The Two Guardians
Charlotte Mary Yonge
Part 1 out of 8
THE TWO GUARDIANS
or, HOME IN THIS WORLD
by CHARLOTTE MARY YONGE
THE AUTHOR OF "THE HEIR OF REDCLYFFE," "HENRIETTA'S WISH," "KENNETH,"
"HEARTSEASE," "THE CASTLE BUILDERS," ETC.
[Illustration: "Stay here, Marian! I don't care if all the world heard
In putting forth another work, the Author is anxious to say a few words
on the design of these stories; not with a view to obviate criticism,
but in hopes of pointing to the moral, which has been thought not
sufficiently evident, perhaps because it has been desired to convey,
rather than directly inculcate it.
Throughout these tales the plan has been to present a picture of
ordinary life, with its small daily events, its pleasures, and its
trials, so as to draw out its capabilities of being turned to the best
account. Great events, such as befall only a few, are thus excluded,
and in the hope of helping to present a clue, by example, to the
perplexities of daily life, the incidents, which render a story
exciting, have been sacrificed, and the attempt has been to make the
interest of the books depend on character painting.
Each has been written with the wish to illustrate some principle which
may be called the key note. "Abbeychurch" is intended to show the need
of self-control and the evil of conceit in different manifestations;
according to the various characters, "Scenes and Characters" was meant
to exemplify the effects of being guided by mere feeling, set in
contrast with strict adherence to duty. In "Henrietta's Wish" the
opposition is between wilfulness and submission--filial submission as
required, in the young people, and that of which it is a commencement as
well as a type, as instanced in Mrs. Frederick Langford. The design of
the "Castle Builders" is to show the instability and dissatisfaction of
mind occasioned by the want of a practical, obedient course of daily
life; with an especial view to the consequences of not seeking strength
and assistance in the appointed means of grace.
And as the very opposite to Emmeline's feeble character, the heroine
of the present story is intended to set forth the manner in which a
Christian may contend with and conquer this world, living in it but not
of it, and rendering it a means of self-renunciation. It is therefore
purposely that the end presents no great event, and leaves Marian
unrecompensed save by the effects her consistent well doing has
produced on her companions. Any other compensation would render her
self-sacrifice incomplete, and make her no longer invisibly above the
_October 14th_, 1852.
"With fearless pride I say
That she is healthful, fleet, and strong
And down the rocks will leap along,
Like rivulets in May."
Along a beautiful Devonshire lane, with banks of rock overhung by tall
bowery hedges, rode a lively and merry pair, now laughing and talking,
now summoning by call or whistle the spaniel that ran by their side, or
careered through the fields within the hedge.
The younger was a maiden of about twelve years old, in a long black and
white plaid riding-skirt, over a pink gingham frock, and her dark hair
hidden beneath a little cap furnished with a long green veil, which
was allowed to stream behind her in the wind, instead of affording the
intended shelter to a complexion already a shade or two darkened by the
summer sun, but with little colour in the cheeks; and what there was,
only the pale pink glow like a wild rose, called up for the moment
by warmth and exercise, and soon to pass away. Still there was no
appearance of want of health; the skin was of a clear, soft, fresh shade
of brown; the large dark eyes, in spite of all their depth of melancholy
softness, had the wild, untamed animation of a mountaineer; the face and
form were full of free life and vigour, as she sat erect and perfectly
at ease on her spirited little bay pony, which at times seemed so lively
that it might have been matter of surprise to a stranger that so young a
horsewoman should be trusted on its back.
Her companion was a youth some ten or eleven years her senior,
possessing a handsome set of regular features, with a good deal of
family likeness to hers; dark eyes and hair, and a figure which, though
slight, was rather too tall to look suitable to the small, stout, strong
pony which carried him and his numerous equipments, consisting of a long
rod-case, a fishing-basket and landing-net, in accordance with the lines
of artificial flies wreathed round his straw hat, and the various oddly
contrived pockets of his grey shooting-coat.
In the distance at the end of the lane there appeared two walking
figures. "Mrs. Wortley!" exclaimed the young lady.
"No, surely not out so soon!" was the answer. "She is in the depth of
"No, but Edmund, it is, look, and Agnes too! There, Ranger has better
eyes than you; he is racing to them."
"Well, I acknowledge my mistake," said Edmund, drawing up his rein as
they came upon the pair,--a pleasing lady, and a pretty blue-eyed girl
of fourteen. "I did not believe my eyes, Mrs. Wortley, though Marian
tried to persuade me. I thought you were always reading Italian at this
time in the morning, Agnes".
"And I thought you were reading Phaedrus with Gerald," said Mrs. Wortley.
"Ay," said Agnes, "we did not know what to make of you coming up the
lane; you with your lance there, like the Red Cross Knight himself, and
Marian with her palfry for Una."
"The knight must have borrowed the dwarf's ass," said Edmund, laughing,
and putting his lance in rest.
"And where have you been, then, at this portentous time of day, Agnes?"
"We heard a report of Betty Lapthorn's child having another fit," said
Agnes, "and set off to see; but it turned out to be a false alarm. And
now we are going up to the Manor House to ask Lady Arundel if she has
any arrowroot for it, for ours is all used up."
"Shall we find her at leisure?" added Mrs. Wortley.
"Yes," said Marian. "Gerald has finished his lessons by this time.
Mamma thought it would be too far for him to go with us, and besides he
frightens the fish."
"Which you are in too good training to do, Marian," said Mrs. Wortley.
"And how is your papa to-day?"
"Oh, it is a good day," said Marian: "he was up before we set off."
"Down stairs? For perhaps we had better not go now, just after he is
tired with coming down," said Mrs. Wortley. "Now, Mr. Arundel, you will
tell me honestly, and this arrowroot will do just as well another time;
or if Marian will carry home the message--"
"Well," said Edmund, smiling, "to give you a proof of my sincerity, I
think you had better perhaps go rather later in the day. My uncle very
unnecessarily hurried himself, thinking that he was keeping me waiting
to help him down stairs, and I thought he seemed rather tired; but he
will be very glad to see you in the afternoon. Indeed, he would be very
glad now, only you asked me as a question of prudence."
"Don't make civil speeches at the end to spoil just such a reply as I
wanted," said Mrs. Wortley. "I am afraid you do not think Sir Edmund
much better since you were last at home."
Edmund shook his head. "If he has not lost ground, it is well," said he,
"and I think at least there is less pain."
"Well, I will not keep you any longer," said Mrs. Wortley; "good-bye,
and good sport to you."
And with a wave of the hand on rode the two cousins, Edmund and Marian
"What an excellent thing it is for the village that those Wortleys are
come!" said Edmund.
"Yes; now that mamma cannot attend much to the school and poor people, I
don't know what we should do without them. How different it was in old
Mr. May's time! I hope we shall get the Church set to rights now, when
papa is well enough to attend to it."
"It is high time, certainly," said Edmund; "our Church is almost a
disgrace to us, especially with the Arundel aisle, to show what our
"No, not quite to us," said Marian; "you know papa would have done it
all long ago, if the idea had not vexed poor old Mr. May so much. But
Ranger! Ranger! where is Ranger, Edmund?"
Edmund whistled, and presently, with whirring, rushing wing, there flew
over the hedge beside them a covey of partridges, followed by Ranger's
eager bark. Marian's pony started, danced, and capered; Edmund watched
her with considerable anxiety, but she reined it in with a steady,
dexterous, though not a strong hand, kept her seat well, and rode on in
triumph, while Edmund exclaimed, "Capital, Marian!" Then looking back,
"What a shot that was!" he added in a sort of parenthesis, continuing,
"I am proud, Mayflower is not a bit too much for you now, though I think
we must have given her up if you had had another tumble."
"Oh, no, no, I do so delight in Mayflower, pretty creature!" said
Marian, patting her neck. "I like to feel that the creature I ride is
alive--not an old slug, like that animal which you are upon, Edmund."
"That is decidedly ungrateful of you, Marian, when you learnt to ride
upon this identical slug, and owe the safety of your neck to its quiet
propensities. Now take care down this stony hill; hold her up well--that
Care was certainly needed as they descended the steep hill side; the
road, or rather pathway, cut out between high, steep, limestone rocks,
and here and there even bare of earth. Any one but a native would have
trembled at such a descent but though the cousins paid attention to
their progress, they had no doubts or alarms. At the bottom a clear
sparkling stream traversed the road, where, for the convenience of foot
passengers, a huge flat stone had been thrown across from one high bank
to the other, so as to form a romantic bridge. Marian, however, did not
avail herself of it, but rode gallantly through the shallow water, only
looking back at it to observe to Edmund, "We must make a sketch of that
some day or other."
"I am afraid we cannot get far enough off," said Edmund, "to make a good
drawing of it. Too many things go to the making of the picturesque."
"Yes, I know, but that is what I never can understand. I see by woeful
experience that what is pretty in itself will not make a pretty drawing,
and everyone says so; but I never could find out why."
"Perhaps because we cannot represent it adequately."
"Yes, but there is another puzzle; you sometimes see an exact
representation, which is not really a picture at all. Don't you know
that thing that the man who came to the door did of our house,--the
trees all green, and the sky all blue, and the moors all purple?"
"As like as it can stare; yes, I know."
"Well, why does that not satisfy us? why is it not a picture?"
"Because it stares, I suppose. Why does not that picture of my aunt
at Mrs. Week's cottage satisfy you as well as the chalk sketch in the
"Because it has none of herself--her spirit."
"Well, I should say that nature has a self and a spirit which must be
caught, or else the Chinese would be the greatest artists on the face of
"Yes, but why does an archway, or two trees standing up so as to
enclose the landscape, or--or any of those things that do to put in the
foreground, why do they enable you to make a picture, to catch this self
"Make the phial to enclose the genie," said Edmund. "Abstruse questions,
Marian; but perhaps it is because they contract the space, so as to
bring it more to the level of our capacity, make it less grand, and more
what we can get into keeping. To be sure, he would be a presumptuous man
who tried to make an exact likeness of that," he added, as they reached
the top of the hill, and found themselves on an open common, with here
and there a mass of rock peeping up, but for the most part covered with
purple heath and short furze, through which Ranger coursed, barking
joyously. The view was splendid, on one side the moors rising one
behind the other, till they faded in grey distance, each crowned with
a fantastic pile of rocks, one in the form of a castle, another of
a cathedral, another of a huge crouching lion, all known to the two
cousins by name, and owned as familiar friends. On the other side,
between two hills, each surmounted by its own rocky crest, lay nestled
in woods the grey Church tower and cottages of the village of Fern Torr;
and far away stretched the rich landscape of field, wood, and pasture,
ending at length in the blue line of horizon, where sky and sea seemed
"Beautiful! how clear!" was all Marian's exclamation, though she drew
up her horse and gazed with eager eyes, and a deep feeling of the
loveliness of the scene, but with scarcely a remark. There was something
in the sight which made her heart too full for words.
After a time of delighted contemplation, Ranger was summoned from a
close investigation of a rabbit-hole, and turning into a cart track,
the cousins rode down the side of the hill, where presently appeared
an orchard full of gnarled old apple trees, covered with fruit of all
shades of red, yellow, and green. A little further on were the large
stone barns, and picturesque looking house, which enclosed a farm-yard
strewn with heaps of straw, in which pigs, poultry, and red cows were
enjoying themselves. The gate was opened by a wild-looking cow-boy, who
very respectfully touched his cap; and at the house door appeared a nice
elderly looking old fashioned farmer's wife, who came forward to meet
them with bright looks of cordiality, and kindly greetings to Master
Edmund and Miss Marian.
"Thank you, thank you, Mrs. Cornthwayte," said Edmund, as he held
Marian's pony; "we are come to ask if you will give our ponies stable
room for a couple of hours, while we go fishing up the river."
"O yes, certainly, sir, but won't you come in a little while and rest?
it is a long walk for Miss Marian."
They did comply with her invitation so far as to enter the large clean
kitchen; the kitchen for show, that is to say, with the sanded floor,
the bunch of evergreens in the covered kitchen-range, the dark old
fashioned clock, the bright range of crockery, and well polished oaken
table; and there, while Marian laid aside her riding-skirt, the good
woman commenced her anxious inquiries for Sir Edmund.
"Pretty much the same as usual, thank you," said Edmund.
"No better, then, sir? Ah! I was afraid how it was; it is so long since
I have seen him at church, and he used to come sometimes last summer:
and my husband said when he saw him last week about the rent, he was so
fallen away that he would hardly have known him."
"It has been a very long illness," said Edmund.
"Yes, sir; I do wish we could see him about among us again, speaking as
cheerful as he used."
"Why he is very cheerful now, Mrs. Cornthwayte," said Edmund. "No one
who only heard him talk would guess how much he has to suffer."
Mrs. Cornthwayte shook her head with a sort of gesture of compassionate
admiration, and presently added,
"But do you think he gets better on the whole, Master Edmund? Do the
doctors say there is much likelihood of his being well again, and coming
Edmund looked down and did not reply very readily. "I am afraid we must
not hope for that; we must be satisfied as long as he does not lose
ground, and I certainly think he has had less pain of late."
A little more conversation passed between Edmund and the good wife, and
a few words from Marian; after which they set off across one or two
fields towards the place of their destination, Marian carrying her
little sketching-basket in silence for some distance, until she suddenly
exclaimed, "Edmund, is papa really getting worse?"
"Why should you think so, Marian?"
"I don't know, only from what you say when people inquire after him; and
sometimes when I come to think about it, I believe he can do less than
last year. He gets up later, and does not go out so often, and now you
say he will never get quite well, and I always thought he would."
"No, I am afraid there is no likelihood of that, Marian: the doctors say
he may be much better, but never quite well."
"But do you think he is better?"
"He has had less suffering of late, certainly, and so far we must be
thankful; but, as you say, Marian, I am afraid he is weaker than last
time I was at home, and I thought him much altered when I came. Still I
do not think him materially worse, and I believe I might have thought
him improved, if I had been here all the winter."
Marian became silent again, for her disposition was not to express her
feelings readily, and besides, she was young enough to be able to put
aside anxiety which, perhaps, she did not fully comprehend. It was the
ordinary state of things for her father to be unwell, and his illness
scarcely weighed upon her spirits, especially on a holiday and day of
pleasure like the present; for though she often shared Edmund's walks
and rides, a long expedition like this was an unusual treat.
After traversing several fields, they entered a winding path through a
copse, which, descending a steep hill side, conducted them at length to
the verge of a clear stream, which danced over or round the numerous
rocks which obstructed its passage, making a pleasant, rippling sound.
Here and there under the overhanging trees were deep quiet pools, where
the water, of clear transparent brown color, contained numbers of little
trout, the object of Edmund's pursuit. But more frequently the water
splashed, dashed, and brawled along its rocky way, at the bottom of
the narrow wooded ravine in which the valley ended. It was indeed a
beautiful scene, with the sun glancing on the green of the trees and
the bright sparkling water; and Marian could scarcely restrain her
exclamations of delight, out of consideration for the silence required
by her cousin's sport. She helped him to put his rod together, and
arrange his reel, with the dexterity of one who well understood the
matter; and then sat down under a fern-covered rock with a book in her
hand, whilst he commenced his fishing. As he slowly proceeded up the
stream, she changed her place so as to follow him at a distance; now and
then making expeditions into the wood at the side of the hill to study
some remarkable rock, some tree of peculiar form, or to gather a
handsome fern-leaf, or nodding fox-glove with its purple bells. Or the
little sketch-book came out, and she caught the form of the rock with a
few strokes of bold outline and firm shading, with more power over her
soft pencil than is usual at her age, though her foliage was not of the
most perfect description. Her own occupations did not, however, prevent
her from observing all her cousin's proceedings; she knew whenever he
captured a trout, she was at hand to offer help when his hook, was
caught in a bramble, and took full and complete interest in the sport.
At last, after a successful fishing up the glen, they arrived at a place
where the ravine was suddenly closed in by a perpendicular rock of
about twenty feet in height, down which the water fell with its full
proportion of foam and spray, forming a cascade which Marian thought
"magnificent,"--Edmund, "very pretty."
"Edmund, I am afraid the Lake country has spoilt you for Devonshire. I
wish they had never sent your regiment to the north!"
"That would not prevent the falls in Westmoreland from being twice the
height of this."
"It would prevent you from saying that here it is not as beautiful as
any thing can be."
"And nothing short of that will satisfy you. You had better stand in a
narrow pass, and challenge every passer-by to battle in defence of the
beauty of Fern Torr."
"I don't care about every body; but you, Edmund, ought to be more
dutiful to your own home."
"You are exclusive, Marian; but come," and he stuck his rod into the
ground, "let us have some of your sandwiches."
"Not till you confess that you like Fern Torr better than all the fine
places that you ever saw."
"Liking with all one's heart is one thing, admiring above all others is
another, as you will find when you have seen more of the world, Marian."
"I am sure I shall never think so."
While this contest was going on, Marian had unpacked some sandwiches and
biscuits, and they sat down to eat them with the appetite due to such
a walk. Then came a conversation, in which Marian submitted to hear
something of the beauties of the Lakes, in the shape of a comment on the
"Bridal of Triermain," which she had brought with her; next an attempt
at sketching the cascade, in which Edmund was successful enough to make
Marian much discontented with her own performance, and declare that she
was tired of sitting still, and had a great mind to try to climb up the
rocks by the side of the fall. She was light, active, and well able to
scramble, and with a little help here and there from her cousin's strong
hand, the top was merrily gained; and springing along from rock to rock,
they traced the windings of the stream even to the end of the copse and
the opening of the moor. It was a great achievement for Marian, for even
Edmund had only once been this way before when out shooting. She would
fain have mounted to the top of a peak which bounded her view, but being
assured that she would only find Alps on Alps arise, she submitted to
Edmund's judgment, and consented to retrace her steps, through wood and
wild, to Mrs. Cornthwayte's, where they found a feast prepared for
them of saffron buns, Devonshire cream, and cyder. Then mounting their
steeds, and releasing Ranger from durance in the stable, they rode
homewards for about three miles, when they entered the village in the
valley at the foot of the steep rocky hill, from which it was named Fern
Torr. Excepting the bare rugged summit, this hill was well covered with
wood, and opposite to it rose more gently another elevation, divided
into fields and meadows. The little old Church, with its square tower,
and the neat vicarage beside it, were the only buildings above the rank
of cottages, of which some twenty stood irregularly ranged in their
gardens and orchards, along the banks of the bright little stream which
bounded the road, at present scarcely large enough to afford swimming
space for the numerous ducks that paddled in it; but the width of its
stony bed, and the large span of the one-arched bridge that traversed
it, showing what was its breadth and strength in the winter floods.
A little beyond this bridge was a wicket gate, leading to a path up
the wooded height; and Edmund at this moment seeing a boy in a stable
jacket, asked Marian if he should not let him lead the ponies round
by the drive, while they walked up the steps. She readily agreed, and
Edmund helping her to dismount, they took their way up the path, which
after a very short interval led to a steep flight of steps, cut out
in the face of the limestone rock, and ascending through ferns,
mountain-ash, and rhododendrons for about fifty or sixty feet, when it
was concluded by what might be called either a broad terrace or narrow
lawn, upon which stood a house irregularly built of the rough stone
of the country, and covered with luxuriant myrtles and magnolias.
Immediately behind, the ground again rose so precipitously, that
scarcely could coign of vantage be won for the garden, on a succession
of narrow shelves or ledges, which had a peculiarly beautiful effect,
adorned, as they were, with gay flowers, and looking, as Edmund was wont
to say, as gorgeous and as deficient in perspective as an old piece of
"There is papa out of doors," exclaimed Marian, as she emerged upon
the lawn, and ran eagerly up to a Bath chair, in which was seated a
gentleman whose face and form showed too certain tokens of long and
wasting illness. He held out his hand to her, saying, "Well, Marian,
good sport, I hope, and no more tumbles from Mayflower."
"Marian sits like a heroine," said Edmund, coming up; "I am glad to see
"It is such a fine evening that I was tempted to come and see the
magnolia that you have all been boasting of: and really it is worth
seeing. Those white blossoms are magnificent."
"But where is mamma?" asked Marian.
"Carried off by Gerald, to say whether he may have a superannuated sea
kale pot for some purpose best known to himself, in his desert island.
They will be here again in another minute. There, thank you, Edmund,
that is enough," he added, as his nephew drew his chair out of a streak
of sunshine which had just come over him. "Now, how far have you been? I
hope you have seen the cascade, Marian?"
"O yes, papa, and scrambled up the side of it too. I had no idea of any
thing so beautiful," said Marian. "The spray was so white and glancing.
Oh! I wish I could tell you one half of the beauty of it."
"I remember well the delight of the first discovery of it," said Sir
Edmund, "when I was a mere boy, and found my way there by chance, as I
was shooting. I came up the glen, and suddenly found myself in the midst
of this beautiful glade, with the waterfall glancing white in the sun."
"I wish we could transplant it," said Edmund; "but after all, perhaps
its being so remote and inaccessible is one of its great charms. Ah!
young monkey, is it you?" added he, as Gerald, a merry bright-eyed boy
of seven years old, came rushing from behind and commenced a romping
attack upon him. "Take care, not such a disturbance close to papa."
"O mamma, we have had the most delightful day!" cried Marian, springing
to the side of her mother, who now came forward from the kitchen garden,
and whose fair and gentle, but careworn, anxious face, lighted up with a
bright sweet smile, as she observed the glow on her daughter's usually
pale cheek, and the light that danced in her dark brown eye.
"I'm glad you have had such a pleasant day, my dear," said she. "It is
very kind in Edmund to be troubled with such a wild goose."
"Wild geese are very good things in their way," said Edmund; "water and
land, precipice and moor, 'tis all the same to them."
"And when will you take me, Edmund?" asked Gerald.
"When you have learnt to comport yourself with as much discretion as
Marian, master," said Edmund, sitting down on the grass, and rolling the
kicking, struggling boy over and over, while Marian stood by her papa,
showing him her sketches, and delighted by hearing him recognize the
different spots. "How can you remember them so well, papa," said she,
"when it is so very long since you saw them?"
"That is the very reason," he answered, "we do not so much dwell on what
is constantly before us as when we have long lost sight of it. To be
confined to the house for a few years is an excellent receipt for
"Yes, because it must make you wish for it so much," said Marian sadly.
"Not exactly," said her father. "You cannot guess the pleasure it has
often given me to recall those scenes, and to hear you talk of them;
just as your mamma likes to hear of Oakworthy."
"Certainly," said Lady Arundel. "I have remembered much at poor old
Oakworthy that I never thought of remarking at the time I was there.
Even flaws in the glass, and cracks in the ceiling have returned upon
me, and especially since the house has been pulled down."
"I cannot think how the natives of an old house can wilfully destroy all
their old associations, their heirloooms," said Edmund.
"Sometimes they have none," said his aunt.
"Ay," said Sir Edmund, "when Gerald brings home a fine wife from
far away, see what she will say to all our dark passages and corner
cupboards, and steps up and steps down."
"Oh! I shall not be able to bear her if she does not like them," cried
"I suppose that was the case with Mrs. Lyddell," added Sir Edmund, "that
she discovered the deficiencies of the old house, as well as brought
wherewith to remedy them. He does not look like a man given to change."
"He has no such feeling for association as these people," said Lady
Arundel, pointing to Edmund and Marian; "he felt his position, in the
country raised by her fortune, and was glad to use any means of adding
to his consequence."
"I should like to see more of them. I wish we could ask them to stay
here," said Sir Edmund, with something like a sigh. "But come, had we
not better go in? The hungry fishers look quite ready for tea."
"And now I set thee down to try
How thou canst walk alone."
Scarcely eight months had passed since the last recorded conversation,
when Marian, in a dress of deep mourning, was slowly pacing the garden
paths, her eyes fixed on the ground, and an expression of thoughtful
sadness on her face. Heavy indeed had been the strokes that had fallen
upon her. Before the last summer had closed, the long sufferings of her
father had been terminated by one of the violent attacks, which had
often been expected to be fatal. Nor was this all that she had to mourn.
With winter had come severe colds and coughs; Lady Arundel was seized
with an inflammation of the chest, her constitution had been much
enfeebled by watching, anxiety, and grief, and in a very few days her
children were orphans.
It was the day following the funeral. Mrs. Wortley was staying in the
house, as were also the two guardians of the young Sir Gerald Arundel
and his sister. These were Mr. Lyddell, a relation of Lady Arundel; and
our former acquaintance, Edmund Arundel, in whom, young as he was, his
uncle had placed full confidence. He had in fact been entirely brought
up by Sir Edmund, and knew no other home than Fern Torr, having been
sent thither an orphan in earliest childhood. His uncle and aunt had
supplied the place of parents, and had been well rewarded for all they
had done for him, by his consistent well doing and completely filial
affection for them.
Marian was startled from her musings by his voice close at hand, saying,
"All alone, Marian?"
"Gerald is with Jemmy Wortley, somewhere," she replied, "and I begged
Mrs. Wortley and Agnes to go down the village and leave me alone. I have
been very busy all the morning, and my head feels quite confused with
"I am glad to have found you," said Edmund. "I have seen so little of
you since I have been here."
"Yes, you have been always with Mr. Lyddell. When does he go?"
"And you stay longer, I hope?"
"Only till Monday; I wish it was possible to stay longer, but it is
something to have a Sunday to spend here."
"And then I am afraid it will be a long time before we see you again."
"I hope not; if you are in London, it will be always easier to meet."
"In London! Ah! that reminds me I wanted to ask you what I am to say to
Selina Marchmont. I have a very kind letter from her, asking us to come
to stay with her directly, and hoping that it may be arranged for us to
live with them."
"Ah! I have a letter from her husband to the same effect," said Edmund.
"It really is very kind and friendly in them."
"Exceedingly," said Marian. "Will you read her letter, and tell me how I
am to answer her!"
"As to the visit, that depends upon what you like to do yourself. I
should think that you would prefer staying with the Wortleys, since they
are so kind as to receive you."
"You don't mean," exclaimed Marian, eagerly, "staying with them for
Edmund shook his head. "No, Marian, I fear that cannot be."
"Then it is as I feared," sighed Marian. "I wonder how it is that I have
thought so much about myself; but it would come into my head, what was
to become of us, and I was very much afraid of living with the Lyddells;
but still there was a little glimmering of hope that you might be able
to manage to leave us with the Wortleys."
"I heartily wish I could," said Edmund, "but it is out of my power. My
"Surely papa did not wish us to live with the Lyddells?" cried Marian.
"I do not think he contemplated your living any where but at home."
"But the Vicarage is more like home than any other place could ever be,"
pleaded Marian, "and papa did not like the Lyddells nearly so well as
"We must abide by his arrangements, rather than our own notions of his
wishes," said Edmund. "Indeed, I know that he thought Mr. Lyddell a very
"Then poor Gerald is to grow up away from his own home, and never see
the dear old moors! But if we cannot stay here, I had rather be with
Selina. She is so fond of Gerald, and she knows what home was, and she
knew and loved--them. And we should not meet so many strangers. Only
think what numbers of Lyddells there are! Boys to make Gerald rude, and
girls, and a governess--all strangers. And they go to London!" concluded
poor Marian, reaching the climax of her terrors. "O Edmund, can you do
nothing for us?"
"You certainly do not embellish matters in anticipation. You will find
them very different from what you expect--even London itself, which, by
the by, you would have to endure even if you were with Selina, whom I
suspect to be rather too fine and fashionable a lady for such a homely
little Devonshire girl."
"That Mrs. Lyddell will be. She is a very gay person, and they have
quantities of company. O Edmund!"
"The quantities of company," replied her cousin, "will interfere with
you far less in your schoolroom with the Miss Lyddells, than alone with
my Lady Marchmont, where, at your unrecognized age, you would be in
rather an awkward situation."
"Or I could go to Torquay, to old Aunt Jessie?"
"Aunt Jessie would not be much obliged for the proposal of giving her
such a charge."
"But I should take care of her, and make her life less dismal and
"That may be very well some years hence, when you are your own mistress:
but at present I believe the trouble and change of habits which having
you with her would occasion, would not be compensated by all your
attention and kindness. Have you written to her yet?"
"No, I do not know how, and I hoped it was one of the letters that you
undertook for me."
"I think I ought not to relieve you of that. Aunt Jessie is your nearest
relation; I am sure this has been a great blow to her, and that it has
cost her much effort to write to you herself. You must not turn her
letter over to me, like a mere complimentary condolence."
"Very well," said Marian, with a sigh, "though I cannot guess what I
shall say. And about Selina?"
"You had better write and tell her how you are situated, and I will do
the same to Lord Marchmont."
"And when must we go to the Lyddells? I thought he meant more than mere
civility, when he spoke of Oakworthy this morning, at breakfast."
"He spoke of taking you back to London immediately, but I persuaded him
to wait till they go into Wiltshire, so you need not be rooted up from
Fern Torr just yet."
"Thank you, that is a great reprieve."
"And do not make up your mind beforehand to be unhappy at Oakworthy.
Very likely you will take root there, and wonder you ever shrank from
being transplanted to your new home."
"Never! never! it is cruel to say that any place but this can be like
home! And you, Edmund, what shall you do, where shall you go, when you
have leave of absence?"
"I shall never ask for it," said he with an effort, while his eye fell
on the window of the room which had been his own for so many years, and
the thought crossed him, "Mine no more." It had been his home, as fully
as that of his two cousins, but now it was nothing to him; and while
they had each other to cling to, he stood in the world a lonely man.
Marian perceived his emotion, but rather than seem to notice it, she
assumed a sort of gaiety. "I'll tell you, Edmund. You shall marry a very
nice wife, and take some delightful little house somewhere hereabouts,
and we will come and stay with you till Gerald is of age."
"Which he will be long before I have either house or wife," said Edmund,
in the same tone, "but mind, Marian, it is a bargain, unless you grow so
fond of the Lyddells as to retract."
"Well, I will not strengthen your prejudices by contending with them."
"Prejudice! to say that I can never be as happy anywhere as at my own
dear home! To say that I cannot bear strangers!"
"If they were to remain strangers for all the years that you are likely
to spend with them, there might be something in that. But I see you
cannot bear to be told that you can ever be happy again, so I will not
say so any more, especially as I must finish my letters."
"And I will try to write mine," said Marian with a sigh, as she reached
the door, and went up to take off her bonnet.
Edmund lingered for a moment in the hall, and there was met by Mrs.
Wortley, who said she was glad to see that he had been out, for he was
looking pale and harassed. "I did not go out for any pleasant purpose,"
said he. "I had to pronounce sentence on poor Marian."
"Is it finally settled?" said Mrs. Wortley. "We still had hopes of
"Sir Gerald and Miss Arundel are of too much distinction in Mr.
Lyddell's eyes to be left to their best friends," said Edmund. "It was
hard to persuade him not to take possession directly, on the plea of
change being good for their spirits."
"It is very kind of you to put off the evil day," said Mrs. Wortley; "it
will be a grievous parting for poor Agnes."
"A grievous business for every one," said Edmund.
"How? Do not you think well of Mr. and Mrs. Lyddell?"
"I know my uncle never thought of these poor children's living with
them. He thought Mr. Lyddell a good man of business, but neither he nor
my aunt ever dreamed of such a home for them."
"Would they have preferred Lady Marchmont's? Marian is very fond of
her, and was much gratified by a very nice affectionate letter that she
received this morning."
"Yes, but I am glad she is out of the question. It is offering a great
deal both on her part and her husband's to take charge of these two, but
it would never do. She is almost a child herself,--a bride and beauty
under twenty,--excessively admired, very likely to have her head turned.
No, it would be too absurd. All her kindness, amiability, desire to make
Marian her friend and companion, would only serve to do harm."
"Yes, you are right; yet I cannot help half wishing it could be, if it
was only to save poor Marian her terrors of going among strangers."
"I know exactly how it will be," said Edmund. "She will shut herself
up in a double proof case of shyness and reserve. They will never
understand her, nor she them."
"But that cannot go on for ever."
"No; and perhaps it might be better if it could."
"Well, but do you really know anything against them? He seems inclined
to be very kind and considerate."
"Electioneering courtesy," said Edmund. "But now you begin to question
me, I cannot say that my--my mistrust shall I call it--or aversion? is
much better founded than the prejudices I have been scolding poor Marian
for. Perhaps it is only that I am jealous of them, and cannot think any
one out of Fern Torr worthy to bring up my uncle's children. All I know
of them is, that Mrs. Lyddell was heiress to a rich banker, she goes out
a good deal in London, and the only time that I met her I thought her
clever and agreeable. In their own county I believe she is just what a
popular member's wife should be--I don't mean popular in the sense of
radical. I think I have heard too something about the eldest son not
turning out well; but altogether, you see, I have not grounds enough to
justify any opposition to their desire of having the children."
"How are they as to Church principles?"
"That I really cannot tell. I should think they troubled themselves very
little about the matter, and would only dislike any thing strong either
way. If my aunt had but been able to make some arrangement! No doubt it
was upon her mind when she asked so often for me!"
"Yes, but there is this comfort," said Mrs. Wortley, seeing him much
troubled, "that she did not seem to make herself anxious and restless on
their account. She trusted them, and so may we."
"Yes, that is all that one can come to," said Edmund, sighing deeply.
"But Gerald! One pities Marian the most now, but it is a more serious
matter for him."
"Gerald will be more in your power than his sister," said Mrs. Wortley.
"As if that was much comfort," said Edmund, half smiling, then again
sighing, "when even for my own concerns I miss my uncle's advice at
every turn. And probably I may have to go on foreign service next year."
"Then he will be at school."
"Yes. He was not to have gone till he was ten years old, but I shall try
to hasten it now. He must go with his sister to Oakworthy though, for to
begin without him there would be complete desolation in her eyes."
Here the conversation was concluded by Marian's coming down to write her
painfully composed letters. That to her cousin, Lady Marchmont, who,
as Selina Grenville, had been a frequent and favourite visitor at the
manor, ran glibly enough off the pen, and the two or three quiet tears
that blotted the paper, fell from a feeling of affection rather than of
regret; but the letter to old Mrs. Jessie Arundel, her great aunt, and
one or two others which Edmund had desired her to write, were works of
time. Marian's feelings were seldom freely expressed even to those whom
she loved best, and to write down expressions of grief, affection, or
gratitude, as a matter of course, was positively repugnant to her.
The great work was not finished till late, and then came in Gerald and
Agnes, and the tea drinking among themselves was rendered cheerful by
Agnes' anticipations of pleasure in their going the next day to the
parsonage for a long visit. Gerald began to play with her, and soon got
into quite high spirits, and Marian herself had smiled, nay, almost
laughed, before the gentlemen came in from the dining room, when the
presence of Mr. Lyddell cast over her a cloud of dull dread and silence,
so that she did not through the rest of the evening raise her head three
inches from her book.
Yet as Mrs. Wortley had said, Mr. Lyddell was evidently inclined to be
kind to her and her brother. He patted Gerald on the head as he wished
him good night, and said good-naturedly to Marian that she must be great
friends with his girls, Caroline and Clara.
Marian tried to look civil, but could not find an answer both sincere
and polite, and Mrs. Wortley, speaking for her, asked if they were
nearly of the same age as she was.
"Well, I can't exactly tell," said Mr. Lyddell. "I should think she was
between them. You are thirteen, aren't you, Marian? Well, Caroline may
be a couple of years older, and Clara--I know her birthday was the other
day, for I had to make her a present,--but how old she was I can't
exactly recollect, whether it was twelve or thirteen. So you see you
will not want for companions at Oakworthy, and you will be as happy
there as your poor mamma used to be in the old house. Many was the laugh
she has had there with my poor sister, and now they are both gone--well,
there, I did not mean to overset you,--but--"
Marian could not bear it. She could talk of her mother to Mrs. Wortley,
Agnes, or Edmund, with complete composure, but she could not bear Mr.
Lyddell's hearty voice trying, as she thought, at sentiment, and forcing
the subject upon her, and without a word or a look she hurried out of
the room, and did not come back all the evening. Agnes followed her,
and pitied her, and thought Mr. Lyddell should have said nothing of the
kind, and sat down over the fire with her in her own room to read hymns.
The next day Mr. Lyddell left Fern Torr, and Marian was so glad to
gee him depart as to be able to endure much better his invitations to
Oakworthy. That same day Marian and Gerald went to the parsonage, and
Edmund, after spending a quiet Sunday at Fern Torr, bade them farewell
on the Monday morning.
"Where once we dwelt our name is heard no more,
Children not thine 'may tread' my nurseryfloor."
The way of life at Fern Torr parsonage was so quiet as to afford few
subjects for narration. Mrs. Wortley was a gentle, sensible person, very
fond of Marian and Gerald, both for their own sake and their mother's,
and to be with her was to them as like being at home as anything could
be. Agnes was quite wrapped up in her friend, whom she pitied so
heartily, and was to lose so soon. She had known no troubles except
through Marian, she reverenced Marian's griefs, and in her respect for
them was inclined to spoil her not a little. Then, through nothing
against the Lyddells had ever been said to Agnes, she had caught
all Marian's prejudiced dislike to them, and sometimes in lively
exaggeration, sometimes in grave condolence, talked of them "as these
Marian felt every day was precious as it passed, and the time seemed to
her far less than two months, when one day there arrived a letter from
Mrs. Lyddell to announce that the family were about to leave London, and
in the course of a week Mr. Lyddell would come to fetch her and Gerald
The letter was kindly expressed, but this was lost upon Marian in the
pain its purport gave her, and the difficulty of composing an answer.
She chose her smallest sheet of writing-paper with the deepest black
edge, wrote as widely as she could, and used the longest words, but with
all Mrs. Wortley's suggestions, she could not eke out what she had to
say beyond the first page. She would not even send her love to her
cousins, for she said she could have no particular affection for them,
and to express any pleasure in the prospect of seeing so many strangers
would be an actual untruth.
What a week was that which followed! Marian loved her home with that
enthusiasm which especially belongs to the inhabitants of mountainous
districts, and still more acutely did she feel the separation from all
that reminded her of her parents. If she had not had Gerald to go with
her she did not know how she could have borne it, but Gerald, her own
beautiful brother, with his chestnut curls, dark bright eyes, sweet
temper, and great cleverness and goodness, he must be a comfort to her
wherever she was. Gerald was one of those children who seem to have a
peculiar atmosphere of bright grace and goodness around them, who make
beautiful earnest sayings in their simplicity which are treasured up by
their friends, who, while regarding them with joy and something like
veneration, watch them likewise with fear and trembling. Thus had his
mother looked upon Gerald, and thus in some degree did Mrs. Wortley; but
Marian had nothing but pride, joy, and confidence in him, unalloyed save
now and then by the secret, half superstitious fear that such goodness
might mark him for early death.
By Marian's own especial desire, she went to almost every cottage to
take leave, but all she could do was to stand with her head averted and
her lips compressed, while Mrs. Wortley spoke for her. Her next task was
to look over the boxes and drawers at the manor house, in case it should
be let; for no one else could be trusted to decide what hoards of highly
prized trifles should be locked up, and what must be thrown away. She
alone could choose the little keepsakes to be given to old servants and
village friends, and she must select what she would take to Oakworthy.
She stood lingering before each picture, viewing the old familiar
furniture with loving eyes, and sighing at the thought that strangers
would alter the arrangements, look carelessly or critically on her
father's portrait, think her wild garden a collection of weeds, and root
up the flowering fern which Edmund had helped her to transplant. She
went into her own room, and felt almost ready to hate the person who
might occupy it; she lay down on the bed, and looking up at the same
branch of lime tree, and the same piece of sky which had met her eyes
every morning, she mused there till she was roused by hearing Gerald's
voice very loud in the nursery. Hastening thither, she found him
insisting that his collection of stones and spars was much too precious
to mend the roads with, as their maid Saunders proposed, and Agnes
settling the matter satisfactorily by offering to take them to adorn a
certain den in the vicarage garden with. The ponies were to be turned
out to grass, the rabbits were bestowed on James Wortley, and Ranger
was to be kept at the vicarage till Edmund could come and fetch him,
together with his books, which Marian had to look out, and she found it
a service of difficulty, since "Edmund Gerald" could scarcely be said to
answer the purpose of a proper name in the Arundel family.
The last day at home arrived, the eve of S. James. Marian went to
prepare her class at the weekly school, resolved to do just as usual to
the last. She had to read them the conversation on S. James's Day in
"Fasts and Festivals," but she could hardly get through with it, the
separation between early friends reminded her so much of herself and
Agnes, and then the comparison of the two roads, one in burning and
scorching sunshine, the other in the cool fresh shade, almost overset
her, for though she could not tell why, she chose to be persuaded that
the first must be hers. But they both ended in the same place. She felt
tears coming into her eyes, but she kept them down, and went on reading
in a steady monotonous voice, as if the meaning was nothing to her; she
asked the children questions in a dry, grave, matter-of-fact way, as if
she had not the slightest interest in them or in the subject, though her
heart was full of affection to the dullest and roughest among them, and
when she went away, her nod, and "well, good morning," to the school
mistress were several shades further from warmth than usual.
All the way back from the school she was eagerly telling Agnes exactly
the point where she left each child in her class, and begging her to
say the kind things which she meant to have said to Grace Knight, the
Agnes laughed and said, "I hope she will take my word for it all. Why
could you not speak to her? At least I thought you were not afraid of
"I don't know," said Marian. "I thought I could, but it is very odd. You
see, Agnes, how it is; the more I care, the more I can't speak, and I
can't help it."
"Well, don't be unhappy about it," said Agnes. "I know what you mean,
and am ready to take you as you are, and if other people don't, it is
their own fault."
Agnes was rather too fond of Marian to be exactly right here, for it was
not at all a good thing that she should be encouraged in a reserve which
led her not always to do as she would be done by.
The two girls came in, lingered in each other's rooms while they
dressed, and at last were called down stairs by Mrs. Wortley, who was
ready to finish with them the last chapter of the book they had been
reading aloud together. Gerald sat in the window, his friend Jemmy
hanging over him, and the two together composing a marvellous
battlepiece, in which Gerald drew horses, men, cannon, and arrows, and
Jemmy, like a small Homer, suggested the various frightful wounds they
should be receiving, and the attitudes in which they should fall. The
general, with a tremendous Turkish sabre, an immense cocked hat, and
a horse with very stiff legs, was just being represented receiving an
unfortunate-looking prisoner, considerably spotted with vermillion
paint, when a sound of wheels was heard, and both boys starting up,
exclaimed, "Here he comes!"
He, as Marian knew full well, was Mr. Lyddell; and a chilliness came
over her as he entered, tall, broad, ruddy, treading heavily, and
speaking loudly: and Gerald pressed close to her, squeezing her hand
so tight that she could hardly withdraw it to shake hands with her
guardian. With one hand he held her cold reluctant fingers, with the
other gave Gerald's head a patronizing pat. "Well, my dears, how d'ye
do? quite well? and ready to start with me to-morrow? That is right.
Caroline and Clara have had their heads full of nothing but you this
long time--only wanted to have come with me."
Here Marian succeeded in drawing back her hand, and retreated to the
window; Gerald was creeping after her, but Mr. Lyddell laid hold of his
chin, and drew him back, saying. "What, shy, my man? we shall cure you
at Oakworthy My boys will give you no peace if they see you getting into
your sister's pocket."
Gerald disengaged himself, and made a rapid retreat. It was a long time
before he again appeared, and when Mrs. the housekeeper at the Manor
House, came down in the course of the evening to say good-bye, she said,
"And ma'am, where do you think I found that dear child, Sir Gerald, not
two hours ago?" She wiped away a gush of tears, and went on. "I thought
I heard a noise in the drilling room, and went to see, and there, ma'am,
was the dear little fellow lying on the floor, the bare boards, for the
carpet is taken up, you know, Miss Marian, before his papa's picture,
crying and sobbing as if his heart would break. But as soon as I opened
the door, and he saw me, he snatched up his hat, and jumped out at the
open window, which he had come in by, I suppose, for I never heard him
open the door."
Marian, after her usual fashion, had no reply, but it was pleasant to
her to think of what had taken place, since Gerald had not in general
shown much concern at the leaving home.
They all met at breakfast next morning; Marian, was firmly determined
against crying, and by dint of squeezing up her lips, and not uttering a
word, succeeded in keeping her resolution; but poor Agnes could eat no
breakfast, and did nothing but cry, till Mr. Lyddell, by saying that her
tears were a great honour both to herself and Marian, entirely checked
"I hope," said Mr. Wortley, "that Mrs. Lyddell will not be very strict
in inquiring into the quantity of Marian's idle correspondence. The
friends there mean to console themselves with multitudes of letters."
"Oh, certainly, certainly," said Mr. Lyddell. "Old friends for ever! So
mind, Marian, I mean to be very angry if you forget to write to Miss
"Thank you," said Marian, knowing that she was saying something silly,
and trying to smile.
"Come, then," said Mr. Lyddell, "thank your friends once more for their
kindness, and let us be going."
Thanks from Marian were out of the question, and she tried to get out
of hearing of the sentences beginning, "I am sure we shall always be
sensible," "Nothing could be kinder," which her guardian was pouring
out. She moved with Agnes to the door: the summer sky was deeply blue,
without a cloud, the fresh green branches of the trees stood up against
it as if bathed in light, the flower beds were glowing with gay
blossoms, Gerald and Jemmy were playing with Ranger under the verandah,
and the Church bells rang cheerfully for morning service, but alas! at
the gate was the carriage, Saunders sitting sobbing on the outside,
and David Chapple, Mr. Wortley's man, standing on one leg on the step
talking to her. Near at hand was the gardener from the Manor House,
waiting with his hands full of Miss Arundel's favourite flowers, and
there stood old Betty Lapthorn and her grandchild, Gerald's nurse who
had married, and the old man to whom the children had so often carried
the remains of their dinner; all the school children too, and Grace in
the middle of them, waiting for the last view of Miss Arundel and little
Mr. Lyddell finished his acknowledgments, and Marian and her brother
received an embrace and good-bye from their friends, David jumped down
and shut the door, Saunders sobbed aloud, there was another good-bye
from each of the Wortleys, and a hearty response from Gerald, Mr.
Lyddell called out, "All right," and away they went.
On went the carriage, past the Church, with its open door and pealing
bell, the rocky steps up to the Manor House, nestled in the shrubs, the
well known trees, the herds of longhorned, red cattle, the grey stone
cottages, and the women and tiny children at the doors, the ford through
the sparkling shallow brook, the hill with the great limestone quarry,
the kiln so like a castle, the river and its bridge of one narrow, high
pitched, ivy grown arch, the great rod rock, remembered as having been
the limit of papa's last drive, the farm house in the winding valley
beyond, with its sloping orchard and home field, the last building in
the parish. They drove through the little market town, slowly wound up
the heights beyond, looked down into the broad, beautiful space where
the river Exe winds its blue course amid wood, field, and castled hill,
descended, losing sight of the last of the Torrs, glanced at Exeter and
its Cathedral, arrived at the station, and there, while waiting hand in
hand on the platform, gazing at the carriage, and starting at each puff,
snort, cough, and shriek of the engines, Marian and Gerald did indeed
feel themselves severed from the home of their childhood.
It was not till the afternoon that they left the railroad, and then they
had a two hours' drive through a country which Marian found very unlike
her own: the bleak, bare downs of Wiltshire, low green hills rising
endlessly one after the other, the white road visible far away before
them, the chalk pits white and cold, a few whitey brown ponds now and
then, and at long intervals a farm house, looking as if it had been set
down there by mistake, and did not like it, carts full of chalk, and
flocks of sheep the chief moving objects they met, and not many of them.
Marian sighed, yawned, and looked at Gerald many a time before they at
length came to a small, very neat-looking town, where the houses stood
far back from the street, and had broad clean pavement in front of them.
"This is Oakworthy," said Mr. Lyddell, and Marian looked with interest.
The church was just outside the town, white, and clean looking, like
everything else, and with a spire. That was all she could see, for they
drove on by the side of a long park wall, enclosing a fir plantation.
The gate of a pretty lodge was thrown back, and they entered upon a
gravelled carriage-road, which, after some windings, led to a large
house, built of white brick, regular and substantial. They stopped under
the portico at the door, and Mr. Lyddell, as he handed Marian out of the
carriage, exclaimed, "Welcome to Oakworthy Park!"
It seemed to Marian that there was a whole crowd waiting for her in the
hall, and she had received at least three kisses before she had time to
look around her, and perceive that this formidable troop consisted of a
tall, fresh-coloured lady, two girls, and two little boys. Each of
the girls eagerly grasped one of her hands, and drew her into the
drawing-room, exclaiming, "I am glad you are come!" Here were two more
strangers, youths of the age at which their juniors call them men, and
their seniors, boys. They did not trouble the guests with any particular
demonstrations of welcome, only shaking hands with them carelessly, and
after another moment or two Marian found herself sitting on a chair,
very stiffly and upright, while Gerald stood about two feet from her,
afraid of a second accusation of getting into her pocket, looking down,
and twisting the handles of her basket.
"Lionel, Johnny," said Mrs. Lyddell, "have you nothing to say to your
cousin? Come here, my dear, and tell me, were you very sorry to leave
Gerald coloured and looked at his sister, who replied by a hesitating,
faltering, "Yes, very."
"Ah! yes, I see," said Mrs. Lyddell, "but you will soon be at home
here. It shall not be my fault or your cousins' if you are not,--eh,
"Indeed it shall not," returned Caroline, again taking Marian's hand,
at first pressing it cordially, but letting it go on feeling the limp,
passive fingers, which were too shy and frightened to return the
Mr. Lyddell came in, and while his wife was engaged in speaking to him,
Marian had time to make her observations, for the chilling embarrassment
of her manner had repelled the attentions of her cousins. Though she had
never seen them before, she knew enough about them to be able to fit the
names to the persons she saw before her, and make a few conjectures as
to how she would like them.
That youth in the odd-looking, rough, shapeless coat, yet with a certain
expensive, fashionable air about the rest of his dress, who stood
leaning against the chimney-piece in a nonchalant attitude, was
her eldest cousin, Elliot Lyddell. The other, a great contrast in
appearance, small, slender, and pale, with near-sighted spectacles
over his weak, light grey eyes, dressed with scrupulous precision and
quietness, who had retreated to the other end of the room and taken up
a book, was Walter. The elder girl, Caroline, was about fifteen, a very
pleasing likeness of her mother, with a brilliant complexion, bright
blue eyes, and a remarkably lively and pleasant smile, which Marian was
so much taken with, that she wished she could have found something to
say, but the dress and air both gave her the appearance of being older
than Agnes, and thus made Marian feel as if she was a great way above
and beyond her. The other sister had a fair, pretty face, much more
childish, with beautiful glossy light hair, and something sweet and
gentle in her expression, and Marian felt warmly towards her because she
was her mother's god-child, and bore the same name.
The younger boys, Lionel and John, were nice-looking little fellows of
nine and seven. They had drawn towards Walter, gazing all the time at
Gerald, and all parties were rejoiced when Mrs. Lyddell, after a few
more attempts at conversation, proposed to take the guests to their
With a light, quick step, she led the way up two staircases and a long
passage, to a good-sized, comfortable room intended for Marian, while
Gerald's was just opposite. With a civil welcome to Saunders, kind hopes
that Marian would make herself at home, and information that dinner
would he ready at seven, she left the room, and Saunders proceeded with
the young lady's toilette. Gerald stood gazing from the window at the
trees and little glimpse of the town in the distance. He said little,
and seemed rather forlorn till leave was given him to unpack some goods
which he could not easily damage. Just as Marian was dressed, there was
a knock at the door, and without waiting for an answer, Caroline
and Clara entered, the former saying, "I hope you find everything
comfortable: you see we make you quite at home, and stand on no
It was pleasantly said, but Marian only gave a constrained smile, and
answered, "Thank you," in such an awkward, cold way, that Caroline was
thrown back. Her sister, only conscious of freedom from the restraints
of the drawing-room, began exclaiming in short sentences, "O what a
pretty basket! so you have out your work already! what a lovely pattern!
how quick you have been in dressing! we came to see how you were getting
on. O what is this pretty box? do let me see."
"A work-box," said Marian, by no means disposed to turn out all the
small treasures it contained for Clara's inspection.--Caroline perceived
this, and said with a little reproof to Clara,
"You curious child! Perhaps Marian would like to come and see the
schoolroom before going down."
"Oh, yes," said Clara; "you must come. You have not seen Miss Morley
yet,--our governess,--poor, unfortunate, faithful Morley, as we always
This manner of mentioning the governess, and before Saunders too,
greatly surprised Marian, and she felt little inclination to face
another stranger; but she could think of no valid objection, and allowed
herself and Gerald to be conducted down one of the flights of stairs
into a passage less decorated than the rest of the house. Clara threw
open a door, calling out, "Here they are!" and Marian found herself in
the presence of a little, nicely dressed lady, who looked very little
older than Caroline, and had a very good-natured face. Coming forward
with a smile, she said, "Miss Arundel, I believe. I hope you are quite
well, and not tired. Sir Gerald, how d'ye do? We shall be good friends,
I am sure."
Gerald shook hands, and Marian thought she ought to do so too; but it
had not been her first impulse, and it was too late, so she only made
a stiff bend of head and knee. Clara, happily unconscious of the
embarrassment with which Marian had infected Caroline, went on talking
fast and freely:
"So, you see, this is the schoolroom. There is Caroline's desk, and here
is mine; and we have made room for you here. I suppose you have a desk.
And here are all our books, and our chiffonniere; Caroline has one side
and I the other. Oh, I must show you my last birthday presents. Ah!
aren't we lucky to have got such a nice view of the terrace and the
portico from here! We can always see the people coming to dinner, and
when the gentlemen go out riding, it is such fun, and--"
"My dear Clara," interposed Miss Morley, seeing Marian's bewildered
looks, "your cousin is not used to such a chatterbox. I assure you,
Miss Arundel, that Clara has been quite wild for the last week with the
prospect of seeing you. I have actually not known what to do with her."
Marian gave one of her awkward smiles, and said nothing.
"You left Devonshire this morning, I think?" said Miss Morley.
"Yes, we did."
"Fern Torr is in a very beautiful part of the country, is it not?"
They were getting on at this rate when Mrs. Lyddell came in, and took
Marian and Gerald down to the drawing-room with her, as it was almost
dinner time. No sooner had the door closed behind them, than governess
and pupils at once exclaimed, "How pale!" "how shy!" "how awkward!"
"I dare say that is only shyness," said Caroline, "but I must say I
never saw anything so stiff and chilly."
"Yes, that she is," said Clara, "but it's only shyness; I am sure she is
a dear girl. But how white she is! I thought she would have been pretty,
because they say the Arundels are all so handsome."
"She has fine eyes," said Miss Motley; "and that dear little Sir Gerald,
I am sure we shall all be in love with him."
"Well, I hope we may get on better in time," said Caroline, taking up a
book, and settling herself in a most luxurious attitude in spite of the
unaccommodating furniture of the schoolroom.
Marian recovered a little at dinner, and was not quite so monosyllabic
in her replies. Her netting was a great resource when she went into the
drawing-room after dinner, and she began to feel a little less rigid and
confused, made some progress in acquaintance with Clara, and when she
went to bed was not without hopes of, in time, liking both her and
Caroline very much.
"A place where others are at home,
But all are strange to me."
Marian began the next morning by wondering what a Sunday at Oakworthy
would be like, but she was glad the formidable first meeting was over,
and greeted Gerald cheerfully when he came into the room.
After a few minutes a bell rang, and Marian, thinking it must be for
family prayers, hastened into the passage, wondering at herself for
not having asked last night where she was to go. She was glad to meet
Caroline coming out of her room, and after quickly exchanging a "good
morning," she said, "Was that the bell for prayers?"
"No, it was for the servants' breakfast," said Caroline "and for ours in
the schoolroom too."
"But don't you have prayers in the morning?" said Gerald,
"No," answered Caroline gravely.
"Why not," the little boy was beginning but Marian pressed his hand
to check him, shocked herself, and sorry for Caroline's sake that the
question had been asked.
Caroline spoke rather hurriedly, "I wish we could, but you see papa is
out so often, and there are so many people staying here sometimes: and
in London, papa is so late at the House--it is very unlucky, but it
would not do, it is all so irregular."
"What?" said Clara, hopping down stairs behind them. "O, about prayers!
We have not had any in the school room since Miss Cameron's time."
"Miss Cameron used to read a chapter and pray with us afterwards," said
Caroline; "but when she was gone, mamma said she did not like the book
"Besides, it was three quarters out of her own head, and that wasn't
fair, for she used to go on such a monstrous time," said Clara.
"Hush, Clara," said her sister, "and mamma has never found a book she
does think quite fit."
"There's the Prayer Book," said Gerald.
"O that is only for Church," said Clara, opening the schoolroom door;
"O she is not here! Later than ever. Well, Marian, what do you think of
"Of whom?" asked Marian.
"Of poor unfortunate faithful Morley," said Clara.
"You call her so after Queen Anne?"
"Yes," said Caroline, "and you will see how well the name suits her when
you are fully initiated."
"But does she like it?"
"Like it?" and Clara fell into a violent fit of laughing, calling out to
Lionel, who just then came in, "Here is Marian asking if we call Miss
Morley 'poor unfortunate' whenever we speak to her."
"She is coming," said Lionel, and Clara sunk her boisterous laughter
into a titter, evident enough to occasion Miss Morley to ask what
made them so merry, but the only answer she received was from Lionel,
"Something funny," and then both he and Clara burst out again into
laughter, his open, and hers smothered.
Marian looked amazed. "Ah! you are not used to such ways," said the
governess; "Clara and Lionel are sometimes sad creatures."
Breakfast took a very long time, and before it was quite over, Mrs.
Lyddell came in, spoke in her rapid, good-natured tone to Marian and
Gerald, and remarked rather sharply to Miss Morley that she thought they
grew later and later every Sunday. Nevertheless, no one went on at all
the faster after she was gone. Miss Morley continued her talk with
Caroline and Clara about some young friends of theirs in London, and
Lionel and Johnny went on playing tricks with their bread and butter,
accompanied by a sort of secret teasing of Clara. Nothing brought them
absolutely to a conclusion till one of the servants appeared in order to
take away the things, and unceremoniously bore away John's last piece of
bread and cup of tea.
Johnny looked up at the man and made a face at him; Miss Morley shook
her head, and Caroline said, "How can you be so naughty, Johnny? it
serves you quite right, and I only wish it happened every morning."
"Come, Gerald, and see the ponies," said Lionel.
"My dears," said Miss Morley, "you know your mamma never likes you to go
out before Church especially to the stables; you only get hot, and you
make us late with waiting for you."
"Nobody asked you to wait for us," said John. "Come, Gerald."
"No, I see Sir Gerald is a good little boy, and is coming steadily with
us," said Miss Morley.
"Yes, Gerald, do," said Marian.
"There will be plenty of time by and by," said Gerald, sitting down
"O very well," said John. "Well, if you won't, I will; I want to see
Elliot's colt come in from exercising, and he will be sure to be there
Lionel and Johnny ran off, Caroline looked distressed, and went out into
the passage leaving the door open. Walter was coming along it, and as
she met him, she said, "Walter, the boys are off to the stable again;
we shall have just such a fuss as we had last Sunday if you cannot stop
them. Is Elliot there again?"
"I am afraid he is," said Walter.
"Then there is no chance!" said Caroline, retreating; but at that moment
Lionel and John came clattering down from their own distant abode at the
top of the house. "Who likes to walk with me through, the plantations to
Church?" said Walter; "I was coming to ask if you liked to show that way
Lionel and John, who had a real respect for Walter, thought it best to
keep silence on their disobedient designs, and accept the kind offer.
Gerald gladly joined them, and off they set. Miss Morley, Caroline, and
Clara, had all gone different ways, and Marian remained, leaning her
forehead against the window, thinking what her own dear Sunday-school
class were doing at Fern Torr, and feeling very disconsolate. She had
stood in this manner for some minutes when Clara came to tell her it was
time to prepare for Church, followed her to her room, and contrived to
make more remarks on her dress than Marian could have thought could
possibly have been bestowed on a plain black crape bonnet and mantle.
Through all the rather long walk, Clara still kept close to her, telling
who every one was, and talking incessantly, till she felt almost
confused, and longed for the quietness of the church. Mr. Lyddell's pew
was a high, square box, curtained round, with a table and a stove, so
that she hardly felt as if she was in church, and she was surprised not
to see Elliot Lyddell there.
They had to walk quickly back after the service, dine hurriedly, and
then set off again for the afternoon service. Miss Morley sighed, and
said that the second long hot walk almost killed her, and she went so
slowly that the schoolroom party all came in late. They found no one in
the pew but Mrs. Lyndell and Walter, and Marian once more sighed and
On coming home, Miss Morley went in to rest, but as it was now cool and
pleasant, her pupils stayed out a little longer to show the park and
garden. They were very desirous of making the Arundels admire all they
saw, and Lionel and John were continually asking, "Have you anything
like that at Fern Torr?"
Gerald, jealous for the honor of home, was magnificent in his
descriptions, and unconscious that he was talking rhodomontade.
According to him, his park took in a whole mountain, his house was quite
as large and much handsomer than Mr. Lyddell's, the garden was like the
hanging gardens of Babylon, and greenhouses were never wanted there, for
"all sorts of things" would grow in the open air. His cousins were so
amazed that they would hardly attend to Marian's explanations, and
thought her description of the myrtle, which reached to the top of the
house, as fabulous as his hanging gardens.
"And, Marian, what do you think of this place?" asked Clara.
After some pressing, the following reply was extracted:--"It is so shut
in with fir-trees, but I suppose you want them to hide the town, and
there is nothing to see if they were away."
"O Marian!" said Caroline, "when we showed you the beautiful view over
the high gate."
"But there was no hill, and no wood, and no water."
"Did you not see Oakworthy Hill?"
"That tame green thing!" said Marian.
"The truth is," said Johnny, "that she likes it the best all the time,
only she won't own it."
"Nonsense, Johnny," replied Lionel, "every one likes their own
home best, and I like Marian for not pretending to be polite and
"And I tell you," said Gerald, "that you never saw anything so good as
my Manor house in your whole life."
Here they went in, and Marian gently said to Gerald as they came
into her room, "I wish you would not say _my_, Gerald, it seems like
boasting. My park--my house--"
Gerald hung his head, and the colour came deeply into his cheeks.
"Marian," said he, "you know how I wish it wasn't mine now," and the
tears were in his eyes. "But they boast over me, and they ought not, for
"Oh! hush, Gerald. You used never to like to hear yourself called so,
because it put you in mind--. Yes, I know they boast; but this is not
the way to stop them, it only makes them go on; and what does it signify
to you? it does not make this place really better than home."
"Yes, but I want them to know it."
"But you should not want to set yourself up above them. If you don't
answer, and, let them say what nonsense they please, it would be the
best way, and the right way, and so you would humble yourself, which is
what we must all do Gerald."
Gerald was silenced, but looked dissatisfied; however, there was no
more time to talk, for Clara came to say that tea was almost ready, and
Marian rang for Saunders. Gerald looked as if he was meditating when
first they sat down to tea, and after some little time he abruptly
began, "I don't like your church at all. It is just like a room, and
nobody makes any noise."
"Nobody makes any noise," repeated Caroline, smiling; "is that Fern Torr
"I do not mean exactly a noise," said Gerald, "but people read their
verse of the psalm, and say Amen, and all that, quite loud. They don't
leave it all to the clerk in his odd voice."
Lionel mimicked the clerk so drolly, that in spite of "Don't, my dear,"
and "O! Lionel," nobody could help laughing; and Johnny added an
imitation of the clerk at their church in London. After the mirth was
over, Gerald went on, "Why does not every one say Amen here?"
"Like so many charity children," said Lionel, with a nasal drawl.
"No, indeed!" cried Gerald, indignantly; "Edmund does it, and
"Everybody! as if you could tell, who never went to church in your life,
except at that little poky place," said Johnny,
Gerald's colour rose, but Marian's eye met his, and he remembered what
she had said, and answered quietly, "I don't know whether Fern Torr is
poky, but it is a place where people are taught to behave well."
"Capital, Gerald, excellent!" cried Caroline, laughing heartily, "that
is a hit, Lionel, for you!" while Gerald looked round him, amazed at the
applause with which his speech, made in all simplicity, was received.
As soon as tea was over, Miss Morley called Lionel and John to repeat
the Catechism, and added doubtfully, "Perhaps Sir Gerald would rather
wait for next Sunday."
"O no, thank you," said Marian, "we always say it."
"You need not, Marian," said Caroline, "we never do, only it would be so
troublesome for the boys to have to learn it at school."
"I should like to say it if Miss Morley has no objection," said Marian.
"Oh! yes, certainly," was the answer. "See, Lionel, there is an example
Marian and Gerald stood upright, with their hands behind them, just as
they had stood every Sunday since they could speak; Lionel was astride
on the music stool, spinning round and round, and Johnny balancing
himself with one leg on the floor, and one hand on the window sill. When
the first question was asked, the grave voice that replied, "Edmund
Gerald," was drowned in a loud shout--
"Jack Lyddell, Jack Lyddell,
Shall play on the fiddle"--
evidently an old worn out joke, brought to life again in the hope of
making the grave cousins laugh, instead of which they stood aghast. Miss
Morley only said imploringly, "Now, Johnny, my dear boy, _do_," and
proceeded to the next question. Throughout the two boys were careless
and painfully irreverent, and the governess, annoyed and ashamed,
hurried on as fast as she could, in order to put an end to the
unpleasant scene. When it was over she greatly admired the correctness
of Gerald's answers, seeming to think it extraordinary that he should
not have made a single mistake; whereas Marian would have been surprised
if he had. Gerald whispered to his sister as they went down to the
drawing-room, "Would it not be fun to see what Mr. Wortley would say to
Lionel and Johnny, if he had them in his class?"
On Monday, Marian and Gerald began to fall into the habits of the place,
and to learn the ways of their cousins, though it was many years before
they could be said really to understand them.
Of their guardian himself, they found they should see very little, for
their four schoolroom companions, his own children, had but little
intercourse with him. Sometimes, indeed, Johnny, who enjoyed the
privileges of the youngest, would make a descent upon him, and obtain
some pleasure or some present, or at least a game of play; and sometimes
Lionel fell into great disgrace, and was brought to him for reproof, but
Caroline and Clara only saw him now and then in the evening, and never
seemed to look to him as the friend and approver that Marian thought all
fathers were. As to Miss Morley, she had only spoken twice to him since
she had been in the house.
Mrs. Lyddell seemed supreme in everything at home. She was quick,
active, and clever, an excellent manager, nor was she otherwise than
very kind in word and deed; and Marian could by no means understand the
cause of the mixture of dread and repugnance with which she regarded
her. Perhaps it was, that though not harsh, her manner wanted
gentleness; her tones were not soft, and she would cut off answers
before they were half finished. Her bright, clear, cold, blue eye had
little of sympathy in it, and every look and tone showed that she
expected implicit obedience, to commands, which were far from unpleasant
in themselves, though rendered ungracious by the want of softness and
mildness with which they were given. Marian often wondered, apart from
the principle, how her cousins, and even Miss Morley, could venture to
disregard orders given in that decided manner; but she soon perceived
that they trusted to Mrs. Lyddell's multifarious occupations, which kept
her from knowing all their proceedings with exactness, and left them a
good deal at liberty.
Marian was disposed to like Miss Morley, with her gentle voice and kind
manner, but she was much surprised at her letting things go on among her
pupils, which she must have known to be wrong in themselves, as well as
against express commands of Mrs. Lyddell. Once or twice when she heard
her talking to Clara, she said to herself, "Would not mamma say that was
silly?" but at any rate it was a great thing to have a person of whom
she was not in the least shy or afraid, and who set her quite at her
ease in the schoolroom.
The first business on Monday morning, after the little boys had gone off
for two hours to a tutor, was an examination into Marian's attainments,
beginning with French and Italian reading and translation, in which she
acquitted herself very well till Mrs. Lyddell came in, and put her in
such a state of trepidation that she no longer knew what she was about.
In truth, Marian's education had been rather irregular in consequence
of her father's illness, and its effect had been to give her a general
cultivation of mind, and appreciation of excellence, to train her to do
her best, and fed an eagerness for information, but without instructing
her in that routine of knowledge for which Mrs. Lyddell and Miss Morley
looked. She was not ready in answering questions, even upon what she
knew perfectly well; she had no tables of names and dates at finger's
ends, and when she saw that every one thought her backward and ignorant,
the feeling that she was not doing justice to her mamma's teaching added
to her confusion, her mistakes and puzzles increased, and at last she
was almost ready to cry. At that moment Caroline said, "Mamma, you have
not seen Marian's drawings yet. Do fetch them, Marian."
The drawings served in some degree to save Marian in the opinion; at
least, of Miss Morley: for an artist-like hand and eye were almost an
inheritance in the Arundel family, and teaching her had been a great
amusement to Sir Edmund. Miss Morley and Caroline thought her drawings
wonderful; but Mrs. Lyddell, who had never learnt to draw, was, as
Marian quickly perceived, unable to distinguish the merits from the
faults, and was only commending them in order to reassure her. Her music
was the next subject of inquiry, and here again she did not shine, for
practising had been out of the question during the last two years of her
father's life; but as she could not bear to offer this as an excuse,
she only said she knew she could hardly play at all, but she hoped to
improve. To her great relief, Mrs. Lyddell did not stay to listen to
her performance, but went away, leaving her to Miss Morley, who found
something to commend in her taste and touch.
When the business of learning actually commenced, Marian grew more
prosperous; for she had the good custom of giving her whole attention,
and learnt therefore fast and correctly. Her exercise was very well
done; her arithmetic, in which Edmund had helped her, was almost beyond
Miss Morley's knowledge; and she was quite at home in the history they
were reading aloud. Moreover, when they came to talk of what they had
read, it proved that Marian was well acquainted with many books which
were still only names to Caroline; and when Gerald came in with his
books, his reference to her showed that she knew as much Latin as he
They dined in the schoolroom at half-past one, then took a walk on the
long, dull, white road, and came back at a little past four; after which
the girls had each to practise for an hour, to look over some lessons
for the next day, and to dress; but all the rest of their time was at
their own disposal. There was to be a dinner-party that evening, and
Clara advised her not to dress till after tea. "For we don't go down
till after dinner," said she, "and I don't like to miss seeing the
people come. Gerald, you had better get ready, though, for you boys
always go down before."
"Must I?" said Gerald.
"O yes, that we must!" said Lionel; "and you will see how Johnny there
likes to be petted by all the old ladies, and called their pretty dear."
Johnny rushed upon his brother, and there was a skirmish between them,
during which Miss Morley vainly exclaimed by turns, "Now Lionel!" and
"Now Johnny!" It ended by John's beginning to cry, Lionel laughing
at him, and declaring that he had done nothing to hurt him, and both
walking off rather sullenly to dress for the evening. Gerald was bent on
the same errand; and no sooner was he gone than Miss Morley, Caroline,
and Clara all broke out into loud praises of him. He was so docile, he
shut the door so gently, he seemed so very clever. He had quite won Miss
Morley's heart by running back to the schoolroom to fetch her parasol
for her when she found she had left it behind; Caroline admired him for
being so merry and playful without rudeness, and Clara chimed in with
them both. All expressed wonder at not finding him a spoiled child; and
this, though the praises gratified Marian greatly, rather offended her
in her secret soul; and she wondered too that Caroline and Clara seemed
disposed to make the very worst of their own little brothers, so as to
set off Gerald's perfections by force of contrast.
Mrs. Lyddell came in while they were still talking. She was beautifully
dressed, and looked very handsome, and, in Marian's eyes, very
formidable; but she sat down and joined heartily in the praises of
Gerald, till Marian thought, "What could they have expected poor Gerald
to be, if they are so amazed at finding him the dear good little fellow
he is!" It was in fact true that he was an agreeable surprise, for as
an only son--a great treasure--and coming so early to his title, he
was exactly the child whom all would have presumed most likely to be
spoiled; and his ready obedience struck the Lyddells as no less unusual
than those habits in which he had been trained, in consequence of the
necessity of stillness during Sir Edmund's long illness. It was more
natural to him to shut the door quietly than to bang it, to speak than
to shout, and to amuse himself tranquilly in the house than to make a
great uproar. He was courteous, too, and obliging; and though Lionel and
Johnny were in consequence inclined to regard him as a "carpet knight so
trim," the ladies fully appreciated these good qualities. Mrs. Lyddell
perhaps made the more of her satisfaction, because she was conscious of
not liking his sister's stiff, formal, frightened manners.
Mrs. Lyddell waited till the boys came from dressing, and took them all
three down with her. Clara sat down in the window-seat to watch the
arrivals, as soon as she had recovered from her amazement at hearing
that Marian had not been in a house with a dinner-party since Gerald was
born. "Is it possible!" she went on saying, and then bursting into a
laugh, till Caroline said sharply, "How can you be so silly, Clara! you
know the reason perfectly well."
"But it is so odd," continued Clara. "Why, we are never a week without a
party, and sometimes two!"
"Hush," said Caroline, "or I shall never finish my Italian."
The little boys came up to tea; Gerald would not make much answer when
Clara asked if the ladies had talked to him, but Johnny looked cross,
and Lionel reported "it was because his nose was put out of joint."
Coming up to Marian, to whom he seemed to have taken a fancy, Lionel
further explained confidentially how all the ladies made a fuss with
Johnny, and admired his yellow curls, and called him the rose-bud, and
all sorts of stuff; and how Johnny liked to go down in his fine crimson
velvet, and show off, and have all his nonsense praised, "And the pretty
dear is so jealous," said Lionel, "that he can't bear any one to say one
word to poor me--oh no!"
"Why, do you wish for them to do so?" said Marian.
"Oh no, not I--I never did; and I'm glad I'm grown too big and ugly for
them. I always get as near Elliot as I can and try to hear if they are
saying any thing about the hunt; and the ladies never trouble their
heads about what is good for any thing, so they never talk to me."
"That is no great compliment to Gerald," said Marian.
"Ah! you'll soon see. If there is any fun in him, they will soon cast
him off; but now he is new, and he has not found them out yet, and they
_do_ dearly like to say Sir Gerald; so Johnny is regularly thrown out,
and that is what makes him look sulky."
"Well, but it is using him very ill to desert him for Gerald," said
"Oh, they won't desert him. They like mamma's good dinners too well for
that; only Johnny can't bear any one else to be taken notice of. Trust
the county member's son for their making much of him."
"But that applies to you too, Lionel."
"Ay, and I could soon get their civility if I cared for it," said Lionel
grandly. "But I know well enough what it is worth. Why, there is Walter,
who is the best of us all--nobody cares one straw for him, except
"And you?" asked Marian.
"Why--why--yes, if he was not so much of a parson already."
"Oh, Lionel!" said Marian, shocked; and he turned it rather hastily into
"I mean, he is not up to any thing; he does not shoot, and he does not
care for dogs, or horses; nothing but books for ever."
A summons to the tea-table put an end to Lionel's communications, which
had so amazed Marian that she could do nothing but ponder on them all
the time that Clara would leave her in quiet.
The going into the drawing-room was to her a most awful affair; and
Saunders seemed to be very anxious about it, brushing and settling her
hair, and arranging the plain black frock, as if she would never have
done; seeming, too, not a little worried by Clara, who chose to look on
at all her proceedings. At last it was over Marian wished Gerald good
night, and descended with her two cousins and Miss Morley. Caroline
and Clara were in blue, Miss Morley in white; and as they entered just
opposite to a long pier glass, Marian thought that with her white face,
straight dark hair, and deep mourning dress, she looked like a blot
between them, and wished to shrink out of sight, instead of being
conspicuous in blackness.
The ladies came in a few minutes after, and Caroline and Clara went
forward, shaking hands, smiling, and replying in a way which was by no
means forward, and with ease that to Marian was marvellous. If people
would but be kind enough not to look at her! But Mrs. Lyddell was a
great deal too civil for that too come to pass, and presently Marian was
called and introduced to two ladies. She was seated between them, and
they began talking to her in a patronising manner; telling her they
remembered her dear mamma at her age; saying that they had seen her
brother, and congratulating her on having two such delightful companions
as the Miss Lyddells. Then they asked about Devonshire; and as Marian's
cold short replies let every subject fall to the ground in a moment,
they proceeded to inquire whether she could play. Truth required her to
confess that she could, a very little; and then they begged to hear her.
Poor Marian! this was too much. She felt as if she was in a horrible
mist, and drawing up her head as she always did in embarrassment, she
repeated, "Indeed, indeed I cannot!" protestations which her tormentors
would not believe, and which grew every moment more ungracious, as, to
augment her distress, she saw that Mrs. Lyddell was observing her. At
the moment when she was looking most upright and rigid, Caroline came to
her relief. The same request had just been made to her, and she came to
propose to Marian to join in the one thing she knew she could play--a
duet which she had that morning been practising with Clara. It was very
kind, and Marian knew it; for Caroline had said that she never liked
that duet, and was heartily tired of it; but all the acknowledgement her
strange bashfulness would allow her to make was a grateful look, and a
whisper, "Oh, thank you!"
Afterwards one of the young lively visitors sang, and Marian, who had
never heard much music, was quite delighted; her stiff company-face
relaxed, a tear came to her eyes, and she sat with parted lips,
forgetting all her fears and all the party till the singing was over,
and Caroline touched her, and told her it was bed-time. Marian wondered
to see how well Caroline and Clara managed to escape without being
observed; but she marvelled at their going to bed so much as if it was a
thing of course to have no "good night" from father or mother. When they
were outside the door, in the hall, Marian, her heart still full of the
music, could not help exclaiming, "How beautiful!"
"What? Miss Bernard's singing?" said Clara. "I declare, Caroline, Marian
was very nearly crying! I saw you were, Marian."
"She does sing very nicely," said Caroline, "but that song does not suit
her voice. It is too high."
"And she makes faces," said Clara, "she strains her throat; and she has
such great fingers--I could never cry at Miss Bernard's singing, I am
Marian did not like this. "Good night," said she, abruptly.
"You are not vexed, are you?" said Clara, kindly. "I did not think you
would mind my noticing your crying. Don't be angry, Marian."
"Oh, no, I am not at all angry," said Marian, trying to speak with ease,
but she did not succeed well. Her "good nights," had in them a tone as
if she was annoyed, as in fact she was; though not at all in the way
Clara supposed. She did not care for the notice of her tears, but she
said to herself, "This is what Edmund calls destroying the illusion. If
they would but have let me go to bed with the spell of that song resting
She sighed with a feeling of relief and yet of weariness as she came
into her own room, and found Saunders there. Saunders looked rather
melancholy, but said nothing for the first two or three minutes; then as
she combed Marian's hair straight over her face, she began, "I hope you
enjoyed yourself, Miss Marian?"
"Oh, Saunders," said Marian, "I'm very tired; I don't think I shall ever
enjoy myself anywhere but at home."
"Ah--hem--ah," coughed Saunders, solemnly; then, after waiting for some
observation from Marian, and hearing only a long yawn and a sigh, she
went on. "Prettily different is this place from home."
"Indeed it is," said Marian, from her heart.
"Such finery as I never thought to see below stairs, Miss Marian. I am
sure the Manor House was a pattern to all the country round for comfort
for the servants, and I should know something about it; but here--such
a number of them, such eating and drinking all day long, and the very
kitchen maids in such bonnets and flowers on Sundays, as would perfectly
have shocked Mrs. White. And they are so ignorant. Fancy, Miss Marian,
that fine gentleman the butler declaring he could not understand me, and
that I spoke with a foreign accent! I speak French indeed!"
"But, Saunders," said Marian, rather diverted, "you do speak Devonshire
"Well, Miss Marian, perhaps I may; I only know 'tisn't for them to
boast, for they speak so funny I can't hardly make them out; and with
my own ears I have heard that same Mr. Perkins himself calling you Miss
Harundel. But that is not all. Why, not half of them ever go to church
on a Sunday; and as to Mrs. Mitten, the housekeeper, not a bit does she
care whether they do or not; and no wonder, when Mr. Lyddell himself
never goes in the afternoon, and has gentlemen to speak to him. And then
down at the stables--'tis a pretty set of drinking, good-for-nothing
fellows there. I hope from my heart Sir Gerald won't be for getting down
there among them; but they say Master Lionel and Master John are always
there. And that Mr. Elliot--"
In this manner Saunders discoursed all the while she was putting Marian
to bed. Both she and her young lady wore doing what had much better have
been let alone. Saunders had no business to carry complaints and gossip,
Marian ought not to have listened to them; but the truth was that
Saunders was an old attached confidential servant, who had come to
Oakworthy, more because she could not bear to let her young master and
mistress go entirely alone and unfriended among strangers, than because
it would be prudent to save a little more before becoming Mrs. David
Chapple. Fern Torr was absolute perfection in her eyes; and had the
household at Oakworthy been of superior excellence, she would have found
fault with everything in which it differed from the Manor House. Her
heart was full; and to Miss Marian, her young lady, a Fern Torrite, a
Devonian like herself, she must needs pour it out, where she had no
other friend. On the other hand, Saunders was still in Marian's eyes a
superior person--an authority--one whom she could never dream of keeping
in order, or restraining; and here a friend, a counsellor, the only
person, except Gerald, who had known the dear home.
So a foundation was laid for confidences from Saunders, which were not
likely to improve Marian's contentment. When she had bidden her maid
good night, and sat thinking before she knelt down to say her prayers,
she felt bewildered; her head seemed giddy with the strangeness of this
new world; she knew not what in it was right and what was wrong; all
that she knew was, that she felt lonely and dreary, and as if it could
never be home. Her heart seemed to reach out for her mother's embrace
and support, and then Marian sank down on her knees, rested her face on
her arms, and while the tears began to flow, she murmured, "OUR FATHER,
Which art in heaven."
Soon after, her weary head was on her pillow, and the dim grey light of
the summer night showed the quiet peace and calmness that had settled on
her sleeping face.
"That is not home where, day by day,
I wear the busy hours away."
In a short time, Marian had settled into her place at Oak Worthy, lost
some part of her shyness towards the inhabitants, and arrived at the
terms which seemed likely to continue between her and her cousins.
There was much that was very excellent about Caroline Lyddell; she had
warm feeling, an amiable and obliging disposition, and great sweetness
of temper; and when first Marian arrived she intended to do all in her
power to make her at home, and be like a sister to her. But she did not
understand reserve; and before Marian had got over her first shyness
and awkwardness, Caroline felt herself repulsed, and ceased to make
demonstrations of affection which met with no better response. Marian
made none on her side; and so the two cousins remained very obliging and
courteous to each other, but nothing more.
Clara had begun by making herself Marian's inseparable companion in
rather a teasing manner, caressing her continually, and always wanting
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