!" now exclaimed Rosamond. "Squeeze in, Mr.
Bindon; you are a very welcome sight."
Mr. Bindon did make his way in, and stood dismayed at the black mass
on the floor. Rosamond and Rollo, one on each side of Herbert's
great figure, in his cassock, and the rosy face deadly white, while
Mungo and Tartar, who hated Mr. Bindon, both began to bark, and thus
did the most for their master, whose call of 'Quiet! you brutes,'
seemed to give him sudden strength. He took a grip of Rollo's curly
back, and, supported by Mr. Bindon, dragged himself to the sofa and
fell heavily back on it.
"Give him some brandy," said Mr. Bindon, hastily.
"There's not a drop of anything," muttered Herbert; "it's all gone--
"To Wil'sbro'," explained Rosamond; then seeing the scared face of
Dilemma at the door, she hastily gave a message, and sent her flying
to the Rectory, while Mr. Bindon was explaining.
"I wish I had known. I never will go out of the reach of letters
again. I saw in the Times, at Innspruck, a mention of typhoid fever
here, and I came back as fast as trains would bring me; but too
late, I fear."
"You are welcome, indeed," repeated Rosamond. "Herbert has broken
down at last, after doing more than man could do, and I am most
thankful that my husband should be saved the funerals at Wil'sbro'."
Mr. Bindon, whose face showed how shocked he was, made a few
inquiries. He had learnt the main facts on his way, but had been
seeking his junior to hear the details, and he looked, like the
warrior who had missed Thermopylae, ashamed and grieved at his
The bottle Rosamond had sent for arrived, and there was enough
vigour restored to make her say, "Here's a first service, Mr.
Bindon, to help this poor fellow into bed."
"No, no!" exclaimed Herbert.
"You are not going to say there's nothing the matter with you?" said
Rosamond, as a flush passed over the pale face.
"No," he said; "but I want to go home. I should have taken a fly at
Wil'sbro'. Cranky will see to me without bothering anybody else.
If you would send for one--"
"I don't think I can till I know whether you are fit to move," said
Rosamond. "I desired Dilemma to tell them to send Dr. Worth here
when he comes to Terry. Besides, is it quite right to carry _this_
into another place?"
"I never thought of that," said Herbert. "But they would shut me
up; nobody come near me but Cranky." But there a shivering fit
caught him, so that the sofa shook with him, and Rosamond covered
him with rugs, and again told him bed was the only place for him,
and he consented at last, holding his head as he rose, dizzy with
"Look here, Lady Rose," he said, falling back into a sitting posture
at the first attempt, "where's my writing-case? If I go off my
head, will you give this to the Rector, and ask him if it will be
any good in the matter he knows of?" and he handed her an envelope.
"And this keep," he added, giving her one addressed to his father.
"Don't let him have it till it's all over. You know." Then he took
up a pen and a sheet of paper, and got as far, with a shaking hand,
as 'Dear Crank--' but there he broke down, and laid his head on the
"I'll do it. What shall I say, dear Herbert?"
"Only tell her to come to me," he gasped. "Cranstoun--our old
nurse. Then I'll be no trouble."
While Mr. Bindon helped Herbert into his room, Rosamond sped home to
send for Mrs. Cranstoun, arrange for the care of the new patient in
the intervening hours, and fetch some of those alleviations of which
experience had taught the use. Mr. Bindon came to meet her on her
return, carefully shutting the door, and saying, "Lady Rosamond, can
he be delirious already? He is talking of being plucked for his
"Too true," said Rosamond. "I thought it a great shame to be so
hard on a man with _that_ in him; but I believe you expected it?"
"No; I may have said he would fail, but I never expected it."
"Fail, indeed! Fancy a man being turned back who has worked night
and day--night and day--doing all the very hardest services--never
resting! Very likely killing himself!" cried Rosamond hotly. "May
I come back to him? Terry can spare me, and if you will go to
Wil'sbro' I'll stay till my husband comes, or the doctor. The
Sisters will tell you what to do."
Herbert was, however, so much more comfortable for being in bed,
that he was able to give Mr. Bindon directions as to the immediate
cares at Wil'sbro'; but he was distressed at occupying Lady Rose,
his great object being to be no trouble to anybody, though he had
seen so much of the disease as to have been fully aware that it had
been setting in for the last two days, yet his resolution to spare
his Rector had kept him afoot till he had seen other help arrive.
He declared that he wanted nobody but Rollo, who could fetch and
carry, and call any one, if only the doors were open, and really the
creature's wistful eyes and gentle movements justified the
"Only," said Herbert anxiously, "I suppose this is not catching for
dogs. You'll make a home for him Lady Rose?" he added. "I should
like you to have him, and he'll be happier with you than with any
"Herbert, I can't have you talk of that."
"Very well," he said, quietly. "Only you will keep my dear old
fellow--I've had him from a puppy--and he is but three years old
Rosamond gave all promises, from her full heart, as she fondled the
soft, wise black head.
Herbert was unhappy too about Mrs. Hornblower's trouble. Harry had
been one of the slighter cases, and was still in his room, a good
deal subdued by the illness, and by the attention the lodger had
shown him; for Herbert had spent many hours, when he had been
supposed to be resting, in relieving Mrs. Hornblower, and she was
now in a flood of gratitude, only longing to do everything for him
herself. Had he not, as she declared, saved her son, body and soul?
The most welcome sight was Julius, who came down in dismay as soon
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